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The last few months have been incredibly challenging for the whole community; specifically our health and care workers, and for those who have lost loved ones. But, the fight isn’t over. We still are at risk of second peaks of Covid-19.
Now we face an economic crisis. I will continue to provide support and represent the interests of businesses and constituents to ensure we can all get through this difficult time.
Below are some resources around what the advice is, what support is available for you, and what I have been doing to represent your concerns.
Please get in touch with me either by filling out the form below or contacting me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any further concerns and I will do my best to support.
As we enter our third lockdown, I know many businesses are fearing for their futures. The Government's support so far for business has been wholly inadequate. I back the measures recommended by the Bounce Back Better Campaign and have urged business rates relief paid back by supermarkets to be reinjected into struggling traders.
Firstly, here are some key resources and contacts if you need specialist support locally and nationally:
Government Business Support Helpline (England) - 0300 456 3565 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm) - https://businesssupport.gov.uk/coronavirus-business-support/
Coventry & Warwickshire Growth Hub - 0300 060 3747 - https://www.cwgrowthhub.co.uk/service/coronavirus-outbreak-information-and-updates.
Coventry & Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce - https://www.cw-chamber.co.uk/international-trade-blog/coronavirus-february-2020/
FSB Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull - https://www.fsb.org.uk/campaign/covid19.html
Warwickshire County Council Business Support hub - https://business.warwickshire.gov.uk/covid-19-guidance-issue
The following emergency support for businesses which are affected by the Coronavirus pandemic is available:
LATEST LOCKDOWN UPDATE:
For the latest business support from the Government go to: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus/business-support
For a detailed outline of all the support options for businesses of various sizes, click here.
The Local Restrictions Support Grant (LRSG (Closed) Addendum) supports businesses that have been required to close due to the national restrictions. Find out more here.
The Local Restrictions Support Grant (LRSG (Open)) supports businesses that have been severely impacted due to temporary local restrictions. Find out more here.
The Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) provides local councils with grant funding to support closed businesses that do not directly pay business rates as well as businesses that do not have to close but which are impacted. In addition, larger grants can be given than those made through LRSG (Closed). Find out more here.
A Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme that will see retail banks offer loans of up to £5m to support SMEs. The Government will cover the interest on these loans for the first twelve months. More information is available here.
A 'Bounce Back' Loan Scheme which helps small and medium-sized businesses to borrow between £2,000 and up to 25% of their turnover. The maximum loan available is £50,000. The government guarantees 100% of the loan and there won’t be any fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months. More information is available here.
For information on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and to check if you can claim your employees' wages, click here.
If you are an employer looking to create 30 or more jobs placements for young people, apply for funding as part of the Kickstart Scheme. For more information, click here. And for 29 or less job placements, click here.
If you're an employer, find out if you can use the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme to claim back employees' coronavirus-related Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). For more information, click here.
Find out how to pay VAT payments deferred between 20 March and 30 June 2020. You can pay now or get ready to opt in to the VAT deferral new payment scheme. For more information click here.
You can defer your Self Assessment payment on account due to coronavirus (COVID-19). Check what you need to do after 31 July 2020 if you chose to defer your second payment on account for the 2019 to 2020 tax year. For more information, click here.
100% Business Rate holiday for all businesses in the retail, hospitality or leisure sector for one year in 2020-21. Eligible pubs will also be entitled to a business rate discount of £5,000. Any enquiries on eligibility for, or provision of, the reliefs should be directed to our local authority.
Check if you can claim a grant through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme. If you're self-employed or a member of a partnership and have been impacted by coronavirus (COVID-19) find out if you can use this scheme to claim a grant. For more information, click here.
Apply for the coronavirus Future Fund. This scheme will issue convertible loans between £125,000 to £5 million to innovative companies which are facing financing difficulties due to the coronavirus outbreak. For more information, click here.
The Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) provides financial support to larger businesses affected by coronavirus (COVID-19). For more information, click here.
Scaling up HMRC Time To Pay service, allowing businesses and the self-employed to defer tax payments over an agreed period of time. The helpline for businesses in distress regarding their tax liabilities can be contacted on 0800 015 9559.
Cash grants worth:
£25,000 to the smallest businesses in the retail, hospitality or leisure sector.
£10,000 for all business in receipt of Small Business Rates Relief (SBRR) and Rural Rates Relief.
To apply for either, please visit https://www.warwickdc.gov.uk/info/20827/coronavirus/1553/coronavirus_information_for_businesses/2
For large businesses that need £5mn or more, the Bank of England’s Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) may be of assistance.
Applications can be made at email@example.com.
Further emergency financial measures will be announced by the Chancellor as necessary. I will be holding the Government to account to ensure they meet the challenge this virus presents to our local economy.
To date, I have spoken to countless businesses directly and through organisations like the FSB and the Chamber of Commerce, where they have informed me of issues such as difficulties accessing much-needed cash. I have written to the Chancellor and the Council several times to ensure that our businesses get the support they need. I have also fed in local cases to the Labour frontbench who are lobbying at the highest levels.
The 'Bounce back' loan scheme and the announced greater flexibility of the furlough scheme is, in part, thanks to the representations of colleagues and myself to get the Government to listen to the concerns of business.
However, more needs to be done and I will continue to advocate for our great local businesses. We need specific sectoral support and ongoing state aid to ensure key industries can recover post lockdown.
The Government has announced a Coronavirus Retention Scheme, which will enable HMRC to administer grants to cover 80% of the salaries of workers not working but “furloughed” and kept on the payroll rather than being laid off. The grant will be up to £2,500 per month per worker.
NEW: The scheme has been extended until October, with employers beginning to contribute more to your salary over time.
I welcomed this move, having called in the House of Commons for a similar package to be introduced. However, I do think it’s important to point out who is missing from the package, and ways in which it may not go far or fast enough.
Aside from the ambiguity in who is a qualifying worker, there is no guarantee that employers will top up the salary. The cap of £2,500 a month means many individuals will take a pay cut. There is no guarantee from employers that they’ll keep workers in work.
Please get in contact with your employer if you have any concerns about how this will be calculated for your situation and to ensure they register for the scheme.
RETURNING TO WORK SAFELY (10/05)
As the Government have now announced their plan to reopen the economy, I am concerned that too many employees will be sent to unsafe places of work.
The current guidance for going back to work does not go far enough to enforce social distancing and where appropriate the provision of personal protective equipment. I have called on the Government to tighten these restrictions by carrying out inspections (a broken promise by the Prime Minister) and making PPE and social distancing mandatory (including on public transport if the employee has no other option). I would urge all employees to join a trade union at this time to ensure your right to safety at work is maintained.
NEW STARTER FURLOUGH (04/04)
If you started your job after the the 19th March, you are not eligible for the retention scheme, I believe this is wrong, and have called for the Chancellor to amend this.
I would urge you to ask your previous employer to enroll you on the scheme, as this has been successful elsewhere and is confirmed as allowed by the Treasury.
In the mean time, you can apply for Universal Credit. Go to gov.uk/universal-credit to sign up.
I have repeatedly called for businesses to enforce social distancing practices, and have signed a letter to the Government to make guidance much clearer. Where not possible and not essential to our effort in beating the virus, they should seize operations. If they remain open, employers should provide protective equipment to employees wherever possible. If you are concerned about your own situation, please email in.
After representations from myself and colleagues, the Chancellor has announced that self-employed people will be eligible for a grant of 80% of 3 months' average earnings, capped at £2,500 a month, based on your average profit over the past three years.
NEW: The scheme has been extended to cover an additional 3 months' loss of income, this time at 70%. Details to follow.
I welcome this move, but there are gaps in the provision, including those who have just become self-employed, those who operate within a limited company, and those who earn just over £51,000.
You can read about the scheme here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the-coronavirus-covid-19-self-employment-income-support-scheme
The government is also providing the following additional help for the self-employed:
Deferral of Self-Assessment income tax payments due in July 2020 now due in January 2021
Grants for businesses that pay little or no business rates
The Government have opened up Universal Credit to more self-employed people - go to gov.uk/universal-credit to sign up.
Business Interruption Loan scheme and the Bounce Back Loan Scheme. More information is here.
If you are a freelancer/owner-director of your own limited company, if you’re paid even in part through PAYE you may be able to get support using the Job Retention Scheme. More information is here.
Self-employed support came after myself and colleagues pushed for it, which is hugely needed for so many families.
I firmly believe that the only way to ensure no one is left behind, the Government should introduce an emergency basic income support payment for everybody. I have made representations to this regard and will continue to urge the Government to do so.
I have urged the Government to close the gaps in support for self-employed people, including by feeding in local cases to the Labour frontbench, and will continue to do so.
I hve written to the Chancellor, asking him why he has excluded Company Directors from the support packages. I've also joined the All-Party parliamentary Group (APPG) for the ExcludedUK group, looking to represent all those who have missed out from support at no fault of their own.
The Government has now announced that schools, colleges and early years settings (such as nurseries) will remain shut for an indefinite period. However, a skeleton service will remain in place for the children of key workers and vulnerable children.
I support this action to protect children, staff and the wider public.
Assessments and exams will not be going ahead this year. I know pupils and parents will be concerned by the implications of this and I will seek clarity from the Government on this as these issues are considered in Parliament.
Parents will also need support to be able to look after their children, as they may withdraw from employment. I am urging the Government to clarify how they see this working.
SCHOOLS SET TO REOPEN IN JUNE (13/05)
The Government have announced its plans to reopen schools for pupils in years 1-6. I support the National Education Union's 5 tests campaign, which calls for all five key safety measures to be met before schools should reopen.
I have wrote to Warwickshire County Council, urging them to only open schools when it is safe to do so.
Vulnerable people no longer have to shield.
Here is the advice from Age UK for how to best support older people.
If you or someone you know is extremely vulnerable, you can request assistance from the Government here.
I pay tribute to all key workers like the health staff working in our NHS who worked tirelessly to help deal with the virus. They need to be protected and have priority testing and sufficient PPE.
I have spoken with our main local healthcare providers to ensure I can represent their concerns to the Government.
We must celebrate the heroism and bravery of our key workers. They deserve a fair pay rise.
I've recorded a tribute to health and care workers doing so much for us all despite their tough circumstances and lack of testing and PEE
Too many key workers are not getting personal protective equipment - from those in hospitals, care homes, to supermarket workers and bus drivers. I am still calling on the Government to give everyone who has a public facing role protective equipment.
The Government must extend protections fro renters in this time of crisis.
The Chancellor has also announced an increase to the Local Housing Allowance to support private renters with paying their rents.
I am calling, alongside the Labour Party, for the Government to act swiftly to stop all evictions and protect renters by ending the bedroom tax and the benefit cap.
The Government have listened to concerns from me and others about renter evictions. They have changed its approach and is now introducing a FULL ban on evictions, giving much-needed protection for renters at this critical time. Shocking that people were being threatened with evictions during this lockdown.
I have had constituents get in contact with me to tell me they have received notices to leave their house just before the new legislation was adopted. This is simply shameful and heartless. If you are facing eviction during this crisis, please get in touch by using the form at the bottom of this page.
The Government have announced that Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) will now be available for eligible individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 or those who are unable to work because they are self-isolating in line with Government advice. This is in addition to the change announced by the Prime Minister that SSP will be payable from day 1 instead of day 4 for affected individuals.
People who are advised to self-isolate for COVID-19 will be able to obtain an alternative to the fit note to cover this by contacting NHS 111, rather than visiting a doctor. This can be used by employees where their employers require evidence.
Those who are not eligible for SSP, for example the self-employed or people earning below the Lower Earnings Limit of £118 per week, can now more easily make a claim for Universal Credit or Contributory Employment and Support Allowance:
Self-employed people will be able to claim a Statutory Sick Pay equivalent through Universal Credit.
People will be able to claim Universal Credit and access advance payments upfront without the current requirement to attend a jobcentre if they are advised to self-isolate
Contributory Employment and Support Allowance will be payable, at a rate of £73.10 a week if you are over 25, for eligible people affected by COVID-19 or self-isolating in line with advice from Day 1 of sickness, rather than Day 8.
While I welcome these steps taken by the Government, there unfortunately appear to be major problems, with nothing for those without a contract of employment, and no suggestion that sick pay levels will be increased.
Together with the rest of the Labour Party, I am calling on the government to:
Raise statutory sick pay in line with amounts in other European countries
Introduce rent payment deferment options and ban any evictions of tenants affected by the outbreak, which has since been announced by the Government
Reduce the wait time for first payment of Universal Credit down from five weeks
Support local authorities working with food banks in the purchase and distribution of food stocks
The Labour Party have been lobbying the Government on your behalf to raise the issues that are most pressing for Britons stranded abroad. You can see the letter our Shadow Foreign Secretary sent to Dominic Raab here: https://www.facebook.com/EmilyThornberryLabour/posts/3149030668480292
The Government has today announced that they will be flying back more Britons. Where commercial flights are no longer available, the Government will be putting on chartered flights with select airlines to bring those home. This is welcomed news and comes after lobbying by myself and others to get to this position. If this intervention is still not enough, I will be pressing the Government to begin requisitioning flights.
The Governemnt have said:
Special charter flights for countries with no commercial routes will be prioritised according to the number of stranded British travellers and their vulnerability, including an assessment of the local health provision. In some places, access for flights to land and the ability to move around within the country to assemble for return flights will also be decisive factors.
Charter flights are already up and running to Ghana and Tunisia. We will add more countries this week with the aim of bringing people back from countries such as India and South Africa where large numbers of British travellers are stuck and commercial routes are completely suspended. We are negotiating intensely with countries around the world to secure permissions for return flights where airspace has been closed.
If there are no commercial options, they should visit the travel advice pages and sign up to alerts for their location and follow embassy social media and email updates. When special return flights become available, these will be advertised by the embassy and British nationals on Travel Advice Pages and Embassy social media and those who have registered for updates will be contacted via email. British nationals will be asked to register their interest through our booking agents CTM.
Where people are in real need, our consular teams will work with them to consider their options. As a last resort, the Foreign Office will offer an emergency loan."
More information can be found here.
After repeated lobbying to the Foreign Office, I have now received this further update for those stranded in India:
The British High Commission in New Delhi has moved into crisis mode and has setup a dedicated email address for British nationals who wish to return urgently to the UK.
Email Conqry.Newdelhi@fco.gov.uk with your full name (and names of any family members), Date of Birth, passport number, visa status, date of arrival in India and you contact details.
The FCO also advises all British people in India to:
Check the latest FCO travel advice for India
Follow @FCOTravel and @UKinIndia on twitter, and UK in India on Facebook, if possible
Refer to the latest guidance for UK citizens travelling overseas during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic
Stay up to date with and follow the latest restrictions by local authorities, including lockdown.
The Govt should repatriate all Britons abroad by requisitioning airlines.
Here's my question to the Foreign Secretary where I highlighted 2 residents' cases. I will continue to do all I can.