One of the more important issues for me in recent weeks has been supporting our businesses. I have worked with communities to promote the message that our shops are open for business and provided individual help where I can. Last week I met with Mike Welsh, who has launched Teign Valley Takeaway at Gidley’s Meadow Business Park in Christow (open from 6pm to 8.30pm on Friday evenings) as his regular catering business has suffered due to event restrictions. If you live in the Teign Valley please swing by and support this great new venture.
I have also worked hard as Chair of the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee to press the Government firmly but constructively over support measures. As the furlough scheme draws to a close at the end of this month, substantial support is still available and businesses should explore how they could benefit. This includes:
JOB RETENTION BONUS – Businesses who bring back furloughed workers and employ them until 31st January will receive a one-off taxable payment of £1,000 per employee.
JOB SUPPORT SCHEME – from November to April the Government will help businesses facing lower demand over the winter to top up the wages of employees in viable jobs. The business will pay its employee for time worked, but two-thirds of the cost of hours not worked will be split between the employer and the Government. Example – if an employee who normally earned £1,800 a month was working a third of their usual hours, their wages would be topped up from £600 to £1400 through the Government and their employer both contributing a further £400. Grants are capped at £698/month.
SELF-EMPLOYMENT INCOME SUPPORT SCHEME – this has been extended to 30 April 2021 to support individuals who are still trading but are facing reduced demand due to COVID-19. The extension will provide support for six months covering 20% of average monthly trading profits (capped at £625/month).
CORONAVIRUS BOUNCE BACK LOANS – SMEs can borrow between £2,000 and £50,000, capped at 25% of turnover, with the government guaranteeing 100% of the loan, with no fees or interest in the first 12 months. Loan terms will be up to 10 years, and no repayments will be due in the first 12 months.
CORONAVIRUS BUSINESS INTERRUPTION LOAN SCHEME – SMEs can access loans and finance up to £5 million. The government guarantees 80% of the finance to the lender and pays interest and any fees for the first 12 months.
Regrettably, despite this support (and much more) there will be businesses that will not survive Covid-19 and workers who, through no fault of their own, will lose their jobs. The Government has therefore set up JETS (Job Entry Targeted Support) - a new £238 million scheme that will provide a range of help to those who have been out of work for three months and have entered the welfare system. 13,500 new jobs coaches will be recruited (doubling the current number) to provide this support.