It would be ‘wrong’ for SMEs and entrepreneurs to ease COVID-19 lockdown ‘too soon’ – Dominic Raab

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab, MP for Esher and Walton, has said any easing up of lockdown and risking a second coronavirus spike would be ‘wrong’ for SMEs and entrepreneurs.

Mr Raab was standing in for the Prime Minister at today’s Downing Street press conference when he was questioned about whether government would be releasing details about changes to the lockdown measures or easing of restrictions on 7 May, when the current measures are due to be reviewed. 

Referring to the UK’s small business community, he said: “Small businesses are the heart and soul of this country and we will do everything we can to help them, but it would be wrong to ease up too early and risk a second spike.

“That would lead to a second lockdown which would be wrong for SMEs and entrepreneurs.”

He added: “The challenge that we’ve got is that as the transmission rate comes down we need to get more data as to precisely where it is in order to inform the measures we can actively consider.

“So I think the responsible thing is to have that evidence before we start touting around ideas at the risk of us not being able to deliver them or taking them and risking a second spike.

“Whilst I know people will be wanting us to give them more information and the minute we can responsibly do so based on evidence we will, at the moment I think the vast majority of people recognise that we’ve got to keep our eye on the ball because we’re coming through the peak but we aren’t there yet.”

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme: March deadline today

More than 285,000 businesses have already applied for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme since it went live on Monday.

HMRC is advising all businesses that today (Wednesday 22‌‌ April) is the latest they can apply to be sure payment comes through before the end of the month.

It is reminding all businesses that in order to make a claim, they will need to:

  • have a Government Gateway (GG) ID and password – if you don’t already have a GG account, you can apply here, or by going to GOV.UK and searching for ‘HMRC services: sign in or register’

be enrolled for PAYE online – if you aren’t registered yet, you can do so now, or by going to GOV.UK and searching for ‘PAYE Online for employers’

There is step by step guidance on how to make a claim. In addition, the Coronavirus Job Retention online calculator tool has been updated this afternoon, so that it covers more employment circumstances including working out what businesses who can claim for most employees who are paid variable amounts each pay period, as well as those who are paid fixed amounts.

HMRC are also advising businesses to ensure they retain all records and calculations for your claims, in case we need to contact you about them. Provided your claim is made in accordance with HMRC’s published guidance, you can expect to receive the funds six working days after your application.

As part of the government’s commitment to provide support to businesses and employers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, HMRC have been offering live webinars on the Job Retention Scheme. Places are extremely limited so please save your place now. Choose a date and time

If you’ve missed any of HMRC’s other recent webinars, or have been unable to join, you can now view a recording on HMRC’s YouTube channel

Virtual Chamber of Solutions: Ask the Panel With Hampshire Chambers

Hampshire Chamber of Commerce is organising a series of FREE live ‘question- time’ events, supported by EM3, to help businesses through these challenging times.

Their next event on April 28th will provide a focus on Personal Resilience and Staying Connected to your Remote Teams with an update on HMG Schemes (Furloughing and CBILS) but also covers a range of current challenges being experienced by businesses

Chamber Solutions – Business Questions Answered With Surrey Chambers

Paul Scott from EM3 Growth Hub will be joining a panel debate and live Q&A supporting Surrey businesses tomorrow, Thursday, April 4.

Louise Punter, CEO of Surrey Chambers of Commerce, will chair the debate, which is supported by EM3 and Coast to Capital. Questions can be submitted in advance of the webinar here.

Additional new guidance released today

Apply for the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme

This scheme helps large businesses affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) to access loans of up to £25 million. The scheme is now open for applications, click here to find out more.

COVID-19: Guidance for people receiving direct payments

Advice for people who buy care and support through a direct payment, as well as local authorities, clinical commissioning groups and those who provide care and support.

Actions for early early years and childcare providers during coronavirus outbreak

Updated guidance on what childcare services early years settings, childminders and local authorities need to provide during the coronavirus outbreak is available. This guidance is for providers registered with Ofsted and childminders registered with childminder agencies for children of all ages.