Latest News Updates on COVID-19

NATIONAL LOCKDOWN AND CORONAVIRUS BUSINESS SUPPORT

05 Jan 2021

Last night the Prime Minister announced a national lockdown for England, to control the virus and protect the NHS. This means that, apart from some exemptions, people must stay at home. 

Following last night’s announcement, the Chancellor has, today, announced £4.6 billion in new lockdown grants to help businesses through to Spring.

Stay at home

We know this will have a significant impact on many people’s daily lives, but we must all continue to follow the rules. The new COVID-19 strain is spreading faster than the previous one, so everyone must stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives. You may only leave home if it is absolutely necessary. This includes for reasons such as to: 

  • Shop for necessities for you or for someone who is vulnerable.
  • Go to work, if you cannot work from home.
  • Exercise with people you live with or your support bubble (no more than once a day).
  • Get medical help or to avoid injury or the risk of harm, including domestic abuse.
  • Go to school or childcare provision, if eligible. 

Support and childcare bubbles

People who need more help can form support or childcare bubbles. However if you form a support bubble or a childcare bubble you must make sure that you follow the rules. You can find information about the rules for support and childcare bubbles on gov.uk

Help for businesses

This morning the Chancellor announced one-off top-up grants for businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors. These grants are worth up to £9,000 per property and are there to help businesses through lockdown. There is also a discretionary fund worth £594 million to support other businesses. 

Check the business support page on gov.uk for more information. 

Schools and education 

Most children and students will learn remotely until February half term. However, there are some exceptions: 

  • Early years providers including nurseries and registered childminders can remain open during national lockdown.
  • Schools, alternative provision, special schools, and colleges will also remain open to vulnerable children and young people, and the children of critical workers.  
  • Children with at least one parent or carer who is listed as a critical worker can go to school or college if they need to. You can find the critical worker guidance on gov.uk.

Universities

Universities will allow students who are studying courses that require specific training to return for face-to-face learning. These students must isolate for 10 days when they return to university and be tested twice a week after that. 

All other university students should remain where they are, where possible, and work online until mid February.

See the going to school, college and university guidance on gov.uk for more information about the changes.

Looking out for each other

This is a difficult time, and the new restrictions may leave people feeling lonely or isolated. This means that we need to look after ourselves as well as each other. 

It is important to keep in touch with people, especially those who live alone, and encourage your networks to do the same.  

Remember there is support available for people who need it. You can find information via the Every Mind Matters campaign


FURLOUGH SCHEME EXTENDED AND FURTHER ECONOMIC SUPPORT ANNOUNCED

03 Nov 2020

In light of the increased restrictions the UK government is introducing additional economic and business support measures:

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme: The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, also known as the furlough scheme, has been extended to December 2020. Check to find:

The Job Support Scheme will not be introduced until after Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme ends.

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme Grant Extension:  The grant is being extended from 1 November 2020. The grant will be increased from the previously announced level of 40% of trading profits to 80% for November 2020. Find out if you are eligible and how much you can get.

Business Grants: Business premises forced to close in England due to local or national restrictions will be eligible for the following:

  • For properties with a rateable value of £15k or under, grants to be £1,334 per month, or £667 per two weeks;
  • For properties with a rateable value of between £15k-£51k grants to be £2,000 per month, or £1,000 per two weeks;
  • For properties with a rateable value of £51k or over grants to be £3,000 per month, or £1,500 per two weeks.

Business grant policy is fully devolved. Devolved Administrations will receive Barnett consequentials which they could use to establish similar schemes.

Loan schemes: application deadlines extended to January 31 2021: The application deadlines for the coronavirus Bounce Back LoanCoronavirus Business Interruption LoanCoronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme and coronavirus Future Fund have been extended  until 31 January 2021.

 


COVID TESTING FOR ALL KEY WORKERS IN ESSENTIAL UTILITY SECTOR SERVICES

We can confirm Covid-19 testing capacity in England has now been extended to all key workers and their households with symptoms. We can confirm that workers delivering essential services in the utilities sector, which encompasses heat, are now eligible for testing. The Government’s guidance remains that tradespeople entering home’s should only be undertaking essential repairs and maintenance. No work should be carried out by a tradesperson who has coronavirus symptoms, however mild. Those with symptoms that need to return to work to undertake essential activity in the heat sector must get tested before doing so.

More information, and the option to self-refer for a test, is available online at www.gov.uk/coronavirus.

BEAMA has been working with BEIS to ensure the expansion of the new test capacity can reach essential services in our sector.  The new guidance has also raised a number of key questions, and in particular around the necessity and eligibility for installers to obtain tests. BEAMA has sought clarifications direct from Government which we publish below to help companies understand their eligibility for testing.    

1. Installers of equipment into a variety of building types have for the first time been included in the professions able to apply for Covid 19 tests.

2. However, the situations outlined are very restricted:

         a) includes those providing maintenance services for essential utilities provisions in homes and buildings. Particularly those who may come    in contact with those in vulnerable groups.

         b) This means workers in the heating sector, for example, delivering essential activity are eligible for testing, where they or members of  their household have symptoms of Covid-19.

         c) This definition applies for the purposes of childcare provision and testing for those workers self-isolating only and is not an indication in itself of whether someone is able to continue to work or whether a business should remain open.

3. The Government asks businesses to take a pragmatic approach to the prioritisation and identification of essential work and maintenance activity using their knowledge and expertise of the sector they operate in.  

4. The current guidance does not extend to the manufacturing part of the supply chain. This may change as the capacity of testing increases over the next few weeks.

5.  There is no requirement to undergo testing in order to carry out household work and installers who do not have symptoms of Covid-19 or a household member with symptoms should carry on installation work with suitable social distancing precautions.

BEAMA continues to support our community of members during the COVID-19 crisis.  If you have any questions and would like to contact BEAMA please email us at [email protected]


CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) – JOB RETENTION SCHEME

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is open for applications. Employers can claim online for a grant for 80% of their furloughed employees’ salaries, up to a maximum of £2,500 per employee per month. Click here to make a claim. 

To receive payment by 30 April, you will need to complete an application by the end of 22 April (today) as it can take 6 working days from making an application to receive the money. Please keep a note or print-out of your claim reference number as you won’t receive a confirmation SMS or email.

HMRC have produced this step by step guidance on how to make a claim. There is also a calculator to help you work out your claim.


ENERGY MINISTER ANNOUNCES TESTING FOR CRITICAL ENERGY WORKERS

In England, testing has been implemented to the energy sector workers at Critical National Infrastructure sites. This was communicated to the relevant stations.

    • These tests are antigen tests, and are reserved for critical workers and those self-isolating because they or a family/household has symptoms.
    • BEIS continues to work towards getting testing rolled out to the further energy industry.

This testing scheme does allow for those based in Wales to attend a test centre in England, if they can access it in line with Government advice (not travelling long distances).

Wales will be making testing available to energy companies also, and BEIS is working with the Welsh Government to understand their process and how soon this can be rolled out.

For more information on testing please visit the official government site which lists all those being prioritised for testing.  HERE.


FIND CORONAVIRUS FINANCIAL SUPPORT FOR YOUR BUSINESS

Government has launched a new support finder tool for businesses to try and streamline the process: https://www.gov.uk/business-coronavirus-support-finder

BEAMA continues to support our community of members in maintaining critical industry operations at this time,  and planning for a staged recovery when appropriate.  For more information on business guidance from government and our activities to support member companies please visit the BEAMA website here,  or email [email protected]