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3rd April:  Requests for information on Package Travel Regs Challenges and Bank Lending Issues

Thank you to all of you who have cascaded the asks for feedback to your members, we are getting information coming through that we are sharing with DCMS. Based on this DCMS have come back to us with some further asks on specific information that they need to help them build a strong case for tourism businesses for Treasury.

On Package Travel Regulation there is a need for specific data, to help DCMS in their discussions with BEIS, Treasury and DfT. Can operators who are feeding back please share the following information:

  • The volume of refunds they are having to process and what percent of passengers are happy to accept credit notes/vouchers?
  • How many refunds are being pursued by customers through credit card chargeback? 

Bank lending issues

DCMS and their central economic response team are keen to have as much granular detail as possible of the issues businesses are facing with banks, including specific examples of viable companies not being able to secure loans - either under the schemes or showing that the banks are not lending commercially to companies in the tourism and hospitality sector. The information they are asking for includes:

  • name of company (if you are not comfortable sharing this, please say which part of the sector you are in)
  • size of the company/turnover
  • any high level info that shows the company was viable until this crisis
  • how much of a loan you asked for and under which scheme?
  • which bank you requested this from
  • the bank's response (including whether the bank is asking for a personal guarantee) / how long it is taking to hear back from the bank
  • when the company will be in negative cash flow

We understand the information being asked for is of a confidential and sensitive nature, we would like to assure businesses that it will only be shared with DCMS and be used for the purposes stated above.

Please also keep us posted on any companies that may collapse imminently due to cash flow issues, we are being told that there are many but DCMS need specific examples to share with Treasury.

Please share the above information with davina.took@visitbritain.org

Updates to CBILS to ease liquidity for SMES and a new scheme for larger companies.

  • A new scheme has been announced, the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) will ensure that more firms are able to benefit from government-backed support during this difficult time. It will provide a government guarantee of 80% to enable banks to make loans of up to £25 million to firms with an annual turnover of between £45 million and £500 million.
  • For smaller firms applying for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme lenders have been banned from requesting personal guarantees on loans under £250,000

The full announcement can be read here, we will share any further information and updates on these schemes as they become available.

Update on Business rates relief for the hospitality and leisure sector

Further to the guidance published earlier this week on business rate relief the Local Government Association and the Tourism Alliance have identified some tourism businesses that are not explicitly mentioned in the guidance, but it is felt that they fall into the intended category. Councils are being asked to give consideration to the premises listed below for inclusion in their local schemes:

  • ·         Amusement Arcades
  • ·         Vehicle Rental Sites
  • ·         Conference and Exhibition venues
  • ·         Travel and Tour Operators
  • ·         Tourism Information Centres
  • ·         Tourism Boards/Destination Management Organisations
  • ·         Coach operators
  • ·         English Language Schools
  • ·         Travel/Hospitality Industry Charities (offices)
  • ·         Marinas/Boat Hire/Passenger Boat Facilities

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2nd April 

LGA Business Rates Relief Advice available at https://local.gov.uk/coronavirus-business-rates-relief-hospitality-and-leisure-sector

IOD- Covid support hub for businesses

2nd April

Today’s Government briefing focused on a health care update, the full update can be seen here.

Latest Government advice and links

  • The Department for Business, Enterprise and Industrial Strategy is encouraging businesses across England to contact their local Growth Hub, they can provide a free to use, impartial and local single point of contact to all businesses, so that they can access the right advice and support. The hubs can advise businesses on local and national business support including schemes in place to help businesses through the current COVID-19 situation. Find your local Growth Hub here 
  • The National Lottery Heritage Fund has put together a £50million fund to support the heritage sector as an immediate response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.  
    • The £50m Heritage Emergency Fund will be available for grants of between £3,000 and £50,000. It is available to organisations across the full breadth of heritage, including historic sites, industrial and maritime heritage, museums, libraries and archives, parks and gardens, landscapes and nature.
    • Organisations which have received funding in the past and are either a current grantee, or still under contract following a previous grant, can apply.
      • Priority will be given where:
      • there is limited or no access to other sources of support
      • where heritage is most at risk
      • where an organisation is at risk of severe financial crisis due to COVID-19
  • Update to the guidance for local authorities setting out details of the Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF) and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLGF), outlining information on state aid, monitoring and reporting requirements, post payment checks, and the eligibility of charities. Also now available is the grant funding allocations by local authority.
  • The Business rates: expanded retail discount – guidance has been updated to confirm that the government’s assessment that the expanded retail discount is not a state aid, and that local authorities should therefore award relief to all eligible properties.
  • The 2020 National Living Wage comes into effect today (Wednesday 1 April), a 6.2% increase on the previous rate

Other travel measures, advice and updates

  • COP26 conference, due to take place in Glasgow in November, has been postponed.
  • The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) recently released a set of recommendations calling for urgent and strong support to help the global tourism sector. The recommendations fall into three key areas:
    • Managing a crisis and mitigating the impact
    • Providing Stimulus and Accelerating Recovery
    • Preparing for Tomorrow

Situation update 2 April 2020

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1st April 2020 - TIER information update

Summary of latest Government briefing

The Business Secretary Alok Sharma gave today’s update along with Dr Yvonne Doyle, Director for Health Protection and Medical Director at PHE. Below are some of the key takeaways:

  • The Business Secretary gave an update on the steps the government is taking to address the pandemic. There have been 563 more deaths since yesterday bringing the total number of UK deaths to 2352.
  • From today £22bn of support is available to business with business rates relief.
  • Local authorities have received £12bn for grants to small businesses.
  • There are Government backed loans to businesses and Sharma warned banks that, "It would be completely unacceptable if any banks were refusing funds to good businesses in financial difficulty.
  • Dr Doyle presented statistics on transportation use. There has been a small increase in recent days. Dr Doyle warned the public to stay at home.
  • Global death comparisons will continue to have a lower trajectory than France and Italy.

The full briefing can be seen here.

Latest Government advice and links

  • Details on how much funding will be provided to businesses
    • Under the Small Business Grant Fund (SBGF) all eligible businesses in England in receipt of either Small Business Rates Relief (SBRR) or Rural Rates Relief (RRR) in the business rates system will be eligible for a payment of £10,000.
    • Under the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant (RHLG) eligible businesses in England in receipt of the Expanded Retail Discount (which covers retail, hospitality and leisure) with a rateable value of less than £51,000 will be eligible for a cash grants of £10,000 or £25,000 per property.
    • Eligible businesses in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value of up to and including £15,000 will receive a grant of £10,000.
    • Eligible businesses in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value of over £15,000 and less than £51,000 will receive a grant of £25,000.
    • Businesses with a rateable value of £51,000 or over are not eligible for this scheme. Businesses which are not ratepayers in the business rates system are not included in this scheme.
  • Also covered is eligibility of businesses for both funds, exclusions to the funds, information around fraud and rating list changes. The full guidance is available for download from gov.uk 

Other travel measures, advice and updates

Situation update: correct as of 17.00 1 April 2020

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Message on behalf of TIER: COVID-19 update 31 March         

Today’s Government briefing focused on a health update, the full update can be seen here.

Latest Government advice and links

    • checks can now be carried out over video calls
    • job applicants and existing workers can send scanned documents or a photo of documents for checks using email or a mobile app, rather than sending originals
    • employers should use the Employer Checking Service if a prospective or existing employee cannot provide any of the accepted documents
    • medical testing equipment, medical equipment design, protective equipment for healthcare workers, such as masks, gowns and sanitiser
    • hotel rooms, transport and logistics, for moving goods or people
    • manufacturing equipment
    • warehouse or office space, for medical use or storage
    • expertise or support on IT, manufacturing, construction, project management, procurement, engineering or communications
    • social care or childcare
    • Businesses can share the areas they can offer support through the online portal.

Other travel measures, advice and updates

  • British Airways is suspending all its flights to and from Gatwick.
  • From 1 April, Gatwick Airport is temporarily closing its North Terminal and all flights will operate from South Terminal. From Wednesday, Gatwick’s runway will only be open for scheduled flights between 2pm and 10pm.
  • Southend Airport is only open on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays between 4.30pm and 9.30pm.
  • Hull Trains will be temporarily suspending all train services from 00.01 on Monday 30 March 2020. Passengers with tickets for Hull Trains will be able to travel on alternative train services on the same date and route specified on the ticket. Arrangements have been made to make sure that tickets will be accepted by other train operators.

Situation update: correct as of 17.00 31 March 2020

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30 March 17:58 update from TIER

Summary of latest relevant Government announcements

Latest Government advice and links

·         Government amends insolvency law to help companies keep trading while they explore options for rescue. The Insolvency Act will be temporarily suspended specifically to give confidence to directors              to continue trading without the threat of personal liability, should the company ultimately fall into insolvency.  

·         DCMS Secretary of State provides an update on access to cultural attractions from home

·         Updated information on the closing certain businesses and venues page around compliance. The new Regulations extending the restrictions are now enforceable by law due to the threat to public                  health.

·         The Cabinet Office has produced COVID-19 FAQs detailing what the public can and can’t do, which businesses may wish to share with their employees.

·         Government cracks down on spread of false coronavirus information online

·         The Welsh Government has announced that a new £500m Economic Resilience Fund has been launched for Wales

Other travel measures, advice and updates

  • Expo 2020 due to take place in Dubai this year has been postponed to 2021
  • EasyJet has announced due to COVID-19 and travel restrictions that they have fully grounded their fleet of aircraft as of 30 March.

Situation update: correct as of 17.00 30 March 2020

VisitBritain’s social activity has been highlighted in Skift as one of the ‘Top 5 Tourism Promotion Campaigns that are hitting the right notes in a crisis’ ranking number 2. The tourism industry can get involved in the campaign through their social media channels when they feel they are ready, find out how you can join the campaign on visitbritain.org.

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27 March 17:00 hrs - update to earlier post:  

New guidance on Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been announced today stating that:

  • The UK Government will cover employer National Insurance and pension contributions of furloughed workers – on top of 80% of salary
  • Those furloughed can volunteer for the NHS without risking their pay
  • Businesses furloughing staff during the coronavirus outbreak will receive further financial support – with the costs of employer national insurance and pension contributions being covered by the government. Under the scheme, employers can claim a grant covering 80% of the wages for a furloughed employee, subject to a cap of £2,500 a month. Visit the gov.uk website to find out more.

27 March: Clarification on the job retention scheme and self employment support

  • Job Retention Scheme Guidance

Guidance on the rules relating to the JRS and furloughing have been published. Key points include

  • Businesses can claim Employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on top of the actual wage cost
  • To be eligible you must have created and started a PAYE payroll scheme for the employee by 28 February 2020 but they can be on any form of contract including ZHCs and agency contracts
  • The government expects that the scheme will not be used by many public sector organisations or organisations receiving public funding
  • The scheme covers employees who were made redundant since 28 February 2020, if they are rehired.
  • A furloughed employee can not undertake work for or on behalf of the organisation – although they can undertake training
  • Employees who are working on reduced hours, or for reduced pay, are not be eligible
  • The 80% calculated is to be based on the employee’s pre-tax salary
  • Employees must be paid the lower of 80% of their salary, or £2,500 even if this means they end up receiving a wage below the NLW/NMW
  • To claim, you will need:
    • your ePAYE reference number
    • the number of employees being furloughed
    • the claim period (start and end date)
    • amount claimed (per the minimum length of furloughing of 3 weeks)
    • your bank account number and sort code
    • your contact name
    • your phone number
  • You can only submit one claim at least every 3 weeks, which is the minimum length an employee can be furloughed for. Claims can be backdated until the 1 March if applicable.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

  • Self-Employment Support

One very important detail that has come to light since the announcement last night is that self-employed people who have set themselves up as a Limited Company are not eligible for this relief. It is thought that people in this situation are eligible for the JRS in relation to their salary if they stop working. However, many self-employed people who set themselves up as an incorporated business only pay themselves a wage set at the National Insurance earnings threshold (currently £166 per week) and take the rest of their income in dividends. This means that the JRS will cover only a very small part of their actual income.

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25 March : industry relevant information published

Other travel measures, advice and updates:

  • London City Airport has announced that it is temporarily suspending its commercial and private flights from the airport. This began last evening Wednesday 25 March and is expected to last until the end of April. This will be keep under review.
  • Gatwick Airport remains open but with limited passenger facilities. Rail and coach services are also reduced. Customers are advised to check the latest flight information with their airline.
  • Qatar:  Has stated that passengers from all destinations served by Qatar Airways can still travel with the airline and transit through Hamad International Airport, subject to entry restrictions at their final destination. However, because of the operational challenges faced due to Covid-19 it has altered or cancelled some of its services. Affected customers can re-book tickets to alternative dates or destinations, opt to receive a voucher for future travel, or get a refund. This policy applies to all tickets issued anytime until 30 September 2020, for travel on or before the same date.

DCMS Clarification for Accommodation Providers 24/03/20

Coronavirus Bill 2019-21

·         Coronavirus (COVID-19):update on guidance on business support grant funding. The update details hereditaments that were not eligible for percentage SBRR relief (including those eligible for the Small Business Rate Multiplier) are excluded.

·         The Business rates: expanded retail discount guidance has been updated to cover certain properties previously excluded from the relief, but that have been forced to close as a result of coronavirus restrictions, will now be eligible for the relief.

Other travel measures, advice and updates:

  • Thai Airways:  Has announced that is suspending most of its international operations until 31st May 2020. It has more information on its website about specific dates and routes here.
  • MOT updateThe UK Government has announced that vehicle owners will be granted a six-month exemption from MOT testing, enabling them to continue to travel to work where this absolutely cannot be done from home, or shop for necessities. All cars, vans and motorcycles which usually would require a MOT test will be exempted from needing a test from 30 March 2020. Vehicles must be kept in a roadworthy condition, and garages will remain open for essential repair work. Drivers can be prosecuted if driving unsafe vehicles.
  • Transport for London (TfL): TfL announced today that it is taking targeted measures to control the flow of passengers at the stations that remain the busiest. This includes reducing the flow at the gate lines with the support of the 500 British Transport Police who are now deployed across the rail network, opening different routes to platforms and turning off down escalators to slow the flow of people to platforms.

Join VisitBritain/VisitEngland’s marketing response

VisitBritain/VisitEngland has launched a social marketing campaign to keep Britain top of visitors’ minds during international and UK travel bans. The campaign aims to share inspirational content based on popular British culture such as recipes, TV and film shows, literature and more, for people to enjoy in their own homes. Find out how to get involved

VisitEngland is continuing to update a page on their Business Advice Hub offering advice for tourism and event businesses affected by COVID-19..


18/3/20: THE BVEP WILL DO “WHATEVER IT TAKES” TO REPRESENT THE EVENTS INDUSTRY

Business Support Update (18th March)

ACAS Coronovirus Q & A & Free Webinars for Businesses


Insurance provider updates

You can also go to the VisitBritain website for advice for businesses and links to key updates and information.