REOPENING AND FUNDING UPDATE
04 November 2020
With Friday 13th fast approaching we continue to engage at the highest level of NI Government, with a weekly Ministerial meeting to review and secure the sustainable reopening of every part of our industry.
The current closure legislation expires on the 13th November, but there is always the potential for the closure to be extended- made more possible by the statement of the CMO that it was a choice between ‘keeping schools open or opening hospitality’.
Whilst the industry recognises that health must come first, and that for some time to come additional Covid measures within the industry will be necessary to reduce the spread of the virus. However, it is important that we find a way to live and work with Covid by establishing a ‘Covid Secure Standard’ for the hospitality industry, similar to other measures used to ensure food hygiene standards.
It is also important that every Covid measure used within the industry is evaluated and effective in reducing the spread of the virus, with their necessity regularly reviewed, as every measure also has an impact on the sustainability of businesses and jobs within the industry.
It is therefore vital that Government and the industry work in true partnership to develop a way that we can safely live and work with Covid, and safely sustain the jobs and businesses in hospitality through this crisis.
We have therefore put forward proposals to government for the creation of ‘Covid Secure Hospitality Standards (NI)’; a single set of preventative measures whilst ‘Living with Covid’ for all food and beverage outlets within the Hospitality Industry in Northern Ireland (licensed and unlicensed), to include:
- A set of legally enforceable, regularly reviewed Covid Secure measures that are required to operate any hospitality business
- An inspection / regulatory and enforcement scheme delivered by the eleven local authorities to ensure compliance
- A publicly recognised standard like the Food Hygiene ‘Scores on the Doors’
- A set of penalties for breaches of the Covid Secure measures
NOTE: It is also important that Government recognises many outlets may find the existing Covid Measures unsustainable, and should be allowed to remain closed and benefit from prevailing financial support until measures are reduced or removed.
- NI Grants- We have secured higher grants that any other part of the UK. Whilst we recognise that the grants are not going to cover all your bills, never mind the losses, we are pressing for them to be paid as a matter of urgency as many businesses are in dire need.
Hospitality Ulster are in regular and ongoing contact with the Department of Finance, grant payments are now underway and applicants should receive an e-mail when the claim has been processed and verified. Payment will normally follow within three working days of the email.
- Guidance on Support for the Self Employed (and Employed)- The UK Government has updated the guidance to self-employed people who are getting little or no work (CLICK HERE) as a result of Coronavirus restrictions, confirming the grant will be doubled
- There has also been a similar guidance update for those that are employed and cannot work (CLICK HERE) due to coronavirus
- The UK Government has announced that the other loan schemes will also remain open until 31 January 2021
The Links to the three schemes are:
Bounce Back Loans - CLICK HERE
CBILS - CLICK HERE
CLBILS - CLICK HERE
- SEISS Guidance Updated- HMRC’s guidance on the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme Grant (CLICK HERE) has been updated in-line with the announcement that the scheme has been extended and will now operate at the 80% level 3
- Loan Application Date Extended- The Future Fund is a scheme that will issue convertible loans between £125,000 to £5 million to innovative companies who are facing financing difficulties due to the coronavirus outbreak, subject to at least equal match funding from private investors. The Fund was created to support start-ups and scale-ups that find that they are ineligible for other loan schemes like the CBILS and Bounce Back loans because they are classed as undertakings in difficulty. The fund was initially open for applications until 30 September 2020 but this has now been extended to 31 January 2021
- Government has confirmed it has applied to the European Commission to avail itself of the increase in the State Aid cap to 3m Euros