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Supreme Court Rules in Favour of SME Insurance Payouts

Following the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) appeal to the business interruption test case, the Supreme Court has ruled in favour of SMEs receiving insurance payouts as a result of closures and financial loss due to Coronavirus. This means that Wimbledon businesses who had claims denied earlier in the pandemic may now be eligible for compensation from their insurers.

 

Sheldon Mills, Executive Director, Consumers and Competition at the FCA, commented:

Coronavirus is causing substantial loss and distress to businesses and many are under immense financial strain to stay afloat. This test case involved complex legal issues. Our aim throughout this test case has been to get clarity for as wide a range of parties as possible, as quickly as possible, and today’s judgment decisively removes many of the roadblocks to claims by policyholders.

We will be working with insurers to ensure that they now move quickly to pay claims that the judgment says should be paid, making interim payments wherever possible. Insurers should also communicate directly and quickly with policyholders who have made claims affected by the judgment to explain next steps.

As we have recognised from the start of this case, tens of thousands of small firms and potentially hundreds of thousands of jobs are relying on this. We are grateful to the Supreme Court for delivering the judgment quickly. The speed with which it was reached reflects well on all parties.

 

Each policy will need to be considered individually against the detailed judgment to work out what it means for that policy. Businesses can expect to hear from their insurers and should get in touch with their broker, advisor or insurer with questions. Businesses unhappy following their insurer’s assessment of their claim may be able to refer their claim to the Financial Ombudsman Service, whose role is to fairly and impartially resolve disputes.

More information about the Supreme Court judgement and the test case can be found here.

 

 

 

 

Kickstart Scheme and Peer Networks

Kickstart Scheme

Employers can now receive full funding to support job placements for young people, within your business. The new Government Kickstart scheme aims to support new jobs for young people on Universal Credit, who are at risk of long term unemployment. Placements will be 6 months long and will be fully-funded for 25 hours a week.

If you have less than 30 job placements available then contact Merton Chamber (info@mertonchamber.co.uk or apply online), who act as a Gateway organisation to group employer requests together and submit your application.

Peer Networks

A national peer-to-peer networking programme for SME leaders that want to grow and develop their organisation for future success. Delivered locally by Merton Chamber of Commerce in association with Business Clan, the programme creates diverse cohort groups of individuals to collaboratively work through common business issues.

Eligibility: A London based business who employs five or more, and has a turnover of over £100,000 and has been trading for more than one year.

Interested in being part of a dynamic peer network? Contact diana@mertonchamber.co.uk for more information.

Peer Networks is a national programme delivered locally by Merton Chamber and Business Clan on behalf of the London Business Hub.

Prepare Your Business for the NHS Covid-19 App

 

New measures in place for the Hospitality, Leisure and Close Contact sectors:

  • Businesses will need to display the official NHS QR code poster for customers to ‘check-in’ in support of Test and Trace (more details below).
  • Pubs, bars, restaurants and cafés must operate table-service only.
  • Pubs, bars, restaurants and cafés, including takeaway, are required to close from 10 pm to 5 am (delivery can continue after 10 pm).
  • Customers in indoor hospitality venues must wear face coverings, except when seated at a table to eat or drink. Staff in hospitality and retail will now also be required to wear face coverings.
  • From 28th September businesses will face stricter rules to make their premises COVID Secure. Details about sector-specific guidance, including a Covid Secure Certificate to display, can be found here.

 

Collecting Customer Data

From Thursday September 24th, the NHS Test and Trace app will be able to be downloaded on mobile phones across UK. All hospitality, close contact and leisure businesses are being advised to use this system to assist with the track and trace of your customers.

By displaying the official NHS QR poster, the NHS COVID-19 app has a feature which allows users to ‘check-in’ to your venue by scanning the code. This is a secure way for individuals to ‘check-in’ as the details stay on the person’s phone. In England, people who ‘check-in’ do not then have to provide their contact details as part of the staff, customer and visitor logs. All customers must either check-in with the NHS App or give you their details, this does not change this requirement but should make it easier for your business to manage this process.

Official NHS QR posters can be generated online.

Organisations can find out more about NHS QR codes and how to generate them on the NHS COVID-19 app website.

 

The data that you are being asked to collect is personal data and must be handled in accordance with GDPR to protect the privacy of your staff, customers and visitors.

GDPR allows you to request contact information from your staff, customers and visitors and share it with NHS Test and Trace to help minimise the transmission of COVID-19 and support public health and safety. It is not necessary to seek consent from each person, but you should make clear why the information is being collected and what you intend to do with it.

You do not have to inform every customer individually. You might, for example, display a notice at your premises or on your website setting out what the data will be used for and the circumstances in which it might be accessed by NHS Test and Trace.

Full details are available here.

 

Managing the Local Situation

Some areas of the country are having to deal with local lockdowns and managing local outbreaks. We are monitoring the local situation using the government website that is updated daily.

We are also in regular communication with Merton Council’s Public Health Department. You will see currently Merton has one of the smallest incidences of Covid 19, however we must remain vigilant to provide the safest environment for our customers, so please do continue to maintain high standards of Covid awareness within your business.

 

In preparation for what to do if there is an outbreak, please read through the early outbreak management action cards here.

  1. Identify the source of the possible or confirmed case(s)
  2. Report it to Public Health England Health Protection Team (PHE HPT)
  3. Respond according to the advice received by PHE HPT

Preparing For Brexit

It is important for businesses to start taking action to prepare for new rules that will come into effect from 1 January 2021, even if you do not trade with or do business in the EU.

The London Chamber of Commerce and Industry has launched an EU Exit Hub to support London businesses with preparing for these changes that might affect them when the transition period ends. The Hub contains information and links to official guidance on a range of matters including:

  • Staff employment
  • Business travel
  • Exporting and importing
  • International trade: paperwork, costs, logistics
  • Data protection
  • E-commerce
  • Accounting and auditing
  • Public procurement
  • Intellectual property
  • Taxation

Find out more here.

Mayor of London Launches
Back To Business Fund

Back to Business Fund Pay It Forward

 

The Mayor of London has launched a £1m Back to Business Fund, match funding up to £5,000 for small and independent businesses through the Pay It Forward London crowdfunding platform. The funding is intended to help businesses expand their operation online, invest in the future and adapt to safe, socially distant practices in sectors that rely on physical trading, including retail, hospitality, leisure, tourism, travel, creative and arts, entertainment and recreation, and health and fitness.

To be eligible, your business will need a crowdfunding project on Pay It Forward London and reach 25% of your campaign target. Once 100% of your target is reached, the funding is released, up to £5,000 – or 50% of your campaign target.

For more details about eligibility, to set-up a project and to apply click here.

Prepare Your Business for Local Lockdowns

 

As we start to recover from the national lockdown, the last thing any business needs to be considering is a local lockdown.

Love Wimbledon is in regular contact with the Director of Public Health and the Merton Council Business Support team and we are monitoring the local statistics carefully. Currently, the risk in the local area is very low. Should any indication of a local lockdown in Wimbledon emerge, we will maintain our communication and support to our BID businesses by keeping you up-to-date with any information.

In the meantime, the CBI (Confederation of British Industry) has recently released a factsheet to help businesses prepare for and navigate local lockdowns.

This covers issues such as:

  • Adding local lockdowns into your business continuity risks
  • Ensuring that you understand any restrictions or measures implemented
  • Sending out clear, reassuring communications to staff
  • How long local lockdowns can last
  • The best way for business to engage with government over local lockdowns
  • How businesses should respond to outbreaks in their workforce

We urge all our businesses to check out the factsheet here, which also includes government guidance on local lockdowns.

Love Wimbledon BID is here as usual to support your business through these times.

 

Government Announce ‘Recovery Advice for Business’ Scheme

 

The government have just announced their new ‘Recovery Advice for Business’ scheme, through which small businesses will receive free, one-to-one advice from expert advisers on how they can bounce back from coronavirus (COVID-19) and to prepare for long-term recovery.

 

The scheme is hosted on the Enterprise Nation website, and backed by thousands of expert professional and business services advisers who are on hand and ready to do their bit in offering bespoke, specialist assistance in the following areas: accountancy, legal, advertising, marketing, recruitment and digital.

Each adviser has offered at least one hour of free advice a month until the end of 2020 which could deliver a lifeline to thousands of SMEs looking for support.

These experts come from some of the UK’s major professional and trade bodies who have signed up to support the scheme, including: The Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD), the Institute of Chartered Accountants England & Wales (ICAEW), the Advertising Association, the Law Society and the Management Consultancies Association (MCA).

How Does It Work?

Businesses who wish to access the support, must do so via Enterprise Nation platform. They will then be asked questions on the ‘Make a Plan’ diagnostic tool. This will allow Enterprise Nation to assess and identify both the level and specific areas of support needed.

They will subsequently be directed to a personalised dashboard where they will receive a detailed action plan which will include links to suggested tailored advice and relevant professional advisers willing to help.

Advice will focus on key areas:

  • accounting and finance
  • people and building a team
  • planning, strategy and pivoting
  • marketing, PR and social media
  • Technology and digital tools

Over 12,000 advisers in the existing Enterprise Nation community are available to provide advice through the platform, with more new professional advisers being signed up specifically to support the scheme.

Enterprise Nation is providing free access to the platform, until 31st December 2020

Want To Support The Scheme As A Business Expert?

Advisers will need to belong to a professional or trade body and hold valid Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII) to join the platform and offer advice. They will then need their Trade Body Coupon Code, demonstrating their membership of a professional body, and the link to the Enterprise Nation adviser sign-up page. This will enable advisers to sign up as part of the programme, for free membership, for the duration of the programme until the end of December 2020. It will also ensure that all advice is provided by appropriate expert advisers.

 

Click here to access this support.

Merton Discretionary Grant Fund Scheme Opens for Applications

 

Small and micro businesses with ongoing fixed property costs may be eligible for a grant from the Discretionary Grants Scheme if they were not eligible for the Small Business Grant Fund or the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund.

This fund is significantly smaller than the previous coronavirus related grants and will only be available to support a small number of businesses in Merton.

Merton Council will administer the scheme in two phases and the deadline for phase 1 applications is 5pm on 24 June 2020.

 

For more information about eligibility and to apply, CLICK HERE 

We are hosting a webinar, 16th June 10-11am,  to assist businesses with understanding the qualifying criteria, in partnership with Merton Chamber of Commerce and Merton Council. Register for the webinar here.

Reach Out and Connect with MPs Paul Scully and Stephen Hammond Webinar Recording

 

On Tuesday 5th May Love Wimbledon and Merton Chamber of Commerce hosted a webinar with MP Paul Scully, the Under Secretary of State for BEIS and Minister for London, and our local MP, Stephen Hammond, about the Government’s support for business and to hear their views of how we might emerge out of lockdown. It was well attended and a prime opportunity for businesses to ask questions about the various areas of government support, including the Business Bounce Back Loans, further details on the top-up grant and when businesses might receive guidance about re-opening.

Click here to watch a recording of the webinar.

We are here to represent your concerns and lobbying on behalf of businesses in Wimbledon Town Centre to ensure a strong restart. Visit our dedicated Covid-19 page for collated resources to keep up-to-date with government and financial support and public health guidance.

Be sure to check back for future webinars and get in touch if you’d like to address a specific topic or need additional advice and support for your business.  info@lovewimbledon.org

 

 

 

Eight Weeks to Save the Nation’s High Streets

UK High Streets are on the brink of collapse as the eight-week countdown to the next quarterly rent instalment begins today, according to the #RaiseTheBar campaign.

Figures released today by #RaiseTheBar show 54,638 businesses from pubs to shops, restaurants, cafes, bars, hotels, galleries and gyms are currently unable to access the £25,000 RHLG grant due to their business rates valuation falling between £51,000 – £150,000.

As part of the RHLG guidance, only those in the retail, hospitality, leisure sectors with a rateable value of up to £51,000 can access the vital grant, leaving tens of thousands of businesses stranded. The #RaiseTheBar campaign, launched on 21 April 2020, is calling on the Government to raise the arbitrary £51,000 business rates threshold cap to £150,000, allowing over 54,638 businesses in these sectors the chance to survive. The campaign has secured cross-party support including:

  • 86 Conservative MPs wrote to the Chancellor on Friday 1 May, in an open letter calling for the business rates threshold to be increased
  • The Shadow Chancellor Rt. Hon. Anneliese Dodds MP has written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rt. Hon. Rishi Sunak MP, to bring to his attention the #RaiseTheBar campaign
  • Rt. Hon. Matt Hancock MP, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, committed to discuss the need to increase the business rates threshold with the Chancellor following a question in the daily Government briefing on Monday 27 April

Love Wimbledon is supporting the #RaiseTheBar campaign which believes access to the £25,000 is the difference between survival and bankruptcy for businesses on High Streets across England and Wales. The grant will enable businesses to mitigate significant stock losses and cashflow challenges, including rent, that wage subsidies do not address. Many businesses are not in a position to take on further debt or have serious misgivings about being able to survive the recovery and service loans. Other cash pressures include suppliers, service charges and the cost of re-opening to repurchase stock and ongoing running costs.

“Teokath of London has built up a reputation as one of the best bridal retail shops in the UK. We are about delivering on the dreams of our brides and feel a massive responsibility to making sure they have their once in a lifetime dress. It means everything. Our business is our family, we all live, work and breath it – it’s our passion. With no income, we need access to a grant to pay suppliers and give us the breathing space we need to survive – without it we face the daunting prospect of folding.”

Steve Sotiriou, Teokath of London (Wimbledon)

The #RaiseTheBar campaign estimates a maximum of £1.365bn in Government support is needed to enable the RHLG grant to support all 54,638 businesses falling within a business rates threshold of £51,000 to £150,000.

Matthew Sims, CEO, Croydon BID and co-founder of #RaiseTheBar campaign said, “Access to the RHLG grant is a ticking time bomb for tens of thousands of businesses on our High Streets and in our local communities. There are just eight weeks until rent is due and the prospect of going under is an uncomfortable truth the Government needs to hear and act upon now. The consequences of failing to increase the business rates threshold are too grim to bear.”

Night Czar for the Greater London Authority, Amy Lamé said, “London’s night time economy makes a huge contribution to life in our capital, but so many of these local businesses are under threat because of the impact of the coronavirus. They have rightly closed their doors to play their part in tackling this health crisis, but too many are not being supported by the government despite losing their entire income. It’s essential the Government raises the bar so that these treasured businesses can get the support they need so they are able to open their doors again when the time comes.”

To support the campaign individually whether you work in the sectors or not, you can sign the Petition to show your support. SIGN HERE

 

NOTE TO EDITORS

The #RaiseTheBar campaign was founded by Croydon Business Improvement District and Mr Fox pub in Croydon and launched on 21 April with an open letter to Rt. Hon. Alok Sharma MP Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

A change.org petition is calling on the public to help save the nation’s High Streets. The petition needs to reach 10,000 signatures to be recognised by Government.