Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said it is 'very tempting' to answer the call to #RaiseTheBar and increase the rateable value threshold for the small business support grant to £150,000.


The #RaiseTheBar campaign, led by Croydon BID and designed by White Label, calls for government to increase the threshold to ensure more businesses can have the opportunity to access the £25,000 grant in order to survive.


When asked about the campaign, along with whether government would cancel beer duty for six months once things return to normal, Mr Hancock, who took today's Downing Street press conference, said businesses in the food and drink industry had been hit very hard by the nature of social distancing, adding it "takes away the ability to go for a pint with your friends".


He added: "I will take these away and talk to the Chancellor (Rishi Sunak) about them. What I would say his announcement today of 100% guaranteed loans for smaller businesses is another important step for small businesses to get through this.


"We recognise the importance of supporting businesses right across the board who are badly hit by this.


"Supporting businesses through it is critical because both the health impact of the measures and the economic impact are both best served by people staying at home because that saves lives but it will also get the rate of transmission down as fast as possible, which will allow us to get through this as soon as possible.


"We want to get through it as soon as possible and we want to support businesses on the way through and those two specific ideas - it's tempting to say yes to as health secretary, but I think I need to talk to the Chancellor."


You can find out more about the #RaiseTheBar campaign here.


Micro 'bounce back' loans for Coronavirus-hit SMEs


Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced today that small businesses will be eligible for new loans worth between £2,000 and £50,000, which are backed by a 100% government guarantee


Businesses will be able to apply for these new 'Bounce Back Loans' for 25% of their turnover, up to a maximum of £50,000, with the government paying the interest for the first 12 months. The scheme opens from 9am on Monday (4 May) and loans should arrive within 24 hours of approval.


However, the Chancellor added that he would not be yielding to pressure to underwrite with 100% guarantees all the government's Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans.


"We should not ask the ordinary taxpayers of today and tomorrow to bear the entire risk of lending almost unlimited sums…to businesses who may, in some cases, have very little prospect of paying those loans back - and not necessarily because of the impact of coronavirus," he told Parliament.


"So I do not think it is appropriate to provide 100% guarantees on all of our schemes. Instead, these new Bounce Back Loans carefully target that extraordinary level of state support at those who need it most.


"And the £50,000 cap balances the risk to the taxpayer with the need to support our smallest businesses."


Read the Chancellor's statement in full here.


Boris is back, but lockdown continues

Prime Minister Boris Johnson returned to Downing Street this week, but warned British businesses that social distancing was likely to continue for some time.


"I know how hard and how stressful it has been…so let me say directly to British business - to the shopkeepers, to the entrepreneurs, to the hospitality sector, to everyone on whom our economy depends, I understand your impatience, I share your anxiety," said the Prime Minister.


"And I know that without our private sector, without the drive and commitment of the wealth creators of this country, there will be no economy to speak of; there will be no cash to pay for our public services; no way of funding our NHS.


"And yes, I can see the long term consequences of lockdown as clearly as anyone so, I entirely share your urgency…and yet we must also recognise the risk of a second spike…because that would mean not only a new wave of death and disease but also an economic disaster.


"We would be forced once again to slam on the brakes across the whole country and reimpose restrictions in such a way as to do more and lasting damage.


"So I know it is tough…but I have absolutely no doubt that we will beat it together, we will come through this all the faster and the United Kingdom will emerge stronger than ever before."


Read the Prime Minister's statement in full.


Payments start tomorrow for Furlough wage claims

Wages for furloughed employees are now being paid through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, six working days after claims opened.


HMRC has confirmed that payments for claims made on Monday 20 April will be in employers' bank accounts by tomorrow (28‌‌ April).


Businesses which have not yet made a claim, can still claim online for a grant for 80% of their furloughed employees' salaries, up to a maximum of £2,500 per employee, per month.




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Extra month to claim for farm payments

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Councils given flexibility with free childcare funding

Councils can move free entitlements funding between settings in exceptional cases to meet demand during Coronavirus outbreak. Find out more here.


PPE export control: guidance for UK businesses

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Coronavirus (COVID-19): business support grant funding - guidance for local authorities

Guidance for local authorities setting out details of the Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF) and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLGF). Updated with clarification of whether grants are subject to tax.


Providing apprenticeships during the coronavirus outbreak

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