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Coronavirus (COVID-19) – update 11

Coronavirus (COVID-19) – update 11

30 Mar 2020


Here are the latest updates for you, inclduing a call for support and FPC guidance for wholesalers and independent retailers, as well as recent advice and updates for all businesses from UK Government.

FPC has requested support for businesses in the wholesale and independent retail sector to remain operating where they can do so in a safe way. The need for the provision of supplies of fresh produce from outlets other than the multiple retailers is vital in many urban and rural communities. You can read our letter to Ministers HERE.

FPC has produced FPC Guidance for wholesale and independent retail outlets supplying fresh fruit and vegetables – Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak to assist these businesses - CLICK HERE. FPC members are encouraged to share this advice with their contacts in the wholesale and independent retail sector.

Secretary of State thanks the food and drink industry
The Environment Secretary has written (click here) to all those working hard to feed the nation at this difficult time.

#FoodHeroes
Defra has posted a new video on Twitter and Facebook recognising the response of the food and drink supply chain to COVID-19.
Please share or highlight your own examples of hidden heroes using #FoodHeroes.

The UK Government is regularly updating its advice to businesses so make sure you check the following:

COVID-19: guidance for employees, employers and businesses:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19

Guidance for food businesses:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-food-businesses

Other recent advice from the UK Government and agencies:

HSE reminder – access to workplace facilities for drivers
All drivers must have access to welfare facilities in the premises they visit as part of their work. We are hearing reports that some drivers are not being allowed to use welfare facilities when they deliver. Preventing access is against the law, equally it’s not the sensible thing to do. Those who already provide reasonable access to toilets and handwashing facilities should continue to do soCLICK here for more advice.

Further details of Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme announced
New guidance (CLICK) on Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been published. The government will cover the employer national insurance and minimum auto-enrollment pension scheme contributions employers pay on the wages they must pay their furloughed staff – on top of the wages covered under the scheme. Those furloughed can volunteer for the NHS without risking their pay.

Guidance for employers on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme can be found here whilst guidance for employees can be found here.

Government amends insolvency law to help companies keep trading while they explore options for rescue
The UK’s Insolvency Framework will add new restructuring tools that mirror the USA’s Chapter 11 procedure, a well-established model adopted by countries around the world. This includes:

  • a moratorium for companies giving them breathing space from creditors enforcing their debts for a period of time whilst they seek a rescue or restructure;
  • protection of their supplies to enable them to continue trading during the moratorium; and;
  • a new restructuring plan, binding creditors to that plan

Find out more click here.

Changes to annual leave rules

The government has announced that workers will be able to carry over statutory annual leave entitlement, allowing key industries to continue to work to tackle coronavirus.

HMRC guidance on claiming wage costs

HMRC has produced further guidance for employers on how to claim for wage costs through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

HMRC guidance on home working

HMRC has produced guidance to help you find out what equipment, services or supplies are taxable if your employees are working from home due to coronavirus.

Deferral of VAT payments

HMRC is giving businesses the option to defer VAT payments which are due between 20 March and 30 June. More details are on gov.uk.

HMRC helpline number

HMRC has changed its helpline number to ensure those needing help and support can keep reaching advisers. The new helpline number is 0800 024 1222 and is open from 8am to 4pm Monday to Friday. Calls to the old helpline number will be redirected.

Competition Law

A Statutory Instrument on Competition Law was made to provide a specific, temporary exemption to Competition Law to enable grocery retailers, their suppliers and logistics firms to work together to keep supplies flowing and shops open and stocked.