Political Update

  • The Chancellor today launched Comprehensive Spending review, setting Government departments’ resource budgets for 2021-24 and devolved administrations’ block grants for the same period. The CSR will seek to prioritise jobs and skills, levelling up economic opportunity and investing in infrastructure, innovation, and people, as well as front-line public services. Given the impact of COVID-19 on the economy, the Chancellor did also ask for reprioritisation of spending and delivering savings. The date of concluding the review will be confirmed in due course, with outcomes set out in the Autumn Statement. Representations to the CSR can be submitted here.
  • As part of the CSR package of announcements, the Chancellor also launched a call for evidence on root and branch reform of business rates. This call for evidence seeks views on how the business rates system currently works, issues to be addressed, ideas for change, and a number of alternative taxes. Responses should be submitted online and will be collected in two stages. Views on the multiplier and reliefs sections are requested by 18 September in order to inform an interim report in the autumn. Responses on all other sections are due by 31 October.
  • The Government also confirmed that a call for evidence will be launched before September on reform of alcohol duties in order better to support the pub sector and alcohol producers.
  • UKHospitality will be responding to all of these reviews to secure additional support for hospitality and out-of-home businesses.
  • The Business and Planning Bill made its way through the House of Lords yesterday, with Lords’ amendments being discussed this afternoon on the floor of the House of Commons. UKH worked on members’ behalf to lobby against heavy-handed amendments that would have provided significantly more red tape to a bill that had been designed to make it easier for businesses to operate. Our representations were heard, with a number of these amendments withdrawn during yesterday’s Lords’ session.
    • UKH supported the amendment to Clause 5, which calls for businesses to make ‘reasonable provisions for seating where smoking is not permitted.’ Given the strength of lobbying against the clause, we felt it was a sufficiently light-touch compromise, allowing businesses to make certain provisions to ensure that there is a non-smoking area, but not placing undue strain or regulation on businesses at a time when they are already dealing with significant changes to their operation. UKH will keep members updated on all the provisions of the Bill when it makes its way through the House of Commons and into law.
    • The following advice note has been developed by UKH, National Police Chiefs’ Council, Local Government Association, and licensing experts as to how conditions for outside areas should be developed and applied – i.e. in a constructive and proportionate way and to fulfil the purpose of the legislation which is to support businesses and local economies. This guidance will be kept updated, and UKH will monitor examples of supportive or excessive conditions applied to the new pavement permissions. The advice note can be found here.

Other Government Updates

  • Guidance on the reduced VAT rate for tourism and hospitality has been updated to cover catering companies using retail schemes.
  • The government has published the latest data on the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS). The figures include the total number of applications, the total number of approved applications and the value of loans approved as of 19 July 2020 and reveals that a total of £47.88bn has been approved and issued as loans (out of a total loan facility of over £300bn originally announced), with the bulk of the loans being Bounceback – £32.79bn with an 82% success rate – and £12.2bn lent under CBILS and £2.89bn under CLBILs, both with a 50% success rate.
  • The government issued a reminder today that all passengers are required to complete the passenger locator form before entering the UK, including those who are arriving from the select list of countries and territories that are exempt from the 14-day quarantine requirement. The only people who do not need to provide passenger locator information are those arriving from within the Common Travel Area and a small group of others.
  • BEIS is hosting a free webinar on Wednesday 22 July at 11am about the most common cyber threats faced by businesses during and after COVID-19 and how to mitigate being the victim of a cyber incident. A representative from the National Cyber Security Centre will provide an overview of the risks, as well as a look at the range of resources freely available from the NCSC for businesses. Please register here. 

Situation update 21 July 2020