Colors: Purple Color

The UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, has announced that more than two million self-employed people whose businesses have been affected by t5he coronavirus pandemic have applied for government grants, as he told the House of Commons that the value of the claims made so far is in excess of £6 billion.

And, as such, he said that the money would be reaching claimants within six working days.

The Self Employment Support Scheme is designed to support people in a similar way to the scheme for furloughed employees.

The grants are calculated as 80% of monthly profit, which is averaged out over a period of up to three years, and is capped at £7,000.

The money will be paid out in a single instalment covering three months whilst the temporary scheme to be put under review as it could be extended.

The process, being run by HNMRC (HM Revenue & Customs), was originally unveiled after it was highlighted that the government faced criticism for its failure to support self-employed and freelance workers.

In a statement, Chancellor Sunak described the scheme as “one of the most generous schemes in the world”.

The UK’s leading charity for disabled and terminally ill children, Newlife, has written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, with a plea for an emergency grant for their vital services after being excluded from getting a slice of the government’s funding allocated to supporting charities through the coronavirus pandemic.

Despite all of their stores currently being closed, they are continuing to operate their vital services to families with disabilities and terminally ill children throughout the UK who are most at risk of the effects of Covid-19.

This includes the UK’s only emergency equipment loan service which provides vital specialist equipment to families in crisis within 72 hours, often enabling children to be discharged from hospital to self-isolate in safety at home, equipment grants and the nurse-led support service.

Based in Cannock, in Staffordshire, they recently announced that they ran out of emergency loan beds and without urgent support the service will grind to a halt.

They are appealing for the government’s support, and say they need it now.

Because there is a statutory duty to provide the equipment, as the UK’s largest funder of the equipment for disabled children, Newlife have also highlighted that they are also unable to apply to Children In Need, or Comic Relief, or other aids mentioned by the Chancellor, for funding.

But, they say, in reality, families turn to Newlife every day in desperation because of delays and cuts to statutory services, whether that be because of red tape or poor planning.

Without Newlife, children, they say, risk being left living in crisis, or even stranded on hospital wards when they could be shielded from coronavirus at home.

Newlife is their lifeline.

 

 

People in England who cannot work from home are being encouraged to return to their workplaces, as the government begins to ease some lockdown measures.

Grant Shapps, the government’s Transport Secretary urged people to avoid public transport if possible to enable social distancing.

He said: “This is a life and death situation”.

Under the new rules, people can also spend more time outside, meet a friend at the park and move home, while garden centres have now been able to reopen.

Business groups have however, called for clarity on what will be needed to change in the workplace as Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled his “conditional plan” to reopen society.

The British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) said; “Businesses need their practical questions to be answered so that they can then plan to restart, rebuild and renew”.

Mr Johnson said that those who could not work from home should be “actively encouraged to go to work” in England.

But he told people to avoid using public transport where possible.

Adam Marshall, director of the BCC, said: “Businesses will need to see detailed plans for the phased easing of restrictions, coordinated with all nations across the UK and supported by clear guidance.

“It is imperative that companies have detailed advice on what will need to change in the workplace, including clarity on the use of personal protective equipment”.

The furlough scheme, which pays employers in the UK who have been laid-off from work due to the coronavirus pandemic, will now be extended for an extra four months with it now being in operation until October 2020.

The announcement of such was made by the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, who confirmed that staffs who are off work will continue to receive 80% of their monthly wages up to £2,500.

But, this time around, there is a caveat – in that Sunak added that the government will ask companies signed up to the scheme to “start sharing” the cost from August.

A quarter of the UK workforce – anywhere up to 7 and a half million people – are currently covered by the furlough scheme, which has, to date, £14 billion.

The Chancellor said that from August, the scheme will continue for all sectors and regions of the country but with greater flexibility to support the transition back to work.

Employers using the furlough scheme will be able to gall furloughed employees back in to work on a part-time basis.

Millions of self-employed people in the UK whose businesses have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic can now apply for grants from the government.

The Self Employed Income Support Scheme is designed to match the support that is being given to employees who are under the furlough scheme.

The grants will be calculated as 80% of the average monthly profit over a period of up to three years.

The government said that the money will be paid into the accounts of eligible people si days after making the application

The aviation watchdog has warned airlines that they are legally required to provide refunds to customers who had their lights cancelled because of coronavirus.

By law, plane operators must refund customers within seven days if their flight is cancelled.

But with fewer than 10% of UK flights already taken off, airlines are struggling to deal with all the requests for refunds.

The CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) said that it could take action against airlines.

In a statement, the regular said; “We are reviewing how airlines are handling refunds during the coronavirus pandemic and will consider if any action should be taken to ensure that the consumer rights are protected”.

Last month, consumer group Which? said that it had received thousands of complaints from people who are struggling to secure a refund from their cancelled travel.

Instead, airlines were offering customers vouchers to be used when lockdown is lifted.

Which? said that the travel industry’s own estimates suggests £7bn of travellers’ money was affected.

A six-year-old boy with spinal bifida who raised £28k for the NHS has won a special award from the PM.

Frank Mills, from Bristol, only learned to walk 18 months ago managed to walk for 10 metres per day with the aid of his walking frame.

He had set out to raise £99 to match Captain Tom Moore’s age when he completed his record-breaking walk but, in the end, he managed to achieve 3,000 times that target figure.

In awarding the Point of Light to Frank, Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, said: “He was as brave and brilliant as Captain Tom”.

Frank’s mother, Janet, set up a JustGiving page and shared Frank’s story – with the target set for just £99.

She said: “After four weeks in lockdown, the family came across Captain Tom’s daily fundraising walk - with his walking frame, and Frank just said ‘I want to do that’.

“So we grabbed hold of that magic moment of motivation and we took his walker outside for him and chalked out 10 metres on the pavement with a start and finish line and two metre ‘you can do it’ markers”.

She continued: “Frank’s enthusiasm was not just surprising, but invigorating, and as he shouted at one of our neighbours to sponsor him, we thought why not?

“So we quickly put something up on JustGiving and shared the link on Facebook and, from then it really took off.

“We couldn’t believe the response”.

Born with spina bifida, Frank has had on-going top-class NHS care at Bristol Children’s Hospital, as well as in his community.

Charity fundraising champion, Colonel Tom Moore, was presented with a gold Blue Peter badge for single-handedly raising over £30 million for the (NHS) National Health Service.

The highest accolade to be presented on the long-running children’s programme, the World War II veteran received this, yet further, recognition for completing his 100 lap walk around his garden in Bedfordshire. A feat he met just short of his 100th birthday.

Described as a “beacon of light” by the show’s presenter, Lindsey Russell, Cl. Tom celebrated his birthday by witnessing a special RAF flypast, over 130,000 birthday cards and a personal message from The Queen.

On receiving the gold badge, he said: “I am very proud to receive this gold Blue Peter badge because I have always been a follower of the programme”.

Receiving the special badge for being an outstanding individual who is considered to be a role model who inspires a nation, Colonel Tom joins a select list of recepiants which includes Sir David Attenborough and The Queen.

 

The government must clarify how it will approach easing Covid-19 restrictions so that businesses can prepare for life after lockdown.

That is according to a new report from Greater Birmingham Chamber of Commerce (GBCC), which provides analysis of the government’s coronavirus support measures.

The report, entitled ‘Mind the Gap’, calls for clarity on how restrictions will be eased when key milestones have been met, so that businesses can plan for the future.

While public safety and keeping pressure off frontline health services “remains paramount”, businesses need to know what happens next, according to GBCC chief executive, Paul Faulkner.

Firms in the hospitality, leisure and tourism sectors are in particular need of guidance, amid concerns that events, gatherings and travel could be among the last restrictions to be lifted under a ‘phased’ return.

Tracy Stephenson, co-founder and joint managing director of serviced apartment operator, Staying Cool at Rotunda, said: “Birmingham’s tourism economy is dependent on domestic and international visitors coming into the city for cultural pursuits, events and corporate travel.

“We are very concerned that, given that these activities were some of the first things to go as we went into lockdown, they could be the last things to come back online.

“We need greater clarity from government on what a phased return to ‘normality’ looks like so that we can move ahead. A prolonged lockdown or some form of half-way house where we are open but empty, due to fears of travelling would also require further government support”.

‘Mind the Gap’ provides a 10-point analysis of the coronavirus support measures announced so far, as well as highlighting areas not covered by existing schemes.

Paul Faulkner said: “Above all, safety remains paramount. We have all seen the impact of Coronavirus is having on our country and frontline care services.

“There are few people who don’t either know someone who has lost a loved one to this pandemic, or are going through the heart-breaking experience themselves.

“We are now exactly a month on since the Prime Minister introduced the lockdown measures. We have now reached the point at which businesses need to know what happens next, once key milestones on new infections are met. We know how challenging this is, but we also all know that this cannot go on indefinitely.

“The support that has been made available to help businesses and charities survive the coronavirus pandemic is unprecedented.

“However, while we welcome ambition, the GBCC will continue to lobby the government to fill the gaps in existing support on behalf of our members.

“At the heart of it, this crisis is a crisis of cash as many organisations attempt to wait out the lockdown period. Government schemes are not real for businesses and charities until they are paying out.

“The government needs to focus on shortening the timeframe between announcing support and that support reaching organisations and finding the simplest and most straightforward means of getting cash – be that grants, loans or other finances – where it is needed”.

Global fast food giants, McDonald’s, is set to run a test by opening one of its branches in the UK this week.

The burger chain has announced, however, that the branch will only be open for “operational test” and, at the same time, remain closed to the general public.

A spokesperson for the chain said: “Recently, we began working through a potential and limited reopening”.

But, it refused to put a firm date on when, exactly, customers would be able to buy any of their products.

Small firms are to get access to 100% taxpayer-backed loans after they raised concerns about slow access to existing coronavirus rescue schemes.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak told the House of Commons the scheme would start next week, offering firms up to £50,000 within days of applying.

It aims to unlock a backlog of credit checks by banks amid fears that many small businesses could fold before getting loans.

The scheme requires filling in a two-page self-certification form online.

The loan terms mean that no capital or interest repayments will be due for one year. Instead, the government will pay the interest for the first 12 months.

Banks have come under fire for delays in handing out loans, but have blamed the workload need to complete the necessary credit checks and a shortage of staff.

Mr Sunak told the House of Commons: “The new ‘microloan scheme’ would provide a simple, quick and easy solution”.

Businesses will not even need to provide proof of turnover in the application process.

He (Sunak) said: “I know some small businesses are still struggling to access credit – they are in many ways the most exposed to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic”.

Companies have complained about struggling to prove their future potential with so much uncertainty over the economic environment.

 

 

Virgin Atlantic boss, Sir Richard Branson has warned that his Virgin Atlantic airline needs support from the British Government in order that they survive.

The Virgin Group boss said tha the was not asking for any hand-out, but was looking for more in the way of a loan – which is said to be in the region of £500 million.

In an open letter to his staff, Sir Richard said: “Many of the airlines around the world are in need – and are looking for – their respective government’s support and many of them have received it”.

The plea from Branson came just as Virgin Atlantic, the second largest airline in the UK – face going into administration with aid.

Further developments revealed that Sir Richard pledged his luxury island resort in the Caribbean, as collateral to get a UK government bailout of his stricken airline.

In an open letter to staff, the billionaire Virgin Group boss made it clear that it was a commercial loan that he was looking for.

With the survival of his airline in doubt, he said, as well as his Necker Island home, they both could be mortgaged.

This has come at a crucial time for the Virgin Group as its airline in Australia is facing administration.

Research has revealed that just under half (41%) of working women in the UK have money worries, a figure that dips significantly down to less than a third (32%) for men.

Statistically, the figure is also higher in younger women with 55 per cent of women aged 16-24 reporting money worries, and 53 per cent of those aged 25-34.

The recently reported research was carried out by Salary Finance, an employee financial wellbeing platform, and also revealed the shocking impact of these figures on women’s mental health.

The stats show that women with money worries are much more likely than their male counterparts with the same concerns to be suffering sleepless nights (51% to 43%), anxiety and panic attacks (62% versus 57%) and are more likely to have depression and suicidal thoughts (71% versus 65%).

These figures mean that when compared to those with no money worries women with financial concerns are over five times more likely to have anxiety and nearly seven times more likely to have depression. For men with financial worries, it is far less – they are 1.3 times more likely to say they’re suffering from anxiety and/or depression due to financial problems.

It’s also more likely that you will run out of money before pay day if you’re a woman, according to these statistics. Over a third (34%) of women are running out of money before pay day each month, compared to just under a quarter (24%) of men. Younger women were again much more highly impacted, being much more likely to run out of money before pay day.  

Of course, the impact of maternity leave is keenly felt by the female workforce. Of those surveyed that took maternity or paternity leave, a massive 73 per cent of women said they took on additional debt as a result, compared to just 27 per cent of men. Yet resulting childcare costs did not cause significantly higher levels of stress for women.

Asesh Sarkar, CEO and co-founder of Salary Finance, commented: “In 2020 it’s disheartening to see such a discrepancy between financial wellbeing in men and women. Our extensive research has shown the crippling impact that money worries can have on the UK workforce, and see these figures that show women suffer much more.”

Although there were many differences the survey did reveal that there are no notable differences in the approach to savings between women and men, suggesting attitudes and behaviour play a far bigger role in saving habits than gender.

Another similarity between men and women was an apparent unwillingness to discuss their finances. This highlights a general attitude rather than a gender-specific issue.

Asesh added: “Whilst the figures show that women are suffering more as a result of poor financial wellbeing, it’s important to remember that financial stress and concerns affects a wide range of people, regardless of gender, age or salary. 

“There is a need to tackle the stigma attached to discussing financial concerns and this is where financial solutions in the workplace can help. It is therefore important for employers to take an interest in the financial health of their employees. Our research has shown that around 77 per cent of workers feel they can trust their employer when it comes to sharing personal information. This really highlights the role that employers can play when it comes to tackling the issue of poor financial wellbeing amongst the UK workforce.”

FU Media like to talk.  If you’ve met ever met us, you'll know that’s true.  Since 1999, we’ve championed the idea of keeping in touch and staying connected - and it’s more critical now than ever before, be that for the preservation of your business, sanity or both!
 
What we do know is that talking to your customers – or even appealing to new ones – and keeping them engaged; and promoting what you can promote is what will give you the very best chance of surviving this difficult period and emerging in fighting-shape on the other side.  Those that quietly hibernate will be slower to respond, giving you advantage when the good times return, which is why FU Media has announced the launch of a new service: ‘30-Minute Mentoring’. 

Kevin Urquhart said: “As a business that’s been around since 1999, we’ve seen a wealth of economic ups and downs and we’ve talked to a lot of people. 

These two factors give us valuable experience and trusted connections.  What we have learned at FU Media, over 21 years, is that what is happening to us all right now isn’t forever. 

“Things will get better, if you’re prepared to, potentially, let go of what once was – and that might involve a period of mourning – and, instead, allow your thinking to evolve, adapt and get creative.  Think of solutions, not problems – and don’t be afraid to ask for help”.

Jonathan Fraser added: “At FU Media, it’s always been in our DNA to listen, to support, and to mentor.  We love brainstorming and finding a positive from a negative.  We adore nothing more than working with incredible people and businesses that want to be bigger, better, brighter and bolder”.

In these uncertain times, the one thing that IS certain is that when it’s quieter in the marketplace, those who shout get heard more clearly.  Silence, in this instance, is not golden, which is why business are being invited to try the 30-Minute Mentoring session. 

In this one-to-one Zoom session, you are openly invited to talk about you and your business needs with the FU founders, Kevin Urquhart and Jonathan Fraser.  

Areas of advice might include:

Social Media and Website Updates: Critical in this time and keeping customers updated can build even more loyalty and change buying habits if done properly.How are you doing it and how can it be better?
PR and Press Releases: Perhaps you’re bucking the trend or have an innovative new idea that needs to be heard? Let us help you find your best angle and get you ready for your close up. Or, perhaps you need to know that you have procedures in place with Crisis
Comms?Good or bad, we’ve got your back. In March alone, FU Media helped keep our clients in front of over 10 million people.
Marketing & Advertising: Let’s help you refocus and ensure you’re talking to the right people in the right way via the right channels, so you’re not wasting your precious budget.
Design: A picture says a thousand words, so let’s consider how you’re using design to achieve maximum stand-out.
Mentoring: Sometimes you simply need a fresh pair of experienced eyes and ears on an important project. Someone who’s experienced and not afraid to question – or elevate - your thinking.
Access to Professional Services: FU Media has a wealth of trusted advisors from the professional industries on speed-dial. Whether it’s plain-talking HR advice you need; Accountancy, Pensions or Wellbeing, talk to us as we know where to direct you.

To book your free, ‘30-Minute Mentoring’ ring:  077137 40272 (Kevin Urquhart)/ 0772 5809654 (Jonathan Fraser), or email directly on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The Royal Mail has been accused of “putting profit ahead of safety” by workers who claim that the company has not provided them with sufficient protection from the coronavirus pandemic.

Postal workers throughout the UK said that there is a shortage masks, gloves and hand sanitisers, adding that social distancing whilst working is “almost impossible”.

Footage has been shown of employees working in close proximity to each other in a sorting office - action which goes against the government’s ‘two-metre distance’ guidelines, which is set out to be in practise at all times during the worldwide crisis.

A supervisor, based at one particular sorting office, said that he felt that workers were put in an unenviable position of “choosing between the job and their health”.

He said: “I am scared that my job will be jeopardised if I refuse to do a task because it will put my life in danger”.

Another postal worker said: “The buildings that we work in are designed for people to be spaced out.

“We are under each other’s skin It’s just completely impossible”.

This came off the back of mounting concerns that crowded working conditions are one of the major contributions of a rising number of postal workers who are forced to take time of sick, or self-isolating.

Since that start of the lockdown, many Royal Mail workers have at sorting offices across the country have walked out in protest over a lack of PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) and concerns about the lack of social distancing being put in place.

A company spokesperson said: “In assessing the risks to our workers and making necessary operational changes to protect our workers, we take professional medical and health and safety advice on a daily basis.

“We have already made a series of adjustments to our parcel-handling procedures to protect our colleagues and our customers”.

 

Providing direct grants to people who have a professional background and their dependents, the Elizabeth Finn Fund has been given direct grants and support for over a century to people living in financial difficulties who have a professional background and meet its grant-giving criteria.

They give grants to people who hold, or formally held, occupations requiring a particular level responsibility and education, or whose partner has done so.

Awards can be granted to people from over 120 different professions whose work history includes employment in a role which requires a degree; NVQ level 4 or above – or equal.

The grants given help make a difference to an individual, or family’s life and improve their living conditions.

Over a million people contacted the charity for help – despite the government’s Coronavirus Retention Scheme

One person who was helped by the Elizabeth Finn Fund is Douglas, who said: “I was very emotional because I didn’t expect that kind of help.

“The grant allowed us to get back on our feet, pay off the critical priority bills and allowed time to sort things out so we could have a peaceful existence”.

Turn2us is giving £500 grants to people who are in financial jeopardy because of coronavirus.

Applicants for the Turn2us Coronavirus Fund will have to meet eligibility criteria to make sure that the money reaches those who are most genuinely in need.

As part of the application process for an Elizabeth Finn Fund, a range of documents – like bank statements – are required as evidence of occupation and situation.