Third national lockdown in force in England — Chancellor announces £4.6 billion support package

A THIRD national lockdown now in force in England has brought in tight restrictions which include a ban on the sale of non-essential items.

At the same time Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a £4.6 billion package to help businesses through to the spring.

Businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors will receive a one-off grant worth up to £9,000, the Chancellor said.

Whilst those grants will be made to businesses eligible for business rates, a further £594 million is also being made available through local authorities to support other impacted businesses.

To read the full statement from HM Treasury click here.

THE LOCKDOWN

Government guidance on the lockdown appears to mirror that given previously:

Non-essential retail, such as clothing and homeware stores, vehicle showrooms (other than for rental), betting shops, tailors, tobacco and vape shops, electronic goods and mobile phone shops, auction houses (except for auctions of livestock or agricultural equipment) and market stalls selling non-essential goods.

These venues can continue to be able to operate click-and-collect (where goods are pre-ordered and collected off the premises) and delivery services.

In relation to businesses that can remain open the guidance makes it clear that market stalls selling essential retail may also stay open.

Whilst there has as yet been no specific clarification from Government on mixed retail it would seem logical to adopt the guidance allowed in the previous Tier 4 rules:

  • A business selling a significant amount of essential retail may also continue to sell goods typically sold at non-essential retail. For example, a supermarket that sells food is not required to close off or cordon off aisles selling homeware.
  • Where a business selling essential retail has another, separate business embedded within it that is required to close, the embedded business must close. For example, an electronics business operating a concession within a supermarket must close, as would a bookstore inside a garden centre.
  • Where a business has sufficiently distinct parts, and one section provides essential retail and one section provides non-essential retail, the non-essential sections should close to limit interactions between customers and the opportunity for the disease to spread. Sufficiently distinct sections might involve operating in separate buildings, across separate floors, a door between sections, using separate cashiers, or another clear demarcation between sections. For example a food shop may stay open, but a homeware section on a separate floor or separate building should close.

To read full Government guidance click here

More Government financial help for market traders — apply to your local authority

MARKET traders in England who have been affected by lockdown restrictions are encouraged to apply to their local authorities for financial help from the Government’s new Additional Restrictions Grant.

This ARG replaces the Local Authority Discretionary Fund grant available to some traders during the first lockdown.

Whilst the funding is being provided by central government it is clear application has to be made to the individual’s local authority, which will decide whether or not the application is accepted.

Crucially the guidance given to local authorities says that applications for grants should be considered from businesses that have not been legally forced to close but have been severely affected by the crisis.

Additionally the guidance suggests local authorities could choose to support businesses outside the business rates system — many market traders — who have been forced to close.

The Government has not issued a timescale on this scheme so it is necessary for would-be applicants to monitor their local authority’s website or make direct contact.

These are the main points of the guidance on the Additional Restrictions Grant provides to local authorities:

22. Local Authorities can determine how much funding to provide to businesses from the ARG funding provided, and exactly which businesses to target.

23. However, we encourage Local Authorities to develop discretionary grant schemes to help those businesses which – while not legally forced to close – are nonetheless severely impacted by the restrictions put in place to control the spread of Covid-19. This could include – for example – businesses which supply the retail, hospitality, and leisure sectors, or businesses in the events sector.

24. Local Authorities may also choose to help businesses outside the business rates system, which are effectively forced to close – for example market traders.

To check your eligibility for the ARG click here.

For general Government advice on eligibility for support click here.

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme Grant extended

The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme Grant Extension provides critical support to the self-employed in the form of two grants, each available for three month periods covering November 2020 to January 2021 and February 2021 to April 2021.

The grant will be increased from the previously announced level of 40% of trading profits to 80% for November 2020.

Applications could be made from November 30th.

To read the Government’s policy paper and to check if you are eligible click here.

Earlier stories:

Tier 4 restrictions extended to most of England

STRICT Tier 4 restrictions originally introduced in the South East and east of England have been extended to include The Midlands, North East, parts of the North West and parts of the South West, with almost all remaining areas escalated to Tier 3.

The changes are effective from Thursday December 31.

Whilst as in Lockdown 2 supermarkets  in Tier 4 are allowed to open as normal and sell their whole range of goods, market stalls have been singled out along with the rest of non-essential small businesses and must close.

The guidance states:

To reduce social contact, the regulations require some businesses to close and impose restrictions on how some businesses provide goods and services. These include:
non-essential retail, such as clothing and homeware stores, vehicle showrooms (other than for rental), betting shops, tailors, tobacco and vape shops, electronic goods and mobile phone shops, and market stalls selling non-essential goods – these venues can continue to be able to operate click-and-collect (where goods are pre-ordered and collected off the premises) and delivery services.

Under the heading businesses and venues that can remain open the guidance emphasises:

market stalls selling essential retail may also stay open.

The areas in Tier 4 are:

 

East Midlands

  • Derby and Derbyshire
  • Leicester City and Leicestershire
  • Lincolnshire
  • Northamptonshire
  • Nottingham and Nottinghamshire

East of England

  • Bedford, Central Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes
  • Cambridgeshire
  • Essex, Southend-on-Sea and Thurrock
  • Hertfordshire
  • Norfolk
  • Peterborough
  • Suffolk

London

  • All 32 London boroughs plus City of London

North East

  • North East Combined Authority (this area includes the local authorities of County Durham, Gateshead, South Tyneside and Sunderland)
  • North of Tyne Combined Authority (this area includes the local authorities of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North Tyneside and Northumberland)
  • Tees Valley Combined Authority (this area includes the local authorities of Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, and Stockton-on-Tees)

North West

  • Cumbria
  • Greater Manchester
  • Lancashire, Blackburn with Darwen, and Blackpool
  • Warrington and Cheshire Region

South East

  • Berkshire
  • Brighton and Hove, East Sussex and West Sussex
  • Buckinghamshire
  • Hampshire, Southampton and Portsmouth
  • Isle of Wight
  • Kent and Medway
  • Oxfordshire
  • Surrey

South West

  • Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole
  • Gloucestershire (Cheltenham, Cotswold, Forest of Dean, Gloucester City, Stroud and Tewkesbury)
  • Somerset (Mendip, Sedgemoor, Somerset West and Taunton, and South Somerset)
  • Swindon

West Midlands

  • Birmingham, Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton
  • Coventry
  • Solihull
  • Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent
  • Warwickshire

To read the Government’s latest published guidance on the new regulations click here.

To read comprehensive guidance on England’s tier areas click here.

To read general Government advice on the pandemic click here.

Lockdown 2 regulations studied by NMTF and NABMA — an interpretation

Dateline: Friday November 6th 15:00 hrs

THE regulations for Lockdown 2 have been published and the NMTF and NABMA have worked together to interpret them in so far as they relate to markets and market traders.

To read the revised joint statement click here.

Lockdown returns to England Thursday — how will markets fare?

Click here to sign our petition to keep markets fully open

Dateline: Monday November 2nd 13:45 hrs

SINCE the Prime Minister announced the second national lockdown in England from Thursday November 5th the NMTF has been trying to discover how it will impact on indoor and outdoor retail markets.

At the moment we are assuming retail markets will be allowed to remain open to sell essential goods.

But the Government has made it clear supermarkets will once again  be able to sell a full range of goods — and we consider this to be an unlevel playing field.

In partnership with NABMA we have launched a petition on Change.org to demand that both indoor and outdoor retail markets should remain fully open to sell both essential and non-essential items.

The petition reads:

“Markets across the UK have been at the heart of our towns, cities and communities for centuries and have a proven track record in supplying local people with food and goods.

“As England enters another period of lockdown, we demand that the Government give markets parity with supermarkets in terms of the supply of essential and non-essential goods during this period. Markets should be allowed to remain fully open.

“Markets have demonstrated throughout 2020 that they are a safe and reliable source of goods for local and vulnerable people. They are a vital asset to the vibrancy and economy of local communities, and they should be allowed to remain fully open.”

Supporting letters have been sent to three Government ministers — Communities and Business Secretaries Robert Jenrick and Alok Sharma and High Streets and Markets Minister Kelly Tolhurst.

We hope to persuade Government before the relevant law is passed in Parliament on Wednesday.

The letters tell ministers:

NABMA (National Association of British Market Authorities) and the NMTF (National Market Traders Federation) feel strongly that the closure of all “non-essential businesses” is not equitable if supermarkets are allowed to remain open and sell the non-essential products.
We are therefore calling on the government to allow all retail markets in England to remain fully open.
Markets across the UK have been at the heart of our towns, cities and communities for centuries and have a proven track record in supplying local people with food and goods. Our industry is made up of some 1,200 traditional and specialist markets and approximately 40,000 businesses trade on these markets on a regular basis. Sadly, recent surveys have suggested that due to the impact of the pandemic, as many as 80% of traditional markets now fear for their future. A further lockdown will impact on the fragility of many such local markets.

Click here to read the full content of the letters:

Robert Jenrick  Alok Sharma  Kelly Tolhurst