GNF Members Update 19 May - Issue 34

Dear All,

Thankfully the re-opening of forest car parks last Wednesday went off pretty smoothly. Forestry England have said that whilst the forest was quite busy and there was the usual level of verge parking etc, there have been no serious incidents over the last 7 days which augurs well for the future.

There has been a bit of a lull in Government advice and so our attention now turns to the formal launch of our local Recovery Plan during English Tourism Week (25-31 May); m ore on that in our next update.

£617m Discretionary Fund
A problem has been discovered with the new £617m Discretionary Fund that was launched recently. The current guidance states that this grant is for businesses that are not eligible for other support schemes including the Self Employment Income Support Scheme.
This means sole traders that either pay council tax such as B&Bs, operate without premises, or operate from premises where the rates are paid by someone else, will not be eligible for this Fund because they are eligible for the Self Employment Income Support Scheme. The net result being that sole traders with low levels of profitability end up with little support through the SEISS and no support through the Discretionary Fund.
Conversely, self-catering operators and registered businesses whose income is less than 50% of their total income, will be eligible provided that they don’t pay business rates. Hopefully, NFDC will make sense of this anomaly as this is a discretionary fund for local authorities. However, it hasn't helped speed up the process which provisionally NFDC hope to open for applications next week.

Change to Business Support Helpline
The telephone number of the Government’s Coronavirus Business Support Helpline that provide advice to businesses on what support mechanisms are available has changed to
0800 998 1098.
In addition to the helpline there is also a webchat service that is available.
Both the helpline and webchat are open from 9am to 6pm Monday to Friday.
Statutory sick pay Rebate Scheme launches 26 May
HMRC has announced that the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme will launch online on 26 May. The scheme will enable employers with fewer than 250 employees to claim coronavirus-related Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). Tax agents will also be able to make claims on behalf of employers.
You’re eligible to use the scheme if:
  • you’re claiming for an employee who’s eligible for sick pay due to coronavirus
  • you had a PAYE payroll scheme in operation before 28 February 2020
  • you had fewer than 250 employees across all PAYE schemes on 28 February 2020
  • you’re eligible to receive State Aid under the EU Commission Temporary Framework.
The repayment will cover up to two weeks of the applicable rate of SSP, and is payable if a current or former employee was unable to work on or after 13 March 2020 and entitled to SSP, because they either:
  • have coronavirus
  • are self-isolating and unable to work from home
  • are shielding because they’ve been advised that they’re at high risk of severe illness from coronavirus.
To prepare to make a claim, you should keep records of all the SSP payments you wish to claim for. For more information about eligibility and how employers can prepare to use the scheme, please visit GOV.UK and search 'Check if you can claim back Statutory Sick Pay paid to employees due to coronavirus (COVID-19).'

Upcoming GNF Virtual Sector Group Meetings
The following Sector Group Zoom meetings have been scheduled - invitations will be sent to each group with agenda and joining instructions:
Hotels Pubs Inns & Restaurants -  Wednesday 20 May at 11am
Food & Drink -  Wednesday 27 May at 11am
Attractions  - Tuesday 9 June at 11am
Bed & Breakfast  - Wednesday 10 June at 11am
Self-Catering  - Thursday 11 June at 11am
We will continue to keep you updated with news, guidance and advice as we receive it. Our efforts are now focussed on building an effective promotional campaign throughout June to prepare for the re-opening of tourism at the beginning of July. Let’s hope the fabulous weather continues to help us all in that quest.
Very best wishes,