This week the Prime Minister set out the government's four step roadmap to easing restrictions in England. Before proceeding to each new step the government will examine the data to assess the impact of the previous steps first. This assessment will will be based on the following four tests:
- The vaccine deployment programme continues successfully
- Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated
- Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS
- Government assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new Variants of Concern
There will be 5 weeks in between each step - 4 weeks for the data to reflect changes in the restrictions and a 7 day notice period for the next restrictions to be eased.
The 8th March is the date the First Step will come into effect with schools returning on that day. Some additional easing will take place on the 29th March to coincide with Easter to allow outdoor gatherings of 6 people or two households and some outdoor sports.
Personal Care Services, including Hair & Beauty (& mobile) will only be able to open again on 12th April at the earliest, subject to the assessment of the impact of the First Step in line with the four tests. There have been a number of queries raised and put forward to BEIS and we received the following Q & A back
More financial relief has been granted to self assessment tax payers who will not be charged a 5% late payment penalty if they pay their tax or set up a payment plan before the 1st April 2021. Click here for further details.
For a copy of the full roadmap document please click here
Nicola Sturgeon also announced Scotland's Strategic Framework Update for its path out of lockdown and referenced going back to a geographically variable system. She advised it needed to be phased and sustainable and based on data not dates.
In Scotland the business rates relief has also been extended. Click here to see more.
Meanwhile there have been concerns voiced around some of the financial support packages in Scotland with many Scottish Members advising their claims were turned down. Lesley Blair, BABTAC & CIBTAC Chair managed to secure a one on one meeting with the Strategic Engagement, Coordination and COVID-19 Business Support Directorate for Economic Development, Scottish Government this week to raise this issue directly. We received the following response back from him today.
Wales is still currently under lockdown although some minor rules have been reviewed this week and the youngest learners have now returned to school. The next review in around 3 weeks is due to include a details on close contact services. Click here for more information.
Northern Ireland are currently in lockdown until the 1st April 2021 with a review scheduled on the 18th March. Click here for more details
At the same time BABTAC together with the other leading bodies on the Sector Specific Government Board (BBCo, NHBF & UKSA) have been in meetings with government and presented a briefing to the HM Treasury to try to secure the following:
- A temporary VAT cut for hair and beauty salons from 20 percent down to 5 percent, in line with the same relief applied to hospitality services. This will safeguard 12,300 VAT registered British businesses who employee half of the workforce.
- An emergency supplementary fund for hair and beauty businesses that fall under the Personal Care sector. In the beauty industry alone there are 200,000 women whose businesses do not meet the VAT threshold.
A joint letter to The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, was also written ahead of the Spring Budget and sent out earlier this week. Please click here to read the full letter.
We have also just presented the findings of our collaborative Landlord Rental Survey run this past week to government today. Thank you to those of our members who took part. We had an overwhelming response. To see the Summary of the findings please click here