Covid-19 update 04.05.2020



The tracking app which forms the key final part of the government’s Test, Track and Trace strategy for emerging from the COVID-19 lockdown will go into live trials on the Isle of Wight tomorrow (5 May).

Speaking at today’s Downing Street press conference Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed that, now testing capacity had been increased and an ‘army of contact tracers’ was being built, the government was focusing on the tracking app.

From Tuesday, health professionals on the Isle of Wight would receive the app, and it would be rolled out to all of the island’s 80,000 citizens from Thursday.

“This is at the forefront of helping get Britain back on her feet,” Mr Hancock said. “Where the Isle of Wight leads, Britain will follow.”

However, the Health Secretary emphasised that the latest step was ‘not the end of social distancing’, which would only happen once the government’s five tests had been met.

£600m top-up to local business grant funds scheme

A discretionary fund has been set up by government to support small businesses previously outside the scope of the business grant funds scheme.

The Business Secretary Alok Sharma and Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government, Simon Clarke spoke to local authorities in England on Friday to set out that up to £617million would be made available.

This additional fund is aimed at small businesses with ongoing fixed property-related costs and local authorities will be asked to prioritise businesses in shared spaces, regular market traders, small charity properties and bed and breakfasts that pay council tax rather than business rates. But allocation of funding will be at the discretion of local authorities.

Businesses must be small, under 50 employees, and they must also be able to demonstrate that they have seen a significant drop of income due to Coronavirus restriction measures.

There will be three levels of grant payments. The maximum will be £25,000. There will also be grants of £10,000. local authorities will have discretion to make payments of any amount under £10,000. It will be for councils to adapt this approach to local circumstances.


Bounce Back loans launched today

Britain’s small businesses are able to apply for the new quick and easy-to access ‘Bounce Back’ loans of up to £50,000 from today – with the cash expected to land within days.

Thousands of small firms and sole traders – including high street staples like hairdressers, coffee shops and florists – are expected to be eligible for 100% government-backed Bounce Back Loans to help them make it through the coronavirus outbreak.

From 9am this morning, small business owners can apply to accredited lenders by filling out a simple online form, with only seven questions.

The government has also agreed with lenders that an affordable flat rate of 2.5% interest will be charged on these loans. And any business that has already taken out a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan of £50,000 or less can apply to have these switched over to this generous new scheme.

Self-employed invited to get ready to make their claims for COVID-19 support

HMRC has announced it will begin contacting customers who may be eligible for the government’s Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS).

Those who are eligible will be able to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of their average trading profits up to a maximum of £7,500 (equivalent to three months’ profits), paid in a single instalment.

HMRC is also inviting customers, or their agents, to go online and check their eligibility for SEISS.

In order to receive quick confirmation from the eligibility checker, individuals should:

  • have their Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) and their National Insurance Number to hand
  • make sure their details are up-to-date in their Government Gateway account

Once the online check is complete, eligible customers will be given a date when they can submit their claim. They will also be encouraged to update their contact details.

HMRC has also announced that the claims service will open on 13 May ahead of the original timetable. Those eligible will have the money paid into their bank account by 25 May, or within six working days of completing a claim.


New export webinars to boost support for SMEs during COVID-19

The Department for International Trade to host a series of coronavirus webinars, free for SMEs across the UK.

The webinars will offer practical advice to SMEs and focus on issues businesses trading internationally are facing.

Many webinars will be hosted by an International Trade Adviser and include question and answer sessions, while others will feature guest speakers from business and industry.

Topics covered will range from managing distribution of supply chains and the movement of goods, to support for selling online overseas.

Business can register via where all recorded webinars are hosted. DIT is also working with partners to take the usual schedule of events online. There is also significant programme of webinars from other government departments, including HM Revenue and Customs and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, listed here.




Ask a question at a coronavirus press conference

Find out how you can ask the government a question at the daily coronavirus press conference here.

Tax credits customers will continue to receive payments even if working fewer hours due to COVID-19

People who can’t work their normal hours because of COVID-19 will still receive their usual tax credits payments.

Smart meter-enabled electric vehicle (EV) charging trial: Beyond Off Street

How to get involved in developing smart meter-enabled electric vehicle charging points for on-street and workplace charging. Questions and answers document updated.


£14m financial support for England’s zoos unveiled

Support fund for licensed zoos and aquariums affected by coronavirus

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