(COVID-19): The Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) – answers to your questions

WHAT IS THE Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)?

CBILS is a new scheme that can provide facilities of up to £5m for smaller businesses across the UK who are experiencing lost or deferred revenues, leading to disruptions to their cashflow. CBILS supports a wide range of business finance products, including term loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance facilities.

The scheme provides the lender with a government-backed guarantee potentially enabling a ‘no’ credit decision from a lender to become a ‘yes’.

Please note: This scheme is just one of a number of measures announced by Government and you can find full details of the temporary, timely and targeted measures to support public services, people and businesses through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19 at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses

WHEN CAN I ACCESS THE SCHEME?

The scheme went live on Monday 23 March and will initially run for six months.

WHAT ARE THE KEY FEATURES of CBILS?

CBILS guarantees facilities up to a maximum of £5m available on repayment terms up to six years for term loans and asset finance. For overdrafts and invoice finance facilities, terms will be up to three years. The scheme provides the lender with a government-backed guarantee against the outstanding facility balance.

There is no guarantee fee for SMEs to access the scheme. The Government will make a Business Interruption Payment to cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any lender-levied fees.[1] You (the SME) will therefore benefit from no upfront costs and lower initial repayments.[2]

At the discretion of the lender, the scheme may be used for unsecured lending for facilities of £250,000 and under. The Big Four banks have agreed that personal guarantees will not be taken as security for lending below £250,000. For facilities above £250,000, the scheme requires the lender to establish a lack or absence of security prior to businesses using CBILS. Primary Residential Property cannot be taken as security under the scheme. If the lender can offer finance on normal commercial terms without the need to make use of the scheme, they will do so.

Please note: It’s important that you are aware that you, the borrower will always remain 100% liable for the debt. The CBILS guarantee is to the lender, not you, the SME.

HOW DO I KNOW WHETHER I’M ELIGIBLE TO APPLY?

Smaller businesses (SMEs) from all sectors[3] can apply for the full amount of the facility, up to a maximum of £5m.

To be eligible for a facility under CBILS, your business must:

Be UK based in its business activity with annual turnover of no more than £45m
Have a borrowing proposal which, were it not for the COVID-19 pandemic, would be considered viable by the lender, and for which the lender believes the provision of finance will enable your business to trade out of any short-to-medium term difficulty
If the lender can offer finance on normal commercial terms without the need to make use of the scheme, they will do so.
One of the eligibility criteria is for the business to have an annual turnover of no more than £45m. Would the £45m turnover threshold be measured on the entirety of the Group or could the funding be taken by a single operating subsidiary? Can the different companies within the group access their “own” guarantee?

If your business is part of a group, controlled on either a legal or de facto basis, the maximum turnover applies to the group undertaking. More than one company within the group can be considered for a CBILS facility but only if the consolidated group turnover does not exceed the £45m annual turnover threshold. The qualifying period is 12 months preceding application.

WHAT IS THE DEFINITION of an SME for the CBIL SCHEME?

Under the CIBL Scheme, the definition of SME is confined to the turnover of an Applicant (or an Applicant’s group) which must not to exceed £45m. The Borrower cannot be an individual other than where the individual is a sole trader or a partner in a partnership and is acting in a business capacity.

HOW CAN I ACCESS THE SCHEME?

CBILS is available through the British Business Bank’s 40+ accredited lenders, which are listed on the British Business Bank website here.

In the first instance, businesses should approach their own provider – ideally via the lender’s website. They may also consider approaching other lenders if they are unable to access the finance they need.

Decision-making on whether you are eligible for CBILS is fully delegated to the 40+ accredited CBILS lenders. These lenders range from high-street banks, to challenger banks, asset-based lenders and smaller specialist local lenders.

Note: if the accredited lender can offer finance on normal commercial terms without the need to make use of the scheme, they will do so.

Additional application notes:

Given there is likely to be a big demand for facilities once the scheme goes live, we ask you to please:

Consider applying via the lender’s website in the first instance. Telephone lines are likely to be busy and branches may have limited capacity to handle enquiries due to social distancing
Consider the urgency of your need – it is possible that some businesses may be looking for regular longer-term finance rather than ‘emergency’ finance, and there may other businesses with a more urgent need to speak with a lender
What are the fees to borrow under CBILS?

There is no guarantee fee for SMEs to use the CBILS scheme.

WHAT TYPES OF FINANCE ARE AVAILABLE and WHO OFFERS WHICH TYPE?

CBILS supports a wide range of business finance facilities, including:

Term loans
Overdrafts
Asset finance
Invoice finance
Note: Not every lender can provide every type of finance listed.

CBILS is available through the British Business Bank’s 40+ accredited lenders, which are listed on the British Business Bank website here.

WHAT TYPES OF BUSINESSES is CBILS FOR?

The scheme is designed to support smaller businesses (SMEs) who don’t meet a lender’s normal lending requirements for a fully commercial loan or other facility, but who are considered viable in the longer-term.

IS THE SCHEME APPROPRIATE FOR Start-ups?

Potentially, if your business activity is primarily UK-based. For early stage businesses in their first two years of trading, the British Business Bank’s Start Up Loans programme (loans £500 to £25,000 at 6% p.a. interest) may be more suitable.

Visit www.startuploans.co.uk for more information.

WILL I NEED SECURITY TO GET a CBILS-backed LOAN?

At the discretion of the lender, the scheme may be used for unsecured lending for facilities of £250,000 and under. The Big Four banks have agreed that personal guarantees will not be taken as security for lending below £250,000. For facilities above £250,000, the scheme requires the lender to establish a lack or absence of security prior to businesses using CBILS. Primary Residential Property (PPR) cannot be taken as security under the scheme.

Note: If the lender can offer finance on normal commercial terms without the need to make use of the scheme, they will do so.

Do I NEED EVIDENCE THAT I HAVE A VIABLE BUSINESS?

Yes. You must show in your borrowing proposal that were it not for the COVID-19 pandemic, your business would be considered viable by the lender, and for which the lender believes the provision of finance will enable your business to trade out of any short-to-medium term difficulty.

I HAVE AN EXISTING EFG Facility WITH MY LENDER THAT I NEED TO DISCUSS. What do I do?

If you have a query about an active EFG facility, you should approach your current provider – ideally via their website, and not the British Business Bank.

ARE THERE ANY RESTRICTIONS ON A BORROWER REFINANCING their EFG Facility to a CBILS Facility?

If you have a query about an active EFG facility, you should approach your own provider – ideally via their website – and not the British Business Bank. Any request for re-financing an existing EFG facility will be at each individual Lender’s discretion, be subject to certain limits, and you meeting the CBILS eligibility criteria.

WHAT’S HAPPENING TO THE OLD Enterprise Finance Guarantee Scheme (EFG)?

The EFG scheme is temporarily suspended at this point in time. If you wish to apply for a financing facility, your lender will be able to assess if you are eligible under CBILS.

HOW LONG WILL CBILS run for?

CBILS will initially run for 6 months.

WILL THE CBILS funds run out SO I CAN’T ACCESS THE SCHEME?

No. Government has confirmed that the amount of funding available under the scheme will be demand-led. Therefore there is no immediate need to approach a lender if you do not need finance in the short-term. The scheme will initially run for six months.

ARE SOLE-TRADERS / FREELANCERS eligible?

Yes, as long as the business activity is operated through a business account. The scheme is open to sole traders, freelancers, body corporates, limited partnerships, limited liability partnerships or other legal entity carry out a business activity in the United Kingdom, with annual turnover of up to £45m, operating in all sectors[4].

The business must generate more than 50% of its turnover from trading activity.

I HAVE HAD DE MINIMIS AID IN THE PAST, CAN I STILL GET A LOAN?

Yes, as long as you meet the scheme’s eligibility criteria. Any previous de minimis state aid does not impact your eligibility for CBILS and does not need to be taken into account by the Lender. CBILS operates as a notified scheme rather than under de minimis as EFG did. There is no interaction between any de minimis state aid previously received by a business and the size of the CBILS facility they can access, should they be eligible.

I AM GETTING OTHER KIND OF AID TO HELP RESPOND to COVID-19 – CAN I STILL GET A LOAN?

Yes. The eligibility criteria for CBILS does not require Lenders to take into account the other forms of government support that SMEs may be benefiting from e.g. business rate reliefs or grants unrelated to the CBIL scheme.

HOW is CBILS DIFFERENT FROM the EFG SCHEME?

CBILS is a new scheme. It is different from EFG in a number of ways.

* There is no guarantee fee for SMEs to use CBILS. Under EFG, there was a guarantee fee paid by the borrower.
* The Government will make a Business Interruption Payment to cover the interest and any lender-levied fees in the first 12 months of any CBILS facility, so smaller businesses will benefit from no upfront costs and lower initial repayments (originally announced as 6 months). Following earlier discussions with the banking industry, some lenders indicated that they would not charge arrangement fees or early repayment charges to SMEs borrowing under the scheme. HM Government greatly appreciates this approach by lenders.
* The maximum facility provided under CBILS will be up to £5m. Under EFG, this was £1.2m
* At the discretion of the lender the need for security may be waived for facilities below £250,000. * The Big Four banks have agreed personal guarantees will not be taken as security for lending below £250,000. For facilities above £250,000, the scheme requires the lender to establish a lack or absence of collateral prior to businesses using the CBIL Scheme. Primary Residential Property (PPR) cannot be taken as security under the scheme.
* CBILS is for borrowing proposals which, were it not for the current COVID-19 pandemic, would be considered viable by the lender, and for which the lender believes the provision of finance will enable the business to trade out of any short-to-medium term difficulty. The EFG scheme was only for facilities considered viable under the lender’s commercial terms.
* CBILS is available to businesses with annual turnover of no more than £45m. EFG was available to businesses with annual turnover of no more than £41m.

If you have any further questions please contact your current provider, not the British Business Bank.

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[1] Following earlier discussions with the banking industry, some lenders indicated that they would not charge arrangement fees or early repayment charges to SMEs borrowing under the scheme. HM Government greatly appreciates this approach by lenders.

[2] Fishery, aquaculture and agriculture businesses may not qualify for the full interest and fee payment.

[3] The following trades and organisations are not eligible to apply: Banks, Building Societies, Insurers and Reinsurers (but not insurance brokers); The public sector including state funded primary and secondary schools; Employer, professional, religious or political membership organisation or trade unions.

[4] The following trades and organisations are not eligible to apply: Banks, Building Societies, Insurers and Reinsurers (but not insurance brokers); The public sector including state funded primary and secondary schools; Employer, professional, religious or political membership organisation or trade unions.

COVID-19 Cleaning PPE

COVID-19: cleaning in non-healthcare settings

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
1. cleaning an area with normal household disinfectant after someone with suspected coronavirus (COVID-19) has left will reduce the risk of passing the infection on to other people
2. wherever possible, wear disposable or washing-up gloves and aprons for cleaning. These should be double-bagged, then stored securely for 72 hours then thrown away in the regular rubbish after cleaning is finished
3. using a disposable cloth, first clean hard surfaces with warm soapy water. Then disinfect these surfaces with the cleaning products you normally use. Pay particular attention to frequently touched areas and surfaces, such as bathrooms, grab-rails in corridors and stairwells and door handles
4. if an area has been heavily contaminated, such as with visible bodily fluids, from a person with coronavirus (COVID-19), consider using protection for the eyes, mouth and nose, as well as wearing gloves and an apron
5. wash hands regularly with soap and water for 20 seconds, and after removing gloves, aprons and other protection used while cleaning

BACKGROUND
Experience of new coronaviruses (SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV) has been used to inform this guidance. The risk of infection depends on many factors, including:
* the type of surfaces contaminated
* the amount of virus shed from the individual
* the time the individual spent in the setting
* the time since the individual was last in the setting

The infection risk from coronavirus (COVID-19) following contamination of the environment decreases over time. It is not yet clear at what point there is no risk. However, studies of other viruses in the same family suggest that, in most circumstances, the risk is likely to be reduced significantly after 72 hours.

PRINCIPLES OF CLEANING AFTER THE CASE HAS LEFT THE AREA
Personal protective equipment (PPE)
The minimum PPE to be worn, for cleaning an area where a person with possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) is or has been, is disposable gloves and an apron. Hands should be washed with soap and water for 20 seconds after all PPE has been removed.

If a risk assessment of the setting indicates that a higher level of virus may be present (for example, where unwell individuals have slept, such as a hotel room or boarding school dormitory) or there is visible contamination with body fluids, then the need for additional PPE to protect the cleaner’s eyes, mouth and nose might be necessary. The local Public Health England (PHE) Health Protection Team (HPT) can advise on this.

CLEANING AND DISINFECTION
Public areas where a symptomatic individual has passed through and spent minimal time, such as corridors, but which are not visibly contaminated with body fluids can be cleaned thoroughly as normal.

All surfaces that the symptomatic person has come into contact with must be cleaned and disinfected, including:
* objects which are visibly contaminated with body fluids
* all potentially contaminated high-contact areas such as bathrooms, door handles, telephones, grab-rails in corridors and stairwells

Use disposable cloths or paper roll and disposable mop heads, to clean all hard surfaces, floors, chairs, door handles and sanitary fittings, following one of the options below:
* use either a combined detergent disinfectant solution at a dilution of 1,000 parts per million available chlorine
OR
* a household detergent followed by disinfection (1000 ppm av.cl.). Follow manufacturer’s instructions for dilution, application and contact times for all detergents and disinfectants
OR
* if an alternative disinfectant is used within the organisation, this should be checked and ensure that it is effective against enveloped viruses

!Avoid creating splashes and spray when cleaning!

Any cloths and mop heads used must be disposed of and should be put into waste bags as outlined below.

When items cannot be cleaned using detergents or laundered, for example upholstered furniture and mattresses, steam cleaning should be used.

Any items that are heavily contaminated with body fluids and cannot be cleaned by washing should be disposed of.

LAUNDRY
Wash items in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Use the warmest water setting and dry items completely. Dirty laundry that has been in contact with an unwell person can be washed with other people’s items.

Do not shake dirty laundry, this minimises the possibility of dispersing virus through the air.

Clean and disinfect anything used for transporting laundry with your usual products, in line with the cleaning guidance above.

WASTE
Waste from possible cases and cleaning of areas where possible cases have been (including disposable cloths and tissues):
* should be put in a plastic rubbish bag and tied when full.
* the plastic bag should then be placed in a second bin bag and tied.
* it should be put in a suitable and secure place and marked for storage until the individual’s test results are known.

Waste should be stored safely and kept away from children.
You should NOT put your waste in communal waste areas until negative test results are known (or the waste has been stored for at least 72 hours).
– if the individual tests negative, this can be put in with the normal waste
– if the individual tests positive, then store it for at least 72 hours and then place it with the normal waste

If storage for at least 72 hours is not appropriate, arrange for collection as a Category B infectious waste either by your local waste collection authority if they currently collect your waste or otherwise by a specialist clinical waste contractor. They will supply you with orange clinical waste bags for you to place your bags into so the waste can be sent for appropriate treatment.

Manufacture of Biocidal Hand Sanitiser -DEROGATION (COVID-19)

MANUFACTURE AND SUPPLY OF BIOCIDAL HAND SANITISER PRODUCTS DURING THE OUTBREAK: coronavirus (COVID-19)

Some of the UK’s existing manufacturers of biocidal hand sanitiser products have reported that they are facing significant challenges to their normal supply chains from increasing demand for the raw ingredients needed to meet unprecedented and urgent demand during the Covid-19 outbreak.

In response HSE has taken the following steps.

* DEROGATION FROM PRODUCT AUTHORISATION REQUIREMENTS FOR HAND SANITISERS CONTAINING Propan-2-ol
Article 55 (1) of the Biocidal Products Regulation (BPR) enables HSE, in cases of danger to public health, animal health or the environment which cannot be contained by other means, to provide short term derogations from the requirements for product authorisation.

Biocidal hand sanitiser products containing Propan-2-ol (also known as isopropanol or isopropyl alcohol/IPA), will not be required to obtain a product authorisation if they meet the relevant WHO-specified formulation II (PDF)- Portable Document Format.

Manufacturers wishing to place products that meet the WHO specified formulation onto the UK Market must contact HSE via biocidesenquiries@hse.gov.uk using ‘Propan-2-ol Article 55’ as the subject title of the email. HSE will respond quickly to request details about the products being manufactured and once provided, issue a derogation certificate.

Products should not be placed on the market until HSE has confirmed that the derogation applies to you and issued you with the certificate.

* HAND SANITISERS CONTAINING Propan-1-ol OR Ethanol
WHO does not specify a formulation for hand sanitisers containing propanol-1-ol. Therefore, although Article 55 derogations may be possible for hand sanitisers containing propan-1-ol, these will require more information from applicants to enable HSE to determine their efficacy and the risks associated with their use. Such applications will take longer to process than those for hand sanitisers containing propan-2-ol.

There is a WHO-specified formulation for hand sanitiser containing ethanol(https://www.who.int/gpsc/5may/Guide_to_Local_Production.pdf). Under the transition arrangements in the biocidal product regulations manufacturers do not require product authorisations to place hand sanitiser products containing ethanol on to the UK Market.

* RULES FOR SUPPLYING CHEMICALS FOR USE IN BIOCIDAL PRODUCTS
Article 95 of the BPR aims to create a level playing field across industry by ensuring that all suppliers of biocidal products have paid a share of the cost of supporting the active substance dossier through an evaluation process.

Article 95 requires suppliers of active substances for use in biocidal products to have obtained a letter of access to an active substance dossier, to have submitted their own dossier to the European Chemicals Agency, or to be a participant in the European Commission’s on-going review programme of active substances.

There are currently 44 companies recognised under Article 95 for supplying propan-2-ol as a biocidal active substance, including 4 based in the UK. In addition, there are currently 98 companies recognised under Article 95 for supplying the alcohol ethanol as a biocidal active substance, including 7 based in the UK.

The sources are listed on the European Chemical’s Agency’s (ECHA) searchable database: https://echa.europa.eu/information-on-chemicals/active-substance-suppliers

* NON-ARTICLE 95 SUPPLIER’S CHEMICALS FOR USE IN HAND SANITISER
During this exceptional time of increased demand due to the coronavirus outbreak, it may be necessary for hand sanitiser manufacturers to find alternative suppliers of raw ingredients to supplement those obtained via regular supply chains.

HSE’s primary concern is that safe and effective biocidal hand sanitisers are available in the UK to help protect people during the coronavirus outbreak. HSE will adopt a pragmatic and proportionate approach to regulatory requirements that relate to supply chain obligations during this period. The focus of any HSE activity by inspectors will be to ensure that products on the market are effective in combating the coronavirus and do not pose an unacceptable risk to people or the environment.

HSE would expect product manufacturers to have taken all reasonable steps to source ingredients in such a way that they are compliant with Article 95 obligations.

However, HSE Inspectors will take a sensible and proportionate approach if they come across hand sanitisers that are not strictly in line with normal BPR supply chain requirements under Article 95, recognising the urgent wider need for safe and effective products.

In making commercial decisions, manufacturers need to be mindful of maintaining high levels of safety and efficacy of the products they make available to the public and others.

* ACTIVE SUBSTANCES NOT YET SUBJECT TO AUTHORISATION UNDER THE BIOCIDAL PRODUCTS REGULATIONS
Suppliers of hand disinfectants and sanitisers should bear in mind that where the product is not yet subject to authorisation under the BPR, eg those containing ethanol, any product placed on the market must comply with other relevant legislation on Classification, Labelling and Packaging of substances and Mixtures (CLP) and other general product safety regulations.

Any workplace producing or using or storing ethanol and isopropyl alcohol must also comply with relevant health and safety regulations.

* HAND SANITISERS THAT DON’T CONTAIN ALCOHOL
This guidance relates to alcohol-based hand sanitisers.

Other active substances are available but Public Health England has advised that hand sanitisers should have 60% or higher alcohol content to be effective against the COVID-19 virus.

Further information and advice
* speak to your supplier
* contact biocidesenquiries@hse.gov.uk
* sign up to the biocides e-bulletin: https://www.hse.gov.uk/news/subscribe/index.htm
* visit the HSE Biocides website: https://www.hse.gov.uk/biocides/index.htm

(COVID-19): support package for your workforce

The Chancellor outlined on 20th March an unprecedented package of measures to protect millions of people’s jobs and incomes as part of the national effort in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

A new Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will be set up to help pay people’s wages. Employers will be able to contact HMRC for a grant to cover most of the wages of their workforce who remain on payroll but are temporarily not working during the coronavirus outbreak. Any employer in the country- small or large, charitable or non-profit will be eligible for the scheme.

Universal Credit and tax credits will also be increased as part of an almost £7 billion welfare boost, as he outlined one of the most generous business and welfare packages by any government so far in response to Covid-19.

To ease cash flow pressures for UK VAT registered businesses, VAT bills from now until the end of June, will be deferred until the end of the tax year.

* UK workers of any employer who is placed on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme can keep their job, with the government paying up to 80% of a WORKER’S WAGE, up to a total of £2,500 per worker each month. These will be backdated to 1st March and will be initially open for 3 months, to be extended if necessary.
* VAT payments due between now and the end of June will be DEFERRED. No VAT registered business will have to make a VAT payment normally due with their VAT return to HMRC in that period. INCOME TAX PAYMENTS due in July 2020 under the Self Assessment system will be DEFERRED to January 2021, benefitting up to 5.7m self-employed businesses.
* Additionally, the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, launched at Budget, will now be INTEREST FREE for TWELVE months.
* The standard rate in Universal credit and Tax Credits will be increased by £20 a week for one year from April 6th, meaning claimants will be up to £1040 better off.
* Nearly £1bn of additional support for RENTERS, through increases in the generosity of housing benefit and Universal Credit. From April, Local Housing Allowance rates will pay for at least 30% of market rents in each area.
HMRC are working night and day to get the unprecedented Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme up and running and we expect THE FIRST GRANTS TO BE PAID WITHIN WEEKS.

UK international trade

(COVID-19): Government support for UK businesses trading internationally

This guidance is issued by the UK Government and it advises UK businesses on:
– DIT support for UK business trading internationally
– financial support for business trading internationally

1. DIT support for UK businesses trading internationally
This advice is for UK businesses that export or deliver goods and services abroad and have been impacted by the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). It includes:
– DIT support for UK business trading internationally
– financial support for business trading internationally

DIT can support businesses by:
– providing assistance with customs authorities to ensure smooth clearance of their products
– offering advice on intellectual property and other issues with business continuity

British businesses that may face disruption due to the spread of coronavirus can contact DIT’s dedicated business support team by emailing COVID19@trade.gov.uk.
This team will discuss the challenges faced by UK businesses that trade internationally to understand how best the department can support them.

Further guidance for employees, employers and businesses is also available online: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-employees-employers-and-businesses

1.1 Supply chains affected by coronavirus (COVID-19)
If your supply chain has been affected by coronavirus (COVID-19), DIT can help you to find alternative suppliers. The department has relationships with a global network of businesses across the world and will be able to advise you on the options available.

If you have an advisory or professional services firm that can help UK companies to find alternative suppliers, email COVID19@trade.gov.uk with the subject line “Supply chain support”.

1.2 International support for businesses involved in overseas projects
If you are operating projects in other countries, follow local guidance and speak to your nearest UK embassy or consulate. Alternatively, you can read the general advice on Overseas Business Risk in the relevant country: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/overseas-business-risk

2. Financial support for British businesses trading internationally
The Chancellor announced (17 March 2020) an unprecedented package of government-backed and guaranteed loans to support businesses, making available an initial £330bn of guarantees – equivalent to 15% of GDP. See: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/support-for-those-affected-by-covid-19

This was on top of a series of measures announced at Budget 2020, where the government announced £30 billion of additional support for public services, individuals and businesses experiencing financial difficulties because of COVID-19.

On 20 March 2020, the Chancellor announced a further workers’ support package to protect millions of people’s jobs and incomes as part of the national effort in response to coronavirus. (SEE SPECIFIC ARTICLE ON BAMA’S BLOG)
A new Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will be set up to help pay people’s wages; Universal Credit and tax credits will also be increased as part of an almost £7 billion welfare boost; and to ease cash flow pressures for UK VAT registered businesses, VAT bills from now until the end of June, will be deferred until the end of the tax year.

Your business may be able to get support to lessen the cost or financial effects of coronavirus (COVID-19) through:
– the business interruption loan scheme from the British Business Bank as part of the Enable Finance Guarantee
– changes to Statutory Sick Pay
– the UK-wide Time to Pay – scheme for tax payment relief for businesses and self-employed people
– an increase in the Business Rates Retail Discount in England to 100% for a year, now expanded to the leisure and hospitality sectors
– cash support to all business in receipt of Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR) and funding for Local Authorities in England to support businesses that pay little or no business rates because of SBRR or Rural Rates Relief
– the temporary lowering of the Minimum Income Floor (MIF) for Universal Credit for those who have COVID-19 or are self-isolating following government advice

2.1 Financial support for exporters
UK Export Finance (UKEF) works with banks and insurance brokers to help companies of all sizes fulfil and get paid for export contracts. It provides guarantees, loans and insurance on behalf of the government that can protect UK exporters facing delayed payments or transit restrictions.
Help from UKEF:
– if your business is facing disruption due to late payments, UKEF can help ease cash flow constraints by guaranteeing bank loans through its Export Working Capital Scheme
– if you are concerned about getting paid, UKEF offers an export insurance policy that can help you recover the costs of fulfilling an order that is terminated by events outside your control

UKEF can also support finance for overseas buyers through the Direct Lending Facility scheme, so they can continue to buy your goods and services

UKEF has over £4 billion of capacity to support UK firms exporting to China, as well as significant capacity across other markets affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) to help cover these risks.

To find out if UKEF covers your region, email customer.service@ukexportfinance.gov.uk

2.2 International business travel
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office offers the latest advice about travelling abroad, including the latest information on coronavirus (COVID-19), safety and security, entry requirements and travel warnings.

2.3 DIT coronavirus (COVID-19) business support contacts
If you have questions on international trade and coronavirus (COVID-19) email COVID19@trade.gov.uk

There are DIT offices around the world that can offer advice to businesses specific to your region or country. Contact your local embassy for further information.

BAMA Innovation Day moves to Summertime!

*New date for BAMA Innovation Day 2020*

Dear All,

Although UK Government has not yet formally restricted large gatherings, a number of companies have restricted staff movements due to the COVID (19) outbreak. To ensure speakers, exhibitors and attendees get the maximum from the day, the British Aerosol Manufacturers Association (BAMA) has taken the decision to postpone its 2020 Innovation Day.
The event will take place on Tuesday 7th July still at the original venue, the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds.
Patrick Heskins, chief executive of BAMA, said: “BAMA is grateful to the Royal Armouries for working so positively with us to organise another date at such short notice. We take the health and safety of our members and delegates extremely seriously, and it is with their best interests in mind that we have taken the decision to re-schedule this popular event.
“We look forward to welcoming some of the industry’s most creative manufacturers and influential thought leaders on the new date in July.”
Several speakers have already been confirmed, including Simply Breathe – Aerosol of the Year winners – who will examine the technology used in their Air for Life product. Sustainability Award winner, Triple Line Technology, is also set to demonstrate and discuss its revolutionary aerosol foam system.
The Innovation Day is open to both BAMA members and non-members and provides an excellent opportunity to network, share ideas and make new connections in the drive for sustainable growth.
Anyone wishing to attend should contact Sally Tilbury at sallytilbury@bama.co.uk, or by calling 020 7828 5111.

BAMA announces appointment of new Vice Chair

The British Aerosol Manufacturers’ Association (BAMA) has announced the appointment of Peter Watmough, global detection products manager at Cascade Technologies, a division of Emerson Automation Solutions, as Vice-Chair of the Association.
Peter will take over from James Smith, Summit Europe, who has served as Vice-Chair of BAMA since 2018.

With several years of experience on the BAMA board of directors, Mr Watmough’s focus will be centred on helping the association to deliver its 2025 strategy, expanding the membership base and sharing knowledge with stakeholders across an increasing diverse range of industries.

Patrick Heskins, BAMA chief executive, said: “Peter brings a wealth of industry experience and technical know-how to the role and I am very pleased to welcome him as the new Vice-Chairman.

“The coming year is likely to present many new challenges with significant political upheaval and the anticipated changes in the regulatory landscape. Peter’s experience will be critical in supporting BAMA’s members as the association works to ensure their voices are heard at all levels.”

“I would like to thank James for his support during the last 18 months and throughout a period of great uncertainty for the industry.”

Peter Watmough commented: “Despite the varied challenges facing industry, the UK remains the largest filler in Europe, the third largest in the world and will continue to make a very significant contribution to the UK economy as we move into a new decade.
“As every business strives to operate as efficiently as possible, it is likely that we will see greater need for the services of associations like BAMA, particularly to ensure regulatory changes do not have adverse or unintended consequences. I will work closely with the BAMA team and membership to ensure the association remains well placed to provide the resources and support required and respond effectively to any issues the industry faces whether local or global.”

BAMA’s World renowned Aerosol Technology Course is having a make-over!

Packed into two days is information on aerosol regulations, formulations and filling, as well as advice on the choice of propellants, valves, containers – bought to you by industry experts.

And the new format Day 2 will now incorporate a practical workshop in the UK aerosol laboratory of the Lindal Valve company. Here you will learn more about valves, the basics of sealing the valve to the can and get to fill different formulations. You will also be able to carry out lab tests on aerosols that measure the discharge rate, the particle size distribution and the flammability of the aerosols.

This course will help those in all functions across the industry, from R&D to procurement, from line operatives to senior managers. It distils all aspects of aerosol technology in to an easily digestible format, showing how each part of the aerosol package interacts to create the final consumer product, that is unlike any other packaging format.

The course cost now includes overnight accommodation and an evening meal, where you can spend time networking with the course tutors and the other delegates and, if you want, learn a little more about the history of the industry in an informal environment. Spaces will be limited due the number of people we can safely fit in to the lab and will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.

The new Technology Course will be taking place on Tuesday 17th & Wednesday 18th March 2020 at The Woburn Hotel, Woburn, Milton Keynes. For more information and to take advantage of this exciting development contact Sallytilbury@bama.co.uk.

Blockchain technology

‘Blockchain’ – what is it and why do we care?

Chances are you’ve probably heard of blockchain – and you’ve almost certainly heard that it’s going to be the next big thing. You’ve been told that it could transform the way that both your business and the market work. However, more likely than not, you are in the dark as what all the fuss is about and how this is going to happen.
That’s because this technology is at a very early stage in its development and few can assess realistically what it can actually deliver. In fact the first blockchain was only created in 2009 as part of the development of the crypto-currency Bitcoin.
So what actually is blockchain, and is it really as important as many people have made out?

The DEFINITION of BLOCKCHAIN
A blockchain is a type of distributed ledger, which records a series of transactions as digital records or ‘blocks’. What makes it unique is that these blocks are inextricably linked, despite not being stored in the same place. This makes the records secure, because there isn’t a central source to be attacked and the records can be made unique and permanent. They can’t be altered without the changes themselves being recorded.

Blockchain was a breakthrough technology for crypto-currencies, because it could be used globally and prevent anyone spending the same unit of currency twice. For a business, it creates a way of maintaining a unique, indisputable history of all its interactions with different parties: suppliers, partners, customers and ensure the traceability and integrity of its data.

HOW can BUSINESSES use Blockchain?
Proponents of blockchain have latched on to its transparency as a solution to every problem facing businesses, from supply chain management to micropayments. However, as with so many breakthrough technologies, blockchain can’t bring about these changes by itself. It’s the systems and applications built around it that will drive real impact.

Certain applications are straightforward. For example, a company could use blockchain to store details of its unique product formulation. The production line at a filler, for instance, would automatically stop and alert management, when a discrepancy was detected against the original records – any change a third party (hacker, malaware) attempted would be spotted before damage could take place.

Transforming DATA QUALITY and DATA OWNERSHIP
It’s not just the management of data that blockchain could change, though. Potentially far more significant are the implications of the technology for ownership and control of proprietary data.
Looking at the chemical industry, blockchain could take this out of the hands of manufacturing partners – and put it into the hands of the owners whom the data relates to. This is critical when brand and public image are at stake and the supply chain behind a marketer is large, fragmented and possibly outsourced. Any change of hands brings with it a risk, the more severe the risk, the higher the level of security required. For patented products and registered trade marks, avoiding counterfeit is paramount and a switch towards higher security, control and integrity, certainly worth the investment behind it.

WHERE are we in the PROCESS?
Aspects of this huge transformation are already happening. The UK government’s Midata project, for instance, has made financial services companies and energy suppliers store their data in a form that customers could access and share with other providers. One of the major barriers to large-scale adoption of the personal information economy has been the technology required to create secure, personal data stores. If blockchain solves that problem, then the relationship between people and data could be transformed, and marketing could be on the verge of a revolution.