NAJ News

Coronavirus Advice (part seven) from NAJ

17 Apr 2020

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The Government yesterday released news that the lockdown will be extended for a further three weeks, and with it some updates to previously published schemes.

Asked by the BBC's Laura Kuenssberg about when the public can see the end of this, Dominic Raab (standing in for Prime Minister Borris Johnson) refered to comments made by the Prime Minister at the beginning of the outbreak, saying this stage should last for three months.

"That is broadly still the outline [and] it will be reviewed at the end of the month," he said.

But Raab added it would be "irresponsible" to give a definitive timeframe and could "prejudice the evidence" being collected by scientific advisers.

"There is light at the end of the tunnel, there is progress, and we must keep up."

Asked why he won't reveal plans for an exit strategy from social distancing measures, he again said it may prejudice the evidence.

"We have got to keep this up," said the foreign secretary.

"What you are doing is working, notwithstanding the death toll - tragic for so many people.

"But if we let up now, it will be damaging for public health and the economy."

 

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme - extended eligibility and portal opening

Yesterday the government announced:

  • Employers can now claim for employees that were employed and on their PAYE payroll on or before 19 March 2020. This means that the employee must have been notified to HMRC through an RTI submission notifying payment in respect of that employee on or before 19 March 2020.
  • Employees that were employed as of 28 February 2020 and on payroll and were made redundant or stopped working for you after that, and prior to 19 March 2020, can also qualify for the scheme if you re-employ them and put them on furlough.

 The online portal through which employers can make claims under the CJRS will be available from (Monday) 20 April 2020.

This will be welcome news for many NAJ members and supporters who are planning to or have already furloughed their employees and have been waiting to apply for CJRS grants. The grants will cover 80% of the employment costs, capped at £2,500 per month per employee.

In addition to providing an update on what furloughed workers need to know, HMRC has also confirmed that there will not be a helpline service to support the claim process. However, HMRC has published case studies on some businesses and how they plan to take advantage of the scheme. 

When the portal opens on Monday any entity with a UK payroll can apply, including businesses, charities, recruitment agencies and public authorities. To prepare to make your claim you will need:

  • a Government Gateway (GG) ID and password – if you don’t already have a GG account, you can apply for one online, or by going to GOV.UK and searching for 'HMRC services: sign in or register'
  • be enrolled for PAYE online – if you aren’t registered yet, you can do so now, or by going to GOV.UK and searching for 'PAYE Online for employers'
  • the following information for each furloughed employee you will be claiming for: Name, National Insurance number, Claim period and claim amount, PAYE/employee number (optional).
  • if you have fewer than 100 furloughed staff – you will need to input information directly into the system for each employee. If you have 100 or more furloughed staff – you will need to upload a file with information for each employee; HMRC will accept the following file types: .xls .xlsx .csv .ods.

Step by Step guide

More information

 

Companies House support for businesses hit by COVID-19

The government published changes which will help businesses avoid being struck off the Companies House register as they deal with the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

Companies House will temporarily pause the strike-off process to prevent companies being dissolved. This will give businesses affected by the coronavirus outbreak the time they need to update their records and help them avoid being struck off the register.

In addition, companies issued with a late filing penalty due to COVID-19 will have appeals treated sympathetically.

More information

 

Chancellor expands loan scheme for large businesses

The Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme has been expanded to cover all viable firms. All firms with a turnover of more than £45 million will now be able to apply for up to £25 million of finance, and up to £50 million for firms with a turnover of more than £250 million.

The scheme, which will launch on Monday, will be available through a series of accredited lenders, which will be listed on the British Business Bank website.  

This complements existing support including the Covid Corporate Financing Facility and the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme for small and medium sized businesses.

More information

 

Member Concerns/ findings

NAJ is part of the British Allied Trades Federation whose representatives challenged government department BEIS on the following member concerns and received the response below.

1. What I need to know, in a really urgent way is what you can do lobby the government to include owner operator .LTD companies to be included in the same 80% assistance provided to self-employed and employed people. I have an .LTD, am the director and only employee.  We are in dire straits. There are many of us and we are just being ignored. Who can I speak to about this and what can we do?

Response (dated 11 April 2020)

Directors on PAYE are already eligible to have 80% of their salary paid for under the Job Retention Scheme, in the same way as all other employees on PAYE.  However, I acknowledge that Directors may receive a proportion of their salary by dividends, which are not eligible to be counted as part of the 80% payment, and have raised this with HMT. I await HMT’s consideration.

 

2. Why have councils set the council tax level of £51K as a threshold for receiving a grant to help us? I have three shops over this limit so they don't qualify. I do not see what the difference is. I need the help and I need it now.

Response (dated 11 April 2020)

Although retailers with shops which have a rateable value over £51K are not eligible for the Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF), they are eligible for business rates relief and will not have to pay business rates for the 2020 – 2021 tax year.

 

3. As it happens, I do have a concern about the inequitable treatment of small businesses that do not pay rates. We are a limited company and file tax returns as any other business does. But we are home-based and, as a result, do not pay business rates. But the grants available to small businesses only apply to those businesses which pay rates, which means that under the current rules we do not qualify for support. Nor will we qualify for the self-employed benefit because we pay ourselves as and when the business can afford it, rather than on a regular monthly basis.

Many small businesses such as ours may cease to exist if the grants being made available to small businesses are not also made available to us. And the mechanism for deciding whether a small business exists or not is simple – use the most recent tax return.

I have suggested this to our local MP, but with nothing more than a polite generic response.  I wonder perhaps whether words from a trade association might carry more weight?

Response (dated 11 April 2020)

The guidance suggests that anyone not on PAYE (so not eligible for furlough payments under the Job Retention Scheme) and not self-employed (so not eligible for support via the Self Employment Income Support Scheme) would be eligible to apply online for Universal Credit.

 

Insurance and commercial leases in Scotland

(via Independent Retailers Consortium, of which NAJ is a member)

4. Insurance

A BBC report suggests that the FCA has written to insurers saying if there are reasonable grounds to pay part of a claim but not the full claim, they must make an interim payment. This is to ensure that financial pressures on policyholders are not exacerbated by slow payment.

The FCA has backed insurers however regarding the issue that most business interruption policies held by small and medium-sized businesses only had basic cover which does not include pandemics and therefore insurers have no obligation to pay out in relation to COVID-19, saying they see no reasonable grounds to intervene in such circumstances.

The FCA has said that smaller companies (with a turnover of less than £6.5m and fewer than 50 employees), that do think they have reasonable ground by which their policy should have been paid, could take complaints to the Financial Ombudsman. The watchdog has set up a small business unit, responsible for "gathering intelligence about the treatment of small businesses by financial services firms during the crisis and ensuring a coordinated response by the FCA to any issues identified".

More information  

 

5. Commercial leases

Scotland announced over the bank holiday that it has extended the notice period before a commercial lease can be terminated for non-payment of rent from 14 days to 14 weeks under the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act. This brings it into line with the rest of the UK.

Previously commercial tenants served with a warning letter for non-payment of rent would have 14 days to pay outstanding rent - this period has now been increased to 14 weeks. It applies to all commercial property leases, including those where a warning notice has already been issued and has not already expired.

 

Jeweller Support Network compressed 2

The Jeweller Support Network

The coming together of authority bodies in the industry has received excellent feedback. The Jeweller Support Network Hub is regularly updated with new funds, resources and updates throughout the week. Find the most recent updates linked below.

Visit the Jeweller Support Network Hub 

 

HiUp JET Certificate

More Education support offered by NAJ

For the period of the lockdown extension (3 weeks) the Education department are offering Members a £100 discount and non-members a £50 discount for the popular JET Certificate in order to support the industry through the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

Marie Garnett, Head of Education said,

"The discounts offered are some of the most significant discounts we have offered in recent times and can't be used in conjunction with any other offers. The demand for the free module on JET Essentials has been significant with more than 500 registrations processed and this has led to enquiries for the JET Certificate, and we hope this is recognised as a measure to support the industry at this time.

"It's fantastic to see the response to the Education programmes now. The one question we keep receiving is 'can I take this module while on furlough'? And the answer is yes, of course, as long as it is you (the learner) who has volunteered to do it!" 

To apply the Certificate discount, you must complete the booking form and enter ‘Jewellers-together’ to achieve the lower fee, returning the form to JET@naj.co.uk

The NAJ Education team had previously opened up the JET Essentials programme for all areas of the industry to benefit from one free module (from a possible 12) and has since received more than 500 registrations.

Find out more about the JET Certificate 

 

Goldsmiths’ COVID-19 fund

From the end of April 2020, eligible members of the jewellery, silversmithing and allied industries who are self-employed, sole traders or running businesses of five people or less in the UK and are in financial difficulty will be able to apply online for funds of a grant or a loan. A formal announcement, when applications open, will be made later this month.

The Goldsmiths’ Company and the Charity, alongside the Goldsmiths’ Centre and Goldsmiths’ Company Assay Office, will be giving further information and formally announcing the launch of the COVID-19 Fund through their digital and social media channels and e-newsletters.

Please do not contact our team at this stage. Instead, please subscribe to our communications channels to be the first to hear when the Fund is fully launched.

Subscribe to the Goldsmiths' Newsletter 

 

CIBJO makes Blue Books freely available

With the international jewellery and gemstone industry grappling with the challenge of a worldwide economic shutdown, instituted by governments in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, CIBJO has announced that it will no longer be charging for downloads of its Blue Book series of industry standards and nomenclature.

The CIBJO Blue Books are definitive sets of grading standards and nomenclature for diamonds, coloured gemstones, pearls, coral, precious metals and gemmological laboratories, and also responsible sourcing practices. With an almost complete absence of jewellery industry standards endorsed by the International Standards Organisation (ISO), they are the most widely accepted set of rules and terminology, and have been recognised as such by the courts in the European Union, and by various governments and regulatory bodies around the world.

Download the Blue Books 

 

Closure of Business FAQs

HM Government have updated their advice on business closures, to inform business leaders on why their business need to close.

The list of businesses that must close

With the exception of these organisations, the Government has not required any other businesses to close – indeed it is important for business to carry on.

However, you should take every possible step to facilitate working from home, including providing suitable IT and equipment to enable remote working.

And if you have people in your offices or onsite you should ensure that they are able to follow Public Health England guidelines including, where possible, maintaining a 2 metre distance from others and washing their hands.

Find out more about business closures

 

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Coronavirus and isolation: supporting yourself and your colleagues

It’s fair to say the industry has never experienced a time like this. There are lots of messages, advice, opinions and predictions around. Some of it’s pretty drastic, and not all of it agrees – and the uncertainty, in itself, can feel very stressful. Mental Health at Work isn’t here to add to your pressures as an employer by telling you what to do.

Instead, at a time when things are moving and changing fast, we just want to make sure you’ve got some useful and practical information when you need it.

In terms of workplace wellbeing, the coronavirus situation presents a few different things to think about, and Mental Health at Work have selected resources that can help with each of them.

Find out more about Mental Health at Work 

 

WizCase also put together a very helpful Work From Home advice piece, giving practical advice on communicating effectively, working securely, preventing burnout, and keeping your mind engaged. 

Read the 5 Tips for Working from Home

 

Security

Protecting your physical store during COVID-19 (via TH March)

The jewellery community is facing further business challenges in response to the impact of the Coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak. We understand the difficulty in closing physical stores and temporarily closing your business, but it’s important to consider and ensure your premises are remaining protected while you are not there.

During these challenging and uncertain times, it is possible for opportunistic criminals to attempt taking advantage. With this possible heightened activity, you need to maintain secure business premises.

View TH March security checklist

 

Webinar replays

We're pleased with the positive impact the NAJ Webinar series has had on everyone who joined us live. It's important to keep the creativity and inspiration alive in times like these, so we'll continue to bringing industry experts on our webinars and help you make the most of your time at home.

If you missed any of our previous webinars or would like to watch it again, below are the replay links.

Webinar Presenter Date Link
First steps in online sales Louise Lyons 2nd April  View
Building relationships on social media David Glenwright 7th April  View
How to become an instant gemmologist! Kerry Gregory 8th April  View
Retail Jeweller's COVID-19 Questionnaire; the headlines Ruth Faulkner, Siobhan Holt 9th April  View
12 Pieces that illustrate my jewellery journey: Stephen Webster Stephen Webster 14th April  View
Precious metals insight David Brough, Philip Newman, Jayant Raniga 16th April  View
Selling diamonds Helen Dimmick 16th Apriil  View
Source: National Association of Jewellers (NAJ)