Hounslow Chamber webinars
All are free, run for 60 minutes and start at 10:00 am:

11 th June - Business Task Force / Structuring for re-emergence -
We are pleased that Cllr. Katherine Dunne, Cabinet Member for Communities and Climate Emergency and Janet Leatherland, Manager of The Treaty Shopping Centre, Hounslow is able to be with us.

16 th  June - Trading with the UAE and the Gulf -
Dubai wants to buy your goods. Join us to make this happen and to learn how.

18 th June - Business Task Force -
We are pleased that Cllr. Steve Curran, Leader of Hounslow Council, is able to be with us.

If you have missed our webinars, you can watch them now:  https://hounslowchamber.org.uk/10015
London Chamber of Arbitration and Mediation 

London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has relaunched the London Chamber of Arbitration and Mediation ( https://lcam.org.uk/) with new e-mediation services, underpinned by the highly innovative use of blockchain technology, and very attractive fixed pricing.

It is clear that there will be a huge demand for mediation and arbitration on contracts as a result of the economic impact of Covid-19. The judiciary has made it clear that companies should look to this system rather than the courts because of the backlog of cases, and the Cabinet office has reiterated its call for companies to look to mediation as the first port of call.

LCCI thinks this is another way in which they can be of service to the London chamber community and help reinforce membership of your chambers across London. The team are now looking at how they can make this service available to our members as a benefit. They would like to put this in place quickly. If you have any advice and comments, and if you would be interested, please can you contact
Liz Henderson ( lhenderson@londonchamber.co.uk).
Key government updates below (courtesy of the Cabinet Office)

Face coverings
As per the Transport Secretary's announcement in yesterday's press conference, wearing face coverings on public transport will be mandatory in England from Monday 15th June. 

Key points to note:
  • The new guidance refers to face coverings - not surgical masks - which you can easily make at home.
  • Exemptions will be made for very young children, the disabled and those with breathing difficulties. 
  • You can be refused travel if you don’t comply and could be fined. Alongside transport operators, this will be enforced by the British Transport Police, as necessary.

You can find the Transport Secretary's full statement here:  https://bit.ly/DfTStatement . Further guidance will follow in the coming days, which we will circulate. 
Face coverings (courtesy of TfL)  
can be a simple cloth that covers the nose and mouth. They can be made using many items found in the home or in a number of shops, so people can make their own. More information about how to make a face covering can be found here: www.london.gov.uk/coronavirus/face-covering-guidance .

To help customers adjust to the forthcoming requirement, we will be piloting the temporary distribution of free face coverings at a selection of Tube and bus stations that have typically seen higher numbers of customers travelling throughout lockdown. Our distribution of face coverings, which should be used once over a single journey, will start on Monday 8 June and is expected to run over the next couple of weeks. Volunteers from our workforce and the Greater London Authority will be safely distributing the coverings to customers who need them.
Trade Credit Insurance (courtesy of the Cabinet Office)
Trade Credit Insurance, which provides essential cover to hundreds of thousands of business-to-business transactions, will receive up to £10 billion of government guarantees.

The Trade Credit Reinsurance scheme, which has been agreed following extensive discussions with the insurance sector, will see the vast majority of Trade Credit Insurance coverage maintained across the UK.

The guarantees will support supply chains and help businesses during the coronavirus pandemic to trade with confidence, safe in the knowledge that they will be protected if a customer defaults or delays on payment.

The scheme is available on a temporary basis for nine months, backdated to 1 April 2020, and available to insurers operating in the UK market.

Read the full press notice here:  https://bit.ly/TradeCreditIns .

CJRS timeline
Please find below a reminder of the key changes and deadlines you need to be aware of for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme:

  • From 1 July, employers can bring back to work employees that have previously been furloughed for any amount of time and any shift pattern, while still being able to claim CJRS grant for their normal hours not worked. When claiming the CJRS grant for furloughed hours employers will need to report and claim for a minimum period of a week.
  • The scheme will close to new entrants from 30 June. From this point onwards, employers will only be able to furlough employees that they have furloughed for a full 3 week period prior to 30 June.
  • This means that the final date by which an employer can furlough an employee for the first time will be 10 June, in order for the current 3 week furlough period to be completed by 30 June. Employers will have until 31 July to make any claims in respect of the period to 30 June.

Find out more information here:  https://bit.ly/2zdheFn . Further guidance on flexible furloughing and how employers should calculate claims will be published on 12 June.
Airlines among businesses given Bank of England bailouts
(courtesy of White Label)

Airlines, transport and travel companies are among the largest recipients of emergency funding under a Bank of England scheme to assist larger companies facing acute short-term cash flow problems as a result of the outbreak.

British Airways, easyjet, Ryanair and have all received hundreds of millions of pounds from the Bank's Coronavirus Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF).

Under the CCFF, the Bank buys commercial paper from the companies in exchange for a short-term loan repayable at rates of between 0.2 and 0.6%. To be eligible, firms have to be investment-grade rated, make a "material contribution" to the UK, and in sound financial health prior to the outbreak.

The CCFF has paid £16.18bn to 53 companies to date and is in a position to lend £67.7bn in total if required.
Jamie Catling, McDonald’s franchisee for Hounslow and Feltham outlets and Hounslow Chamber member, let us know about this:

McDonald’s - Controlled tests at closed restaurant used to form safer working procedures

The COVID-19 lockdown happened quickly and with relatively little warning or ignored warnings. Businesses were forced to make a rapid transition to home working where this was possible or pause operations altogether. Few firms were fully prepared for this shift and some have adapted better than others. Although the lockdown caused major disruption, it also meant new operating practices were established and new efficiencies gained.

Reduced Operations
Because of the benefits outlined above and the imperative to maintain social distancing, many organisations will be planning for a greater volume of employees requesting to work flexibly. The ability to implement social distancing in the workplace will be key to a successful return. However, it will mean reduced capacity in most workspaces, so staffing requirements and working patterns will have to be reviewed.

Crucial to managing a flexible return to work will be technological capabilities that support a combination of office and remote working, which will mean a continued reliance on video conferencing in many cases.

The 'New Normal'
Nobody can say for certain how workplaces will look and function when we return to them. One thing is for sure though: they will look different to the ones left behind in March. However, where working practices and newly adopted technologies have proved a success during the lockdown, businesses will be keen to keep digital alternatives in place rather than return to conventional working practices.

Stay Safe & Stay Well
Updated hygiene practices will also be vital to a safe return, especially if a business is expecting to welcome visitors onto its premises. Firms will need to consider measures such as creating one-way walkthroughs, installing hand sanitising stations, opening more entrances and exits and changing seating layouts in break rooms. Where people cannot be two metres apart, employers must manage the risk of transmission.

An event such as the COVID-19 pandemic triggers the need to review risk assessments and record the findings of the review. Additionally, employees will need to be informed of any new procedures and protocols that must be followed, for example, the use of hot-desking and deep cleaning.

Cash Flow
As well as keeping a close eye on order books, stocks and supply chains, managing cashflow will be vital for firms aiming to exit the lockdown successfully. This means having a thorough understanding of your business's cash position both prior to exit and for the immediate future.

Understanding the cash position in the short and medium-term will help firms assess what steps they need to take in order to keep the business moving. Devising forecasts with different scenarios will help gain an understanding of what the organisation's options might be.

Many businesses are likely to need some additional help as they start back up again. Existing banks and lenders should be the first port of call, but remember there are other sources of finance available. These include the various government COVID-19 support schemes: Oasis Accountants can provide help and advice if your business needs to raise finance.

We can offer advice and guidance to make sure your business is benefiting from the HMRC Tax deferrals, Government Grants and Reliefs.

The Road Ahead & Planning
The road ahead may not be an easy one. It is unlikely to be straightforward and setbacks are probable. However, careful planning will help businesses be prepared to take advantage of a surge in economic activity and return of market confidence.
From Monday 15 June, we are making temporary changes to the 60+ London Oyster card and the Older Person’s Freedom Pass during morning peak hours. These changes are being introduced following TfL’s funding agreement with Government which required temporary restrictions for customers with these concession cards. 

Passengers with a 60+ Oyster card, Older Person’s Freedom Pass , or English National Concessionary Scheme pass will not be able to use these cards before 09:00 on weekday mornings. This is to enable social distancing on the public transport network and help control the spread of coronavirus. Your card will continue to be valid at all other times on weekdays and all day on weekends and Bank Holidays. Disabled Freedom Pass holders are not affected by these changes and can continue to use their card at all times.

Where possible, we ask you to avoid travelling immediately after 09:00 to help reduce crowding in buses and trains, where the available space has effectively been reduced to allow for social distancing. If you have no option other than to use public transport during the morning peak period, we recommend that you travel using pay as you go with a contactless card or device or an Oyster card. For more information, please visit www.tfl.gov.uk/fares .

Aiming to improve access by bike to West Middlesex Hospital
Counter Terrorism Policing advice those retailers preparing to re-open. Click here for more details.
Our Legal Team have been assisting clients with various questions during this time - What rights do we have to see an elderly parent who is in a care home or hospital? What is the position if they are dying? Can we bring them home to die? If we get hospitalised with Covid 19 can we make a Will? what happens if we die without one?

Nigel George TEP Partner and Head of our Life Planning Department, who recently featured in Hounslow Talks Business https://issuu.com/benham/docs/hounslow_talks_business_may   will be discussing and answering questions on the following issues: 

  • what rights do hospital patients and care home residents have to see family and friends during Covid 19?
  • Do they have the right to get legal advice in a hospital or care home?
  • Can a dying friend or relative be brought home?
  • What level of capacity is required to make a will or lasting Power of Attorney? 
  • what other options are open to a person who doesn't have capacity to make a will? 

Please join Nigel on Wednesday 10 June 2020 at 3.00 pm.

Burger chain has seen huge queues at other stores during trial reopenings
Good News:
Barratt London’s High Street Quarter site and sales suite in Hounslow re-opens, implementing new social distancing rules throughout.
Chiswick Flower Market update – click here
Hounslow Chamber of Commerce is the primary support, networking, and representation organisation in west London for SMEs.

We support the interests, the commercial aspirations and the investment for some 18,000 firms - from Chiswick to Feltham, Heathrow to Osterley and Brentford to Bedfont - the Chamber is the voice for all businesses located in the borough.