Support for Businesses - Financial Assistance
Covid19 - Support for Businesses - Financial Assistance
Information, updates, support and advice for food and drink businesses impacted by the Coronavirus outbreak.
As the Coronavirus outbreak continues to develop, there is a big collective effort in place to support the industry through an extremely challenging period.
The situation is hugely variable depending on the sector and customer base, with huge disruption in the supply chain, recognising the effective closure of the hospitality market and major disruption to export markets.
Over the last few weeks Scotland Food & Drink, alongside our industry partners, government and individual businesses, has worked through a number of key priorities. Below you’ll find all the latest developments, business and financial support available as well as key resources around workforce and social distancing in the workplace.
There have been further developments in the timeline of easing Coronavirus restrictions this week, which will increase demand in the foodservice sector. News on that and other key issues are below. A reminder too that we are doing a weekly Covid-19 email update now, every Friday. However, keep an eye on our twitter channel for any daily news or changes (@scotfooddrink).
The First Minister confirmed a number of scheduled changes yesterday. The summary is as follows:
Friday 3 July (today)
Monday 6 July
Friday 10 July
Monday 15 July
The general advice on physical distancing in Scotland is to maintain 2 metres between individuals from other households. However, as Scotland moves into Phase 3 (hopefully from Friday 10 July), some limited exemptions for hospitality, retail and public transport will allow a reduction to 1 metre distancing. However, this reductions will be on the strict condition that other mitigation measures are put in place. The kinds of measures that will need to be put in place might include perspex screens, managing customer flows, seating plans etc. Fuller guidance will be issued in time, but you can see some more detail on requirements that would have to be met to use the exemption here.
If you want to see the official scientific advice to government on the 2 metre rule and exemptions, you’ll find it here.
With the further re-opening of hospitality and the new exemptions to the 2 metre rule, Food Standards Scotland is expected to issue revised guidance next week. The guidance covers manufacturing and it will emphasise some important elements in light of the Covid-19 outbreaks amongst the workforce in some meat processing facilities in England and Wales. In particular, it will reiterate the importance of protection measures (physical distancing) in communal areas, off the factory floor. In particular, canteens, changing rooms and smoking areas are all higher risk areas for disease transmission so they need particular attention. We’ll put the revised guidance on the Scotland Food & Drink Coronavirus Hub as soon as it is published. The current guidance is here.
Obviously, there has been an enormous amount of work put in across the Scotland Food & Drink Partnership (Scottish Government, public sector agencies and industry organisations) over the last four months to respond to the crisis and support business. A short summary has been put together by Scottish Government of measures put in place as a reference guide. You’ll find it here.
As always, if you need to contact us at any point before next Friday’s update, please do so via email@example.com
Food Standards Scotland has developed guidance by outlining ways that physical (social) distancing can be applied in food manufacturing and processing premises, as well as other mitigation measures that can be implemented by these businesses to enable them to adhere to government advice for preventing the spread of Covid-19.
The guidance takes account of revisions in public health advice and feedback received from industry, Scottish Government and Trade Unions since the original version was issued at the start of April. It also reflects Scottish Government’s COVID-19 Framework for Decision Making (Scotlands Route Map through and Out of the Crisis).
It describes measures for preventing the spread of COVID-19 which should be applied by food manufacturing, processing and retail, as well as those food service and catering businesses which are permitted to operate in accordance with the Scottish Government routemap- which is currently restricted to the ‘Food to Go’ sector, including take-away, delivery and drive through services.
Collaboration is key to navigating what lies ahead and the Scotland Food & Drink Partnership is uniquely placed to help steer the food and drink industry through this unprecedented economic and health crisis.
The Partnership, bringing together ten trade bodies, public sector bodies and the Scottish Government, are harnessing their experience and history of collaborative working to swiftly respond to daily challenges with one, coherent voice.
Together, the Partnership is tackling each new challenge with tools and support specifically designed for the whole industry from timely joint industry statements to letter templates allowing our workforce to get to work.
We’re conscious that there is a lot of communication on Covid-19 from many different angles. To try and create one simple gateway into the information being produced by our industry and public sector partners, we have put it all into one handy table.
This is a collection of some of the business support resources currently available.
Here you will find information clarifying key workers, Food Standards Scotland official guidance regarding ongoing operations and social distancing and links to recruitment portals for food and drink businesses.
This includes people of all ages – even if you do not have any symptoms or other health conditions.
You can only leave your home:
For people showing symptoms suggestive of coronavirus the UK Government is stressing the importance of seeking help online by using the 111 online coronavirus service to find out what to do.
Continue to stay at home if you have either:
To protect others, do not go to places like a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. Stay at home. If you have coronavirus symptoms and need help, from now on you should dial 111, not your GP. You only need to call 111 if your symptoms worsen and are unmanageable, or do not improve after 7 days.
The evidence on the use of face coverings is limited, but there may be some benefit in wearing a facial covering when you leave the house and enter enclosed spaces, especially where physical distancing is more difficult and where there is a risk of close contact with multiple people you do not usually meet. Examples include, traveling on public transport or entering a food shop where it is not always possible to maintain a 2 metre distance from another customer. There is no evidence to suggest there might be a benefit outdoors, unless in an unavoidable crowded situation, where there may be some benefit.
By face coverings we do not mean the wearing of a surgical or other medical grade mask but a facial covering of the mouth and nose, that is made of cloth or other textiles and through which you can breathe, for example a scarf.
We are recommending that you consider using face coverings in the limited circumstances described above as a precautionary measure. Given that the evidence of impact on transmission is relatively weak, the public use of facial coverings is not being made mandatory and will not be enforced at this stage. However, we will keep this guidance under ongoing review as we consider any easing of lockdown restrictions in the weeks ahead.
Full details can be found here.
As we mentioned in Monday’s update we are now moving to weekly updates. These will be issued every Friday and will summarise critical developments during the past week and will look ahead to the week coming. However, if there is an important change or critical information we need to share, we will issue an update as required and won’t wait until Friday. A reminder as well to follow our Twitter channels for up to the minute info (@scotfooddrink and @scotfoodjames).
The First Minister has announced a range of dates over the next fortnight for the further unwinding of restrictions. Below is a summary of the headline points. I know some of you circulate these updates to your wider staff teams, so I have included changes related to personal activity, as well as changes relevant to your businesses.
Please note, as always, these are indicative dates. They may change and are provided at this stage to help with planning. Implementation is still to be confirmed before each date and changes are conditional on continued progress against the virus. Please also note, there will be specific, detailed guidance for each activity referred to below.
From Monday 29 June
From Friday 3 July
From Monday 6 July
From Friday 10 July
From Monday 13 July
From Wednesday 15 July
At the three-weekly review scheduled for Thursday 9 July, we are likely to get advice on the introduction of other elements of Phase 3. This will include an update on the following, with the working presumption of no changes until 23 July at the earliest:
There is also likely to be an update on the timelines for outdoor and indoor events and the opening of indoor entertainment venues (nightclubs, theatres, music venues).
A reminder that this review is ongoing and we may hear next Thursday 2 July, of any changes to the physical distancing rules in Scotland. This will be ahead of the indicative re-opening dates for hospitality set out above.
I hope you all have a good weekend. The next update will be on Friday 3 July, but you will hear from us before then if there is an important development. Please feel free to contact us at any time via firstname.lastname@example.org
There is one important change to these updates to note. With the pace of developments much steadier, we will now move to doing one, weekly update every Friday. This will look back at key developments and information from the week just gone and look ahead to what is coming the following week.
However, any changes will still be communicated in real time via our Twitter channel (@scotfooddrink). We will also issue one of these email updates if any critical information is issued or if a situation changes that requires urgent communication. We won’t wait until a Friday to email you if something is urgent.
Of course, at any time, you can contact us via email@example.com.
DIT and Defra announced today a number of measures to support exporters as part of Covid recovery work. Whilst food and drink export development work is devolved to Scotland, a number of the measures are aimed at companies across the UK. How these will rollout in Scotland will now be part of a discussion between SDI and DIT, but some of the activity should add to what is already delivered through work of SF&D partners, SDI and Scottish Government. They include: webinars to be export ready, specialist e-commerce support and virtual buyer meetings.
For companies that receive this update and also have a hospitality side to the business (restaurant, café, bar), guidance and a risk assessment for planning for re-opening on 15 July has now been published. You will find it here. The 15 July target date is when Scottish Government has asked the sector to plan for re-opening, but it remains subject to change and review. We expect the next signal on the timing of re-openings to come this Thursday (2 July).
The recent cases of Covid infections amongst workers in meat plants south of the border (and in Germany) has re-emphasised the importance of the existing Food Standards Scotland guidance. You’ll find the current guidance and other useful resources here.
It may be the common thread in these cases is a workforce that live and travel - as well as work - together. In this scenario, an infected individual could transmit the virus to co-workers quickly. Communal gathering areas are also an area of particular focus and the FSS guidance covers all part of the business.
The Advisory Group on Economic Recovery, chaired by Benny Higgins, published its report at lunchtime today. If you want a brief summary of the 25 recommendations, you’ll find them here. If you do want to read the full report (be warned, it is 80 pages), it is available here.
The report is founded upon a real fear that without significant intervention, Scotland faces a hugely damaged economy that will deepen inequality. State investment in companies, a jobs guarantee for the young, digital infrastructure, a more regional approach to economy action and a ‘green recovery’ are consistent themes in the report.
As mentioned, the next update will be on Friday – and every Friday for the foreseeable future.
Further progress on unwinding lockdown was confirmed yesterday as the first elements of Phase 2 come in to force. That, alongside other developments in the last 48 hours, are summarised below.
For many of our companies that have a hospitality side to their business, yesterday’s news that there will be no openings of the outdoor areas of bars and restaurants until July was a huge disappointment. Signs had been more promising over the last week of a first re-opening this weekend. Whilst there were never any guarantees and many caveats around what could happen, the continued suppression of the virus over the last fortnight had raised hopes. There is further review work now being done and we won’t hear any more on potential opening dates until the 2nd of July (a week ahead of the next formal review on the 9th of July).
The full summary of the new developments and timelines announced yesterday are here.
A few of the most relevant changes are:
From today (19 June):
From Monday 22 June:
From 29 June:
You may have seen media coverage over the last couple of days of clusters of infections being found within the workforce of food manufacturers. We are aware of a small handful of cases where more than one staff member in a food processing business has tested positive for Covid-19. At this stage, it is unclear whether infection is a result of activity out of the workplace, on transport to and from work or whilst at work. Either way, the prospect of sites being shutdown as a result is significant.
Whilst the circumstances around these clusters won’t be known for some time, if at all, we have always known there could be a heightened risk of transmission in workplace areas away from the ‘factory floor’. Areas such as canteens, lockers, changing rooms and outdoor smoking areas can be subject to less control and supervision. The current FSS manufacturing guidance addresses these risks well and you’ll find the link to it on our Coronavirus Hub. However it would be worth all businesses considering a reminder to their staff of the importance of protecting themselves and others in these communal areas. In addition, the actions of staff in adhering to the wider set of Coronavirus lockdown restrictions when they are out of the workplace is also important given the risks of bringing any infection into work, which could lead to a significant disruption alongside the more important issue of risking the health of their colleagues.
The next update will be on Monday, I hope you have good and safe weekend.
The pace of Coronavirus developments has definitely slowed over the last fortnight. We have been spending an awful lot of time on the industry’s recovery plan. So too, Brexit planning work has come back to the fore again as we plan for a form of ‘No Deal’ at the end of the year. This all means we may review the regularity of our Coronavirus updates again, perhaps dropping to twice a week. But we will let you know. In the meantime, here are the developments in the last 48 hours.
A number of you shared your own business’s thoughts on changes to this rule and the impact or benefit it could have operationally. We are feeding this in to discussions on the subject. Any more views are welcome. For those of you that also have a hospitality or tourism side to your business, we would encourage you to complete the Scottish Tourism Alliance’s survey of the impact of the current social distancing rules. The survey takes around one minute to complete and you’ll find it here.
The Scottish Government has announced a new package of support to assist with capital projects in the wake of Covid-19. It has a heavy focus on the construction sector. The breakdown and detail isn’t clear as yet, but the focus is on supporting investment in digital and physical infrastructure. If and when we learn more on any relevance for the food and drink industry we will share that in an update.
We will learn tomorrow which elements of Phase 2 of unwinding lockdown will be implemented from Friday. Larger groups meeting outdoors may be on the cards, so too the first outdoor openings for hospitality businesses. I’m also hearing of a possible announcement on face-coverings. That may mean following other parts of the UK in making them compulsory to wear on public transport or in confined public spaces. We’ll share a summary of the announcements made tomorrow in Friday’s update.
Today’s update is brief as little has changed since Friday.
On Thursday, the Scottish Government will announce the outcome of the latest formal review of restrictions. It is likely that elements of Phase 2 will be implemented, including the ability to meet in larger groups outdoors, another household indoors and, crucially, a move towards re-opening outdoor areas of hospitality. However, we won’t know the detail until Thursday. A reminder that the constituent elements of each phase are set out in the Scottish Government’s route map out of lockdown. You can find it here.
However, a reminder too that the timing of each phase may not be as neat as set out in the document, with some elements within each phase starting before others.
There are two areas that we are still keen to hear about. Firstly, any disruption or challenges you are facing with logistics and, secondly, if you have a positive or negative experience in the business with the implementation of the track and trace policy.
The UK Government has said today that its review of the two metre rule will be completed “in the coming weeks”. The Prime Minister mentioned he had asked SAGE to review the rule a fortnight ago when giving evidence to the Chairs of the House of Commons Committees. The indication was that the outcome of a review may have been published by now but it appears a little way off. It would be helpful to hear from any food and drink manufacturers or producers if they have views on the impact of a change from two metres to a shorter distance. The operational advantages to hospitality businesses, schools and transport are all clear. But with many businesses having already reconfigured their system to manage at two metres, would a change be significant or helpful? We have heard from a number who have said it would be (particularly where they provide transportation to staff). But other views would be welcome.
You can share feedback on that issue and the logistics and track & trace issues via firstname.lastname@example.org
Here is Friday’s update on Covid-19 related developments with a bit of a look ahead to what may be coming next week.
Presuming continued progress with suppressing the R rate – which has lowered slightly in Scotland to between 0-6 and 0.8 – we will likely move to phase 2 of easing restrictions when the three-weekly review is held on Thursday the 18th of June. This would mean from Friday 19th of June, the first opening of outdoor areas of hospitality as well as outdoor markets, subject to social distancing. This would also mean revised guidance from Food Standards Scotland, broadening the use of guidance to more businesses, reflecting a wider re-opening of the foodservice sector. We will share changes if/as they happen next week.
I know it has been a long-running process for those who have outstanding applications to the pivotal enterprise fund. We understand that every outstanding applicant will have been informed by early next week. If by Wednesday, you haven’t heard, please email us at email@example.com and we will chase it up for you. In addition, if anyone who has been rejected from the scheme wants to have a discussion about the reasons why, let us know.
This remains a subject of significant discussion. The Scottish Government has re-affirmed this week that the scientific advice they are working to does not recommend a reduction in social distancing from 2 metres. However, it is being kept under review and the signal is that this may change at some point in future. In short, it is not the fixed, permanent definition of minimum distancing but further progress is needed to act as a catalyst for review. As these things are discussed in the coming weeks, prepare to start hearing about the “K rate” as well as the “R rate”. In layman’s terms, the K rate refers to the capacity of an infected individual to spread the virus themselves (as opposed to the R rate, which reflects the scale of spread through a whole population). Mechanisms to limit K (social distancing, face coverings etc) become critical in unwinding restrictions so that any localised infection, if it emerges, is minimised.
A reminder that tourism businesses have been told to plan for re-opening on the 15th of July. This would follow an agreed move to elements of phase 3 at the scheduled 9th of July review point. It is only provisional and entirely dependent on continued progress against the disease. This, alongside the phase 2 opening of outdoor areas of hospitality which may come at the end of next week, all starts to aide the re-opening of demand in our foodservice sector.
Have a good weekend everyone and stay safe.
Today’s update captures information from discussions with the transport minister earlier, as well as a few other developments.
Fergus Ewing has announced this afternoon that the Scottish Government hopes to give the go-ahead for the re-opening of tourism and hospitality businesses from the 15th of July. A decision will be taken at the Scottish Government’s three-weekly review of restrictions scheduled for the 9th of July, with tourism and hospitality businesses told they can plan now for a re-opening on the 15th of July. However, as with all Covid-19 plans, the date is an aspiration and is provisional. It will change and be delayed if the disease situation deteriorates between now and then. In the meantime though, tourism and hospitality can at least plan with a little more certainty.
Not surprisingly the two metre social distancing guidelines are resulting in significant capacity constraints on public transport. The capacity on the average bus is around 25-30% and trains are even lower at around 15% on some routes. However, it is the reduced ferry capacity that has the potential to cause some significant logistics disruption for food and drink freight. Larger vessels are running at around 20% on-board capacity. Some smaller vessels are able to accommodate more due to greater flexibility in the use of vehicle decks. Some Northern Isles ferry routes have capacity up to 50% with on-board cabins.
Given the importance of moving products on and off the islands, we raised a number of issues on a call with the transport minister earlier, alongside other business organisations. A number of issues are being explored to maximise available timetables. However, there are challenges with exploring options such as night sailings where they don’t occur already and using booking slots for freight. There are also constraints for ferry companies themselves with significant lead-in times to recruit additional staff, even if there were more sailings. The issues have been hampered by already reduced timetables on some routes. There is a concern that as the tourism and hospitality sector begins to open over the summer, that capacity constraints for freight will exacerbate.
We will continue to feed in issues and our colleagues at Highlands and Islands Enterprise are also working on this. If you have any difficult experiences yourselves, please share them with us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Our latest understanding is that all outstanding applicants to this grant fund who haven’t yet heard the result of their application should have done so by this time next week. There may also be a new process coming by which those rejected can have a discussion to understand better how their application was analysed. We will share more when we have it.
If anyone has a confirmed case of Covid-19 amongst their staff, it would be useful if you could share privately how any contact tracing is dealt with. Based on guidance being used internally by the tracing team, if businesses are managing physical distancing, as well as PPE for any contact under 2 metres, co-workers would be unlikely to be deemed as ‘close contacts’ requiring to self-isolate. However, we just want to ensure this principle of approach works in practice.
The new quarantine restrictions for air passengers coming into the UK came into effect today. All arriving passengers are now required to fill in a ‘contact locator form’ to provide contact and travel information so they can be contacted if they, or someone they may have been in contact with, develops the disease. Arriving passengers are now required to self-isolate for 14 days. Importantly, there are limited exemptions and you can find the full list here.
The exemptions include:
The First Minister today gave positive signals towards further relaxations of restrictions when the formal date for the next review comes around on the 18th of June. In the last 48 hours, no new deaths have been recorded in Scotland. Whilst figures are always at their lowest on a Sunday, today’s and yesterday’s figures are cause for cautious optimism. A move to phase 2 of lockdown removal would see the opening of outdoor areas of pubs and restaurants for the first time since March. That decision looks at least 10 days away still and much could change but progress is clearly positive.
As flagged on Friday, the furlough scheme will close to new entrants on the 30th of June. However, to qualify for furlough support from Government from July onwards – an employee must have completed a full three weeks of furlough by the 30th of June. In other words, the deadline for furloughing an employee for the first time is Wednesday 10th of June.
We are still working away to get clarity on the time frame for a decision on outstanding applications to the Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund. Likewise, we have still to get information on managing contact tracing in the workplace. I am hopeful for news on both of these issues this week.
If you need to contact us at any point, just email email@example.com
The week ends with an important furlough scheme deadline looming next week and continued discussions around key issues such as contact tracing, grant payments and social distancing. The summary is as follows:
As announced a week ago, the furlough scheme will run until October however it starts to change from the end of June. It has been well-publicised that the scheme will close to new entrants on 30 June. However, less well-known is that an employee – to qualify for furlough support from Government from July onwards – must have completed a full three weeks of furlough by 30 June. In other words, the deadline for furloughing an employee for the first time is next Wednesday, 10 June. This nuance in the rules has been poorly publicised, so please consider this quickly if there are staff you think you may have to furlough over the summer or autumn, but that haven’t been furloughed to date. More detail is here.
This week we have raised about 20 separate cases of our member companies who have not heard back on the progress of their PERF application, since submitting in early May. Scottish Enterprise has been chasing these up internally for us and they are aiming to give us a progress update shortly. Obviously, the original turnaround time from application to decision was 10 days, but four weeks on from the first applications, some have still not heard. This has been due to the enormous weight of applications and work involved in assessing them (often having to seek additional information). On the upside, £104 million of the total £185 million across the three grant scheme (PERF and two others) has now been paid out. We have asked that a deadline be set so we can tell any of you contacting us when you may hear back on your application. Alternatively, we have asked that a holding email is sent to applicants to reassure businesses that their application is still been worked on. Keep an eye on our Twitter feeds over the weekend for any update (@scotfooddrink and @scotfoodjames)
We still don’t have confirmation of how workplace situations will be dealt with, where a newly infected Covid-19 case identifies his/her work colleagues as potential ‘close contacts’. Our ask is that contact tracers don’t contact employees directly, rather that consideration is taken first of distancing and PPE measures being implemented in the business. I understand that further guidance is being developed on this. Again, we will share as soon as we have it and continue to press for it.
The current two metre rule – which is set out in law in Scotland – and continues to be implemented across the UK remains a subject of significant debate. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends a distant of at least one metre. Many other European countries use either one metre or 1.5 metres as the distancing guidance. As our counterparts at the Scottish Tourism Alliance have pointed out in a letter to Fergus Ewing on the subject, the UK, US and Switzerland are the only countries using two metres as the distancing rule. Clearly, public health and safety is paramount but understanding the science behind different approaches is important, given this will determine the viability of many hospitality outlets when they re-open as well as the ability of schools to manage a return for pupils. It is also obviously very relevant for how businesses in our sector have reconfigured how they work. We expect the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies to give further advice to UK Government in the next week or so. Any decision on changes will be devolved to Scotland. We will keep a close eye on this issue next week and update you accordingly.
This Coronavirus update continues to be issued three times a week (Mon, Wed, Fri). We are keeping the frequency under review. There are around 1200 people receiving these updates and the open rate is very high, so we are minded to keep it to three times a week, especially as developments continue at pace. However, if you have any views on the usefulness of this update and comments on any other content that would be helpful to you, please drop us a quick note at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks to all of you who continue to stay in close touch with us.
All the best
Here is a brief summary of developments over the last 48 hours. A reminder that all the critical information for the food and drink sector sits on the Scotland Food & Drink Coronavirus Hub. All the links you need are at the bottom of this update.
We are aware that there are a number of businesses who have still not heard if their application to the Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund has been accepted or rejected. We are working with the enterprise agencies to get an update on progress and a timeline for letting all applicants know. As we have said before on this update, the demand for the fund was enormous creating huge workloads to assess applications. I will hopefully have a further update on Friday. If you are in this position, drop us a note at email@example.com
We are feeding in to government ongoing issues around the availability and cost of freight for exports. The shipping position has improved somewhat but we know the suspension of air routes in response to the pandemic has created major issues with getting product to market. The team at SAOS has been working hard to collate information, alongside work led by Seafood Scotland, the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation and the food and drink team within Scottish Government. If you have any experiences you feel would be worth us knowing, please drop us a note via firstname.lastname@example.org
There are still understandably questions from companies on the rollout of the Test and Protect strategy which will see the ‘close contacts’ of Covid-19 cases having to self-isolate for 14 days. Our understanding remains that if physical distancing is implemented in the business (the 2 metre rule), work colleagues of someone infected will not be deemed as close contacts. If some of the workforce cannot avoid being within 2 metres of each other at all times, PPE and screens will be taken into account and considered mitigating measures. However, that decision on measures taken to manage contact within two metres may be subject to an individual assessment by a health protection team.
The next update will be on Friday. Please contact us if you have any queries in the meantime.
Monday’s update captures a summary of today’s developments as well as news from late on Friday.
At the end of the week, the Chancellor published details of how the furlough scheme will operate through to its conclusion at the end of October. You can see all the published detail here. There are two elements to the changes: the introduction of ‘flexible furlough’ and the start of employer contributions to wage costs.
Flexible furlough will begin on 1 July 2020, meaning that an employee can come back to work part-time. When working, the employer picks up the wage costs, but the remainder of contracted time that they are not working will be covered by the furlough scheme. This change is coming in a month earlier than previously announced.
On employer contributions, the plan is as follows:
June and July: No changes. Government will pay 80% of wages up to the cap of £2,500 as well as employer NI (ER NICs) and pension contributions. Employers are not required to pay anything.
August: Government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500. However, employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions
September: Government will pay 70% of wages up to a cap of £2,187.50. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions and 10% of wages to make up 80% total up to a cap of £2,500.
October: Government will pay 60% of wages up to a reduced cap of £1,875. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions and 20% of wages to make up 80% total up to a cap of £2,500.
Food Standards Scotland has now published revised guidance for food and drink businesses. Importantly, within the new publication is a risk assessment tool. With the rollout of the Test and Protect strategy – which will see close contacts of Covid-19 positive cases traced – the importance of adhering to the FSS guidance is reinforced once again.
If producers manage physical distancing within the business, it is highly unlikely that the work colleagues of an individual who tests positive would be deemed a ‘close contact’ requiring to self-isolate. However, we know there are some instances where staff may be within 2 metres of each other, which is where other measures (PPE/screens etc) are important. If there is a positive case of Covid-19 in a member of the workforce who has worked with 2 metres of others, the assumption is that an individual risk assessment may be required in the workplace by the authorities. That will determine if colleagues need to go into 14 day isolation.
The FSS guidance remains the ‘manual’ for how to protect your workforce and how you can minimise disruption should a member of your staff become infected. As always, all the guidance is on the Scotland Food & Drink Coronavirus Hub and you can find it directly here.
Our next update will be on Wednesday but if you need to get in touch with us in the meantime, email us at email@example.com
With Scotland having formally moved to Phase 1 in easing lockdown, Friday’s update summarises that, alongside some critical clarification for the industry around the new process of tracing contacts of positive Covid-19 cases.
The summary is below:
We have some helpful clarification on how the Scottish Government’s new Test and Protect strategy will be implemented in the workplace. Under the new process which began yesterday (Thursday), anyone with one of the three key symptoms (cough, fever, loss of taste or smell) must book a test via NHS Inform or by calling 0800 028 2816. As soon as they have symptom they must self-isolate for 7 days and their household for 14 days.
If the test comes back as positive for Covid-19, NHS contract tracers will interview the individual to identify any ‘close contacts’ who would then have to immediately self-isolate for 14 days. The close contacts are not asked to get tested themselves as the test may come back negative if the disease is still incubating, with the risk an individual re-circulates in the population and sheds virus during the incubation period.
We have had contact from many businesses concerned that if a member of their staff tested positive that an entire production line might have to self-isolate, or a significant number of co-workers. However, if physical distancing (2 metre rule) is implemented in a business, the working assumption is that co-workers of a positive case are not deemed ‘close contacts’ so would not have to self-isolate.
A ‘close contact’ is defined as:
If you do have unavoidable instances where staff may be within 2 metres for a short period, an individual assessment may be done of PPE measures in place (visors, masks, screens, gloves etc).
We have asked that all this is added to official guidance to employers.
So, in summary, this is a reminder of the importance of physical distancing in the workplace. Not only will it protect your workforce, it will also now minimise significant disruption should a member of your team test positive for the disease. A reminder that SF&D has a best practice guide on distancing in the workplace and the Food Standards Scotland guidance is critical – links of both are on the SF&D Coronavirus Hub (see link below)
The First Minister confirmed yesterday that Phase 1 of easing lockdown is being implemented from today (Friday). In summary, the headline changes are:
However, people are still encouraged to avoid crowded places and going inside other people’s houses. And, of course, to maintain the 2m social distancing at all times.
Debate continues on the use of 2 metres as the standard rule on social distancing. The World Heath Organisation advice is 1 metre and many other countries have advised a distancing of between 1 to 1.5 metres. The Prime Minister has confirmed that he has asked SAGE to review the measure (albeit, again, decisions on these issues are devolved to Scotland).
This social distancing rule is obviously critical to the re-opening of the hospitality sector in particular; the first elements of which would form part of the next phase of easing lockdown (Phase 2) which is an option from mid-June onwards. The results of the SAGE review are due in the next fortnight.
There is an announcement imminent from Treasury on the future of the furlough scheme. Various details have been trailed in the press with the working assumption that businesses will have to make a contribution to furlough costs from 1 August (perhaps in the region of 20-25%, which may increase over the period between August and October). Flexible furlough is also expected to come in from August allowing staff to return to work part-time and remain furloughed for the remainder of their contracted hours.
There is also more Food Standards Scotland guidance and a risk assessment tool due to be published shortly.
On both of these – and any other issues – please keep an eye on the Scotland Food & Drink Twitter feed or my own Twitter for developments later today and over the weekend (@scotfooddrink and @scotfoodjames).
I hope some of you can enjoy the good weather this weekend and an outdoor, socially distant reuniting with family and friends.
Stay safe and thanks all,
There are a few short updates to share with you as part of Wednesday’s update.
The Scottish Government’s new ‘test and protect’ strategy is rolled out from tomorrow (Thursday). From that date, everyone aged five and over who has COVID-19 symptoms (new continuous cough, temperature or loss or change in sense of taste or smell) should go to NHS Inform online or call 0800 028 2816 to book a test. Under the system, people will need to isolate with their household as soon as they have symptoms and, if they have a positive test result, they will be asked to provide details of all recent close contacts to NHS contact tracers. Those people will be contacted and asked to isolate for 14 days.
There remains an element of uncertainty as to the potential impact of this on food and drink businesses, particularly in a manufacturing setting in the event that an employee tests positive. Specific guidance for employers has been developed and is available here.
However, what is uncertain is how the definition of a ‘contact’ will be determined and what level of disruption a single case could cause. We have offered to work with public health officials to run the model of test and trace in a manufacturing environment to help plan for any real-life cases. That offer hasn’t been taken up yet however we will share more info if it becomes available.
Scottish Government published the manufacturing guidance to reduce Covid risks in the workplace yesterday afternoon. You will find it here.
We understand further guidance is coming for our sector from Food Standards Scotland later this week and we’ll share the links to that once published. In the meantime, the current FSS guidance remains the key resource for our businesses in protecting the workforce and managing risk in the workplace. You’ll find that and all other key resources on the Scotland Food & Drink Coronavirus Hub (see links below).
We mentioned in an update last week on work between the insurance industry and UK Government to agree a government-backed credit insurance market. We just wanted to confirm that no announcement has been made on its roll-out but we understand discussions are progressing well. We’ll share more info when it is released.
One of the concerns many businesses had was the inability to claim under their business interruption insurance policies. In many cases, pandemic are either excluded from such policies or, where there is cover, Covid-19 was not listed as a disease that triggered a payout. We understand there are a number of test cases due to go to the high court in England to challenge the application of these policies. This is likely to be a long-running issue but we will keep an eye on developments.
As always, you can contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org and our next update will be on Friday.
Here’s Monday’s update on Coronavirus developments
Air passenger quarantine rules published
As expected, the rules on the mandatory quarantine of air passengers arriving in the UK were published late on Friday. The new restrictions are expected to come into effect on 8 June. You can read more detail here.
In summary, all arriving passengers will be required to fill in a ‘contact locator form’ to provide contact and travel information so they can be contacted if they, or someone they may have been in contact with, develops the disease. Arriving passengers will then be required to self-isolate for 14 days. Importantly, there are limited exemptions and you can find the full list here.
The exemptions include:
Lockdown timetable for this week
On Thursday, providing there are no adverse disease developments, the First Minister will announce the move to Phase 1 of the easing of lockdown restrictions. The headline element in phase 1 is a relaxation on personal movements, allowing you to meet one other household at a time. There are few major developments for the food and drink sector, although there are some further relaxations for outdoor work and food-to-go outlets. Any relaxations announced on Thursday will not take effect until Friday.
It now looks as if this guidance for the wider manufacturing sector – and specific guidance for food and drink businesses – will be published tomorrow (Tuesday). We’ll summarise anything significant within the guidance and share the links in the next update, on Wednesday.
The headline development since Wednesday has been the publication yesterday of Scotland’s route map out of Coronavirus restrictions. That, and other major developments, are summarised below.
The First Minister announced in Parliament how a phased unwinding of restrictions would pan out in Scotland. You can find the full document here, with summary tables of what would be included across four distinct phases of easing restrictions. Nothing will change until next Thursday (28 May) when it is planned to move to Phase 1. Here are a summary of the main points, focusing on the issues relevant for the food and drink sector (and personal movements):
Timetable: there are no indicative start dates for each phase. However, the Scottish Government is committed to a three-weekly review as a minimum to determine the ability to move to a new phase (or elements with it). The four dates for three weekly reviews are 28 May, 18 June, 9 July and 30 July. At this stage, it seems optimistic in the extreme that those dates would mark the move to each phase. Ministers have made it clear there may be more than one three-weekly cycle between each phase. Notably, the reference to schools re-opening is in phase 3, which might suggest a working assumption of August before we reach phase 3. Crucially, if R rises or the disease risk is deemed to increase in any way, restrictions would be reintroduced and we may go back a phase.
The UK Government has announced that antibody tests will be made available for the first time next week. Tests have been secured for devolved nations too, but it is down to Scottish Government to determine priority access. In England, NHS and care workers will be prioritised in the first wave. No decision has been taken yet in Scotland, but it would be safe to assume the same, initial prioritisation approach. So it is unclear when it would be made available to other key workers (such as those in the food supply sector). It is important to note that the antibody test does not guarantee immunity for two reasons: there is no scientific consensus that reinfection is impossible and, secondly, there is no understanding of how long any antibodies remain effective.
Later today, the UK Government may announce the rules on quarantine for air passengers arriving in the UK. It is expected that seasonal workers in agriculture will be exempt from the standard quarantine rules and, instead, will be able to isolate on the farm/business that they are staying and working on. Keep an eye on our Twitter feed for any detail that may emerge later.
The further guidance on ensuring Covid-safe operations has still not been published despite an expectation for over a week now that it was imminent. We’ll share detail as and when anything is published.
I hope you all manage some downtime over the weekend and our next update will be on Monday.
There have been a few important developments since Monday and a few more to come over the next 24-48 hours.
The Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund closed for applications on Monday. There were a few of our members that couldn’t get documents submitted by the deadline due to IT failures so we worked on Tuesday with Scottish Enterprise colleagues to get them successfully fed in to the system. It was announced today that the fund has had another £30 million committed to it, taking the total to £120 million. My assumption is that this additional money will help deal with the demand from existing applications and doesn’t mean the scheme will re-open again. The news on successful applications continues to be fed out to applicants. If you haven’t heard yet, you will in the coming days.
We understand there will be an announcement tomorrow on antibody testing plans. This is obviously significant as testing so far has only be available to confirm active cases and hasn’t been available to confirm a previous infection and subsequent recovery. I have no detail on what may be announced tomorrow, but hopefully we will have a clearer timeline on availability of an antibody test, which has proved elusive so far. A reminder again that the current testing (to determine if someone is currently infected) is available to anyone in Scotland over the age of five.
You will have seen widespread coverage of the Isle of Wight trial on a new app to track those who have been in contact with people who test positive for Covid-19. There remains little information on the effectiveness of the trial. In the meantime, three NHS areas in Scotland are trialling a different app. This, however, will not use the proximity technology (GPS etc) as the means of tracing contacts. Instead, normal follow up discussions with a confirmed case will identify these individuals. However, what is unclear are the implications for businesses of this approach. People who have been in a certain level of contact with a confirmed case have to isolate for 14 days. There is therefore the very real prospect of major disruption to manufacturing if an individual tests positive and it requires others in the workforce to then isolate. We have suggested that Government runs a trial of a mock case in a manufacturing setting to determine what level of action would be needed, to help plan for that eventuality. The key mitigating factor is also the speed at which contacts can then be tested and results received (with the aim of 24-48 hour turnaround). We should have more information on this as plans develop and will continue discussing this with Government.
Thursday – tomorrow sees the publication of a route-map for Scotland out of restrictions. This will give us further indications of the timetable for re-opening parts of the economy and the easing of restrictions on personal movements.
Friday – we are likely to see the publication of new guidance for manufacturers. However this publication date has been a moving feast, so there are no guarantees it will emerge on Friday.
The next update is on Friday. In the meantime, keep an eye on our twitter feeds (@scotfoodjames and @scotfooddrink) for anything immediate happening. You can also reach us via email@example.com
Today’s update captures developments since Friday morning and there's a few things to update you on below. Before sharing the latest news, we want to alert you to plans to move this update from being daily to three times a week. With the speed of new policy developments and Government decisions slowing slightly, we are moving to a Monday, Wednesday and Friday update from this week. However, if something significant emerges on a different day, we will of course issue an update to you all. Hopefully these updates are remaining helpful to all of you.
Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund – closes at 5pm today
A reminder that this fund closes for applications this evening. It is unclear if it will re-open again given the high demand for limited funds. There were further IT problems on Friday and over the weekend with the website crashing or timing out. We understand most of these issues were resolved over the weekend. However, if you faced any particular problems that were not resolved in time for you to submit a planned application today, please drop us a note via firstname.lastname@example.org and we will follow it up.
Guidance coming this week
There are four pieces of guidance we expect this week. The first was issued this morning, the other three are likely in the coming days.
Test, trace, isolate and support – the app
There has been a lot of coverage of the planned roll-out of a mobile phone app to trace the movements of individuals and alert them should one of their regular contacts test positive for Covid-19. It has been trialled on the Isle of Wight, but there is little information published yet on the success or otherwise of the trial. In addition, there are now trials planned in some NHS areas in Scotland. There remain significant questions on how the app will deal with issues in the workplace with staff coming into regular contact with each other and what a policy of isolating contacts will mean for business. At this stage, the roll out in Scotland of the app does not seem imminent, but we will update you as plans develop.
Consumer campaign for SupportLocal.scot
Today we launched an integrated advertising campaign to promote the Support Local Directory to the Scottish public. The four-week campaign features across radio and digital platforms and encourages consumers to use the directory to find Scottish food and drink producers now delivering or offering a click and collect service. We have almost 300 businesses on the directory and if you've not signed up yet you can do so on the website here (scroll to the bottom of the page).
As stated above, the next update will be on Wednesday. Please don’t hesitate to share this update with anyone else who may find it useful and also please contact us via email@example.com to raise any additional issues or if you are looking for support.
There will be no daily update tomorrow (Friday) unless there is a major development we need to share, so the next Coronavirus update will be on Monday. As always, we’ll share updates via our social media accounts tomorrow and over the weekend. In the meantime, here are today’s significant developments:
Re-opening of Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund
This fund re-opened for new applications a few hours ago and is likely to remain open until Monday evening (5pm). The doubling of funding for the scheme to £90 million has been a key factor in its re-opening. As a reminder, the broad target for this grant fund are businesses that have not been able to access grant funding through other mechanisms. They must have less than 250 employees and less than €50 million (euros) in turnover. In addition, you must be able to demonstrate that you would ordinarily be viable, are vital to the local or national economy but currently vulnerable (with cashflow projections demonstrating financial distress caused by events related to Covid-19). In short, if you want to apply, act quickly as the fund is only likely to be open until 5pm on Monday. The information and link to apply is here.
The Scottish equivalent to the UK Government’s manufacturing guidance may be published tomorrow (Friday), if not, early next week. Separate to over-arching guidance, there is specific food and drink sectoral guidance being developed. Obviously, we are some way down the line in having guidance for our sector, via Food Standards Scotland. This sectoral guidance will likely be a formalisation of information currently set out in the FSS question and answer documents. In short, we are not expecting major changes to how businesses are expected to operate but the role of risk assessments may become more prominent. Guidance on the use of PPE in food and drink production businesses is also unlikely to alter from what is currently in place. We’ll share more as this guidance emerges.
The next formal review of lockdown measures is not due until 28 May. However, Scottish Government has stressed that decisions can be taken on easing restrictions at any time prior to the formal point of review. The UK Government has set out a three-phased approach, with indicative dates, for the re-opening of parts of the hospitality industry, amongst other industries. Many other EU countries have done the same. We may hear further thinking from Scottish Government next week on the timing of easing of restrictions. As always, we’ll summarise the detail here as and when anything emerges.
There are number of developments emerging today that are worth summarising.
UK Government scheme to support credit insurance
I mentioned in yesterday’s update that work was ongoing between the insurance industry and Government on trade credit insurance. The result of those talks was announced this morning by the Treasury. The UK Government is going to temporarily guarantee business-to-business transactions that are currently supported by trade credit insurance. The fear has been that with some businesses being unable to pay bills that either credit insurance cover could be withdrawn or that premiums could skyrocket. This new reinsurance protection from Government should ensure the vast majority of insurance coverage will be maintained. To put in some perspective around £450 million was paid in trade credit insurance premiums last year, covering £350 billion in business activity. It’s not entirely clear when the scheme will be up and running, but you can see the detail of the news here.
Manufacturing guidance – the current state of play
The UK Government has published new guidance for manufacturers to continue or resume production whilst managing the Covid-19 risk. However, this guidance is for ENGLAND ONLY. The Scottish Government is working on manufacturing guidance and, separately, there will be further guidance developed by Food Standards Scotland. At this stage, it is not expected that the new FSS guidance will depart from the very clear and helpful information FSS has had in place for some weeks now (and available via the SF&D Covid Hub). We would continue to urge all business to use that FSS guidance as the clear ‘manual’ for how to operate and perform their risk assessments on site.
Discussions continue on how the new 14 day quarantine period will be enforced for air passengers coming into the UK. It could affect seasonal labour coming in to Scotland, particularly for farm workers. There are also some suggestions that brief business trips abroad, when they resume, may be exempt from the quarantine requirements. We’ll share more information when we have it.
Furlough – existing scheme runs to August, then changes
A reminder that the existing furlough scheme will now run in its current form until the end of July (a one month extension). A new form of the scheme will then continue for a further three months from August to October. In the new period, the scheme will still guarantee 80% wages for furloughed staff however businesses will be asked to share the cost with Government (in what proportion is unclear). In addition, workers will be able to work part-time in their normal employment and be on furlough for the remainder of their normal working week. Full details on the post-August plan will be published by the end of the month. The detail as we know it so far is here.
Here is a summary of the developments today:
Furlough scheme extended
The big news today, as expected, has been the extension of the furlough scheme. There is lots of detail still to come but we know the scheme will now run until the end of October (a four month extension) and employees will continue to receive 80% of their salary, capped at £2,500 a month. But major changes will be introduced from August. From then, so-called ‘flexible furlough’ will be introduced allowing furloughed workers to return on a part-time basis, something which we and many others have been calling for. However, employers are expected to share the cost of furlough with Government after July. How much of the furlough wages will have to be picked up by businesses is unknown. The Chancellor has said more information on how the revised scheme will work after July will be published by the end of May. In the meantime, you can see the detail that we do know here.
There is work going on within the insurance industry around credit insurance support. We don’t know many details yet but recognise that this could be an important part of the restart and recovery process for businesses as restrictions are eased. The concern over the ability of some of our customers to pay for products and services is going to be significant so support around credit insurance will be more important than ever. We’ll share more information when we have it.
Access to ingredients, material and services – feedback needed
If any of you are struggling with access to key resources or services, please can you share that with us so we can feed the information into Government. For example, demand for perspex has increased significantly as manufacturers, retailers and others purchase it to assist with physical distancing. We hear lead times for these orders may be lengthening. Likewise, there appears to be a proliferation of businesses offering ‘deep clean’ services and some concern at the quality of service that may be delivered. If you are experiencing any issues around access to products or services, please let us know via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Likewise, if you have any other issues, please get in touch and, as always, feel free to share this update widely.
Today’s update captures one development from Friday and the weekend’s news.
More money for the Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund
The First Minister confirmed on Friday a doubling of the allocation for the Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund, from £45 million to £90 million. We understand that the original wave of applications to the fund far exceeded the £45 million budget. This hugely important boost in funding will at least go some way to addressing the big demand. However, there is still no news on if, and when, the scheme will open for new applications. We may hear further on that this week. The ten-day timeframe between applications being completed and grants being issued to businesses remain the target. On that basis, we would hope the first cohort of grant recipients will hear of their approval later this week.
Lockdown changes – almost all changes are for England only
On Friday, one minor change to lockdown rules was implemented in Scotland. There is now no limit to the amount of daily exercise you can take outside, with members of your own household or on your own. All other restrictions remain the same (although see below on air travel). All the other changes – covered extensively in the media - apply to England only, including the planned three-phase re-opening of schools in June and hospitality venues in July. The 50-page document from UK Government setting out the detail is to be published this afternoon. Within that document it is widely expected that the face coverings advice that currently applies in Scotland for confined public spaces – such as shops or public transport – will be implemented in England too.
14-day quarantine for incoming air passengers
The Prime Minister also announced yesterday that new rules would be imposed on people coming into the UK, to prevent Covid-19 being brought in from overseas. This would be a UK-wide policy, as immigration is not a devolved responsibility. As yet, no start or end date has been announced for these so-called ‘quarantine’ measures. The UK Government has said that arrivals from the Republic of Ireland will not be made to go into quarantine, with reports today that the same exemption could apply to arrivals from France. The approach to the arrival of seasonal labour also remains to be confirmed. Our understanding is that this new quarantine will only apply to air travellers and not to road transport. So haulage drivers coming into the UK are exempt from the quarantine plans. We will share more detail as it emerges.
Manufacturing guidance, post-lockdown
Both the UK and Scottish Governments continue to work on new guidance for the manufacturing sector on managing production whilst the risk of Covid-19 remains. Our agriculture, fishing, food and drink sectors are already very well served by Food Standards Scotland guidance (available on the SF&D Covid Hub) as we have had to keep operating throughout lockdown. As things stand, we don’t expect the new guidance – which will cover all industries - to result in significant changes, but we will share developments as they emerge.
Future of furlough
This will remain a running issue this week. We are joined by representatives across the hospitality and wider business sectors – as well as Scottish Government - in calling for a continuation of a furlough scheme beyond the end of June.
As always, you can reach us with any important updates or questions via email@example.com
This update covers developments last night and during today. To make you aware, the round of daily calls with government and trade bodies won’t be happening tomorrow as a break for the bank holiday. So, there won’t be a daily update from the SF&D team tomorrow, unless something major develops during the day. If anything significant emerges that might require your action or attention tomorrow, we’ll contact you in the usual way.
In the absence of an email update though, please follow our twitter accounts - @scotfooddrink and @scotfoodjames – for up to the minute developments tomorrow and over the weekend.
Lockdown extended in Scotland
As expected, lockdown restrictions in Scotland have been extended. This was confirmed by the First Minister at lunchtime. The working assumption is that it is a three week extension of lockdown (to 28 May) however it was repeated that the Scottish Government could introduce relaxations at any time before the next fixed, three-weekly review. The only relaxation on the cards is to the rules around households being able to take more regular outdoor exercise. As explained in Tuesday’s update, the R number remains too close to 1 to provide any room of significant relaxation. The Prime Minister will be announcing the intentions for England later. Despite widespread media coverage of imminent relaxations, I think it is high likely the decisions will be the same as we’ve seen in Scotland today.
Future of furlough
Discussions continue around the need for a form of furlough beyond the end of June. As perhaps the most valuable support measure introduced, our view is that it will need to modify gradually in the same way as lockdown restrictions will unwind gradually. Last night, Scottish Government Ministers wrote to the Chancellor urging the continuation of furlough support including emphasising, as we have done, the benefit of a part-time furlough approach in the future.
There is a particular Scottish angle that will need to be considered. It has been made clear that Scotland may take a slightly different (slower) path to unwinding restrictions, if the science suggests it is wise. Bear in mind that there is some evidence that the R rate is a little higher in Scotland than in the rest of the UK, possibly because we have been a little behind on the disease curve. Clearly, in a scenario where the current public health measures carry well-recognised and significant business and economic costs, calls for a Scottish-specific approach to furlough will grow if Scotland takes a more cautious approach to easing restrictions.
Other support mechanisms, such as a holiday in employers’ national insurance contribution, remain options we believe should be explored.
Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund
I am aware that many businesses in our membership have applied to this fund and you will be desperate to hear of progress on your application. The fund was paused for new applications on Tuesday evening to assess the huge numbers that had been submitted by then. As we understand, that assessment of the applications received is still underway and no decisions have yet been taken on if and when the fund will re-open next week.
As always, you can contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org tomorrow and over the weekend for anything urgent or with any key developments we need to factor into our work.
Here are today’s developments to update you all.
The future of furlough
There’s much focus just now on how the UK Government manages an unwinding of business support as there is a corresponding easing of restrictions from June onwards. There are some (unsubstantiated) press reports today of an option of reducing furlough funding to 60% of salary (down from 80%) and also reducing the cap of £2500 per month. Changes would come in when the current scheme ends on 30 June. This reduction of support looks an unattractive option for change. In our view, smarter options would include an extension beyond the end of June - particularly for our sector as there is no prospect of a wholesale reopening of the hospitality/tourism sector at the end of June. But if changes are going to happen, a more flexible furlough approach should be considered, for example allowing workers to return part time without all furlough support being lost. We would welcome any ideas from member businesses on options via email@example.com.
Covid small businesses grants
The grants for additional eligible properties went live yesterday. This follows the move in England to allow more than one property to claim the original £10K/£25K grants. Subsequent properties in Scotland can now claim 75% of these levels. You apply through your own local Council’s website. More information is here.
Lockdown decision tomorrow
As mentioned yesterday, the outcome of the three-weekly review of lockdown in Scotland will be announced by the First Minister tomorrow. We expect no changes from current restrictions and an extension to lockdown, probably for a further three weeks. See yesterday’s update for the summary of the latest thinking on how restrictions may unwind.
Support Local directory
Our new national directory, listing businesses that are doing direct delivery of Scottish food and drink products, now has over 260 businesses listed. If you know others who should be on the website, please spread the word. Forms to register for the directory are available at the bottom of the homepage at www.supportlocal.scot
Plans for a consumer awareness campaign are being finalised now that the directory is building up a great critical mass of products and suppliers.
Joint pledges between food and drink sector and Trade Unions
The Food & Drink Federation has developed a joint statement with four of the major trade unions. The focus is on a commitment to work collectively to protect workers, address issues as they arises and promote best practice. The full statement is here.
Please let us know of any new, emerging issues you’re facing or important updates that can shape our work over the coming days.
Below are the latest developments since yesterday’s update.
Moving out of lockdown – new framework published
The main development today has been the publication of another framework document from Scottish Government on unwinding restrictions. It is a very helpful document and walks through the latest thinking. There are no firm dates for different stages of easing restrictions. But it further indicates the order in which things may happen. If you want to read it you’ll find it here.
By way of summary below are the main points. Please note, these are my words, summary and interpretation:
Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund (PERF) – closing for applications at 5pm
As highlighted via our social media accounts last night, it was announced that PERF was ‘pausing’ for new applications at 5pm this evening (Tuesday). This is due to the huge volume of applications submitted (1000s). A review will be conducted of applications received since the fund opened five days ago. The intention is to re-open the scheme next week but there remains some uncertainty over that.
Bounce Back Loans
Reports have been coming in of loans being applied for and approved since the scheme opened for SMEs at 9am yesterday. The list of banks approved by the British Business Bank to administer the new, simplified loans is growing by the hour, extending beyond the big banks and including a growing number of the challenger banks. A reminder that the six-year repayment window includes a first year free of interest and repayments and then a fixed interest rate of 2.5% over years 2-6. There are no penalties for early repayment. Please share any of your own experiences with this applying for these funds via firstname.lastname@example.org
Today’s update picks up issues from the weekend as well news emerging today.
Bounce Back Loan Scheme - open, but some early issues
Announced last week, this new loan scheme for SMEs opened at 9am this morning. It is designed to provide a much faster and more successful loan route for small/medium businesses than the original CBILS scheme. Money should land in bank accounts ‘within days’ of an application, which is made via a much simpler, online form. Loans will range from £2,000 to £50,000. We have expressed concerns about interest rates business may face under the broader CBILS scheme, however this has been addressed for these new loans. Interest rates are fixed at 2.5% over a six year repayment period (with the first year, interest and repayment free). You can explore more and apply here.
We are aware of some problems emerging since opening. You can only access these loans if you are a customer of a bank authorised to administer them. That list will grow in the coming days but covers mostly the main banks at the moment. Some banks’ websites for application have crashed today and won’t be back up and running until tomorrow we understand. We have another round of government calls in the morning so please share any experiences with us via email@example.com.
Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund (PERF)
We had contact with a number of food and drink companies still struggling with the application website for the £45 million PERF scheme. However, as of last night I’m not aware of any business trying to apply that wasn’t able to submit their application. Server capacity was increased and new direct routes to submit information were created by Scottish Enterprise to assist. We understand demand has been extremely high from businesses across all sectors and the first batch of applications will begin being assessed today.
Lockdown timetable, more news coming this week
On Thursday (7 May), the current lockdown restrictions are required to be reviewed. All the signals are that it will be extended again in Scotland (and likely across the rest of the UK); but for what period is uncertain and decisions have yet to be taken.
Guidance on restarting manufacturing
Clearly, much of the food and drink manufacturing sector (approximately 80% by our assessment) has continued to operate during lockdown, albeit in a different way, with some reducing output and all embracing physical distancing. For other sectors of the economy though, production has been mothballed but restart planning is now underway. There has been press coverage today of draft UK Government guidance on how manufacturers can operate when restrictions are eased. There are three important points to note:
1. This guidance will not necessarily apply in Scotland
2. There is a dedicated Scottish Government-led group set up in Scotland to advise on the development of guidance here. Our partner David Thomson, FDF Scotland CEO, is on the group representing the food and drink sector
3. The food and drink sector is probably the most advanced down this road. We have very clear guidance already from Food Standards Scotland and have been operating for weeks now with social distancing as the ‘new normal’. It is likely that our sector may provide the model for restarting production in other industries, rather than this new guidance shaping operations in our sector.
There is still no news on the use of mobile testing facilities on the islands. If there are any of our businesses on the islands that need access to testing and cannot secure it through alternative routes, please let us know via firstname.lastname@example.org and we will keep feeding the information in to Government.
There has been another daily round of meetings with Scottish Government, our industry partner bodies and the wider group of Scottish business organisations today. Below is a summary of developments in the last 24 hours.
There has been a huge amount of work that has gone into the rapid setting up of the three new grant support funds for SMEs in Scotland. Unfortunately though, the new application site was beset with IT problems yesterday afternoon and during the evening. The application site for the Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund (PERF) was taking hours to load some pages. As a result, the site was eventually taken down at 10pm last night and it re-opened at 8am this morning with a quadrupling of server capacity. Reports on functionality have been positive so far today. The first wave of applications will not be reviewed until Monday and they are not being dealt with on a first-come-first-served basis over the next 72 hours. So there is no immediate rush to submit an application today; you can use the weekend to work on applications if you need to.
One issue that arose yesterday which hadn’t been clear was the eligibility of very small businesses of less than 10 employees. The PERF fund already requires businesses to be able to make the case that they are pivotal to the local or national economy. To be clear, the working assumption is that in the major cities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee and Aberdeen due to demand, grants are very unlikely to be awarded to businesses with less than 10 employees. They are not automatically excluded, however they will have to be able to demonstrate substantial impact on the city, regional or national economy.
As we anticipated in Wednesday’s update, the Scottish Government has announced today a wider rollout of Coronavirus testing. Following the move in England, home test kits and drive-thru test centres are now open to anyone aged over 65 and anyone working out of the home, if they are symptomatic. The same routes for applying for tests are open for this wider group of individuals. The links are on the Scotland Food & Drink Coronavirus Hub.
There remains demand on the islands for testing. The current 90-minute maximum travel limit to access drive-thru centres in Aberdeen, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Inverness and Perth makes them inaccessible for most of the islands (and there remains high demand for the home testing kits). We expect to hear soon from Scottish Government on plans to despatch the mobile testing facilities to the islands. We’ll share more news when we have it.
Support Local directory
The new directory listing business that are selling Scottish food and drink producers direct to consumers continues to build. We have gone from 140 businesses on the directory to over 220 in the last 72 hours. The links to get listed are on the bottom of the homepage at www.supportlocal.scot so please keep spreading the word.
Another lockdown week comes to an end and I don’t apologise for repeating the thanks to everyone who has been working across Government and industry organisations – and, crucially within individual businesses - to work through this unprecedented period. Thanks for all the message of support we have received at Scotland Food & Drink too, the staff team greatly appreciate it. And to all of you contacting us via email@example.com with ongoing issues and challenges, thank you, the feedback continues to be critical to shaping the work and decisions taken each day.
Thanks all and stay safe
Here are today’s developments in the work of Scotland Food & Drink and our partners on Coronavirus:
New grant funding opens for applications
Three new grant funds for businesses opened at lunchtime today. The most relevant for food and drink businesses is likely to be the £45 million ‘Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund’. It is a mechanism for SMEs, primarily aimed at those that haven’t been able to get significant grant funding so far. To qualify they need to be vital to their local or national economy, viable were it not for Covid-19 but currently in a vulnerable state. In short, the following criteria needs to be met:
More information on evidence that would need to be submitted and the link to start your application is here.
As always, all the information sits on the Scotland Food & Drink Coronavirus Hub – see the links to the Hub below.
Lockdown timetable – no imminent easing of restrictions
The First Minister has given a strong signal in today’s briefing that there is unlikely to be any significant change to lockdown when it is reviewed next week. It is due for its next formal review by Thursday 7 May.
Use of face masks in food and drink businesses
Thanks to a number of you who shared the communications you’ve given your own staff, following the latest advice in Scotland on face coverings. A reminder that the official advice on the use of face masks in a food production setting remains unchanged. In short, if you didn’t need a face mask to do your job before Covid-19, you don’t need one now. The new Scottish Government advice recommends the use of a textile face covering (not medical-grade mask) in confined, public areas such as in shops and on public transport. The official advice from Food Standards Scotland for food/drink businesses is set out under question 13 of the business Q&A here.
Support Local directory
We have had a lot of businesses contacting us about getting listed on our new Support Local business directory. It lists food and drink businesses (producers, manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers, hospitality) that can supply products direct to consumers. You find it at www.supportlocal.scot.
One plea though: it is great there is such interest from people to get their businesses listed. However, we have a small team working as fast as they can, so please be patient and bear with us. We are aiming to get details uploaded within 48 hours. At the moment, the focus is on building the content and functionality. The wider communications effort to consumers to direct them to the site will happen after this initial build phase.
If you know businesses that should get registered on it to boost awareness and sales, please direct them to it (the registration forms are at the bottom of the homepage).
There have been a number of key priorities worked on over the last 24 hours. Here’s the latest summary of developments.
Face coverings vs face masks
This has been a significant issue today following the new advice from Scottish Government yesterday which recommended that the general public use a face covering if in confined public spaces, such as on public transport or in shops. We have understandably had member companies asking us if the advice on the use of face masks within the workplace has changed. In short, it has not. Food Standards Scotland has updated its Q&A, with the most significant section being the following:
“The new advice from Scottish Government on the use of textile face coverings is not intended as an infection prevention and control measure for workers and therefore does not apply to food businesses.”
The full advice is available here, go to question 13 for businesses.
I appreciate that there is going to be confusion over this and questions from staff who may wonder why they are encouraged to use a face covering on public transport on the way to work, but not a mask or covering when in the workplace. We know some companies are now considering providing masks, even though they are not necessary. If you could share your plans via firstname.lastname@example.org it will help us build up a picture of how businesses are responding. Obviously, a critical issue remains the availability of masks and the risk of further pressure being put on the supply of masks into healthcare settings where they are required. This discussion will remain a live one with government over the coming days.
Testing of key workers
Testing has opened up to a broader range of individuals in England, including anyone working out of the home or over 65 if they are symptomatic. This remains a change in England only. It is under review in Scotland and we will likely hear more on Friday on any changes in Scotland. However, as things stand, home testing kits or drive-thru testing remains open to key workers in the food and drink sector if they are symptomatic. The new testing centre at Perth College will be open by tomorrow, supplementing centres in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness and Aberdeen.
There are 13 mobile testing units now available in Scotland. There is a particular issue on the Scottish islands, who are beyond the 90 minute maximum drive allowed to reach a test centre. We are likely to hear shortly on plans for mobile units to head to these communities.
The £45 million Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund opens tomorrow for applications. We still don’t have the criteria nor application process to share, as this is obviously being put together at rapid pace. So we will share more info in tomorrow’s update.
Support Local directory
A reminder again that our directory listing food and drink businesses that can supply products direct to consumers is up and running and can be found at www.supportlocal.scot.
If you know businesses that should get registered on it to boost awareness and sales, please share it with them (registration forms are at the bottom of the homepage). Thanks to all our partners that have fed into its development so quickly.
Here’s the latest developments from the last 24 hours.
New directory for buying locally
As mentioned in previous updates, the Scotland Food & Drink team has been working on a new national directory to connect the public with businesses that can supply local, Scottish food and drink products directly to consumers. These businesses may be producers, manufacturers, wholesalers or may be retail and hospitality businesses that stock Scottish products and are now doing home delivery or click and collect. The directory went live today at www.supportlocal.scot.
At the bottom of the home page is a form to fill in if you want to be listed on the directory. It is free and open to all. We will continue to build up the directory listings each day. There are around 140 suppliers on there already across all major product categories and across the country. These platforms often take months to build and this has been done in days, so please bear with us as we work on functionality and content. If any of you have your own communications channels, please use them to promote supportlocal.scot and encourage people to support their local producers.
New financial support
A reminder that the new ‘bounce-back’ loans for SMEs (under 250 employees) open on Monday with the promise of a quick, two-page application and loans of up to £50,000 being delivered into bank accounts within 24 hours. Interest and repayment free for 12 months, the debt mechanism may be useful for some, but not all.
On grants, the Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund from Scottish Government opens on Thursday. The £45 million fund will be managed by the enterprise agencies with a target to pay grants within 10 days of applications being submitted. The targets for support are businesses – across all sectors – that are viable, vital but vulnerable due to Covid-19 and have not been able to access other grant support. If you think you may fit this category, you should update your latest cashflow forecast now as it is likely to be one of the elements required to demonstrate the financial impact of the outbreak on your business.
We are aware of concerns around the slow payment of the existing Covid Small Business Grants in some local authority areas. This has been raised with Government and we should understand more this week on whether the process pace is consistent across Scotland or if there are particular challenges in some areas. The opening of the Covid small business grant scheme to multiple rateable properties within the same business is targeted for 5 May.
A new drive-thru testing centre is likely to open in Perth in the next 24 hours, supplementing the four sites already open in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Inverness. The capacity at Scottish centres remains able to cope with demand and links to the testing registration portal are all on the SF&D Covid Hub. The demand for home, self-test kits remains significantly beyond the supply available however. Yesterday, all 10,000 available home tests were allocated within 45 minutes of the portal opening. The plan is to double availability to 20,000 tests by Thursday. However, realistically, the drive-thru facilities are the best option to aim for if you are a key worker, symptomatic and within a 90-minute drive of a test centre.
At lunchtime, advice altered to the general public in Scotland on face coverings. The general public are now encouraged to wear a cloth, face covering (not a medical mask) if they are out and about in confined spaces, such as in shops or on public transport. The wearing of a cloth covering is not mandatory, it is not enforceable, it is a matter of personal choice. The advice on the wearing of masks in the workplace has not changed though and the full Food Standards Scotland advice on action required to be taken in the workplace – including the use of masks – is on the Scotland Food & Drink Covid Hub.
A reminder that we are involved in daily calls with our SF&D industry partners and Government officials/Ministers. The feedback you share shapes the work being done and you can keep contacting us via email@example.com
Here are some of the developments today and over the weekend.
On Saturday, the Scottish Government opened up testing to key workers. This includes key workers in the food and drink supply chain. The testing is open to key workers and members of their household if they are symptomatic (testing should be done within 5 days of first exhibiting symptoms – any longer and the reliability of the test is compromised).
There are two ways to get tested: by attending a drive-thru test centre or by requesting a self-testing kit at home. The latter option has been subject to higher demand than there is supply of home test kits. Today, the allocation was taken up within the first hour of the UK-wide website making them available. There are four drive-thru test centres in Scotland. They are at Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen airports and also on the campus at UHI in Inverness. All the details of how to access a test are available here.
New Coronavirus Loans for small businesses
The ongoing problem with the CBILS loan scheme has been partly addressed today with a welcome announcement from the Chancellor on a new loan scheme for small businesses. It is still a debt offer, not a grant, but a new scheme will open next Monday. It will be open to SMEs and will offer a maximum loan of £50,000 or 25% of turnover. Importantly, the form to apply will be simple (a two-pager, self-declaration) and money should appear in bank accounts within 24 hours. Importantly, these are 100% guaranteed by Government so the banks are simply the delivery mechanism; there will be no ongoing tests of business viability applied to applications. The loans are interest free for 12 months.
The Scottish Government’s £45 million Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund is expected to open later this week. We will share more details on the criteria and application process as soon as we have them.
As always, you can contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org and share this update with any of your contacts.
Here is a quick summary of today’s developments.
Testing for key workers
There is a lot of media coverage today on the extension to testing availability for key workers. The announcement on the roll-out in Scotland has yet to be made but is imminent. Please keep an eye on our twitter feeds later in case the expected announcement is made later this afternoon (@scotfooddrink and @scotfoodjames).
The following is what to expect, but please take this with the warning that we haven’t seen the final detail and it may differ.
Key workers for testing will include those working in the food and drink supply chain, just as is the case in England. The system in England is most likely to be replicated in Scotland. That means a key worker - if he/she is symptomatic or has someone in their household who is symptomatic - could go to a drive-thru test centre or request a home testing kit, once they have been registered and accepted. It is likely that the employer will have to provide the details of the key worker they wish to nominate to access the test.
Both testing mechanisms involve a nose and mouth swab which is then sent away for lab testing. Results are expected back to the individual directly within 48 hours.
Obviously, the test only determines if an individual is infected with Covid-19 at the point of testing. No-one should seek this test to ascertain previous infection and immunity. That test is not available yet.
On grant funding, the three new grant funds for SMEs - including the £45M Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund - will open by next Thursday. More detail on criteria when we have it.
The first seafood businesses have already received grant funds in the bank from the seafood hardship fund. Huge credit to the staff teams of Seafood Scotland, Marine Scotland, Scottish Government and my own team at Scotland Food & Drink for working so quickly together to process applications. Grants will continue being paid as quickly as possible.
As we end week six since the impact of outbreak began to be felt in full, the SF&D team would like to thank again all the organisations - public sector and private - that have been supporting the work to respond to the outbreak.
To our food and drink businesses, please pass our thanks, and that of everyone, to all your staff for keeping the nation supplied with quality food and drink during the most challenging of times.
Stay safe and thanks
There have been a few developments of importance over the last 24 hours and some information of what may come in the next few days.
The Scottish Government has set out a broad framework for the unwinding of lockdown restrictions. As expected, it is not a specific timetable for the easing of restrictions, indeed it has been made crystal clear that it is not the time to do that yet. The framework was just published a couple of hours ago, so here is a quick, initial summary of the main messages (please note this is SF&D’s interpretation and wording, not text from the official document):
We may hear more on the opening up of drive-thru test centres and home-testing kits for key workers shortly. We mentioned this earlier in the week; it is still being worked on. This, again, is the test to determine if someone is currently infected, not if they have recovered and have immunity (that test remains unavailable)
The scientific and government debate over face masks continues. It is being widely reported that Government advice (via SAGE – the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) may recommend the use of face coverings for the general public. This is not the use of medical masks (official PPE), but cloth coverings to reduce the risk of someone who is infected, but asymptomatic, from spreading the virus. We’ll share more info on that when we have it.
Air freight option for export
Industry and government have been jointly exploring chartering a flight to transport goods to overseas markets. The focus has been on a direct route from Scotland to China. Costs are prohibitive compared to shipping and direct government subsidy is unlikely due to state aid rules. However, the feasibility and options are being explored primarily by the seafood sector. However, if you are in another sector of the industry and would like to express an interest in exploring this route for your own food/drink goods, please contact us via email@example.com. Our partners, Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation and Seafood Scotland, are exploring these options and we will connect you to them. It is important to stress that a viable option may well be deliverable. However, at this stage, if you would like to be connected with the discussions, let us know.
As trailed in yesterday’s update, the Scottish Government has published more information on the £100 million grant scheme for the self-employed and SMEs. In short, it divides into three parts:
It is this latter fund that is likely to be important to a number of food and drink companies in distress. It could mean access to potentially much higher grants (possibly up to £150,000). Like all three funds, it is targeted at businesses that haven’t benefitted from the other grant mechanisms already set up. All funds will open by 30 April with grants aimed to be paid within a fortnight of applications being submitted. We’ll share more information on the criteria and process when we have it.
In other news, the Seafood Sector Resilience Fund closes for applications at 5pm today. Once applications have been processed and more information is understood on the Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund, the opening of the seafood fund to the wider food and drink sector can be considered.
We are remaining closely connected to our overseas staff as we learn about different countries’ approach to Coronavirus restrictions, and how the food and drink export market is changing and opening up again. This is a team of 16 in-market specialists, employed by SDI, and funded by SDI, Scottish Government, Scotland Food & Drink and five of our industry partner organisations. Their insight on the ground in our 10 key export markets is hugely valuable and will shape the export recovery work.
We still expect further information on business/workforce access to the antigen tests later this week, which will increase the availability for testing for infection (but not immunity) for key workers. More on that when we have it.
We’re expecting to hear later today more information from the Scottish Government on the £100 million fund for SMEs affected financially by the outbreak. The package is likely to include specific hardship grants for the newly self-employed, further support for tourism and hospitality businesses and, lastly, a fund for wider businesses that have suffered lost revenue and can’t access other support. It is likely that this latter fund will be of most relevant to our food and drink businesses.
If you are facing financial hardship as a result of the loss of customers and sales, it is worth thinking now about evidence you can collate to demonstrate the impact. The various elements of the £100M fund will be delivered by the enterprise agencies and local authorities. The plan is that the funds will open for applications on 30 April with grants paid 10 – 14 days from an application being submitted. We’ll share more detail in tomorrow’s update and via social media as the information emerges.
Given the publication today of a report from Scotland’s Chief Economist that Scottish GDP could drop by a third as a result of the lockdown measures, ongoing financial support from Government is going to be critical. As part of our work to scan that developments in other countries, we’re looking at financial support measures introduced elsewhere that could have significant relevance here. Please share any information you have from operations or contacts overseas.
We’re expecting later this week that the First Minister will set out outline thinking on the unwinding of lockdown restrictions. It is unlikely to be a specific timetable as it remains under constant scientific review but we will certainly get a sense of direction. The Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, repeated again this morning the working presumption that schools will remain closed until the next academic year.
In other news, the Scottish Government has enshrined the two metre, social distancing rule in regulations, stating that ‘all reasonable measures’ should be taken to ensure social distancing is in place. This means that enforcement action could be taken against businesses that are deemed not to be implementing appropriate measures. Once again though, we would commend the FSS guidance on how to implement social distancing in a food business environment. You can find that official guidance along with all other key pieces of business information on our Coronavirus Information Hub (see below for links).
We have had a number of member businesses sharing thoughts on the recovery plan for the sector, which Scotland Food & Drink is working hard on with our partners across industry and in government. Any further thoughts are welcome via the usual channel: firstname.lastname@example.org
Today’s big news has been the opening of the claim process for furloughed workers. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme opened up for claims this morning. The aim is to start paying money into businesses by the end of April. We understand there have been tens of thousands of claims submitted in the first few hours so we will learn quickly how the new system copes with processing them all. A reminder too, that the scheme has been extended to cover 80% of the wages of furloughed up until the end of June (originally only extended to May). You can submit a claim here.
In other developments, we expect more information shortly from the Scottish Government on the £100 million SME grant fund. This is aimed at businesses that have been unable to access other grant support. This could be an important route for crisis support for food and drink producers. We’ll share information on the criteria and grant levels as soon as we have it.
On commercial access to Coronavirus testing, we are also expecting an announcement in the coming days from the UK Government on providing access to the antigen test for critical workers. That obviously means a focus on NHS and healthcare workers but could also mean the wider group of workers involved in critical national infrastructure, such as food supply. Details are still being worked on, but it is expected that employees could access the test either at home or possibly at a testing centre. It is important to note again that the antigen test will determine if an individual has Coronavirus at the point of being tested. It can’t determine if the individual has had the virus previously and developed immunity. A future antibody test will be able to do that and it could be a critically important tool to unwinding restrictions. However, as yet there is no verified test, nor timetable for it being available to businesses and their workforce.
As ever, you can contact us at any point via email@example.com and feel free to share this update with colleagues
At yesterday’s media briefing, the First Minister confirmed that the lockdown will remain in place for at least three more weeks. The advice from Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer and scientific advisory group is that relaxing any of the measures currently in place would risk a resurgence of the virus which could result in the NHS being overwhelmed.
The First Minister also confirmed that she will, in coming days, set out more detail of the Scottish Government’s decision-making framework and the factors involved in easing restrictions. We are continuing to feed into those discussions and would encourage you to share your views. What public health compliant measures need to be relaxed to ease pressure on your business? Please share all thoughts with us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have been hearing reports of the impact on productivity levels due to social distancing measures in factories. If you have any information or evidence of this, please let us know using the same email address above.
As a reminder, recent changes were made to the Job Retention Scheme including the extension of the cut-off date to 19 March and the inclusion of employees of key businesses who are shielding or who have childcare responsibilities. In preparation for the online portal launch on Monday 20 April, I would suggest becoming familiar with the scheme criteria detailed here.
Finally, a lot of work has been done this week by our industry partners on contributing to recovery planning. Thanks to all those who have inputted so far.
There is positive news on Coronavirus Job Retention (Furlough) Scheme to update you on today.
The UK Government has announced that employers can now claim for furloughed employees that were employed and, on their PAYE payroll, on or before 19 March 2020. This is a welcomed extension from the original 28 February cut-off date. Further confirmation also issued is that furlough is not limited to those employees who would otherwise be made redundant. This means that businesses which are functioning normally, or are in the category of key businesses, can furlough employees who are shielding or who have childcare responsibilities. The HMRC online portal is expected to launch on Monday 20 April. More information on the details of the scheme can be found here.
A reminder of the three significant funding announcements that came yesterday from the Scottish Government. A £120 million extension to the small business grant scheme that allows eligible businesses to make a grant claim for each property in their business (75% for additional premises). A £100 million fund for the self-employed and micro/SME businesses that may have fallen between the gaps of other support measures and a new £3 million hardship fund for shellfish and trout producers. The £10 million Seafood Sector Resilience Fund closes for applications on Monday 20 April.
Many thanks to those of you who have sent examples of financial impact on the wider food and drink industry, this has now been shared with government to enable them to best shape the next phase of the roll-out of resilience funding.
We are hearing that absence levels are remaining stable at around 10% and that there continues to be some challenges around transport – all on the ground intelligence is vital so please continue to feedback.
An announcement is expected later today about a lockdown extension, so expect more on that in tomorrow’s update. In the meantime, work continues by the Scotland Food & Drink Partnership on the sector’s recovery plan. It includes working with the Scottish Government to input views on any phased plan to roll-back the lockdown. We would welcome any thoughts you have on how best a phased roll-back could be implemented for maximum benefit to the food and drink industry. Please send any views to us via email@example.com.
The Scotland Food & Drink Coronavirus Hub is being kept up to date with the latest information and support. Today’s updates and links can be found below.
There have been three significant funding announcements since Tuesday’s update.
Firstly, we referenced yesterday the difference in the small business grant support between England and Scotland. This has been addressed this morning with the Scottish Government announcing a £120 million extension to the scheme. This will now allow eligible businesses to make a grant claim for each property in their business. This, therefore, goes beyond the original rules which limited payments to one grant per business. Under the extended scheme, the first eligible property will receive a 100% grant and any further premises will receive a 75% grant. This extension to the scheme is expected to be operational by 5 May.
Secondly, a £100 million fund has been established for the self-employed and micro/SME businesses. The eligibility rules are being developed but this will also be a grant scheme, not a loan. Crucially, this fund is designed to help businesses that have fallen between the gaps of other support measures. It is targeted to open on 30 April. We’ll share more detail as soon as we have it.
The announcement on both these new measures are here.
Thirdly, a new £3 million hardship fund has been announced by Fergus Ewing for shellfish and trout producers. To apply for a grant of up to £27,000 shellfish and trout businesses will need to demonstrate that the business operates on a full time basis and has suffered severe hardship as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak. Grant payments will cover two months and be equivalent to 50% of the average monthly gross revenue from sales of aquaculture products in 2019 of each business.
As highlighted in previous updates, the £10 million Seafood Sector Resilience Fund is also open to applications. Once seafood businesses have gone through the application and awards process, the fund will open up to wider food and drink sectors. We are sending a further briefing paper in to Ministers highlighting the financial impact on a wide range of food and drink businesses, to keep them briefed on the latest information and to stress the need for the hardship fund. Many thanks to those of you that have shared your own impact examples. You can keep the information flow coming to us via firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is worth recognising how quickly the Scottish Government and their officials have moved to develop creative mechanisms for support – and generally respond to the issues we’ve been raising. It has all happened at break-neck pace, under huge pressure. Grant schemes that would normally take months to develop are being done and launched in days, with some of the SF&D and Seafood Scotland team now working with officials to assist with the administering of support. The nature of this kind of work is that issues will arise in delivery. Where they do, raise them with us and we will try and help work through them.
Alongside all this short-term activity, the Scotland Food & Drink Partnership is continuing work on the sector’s recovery plan. Likewise, we’re feeding into the government on the developing exit strategy from the current lockdown restrictions.
Lastly, a reminder that the Scotland Food & Drink Coronavirus Hub is the go-to place for key information for businesses affected by the outbreak. The link to that and some of the main sections are set out below.
There have been some significant developments over the Easter weekend. The Seafood Sector Resilience Fund is now open for applications. You need to act fast though. In order to process application quickly and get money to businesses as fast as possible, the deadline is next Monday (20 April). You’ll find the information on the £10 million scheme and how to apply here.
Once seafood applications have been processed, the plan is to extend the fund to the wider food and drink sector.
The latest news on the furlough scheme is that, subject to successful testing, the portal for companies to apply for funding for furloughed workers will open on 20 April. All being well, money should flow into businesses from 30 April with HMRC aiming for a quick turnaround of applications. Obviously, these are all brand new systems needing built and tested extremely quickly, so there may well be delays to this timetable but it gives you some idea of the targets being worked to. More clarification on the furlough scheme – including what information businesses will need to provide to claim, clarification on maternity/paternity leave, issues with contractors etc – has been published. The latest guidance is here.
The current national lockdown expires on Thursday. The speculation is that UK Government, supported by devolved nations, will announce a further three week extension to the current restrictions. However, don’t make any operational decisions on that until it is confirmed, but you can at least factor it into your planning work.
On haulage and logistics issues, Seafood Scotland has had reports of disruption in haulage capacity affecting the seafood sector. Again, any information on issues affecting other sectors should be fed in via email@example.com
The current derogation on EU drivers hours legislation is due to expire but it is hoped that an extension will be granted, allowing greater flexibility for a crucial supply chain link that has much reduced capacity just now.
We have had a number of businesses submit further evidence of financial hardship and business impact in recent days. The difference in grant support north and south of the border for businesses with retail outlets is also being raised. This feedback from our membership is hugely valuable and we are feeding it into government to shape future support decisions. So, please keep this information coming.
Some of the Scotland Food & Drink staff team will be taking a break over the Easter weekend after the recent weeks of intense work. It means that there will not be a daily update tomorrow or Monday. However, just like many of you across the sector, the organisation will be working over the Easter weekend and if there are any important developments we will be in touch with you. Failing that, the next update will be on Tuesday.
In terms of the latest news, workforce absence levels appear steady at around 10-15% of the workforce. Indeed, there are some reports of improvement.
This good news is tempered by growing concern over the financial health of many businesses, in particular cashflow concerns. The slowing of retail sales is exacerbating the effective closure of hospitality and many export markets. We are building up specific company examples to illustrate the impact of market closures and other disruption (including examples of unpaid invoices by customers). This will be a crucial part of the discussions next week with Government on further interventions to support businesses. Please share your own examples via firstname.lastname@example.org.
The delivery of UK Government-backed Business Interruption Loans remains extremely low. We understand there have been around 300,000 applications with only around 2,000 approved thus far (0.65%).
There is close monitoring of the whole food and drink supply chain ongoing. Farmers are feeling the impact of major disruption to the dairy market as well as concerns rising across the red meat sector. The main fish markets are more volatile than usual too in terms of both prices and the amount of fish being landed day-to-day. The haulage sector remains under enormous pressure with at least a third of drivers now furloughed. Any disruption to logistics should also be reported to us. The current consumer shift more towards convenience outlets, away from multiple retail, is also causing some challenges in terms of normal supply chains.
Discussions continue between our industry partners and Scottish Government around consumer messaging on supporting local produce, with a number of initiatives already in development by Quality Meat Scotland and Seafood Scotland amongst others.
To reiterate, we are here and around over the long weekend, you can reach us via the usual channels.
Stay safe and thank you again for your ongoing support of the work of Scotland Food & Drink and our partners.
Some of the discussions with Government and other business organisations earlier today focussed on the rollout of the business support measures. Around 2000 business interruption loans across the UK have been approved but we know it remains an unappealing option for a lot of our food and drink businesses.
We have heard of a few businesses facing challenges with their applications for the business support grants (£10K for small business rate payers and £25K for retail/hospitality businesses). Managed by local authorities, but under scheme rules set by Scottish Government, we are aware of businesses falling through the gaps in eligibility. If you can share any issues you have, then please do so via email@example.com. Specific examples are a critical part of the ongoing dialogue with government on the rolling out of the business support scheme.
HMRC continues to work on the portal that will manage payments for furloughed staff. Some reports were suggesting that funding might not reach businesses until June (exacerbating cashflow problems in the meantime). The latest information suggests a quicker timescale but we should know more over the next fortnight. We’re pushing for clarity from UK Government as soon as possible.
We now have a dedicated contact point within Police Scotland to feed in any enforcement issues our businesses face, particularly in relation to the movement of essential workers. So share any issues with us. The police have confirmed that they don’t expect staff that are travelling to be carrying permission notes/approval letters, however they can be helpful. A reminder that we have template letters available on the SF&D Coronavirus Hub; you’ll find them here.
We understand overall grocery sales in the UK were down again last week, compared to the same week last year. That is now two straight weeks of lower retail sales year-on-year as the shadow cast by earlier stockpiling continues, alongside fewer shopping trips being made. We’re stressing the increased financial impact this is having on businesses already hit by the collapse of large parts of the foodservice and export market. The immediate impact on the dairy sector is acute, with disruption being felt in the red meat market and a number of other sectors.
As always, you can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org
To try and help you all navigate all the information on Coronavirus – from government financial support, to social distancing guidance in food businesses, to workforce recruitment tools – we’ve gone live with our new Covid-19 Information Hub. Sitting on the Scotland Food & Drink website, it is the central gateway to the most up to date information. You’ll find it here.
We will still use this email update to highlight changes and developments, but the SF&D Covid-19 Hub is the reference library for essential information and hosts all the links to other essential support elsewhere.
In other updates, there is further social distancing advice for businesses due out from Public Health England. We’re not expecting any departure from the main elements of the Food Standards Scotland guidance that you should all be working to. If there is any different or significant, we’ll cover it in this update when it emerges.
We’ve had a few queries in the last 48 hours about access to Coronavirus tests, in particular the antibody test which will determine if you have had the disease and now have immunity. This obviously could be a crucial tool to allow individuals to return to the workplace. The very short answer is that we can’t see being able to secure access to this test for our industry any time soon. A fully effective test has still to be identified and then any subsequent rollout will almost certainly, rightly, focus on frontline healthcare workers. However, everything about this situation evolves quickly, so we’ll update you if anything changes on this issue.
Work continues on the rollout of the £10 million hardship fund announced by Fergus Ewing last Friday. It is focussed initially on the seafood processing industry, before a second phase can open up to wider food and drink businesses. At this stage, we’d expect news on the application process by the start of next week.
As always, you can reach us via email@example.com with any questions or to share feedback on the situation as it is affecting you.
There have been a few important developments for the food and drink sector over the weekend. After a long wait, further guidance was published by UK Government on some of the rules surrounding the furloughing of workers. It has been confirmed that, unless there are specific contractual restrictions, workers that are furloughed can do other paid work for a different employer. The link to the latest guidance is below.
On Saturday, the Scottish Government issued further guidance on social distancing with businesses. It reiterated that businesses should remain open if providing something essential to the wellbeing of Scotland (this includes food supplies), alongside being able to provide confidence to the workforce on their protection and social distancing. For this latter point, once again, the Food Standards Scotland guidance is the place to go for how to achieve that for workers who cannot work at home and who must be on site.
There are growing concerns around market disruption in sectors where the collapse of the foodservice market is now compounded by retail sales returning to normal patterns (and in some cases, below the usual sales rates). This is notable in the dairy sector with more milk being produced on farm than there are customers available; a point made clear in a letter by DairyUK to Ministers across the UK. Likewise the red meat sector has significant challenges that QMS, amongst ourselves and others, will be working hard on.
Absenteeism rates are largely stable at between 10-20% across the supply chain.
There is growing disruption to ferry sailings to and from the EU and any impact on that, or indeed anything else, can be shared with us via firstname.lastname@example.org
Lastly, Scotland Food & Drink and its partners are already involved in early thinking on the industry’s recovery plan. Our partners across industry and government are involved and we’ll share more information on that as it develops over the coming weeks.
HMRC has updated guidance on how to claim for your employees' wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. The online service is not available yet, but it is expected to be available by the end of April 2020. Click here to read the latest guidance.
The revised guidance sets out all business workplaces that are not being specifically required to close should consider it imperative that they keep open only those premises or parts of premises that are truly critical or essential to the national and international Covid-19 effort.
There have been some further important developments in the last 24 hours. The Scottish Government has just made a very welcome announcement of a £10 million fund for the seafood sector. The full detail of the announcement is here.
Many seafood processors have been in the eye of the storm over the last fortnight; this will be crucial support. Obviously, there is significant impact on other sectors of our industry. That is well recognised and it is a constantly evolving situation. Importantly, the Cabinet Secretary briefed us yesterday afternoon – alongside other organisations - that once applications from the seafood sector are administered, the aim is to extend the fund to other sectors to help those absolutely most in need.
Beyond that announcement, changes have also been implemented in the Business Interruption Loan Scheme, the government-backed lending facility being managed by the banks. Importantly, as reported in yesterday’s update, the requirement to explore other lending options first (before accessing this loan scheme) has been dropped. However, we have some concerns being expressed at high interest rates that kick in after the 12-month interest-free period. If you have specific examples of rates being offered or quoted, we have been asked to feed them in to government and the banking sector. Please share them with us confidentially at email@example.com
There may be further central guidance being issued by Scottish Government later today on social distancing within businesses. We’re not expecting a change in policy but further clarification. The main message remains that food businesses should only have essential staff on site and the FSS guidance is the go-to place to understand steps that must be taken to maintain production and, crucially, protect staff. The link to that is below.
Police Scotland updated us – and other business organisations – this morning on their enforcement approach. Further health guidance is being sought on car-sharing, with the current presumption being that cars carrying members of the same household are fine, but car sharing should be avoided otherwise. The use of our template letters for essential workers was welcomed by the police. The links for those are also below. Enforcement approaches continue to evolve with the police having to adapt quickly to enforcing an unprecedented piece of emergency legislation. Individual officer discretion will remain a key factor on the ground. If you are aware of particular issues or lack of clarity, again, share them with us and we will feed them in to Police Scotland.
We are aware of some further emerging challenges in a range of supply chains, not least seafood, red meat and dairy. These will likely be the focus on significant work next week.
It’s the end of week three and I make no apologies in repeating the thanks from the Scotland Food & Drink team to everyone involved in the collaborative effort going into working through this crisis. That includes our partners across other industry organisations, the Scottish Government team and their agencies and all the individuals and businesses who this receive this update and feedback with critical information to shape our work. Thank you.
The next daily update will be on Monday unless there are urgent developments over the weekend.
The additional guidance from Food Standards Scotland, mentioned yesterday, was published this morning. See below for the link. This is really important official guidance and it should be treated as the go-to place for information on how to maximise social distancing and worker protection, at the same time as continuing to maintain food/drink production and supply.
The new guidance incorporates some of the best practice information we had shared previously. You can also use this as a risk assessment tool within your own business. It will also be a helpful mechanism to engage with the workforce and give them even further confidence on the steps you’re taking to protect them and the business. Thanks to FSS for the work on this, which aligns with advice across the rest of the UK.
There’s one bit of feedback we’re asking for from you over the next 24 hours - around access to government financial support, in particular the Business Interruption Loan Scheme. There have been a number of reports of problems and delays. We hear that changes may be coming and there’s reports the Chancellor may overhaul the scheme very shortly. In particular, by removing the requirement for banks to consider all other lending options first. That is one likely reason that money is not flowing as quick as it should. All feedback welcome via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other areas to tell us about include updates on your staff absenteeism. It still seems to be levelling out at around 10-15% on average. But we know it is spiking more sharply in some businesses. Secondly, the haulage industry is under significant pressure. Over 40% of the UK fleet is parked up just now. The wheels of delivery are still moving but any issues should be reported to us.
We’re also working with industry partners and Scottish Government on campaign work to encourage people to buy local. A central portal for the public to access direct delivery is being explored too. All of this would help to find new customers for products now locked out of export and foodservice markets. We will keep you updated on progress.
Lastly, Scottish Government officials are working hard on the next phase of financial support for the sector. The seafood processing sector has been at the sharp end of the impact, so measures for them, alongside options for the wider sector, are in development. Expect to hear more in tomorrow’s daily update on that.
As always, feel free to share this update with colleagues. And send in any issues, questions or concerns into us via email@example.com.
The discussion over financial support for businesses picked up again today and we’re discussing it amongst the industry organisations and will be with government this week too. Obviously, the impact for businesses that were focussed on exports and UK foodservice sales has been stark since day one. For those businesses that also have UK retail sales, the fall back in sales in recent days, from the peaks over the last fortnight, is exacerbating the impact for them of the closure of other markets. We’ll update as discussions on further support progress.
We are also keeping a close watching brief on workforce absentee levels with very variable level of absence reported across the country and between individual businesses. Please keep information flowing to us on changes on this and general impacts of the outbreak on your operations. We are involved in daily calls with our fellow industry bodies and with government and it’s your information shaping the responses being developed. As always, you should email firstname.lastname@example.org with a briefing on your current situation.
A reminder too that yesterday saw the launch of the new workforce recruitment platform, which could be a very useful mechanism for businesses seeking to fill emerging gaps in their own workforce. The link to that is below.
Many of you continue discussions in your own businesses on social distancing and building further protection for workers that have to be on site to keep food and drink supply moving. There may be further guidance issued from Food Standards Scotland (FSS) later. In the meantime, the business section in the Q&A from FSS remains the go-to place for official guidance. We also have the SF&D best practice guide available too. Links to both are below.
Please get in touch if there is any other information you are looking for just now. We’ll do our best to point you in the right direction, or raise issues where information is unclear or missing.
Today, we’ve been raising a few issues that further clarification is required on. Some of the exact rules around the furlough of workers are still to be confirmed. In particular, the ability of furloughed workers to support workforce gaps in other sectors is being explored.
On travel restrictions, there are some reports of police stopping vehicles with staff that are car sharing in order to get the work. Further official public health advice is being sought to help clarify for the police – and for our businesses – what the enforcement advice should be.
In other developments today, Scotland Food & Drink has joined six of its industry partner organisations in signing a letter co-ordinated by FDF Scotland to all of Scotland’s MPs and MSPs. It highlights the work being undertaken by businesses and our workforce to keep the nation’s food and drink supply chain moving. A link to the letter is below.
We’re conscious that there is a lot of communication on Covid-19 from many different angles. To try and create one simple gateway into the information being produced by our industry and public sector partners, we have put it all into one table. Again, there is a link to it below.
Also today, a new workforce platform to connect those looking for work with those needing additional workforce has launched. This will add - and provide a central connection to - the many other excellent initiatives happening on this subject. See more information below.
Please keep sharing information your own situation via email@example.com
At the start of week two of ‘lockdown’ there continues to be a range of priority issues for the Scotland Food & Drink team, working with partners, government and individual businesses.
Over the weekend a number of you have shared more information on the significant changes you’re implementing to embrace the social distancing requirements.
Workforce absence is starting to rise based on reports we are receiving; it probably sits at around 15% on average across the sector. Please keep sharing your own situation, it helps inform the daily discussions between the industry organisations and government. Please drop us a note via firstname.lastname@example.org.
The template travel letter we issued to assist workers who may be questioned on their movements has now been shared with Police Scotland. Please report any issues your essential workers face in travelling to work.
We’d remind businesses that there is no further requirement for PPE for your staff, beyond what would normally be required. It will be important we don’t add to the national demand for those products, the priority for which needs to be frontline NHS staff.
There is also a great deal of work going on to address product supply gaps and to explore how products previously destined for export and the out of home markets could be redirected to meet retail, convenience and home delivery demand.
In addition, discussions continue with government on business support measures.
As always, the latest developments will be in this daily update as well as communicated via our social media channels.
A number of key priorities have been worked on by the Scotland Food & Drink team today, working jointly with our industry partners and the Scottish Government team, all of whom have put in an extraordinary shift this week.
Many of our member companies have been changing operations, including some closing them down over the last 24 hours. In order to keep Ministers briefed on the national picture, please share with us any major changes to your operations. Likewise, we are monitoring staff absence levels across the country. Across our food production base, we’re hearing reports of absence running between 8-15%, mostly as a combination of illness or self-isolation. Again, to ensure we maintain critical food supplies, monitoring the national picture is important. If you can share information confidentially with us on both staff absence and any operational closures, please do so. As always, email us at email@example.com
Additionally, we’ve been hearing about growing demands for PPE in the workplace. As a reminder, the official advice is that additional PPE is NOT a requirement for food businesses at this time. If you didn’t require it before, you don’t now. However, we are exploring potential sources of further PPE for those that absolutely do need it.
We’re also aware of the very obvious business benefit in having future access to the Covid-19 test. It is likely to be available soon, but the time frame is unclear and there will be a priority list of recipients so we would ask everyone to manage their expectations on that. The point about access has been made to Government though.
Like last weekend, if something significant changes on Saturday or Sunday, we will contact you. Failing that, the next daily update will be on Monday. However, we will obviously be monitoring the incoming messages over the weekend.
As always, feel free to share this update widely and thanks to those of you who have been in touch to express your support for our work over recent days. It is massively appreciated. Likewise, to all of you who are playing a part in keeping Scotland’s essential food and drink supply chain moving, thank you.
One of today’s priorities has been around clarifying guidance for within food and drink businesses on social distancing.
Helpfully, Food Standards Scotland has this morning issued guidance which mirrors that issued by Public Health England, so it is consistent across the UK. It addresses the two-metre, social distancing rule which has been the subject of many questions we’ve received. See below for the link.
We’ve also moved to support our businesses who have workers for whom it's absolutely essential to travel to work. We’ve had reports of police questioning some workers about their movements so the industry trade bodies have produced a template letter for companies to use and for workers to have with them when travelling. There is also one developed to help with childcare requests.
Many other areas of work happening today, see below for the headlines. As this update is being published, the Chancellor is due to announce the measures for support for the self-employed. We will provide an overview of this in tomorrow’s update and across our social channels.
You can contact us at any time via firstname.lastname@example.org. The staff will aim to get back to you as soon as possible.
Afternoon everyone, another busy day of developments. We’ve been looking for further guidance for businesses regarding ongoing operations and social distancing. There is formal advice due out imminently from Food Standards Scotland for food and drink businesses. In the meantime, given the many queries we have had on this in the last 24 hours, the Scotland Food & Drink team has worked on some suggestions of steps you can take within your business to adhere to the latest public health advice. It’s not official guidance, it won’t be relevant for all, but it could help guide you and it is drawn from looking at best practice being implemented across the SF&D membership. See below for that information.
It’s been a busy day working on other issues too. We’ve had reports of the police questioning some staff heading to their workplace and challenging their movements outside of the home. We’re working on a pro-forma letter for businesses to issue to employees for whom it is absolutely essential to travel to work. FDF Scotland is co-ordinating that work amongst the industry partners.
An additional funding package was announced at lunchtime by Cabinet Secretary Fergus Ewing for the seafood industry. More detail below. The information on general financial support for businesses continues to develop and we’ve got a handy table of all the support measures with appropriate links. Again, see the update below on that.
You can contact us at any time via email@example.com. The staff will aim to get back to you as soon as possible.
You have already received an update from us at 2.45pm this afternoon following the very helpful clarification from the First Minister of the essential importance of food supply in relation to current restrictions. In short, businesses involved in food supply should try and stay open if they can, providing they can adhere to social distancing advice and health and safety requirements. See the summary again below.
Clearly, the announcement by the UK Government and Scottish Government of national ‘lockdown’ is the most significant development since yesterday’s update. More detail on what that means is also below.
The last 24 hours has demonstrated again how fast things are changing. If you read something in this update, it could be overtaken by events quickly. If that does occur we’ll attempt to update you as soon as we can. We will try and issue any immediate news via our Twitter feeds (@scotfoodjames and @scotfooddrink). Keep an eye on them too.
The weekend’s work has been dominated by the “key worker” issue, alongside digesting the significant funding announcement made by the Chancellor on Friday night. You all received an update on Saturday morning regarding the key worker issue and there is more detail on the UK Government funding announcement below.
On key workers, as things stand, the advice is still that individual businesses should be contacting their own local authority to address any key worker issues identified within their own business. However, see the steps below, we advise you to take before making any approach to your local Council. Not surprisingly, we are hearing of different approaches in different parts of Scotland to prioritising food supply, which is of concern given the joined-up nature of the food and drink supply chain.
This afternoon, a joint statement has been issued by Scotland Food & Drink alongside 13 of our industry partner organisations across the farming, fishing, food and drink industry. This sends a very clear message about the action we are asking you, as food and drink businesses, to take to support Scotland’s effort to reduce the impact of Covid-19. I know many of you are doing this already, but it is difficult to overstate the importance of this action.
At the same time, we have reiterated our call for national guidance – to list food production and supply under category 2 key workers – to be issued to the 32 local authorities. We completely understand and support the need to limit the key worker designation, in order to limit as far as is possible the number of children requiring childcare at school. However, we believe clearer guidance to councils – as has been introduced in the rest of the UK – will support that objective.
This has been a unique week on a personal and professional level for everyone in our industry. A number of you have taken the time to drop a quick note of support or thanks to the Scotland Food & Drink team for their work. I just wanted to say that has been hugely appreciated. Our thoughts are with all of you, your workforce and your families as we all adjust to what has unfolded in recent days.
The last 24 hours has been dominated by the impact of the schools closure and the work to define “key workers”. During the night, the UK Government issued guidance on who are defined as key workers in ENGLAND. The food industry is included. However, the announcement on key workers in SCOTLAND this afternoon has created confusion as to what this will mean for our sector. However, we will continue to work on this through the night and will update you as soon as things develop. Our Government colleagues are aware of the urgent need for further clarity and we have stressed that this is critical right now.
Things are moving incredibly fast, by the hour. We will do our best to stay on top of things and if anything critical changes we may email you direct. There may also be updates over the weekend as developments unfold.
It has been another incredibly busy 24 hours for the Scotland Food & Drink team working on the impact of the Coronavirus outbreak. I’d also like to stress how much work is being put in by our industry and Scottish Government partners. There is a huge collective effort in place to support the industry through an unprecedented period. The last few hours have been focussed on designating our key manufacturing and supply chain staff as ‘key workers’ for the provision of childcare. In addition, talks on support measures continue at pace.
Things are moving incredibly fast, by the hour. The risk in this daily update is that information changes as soon as we issue it. But we’re willing to take that risk to try and keep you as up to date as possible. We will do our best to stay on top of things and if anything critical changes we may email you direct.
Scotland Food & Drink, like our partners in Government and industry, is working 24/7 on the impacts of the Coronavirus outbreak.
One of the lessons from any crisis situation is the importance of clear communications. This new daily update will cover the latest situation with the outbreak and the advice to businesses and on public health. It will also let you know what SF&D is doing and is a call to action for business across the food and drink supply chain, to share the impact you are facing.
We are on daily calls with Government to highlight and work through issues, we need your information to inform that effort. Send any and all information you can to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Link to the full daily update can be found here. Please feel free to share this daily update widely.