Have you got a Blackburn BID gazebo on loan?
Last year, to support the re-opening of hsopitality businesses and limits on capacity inside premises, we loaned out our 20 BID gazebos, weights and sides to BID businesses. As you know, Blackburn Cathedral has become a vaccination centre for Lancashire, and car parking is free for anyone visiting the town centre for a vaccination. This means we’ve got visitors, staff and volunteers supporting the effort, outside for long periods of time, in often severe winter weather conditions. We have supplied some gazebos that we’ve been able to collect from a town centre business, to car parking staff, and we now want to help vaccination staff, visitors and volunteers. We are struggling to collect our gazebos that are on loan because businesses are closed. If you have gazebo(s) on loan from us, and you are not currently using them, please can you contact me asap so that we can arrange collection from you? If you know a business which has them but isn’t currently using them, please can you contact them and ask them to get in touch? We will be supporting businesses again with the loan of gazebos when businesses start to re-open, but in the meantime we really want to see them put to good use. Thank you for your help with this.
Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS)
Claims for the third SEISS grant have now closed. The last date for making a claim for the third grant was 29 January 2021. Details about the fourth grant will be announced on 3 March 2021. The guidance can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the-self-employment-income-support-scheme
Government urged to provide clarity on plans to exit lockdown
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has urged the government to work with retailers as the UK seeks to reopen the economy. The CBI has highlighted six elements that will help businesses plan for a relaxation of restrictions as retailers anticipate the end of lockdown. The government is expected to reveal its exit strategy towards the end of the month. The CBI said any reopening date should be informed by statistics on health, but that the government must confirm again “what will be considered low, medium or high-risk economic activity, so that businesses can understand what will open sooner or later”.
It said there would need to be a decision about whether to return to a tiering system and ”what will now be permitted under each tier as more people become vaccinated”. The CBI said it was essential to identify and understand the conditions that need to be met before lifting restrictions and ”ultimately the need for social distancing”. ”We believe there are strong arguments for phase two of the roll-out being done in a way that maximises the safe reopening of the economy, such as prioritising key enablers like schools, transport, and other key public services,” CBI said. It also called on the government to think about how ”regular mass rapid testing in the community and workplaces could allow a wider, speedier reopening of the economy”. The full article can be found here: https://www.retailgazette.co.uk/blog/2021/02/government-urged-to-provide-clarity-on-plans-to-exit-lockdown/
New rules around Strong Customer Authentication for online payments
With sharp increases in the use of contactless and online payments during the pandemic, and the increases in contactless payment limits, there is concern about the exposure of business and customers to fraud. In response there are new rules around Strong Customer Authentication which businesses need to be prepared for. These came in to place for EU based businesses on the 31st Dec 2020, and will come into place for UK businesses in Sept 2021. It requires banks to take extra steps to prevent fraud, and could make it harder for your customers to complete online purchases. Here are some of the things you should do to prepare for the regulation and prevent losing sales:
- Contact your business bank or the company that provides your online checkout service – they may have already tried to reach you.
- Ask them to “switch on” technology that can support the regulation. In our view the best technology available for meeting SCA requirements is called “EMV 3D Secure”, which could also make it easier for your customers to pay on mobile phones.
- If you want to go a step further, you could also talk to your bank or the company that provides your online checkout about how to make sure your customers have the smoothest payment journey possible. They can help you identify certain types of payments that may not need SCA and, therefore, may not need additional steps from your customers
- Do this as soon as possible – banks and payment companies will start testing the customer checkout experience before the regulation is enforced. Preparing early means you are less likely to experience disruption during the busy December shopping period.
You can find more information about this here: https://www.ukfinance.org.uk/strong-customer-authentication/frequently-asked-questions