Lockdown changes – What do they mean?

As the world eases itself out of lockdown, there are lots of changes ahead. Just this week we have seen a turnaround in the advice given on the wearing of face coverings in public, in that from next week it will now be compulsory to wear them in retail stores across England. We are having to adapt to ever-changing factors surrounding this virus and as new evidence is uncovered to its nature, we are all learning in order to stay as safe as possible. I started my HR career in the hospitality industry and see this being one of the hardest hit by lockdown has been particularly difficult. I have some extremely fond memories of working in this industry and it has one of the hardest working workforces of all. From a personal point of view, travel is one of the activities that support my wellbeing, I struggle to switch off at home, my mind is always busy and so for me getting away, even locally, delivers me so much in the way of self-care. It has been positive to see hospitality and tourism businesses have now been granted a cut in VAT, from 20% to 5%, starting from this week, 15th July 2020 and running through to January 2021. The move is aimed at protecting millions of jobs in the industries and while it won’t prevent restructures and downsizing, it will go some way to help. So, who does this cut in VAT apply to?

The businesses this will impact include:

  • Food and non-alcoholic beverages sold for on-premises consumption, for example, in restaurants, cafes and pubs;
  • Hot takeaway food and hot takeaway non-alcoholic beverages;
  • Sleeping accommodation in hotels or similar establishments, holiday accommodation, pitch fees for caravans and tents, and associated facilities; and
  • Admissions to theatres, circuses, fairs, amusement parks, concerts, museums, zoos, cinemas, exhibitions and similar cultural events and facilities (note that if any of these attractions are covered by the existing cultural exemption, the exemption will take precedence).

In addition to the VAT cut we’ve seen the introduction of a new scheme called “Eat out to help out” which offers diners 50% discount on their bill. A canny way to get people out and about in August! Here’s some points on how it works and what you need to do;

In addition to the VAT cut, we’ve seen the introduction of a new scheme called “Eat out to help out” which offers diners a 50% discount on their bill. A canny way to get people out and about in August! Here are some points on how it works and what you need to do;


  • Business can register from Monday 13th July to participate;
  • Diners can get 50% off, up to a maximum of £10 discount per head, for everyone in their party (even the kids);
  • The discount is available for meals and non-alcoholic drinks;
  • The scheme is available for people eating out on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from the 3rd to the 31st August 2020;
  • There’s no limit on how many times customers can use the scheme while it is open;
  • Each week in August, participating businesses can then claim back the money; and
  • The money claimed will be in your business account within five working days.

**There are restrictions on the types of businesses that can register, so if you’re a business who is looking to register, check out the full details here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/register-your-establishment-for-the-eat-out-to-help-out-scheme The furlough scheme has been a lifeline for lots of employers and, particularly in the hospitality industry and while this is great, people are worried about whether they can bring employees back to work from the scheme. In the latest announcement from the Chancellor, he introduced a bonus for employers who are able to bring furloughed employees back to work. Here’s a little more on how it’ll all work:

  • Employees return to work from furlough;
  • They remain employed until at least January 2021;
  • The employee earns at least £520 a month on average from
  • November to the end of January; and
  • Your business will be entitled to get a £1,000 bonus!

NB: The bonus is available for each and every employee that you’ve brought back from the furlough scheme, as long as you’ve met all the criteria. Another scheme that has been launched in support of our young people is the “kickstart scheme”. This is an investment of £2bn by the government in the way of funding that is available for 16 – 24 year olds, to complete a 6-month work placement. We will see the scheme introduced from August 2020 (date yet to be confirmed). The funding is set to cover up to 25 hours per week at the national minimum wage, plus NI and Pension contributions. Businesses will be eligible for £1000 grant per trainee for employers in England. There are also grants of £2000 for apprentices under 25 and £1500 for apprentices over 25 available again to employers in England. These are great opportunities if you are looking to attract young people into your business. There are other benefits and support offered under this scheme, which is set to support getting people back into work, including more coaches to the Job centres, support for helping those who are long-term unemployed to get back into work and helping younger people continue studies. If you are looking to get involved check out www.Govt.uk/kickstart for more info. Final Words: It is going to take time for most business to recover from lockdown, as the impacts continue daily but it is always worth checking what support is available. There are a number of newly introduced grants to help business of all sizes along with schemes such as the ones mentioned above. If you do need any HR support at this time, feel free to get in touch for a chat on 0330 223 4290 or by emailing enquiries@inspireexcellence.co.uk.

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