Coronavirus (COVID-19) Supporting businesses

Introduction

We are aware that Covid-19 has brought unprecedented challenges to many business sectors. These pages help businesses to navigate to the information and support that is available to them.

We recognise that cashflow and keeping your business afloat are major concerns but finding the right information can be difficult. We will try to keep the information and links here as current as possible.

Health and safety spot checks and inspections during Covid-19

Funding for businesses during Covid-19

Business grants

The District Councils are responsible for administering Restart Grants and local Support Grants. For more information visit their respective pages below:

Financial support from Government

To find out what funding is available to support your business visit the financial support for business section on the GOV.UK website or call their business support helpline.

Bounce Back Loan Scheme from the British Business Bank

To find out more visit the British Business Bank website. The scheme is open until 31 March 2021.

Other funding sources

In addition to the above, Combined Authority Growth Hub can signpost businesses to relevant funding streams and grant providers through their 1-2-1 advice session, both in terms of Covid and non-Covid related funding provision.

Advice and support from other organisations

Central Government signposting

The Government webpages offer signposting to a wide range of organisations who can provide support to businesses in relation to Covid-19 issues.

Federation of Small Businesses

The Federation of Small Businesses website contains a lot of useful information and Webinars including "Coronavirus: Financial help explained for SMEs and the self-employed" This can be found on their website

British Chamber of Commerce

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority

  • Business Support One to Ones

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority Growth Hub is offering consultations, on the phone or via video link, from an experienced business adviser to discuss your needs and provide guidance on how to access relevant support from our services and central government.

This might include how you can address immediate challenges, how you can engage with broader resilience issues, helping you to explore different ways to conduct your business or diversify. The CPCA business support sessions can also help you to understand and mitigate the impact of Covid-19 on your clients, staff, suppliers and others, and help you to lay out an initial roadmap for a return to business. Visit the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority website to find out more.

  • Business Support Webinars

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority Growth Hub has also developed a series of webinars covering the key topics from crisis communications, to international trade during a pandemic. All of our webinars can be found here.
Covid-19 Business Resilience Webinar: Government initiatives and how to access them – YouTube video

  • The Knowledge Hub

The CPCA Growth Hub has also developed a Knowledge Hub resource that provides detailed information on several different subjects including funding and support, resources for employers and employees and specific sector resources. Take a look at the CPCA Knowledge Hub website.

Accelerator Programme offered by the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL)

Accelerator is offering free support to help SMEs rapidly innovate during the Covid-19 crisis. SMEs based in the Greater Cambridgeshire and Greater Peterborough area will be eligible for support to enable them to find new innovative ways to operate, rewire supply chains, and ensure that the needs of the most vulnerable are met. Support will be delivered through a combination of one-to-one business support, capacity building and mentoring, as well as convening partnerships, and drawing on the collective knowledge of CISL’s global network to support small businesses via webinars tailored to local business needs. SMEs, start-ups and entrepreneurs can express their interest here.

Anglia Ruskin Covid-19 support for businesses

Anglia Ruskin University is offering vouchers to enable businesses to access expertise/consultancy within their organisation and also offering access to their graduates in terms of internships. More information is available on their webpages.

Digital connectivity

The Connecting Cambridgeshire digital connectivity programme, led by Cambridgeshire County Council, is working with businesses and communities across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough to keep everyone connected during the Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak.

Read the business brief about improving your broadband / mobile and grants available for gigabit-capable fibre connections on the Connecting Cambridgeshire website.

Advice on business closures and restrictions

From 17 May we have moved to Step 3 of the Government’s roadmap. The Reopening businesses and venues page on the GOV.UK website gives an overview of the roadmap in terms of businesses reopening.

The summary of the current business restrictions can be found on the GOV.UK website, with more detailed guidance available on the Government's 'Closing certain businesses and venues' gov.uk page. If you need the detail of the current restrictions, the full legislation can be viewed here.

Operating safely during the pandemic

As well as certain businesses having to remain closed or restrict the way they operate, those that are able to operate must do so in a Covid safe way. To find the latest guidance related to your type of business visit the GOV.UK website.

A number of webinars have also been produced by Government and the NHS on working safely during Covid, covering a wide range of sectors.

Guidance has also been produced on maintaining records of staff, customers to support the NHS Test and Trace.

In addition, the Food Standards Agency has produced guidance specific to the Food sector on safe re-opening and adapting your food business during Covid-19 and operating a food business safely in the pandemic

You should also be aware of the requirements placed on employers under the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Self-Isolation) (England) Regulations 2020 which apply where any member of staff tests positive for Covid-19. A summary of your obligations is provided NHS Test and Trace in the Workplace page on Gov.uk

You can seek advice from Trading Standards or your local Environmental Health team on compliance with the any of the Covid-19 related rules listed above in the context of your business. Whilst there is usually a small charge for Trading Standards advice services, where your business is an SME based in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough and your enquiry relates to the lockdown and subsequent business restrictions the advice will be free of charge. Please complete our short online form and one of our advisers will be in touch. For larger businesses, there may be a small charge. Any charges will be detailed upfront so that you can decide whether to take up our offer of advice. Our hourly rate is £70 per hour plus VAT.

Operating safely during Covid-19

For those businesses that continue to operate, ensuring businesses can operate safely and reduce the spread of disease continues to be vital. To find the latest guidance related to your type of business visit the GOV.UK website.

This guidance has been updated to reflect the Tier restrictions.

A number of webinars have also been produced by Government and the NHS on working safely during Covid, covering a wide range of sectors. Guidance has also been produced on maintaining records of staff, customers to support the NHS Test and Trace.

Additional guidance on risk assessments for those businesses looking to re-open is also available here. In addition, the Food Standards Agency has produced guidance specific to the Food sector on safe re-opening and adapting your food business during Covid-19 and operating a food business safely in the pandemic.

Government advice is that anyone who can work from home should. Furthermore, employers must not knowingly require or encourage someone who is being required to self-isolate to come to work.

Coronavirus Roadmap Guidance 2021386KBpdf
Size: 386KBFile format: pdf

Advice on responding to compliance challenges arising from Covid-19

Trading Standards, Environmental Health and Licensing teams have worked together to provide advice about the compliance challenges businesses are facing in having to rapidly respond to coronavirus. We want businesses to feel confident in taking these major steps. The advice below is intended to help you adapt.

Trading Standards is offering all SMEs in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough free initial business compliance advice on any matters arising from the government’s emergency controls that fall within its remit. Where it does not fall within Trading Standards’ remit, the team will signpost you. There is a short form to complete after which one of our dedicated businesses advisers will then be in touch.

In addition, a range of guidance is available on the Business Companion website, run by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, covering the home improvement, travel and food sectors.

Fair trading

Yes. The law says that you can charge what you like for a product provided that the price is made clear to the customer - however, in these difficult times we all need to try to work together, so we would not encourage anyone to charge more than they need do. 

The price should be clearly given close to the goods, for example on the product, shelf or nearby notice. You cannot be forced to sell anything, so a customer cannot insist on buying a product at a certain price, so if there has been an error you are legally allowed to refuse the sale and then correct it.

Failure to give price information along with any misleading claims, even in adverts, about price may be an offence.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) Chief Executive Andrea Coscelli has said:

“We urge retailers to behave responsibly throughout the coronavirus outbreak and not to make misleading claims or charge vastly inflated prices. We also remind members of the public that these obligations may apply to them too if they resell goods, for example on online marketplaces.”

Significantly increasing your prices at this time may be deemed an “Aggressive Practice” under Regulation 7 of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.  

In looking at an “Aggressive Practice”, the following points are considered:

  • It significantly impairs or is likely significantly to impair the average consumer's freedom of choice;
  • The use of harassment, coercion or undue influence (exploiting a position of power);
  • Its timing, location, nature or persistence, and exploitation of any specific misfortune or circumstance.

Failure to comply with the requirements of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 is a criminal offence. The penalty on summary conviction is an unlimited fine; or on conviction on indictment, to an unlimited fine and/or imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years.

A joint statement has been issued by the CMA and Trade bodies in relation to price gouging

In addition, the CMA will assess whether it should advise Government to consider taking direct action to regulate prices.

Further details can be found in the Guidance for Traders on Pricing Practices April 2018 (PDF)

There are two different laws, one for consumer and one for businesses. For businesses to business contracts there is still a ban on misleading advertising but the price is set by a contract, if you have one. If you already have a contract specifies a price for certain goods then this is what you should be charged. Failure to honour the terms of a contract is likely to be considered a breach, giving the other party the right to claim damages.

There are some circumstances where factors outside either parties control renders a contract void since it cannot be performed. This is referred to as a Force majeure.

Please remember, however, that all businesses are facing difficult times and your supplier may also be facing increased costs.

Selling at a distance is covered by certain rules around giving certain information, making any delivery charges clear and having simple ways for customers to contact you. There will be a lot of variation depending on what it is you’re selling however.

Further details can be found online

Personal protective equipment (PPE)

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) must comply with the regulations and products fulfil the essential requirements. PPE requires conformity assessment before being placed on the market.

Face masks are either PPE or Medical Devices, although the general term PPE has become the normal term used for face masks since the outbreak of Covid-19. All face masks for sale to the public must be CE marked.

PPE Face Masks must comply with BS EN 149:2001+A1:2009.

Medical Face Mask must comply with EN 14683:2019.

The standards are available from BSI free of charge.

KN95 and N95 cannot be CE marked and are not legal for sale to the general public. 

If you intend to market any product please contact the Trading Standards Service prior to importing or producing any product via trading.standards@cambridgeshire.gov.uk

Hand sanitiser

The nationwide shortage of hand sanitiser has created a high demand for such products. As a local business, you may decide to produce hand sanitiser.

The Trading Standards Service does not recommend the production of home-made sanitisers.

There are a number of helpful sites which a business can visit. These include Government, Word Health Organisation (WHO) and the cosmetics industry.

The Office of Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) guidance for businesses on placing hand cleansing and sanitising products on to the UK market can be found here

From a Trading Standards perspective, a sanitiser product will not fall within the scope of cosmetics products legislation, if its primary function is clearly sanitisation and killing of microbes. A hand sanitiser will fall under the Biocidal Products Regulation. 

Hand washes that have the primary function of cleaning but with a secondary biocidal function will fall under cosmetics products legislation. Hand washes with a secondary antibacterial claim, (the biocidal claim) must, of course, be capable of being substantiated. 

The overall Competent Authority for the Biocidal Products Regulation is the HSE, although Trading Standards Services are responsible for consumer products.

For further advice please contact Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Trading Standards Service by email at Tstand@peterborough.gov.uk

Restrictions on supply

Yes, as with prices, the law says you don’t have to sell anyone anything. If you choose to impose restrictions on numbers then you can. We would advise having clear signs so that your staff then don’t have to deal with unhappy customers.

Claims

Such a claim is likely to invoke controls under either Personal Protective Equipment, Medical Devices, Medicines, Biocidal or Cosmetics legislation. To market a product which does not comply with the appropriate legislation will constitute a criminal offence.  False claims (or claims that cannot be proved as true) could result in legal proceeding against the person making the claim.  

If you are planning to market or produce any such product please contact our specialist business advisers at Trading Standards Service for advice before you invest heavily in it to ensure what you are planning is permissible.

Whilst false or misleading claims should not be made we accept in the current circumstances that there will be disruption to the normal supply chains. Where your claims about a product become false you should take reasonable steps to ensure your customers are not misled. This may be changing information on a website, having a note in store or accompanying any delivery or even over-sticking product packaging to remove a false claim. We would not want to see a business throw away hundreds of pounds with of packaging due to a short-term change in supplier. If you take reasonable steps to advise customers of any changes then you would have a defence.

Further details can be found online.

f you are in this situation, we’d encourage you to seek advice from Trading Standards business advice team to help you deal with this in the most cost effective way. You can seek advice by completing this online form.

Food products

The Government has published extensive guidance on the GOV.UK website on Coronavirus for Food Businesses which you should read in conjunction with the food related frequently asked questions (FAQs) below.

Comprehensive adice is available on gov.uk and also on the Food Standards Agency website.

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health has issued the following guidance for delivering food and takeaways.

Food deliveries are likely to become more common. There are a number of considerations you need to be aware of.

  1. You must already be registered as a food business with your local authority to enable you to provide a delivery service.
  1. You must ensure all food delivered does not become unsafe or unfit to eat. You should review your food safety management systems to ensure you have identified critical safety controls involved in delivering the food.
  1. Food that needs to be refrigerated or kept cool must be kept below 8 degrees C by use of an insulated box with a coolant gel or in a cool bag.
  1. Hot food should be kept above 63 degrees C.
  1. You should monitor all your controls, you can use the Safer Food Better Business diary sheets to help you. If you wish to use the chilled food and hot food temperature exemption you must show how you are monitoring to ensure you are keeping within the time constraints.
  1. We recommend that you keep your delivery distances and time short, limited to within 30 minutes.
  1. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) have provided advice for business – ‘How to manage a food business if you sell products online, for takeaway or for delivery.’'
  1. Allergens – There is a wealth of advice for businesses on allergen management on the FSA website.
  1. Those venues offering takeaway or delivery services must not include alcoholic beverages if they do not have a license to permit alcoholic sales off the premises.

Contact-free delivery

Scientific advice is that it is very unlikely that COVID-19 can be spread through food, but, if you are changing how you are used to operating then you should think through the hazards and ensure that you have control measures in place.

  1. Limiting contact when delivering orders will help keep everyone healthy, so you could consider leaving deliveries at the door of your customer, rather than handing it over to them. Knock on the door, step back the safe recommended distance and wait nearby for your customer to collect it. (Please note the safe distance is continuously amended – ensure you visit the government COVID -19 website link below to obtain the current advice)
  1. Take payments over the phone or internet rather than taking a cash payment.

Infection Control

  1. You have responsibilities to ensure food handlers are fit for work under the food hygiene regulations and in addition you have a general duty to ensure the Health, Safety and Welfare of persons in your employment and members of the public.
  1. Relevant staff must be provided with clear instructions on any infection control policy in place, and any person so affected and employed in a food business and who is likely to come into contact with food is to report immediately the illness or symptoms, and if possible their causes, to the food business operator.

14. The Government have issued advice on this as has the Food Standards Agency.

Labelling – Where food is prepacked then the labelling is good for selling instore or online. It will contain all of the legal information so you will not have to do anything more.

Where food is normally sold loose then more labelling information is required. The highest priority is that the allergens in the food are clearly labelled.

Further details can be found online.

The government have stated that planning and other regulations are being reviewed and will change to allows more businesses to offer delivery and hot food takeaway services. When any changes occur, these will be clearly communicated by the government and we will update these pages accordingly.

Contact the Food Team at foodandsafety@peterborough.gov.uk for advice.

For more information please visit the Food Standards Agency website.

Visit the Nationwide Caterers Association (NCASS) website for useful points to consider.

Contact the Food Team at foodandsafety@peterborough.gov.uk and the Licensing Team on eh.licensing@peterborough.gov.uk for advice.

Food businesses are required to clean their premises, equipment and maintain personal hygiene at all times to safeguard against cross-contamination. If you are unable to do this because of insufficient cleaning materials then you should not be handling, preparing and selling food. You must stop producing food until you can sufficiently clean. 

Making food

Whilst false or misleading claims should not be made we accept in the current circumstances that there will be disruption to the normal supply chains. Provided there is no risk to food safety (introducing another allergen for example) you should take reasonable steps to ensure your customers are not misled. This may be changing information on a website, having a note in store or accompanying any delivery or even over-sticking product packaging to remove a false claim. We would not want to see a business throw away hundreds of pounds with of packaging due to a short-term change in supplier. If you take reasonable steps to advise customers of any changes then you would have a defence.

 If any change to your ingredient creates a safety risk then you should not supply it with incorrect information.

f you are in this situation, we’d encourage you to seek advice from Trading Standards business advice team to help you deal with this in the most cost effective way. You can seek advice by completing this online form.

To help in efforts to contain the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus, Intertek Alchemy has created a new training course "COVID-19: Overview" to ensure food manufacturing workers know how to:

  • mitigate the spread of the coronavirus 
  • recognize symptoms and protect ourselves from respiratory illnesses 
  • prevent transmission to others

This course can be accessed online.

Please note this is an external non-governmental website so we cannot guarantee it's contents.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has issued Guidance for businesses on bulk freezing food products originally intended to be supplied and sold as ambient or chilled products, which can be found online.

Alcohol Licensing

The government have said that they are reviewing this and will announce changes when these are agreed. Until this happens only businesses currently licensed for off sales can supply it for consumption off the premises. When any changes occur, these will be clearly communicated by the government and we will update these pages accordingly.

Register with TrustMark to become an approved installer under the Green Home Grant Scheme

Coronavirus has had a devastating impact on numerous sectors within our economy. We recognise that many businesses may be looking to diversify and green energy is likely to be a popular field to move in to. The Green Homes Grant will create 100,000 jobs for tradespeople this winter. If your business is certified to install energy efficiency and/or low carbon heating improvements in homes, you can now register to become a Green Homes Grant installer so you can deliver work in the 600,000 homes that will receive vouchers.

Only TrustMark-registered tradespeople can carry out work for the 600,000 households receiving grants for green home improvements. If you install energy efficiency and/or low carbon heating improvements, you must register for TrustMark accreditation to carry out improvements through the Green Homes Grant.

Find out more and register online.

Mental health

We recognise that this will be a stressful time for many so looking after your physical and mental health is important. The following links may be useful:-