Scottish Textile News
The Chancellor has announced a very significant package of financial support available to businesses to help limit the impact of the Covid-19 virus on employees.
Full details will follow shortly, but the headlines are as follows:
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
HMRC will provide grants to cover 80% of the costs of employees who are not working due to coronavirus shutdowns but who have not been laid off. The scheme will cover up to £2,500 per month for each eligible employee. The scheme will run for an initial 3 months, backdated to 1st March 2020.
The application process is being established now and it is anticipated that the grants will start to be paid by the end of April at the latest.
Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
The interest-free element of these loans has been extended from 6 months to 12 months. These loans will be available from Monday 23rd March
Chancellor has deferred the next quarter of VAT payments so no business will pay VAT until the end of June and businesses will have until the end of the financial year to make these payments.
The government has suspended the minimum income floor meaning that the self-employed will be able to access Universal Credit in full, at the same level as Statutory Sick Pay for employees.
The government has also deferred the payment of the next self-assessment payment until January 2021.
People unable to work for more than seven days because of coronavirus (COVID-19) can obtain an isolation note through a new online service.
Isolation notes will provide employees with evidence for their employers that they have been advised to self-isolate due to coronavirus, either because they have symptoms or they live with someone who has symptoms, and so cannot work.
To get an online isolation note visit https://111.nhs.uk/isolation-note/
After answering a few questions, an isolation note will be emailed to the user. If they don’t have an email address, they can have the note sent to a trusted family member or friend, or directly to their employer. The service can also be used to generate an isolation note on behalf of someone else.
For the first seven days off work, employees can self-certify so they don’t need any evidence for their employer. After that, employers may ask for evidence of sickness absence. Where this is related to having symptoms of coronavirus or living with someone who has symptoms, the isolation note can be used to provide evidence of the advice to self-isolate.
Isolation notes can be obtained without contacting a doctor.
Government Stay at Home Guidance for households with possible coronavirus (COVID-19) infection
It is very important that individuals with symptoms that may be due to coronavirus and their household members stay at home. Staying at home will help control the spread of the virus to friends, the wider community, and particularly the most vulnerable.
Full details can be found here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-households-with-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection
If you have coronavirus symptoms:
HM Treasury and the Bank of England have announced that they will be launching a Covid Corporate Financing Facility (“CCFF”) on 23 March 2020 to provide additional help to firms to bridge through Covid-19 related disruption to their cash flows. The CCFF will be separate to the initial £330bn package of government guarantees.
The new Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) will support companies which are fundamentally strong, but have been affected by a short-term funding squeeze. This will act as a vehicle to support corporates who would ordinarily seek market-based finance for their working capital, but find themselves unable to access financial markets in this uncertain operating environment. This facility will primarily provide bridging support to see through the temporary nature of Covid-19 related disruption. It will have the ability to offer unlimited financing to eligible companies over the coming year.
The Bank of England will operate this facility on behalf of HM Treasury, and the Bank will put in place the facility as soon as possible. The Government will indemnify the Bank’s operations under this facility. Full details are available here
The Government has now published details on how the business rate relief scheme will work.
The Fashion & Textile Children’s Trust (FTCT) can support families within the UK fashion and textile industry, particularly in light of the Coronavirus. FTCT offers grants towards the cost of essential items for children aged between 0-18 years, whose parent/carer works in the UK fashion and textile industry.
At this time, FTCT are reaching out to both employees and employers at companies whose income has been or is likely to be affected by closures, short-hours or lay-offs as a result of Coronavirus.
When FTCT can help
If there are dependents aged 0-18 within the family and parents are experiencing financial difficulty due to loss of income, an FTCT grant could cover the cost of essential items such as clothing, school uniform and household essentials.
While FTCT grants can’t help with the immediate issues such as replacing lost income or helping towards the cost of bills, they can be particularly helpful once the Coronavirus crisis begins to subside and the financial impact will really be felt.
Parents are encouraged to find out more about FTCT grants and apply in advance for seasonal items such as school uniform or essential clothing, which will become essential in the summer months.
Click here to find out more.
The Chancellor has announced a package of measures to provide support for businesses to try to ensure the impact of COVID-19 is minimised.
A new Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank, will enable businesses to apply for a loan of up to £5 million, with the government covering up to 80% of any losses with no fees. Businesses can access the first 6 months of that finance interest free, as government will cover the first 6 months of interest payments. The Loan Scheme should be available from the 23rd March. Read more here.
For businesses with fewer than 250 employees, the cost of providing 14 days of Statutory Sick Pay per employee will be refunded by the government in full. Details on how this scheme will work are due to be published shortly. We will send the information as soon as it becomes available.
A new helpline has been launched to supply Scottish businesses with tailored advice on coronavirus. It will be open Monday to Friday from 08:30 to 17:30, based at Scottish Enterprise's call centre in Clydebank. Call handlers will answer questions from businesses related to Covid-19 as well as relaying the challenges faced by businesses to the Scottish government. The helpline number is 0300 303 0660. Read more here.
Scottish Enterprise has produced Coronavirus guidance for businesses in Scotland here.
Dear UK fashion and textile community,
This is a very difficult time for our whole industry. As your trade association, UKFT is in close contact with the Government and other business organisations such as the CBI, and together we will to provide you with the most up to date, relevant help and advice.
We very much want to hear how the Covid-19 situation is affecting you, your team and your business. We will take all of your issues and concerns to Government.The UKFT team are available to offer support and advice and to help you plan for the time when the current situation passes. We are also looking at how we continue to offer help and advice via webinars and other online channels.
Some members have already contacted us to see how they can switch production to help the national interest. If you are able to help please do let us know as we are co-ordinating these responses to the Government.
Below is an overview of the latest support available for businesses from both the Budget and from the Chancellor’s statement last night. We will update the details as and when the situation changes.
The fashion and textile industry has always proved to be extremely resilient and now is the time for us all to work closely together to support and sustain each other. The power of our individual and collective actions, and the support and compassion we show to each other, will offer our businesses a unique advantage as we deal with this unprecedented situation.
Stay well, stay in touch, and together we will face the uncertainties ahead,
Nigel Lugg and Adam MansellChairman and CEOUKFT
Click here to email us.
The Covid-19 virus is having an impact on many different aspects of business including how employers cope with sick pay. The following advice has been prepared for Textiles Scotland, part of UKFT, by the UKFT Employment Adviser.
When an employee is sick or self-isolating because of Covid-19, Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is likely to apply and for businesses with fewer than 250 employees, the cost of providing 14 days of statutory sick pay per employee will be refunded by the Government in full.
However, there may be a problem when employees in a completely different area, e.g. warehouse or even a different factory are consequently laid off simply because with another area shut down there is no work for them to do. In this case they would not need to self-isolate and could not claim SSP.
The question of layoff then arises. Some companies will still follow National Agreements which may include the right to layoff, and payments made are either in accordance with the Employment Rights Act for the first five days in any 13 week period, or in accordance with the terms of the National Agreement, whichever is the higher. However, the overwhelming majority of employment contracts are likely to only have a right to layoff in certain circumstances, such as the failure of supplies or power cuts.
If there is no contractual right to layoff, then an employer doing so is liable to claims of constructive dismissal. Whilst it is expected that most employees would be sensible and understanding about layoff in such circumstances, some employees may be looking for a reason to resign with some form of compensatory payment which would be likely, in the best circumstances, to be at least as much as a redundancy payment. For example, they could have requested redundancy or be in the middle of disciplinary or competence actions. Employers should be well aware of these risks.
It should also be noted that employees who are laid off continuously for four weeks or whose earnings fall below 50% of average for 6 weeks out of 13 are entitled to claim an automatic redundancy payment.
There is more information available on the ACAS website here.
Textiles Scotland members with specific employment queries relating to the impact of Covid-19 or any other query related to employment law please email email@example.com
Information for Scottish fashion and textile companies on the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19), including how to prepare your business, with guidance on supply chains, sales, factories and key workers.
Textiles Scotland, part of UKFT, urges all companies to consider some of the issues they may face over the coming weeks and months, and prepare for any disruption the outbreak may cause by developing contingency plans and issuing the necessary communication with both their employees and clients.
Check the guidelines and protocols suggested by the World Health Organisation (WHO) at www.who.int and any local /national public health authorities about containing and mitigating against any further spread of the virus.
Symptoms of COVID-19
The symptoms of Coronavirus/ COVID-19 are similar to other illnesses, especially “the flu” but the degree of severity will vary from one person to another. It is believed that most people who contract COVID-19 will recover but older people or those with underlying health issues (such as diabetes or asthma or those having suffered a heart attack) are at far greater risk.
The main symptoms are:
If you have fever, cough and or difficulty breathing, seek medical care early.
Contact NHS Direct on 111 in the UK or a local health care provider (dial 112 in the EU) if you have travelled in an area where COVID-19 has been reported, or if you have been in close contact with someone with who has respiratory symptoms, if you have symptoms or suspect you may have the disease. The recommended self-quarantine period is at least 14 days. Isolate yourself. Do not go to your GP practice, pharmacy or a hospital unless instructed to do so by a qualified healthcare professional.
Why? Whenever you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, it is important to seek medical attention promptly as this may be due to a respiratory infection or other serious condition. Respiratory symptoms with fever can have a range of causes, and depending on your personal travel history and circumstances, COVID-19 could be one of them.
Infection Control Guidelines (adapted from the WHO site):
The World Health Organisation’s standard recommendations for the general public to reduce exposure to and transmission of a range of illnesses are as follows, which include hand and “respiratory” hygiene, and safe food practices:
Wash your hands frequently
Wash your hands frequently with soap and hot water and/or use an alcohol-based hand rub even if your hands are not visibly dirty. This is especially important after travelling on public transport, on arrival at home or work.
Why? Washing your hands with soap and hot water or using alcohol-based hand rub eliminates the virus if it is on your hands.
Cough or sneeze info your elbow (aka practicing “respiratory hygiene”)
When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – discard tissue immediately into a closed bin and clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and hot water.
Why? Covering your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing prevent the spread of germs and viruses. If you sneeze or cough into your hands, you may contaminate objects or people that you touch.
Maintain social distancing
Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and other people, particularly those who are coughing, sneezing and have a fever. Note: In the fashion industry, it is customary for people to hug and kiss, or shake hands. You would need to refrain from this kind of contact in the case of an outbreak.
Why? When someone who is infected with a respiratory disease, like COVID-19, coughs or sneezes they project small droplets containing the virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the virus.
Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth
Why? Hands touch many surfaces which can be contaminated with the virus. If you touch your eyes, nose or mouth with your contaminated hands, you can transfer the virus from the surface to yourself.
Keep the following especially clean:
Prepare your business
Businesses owners/directors should review their own procedures to ensure that they are prepared for an outbreak which might affect their supply chain or the safety of their working environment.
For the supply chain – these will include:
For sales, these may include:
For your office/factory/working these may include:
Key workers may also suffer other issues relating to the outbreak, including:
Wherever possible, anticipate problems before they occur and promote a positive, clean, flexible and safe working environment.
How to self –monitor
If you are required to self-monitor, you should look out for symptoms such as fever, cough or sore throat and lethargy. If you experience any of these symptoms you should immediately self-isolate and follow the advice below.
How to self-isolate
If there’s a chance you could have Coronavirus, you may be asked by a medical professional to stay away from other people (self-isolate).
This means you should:
You may need to do this for up to 14 days to help reduce the possible spread of infection.
Treatment for Coronavirus
There is currently no specific treatment for Coronavirus.
Antibiotics do not help, as they do not work against viruses.
Treatment aims to relieve the symptoms while your body fights the illness.
You’ll need to stay in isolation away from other people until you’ve recovered.
Health Protection Scotland: Latest information and advice
Foreign & Commonwealth Office: Travel Advice
NHS: Common questions about the virus
World Health Organization: Technical Guidance on Points of Entry and Mass Gatherings
Three young weaving technicians have received in-depth training through UKFT’s young textile technician fund, allowing more flexibility and new capabilities at Bute Fabrics.
Bute Fabrics was originally established by the 5th Marquess of Bute in 1947 to provide employment for ex-servicemen and women returning home at the end of the Second World War.
Today the company, based on the Isle of Bute in Scotland, has a workforce of 56 people and produces a wide range of naturally-inspired yet technically-advanced fabrics, that are sold around the world.
Bute Fabrics works with contemporary interior designers, architects and furniture manufacturers, as well as product designers such as Jasper Morrison, Tom Dixon, Barber Osgerby and Timorous Beasties. The firm weaves custom bespoke fabrics for leading contract wholesalers in the US, and exports its products to Japan, Australia and Scandinavia, as well as within the UK and Europe.
Its markets have expanded to include auditoria, airports, theatres, restaurants and the hotel and leisure sector.
Craig McKay, a sample warper aged 19; Sean Hannah, a beamer and warper aged 25; and Stephen Reynolds, a tuner aged 27 received three days of training from German machinery manufacturer Groz-Beckert at the factory on the Isle of Bute. The training was focused on the Super Vega healding machine, which allows an empty loom to be set up for the new warp before the new warp has been made, allowing for a faster turnaround.
Eddie Planck, operations director at Bute Fabrics, explained that the company had purchased a new machine but only one person could use it, which meant it wasn’t often being used.
“The task had to be done by hand and I have never had someone do it without making a mistake, somewhere down the line,” he said. “We are delighted with what we can do now and have more people who can work with that machine.”
As the company is based on the island, training is typically done in-house by existing staff passing on skills to new employees but Eddie said that having training given first-hand by an industry expert was a real benefit.
“It was great to have the right people here at our factory,” he said.
He also praised the process of applying for a grant as simple and straightforward: “Dealing with UKFT was really easy”.
UKFT secured support from The Worshipful Company of Clothworkers, The Worshipful Company of Drapers and The Worshipful Company of Weavers to match-fund 50% of the costs of in-depth training for young textile technicians.
The scheme has also recently supported Danny King, a former apprentice who has been working at Keighley-based specialist commission weaver Pennine Weavers for the past four years, to undertake a two-week residential course focused on the Dornier rapier weaving machine in Germany last year.
UKFT’s scheme builds on the success of other match-funded technician training programmes and is open companies with textile technicians under the age of 30 across the UK. To find out more details or to apply, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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