Latest news and BFM action

Latest news below...

on Thursday, 24 September 2020. Posted in Latest news and BFM action

Last updated: Thursday 24th September

Chancellor outlines Winter Economy Plan including replacement of Furlough Scheme

Rishi Sunak unveils the Government’s plan to protect jobs and support businesses over the coming months.

You can read more here.

NHS COVID-19 app launches

NHS COVID-19 app launches to help control coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission. 

Read more here. 

BFM welcomes Kickstart support scheme from FIESTA

British Furniture Manufacturers’ partnership with Furniture and Interiors Education, Skills and Training Alliance (FIESTA), will allow members to access new Government funding to support job creation.

Read the full story here. 

Kickstart Scheme employer resources

If you’ve been offered Kickstart Scheme funding, you can use these resources to show your support for the scheme. 

Find out more here.

Coronavirus outbreak FAQs: what you can and can’t do

Updated in line with latest government guidance, you can find out all the facts here

Coronavirus (COVID-19): testing guidance for employers

Some employers may want to introduce their own internal testing programmes outside of the NHS Test and Trace service. This guidance will help them ensure that their testing programmes are as reliable and effective as possible.  Further details can be found here.

Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19)

  1. Updated guidance for the visitor economy on social gatherings of more than 6 people and Test and Trace (section 2.1) and mandatory test and trace requirements (section 2.2.2). Find out here how to make your workplace COVID-secure.
  2. Changes have been made to the “Working Safely” guidance, with the 5 steps to working safely section now withdrawn.

DVLA - Heavy vehicle test exemptions – October 2020 

Find out more here. 

Coronavirus (COVID-19): What has changed – 9 September 

Find out more here. 

Competition and Markets Authority – Cancellation and refund updates

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) remains of the view that a consumer will generally be entitled to a refund when they have paid money in advance for services or goods that cannot be provided because of the coronavirus pandemic. Given the evolving situation, the CMA has provided more detail on issues such as the difference between lockdown laws and government guidance, and their impact on cancellations and refunds. Further details are available here.

Reporting outbreaks of coronavirus – Action Cards

The Joint Biosecurity Centre has developed Action Cards, which reflect the latest advice on how to identify, manage and report a COVID-19 outbreak. The cards are designed as a useful visual checklist for businesses and bring together guidance and useful contacts to support your organisation’s planning. This will help businesses and other organisations work effectively with their local public health teams.

Providing apprenticeships during the coronavirus outbreak

Guidance has been updated with information on routine funding audits, redundancy and the use of face coverings. Find out more here.

Kickstart Scheme

The Kickstart Scheme provides funding to employers to create job placements for 16 to 24-year-olds. Find out more here.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme: step by step guide for employers

The guide has been updated to reflect changes to the scheme from Tuesday 1 September. You can read it here. 

HMRC Extension to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and flexible furloughing

Changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme from 1 September mean that employers will need to fund 10% of furloughed employees’ usual wages for the hours they do not work and continue to pay their National Insurance (NI) and pension contributions, as these will not be covered by future grants.

Click here for more information.

DVLA – from 20th August gust 2020) – Essential information for UK hauliers - drivers' hours changes

Click here for more information.

North West of England: local restrictions – what you can and cannot do

Click here for more.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): travel corridors

Click here for more. 

Coronavirus (COVID-19): countries and territories exempt from advice against ‘all but essential’ international travel

Click here for more.

Local restrictions: areas with an outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19)

Click here to read a list of areas with additional local restrictions, including information for local authorities, residents and workers about what to do and how to manage the outbreak.

Staying COVID-19 Secure in 2020 notice

There is a notice to display, to show you have made your workplace COVID-secure that has been updated to reflect the change to the guidance on working from home. Click here to find out more.  

HSE - Social distancing and making your workplace COVID-secure

Click here for more. 

HSE - Coronavirus (COVID-19): latest information and advice

Click here for more. 

How changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme on 31 July impact you

Click here for more. 

£20 million in new grants to boost recovery of small businesses

Small and medium-sized businesses will have access to grants of between £1,000 - £5,000 to help them access new technology and other equipment as well as professional, legal, financial or other advice to help them get back on track.

Sending your forms to Companies House during the coronavirus outbreak

Click here for more. 

HSE - Disinfecting premises using fog, mist, vapour or ultraviolet (UV) systems during the coronavirus outbreak

Click here for more. 

HSE Update

The latest HSE bulletin warns companies that HSE inspectors are carrying out spot inspections in cities and towns where there is a coronavirus outbreak, to check that businesses are COVID-secure. Organisations are directed to this link: Click here.

Mandatory face masks for shops

Click here for more. 

How to dispose of your personal or business waste, including face coverings and personal protective equipment (PPE), during the coronavirus pandemic.

Click here for more. 

Providing apprenticeships during the coronavirus outbreak

Guidance has been updated to confirm that from 13 July 2020 providers can welcome back 19+ apprentices into educational settings, that the flexibility to suspend level 2 functional skills for level 2 apprentices has been extended, and to provide more information on support for redundant apprentices. Click here to find out more. 

Safer Working Guidance Survey Results

Click here to view the results from the Safer Working Guidance Survey, that was requested by BEIS.

Health and medical surveillance during the coronavirus outbreak

Click here to read the guidance for occupational health providers, appointed doctors and employers from the HSE. 

Time to warn your EU and other workers about issues with travelling outside of the UK

Companies are advised to warn their employees of the implications of travel abroad (and this includes any worker that decide to holiday outside of the UK).  Apart from goods vehicle drivers furniture workers would not generally be covered by the exemptions. See here for exemptions.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) Update

Important dates – what you need to know now 

  • The scheme will close to anyone who hasn’t been furloughed for 3 weeks by 30 June, so you will only be able to claim for employees after that if they have been furloughed for a full three-week period at any time before the end of June.
  • So, if you intend to furlough an employee who hasn’t been furloughed before, you will need to agree that with them and start their period of furlough on or before 10 J‌un‌e – this is the last day on which someone who has never been furloughed before can start a period of furlough and qualify for the scheme – this ensures the minimum three-week period is complete by 30 J‌un‌e.
  • You will then have until 31 J‌ul‌y to make a claim for any periods of furlough up until 30 J‌un‌e – this applies to both employees furloughed for the first time and those you have previously furloughed and claimed for.

The future of the scheme

  • The rules of the scheme are changing from 1 J‌ul‌y.
  • On 12 J‌un‌e, there will be full guidance on all the scheme changes published on GOV.UK 

Click here for latest updates  

  • From 1 July, you’ll have the flexibility to bring previously furloughed employees back to work part time, you can decide the hours and shift patterns they work to suit the needs of your business – you’ll pay their wages for the time they’re in work and can apply for a scheme grant to cover any of their normal hours they are still furloughed for.
  • Also, for periods starting on or after the 1 J‌ul‌y, the maximum number of employees you can claim for in any period cannot be higher than the maximum number you have claimed for in a previous period. For example, if your highest single claim for periods up to 30 J‌un‌e was for 100 people, you can’t claim for more than this number in later periods.
  • From 1 Au‌gu‌st, you will need to contribute towards the wage costs of your furloughed employees until the scheme ends on 31 Oc‌to‌be‌r.

Chancellor extends Self-Employment Support Scheme and confirms furlough next steps

The government’s Self-Employment Income Support Scheme will be extended, giving more security to individuals whose livelihoods are adversely affected by coronavirus in the coming months, the Chancellor announced on Friday 29 May 2020.  The Chancellor set out more details on how the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will continue. From 1 July, businesses will be given the flexibility to bring furloughed employees back part-time. From August, the level of government grant provided through the job retention scheme will be slowly tapered to reflect the people who will be returning to work.

Click here to read more. 

Providing apprenticeships during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

Click here to view the document that sets out guidance for apprentices, employers, training providers and assessment organisations in response to the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Government launches NHS Test and Trace service

Click here to read the new guidance for those who have been in close contact with someone who tests positive must isolate for 14 days, even if they have no symptoms.

NHS test and trace: workplace guidance

Click here to read the new guidance on the NHS test and trace service for employers, businesses and workers.

UK Government sets out a timeline for retail to reopen in June

It will come as a surprise to many retail shops that are already open that the Government announced on Sunday, a roadmap for reopening a broader range of shops, including furniture stores from 15th June.  

Updated guidance for the retail sector has been published alongside this announcement, detailing the measures retailers should take to meet the necessary social distancing and hygiene standards.  You can find the guidance here.

Thursday 28 May, 11am: Shops and branches
Free business webinar – find out how to make your retail workplace COVID-secure

Other webinars including for factories.

Treasury Direction made under Sections 71 and 76 of the Coronavirus Act 2020 - companies to contribute towards furlough wages

This amendment from the Chancellor includes a new direction that 'From August, employers currently using the scheme will have more flexibility to bring their furloughed employees back to work part-time whilst still receiving support from the scheme. This will run for three months from August through to the end of October. Employers will be asked to pay a percentage towards the salaries of their furloughed staff. The employer payments will substitute the contribution the government is currently making, ensuring that staff continue to receive 80% of their salary, up to £2,500 a month. More specific details and information around its implementation will be made available by the end of May'.

This is expected to be between 20-30 per cent of the cost of furlough.

Click here for more.

Furniture Makers’ increase personal support grants

The Furniture Makers’ Company has increased the support, money and duration it can provide employees and sole traders in the industry. Find out more by clicking here. 

How the new Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill will help business

The Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill will put in place a series of measures to amend insolvency and company law to relieve the burden on businesses during the coronavirus outbreak and allow them to focus all their efforts on continuing to operate.

National Audit Office (NAO)- Overview of the UK government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic

Click here to read the full report from the National Audit Office (NAO) on the UK government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic

BFM members – supporting the national effort during the COVID-19 pandemic

We’ve put together a short video to showcase how BFM members have been supporting the national effort in the fight against COVID-19. Click here to view the video.

HM Treasury has today published details of an update to the terms of the Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) 

The aim is to promote the ability of companies to repay their borrowings from the facility in an orderly way after the Scheme closes to new drawings in March 2021. Click here to read the update.

Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme set to launch

Employers will be able to make claims through the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme from 26 May. Click here to read more. 

The Coronavirus Future Fund

The Future Fund will provide UK Government loans to UK-based companies ranging from £125,000 to £5 million, subject to at least equal match funding from private investors. The fund will be open for applications from Wednesday 20 May 2020.
 
These convertible loans may be a suitable option for businesses that typically rely on equity investment and are unable to access other government business support programmes because they are either pre-revenue or pre-profit.

The Future Fund was developed by the UK Government and is being delivered by the British Business Bank.

Business Support Helpline

The Business Support Helpline number in England has changed to FREEPHONE 0800 998 1098. The helpline provides free, impartial business support and signposting services to businesses in England – which currently includes business advice on Covid-19.  

You can also find free support, advice and sources of finance through your local growth hub or speak to an advisor on webchat about support for your business.

The Business Support Scotland helpline is 0300 303 0660, Business Wales helpline is 0330 060 300 and the Invest Northern Ireland helpline is 0800 181 4422.

Department for International Trade Webinars

The Department for International Trade are running a series of webinars to help businesses through coronavirus.

Logistics and movement of goods during COVID-19 - 20 May

Risk management when considering new markets - 21 May

Managing disruption of supply chains during COVID-19 – 22 May

Legionella risks during the coronavirus outbreak

Employers, the self-employed and people in control of premises, such as landlords, have a duty to identify and control risks associated with legionella. Find out further information here.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

More information to help companies check if they can claim for wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Click here to check.

HSE - Working safely during the coronavirus outbreak

Click here to view the guidance for employers and those who are self-employed and work with or near other people. It may also be useful to workers and their representatives.

Government to support businesses through Trade Credit Insurance guarantee

Businesses with supply chains which rely on Trade Credit Insurance and who are experiencing difficulties maintaining cover due to Coronavirus will get support from the government, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, John Glen has announced. Click here to read more. 

New ministerial-led taskforces have been set up to plan how closed sectors can reopen safely

New ministerial-led taskforces have been set up to plan how closed sectors can reopen safely. Click here to view. 

Chancellor extends furlough scheme until October

The government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will remain open until the end of October, the Chancellor announced today (Tuesday 12 May 2020). Click here to read more. 

Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19) - Guidelines

Click here to view the guidance to help employers, employees and the self-employed understand how to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic.

All Party Furniture and Furnishing Group (APPFIG) Update

1. Please note that a report on the Inquiry into the impact of Covid-19 on the furniture and furnishing industry will be issued soon.

2. COVID-19: Strategy - Debate in House of Commons - 11 May 2020 - Mike Wood MP & Chair of the APPIFIG took the opportunity of the Prime Minister’s appearance in the House of Commons yesterday to ask him a question about the Job Retention Scheme.  Please find the transcript of their exchange below.
 
Mike Wood (Con): Many businesses restarting operations are unlikely to have order books full enough to sustain a full workforce for months after the end of formal restrictions. Will the Prime Minister look at how job support can be tapered rather than being withdrawn overnight, and how more flexibility can be added, such as being able to re-furlough for a week at a time to reflect a firm’s workforce needs?
 
Boris Johnson (The Prime Minister): I think that the furloughing scheme has been one of the most remarkable features of the Government’s response. It is unlike anything seen internationally, with 6.5 million people currently being supported. It is absolutely right that we should do it. I do not want to anticipate what my right hon. Friend the Chancellor is going to say; the House will hear more about that tomorrow.

New guidance published to ensure transport network is safe for those who need to use it

Click here to read the latest guidance for safer travel and safer transport operations during the next phase of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): safer transport guidance for operators

Click here to view the safer working principles and risk assessment for transport operators and organisations.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): transport and travel guidance

Click here to read the latest information for people using transport or working in the transport sector during the coronavirus outbreak.

Staying safe outside your home

Click here to view the principles you should follow to ensure that time spent outside your home is as safe as possible.

Public advised to cover faces in enclosed spaces

The public has been advised to consider wearing face coverings in enclosed public spaces such as shops, trains and buses to help reduce the spread of coronavirus. Read more by clicking here. 

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for schools and parents and other educational settings

Click here to read the guidance and advice about coronavirus (COVID-19) in educational settings for staff, parents and carers, pupils and students.

The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy

Read the UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy by clicking here

Staying safe outside your home

You can find the principles you should follow to ensure that time spent outside your home is as safe as possible by clicking here.

Staying alert and safe (social distancing)

The most important thing we can do is to stay alert, control the virus, and in doing so, save lives. Read about staying alert and safe here. 

PM address to the nation on coronavirus: 10 May 2020 - the way forward

Click here to watch Prime Minister Boris Johnson's latest speech the nation on coronavirus.

£2 billion package to create a new era for cycling and walking

Alternative ways to travel, such as walking and cycling, could relieve the pressure on public transport. Click here to read more. 

Reallocating road space in response to COVID-19: statutory guidance for local authorities

Click here to read the latest guidance for local authorities on managing their road networks in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

BFM survey shows most furniture manufacturers expect to start operations again this month

A BFM survey conducted last week shows that 68% of companies expect to start production by the end of May.  A further 27% expect June to be their start date.  There is an underlying assumption by many that measures will be introduced soon to ease current restrictions.

We understand that shortly government guidelines will be available on how to operate safely in business and these are being produced by a well-known consultancy.

Click here to access the survey.

Working Safely under Covid-19 guidelines for business

The Government are producing ‘Working Safely under Covid-19’ guidelines for businesses. We are in discussion with Government through BFC/BEIS and the purpose of these discussions is to solicit constructive feedback from a large group of businesses, their representative organisations and trade unions. 

Ernst Young are supporting BEIS to engage with Industry and other stakeholders to develop the Working Safely guidance. 

Please let us know your questions/issues as soon as possible - these guidelines will be issued shortly. You can do this by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

BFM looking for case studies on your help during COVID-19 crisis

We are looking for case studies of ways our members have supported the national effort in the COVID-19 crisis. From manufacturing PPE, supporting community initiatives, through to supplying furniture for emergency facilities, we’d really like to hear more. In these unprecedented times, we hope we can shine a light on some of the ways the furniture industry is working behind the scenes to support the national effort.

Therefore, if your company has helped in any way, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with any stories you have.