15 February 2022

This week’s update covers:

  • Businesses urged to apply for £850 million COVID-19 support grants
  • Scottish Government: Expiry date of COVID-19 regulations extended
  • Close Contact Services Fund in Scotland
  • Wales: Coronavirus protections relaxed as cases fall
  • Northern Ireland: Health Minister announces easing of COVID-19 Regulations
  • Help to grow
  • Top 100 Apprenticeship Employers for 2022
  • Selling Chemicals Reasonably Awareness Campaign

Businesses urged to apply for the £850 million COVID-19 support grants

£850 million worth of COVID-19 support grants are still available, and firms in England have been encouraged to apply by Business Minister Paul Scully.

The funding has been made available by Government to councils in England to provide to businesses, including close contact services in need in their local area. Businesses are encouraged to apply to their local council for funding.

The NHBF, the British Beauty Council and other sector organisations have joined forces to send an open letter to the Chancellor Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP, following hundreds of reports that over 60 local authorities are excluding hair & beauty businesses from claiming the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG).

Read full statement.

Scottish Government: Expiry date of COVID-19 regulations extended

Regulations have been laid in the Scottish Parliament to extend the expiry date for statutory coronavirus (COVID-19) requirements and enforcement powers for local authorities.

The Regulations will extend the potential period in which statutory COVID-19 requirements can be in force to 24 September 2022, beyond the existing expiry date of 28 February.

These include requirements on the use of face coverings, the vaccine certification scheme, and for businesses, service providers, and places of worship to have regard to guidance and take reasonable measures to minimise the incidence and spread of COVID-19.

Statutory COVID-19 requirements remain subject to three-weekly review by Ministers and will next be reviewed on 22 February.

Ministers remain accountable to Parliament for all requirements, and these can only be retained so long as they are considered necessary and proportionate to the pandemic response.

Regulations enabling Local Authorities to give directions in relation to businesses, premises, events and access to public outdoor places are also proposed for extension beyond their original expiry date of 25 March to 24 September 2022. These regulations will also continue to be subject to review every six weeks.

Close Contact Services Fund in Scotland

The Close Contact Services Fund will provide a one-off payment to support eligible close contact service businesses impacted by the COVID-19 restrictions and guidance introduced from 9 December 2021 to 24 January 2022 to control the Omicron variant.

The grant is a one-off payment of:

  • £1,000 for self-employed businesses
  • £1,500 for non-domestic rates (NDR) registered businesses with premises

Click for more details.

Wales: Coronavirus protections relaxed as cases fall

Wales will gradually begin to relax some of its remaining coronavirus protections as cases continue to fall, First Minister Mark Drakeford has announced.

As of Monday 28 February 2022, the requirement to wear face coverings will be removed from most indoor public places, apart from in retail, public transport and health and care settings.
If the public health conditions continue to improve, the legal requirement to wear face coverings in all remaining settings could be lifted by the end of March.

Read more.

Northern Ireland: Health Minister announces easing of COVID Regulations

Health Minister Robin Swann has announced that all COVID-19 legal restrictions in Northern Ireland will be replaced by guidance from February 15 2022.

Changes to the COVID-19 rules announced for Northern Ireland, coming into force include:

  • Removal of the legal requirements around having reasonable measures to promote compliance and reasonable steps to minimise transmission.
  • No longer need to collect visitor information.
  • Face coverings still required.

Read full statement.


Help to grow

The Government has launched Help to Grow: Digital, a UK-wide Government-backed scheme that aims to help SMEs choose, buy and adopt digital technologies that will help them grow their business. The campaign page features both Help to Grow: Management and Help to Grow: Digital programmes Both programmes are subsidised by the Government and the NHBF urges all business to take advantage of this offering.

Top 100 Apprenticeship Employers for 2022

Entries are now open for the Top 100 Apprenticeship Employers for 2022, the annual ranking of England’s outstanding apprenticeship employers produced by the Department for Education.

There are two entry categories this year:

  • the Top 100 Apprenticeship Employers for employers with 250+ employees.
  • new for 2022, the Top 50 SME Apprenticeship Employers for small and medium-sized employers with 10-249 employees.

The rankings recognise employers of all sizes for their commitment to employing apprentices, their creation of new apprenticeships, the diversity of their new apprentices, and the number of apprentices who complete their apprenticeships and progress further.

They also enable all employers to see what good looks like benchmark against the best of a similar size and understand how they might improve their apprenticeship programme to progress up the rankings in the future.

The NHFB is supporting the ranking for the first time this year due to the fact that it will now recognise SMEs with a small workforce, which means that it will be more relevant to our Members.

Further details and how to apply.


Selling Chemicals Responsibly Awareness Campaign

Whilst sold for legitimate uses, products containing certain chemicals can also be misused for criminal purposes. Terrorists, for example, use them to manufacture homemade explosives. The vigilance of sellers has played a key role in enabling the authorities to detect and disrupt such activities. The advice in this leaflet aims to help you prevent serious crimes and fulfil your legal obligations.