The Thursday update from Chamber CEO Murray Norton
Firstly, we hope that you are bearing up under the immense strain this crisis is taking on everyone. As a member of Chamber will endeavour to keep you updated as best we can and thank you for the messages, info, questions and kind words that help along the way. A briefing should be well – brief. So here it is.
We were awaiting news of an improved offer with regard to Coronavirus Payroll Co-Funding Scheme from Government later this evening following the States vote on funding yesterday. We are pushing hard for 80 % of salary payment for all sector employees affected including self-employed to support and keep businesses employing staff through the coming months, obviously this must come with a cap. We would see a rate not less than the living wage as a reasonable request. The detail of how any scheme might operate or when it will be available are yet to be outlined, neither has the detail on the £200 per week per person scheme for Hospitality and Retail been released yet. We are hopeful of an announcement of details today.
Chamber has offered a range of talents to expedite any scheme being launched to enable cash to get into businesses. The Chief Minister said yesterday 1 to 2 weeks. Our feedback from members is this is simply not quick enough. Meanwhile, I heard of another three businesses that laid staff off before midday today. If our Govt. want to keep businesses employing staff rather than laying them off, they need to release some real cash support.
I will repeat my previous comments. The schemes launched on March 12th, 18th and 20th and that the Chief Minister said yesterday was a ‘£180m package that was now in play’ has few details and not one has yet released a single penny to a single business in Jersey. If he could hear the anguish and tears we hear every day, perhaps a sense of urgency might be instilled in his actions.
If you are working from home, you are probably wondering about the post building up in an empty office/shop/restaurant/business. In an effort to get you a better deal Chamber has today negotiated a reduction in the cost of redirecting your mail. It is normally £49 per month. Jersey Post have kindly agreed to reduce this to £25.
They employee 350 staff and are doing a first class (see what I did there) job. Here are three points from them they wanted me to put across:
1. We have not altered our standard delivery – if the business can receive mail, we will deliver it; i.e. if they have a letterbox, it gets delivered. In this instance, the majority of business are still dropping into their business to pick up the mail, and therefore we are still delivering their mail as usual. This is also a considerable challenge as the landscape is changing daily, and we are unaware for the most part which companies remain open and which are closed.
2. Where a business is not popping into their office to collect their mail, we are enabling them to receive their mail, from Rue Des Pres free of charge, and any premium service payment they would currently pay is waived.
3. At the request of Chamber, we are redirecting to a nominated person or location. As this is a standard product, a charge is typically applied automatically. There is considerable administrative work and workforce involved in this process at a high cost to our business. However, as a gesture of goodwill, we are prepared to reduce this cost to £25.
The Chief Minister said yesterday this is a marathon not a sprint and we should expect this to last for 4/5 months, so for those looking at timelines, the Govt. is working on this lasting until the end of August.
Government figures on the cases and those awaiting results are late today. Normally released at 2:30pm – there is a delay today. We are told some days will be late.
May 8th Bank Holiday We have asked whether there is any point in this being designated a Bank Holiday? It is likely that only those in the food supply would be open and it would simply increase staff costs at a time most inappropriate. We are awaiting an answer.
A press briefing today was held on information for school places for Critical Workers – mainly aimed at childcare arrangements for Critical Workers, the video can be watched here: https://www.facebook.com/GovernmentofJersey/videos/2853458394700963/
The statement can be read here: https://www.gov.je/News/2020/Pages/StatementOnSchoolPlaces.aspx
We at Chamber need to understand who those critical workers are, such as thoughts like: do they include plumbers and electricians undertaking emergency repairs and those who would supply them in various stores?
Jersey Battle of Flowers has been cancelled. In case you hadn’t heard the Muratti is also off.
Jersey Business has a vast array of information and advice and are doing an amazing job, handling calls and arranging HR advice with private 1 hour surgeries with experts, funded by Govt. Their excellent website is www.jerseybusiness.je
Visit Jersey have launched a great site for offering your services to others and also for ordering stuff like deliveries: www.jersey.com/little-community-big-support
Jersey Post is launching a directory of services for all services and deliveries – if you want to be on the register of Business2Home you need to register by March 29th. The link is: https://www.jerseypost.com/business2home
And the top team at Jersey Hospitality Association have a survey out for their members. Simon says, ‘Please note all answers are anonymous, but the more I collect, the more information I can use in trying to secure more assistance from our government. The survey addresses only a few key points at this stage, and I would dearly ask each of you to take the 4 minutes it estimates to complete. For those in that industry you can complete it here: www.surveymonkey.com/r/D2BRQMN
The Executive Council of Chamber met yesterday via video conference – we exchanged thoughts and experiences from our sectors – we will be arranging for each of each sector committee to meet in a similar way.
Thanks, stay safe, stay at home if you can and we’ll update you again tomorrow.
CEO, Jersey Chamber of Commerce