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Covid-19 update: PPE and financial support update

April 6th

In this update: 

  • PPE update 

  • Locum optometrists 

  • New guidance on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme 

  • Further financial guidance – support for eye care providers 



PPE update 

Please read our 5 April member update for a detailed overview of PPE guidance

In addition, please note the official infection prevention and control (IPC) page was updated late on Sunday 5 April and now includes an FAQ sheet. Access the FAQs

To keep up to date with changes to IPC resources, you should check this page regularly. You will see a hyperlink at the top that says, ‘see all updates’. If you click on this it will give you an overview of what has been updated. 

Finally, you might find this decision aid on routine decontamination of reusable equipmenthelpful, but again do regularly check the IPC page for any updates.    


Locum optometrists 

If you are a GOC registrant with registered specialities (for example, additional supply specialty, supplementary prescribing specialty, independent prescribing specialty) and considering locum work, please contact with your GOC number and regions you can cover. With your permission, we will then share this data, as a list of IP optometrists working during the Covid-19 pandemic, with FODO members who request this.  

New guidance on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme 

On Saturday 4 April the government provided more information on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). 

The updated guidance confirms which company directors, salaried members of limited liability partnerships and agency workers will be eligible for CJRS. We know this will be welcome news for many FODO members. 

The updated guidance also confirms that if employees have more than one job, they can be furloughed by one employer while continuing to work for another employer(s). Also that employees can be furloughed multiple times, but each separate instance must be for a minimum period of 3 consecutive weeks. 

Read how to claim for wage costs through the CJRS

We are now awaiting further clarification on holiday pay. 

FODO continues to work with the CBI to ensure the voice of primary eye care providers is heard. If you have any concerns about existing government support, please email us at and we will raise this to ensure your voice is heard at the highest level.      


Further financial guidance – support for eye care providers 

This section includes more detail on other government schemes on which members were updated in the 23 March and 27 March alerts. 



Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme 

See above. 

Deferral of VAT payments due to coronavirus (Covid-19) 

UK VAT registered businesses that have a VAT payment due between 20 March 2020 and 30 June 2020 can either defer the payment until a later date or pay the VAT due as normal. VAT returns must, however, still be submitted to HMRC on time. 

If you choose to defer your VAT payment in this way, you do not need to inform HMRC. This will be noted automatically. You must, however, pay the VAT due on or before 31 March 2021. Further information about how to repay the deferred VAT will be announced by HMRC soon. 

HMRC will continue to process VAT reclaims and refunds as normal during this time. 

Pause in income tax payment 

If you are due to make your second self-assessment payment on 31 July 2020, this is an automatic deferment offer with no applications required. No penalties or interest for late payment will be charged if you defer payment until 31 January 2021. 

During the deferral period you can set up a budget payment plan to help you pay the deferred payment on account when it comes due. 

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) 

CBILS is being extended to all viable small businesses affected by Covid-19 – not just those unable to secure regular commercial financing – if you need finance to keep operating during this difficult time. The expanded scheme will be operational with lenders from today Monday 6 April. Personal guarantees for loans under £250,000 will no longer be required by lenders. 

Initial thoughts at the CBI suggest that this might be available to those businesses, who, at 31 December 2019, were profitable and viable and have prospects of being able to repay the loan after the crisis. 

Support for larger providers 

Under the new Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility, the Bank of England will buy short term debt from larger companies. The Covid Corporate Financing Facility Limited will purchase Commercial Paper during a defined period each business day. The Bank’s intention is for the facility to operate for an initial period of 12 months. 

Eligible companies: 

  • Will be UK incorporated companies, including those with foreign-incorporated parents and with a genuine business in the UK 

  • Will provide significant employment in the UK or with their headquarters in the UK 

  • Will generate significant revenues in the UK, serve a large number of customers in the UK or have a number of operating sites in the UK. 

Further details.                                   



Cash grants for retail businesses 

As before, this scheme provides retail businesses with a cash grant of up to £25,000 per property based on the rateable value. 

Eligible businesses will usually be contacted by their local authority, although some local authorities have decided to operate an applications process. 

Enquiries on eligibility for, or provision of, the grants should be directed to the relevant local authority.     


Northern Ireland 

Small Business Support Grant Scheme

The NI Executive is providing a one-off grant of £10,000 to businesses currently receiving Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR), that is business properties with a rateable value below £15,000. 

Vacant properties are not eligible for this grant. 

A business with multiple premises will only be eligible for one grant of £10,000 in total. 

Further details and the online application form

  • £25,000 grant for business ratepayers in the retail sector 

The NI Executive is providing a one-off grant of £25,000 to business ratepayers in the retail sector on a property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000. 

Further details about how to access the grant will be published soon.            



As well as the UK-wide measures above, the Scottish government has a number of relevant initiatives

Non-domestic rates relief 

All non-domestic properties in Scotland will receive a 1.6% rates relief. This relief effectively reverses the change for 2020-21. 

Retail businesses will receive 100% rates relief only if a property is occupied. Properties that have closed temporarily due to the government's coronavirus advice will be treated as occupied. 

This relief will automatically be applied to your bill by your local council. 


A one-off grant of £10,000 will also be available to small businesses that receive: 

If you have applied for Business Growth Accelerator ReliefDisabled Persons Relief or Fresh Start but are eligible for the Small Business Bonus Scheme you may also receive a one-off grant. 

Retail businesses with a rateable value between £18,001 and up to and including £51,000 can apply for a one-off grant of £25,000. 

If you are eligible for a grant, you do not need to repay it. 

To apply you will need to complete an application form, available on your local council website.                     



The Welsh government has set out a range of support measures for business: 

Business Rate Relief 

Retail businesses with a rateable value of £500,000 or less will receive one year business rates relief in the financial year 2020 to 2021. This will be administered through the business rates system. Your local authority will contact you. 


All businesses with a rateable value of £12,000 or less are eligible for Small Business Rates Relief and will receive a grant of £10,000. 

Retail businesses with a rateable value of £12,001 and £51,000 will receive a grant of £25,000. 

These grants will be administered through the business rates system. Further details available from your local authority

Economic Resilience Fund small business grant 

Small businesses that employ up to nine people (including sole traders with staff) can apply for a grant up to £10,000. You can apply in mid-April. Details will be available shortly. 

Small and medium sized businesses that employ between 10 and 249 people can apply for a grant up to £100,000. You can apply from mid-April. Details will be available shortly. 

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