What challenges to planning permission does the current lockdown situation present?
- Delays in preparing and submitting applications to comply with pre-commencement conditions. In this respect there can be lengthy timescales gathering evidence to support applications to comply with pre-commencement conditions, ecology, contamination and archaeology are examples of matters which can require significant periods of survey work
- Following on from the above the ability to get required experts on the site necessary to undertake the required survey work
- Delays in the determination of applications to comply with pre-commencement conditions. In this respect whilst there are deemed discharge provisions/procedures concerning certain matters, the provisions cannot be used to discharge all types of conditions
- The ability to get people on site to undertake material operations
In the circumstances, it is advisable to start considering the implementation of the planning permission early and the earlier the better. Under current legislation whilst it is possible to vary conditions, albeit potentially leading to wider issues, it is not possible to extend the life of a planning permission meaning that lawful implementation is essential to avoid the loss of that permission.
If a planning permission is lost, amongst other things it may not be granted again or may not be granted on similar terms. In the circumstances, it is advisable to seek advice given the specific facts of the case to minimise the risk of a planning permission not being lawfully implemented and expiring.
Following our webinars on all aspects of furlough and alternatives to redundancy, it is an unfortunate fact that a number of organisations are likely, sooner or later, to be forced to make some employees redundant.
Our employment experts Jamie Gamble and Roisin Patton take you through the key aspects of conducting cost reduction redundancies, but with a focus on aspects that make this exercise different this time. For instance:
- How are you going to conduct sensitive meetings remotely?
- How are you going to ensure that dismissing any furloughed staff will be fair? You may have furloughed at speed, but redundancy selection criteria cannot be defined by such factors.
- Will you use this time to review your selection criteria if you already have some in place?
- How will you deal with individuals who are shielding, have child care issues or are pregnant?
- How do you ensure this is all done sensitively and fairly for those roles that are being made redundant, but also for those who continue to work for you but are still isolated on furlough or working from home?
- And what are the risks for making redundancies in this “new normal”?
Although you may be perfectly familiar with redundancy exercises these are far from normal times and it is therefore worth pausing to think about the impact that Covid-19 might have and what else you need to think about or plan for.
The webinar was recorded on Thursday 2nd July.
With the exception of the Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility (see below), there was initially little dedicated financial assistance for medium-sized and larger businesses affected by the coronavirus outbreak (the so-called “stranded middle”); however, from 20 April 2020 such businesses (with a turnover above £45 million) have been able to access finance via the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (“CLBILS“).
CLBILS operates in a similar manner to CBILS except that a lender can provide:
- up to £25 million to businesses with turnover from £45 million up to £250 million; and
- up to £50 million to businesses for those with a turnover of over £250 million.
Finance is available in the form of:
- term loans
- revolving credit facilities (including overdrafts)
- invoice finance and
- asset finance,
in each case available on repayment terms of up to three years.
Several changes to CLBILS took effect from 26 May 2020. The maximum amount available through CLBILS to a borrower and its group increased from £50m to £200m. Term loans and revolving credit facilities over £50m will be offered by CLBILS lenders which have secured additional accreditation. The maximum size for invoice finance and asset finance facilities remains at £50m. Companies borrowing more than £50m through CLBILS will be subject to further restrictions on dividend payments, senior pay and share buy-backs during the period of the loan. Further information on the most recent changes, including new provisions on seniority of CLBILS facilities, can be found on the CLBILS page on the British Business Bank website. There is also an in-depth FAQs section for businesses, which has the full details of the changes to the scheme.
Unlike CBILS, the UK government will not make payments to cover the interest and any lender-levied fees in the first 12 months of any facility so these larger businesses will not benefit from the no upfront costs and lower initial repayments that smaller businesses eligible for CBILS benefit from. The other key provisions of CLBILS, such as the eligibility criteria, the 80% government-backed guarantee and security, are similar to those of CBILS.
Eligibility is similar to CBILS and businesses must:
- Be UK-based in its business activity
- Have an annual turnover of more than £45 million
- Have a borrowing proposal which the lender would consider viable, were it not for the current pandemic, and for which the lender believes the provision of finance will enable the business to trade out of any short-term to medium-term difficulty
- Self-certify that it has been adversely impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19)
- Not have received a facility under the Bank of England’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility.
Businesses from any sector can apply, except the following:
- Credit institutions (falling within the remit of the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive), insurers and reinsurers (but not insurance brokers)
- Building Societies
- Public-sector bodies
- Further-education establishments, if they are grant-funded
- State-funded primary and secondary schools
All lending decisions remain fully delegated to the accredited lenders.
The guidance gives numerous examples of the types of performance adjustment which parties should consider. For example this includes:
- Varying deadlines (e.g. for performance or payment)
- Varying compensation (e.g. to recognise increased costs)
- Varying the nature of performance (e.g. allowing substitute goods, allowing pert delivery of services)
The guidance also encourages a reasonable approach to enforcement, which might encourage delaying issuing formal proceedings, increased use of mediation or providing more information to the other party than would be volunteered under normal circumstances.
In appropriate cases, disciplinary action and then dismissal may be fair if an employee refuses to wear a face covering in the workplace. For example, if this is in breach of the government guidance or if employer has issued a reasonable management instruction to this effect due to an identified health and safety risk.
It is important that employers use a fair and reasonable procedure when deciding whether to discipline and/or dismiss an employee and that its actions does not unlawfully discriminate against employees who have legitimate reasons for not wearing masks, such as those individuals who have health conditions like asthma.
Workers who have not taken 20 days holiday entitlement due to Covid-19 can now carry it over into the next 2 leave years. It only applies where it was not reasonably practicable for a worker to take their annual leave due to the coronavirus.