This July, Paula Fowmes and her colleagues at FITV gave the Corporation excellent coverage as part of their package on barriers to business growth – as identified in the recent FIDC Business Climate Survey.
 
Shortage of skilled labour, access to labour, upskilling of the local workforce, affordable worker housing, and immigration matters are all familiar obstacles for the Islands’ business community. Paula was keen to open up the debate, and to hear what plans we have for addressing the problem.
 
The link to the feature can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBZfGwAIASs
 
As Gordon and Louise explained, we hope to see strong initiatives for skills and labour in our new Corporate Plan, due later in the year.

The Falkland Islands Development Corporation is pleased to announce the appointment of Mr Martin Slater to the recently advertised position of Managing Director.

Mr Slater held the position previously and, following a year of absence from the Islands exploring new horizons, has taken the opportunity to return and pick up the reins again. Martin has been working in change management for the NHS in the UK and will bring valuable new skills and fresh experience to the role.

Martin re-joins the team at a time of great change and uncertainty for our clients in the private sector. With the position of MD at the Corporation’s subsidiary FIMCo in the capable hands of Keith Heslop, Martin will be able to focus his time and attention on delivering FIDC’s objectives. The results of the most recent Business Climate Survey will be feeding into a revision of the Corporation’s Business Plan which will take place over the coming months. Mr Slater will participate in that process, arriving in post ready to lead his team on delivering its strategic mission.

Linking contract opportunities to local business providers is the service from FIDC’s web-based SAROS.

Originally created to put the oil industry in touch with our Islands’ excellent enterprise community, the scope soon extended, making the platform a useful tool for all those with contracts to fulfil.

Over the last year or so, the ‘members’ of SAROs struggled with its technical shortcomings, and FIDC commissioned a rebuild and upgrade to make it work and look better for users. That’s now done.

The SAROS full revamp will make it fit for the future – and give a better user experience for its members. The well-known local IT specialist Brian Jamieson did the tech rebuild and designer Tony Ellis polished up the graphics.

Proving that ‘contractor’ does not have to mean “here today, gone tomorrow”  - today Gordon Ackroyd reaches four years of service with the Corporation. Joining FIDC from Cornwall, UK, as Business Development Officer to provide his professional support to individual clients, he particular enjoyed working with the hospitality and catering enterprises - although definitely not because he wants more places to get his fix of takeaways (He is still waiting for a Chinese to start up here).  

2018 saw Gordon move to Strategic Projects Manager, where he focuses on the needs of the wider business community, for example developing FIDC’s Skills for Enterprise programme, supporting the Wool Innovation Programme, the Fresh for the Future project and producing FIDC Annual Reports.

We would all like to thank Gordon for his hard work and his sense of humour, and always being available as the Corporation’s dictionary, thesaurus, and grammar checker.

Hopefully we can keep him under contract for another 4 years.

Many of you will have seen that in addition to the direct forms of support from FIG, we at FIDC have made available advice and resources to help you manage your enterprise through the crisis.

We can now offer – FREE as a service to the business community – an online Business Resilience ‘starter’ course.

Please see the flyer below. At this stage we have up to 10 places available FREE. This session conforms to the important ISO 22301, which many will find increasingly important to their work.

ISO 22301  Security and resilience – Business continuity management systems – Requirements, is a management system standard published by International Organisation for Standardisation that specifies requirements to plan, establish, implement, operate, monitor, review, maintain and continually improve a documented management system to protect against, reduce the likelihood of occurrence, prepare for, respond to, and recover from disruptive incidents when they arise. It is intended to be applicable to all organizations, or parts thereof, regardless of type, size and nature of the organisation.

image Building Resilience E Flyer (421 KB)

17 April 2020

Government unveils comprehensive COVID-19 support package

The Falkland Islands Government has today announced a suite of new measures to assist businesses, private sector employees and households as they adjust to the economic effects of the Covid-19 Pandemic.

The measures when taken together represent a comprehensive approach to addressing the cash flow needs of private sector workers and households and the liquidity needs of micro, small and medium sized businesses over the next three months.

A sector specific package of measures for wool farmers and other sectors are being considered separately.

The measures proposed are together comprised of:

• a job retention scheme to assist with employee retention and to support income stability for households;
• an enhanced unemployment subsidy system to support income stability for households where individuals have been economically dismissed;
• direct non-repayable grants to businesses to assist with liquidity;
• provision of government backed loan guarantees for businesses to assist with liquidity, subject to approval of the Secretary of State;
• reductions in electricity rates to support businesses and households
• a waiver of utility service charges for a period of ninety days
• existing government mechanisms that can be accessed during times of need

The following summary provides a general overview of the measures but should not be relied upon as definitive guidance, which shall be provided in due course. The application of one or all of these measures may be contingent on the status of the government’s response to the Pandemic. Government will advise of any changes as and when they occur.
1. A new job retention “furlough” scheme

Businesses may find themselves in a position where they are unable to pay their employees’ wages and salaries due to a significant reduction of revenues over a protracted 90 day period. Similarly, self-employed workers may face a serious reduction of their income. Under this measure, if an employer is unable to operate or have limited or no work for the employee because of Covid-19, and if the employer and employee both agree, the employer would be able to keep the employee on the payroll at 80% of salary. This is known as being ‘on furlough’.
• With respect to employees, the new scheme will cover
o 80% of salary for furloughed employees for a period of up to 90 days
o 80% of salary for employees on reduced hours, proportional to the percentage of hours not worked for a period of up to 90 days.
• With respect to self-employed workers:
o the new scheme will cover 80% of the last two years’ average monthly net earnings for a period of up to 90 days .

For both employees and self-employed workers, there will be a cap of £2,500 per
month.

All payments will be considered taxable in the hands of recipients.

The recently announced Private Sector Employee Support Scheme will continue to apply to those who are required by KEMH to isolate or who are on the vulnerable list. However, non-essential workers required to stay at home by the government would now be covered under the new Job Retention Scheme effective April 24, 2020.

2.0 Unemployment Subsidy System

A new unemployment subsidy system will be targeted at workers who are dismissed as a result of the crisis. This measure will provide financial reassurance to those who have been dismissed, through no fault of their own, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
• The unemployment subsidy will cover 60% of the last monthly salary for a period of up to 90 days
• There will be a cap of £2,500 per month.

All payments will be considered taxable in the hands of recipients.
This measure will have an effective eligibility date of March 20, 2020.

3.0 Direct Grants to targeted micro, small and medium enterprises

Some businesses may face high solvency risks due to a significant or critical reduction in demand for their goods or services. The government would provide financial support to temporarily support the economic viability of two broad classifications of firms with two different types of direct, non-repayable grants.
Micro and Small Businesses
The level of each individual grant will:-
• will be targeted to businesses below £500,000 in turnover;
• will be calculated so it avoids being an unnecessary windfall;
• will range from zero to a total of £20 thousand for a 90 day period; and
• All payments will be considered taxable.

Micro, Small and Medium Sized Businesses in the Hospitality Sector and the Human Health and Social Work activities sectors

The level of each individual grant:-
• will be targeted to businesses below £1,000,000 in turnover;
• will be calculated so it avoids being an unnecessary windfall;
• will range from zero to a total cap of £30 thousand in total a 90 day period; and
• All payments will be considered taxable.

The government is targeting May 1 for this programme to be “application ready”.

4.0 Government Guaranteed Loans for businesses

The government intends to further explore the establishment of a Government guaranteed commercial loan scheme that would allow businesses to apply for a partially government guaranteed loan up to a government authorized maximum. Among other considerations, such a scheme would require approval from the Secretary of State.

5.0 Service Charge Waiver

Service Charges will effectively be “waived” for a period of three months.
The reduction in rates to zero will benefit all households and businesses with premises.
The start date for this reduction will be advised in due course but will occur as soon as possible.

6.0 Electricity Credit

The price of electricity will be reduced from 23p to 18p per unit for a 90 day period.
This measure will apply to all businesses and households.
The start date for this reduction will be advised in due course but will occur as soon as possible.

7.0 Other Financial Measures

Following discussion with the government, Standard Chartered Bank is now in the process of designing measures to support those of its borrowers affected by the current challenging circumstances. The Bank will consider up to 3 months payment holidays on all existing lending product lines for those customers that contact the Bank and provide a summary or evidence of hardship. Customers can contact the Bank directly for guidance.

8.0 Other General Measures

In addition to these new measures, Falkland Island residents are reminded that there are other existing avenues that could be pursued if they are experiencing financial hardship as a result of the pandemic.
• Some residents may be eligible to apply for contribution credits to the Falkland Islands Pension Scheme.
• If you are experiencing difficulty paying taxes as a result of the pandemic consider having a discussion with the Falkland Islands Government Taxation Office to explain your situation.
• If you are in FIG housing and experiencing difficulty paying your rent as a result of the pandemic consider having a conversation with the Housing Office to explain your situation.


2 April 2020

Applications now open for support package

Applications can now be made for the Falkland Islands Government’s support package that was announced on 25 March 2020 for private sector employers with employees, as well as the self-employed who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Government is doing this to reinforce and support the strong public health action which the Falkland Islands Government is taking to protect the population and minimise the social and economic impact of this challenging issue.

How to apply:

Application forms along with other guidance are available through:

Falkland Islands Government -

www.Fig.gov.fk/covid-19

Falkland Islands Development Corporation –

http://www.fidc.co.fk/library/covid-19
If you need assistance filling out the forms, contact Sian Davies, Business Development Officer, at FIDC telephone 51211.

Relevant documents will be translated into Spanish and Filipino and posted to the websites within the next few days.

The package provisions apply to the following categories.

• All employees with symptoms who are advised by KEMH to self-isolate for 14 days will continue to be paid by their employer (regardless of whether they are entitled to leave or sick pay). Employers will be able to seek reimbursement of the costs of this measure from the Government, up to a cap of £1,250 for the 14 calendar days per employee for the period of isolation.

• All self-employed people with symptoms who are advised in writing by KEMH to self-isolate for 14 calendar days will similarly be able to claim a sum of up to £1,250 for the 14 calendar days of self-isolation.

• All “vulnerable” self-employed people who are advised in writing by KEMH to self-isolate for an initial period of 3 months, and who are unable to work from home, will be able to claim a sum of up to £2,500 per month for the period of isolation.

• All “vulnerable” employees who are advised by KEMH to self-isolate for an initial period of 3 months, and who are unable to work from home, will continue to be paid by their employer (regardless of whether they are entitled to leave or sick pay). Employers will be able to seek reimbursement for this measure from the Government, up to a cap of £2,500 per employee per month for the period of isolation.

• When private sector employees without symptoms are

o a) advised by KEMH to self-isolate due to a household member being symptomatic with a fever and with that household member having been advised by KEMH to self-isolate; or
o b) advised by the government to stay home due to being classified as a non-essential worker.
o and who in both instances cannot work from home, they will continue to be paid by their employer (regardless of whether they are entitled to leave or sick pay) for a period of up to 14 days.

• When self-employed people without symptoms are
o a) advised by KEMH to self-isolate due to a household member being symptomatic with a fever and with that household member having been advised by KEMH to self-isolate.
o or b) advised by the government to stay home due to being classified as a non-essential worker,
o and who in both instances cannot work from home, they will be able to claim a sum of up to £1,250 for a period of up to 14 calendar days.

All funds will be considered taxable and subject to the usual deductions from payroll.

If employees or self-employed persons are able to work from home during any period of isolation, we would expect them to do so and not to claim re-imbursement from Government.

These measures are designed to ensure that everyone can make the right choice to take necessary public health measures, for the benefit of all, whilst ensuring that the impact on the economy is minimised.

The Government will be announcing further measures to assist the private sector more generally within the next several days.

In addition, the Government continues to offer a range of benefits and allowances to Falkland Islands residents through the Department of Health and Social Services.

About the FIDC

FIDC acts as the national economic development agency for the Falkland Islands and is tasked to develop the commercial sector of the Falkland Islands by being one of the principal partners delivering the Economic, Rural and Tourism Development Strategies.

To help drive sustainable economic growth and assist in the creation of new jobs and opportunities, FIDC provides various forms of support and assistance to the Falkland’s business community.