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LATEST NEWS

We'll keep you updated with the latest news as the coronavirus outbreak evolves here in the UK.

27/05/20 - Grant funding: local authority payments to SME's

Local authorities have received and distributed funding to support small and medium businesses in England during COVID-19.

As of 26 May, £9.9 billion has been paid out to over 804,000 business properties.

READ MORE

20/05/20 - Applications open for the Future Fund scheme

The Future Fund scheme will issue convertible loans between £125,000 to £5 million to innovative companies which are facing financing difficulties due to the outbreak of COVID-19. The scheme is open for applications until the end of September 2020.

FUTURE FUND

12/05/20 - Furlough Scheme extended until October

The Chancellor announced that the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will remain open until the end of October 2020.

Furloughed workers will continue to receive 80% of their salary, up to £2,500 and new flexibility will be introduced from August to get employees back to work.

READ MORE

04/05/20 - Applications open for 100% Government-backed loan scheme for small business

The new fast-track finance scheme, announced by the Chancellor on 27th April, will allow businesses to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000 and access the funds within days for immediate support.

Businesses can borrow between £2,000 and £50,000 through the new scheme. Loans will be interest-free for the first 12 months and businesses can apply online now.

APPLY

20/04/20 - Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is up and running

Opening 10 days ahead of schedule, the Job retention Scheme will enable businesses to claim up to £2,500 a month towards staff wages.

Employers are encouraged to go online to claim cash grants worth up to 80% of wages, capped at £2,500 a month per worker.

FIND OUT MORE

15/04/20 - Bristol City Council: Total processed grant value of £33.9m

Bristol City Council has now received over 5,000 small business grant applications. The total value of grants processed, as of midday on Tuesday 14 April, is £33.9m.

They are actively contacting those who can benefit and asking them to confirm their business rate number and bank account details so they can quickly send out funds. 

Please note businesses can only apply for either the Small Business Grant Fund or the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant, not both. This simple form ensures that the grant is distributed correctly.

APPLY HERE

Updated - 09/04/20 - Claim for your employees' wages

The guidance for employers has been further updated, releasing more information on:

– Switching from sick pay to furlough and vice versa
– Visa conditions
– Employers of newly TUPE’d employees
– Reclaimable National Insurance and pension elements
– Payroll consolidation schemes

EMPLOYER ADVICE

Updated - 04/04/20 - Check if your employer can use the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

The guidance for employees has been further updated, releasing more information on:

– Scheme eligibility
– How much your employer can claim through ‘furlough’
– How much you’ll get
– Guidance for specific customers

EMPLOYEE ADVICE

03/04/20 - Chancellor strengthens support for businesses

Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, is taking further action to support businesses affected by COVID-19 by bolstering business interruption loans, as well as announcing a new scheme for larger companies.

– £90 million of business interruption loans have been approved for nearly 1,000 firms
– £1.9 billion of corporate finance provided
– The current loan scheme has been extended so that more can benefit
– Lenders are now banned from requesting personal guarantees on loans under £250,000
– A new scheme has been announced to bolster support for larger firms
–  The importance of banks is emphasised

IMPROVED SUPPORT

30/03/20 - The latest guidance on Grant Funding Schemes

The most recent information released on the small business grant fund and retail, hospitality and leisure grant fund guidance, including:

– How will the grants be provided?
– How much funding will be provided?
– Managing the risk of fraud
– Rating list changes
– Post-event assurance
And more.

GRANT FUNDING

30/03/20 - Grant Funds for small business, retail, hospitality and leisure

In response to COVID-19, the Government has announced two grant funding schemes to support small businesses and businesses working in the retail, hospitality & leisure sectors. Applications are now open via Bristol City Council.

Read more to find information on:
– Who can get a grant
– Types of grant
– How to apply for one

APPLY HERE

23/03/20 - Business support launched

Businesses will now be able to access support from the Government in order to keep operating during the current crisis. Support available includes:

– Government-backed loans of up to £5 million available to SMEs through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
– The Bank of England’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility will provide a cost-effective way to raise working capital for large firms
– A new business information campaign has launched to ensure people are aware of the support available to their business

AVAILABLE SUPPORT

Updated 23/03/20 - COVID-19: Government support for businesses

The Chancellor has set out a package of measures to support public services, the public and businesses through the coronavirus pandemic.

– The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme enables UK employers to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary
– For businesses that pay little or no business rates, there will be an additional Small Business Grant Scheme funding which will provide a one-off grant of £10,000 to eligible businesses to help meet their ongoing business costs
– The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme supports SME’s with access to working capital of up to £5 million in value and for up to 6 years
– Under the new Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility, the Bank of England will buy short term debt from larger companies

READ MORE

Updated 02/04/20 - Business rates: guidance on expanded retail discount

The guidance provided to local authorities on the expanded retail discount response 2020 – 2021, supporting operation and delivery of the scheme. This guidance outlines the criteria considered to be eligible for the scheme and does not replace existing legislation.

This document includes:
– How the relief will be provided
– Which properties will benefit
– State Aid
– Splits, mergers, and changes to existing hereditaments

RATES DISCOUNT

01/04/20 - £22 billion grants and business rates package for high streets

From 1st April, high streets will begin to receive £22 billion, with grants of up to £25,000 already being paid into bank accounts of high street businesses.

– Thousands of high street firms will be exempt from business rates from 1st April 2020 as they begin to benefit from the £22 billion benefit
– Eligible properties will not pay business rates for the next 12 months
– Smaller businesses are beginning to receive one-off grants

READ MORE

17/03/20 - Budget 2020: new rate discounts

Information on the new business rate discounts following the 2020 Budget and the Chancellors Statement 17 March. There will be extra relief available to certain business ratepayers to help alleviate effects from the coronavirus.

Rate discounts are available for:
– Retail rate discount
– Child care providers
– Loans and lending

NEW DISCOUNTS

24/03/20 - COVID-19 advice for accommodation providers released

The Government has released advice for businesses providing accommodation to take the necessary steps to close as quickly as possible, whilst following social distancing guidelines. These businesses include hotels, B&Bs, hostels, campsites, caravan parks, short term lets and boarding houses.

Read more to find guidance for families in temporary accommodation, for hostels serving food and for residents showing COVD-19 symptoms.

COVID-19 ADVICE

23/03/20 - A new ban on evictions for commercial tenants

There is now extra protection for businesses as commercial tenants who cannot pay their rent because of COVID-19 will be protected from eviction.  Aiming to help businesses struggling with their cash flow due to worries around eviction, the measure supports the current conversations between landlords and tenants around voluntary rental payment arrangements.

EXTRA PROTECTION

02/04/20 - Extend the deadline for filing your accounts

If you think the impact of COVID-19 will cause delays in filing your company accounts, you can now apply for an automatic and immediate 3-month extension. You must apply for the extension before your filing deadline.

APPLY HERE

27/03/20 - Carrying over annual leave rules to be relaxed

Employees will now be able to carry their annual leave entitlement over into the next 2 years so that they don’t miss out due to COVID-19. These new measures will ensure workers won’t lose their leave entitlement and provides businesses with flexibility at an uncertain time.

RULES RELAXED

26/03/20 - Deferral of VAT payments

Temporary changes to the VAT payments due between 20 March 2020 and 30 June 2020have been announced to help businesses manage their cash flow.

Guidance is available on the following:
– If you choose to defer your VAT payment
– What happens at the end of the deferral period
– What to do if you’re experiencing financial distress due to COVID-19

DEFERRAL OF VAT

Updated daily - COVID-19: track coronavirus cases

The Public Health England dashboard currently shows 694 cases in Bristol, with the total cases in the UK at 261,184 as of 26/05/20.

TRACK COVID-19

26/05/20 - The Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy

The Government has released a roadmap for how and when the UK will adjust its response to the COVID-19 crisis. This includes a plan to ease existing measures in a safe and measured way, subject to successfully controlling, measuring and reacting to the virus.

The roadmap will be kept under constant review as the situation evolves here in the UK.

READ MORE

25/05/20 - Prime Minister sets out timeline for retail to reopen

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed that thousands of high street shops, department stores and shopping centres across the UK are set to reopen in June once they are “COVID-19 secure” and can show safety for customers.

PRESS RELEASE

06/04/20 - Regulatory status of PPE

The different regulations that apply to devices and equipment, including hand gels and PPE (personal protective equipment), have been outlined to ensure everyone’s safety.

Read more to find the regulations on:
– Antimicrobial hand sanitisers and gels
– Face masks
– Gloves
– Donating healthcare equipment to healthcare providers
– Failure to comply with the regulations

READ MORE

30/03/12 - Coronavirus press conference slides

Press conference slides and datasets used by Sir Patrick Vallance, to accompany the coronavirus press conference that took place on 30 March 2020. The slides include:

– Transport use change
– New UK cases
– Hospital admissions
– Global comparison of deaths

SLIDES & DATASETS

23/03/20 - PM announces strict lockdown for the UK

Boris Johnson has announced a UK lockdown, saying people can only shop for basic necessities and limit exercise to one form a day. People must also restrict travel only to and from work if it’s essential.

This BBC news article includes:
– The restrictions set out by the PM
– The businesses that will not need to close
– How to stick together, by staying apart
– The current challenge for police forces
– Other key developments

UK LOCKDOWN

22/03/20 - National Crime Agency warning

The National Crime Agency (NCA) has warned that organised crime groups may try to exploit the coronavirus outbreak to target the UK. Their proactive approach includes:

– Continuing to protect the public and leading the UK’s fight against organised crime throughout the pandemic
– Continuing work to protect children from online abuse
– Identifying that criminals are already looking to exploit the UK by running intelligence assessments
– Recognising and investigating coronavirus-themed malicious apps and websites, as well as email phishing attacks aimed at stealing personal information

NCA WARNING

22/03/20 - Government sets out plans to enforce closure of businesses and other venues

Guidance issued states that the local government will be responsible for enforcing regulations requiring businesses asked to close on 20 March 2020. Regulations include:

– Businesses who do not follow the restrictions will be issued with prohibition notices
– Fines will be issued to businesses who fail to comply
– Businesses could face the loss of their alcohol license
– There will be no limit to the fines of businesses who continue to ignore restrictions

CLOSURE PLANS

20/03/20 - Government announces further measures on social distancing

To limit the spread of coronavirus, measures to close entertainment, hospitality and indoor leisure premises across the country will take place from the end of trading hours on Friday 20 March.

– Social contact will be limited further by new measures taken from scientific evidence
– The public are urged to stay at home and limit travel

READ MORE

19/03/20 - Avon and Somerset Police respond to the coronavirus outbreak

Avon and Somerset Police respond to COVID-19 to reassure the public that they’re taking all necessary steps to maintain critical functions, including:

– Expanding the Incident Assessment Unit by increasing the number of supervisors and staff
– Keeping the neighbourhood policing teams in place and safeguarding them to reassure local communities and maintain a visible presence
– Enquiry offices and public-facing police posts remain open to the public but this is under constant review
– Focussing messages to the public on encouraging people to report non-urgent offences online instead of through 101
– Giving daily updates to their officers with the latest advice and guidance from Public Health England and the Government

POLICE RESPONSE

17/03/20 - Government to grant permission for pubs and restaurants to operate as takeaways

The Government will relax planning rules to allow pubs and restaurants to operate as hot food takeaways during the coronavirus outbreak.

READ MORE

STAY CONNECTED

During these unprecedented times, it's important that everyone feels supported and everyone stays connected.

Coordinating a business community response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

We have created three Facebook groups for our levy payers to communicate with other businesses within their area. Please use the groups to share experiences, ask questions and pass on any advice that has proved useful.

Click the links below to request to join the group relevant to your business:

Click here to join the Park Street and Queens Road group.

Click here to join the Harbourside group.

Click here to join the Old City group.

Please feel free to invite employees and other members of staff to the group.

WEBINARS

Our series of free webinars will provide guidance for businesses in the City Centre BID area during this unprecedented crisis.

STAYING IN TOUCH AND CONNECTED: 7 WAYS TO BOOST YOUR LINKEDIN PRESENCE

At a time when many of the usual business communication channels are not available, our online network takes on even more significance.

On Tuesday 7th April, we were joined by independent LinkedIn Coach and Trainer, Greg Cooper, as he explained why it’s really important that we continue to show up and maintain an active dialogue with our customers and our network.

WATCH NOW

CORONAVIRUS: RETAIL, RENT AND LANDLORD DISCUSSIONS

Against a back drop of an already struggling retail market, the enforced closure of the majority of retail and leisure businesses has brought new, unprecedented challenges.

On Thursday 9th April, we were joined by James Woodard, Director of Hartnell Taylor Cook, as he talked about how landlords and tenants are already dealing with these issues, offering advice on how to manage these discussions.

WATCH NOW

INSURANCE: SUPPORT AND BUSINESS RISK MANAGEMENT

There’s lots of different information on whether you can claim on your insurance for business interruption caused by COVID-19.

On Tuesday 14th April, we were joined by James Woollam, Managing Director at Hayes Parsons Insurance Brokers, as he clearly explained the conditions within insurance policies that you should now be aware of to ensure you do not invalidate your cover.

WATCH NOW

MAINTAINING EMOTIONAL WELLBEING IN EXTRAORDINARY TIMES

On Thursday 16th April, we were joined by national mental health GP specialist, Dr Dominique Thompson, in the first of three wellbeing sessions to hear her initial top three tips for staying well and in control in unpredictable and uncertain times.

If you are feeling the pressure and under stress, there are still things that you can do to look after your emotional health. This webinar will explain why you may be feeling more exhausted, more anxious or even overwhelmed and, most importantly, what you can try to help improve the situation.

WATCH NOW

JOB RETENTION SCHEME

On Tuesday 21st April, we were joined by Sarah Haynes, leader of KPMG’s Employment Solutions Team in the South, as she provided a valuable update on the current guidance on the Job Retention Scheme, including technical and practical considerations for employers.

 

WATCH NOW

HOW TO SLEEP BETTER: THE MYTHS AND THE SCIENCE

Sleep – we all need it, but it can be elusive, and especially so in extraordinary times like these.

On Thursday 23rd April, we were joined by Dr Dominique Thompson, a GP and mental health expert, to discover the myths and realities of a good night’s sleep. This short webinar will help you to optimise your sleep and to make sure that, as much as possible, you can get out of bed on the ‘right side’.

WATCH NOW

An Update on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Thousands of employees have been furloughed and employers are starting to make claims under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. There remain a number of unanswered questions and uncertainties around the scheme, relating to who is eligible and what can be claimed.

On Tuesday 28th April, we were joined by Gareth Edwards, an Employment Partner at VWV, who talked through the main issues, finishing the session with a helpful Q&A.

WATCH NOW

Adapting to a new normal: Leaving lockdown and other common concerns about COVID-19

On Thursday 30th of April, we were joined by Dr Dominique Thompson to consider how we can best prepare for and adapt to a new normal, and how COVID-19 might still affect our lives in the next few months.

Dominique discussed what you might need to do before ‘leaving lockdown’ longer term, and what practical steps you might take to be ready for life in a ‘post-lockdown’ world.

WATCH NOW

Protecting your business against cyber attacks

Businesses are particularly vulnerable to cyber attacks at the moment because of the increase in homeworking and the use of new apps. A cyber attack could have serious financial and reputational consequences at an already stressful time.

On Tuesday 5th May, we were joined by Claire Hall, Senior Associate at VWV, as she talked through some of the important measures that you can take to protect your business against a cyber threat.

WATCH NOW

Using video to market your business

On Thursday 7th May, we were joined by Sunjay Singh, Co-Founder and Creative Director at video marketing agency, Life Media UK, as he talked about practical video marketing tips that businesses can leverage right now to keep up communication with their target audience.

WATCH NOW

Reliefs, relaxation, rescue and recovery: Government schemes to support businesses through coronavirus

On Tuesday 12th May, we were joined by Anna Thompson, Senior Associate Solicitor at Michelmores, as she provided a brief overview of the different Government schemes available to support businesses through COVID-19.

Discussing business rates reliefs, VAT deferral, Time to Pay arrangements and the various types of loans, Anna talked about how businesses might look to prepare for recovery.

WATCH NOW

Using video to prepare for the bounce-back period

On Thursday 14th May, we were joined by Sunjay Singh, Co-Founder and Creative Director at Life Media UK, as he shared how to make the most of video marketing to prepare for the bounce-back period, post-lockdown.

WATCH NOW

Contracts and coronavirus

Specialist members from the VWV coronavirus response team, Ben Holt, Ed Rimmell and Stephanie Rickard,  joined us on Tuesday 19th May to look at key issues with the inability to perform contracts during the lockdown.

The team covered “force majeure” provisions, frustration and the Procurement Policy Note on payment of suppliers.

WATCH NOW

HR: Resilience & wellbeing

As a HR professional for over 30 years, James Maher from Bristol Mind recognises that during these uncertain, ever changing times, HR teams are holding huge responsibility for organisational welfare and wellbeing.

In this webinar, on Thursday 21st May,  James introduced some thoughts and insights on how HR teams can practice some self-care & resilience as demand and expectation on HR increases.

WATCH NOW

Business tenants: Legal protections, myths and tips

On Tuesday 26th May, we were joined by Andrew Baines, Partner Solicitor at Michelmores, as he talked about the recent changes to commercial landlord and tenant law, the announcement on further changes, legal myths and realities, how landlords and tenants appear to be dealing with each other, and helpful tips for tenants.

WATCH NOW

Reintegration on return to work

The impact of the COVID-19 crisis is unprecedented and the process of “unlocking” will present many novel challenges. Among these will be the reintegration of fragmented teams.

On Thursday 28th May, we were joined by Felix Spender, expert in conflict and collaborative management, as he discussed the potential challenges and opportunities the pandemic brings in order to develop strong cohesive teams to deal with the new normal.

WATCH NOW

Reopening and operating post-lockdown

This free webinar will be hosted by our Business Liaison Manager, Paula Ratcliffe, who will be joined by Keith Rundle, Operations Director at Bristol City Centre BID, and Steve Bluff, Manager at Broadmead BID.

This specialist panel will talk through the relevant guidance for non-essential retailers to reopen and operate safely, and what help is available. There will also be opportunities to respond to your concerns and answer any questions you may have.

REGISTER NOW

Learning portal

Level-up in the lockdown with free online courses

HM Government Skills Toolkit

The UK Government’s free-to-use online skills toolkit allows people to develop their skills during the current lockdown. The toolkit includes a selection of high-quality courses, from social media and coding to programming and digital marketing.

SKILLS TOOLKIT

Barclays Digital Confidence Lifeskills

LifeSkills is a free programme designed to help young people develop the skills they need for the 21st century workplace and includes valuable content for educators, parents and young people.

LIFESKILLS

Lloyds Bank Academy

The Lloyds Bank Academy is packed with free digital skills learning for any level, with the option to learn online or face-to-face. Gain skills for everyday life, as well as skills to boost business.

ACADEMY

NatWest MentorLIVE

NatWest Mentor are now offering their digital platform – MentorLive – for free! MentorLive is part of a wider range of support they offer as part of their ‘paid for’ services, and is a fully-featured system to manage HR & Health & Safety in your business, with access to:

– Free tools & templates (including Furlough letters & guidance)
– Detailed FAQ’s & policies on SSP, holidays & working from home
– Workplace posters
– H&S templates inc COVID-19 risk assessment template
– Free weekly webinars delivered by their expert consultants

They are also offering the Mentor 90 day Employment Law & HR and Health & Safety Advice Service.

REGISTER FOR FREE

Bristol Mind YouTube channel

The team at Bristol Mind have put together a series of short, free videos from a variety of local trainers and experts, offering advice and support to help you look after your wellbeing during the pandemic.

The videos are 10-15 minutes long and cover:

– Tips on managing stress and anxiety
– Tips for Managers on supporting remote staff
– Postnatal mental health during COVID-19
– Support whilst working from home
And more!

TRAINING VIDEOS

Google Digital Garage

Use Google Digital Garage to learn at your own pace, with flexible and personalised training courses that are designed to build your confidence in the digital world.

Get access to:
– Online courses
– Free webinars
– Certification
– Face-to-face workshops

LEARN MORE

Pearson UK Learns

UK Learns provides a curated selection of online courses, from data science to childcare, to help the UK workforce and businesses acquire new skills and earn qualifications and accreditations. Many are free of charge, some for a limited period.

UK LEARNS

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