Two weeks into the new reality of living with the measures introduced to reduce the spread of the Covid-19 virus, Dacorum Borough Council has provided the following update on the help and support that is available businesses in this difficult time:
We are acutely aware of the difficulties many businesses are experiencing as a result of the Covid-19 virus situation and wanted to let you know that whilst we are working from home for the foreseeable future, we are still available by email, Microsoft Teams or Skype video calling and by telephoning us on our usual numbers.
Individual Help for your Business
We are more than happy to help in any way we can to help your business get through these difficult times. – by helping you to focus on how best to think in other ways to keep your business going and be fully prepared to hit the ground running when things return back to normal.
Below are some questions to ask yourself:
- Can you provide your product/service online?
- Can you diversify and develop new products and services?
- Are there ways to streamline your business and its activities?
- Are you getting the best profit margins from your activities?
- Are you communicating to your customers effectively?
We can provide you with free guidance, advice and help with business continuity planning – or even just lend you an impartial ear.
We’d like to remind you that our Economic Development Team continue to be available to provide individual advice and guidance and can be reached by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 01442 531002. We can help you to navigate the government business support available, listen to your concerns and offer advice on how to guide your business through these challenging times and ensure you are best positioned to recover and grow when life gets back to normal.
If you had a PAYE account that was started or created on or before 28 February 2020 the job retention scheme could apply.
If you are self-employed and have, or are about to, file a self assessment return for the 2019/2020 financial year you may be eligible for the Self Employment Income Support scheme.
Here is the link detailing all available support at this moment, and it also contains a useful helpline number at the bottom for any further queries.
If you are eligible for any of the funding, you will be contacted direct.
And remember, for businesses under 3 years old, the Hertfordshire Start-Up advice, skills and funding is still available.
Small Business Grant and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grants
Our business rates team have sent out letters to the addresses of all businesses that they believe qualify for the government grants for businesses that are subject to Small Business Rates Relief, Rural Rate Relief or are in the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure sector. These letters must be acted on to receive the grant, so please check your post. If you expected to receive one and have not by Monday 6 April, please check back with the website page www.dacorum.gov.uk/home/business/business-rates/business-rates-relief for information.
Changes to Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme announced
The government have very recently announced that under changes to the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS):
- Applications will not be limited to businesses that have been refused a loan on commercial terms, extending the number who benefit. However, the Treasury has not capped the interest rates banks can charge.
- Banks will be banned from asking company owners to guarantee loans with their own savings or property when borrowing up to £250,000
- Larger firms with a turnover of up to £500m will also be eligible for more help – with state-backed loans of up to £25m available to firms with revenues of between £45m-500m.
Hertfordshire Opportunities Portal
The Hertfordshire Opportunities Portal (HOP)’s Covid-19: The Latest Support and Guidance has lots of useful information covering:
- School closures and home learning resources
- Further Education
- Higher Education including the University of Hertfordshire
- Resources for working from home
HOP also recognises many residents may be adversely affected by Covid-19 and are signposting to the sectors that are hiring right now: HOP into
Opportunities for Businesses to Help with Covid-19
The Government is asking businesses if they can offer coronavirus (COVID-19) support. The support needed includes:
- Medical testing equipment, medical equipment design, protective equipment for healthcare workers, such as masks, gowns and sanitiser
- Hotel rooms, transport and logistics, for moving goods or people
- Manufacturing equipment
- Warehouse or office space, for medical use or storage
- Expertise or support on IT, manufacturing, construction, project management, procurement, engineering or communications
- Social care or childcare
Businesses can share the areas they can offer support through the online portal.
Dacorum’s Den, Dacorum’s Business Heroes, Skills Workshops & Networking Postponed
We have decided to postpone the application/nomination window for both Dacorum’s Den and Dacorum’s Business Heroes to the autumn, when we hope that we will all be out and about again and businesses have been able to return to trading. We are confident that there will have been some great examples of businesses that have been real Dacorum Heroes during this difficult time and will be introducing a new nomination category to reflect this. Dacorum’s Den will also encourage and enable all those new ideas being generated and the combined awards something to look forward to!
Our programme of workshops at Maylands Business Centre have been postponed until July, but we are still taking provisional bookings for all those listed – see www.dacorum.gov.uk/home/business/business-services/subsidised-workshops for the schedule. We also want to hear from you if there are any workshops you would book on if scheduled, so we can revise our offering to help businesses when normal life resumes.
The quarterly networking meeting due to take place on 23 April has now been postponed until 9 July. Please see https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/dacorum-business-matters-networking-breakfast-tickets-92351908043 to register your place.
If you have any helpful articles, information or webinars that would benefit others during this time, would like to swap services with other businesses, request help or share good new stories, that’s what our Linked In group is there for. If you haven’t joined already, visit www.linkedin.com/groups/8204172 now and get posting!
If you or your staff are interested in volunteering to help with people affected by the current situation, please go to www.thvolunteering.org.uk to register, as they are co-ordinating efforts across the county and are in contact with local volunteer services.
Guidance for Accommodation Providers
There is specific advice for accommodation providers on the Visit Herts website around the exceptions that have been made to allow businesses to continue to house key workers and vulnerable groups.
Other Sources of Funding for Businesses
In addition to the funding and support available through the Government schemes, some other organisations are offering funding which you may be eligible to apply for including the following:
Facebook Small Business Grants Programme: www.facebook.com/business/boost/grants
Arts Council England (ACE) Emergency Funding Package: www.artscouncil.org.uk/covid19
Sport England Coronavirus Fund:
Heritage Emergency Fund:
Other useful sources of information: