Cumbria Chamber of Commerce has produced this toolkit to help businesses operate safely and profitably as the economy restarts after the coronavirus lockdown.
We’re updating it regularly as new information comes to light so keep checking to make sure you’re up to speed.
The toolkit is divided into four sections covering safe working; grants, loans and advice; skills and training; and tools and templates.
You can still access our popular Coronavirus Toolkit, which was designed to help businesses through lockdown. The guidance below is much more geared to getting your business back on track as restrictions are lifted.
***UPDATED*** The official guidance starts with five steps to working safely and an online tool to help you carry out a risk assessment and make sensible adjustments to your premises and workforce. If you don’t carry out a risk assessment, the Health and Safety Executive or your local council can issue an enforcement notice. There is also a tool for employees who are on furlough or working from home, which guides them through questions that may influence their ability to go back to work safely. The idea is that you share this tool with staff to aid discussion on how they can return to work.
***NEW*** From July 4, the Government is updating its guidance on social distancing relaxing the two-metre rule. The new advice is to keep two metres away from people as a precaution or one metre when you can mitigate the risk by taking other precautions.
***NEW*** Businesses that use PPE are being warned about sub-standard face masks that fail to provide adequate protection.
***NEW*** By way of background, the Government has published its Covid-19 recovery strategy, setting out how and when the UK will adjust its response to the crisis.
ADVICE, GRANTS, LOANS AND RELIEFS
Cumbria Business Growth Hubis your first port of call for advice. Growth Hub advisers, who are all experienced business people, can work with you one-to-one. This advice is free to qualifying SMEs. Advisers can help you apply for grants and loans and plan for life after lockdown. Your customers might behave differently, you may need to consider new markets or new routes to market and you may have to reconfigure your premises to meet social-distancing requirements. Advisers can help you tackle theses issues. To give a flavour of the wider Growth Hub offer, Cumbria Growth Catalyst provides a review and intensive support for SMEs, the Consultancy Subsidy offers grants of up to £4,000 to buy-in outside expertise, Cumbria Manufacturing Service provides specialist help and grants to manufacturers while Manufacturing Made Smarter helps manufacturers access new technologies. The Growth Hub is also the gateway to programmes run by Lancaster University Management School including the new COVID 19 Response Programme.
The Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy has set up a web portal enabling businesses to access the latest advice and information from dozens of business representative organisations and trade associations.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has published a code of practice to encourage commercial tenants and landlords to work together to protect viable businesses.
***NEW*** There have been changes to insolvency law to give relieve the burden on businesses and give struggling companies breathing space from their creditors while they seek a rescue.
The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales has advice on re-starting including sections on rethinking business strategies, adapting the workplace and managing the return of employees.
***UPDATED*** Jobcentre Plus has created a website to assist employers looking to recruit or or make redundancies. It offers advice on next steps and the best ways to support staff who are losing their jobs. Likewise Inspira is providing free careers advice and guidance to furloughed workers, those facing redundancy as well as its usual free careers guidance service for adults.
Cumbria LEP has launched Jobs Fuse in partnership with the National Careers Service and the Department for Work and Pensions. Employers looking to make redundancies can call a hotline to find out about careers advice and support available to staff. The service also promotes vacancies to individuals available to start work.
Be the Business has advice on pivoting, altering your business model to adapt to changing market conditions.
The Self Employment Income Support Scheme pays 80% of average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering three months, and capped at £7,500. You must claim by July 13. The scheme will re-open in August for a second quarterly period but this time the payment will cover 70% of average monthly trading profits capped at £6,570. There’s an explanatory video about the scheme from HMRC. There’s also guidance on what to do if you’re self-employed and getting less work or no work.
Bounce Back Loans offer advances up to £50,000 to SMEs for up to six years. There are no fees, no interest in the first 12 months and no requirement to start repayments for 12 months. The interest rate from year two is 2.5%.
Coronavirus Business Interruption Loansoffer advances up to £5m to SMEs for up to six years. They are fee-free and interest-free for 12 months. Lenders will not demand personal guarantees for loans under £250,000.
The Future Fund offers convertible loans to businesses driving innovation.
Most businesses that are eligible for coronavirus grants have received them but you can still claim. There are two schemes, one for small businesses the other for those in the retail/hospitality/leisure sectors. The maximum grants are £10,000 and £25,000 respectively. Check if you’re entitled to claimthen contact your district council Allerdale, Barrow, Carlisle, Copeland, Eden or South Lakeland.
***NEW*** The Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund has now closed. However, we are expecting it to reopen for applications in Allerdale and Barrow only (these districts didn’t allocate all their funding in the first round). We’ll update this section with information on how to claim as soon as we have it. The scheme is for small businesses (fewer than 50 staff) that don’t qualify for either the small business grants or retail/hospitality/leisure grants (above), perhaps because they don’t pay business rates directly.
***NEW*** The COVID-19 Sustainable Innovation Fund offers grants to innovative companies needing to keep green projects alive during the pandemic, so helping to transform the way people live, work and travel.
***NEW*** Grants of up to £7,000 are available to SMEs in rural areas of Cumbria that suffer from slow broadband connections. The aim is to ensure businesses have access to download speeds of at least 30Mbps.
SKILLS AND TRAINING
Cumbria Coaching Network is offering free coaching to the leaders and employees of businesses, charities and public sector organisations in Cumbria that have been adversely affected by the coronavirus outbreak. The group of professional coaches can help people who are experiencing distress, anxiety and business challenges.
Digital Tech Cumbria is an initiative to help Cumbrian businesses identify how digital technology can support the achievement of their goals. It is open to SMEs that sell to other businesses.
Digital Boost is a free service offering online workshops and courses, and one-to-one advice, to help small businesses boost their digital skills and capabilities.
The Government has set up an online learning platform to help people boost their skills while at home during lockdown. The Skills Toolkit offers free digital and numeracy courses.
Lancaster University Management School (LUMS) is running an online COVID 19 Response Programme during July and August. This is a new peer-learning programme specifically designed to support leaders of SMEs in Cumbria and Lancashire following the coronavirus pandemic. It will explore ways to drive business recovery in the short term as well as planning for a more resilient long-term future.
In addition, two existing LUMS programmes have been adapted to run online:
The Made Smarter Leadership Programme is an eight-month leadership programme for business leaders of manufacturing SMEs wanting to improve their productivity through the adoption of new industrial digital technologies.
Productivity Through People is a 10-month programme in partnership with three world-class manufacturers – BAE Systems, Siemens and Rolls-Royce – designed to support and invest in the manufacturers of tomorrow. Gain access to the latest techniques, thinking and research to transform your productivity and working practices.
The British Chambers of Commerce has drafted a template exemption letter to be issued, where appropriate, to staff travelling back to the UK to show they are exempt from the requirement to self-isolate for 14 days.
The Government’s support-finder toolasks simple questions about your businesses, then advises what loans, tax relief or grants you can claim. This complements its coronavirus hub setting out the support available to businesses.