The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme claim portal opened at 8am yesterday and has already received claims for more than a million workers.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed at today’s press conference that 140,000 firms have already applied for the grants which would fund the pay of up to a million employees. He said firms applying today will receive cash in six working days and the government would continue to provide updates.

HMRC has produced this step by step guidance on how to make a claim. There is also a calculator to help you work out your claim. Click here to make a claim.

The Chancellor has also announced a  one month extension to the scheme, meaning it is open until the end of June, to reflect continuing lockdown measures.

HMRC is also holding live webinars providing an overview of the scheme to help employers and employees deal with the economic impacts of coronavirus. Register for a live webinar here.

The Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme, which has been expanded to cover all viable firms with a turnover of more than £45million, was also been launched today. It will be available through a series of accredited lenders, which will be listed on the British Business Bank website .

This complements existing support including the Covid Corporate Financing Facility and the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme for small and medium sized businesses.

£1.25bn for the ‘innovation and enterprise’ the UK needs for post COVID-19 economic recovery

The government has announced a £1.25bn package to support innovative companies lead the UK economic recovery.

Speaking at today’s Downing Street press conference, Mr Sunak said: “We have never seen an economic crisis like this one.

“The goal of the schemes (to date) has been to maintain as many people as possible in their existing jobs, to support viable business to stay afloat and the incomes of the self-employed to allow them to trade again. This has been to retain our economy’s productive capacity so we can bridge through this crisis.

“But we are also sowing the seeds of our ultimate recovery. As we look ahead and start to plan for our recovery, it is critical we encourage business, and create jobs for the future.

“Innovation and Enterprise have powered our countries for centuries and it is what will we drive our growth for the next centuries."

The Chancellor announced two schemes, both due to launch in May. They include:
  • a new £500m loan scheme for high-growth firms, called the Future Fund,
  • £750m of targeted support for small and medium sized businesses focusing on research and development

Mr Sunak said the targeted and tailored help would ensure firms in some of the most dynamic sectors of the UK economy – ranging from tech to life sciences – are protected through the crisis so they can continue to develop innovative new products and help power UK growth.

Delivered in partnership with the British Business Bank, the fund will provide UK-based companies with between £125,000 and £5m from the government, with private investors at least matching the government commitment. These loans will automatically convert into equity on the company’s next qualifying funding round, or at the end of the loan if they are not repaid.

The £750m of targeted support for the most R&D intensive small and medium size firms will be available through Innovate UK’s grants and loan scheme, Innovate UK.

More information on the detail behind the scheme can be found in the headline terms .

Women in Innovation 2020: new funding announced
Innovate UK has announced a new wave of Women in Innovation Award s to find and support the UK’s most promising female innovators. Up to 10 women will secure £50,000 each as well as a bespoke programme of coaching, mentoring and innovation growth support.

Financial support for education, early years and children’s social care
Funding and financial support available for education, childcare and children’s social care organisations. Find out more here.


The government has also launched a Coronavirus Information Service on WhatsApp which is now updated with business support advice. Text ‘hi’ to 07860064422 via Whatsapp and there are business support measures highlighted under option 5 with the relevant links to gov.uk pages.
Hounslow Giving are working with Hounslow Council to co-ordinate the needs and asks within The Borough of Hounslow during the COVID-19 crisis. We are matching volunteers, donations or money and equipment with those individuals and groups most at need.

The Mayor of London has asked Transport for London to delay the enforcement of new rules for London's Low Emission Zone (LEZ) and Direct Vision Standards (DVS) for at least four months after their introduction this October.

Although the new rules under both schemes will still legally come into force on 26 October, no charges will be payable or enforced until the end of February 2021. The new date for the start of enforcement will be kept under review.

Though companies have been preparing for the new rules for some time, with many vehicles already compliant, the pandemic has disrupted supply chains and has placed additional demands on the industry. Postponing enforcement will allow the freight industry to focus on its core operations during the pandemic. 

We remain committed to working together to tackle some of London's biggest challenges, including road danger and air quality. Tightened emission standards for buses, coaches, lorries and specialist vehicles - in line with the tough requirements in place for the central London Ultra Low Emission Zone - will help clean up London's air and save lives. 

Meanwhile, the DVS will reduce danger to vulnerable road users by introducing a safety permit system for HGVs, assigning vehicles a star rating based on how much the driver can see through their cab window. 

You can find full details of the LEZ scheme and DVS scheme on our website. 
BAME Victims of COVID-19 (20th April 2020 - courtesy of the Guardian)

Sadiq Khan has written today regarding the disproportionate impact COVID-19 is having on Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities. 
Medical treatment – thought provoking article by Nigel George of Garner & Hancock  
An update from us and a volunteering opportunity for you

As you can imagine, with schools closed, Spark! has cancelled all work experience and employability events until further notice for the safety of our students, work experience hosts and volunteers - we know thousands of young people will miss out! However, it's not all sad news, the team are creating some virtual activities and we need your help to get it going. We want to remain the charity you partner with, so that together we can make a difference.
Could you volunteer some time to help a young person?

We value your support and we now need your partnership more than ever to develop young people's employability skills. We are currently looking at supporting young people’s careers education virtually.

Would you or a colleague be willing to volunteer and help a young person achieve their ambitions? 

This may include conducting a virtual mock interview or mentoring a young person.

If so, please email us by clicking below and pass our details on to colleagues looking for volunteering opportunities or if you'd like to have a chat please call to find out more on 07852470177.
Waracle are hosting another informative virtual conference on the subject of cloud services, the link is below.

Hounslow Chamber of Commerce is the primary support, networking, and representation organisation in west London for SMEs.

We support the interests, the commercial aspirations and the investment for some 18,000 firms - from Chiswick to Feltham, Heathrow to Osterley and Brentford to Bedfont - the Chamber is the voice for all businesses located in the borough.