If you have missed our webinars, you can watch them now: https://hounslowchamber.org.uk/10015  

The next Task Force webinar is scheduled for Thursday, 16 th April at 10:00 am.  Questions covered in yesterday’s webinar included:

  • Lease termination repercussions / responsibilities 
  • Cash flow issues/Government Covid business interruption lending (CBIL) But the rejection level high. Businesses need to improve business plan write up - your Chamber can help either directly or via a referral
  • Furloughing staff (T&C explained)
  • Directors can be furloughed, but must retain responsibilities with conditions
With Easter weekend approaching and good weather predicted, we are reminding people that travel on the transport network is only for critical workers making absolutely essential journeys. 
To help reduce the spread of Coronavirus no one else should be using the transport network. The message is simple:

Stay at home, don’t travel, save lives.  
Cllr Rajawat talks about support for business, individuals and community groups struggling financially 

We know many businesses, individuals and community groups are struggling financially at the moment. There is  a lot of support out there , and the Council is working hard to try to make sure funding and support reaches those in need as soon as possible.
  
In this video Cllr Shantanu Rajawat, Cabinet Member for Finance and Corporate Services, explains what the Council has been doing and what support is available.

DAILY BUSINESS BRIEFING FROM GOVERNMENT'S COVID-19 PRESS CONFERENCE (courtesy of White Label)

On a day when it was revealed that more than nine million workers are expected to be furloughed under the government's job retention scheme, the Chancellor admitted that there was no doubt COVID-19 would have a significant impact on the economy, despite the government’s unprecedented financial interventions.

Asked whether UK unemployment will become as bad as places like Norway, where the jobless rate is above 10% because of the coronavirus outbreak, he replied: "I will be absolutely honest, this will have a significant impact on the economy and not in an abstract way - on people's jobs and livelihoods."

He said the job retention scheme - that sees people being furloughed from work and paid 80% of their wages by the government - combined with other government measures would "significantly help mitigate some of the impact".

Responding to further questions, he added the schemes had been designed to prevent fraud and that the government would be cracking down on any abuse.

He said the schemes, despite being designed ‘at pace’ had been a balance between ensuring they were simple and accessible while protecting the taxpayer. Mr Sunak said this had influenced some of the decisions made, such as the 28 February ‘cut-off’ date for payroll, and this had unfortunately meant some people have 'fallen through the cracks'.

And he added while he was confident the schemes had been designed to minimise the risk of fraud or surplus claims, there would be robust scrutiny and auditing.

Chancellor reveals £750m funding to support charities’ ‘unsung heroes’ in the front line against COVID-19
Mr Sunak also announced unprecedented financial support for the hard-hit charity sector at today’s Downing Street press conference.

He pledged £750million funding for charities, of which £370m will be ring-fenced for small local charities supporting vulnerable people. £360m would go to charities providing essential services and supporting vulnerable people; this included up to £200m to hospices with the rest going to organisations such as Citizens Advice, St John Ambulance and those supporting vulnerable children, victims of domestic abuse and disabled people among others.

The government will also match ‘pound for pound’ donations to the National Emergencies Trust as part of the BBC’s Big Night In fundraiser later this month, with a minimum pledge of £20m.

New £1.3m emergency fund to support tourism industry

Earlier today, Tourism Minister Nigel Huddleston launched a new emergency fund to support Destination Management Organisations (DMO) in England at risk of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The funding, which is available to any at-risk DMO in England which usually receives at least 50% of its income from commercial sources, will be used to cover operating costs and the cost of employees that cannot be furloughed under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme because they provide crucial business support services.

Under the scheme, DMOs will be able to receive up to £2,500 per month for two members of non-furloughed staff who provide crucial business support services and up to £5,000 to cover operating costs.

ADDITIONAL NEW GUIDANCE ON SOCIAL DISTANCING IN THE WORKPLACE
To support businesses that remain open during this period in England, the government has published additional guidance to assist employers, businesses and their staff in staying open safely during coronavirus (COVID-19). For specific settings please refer to sector specific guidance . Guidance has been published for:


These guidelines are not intended to be comprehensive or to represent every business’s situation, but are illustrative examples. Businesses should also look at the advice being published by trade associations and similar groups on how to apply government guidance in their sector. Read the general guidance for employers and businesses on coronavirus .


ADDITIONAL NEW GUIDANCE RELEASED TODAY

Temporary relaxation of the enforcement of the drivers’ hours rules: all sectors carriage of goods by road
Anyone driving under the EU drivers’ hours rules or the GB drivers’ hours rules and undertaking carriage of goods by road can use the relevant relaxation where necessary. The relaxations are not limited to specific sectors or journeys. These two temporary relaxations will run until 23:59 on Tuesday 21 April 2020.

Apprenticeship programme response
This document sets out guidance for apprentices, employers, training providers and assessment organisations in response to the impact of Coronavirus. The guidance has been updated with new information on continuing training and end point assessment for furloughed apprentices, and pausing new funding audits.
BUSINESS SUPPORT PACKAGES: LATEST INFORMATION & UPDATES

COVID-19 Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme
HMRC has published new online guidance about the new coronavirus (COVID-19) Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme which allows small and medium sized employers, with fewer than 250 employees, to apply to HMRC to recover the costs of paying Statutory Sick Pay to their employees. Details about when the new Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme can be accessed and when employers can make a claim, will be announced as soon as possible. 
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – Furlough Leave: updated information (courtesy of Bright Grahame Murray) 

More information has been published on how this scheme will operate including details on how a claim can be made.

This note has been prepared from information available at 7 April 2020, in particular updated information published by the Government on 4 April 2020.  This replaces our earlier notes.

This could still be subject to change and further guidance.  Please click here .
Do you have an old laptop or computer you can donate?
Local education charity, Hounslow’s Promise , of which, Alan Rides, MD of Hounslow Chamber, is a trustee, is working with local schools and MPs to help provide computers or laptops to local school pupils needing to study at home who don’t have access to a computer or the internet. We estimate around 1,000 children in Hounslow need support. 

Do you have an old laptop or computer you can donate?  

If so please email  info@hounslowspromise.org   include your name, address, telephone number and details of the computer e.g. a laptop, PC, Mac or Chromebook.  

The charity will respond with information on how to back up your machine and make sure you delete any data before donating. Accessories e.g. charger cables, keyboards, mouse are also needed.  

The computers can be collected from you or dropped off at drop-off points. Computers will be cleaned down, safety tested and re-imaged before schools pass on to children and families. The project is also being supported by local businesses. 
Good News:
We're nearly into 3 weeks of lockdown in the UK and heading into an Easter weekend. For many that will mean a time to reflect on how different life has become, and maybe to start to think about how much of that new behaviour might end up continuing after lockdown is over.

One of the biggest mindset shifts we're likely to see at the end of all this is in what we buy and how much we consume. When even food starts to become a precious commodity, you begin to realise that there are things more important in life than possessions.

No one needs to wear a different outfit every time they go out, or to buy something new every time something is broken.

A 'make do and mend' philosophy is starting to prevail, and with that comes the rediscovery of the joy and value of making things. As well as an appreciate of items that are made to last rather than those that are disposable,

All of this bodes very well for UK manufacturing.

With more people rediscovering their sewing machines, and with homeschooling focusing more on creativity than academia (at least it is in my house), I hope that this will encourage more people to consider making a living out of making things.

We are already seeing a backlash against Chinese-made goods reported in the press, and at Make it British we have had a lot of enquiries from people looking to source British-made alternatives to imported items.

Being made in the UK gives brands a trustworthy status that is difficult to replicate, and more people will be seeking out these types of brands when they start to shop again.
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.