Hounslow Business Task Force at Ten - Free Webinars:
 
The next Task Force at Ten webinar is on Thursday 14 th  May at 10:00am
We are so pleased that Andrew Hatch from TfL will be part of the panel.
 
If you have missed our webinars, you can watch them now:  https://hounslowchamber.org.uk/10015
We are really pleased that Andrew Hatch from TfL is joining our panel of experts tomorrow morning, bearing in mind that those who are not able to work from home are being encouraged to return to work and some people have no choice but to use public transport, with all the confidence issues that that causes.

This week the furlough scheme has been extended to the end of October and we will also be getting an update on the discretionary grant available from the Local Authority, from Cllr Shantanu Rajawat, Cabinet member for Finance and Corporate Services.

We launched the Task Force in mid-March and since then have helped many businesses and are providing an invaluable service to all our businesses, members and non members alike. We are doing what a Chamber of Commerce should.   

We are helping businesses chase up their business rates relief, the small business loan and have put a cosmetics company, Brand Architekts, in touch with the Holiday Inn Brentford Lock who are opening this Friday to welcome some NHS staff. Brand Architekts are donating goody bags for the guests.

We continue to receive much information, which we are passing onto you. Please do keep in touch with us so we can try to help as far as we can.

Your Chamber is here to help so please do use us.  
DAILY BUSINESS BRIEFING FROM GOVERNMENT'S COVID-19 PRESS CONFERENCE (courtesy of White Label)

The government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will remain open until the end of October, the Chancellor announced today.
     
Rishi Sunak told Parliament the furlough scheme would be extended by a further four months with workers continuing to receive 80% of their current salary. However, from the start of August, furloughed workers will be able to return to work part-time with employers expected to pay a percentage towards the salaries of their furloughed staff.


The scheme will continue in its current form until the end of July and the changes to allow more flexibility will come in from the start of August. More specific details and information will be available before the end of the month.


Employers who do not comply with ‘COVID-secure’ workplace guidance could face prosecution
Business Secretary Alok Sharma, speaking at today’s Downing Street press conference, was joined by Sarah Albon, the chief executive of the Health and Safety Executive - which has been tasked with doing spot checks to make sure any businesses reopening are keeping staff safe.

He predicted there will be a "very, very small number of workplaces" where social distancing won't be followed safely, but said: “Employers have a duty to keep employees safe in the workplace.”

Albon says in her experience of receiving complaints about unsafe working environments, often it is the firm not understanding the rules - not maliciously trying to avoid following standards. However she added if there was a serious breach, then it would be considered a criminal office. “We can prosecute people who fail to do the right thing,” she said.

Government guidance released on working safely during COVID-19
The UK government, in consultation with industry, has produced ‘COVID-19 secure’ guidance to help ensure workplaces are as safe as possible .

The new guidance covers eight workplace settings which are allowed to be open, from outdoor environments and construction sites to factories and takeaways. This sets out practical steps for businesses focused on five key points, which should be implemented as soon as it is practical:
  1. Work from home, if you can
  2. Carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment, in consultation with workers or trade unions
  3. Maintain two metres social distancing, wherever possible
  4. Where people cannot be two metres apart, manage transmission risk
  5. Reinforcing cleaning processes

The eight guides cover a range of different types of work. Many businesses operate more than one type of workplace, such as an office, factory and fleet of vehicles. You may need to use more than one of these guides as you think through what you need to do to keep employees safe.
  • Construction and other outdoor work – Guidance for people who work in or run outdoor working environments.
  • Factories, plants and warehouses - Guidance for people who work in or run factories, plants and warehouses
  • Homes – Guidance for people working in, visiting or delivering to home environments as well as their employers
  • Labs and research facilities – Guidance for people who work in or run indoor labs and research facilities and similar environments
  • Offices and contact centres – Guidance for people who work in or run offices, contact centres and similar indoor environments
  • Restaurants offering takeaway or delivery – Guidance for people who work in or run restaurants offering takeaway or delivery services.
  • Shops and branches – Guidance for people who work in or run shops, branches, stores or similar environments.
  • Vehicles – Guidance for people who work in or from vehicles, including couriers, mobile workers, lorry drivers, on-site transit and work vehicles, field forces and similar.
Summary of Government Guidance on easing of lockdown restrictions . BCC want to stress a number of overarching points to these documents :

Legal obligations

  • The guidance is not statutory – it is described as a practical ‘framework’ for businesses to think about what is needed to continue or restart operations during the pandemic.
  • It gives practical considerations of how this can be applied in workplaces and businesses will need to translate into specific actions depending on the nature of their business.
  • The guidance does not supersede any legal obligations relating to health and safety, employment or equalities. It is important that businesses and/or employers continue to comply with existing obligations, including relating to individuals with protected characteristics.
  • The government is clear that workers should not be forced into an unsafe workplace.


Risk Assessments

  • All businesses will need to carry out appropriate Coronavirus risk assessment in "consultation with unions and workers"
  • The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has provided best practice risk assessments.
  • Businesses will need to do everything reasonably practicable to minimise risk to workers, although it is clear that the risk of Coronavirus cannot be eliminated completely. Business will need to manage risk to the lowest reasonable practicable level by taking preventative measures.
  • Generally if businesses read the guidance, undertake risk assessment and take steps to minimise risks they will have taken reasonable steps.
  • There is 5 point notice for display in the workplace indicating that a business has completed risk assessment and taken steps to protect their workforce.
  • Businesses should share the results of their risk assessment with their workforce. If possible, they are encouraged to consider publishing the results on their website (and there is an expectation that all businesses with over 50 workers would do so).


Enforcement

  • The actions the HSE can take ranges from the provision of specific advice to employers, through to issuing enforcement notices to help secure improvements.
  • There is a mechanism for employees to report poor practice.
Coronavirus safety measures (courtesy of the Cabinet Office)

Further guidance on coronavirus safety measures has been published:

More information - please find below a link to the strategy guidance from HM Government Department for Business, Energy & Industry.
New discretionary funding (courtesy of LCCI)

Councils were sent a letter from BEIS and MHCLG for guidance on allocating the new discretionary funds. Local authorities should prioritise the following types of businesses:
  • Small businesses in shared offices or other flexible workspaces. Examples could include units in industrial parks, science parks and incubators which do not have their own business rates assessment.
  • Regular market traders who do not have their own business rates assessment.
  • Bed & Breakfasts which pay Council Tax instead of business rates.
  • Charity properties in receipt of charitable business rates relief which would otherwise have been eligible for Small Business Rates Relief or Rural Rate Relief Eligibility criteria have been given too:
  • Businesses with ongoing fixed building-related costs.
  • Businesses which can demonstrate that they have suffered a significant fall in income due to the Covid-19 crisis.
  • Business with fewer than 50 employees.
  • Businesses that were trading on 11th March.
New Covid-19 support programme for London-based businesses
The motive
Businesses, particularly SMEs have been hit hard by the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and many are likely facing a sudden and dramatic drop in revenue and are struggling to sustain themselves.
JP Morgan approached our Social Impact team to develop an emergency 9-month programme, named “Small Business Resilience”, focused solely on providing support for UK businesses during these turbulent times. Read more here
Business rates revaluation postponed

A revaluation of business rates will no longer take place in 2021 to help reduce uncertainty for firms affected by the impacts of coronavirus
A revaluation of business rates will no longer take place in 2021 to help reduce uncertainty for firms affected by the impacts of coronavirus, Communities Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP has announced. Legislation had been introduced to bring the next revaluation forward by one year from 2022 to 2021, but following the recent economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic ministers want to ensure businesses have more certainty during this difficult time. Read more here
One of our Directors has the following tale:

This morning I had a call from someone who said he was a detective from Hammersmith police station. He called himself James Harrison or something similar. According to him my bank account had been hacked. I told him that I was not at all impressed when he asked my name. I said you would know more than that if my account had been hacked. I kept asking him what he wanted me to do. After telling him I was deeply suspicious he suddenly put the phone down. I immediately called 1471 and the system said that the caller had withheld the number so it was a hoax. Please be vigilant!
Cargo Figures 

In our previous update, we informed you that Heathrow had seen a 1000% increase in cargo-only air traffic compared to the average seen before the pandemic, with 520 cargo-only flights in the week commencing 20 th  April.

That trend has continued and in the week commencing 27 April, Heathrow saw 674 cargo-only flights – a 1334% increase on the weekly average pre-COVID-19, seeing 627 additional ATMs to our standard pre-COVID movements.


On Sunday 3 May, we had a record breaking day, as Heathrow saw 117 cargo-only flights. Heathrow normally handles 47 cargo movements a week on average.

Last week, we saw an average of over 100 cargo-only flights a day. This high daily average also means in two days last week, we saw more cargo ATMs than in the whole of February.

These numbers continue to be supported by an increased freighter operation, with many passenger airlines having started cargo-only flights.
Webinars coming up:
Vinay Tanna from Garner & Hancock is again hosting a meeting with a panel of our solicitors and property professionals to discuss how to still get the best out of the property market during the lockdown.

Garner & Hancock have, through the Law Society come up with a neat solutions to make the transaction go through as smoothly as possible.

Join us today at 3.00 pm on our Zoom Meeting.

More webinars from Soraya and Helen at CPGEXP:
 
  1. Kingston - May 19th 10 – 11.30 am New business landscape & model for growth https://bit.ly/2XKqqeS
  2. Richmond – May 26th – 14.00 – 15.30 - Meeting Success In The Current Business Climate - Their story. & Challenges - https://bit.ly/2VgW9T6
  3. Kingston – May 27th – 14.00 – 15.30 - Technology – The Part It Plays For Future Business - https://bit.ly/3cuZd3B
  4. Kingston – June 10th – 10-11am - How To Maximise Selling Online https://bit.ly/2zgNHe3
  5. Richmond – June 11th 10-11am - Cashflow Forecasting & How To Access Funding  https://bit.ly/34NfLl1
  6. Richmond – June 23rd 14.00 – 15.30 - The future of business and our society - https://bit.ly/2VmpYSb
  7. Kingston – June 24th – 10 -11.30 am - Mental Health & Wellbeing – Catalyst, Connection & Community - https://bit.ly/2xK60ru
Since we announced our Help Hub for Businesses , sponsored by Dell we have been thrilled with the response and are delighted to be helping so many of you to stay afloat during this difficult time... and we have just started! 
Good News:
Claire Ireland
News from our Creatives Community – we might be in lockdown but there is so much going on behind those creative closed doors. – please click here for inspiration.
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.