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Important announcements from the Chamber, our members, local Councils and other relevant business news will be posted regularly here.

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  • 14 April 2020 4:01 PM | Lauren Martin-Grieveson (Administrator)

    Coronavirus: Practical advice for businesses

    The spread of Coronavirus continues to dominate the news, with major implications for businesses and individuals across Sussex, the UK and the World. The current UK and global economic conditions has resulted in businesses having to trade under extremely challenging and unprecedented conditions and for this reason, Sussex and Gatwick-based chartered accountants, tax and business advisers, MHA Carpenter Box have now set up a dedicated hub on its website available via www.carpenterbox.com/coronavirus .

    The purpose of the hub is to provide practical advice and guidance for businesses and individuals in one place, rather than searching a multitude of sites for various information. Information will be updated with guidance from the Government as and when it becomes available and will also include resources and guides to help businesses during these uncertain times.

    The hub also provides information on the business support packages announced by the Government, which include supporting SMEs with payroll costs; creating temporary loan schemes; business rates holidays; the provision of small business grants and delayed tax payments.

    Alan Edwards, Managing Partner at MHA Carpenter Box commented: “Under the current extremely challenging economic conditions, we would urge businesses who foresee a requirement for additional support or finance to act promptly, even as a precautionary measure.”

    www.carpenterbox.com

  • 14 April 2020 3:48 PM | Lauren Martin-Grieveson (Administrator)

    Barclays: Supporting our customers and clients impacted by Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the UK

    Free banking measures for SMEs with turnover under £250k

    • Barclays will provide free everyday banking* and overdrafts to 650,000 customers with turnover up to £250k
    • The bank will waive all everyday banking fees and charges for existing business banking customers until July 2020
    • Free account fees
    • Free everyday banking transactions
    • No overdraft fees or interest charges on both arranged and unarranged overdraft facilities
    • This change will be backdated and any accrued costs from mid-March will not be charged

    Hannah Bernard, Managing Director for Barclays Business Banking, said:

    “We know that small businesses up and down the country are struggling with the impacts of coronavirus right now, and we will do everything we possibly can to support them.

    “By offering free everyday banking and overdraft facilities to over 650,000 SMEs, we hope we will provide some temporary relief which will ease some of the financial stresses and strains businesses are under right now.

    “The changes to the terms of the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme announced by the Treasury will also be of comfort to millions across the UK and will enable us to more quickly help businesses access the support they need at this critical time.”

    Background

    *Free everyday banking: We will not apply fees to every day banking transactions including Cash, Cheques, debit card and electronic payments. Please note, there will still be charges for Barclays.Net account fees and for using any ‘additional services’ which are billed at the time of the transaction like CHAPS, but businesses with under £250k turnover do not use those facilities regularly.

    In response to the Government strengthening support on offer for businesses:
    New measures in places for Barclays SME customers applying for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)

    • Barclays will not require Personal Guarantees on any CBILS loan, including on lending above £250k.
    • This is further to the removal of a Personal Guarantee for loans less than £250k (announced on 26th March 2020).
    • We hope that this will give businesses more confidence to use CBILS as it will help simplify the application process and enable us to more quickly help businesses access the support they need at this critical time.

    Existing measures in place:

    Business Banking

    • Free helpline open Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm offering guidance, support and information.  Available for the bank’s one million business banking customers
    • 12-month capital repayment holidays on existing loans over £25k
    •  Increased or new overdraft facilities and other working capital solutions
    • Access to funding – 360,000 SMEs have pre-assessed lending limits which can be accessed via the Barclays app or online banking
    • In addition, the bank has an existing £14 billion lending fund which we launched in 2019 as part of a three-year commitment to help SMEs build resilience during uncertain times. More detail here: https://home.barclays/news/2019/04/sme-lending-fund/ 

    For more information, visit: https://www.barclays.co.uk/business-banking/

    Existing measures in place:

    Personal Banking Customers

    We have a full package of support to help customers who are suffering financial hardship because of coronavirus, including:

    • Overdrafts:Waiving all interest from 27th March until the end of April 2020, meaning no charges for customers to use their agreed overdraft.
    • Customers don’t need to call us to set this up, interest will automatically be removed from 27 March 2020.
    • Mortgages:Repayment holidays on residential mortgages for up to 90 days, with an online form available for customers https://www.barclays.co.uk/coronavirus/mortgages/
    • With residential mortgages specifically, the option to switch capital repayment mortgages to interest only for up to 12 months
    • Credit cards: Waiving late payment and cash advance fees for all customers from 19th March for 90 days. We’ll take care of this, so you don’t need to call us.
    • Savings: Removing penalty charges to access fixed savings accounts early
    • We encourage any customer suffering hardship, or who anticipates financial difficulties to look on our dedicated page, www.barclays.co.uk/coronavirus/

    Corporate Banking Customers

    • Ongoing outreach from dedicated relationship directors who remain in close working contact with clients and will continue to assist with individual challenges such as working capital, liquidity, supply chains, and FX, to provide the appropriate support
    • Providing responsible support to clients that have a funding requirement resulting from the coronavirus impact
    • Aiding short term cash flow pressures with measures such as capital repayment holidays, temporary increases to overdrafts and extending existing trade facilities. 
    • New, extended or amended lending facilities
    • Regular client calls to discuss economic impacts, what we are seeing and expect to see in the FX and commodity markets, and supply chain impacts and options.

    For more information, please visit: https://www.barclayscorporate.com/covid-19/


  • 09 April 2020 2:53 PM | Lauren Martin-Grieveson (Administrator)

    Message from the AWBP Chair, Andrew Swayne

    This week in Covid-19 world a lot has happened in many countries. Signs of recovery in Asia continue, but are patchy. Most of the US is in lockdown now, to one extent or another, as is most of Europe. There seems to be a pattern of extending lockdowns in 2 – 4 weekly cycles. We do have early signs of reducing death rates in Italy and Spain.

    If we focus on the economic environment in the UK, I’m pleased that the government has listened to feedback and has improved some of the schemes. Many businesses will be using these schemes in a variety of ways. If any of you have issues with speed of response or process it’s important that we know about it so concerns can be collated and fed back rapidly. Please do this via any of the membership organisations you belong to and copy business.covidsupport@adur-worthing.gov.uk. This is looked at regularly during the day and is source material for high level briefings.

    As individuals we all need to think of our families, both in the conventional sense and in the businesses we lead and support. Healthy people enable healthy businesses. Please take time for yourselves and your staff and support each other. Mental health and medical wellbeing are equally vital for enduring the crisis and planning recovery.

    Last week I promised a few things to start thinking about for when recovery happens:

    · Recovery will be patchy and at different speeds in different sectors

    · Think about how you can manage your workplaces with social distancing remaining in place

    · How might your teams be segregated so all can be at the workplace at some stage during the week

    · What additional PPE might you need?

    · Operating models may need to last for some time before schools re-open

    I wish you and your families a safe Easter break 


  • 09 April 2020 12:47 PM | Lauren Martin-Grieveson (Administrator)

    £20 million for ambitious technologies to build UK resilience post pandemic

    Businesses could help boost the UK’s resilience to the long-term impact of the coronavirus outbreak and similar situations in the future, as a result of £20 million government funding announced recently.

    Grants of up to £50,000 will be available to technology and research-focussed businesses to develop new ways of working and help build resilience in industries such as delivery services, food manufacturing, retail and transport, as well as support people at home in circumstances like those during the coronavirus outbreak.

    The proposals will be reviewed as part of a competition launched by Innovate UK, seeking the best new ideas from businesses. All the projects will begin by June 2020 and will last up to 6 months, with products and services expected to be available to the public towards the end of this year. 


  • 09 April 2020 12:40 PM | Lauren Martin-Grieveson (Administrator)

    Heritage Emergency Fund launches to help sector

    The National Lottery Heritage Fund has put together a £50million fund to support the heritage sector as an immediate response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.  

    The UK-wide fund - money raised from The National Lottery - will address immediate pressures over the next three-six months for those organisations most in need. It will be open for applications within the next few days.

    We will continue to support more than 2,500 projects that we have already committed to - an investment of more than £1billion. 

    Eilish McGuinness, The National Lottery Heritage Fund Executive Director, Business Delivery, said:  “We know that circumstances are incredibly challenging for our heritage community right now and we want to do everything we can to support them. We hope this new fund will be a lifeline and a beacon of hope for organisations affected.

    “Heritage has an essential role to play in making communities better places to live, creating economic prosperity and supporting personal wellbeing. All of these are going to be vitally important as we emerge from this current crisis.”

    Heritage Minister Nigel Huddleston said: “It is important that we do all we can to ensure our nation’s remarkable heritage landscapes, buildings and monuments - and the hardworking organisations that protect them - are supported at this difficult time.

    “Heritage plays an important role in our communities by supporting jobs and economic growth as well as helping us to understand our shared past. This new £50 million package from the National Lottery Heritage Fund will help to protect our most at risk heritage throughout this unprecedented period.”

    Heritage Emergency Fund

    The £50m fund will be available for grants of between £3,000 and £50,000.

    It is available to organisations across the full breadth of heritage, including historic sites, industrial and maritime heritage, museums, libraries and archives, parks and gardens, landscapes and nature.

    Organisations which have received funding in the past or are either a current grantee, or still under contract following a previous grant, can apply.

    Priority will be given where:

    • there is limited or no access to other sources of support
    • where heritage is most at risk
    • where an organisation is at risk of severe financial crisis due to coronavirus (COVID-19)

    Read more here

  • 09 April 2020 11:42 AM | Lauren Martin-Grieveson (Administrator)

    Acas newsletter - Furlough letter template | Updated Guidance | Webinars 

    Here’s a brief update on resources available to help employers during the Coronavirus pandemic. Including a new furlough letter template and an invitation to register for an upcoming Acas webinar.

    Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme This HMRC advice page helps you find out if you’re eligible and how much you can claim to cover wages for employees on temporary leave ('furlough') due to Coronavirus (COVID-19). 

    Furlough letter template  We have produced a free-to-download template for employers to use to confirm that there is an agreement to temporarily furlough a worker or employee. Download here

    Using holiday  View updated Acas guidance on using holiday, including advice on bank holidays.

    Webinar recording: Coronavirus – an advisory webinar for employers 

    Hosted on 7 April, this webinar provided practical advice for employers to help manage the impact of coronavirus in the workplace.   View recording

    Register for our upcoming webinar  (16 April, 1pm - 2pm)

    For more information visit the Acas website: https://www.acas.org.uk/

  • 09 April 2020 11:33 AM | Lauren Martin-Grieveson (Administrator)

    Message from Deborah Urquhart – Deputy Leader of West Sussex County Council and Cabinet Member for Environment

    Dear residents,

    Over the last few weeks all of us have experienced change which could never have been predicted. We have all had to adapt to protect ourselves and others, and some people – including NHS and many local government workers – have had to step up to help others in extremely difficult circumstances.

    I want to thank everyone for playing their part in the fight against coronavirus, and this includes everyone who is staying at home to help prevent the spread of the disease.

    With the warmer spring weather looking like it’s set to stay, I know how tempting it can be to get outside. Many of us are lucky enough to have private outdoor space we can enjoy. But for many others a daily walk, run, or bike ride in their local area will be the only chance they get to enjoy the outside environment.

    If you are planning to venture out for your one form of exercise a day, please remember to adhere to the current government advice and stay at least two metres away from people who are not from your household.

    Where possible please start and finish your exercise from home, using nearby greenspaces and don’t travel unnecessarily. Be careful when walking out and about and stick to designated footpaths, obeying the rules of the countryside. Don’t forget to thoroughly wash your hands when you get home.

    For more advice on the current situation please visit our website.

    I wish you all a safe and peaceful Easter and ask that you spare a thought for the many colleagues and partners who will be working hard over the weekend to care for our residents.
  • 09 April 2020 11:23 AM | Lauren Martin-Grieveson (Administrator)

    Pensions and furloughing

    Since the Government published details about its Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, there have been many questions asked about what it means for pensions.

    While we don’t yet have the complete picture  about furloughing and its impact on pension contributions,  we are expecting guidance on it from the Government, HMRC and the Pensions Regulator. In the meantime this is what we do know:

    The Government will only pay the Auto Enrolment minimum employer pension contribution ie 3% on the 80% or £2.5k per month if lower of the employee’s regular monthly wage (no commission, fees or bonus). If the employer pays more then the Government’s furloughing scheme only covers 3%, it won’t pay any extra.

     The Government‘s scheme will not cover the employees’ auto-enrolment pension contributions at all. 

     For members who are part of a pensions salary sacrifice scheme, the 80% pay is based on the employee’s reduced salary and the Government’s scheme will only cover 3% of the salary sacrificed amount. The information that has to be provided to HMRC is all based on what goes through PAYE and so there is no allowance for salary sacrifice. 

     The 3% itself is based on 3% of earnings above the lower qualifying earnings threshold (£512 per month up to 5 April and £520 after that). This is the case regardless as to the definition of pensionable earnings used by the employer for auto-enrolment and regardless of which quality test is used for auto-enrolment 

    Our view is that the legal position currently is that the employer must top up any difference in contribution rates if it is furloughing. If the employer is not prepared to do so then this amounts to a listed change as it is a change to its pension contribution structure. This then requires the employer, if it has 50 or more employees, to consult for 60 days before changing its pension contribution structure. This is just a consultation - individual consents are not required. 

    The Pensions Regulator has the power to issue a £50k fine if the employer fails to satisfy its statutory 60 day pension consultation obligations.  It is also separately a change to an employee’s terms and conditions and so the employee could claim constructive dismissal if they do not agree to the change ie there is the potential for a breach of contract claim. 

    However we understand that the Pensions Regulator is looking at relaxing the 60 day consultation obligation as this doesn’t work well with the idea of furloughing and the flexibility that this aims to bring employers. We understand that some Guidance is expected relatively soon from the Pensions Regulator. 

    Separately employers should not be encouraging their employees in any way to opt out of auto-enrolment and it is a statutory offence to do so. An employee must pay the minimum auto-enrolment contribution of 5% on qualifying earnings unless the employer pays this. There is no flexibility on this in the auto-enrolment legislation. 

    Also we understand that the Government is to issue Guidance on how to calculate the contributions before employers can apply for the furloughing grant. We expect this to specify whether the difference the employer has to make up is on the new furloughed amount or the higher pre-furloughed amount.  HMRC are actively looking at this at the moment.

    The Government’s announcements on furloughing do not specifically mention Defined Benefit schemes. It is unclear what impact furloughing will have – is Defined Benefit accrual to be maintained? If so, the 3% employer contribution rate is not likely to be sufficient. We have to just wait for further guidance for this to be clarified.     It may not be an immediate priority for the Government as the public sector and  local authorities, for example, are not immediately going to go down the route of furloughing employees.   

    By Penny Cogher and Larisa Gordan from Irwin Mitchell

  • 09 April 2020 9:25 AM | Lauren Martin-Grieveson (Administrator)

    #MY19HERO | Bringing out The Best in People

    Stephanie Young of #saydesignUK wanted to highlight how businesses have adapted during this time of Covid-19. Many of her clients where reframing their business talents, contacts and working practices, to not only survive this time of turmoil, but also support and give back to the NHS and communities. There are many positive stories out there.

    • Like the Brighton furniture manufacture now making facemasks for the NHS.
    • The independent cleaner turning her business into a team of carers.
    • The yoga teacher going online and giving free classes.
    • People with more spare time baking and delivering free bread and cakes.
    • The community support groups that have emerged.

    We hear a lot about the negative things taking place, but there are so many positives arising every day. Stories of hope and change in business and the community are so important to share. Not only to promote them but also to educate and encourage others to think outside the box and do the same.

    My Heroes a facebook group has been set up as a platform to share this hope.

    #MY19HERO | The Best in People
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/my19hero

    So you are invited to tell your story, or to invite others that have a story to tell:

    • How has your business transformed i.e. Manufacturing, social care, going online?
    • Have you started up a new business?
    • Have you created a new community service?
    • Are you now supporting the NHS or the venerable?
    • Are you making donations through your products and services?
    • How has your service grown in these troubling times?

    Please join, share and post. Sharing our stories we can encourage others, learn and recognise the #MY19HERO.

  • 08 April 2020 3:24 PM | Lauren Martin-Grieveson (Administrator)

    More than £2M already paid to hard-hit businesses in Adur & Worthing 

    Sums totalling more than £2m have been paid to 176 businesses struggling during the coronavirus crisis in just two days, Adur & Worthing Councils announced today (April 8)

    Staff at the Councils are working through hundreds of request forms to send hard-pressed businesses lifeline grants from the government.

    The small businesses, retailers, restaurant owners and leisure operators have successfully completed an online form established by the Councils to register for the government cash. 

    The Councils are encouraging eligible businesses to continue to come forward and complete the easy-to-use online form believing there are still many more businesses who could qualify for help.

    Small businesses qualifying (those that receive Small Business Rate Relief or Rural Rate) will receive a grant of £10,000 while operators in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors will receive grants on a sliding scale of up to £25,000 providing their rateable value does not exceed £51,000.

    In total the government has allocated £26M for support to these businesses in Worthing and £17M in Adur.

    Around 2,500 qualifying businesses across Adur and Worthing have also been sent a letter from the Councils to their business address as a prompt to register for a grant.

    A spokesman for Adur & Worthing Councils said:“We thank everyone for following the guidelines as they complete the forms and want to reassure all eligible businesses that we are working through the submissions as quickly as possible.”

    Businesses qualifying will need to give details of their operation so it is important the rate payer accesses the form only when they have all information to hand. 

    Details needed include their business rates account number, property reference number, VAT registration number, full bank details, and billing address.

    Businesses that have been verified will be sent a confirmatory email with further details of payments while those who haven't met the government's criteria will also receive an email confirmation.

    To register businesses should go to https://www.adur-worthing.gov.uk/coronavirus/business-support/#register-for-sbgf-rhlgf-grant-fund



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Worthing & Adur Chamber of Commerce is the trading name of Worthing & Adur Chamber of Commerce & Industry Ltd.
Company registered in England & Wales. Company number: 00345261.  
VAT No: 275 6477 60
Registered Office: Sphere Business Centre, Broadwater Road, Worthing,
West Sussex BN14 8HJ
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