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Chamber News & Blog

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

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  • 05 May 2020 9:00 AM | Lauren Martin-Grieveson (Administrator)

    Businesses overwhelmingly support campaign for 'Part Furlough'

    More than four fifths of firms back a motion to introduce a ‘part furlough’ element to the Government’s Job Retention Scheme, according the results of a survey released today.

    Outsourced HR provider The HR Dept asked companies around the UK for feedback on the Government’s support package for businesses hit by the coronavirus crisis.

    From 915 respondents, 82 per cent said they would like to see an option to part furlough their employees, so skeleton staff could carry out fundamental business activity such as payroll and invoicing and make the business ready for a return to more normal activity.

    While the Government’s support package has been universally welcomed, businesses say the all-or-nothing nature of the furlough system prevents essential tasks being undertaken on a reduced hours basis. They also suggest potential for resentment among staff who are asked to work fewer hours for reduced pay, against those furloughed on 80 per cent of full pay and not working.

    The survey also asked respondents whether they had employees who were ineligible for furloughing because they were not placed on PAYE schemes before the cut-off date of March 19th. Over a third (36 per cent), said that they did.

    The HR Dept, whose network of licensees support more than 6,500 SMEs around the UK with outsourced HR, now plans to take the results of the survey to contacts in the Government and to share with influential bodies such as the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (CIPD).

    Leading The HR Dept’s work on this matter is Sue Beeby, who owns The HR Dept in the Worthing and Adur area.

    Sue said: “The survey puts concrete figures on what we suspected from discussions with our clients in the SME community. Namely that, while extremely welcome, the Government’s support package needs an appropriate intervention to reflect the genuine and widespread concerns of businesses at the smaller end of the spectrum.

    “Many of the company owners I have spoken to since the scheme was introduced – and this is backed up by the results of our survey – say that, because the system does not allow employees to do any work at all, most businesses are without the reduced but important contributions needed to keep core business activities going. Nor are they able to prepare for a resumption of activities when the furlough period is ended.

    “Those staff who may not get furloughed and are still working, often on reduced hours, with a limited number of statutory guarantee pay days making up the time when they are not required, then reverting to nil pay for non-working days. This is a major decrease in their earnings at a time when many colleagues are earning close to full wages despite not working at all.

    “This poses serious problems for continuity, morale among employees and potential burn-out for company owners who are having to take on extra responsibility rather than asking employees to work in unfair pay situations.

    “However, as often happens with constructive policy debate these concerns of smaller businesses are rarely aired and so we are doing all we can to represent their concerns.”

    The HR Dept’s proposed solution is an additional ‘short time working scheme’ and for non-working days to pay not the guarantee statutory pay of £30 per day (currently at a maximum of five days) but the same 80 per cent rate of daily pay, capped at circa £115 per day.  She believes this would give businesses the flexibility to see some work carried out and parity in compensatory pay for those not working normal contractual hours.

    Sue said: “This would be a pragmatic, fair, equitable and much needed solution, that would be welcomed by SMEs and keep the wheels of commerce and industry going, subject to complying at all times with guidance from Public Health.

    “Otherwise, there is a danger of creating a disincentive to work and of negatively reinforcing wrong behaviours which are not in the best interests of the employer or the economy. The less flexibility there is, the greater the risk of fraudulent claims being made to HMRC on behalf of employees who are actually continuing to work part-time behind the scenes.”

    The HR Dept’s position for flexibility has been supported by the CIPD’s head of public policy Ben Willmott, who was keynote speaker at the company’s annual conference for franchisees last year.

    In a blog published on the CIPD website this week, Mr Willmott said: “The UK ‘all or nothing’ furlough approach may be simpler and easier to administrate than a more flexible scheme which enables short-time working but it also has significant drawbacks and disadvantages.

    “Firstly, it does not allow organisations to continue to use staff on reduced hours where this is possible, meaning it is much harder for employers to flex their workforce efficiently, placing more pressure on remaining non-furloughed staff who often have to work harder or in unfamiliar roles to compensate.

    “This is a particular challenge for micro and small firms under most financial pressure and with fewer staffing options.”

    Article by Sue Beeby from HR Dept 
    www.hrdept.co.uk/chichester-bognor-regis-arundel/

  • 04 May 2020 12:28 PM | Lauren Martin-Grieveson (Administrator)

    Furlough leave: the HMRC Job Retention Scheme

    This free-to-attend webinar explains HMRC's scheme for employers who have furloughed their workers, or who are planning to. It includes:

    · Who can claim

    · What can be claimed, and what's excluded

    · Maternity leave considerations

    ·  National Minimum Wage considerations

    · Effects on holiday entitlement

    · Selecting employees for furlough and gaining agreement

    ·  Shielding and furlough

    Tuesday 12 May, 2pm to 3pm  |  register

    Thursday 14 May, 10:30am to 11:30am  |  register
  • 04 May 2020 9:53 AM | Lauren Martin-Grieveson (Administrator)

    Business Update from Sussex Transport

    In these troubling times we are aware that many customers are ramping up production and demand for goods has increased. We are also aware that driver levels will be fluctuating with self-isolation across the industry.
     
    We are continuing to operate all our usual services including all destinations across the UK until we are advised otherwise. We receive continuous updates from the Road Hauliers Association (RHA) with information on border checks and freight movement restrictions so we can keep an eye on potential issues with your incoming goods.
     
    We have the following vehicle capacity available:

    • Artics (some with Moffet) C/S + Flat
    • Hiabs
    • Low Loader
    • 18T C/S
    • 12T C/S
    • Vans
    We can also supply traction only with driver for whole week bookings if required.
    Please get in contact with your requirements and we will happily complete your subcontractor approval documents.
     
    Goods are accepted for carriage, storage and freight transportation subject to the RHA, UKWA and BIFA Terms & Conditions.  Copies of which are available from our website (http://www.sussextransport.com/haulage-storage-terms-conditions).


  • 04 May 2020 9:17 AM | Lauren Martin-Grieveson (Administrator)

    Top-up to local business grant funds scheme

    A discretionary fund has been set up to accommodate certain small businesses previously outside the scope of the business grant funds scheme.

    The Business Secretary Alok Sharma and Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government, Simon Clarke spoke to local authorities in England yesterday to set out that up to £617 million would be made available.

    This is an additional 5% uplift to the £12.33 billion funding previously announced for the Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF) and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grants Fund (RHLGF), so up to £617 million. We will confirm the exact amount for each local authority next week.

    This additional fund is aimed at small businesses with ongoing fixed property-related costs. We are asking local authorities to prioritise businesses in shared spaces, regular market traders, small charity properties that would meet the criteria for Small Business Rates Relief, and bed and breakfasts that pay council tax rather than business rates. But local authorities may choose to make payments to other businesses based on local economic need. The allocation of funding will be at the discretion of local authorities.

    Businesses must be small, under 50 employees, and they must also be able to demonstrate that they have seen a significant drop of income due to Coronavirus restriction measures.

    There will be three levels of grant payments. The maximum will be £25,000. There will also be grants of £10,000. local authorities will have discretion to make payments of any amount under £10,000. It will be for councils to adapt this approach to local circumstances.

    Further guidance for local authorities will be set out shortly.

    As of 27 April, over £7.5 billion has been paid out to over 614,000 business properties via the SBGF and RHLGF schemes. This is over 61% of the grant funding allocated to local authorities.

    https://www.gov.uk/government/news/top-up-to-local-business-grant-funds-scheme

  • 04 May 2020 9:08 AM | Lauren Martin-Grieveson (Administrator)

    Bounce Back Loan Scheme - Now open for applications! 

    Following the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s announcement, the Bounce Back Loan Scheme is now open for applications.

    Delivered by lenders accredited by the British Business Bank for this scheme, Bounce Back Loans target small and micro businesses in all sectors, providing loans from £2k up to 25% of the business’ turnover with a maximum loan of £50k.

    Providing lenders with a 100% government-backed guarantee and standardising the application form is expected to lead to a faster process with many loans becoming available within days

    Scheme features

    The Bounce Back Loan Scheme enables businesses to obtain a six-year term loan at a government set interest rate of 2.5% a year. The government will cover interest payable in the first year.

    • Up to £50,000 loan: Loans will be from £2,000 up to 25% of a business’ turnover or £50,000, whichever is lower.
    • 100% guarantee: The scheme provides the lender with a government-backed, full guarantee (100%) against the outstanding facility balance, both capital and interest. The borrower always remains 100% liable for the debt.
    • Interest rate: The government has set the interest rate for this facility at 2.5% per annum, meaning businesses will all benefit from the same, low rate of interest.
    • Interest paid by government for 12 months: The government will make a Business Interruption Payment to the lenders to cover the first 12 months of interest payable, so businesses will benefit from no upfront costs.
    • No principal repayments for first 12 months: Borrowers will not have to begin principal repayments for the first 12 months, thereafter capital will be repaid on a straight line basis.
    • No guarantee fee for businesses or lenders to access the scheme.
    • Finance terms: The length of the loan is for six years but early repayment is allowed, without early repayment fees.
    • No personal guarantees: No personal guarantees are allowed, and no recovery action can be taken over a principal private residence or principal private vehicle.

    The borrower always remains 100% liable for the debt.

    Eligibility criteria

    Businesses from all sectors can apply for a facility. The business must self-certify to its lender the following:

    • Confirm it is UK-based in its business activity, and established by 1 March 2020
    • Confirm it has been adversely impacted by the Coronavirus (Covid-19)
    • Confirm it is not currently using a government-backed Coronavirus loan scheme (unless using BBLS to refinance a whole facility)
    • Confirm it is not in bankruptcy, liquidation or undergoing debt restructuring 
    Credit institutions (falling within the remit of the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive), public sector bodies, a state -funded primary or secondary schools and insurance companies are not eligible to apply and subject to State-Aid restrictions.

    How to apply

    Businesses should check the British Business Bank website to find out which lenders provide Bounce Back Loans.

    View and select an accredited lender

    Businesses will be required to fill in a short online application form on their lender’s website, which self-certifies whether they are eligible for a Bounce Back Loan facility. Eligible companies will be subject to standard customer fraud, Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC) checks. Some State aid restrictions may apply to applications.

    View our Bounce Back Loan Scheme frequently asked questions

  • 01 May 2020 3:59 PM | Lauren Martin-Grieveson (Administrator)

    Message from the AWBP Chair, Andrew Swayne

    It’s now clearly time to plan for recovery mode.

     We’re fortunate that the government wants to listen to businesses and we plan to put some initial Adur and Worthing business feedback into government, probably via Coast to Capital LEP and Greater Brighton, during next week. We welcome feedback and ideas, be that either sector or locality based. Some headings you might like to consider when sharing your thoughts:

    ● What do we need to know from the government to recover our businesses?

    ● What future business support needs might be required?

    ● What have we got to help the government make decisions or support recovery (products and services)?

    ● Examples of collaboration that support the above

     It’s good that additional funding mechanisms have been released by the government and that further progress in issuing the grants has been achieved by the Councils. If you have any concerns or feedback to share please use business.covidsupport@adur-worthing.gov.uk and add ‘recovery feedback’ in the subject title.

     This week I would like to feature our care sector for a special mention. I’ve been fortunate to talk to some of the homes as part of Ricardo’s CSR work and I am particularly impressed by the commitment to high quality care from the managers and staff of these businesses. They are living in very challenging times doing great work.

  • 01 May 2020 2:35 PM | Lauren Martin-Grieveson (Administrator)

    Normandy Veteran Recreates Channel Crossing Distance for Charity Challenge

    Normandy Veteran, Len Gibbon, 96, has decided to recreate his historic journey across the Channel by cycling the distance from Portsmouth to Gold Beach on a static bike in aid of charity, Care for Veterans. 
     
    Len aims to complete the 104-mile distance by 6th June, which will mark the 76th anniversary of the first Normandy landings.
     
    Originally from Elephant and Castle in London, Len joined the Royal Army Service Corps as a Despatch Rider when he was just 20 years old. In early June 1944, Len got married and then four days later he was posted to Normandy. He arrived there on the 14th June, eight days into the operation. 
     
    Len was in Normandy through to the end of the invasion, then went to the Netherlands via Brussels, and was part of Operation Market Garden in September of 1944. From there, he was posted in Germany, which is where he was when the War ended.
     
    Len came to live at Care for Veterans in December 2019. He realised he needed extra help after having several falls at home and his walking had become unbalanced. He loves dancing and so the physiotherapists at the charity incorporate this into his sessions; he loves to do the ‘Cha Cha’.

    He said, “Although I’m 96, I still like to be doing something. I like to have a dance at the concerts they have sometimes. I have physio as well, which I really enjoy. I'm doing this challenge to help raise money for Care for Veterans because it's a wonderful place. It's going really well so far, hopefully I'll finish on time!"
     
    Based in Worthing, West Sussex, Care for Veterans has provided care and rehabilitation to physically disabled ex-Service personnel and their families since 1919. The charity receives no regular government funding and must raise £1.9 million this year to provide its award-winning care to the veterans who live there. 
     
    Len’s challenge comes at a time when the charity needs it most. Due to the current situation, many of the events and initiatives that Care for Veterans had organised to raise vital funds have been postponed or cancelled, so Len hopes to raise as much as he can to support the charity that cares for him. 
     
    You can show Len your support by donating via his JustGiving page: www.justgiving.com/campaign/lens-d-day-challenge

  • 01 May 2020 11:26 AM | Lauren Martin-Grieveson (Administrator)

    Impact of COVID-19 on Sussex Businesses Survey

    Sussex Chamber need you to help them understand how the recently announced Government funding is supporting your business and the effects that the Coronavirus outbreak is having on your business.

    Your response will help Sussex Chamber and partner organisations to shape further support and help  inform Government of the effectiveness of their strategies and highlight areas where additional support may be required.

    Click here to take part in the survey

  • 01 May 2020 11:14 AM | Lauren Martin-Grieveson (Administrator)

    Tim Loughton MP April Newsletter

    Welcome to my April newsletter which inevitably is dominated by the Coronavirus crisis. I apologise that we missed a newsletter at the end of March as my office was being swamped with enquiries from constituents linked to Coronavirus and my staff and I have been working round the clock to answer all of these as best we could. We have dealt with everything from helping people stuck at home unable to get essential supplies, accessing masks and other PPE equipment, taking up queries with the Treasury about who qualifies for job retention schemes (including a constituent who is a zookeeper!) to constituents stranded everywhere from New Zealand to Peru. I have one member of staff spending most of her time just dealing with constituents stuck abroad and visa issues. I am sorry if in the torrid circumstances of the last few weeks that a few emails have gone astray but by and large I think we have been able to respond to 99% although not always with the desired solution.

    I guess that most of us have had to find new ways of workings and mastered the technological intricacies of Zoom, Skype, House Party, Microsoft Teams and all other manner of downloads. Most days I am on conference calls to Parliamentary colleagues, ministers, local health managers, chief constables, local councillors and council officers, care home operators, clergy and a whole lot more. It may be an efficient way of working but it certainly seems to take up an awful lot of the day, and at weekends. My Westminster staff are all working from home and have been working over weekends too, in order to help clear urgent queries. The constituency office is closed but responding to voicemails and emails. Please do not direct post there as I am only occasionally dropping in and anything urgent will not be seen. I have suspended fortnightly surgeries and street surgeries but anyone needing a surgery appointment with me to discuss a  case can leave their details in the normal way with the constituency office and I will call them back. You can email the office on
    eastworthingandshoreham@gmail.com or call 01273 757182.

    Parliament has been operating virtually from last week although this week I did visit Westminster in person for the first time in 5 weeks to take part in the debate on the important Domestic Abuse Bill and pick up supplies and papers from my office. Otherwise the technology is working quite well as colleagues are zoomed in on large screens from far flung corners of the UK and journalists comment on the merits of their respective wallpaper, bookcases or in my case, curtains! The Homes Affairs Select Committee I sit on met virtually throughout the Easter recess and we have so far produced topical reports on how the police are coping with the lockdown, the rise in incidents of domestic violence and on Wednesday we interviewed the Home Secretary.

    In this newsletter I have included reports on previous events that I was not able to cover before and there are a few pieces of good news as well. However I have sought to concentrate on a roundup of up to date helpful information about how to cope in the Coronavirus crisis in an easily accessible form that you can keep for future reference.

    You can download this leaflet by clicking HERE.

    The Coronavirus section on my website at
    www.timloughton.com/coronavirus contains a great deal of information and useful links and this provides a guide and precis of what is there and how you can get the most out of it.

    Can I finish by saying a big thank you for all those who are doing their bit by following the Government guidance to stay at home as much as possible and to those many thousands of volunteers who have come forward to offer help to more vulnerable members of our local communities? With only a few exceptions everyone is rallying round and it makes me very proud to see so many local examples of the true community spirit, empathy and generosity that perhaps we last saw after the Shoreham Air Show tragedy. But the biggest thanks of all must go to all our NHS and care workers and others on the frontline who have really stepped up to the mark and as usual put the service of others ahead of their own personal safety. It has been a challenging time for our hospital staff and care home workers in particular, but the system has been working tremendously well and the NHS has not been overwhelmed by a tsunami of cases which is what happened in other European countries.


    Keep safe everyone.

    Best wishes

    Tim Loughton MP

  • 30 April 2020 1:49 PM | Lauren Martin-Grieveson (Administrator)

    Fire safety advice to businesses from West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service

    We have robust plans in place to keep the people of West Sussex safe and this includes business owners, building managers and staff across the county.

    We know these are challenging times for businesses, but it is still really important that you review your fire risk assessment, as the coronavirus situation continually changes.

    Responsible persons are reminded that they should ensure that the fire risk assessment for the premises is regularly reviewed throughout the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic to take account of any additional risks that may occur. For example, where staff shortages may affect any pre-planned evacuation strategy or where stock and waste has increased and needs to be managed.

    If your business is still operating:

    New and temporary staff should receive fire safety training and awareness. Staff should be extra vigilant of potential hazards and risks, particularly where staffing levels have been reduced, or if staff are working alone or in an isolated environment:

    • Ensure that alarms and emergency exits are still accessible and that alarms can be raised as needed 
    • Continue fire safety testing and keep ignition sources separate from combustible materials. Even where stockpiling is necessary due to external factors, these safety measures must be followed. 
    • Do not prop open fire doors, even as a measure to minimise contact between staff
    • Ensure your evacuation strategy can be achieved taking into account any reduction in staffing levels and consider contacting your fire risk assessor for further advice
    • If you have a waking watch in place at your premises, please find further guidance here (https://www.nationalfirechiefs.org.uk/write/MediaUploads/COVID-19/NFCC_advice_on_COVID-19_and_waking_watch_-_FINAL_25_March_2020.pdf)

    If you’ve had to close your business:

    If your building is closed for an extended period of time, there are some key steps to take in order to reduce the risk of fire:

    • Keep all entrances and exits clear, and rubbish and commercial bins should be emptied and stored securely away from any buildings
    • If possible, don’t store excessive amounts of stock in a hazardous manner
    • Turn off all electrical devices where possible and remove plugs from sockets
    • Ensure your building is secure and continue with usual measures to prevent arson
    • If your building is connected or adjacent to a domestic dwelling and you have a shared fire alarm, you must arrange for the weekly testing to take place.

    We are here to support you:

    We continue to provide business fire safety advice during this time. At this time Fire Safety Officers are not carrying out routine visits but are available remotely to help with any queries. Further guidance and resources for businesses can be found on our web pages (https://www.westsussex.gov.uk/fire-emergencies-and-crime/west-sussex-fire-and-rescue-service/business-information-and-commercial-opportunities/)

    For urgent matters and where it is considered that there may be a risk to life, the attendance of a Fire Safety Officer will be made. Officers will be provided with extra personal protection to reduce the risk of coronavirus spread.

    You can contact the team on businessfiresafety@westsussex.gov.uk or by calling 033 022 23333


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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
© 2018 Worthing & Adur Chamber


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