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                                              Coronavirus Business Support News


Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme guidance

The Treasury has updated its guidance with specific reference to National Insurance and pension contributions for furloughed workers. See the latest HERE

Self-employment Income Support Scheme

What is it and do you qualify? Find out HERE

Closing of Businesses

See the latest update from the MHCLG HERE Check to see whether your sector is listed.

If it is, there are details of a range of help and advice on this page.

Urgent Appeal for PPE Donations

We are asking for donations of protective equipment for use by our front line care workers, care providers, social workers and volunteers when providing critical support to vulnerable residents. Items such as disposable aprons, latex or Nitrell gloves, masks, hand sanitiser and overshoes would be appreciated. Please contact us on 01922 655835 or email Jeanette.knapper@walsall.gov.uk to arrange collection if you are able to help. Thanks for your support.

Walsall Businesses Step Up

A huge thank you to all the Walsall Businesses who are helping out in these challenging times. Read more and find out how your company could step up HERE

What Businesses Need to Know

If your business does not fall within those listed in the MHCLG document above;

  • businesses and workplaces should encourage their employees to work at home, wherever possible
  • if someone becomes unwell in the workplace with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature, they should be sent home and advised to follow the advice to stay at home
  • employees should be reminded to wash their hands for 20 seconds more frequently and catch coughs and sneezes in tissues
  • frequently clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, using your standard cleaning products
  • employees will need your support to adhere to the recommendation to stay at home to reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) to others
  • those who follow advice to stay at home will be eligible for statutory sick pay (SSP) from the first day of their absence from work
  • employers should use their discretion concerning the need for medical evidence for certification for employees who are unwell. This will allow GPs to focus on their patients
  • employees from defined vulnerable groups should be strongly advised and supported to stay at home and work from there if possible

Financial Business Support

The government will provide additional funding for local authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief (SBRR). This will provide a one-off grant of £10,000 to businesses currently eligible for SBRR or rural rate relief, to help meet their ongoing business costs.

Please be aware, we are working hard to find out more about the practicalities of this grant funding and we will ensure that ALL eligible businesses are contacted by Walsall Council shortly.

In terms of eligibility, if your business is eligible for SBRR or rural rate relief, you will be contacted by your local authority. You do not need to apply.

Tax Helpline

If you run a business or are self-employed and are concerned about paying your tax due to coronavirus, you can call HMRC’s helpline for help and advice: 0800 0159 559.



Employee Pay Support (Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme)

Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, all UK employers will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis.

How to access the scheme

You will need to:

  • designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers,’ and notify your employees of this change - changing the status of employees remains subject to existing employment law and, depending on the employment contract, may be subject to negotiation
  • submit information to HMRC about the employees that have been furloughed and their earnings through a new online portal (HMRC will set out further details on the information required)

HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. HMRC are working urgently to set up a system for reimbursement. Existing systems are not set up to facilitate payments to employers.

Partner Organisation Support

UK Government

The Chancellor has set out a package of temporary, timely and targeted measures to support public services, people and businesses through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19.

This includes a package of measures to support businesses including:

  • a statutory sick pay relief package for SMEs
  • a 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England
  • small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief
  • grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
  • the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme to support long-term viable businesses who may need to respond to cash-flow pressures by seeking additional finance
  • the HMRC Time To Pay Scheme


Black Country Chamber of Commerce: Covid 19 Support Package

As COVID-19 continues to impact the operations of businesses, learn more about the steps your business can implement to minimise the impact on local communities and support the UK government's strategy.

We recognise that businesses will have concerns about COVID-19 and have set up this page to provide a central resource for official support and guidance. This page will be updated on a regular basis as new information is available.

Please find below useful links to a range of resources and organisations offering guidance with managing the impacts of COVID-19 (coronavirus). To get in touch, please call us on 01902 912 322 or email policy@blackcountrychamber.co.uk.


Federation of Small Businesses: Covid 19 Support Package

FSB members also have access to provider services that could be crucial for your business at this critical time, such as:

A 24/7 legal advice helpline staffed by UK-based lawyers, on 03450 727 727 (please have your membership number to hand)

An FSB Care service, providing free of charge access to an experienced Registered Mental or a General Nurse who will provide practical advice and emotional support and can help navigate NHS or other health services, counselling or simply just a listening ear – on 0808 20 20 888, Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

An insurance advice helpline, a business continuity planning toolkit, and other help – such as how to check your current insurance policies for a ‘notifiable disease’, on 020 3883 7976 Monday to Friday, 9am-5.30pm

Unsecured Cash Advance for instant help, and a Funding Platform to access finance

For help, FSB’s Customer Services Team is available on 0808 20 20 888, Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

As a small business owner or self-employed, it is very important for you to keep in touch at a time of crisis with others in your sector, in your locality, and in your local FSB. This is useful as you share experiences on your plans to protect your business.

Additional grant aid

Emergency Grants

A number of funds and grants are being established by external bodies to respond to and tackle the impact of COVID-19. The Council’s External Funding Team will keep a list of funding opportunities updated to help Walsall’s community groups, charities and individuals during this challenging time. If you require support with your application please contact the team via kaye.davies@walsall.gov.uk or 07908161384.


Heart of England Community Foundation –

Heart of England Community Foundation understands the impact that the Coronavirus will have upon communities; personally, financially and in their capacity to be able to support their most vulnerable members.

With this in mind, the Foundation, and its Donors, have come together to provide a response to the growing emergency. They are keen to make sure that the organisations helping those most affected get the support that they need, so have launched a Coronavirus Resilience Fund.

The Foundation is opening the fund to constituted groups with an income below £250,000 who are providing, but not limited to the following services:

· Food banks or social eating projects

· Delivery of emergency food/medicine parcels to those isolated due to the virus

· Street Pastors or those engaging in outreach activities

· Befriending services supporting the elderly or vulnerable through isolation. To apply please visit https://www.heartofenglandcf.co.uk/coronavirus-resilience-fund/

Grants at this present time are available up to £1,500. The Heart of England Community Foundation is still working hard to raise money which can be used to support the most vulnerable in our communities. If you can support please get in touch.

Martin Lewis – DEADLINE 25th March 2020

Martin Lewis (the Money Saving Expert) has launched a £1m fund to provide grants to small and local charities who are directly helping with the COVID-19 response. The money is from his own personal charity fund. His fund is offering grants of £5,000 to £20,000 to small registered charities, or local arms of bigger charities, across the UK who are directly helping with the COVID-19 response in terms of poverty relief. Likely recipients will include:

· foodbanks

· charities engaged in community aid

· financial advice projects, and more.

The fund is especially interested in projects that directly help people affected by the effects of the virus, such as by giving access to food, toiletries, basic necessities, as well as community projects to help people in isolation.

The fund is looking for projects that can help people now, so will welcome applications for existing projects that could be scaled up with extra money or projects that are in the process of being set up. They will accept applications from organisations other than charities - for example social enterprises or CICs.

Update on 24th March: *The fund has been extended to £3M. Deadline remains the same. They are accepting applications from organisations with charitable status including charitable interest companies (CICs), churches etc, schools, NHS trusts and social enterprises. Apply via https://blog.moneysavingexpert.com/2020/03/i-m-making-p1m-available-to-fund-urgent-small-charity-coronaviru/



Covid-19 grant scheme providing an emergency one-off grant to support eligible hospitality workers impacted by the coronavirus. This grant will be a one-off payment of £250 per household.


• You must be currently working within the UK hospitality industry or have worked in the industry within the last month.

• Have savings of less than £1,000 per person or £2,000 for a family or couple (including rolling bank balance). We do not take into account any income you receive from state benefits.

• You are experiencing financial issues relating to your employment status owing to coronavirus. https://www.hospitalityaction.org.uk/


The National Emergencies Trust –

NET launched an appeal on 18th March to raise funds to help local charities in their work during the Covid-19 pandemic. The fundraising appeal administration will be run by the British Red Cross, on behalf of the NET. The British Red Cross is working with the NET to make it simple and easy for people to give. The British Red Cross will transfer funds to the NET, who will work with community foundations to ensure the money reaches local charities which will be able to help people most. NET anticipates that, at least at first, the distribution of funds to support community groups, charities and other not for profit organisations will be through community foundations.

John Lewis Partnership – to be announced

John Lewis has established a £1million ‘community support fund’ to be used as direct aid for the community and ‘a new hardship fund’ with further details to be announced.

LifeArc - DEADLINE 6th APRIL 2020

LifeArc is calling for applications from academics, NHS employees or companies that have therapeutics that could be repurposed or repositioned for use in COVID-19 patients. The primary purpose is to accelerate availability of treatments for patients and it is therefore expected that applicants will already have material available for testing and a plan for rapid scale up of clinical material. Priority will be given to projects that have a clear path and availability for patients in a 6-12 month timeframe.

Applications from academics, NHS employees, or companies from any geographical location are welcomed.

Grants will be awarded rapidly under standard, non-negotiable terms. The grant will pay for the direct costs of the trials and the science associated with that. There is no official cap on size of applications, however, it is anticipated that a small number of the most promising projects will be funded from the £10M currently available. Applications for funding to supplement existing funding to enable a COVID-19 trial will also be eligible.

· Deadline for applications is 6th April

· Funding decisions expected week beginning 27th April https://www.lifearc.org/funding/covid-19/covid-19-funding/


Neighbourly Community Fund

With the support of partner businesses M&S, Lidl, Aldi, Danone and Coca-Cola European Partners, Neighbourly are launching a series of micro-grants of up to £400, to support good causes that are helping communities affected by Coronavirus. Grants will be awarded to existing members of Neighbourly in UK and Ireland whose work will involve supporting members of the community suffering economically, socially or from ill health as a result of the outbreak. This may include, but not be limited to, elderly people, those on low incomes and people at risk of food insecurity. Grants are unrestricted and can go towards food provision, emergency supplies, practical support, running costs, transport and other essentials. https://www.neighbourly.com/NeighbourlyCommunityFund


Make a Difference Trust

This fund is designed to provide support to theatre industry members who are experiencing financial distress as a direct result of COVID-19. It will look to provide small pockets of financial assistance up to £200 to meet unexpected expenses that will cause hardship. This will be available to those who are experiencing unexpected financial hardship due to theatre closures as a direct result of Government advice aimed at containing the spread of Coronavirus. Priority will be given to those who have helped the Make A Difference Trust in their fundraising events over the past 5 years including West End Bares, West End Eurovision, A Mad Drag Night, West End Christmas, MAD Cabarets and West End Bares Calendar. This is only available to support unforeseen emergencies and should only be used when all other avenues have been considered. The Fund cannot replace statutory funding. It will help with small unexpected costs that are unable to be met from either personal or statutory finances and which threaten to impact on well-being, either physically or mentally. https://www.madtrust.org.uk/project/make-a-difference-coronavirus-covid-19-hardship-fund/


Arts Council England

Arts Council England are making £20 million available to individuals working in the cultural sector, including artists, creative practitioners and freelancers. Artists and creative practitioners will be able to apply for grants of up to £2,500 if they have a track record in publicly funded culture. They understand the impact the Covid-19 crisis is having on all parts of the cultural workforce, so they are looking to provide £4 million from this £20 million budget for grants to benevolent funds targeted at other cultural workers. More information on this will be shared soon.

Who is eligible to apply for this fund?

Creative practitioners whose main work is focused on these artforms and disciplines:

· Music

· Theatre

· Dance

· Visual Arts

· Literature

· Combined Arts

· Museums practice