This is an extract from the monthly COVID-19 UPDATEs – Thursday 30 April/5th May 2020 published by WIlts CC. It contains useful information for buusinesses, schooling for vunerable children, community maternity services and Household Recycling Centre
Business and economy
Top-up to local business grant fund schemes
The Government has made a further £617 million available to support small businesses nationally, with ongoing fixed property-related costs. Priority will be given to 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.
This additional funding is being administered by local authorities and we are currently waiting to hear how much funding has been allocated to us. There will be three levels of grant payments; the maximum payment will be £25,000 but there will be grants of £10,000 and smaller amounts at our discretion. We will be working with partner organisations such as the Chambers, Federation of Small Businesses and Salisbury Business Improvement District to identify those business groups who are most in need of this funding.
We are waiting further guidance from the government on how to administer this scheme, and we will confirm as soon as possible when businesses can start to apply for this funding.
We will contact those businesses that were unsuccessful for the Small Business Grant scheme or Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant scheme, if they are eligible under this revised guidance.
In terms of the two initial grant schemes, we are continuing to process the applications and contact those businesses that have not yet applied for their grant and we will continue to do this over the bank holiday weekend. We have now paid out over £70 million to support over 6,000 local businesses.
The Coronavirus Bounce Back Loan Scheme for small businesses is now available.
This new scheme will help SMEs to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000 to help their business stay afloat. The government will guarantee 100% of the loan and cover the cost of any fees and interest for the first 12 months. There will also be no repayments due during the first 12 months. Loan terms will be up to 6 years. A flat rate of 2.5% interest will be applied to the remaining period of the loan.
The scheme will be delivered through a network of accredited lenders and most loans should arrive within 24 hours of approval.
Self-employed encouraged to get ready to make their claims for coronavirus support
HMRC have begun to contact those self-employed people who may be eligible for government support through the Self-employment Income Support Scheme.
This scheme will enable the self-employed to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of their average trading profits up to a maximum of £7,500 (equivalent to three months’ profits), paid in a single instalment.
The claims service will open on Wednesday 13 May 2020.
£6.1 million funding support for high streets and town centres
Hundreds of Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) across England will share £6.1 million of funding to spend on projects that will help their local economies through the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic.
- 80 staff have been deployed to process £100 million central government grant funding schemes and provide 7-day week guidance and advice to Wiltshire businesses. The contact email for support is email@example.com.
- So far £65M has been issued to over 5,500 local businesses with the team working hard to process applications in the system.
- An estimated 2,500 businesses have not yet applied for a grant and the council is contacting these businesses by telephone or email to encourage them to apply. If businesses think they are eligible they should apply asap at www.wiltshire.gov.uk/business-advice-support-covid19
- A ‘route map’ has been created to signpost support for businesses and the self-employed. The document is attached with this briefing – please kindly share this with businesses in your area.
Leaflet to share with families of vulnerable children
We have produced a simple leaflet with some FAQs we are sharing with parents of vulnerable children to encourage them to bring their children into school. The leaflet is available on this link http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/schools-learning-coronavirus.
Changes to community maternity services
Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group has agreed a set of recommendations that will maintain the health and wellbeing of mums-to-be during the current coronavirus outbreak.
The changes, which were agreed at an extraordinary public meeting, today, Thursday 30 April, will ensure families are kept safe at this current time, and that staff are able to use their skills in the right places to support the changing needs and wishes of women and families, such as the recent increase in women choosing to have their baby at home.
Under the new proposals, some of the previously-agreed changes to maternity services, which had been approved following an extensive public consultation throughout 2018 and 2019, will be temporarily amended or suspended.
The birthing unit at Trowbridge Freestanding Midwifery Unit (FMU) will now remain open until Monday 1 June, instead of closing at the beginning of May, which had been agreed by the CCG’s Governing Body in January. This will allow more time for local families and staff to prepare for the closure, as ongoing preparatory work had to be paused because of coronavirus.
Postnatal beds at Chippenham Birthing Centre (FMU) will close on Monday 4 May to reduce the time spent by families in hospital during the pandemic. Chippenham had been expected to remain open until the spring of 2021.
Essential postnatal support will still be available to mums and families through online video calls or, where required, face-to-face appointments. Elsewhere, Chippenham FMU will adopt an overnight open-on-demand system. This means the units will no longer be fully staffed throughout the night and will instead only open when midwives are needed to support a birth, which is the model currently used at the neighbouring birthing centre in Trowbridge.
Staff previously based at the centres overnight will be redeployed to support midwifery colleagues to deliver maternity services that meet the changing needs and wishes of women at this time.
The CCG will monitor the impact of the changes to the postnatal beds at Chippenham, as well as the new overnight staffing arrangements at Chippenham, over the coming weeks and a summary report will be presented to the Governing Body at its meeting in July. Any families who are concerned about coronavirus, or the impact that these changes may have on their birthing plans, are encouraged to speak to their midwife as soon as possible.
Papers from the Governing Body meeting are available to read online at www.bswccg.nhs.uk
Household Recycling Centres Update
The council has received a lot of enquiries about when our household recycling centres (HRCs) will be reopened. We’re continuing to monitor the government advice closely, and we’re looking at ways to safely reopen HRCs at some stage in the future.
When we do reopen our HRCs, your communities can expect some significant changes at the sites to keep our staff and residents safe, including social distancing measures. We’re also likely to include a limit to the number of people and vehicles that can enter a site and we may reduce the amount of material types that people can dispose of.
We have 10 HRCs in Wiltshire, and each one presents its own challenges – particularly in terms of traffic management both inside and outside the gates – so what’s right for one site may not be right for another.
When the sites do reopen, we expect very long queues, so if your residents can store waste safely, or they can put recycling in the usual kerbside collections, we’d strongly recommend they do so. If they have large or bulky items, we’re still collecting these from homes for a small charge; find out more: www.wiltshire.gov.uk/large-item-collection.
There will be an update on the plans soon, including details of any restrictions that will be in place
The Wiltshire Wellbeing Hub
The Wellbeing Hub continues to work effectively with partners and voluntary organisations to support the community. The headline figures to date:
- Food parcels delivered to individuals – 900
- Total people contacted – 11,111
- Total calls received – 3,060
- Total emails received – 1,403