Advice for Business - Covid-19

Lockdown Business Fund

This is a fund to provide financial assistance to businesses that are facing operational and financial challenges caused by the national lockdown announced for Wales as a result of COVID-19.

The purpose of the fund is to support businesses with cash flow support to help them survive the economic consequences of the restrictions put in place.

The grant will be open to applications from the 28th October and will close at 5pm on the 20th November or when the fund is fully committed.

The fund consists of two separate grants:

Lockdown Non Domestic Rate Grant

This grant is available to businesses liable for paying business rates.

Grant 1
A grant of £5,000 is being made available for retail, leisure and hospitality businesses that have been forced to close (as defined by the regulations) and occupy properties with a rateable value of between £12,001 and £51,000.

Grant 2
A grant of £1,000 is being made available to all businesses eligible for small business rates relief (SBRR) in Wales with a rateable value of up to £12,000 (see guidance document for further detail).

  • Businesses eligible for small business rates relief that have been subject to local restrictions for 3 weeks or more and have been materially impacted (>50% reduction in turnover) up to the 23rd October will be eligible for a further grant of £1,000
  • and Businesses eligible for small business rates relief that have been forced to close (as defined by the regulations) as a result of the national firebreak lockdown will also be eligible for a further top up grant of £2,000 from their local authority.

You are not eligible for this grant if:

  • You are eligible for, or have received, the Lockdown Discretionary Grant from your Local Authority

You will need to be on the NDR rating list for your local authority on 1 September 2020 and will need to complete a simple registration form to receive this grant.

For further information on this grant please read the Lockdown Non Domestic Rate Grant Guidance Document.

Lockdown Discretionary Grant

Grant amount 1 - a discretionary grant of £1,500 is available to assist businesses that have:

  • Been forced to close (as defined by the regulations) as a result of the national firebreak lockdown
  • OR are able to demonstrate that the national firebreak lockdown will result in at least a 80% reduction in their turnover for that period

Grant amount 2 - a discretionary grant of £2,000 is available to assist businesses that have:

  • Been forced to close (as defined by the regulations) as a result of the national firebreak lockdown
  • OR are able to demonstrate that the national firebreak lockdown will result in at least a 80% reduction in their turnover for that period
  • AND have been subject to local restrictions for 3 weeks or more up to the 23rd October and experienced at least a 50% reduction in their turnover for that period.

You cannot apply for Grant 1 and Grant 2.

You are not eligible for this grant if:

  • You are eligible for, or have received, the Lockdown Non-Domestic Rate Grant from your Local Authority

For further information on this grant please read the Lockdown Discretionary Grant Guidance Document

Applications will be dealt with on a first come first served basis. This may lead to applications not being appraised after they have been submitted if the fund is fully committed.
 https://t.co/Yrisve7iP6

 

Blaenau Gwent Freelancer Fund

This is a grant to provide financial assistance to freelancers in the cultural and creative sectors that are facing financial challenges as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The purpose of the grant is to support freelancers in the cultural and creative sectors facing financial challenges in the period from April 2020 - March 2021. The grant seeks to complement other COVID-19 response measures to support organisations and businesses in Wales as part of the Cultural Recovery Fund.

The eligibility criteria for the grant is as follows:

  • Facing financial challenges in the period from April 2020 - March 2021;
  • Freelancer professionals whose work has direct creative/cultural outcomes, who work in the four key sub sectors ;
    • The Arts
    • Creative Industries
    • Arts and Heritage Events
    • Culture and Heritage
  • You must be operating in Wales;
  • You must be based within the local authority you are applying to.

You are not eligible for this grant if:

  • You have recently received funding from the Start-Up Grant launched in June 2020 to help new businesses survive the economic consequences of coronavirus (Covid-19);
  • You are a freelancer who works in the sport sector.

This funding is specifically for creative/cultural subsectors and roles that have been forced to cease work and/or face difficultly restarting because of the impact of Covid-19 restrictions. Those in roles that have been able to continue at previous or near previous levels of activity (e.g. architects, graphic designers, games designers etc.) with or without support should not apply.

For further information on this grant please read the Freelancer Fund guidance notes
If you have read the guidance, are eligible for the grant and wish to apply please complete all the requested fields on the online Application Form.

The Freelancer Fund is open to applications from the 10.00am - 19th October 2020. To provide enough time for freelancers to apply we will be splitting the fund into two phases, with Phase 1 operating for a short period, and then followed shortly after by a second phase. A grant of £2,500 is available per individual and applications will be dealt with on a first come first served basis. This may lead to applications not being appraised after they have been submitted if the fund is fully committed

 

Last Updated 1.00pm | 05.10.2020

Advice Note for Businesses during period of Shutdown

As a country, we all need to do what we can to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

On 26th March the Government, stepped up measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus and save lives. The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) Regulations 2020 introduced the requirement for certain businesses to close. Closure of the businesses lasts until a further direction is given by the Welsh Ministers allowing them to re-open.

All non-essential premises were required to close. Subsequent amendments have been made to the Regulations which introduced further controls. We have now entered the period where the requirements are again being reviewed in order to ease us out of lockdown. It is important that as a business you are clear when you are permitted to reopen and that you do not reopen until this time. In the meantime there are steps that you can take to prepare your business for reopening and we have produced guidance and identified useful links to information which might assist you with your preparations. These can be found under the section of this webpage ‘Advice on Potential Re-opening’.

We would encourage you to refer to the Welsh Governments latest information available here for the list of businesses that are required to remain closed at this time:

https://gov.wales/coronavirus-covid-19-closure-businesses-and-premises-0

Those businesses and workplaces that are permitted to remain open will still be subject to strict social distancing and other requirements.

Businesses and premises that breach the Regulations will be subject to fixed penalty notices incurring immediate financial penalties, prohibition notices forcing them to close, and potentially unlimited fines.

Additional advice from Welsh Government on ‘reasonable measures’ is available here:

https://gov.wales/taking-all-reasonable-measures-maintain-physical-distancing-workplace

Reporting a Non-compliant Business:

If you would to report a business that you believe is operating in breach of the COVID-19 closure or restriction requirements please use our online report it tool accessible here:

https://iweb.itouchvision.com/portal/f?p=customer:category_link:::::CUID,LANG:A1D39E0AA6A661505A85E20531401A98C0DFC438,EN&P_LANG=en

Advice on potential re-opening

To allow businesses in Blaenau Gwent time to prepare and adjust for future changes to the current COVID-19 closure requirements we have in this advice note provided links to a range of information sources which can both inform and advice your decision making when it becomes possible for your business to re-open.
   
Any businesses that do re-open will be expected to have undertaken a suitable and sufficient COVID-19 assessment identifying how they will operate in a safe manner, and the means by which they can ensure measures related to social distancing and hygiene can be maintained so that their business can be regarded as ‘COVID secure’. The requirements for undertaking this assessment and implementing suitable controls falls under the requirements of the ‘Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974’.

It is important to note these controls will be expected to be in place prior to any business reopening.
Restrictions on the businesses which are allowed to open currently differ across the UK. For upto date information on those businesses which are permitted to be open, or indeed asked to prepare to re-open in Wales you are advised to visit the Welsh Government website at:

https://gov.wales/coronavirus

Remember these restrictions are regularly reviewed so it is important to keep abreast of any changes in Wales on a regular basis.

Keeping records of staff, customers, and visitors: test, trace, protect

Workplaces and premises open to the public are required under Welsh law to take all reasonable measures to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus. This includes the keeping of records to assist the Test, Trace, Protect service. Where any person tests positive for COVID-19 the Test, Trace, Protect service will initiate contact tracing and they will need to verify if a member of staff, customer or visitor came to your premises and who they may have been in contact with. Contact information for those individuals is also vitally important to allow staff within the Test, Trace, Protect service to reach out to those individuals who may have been in contact with a positive case and provide them with advice and guidance relating to their potential exposure to coronavirus.

As a result of the above businesses need to ensure that they collect and retain information about who has been on the premises, and when, for a minimum period of 21 days. As an additional safety measure we would encourage you to retain records for a period of 28 days. The 28 day period mirrors 2 full incubation periods of the virus.

The minimum information we would ask you to ensure is being collected and how can be found here:
How to keep records of staff, customers and visitors | Sut i gadw cofnodion staff, cwsmeriaid ac ymwelwyr

This information needs to be readily available on request. If not collected in advance, this information should be collected at the point that visitors enter the premises. You should record the information digitally if possible, but a paper record is acceptable too. The onus is on you to collect the information not the visitor / customer so businesses should take steps to ensure information is being captured and retained appropriately.

By adhering to above and sharing these with the NHS Wales Test, Trace, Protect service when requested, you will help to identify people who may have been exposed to the virus and are asymptomatic (i.e. are not yet displaying symptoms). Containing outbreaks is crucial to reducing the spread of coronavirus, protecting the NHS in Wales and saving lives. This will support the country in returning to, and maintaining, a more normal way of life.

Further advice in relation to Test, Trace and Protect and keeping appropriate records can be found here: https://gov.wales/keeping-records-staff-customers-and-visitors-test-trace-protect

Health and Safety useful Links:

The Health and Safety Executive webpages hold information and guidance documents for businesses remaining open during the COVID-19 pandemic but also for those businesses now planning to re-open. This guidance, including information on undertaking a COVID-19 Risk Assessment can be found at:

https://www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus/assets/docs/risk-assessment.pdf

https://www.hse.gov.uk/news/coronavirus.htm

https://www.hse.gov.uk/simple-health-safety/risk/index.htm

The guidance includes practical measures you can take, for example putting in place social distancing measures, staggering shifts, providing additional handwashing facilities and how to talk with workers to help them stay safe.

In addition, the Health and Safety Executive has begun to produce a number of business specific guidance documents for the UK government. Access to these can be found via:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19

These business specific guidance documents will be added to on an ongoing basis as more business types prepare to reopen.

Note: It is important that businesses either employing delivery drivers, or accepting delivery drivers into their premise, are aware that continued access to welfare facilities is made to these drivers, which will include access to handwashing and toilet facilities. There have been a number of reports of drivers being refused access to these facilities when undertaking their deliveries. This is in direct contravention of the law, further information can be found at:

https://www.hse.gov.uk/news/drivers-transport-delivery-coronavirus

Personal protective equipment and heat

Wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) in warm/hot environments increases the risk of heat stress. This occurs when the body is unable to cool itself enough to maintain a healthy temperature. Download this leaflet and find out more. (Welsh version of leaflet)

Other useful links:

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) has also produced a number of useful guidance documents via their ‘Coronavirus hub’ which can be found at:

https://www.cieh.org/policy/coronavirus-covid-19/

This hub includes practical information for businesses on suitable signage when reopening, correct hygiene practices and also guidance on mitigating against the dangers of Legionella when reopening a business after a period of lockdown, when water systems will have potentially remained stagnant for weeks, introducing a significant legionella risk.

An advice note produced by Blaenau Gwent Public Protection Service can be found at:

For further advice and information on managing the risks of legionella you are advised to contact the Public Protection Service at Blaenau Gwent CBC by calling 01495 357813 or by e-mail to
EnvironmentalHealthMailbox@blaenau-gwent.gov.uk

Food Safety

The CIEH hub also contains advice for food businesses reopening, on the practicalities of running a food business during the COVID-19 pandemic. There are also links to the Food Standards Agency Wales webpages where you can find guidance for food businesses who have remained open, or who plan to reopen in the coming weeks. This guidance includes a reopening checklist and advice on effective cleaning.

More information in regard to this can be found at:

https://www.food.gov.uk/business-guidance/reopening-and-adapting-your-food-business-during-covid-19

Specific guidance for Fish and Chip Shops who are reopening can be found at:

https://seafish.org/article/reopening-your-fish-and-chip-shop

Trading Standards

Further practical advice for business can also be found via the Business Wales webpages on the Welsh Government site and the Business Companion website, links to which are below:

https://businesswales.gov.wales/coronavirus-advice/keep-wales-safe-work

https://www.businesscompanion.info/coronavirus

All businesses should also be aware of COVID-19 related scams which are on the increase. More information and advice on this can be found via the Blaenau Gwent CBC website at:

https://www.blaenau-gwent.gov.uk/resident/trading-standards/trading-standards-covid-19-scams/

Licensing

Pubs and Clubs licensed in accordance with the Licensing Act 2003

There is currently no guidance available regarding the re-opening of pubs and clubs but it would appear that licensees may be encouraged to initially utilise any open air spaces, such as beer gardens and car parks, before re-opening internal areas of their premises.

Consumption of alcohol is not a licensable activity but if a licence or certificate does not have ‘off sales’ permission to allow the sale of alcohol for consumption off the premises, you will not be permitted to use a beer garden or car park until a variation application is submitted.

You may wish to apply for a temporary event notice for any outside areas as a ‘trial run’ to check that you can manage the areas safely and if it is feasible to utilise them.

You should take this opportunity to risk assess any external areas and plan how you would safely manage them.  Also consider the current conditions on your licence or certificate.  You may also have conditions relating to internal areas of your premises which may be affected when you do re-open these areas so you should review all conditions carefully.

If any of your current conditions need amending to allow safe re-opening, you will probably need to submit a minor or full variation application to the Licensing Team.  These applications are subject to strict specific timescales for processing and do not allow for immediate approval.  Therefore you need to review your conditions as a matter of urgency.

As most licensed premises have now been closed for a number of months, you may wish to consider your neighbours when planning your re-opening, especially if you want to provide entertainment outdoors.  Communicate your plans and engage with your neighbours and if possible, provide them with a contact number they can call if they experience any noise issues. 

Contacting Us:

For all Food related queries and/or Trading Standards related queries contact should be made with Blaenau Gwent CBC Public Protection Service by calling 01495 357813 or by e-mail to

EnvironmentalHealthMailbox@blaenau-gwent.gov.uk

For Licensing related queries please call 01495 355485/ 355050/ 355061 or e-mail:

licensing@blaenau-gwent.gov.uk

Important Note:

For more detailed queries in regard to managing the risks from COVID-19, and producing a COVID-19 risk assessment you are advised to contact your relevant enforcing authority for Health and Safety, be that the Health and Safety Executive or Blaenau Gwent CBC. As a general guide premises such as restaurants, bars, nurseries and playgroups, warehouses, tyre and exhaust fitters and all types of retail as well as service providers such as hairdressers and beauticians should contact Blaenau Gwent CBC. Other businesses such as factories, motor vehicle repair garages and transport should contact the Health and Safety Executive.

Further information on deciding who is the correct enforcing authority for your business can be found at:

https://www.hse.gov.uk/contact/authority.htm

Queries to the Health and Safety Executive should be forwarded to:

https://www.hse.gov.uk/contact/

For queries to Blaenau Gwent CBC please contact the Public Protection Service by calling 01495 357813 or by e-mail to EnvironmentalHealthMailbox@blaenau-gwent.gov.uk

Last Updated 11.30am | 23.06.2020

Financial Support

For details regarding the financial support available for businesses from the Welsh Government, please follow the attached link. 

https://businesswales.gov.wales/coronavirus-advice/support/financial-support-and-grants

 

Covid-19 Non-Domestic Rates Grant Schemes

Covid-19 Non-Domestic Rates Grant Schemes closed at 5pm on 30th June 2020. However, any applications submitted prior to this date will still be considered.

Last Updated 5.01pm | 30.06.2020

Town Centre COVID-19 Recovery Grants

Welsh Government has made funding available to support Town Centre businesses in Blaenau Gwent with measures that will facilitate social distancing in areas of a business where customers and members of the public congregate, are served food and drink or rest.

A limited number of grants are available to cover 80% of the cost of ‘eligible’ works to a maximum grant award of £15,000 (ex VAT)

Eligible Items Include:

Counters, Plastic screens, Flooring, Awnings/Canopies, Outdoor heaters / Seating / Servery / Lighting, Outdoor electrical connections, Small green infrastructure works.

 

For Further info or to register your interest, please contact Regeneration Team by email on:

regeneration-projects@blaenau-gwent.gov.uk

https://www.blaenau-gwent.gov.uk/en/story/news/town-centre-covid-19-recovery-grants/

Last Updated: 11:00 | 24.08.20

New Self Employed Start Up Grant: Financial Assistance For Newly Created Self-Employed Businesses – Covid-19

Covid-19 Self Employed Start Up Grant Scheme closed at 5pm on 4th September 2020.

Economic Resilience Fund (ERF): Criteria and Application For The Next Phase Of The Fund

Businesses can now find out if they are eligible to apply for financial support from the next phase of the Welsh Government’s Economic Resilience Fund (ERF).

The next phase of the fund will enable businesses to access a further £100 million of financial support.

It is being targeted at microbusinesses, SMEs and large businesses of critical economic importance, which have yet to receive financial assistance from the ERF.

For further information, click on the following link:
https://gov.wales/economic-resilience-fund-find-out-if-your-business-eligible-support-next-phase

To check if you are eligible for the COVID-19 Economic Resilience Fund click on the following link:
https://fundchecker.businesswales.gov.wales/

Last Updated: 11.30 am |10.06.20

Business Wales Support

https://businesswales.gov.wales/coronavirus-advice

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Guidance for businesses and workers

The Government has today published guidance for businesses and workers on how to access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, all UK employers with a PAYE scheme will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis.
This applies to employees who have been asked to stop working, but who are being kept on the pay roll, otherwise described as ‘furloughed workers’. HMRC will reimburse 80% of their wages, up to £2,500 per month. This is to safeguard workers from being made redundant. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will cover the cost of wages backdated to 1 March and is initially open for 3 months, but will be extended if necessary.

Guidance for Employers

Employers will be able to use a portal to claim for 80% of furloughed employees’ (employees on a leave of absence) monthly wage costs, up to £2,500 a month, plus the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on that wage. We expect the scheme to be up and running by the end of April.
Please use the following link to access the guidance:
www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

Gov.uk - Employers and Businesses in Wales

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-individuals-and-businesses-in-wales

Guidance for Employees

The guidance published today will support workers understand whether they are eligible for the scheme, and how much the employer can claim if they are unable to operate or if there is no work due to coronavirus (COVID 19).
Please use the following link to access the guidance:
www.gov.uk/guidance/check-if-you-could-be-covered-by-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

Employers and Businesses

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-guidance-for-employees

 

If your pay has been reduced or you have been made redundant you may be entitled to access to benefits such as Universal Credit. Job Centres are closed to the public but staff will be available to support online and over the phone. You can also make a claim online.
Visit www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/coronavirus  for more information or for additional support with applications telephone: 0800 328 5644
N.B. The Universal Credit helpline will reduce its opening hours starting from the 27th March. The line will be open between 9:30am and 3:30pm in order to protect time for Case Managers to work through payments.

Visit www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/coronavirus  for more information or for additional support with applications telephone: 0800 328 5644
N.B. The Universal Credit helpline will reduce its opening hours starting from the 27th March. The line will be open between 9:30am and 3:30pm in order to protect time for Case Managers to work through payments.

Self Employed

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the-coronavirus-covid-19-self-employment-income-support-scheme

HMRC tax helpline

HMRC has set up a helpline for businesses and self-employed people who are concerned about paying their tax due to COVID-19.
Call 08000 241222 for help and advice.
Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm

Further Links
Citizens Advice      Tel: 0300 330 2117   Website:  www.citizensadvice.org.uk/wales
Help to Claim        Tel: 0800 024 1220
Pensionwise          Tel: 0800 138 3944
Adviceline Wales   Tel: 0344 477 2020

If you have not already done so, please consider registering onto the Blaenau Gwent Business Hub which is a free online resource for all Blaenau Gwent businesses - https://www.blaenaugwentbusinesshub.co.uk/BusinessRegister.aspx


ACAS

Acas is an independent public body that receives funding from the government.  They provide free and impartial advice to employers, employees and their representatives on: 

  • Employment rights
  • Best practice and policies
  • workplace conflict 

https://www.acas.org.uk/coronavirus     Helpline 0300 123 1100      Open Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm.

 

Social Business Wales 

https://businesswales.gov.wales/socialbusinesswales/covid-19-support-your-social-business
Provides a comprehensive list of guidance, factsheets and support for the third sector, social enterprise, charities and other social business, as well as a wealth of other links for further information and advice.

WCVA 

http://wcva.cymru/coronavirus-statement/

WCVA provide information and guidance for volunteers relating to safe and effective practices when organising community responses to the coronavirus.  They also offer a daily update which people can sign up to.

Social Entrepreneurs 

https://www.unltd.org.uk/blog/news/covid-19-advice-and-support-for-social-entrepreneurs/

COVID-19: Advice and support for social entrepreneurs – Unltd have prepared an information document, which will be updated regularly with advice for social entrepreneurs as we monitor the situation and government guidelines.

Blaenau Gwent Employment Liaison Service

To discuss recruitment needs or to register your CV on the Blaenau Gwent Skills Database to be kept up to date on local vacancies please visit:
https://www.blaenau-gwent.gov.uk/en/business/jobs-skills/employment-facilitation/

Blaenau Gwent Business Hub

If you are a Blaenau Gwent Business and have not already done so, please consider registering onto the Blaenau Gwent Business Hub which is a free online resource for all Blaenau Gwent businesses

https://www.blaenaugwentbusinesshub.co.uk/BusinessRegister.aspx

Economic Development Team
• Tel - 01495 355700 / 01495 353328 / 01495 355937
• Email – business@blaenau-gwent.gov.uk

Further Links

• Citizens Advice                Tel: 0300 332117       Website:  www.citizensadvice.org.uk/wales
• Help to Claim                   Tel: 0800 024 1220
• Pensionwise                     Tel: 0800 138 3944
• Adviceline Wales              Tel: 0344 477 2020