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News and information for West Oxfordshire’s businesses - 19 Mar 21


Preparing for the easing of restrictions

I reported in the last edition of this newsletter that the Government had just announced new Restart grants. We received the guidance yesterday and the team is now working hard to set up the systems to administer the new scheme. We will be in touch with eligible businesses as soon as we can but it is important to clarify that the Restart scheme does not start until April.

The Local Restrictions Support Grants (LRSG) will close on Wednesday 31 March so it is important that any outstanding applications are received by the council before then.

As we move closer to the reopening of the hospitality sector, I would like to remind all businesses that are planning to use chairs and tables outside their premises that they will need a pavement licence. This is simple to apply for and free but it is never the less required.
Apply for a Pavement Licence

Free rapid tests for all businesses

An open letter to all businesses from Oxfordshire's Head of Public Health sets out the COVID testing options for businesses and their staff. It also includes information about self isolation and supporting clinically vulnerable individuals. Please take time to read the letter

ALL businesses in England are now eligible for free rapid workplace testing and are encouraged to register their interest by 31 March.
Register for free workplace testing

Reopening hospitality businesses

A series of webinars will help local hospitality businesses prepare for reopening by covering the practical steps, considerations, and the latest Government guidance:

1. Outdoor hospitality: Friday 26th March 10am
    For premises opening for outdoor hospitality on the 12th April 

2. Indoor hospitality: Thursday 29th April 2pm
    For premises opening for indoor hospitality on the 17th May

3. All hospitality: 10th June 2pm
    This session is for all hospitality opening on the 21st June
Book to attend hospitality business webinar

Spot checks on businesses

This is a reminder that the council is working with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) conducting spot checks on businesses.  The checks are to ensure businesses have measures in place to manage the risk and protect workers and others from coronavirus. Officers will provide advice and guidance but can issue enforcement notices should they be required. If a business has any concerns about the legitimacy of the HSE inspector, they can call a verification line on 0300 790 6896.

For further information on how to manage the risk of coronavirus in different business sectors please read the government guidance below.
Guidance on COVID-secure workplaces

Brexit Support Fund

The Government has launched its SME Brexit Support Fund to help small businesses trade with the EU. Grants of up to £2,000 are on offer to pay for training and professional advice to help businesses meet their customs, excise, import VAT or safety and security declaration requirements.

Applications will close on 30 June 2021 or earlier if all funding is allocated before this date.
Apply for the Brexit Support Fund

Deutsche Bank Awards

DBACE is awarding a cash prize and business support for a year for individuals who want to start a new business or already have a business in the creative industry. Applicants must be 18 to 30 years old and need a strong desire to create social impact through enterprise. The closing date for applications is on 31 March 2021.
Apply for the cash prize reward

Energy Solutions Oxfordshire

Energy Solutions Oxfordshire offers a complete ‘one-stop shop’ for energy efficiency. It helps businesses to lower carbon emissions and access pre-approved, low-interest loans and finance opportunities. It is run by a team of energy experts from the Low Carbon Hub and the Environmental Information Exchange team at Oxford Brookes University.
Energy Solutions Oxfordshire

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme

The government has announced the fourth round of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme which will cover the period of February 2021 to April 2021. This grant is available for those who are self-employed or are members of a partnership. You will be able to submit your claim from late April 2021 until 31 May 2021.
Self-Employment Income Support Scheme

Kickstart Scheme

The government is providing funding to create job placements for 16 to 24 year olds on Universal Credit. Any business can apply and the scheme covers:
  • 100% of the National Minimum Wage
  • National Insurance contributions 
  • automatic enrolment contributions
Employers can spread the start of the placements up until December 2021 and may receive further funding for training and development of the young individual.
Employ a young and talented individual

Pitchfest: investment readiness 

Pitchfest is an Innovate UK scheme to help business get investment ready. The scheme is open to UK registered SMEs with high growth potential.  Pitchfest offers:
  • An opportunity to build a clear, compelling and credible investment proposition
  • Bespoke support from a dedicated innovation and growth specialist 
  • Two-days of comprehensive pitch training
  • Access to leading pitch and investment experts
  • Introductions to active investor networks in your region and across the UK
  • Constructive no-risk feedback from a panel of real investors
The deadline for applications in the southeast of England is Tuesday 27 April.
Apply to Pitchfest

Community grant programme

The Trust for Oxfordshire’s Environment is currently offering grants of up to £10,000 to community groups and other charitable or non-profit organisations throughout Oxfordshire. The grants are intended for those projects covering any of the following priorities:
  • Biodiversity
  • Access
  • Low Carbon
Applications are assessed quarterly and the next deadlines are 26 April, 19 July and 25 October 2021.
Community grant programme

Other helpful organisations

Several business groups are coming up trumps with help and advice for businesses. The ones below are good but do also check the trade association for your own sector.

Keeping up to date

Please forward this email to others to whom this might be useful and encourage them to sign up to further updates.  Please note that you can access previous editions of this newsletter too.
Sign up for this newsletter and see previous editions
COVID-19 Latest information and advice
The council Coronavirus web pages have updates about business support, communities and leisure, bins and recycling, elections and council meetings, planning, building and council news.
Visit our website
We hope you found this newsletter useful. We would like them to be as relevant as possible so please let us know what you think and don’t forget to send us your news to business@westoxon.gov.uk
 
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