Business Update: Budget, Road Closures, Insurance 

Morning everyone,

We hope you are safe and well.

The ground is once again moving fast as we look to understand existing and future grant funding arrangements and navigate the governments roadmap out of lockdown published on the 22nd of February. Like many, we welcomed this with a mixture of hope and caution as we map a recovery path for our town centre business community.

We are pleased to see some light at the end of the tunnel, though we are mindful there is still a long road ahead. Accordingly, following extensive industry lobbying efforts, we are eagerly awaiting further details of the Chancellors, budget announcement today. We know the furlough scheme will be extended, and there is an expectation of further grants, so we will update you with details when we know more.

Locally, we are pleased to see that the local vaccination programme is progressing, though we find recent rises in infection rates concerning. Alongside this, conversations with Warwickshire County Council about the Parade road closure are ongoing – and we welcome your feedback via the survey link here and below.

As always, there is much to digest, so please do not hesitate to reach out and please read on for further information on grants, our road closure survey, insurance claims and upcoming plans.

 

1. WDC ‘Closed Business’ Grant Information – 16th February to March 31st

All WDC Grant information and updates can be found at this link:

https://www.warwickdc.gov.uk/info/20068/business_awards_and_grants

In respect to forthcoming national lockdown grant payments, WDC have confirmed that they can make another bulk payment to closed businesses for the ongoing closed grants to cover the period from 16th February to 31st March. This process has now begun.

Amounts are below: 16 February – 31 March 2021

  • RV £15,000 or under : £2096.29
  • RV £15,001 – £50,999 : £3143.86
  • RV £51,000 and over: £4714.29

Anyone that’s already had a 2nd or 3rd lockdown payment or ongoing closed grants from WDC, does not need to reapply as you will be automatically paid.

After the 31st March … WDC will let us know and update their website when they have details of the new payment schedules for any businesses that remain legally mandated to close after that point. Please get in touch if you have any concerns or questions about your grant funding allocation as we are happy to help you look into this.

 

2. Other Grants

A new ARG-Part E’ grant is now open. This is for businesses who are mandated to be ‘open’, but who are suffering hardship as a result of this lockdown (please see below).

Also, we are aware that a recent Warwick County Council grant closed almost as fast as it opened, causing some frustration. We have fed this back to the County and will continue to notify you if we see other opportunities open.

ARG Scheme E:

For information:

  • The full list of businesses mandated to ‘close’ can be found by clicking here (please click).

 

3.  Road Closure Survey – Please help us by responding

As you know, the Parade and associated side streets (Regent and Warwick Street) have been closed to vehicular traffic and buses since June 2020. This was implemented as a temporary measure by Warwickshire County Council to facilitate Covid social distancing in high footfall areas.

We have been collecting business and customer feedback for some time (thank you to those who have fed back!), and regularly provide feedback to the County Council. We have learnt that whilst some customers, residents and businesses welcomed the changes, there are also significant unresolved challenges, particularly around bus stops, disabled access, amenities, impact on businesses on side streets and deliveries. Also, many cafes and restaurants who might benefit from additional road space for alfresco dining, are located beyond the closed area.

Another review of the scheme is being undertaken next week, so we wanted to update our understanding of your needs and views. It is very important that we can accurately speak on your behalf, so thank you in advance. This should take no longer than 5 minutes…

Please complete our short road closure survey here (please click below):

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/6HB8P3Q

We are also aware of a local petition seeking the retention of the Parade closure in the future, and attracting a mixed response on the Leamington Courier Facebook page. At this point, Warwickshire County Council have confirmed to us that current measures are temporary, and any future changes must go through a formal process of stakeholder consultation taking full account of business and community needs and views.

Reflecting this and the complexity of the issue, we will monitor this and other development plans (detailed below) closely. On balance, we support a consultative approach and feel that future changes to the highway and public realm must be carefully considered, as part of a renewed vision and strategy for our town. This must include a sustainable town-wide transport, parking and logistics strategy that is consulted on, designed and costed alongside other critical town centre needs.

Your views and thoughts are gratefully appreciated.

 

4. Insurance Claims – Business Interruption

Recently, the UK Supreme Court has handed down its judgment in the Financial Conduct Authority’s COVID-19 business interruption insurance test case, providing much-needed clarity regarding the coverage generally afforded to businesses for their COVID-19 related financial losses.This is a complicated area of insurance law and not something we have expertise in, however we have been researching avenues for your to find out more. The two most useful sources of information we can see are as follows:

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB):

The FSB have some useful summary details and webinar links found below and offer an advice service to members:


The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA):

The FCA have produce a policy checker tool below and the attached draft guidance (found here – please click).

We know of at least one business looking into this and are interested to know if there are more? … also, please remember to review and update your existing polices if you make changes to how your business is operating.

 

5.  Upcoming Plans & Activity

BID Projects:

Alison and I are preparing our spring / summer marketing and events programme. This will include a range of creative and inspiring online and town centre based promotions and activities designed to:

  • Thank our local community for supporting local businesses;
  • Showcase new and existing town centre businesses;
  • Welcome back customers and support relevant sectors to open, in accordance with government guidance;
  • Further develop the town’s online and social media presence; and
  • Prepare for the return of future events, so we can safely attract and welcome visitors with open arms.

Coming up is our Mother’s Day online promotion and our Town Centre Easter Egg Hunt, so please look out for Alison’s emails with more details on how to get involved.

Other Activities:

We continue to represent business interests with respect to a large amount of development and activity around the region and town centre, which we hope will support job creation and economic stability. This includes the possible development of the UK’s first Gigafactory, the Coventry City of Culture programme, and in Leamington a mega-lab for testing, works around the town centre in advance of the 2022 Commonwealth Games, development in the Town Hall and south town as a part of the Future High Street Fund.

Recently, I was also pleased to deliver a presentation on local ‘placemaking’ and the role the local community can play in supporting renewal, at the Warwick District Council ‘Spark Ignite’ 2021 conference. This will be available to view online soon.

BID Support / Advice:

In the meantime, please reach out if there is anything we can support you with. Don’t forget you can find a range of support information contained in previous emails and on our website including:

Also, the Royal Leamington Spa Town Centre Facebook page, Instagramtwitter and www.loveleamington.com is where we showcase what you are now doing, so please keep us updated on your plans.

Please join our Leamington Town Centre Facebook Group if you haven’t already and share your ideas, information, promotions etc. We also post updates on the BID Leamington Facebook Page and information on our website: www.bidleamington.com.

Best wishes – please take care and stay in touch.

Steph & Alison