Business Support, Well-being & Grants: 21st August

Business Support, Well-being & Grants: 21st August

Business Support, Well-being & Grants: 21st August

Hi everyone,

We hope you are well and navigating the ups and downs over the last week OK. We understand there are mixed feelings and that our members are looking for different forms of support. For those who receive our emails, you will have seen that various grants have been offered by both the Coventry & Warwickshire Growth Hub and Warwickshire County Council. In addition to this, we have emailed you about other support and training from these organisations as well as the Coventry & Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce. Below is a brief summary of what is available and the points of contact. Please note this is ever-evolving so do not hesitate to get in touch for recent updates.

Business Grants

There have been two business grants on offer and the deadline for these has now passed. However, businesses may not have heard back yet or could be looking for further information. The relevant contacts are as follows:

 

Business Support & Training

1.  Coventry & Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce: FREE Digital Training 

The Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with Stories Marketing and the Towns Network, is offering a free digital training programme open to all Warwickshire retailers to help you reach and connect with current and new customers through online and social media tools. Covid-19 has shown that now customers are online more than ever before and it’s imperative for you to learn how to embrace digital to grow your business. Training open to all bricks and mortar retailers and hospitality businesses in Warwickshire.

Please click here for more information and to sign up for digital training via Eventbrite

The Chamber of Commerce also has a lot of other useful business support available – please click here for details.

 

2.  Warwickshire County Council – Survive, Sustain, Grow:

The ‘Survive, Sustain and Grow’ programme will provide an enhanced business consultancy service to assist businesses with their post Covid-19 recovery plans. The program is open to all micro and small enterprises based in Warwickshire and will offer a tailored Covid-19 recovery support package through its network of specialist consultants. They will assist in developing and delivering a robust business framework that will identify key stages, challenges, opportunities and potential access to grant funding the businesses should consider as they progress towards succeeding post Covid-19. All support will be provided free of charge and will look to engage with companies in all business sectors but with a focus on Retail, Hospitality, Tourism & Leisure.

Please click here for more information and to find the contact form

 

3.  Coventry & Warwickshire Growth Hub:

The team at the Growth Hub offer various forms of support ranging from employment advice on loans. Please click here for more information.

 

Business Owner and Staff Health & Well-being

Warwickshire County Council has extended its Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) to support owners and staff in town centre micro and small businesses with their health and wellbeing.

The programme will be available from Tuesday, September 1 to businesses with 10 or fewer employees operating in the towns of Warwickshire who may need help.

This includes access to information, support and guidance (including coaching and counselling where appropriate) on a wide range of topics including work, career, relationships, family, money management, debt and health and wellbeing.

Please get in touch with us on info@bidleamington.com or email business@warwickshire.gov.uk if you would like to learn more about this. All enquiries are confidential.

 

And finally …

In addition to this please don’t forget we are here to help and would be very grateful to get your feedback which will help shape future support on offer. You can also join our Leamington Town Centre Facebook Group if you haven’t already. We also post updates on the BID Leamington Facebook page – and the Royal Leamington Spa Town Centre Facebook page is where we showcase what you are now doing.

Best wishes and we look forward to seeing you out and about,

Steph & Alison

 

Our Annual Report, Invoicing & The Path Forwards

Our Annual Report, Invoicing & The Path Forwards

Our Annual Report, Invoicing & The Path Forwards

Afternoon everyone,

As the BID Leamington financial year ended in June, we have naturally begun reflecting on our achievements and planning for the year ahead. This has been captured in our 2019-2020 Annual Report which can be read online by clicking here. This report draws to an end the second of BID Leamington’s five-year term (2018-2023) and whilst we face immediate challenges as a result of covid-19, we are well placed to tackle the journey going forwards.

 

Responding to COVID

At the time of writing this, we are in the process of safely reopening our town centre as a part of our covid-19 recovery strategy. This has hit our business community very hard and close conversations with many of our members since March has revealed the strain that many businesses are under and the varying circumstances that many face. At this time, some have been able to trade through the crisis, whilst others remain closed, with no opening date in sight.

In general, the whole business community is still managing much ambiguity and uncertainty, and we know that leadership and collaboration is needed to illuminate and navigate the path forwards. We also know that we are well placed to take this journey due to the strength and connectivity of existing local networks and partnerships across the local community.

As set out in the Annual Report and across this website, BID Leamington has swiftly embraced the challenge of supporting members and we have now embraced the challenge of guiding our recovery and then transformation.

 

Our Recovery Framework

Drawing on knowledge and experience from the High Street Task Force, Institute of Place Management and other place management practitioners we devised a recovery strategy for our town. Specifically, this involved adapting their 4-stage framework that guides places from Crisis, to Pre-Recovery, Recovery and then Transformation. We are also pleased to have played a role in contributing to this framework and having our work showcased within the resource set.

The diagram below sets out some of the key actions we have undertaken at each stage, and how we plan to direct our resources going forwards.

 

BID Levy Invoicing

For almost ten years it has been our privilege to serve the businesses of our town. Whilst we have achieved great things and have faced various challenges; the BID Board of Directors and I are aware that the current situation is unique. In the months since the Covid-19 lockdown in March, we have had conversations with a large number of different businesses and understand that individual circumstances vary widely and the incredible strain many are managing. We are also conscious that some businesses have been able to trade through this period, while others remain closed at this time.

Warwick District Council is the collection agent for the annual BID Levy that was issued in July. Whilst there is a legal imperative to issue BID levy invoices to maintain the BID mandate, we acknowledge the varying circumstances facing businesses and have a strong desire to avoid adding further strain at this time. Reflecting this, the BID Board of Directors and Warwick District Council have agreed to some flexibility with respect to the payment terms this year. By request, you can defer the first payment until October 1, 2020. Also, if desired, businesses can request to set up a monthly payment plan from July or October as required. Of course, if you are in a position to pay the full amount in July, we would be very grateful.

If you wish to take advantage of either or both of these options, we ask that you contact us to let us know your plans as soon as possible. Please do this by phoning 01926 470 634 or emailing info@bidleamington.com. You can also contact Warwick District Council directly (as per the invoice details).

 

Our Transformation – Planning the Path Forwards 

As set out within our Annual Report 2019-2020, the value of your BID is more important than ever. Building on our excellent track record of delivery, many of you have experienced how valuable our work has been since March. We have been front and centre, working with partners to get critical grant funds to members, helping businesses to adapt, providing professional advice and solutions, lobbying for additional support, maintaining links with our customer base and planning for re-opening our town.

Looking forwards, our town centre will inevitably change and we have begun gathering data to inform this. There are also some exciting plans on the horizon which are important to highlight.

Leamington Spa is among 101 towns who have been identified as part of the Future High Street Fund (announced in August 2019). This funding is aimed at addressing the most pressing structural challenges in our town centre and supporting future transformation. The work builds on our existing town vision and will be adapted to meet emerging needs and embrace local creativity and innovation. We are also looking forward to hosting the Commonwealth Games Bowls in 2022 just minutes from the town centre. Already 1.8 million pounds of funding has been secured to upgrade local parks, improve wayfinding and our railway station gateway in advance of this.

Alongside this, we continue to roll out creative interventions and activities to ensure our town centre is inviting and welcoming, whilst continuing to support conversations with Local Authority partners to influence how our town centre is changing.

Though we face challenges ahead, the BID team have the experience and leadership to steer our town through the transition process. Together we have done a huge amount over the years and I believe it is the strength and resilience of this groundwork and our approach to partnership working that will help pave the way forwards. Please do not hesitate to reach out to myself or Alison to discuss your individual needs.

THANK YOU! … as always … we remain inspired by everything we can see you doing to navigate a path forwards.

Don’t forget to join our Leamington Town Centre Facebook Group if you haven’t already. We will also post updates on the BID Leamington Facebook Page – and the Royal Leamington Spa Town Centre Facebook page is where we will showcase what you are now doing.

Best wishes and we look forward to seeing you out and about,

Steph & Alison

 

 

Lets Raise The Bar

Lets Raise The Bar

Raise The Bar

This post relates to the campaign to extend the £25,000 grant scheme. It is directed to our members who are in the retail, leisure and hospitality sector and whose business has a rateable value between £51,001 and £150,000, as listed by the VOA on the GOV.UK website.

We are aware that due to the rateable value, your property was NOT eligible to receive grant funding as a part of the governments COVID-19 Retail and Leisure Hospitality Grant Scheme.

This exclusion has negatively impacted businesses in some towns / parts of the country more than others. In the Leamington Town Centre BID Area it means 109 businesses miss out on grant funding, that we know will make a big difference in supporting you, your staff and your business through this trying period. In London, this affects around 19,000 businesses. Feedback from those who have received grants suggest it has offered a lifeline, enabling them to pay suppliers, manage stock-loss, pay rent and overheard costs, support adaption and in some cases, survive.

I have been working with industry organisations and other BIDs to put together a campaign to address this gap. This is called ‘Raise the Bar’. A letter headed by Croydon BID which I also contributed to, has been sent to Rt. Hon. Alok Sharma MP who is the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. This can be read by clicking here.

The website is here: https://raisethebarcampaign.com. In the last week there has been a fantastic uptake in national press and a question was raised at the Government’s daily briefing with Matt Hancock MP about this yesterday.

How can you help?

We have a government petition which has now been signed by nearly 15,000 people, which you can sign by clicking here. Please share with #RaiseTheBar.

We are looking for business case studies … that is, businesses who would be willing to provide further details about the impact of COVID-19, your current position and how getting a £25,000 grant would help you. Please note, that case study information will be shared with the press, and you may be contacted. Of course, we will support you with this also. Please let me know if this interests you…

It is worth noting that the business support that has been provided to date is hard won. BIDs, membership organisations and industry bodies all over the country are lobbying for their members, and it is important that we express an honest picture of your current circumstances. Also, we are well aware that there are many other ‘asks’ of government at the moment, and that further support will be needed going forwards too. For now, ‘Raise the Bar’ is a deliverable ‘ask’ and would make an immediate impact.

If you would like further information or an informal chat about this, please reply by email (stephanie@bidleamington.com) and I will be in touch.

Best wishes, stay safe and keep in touch.

BID Business Survey Results

BID Business Survey Results

BID Business Survey Results

The impact of Covid-19 on Leamington’s retail and leisure sector, with a particular focus on independent businesses – key findings from a business survey conducted between 04 April and 08 April 2020.

 

Summary and key issues

Similar to the tourism sector, the results are stark and sobering. The survey was informed by a wide range of mostly independent retail and leisure sector businesses.

Some 85% have seen a fall in revenue of 80% -100% and 95% indicated a fall in revenue  greater than 50%. Critically, taking account of existing support and grants, 84% are experiencing cashflow problems. Also 78% feel that under the current lockdown conditions, they can last no longer than 3 months without further support (12% were less than 1 month).

At this time 88% are temporarily closed and 84% have furloughed staff. Of this, 56% have furloughed 76-100% of staff. Some 66% have opted to defer VAT, though there has been limited uptake of other forms of government assistance, with many reporting problems reaching banks and accessing loans.

Critical concerns for businesses relate to cashflow challenges (including rent, utilities and loan repayments) and attracting customers back. It is very clear that further support is needed, especially if emergency measures are extended, as many have limited capacity to take on debt after facing numerous years of existing challenges. A strategic recovery approach will be essential. Immediate needs cited were more support from landlords (e.g. rent reduction or holiday), VAT reduction rather than deferral, additional financial support, including grants for those that were not eligible (rateable value above £51,000) and a phased end to furloughing (beyond May 31) to avoid future job losses.

 

Introduction

Covid-19 has created an unprecedented crisis for the region’s business community, with the retail, leisure and tourism sectors among the first to be affected and continuing to bear the brunt. BID Leamington has collaborated with the WMGC’s Research Team and Shakespeare’s England to survey the regions businesses, and this part of the survey focuses on the retail and leisure sector in Leamington Spa. There were 41 responses from mostly independent businesses from a variety of sectors.

 

Business impact

Some 85% have seen a fall in revenue of 80%-100% and 95% indicated a fall in revenue  greater than 50%. Critically, taking account of existing support, 84% are experiencing cashflow problems, even though 95% of businesses in this data received a grant of some kind. Also 78% feel that under the current lockdown conditions, they can last no longer than 3 months without further support (12% were less than 1 month).

 

Take-up of Business Assistance

At this time 88% are temporarily closed and 83% have furloughed staff. Of this, 56% have furloughed 76-100% of staff. Some 66% have opted to defer VAT, though there has been limited uptake of other forms of government assistance (e.g. Loans, HMRC helpline) with many reporting issues reaching banks and accessing loans. Some also indicated a reluctance to take on debt that they are not confident they can trade out of.

Job retention scheme e.g. claim for 80% of furloughed employees 83.9 %
VAT deferral 66.5 %
Income Tax deferral (self-assessment payments) 24.4 %
Self Employed income support 12.2 %
Statutory Sick Pay relief package for SMEs 7.3 %
Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) 17.1 %
Support for Retail, hospitality & leisure businesses: Cash grants of 10K or £25k 95.1 %
HMRC Time to Pay scheme 29.2 %
Please note any other support you have utilised? 4.8 %

 

Key Challenges and Support Needs

Where possible, businesses are attempting to adapt but are limited by commission charges of outside trading platforms (e.g. Trouva, Deliveroo etc), Royal Mail and Courier Company delivery issues and charges. A limited number are doing deliveries themselves however demand is uncertain.

Looking forward, critical concerns for businesses in this sector relate to cashflow challenges (including rent, utilities and loan repayments) and attracting customers back.

If the recovery is not strategic and supported sadly some will be left with no option but to close. Also, if furlough support is not phased out (beyond May 31 or when emergency  measures end) many are predicting they may have to reduce staff hours or make redundancies. The concern is that consumers may lack confidence and / or have adapted to online shopping so will need to be enticed back. Strong ‘shop local’ communications with strategic interventions to support social distancing are likely to be needed during the transition period. Many will need a ‘notice period’ to enable time to re-stock e.g. two weeks.

It is very clear that further support is needed. Key areas cited by businesses included:

  • Additional support from landlords (e.g. rent reduction or holiday) and / or support for landlords so they can pass this support to their tenants.
  • VAT reduction rather than deferral for a period
  • Grants for businesses that were not eligible e.g. rateable value above £51,000
  • Urgent additional financial support to avoid additional debt e.g. VAT reduction or further grants if the lockdown is extended.
  • Phased ending to the furlough period beyond May 31st (assuming restrictions and / or limited consumer demand continues) to avoid future job losses
  • A strategic approach to recovery e.g. clear communications, a notice period to re-stock
  • Help with marketing, promotions etc. when the time comes.
Focused Business Support

Focused Business Support

Focused Business Support

BID Leamington is focusing all of its resources on supporting the town centre with the impact of Coronavirus in light of recent announcements about business closures.

As well as highlighting latest government guidance, including measures to help mitigate the financial impact, it is reaching out to businesses to fully understand their needs in order to lobby for additional support.

It is also re-launching online platforms to support business and community activities.

Stephanie Kerr, executive director of BID Leamington, said: “Whilst we welcome the government’s support measures, it is clear that more is needed, for instance, around immediate access to financial help, and commercial lease issues facing independents.

“It is therefore vital that we fully understand business needs so that we can feedback to our MP, government and relevant industry bodies about what additional support is required.

“There is a really strong sense of community in Leamington and already many examples of people working together, so we are doing all we can to help businesses and the wider community support this collective effort and adapt to these unprecedented challenges.

“Many businesses are showing their resilience and ingenuity, for instance by extending their services to support food deliveries to vulnerable people, offering online events, virtual pubs, video and phone shopping, and offering collect and delivery, and we would really encourage local people where possible to support them now more than ever.

“We have recently re-launched two websites to showcase these efforts, and will be constantly updating our social media with information on how town centre businesses are adapting and their new service offerings, so that we can all find out what is happening and get involved.”

People can visit www.loveleamington.com and www.tasteleamington.com to find out the latest information on Leamington town centre businesses including those also trading online, and offering collection or home delivery.

All town centre businesses can visit www.bidleamington.com for information and support, and are urged to make contact with the BID team for advice at info@bideaminton.com.

BID Meetings: Connect, Learn & Inspire

BID Meetings: Connect, Learn & Inspire

Last night we held one of our regular BID Business Meetings (16th October 2019), which was kindly hosted by Stevie, Lotfi and the team at the newly renovated and opened Grove Kitchen in Regent Grove who also supplied some delicious nibbles and drinks!

We are not always sure how many can attend or what cross-section of business owners will be there but regardless of if there are 20 or 50, the conversation is always interesting and inspiring. When our meetings are a little smaller as was the case last night (22 people from 17 different businesses) it offers an opportunity for everyone to introduce their business, share their ideas, successes and challenges and collectively solve problems. It is also very helpful to myself, Alison and Gary (the BID team) as we can get under the skin of the critical issues concerning our members.

Last night was brilliant, so firstly our sincere thanks to everyone who joined us and contributed. I left feeling very warmed and inspired. The topics we discussed were diverse: I introduced recent BID insights and activities (the trading environment including new business openings, Brexit, our Annual Report, the launch of Meaningful Change, upcoming Christmas promotions and our future agenda including the High St Fund (recently awarded to Leamington) and ‘Green Leamington’.

Following this, business owners and managers spent some time introducing themselves and highlighting opportunities to help each other:

  • Belvoir (pictured) kicked things off with an overview of the property sector and reminded us of their kind offer to put businesses information in the goodie bags given out to new homeowners and tenants. Just drop it into Sue and John at their office on Regent Grove.
  • Neals Yard has been carbon neutral for 11 years and Matt highlighted how much they have learnt on the journey. He has offered to help us collate this learning so it can be shared more widely.
  • Our lips were watering as Rosemary introduced us to her amazing handmade chocolate business located at Lantern Corner (Cenu Cacao). We were left wishing for winter to arrive so we can try her hot chocolate!
  • Health and wellbeing is part of the town’s DNA and is the focus of Beauty on Demand, now in Oxford Street. It was lovely to hear from Julie and learn about the wide range of services on offer from nails to massage, it is all about being pampered.
  • The Party Shop on Regent Street are here to help us shine! Rob and Mike’s business is green accredited and if you pay them a visit they are sure to make you laugh!
  • The Art’s Trail has recently moved into the Royal Priors, so it was nice to hear from Gerry who has a wide range of print and copy services on offer. You can find them on the Upper Mall.
  • Emma from Monsoon / Accessorise made us smile when she offered everyone a piercing to celebrate this is now on offer there!
  • Finally, Sarah Horne is constantly innovating and her Botanical range features her own drawings while her Flower Schools form a part of her experiential offer. She invited businesses to an exhibition this Friday October 18, which she has curated in partnership with Gerry (Arts Trail).

As always, I was struck by the passion and multi-talented nature of these business owners. They are incredible and doing it all: buying, negotiating, making and designing products, displays and windows, marketing, on social media, serving customers, doing accounts, HR and more. It is incredible to see such cross-section of talent in one person … yet we interact with it daily. This calls for huge respect.  

Helpful Links:

Meaningful Change Leamington

Brexit Advice Link

Upcoming BID Events

BID Annual Report

Our thanks to the businesses who joined us:

  • Arts Trail
  • Beauty on Demand
  • Belvoir
  • Cenu Cacao
  • CoOp Travel
  • Côte
  • Jaeger
  • Monsoon / Accessorise
  • Neals Yard Remedies
  • One Stop Party Shop
  • Peter Stephan Jewellers
  • Photiq
  • Royal Priors
  • Sarah Horne Flowers
  • Sharps
  • The Grove Kitchen
  • Tom Howley Kitchens