Coronavirus toolkit

As the coronavirus outbreak escalates, Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce have been receiving enquiries from businesses asking what steps they should be taking. We’re committed to do all we can to support the business community in Staffordshire at this difficult time.

Coronavirus is a potentially lethal respiratory disease which has now spread to countries throughout the world, including the UK. The virus is classified as an airborne high consequence infectious disease (HCID) and can cause coughing, high temperatures and, potentially, pneumonia.

Staffordshire Chambers daily briefing:

Each weekday, we’re putting together a support sheet with the latest guidance for businesses. This daily briefing gives you advice on the range of support available, including financial, tax, insurance, employment and mentoring: Staffordshire Chambers Coronavirus Support Sheet 07.04.2020

New rules on staying at home and away from others:

The single most important action we can all take in fighting the coronavirus is to stay at home in order to protect the NHS and save lives. The government has introduced three new measures:

  1. Requiring people to stay at home, except for very limited purposes
  2. Closing non-essential shops and community spaces
  3. Stopping all gatherings of more than two people in public

Gatherings of more than two people in public are permitted where the gathering is essential for work purposes – but workers should be trying to minimise all meetings and other gatherings in the workplace.

Travelling to and from work is permitted, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home.

Every citizen must comply with these new measures. They will initially last for the three weeks from 23 March, at which point the Government will look at them again and relax them if the evidence shows this is possible.

Update on new social distancing measures:

Guidance has been issued on the closure of all retailers that sell non-essential goods and other non-essential premises, as part of further social distancing measures. A full list of the businesses and premises that must remain closed is available. Takeaway and delivery services may remain open and operational. Online retail is still open and encouraged and postal and delivery service will run as normal. Retail and public premises which expect to remain open must:

  • Ensure a distance of two meters between customers and shop assistants; and
  • Let people enter the shop only in small groups, to ensure that spaces are not crowded.
  • Queue control is required outside of shops and other essential premises that remain open.

The Government will look again at these measures in three weeks and relax them if the evidence shows this is possible. Everyone is instructed to comply with the rules issued by the government in relation to coronavirus, in order to protect both themselves and others.

Please note this guidance is different in Scotland. We will keep you updated with developments as soon as possible.

Small business grant from local authorities:

We have guidance on the small business grants available from local authorities across Staffordshire: Local Council Grant information for COVID-19

Guidance from Staffordshire Police:

Staffordshire Police have put together the following document for crime prevention advice for empty commercial premises: Empty Commercial Premises Advice

Video message from Adam Marshall:

Take a look at the latest BCC video below where Adam Marshall responds to the recent lockdown announcement and share on your social channels to spread the message with your members.

Weekly Coronavirus Business Impacts Tracker Poll:

Given the rapid pace of Coronavirus developments and the increased requirements for up-to-date data, we are running a weekly ‘Coronavirus Business Impacts Tracker Poll’ for UK members. This will assess general business conditions from week to week and understand the levels of business awareness and usage of UK government support measures.

The tracker poll has been developed with input from a group of UK Chambers. It will take only 2-3 mins to complete and will be kept under constant review as data is received.

As with all our national surveys outside of QES, if your Chamber has contributed a database to the BCC for surveying members then no action is required. The BCC manages the fieldwork process entirely in-house. If your Chamber has not contributed a database, a standalone link can be provided on request. Contact David Bharier for more information or click here.

New social distancing measures and Chamber documentation staff: 

A reminder from the BCC International Trade team!  If you have yet to do so, now is the time to move documentation staff to home working. This will ensure that we continue to deliver the services that your customers need to keep on trading.

Our approved electronic documentation platforms provide the means to eliminate contact with trader representatives.  Almost all documentation certified by Chambers can be issued remotely when traders apply for certificates through the electronic platforms.

Some traders will need help with setting up and accessing the software used by your Chamber as well as advice on printing documents at their own premises which can also be done remotely.

Contact Liam Smyth for further information and with any queries.

Accounts:

Businesses will be given an additional 3 months to file accounts with Companies House to help companies avoid penalties as they deal with the impact of COVID-19. More here.

Business Support Campaign:

The government has launched a new phase of the Business Support Campaign to help businesses across the UK meet the unprecedented challenge the country is facing in dealing with coronavirus (Covid-19).

The campaign aims to help businesses and their employees with a package of measures through this period of unprecedented disruption. More here.

Support for the charity and voluntary sector:

VAST have put together a useful toolkit for the charity and voluntary sector.

Ministry at Work support:

During these challenging times the Chambers’ chaplaincy support to business is available to take calls for those anxious about their own wellbeing. They can offer various ways to manage mental health at this difficult time, but most importantly someone to talk to. You can call them on 07971966160 and access more information about the service at www.ministryatwork.org.uk

Below, we outline the advice and best practice from the government, NHS, and other organisations:

The NHS has a regularly updated guide to coronavirus, setting out how it is spread, how to avoid catching it, symptoms, treatment and what to do if you think you or any of your employees might be infected. There’s also guidance on self isolating. Details here.

The official guidance from the Department of Health and Social Care, and Public Health England, is here and is being updated daily. This covers the situation in the UK, provides information about the virus and outlines the action the government is taking.

From 17th March 2020, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) has advised against all non-essential international travel, initially for a period of 30 days. This advice takes effect immediately. More here.

The Government has released its Coronavirus Action Plan. 

The Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development has produced a fact sheet, which sets out how employers should respond to the threat from Coronavirus. More here.

The Department for Transport and Public Health England have produced specific guidance for the transport sector here.

The World Health Organisation has more detailed information including videos on best practice and posters to download to inform your workforce. There’s also a useful myth-buster section and advice on when face masks are appropriate. Click here.

The British Chambers of Commerce have put together guidance.

The BBC has advice on working from home

Access free guides to living and working during the coronavirus pandemic: 

COVID-19 has brought significant changes to the way we live and work, and the rapidly changing situation can make it hard to keep up with the latest news and advice.

Westfield Health know how important it is for HR teams and business leaders to understand the situation, mitigate the risk for business, and care for the health and wellbeing of their people.

They’re creating a series of guides with lots of resources and ideas to support businesses and their people.They’ve already shared their employer guide for preparing for COVID-19, and the next guides in the series are now available for you to download. Take a look here.

RSM coronavirus hub:

RSM have developed a dedicated online platform that brings together the latest from experts and covers numerous topics pertinent to businesses at this time. Here is the link to their coronavirus hub: https://www.rsmuk.com/ideas-and-insights/coronavirus-business-risks

The hub outlines some critical considerations for businesses to help mitigate the risks. They are aiming to keep this as up to date as possible, and there is new content being added daily, but please do bear in mind how fast the situation is changing. There will be challenges for us all in the coming months so if there is anything RSM can assist you, or your members with, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Introduction

Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce are looking for a mobile contract that will provide optimum efficiency in terms of cost and performance. We are therefore seeking a company to address this requirement for voice and data services as part of a two year managed business contract, commencing 1 April 2020.

Key contract requirements:

  • The option of either shared or individual data allowances for 25 connections.
  • Unlimited standard UK minutes and SMS.
  • Competitive global roaming solution.
  • The ability to add spend caps on an individual basis.
  • The provision of an acquisition rebate.

Key business contract requirements:

  • The current service provider is Vodafone and we are happy to consider an alternative as long as the recommended provider has equivalent or better coverage across Staffordshire. National and international coverage is also required.
  • A totally managed and seamless transition should we decide to move away from the Vodafone network.
  • Solutions for areas where coverage may be a concern such as WIFI calling for example.
  • One point of contact is required for support and issue resolution going forward.
  • Access to an intelligent online billing platform for reporting and invoices.

 

Key Considerations

It should be noted that key considerations in appointing a supplier will include the following areas:

  • Applicant is a member of Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce
  • Experience of delivering similar solutions
  • Quality product and service
  • Functionality, innovative solution, reliable, flexible and ease of use
  • Value for money and cost
  • Delivery timescale

Proposals, outlining previous work carried out in this area, references, suggested solutions, timescales and costs should be emailed to lorraine.green@staffordshirechambers.co.uk no later than Friday 13 March 2020.

We look forward to hearing from you with regard to this business opportunity.

Kind regards

Lorraine Green
Head of Corporate Services
Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce and Industry Ltd

Surveying for our latest Quarterly Economic Survey is now open!

Sponsored by the Midlands Engine Investment Fund, delivered by the British Business Bank, we would love to hear from firms of all shapes and sizes (starts ups, sole traders, SMEs, medium sized and large corporations) as it will help create an accurate picture of the business landscape across Staffordshire.

Whether you’re a seasoned director or relatively new to your company, please spare just a few minutes to fill in the survey.

Your responses will remain completely anonymous and will never be shared with any third parties.

We understand your time is precious, so to thank all respondents you can enter our prize draw.

Take part here: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/JRQKBHX

Michelin Development are proud to have supported a number of businesses across North Staffordshire to develop and expand their businesses.

As 2020 gets underway, many SMEs across Stoke-on-Trent, Newcastle-under-Lyme and Staffordshire Moorlands are already taking advantage of the support available through Michelin Development.

A Michelin Development loan can be used for a whole range of purposes, which could include purchase of capital equipment, process improvement, working capital and marketing, to name but a few. Successful applicants can apply for unsecured loans from £5,000 to £50,000 through Michelin’s associate bank at a subsidised interest rate.

Some SMEs may already be up to the unsecured limit that their main bank is willing to provide, and this is therefore an additional opportunity to lend. Interest is charged at base rate + 2% which makes this a very attractive scheme. While the fund is driven by the amount of employment being created, it can also be used as match funding towards grant funds as it still counts as private lending.

Michelin Development also offer business support, which is a fantastic opportunity for SMEs to benefit from the knowledge of a global company. Applicants can access free, independent advice from Michelin’s considerable in-house expertise. The areas covered can be tailored to your business needs and could include health & safety, sales and marketing training, or productivity. The support can be delivered to you in a variety of different ways including workshops with small groups of people or one-to-one sessions.

Businesses which are successful in applying for Michelin Development support could be given the opportunity to get involved with press releases, case studies and other PR activities, providing valuable publicity to you and your business as it grows.

Who is eligible?

  • Businesses in the manufacturing, engineering or services sector (business to business), can use the funding to support the creation of jobs and are within Stoke-on-Trent, Newcastle-under-Lyme and Staffordshire Moorlands.

Be inspired by local success stories who have recently received funding via the scheme https://michelindevelopment.co.uk/celebrating-many-years-supporting-local-businesses/blog/

To find out if your business would be eligible for the loan, please call 0800 056 2007 or visit https://michelindevelopment.co.uk/

A Staffordshire contract cleaning company is moving into new markets following a £50,000 cash injection from Michelin Development.

Cheadle-based Moorland Contract Cleaning is using the funding to launch a new division, providing janitorial supplies that feature greener formulations and sustainable packaging. Over the next three years, the business is forecasting turnover to double and more than 10 full time positions to be created as a result of the expansion.

Founded by Tim and Suzanne Davy in 2012, Moorland Contract Cleaning operates in the commercial, retail, leisure, industrial and educational sectors across the Midlands and Yorkshire. The company applied to Michelin Development to support its ambitious plans after largely self-financing the business over the years.

Michelin Development offers subsidised, unsecured loans of up to £50,000, for projects with the potential to create quality, sustainable jobs.

Suzanne Davy said: “We are very passionate about high quality standards of cleaning and providing a service that is second to none and our business has gone from strength-to-strength based on these values. The move into janitorial supplies feels like a natural progression for us. By expanding our supplier base, we can introduce greener; environmental practices into our own cleaning contracts and expand our market by offering a much wider ranges of cleaning materials, equipment, washroom products and cleaning machines through a fully managed service.

“The support from Michelin Development has been invaluable for us to take the next step. It is helping us to manage the projected growth of the cleaning business overall, coupled with the diversification into janitorial supplies, and has given us the confidence to move forward.  It is a great service for ambitious businesses looking to scale up.”

Mike Cole, head of Michelin Development, is keen to hear from other North Staffordshire businesses looking to achieve the next stage of growth. Mr Cole said: “Moorland Contract Cleaning is a great example of a business looking to expand, create new jobs and support the local economy as a whole. Our message to other small businesses with the same mindset is that we are here to help. We have the funds in place, but we need to receive applications to deliver this support and investment in our community. The companies we can help know their markets and figures and they just need a little extra support to move along on their growth journey. That is where we can step in to help.”

To find out more visit www.michelindevelopment.co.uk

Brexit update

This Friday 31st January at 23:00hrs the UK marks its official departure from the European Union thus fulfilling the wishes of many people in our area. However, the coming year is likely to be very challenging for many businesses as all eyes will be focussed on the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the EU which is sure to have many twists and turns during negotiations.

Dr Adam Marshall, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said: “In our business communities, this historic moment will bring a mixture of regret for some and celebration for others – but this is just the end of the beginning, not the beginning of the end.

“Decisions made during the next phase of negotiations will influence the business environment for decades to come. Businesses are likely to face significant changes in the way they trade, both in Europe and across the world. The government must clearly communicate what those changes will be – and provide timely guidance and support to help firms adapt and make the most of new opportunities as Britain sets its own trading polices”.

The UK will enter an 11 month ‘business-as-usual’ transition period. All parties are keen to ensure that a comprehensive FTA is successfully negotiated but If these talks fail to produce an agreement then a theoretical ‘no-deal’ Brexit is still possible in December 2020. Time spent thinking through the changes that Brexit may bring to your firm could yield real dividends in future. There are steps that businesses of all sizes can take now to start planning ahead. Click Here to see a new Post-Transition Brexit Checklist.

We are currently updating our very own Bresilience website to reflect the changes. Our International Trade Team is available to help support your business though these times of change and don’t forget that Chamber members automatically receive 50% off the cost of Export Documentation – that’s an average saving of over £1000 p.a.

A Stoke-on-Trent signage company is conquering new markets and creating jobs following a £50,000 cash injection from Michelin Development.

Dresden-based A2B Signs and Graphics is investing in state-of-the-art technology to reach new customers in the UK and overseas.

The money, which has been match funded by a grant from Stoke-on-Trent City Council, has enabled A2B Signs and Graphics to make a £150,000 investment in a finishing table. This allows the company to produce larger-format printed materials on almost any substrate. As a result, over the next three years, the business is forecasting turnover to reach more than £1.2 million and staff numbers to almost double from 13 people to 25.

Specialising in bespoke signage, vehicle and fleet livery, wide format print, exhibition displays and labels, A2B Signs and Graphics was set up by James Machin after he left Staffordshire University in 2007, where he studied business. He started the firm from his home, working around hotel shifts to get the company off the ground. It has continued to grow and James applied to Michelin Development to support his ambitious plans, after largely self-financing expansion over the years.

Michelin Development offers subsidised, unsecured loans of up to £50,000 for projects with the potential to create high-quality, sustainable jobs. Applicants must employ fewer than 250 people and be involved in manufacturing, engineering or business to business services.

Mr Machin said: “The new machine is transforming our business and enabling us to do much more for our clients. We are now working across the length and breadth of the UK and Northern Ireland and we’ve also won work in the Middle East. The support we have had from Michelin Development has helped make this all possible. It’s a great service and we would highly recommend it to businesses looking to grow.”

Mike Cole, head of Michelin Development, is keen to hear from other North Staffordshire businesses targeting growth.

Mr Cole said: “James is a true entrepreneur and he is now in a position to really power forward. This particular loan has been even more satisfying because we collaborated with Stoke-on-Trent City Council, who sit on our Michelin Development steering committee, and match funded their grant offer. They match funded through the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Grants for Growth programme, which is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund. The early release of the Michelin funds meant we were able to help cover the gap in the cashflow between James purchasing the machine and receiving the grant.

“A2B Signs and Graphics is a great example of a business looking to expand, create jobs and support the local economy as a whole. Our message to other small businesses on the same footing is that we are here to help. We have the funds in place, but we need to receive applications to deliver this support and investment in our community. The companies we can help know their markets and figures – they just need a little extra support to move along on their growth journey. That is where we can step in.”

To find out more visit www.michelindevelopment.co.uk or call +44 (0)1538 308685.

We’re joining forces with music charity Make Some Noise to launch the Business Community Choir – a chance for the local business community to come together to try something new in 2020.

The choir is perfect for those looking for a New Year’s resolution that will boost wellbeing and let you meet new people. Facilitated by Make Some Noise, members will be supported by their trained specialists, given encouragement and guidance if needed.

It’s a chance to get together and sing popular and contemporary music in a relaxed and welcoming environment, with the potential to perform at business events in the future.

The first session will take place, subject to numbers, on Wednesday 22nd January at Commerce House, Festival Park, with registration and networking 5pm-5.30pm and then the choir running 5.30pm-7pm. The choir will then meet every fortnight, subject to interest.

Singing with others is great for our mental health and fun too, so why not give it a go?

To register your interest or for more information, please contact Sarah Colclough: sarah.colclough@staffordshirechambers.co.uk

Raising money for our 26 charities is an important part of our work at Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce. We were thrilled to celebrate this week with representatives from the Chamber charities over a festive glass of fizz and a mince pie. Chief Executive Sara Williams presented cheques to the charities from the total we’ve raised so far to support the life changing work of these great causes we have in Staffordshire.

Our Christmas raffle is currently raising more funds for these charities, with prizes ranging from a festive boozy tipple to a bright pink wheelbarrow. Tickets are available for £5 from the Chamber office until 19th December.

Business Showcase Open Days

Businesses tell us that they are struggling to attract and retain homegrown talent, and that school and college leavers aren’t aware of the job prospects in local firms across Staffordshire. That’s why we’re excited to be part of the British Chambers of Commerce new national initiative, Business Showcase Open Days.

Running in February 2020 these Showcase Open Days will see businesses across the country open their doors, providing a chance for local schools, colleges and universities to see first-hand the range of different career paths on offer in local businesses.

As a business you could provide, for example, a tour of your shop floor, warehouse or factory or give a presentation on site about how your business works. Maybe you could run a Meet our Staff event in your office to show young people the range of career opportunities on offer.

The hope is that it will inspire the next generation of Staffordshire’s workforce to understand the range of sectors and industries in the region and for businesses to attract and identify talent.

The Showcase Open Days will also allow businesses and schools to develop connections to help to bridge the gap between business and education.

Participation by businesses is entirely flexible – you can choose what days/times you can open your doors, what type of education provider you would like to support and how many students you could comfortably accommodate. Staffordshire Chambers will then promote your opportunities to schools across the county and will support in matching up schools and businesses based on the requirements of both.

If you would like to get involved in this national initiative, please complete the following form and return to Tom Nadin: Business Showcase Open Days Form

This information will be compiled for all businesses and a booking form will be sent to schools. Schools will then be able to choose on a first come, first serve basis which Business Showcase Open Day they would like to attend. We will then provide your details to the school for them to make contact and organise the visit.

For more information please contact tom.nadin@staffordshirechambers.co.uk