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With the latest Covid19 variant infection rates soaring and hospital admissions at a pandemic high, the new national lockdown was inevitable and necessary.

This lockdown will be particularly difficult as the weather is harsh, the days are short, and we are all extremely tired of living with restrictions and unpredictability.

The latest restrictions are much more stringent than in the previous lockdown and will remain in place until at least mid-February. There are serious considerations for businesses – individuals can only leave their homes if they have a ‘reasonable excuse’ or risk a fine. The fact that colleges, primary and secondary schools will only remain open for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers only places more pressure on parents trying to juggle work, childcare, and home schooling.

At the Chambers, we have redoubled our efforts and put a series of measures in place to help Staffordshire businesses through the pandemic. Staying informed and connected and taking advantage of all our services and schemes will help to keep your business on course to get through the next few months. Here are a few options to keep your business running smoothly.

Employment advice

Lockdown will inevitably affect you and your staff. We have our own in-house advisor, Joe Gill who can advise on any HR issues. In addition, members can utilise the free HR portal and helpline from QUEST. You can get in touch with Joe Gill, by emailing joseph.gill@staffordshirechambers.co.uk

For 24hr support with HR, Legal and Finance queries via the QUEST support service call 01455 852037.

Staying connected

We offer lots of opportunities to network with fellow businesspeople through our events programme and schemes such as our Peer Networks programme connecting Staffordshire SME business leaders to address ongoing business challenges and finding practical solutions with like-minded businesspeople. This is a fully funded programme – all we ask of you is a time commitment of 21.5 hours. Places are limited and you must register by 13th January by completing the online form at: www.staffordshirechambers.co.uk/peer-network

Mentoring Support

We have a team of experienced business mentors who can help guide and support your business through this current lockdown and beyond. Mentors act as critical friends, guides, and sources of significant expertise, depending on your needs. For more information contact Richard Carty richard.carty@staffordshirechambers.co.uk

Post Brexit Support

Our International Trade Team are currently classed as key workers providing help and advice on trade with Europe post-Brexit. Our offices are also open as usual for export documentation and customs declaration services. Call 01782 202222 for more information.

Start-Up Support

If you are looking to start up on your own, we have a team of experienced business advisers who provide tailored support to help you get up and running with essentials such as cashflow forecasting, business planning, marketing, and helping you to access grants and support. Contact tom.nadin@staffordshirechambers.co.uk for more information.

Financial support

The Chancellor has announced additional grant support for impacted businesses. This is over and above the ongoing support of the Jobs Retention Scheme and the Self Employment Income Support Scheme. Businesses required to close in the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors will receive one off grants worth up to £9000.

Additional discretionary grant support will be made available for local authorities to support impacted businesses outside of these sectors in addition to the grant payments and other existing local authority managed schemes. We will post details as soon as we have further information.

If you want to talk to us about any business issues, you can call our switchboard on 01782 202222 or call the Stoke and Staffs Growth Hub Helpline on 0300 111 8002 or email: info@staffordshirechambers.co.uk

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