Welcome from Warwickshire County Council chief executive Monica Fogarty

Hello and welcome to a special edition of Warwickshire Means Business designed to bring you all the latest advice and information in the light of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Quite suddenly we have been pitched into unprecedented times. First and foremost, I hope that you and your loved ones are keeping safe and well.

This a worrying time for all of us and I know the strict social-distancing measures introduced by the Government make life very unusual and difficult. But if we all adhere to those measures diligently, the sooner we will come through this tough situation and start to regain some normality.

Covid-19 has affected every aspect of our lives and businesses are taking a big hit with many having to close their doors temporarily. At Warwickshire County Council we are doing, and will continue to do, absolutely everything we can to support our business community, employers and employees. Please see our business briefing which contains a comprehensive round-up of national and local advice.

As always, we are taking a coordinated approach with our partners locally - the Growth Hub, Chamber of Commerce, Federation of Small Businesses and District & Borough Councils - as well as, in this case of course, the Government. Lots of support is there for you - please see the links in our main article to see which support offer is relevant to your business.

It is important to remember that the economy is not closed. While always complying with the restrictions in place, it is vital that the economy continues to operate, not least in support of the infrastructure and services that are required during this difficult time. The County Council has therefore pulled together a helpful good practice guide on how business can remain open and safe where it is appropriate to do so.

I would like to thank you all for your brilliant response so far. For those people having to temporarily close small businesses into which they have poured so much time and effort is very hard to bear. Those businesses are part of the lifeblood of our nation and, with the resilience and adaptability that they have always shown, I am confident that they will remain so.

It is also amazing to see the community spirit that comes through so strongly when we face difficult times. There is an excellent example here, where local businesses rallied to support children in need of stationery as they start a period of home schooling. In a similar vein, it is also great to see a range of local manufacturing companies rise to the challenge of providing much needed ventilators.

Many of you will be aware of the difficulties regarding the supply of Personal Protective Equipment, and the importance of this to enable our key workers in health and social care to do the amazing work that they are doing. Specifically, we are looking for supplies of fluid repellent surgical masks (type IIR); FFP2 masks; goggles/visors/safety spectacles; antibacterial hand gel (> 60% alcohol); and aprons and gloves. If you can be of any assistance, in any way, please do contact us at: CV19PPE@warwickshire.gov.uk.

The business community in Warwickshire has so much to be proud of in so many ways. The way you have responded to this situation is another of those. Thank you all.


Featured News

Wide range of support available to business in light of Coronavirus

The current situation is having an unprecedented impact on the economy, and the operations of businesses across all sectors. Warwickshire County Council is working with partners CWLEP Growth Hub, Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, the Federation of Small Businesses, our District and Borough Councils and others to co-ordinate and provide support to local businesses in these difficult times.

At heart of this is a package of support measures that the Government has announced over the last couple of week, which includes:

  • the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme; a temporary scheme to support small and medium-sized businesses with access to loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million and for up to six years. The Government will also make a Business Interruption Payment to cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any lender-levied fees. Businesses can apply for a loan via their current lender or through one of over 40 accredited finance providers offering the scheme. Not every accredited lender can provide every type of finance. The full rules and the list of accredited lenders is available on the British Business Bank web site.

  • the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme; a scheme by which all UK employers with a PAYE scheme created and started on or before 28 February 2020 can access support to continue paying part of the salary of employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis. It should be noted that directors of companies can also utilise this support measure if they pay themselves through PAYE, if the self-employment support scheme does not work for them.

  • the Self-employment Income Support Scheme: to support self-employed individuals (including members of partnerships) whose income has been negatively impacted by COVID-19.The scheme will provide a grant to self-employed individuals or partnerships worth 80% of their profits up to a cap of £2,500 per month.

  • Small business grant funding; additional funding through one-off grants of £10,000 to support small businesses that already pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief (SBRR) or rural rate relief (RRR).

  • the HMRC Time-To-Pay Scheme; all businesses and self-employed people in financial distress and with outstanding tax liabilities may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time To Pay service. Arrangements will be agreed on a case-by-case basis.

  • a new corporate financing facility for larger firms; under the new Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility, the Bank of England will buy short term debt from larger companies. This will support your company if it has been affected by a short-term funding squeeze.

Warwickshire County Council's guidance for businesses can be found at: https://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/coronavirusbusinesssupport and a list of other useful links can be found below.

Warwickshire County Council's Assistant Director for Communities David Ayton-Hill said it is paramount than people stay safe and abide by the social distancing regulations, but it is also important to remember that the economy is not closed - and that business, as much as possible, goes on.

"This is a uniquely challenging situation for all businesses," said Mr Ayton-Hill. "But while always observing the social distancing regulations announced recently, we need to maintain as much economic activity as possible for when things do start to return to normal.

"Technology today enables much more effective remote working and it is important that we try to make this work as much as possible. This is a very difficult time for businesses, employers and employees, of course, but a range of support measures have been introduced. We would encourage businesses who are unsure about what support they might be eligible for, of if they have any questions about the measures that have been put in place, to contact the Coventry & Warwickshire Growth Hub in the first instance."

The Coventry & Warwickshire Growth Hub has a dedicated website with the latest information and businesses can call 0300 060 3747 or email support@cwgrowthhub.co.uk for support and request a call-back via an online form. Business can also join a mailing list to receive regular news and updates including the latest Government guidance for businesses and employers.

For more information on the assistance currently available to your business, please visit these links:

A lot of information, advice and support is available to businesses in the tourism sector. This support includes how to access funding, as well as other guidance for employers, employees and businesses. VisitBritain/VisitEngland is updating its information regularly at https://www.visitbritain.org/covid-19-new-coronavirus-latest-information-and-advice-for-businesses

Other useful links:

Business urged to make fire-safety a prority

Home Delivery Guidance for Shops

Tourism Business Advice

Supermarkets and other companies looking for staff to help with Coronavirus response

If you are a business which is unsure whether or not you should close

Security officers classed as essential workers

Small business and retail, hospitality and leisure grants

The Government has announced two grants to support businesses during the Coronavirus pandemic.

The Small Business Grant Fund will provide one-off grants of £10,000 to small businesses with a rateable value of £15,000 or less that are already in receipt of small business rate relief (SBRR) or rural rate relief (RRR).

The Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Business Grants Fund is for those businesses which qualify for the Expanded Retail Discount Scheme with a rateable value below £51,000 and, as such, have already had their business rates bills reduced to zero for the financial year 2020/ 2021.

There are two grant amounts: £10,000 for properties with a rateable value of £15,000 or less and £25,000 for properties with a rateable value of more than £15,000 but less than £51,000.

Both grant schemes are being administered by the District and Borough Councils as the business rate billing authorities in Warwickshire. Our colleagues at the District and Borough Councils are working hard to allocate the grant funding as soon as possible and all five will shortly be contacting eligible businesses in order to collect the information needed to make payments.

For full information on local authority business rate schemes please visit here.

In order to speed up the process, all five authorities are asking businesses to complete a short, online form in order to confirm their eligibility and gather the basic information required. To provide this information and for the latest updates, visit the website of your district or borough council:: North Warwickshire, Nuneaton & Bedworth, Rugby, Warwick District, Stratford.

Updates will also be available via Warwickshire County Council’s Coronavirus web pages and the Growth Hub’s dedicated site.

Good Practice Guide for employers

To reduce social contact, the Government has ordered certain businesses and venues to close. These include non-essential retail, pubs, restaurants, and other places that could encourage social gatherings and interactions.

Other businesses can remain open and their employees can travel to work, provided they cannot work from home. Businesses who need their employees to come to work are understandably concerned about how they ensure that they are providing a safe working environment and complying with social distancing rules.

As a result, Warwickshire County Council, through its Public Health Team, has produced a “good practice guide” for employers on this, which can be downloaded here.

The guide includes information advice around handwashing, enhanced cleaning regimes, social distancing practices in the workplace, specific advice around vulnerable groups, and how to deal with sick leave.

Dr Shade Agboola, Director of Public Health, Public Health Warwickshire, said: “While it is important that all those who can work from home do so at this moment in time, we recognise that this just isn’t possible for many businesses.

"Therefore we have put together this guide that will help employers think about the pro-active steps they can take to ensure that they are doing all they can to protect and support their workforce”

Business coming together to help Warwickshire Schools

“We can’t believe people's generosity, the businesses have really come together and genuinely want to help the pupils have everything they need to study at home.”

 Businesses have responded brilliantly to an appeal sent out to ensure some of the county’s most vulnerable young people have sufficient resources to support home learning in the weeks ahead.

As schools faced closure due to COVID-19, there were concerns that young people could run out of the required resources. The Coventry and Warwickshire Careers Hubs, quickly joined by Warwickshire County Council, launched an appeal for businesses to donate any unused stationery which could then be delivered to schools and handed to pupils in need of support.

To support businesses in making donations, the county council created a temporary point at their Business Centre in Nuneaton (Eliot Park Innovation Centre) which allowed a drop-off location for businesses to leave donations.

Business Centres Customer Service Executive Katie Mackiewicz said “We can’t believe people's generosity, the businesses have really come together and genuinely want to help the pupils have everything they need to study at home.”

The teams were overwhelmed by the response of the businesses wanting to help and even took delivery of a stationery order from a business who didn’t have stock to spare but wanted to contribute to the campaign.

So far a number of schools in Coventry and Warwickshire have benefited from the donations from over 18 businesses.

Businesses to donate include:

Warwick Manufacturing Group Integrity Wealth Solutions
Wilmott Dixon Mayer Environmental
National Grid Saltem
University of Leicester Parker Masters
Severn Trent British Forces
Armstrong’s Torc2
Mecalac Comtronics
Mercure Warwickshire Walton Hall Hotel and Spa Control Water
Panda Box Tallon International

Coventry and Warwickshire Careers Hub Enterprise Co-ordinator Emma Culey said: “We have been urging businesses across the region to not only provide support to schools in the short-term, but to also think long-term in their approach to supporting schools.

“Wilmott Dixon donated 250 stationery packs to pupils in Nuneaton and the initiative gathered momentum from there”.

Warwickshire County Council Business Skills Lead, Fay Winterburn said: We are delighted to join such a great campaign which has already supported over 100 young people to gain much-needed resources. We have been truly touched by the support given by businesses and also the appreciation from the schools themselves.

"Myself and all involved would like to send our thanks to everyone who have contributed and for the teams that took to the roads to ensure the resources were in place before the schools closed."

Due to ongoing donations, the teams do have further resources to share with schools and groups supporting young people. For further information on how communities can access stationery for young people in need of support please contact Fay Winterburn on faywinterburn@warwickhire.gov.uk or for businesses wanting to support schools further please contact cwcareers@cwlep.com

C&W manufacturers rising to the challenge

“We put out a plea to provide goggles and protective screens on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter and we received over 1,500 responses in 24 hours."

Coventry and Warwickshire manufacturers are ready to answer the call to support the Government’s drive to make new ventilators to help in the fight against Coronavirus.

The Government is looking for businesses who can support in the supply of ventilators and ventilator components and also for businesses specialising in design, rapid prototyping, contract or product assembly, certification/regulation/testing, logistics and medical training.

Nearly 30 companies swiftly contacted the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) Growth Hub following the appeal and among them were Brown & Hawthorne Engineering and Sarginsons Industries.

Vicki Walls, managing director of Brown & Hawthorne Engineering in Spitfire Close, Coventry, led a management buyout alongside Troy Poole three years ago after they both joined the company as 17-year-olds. The business manufacture parts for the motor industry with its CNC, 3D, 5 Axis and grinding machines for its customers including Mercedes, Ricardo and AP Racing.

She said: “We have the facilities and our skills are transferrable to make ventilators for the NHS and I think in these difficult times, everyone should come together.

“We have produced medical parts in the past for Molins who make the machines that put the powder into capsules so we are familiar with the industry.

“All the processes in the motor and medical industries are the same, it is just a different shaped product which is being manufactured, so it is not a problem to switch. The only difference will be the stringent health and safety measures which we’re happy to accommodate.

“We have 12 staff and we’re following the Government’s guidelines by keeping apart and staggering breaks so we’re being as safety conscious as possible.”

Gavin Shipley, Sarginsons Technology Centre Manager of Sarginsons Industries based in Torrington Avenue, said: “If the ventilators require aluminium cast and machined housings, bases or support brackets, we would like to support with rapidly supplied sandcast components.

“We have supplied safety critical components to the oil and gas industry and also have experience with the medical sector. We could move very quickly on this.

“In terms of the pattern tooling for the parts, we believe we could get those very quickly from another supplier in Warwickshire, which would help to speed up the process.

“We are very keen to support this effort and have given the CWLEP Growth Hub information on our expertise and capacity to help if we can.”

Craig Humphrey, managing director of the CWLEP Growth Hub, said the response to the appeal from businesses in Coventry and Warwickshire had been staggering.

He said: “The response has been fantastic and we thank all the manufacturers in Coventry and Warwickshire for their offers of help. We are co-ordinating this with manufacturers’ organisation Make UK to pass on this vital information to the Government.

There is an ongoing need for Personal Protective Equipment for our key workers in health and social care as, in the short term, the availability of these products is outstripped by the current spike in demand. If any businesses are able help with supplies PPE locally until such a time that the availability to our social care and health personnel increases, we would be very interested to hear from you.

Specifically, we are looking for supplies of:

· Fluid repellent surgical masks (type IIR)

· FFP2 masks

· Goggles/visors/safety spectacles

· Antibacterial hand gel (> 60% alcohol)

· Aprons and gloves If you are able to assist please contact us at: CV19PPE@warwickshire.gov.uk.

County Council make available lending for Warwickshire businesses

Coventry and Warwickshire Reinvestment Trust (CWRT) is among more than 40 accredited lenders who are involved in the Government-backed Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS).

Warwickshire County Council works with CWRT to deliver small business loans in Warwickshire for businesses that have been able to raise sufficient, or any, funding from their bank and the Trust has reacted quickly in the last week to provide loan facilities for businesses who are experiencing lost or deferred revenues, leading to disruptions to their cashflow.

Last week, Warwickshire County Council worked to free up £300,000 of resources to enable CWRT to provide additional loans to affected small business in Warwickshire. That sum includes working capital to support with cashflow and loans to assist with purchasing capital items such as new machinery or equipment.

Warwickshire County Council assistant director for communities, David Ayton-Hill, said: "This is a time of unprecedented difficulty and uncertainty for small businesses, but we will continue to do absolutely everything we can to support them."

CWRT chief executive Sheridan Sulskis added: "CWRT is very much open for business and I would encourage all small businesses to visit our website and see if any of the support we offer is appropriate to them."

For more information, please visit: https://www.cwrt.uk.com/cbils

Shakespeare’s England involved in important work to monitor virus impact

Shakespeare’s England, the Destination Organisation for South Warwickshire, has joined forces with the West Midlands Growth Company (WMGC) and Business Improvement Districts in South Warwickshire to monitor the impact of Covid-19 on the tourism industry across the region.

Surveys monitoring the impact will ensure that businesses across the region are responding to the same questions, so that direct comparisons on impact can be made between areas.

Shakespeare’s England has already conducted two surveys, which show that all respondents have lost revenue as a result of the virus crisis and that over 40% of businesses have had to lay off members of staff.

Warwickshire County Council will be working with partners and the industry to help temporarily job-match those losing out on jobs with those recruiting staff to respond to the crisis.

Meanwhile, Coventry City of Culture has set up a Covid-19 Response Fund. Coventry City of Culture Trust has created the £60,000 fund to support organisations and individuals based in the arts and cultural sector that have been affected by the Coronavirus outbreak.

Up to £1,000 per organisation and £500 for individuals across Coventry and Warwickshire is available. For further details, and the link to apply for the fund, please go to: https://www.cwgrowthhub.co.uk/news/coventry-city-culture-trust-makes-%C2%A360000-support-available-those-local-arts-and-culture-sector

The hospitality sector may be largely closed to the public but still has an immense role to play as the nation grapples with the virus. An example of this is Coombe Abbey in Warwickshire which donated all of its surplus food supplies and ingredients to staff working on the front line at University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire.

The move came in recognition of the challenges doctors and nurses are facing in responding to the Covid-19 crisis.

Waste transfer stations still open for trade waste. 

Warwickshire Household Waste Recycling Centres are closed to the general public until further notice, however, Warwickshire waste transfer stations will continue to operate for trade waste.

Commercial, charged for, waste can still be brought to:
Princes Drive, Leamington, CV31 3PH
Hunters Lane, Rugby, CV21 1EA.

Site users must observe social distancing at the weighbridge and when tipping.

Waste must be separated for recycling and composting as normal - lower charges apply for recycling than for general waste.

Cards are accepted but cash is not.

For prices and more details please go to: https://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/commercialwaste

News in Brief

Some news-in-brief from around the region...

UK Automotive halts manufacturing sites

In response to falling demand, pressure on component supply and staff self-isolation, all major vehicle makers in the UK have halted manufacturing production for the next few weeks. This includes Jaguar Land Rover at various sites and BMW at Hams Hall. https://www.autocar.co.uk/car-news/new-cars/jaguar-land-rover-and-bentley-halt-production-month

Coventry’s CADCAM in JV with Belarus EV bus-maker

Coventry engineering consultancy and low volume vehicle manufacturer CADCAM Automotive has set up a JV agreement with a Belarus EV commercial vehicle company which could create up to 600 jobs in the UK. https://www.businessinnovationmag.co.uk/new-jv-with-belarus-manufacturer-will-deliver-600-new-jobs-to-coventry-company/

Local aero company joins medical ventilator consortium

Meggitt Plc, the aerospace technology company which builds components including oxygen systems for civil aerospace and military fighter programs, jas joined a consortium alongside engineers GKN, Thales SA and Renishaw Plc to produce basic ventilators to help the National Health Service cope with the coronavirus outbreak. The company will soon be moving to its new £130m technology centre, at Prospero Ansty. https://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2020/03/19/world/europe/19reuters-health-coronavirus-meggitt-ventilators.html

Nuneaton’s HORIBA-MIRA wins major MOD contract

HORIBA-MIRA has won a multimillion-pound contract to provide a number of unmanned ground vehicles and autonomous systems to the Ministry of Defence. https://www.insidermedia.com/news/midlands/horiba-mira-wins-major-mod-contract

Pictures and technical details revealed for new Warwickshire-designed and built van

Warwickshire-based London Electric Vehicle Company (LEVC), part of the Geely Group of companies, has released pictures and specifications of its new electric, in advance of it launching later this year. The new VN5 will have a payload of more than 800kg and will have a pure electric range of 63 miles, with a total range of 301 miles.

Chief executive Joerg Hofmann said: "Our new VN5 further signifies our transformation from the iconic British taxi brand to leading electric commercial vehicle manufacturer. Following our success withTX in the taxi market, VN5 is now set to revolutionise green logistics." https://www.insidermedia.com/news/midlands/levc-unveils-details-of-new-electric-van

Next stop Southam for pioneering rail firm

A pioneering train-maker’s decision to move its main manufacturing base to a new home in the Midlands shows the region remains the home of innovation, according to the man who brokered the deal.

Vivarail – which is at the forefront of moves to develop emission-free trains – has agreed a deal for a new manufacturing base at Southam, near Leamington Spa, to help it meet a growing order book.

The deal was negotiated by Bromwich Hardy partner Andrew Cosnett, who said it underlined the Midlands’ key role as the manufacturing centre of the nation. https://www.cw-chamber.co.uk/news/bromwhich-hardy-230320/

Atherstone-based Aldi Stores UK in recruitment drive

Aldi has launched a recruitment drive to hire 9,000 new workers across the UK as part of its response to the coronavirus outbreak. The discount supermarket said 5,000 of the new roles will be temporary, with 4,000 being permanent. https://www.insidermedia.com/news/national/aldi-to-recruit-9000-new-workers?

Departure date for St Mods chief brought forward

The departure of developer St Modwen's chief executive Mark Allan is to be brought forward to April 13th, earlier than April 30th as previously announced.

St Modwen are developing St Modwen Park, the logistics and manufacturing site at J10 M42 in North Warwickshire, and own the Meon Vale logistics site, and QRTC rail technology site near Stratford-upon-Avon. https://www.insidermedia.com/news/midlands/st-modwens-ceo-departure-date-moved-forward?

Coventry & Warwickshire LEP appoints interim chair

The decision to appoint a new chair of the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) has been delayed by the coronavirus outbreak. Interviews to appoint Jonathan Browning’s successor have been postponed due to the on-going Covoid-19 situation. The current vice-chair Nick Abell has been appointed by the board of directors as interim chair from Wednesday, April 1, to maintain strong, clear leadership. https://www.cwlep.com/news/interim-cwlep-chair-appointed

Holt Commercial land most active office agent award

Holt Commercial has been named Coventry & Warwickshire’s most active office agent – by one of the world’s leading sources of commercial property information.

The company was named the Most Active Disposal Agent by CoStar in terms of both the number of deals done throughout 2019 and the square footage disposed of. Holt Commercial advised clients on at least 28 office deals across the year and that totalled more than 106,436 sq ft of space. http://www.commercialnewsmedia.com/archives/99575

Businesses consulted about bus provision

Warwickshire County Council is keen to better understand the views of businesses and their employees towards bus provision and patronage.

The council unanimously declared a climate change emergency last July and acknowledges that the local bus network and supporting infrastructure will have a fundamental role to play in contributing towards tackling climate change, improving air quality and meeting carbon neutrality targets.  

 If you're a business and would like to take part in the survey, please contact Matthew Moll at TAS Partnership Ltd contact@taspartnership.com

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