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Coronavirus – Support for Businesses

The UK Government has announced a package of help for businesses through this period of disruption.

You can get the latest information by visiting the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s website by clicking here.

The Council will be responsible for administering the following:

  • Expanded Retail Relief and Relief for Nursery Businesses
  • We are currently awaiting updates from the provider of our Business Rates system which will allow us to award these reliefs. We expect to receive these updates after Easter.

Once the reliefs have been awarded, new bills will be issued.

Small Business Grants and Retail, Hospitality and Retail Grants
We will be writing to all businesses with a rateable value of £51,000 or less with potential entitlement to these grants during the week commencing 6 April 2020.

The letter will ask businesses to provide information which we need to establish eligibility to the grant and make payment.

This information must be provided on an online form, the details of which will be included in the letter.

Once we have received the completed form, we will carry out checks to verify the information provided.

All businesses will receive a letter confirming whether they are eligible and payment will be made to eligible businesses by BACS.

You can also visit our Budget 2020 page for more information about these grants, including how to apply.

More advice for businesses – Think Sandwell
You can also visit our Think Sandwell website for more information about support available for businesses during the coronavirus pandemic.

Source: Sandwell Council


Every Day Counts’ as Charities Still Wait for Government Support

Charities across the country are facing imminent collapse as fundraising income dries up, charity leaders warned today.

Charities have been in conversation with the Government about a package of support for the charity sector, but warned today that without an urgent injection of money many charities of all sizes would start to close their doors as soon as next week.

With charity shops closed and fundraising events and activity cancelled, reserves depleted and demand for services increasing, charities are having to make immediate decisions about their financial viability.

Charity sector bodies have made initial estimates that charities will miss out on a minimum of £4.3bn of income over the coming 12 weeks, though the figure could be far higher. Many will also face increased costs as part of their role in tackling the outbreak.

Many charities would normally expect to make significant proportions of their income from public fundraising events in spring and summer.

Charities have asked for commitments from the government including:

emergency funding for frontline charities and volunteers supporting the response to the coronavirus crisis, especially where they are alleviating pressure on the health service or providing support to people suffering from the economic and social impact of coronavirus a ‘stabilisation fund’ for all charities to help them stay afloat, pay staff and continue operating during the course of the pandemic confirmation that charities should be eligible for similar business interruption measures announced by the chancellor for businesses.

Karl Wilding, chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, which represents charities and volunteering, said:

Every day counts here. I’m hearing from charities whose income has disappeared overnight but who still have to run services for their communities. Many of them have very little emergency cash to tide them over, and even those that do will run out in a matter of weeks.

Many charities are helping in the current crisis to alleviate pressure on the health service or providing support to people suffering from the economic and social impact of coronavirus. Supporting the national response and helping vulnerable people to cope is our first priority at the moment but we cannot do that if we are on the brink of financial collapse.

I know the Government is working on this but for many charities around the country there is very little time to spare.

To read the full NCVO article click here.


Sandwell Beam launches new Phone Support Service

Sandwell Beam has launched a new phone support service for young people.  Beam is an emotional health and wellbeing service for 5 – 18 year olds, and up to 25 if you are a care leaver.

To access this service or hear about other ways Beam can support you, please contact askbeam@childrenssociety.org.uk

Beam is there to listen and offer reassurance.

Visit the website


New Chair for Active Black Country

Following recent recruitment, Active Black Country are delighted to welcome Amanda Tomlinson as the new Chair of the Active Black Country Partnership Board.

Amanda is the current Chief Executive Officer of Black Country Housing Group and brings a wealth of experience to the role alongside an in depth knowledge of the Black Country, its communities and needs of stakeholder organisations.

Serving on the Active Black Country Board since 2017, Amanda is an advocate for the role physical activity and sport can play in improving people’s lives, possessing a strong vision for the enabling role the partnership has to perform in contributing to desired health, social and economic outcomes across the Black Country.

On her appointment, Amanda said:

I am really excited to lead the Board and Partnership over the next few years, it is a very exciting time with the Commonwealth Games in 2022 presenting a huge opportunity for the Black Country. Active Black Country has some fantastic local partners that we work with and I am looking forward to developing new partnerships in due course. I want to ensure the Partnership’s actions impact positively upon local communities and we play our role in enabling transformational change in activity levels across the region.”

Find out more here.


Support for the recently discharged from Birmingham hospitals

Do you know that you if you have recently been discharged from City Hospital or the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, elderly or vulnerable, and live in Sandwell, you are eligible for the Home from Hospital Care Service?

This includes:
• Emergency food parcel and toiletries pack.
• Arrange for shopping to be done and delivered to the doorstep.
• Telephone befriending calls to prevent isolation.
• Home visits pending risk assessment prior to visit in line with coronavirus guide lines.
• Collection of prescriptions.
• Any other practical support.

The service can be accessed for up to six weeks.  Please call 0121 472 4499 for information.

Home from Hospital Care support does not include personal care.


Citizens Advice Sandwell Help to Claim Service

The doors of Citizens Advice may be closed, but they are still here to help! Citizens Advice Sandwell’s Help to Claim team are currently supporting clients with their Universal Credit claims and enquiries via web chat and advice line.
During these difficult times, people need help more than ever and that’s why Citizens Advice have advisers working from home to assist with the increased demand. To contact the Help to Claim team, please call on 0800 144 8444 or use Help to Claim web chat by clicking on this link.
Generalist advisers are also on hand to answer other queries, including debt.  You can contact them on 0300 330 9017. They are available on web chat by going to https://citizensadvicesandwell.org.uk/ and selecting ‘chat online to an adviser’.

Parking Charges Suspended in Sandwell Council Town Centre Car Parks

Parking charges will be suspended in Sandwell Council town centre car parks from 31 March.

Drivers are being asked to continue to park safely and appropriately, and to observe bay markings.

The suspension of parking charges applies to town centre cars parks run by Sandwell Council and does not include Sandwell Valley car parks.

All other parking conditions including charges for on-street parking bays will still apply. Parking will continue to be monitored and free parking will be in place until 30 June 2020.

The situation will be monitored and vehicles parked in contravention of the normal requirements for the safe and efficient use of car parks will still receive Penalty Charge Notices.

Details and locations of council car parks can be found at www.sandwell.gov.uk/parking


Updated Guidance on Independent Examination of Charity Accounts

If your charity’s income is over £25,000, the trustees must arrange for an independent person or accountancy firm to carry out an audit or independent examination of the charity’s accounts.

The purpose of this is to give the charity’s trustees, supporters, beneficiaries and the wider public, some independent assurance that the charity’s money has been properly accounted for. The trustees of most charities are able to choose to have an independent examination instead of an audit. Independent examination is a ‘light touch’ scrutiny that usually costs less than an audit.

To help trustees we have updated our guidance Independent examination of charity accounts: guidance for trustees (CC31), to make it easier to read and more accessible.

This guidance will help you appoint an independent examiner with the ability and practical experience needed to carry out a competent examination of your charity’s accounts.

Source: Charity Commission Newsletter Issue 64


How to Organise a Bike Marking Event Tips

Are you thinking of organising a bike marking event in your community? Then take a look at PC Ford’s tips on how to organise a successful bike marketing event.

1 Promote it Properly

Whether it is an organised event in a local business, community centre or school or just an ad hoc event, it is important to let as many cyclists know as possible.

2 Use Social Media

Use Twitter and Facebook to publicise the details of a public event or encourage other community groups to promote events internally to volunteers or staff that cycle to work.

3 Location

If you are trying to catch people on their daily commute then set up on a main route where you can capture passing riders. Make sure you are clearly visible to attract cyclists.

4 Organisation and Equipment

Have a good system in place. Don’t just turn up with staff or volunteers and start making cycles. Ensure you have the correct equipment (e.g. clipboards, pens, gazebo, bin, etc.). Have one or two volunteers or staff (depending on how busy you are) with the forms to hand to capture and collect registration forms if you are registering the bikes with BikeRegister or other schemes.

5 Staffing

Ensure you have correctly trained staff or volunteers that know exactly how to mark cycles and obtain the correct registration information from the public.

Remember to look after volunteers or staff if it is going to be a long day.

Source: BikeRegister

 


Government Considering Package to Support Voluntary Sector

The Prime Minister has said the government is considering a “package of measures” to support the voluntary sector as it faces potentially catastrophic falls in income because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Major voluntary sector bodies have been increasing the pressure on the government in recent days to provide urgent financial aid to the sector in the face of an estimated £4.3bn shortfall in income over the next three months.

Caron Bradshaw, chief executive of the Charity Finance Group, warned yesterday that the sector could be “decimated” if aid was not immediately provided by the government.

During Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons today, Tracy Brabin, the Labour MP for Batley and Spen, said charities were in “absolutely dire straits” and referenced a letter, signed by more than 150 cross-party parliamentarians and sent over the weekend, calling for urgent aid.

“Furloughing staff who are providing services to the vulnerable is just not an option,” she said.

“When is the Prime Minister going to come forward with an urgent package of measures so that they can continue their life-saving work?”

Johnson responded by saying that Brabin was “absolutely right to pay tribute to the voluntary sector”.

He said charities were crucial to the national response to the coronavirus crisis and said Oliver Dowden, the culture secretary, and Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, were “looking at a package of measures to support charities as well”.

To read the full Third Sector News story click here.

Source: Third Sector


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