‘Together we can push the government for the help our members desperately need’

Apr 06, 2020

COVID-19, the effects of the UK’s exit from the European Union and changes to tax and National Insurance payments dominate the thinking of businesses across Northamptonshire, according to the latest Quarterly Business Survey by the county’s Chamber of Commerce.

Businesses from across the county filled in the survey between February 17 and March 9 to highlight their views and concerns and to show how Northamptonshire’s economy’s performed during the first quarter of 2020.

The findings revealed that at the time respondents were still concerned about Brexit and were beginning to be concerned about coronavirus.

Northamptonshire Chamber of Commerce chief executive Paul Griffiths said: “The findings of our QES showed that, despite the more settled political situation following the result of the UK general election in December, the most common worry was still Brexit, with uncertainty regarding trading arrangements following the end of the transition period still weighing on businesses.

“The outbreak of the coronavirus Covid-19 was also a significant concern along with changes to tax and national insurance payments to off-payroll workers as a result of rule changes known as IR35.

Paul Griffiths, chief executive of Northamptonshire Chamber of Commerce

“Since the survey was conducted, we have seen the introduction of a range of social distancing measures to combat the spread of coronavirus. This has had a huge impact on businesses and we are working closely with our members to support them in these challenging times.

“Along with our sister Chamber in Milton Keynes we have created a £100,000 Membership Relief Fund to enable members who are struggling to get a rebate on their Chamber membership fees and we have launched a dedicated Coronavirus Helpline to support members.

“Our team is working hard to bring the latest support and advice to our members as quickly as possible and we are liaising with Chambers across the British Chambers of Commerce accredited network daily so that together we can push the government for the help that our members desperately need.”  

To read the Quarterly Economic Survey in full visit https://www.northants-chamber.co.uk/representation/quarterly-economic-surveys

Northants councils roll out business rates supports

BOROUGH and district councils across Northamptonshire have started the process of rolling out additional business rates support being provided by government during the coronavirus outbreak.

Businesses are currently experiencing a range of significant and unprecedented pressures due to the coronavirus pandemic and in response the government has made available a number of financial and support packages to help during these difficult times.

The best source of information to find out about all packages on offer is through the Government Business Support website https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/coronavirus-business-support/.

Retail business rate discount has been increased to 100% for the 2020-21 financial year and now includes the leisure and hospitality sector, and pre-school nurseries.

Businesses need to do nothing, as this will be automatically applied and they will not be billed for next year’s amount. Businesses in the retail, leisure and hospitality receiving a bill indicating how much they owe next year can ignore this.

The government has also announced grants made available. Each council will pay the retail, hospitality and leisure grants automatically where possible but will write to businesses if further information is required. Additionally, they are advised to keep an eye on their local authority’s website as details might be published on there before your local authority manages to contact them.

One-off small business grants of £10,000 are now available for businesses in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rates relief.

Cash grants for businesses in the retail, hospitality or leisure sector have also been made available. Those with a property with a rolling rateable value of:

  • Up to £15,000 will receive a grant of £10,000;
  • Over £15,000 and less than £51,000 will receive a grant of £25,000. 

Each local authority will pay the small business grant automatically where possible but will contact businesses if further information is required. More details on how to access the financial support and grants on offer will be available on local district or borough council websites.

Northamptonshire business owners can also contact the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership Growth Hub to speak to an adviser directly about the Government’s business support measures. 

The Growth Hub is funded by the government. It can help directors to navigate the current COVID19 financial support measures and official guidance and can support businesses to work through options if they are not eligible for the schemes. Advice and support includes assisting businesses with their continuity planning and overall business resilience.

The free service can be reached on email at  growthhub@semlep.com or on 0300 01234 35. More information on the support available for business can be found on the SEMLEP’s Growth Hub websitehttps://semlepgrowthhub.com

This briefing has been issued in partnership with the Northamptonshire Local Resilience Forum.

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