April 28 coronavirus update for businesses

Lancashire Business View's daily coronavirus updates are brought to you with the support of Boost, Lancashire's growth hub, and its #AskForHelp service. You're not alone in this.

Government launches 'bounce back' loans

A new loan scheme has been launched by the chancellor which is fully guaranteed by the government. Loans of between £2,000 and £50,000 (up to a maximum 25 per cent of business turnover) will be made available to small businesses, with no repayments required within the first 12 months. Applications will be accepted from May 4.

Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce said: "The Chancellor has demonstrated he is listening to the concerns of our business communities and taking steps to get cash to the front line where it is needed. This new route for our smallest companies to apply quickly and get a fast decision will be crucial to those who have struggled to get a CBILS loan."

Design Automation tools up for the NHS

Adlington-based precision engineering firm DA Design Automation (pictured) has ramped up production of key equipment used by the NHS in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

A specialist in machinery design and build, the company has begun to produce hundreds of headbands for face shields, a crucial piece of PPE for healthcare workers. The firm has also more than doubled its production of aluminium components used in bedside hoists, which frees up NHS capacity by enabling patients to be treated at home.

John Morris, director at DA Design Automation said: "We are delighted to be doing our part in the ongoing effort to keep the British public safe from coronavirus and to take care of those who have fallen ill. The NHS is a fantastic organisation and all at DA Design Automation are proud to be involved in assisting them to carry out their incredible work."

Blackpool firm shows 'corona kindness'

Independent Living NW, a family-owned day service for adults and the elderly across Blackpool, Wyre and the Fylde area, has teamed up with Blackpool Council to provide for those who are shielding themselves at home by offering services such as shopping, welfare checkups and ‘meals on wheels’.

The business ordinarily provides day services for older adults at Highfield and Warren Manor, as well as an additional day service for adults with learning disabilities at Warren Hub, each of which has been temporarily closed due to social distancing guidelines.

Sixteen employees have been redeployed as part of the effort, with some members of staff continuing to support people who were using the day centre service, albeit on an outreach basis in their own homes. Meals are being delivered to service users throughout the week.

Karen Smith, adult services director for Blackpool Council, said: “Once again, we are witnessing an example of a local business that is willing to innovate and rise to the challenge for the good of the Blackpool community. Having strong working partnerships with local organisations will be key to getting us through this difficult time. The help provided by directors Scott and Spencer Gibbons and all of the employees involved is making a direct difference to those in need."

LEP launches information resource

The Lancashire Enterprise Partnership has launched a single webpage with full details on all the latest help and support for businesses affected by the Coronavirus pandemic. Signposts to all the relevant and current information make it easy for employers to find out about the support available and where they can seek advice.

Visitors to the webpage will be able to find out about a wide range of information including accessing the business support campaign #AskForHelp, digital tools and free training, and details of the government's business support packages.

Essential PPE distributed throughout Lancashire

The Lancashire Resilience Forum has taken delivery of 55 pallets of equipment including aprons, gloves, masks and eye protection. These are now being distributed to areas of greatest need through councils, primarily adult social care providers such as nursing and care homes.

The funding for this equipment came direct from Lancashire County Council, Blackpool Council and Blackburn with Darwen Council. Kieran Keane, chief executive of Lancaster City Council, who is responsible for overseeing logistics within the LRF, said: "Obtaining PPE is challenging at the moment across the country, due to unprecedented demand. This supply will go some way to ease the pressures being felt by our public services, while we continue to identify and develop more robust supply lines."

The LRF says that more equipment may still be needed to protect key workers from various organisations, and is calling on businesses and organisations to donated unused equipmentThe types of PPE which could be donated include:

  • FFP3 face masks sometimes referred to as respirators (garages/vehicle paint sprayers may have these)
  • Type IIR fluid resistant face masks, sometimes referred to as surgical face masks
  • Nitrile disposable gloves in any size
  • Disposable plastic aprons – usually come in rolls of 200
  • Disposable visors
  • More details: External Organisation PPE Campaign

Funded training and support available to 50 businesses

Fifty Lancashire businesses have the chance to tap into the fully-funded Boost Success GPS Online programme, a partnership between Boost, Lancashire’s Business Growth Hub, and Burnley-based business coach Andrew Henderson and his company Forward Thinking.

It includes 14 interactive video coaching sessions to help businesses create a structure and vision for future growth. Fifty free places, funded by Lancashire County Council, are available for Lancashire businesses to benefit.

Andrew Leeming, programme manager, Boost, said: “The #AskForHelp campaign has provided invaluable support to help businesses tackle the challenges presented by coronavirus. We are here for clients throughout this journey. Many businesses have successfully adapted to these new conditions and now need to think about recovery. Forward Thinking has a great reputation and this is a service which has been used by hundreds of businesses."

College helps Burnley firms produce vital PPE

Engineering tutors from Burnley College Sixth Form Centre have been using their expertise – and the college’s high-tech equipment – to help provide PPE for NHS workers on the frontline in the battle against Covid-19.

The experienced Engineering Tutors, who are working from home since the College switched to remote teaching and learning in March, have been hard at work running the 3D printers round the clock to produce the vital equipment for East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust.

Chris Platt, of the college, has been working on the project alongside colleague Kris Richens. He said: "The college was originally contacted by leading Burnley firm AMS Neve Ltd who had seen we were using our 3D printers to create face masks for the NHS and wanted to do the same. We were happy to share our know-how with them and provide the technical plans of the PPE masks and have since then reached out to help other firms do the same. It’s a great way for the academic and business community to come together to share our skills and knowledge."