April 9 coronavirus update for businesses

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Blackpool tourism package goes virtual

VisitBlackpool has uploaded the seaside resort's main attractions, including roller coasters, water slides, family games and venue tours, for 'visitors' to enjoy from home.

Cllr Gillian Campbell, deputy leader of Blackpool Council, said: “In normal times, this is the official start of our holiday season when our numerous attractions put out the welcome mat and our coastline is packed with visitors enjoying the spring sunshine.

“But Easter 2020 is going to be very different. Government advice is to stay home and stay safe. And that means not visiting Blackpool, even for the day – and the Easter Bank Holiday weekend is no exception.

“But just because you can’t come to Blackpool for Easter doesn’t mean we can’t bring Blackpool to you. Thanks to the internet, you can experience some of the resort’s brilliant attractions and venues from the comfort of your own home.

“We hope this will bring a taste of the seaside into your living room – and whet your appetite to come back and see us when it’s safe to do so.”

Hays launches free online training

Recruitment firm Hays, which has an office in Preston, has launched a free online training portal designed to help employers and teams grow the skills they need to function effectively and thrive in the face of Covid-19.

Available to businesses of all sizes, Hays Thrive offers three course areas covering remote working, wellbeing and health and safety. The remote working courses are designed to help improve worker efficiency when remote working and assist with planning their working days and working with a remote team.

Simon Winfield, managing director of Hays UK & Ireland, said: "By offering online training courses for free, we hope to help businesses find new ways of working and support their workers through the crisis. It was vital to include a course dedicated to wellbeing to help employers put their staff’s mental health first, something we all need to be aware of during these uncertain times.”

Social Enterprise body seeks for further help

Peter Holbook, chief executive of Social Enterprise UK, said: "The government has announced a package of support for charities and we understand that this will also cover some social enterprises, although some may be excluded due to restrictions on eligibility.

“We welcome this £750m fund as a significant measure but when compared with the size of the charity and social enterprise sectors, it will only cover at best a small minority. It also does not give social enterprises parity with other parts of the economy which have received large amounts of support. Social enterprises should not be penalised because of the tough environments they work in and the challenges they face in trading for purpose.

“We will be looking through the proposals in detail, but this must be the first in a series of measures to help social enterprises, if the chancellor is to stay true to his word to do 'whatever it takes' to help people and businesses through this crisis.”

Progress Housing offers community funds

We are not providing a full media release but wanted to make you aware of the Emergency Community Fund that Progress Housing Group has launched to support communities in the areas where

Progress Housing Group has created Emergency Community Fund that Progress Housing Group has launched to support communities in the areas where it owns properies.

Any not-for-profit, voluntary, community and faith sector (VCFS) group, residents group, charity, or network can apply for up to £500 per project to help support their local community during the current virus pandemic. Certain criteria applies.

Solicitors donate to medical fund

PMR Solicitors, which is normally based at Blackpool Airport's Enterprise Zone site, is donating to the Royal Medical Benevolent Fund and The Cavell Nurses Trust charities whenever a new will is made.

The directors, who are each working in isolation, have seen a dramatic increase in the number of people making or updating their wills during the coronavirus pandemic.

David Smith said: "The pandemic has made people sit up and think about ‘what if" scenarios and how their loved ones would be looked after their passing. It's really heart-wrenching to hear their stories and anxiety's but being pragmatic, they are doing the sensible thing," said David Smth.

"We don't want people to panic about their wills. Even though we are working remotely from home, we are here to help and guide. We'd advise people to think carefully about what they want before rushing into giving instructions that may have consequences for their loved ones.

"We also recognise the fantastic work that the NHS are doing to help us all at the moment so we're donating funds to charities that look after our doctors and nurses and asking our clients to consider leaving a legacy to them too. The NHS are out there protecting us and we want to protect our clients and their families in a different way too."

Business activity levels officially fall

The latest PMI data published by Natwest has revealed a sharp drop in business activity across the North West private sector in March, falling at its fastest rate since the global financial crisis of 11 years ago.

The headline NatWest North West Business Activity Index – a seasonally adjusted index that measures the change in the combined output of the region’s manufacturing and service sectors – dropped sharply from a nine-month high of 53.0 in February to 40.7 in March. The latest reading was below 50.0 threshold that separates growth from contraction, and signalled the steepest drop in business activity since February 2009.

Though historically marked, the decline in output of goods and services in the region was one of the slowest across the UK as a whole, second only to that seen in Yorkshire & Humber.

Richard Topliss, chair of NatWest North Regional Board, commented: "The North West PMI dropped like a stone in March, falling to its lowest since the global financial crisis and underling the scale and speed of the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak and resulting containment measures on the local economy. With specialisms in consumer-facing services, the regions service sector was hit particularly hard by the measures designed to curb social contact, with manufacturing showing more resilience by comparison

As is the theme across all the regions of the Northern Powerhouse, the North West has seen more moderate falls in output and employment than the UK as a whole, in part reflecting its relatively large manufacturing base. Still, the fall in business activity is unlike anything seen since the global financial crisis, and a record drop in regional business sentiment shows that the impact is being felt in all corners of the country.

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