June 1 coronavirus update for businesses

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Flexible furlough scheme launched

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has unveiled a new flexible furlough scheme to help businesses get back up and running. Under the original system, businesses could send their staff home and have 80% of their wages paid so long as they did not work.

From July 1, firms will be able to pay staff on days they work and claim the relief on the days they don't. The government will pay 80% of wages on furloughed days until the end of August, 70% in September and 60% in October. Employers will top up the pay to 80% themselves. After October, the scheme will end.

Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: "The Chancellor has listened to business communities and struck a careful balance that will help many firms bring furloughed staff back to work flexibly over the coming months.

"The gradual reduction in furlough contributions from the Treasury will give businesses additional time to rebuild their income streams and cash flows, and the decision to give businesses maximum flexibility to bring people back part-time will be appreciated."

Councils urge small businesses to apply for grants

Businesses which employ less than 50 people are being encouraged to apply for new government cash grants. Small and micro businesses have until midnight on Wednesday 10 June to apply for up to £10,000.

The new Discretionary Grants are for businesses which don’t qualify for support from the Small Business Grants Fund or the Retail, Hospitality, Leisure Grants Fund. It is specifically designed for small businesses in shared workspaces, regular market traders, bed-and-breakfasts that pay council tax instead of business rates and charity properties that would meet the criteria for Small Business Rates Relief.

Councillor Mohammed, Leader of Pendle Council, said: “These grants will be a lifeline for small businesses and help them to survive as the government starts to expand the number of businesses which can start to re-open.

“The latest information on this can be found via our website www.pendle.gov.uk/coronavirus under advice for businesses re-opening."

Cllr Mark Smith, Blackpool Council's Cabinet Member with responsibility for Business, Enterprise and Job Creation, said: "We are aware that some businesses in Blackpool fell outside the eligibility criteria for previous financial support. As a council, we are doing everything in our power to assist with Blackpool’s economic recovery and will do our utmost to help business owners and charities wherever we can.

"I would urge anyone who thinks they might be eligible for the discretionary support to apply. Each funding application will be reviewed carefully in line with the government’s criteria and successful requests will be paid directly into applicants’ bank accounts."

For further information, including full eligibility criteria, and details of how to apply, business owners should visit www.blackpoolunlimited.com/C19DGF

Ribby Hall Village to reopen

Ribby Hall Village, closed during the coronavirus lockdown, has planned a phased reopening, beginning with its nursery on June 8 and SPAR shop on June 15. Subject to receiving confirmation from the government, holiday homeowners and holiday cottage guests may be able to return from early July.

The village said: "Stringently following government guidelines and in line with our social responsibilities, our priority remains to ensure that Ribby Hall Village is a safe place to work and visit. Once we have made our Village covid-secure, it is highly likely that we will be operating with a much lower occupancy than we are used to, given not all our portfolio has yet been scheduled for re-opening.

"In turn this will also result in our income being considerably lower than we’ve previously experienced, and for how long this will continue is unknown. We are therefore continuing to listen closely to government announcements and are having to react to any financial implications this will have on our business."

The company has entered into consultation with its employees over redundancies and reduced pay for returning workers. An alumni will be launched which will give these workers the first opportunity to apply for new jobs as the park fully reopens and new positions are created.

Wildlife Trust remains closed

The Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside is asking nature lovers not to drive to its reserves until its car parks are open. Cars have been arriving at sites such as Brockholes and causing obstructions for local residents.

The Trust said: "We are in the process of preparing a gradual opening of our reserves but we must ensure the safety of our visitors and staff. There is no point opening a car park if we do not have the resources to protect and engage members of the public.

"We assure everyone that wonderful wildlife will still be around our reserves in summer and there will be lots of opportunities to learn more about our plants and creatures, but we must all be patient and wait until restrictions allow us to open up. Trust staff and volunteers are just as keen to get back to our nature reserves."

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