March 30 coronavirus update for businesses

Lancashire Enterprise Partnership welcomes support for the self-employed

Steve Fogg, chair of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, has welcomed the latest support package announced by government to mitigate the adverse impact of the Covid-19 crisis on those who are self-employed.

He said: "'There are currently over 100,000 people who are working on a self-employed basis in Lancashire, who to date have been unable to access the support packages which are available to those that are employed. It is only right that there is a parity of support available irrespective of how an individual makes a living. The government is now offering them a similar level of support as outlined in the Job Retention Scheme.

''The self-employed work across all of our key sectors and play a vital role in the Lancashire economy, and are often our much needed innovators. Unfortunately they are also the most likely to have been impacted as a result of the restrictions which have been imposed. Most have seen their income plummet or reduced to nothing. The support package announced by the chancellor will I hope provide some relief and reassurance for those working on a self-employed basis."

Crime partnership publishes business advice

The Lancashire Partnership Against Crime has published its advice to help protect businesses during the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown.

Chairman David Smith said: "Many of our members are SME's who are facing unprecedented challenges in the current crisis, and our Board of Directors have recognised this by suspending our membership fees.

"We are very aware that criminals will exploit every opportunity to prey upon businesses and we have produced up to date crime prevention guidance which we are happy to share with the business community throughout Lancashire."

Council launches ‘South Ribble Together’

South Ribble Borough Council launches ‘South Ribble Together’ – a dedicated programme of work to support the community through the on-going COVID-19 crisis. It is specifically aimed at those who are suffering financially, with ill physical or mental health, struggling to access vital services or struggling to access food and medicines.

South Ribble Together is a programme put in place by the council to help support the most vulnerable in the borough though the on-going COVID-19 crisis.

The team is available from Monday to Friday between the hours of 9:00 and 17:00 by calling 01772 625 625, or you can email Covid19support@southribble.gov.uk at any time.

Beaverbrooks closes online shop

Beaverbrooks the Jeweller, which had previously closed 69 stores but continued to trade online, has announced that it has now paused its ecommerce operation to protect staff against the spread of coronavirus.

Managing director Anna Blackburn said: “It is with great sadness that we have made the difficult decision to close our website and warehouse operations until further notice.

"As a family-owned business, the safety and wellbeing of our people is our utmost priority, and despite current government guidance for online retailers to continue normal operation, we need to do everything we can to protect our colleagues, their families and the wider community. 

“We will be working hard to fulfil any existing orders made before 3pm Friday 27 March, but delivery may take slightly longer than usual. We won’t be able to take any new orders or returns after this point, until further notice."

Lockdown many benefit women in construction

Dr Jenni Barrett of the University of Central Lancashire believes the influx of home working may allow more women to enter the sector, ending the current gender imbalance.

The industry has been frequently highlighted in official government statistics for its lack of gender equality. Only 19 per cent of the current workforce are female, while women working in the industry typically only earn 76p for each £1 paid to their male counterparts.

She said: “The construction sector’s culture of long hours and being seen at work were barriers to women succeeding and staying in the sector, particularly when women still tend to adopt the larger share of care roles at home.

“However, as the industry goes online and becomes more digital, those barriers could start to disappear, creating a more inclusive work environment. With most of the country now working from home, hopefully we will see companies start to embrace a more flexible work-life balance long-term, which would be positive news for women in construction.”

Recent research carried out by UCLan’s Institute for Research into Organisations, Work and Employment (iROWE) found a variety of barriers to progression for women in the sector, including examples of women being excluded from designs and decision making, in addition to being overlooked for promotions and penalised for taking career breaks such as maternity leave or caring for family members.

She added: “Online identities aren’t always gender obvious. As such, first impressions can be based on merit, rather than conditioned response. Automation and robotics are also reducing the need for physical strength in construction, which can be beneficial to more women joining the industry and progressing.”

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