May 4 coronavirus update for businesses

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Government launches discretionary fund

The government has created a new £617m discretionary fund for small businesses that have previously been outside the scope of the business grant funds scheme. 

There will be three levels of grant payments: The maximum will be £25,000, there will also be grants of £10,000, and local authorities will have discretion to make payments of any amount under £10,000.

Dr Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: "We have been calling for additional support for businesses and entrepreneurs who have fallen between the cracks, so it is welcome to see additional funding allocated to support some of these hard-pressed firms. Clarity and speed are of the essence. Many of the companies that have been unable to use existing support schemes are already on borrowed time – and will need these grants paid out swiftly if they are to survive."

Weru adapting to new challenges

Weru UK, the Blackpool-based family business which distributes windows and doors from Germany's Weru Group, has found new ways to do business during the lockdown.

Despite the showroom being temporarily closed until recently, the business has been working resourcefully to assist customers who have construction or renovation projects on the go. The team has been conducting remote surveys of projects by connecting with builders or home owners via Skype and Facetime, and putting into play a series of additional checks to ensure measurement accuracy.

This process has been working well for Weru UK, to the extent that a number of high value projects throughout the UK are now being fulfilled at the production site in Germany. 

Graham Lindsay, MD of Weru UK said: "The fact that we are operating so effectively would have seemed unimaginable a few weeks ago, however through honing the remote surveying process, we have maintained a steady flow of production orders through to Germany on this basis.

"It does mean far more cross checks and in fairness we are prepared to share risk provided the client checks and double checks the detailed size check drawings and data we prepare for them. However, the system is working very well and there are some surprising positives."

Lancaster University hosts coronavirus conference

Lancaster University brought together some of the world’s leading economists, including two Nobel Laureates, at a special online event to discuss behavioural insights into the Covid-19 crisis.

Nobel Prize-winning economists Professor Vernon Smith and Professor Robert Aumann joined more than 350 people from around the world for the Lancaster University 2020 Behavioural and Experimental Conference.

They were among economists from the UK, Israel and the USA to make presentations to an online audience including guests from India, China, Columbia, France and South Korea around the subject of ‘Behavioural Insights on the Corona Crisis’.

The presentations were followed by a panel discussion on the Covid-19 crisis, with questions and comments from the audience. The importance of transparency and clear guidelines from authorities during the crisis was one of the issues discussed.

A full recording of the Lancaster University 2020 Behavioural and Experimental Conference is available online here.