Businesses invited to register for live webinar about the latest grants

Monmouthshire County Council would like to hear from businesses who may be unsure of what funding they could be eligible for, and which grants are available for their sector. Business owners are being encouraged to register for a free hour-long Business Forum event on Thursday 28th January. There are two sessions available to choose from, at either end of the business day: 8.30am and 5.30pm.

Following the restrictions placed upon businesses as a result of the pandemic, there have been various grant schemes launched by Welsh Government to try and help those that have been severely impacted by closures and resulting loss of takings. The online Q&A sessions run by the council are designed to clarify the schemes and to answer questions raised by business owners across the county.

To join in businesses will need to register their interest via this short form

Restrictions Business Fund

The latest Welsh Government business support scheme is aimed at supporting businesses (principally in the hospitality, tourism, leisure or their supply chain, and non-essential retail sectors) affected by the additional restrictions which started on 4th and 20th December 2020.

Where we can we have made automatic payments to eligible businesses. If you received a payment under the previous Firebreak Lockdown NDR Grant scheme, operate in the sectors noted above and were forced to close, you will have already received an additional automatic payment of either £3,000 or £5,000 for this new Restrictions Business Fund NDR grant.

If you haven’t received this automatic payment or you did not previously apply for the Firebreak Lockdown NDR Grant then you can apply for the new Restrictions Business Fund NDR Grant by completing a short application.

Please note, hospitality, leisure and tourism businesses initially affected by the restrictions introduced on 4th December 2020 are not eligible for an additional grant following the move to a full lockdown on 20th December 2020.

The Restrictions Business Fund NDR grant has also been expanded to include businesses with a rateable value of between £51,000 and £150,000 operating in these sectors. If your business falls into this category you will need to complete a short application.

Please note you are only eligible for the Restrictions Business Fund NDR grant if you meet the criteria listed below and your business is rated for Business Rates in Monmouthshire.

You can apply for the Restrictions Business Fund Non Domestic Rate Grant here – Restrictions Business Fund NDR application form

Restrictions Business Fund Discretionary grant

If your business is not on the business rates system you may be eligible for a Restrictions Discretionary Grant of £2,000. To see if you are eligible for this grant see the guidance

If you think you are eligible you will need to complete a short application form using this link: Restrictions Business Fund Discretionary Grant Application Form

Please note that this is a continuation of the previous Discretionary Grant Scheme. If you applied for a grant in December 2020 then please do not reapply.

Summary of Scheme details:

Restrictions Business Fund Non Domestic Rate Grant.

The amount of grant received will be one of the following:

Grant A: A £3,000 cash grant payment for hospitality businesses / hospitality not-for-profit organisations and non-essential retail businesses with Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR) qualifying hereditaments with a rateable value of £12,000 or less.

Grant B:

A £5,000 cash grant payment for hospitality businesses / hospitality not-for-profit organisations and non-essential retail businesses occupying hereditaments with a rateable value between £12,001 and £51,000.

Grant C:

A £5,000 cash grant payment for hospitality businesses / hospitality not-for-profit organisations and non-essential retail businesses occupying hereditaments with a rateable value between £51,001 and £150,000.

These grants will be available to:

  • hospitality, tourism and leisure businesses
  • hospitality, tourism and leisure not-for-profit organisations and their supply chains
  • non-essential retail businesses

Businesses are eligible for the grant if they have either been forced to close as a result of the national restrictions or have not been required to close but have seen a reduction in turnover.

For business that were not forced to close you will be asked to self-declare whether you have experienced a 40% reduction in turnover for December 2020 as compared to December 2019. If the business was not trading in December 2019, the comparison in turnover should be for the monthly turnover for December 2020 vs September 2020. The turnover reduction must be as a direct result of the new restrictions introduced on and since 4th December.

Eligible hospitality and non-essential retail businesses and not-for profit organisations do not need to make any form of self-declaration in respect of their turnover.

The applicant’s hereditament must have been on the NDR rating list as of the 1st September 2020 and the ratepayer needs to have been in occupation of the property as of the 30th November 2020.

For further information please read the guidance Restrictions Business Fund NDR Guidance

Economic Resilience Fund (ERF) Sector Specific Support Grant

The Welsh Government has recently announced the launch of the Economic Resilience Fund (ERF) Sector Specific Support (operating cost) package. Applications for this scheme opened at midday on 13th January 2021 and will remain open for two weeks or until funds are fully committed.

This latest funding stream is specifically aimed at businesses in the hospitality, tourism and leisure sectors, including businesses supplying those sectors that are experiencing a reduction of 60% or more of their turnover as a result of the restrictions introduced on 4th December 2020, until 22nd January 2021.

The ERF Sector Specific Support fund complements other COVID-19 response measures to support businesses, social enterprises and charitable organisations in Wales – including the NDR (Non-Domestic Rates) grants that are also available.

Businesses eligible for the Restrictions Fund NDR grant (excluding the Discretionary grant) can also apply for the ERF Sector Specific grant. More information about the COVID-19 ERF Sector Specific grant and its eligibility checker can be found at: https://fundchecker.businesswales.gov.wales/sectorspecificgrant/

The scheme, unlike many of the other grants, is being administered by Welsh Government. It is recommended that businesses applying for this latest grant should also consider the Job Retention Scheme (also known as the Furlough Scheme) which now covers more employees and has been extended to April 2021.

UPDATE – Wales in Alert Level 4

This Welsh Government guidance sets out what businesses and premises will be required to close at Alert Level 4. It also sets out the limited purposes for which some closed businesses and premises may be accessed.

Those responsible for premises that remain open to the public, or for any premises that is a workplace, are legally required to take all reasonable measures to mitigate the risk of coronavirus spreading, and to have regard to Welsh Government guidance on what that means.

We recognise the enormous efforts businesses have made to become safe places. This requirement to close in Level 4 is not a reflection on those efforts and we appreciate that some business environments make only a low or moderate contribution to the risk of transmitting the virus. But in Level 4 minimising any contribution to the spread of the virus is important, which is why certain businesses are required to close temporarily.

Scope of this guidance

This guidance, and the restrictions in the coronavirus firebreak regulations, are directed primarily at premises open to the public. Those premises may be indoors or outdoors. The primary purpose of closing premises is to reduce the number of gatherings between people, and to reduce the number of journeys that people make, in keeping with the overall rule that people should stay home as much as reasonably possible.

Certain types of businesses are able to conduct their activities in a range of different settings, including in people’s homes. Where businesses are prohibited from operating in one type of premises, they will also (subject to the exceptions set out in this guidance) be prohibited from operating in other premises. So for example, because there is a prohibition on hairdressers’ shops from opening as this is seen as a non-essential activity, mobile hairdressers are also not permitted to provide their services in clients’ homes or their own homes. This is to avoid gatherings of people being displaced from one setting to another, and to minimise unfair distortion of competition between similar businesses.

This means that businesses which do not operate out of premises open to the public are not included in the lists on this page, and remain permitted to operate.  So for example, construction or maintenance work on private property, factory work and cleaning services are not listed in this guidance, but remain able to continue on the same basis as before the firebreak.  

For those businesses continuing to operate, the person responsible for the work must take all reasonable measures to minimise exposure to coronavirus on the premises, and reduce the risk of those that have been on the premises from spreading the virus.  Statutory guidance has been issued to help people understand what “reasonable measures” means, which those responsible for an open premises must have regard to.  In addition, the Welsh Government has published guidance to help employers, employees and the self-employed to work safely during the pandemic.

Shops: general rule

The default position with regard to shops (“any business selling goods or services for sale or hire in retail premises”) in Alert Level 4 is that they should all be closed, unless they are a category of shop that provides goods or services that are explicitly allowed.

Generally speaking businesses operating out of shops should assume they will be required to close those shops and cease their activities  unless they are exempt due to the goods or services they provide being deemed to be “essential”.

This is consistent with the overarching requirement imposed on the people of Wales to stay at home in Alert Level 4. The default position is that people must stay at home unless they have a reasonable excuse to leave. Reasonable excuses are listed, but they only apply if leaving home is necessary. So leaving home for any reason that is not essential is not allowed.

This means there are two issues to address when considering whether going to shops is “essential”.

The first of these is the responsibility of the individual. People should ask themselves whether they need to leave home. Clearly there are plenty of valid reasons why people may need to leave home, the most obvious of which is to buy food. However, people should minimise the amount of times they leave home for this purpose and the amount of time they are away. They should also consider whether alternatives such as home delivery are available. In addition if people do not need to buy any particular product they should not leave home to do so.

The second issue relates to the availability of products people may wish to purchase. In order to mitigate the risk of people leaving home unnecessarily, certain types of retail business have been required to close. The rationale for their closure is again based on whether it could be considered necessary to leave home to purchase goods or services from their premises. Here the responsibility rests on those responsible for the businesses and their premises, some of which are legally required to close.

Chapter 2 of Part 4 of Schedule 4 to the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No. 5) (Wales) Regulations 2020 sets out the default position that all shops must close, while Chapter 3 provides that exemptions apply in some circumstances. Chapter 4 lists the premises that must be closed and the exemptions. And there is a corresponding reasonable excuse to leave home provides that people can go to such shops if they need to.

  1. “(1) No person may, without a reasonable excuse, leave the place where they are living or remain away from that place.
  2. (2)  For the purposes of sub-paragraph (1), a person has a reasonable excuse if—
    1. the person leaves or remains away from the place where they are living  for a purpose that is reasonably necessary and there is no reasonably practicable alternative, or
    2. one of the circumstances in sub-paragraph(4) applies.

Shops selling multiple types of product

Some shops such as supermarkets sell multiple types of product, including the types of product normally sold by shops which are required to close at Level 4.  

For the purposes of the Regulations these shops are operating more than one type of business and they are required to close those parts of their premises selling products that a type of business which has been required to close would normally sell.

The responsibility for closing premises and not selling certain products cannot be delegated to customers and must be managed by the shop. Shops cannot divest themselves of this responsibility, and for the avoidance of doubt making all of their products available and merely asking customers (for example through signage or announcements) not to purchase anything that the customer thinks they have good reason to buy does not meet the legal obligation.      

The areas which can be open in shops selling multiple product types are areas selling:

  • Food and drink.
  • Products ancillary to the sale of food and drink, including disposable items used for the preparation and storage of food (such as kitchen foil, food bags and cling film) but also basic products necessary to prepare and eat food and drink such as food containers, pots and pans, crockery, cutlery and other similar items.
  • Products for washing clothes and for cleaning and maintaining the home, including batteries, light bulbs and fuel. This also includes any products necessary for the upkeep of animals.
  • Toiletries, personal care and cosmetic products, including toilet rolls and sanitary products.
  • Pharmaceutical products.
  • Baby products including equipment, clothes and nappies.
  • Newspapers and magazines.
  • Stationery and greetings cards.
  • Pet food and other pet supplies.
  • Products for the maintenance of bicycles and cars. 
  • Services for the repair and maintenance of mobile telecommunications or IT devices.

In addition a supermarket may sell any item ordinarily sold in small stores such as convenience stores, corner shops and off licences.

These restrictions mean some shops will need to close some areas of their premises to customers. Some parts of large stores will display those “essential” goods that are allowed to continue to be sold while other parts may sell other “non-essential” goods. Where it is reasonably practicable for these to be clearly separated or demarcated then those non-essential goods may not be sold.

In large supermarkets, in most cases it will be clear that certain sections of the store must be cordoned off or emptied, and closed to the public. Where there are distinct parts of a store selling (for example) electrical goods, clothes, toys, games, or products for the garden, these should be closed to the public – and these products should not be sold.

Where such products do not have their own sections of the shop but are in distinct aisles, these should also be closed off or cordoned off if reasonably practicable. However, shops will need to make these arrangements in ways which allow safe circulation of customers around the premises, and so particularly in smaller premises we recognise that it will not always be possible to close whole aisles. 

In a mixed aisle which contains a combination of items listed above and other items, it is not compulsory for every non-listed item to be withdrawn from display or covered if this is not reasonably practicable.

Although the test of whether it is reasonably practicable to divide a store in this way is an objective one (based on what a reasonable person would think), the manager of a store will have an element of discretion due to that person best knowing the layout of the store. Supermarkets should not, however, re-organise their stores or how goods are displayed in order to make it more difficult to differentiate between essential and non-essential goods.

Click and collect services

Unlike in earlier lockdowns, at Level 4 all shops can offer click and collect or similar services, whether or not they are required to close their premises. To reduce the number of journeys people make, all goods and services must  be ordered in advance online, by telephone or mail order.  

All reasonable measures must be put in place to ensure that a 2 metre distance is maintained between persons on the premises, as well as people waiting to  collect goods at the entrance to the premises or other designated external collection point. Shops should also ensure if possible that customers do not have to enter indoor sections of closed retail premises to collect goods, and that click and collect collection points are operated as safely as possible. For example, shops should:

  • put in place picking-up and dropping-off collection points where possible, rather than passing goods hand-to-hand
  • stagger collection times for customers collecting items
  • design their click and collect system to avoid/ reduce shared contact surfaces
  • continue to frequently clean any shared surfaces that are unavoidable and increase the use of hands-free technology to deliver their services

Please see the guidance on reasonable measures for more information.

Delivery services

All services on this list, whether or not required to close at Level 4, are entitled to continue to use their premises for the purposes of managing the sale, hire or delivery of goods or services, if this is managed online, by telephone or mail order.

Returns

If your business is required to close then customers should not be permitted to enter the store to return goods. Retailers may wish to offer flexible dates for return of goods.

Work carried out in people’s homes

Work carried out in people’s homes, for example by tradespeople, can continue as long as it is managed in a safe way and both the worker and household members are well and have no symptoms of coronavirus. However, we recommend that people consider whether the work can be safely deferred until they are no longer in Level 4.

Like other businesses, people working in someone else’s home must take all reasonable measures to ensure to mitigate the risk of coronavirus spreading when working in other people’s households. Please see the guidance on reasonable measures and on working in other people’s homes for more information.

It is also recommended that no work should be carried out in any household where someone is isolating, unless it is to repair a fault which poses a direct risk to people’s safety – for example, emergency plumbing, or carry out an adaptation to allow that household to remain in their property. If attendance is unavoidable (because of an urgent or emergency situation), additional precautions should be taken to keep workers and householders completely separate from each other.  In these cases, Public Health Wales can provide advice to tradespeople and households. But no work should be carried out by a tradesperson who has coronavirus symptoms, however mild.

Businesses which are required to close may not conduct their services in other people’s homes.

Restaurants, cafes, bars and public houses

These are required to close at Level 4, with the exceptions set out in the table further down this page. However, takeaway and food delivery services may remain open. This means people can continue to enter premises to access takeaway services, including delivery drivers, but all reasonable measures must be put in place by those responsible for carrying on the business to mitigate the risk of coronavirus spreading when working in other people’s households. This includes ensuring that 2 metres distance is maintained between persons on the premises, as well as people waiting to enter the premises.

Businesses are encouraged to take orders in advance online or by telephone, and businesses must not provide seating areas, indoors and outdoors, for customers to consume food or drink.

Restaurants, cafés and pubs which do not otherwise offer delivery and hot food takeaway are able to offer such services at Level 4.

People must not consume food or drinks on site at restaurants, cafés or pubs whilst waiting for takeaway food.

Those venues offering takeaway or delivery services must not include alcoholic beverages in this list if their licence does not already permit.

Maintenance of premises

All services on this list, whether or not required to close, can be accessed by the site owners or managers, or people authorised by them, for the purpose of maintenance, repairs or other work to ensure readiness to reopen at a point where this is permitted.

Compliance

Everyone must comply with the restrictions and requirements set out in the Regulations. A business operating in contravention of the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No 5) (Wales) Regulations 2020 will be committing an offence, which may attract a fine which is not limited on the statutory scales. 

In addition, businesses or premises which are found not to be taking all reasonable measures to mitigate the risk of spreading coronavirus are subject to a separate enforcement regime which can ultimately result in the issuing of a closure notice.

For the full information visit https://gov.wales/business-closures-alert-level-4

SUPPORT GRANTS FOR BUSINESSES

Restrictions Business Fund

https://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/restrictions-business-fund/

ERF Restrictions Business Fund

The Welsh Government is launching the Restrictions Business Fund to support businesses that have been directly impacted by the additional restrictions put in place to control the spread of Covid-19 starting on Friday 4th December. The purpose of the grant is to provide businesses with cash flow support and to help them survive the economic consequences of the restrictions introduced.

Applications for and information about the Restrictions Business Fund can be found at https://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/restrictions-business-fund from 10am on Wednesday 16th December 2020.

Welsh Government Economic Resilience Fund – Business Development Grant

Due to high demand, the ERF Business Development Grant is suspended while Welsh Government process the applications received.

Monmouthshire County Council -Freelancer Fund

Applications to this fund have now closed.

This is a grant to provide financial assistance to freelancers in the cultural and creative sectors that are facing financial challenges as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The purpose of the grant is to support freelancers in the cultural and creative sectors facing financial challenges in the period from April 2020 – March 2021. The grant seeks to complement other COVID-19 response measures to support organisations and businesses in Wales as part of the Cultural Recovery Fund.

The eligibility criteria for the grant is as follows:

  • Facing financial challenges in the period from April 2020 – March 2021;
  • Freelancer professionals whose work has direct creative/cultural outcomes, who work in the four key sub sectors ;
  • The Arts
  • Creative Industries
  • Arts and Heritage Events
  • Culture and Heritage
  • You must be operating in Wales;
  • You must be based within the local authority you are applying to.

You are not eligible for this grant if:

  • You have recently received funding from the Start-Up Grant launched in June 2020 to help new businesses survive the economic consequences of coronavirus (Covid-19);
  • You are a freelancer who works in the sport sector.

This funding is specifically for creative/cultural subsectors and roles that have been forced to cease work and/or face difficultly restarting because of the impact of Covid-19 restrictions.Those in roles that have been able to continue at previous or near previous levels of activity (e.g. architects, graphic designers, games designers etc.) with or without support should not apply.

For further information on this grant please read the Freelancer Fund guidance notes here and Frequently Asked Questions here.

A grant of £2,500 is available per individual and applications will be dealt with on a first come first served basis. This may lead to applications not being appraised after they have been submitted if the fund is fully committed.

UK & Welsh Government Support for Businesses

UK Government has launched a ‘support finder’ tool which will help businesses and self-employed people across the UK to determine what financial support is available to them during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The tool asks business owners to complete a simple online questionnaire, which will direct them to a list of the financial support they may be eligible for.

The new business support finder tool can be found at https://www.gov.uk/business-coronavirus-support-finder.

Information regarding the range of support available from Welsh Government is available on the Business Wales Coronoavirus advice page. This can be accessed here: Business Wales

Future Fund

Announced by the Chancellor on 20 April, the Future Fund issues convertible loans to innovative UK companies with good potential, that typically rely on equity investment and are currently affected by Covid-19. The scheme, will help these companies through the current period of economic disruption and the recovery, so they are able to continue their growth trajectory and reach their full economic potential. The scheme is designed by UK Government and delivered by the British Business Bank.

Further information about the scheme is available here

The scheme is open for applications until 30th November 2020.

UK Government Bounce Back Loans

Small businesses will benefit from a new fast-track loan scheme, which will launch on Monday 4th May.

The new Bounce Back Loans scheme will enable businesses to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000 and access the cash within days.

Loans will be interest free for the first 12 months and businesses can apply online through a short and simple form.

Further information about the scheme is available here

Applications are open until 30th November 2020 and you can apply here

Support from Local Business Networks

Monmouthshire County Council works closely with the county’s local business representatives all of whom would be happy to help with any individual business queries you may have.  Below are a list of contacts and the areas that they represent:

Legionella controls in hot and cold water systems during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974

During these unprecedented times, and with many businesses being closed, it is essential that your hot and cold water systems are still managed effectively to prevent the growth of legionella bacteria, which could affect the health of your customers, visitors and staff in the future when you do fully reopen.

Legionnaires’ disease is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia contracted by inhaling aerosols contaminated with legionella bacteria.

Hot water boilers, showers, taps, WCs and other water outlets?

Act now to manage your hot and cold water systems – don’t just let them to stagnate.

If your building is going to be closed for a prolonged period:

  • Review your legionella risk assessment.
  • Make sure hot water is circulating throughout all parts of the system and flow temperature is maintained at ≥60 °C and the return on all loops is at ≥50 °C.
  • Hot water outlets should reach ≥ 50 °C within one minute and cold should reach ≤25 °after running the outlet (normal flow, avoid splashing) for 2 minutes.
  • Where there are thermostatic mixer valves ensure the pipework feeding them achieves the same temperatures.
  • If using a biocide already, maintain target levels throughout all of the system.
  • Flush gently (to reduce aerosols) all hot and cold outlets (showers and taps) at least weekly until they achieve the above temperatures.
  • Flush all WC cisterns (close the lid), urinals, by-passes and any other points on the network.

If you decide to close down your system, and switch off your heated water tanks, then additional control measures will be required – including disinfection – on restarting.

Please refer to the following guidance for further details:
Guidance and contact Environmental Health directly if you require any further advice or information on 01873 735420 or environmentalhealth@monmouthshire.gov.uk

HMRC Tax Help-line

If as an employer you are having difficulties with your business tax, please visit the link below for guidance issued by UK Government.

HMRC Employer Tax Advice

Support for businesses – new rate relief schemes

On Monday the Welsh Government announced an enhanced scheme of support for businesses affected by the ongoing coronavirus crisis. Retail, leisure and hospitality businesses will receive 100% business rates relief for the financial year 2020/21.

We will award the relief automatically. In addition, a further £100 million will be available across Wales for a new grant scheme for small businesses not covered by the enhanced retail relief scheme. Further details on this new grant scheme are to be confirmed shortly.

For further advice please contact the Council Tax team on 01633 644630 or e-mail counciltax@monmouthshire.gov.uk

Retail, Leisure and Hospitality Rates Relief

The Retail, Leisure and Hospitality Rates Relief scheme will provide 100% rates relief for occupied properties to eligible ratepayers for 2020-21. The scheme will apply to eligible properties with a rateable value of £500,000 or less.

You can find rates relief guidance from Welsh Government HERE

Diversifying your business to include takeaway and delivery?

In these difficult times I’m sure you wish to maintain business continuity and support your community and may want to start supplying takeaway and delivering food.  More information is available on our Environmental Health page here.

For a full list of closed premises –
https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/875263/240320_Revised_Guidance.pdf