1. Message from Mark Coles, Executive Director, Property
Like many of our tenants, the Foundation has had to respond to the huge impact of COVID-19. In July, we took the difficult decision to close some of our arts, culture and wellbeing venues and services on a permanent basis, which led to 32 redundancies. And just as we were beginning to implement new plans to address our financial shortfall, a second lockdown was announced.
While another lockdown is a huge setback and is testing resilience levels across every sector, there are reasons to be hopeful. Thankfully, there is more flexibility this time around and many workplaces are continuing to operate with Covid-safe measures in place. Some of the government’s support packages are still available and new schemes have been added, such as Local Restriction Support Grants and Additional Restrictions Grant. Companies can now employ apprentices and young people to support your business (read more below) and the furlough scheme extension until March is giving us all some breathing space to consider the ‘what next’.
Even with these measures and a vaccine on the horizon, for many it will be difficult to plan and anticipate what might come our way. Whatever happens, it’s important that you keep talking to our team so they can look at your situation and help you plan for the coming months. We have welcomed the opportunity to build closer relationships with many of you since March and we want to keep this front and centre as we prepare for 2021. Stay safe and keep in touch.
2. New property management partner appointed
Earlier this month, we wrote to our tenants about changes to our property management service. From January 2021, we will appoint a new property management partner. Details are still being finalised, so Rapleys will continue to look after our property accounting service until 31 December. And their helpdesk will continue during this time, so please use firstname.lastname@example.org / 01480 484937 to report building faults or issues. During the transition period the Foundation will be actively involved with day-to-day activities providing property and facilities management services. Our Property Asset & Relationship Managers will be your main points of contact:
Tim Fell E: Tim.Fell@letchworth.com T: 01462 530353 / 07714 521501
Clare Valentine E: Clare.Valentine@Letchworth.com T: 01462 530351 / 07713 565642
Retail & Leisure
Joseph Vallely E: Joseph.Vallely@Letchworth.com T: 01462 530352 / 07713 565678
If you have a general enquiry, please email us at email@example.com
3. Support for businesses from the government
All the support currently available for small, medium and large businesses as well as the self-employed is available on the government’s website.
This covers a broad range of information, from the furlough scheme and bounce back loans, to business rate relief and deferring VAT payments.
There is also information on the new Kick Start Scheme where the government provides funding to create new job placements for 16 to 24-year olds on Universal Credit who are at risk of long-term unemployment. Employers of all sizes can apply for funding.
You can speak directly to North Herts District Council about support via the Local Restrictions Support Grant if you have been mandated to close or if you have been severely impacted by the latest lockdown. You can also speak to them about the Self Employment Income Support Scheme.
Hertfordshire LEP Business Support Packages are still available!
In our last update, we mentioned that Herts Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) had launched a £3.28m support package to help businesses who have been impacted by COVID-19. These are still available covering grants, loans, free business support and more:
Crowdfund Hertfordshire: Small Business Innovation Fund which is administered by Visit Herts. This fund will support small and micro businesses within the tourism, leisure, hospitality, retail, arts and cultural sectors.
Hertfordshire Business Expansion Grant Scheme is open to all SMEs (some eligibility criteria apply). Grants for capital expenditure range from £10k - £100k.
Hertfordshire LEP SME Growth Loan Scheme offers loans of £200k – £500k available to established SMEs in Hertfordshire requiring finance to implement expansion activities that will deliver substantial growth (LEP funded).
Low Carbon Innovation Fund is a £22m+ investment initiative led by the University of East Anglia and Norfolk County Council, to support SMEs that are making a positive impact on greenhouse gas reduction through the development of innovative technologies, products or services (ERDF funded).
The Volunteer Business Support Scheme has been set up to provide additional peer-to-peer advice and support to businesses affected by COVID-19.
If your business is interested in benefitting from the scheme you should initially contact the Hertfordshire Growth Hub, who will refer eligible businesses on to the scheme. Businesses will be matched to a volunteer who will be able to provide help and guidance aligned to business need.
4. Shop Local campaign launches
We are working with the Letchworth BID to support a new Shop Local campaign in the run-up to Christmas. Letchworth has a variety of excellent independent shops, cafes and bars, many of whom are offering a click and collect service. If you are in town, please support local retailers where you can. We have now heard that more town centre businesses will be open from 2 December. Prior to the lockdown, these businesses worked hard to make their premises Covid-safe so we hope customers will return as soon as the latest restrictions are lifted. It will be great to have a buzz about town again.
Meet some of Letchworth’s retailers…
We have continued with our business blog series into autumn with the aim of sharing the inspiring stories of how our tenants have adapted and innovated to keep trading throughout the pandemic. You can read more about how these small retailers have risen to the challenge to keep trading and reach new customers.