Category: News

AD:VENTURE – Update on delivery and COVID-19 Business Support

We are regularly updating this page to keep you updated on the latest guidance and support relating to Covid-19.

One-To One support

Our advisors are currently working remotely, but can still be contacted via their usual emails and telephone numbers.

To improve the quality of your remote contact during this time of limited physical interaction, we are exploring the use of video calls using Microsoft “teams” and other similar platforms to enable you to continue working with your advisor and developing your business. Please get in touch if you are need advice or support. If you are not sure who your advisor is, you can email support@ad-venture.org.uk 

Workshops and Events

We have taken the decision to rearrange all AD:VENTURE events scheduled for the foreseeable future and to deliver them in a virtual way to enable us to continue delivering this valuable workshop content to you.

We hope to have these back up and running for you very soon.

You will be contacted directly if you have booked onto an event, and we’ll be sharing details of virtual delivery options with you as soon as possible.

Business as almost usual…..

So, although we will all have to make changes to how we work, we are confident we can continue to deliver the services you need with minimal disruption.

As soon as we have our virtual solutions in place, we will be in touch with details on how you can access these services.

This will no doubt be a challenging time for everyone, and we all need to work together to reduce the impact on our businesses and individuals.

Let’s stay safe, and remember to be kind to one another #InItTogether

Keep Connected

We know one of the things valued most about the programme are the connections and networks you build with other businesses and people. This is a great time to keep working on those relationships online, supporting and sharing with each other how you have been solving your challenges – Covid-19 related or not!

We will be in touch via email, but remember, you can contact your advisor as normal, and you can also follow us on social media for updates and event information. We’ll be sharing any useful advice and information on the website too, so check for updates www.ad-venture.org.uk

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Alert Sign Up

If you would like to receive updates on the government’s response to COVID-19 you can sign up for email alerts.

SELF EMPLOYED FINANCIAL HELP

The initial guidance for the Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) has been published. In summary:

What is it?

The Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will support self-employed individuals (including members of partnerships) whose income has been negatively impacted by COVID-19. The scheme will provide a grant to self-employed individuals or partnerships, worth 80% of their profits up to a cap of £2,500 per month. HMRC will use the average profits from tax returns in 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 to calculate the size of the grant. The scheme will be open to those where the majority of their income comes from self-employment and who have profits of less than £50,000. The scheme will be open for an initial three months with people able to make their first claim by the beginning of June.

Am I eligible?

To be eligible for the scheme you must meet all the criteria below:

  • Be self-employed or a member of partnership;
  • Have lost trading/partnership trading profits due to COVID-19;
  • File a tax return for 2018-19 as self-employed or a member of a trading partnership. Those who have not yet filed for 2018-19 will have an additional 4 weeks from this announcement to do so;
  • Have traded in 2019-20; be currently trading at the point of application (or would be except for COVID 19) and intend to continue to trade in the tax year 2020 to 2021
  • Have trading profits of less than £50,000 and more than half of your total income come from self-employment. This can be with reference to at least one of the following conditions:
  • Your trading profits and total income in 2018/19
  • Your average trading profits and total income across up to the three years between 2016-17, 2017-18, and 2018-19.

What happens to individuals whose 2018/19 profits are very different to what they would have expected to make this year?
The government will only act on the most recently available data. This is from the 2018/19 tax year. To try to provide the most accurate possible estimate of self-employed income, we can look at average profits over 16/17, 17/18 and 18/19.

Is this grant subject to tax?

Yes – individuals will pay Income Tax and National Insurance on any payments received through this scheme as they are replacement for income in line with normal practice for benefits or grants that replace income. The grant is recognised as income for the purposes of Universal Credit and Tax Credits and may impact the amount claimants are entitled to.

What should self-employed people do while they wait to be paid?

In the interim, self-employed individuals may be eligible for universal credit. The government has provided over £6.5bn of additional support through the welfare system for those affected by Covid-19.

Why does this scheme not cover small businesses who are incorporated?

Self-employed individuals who are owner-managers and pay themselves a salary through PAYE will be eligible for support through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. SMEs can also access support through the temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme. This supports SMEs with access to loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million and for up to 6 years. This new Self-Employment Income Support Scheme is open to anyone who reports trading profits through Income Tax Self-Assessment. Self-employed individuals who work through a company do not report their trading profits in this way.

How do I access it?

Individuals should not contact HMRC now. HMRC will use existing information to check potential eligibility and invite applications once the scheme is operational. HMRC will then pay the grant directly to eligible claimants’ bank account. For eligible individuals who have not submitted their returns for 2018-19, they will have 4 weeks’ notice from today to file their returns and therefore become eligible for this scheme.

When can I access it?

Grants are expected to start to be paid by the beginning of June 2020.

If you are unsure of your employment status (self-employed/contractor) a clear explanation can be found on the Government website 

SUPPORT FROM GOVERNMENT

Chancellor waives import taxes on vital medical equipment including ventilators, coronavirus testing kits and protective clothing. Chancellor waives duties and VAT on vital medical imports

Workers who have not taken all of their statutory annual leave entitlement due to COVID-19 will now be able to carry it over into the next 2 leave years. Rules on carrying over annual leave to be relaxed to support key industries during COVID-19

The Government is easing administrative requirements and barriers to imports without compromising on safety. Regulations temporarily suspended to fast-track supplies of PPE to NHS staff and protect companies hit by COVID-19

Offer coronavirus (COVID-19) support from your businessUse this service to tell us how your business might be able to help with the response to coronavirus.

Guidance and advice for those providing hotel and other accommodation in the UK COVID-19 advice for accommodation providers

Further guidance has been issued with an updated list of those businesses which must remain closed

HMRC Tax helpline to support businesses affected by coronavirus

Coronavirus Business Support Campaign Communications Toolkit

Companies House: guidance if Coronavirus has affected your company and you need more time to file your accounts.

Due to the unfolding COVID-19 situation, cars and vans and motorcycles due their MOT from 30 March 2020 will have their MOT extended by 6 months. New rules on MOT testing for light vehicles 

For the latest information and advice, UK employers and business owners should visit the official guidance for employers and businesses.

Support available for employers through Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Businesses can receive daily updates by email to ensure they are acting on the most up to date information subscribe to receive email alerts

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is looking for organisations who can support in the supply of ventilators and ventilator components. If you can help visit Production and supply of ventilator components

A number of private lenders are making funds available to small businesses impacted by Coronavirus, including £2 billion from Lloyds Banking Group and £5 billion from NatWest.

Coronavirus industry guidance for specific sectors

These pages have been updated and include further information on grants. Local Government pages outlining items such as bin collections, parking, support and volunteering Leeds Bradford  York North Yorkshire 

UPDATE: Ofqual sets out details for schools, colleges, students, parents & carers on how GCSEs and A levels will be awarded following the cancellation of this year’s exams. How GCSEs, AS & A levels will be awarded in summer 2020. 

UPDATE: Cash support for food redistribution during coronavirus outbreak. The government has announced a £3 million fund for food redistribution organisations help them cut food waste during the coronavirus outbreak.

PUBLIC HEALTH ENGLAND GUIDANCE

Find out how Coronavirus is spread and how to avoid catching or spreading germs NHS information

Advice and support while self-isolating or working from home can be found here Coronavirus and your wellbeing

Government advice for employees

The government has updated the guidance on the new measures the PM introduced on Monday 23rd March New rules on staying at home and away from others. 

HR SUPPORT

All Chamber members have the benefit Chamber HR –  access 24/7 to online HR support including sample policies and guidance  here

For those with employees who need to stay home with confirmed or possible Coronavirus infection, guidance can be found here Stay at home guidance

Guidance on advice to provide to staff

ACAS published information for employees and employers, including information on simple steps to help protect the health and safety of staff, sick pay and absence from work.

Following government announcements that all schools are to close from today (Friday 20th March), those children of workers considered vital to maintaining the economy, protecting public health and keeping essential supplies moving will be exempt. Schools will be contacting parents directly. The list of key workers can be found here. If you have any questions as to whether your business and employees fall into this category then please contact the Chamber policy team

With employees working from home, self-isolating and schools closed, what is the right thing for employers to do?  Later today (20/03/20) an announcement is expected from government offering business advice on safeguarding jobs, until then and as a chamber member we are here to support you at this difficult time by signposting you to FREE expert advice;

CIPD here

Here are some tips on keeping disruption to a minimum;

– Assess working from home capability, ensure you check your HSE obligations and your company insurance policy
– Identify business critical roles and have a contingency plan, consider redistribution of workloads.
– As workload reduces, reduce working hours, if feasible allow holidays to be utilised as a means to avoid reducing pay.
– Change all employees holidays into hours instead of half-days / days to help with intermittent home working & child-care
– In households with both parents/carers ask that they share responsibility for childcare, and attend designated work place on reduced hours (unless you are self-isolating)

FINANCE

UPDATE: Innovate UK, as part of UK Research and Innovation, will invest up to £20 million in innovation projects. UK registered businesses can apply for a share of up to £20 million to respond to new and urgent needs in UK and global communities during and following the Covid-19 pandemic. The aim of this competition is to support UK businesses to focus on emerging or increasing needs of society and industries during and following the Covid-19 pandemic

Find out what equipment, services or supplies are taxable if your employees are working from home due to coronavirus Check which expenses are taxable if your employee works from home due to coronavirus 

The HMRC has a  phone helpline set up to support businesses and self-employed people concerned about not being able to pay their tax due to coronavirus. The tax helpline number is changing. You can now call them on 08000 241222. Opening hours are from 8am to 4pm Monday to Friday. Calls to the old helpline number will be redirected automatically.

HMRC have produced guidance on temporary changes to the use and supply of denatured alcohol and duty-free spirits, to help businesses who produce hand sanitiser and gel

Insurers know this is an incredibly difficult time for families and businesses as people seek to make the right decisions for their own health and that of their family. The Association of Business Insurers (ABI) has provided guidance and answers to common questions. If you are unsure what your policy covers you for then check with your insurer or insurance broker.

Insurance policies are unlikely to cover pandemics or unspecified notifiable diseases, such as COVID-19. However, those businesses which have an insurance policy that covers government ordered closure and pandemics or government ordered closure and unspecified notifiable disease may be able to make a claim 

How to access government financial support if you or your business has been affected by COVID-19 

The government have issued the following guidance Business rates: expanded retail discount – guidance

Covid Corporate Financing Facility – what steps does my company need to take?

In response to extensive BRC pressure and widespread consumer demand, the contactless limit for in-store card transactions will increase from £30 to £45. This is being introduced as a measure in response to the coronavirus epidemic, to reduce the need for physical contact with PIN-Entry Devices (PEDs) at points of sale.

Commercial tenants who cannot pay their rent because of coronavirus will be protected from eviction. Commercial tenants unable to pay rent because of coronavirus will be protected from eviction. Measures support ongoing conversations between landlords and tenants about voluntary arrangements. Latest measure builds on the unprecedented package of support for businesses already announced

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS).

You can apply for Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) support delivered by Business Enterprise Fund

UPDATE: CBILS Access to the scheme has been opened up to those smaller businesses who would have previously met the requirements for a commercial facility but would not have been eligible for CBILS. Insufficient security is no longer a condition to access the scheme. The new Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) will provide a government guarantee of 80% to enable banks to make loans of up to £25m to firms with an annual turnover of between £45m and £500m. This will give banks the confidence to lend to many more businesses which are impacted by coronavirus. The government website is now updated 

Whether a lender requires a personal guarantee for a loan supported by the (CBILS) is at the discretion of the lender, who is accredited by the British Business Bank. However, a lender is not allowed to take a personal guarantee against a borrower’s principal residence under the scheme. So even if a personal guarantee is required under the lender’s credit policy, it cannot be taken against the borrower’s home. Some major lenders have announced that they are not going to require personal guarantees on loans under CBILS the scheme (of any size). If businesses are worried about the specific terms of finance facilities available under this scheme, they should speak to their usual lender. Further Information on CBILS 

Below is a summary of the key points:

– The government has confirmed that it will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan (subject to a per-lender cap on claims) to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to SMEs
– Available to UK-based businesses with annual turnover of up to £45m per year
– All 40+ accredited lenders will be ready to provide CBILS today.
– New: There will be an expedited process for overdrafts – no fees or interest 12 months. 6/7 lenders will be available to provide this from today.
– Eligibility criteria widened – aim to not turn down otherwise viable businesses which have been hit by the Coronavirus.
– They are moving away from EU State aid de minimis. ‘Membership’ organisations can now use CBILS, some other sectors restrictions have also been dropped. Awaiting more detail.
– No guarantee fee for SMEs to access the scheme. At the discretion of the lender, the scheme may be used for unsecured lending for facilities of £250,000 and under
– Finance terms are up to six years for term loans and asset finance facilities. For overdrafts and invoice finance facilities, terms will be up to three years.
– Those business that are growing won’t be subject to CBILS – even if they are helping to combat Covid-19.

Updated information 6.4.2020 Summary provided by partners The West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce.

Bradford Northern Max programme goes virtual

A business support programme for digital and technology firms in Bradford is switching to virtual delivery due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Northern Max 3, which is in its third year, will now be delivered online, and technology-oriented companies less than three years old are invited to take part. 

The free business support programme will take place over ten weeks, starting on 23 April. It includes one-to-one mentoring alongside workshops and masterclasses led by experienced business coaches. Topics covered will include preparing a business plan, setting targets, profiling target customers and marketing. There will also be a focus on helping companies exploit opportunities when the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, as well as an opportunity to pitch for potential investment at the end of the programme. 

The aim of Northern Max is to enable companies in the digital sector to grow and develop the reputation of Bradford and the Leeds City Region as a hub for the technology community. Forty companies have received Northern Max support since the programme started in 2018. 

Cllr Alex Ross-Shaw, Bradford Council’s Portfolio Holder for Regeneration, Planning and Transport, said: “As part of our aim to be the UK’s fastest growing economy in the next decade, we are committed to supporting our businesses with programmes like Northern Max.  

“Now more than ever, we need to ensure our small businesses get the support they need, so  they are prepared to drive growth as we recover from the effects of COVID-19. That’s why we are moving this fantastic support programme online to make sure that nobody misses out. 

“I am delighted to see exciting young companies and entrepreneurs being given access to business support like this. Programmes like Northern Max, which are delivered by industry specialists, will give businesses the crucial support network they need and that will ultimately benefit Bradford and the wider region as we emerge from the current crisis.” 

Entheos Media Group took part in the programme in 2019 and have since been able to expand their client base. Creative director Ryan Murphy said: “The programme was enormously helpful for taking our own expertise in our given field and giving us the tools necessary for transforming our skills into a functional and growing business.  

“Since our time at Northern Max, we’ve got funding, grants and have gained a bigger client base than we ever would have without it. The workshops and talks were exceptionally helpful at giving us the insight and outside-the-box thinking that allowed us to see our business in a whole new light, and allowed us reshape our business model so that we could grow exponentially.” 

Northern Max 3 will be delivered virtually by Greenborough Business Management’s 10×10 accelerator programme in partnership with Bradford Council and AD:VENTURE, a business support programme for new businesses in North and West Yorkshire funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). It forms part of AD:VENTURE’s pledge to continue to support businesses using online tools despite the pandemic. 

Michelle Davis, part of the 10×10 team at Greenborough, said: “We are thrilled to be selected as the delivery partner for Northern Max 3. 10×10 is passionate about helping firms to grow through our bespoke business accelerator programme and wrap-around support.  

“The workshops will be engaging, interactive and relevant to businesses needing to make the most of commercial opportunities as the economy recovers from the effects of COVID-19. The 10×10 team have great experience of delivering programs remotely and are looking forward to making a difference to businesses from Bradford and the wider Leeds City Region.” 

For more details on the Northern Max 3 programme, visit https://ad-venture.org.uk/northernmax3/. 

Business Enterprise Fund commits funding for struggling UK businesses

SME Loans

The not -for-profit social enterprise has committed funding to support businesses during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Business Enterprise Fund (BEF), the not-for-profit social enterprise is an approved delivery partner of the British Business Bank and will provide their funding to support SMEs where needed.

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) is the new guarantee scheme that facilitates lending to smaller businesses across the UK who are experiencing lost or deferred revenues.

In addition to CBILS, BEF can deliver short-term working capital loans of up to £250,000 to safeguard businesses and staff, as well as start-up loans, with £12m of additional funding secured from Impact investors. CBILS also covers the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund (NPIF) which is £10m of further British Business Bank funding for businesses in the Yorkshire & Humber Region.

Stephen Waud, CEO of BEF, comments: “As a responsible finance provider our mission is to support and help communities and SMEs are critical to those communities, especially now as jobs and livelihoods are at risk.”

“We have been getting inundated with business owners looking for support and so I’m pleased to assure them that we will be supporting you as best we can as a non-bank can in these hard times”.

BEF provides funding, support and advice for growing businesses across all sectors. Its aim is to deliver flexible finance to businesses in geographical areas that need it most, by providing unsecured business loans when other lenders cannot fully assist. It is a subsidiary of the West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce who are committed to supporting business in those regions.

With a track record of supporting early stage and start-up businesses, BEF has supported a diverse range of businesses and social enterprises from sustainable clothing, to seaweed farms, to fintech start-ups. Last year alone, the company funded 175 brand new businesses.

Find out more about the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) support available from BEF.

Leeds manufacturer to supply emergency Excel hospital

A Leeds healthcare manufacturer is supplying equipment to the new emergency hospital being created in London.

Staff at Herida Healthcare are working around the clock to make thousands of specialist mattresses, with the initial delivery to the hospital at the Excel today (Friday 27th).

The air-pump mattresses are designed to reduce the chance of patients developing bed sores and are usually sold to NHS trusts and long-term care homes across the UK and abroad.

Company founder Neil Smith said everyone at the company wanted to help the NHS as much as they could.

“While we all really appreciate the work the NHS does at its centre, the response to Covid-19 needs a chain of suppliers who provide critical links. This includes delivery drivers taking it there, packers, mattress welders, cutters, administrative staff working from home and all others in between.

“Our staff are working so hard and we are all a bit exhausted as we have turned this round in 72 hours, but morale is very high as they are so proud to take part.”

The new hospital at the Excel conference centre in London’s Docklands will initially have 500 beds, rising to 4,000 to cope with the expected increase in Covid-19 patients. Military personnel have been involved in setting up the new facility, which will be called the Nightingale Hospital.

Staff at Herida Healthcare are working shifts over 24 hours to fulfil the initial order, with more orders coming in. All staff are wearing PPE and carrying out social distancing.

The company was only set up in 2016 but has grown rapidly with help from organisations such as Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and Leeds City Council, and AD:VENTURE, which provides support for new businesses in North and West Yorkshire funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

It has 42 staff and expanded into a new 30,000 sq ft factory in Morley only a few months ago.

Leader of Leeds City Council Cllr Judith Blake said: “This is great news for Herida Healthcare and I am really proud to see a local up-and-coming company doing its bit to help the national effort.

“UK manufacturing will be a crucial part of tackling this crisis and it shows how the whole country is pulling together to help each other in a time of need.”

Roger Marsh OBE, Deputy Lieutenant and chair of Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and NP11, said: “The swift response by Herida Healthcare to this national call for such an urgent national need is real testament to the region’s manufacturing capability. They are just one of many local businesses who are fundamentally changing their operations to assist at this difficult time, and we must all thank all of those smart people who are driving forward solutions for the national effort.”

For more information on AD:VENTURE go to https://ad-venture.org.uk/

The Effect of COVID-19 on Commercial Contracts

We have seen in recent days that the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, Covid-19, is bringing uncertainty to many businesses. The unprecedented restrictions in travel across the world and the cancellation of many public events is impacting upon many supply chains. In turn, we have seen large numbers of businesses begin to operate flexibly by developing alternative means of work, and a smaller percentage suspending operations altogether.

At this time, many businesses are rightly considering the contractual and legal issues arising from this extraordinary situation.

Understanding your contractual position

Generally, the parties are required to perform their obligations set out in a contract in full by any deadline specified.  This applies to performance of all contractual obligations, including payments due. However, there are two common exceptions to this rule:

  • Force Majeure – A number of written contracts will include a force majeure clause. A force majeure clause will usually suspend or end performance obligations where a party is prevented from performing its contractual obligations due to events outside of its control. However, even when they exist within a contract, the wording and protective scope of force majeure clauses can differ. As a result, it is necessary to consider the wording of the specific clause to determine (i) whether Covid-19 amounts to a force majeure event under a particular contract; (ii) the impact of the clause; and (iii) whether any other conditions need to be satisfied, such as notice requirements.
  • Frustration – Even where no force majeure clause exists, the legal doctrine of frustration may be available in situations where a change in circumstances makes it physically or commercially impossible to perform the contract, or would render performance radically different. The bar for relying upon frustration is high, and, similar to relying on a force majeure clause, a party seeking to rely on such may be open to legal challenge by a counterparty to a contract.

Although most businesses who are currently concerned about their contracts will want to consider the above two points, it is advisable that businesses seeking to rely on such obtain legal advice before purporting to rely on either the contractual relief of a force majeure clause or the legal doctrine of frustration.

Varying existing agreements to improve probability of performance, maintain relationships and bring certainty

At this time, we are seeing an increase in companies approach us with concerns over their ability to discharge their duties under their contracts, as well as being concerned about the ability of others to perform theirs. Even where strict legal rights exist, it is not always commercially astute to enforce them and there are situations where it is prudent to seek to relax performance requirements, in order to maintain relationships, aid cash flow and prevent the need for crippling legal action.

In relation to this, we are advising businesses to:

  • Understand your strict legal position, to determine whether you are negotiating from a position of strength or weakness.
  • Not verbally or informally change terms in your contracts (particularly in relation to material or major contracts). Rather, we recommend that you formally record any variations that you may agree in writing (it may even be a requirement in your contracts that such variations are in writing as agreed between the parties).
  • Carefully consider the practical impacts that any variations will have. The choices you make as a business will reflect the commercial constraints which are unique to you, such as the importance to you of cash flow, your ability to make internal decisions and reputation management. These elements differ from business to business and there is not a one size fits all approach that should be taken.

The options available to you very much depend on what the terms of your contracts state, and it is important that any variations that you make are made only when you fully understand the impact of such on your contracts as a whole.

Most businesses will want to consider what their obligations are and whether they can still practically achieve them. Customers experiencing cash flow issues themselves will probably want to look at alternative payment options. When dealing with customer concerns, businesses may be able to agree to split payment into a number of instalments over a set period of time to ease cash flow for the customer, but to ensure payment in full is received in time by the recipient business.

Such steps can assist from a reputation point of view in these hard times. For businesses that are able to weather the storm that Covid-19 now presents, they want to ensure that they come out with a loyal customer and supplier base to continue trade in the future.

Continued use of standard contractual documents

Covid-19 has caught society and many businesses by surprise. Business continuity is now being tested across many sectors in the UK, and in turn businesses will shortly discover the robustness of their legal documentation.

Many businesses in the UK trade on standard terms of business – in most cases, it is prudent to do so. In the current climate it is advisable to consider whether any amendments should be made to your standard contractual documentation to provide protection to your business in the coming weeks, months and beyond in relation to Covid-19 and any similar pandemics that may arise in the future. For example, many force majeure clauses reference unforeseeable events. It could be argued that, for contracts entered into six months ago, Covid-19 may satisfy this definition, but it is unlikely to do so in relation to contracts being entered into in the coming weeks.

The content of this advice article has been kindly provided to AD:VENTURE by Sarah Briscall and Joe Gosling, members of the Commercial Team at Shulmans LLP

Shulmans LLP will become Knights plc on 24 April 2020

Photo by Startup Stock Photos from Pexels

Managing the challenges of working from home!

Kate Betts runs Capital B Media, a PR and communications agency which is usually based in an office. Here she looks at the challenges of working from home.

 

A lot of us are finding ourselves suddenly flung out into this strange world of home-working. And it is a completely different world.

I have been running a business for over 15 years, but this is all new for me. It will be new for you; it is new for everyone.

It doesn’t matter where your business is on its journey; established or start up, we are all learning as we go along and helping each other along the way.

 

If you are normally in an office with others, before too long you will find yourself at home and it will be different.

In the office we have co-workers to discuss what we are watching on Netflix, now we have the cat, and possibly the partner and kids too, for company.

Where we might have had a cupboard full of stationery and a printer that worked, we now find ourselves scribbling notes on the back of a random scrap of paper.

And realising that your internet connection at home is about as fast as the proverbial yoghurt pot and piece of string is enough to test the patience of anyone.

There are upsides. You don’t have to commute (thus saving money) and you can sit there in a scruffy T-shirt and jeans. Please no pyjamas; especially in these days of video conferencing!

I work in an office now where there are five of us. But in the past I worked from home and at remote offices for years, both while working as a ‘district’ reporter for radio and newspapers, and in the early days of Capital B Media. My colleagues on the other hand are fairly new to this game and already we have had some teething problems.

So, a few pointers:

  • If possible, do a dry-run. It might be that you have been forced already to work from home, or you are planning it within the next few days. If you haven’t already embarked on the adventure, then what about a practice first?

Everyone can work from home to try it out. Then you go back to the office for a day (if you can) and collect all the little things you forgot. So far our list at Capital B Media includes: highlighter pens, paper for the printer, the office mobile, the office calculator, the spare printer, numerous documents and an ethernet cable. It is amazing what you take for granted!

  • Keep the routine as much as you can. We are trying to keep some semblance of normality by continuing to work 9 to 5 and having a catch-up online every morning to discuss what tasks we are working on.

 

  • Remember your internet at home might not be as good as that in the office. So, don’t expect to be downloading, and particularly uploading, big files at any speed. If you do need to work with large files, can you compress them? Video in particular is a bit of a nightmare.

 

If you have an IT support company talk to them about what the system’s limits are – and then factor in that there are several dozen people trying to get on to your server and several million people also working from home. So, patience is a virtue, as is an ethernet cable – at least being wired is quicker than Wi-Fi.

 

  • Think about where you are going to sit. Most of us don’t have the luxury of an office at home, so we end up perched at the kitchen table. But how is that for your back? And are you constantly interrupted by the rest of the family? Or are you stuck in a room with limited natural light? Try out different locations – and chairs.

 

  • Give yourself a break. It is easy to feel guilty about the 20-minute walk with the dog or watching the lunchtime news while eating scrambled egg. But remember you take formal, and informal, breaks in the office too. How many mornings does it actually take a good quarter of an hour for people to start work because of an office conversation about football/ the latest film/ their journey? And then part way through the morning you all get lost in a conversation about some random TV programme and then you spend ten minutes in the afternoon looking at cat videos…. It is ok to take breaks in the office and at home.

 

  • Keep in touch. It is a lonely world, especially if you don’t have anyone else in your home. (And if you do, it might be worth reminding them you are working.) Regular contact with your colleagues can keep up the team spirit. Set up a WhatsApp group, chat on Microsoft Teams, email random thoughts. We are all in this together.

 

Bradford businesses invited to join Northern Max programme

Digital and technology firms in Bradford are being urged to take advantage of the return of the Northern Max support programme.

The free business support programme, which is now in its third year, will be delivered from the City Hub, and technology-oriented companies less than three years old are invited to take part.

Northern Max 3 will take place over ten weeks, starting on 23 April. It includes one-to-one mentoring alongside workshops and masterclasses led by experienced business coaches. Topics covered will include preparing a business plan, setting targets, profiling target customers and marketing. There will also be hot desking facilities available, and an opportunity to pitch for potential investment at the end of the programme.

The aim of Northern Max is to enable companies in the digital sector to grow and develop the reputation of Bradford and the Leeds City Region as a hub for the technology community.

Entheos Media Group took part in the programme in 2019 and have since been able to expand their client base. Creative director Ryan Murphy said: “The programme was enormously helpful for taking our own expertise in our given field and giving us the tools necessary for transforming our skills into a functional and growing business.

“Since our time at Northern Max, we’ve got funding, grants and have gained a bigger client base than we ever would have without it. The workshops and talks were exceptionally helpful at giving us the insight and outside-the-box thinking that allowed us to see our business in a whole new light, and allowed us reshape our business model so that we could grow exponentially.”

Northern Max 3 will be delivered by Greenborough Business Management’s 10×10 accelerator programme in partnership with Bradford Council and AD:VENTURE, a business support programme for new businesses in North and West Yorkshire funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Michelle Davis, part of the 10×10 team at Greenborough, said: “We are thrilled to be selected as the delivery partner for Northern Max 3. 10×10 is passionate about helping firms to grow through our bespoke business accelerator programme and wrap-around support. Our team are looking forward to delivering the programme and making a difference to businesses from Bradford and the wider Leeds City Region.”

Around 40 companies have received Northern Max support since the programme started in 2018.

Cllr Alex Ross-Shaw, Bradford Council’s Portfolio Holder for Regeneration, Planning and Transport, said: “As part of our aim to be the UK’s fastest growing economy in the next decade, we are committed to supporting our businesses with programmes like Northern Max, which will make a difference to the economic prosperity of the region.

“I am delighted to see exciting young companies and entrepreneurs being given access to business support like this. Programmes like Northern Max which are delivered by industry specialists give businesses the crucial support network they need to grow, and that ultimately benefits Bradford and the wider region.”

For more details on the Northern Max 3 programme, visit https://ad-venture.org.uk/northernmax3/.

Innovate UK launches new 3-year programme for Young Innovators

New findings from Innovate UK show that a half of young people in the UK think their age is a barrier to business success with nearly a third lacking the confidence they need to turn their idea into a reality.

The findings are released as Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) announces a £2.2m Young Innovators Programme in partnership with The Prince’s Trust.

The national Young Innovators Awards will go to 18–30 year olds with a creative and ground-breaking business idea to support them in turning it into reality.

The programme will support up to 100 young people over 3 years with individuals benefitting from a £5,000 grant, one-on-one coaching and an allowance to cover living costs.

Ben Marson, Director of Partnerships at The Prince’s Trust, said:

At The Prince’s Trust we believe that every young person, no matter their background, should have the chance to thrive in work. We know the immense potential and entrepreneurial spirit of UK young people but not everyone has the opportunity to turn their ideas into reality.

Working with partners like Innovate UK on the Young Innovators programme allows us to encourage and enable entrepreneurship and innovation among more young people and bring diverse ideas and businesses into the economy.

The Young Innovators Awards programme was launched in 2017 and has already engaged 12,000 young people through a high-profile communications campaign, Ideas Mean Business.

The new Awards were announced by Science Minister Amanda Solloway on 8 March 2020.

Ian Campbell, Executive Chair, Innovate UK, said:

“Just having a great idea doesn’t necessarily guarantee success. We know that there are many challenges that can get in the way of new business ideas – especially when it comes to young innovators who, of all the ages groups polled, had the strongest belief they could make their innovative business into a reality.

“Our study shows there are plenty of creative people out there with potentially game-changing ideas, but to launch it in the first place is the main challenge.

“As part of UK Research and Innovation, Innovate UK along with our partners The Prince’s Trust, want to give inspiring young entrepreneurs the opportunity to take their business idea to the next level through our young innovators programme and #IdeasMeanBusiness campaign.”

Innovate UK spoke to 2,000 adults across the UK in a survey that explored the nation’s opinions and experiences with entrepreneurialism and innovation.

Other key findings include:

  • in the South West, nearly 50% would like their business/product idea to have a positive impact on healthcare
  • in Wales, 68% realise that a university degree is not essential to become a credible entrepreneur
  • in Yorkshire and the Humber, 70% think money is the main barrier to launching their own innovative business, whilst 1 in 3 think education and confidence hold them back
  • in the North East, 50% see that local innovative businesses are important to the community
  • in the North West, nearly 40% would like their business/product idea to have a positive impact on the environment

Previous recipients of the Young Innovators Awards include Adam Root, founder of Inheriting Earth, who has developed a device that helps to accelerate the adoption of a circular economy and save over 100,000 lives per year in the UK and globally by capturing plastic heading towards the ocean and jeweller Claire Skelton who uses traditional skills to produce hand-made contemporary jewellery from reclaimed metal.

Adam Root said:

“Innovate UK has been a true foundation partner for Inheriting Earth and the development of our products. Whilst the financial support of the grant was, of course, essential, we would not be where we are now without their team’s help, support and expertise.”

The funding commitment comes ahead of UKRI releasing its 5-year vision for its work across equality, diversity and inclusion.

If you are between 18 and 30 and are interested in engaging in the programme, please join us at one of our upcoming Ideas Mean Business roadshow events across the UK to get expert advice and find out what support is available to you.

To find out more go to:

Further Ideas Mean Business roadshow events will be held across all regions and parts of the UK over the next three years.

See our regional insight factsheets detailing how UK adults across the country view innovation and entrepreneurship:

  • National overview

Young Innovators 2020 National fact sheet (PDF, 173KB, 1 page)

  • North West

Young Innovators 2020 North West – Regional fact sheet (PDF, 153KB, 1 page)

  • North East

Young Innovators 2020 North East – Regional fact sheet (PDF, 153KB, 1 page)

  • Yorkshire and Humber

Young Innovators 2020 Yorkshire & Humber – Regional fact sheet (PDF, 158KB, 1 page)

  • Wales

Young Innovators 2020 Wales – Regional fact sheet (PDF, 154KB, 1 page)

  • South West

Young Innovators 2020 South West – Regional fact sheet (PDF, 160KB, 1 page)

Find out more about the young innovators we have already supported.

Young Innovator case studies (PDF, 1.74MB, 7 pages)

Image provided by Vojtech Okenka

Lloyds Bank and Bank of Scotland Social Entrepreneurs Programme

Applications are now open!

Are you committed to helping people in need or improving the environment?

This programme has helped almost 2,000 people like you to start up and scale social enterprises, charities, community projects and impact-led organisations.

This year, we’ll support a further 260 people across the UK with:

  • A learning programme
  • A grant (£1,000 – £7,000)
  • Mentoring
  • A supportive community of like-minded peers

       About the programme

  • The Lloyds Bank and Bank of Scotland Social Entrepreneurs Programme is run in partnership with the School for Social Entrepreneurs, and jointly funded by the National Lottery Community Fund.

    Which level should I apply for?

     

    Start Up

    • Your project is in the planning stages but ready to start, or less than two years old. It makes £0 – £15,000 a year.
    • You want to learn how to establish your organisation.

    Apply for Start Up

    Trade Up

    • Your project was established at least a year ago, and probably has at least one paid member of staff. It makes at least £15,000 a year.
    • You want to learn how to strengthen your organisation’s finances and impact, to build a solid foundation.

    Apply for Trade Up

    Scale Up

    • Your project was probably established two or more years ago, and probably has two or more paid members of staff. It makes at least £75,000 a year (no upper limit).
    • Your organisation already has a solid foundation. Now you want to learn how to scale it to create even more impact.

    Apply for Scale Up

    FAQs

    What’s the deadline?

    Applications are open until Thursday 30th April 2020.

    Is this really free?

    Yes! You can use the grant for your project’s running costs and to pay for travel and subsistence to support you in attending the learning programme.

    The learning programme and mentoring is fully funded, thanks to funding from our partners Lloyds Bank, Bank of Scotland and the National Lottery Community Fund. The School for Social Entrepreneurs is a charity.

    Who can apply?

    We can help you at all stages: whether you have just an idea, you’re already up-and-running, or you’re ready to scale. There are more detailed criteria for each programme level via the links above.

    Inclusivity is one of our core values, and everyone is welcome at SSE, including people who are long-term unemployed, ex-offenders, people with disabilities and people of all abilities. You don’t need any educational qualifications for this programme.

    The impact of this programme

    The 1,350 social entrepreneurs supported by the first five years of the programme have benefited the lives of 328,000 people – that’s more than the entire population of Coventry! They also created 4,000 jobs (full-time equivalent).

    Learn more

     

          About SSE

Image provided by Belle Co

Continued support available to help businesses lower their energy bills

Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has secured further funding to support businesses in the region to reduce carbon emissions in a bid to tackle the climate emergency.

Working in partnership with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, the newly launched REBiz programme succeeds the Resource Efficiency Fund and provides advice and funding to support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to reduce their energy, carbon, water and waste consumption and ultimately save money on their energy bills.

The Combined Authority and the LEP are working with their partners to deliver a programme of activity to help create a net-zero carbon City Region by 2038 with significant progress by 2030.

To support clean growth, through the LEP Growth Service, SMEs can access free efficiency audits, advice and up to 40 per cent funding towards capital investment projects. They can also access support to develop a circular economy business model, helping keep materials in use for as long as possible to get the maximum value from them and reduce waste.

 

Roger Marsh OBE DL, Chair of LEP and NP11 said: 

“I am delighted that through the Growth Service, we are continuing to prioritise clean growth support for businesses and helping them to become more resource-efficient.

“Our REBiz programme is a brilliant opportunity for businesses to benefit from expert advice and funding to reduce their impact on the environment.

“I’d encourage all businesses to get in touch and apply for a free resource efficiency audit and find out how they can save money on their energy bills.”

Through the Resource Efficiency Fund, the LEP supported over 700 SMEs, provided over 370 free resource efficiency audits and funded 160 projects to save businesses £663,000, 7.7million kWh of energy, and 2,422 tCO2 every year.

Halifax-based business, Azo reduced their gas bills by a third and halved their energy costs with support from Resource Efficiency Fund.

 

Julian Plant, Managing Director at Azo Ltd said:

“Getting in touch with the LEP and Resource Efficiency Fund is an easy way to save a lot of money very quickly. We’re a company that has been here for 25 years and we want to be here for another 25 years, so this is safeguarding our future.”

REBiz is receiving investment from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Leeds City Region Growth Deal – a £1 billion package of Government investment delivered by the Combined Authority to accelerate growth and create jobs across Leeds City Region.

For more information, call the LEP Growth Service on 0113 348 1818 or email businessgrowth@the-lep.com. Further information can be found at the-lep.com/resource

Photo by Polina Zimmerman