BID Update: Grants, Business Booster & Merry Christmas

BID Update: Grants, Business Booster & Merry Christmas

Morning everyone,

We hope you are all well. It has been a little while since our October newsletter (please view here) and we know some of you are very busy – while others will be once again digesting government advice relating to increasing Covid cases.

We want to keep this brief – but also reassure you of the support that is available as we go forwards. There is also a lot of behind-the-scenes work and lobbying going on, to ensure you and businesses around the Country are adequately supported as the situation changes.

Accordingly, this email contains the most up-to-date advice we have right now, but it will likely change, so please watch out for our emails and follow the social media and website pages listed at the bottom of the page as we will also post updates there.

This update covers the following:

  1. Business Booster – Lobbying for Support (Again)
  2. Grants – Yesterday’s Announcement – Websites to Bookmark
  3. Christmas Update & New Year Planning
  4. Looking Forwards, BID Support – Please Stay in Touch …

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1. Business Booster Campaign – Lobbying for Support (Again).

Very quickly, we felt that you should know we have been working with other BIDs around England, to lobby for additional business support following the Plan B announcement two weeks ago.

We know that this impacted hospitality particularly, but our ‘asks’ apply to retail, leisure and hospitality sector businesses. The letter that was sent to the Chancellor on the 19th of December can be viewed here (please click here) – and a jpeg image of the ‘asks’ is below for your information.

In summary, this included:

  • BUSINESS RATES RELIEF:  provide businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with 100% Business Rate Relief for up to and including 31st March 2022 [no cap]. After which we call on the Government to support the recovery by providing businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a 50% Business Rate Relief from 1st April 2022 to 30th June 2022 [no cap].
  • VAT EXTENSION: extend the current VAT reduction for the hospitality sector of 12.5% through to 31st March 2023 to allow for recovery.
  • GRANTS: introduce grants up to £15,000 by rateable value to businesses within the hospitality, retail and leisure sector in light of a difficult festive trading period, uncertain outlook and the impending rent quarter date of 25th December 2021.

As set out below, while today’s announcement is welcome – as you can see above and below, our industry colleagues feel the government will need to go further so will continue to engage with MPs and decision makers. Please let us know if you would like to support this work (on social media, with case study information etc).

 

2. Grants – Yesterday’s Announcement – Website to Bookmark

Yesterday’s announcement from the Chancellor of a £1bn fund for the hospitality sector and an extra £30m to help theatres and museums shows that he is listening to business concerns. In summary it includes:

  • Grants for hospitality and leisure businesses in England, worth up to £6,000 per premise. These will be administered through local authorities.
  • The resumption of the statutory sick pay rebate scheme, which will reimburse employers in the UK with fewer than 250 workers for the cost of paying statutory sick pay for Covid-related absences for up to two weeks.
  • £30 million further funding enabling more cultural organisations in England to apply for support during the winter (via the Culture Recovery Fund).

 

Grant Availability

Grants for Leamington hospitality and leisure businesses will once again be administered by Warwick District Council (WDC).

We were in contact with WDC in anticipation last week and again yesterday – to ensure that teams are being mobilised to deploy information and grants as swiftly as possible. We are not yet sure if there will be an application process, but we know it is urgently needed and we will keep businesses updated via this email and our social media pages (at the bottom of this email).

In addition, the WDC website has been updated with a holding statement – so please bookmark these pages:

 

Next Steps & Further Lobbying (For those who feel this falls short and those missed out)

On balance, the response to this has been mixed. It overlooks a number of sectors who have also been hit hard recently including hair and beauty, travel and others who have also seen cancellations. As set out above our asks cover all sectors, so this remains our focus. We are also conscious that the offer of ‘up to’ £6000 for hospitality and leisure will do little to cover recent losses. Below is a statement from Matt Sims who founded the ‘Business Booster’ Campaign:

“This isn’t the bailout businesses across the UK need and have been waiting for since Plan B was announced over two weeks ago. A £1bn package of support sounds impressive, but is a headline that distracts from the true reality that these are token measures and in no way reflect the reality that hospitality businesses are facing.”

“A £6,000 grant in no way compensates for the dramatic loss in trading hospitality businesses in particular are facing, and more important they can’t wait weeks for financial aid.”

“With speculation mounting of further restrictions, we need the Government to ensure any announcement is accompanied with a revised raft of financial support and measures to ensure hospitality, retail and leisure businesses get the support they need to mitigate closure and redundancies.”

So for now please stay in touch. As always we welcome your feedback and ‘on the ground experience’. We know that business circumstances vary widely and are available to help in a variety of areas, including signposting Health & Wellbeing, HR, financial and legal support.

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3.  Christmas Update & New Year Planning

Taking account of recent uncertainty we wanted to reflect on the last month and signpost some options for the new year. Whilst we know footfall does not tell the whole story, our footfall cameras on Parade show that our recovery has been strong. Since September we have consistently reached 2019 levels – which bodes well for our ability to bounce back whatever comes our way in future. By percentage, our ‘footfall to date’ is above the midlands and national average.

(Click to view footfall graph)

We feel that we have a wonderful, local, connected local community that contributes to this resilience. Love Leamington #LoveLeam and the shop local message is valued and we know many people have enjoyed our Lantern Parade, Christmas Goody Bags (x250 on Small Business Saturday), Santa’s Post Box (over 700 letters to date), Elf Workshop and other partnerships (such as with Atmap) and activities.

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4.  Looking Forwards, BID Support – Please Stay in Touch  

Throughout December we continued to showcase your businesses and products on our websites and social media platforms and this will continue into the New Year. Importantly if your circumstance change please let us know so we can update our websites and let the wider community know. Also, please email us content and ‘tag’ us into your social media posts.

The Royal Leamington Spa Town Centre Facebook page, Instagramtwitter and www.loveleamington.com is where we showcase what you are now doing.

Please also join our Leamington Town Centre Facebook Group if you haven’t already and share your ideas, information, promotions etc. We also post updates on the BID Leamington Facebook Page and information on our website here.

We are optimistic that once we get over this next hurdle, 2022 is going to be fantastic. We are looking forward to the Queens Jubilee, the Commonwealth Games and lots more which we will update you on in due course.

In the meantime, we wish you and your teams a very safe and Merry Christmas and look forward to seeing you in the New Year.

Very best wishes – please take care and stay in touch.

Steph, Alison and Gary

New Mask Regulations & Local Covid Update

New Mask Regulations & Local Covid Update

As a result of a new Covid variant that has been identified, at 4am today UK government introduced new rules requiring face masks to be worn in shops, banks, post offices, hairdressers etc (but not hospitality venues). Information about this can be found by clicking here.

To support your communications, we have created some Christmas-themed social media images that you are welcome to save and use. We have a series of ‘square images’ perfect for Instagram and Facebook – and they can be used in ‘twos’ with the final ‘Love Leam’ image.
We also have ‘rectangle’ images perfect for Twitter or Facebook. Finally, we have some ‘we’re masking nicely’ and ‘endgame’ images and posters available offering an additional dash of creativity and kindness. Some examples are provided below.
These can all be downloaded from our Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/BIDLeamington. Please get in touch if you can not access these and we can email them to you.

We also have posters that you can display in your business, so please get in touch with us at info@bidleamington2022.mystagingwebsite.com if you would like one of these.

 

So how are we doing locally? … 

Since restrictions were lifted in July we have been closely monitoring local Covid rates. At that time (23rd July) local cases were 585.7 cases per 100,000 people which was comparatively quite high. Since then numbers have fluctuated as follows:

  • July 23rd – 585.7 cases per 100,000 people
  • August 20th – 283.6 per cases per 100,000 people
  • September 24th – 311.2 cases per 100,000 people
  • October 22nd – 624.5 cases per 100,000 people
  • November 19th – 319.5 cases per 100,000 cases people
  • November 26th – 384.4 cases per 100,000 people

These figures are drawn from regular updates we receive from Warwick Drictick Council and can be verified here: https://www.warwickdc.gov.uk/news/archive.

Alongside this, the Local Authority and other organizations have been proactive in encouraging people to get vaccinated and offering associated services. Thanks to the great work of our local health service providers and volunteers several walk-in clinics are available. For example, we can now ‘grab a jab’ this weekend at:

  • Warwick – Northgate House
    Saturday 27 & Sunday 28 November, 10am-4pm
  • Kenilworth – Former Ramada Hotel
    Sunday 28 November, 10am-2pm
Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you need any information or advice. As well as up-to-date Covid information we are closely monitoring footfall and our door is always open. Please also stay in touch so you can get involved in our upcoming Christmas promotions.
Best wishes over the coming weeks,
Steph, Alison & Gary
From Leamington, With Love

From Leamington, With Love

Why we are refocussing on our online communities and why that matters.

 

Reflecting on how the past year has changed the town centre, our community and our role supporting it, we are currently undertaking a review of the town’s ‘Royal Leamington Spa’ and ‘Love Leamington’ brands, and that includes how we create a dialogue with locals and visitors through our social media.

Among other things, the pandemic highlighted the huge amount of LOVE people have for businesses in our town centre. We have also seen the ‘Love Leamington’ brand, the LoveLeam hashtag and www.loveleamington.com take centre stage, and recognise the huge role that digital marketing now plays in supporting local prosperity.

Over the past 10 years we have amassed over 25,000 followers across our channels and, being early adopters of social media some of our older names and accounts such as @LeamingtonGuide on Twitter now feel confusing, while others were created to serve a need that has now shifted. Reflecting the need to consolidate some platforms, and expand into other newer more relevant channels, we are taking our social media followers on a journey. 

And we hope you will join us …

Going forward, ‘Love Leamington’ will become a constant across the town centres’ digital universe. ‘Love’ reflects the wonderful shift towards supporting our local businesses… and the location of those we support – the literal the ‘heart’ of the town.

Importantly, ‘Royal Leamington Spa’ will form a key element in our searchable bios across all our platforms. We will also be aligning our content around our audience needs, and four strategic pillars of: ‘community’, ‘the senses’, ‘service’ and ‘trust’. 

So, look out for these changes, and give us a thumbs up, like or a heart to let us know you’re on board:

@LeamingtonGuide on Twitter will now become @LoveLeamington.

@leamington_town_centre on Instagram will also become @LoveLeamington. This is the most significant change – as we invite you to move.

and we will remain @RoyalLeamingtonSpaTownCentre on Facebook.

Various events (such as the Food Festival) and Facebook pages and groups (such as BID Leamington) will continue as before, and we also have some new platforms coming online soon.

Please continue to tag your posts #LoveLeam so we can find and share your content too. Where relevant, you can also use #TasteLeam and #LeamFoodFest.

Together these changes will help us to deliver more meaningful communications to you and foster even more loyalty, trust and support.

Please stay tuned for further blogs with more detail on our emerging strategy to support town centre businesses, attract investment, keep our community connected, celebrate positive experiences, and continue to ensure our town centre is a community with a real heart.

Business Update: Restart Grant – Applications Open

Business Update: Restart Grant – Applications Open

Business Update: Restart Grant – Applications Open

We hope you are all well and able to enjoy the start of the Easter and lighter evenings …Below is some important and welcome information relating to the ‘restart grants’ you do need to apply online this time…

1.  Business ‘Restart Grant’ – Applications Now Open

The restart grant relates to the announcement of further grant funding for retail, hospitality and leisure sector businesses in the Chancellors budget on 3 March. For eligible businesses (please see the link below), there is 1 x grant per rateable premise. There are two ‘stands’ of funding, offering different lump sum amounts as follows:

  • Strand one – Non-essential retail (rated premises – please see eligibility lists)
    • RV of £15,000 or under – One off payment of £2667
    • RV of over £15,000 and less than £51,000 – One off payment of £4000
    • RV of exactly £51,000 or over – One off payment of £6000
  • Strand two – Hospitality, accommodation, leisure, personal care and gym (rated premises – please see eligibility lists)
    • RV of £15,000 or under – One off payment of £8000
    • RV of over £15,000 and less than £51,000 – One off payment of £12000
    • RV of exactly £51,000 or over – One off payment of £18000

It has now been confirmed you do need to complete a new online application for this scheme.

You will see there are a number of questions, as well as some mandatory information that has been added by BEISS this time around.

Payments to businesses will begin being made after the 6th of April, 2021.

ALL WDC Information and Eligibility Criteria can be found here: https://www.warwickdc.gov.uk/info/20068/business_awards_and_grants/1683/restart_grants

The Online Application Form is here: https://www.warwickdc.gov.uk/xfp/form/244

We hope this is welcome news for many of you – but we are always conscious of those who are not eligible / excluded and fall through the funding gaps. Reflecting this, we have already reached out to WDC to make a case for additional support for these businesses and we will keep you informed, however we always welcome your thoughts.

Full government guidance on the ‘restart scheme’ can be found by clicking here (PDF) doc.

To check your rateable value on the VOA please click here: https://www.gov.uk/correct-your-business-rates

 

2. Other Existing Grant Schemes

‘Closed Business Grant’ Scheme (16th February to 31st March, 2021)

WDC notified us around 3rd March that they had made a bulk payment to ‘closed businesses’ for the ongoing closed grants to cover the period from 16th February to 31st March. For many businesses this payment was automatic, based on you having previously applied for earlier grants, however for those that are new or had not previously applied, you still have up to 31 May 2021 to apply (if you have not done so already).

The details of the grant scheme, including amounts and links to apply retrospectively are here: https://www.warwickdc.gov.uk/info/20068/business_awards_and_grants/1684/closed_business_payment_from_16_february_to_31_march

New ARG Grant Scheme for Taxi Drivers and Private Hire Firms

We appreciate this may not be relevant to most of our members, but if you know anyone who may benefit from their please forward on the details. There is a new ARG scheme starting at Midday Friday 9th April. This ARG part F is exclusive to taxi drivers and private hire firms only. Details and eligibility criteria are here: https://www.warwickdc.gov.uk/info/20068/business_awards_and_grants/1638/additional_restrictions_grant_arg

Any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask …

 

3. Looking Forwards 

We continue to look toward April 12th with our fingers crossed and are working on a variety of plans to support the safe opening of our town centre.

In the meantime, please reach out if there is anything we can support you with. Don’t forget you can find a range of support information contained in previous emails and on our website including:

 

Also, the Royal Leamington Spa Town Centre Facebook page, Instagramtwitter and www.loveleamington.com is where we showcase what you are now doing, so please keep us updated on your plans.

Please join our Leamington Town Centre Facebook Group if you haven’t already and share your ideas, information, promotions etc. We also post updates on the BID Leamington Facebook Page and information on our website: www.bidleamington2022.mystagingwebsite.com.

Best wishes – please take care and stay in touch.

Best wishes – please take care and stay in touch …

Steph & Alison

Business Update: Grants, Rates, Closures, Outside Trading

Business Update: Grants, Rates, Closures, Outside Trading

Business Update: Grants, Rates, Closures, Outside Trading

Morning everyone,

I hope you are all well.

We are looking towards April 12th with our fingers crossed and working on a variety of plans to support the safe opening of our town centre. This quick update covers the following:   

  1. Grant Funding & Business Rates Relief
  2. Parade Road Closure Update
  3. Pavement & Highway Trading Licencing – Hospitality Sector
  4. Next Steps, Events, Please Stay in Touch…

 

1.  Grant Funding & Business Rates Relief

Business Restart Grant (April onwards)

WDC grant updates and information is here: https://www.warwickdc.gov.uk/info/20068/business_awards_and_grants.

Following the announcement of further grant funding for retail, hospitality and leisure sector businesses in the Chancellors budget on 3 March, WDC are still awaiting guidance from BEIS on this scheme. Accordingly they are unable to provide businesses with detailed information about applicable amounts or qualifying criteria.

The expectation is that guidance will be published on March 22nd and that no payments can be made before April. We are not yet sure if there will be an application process either. We know this support funding is urgently needed and will keep you updated.

Retail Relief for 2021/22

Also announced in the Chancellors March 3 budget, was an extension to retail relief and nursery relief. Eligible businesses will get 100% of retail or nursery relief until 30 June 2021. After this date, 66% relief will be awarded.

WDC have confirmed that businesses will not be issued with a bill for the 100% relief period until June. A new bill will be issued in June showing the 66% relief and the instalments for the rest of the financial year.

If you wish to opt out of these reliefs being applied to your account, please send an enquiry form to the business rates team, clearly stating you wish to opt out and stating your business rate reference number.

Grant Closing Dates:

Please note, all of the existing grant schemes have closing dates.

So, if you have not applied / received any grant funding to date, or know someone who has a business who has not applied, please encourage them to make contact with Warwick District Council. This is particularly relevant to new businesses. Please see this link for relevant closing dates and details: https://www.warwickdc.gov.uk/info/20068/business_awards_and_grants.

Of note, all of the LRSG payments end on 31st march for new applications, except for the payment period of 16th Feb – 31st March, which closes for new applications on 31st May. So effectively, if someone applies on 1st April for retrospective closed payments, they’ll only be able to have paid the period from 16th Feb – 31st March, regardless of if they’ve been closed since 5th November.

Any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

 

2.  Parade Closure Update

Thank you to those who took part in our survey. The closure of the Parade continues to divide the opinion of businesses, residents and customers. You may have seen some recent press on this – both in respect to a local petition (please click here to view) and more recently a statement from Warwickshire County Council confirming their position now and in the future.

Warwickshire County Council Statement in the Courier: https://www.warwickcourier.co.uk/news/people/parade-in-leamington-to-remain-temporarily-pedestrianised-to-support-the-safe-reopening-of-the-town-centre-in-april-3166861

In summary, County Council Officers and Local Councillors agreed that the temporary closure will remain in place, to facilitate social distancing and outdoor trading while Covid restrictions, until June 21 at the earliest. After this time, assuming the roadmap does not change, it will be removed.

Officers and Councillors are in agreement that the closure is temporary, and any discussions or options for future changes will be done separately, as there remains a large number of unresolved challenges with the current scheme. This will be developed with stakeholder input and will be widely consulted on.

If you have not completed our survey yet, we would still be grateful for your feedback. You can find it here:

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/6HB8P3Q

 

3.  Pavement Licensing – Hospitality Sector

Yesterday we emailed hospitality sector businesses a PDF guide to applying to a licence to trade on the pavement or highway. Please get in touch if you missed this email, or need further support or advice.

Key points are:

  • Placing seating on the pavement or highway requires a licence from Warwick District Council (WDC).
  • In the case of highway applications (e.g. parking spaces, loading bays, vehicle lanes) we recommend you obtain pre-application advice from Warwickshire County Council (WCC) in advance of applying. Once you apply, WDC will consult Warwickshire County Council (WCC) when assessing your application.
  • Applications cost £100. This is non-refundable (even if refused) and there is no legal appeal procedure but WDC will help you as much as they can.
  • Once submitted, the process takes 10 working days.
  • Within this, there is a 5 day public consultation period, where you have to advertise your application on your window.
  • To have outdoor seating approved by April 12th, and accounting for public holidays, applications should be submitted by March 24th.
  • You require a range of supporting plans and insurance documents.
  • BID Leamington is happy to support you.

Key Links and Contacts are:

 

4.  Next Steps, Projects, Getting Involved

BID Projects – Easter, Food Festival, Opening Support:

As mentioned in our last update, we are tentatively preparing for a range of promotions and future events.

  • Our Mother’s Day online promotion is currently live and runs until 31st March.
  • Over 50 businesses have signed up to the Town Centre Easter Egg Hunt and the list is now finalised. This will be delivered via egg shaped window vinyls for those that signed up, and also online. There will be two town centre trails based around a hunt for the golden egg.
  • We are tentatively beginning preparations for the Food & Drink Festival. If permitted, it will be 11th and 12th September, 2021. If you are interested in attending, please make contact with us by the 10th of April. Please email: alison@bidleamington2022.mystagingwebsite.com.  
  • Finally, please get in touch if you need any fresh social distancing stickers or posters.


Other Activities –
WDC Spark 2021 Online Talks:

Recently, I was pleased to deliver a presentation on local ‘placemaking’ and the role the local community can play in supporting renewal, at the Warwick District Council ‘Spark Ignite’ 2021 conference. Many fascinating talks are now available online and cover a variety of topics.


BID Support / Advice
:

In the meantime, please reach out if there is anything we can support you with. Don’t forget you can find a range of support information contained in previous emails and on our website including:

 

Also, the Royal Leamington Spa Town Centre Facebook page, Instagramtwitter and www.loveleamington.com is where we showcase what you are now doing, so please keep us updated on your plans.

Please join our Leamington Town Centre Facebook Group if you haven’t already and share your ideas, information, promotions etc. We also post updates on the BID Leamington Facebook Page and information on our website: www.bidleamington2022.mystagingwebsite.com.

Best wishes – please take care and stay in touch.

Best wishes and stay safe,

Steph & Alison

Hospitality: Outdoor Trading Licensing …

Hospitality: Outdoor Trading Licensing …

Hospitality: Outdoor Trading Licensing …

Hi everyone, 

I hope you are well.

You are no doubt aware of the continuing restrictions facing hospitality sector businesses from April 12th until at least May 117th whereby trading is only permitted outdoors.

Alongside this, regulations licencing trading on pavements and highways have been updated and extended.

Specifically, the process for licencing businesses to trade outdoors was transferred from Warwickshire County Council (WCC) to Warwick District Council (WDC) – though WCC remains in charge of highways (parking space, loading bays, lanes etc). 

Then on the 8th March 2021, Secretary of State, Robert Jenrick issued a letter to Local Authorities extending national guidance and making it easier and cheaper for pubs, restaurants and cafes to continue to make al fresco dining a reality with outside seating, tables and street stalls to serve food and drinks.

After reviewing the guidance, consulting WDC we have produced the attached guide. Please email us on info@bidleamington2022.mystagingwebsite.com to receive a copy. 

This walks through the key steps, links, contacts and some helpful information to consider if you are thinking about applying for a pavement or highway trading licence and obtaining equipment.

Please note, if applying to trade on the highway we recommend you consult the highway authority (Warwickshire County Council (WCC) first. This will mean that any subsequent application to WDC (the licencing authority) will not be stopped in its tracks. We are happy to help and / or be cc’ed into any emails etc.

Key points in the attached presentation are: 

  • Placing seating on the pavement or highway requires a licence from Warwick District Council (WDC). 
  • In the case of highway applications (e.g. parking spaces, loading bays, vehicle lanes) we recommend you obtain pre-application advice from Warwickshire County Council (WCC) in advance of applying. Once you apply, WDC will formally consult WCC when assessing your application.
  • Applications cost £100. This is non-refundable (even if refused) and there is no appeal procedure, but WDC will do what they can to help you.  
  • Once submitted, the process takes 10 working days.
  • Within this, there is a 5 day public consultation period (which you must advertise on your business).
  • To have outdoor seating approved by April 12th, and accounting for public holidays, applications should be submitted by March 24th. 
  • You require a range of supporting plans and insurance documents.
  • BID Leamington is happy to support you where we can – please see within for details.

Key Links and Contacts are:

 

We appreciate this is a lot and it will not be viable for everyone, but we hope it helps. As contained within, this is a developing document, so please keep us updated with your experiences and we will update this information as required. There are also a number of parallel ongoing discussions about the use of certain green spaces and road closures, so we will keep relevant businesses updated.

As always, please drop us an email if you need support and we will do our best to help – and please keep us updated with your opening plans and preparations. 

Best wishes and stay safe,

Steph & Alison