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05.05.20: Support for self-employed and small businesses update

A couple of updates for you:

Top-up to local business grant funds scheme - a discretionary fund has been set up to help small businesses that are not eligible of the business grant funds scheme. The additional £617 million is aimed at small businesses with ongoing fixed property-related costs and will be allocated by local authorities. The Government is asking local authorities to prioritise "businesses in shared spaces, regular market traders, small charity properties that would meet the criteria for Small Business Rates Relief, and bed and breakfasts that pay council tax rather than business rates. But local authorities may choose to make payments to other businesses based on local economic need. The allocation of funding will be at the discretion of local authorities.” Further details can be found here >>

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme - you can now check if you're eligible for the Self-Employement Income Support Scheme on GOV.UK. HMRC has announced that the claims service will open on 13 May (ahead of the original timetable.) Those eligible will have the money paid into their bank account by 25 May, or within six working days of completing a claim. Check to see if you're eligible here >>

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COVID-19 - Resources for small businesses and the self-employed


UK Government - COVID-19: support for businesses

The Federation of Small Businesses - COVID-19: Advice and guidance for small businesses and the self-employed

East Hampshire District Council - Local Services

Offers of Support from our Local Business Community

Coronavirus benefits, sick pay and lost hours: your rights in the UK

Coronavirus: what IPSE is doing and advice for freelancers and the self-employed

Employment & Self-Employment Coronavirus Help
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The SiGNAL Team are here to help your small business during this crisis. We are working remotely but the team are available during normal business hours if you need to speak to someone, have questions or need other business support. In the first instance, please get in touch via email work@signalbordon.org, or you can use the ChatBot on this page (bottom right) or contact us on social media. Stay safe.


28.04.20: Bounce Back scheme announced

Small businesses that are not eligible for any governement support may find that they can participate in the new Bounce Back scheme announced today. However, this is not a grant to help you manage during lockdown, but an interest free loan.

In her latest blog post Emma shares more details as well as a handy list of ways you could invest this cash to help 'bounce back' after lockdown. Click here to read >>>

We would love to hear your views. Please use our social media channels to join the discussion about support available for small businesses. Click on the links below:


14.04.20: Welcome Back...


Just before the long Easter weekend we launched our PPE for Key workers campaign, utilising the SIGNAL 3 D Printer and coordinating a production line for printed masks and visors. We delivered the first two batches of headbands to grateful NHS staff at Badgerswood Studio on Saturday and we’ve since been inundated with offers of support and donations of materials which we will continue to coordinate. 

We’ve also had many notes of thanks and gratitude from doctors and nurses which have all been such a pleasure to read.  
 
If you would like to find out how to access the headbands and visors for your team of key-workers there is a form here: www.signalbordon.org/PPE-keyworkers  

If you have a 3 D printer you’ll find everything you need to start printing headbands here on our campaign page : www.signalbordon.org/ppe-keyworkers  

We also have a Facebook page for everyone involved to coordinate printing, troubleshoot, source materials and arrange collection and distribution: 3D TECH ZONE NORTH EAST HAMPSHIRE 

For everyone else wishing to help there is a DONATE button  to help us fund the necessary materials here: www.signalbordon.org/PPE-keyworkers 

There seem to be some early signs this evening that the level of new infections is stabilising which is fantastic news so keep doing what you are doing everyone!! 


09.04.20: Boris leaves intensive care as UK Lock-down  set to continue...


As businesses up and down the country break for the long Easter weekend the national mood is resigned but uncertain. Lock-down looks set to continue for at least three more weeks but the actual length of time and the severity of restrictions have not been made clear. For now we are simply being urged to stay at home. 




For those freelancers and business owners among you still looking for answers after the various statements from the Chancellor, try this Twitter Q&A thread where the Government grappled with some knotty questions from the self employed community earlier this afternoon.

 

And closer to home tonight's SiGNAL newsletter dives into some of the more positive elements of being a small business owner during these challenging times. Sign up for our newsletter by clicking HERE.

 

Please take the time to visit the SiGNAL campaign to support the NHS with protective masks  there may be a way your business can help!

 

Our next update will be Tuesday 14th April


Until then The SiGNAL team wish everyone a Very Happy Easter! 


08.04.20: Guidance for small business and the self employed...


Tonight's daily update is from local accountant and leader of the WBTC Andy Tree

The main guidance for small businesses and the self employed remains here: gov website. Click HERE

Some key points currently are:

  • HMRC say their employee 'furlough' scheme should be set up by the end of April, where we can claim back 80% of monthly salary (monthly average from those on annual payroll scheme) for salary. This is for limited company directors as directors are not classed as self-employed. It does not include dividends, but a higher salary and lower dividend would have resulted in higher tax/ NI being paid overall anyway, so I feel ltd company directors have an overall advantage. We will be in touch with anyone who has requested we action this for them, once HMRC is ready to receive claims. If anyone else wants us to make a claim, please get in touch with me.

  • Anyone who usually pays a self-assessment payment on account by 31st July, does not now have to pay this until 31st Jan 2021. (A reduced income may result in the Jan 2021 tax bill that links back to payments on account being reduced at this point anyway.)

  • If you are a UK VAT registered business and have a VAT payment due between 20th March 2020 and 30th June 2020, you have the option to defer payment until 31st March 2021. IMPORTANT NOTE: You MUST cancel a direct debit with HMRC if you wish to take advantage of this, or they will collect payment as usual!!

  • Rates relief (if applicable) - any questions should be directed to your local authority (i.e. the council listed on your rates bill.) It may also be worth asking your local authority if they are offering any bespoke additional support for businesses in their area?

  • This link is useful relating to the 'Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme':
can be found by clicking HERE.
We also have a broker who can be contacted on dan.gateshill@asc.co.uk . (Please note this is an independent firm who may charge fees.)

  • Self-employed (not limited company directors) will be contacted by HMRC, if eligible to apply for grant (full details in link above.)

Andy says: "I have written to my MP, Damian Hinds (the former Education Secretary who I am acquainted with) about the absurdity of not allowing dividends to be factored in for income, for government financial support. The response received was not useful and so I have replied again! If they want small ltd company businesses to survive then this approach will need a government re-think. The technicalities of dividends being investment and not employment income do not help small ltd company directors at a time of cash flow crisis!!
I will be offering coronavirus-related business advice and undertaking any additional work such as claims under 'furlough' scheme at no extra cost, as this is the least we can do to thank you for your support and continued custom during this difficult time. If you have any questions, feel free to make contact at any time".

07.04.20: and the support keeps coming...

we've had so many offers of help from our small business community, from care in t he home for your elderly relatives to free chats with accountants and HR specialists. 

Please do take a moment to check out Signals Small Business Support Directory and use this opportunity to sample some of the many services offered by freelancers and small businesses here  in Bordon. The list just keeps growing! Click HERE 

06.04.20: 3D Masks?...

The team at SiGNAL began 3D printing masks today for local #NHSworkers as small businesses across the UK unite in a campaign to utilise share spare print capacity, Find out how you can get involved by clicking HERE.

We have retrieved 3D Printers, PLA materials, laminator and laminate sheets from the SiGNAL 3D Tech Zone and are managing production remotely across our different homes 

We are urgently seeking more OHP film and laminate sheets, if anyone has any spare to donate please email work@signalbordon.org



Meanwhile to keep everyone feeling lighthearted we’ve booked a very special comic guest for tomorrows Facebook live! Check the SiGNAL page from midday.

03.04.20: The end of another busy week...

This morning we welcomed Richard Woods to the SiGNAL BiZHUB. Richard runs the Lead Gen Academy (and is also a former finalist on the BBCs Apprentice). This was our first BiZHUB session with a guest speaker and it all worked out very well. The Virtual BiZHUB is shaping up nicely.

It's felt like a very long week. I think the combination of working from home, where it's hard to switch off from work, and the uncertainty we're all facing is adding hours on to each day and creating a lot of extra work. While unfortunately for many small businesses this extra work isn't paid, more like firefighting, it's great to hear that some people are doing much better. 

BiZHUB member Sheila Lemon, www.sheilalemmon.com, had her best month yet in March and also streamed her first Facebook Live. Video communications is something that we're all embracing in the current situation whether it's hosting meetings and webinars on Zoom, or using video for marketing. Our next BiZHUB session on Friday 17th May is all about getting the confidence to use these tools and put yourself in front of the camera, so worth attending - virtually...

Next week we will giving more details about the 3D Covid 19 response - if you have a 3D printer you could help our local NHS heroes by printing out headbands for protective visors. We're testing one design with a local GP surgery and once that's got the thumbs up we'll let you know how to get involved.

Talking about NHS Heroes we spotted this great way to share your appreciation for these amazing people. Brewgooder, a social enterprise and brewery, have set up a #OneOnUs campaign where you can donate a round to a NHS worker. If would like to say thanks in this way, click on this link >>>

We'll be back on Monday with another update, hope you all have a good weekend and stay safe.

02.04.20: Have you got a 3D printer?

SiGNAL has been asked to help coordinate a coronavirus response by calling on everyone in the Whitehill & Bordon area with a 3D printer to get printing headbands for full face visors.

As you will know, GP surgeries, the emergency services and other key workers desperately need more Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) including Nitrile gloves, disposable plastic aprons or gowns, Tyvex suits, face masks, alcohol hand gel and wipes, and eye protection.

The local 3D printing community can help by printing the headbands needed to make visors.

Here's one that Gareth printed on our 3D printer earlier:



Once printed they can be dropped off at SiGNAL and we will arrange for the visors to be attached and send them to local key workers.

We’ll be setting up a webpage with all the information you need tomorrow, but in the meantime if you can help please get in touch. Email work@signalbordon.org

01.04.20: Business Loan Interruption Scheme

Many of you have been trying and failing to contact the bank and secure the promised business interruption loans.  

Today banks came under fire from business and government for not acting in the spirit of the crisis, insisting  on personal guarantees from directors, or demanding that business owners use their property and savings as collateral in order to become eligible for business interruption loans.  

The tax payer was obliged to rescue the banks in 2008 and now many businesses feel it's time for the banks to repay the favour, said Business Secretary Alok Sharma.

‘It would be completely unacceptable if any banks were unfairly refusing funds to good businesses in financial difficulty," he continued.

The debate goes on as many established businesses stare down the barrel of a gun. We will continue to update you on this situation. Do you have a story to tell about applying for the loan?   

In other news…. Boris cancels sales of alcohol from Monday….. 


However for those of you still in need of a drink why not buy from our very own Hogmoor Distillery?  Free delivery on all bottles of gin…… Details here >>> 

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COVID-19 - Resources for small businesses and the self-employed


UK Government - COVID-19: support for businesses

The Federation of Small Businesses - COVID-19: Advice and guidance for small businesses and the self-employed

East Hampshire District Council - Local Services

Offers of Support from our Local Business Community

Coronavirus benefits, sick pay and lost hours: your rights in the UK

Coronavirus: what IPSE is doing and advice for freelancers and the self-employed
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The SiGNAL Team are here to help your small business during this crisis. We are working remotely but the team are available during normal business hours if you need to speak to someone, have questions or need other business support. In the first instance, please get in touch via email work@signalbordon.org, or you can use the ChatBot on this page (bottom right) or contact us on social media. Stay safe.

31.03.20: Do you have staff? Employment considerations

With a bleak first quarter ahead many employers may be looking to trim their workforce wherever possible. We spoke to recruitment consultant and SiGNAL Village resident Sarah Bass about these difficult decisions:

“Since the lockdown I’ve been talking to both sides, Business owners and employees. Many contractors and temps have been let go instantly … I know many business owners are agonising as they feel a real responsibility to their staff.
 
“It is a really difficult time for small and micro businesses and they are likely to be having lots of difficult conversations. The immediate focus has to be on cost saving whether that be rent, DD payments for services, energy, taxes, VAT etc.

“However when they are looking at staff they need to take a longer look.
 
“Employers must look more medium to long term. You need to consider how much it will cost to replace your staff if you let people go now only to have to rehire in the future. Not just in terms of £ costs, but in terms of their knowledge, expertise, understanding and loyalty to your company, along with the goodwill they have with your clients. If staff are made redundant what are the costs involved?
 
“This should apply to contractors, temporary or zero hours employees too. They are equally as valuable to your company as those on full-time salaries. If you are able to give staff something for the next 6 weeks, and at the same time explore what support is available, you could retain that talent in your business. Perhaps ask staff to drop to a reduced week or use up holiday. Think in terms of annualised hours, holiday and pay. If you cannot pay full pay now, think about your staff being able to make this up over the rest of the year.”
 
“I would also think about whether staff can be redeployed. Ask the staff what transferable skills they feel they can bring to the table. Could they be channelled into other activities such as market research, building sales pipelines or exploring new opportunities? Even some company wide IT housekeeping, arching and database cleansing is worthwhile.  

“Plus, while you have the chance, business owners need to REALLY look at how they and their staff work remotely. Everything you need to work remote and globally is available and business owners would do well to look at their job descriptions, not just think of what can be outsourced but how tasks can be worked on remotely.”

Sarah is offering free consultation calls to anyone who wants information or advice on employment matters including losing your job and where to find support and apply for new ones. 


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COVID-19 - Resources for small businesses and the self-employed


UK Government - COVID-19: support for businesses

The Federation of Small Businesses - COVID-19: Advice and guidance for small businesses and the self-employed

East Hampshire District Council - Local Services

Offers of Support from our Local Business Community

Coronavirus benefits, sick pay and lost hours: your rights in the UK

Coronavirus: what IPSE is doing and advice for freelancers and the self-employed
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The SiGNAL Team are here to help your small business during this crisis. We are working remotely but the team are available during normal business hours if you need to speak to someone, have questions or need other business support. In the first instance, please get in touch via email work@signalbordon.org, or you can use the ChatBot on this page (bottom right) or contact us on social media. Stay safe.

30.03.20: The beating heart of Bordon

Day 1, week 2 of lockdown and like many other local businesses we’ve spent another day dealing with the impact of coronavirus on our business. This Friday we have a guest speaker at the (now) Virtual BiZHUB, former Apprentice finalist Richard Woods will be joining us via webcam to deliver his inspiration talk. It’ll be the first BiZHUB with a virtual speaker so we’re in rehearsals to make sure we can deliver a fantastic experience to all our members!  

Today we also launched the new SiGNAL video which was recorded only a few weeks ago. It feels like a lot longer now but it’s great to be reminded of what a vibrant place SiGNAL IS! We have been described as the beating heart of Bordon and this video sums that up very nicely. 

Click play and let me know what you think. 


Since last Thursday we’ve had a lot of feedback from self-employed people about the Chancellor’s income support scheme. Rishi Sunak estimates that 95% of the self-employed will be covered by this bailout, and that those in the 5% who don’t qualify are wealthy and therefore don’t need support. Unfortunately many of our respondents disagree.  

Here are a few of the comments we’ve received: 

“I don’t qualify because I got made redundant while on maternity leave in 2018 and because of that payment (which I lived on for the rest of my maternity leave and the months following while I found a job), it looks like I earned more in salary than self-employment (both tiny figures) and there qualify for nothing. We are desperate.” Jess C 

“I only started freelancing in Feb so no 2019 tax returns = nothing for me.’ Victoria J “I made a loss in year 1 and an even bigger loss in year 2 as had to invest in a van and lots of stock. Year 3 I made a small profit but the losses from the previous years wiped that out. I won’t be getting any help I’m afraid. I’m also a single mum of 3 which I know is not Rishi’s fault - but he’s not helping!” Sue G 

“I've got 10 practitioners, mostly self-employed. At least 1 is unlikely to qualify as earns too much, 3 started their practices in the last year so won't qualify on those grounds, 1 in a limited company with husband who may qualify for the furlough scheme, and one German national applying for settled status who is entitled to nothing. I'm an employed director but don't see how I'd qualify for furloughing as I'm still doing some work answering phones, updating website etc and the requirement is that the employee does no work. I won't qualify for the scheme as I don't earn most of my money from self-employment.” Shanagh T 

“Years ago my rental income was higher than my business income. It isn't now, but the last 12 months of income isn't taken into consideration. I qualify for no help. Have everything crossed that my tenants pay their rent for my flat, or I will have no income at all. And I can't access universal credit as I have over £16k tied up in my rental flat, none of which I can access right now, or for the foreseeable I imagine. Single parent, so can't easily apply for a job now either, as I need to look after and educate children.” Ann H 

“Ploughed as much as possible into my business for the last few years so profits are low. Unable to claim any benefits and not enough spare to survive until June to receive minimal payment. Not enough in emergency fund to pay overheads indefinitely. Paying a percentage of profit does not take into account that services need to be paid - ordinarily services come out of income before profit.” Debbie B 

We are collating feedback from our self-employed community to highlight how many people will still not get the support they desperately need. If you would like to share your story please get in touch. Email work@signalbordon.org explaining what your situation is.

27.03.20: Community spirit is alive and kicking at SiGNAL!

To mark the end of week 1 of lockdown, we wanted to share with you examples of how resilient our community is and what a great bunch of people we have using SiGNAL for their small businesses.

This week’s inspirational example is Angie Brown, By the end of last week Angie’s monthly hours servicing clients in her VA business went from 122 hours to 45 hours. As a single parent with no other support, she says she "completely lost the plot and sobbed uncontrollably." However, following lots of supportive messages and acts by friends and family, Angie is focusing on the positives and has registered as an NHS Volunteer, through the GoodSam app.

Angie has also applied for a job as a Bank Clerical Admin assistant for the NHS, a role where they are currently short staffed. We've all got our fingers crossed for Angie and hope that she gets the job and that her VA business picks up.  

Another example of community spirit is how our SiGNL Village residents have pulled together. All week they have been supporting each other and the team at SiGNAL, ensuring deliveries are collected and the buildings are secure. In normal circumstances we all enjoy a beverage on Friday afternoon with the SiGNAL Village residents, but with SiGNAL closed we couldn't meet up in person. So instead Beer Friday has become virtual and we share a photo of ourselves taking a break and have a bit of a chat on Whatsapp. 



Have a great weekend from all of us!
Emma

26.03.20: Self-employed income support scheme

Today saw the arrival of the long awaited package of support for the self-employed.

For me the package of support was reasonable considering the speed at which it was cobbled together; however I felt it was delivered in bad grace without any acknowledgement of huge support that the self-employed provide to the economy, and with an unnecessary implication that the self-employed make a lesser contribution and do not deserve this level of support. 

The chancellor also failed to acknowledge the significant number of us who are directors and sole employees of limited companies: perhaps that will come later. Below Andy Tree addresses this issue.

Tonight’s summary of the Chancellor’s address comes from BZHUB members Mad About Bookkeeping who are local bookkeepers and accountants in Whitehill. Click here to read on >>>

Andy Tree looks at the package from the perspective of the director of a Ltd company:

"This evening, the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak MP announced measures for the self-employed. However, it is important to note that limited company directors/shareholders are not self-employed and this new scheme does not include salary and dividends.

Therefore, it is now logical to assume that limited company directors who cannot work and wish to be 'furloughed' must claim through the employer scheme previously announced i.e. as an employee of their own company. The questions in my email from yesterday have yet to be answered by any further government/HMRC announcement. I hope the information with be forthcoming soon, so I can give specific advice as to what can be claimed.

It should be noted that the self-employed scheme will work on an average profit over 3 years, be taxable, and apparently not available until June! Therefore, there is every chance that the employee claim scheme for limited company directors may be more beneficial anyway!"

I’ll be going live on our Facebook Page tomorrow morning at 8.30 to summarise these issues for our community.

Have a nice evening 

Emma 

25.03.20: Waiting for clarification...

So unfortunately for our community the wait for clarification continues on almost every point concerning the finances of the self-employed.

Employers and company directors have urgent unanswered questions too as payday looms. 

Meanwhile many self-employed continue to travel to work, not knowing if they will be compensated for loss of earnings if they remain at home.  

Martin Lewis says he has it on authority from the Government that the package for the self-employed, although a little delayed, will definitely be announced by this Friday.  

What questions exactly need answering?  

BiZHUB member Andy Tree has summed up the various clarifications needed for the self-employed, company directors and employers in this blog post >>>

I hope we can clarify these issues for you very soon.

Take care and stay healthy  

Emma  

24.03.20: No news for the self-employed

Following the ministerial announcement last night, many self-employed people can no longer go to work. Today we have been waiting for rumoured news of Government help for this struggling sector.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has said that although he understands the vital importance of a package of support for the self-employed such a thing is very difficult to design and harder to implement.

He said ministers are “in dialogue with all the key stakeholder groups”.

“There are genuine practical and principled reasons why it is incredibly complicated to design an analogous scheme to the one that we have for employed workers, but … rest assured that we absolutely understand the situation that many self-employed people face at the moment as a result of what’s happening and are determined to find a way to support them,” he said in the Commons today.

“We just need to be confident that can be done in a way that is deliverable and is fair to the vast majority of the British workforce.”
Meanwhile some businesses and construction sites remain open and many are confused as to the right thing to do - stay at home and risk bankruptcy or go to work and risk spreading the virus. 

We hope there will be some clarity on these issues by the end of the week. In the meantime most self employed people are facing a very bleak and uncertain few months.  

At SiGNAL we have launched our own awareness campaign to support the self employed - #PayNowBuyLater

This is a way for all of us to help each other -  a practical means of support that may make the difference between a business surviving or going under.


Don’t forget you can keep up to date with the SiGNAL team every weekday at midday on our FB page.  

Emma

23.03.20: Business as usual?


The SiGNAL Reception and coworking at Martinique House is now closed but offices remain open and all our services are still very much OPEN for business!  

The team are working remotely but its business as usual for all our BiZHUB events - now renamed the Virtual BiZHUB  - and we’re also working hard to support all the small businesses in and around Bordon with support, information, advice and most important of all a sympathetic ear.  

If you have a local small business we are here for you! We can provide and free resources and advice with a local flavour. Read on >>>

19.03.20: Preparing for lockdown

There are all kinds of rumours circulating today about a potential lockdown. Some saying it will just be London, others saying it will be nationwide. Whatever the truth in these rumours, a lockdown to some degree is strong possibility. 

At SiGNAL we have taken the decision to preempt the government by closing our coworking and meeting rooms from Monday 23rd March until further notice. SiGNAL reception services will be operated remotely by Claire, Monday to Friday 9 - 5, and you can use our landline 01420 556335 or work@signalbordon.org to contact her.

All SiGNAL BiZHUB events are going virtual from Friday 20th March, please register on Eventbrite in the usual way and simple instructions will be emailed to you. 

We've also written blog post to help you get started with Zoom (the platform we're using for online BiZHUB sessions). Get started with the Virtual BiZHUB here >>>

We will also be hosting regular online networking sessions, more information on these will be posted on our page and in the SIGNAL BiZHUB Facebook group.

The week is all went very quiet
Emma has written a diary sharing this past week at SiGNAL and how we've been coping with the coronavirus crisis. Click to read her post >>>

Coronavirus (Covid-19) What does this mean for business?
Andy Tree, Top Branch Partners an accountancy firm, shares a summary of the week's events in this blog post with advice for small businesses. Andy is a BiZHUB member and local councillor, so if you need any support please contact him. 

10 things small businesses should think about during a lockdown

Stuart Morrison has also written a really useful article about the things you should be thinking about as we prepare for significant disruption over the next few months. Read his post here >>>

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COVID-19 - Resources for small businesses and the self-employed


UK Government - COVID-19: support for businesses

The Federation of Small Businesses - COVID-19: Advice and guidance for small businesses and the self-employed

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The SiGNAL Team are here to help your small business during this crisis. We are working remotely but the team are available during normal business hours if you need to speak to someone, have questions or need other business support. In the first instance, please get in touch via email work@signalbordon.org, or you can use the ChatBot on this page (bottom right) or contact us on social media. Stay safe.
Email Us - or call 01420 556335