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COVID-19_ SiGNAL's daily update for Small Businesses and the Self-Employed

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

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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.

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
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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

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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.
Email Us - or call 01420 556335