Anne Marie's Weekly Column - Covid-19 Update

Support for Small Businesses

The Government recently announced a number of measures to support businesses suffering from financial difficulties caused by coronavirus including the Small Business Grant Fund and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant. These schemes will provide cash grants to eligible businesses and Teignbridge Council has been working extremely hard to start paying out the grants. The first tranche was delivered last week, with more to come as applications are processed. Businesses can check if they are eligible for a grant and apply at www.teignbridge.gov.uk/covid19grantapplication.

I am continuing to press Ministers over providing help for those outside of the leisure, hospitality, and retail sectors, and over the access issues some smaller firms are facing when applying for the state-backed coronavirus business interruption loans. The schemes on offer are wide-ranging and generous but there are still some individuals and businesses in the constituency falling through the cracks and I am raising these cases as a matter of urgency.

Funding for Charities

Charities are playing a vital role in supporting communities through the current crisis. The Chancellor has set out a new £750 million package of support for charities providing key services and supporting vulnerable people during the crisis.

£360 million will be allocated to charities in England, with up to £200 million going to hospices and the rest going to organisations such as St Johns’ Ambulance and the Citizens Advice Bureau as well as charities supporting vulnerable children, victims of domestic abuse, or disabled people. £370 million will go towards supporting smaller, local charities working with vulnerable people. In England, the support will be provided through organisations like the National Lottery Community Fund. The Government will also match what the public donates to the BBC Big Night In fundraising event on 23rd April, starting with a £20 million contribution to the National Emergencies Trust appeal.

Charities will also benefit from the existing measures announced to support employers and businesses such the ability to defer their VAT bills and pay no business rates for their shops next year. All charities are also eligible for the job retention scheme and will be able to furlough their employees with the Government paying 80 per cent of wages. These support packages will help charities providing essential services to continue their operations and to weather the storm until we return to more normal times.

Local Job Opportunities

Devon County Council has launched a campaign to recruit Healthcare Assistants and other vital roles. The coronavirus outbreak means there’s an even greater demand for Healthcare Assistants in residential homes, people’s own homes and hospitals in Devon so temporary and permanent workers are needed to fill a variety of shift work. You don’t necessarily need qualifications or previous work experience, much more important are your values and ability to work in challenging environments. There are plenty of non-clinical roles available too such as cleaners, chefs, security staff, admin staff, and other critical supporting jobs that help health and social care services function. You can find all the information, including how to register, on the Proud to Care website www.proudtocaredevon.org.uk

The Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership have also launched a virtual career fair for those affected by the coronavirus outbreak which can be found at www.heartofswlep.cp.uk/virtual-career-fair. It includes information about current vacancies, advice on self-employment and support for businesses across Devon, Plymouth, Somerset, and Torbay.

Easter Holidays

Devon is even more glorious when the sun is shining however as we move into the warmer weather, I appeal to everyone, despite the temptation, to please stick to the rules from the Government and stay at home. The sun may be out, but you shouldn’t be unless it is for an essential reason. By following the guidance on social distancing and staying at home - you can save lives.

My next phone-in surgery will be Friday 24th April at 2-3pm. Please call my office on 01626 368277 to arrange an appointment.