COVID-19 Resources

This is a confusing time for many and it seems we are in it for the long haul.  There is a plethora of information coming out in this rapidly evolving situation, which can be overwhelming and stressful when you may be worried about loved ones and concerned about your business.

We have curated this page content, and will endeavour to keep it updated with resources as they become available, to help signpost businesses and the wider community to the help and information available.  It is not intended as an exhaustive list and we apologise in advance for any broken links due to the rapidly changing support landscape.

If you think we have any glaring omissions, please contact us so that we can review and include the resource if relevant.  This page will evolve and we will add to it as we find more resources.

Disclaimer: information is given here solely to provide suggestions that may be informative and useful; the Chamber does not endorse the advice, products or services listed here or in the links provided.

Use the buttons below to navigate to page content sections.                                                   Last updated: 2 April 2020

Government

Links to resources provided by Government departments to help you stay up to date 
and find business support during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The government have now collated all COVID-19 business support into one website.  With a range of advice and content for business including:

  • Coronavirus
  • Finance & Business planning
  • Innovation & Technology
  • Leadership & Talent
  • Exporting

Whether you are looking for advice as an employer, small business support to industry specific advice for business sectors, make sure you check their website.

If you are self-employed: we have been made aware the government is working on more support and we understand they will make further announcements relating to self-employed support week commencing 23 March 2020.

Bank of England COVID-19 news

To follow news from the Bank of England on interest rate decisions and much more, visit their webapge for updates.

Also see the finance section below for more information on loans and banking contacts.

BEIS helpline

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy have set up a support helpline for COVID-19 which can be contacted on 0300 456 3565.

Government advice for businesses & employers

For advice to businesses and employers to supply advice to staff, including preventing spreading the virus, what to do if staff become ill and sick pay, visit their website.

ACAS advice

ACAS COVID-19 advice to employers on social distancing and a range of employee considerations such as sick pay, sick leave, good practice steps and much more.

Can you help the COVID-19 response?

The Government has set up dedicated emails for businesses who feel able to help, as below. 

Vaccines : Nervtag@phe.gov.uk
Ventilators: ventilator.support@beis.gov.uk
Innovation / tech : DNHSX@nhsx.nhs.uk
Bringing Coronavirus test kits to market

Latest updates on COVID-19

Latest government news, advice and risk level in the UK for coronavirus can be found here.

The latest update from Public Health England on confirmed cases, with regional variations can be found here.

Infrastructure

Western Power Distribution have issued a message from their CEO with contact details for further information.

BT have issued statements on their network & coronavirus and keeping everyone connected which confirms their network infrastructure is coping with increased demand, with redundancy covering further increases if required. 

Many telephone and broadband providers are removing limits or capping add-on charges to enable people to stay connected through telephone calls, along with working and learning from home, so check with your provider.

Finance

Help and support on accounting, finance and business.

HMRC time to pay & VAT deferral

If your business has been affected by coronovirus and you need time to pay your VAT or tax, the you can contact the HMRC Helpline on 0800 0159 559.  For more information visit their website.

HMRC have announced you can defer your VAT payments with immediate effect for the period 20 March to 30 June 2020 for all VAT Registered businesses.  Make sure you cancel your Direct Debit in enough time to prevent HMRC automatically attempting payment collection on receipt of your VAT Return.  

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)

Update: 23 March 2020 - CBILS is now live!

The government announced a new temporary loan scheme CBILS along with other types of finance to support business access to bank lending and overdrafts.  Businesses can access the first 6 months of that finance interest free.  Now available through accredited lenders and partners, to find your finance type and provider of preference.

Business banking support

Barclays have launched a business support helpline from 8am - 8pm on 08001971086.   You can also access support as business, personal and corporate customers on their webpage.

Lloyds have a COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Supporting Small Business webpage with details of support available and contact details.

NatWest have launched their Coronavirus support hub.  You can also contact your relationship manager or their helpline on 0345 711 4477.

Check with your own banking provider for details to see what COVID-19 support measures they have put in place.

Considering finance

Given that demand for assistance from the banking sector and access to funding has never been higher at this time, Chamber Director Simon Pollard, a Business Banking Manager, has collated some resources to demonstrate the level of information required, to help businesses be prepared in asking for support from financial providers at this stressful time.

Companies House

Companies House have Coronavirus Guidance for customers, employees and suppliers for the latest updates and information, including for business:

Thomas Westcott business insights

Chartered accountants, Thomas Westcott, publish regular Insights, many of which are explaining government announcements in relation to COVID-19.

Business Associates - Wollens Law

Our Business Associates, Wollens Law, have dedicated COVID-19 advice and support page, including:

You can email their employment team or sign up for their Employment & Business Club (click image below).

Insurance cover

Members Isca Barum report that many businesses are relying on an insurance claim to support them through these uncertain times.  

However sadly this may not be the case, so to offer some clarity they have shared this link from the Association of British Insurers are concerned that business cover may not be sufficient in the case of COVID-19.  In this Q&A they share what to look for for not only in business insurance, but a range of insurance products and pensions & investments.

Isca Barum also have their own blog to offer more information after the announcement on 17 March that COVID-19 is classified as a 'Notifiable Disease' by the government and a blog from their parent company Aston Lark.

Business Debtline

Run by registered charity National Debtline, the Business Debtline number is 0800 197 6026 or you can webchat with them on their website and find a range of advice and tools.

Local Support

Local and regional support for businesses.

Chamber events

The Chamber is moving to online events in order to continue to support member and non-member businesses across Northern Devon.

We will be running two styles of events:

webinars - information events with opportunity to ask questions of experts on a variety of topics (including support on trading through COVID-19)

meetups - these will be an online networking style to make sure business owners or employees can still connect within the business community to reduce isolation and help keep businesses trading

These will be held on zoom, an online meeting software that is cross-platform and available across smartphone, tablet, laptop and desktop devices.  Full details will be provided to those booking meetings.  Of course for those who do not want to join the online events, they can still contact us direct for support.

Make sure you are following our Eventbrite page for notifications of when events are announced.

Local Authority COVID-19 business support

North Devon Council have a business support page which also lists properties expected to receive the expanded 100% Retail Relief.

Torridge District Council offer guidance for businesses on their website.

Devon County Council have a coronavirus support page for businesses and employers.

South West Business Council COVID-19 Taskforce

The Chamber is part of the recently launched COVID-19 Taskforce in response to the challenges facing businesses to help mitigate the impact.  In recognition of our COVID-19 Response support measures, it means that businesses will be signposted to us for assistance.  To read more click on the image below:

The HotSWLEP Growth Hub has a COVID-19 business guidance page, whilst it may contain similar resources to our page, you may find other items of relevance to your business.

Digital Skills Partnership factsheet

The Heart of the South West Digital Skills Partnership (DSP) have also put together an iterative resource sheet on digital skills and tech which you can download from the link below

Industry Sectors

Support for specific business sectors.

PPE for Health & Care Sector

Devon County Council have a helpful update on personal protective equipment for the health and care sectors which contains helpline details if you are experiencing supply issues.

Education & Childcare

The government have released guidance for schools, childcare providers, colleges and local authorities in England on maintaining educational provision after schools across the UK close Friday 20 March 2020, including information on Key Worker for those whose work is critical to the COVID-19 response, or working in one of the critical sectors.

Construction

There has been much confusion in the Construction sector remaining open.  Alok Sharma, Secretary of State, Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy issued an open letter on 31 March 2020 to the Construction industry stating they can continue to work, even if that requires travelling to site.  

The industry has worked to develop Site Operating Procedures (SOP), published by the Construction Leadership Council. The SOP aligns with the latest guidance from Public Health England and will be updated, to reflect any changes.

Hospitality

The impact on food & drink industry has been much discussed and as of Friday 20 March 2020 they have been asked to close, with a range of other businesses that enable social gathering, unless they are able to offer a takeaway option.

Convert to takeaway
The government has published advice for restaurants and bars who are able to convert from an eat in to a takeaway service will not require planning consent at this time.  You can read the full advice here.

Manufacturers

Please visit the NDMA website for the latest updates relevant to the manufacturing sector, including updates from MAKE UK.

Free tech

Tech and other resources that is free to use or for which subscriptions have been waived during the pandemic.

Pay it forward Campaign

Crowdfunder have set up their #PayItForward campaign with Enterprise Nation where businesses can set up on their platform for customers to pledge for products services when they are able to visit in person.  Crowdfunder are waiving their fees for this service in a bid to assist businesses.

Headspace for everyone

Concerns for wellbeing are paramount during this pandemic, Headspace have made resources from their Weathering the Storm section available to everyone free of charge.  With meditation, sleep and movement exercises to guide you through available both on their website and their app.

BT Skills for Tomorrow

BT have a series of free Digital Skills webinars on a range of topics starting 9 April 2020, so why not brush up on your skills or learn something new if you have some time on your hands.

Online meeting tech for remote working

Zoom provide online meeting software which is free to use at entry level, which enables 1-2-1 meetings of any length, or meetings of 3+ people limited to 40 minutes.  They also offer unlimited meetings and increased functionality with paid subscriptions.  Watch the video below to ensure you are setting up your zoom meetings securely.

There are also alternative options with Google HangoutsSkype amongst others.

Important notes

Things to remember and help during the coming weeks and months.

Remote working

For those who are well versed in remote working, you will have appropriate support in place, but those who are new to it may find the experience of working at home very different to the structure of an office.

Things to consider:
wellbeing - ensure you have regular checkins with remote staff
flexibility - with whole families at home, the normal 9-5 may not always be possible
online safety - make sure staff are aware & adhering to policies (see cyber security below)

Wollens Law have made a homeworking policy template available as a free download.

Also take a listen to the Tech South West Tribe Tech podcast released this week about coronavirus.

Cyber security

Sadly, we are aware of an increase in the number of scams and phishing attempts since COVID-19.  It is important that you and your staff are vigilant, as this advisory notice from CFC Underwriting Ltd explains.

Securious have also written a helpful secure home working blog.

Don't suffer in silence

We have the opportunity to feedback, through a direct route to government, any challenges or omissions with the support measures being brought forward.  If you have concerns, please do use our online meetings to express them, or contact us to discuss on a confidential basis (we can pass on feedback confidentially if required).

They may be issues unique to your industry or business, or you may be able to add your voice to the crowd to make change happen, but it is essential that our voice is heard and we can only do that with your communication with us.

We can't meet up in person, but we can invite you to our online meetings or if you need a 1-2-1 session, please contact us, we are here to actually listen.

Working together

This is the time to come together and ensure we are working collaboratively.  If you are able to share your skills or resources with another business, then please do help out where you can.

If you want to share news of your own business, please contact us to be included in the COVID-19 News category of our blog.

Community

Support in the wider community - we are all human in business, with concerns for family & friends, to keeping children occupied whilst they are home for a prolonged period (especially if you are working from home too).

Most of all it is important to #BeKind.  Please avoid panic buying, the supermarkets are reassuring us that there is plenty of food if people buy sensibly and shop later in the day to avoid creating crowds first thing in the morning that make social distancing more challenging.  

Finally be responsible - ensure you follow advice.

Local Authorities COVID-19 support

North Devon Council have a range of resources on their website, from community and voluntary resources, updates on their own services, NHS advice and more.  They also have a useful warning on the increase in scams which can be found here.

Torridge District Council also have a range of advice on their website.

Devon County Council coronavirus updates can be found here.  They also have Occupational Therapy advice to keep people busy and engaged during self isolation.

Government advice for employees

For government advice visit: COVID-19: guidance for employees.

See also our Education & Childcare section above for information for Key Workers.

Petroc updates

Petroc have updates for parents and students both existing and students starting in September 2020.

Information can also be found on their Coronavirus page and there is also a post containing links to the Department for Education Coronavirus helpline here.

STEM Learning

STEM Learning, an organisation that supports science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) education in schools and colleges with STEM Ambassadors (volunteers from business and industry) are offering a range of fun, hands-on activities for families to use at home, suitable for all ages from 4-16. With videos and downloads to support homeschooling and more resources added each week, there is a wealth of information to keep learning fun.

If you're happy to share pictures of your STEM activities with images of your family on social, tag  @STEMLearningUK and @STEMHub_SWest, using the hashtag #STEMathome for a shoutout!

Things to do

The BBC has announced schedule changes with more content to keep people informed and support education, culture, fitness, religion and recipes for those at home.

Check other channels, streaming services, catchup tv, podcasts etc too for content.

Check with museums, attractions etc as many are posting on their social media accounts, youtube channels etc, like the National Marine Aquarium, Plymouth, who have clearly been hoarding their toilet roll tubes for some time with their crafty makes!

Keep hand washing fun, especially for kids

Hand washing will become mundane but you can make it interesting by making your own free poster with the lyrics from your favourite song with Wash Your Lyrics.  Go-on, get inventive . . . you know you want to!

Prime Minister statement 23 March 2020

Shopping - IMPORTANT NOTE

Please make sure you are not panic buying to allow everyone to get the supplies they need, especially our vulnerable and Key Workers who are supporting the COVID-19 Response.  Check with your local supermarkets if you are in this category as many are offering specific shopping times to help you get the products you need.

Buy local if you can from our lovely local producers to support local businesses - many are offering order & pay by phone or web with local delivery.

If you are able to donate or require help, contact North Devon Foodbank for locations.

Volunteering & support for the vulnerable

There are a number of organisations in the community that are collecting information from volunteers, see the OneNorthernDevon website to find your local group.  (We are aware that the OneSouthMolton website has only launched recently and is not on the OneNorthernDevon website yet).  There are a range of volunteering options, for those who are still able to get out help with food deliveries for example, or those isolating who can offer telephone befriending.

They are also taking details for those identified as vulnerable in the community who need assistance as they have no support of friends or family locally.

PE with Joe

Maybe not just for the children - we could all benefit from making sure we are still active in body as well as mind where we can. For a 30 minute exercise class 9am every Monday to Friday visit The Body Coach on YouTube to watch the livestream or if you miss them, you can watch any of them on catchup!

Fancy a sing-a-long?

If singing is your thing, then take a look at Gareth Malone's #HomeMalone Great British Home Chorus!  You can register to download the music & check out the Decca YouTube channel.

And finally . . .

A little light hearted fun - because we all need to remember to smile in these troubling times.

Innocently funny

Innocent drinks daily twitter musings are often a source of amusement . . . ok we admit there’s some sales stuff in there too, but they are doing their best to keep us entertained so kudos to their social media manager!

Well that was easy . . .

Dogs are getting their own back!

50 Ways to Beat Corona 🎶

From this thread started by @SpillerOfTea (with apologies to Paul Simon!).

Stay in your flat, Pat
Don’t visit your nan, Stan
Don’t buy all the bread, Ted
Just listen to me.

Don’t hop on the bus, Gus
Don’t hoard all the cous cous
Leave some bogroll for me, Lee
And maybe some brie.

Don’t eat all the meat, Pete
Put down the wine, Vine
Leave me an egg, Greg
And maybe some tea.

. . . (still counting)

 

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