Welcome to the latest edition of our South and Vale Business Support newsletter!

4,000 businesses are eligible for a grant – getting these all processed and paid is a huge job and our business rates team is working extremely hard around the clock and over weekends to try and get them processed as quickly as we possibly can.

We’re hoping to have all of the eligible applications we’ve received so far processed by 23 or 24 April – it then may take a couple of days to reach bank accounts, but we can confirm we’ll have paid all uncontested eligible grants before the government deadline of 30 April.

Please note that due to the high volumes of contact our business rates team are receiving, they may not be able to respond immediately.
The Inspiring Digital Enterprise Award, known as iDEA, is an international programme that helps people develop digital skills for free.

iDEA is about lifelong learning, for anyone who wants to develop their skills. Our learners include school pupils, apprentices, business leaders, pensioners, students and community groups.

Through a series of online challenges, users complete interactive modules known as ‘badges’, which can be accessed for free on any device connected to the internet.

The badges vary in length and difficulty and there is a huge range to choose from.

Interested in improving your digital skills for free? Find out how to sign up here!
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme now open
The Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme went live on 20 April, with businesses able to claim up to £2,500 a month towards staff wages.

Employers can apply for direct cash grants through HMRC’s new online portal – with the money expected to land in their bank accounts within six working days.

The scheme allows employers to claim for a grant of up to 80% of an employee’s wages. Please note that this is capped at £2,500 a month.

Last week the Chancellor announced the scheme will be extended until the end of June.

Find out how to apply for the Job Retention Scheme here.
Experience Oxfordshire Launches Oxfordshire Campaign

Oxfordshire’s tourism industry brings £2.3 billion annually to the county, providing 40,000 local jobs and boosting economic growth. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused huge disruption to Oxfordshire’s visitor economy, with 86% of businesses reporting a revenue drop of greater than 50%.

Designed to encourage positive action, Experience Oxfordshire’s new #DreamOxfordshire campaign aims to support local businesses and invite potential visitors to dream of visiting Oxfordshire in the future.

Discover the campaign's key messages.

Protect your closed business premises

If you have been instructed by the government to close your business in line with the COVID-19 guidance or you have chosen to close, it is a good time for you to review your current security measures to reduce the chances of your premises being targeted by opportunist thieves.

Thames Valley Police have released some helpful tips to help you carry out a simple security risk assessment of your business premises, and identify any obvious vulnerabilities.

You should check your premises regularly, at least once a week, to see if there are any obvious signs of an attempted break in or damage.

View all of the security tips on our website.
Government coronavirus help for businesses: summary and eligibility checker

The question everyone’s asking is ‘what’s available for my business?’

To help to find out what Government support you might be eligible for, Tide has developed a 'Checker Chatbot'.

Any business owner can use the eligibility checker: self-employed, sole traders, limited companies and larger organisations.

Find out what you could be entitled to.
Serviced office tenants miss out on COVID-19 grants

Small businesses that occupy serviced office spaces have missed out on £100m of grants based on business rates.

Jonathan Ratcliffe from Offices.co.uk said:

'We think this could affect around 5% of small businesses in the UK, many who are struggling to continue, and it would be an absolute lifesaver.'

Grants are currently awarded based on Rateable Value (RV), which means that businesses with premises that have a RV of less than £15,000 can get a £10,000 cash grant.

Read more here.
UK space technologies to boost NHS Coronavirus response

The UK Space Agency has launched a new drive to fund space-enabled technology and services that can strengthen the NHS response to Coronavirus.

Satellite data and drone technology can help meet challenges such as delivering test kits, masks, gowns and goggles, managing infectious disease outbreaks and supporting the nation's health and wellbeing.

An initial £2.6 million is being made available to fund a number of projects, in a joint initiative with the European Space Agency.

Discover the opportunity here.
We are aware that there has been a growing number of businesses who are struggling to retain their staff during this period of uncertainty.

We have created a page on our website to highlight current temporary roles which may be of interest to you if you are looking for work.

Find out more by reading the Business and Innovation Strategy Action Plans 
on our SVBS website.

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