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Covid-19 Government Help and Hitchin BID Support 19/3/2020
Following yesterday update on the Chancellors’ support package and Covid-19 advice, I have some further information and support for local businesses.
 
Hitchin BID is now focussing to support businesses, promote products and services, advertise vouchers and delivery services and offer you all up to date information on how to access grants and loans to help get you through these challenging times. Many of you would have received your BID levy bill this morning, these are statutory payments based on your Rateable Value and are not affected by the Government’s recent changes to business rate payments. However, we understand that these are very challenging times for businesses, and hope the new Government packages with additional support, due to be announced next week, will help businesses with fixed costs such as these. We will continue to be the main hub for up to date information and support to help businesses in our town centre.  The Hitchin Information Centre will be open from Monday to Saturday 9am to 4pm and I will be available to take calls and emails at any time of the day on 07597380818 or tom.hardy@hitchinherts.com 
 
Update on the grants scheme
Questions have been raised by NHDC to Central Government today around the grant schemes including whether the funding will be on a sliding scale or fix amount and if the grant are per business or per premises. They should have more information in the coming days which I will relay to businesses as soon as it comes through.
 
The Executive Member for Finance and IT Cllr Ian Albert from NHDC has issued the following statement -
 
“These are enormously difficult times for businesses, their employees and their families.
North Herts District Council (NHDC)is committed to doing as much as we can to help you in the coming weeks. And we will be looking to deliver any payments to businesses from new Government schemes efficiently and quickly. Government will be contacting NHDC in the next few days to outline the scheme and encourage local authorities to prepare. However, once up-and-running, NHDC will contact you rather than having to apply yourself. We will confirm final details once we know more. Funding will be available from 1st April. We will keep you updated through Hitchin BID and also through the NHDC website, social media, email, post etc.”
 
Government backed business loans
I have been in touch with the local business banking manager from Natwest who tells that he is expecting full guidance on the Government backed loans to be available from Monday 23rd March. If you are need help with the application process or need an email address for your local bank manager please contact me on tom.hardy@hitchinherts.com   
 
Letters to Landlords
I am sending out letter to some of the Hitchin Landlords to relay questions and concerns you have raised over the past week. Given there is likely to be more support being announced next week, Landlord may be taking the lead from Central Government before announcing support measures for their tenants. I will keep you all informed as and when I receive responses.
 
MP Bim Afolami
I have been in touch with our local MP on how he will be supporting Hitchin businesses at this time. Bim will be in the town centre tomorrow (Friday) afternoon visiting local businesses. In the meantime, he has offered an updated ‘Covid-19 Business Fact Sheet’. Please Click Here to view the information.
 
HMRC Helpline
A dedicated helpline has been set up to help businesses and self-employed individuals in financial distress and with outstanding tax liabilities receive support with their tax affairs. Through this, businesses may be able to agree a bespoke Time to Pay arrangement. If you are concerned about being able to pay your tax due to COVID-19, call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559. This support may change next week so I will keep you up to date on announcements as soon as they come in.
 
Local Business Deliveries
We are compiling a list of people that are keen to help with delivering food and products for businesses to local residents over the coming weeks/months. Posters calling for businesses who need help and residents willing to deliver will be circulated in social media this afternoon. If you would like to be matched with a person to help with deliveries please contact marketing@hitchinherts.com 
 
For businesses that have already set up a delivery service, we have created a new page on the www.hitchinherts.com website which we will promote on various social media platforms.
 
Please send us the following information to marketing@hitchinherts.com    


Business name
Phone number
Type of food or product
Logistics of delivery

Local Business Vouchers
To try and ease cashflow challenges over the coming weeks, we are encouraging businesses to create and offer voucher for residents to buy now and redeem later in the year. We have set up a voucher page on the www.hitchinherts.com website which we will promote on various social media platforms.
 
Please send us the following information to marketing@hitchinherts.com    


What the voucher includes
Which business it is for
An image or company logo to accompany the listing
Contact details (website, phone number) for customers to call or purchase voucher.

We are also offering all businesses FREE voucher printing in the Information Office. Please email a PDF of your voucher and how many you want printed.
 
Cardboard and Coffee Collections
Hitchin BID will still offer all businesses free cardboard and used coffee collections. To ensure our staff are as safe as possible we only be collecting cardboard and used coffee grounds from outside the front of your premises.  
 
Kind regards
 

Tom Hardy
Hitchin Town Centre Manager
Hitchin Business Improvement District
tom.hardy@hitchinherts.com
07597380818
01462 453335