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The Chancellors’ support package and Covid-19 advice 18/3/2020
Yesterday’s Chancellors’ support package confirmed over 170 local Hitchin town centre businesses in the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors becoming rates free from 1st April 2020. Businesses with a rateable value of £51,000 or less are due to benefit from this announcement, collectively saving the town £1.8m over the next 12 months.

The Government is providing £20 billion of business rates support and grant funding to help the most-affected firms manage their cashflow through this period by:
  • Giving all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England a 100% business rates holiday for the next 12 months
  • Increasing grants to small businesses eligible for ‘Small Business Rate Relief’ from £3,000 to £10,000
  • Providing further £25,000 grants to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses operating from smaller premises, with a rateable value over £15,000 and below £51,000North Herts District Council are waiting to be informed by National Government on how these measures can be implemented. Further details are expected by the end of this week. As part of our regular email updates and support, we will inform businesses as soon as the information is available.  
 
To ensure that businesses have access to the funds they need, the Government are:
  • Increasing the amount businesses can borrow through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme from £1.2 million to £5 million, and ensuring businesses can access the first 6 months of that finance interest free, as Government will cover the first 6 months of interest payments
  • Including new legal powers in the Covid Bill enabling the Government to offer whatever further financial support they think necessary to businesses
  • Support for liquidity amongst large firms, with a major new scheme being launched by the Bank of England to help them bridge Coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loansTo access the above support, which will be available next week, please contact your business banking manager. Below is a list of some of the local business banking representatives.
 
Natwest - HOLLY.HINTON@natwest.com 
Barclays - david.upstone@barclays.com 
Nationwide – karen.holland@nationwide.co.uk 
HSBC – clarestevens@hsbc.com    
Lloyds - Yvonne.Huxley@lloydsbanking.com or lisa.wilmot@lloydsbanking.com 
Santander - sabino.russo@santander.co.uk 

The Chancellor also announced additional ways the Government will be reducing the interruption that Covid-19 could bring to local businesses. Those with fewer than 250 staff will be refunded for sick pay payments for 2 weeks per employee. This can be accessed as a refund through HMRC, please contact your accountant for more information on this. 
 
Andrew Pearce from Bradshaw Johnson Chartered Accountants on Bancroft has kindly agreed to offer free impartial financial business advice in this difficult and fast changing time. Please email andrew.pearce@bjca.co.uk 
 
For up to date advice on what local businesses should be considering, to reduce contamination and employment advice please visit www.nhs.uk and www.cdc.gov 
 
To reassure your customers during this time, I am issuing posters to display in the window of your premises. By displaying this poster, you confirm to adhere to the statements made in line with the Government guidelines.
Please Click Here to download your copy   
 
We are adding a voucher section to the hitchinherts.com website, offering free voucher printing to all businesses and promoting businesses and products. I am liaising with the local MP and templating a letter to landlords raising questions around support and relief during this time. 
 
Hitchin BID will continue to deliver its services for businesses at the same level in the town centre. We are doing everything we can to support you through this period of uncertainty. The Hitchin Information Centre will be open from 9am to 4pm Monday to Saturday as the one-stop-shop for information, questions and support. The Hitchin BID staff, and I will endeavour to keep you all updated via email, social media and deliveries as this situation unfolds.
 
Please do get in touch if you have any question or need any further advice or support.   
 
Kind regards

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