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Welsh Government releases additional £100M business support

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The latest phase of the Welsh Government’s Economic Resilience Fund has benefited from the release of a further £100million from ministers within 72 hours of launch, due to a massive demand.

More than 6,000 grant applications from small and medium sized businesses and social enterprises were received within 24 hours of the launch on Friday – an unprecedented response, revealing the scale of the challenges facing Welsh businesses.

The Fund aims to complement and fill the gaps left by UK Government schemes such as the Job Retention Scheme, with grants of up to £10,000 for micro-enterprises and up to £100,000 for SMEs and a light touch appraisal system designed to get money to businesses with the minimum of delay – as well as a new loan fund administered by the Development Bank of Wales.

Less than three weeks since the First Minister announced the intention to create the Fund, the Welsh Government has released a further £100 million, taking the grant fund to £300 million. This will supplement this latest phase of support, providing non-repayable grants to microbusinesses, SMEs and those large businesses of critical, social or economic importance to Wales.

The Fund has been warmly received by trade union and business organisations, with the Institute of Directors calling it ‘very welcome news for business owners and managers who are desperate for all the help they can get at this difficult time’. The South and Mid Wales Chambers of Commerce has called ‘the rapid response to date’ of the Welsh Government in supporting the economy of Wales ‘impressive’. The Wales TUC welcomed ‘additional funding to address the gaps’.

Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales Ken Skates said:  “We knew that even with the help offered by initiative such as the Job Retention Scheme, there was a massive need for quick access to grant funding if Welsh businesses were to survive this unprecedented economic shock. Whilst in order to make the scheme quick and simple we needed to take tough decisions over eligibility – like requiring businesses to be registered for VAT as a way of having to check on their trading history – it is clear from the level of response received that the Economic Resilience Fund is plugging a gap in UK Government support and providing much needed financial reassurance to many businesses at this challenging time. We will continue to review support and consider how we can develop it over the coming days.

“The rate of applications has been massive and unprecedented. This is the second time in a matter of weeks that access to Welsh Government funds aimed at easing cash flow pressures for Welsh business have quickly reached capacity, and we have responded with pace to release a further £100m into this phase of the fund.

“In these difficult and demanding economic times we have worked hard to free up resources to create such a large Fund despite the huge demands on our budget, and to strike a balance between supporting as many enterprises as possible and making a meaningful contribution to each one’s survival, as well as asking each recipient to sign up to the principles of the economic contract.

“Though we applaud much of what the UK Government has done, there is an urgent need to see more of the promised lending guaranteed by the UK Government getting to the front line. The UK Government must continue to support and press the high street banks to be much more responsive to the needs of our businesses at this difficult time.”

Finance Minister Rebecca Evans said: “The Economic Resilience Fund is part of more than £2bn of support that we have made available to help businesses and charities during these incredibly difficult times.

“We know that support for business is crucially important but whilst we are doing everything we can in Wales to plug any gaps and provide the best possible financial support to businesses, it is clear there are further steps that the UK Government needs to urgently take.”

The Economic Resilience offers financial support to help businesses, charities and social enterprises deal with the coronavirus crisis and will be vital in helping organisations manage cash flow pressures. It is a unique additional funding stream for Wales and was designed to address gaps not currently met by schemes already announced by the UK Government, Welsh Government and Development Bank of Wales.

The first stage of the Fund saw the £100 million Development Bank of Wales’ loan scheme fully subscribed in little more than a week. Applications are currently being processed and some businesses have already received funding. It is anticipated that the Development Bank will have processed all applications received within the month.

To ensure that money reaches businesses as quickly as possible more than 120 additional Welsh Government and Business Wales staff have been diverted onto processing applications and supporting businesses and organisations in this latest stage of the Fund.

Business

Nick Ramsay MS: Freeze welcome but doesn’t go far enough

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BUSINESS rates in Wales will not be subject to an inflationary increase in 2021-22 Finance Minister Rebecca Evans has confirmed today. Freezing the multiplier next year will help support around 54,000 ratepayers across Wales, who are not already receiving 100% rates relief. This takes the total amount of savings businesses have received on their rates bills to more than £90 million from 2018 to 2019. Earlier this year the Welsh Government also announced a rates relief package worth £580 million to provide businesses with the support they needed to survive the pandemic. Finance Minister Rebecca Evans said: “We recognise the pressures that businesses are facing and we are continuing to explore the support measures we can put in place to help businesses cope with the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the end of the EU transition period. “The announcement I have made today provides businesses with the reassurance that they will not see an increase in their business rates liabilities next year.” The Conservatives’ Shadow Minister for Finance – reacted to the announcement.Nick Ramsay MS said: “The continuing health emergency produced by the Covid pandemic remains grave, yet the economic emergency we’re going through is still bringing about a different, but equally devastating effect. “The announcement is, therefore, welcome but doesn’t go far enough. “Welsh Conservatives outlined earlier this year our vision of how to rebuild the economy, which will require the next Welsh Government to utilise tax powers in innovative ways. “We have pledged to create ‘Business Rate-Free Zones’, where all businesses would be free from paying business rates for up to three years, and to scrap business rates for all businesses with a rateable value of under £15,000 outside of these zones. “Sure, the business-rates freeze from the Finance Minister is a step in the right direction, but I – and undoubtedly many businesspeople – am left feeling no real sense of assurance from her announcement.”
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Improvements required at five takeaway premises in Ceredigion

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PROPRIETORS of five takeaways in Ceredigion have been warned that their businesses may face closure if they fail to take reasonable measures to provide or require the use of personal protective equipment and face coverings by persons working on their premises.

Premises Improvement Notices have been served on the persons responsible for these takeway premises in Ceredigion:

–          Cardigan Arms Fish & Chip Shop, Cardigan

–          Express Café, Aberystwyth

–          Domino’s, Aberystwyth

–          Hot Dumplings, Aberystwyth

–          and Star Fried Chicken and Pizza, Aberystwyth 

The improvement notices require the businesses to ‘provide or require the use of personal protective equipment and face coverings by persons working on the premises’ and warn that failure to comply with the notices can result in a premises closure notice being issued. The premises were issued with the notices following coordinated inspections by Dyfed-Powys Police and the Public Protection Team at Ceredigion County Council over the weekend.

Businesses should ensure that they are aware of the requirements under the Regulations for individuals to wear face coverings in indoor public areas, and also for regulated premises to take all reasonable measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus, such as providing and requiring the use of face coverings. Whilst face shields do offer some protection for the user against transmission of coronavirus, they are not considered to be ‘face coverings’ as they merely shield rather than actually cover the mouth and nose.

The Public Protection Team will continue to carry out unannounced inspections of premises and the non-compliant businesses may be issued with premises improvement or closure notices.

Information for businesses is available on the Council’s website: Supporting Ceredigion’s Economy

Any business who is unsure of their responsibilities in relation to face coverings is urged to check the Welsh Government website.

Any business that requires further information or guidance can contact the Council’s Public Protection Team on 01545 570881 or email clic@ceredigion.gov.uk.

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Closure notice issued to a takeaway premise in Aberystwyth

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A TAKEAWAY premise in Aberystwyth has been closed after it failed to comply with a premises improvement notice.

A closure notice has been served on G-One, North Parade, Aberystwyth by Ceredigion County Council’s Public Protection Officers due to non-compliance with the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No. 4) (Wales) Regulations 2020.

The business was required last month to “provide or require the use of personal protective equipment and face coverings by persons working on the premises”.  However, officers witnessed staff failing to wear face coverings on several occasions in breach of the requirements. 

Ceredigion County Council’s Public Protection Team will continue to take action against businesses who fail to comply with the coronavirus restrictions.  Whilst non-compliant businesses will usually receive advice and guidance, serious or persistent breaches will be dealt with by means of our closure powers, fixed penalty notices or prosecution.

The takeaway must close until December 21, 2020, and the full closure notice can be found on Ceredigion County Council’s website, under Improvement and Closure Notices: www.ceredigion.gov.uk/resident/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-improvement-closure-and-direction-notices/

Information for businesses is available on the Council’s website: www.ceredigion.gov.uk/business/covid-19-supporting-ceredigion-s-economy/

Any business who is unsure of their responsibilities is urged to check the Welsh Government’s website: https://gov.wales/taking-all-reasonable-measures-minimise-risk-exposure-coronavirus-workplaces-and-premises-open

Any business that requires further information or guidance can contact the council’s Licensing Team at 01545 570881 or clic@ceredigion.gov.uk

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