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                                                                                                           25/02/21
England is currently under National Lockdown restrictions. It is therefore vital that we all play our part in limiting the spread of coronavirus by:
  • Following the National Lockdown restrictions
  • Getting tested and isolating if you or your staff have symptoms
  • Remembering Hands, Face, Space
Please visit the Government’s website on National Lockdown guidance for the latest information on restrictions and exemptions.
Roadmap out of Lockdown
From 8 March, England will see restrictions start to lift as the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown plots a route back to a more normal life. We’ve condensed the roadmap below, focusing on information relevant to businesses. Click here to view the full roadmap.

No earlier than 8 March
  • Only leave home for essential reasons such as shopping, attending medical appointments, exercise or going to work where you cannot do so from home.
  • All schools will reopen, including outdoor after-school sports activities.
  • Two people from different households will be allowed to socialise outdoors
No earlier than 29 March
  • People will not be required to stay at home but will be encouraged to stay in their local areas
  • Outdoor sports facilities will reopen, including golf courses, tennis courts, football pitches and outdoor swimming pools.
  • Formally organised outdoor sports will be allowed.
  • Weddings can be attended by up to six people either indoors or outdoors.
No earlier than 12 April
  • All non-essential retail will be allowed to open.
  • Restaurants and pub gardens will be allowed to serve customers sitting outdoors, including solely to serve alcohol.
  • Gyms and spas can reopen.
  • Hairdressers, beauty salons and other ‘close contact services’ can reopen.
  • UK domestic holidays away from home will be permitted, with self-contained accommodation able to reopen for use by members of the same household.
  • Zoos, theme parks and drive-in cinemas can reopen.
  • Libraries and community centres can reopen.
  • Weddings attended by up to 15 people can take place.
No earlier than 17 May
  • People can meet in groups of up to 30 outdoors.
  • Six people or two households can meet indoors.
  • Pubs, restaurants and other hospitality venues can seat customers indoors.
  • Up to 30 people can meet to celebrate weddings or other life events.
  • Remaining outdoor entertainment, as well as indoor entertainment such as museums, theatres, cinemas and children’s play areas can open.
  • Performances and large events will be subject to limits. Indoor events can be held at half capacity or 1,000 people, outdoor events can be at half capacity or 4,000 people - whichever is lower. For large venues (at least 40,000 capacity) up to 10,000 will be allowed to attend.
  • Hotels, hostels and B&Bs can reopen.
  • International leisure travel will resume.
  • Adult indoor group sports and exercise classes can restart.
No earlier than 21 June
  • All legal limits on social contact and attending life events will be removed.
  • The Government will run pilots for events such as large weddings, festivals and work conferences to determine how COVID measures might allow large groups to attend without social distancing.
  • Nightclubs will be allowed to reopen.
Other Key Updates
Round 2 of the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) Scheme: The allocation for these funds from central Government has been based on the number of residents within the borough, not the number of businesses per borough and as such Westminster’s original allocation was limited to only £5.2m. All Local Authorities have since received top-up funding from central Government, still based on the number of residents formula. Westminster City Council’s top-up allocation is £2.3m bringing the total funding envelope to £7.5m.

The eligibility criteria has been determined following Cabinet Member direction. Following the first round of the scheme and the receipt of the top-up allocation from central Government, the City Council has revised the eligibility criteria for the scheme and increased the value of individual grant awards as follows:
  • Previous Discretionary Grant Fund recipients who are in non-essential retail, hospitality or leisure; who supply the first-tier retail, hospitality or leisure sectors; and businesses within the events sector will now be eligible to apply.
  • Successful applicants through the first round of ARG to receive a top-up of £3,000 to their originally approved £2,000 grant award.
  • Enhancing the grants from £2,000 to £5,000 per business for new successful applicants through the second and possibly final round of the scheme.
Therefore only businesses who fall under one of the below three categories will be eligible to apply:
  • non-ratepayers in non-essential retail, leisure, personal care, sports facilities and hospitality business (including, hotel and bed and breakfast accommodation and leisure businesses) which are effectively forced to close or have been severely impacted by the restrictions. This includes previous Discretionary Grant Fund recipients
  • ratepayer or non-ratepayer businesses that supply (first tier) the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors, including previous grant Discretionary Grant Fund recipients
  • ratepayer or non-ratepayer businesses in the events sector, including previous Discretionary Grant Fund recipients
Please only submit an application to the City Council if you believe your business falls under one of the three listed business categories.

Due to the limited funding available to the Council, awards will continue to be made on a “first come first served” basis to eligible businesses that provide valid application forms together with all of the requested documentary evidence. 

The scheme will be administered until the funding pot has been fully exhausted. Business who fail to submit all of the relevant documentary evidence in the timeframe stated on their application correspondence will have their applications discontinued.

The scheme will re-open at 12pm on Friday 26 February (tomorrow). The link to submit an application will be made available on our website once live.

The process will involve completing two forms – an initial pre-screening form and a full application form. Businesses will be required to submit supporting documentation via email for audit and compliance purposes.

We recommend having the following information to hand when completing the forms:
  • Trading/registered address 
  • Company Registration Number/Charity Number (if applicable) 
  • Unique Tax Reference Number (if applicable) 
  • Links to online presence (if applicable) 
  • Information regarding the pandemic’s impact on the business (e.g. estimated percentage drop in sales)
  • Business Rates Account Number (if applicable)
  • Bank details
If you have any issues with the process, please contact the Westminster Business Unit on businessunit@westminster.gov.uk or telephone 020 7641 2070.

For more information on the second round of the ARG scheme, please click here to view the Council's website.
Al Fresco dining returns to Westminster: Westminster's temporary al fresco outdoor dining scheme will be returning on 12 April and run until the end of September.   
  
More than 560 pavement licences were granted to businesses for outdoor dining between July and November last year.  Current pavement licences will expire on 30 April 2021 - so if you want to serve food or drink outside, you'll need to re-apply. New licences will be valid until 30 September 2021.
 
To apply for a Pavement Licence, please click here. It takes approximately 14 days to assess applications.
 
The Council will do everything it can to support businesses to re-open safely in the coming weeks. The need to maintain access for emergency vehicles and accommodate residents and other businesses means we're unlikely to make additional road closures or grant new pavement extensions at this time.  
 
We encourage businesses with sufficient outdoor space to apply for a pavement licence. Businesses that can’t operate until indoor seating returns on 17 May should view our business support services.  
Free Support for your Digital Transformation: We’re continuing our popular digital skills training series. Join these sessions for expert advice and training to support your business as you digitalise, generate online sales and deliver goods or services during lockdown: These training opportunities will aid high street businesses in generating sales online. Spaces are limited and fill up fast, so book today.
Support for your Business
National Lockdown Grants – 16 February to 31 March: Businesses that have applied to us for National Lockdown Grants should have received, or will soon be receiving, all payments due to 15 February. This week, the Government announced a new tranche of grant funding to cover the period 16 February to 31 March.

When the Council has received the funding from central Government, the Council will schedule the future payment of this additional grant payment. The grants are set amounts based on the rateable value of a business:

Rateable values of less than £15,001                                    a grant payment of £2,096
Rateable values between £15,001 and £50,999                    a grant payment of £3,143
Rateable values greater than £50,999                                   a grant payment of £4,714
 
There is no need to re-apply to the Council.
 
Further details of Business Support Grants can be found by clicking this link.
Focus Group: Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) Business Support: We are looking to hear from businesses owned by people from BAME backgrounds in Westminster.

A new study by the Black South West Network found that businesses owned or run by people from BAME backgrounds have been disproportionality impacted by COVID-19. To provide better support, we need to know what the local needs are. A focus group will be held to learn more about the experiences of business owners from BAME backgrounds.

If you are willing to attend, please email businessunit@westminster.gov.uk providing your details by March 10.
Webinar – funding in difficult times: This webinar can help you think outside the box when it comes to funding and resilience. The session focuses on creating a Business Survival Guide, as well as how you can access Government-backed business grants and loans despite the present challenges.
Webinar - demystifying taxes: This webinar is designed to help start-ups and small business owners manage their accounts so that they pay the right amount of tax. 

The webinar will take place on 4 March from 10:30am - 11:30am. Click here to register via Eventbrite.
Free Property Advice Service webinars: The London Business Hub is offering a series of free webinars and masterclasses that can assist and guide you on topics such as business rates, lease negotiations and much more. View upcoming webinar dates and find out more about the programme.
For more information on the ways Westminster City Council, the UK Government and the community can help, please follow the links below:
Whilst we are dealing with a greater volume of queries than usual, if you need bespoke advice, don’t hesitate to contact our Business Unit to get appropriate help.
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