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Westminster Business News Updates
Please take a few moments to help us understand your business’s perspective through our second quarterly Business Survey. The survey will take less than ten minutes to complete and is vital for shaping our response to the current challenges facing businesses in Westminster. Share your opinion here.
Key updates

Last week the Chancellor outlined additional Government support to businesses and workers:

  • Job support scheme. To help support jobs where normal hours due to decreased demand.
  • Self-employment income support scheme. Support for self-employed individuals by extending the Self Employment Income Support Scheme.
  • Tax cuts and deferrals. The 15% VAT cut for the tourism and hospitality sectors is extended to the end of March. Self-assessment taxpayers have a 12-month extension on the Time to Pay facility.
  • Flexibility to pay back loans. A Bounce Back Loan can be repaid over a period of up to ten years.
  • Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme. Extended to 30 November for new applications. Lenders have the ability to extend loans from six years to ten years. 

The Government also announced a range of new regulations, including specific guidelines for businesses:

  • Businesses selling food or drink, and other hospitality venues must be closed between 10pm and 5am.
  • In licensed premises, food and drink must be ordered from, and served at, a table.
  • Businesses will need to display the official NHS QR code posters so that customers can ‘check-in’.
  • Businesses and organisations will face stricter rules to make their premises COVID-secure.
Businesses will be fined and could be closed if they breach these rules. For further details please visit the Government’s website.

NHS COVID-19 App & QR Codes: It is now a legal requirement for designated businesses and organisations, including hospitality, close contact services and leisure venues, to display an official NHS QR code poster and collect contact details of all customers, visitors and staff for NHS Test and Trace.

The NHS COVID-19 app enables customers and visitors to ‘check in’ to your venue by scanning the QR code. It’s fast and easy to create these posters on the Government QR website.

For more information on the app and QR codes, and what they means for your business, please visit the NHS COVID-19 website.

Restriction of plastic straws, cotton buds and stirrers: A national restriction has been implemented on the supply of plastic straws, plastic drinks stirrers and plastic-stemmed cotton buds in order to prevent pollution of the environment and/or harm to the health of humans and animals. The regulations make it an offence to:

  • Supply or offer to supply single-use plastic straws to any end user, with exemptions.
  • Supply or offer to supply single-use plastic-stemmed cotton buds to any end user, with exemptions.
  • Supply or offer to supply single-use plastic drink stirrers.
The offences apply only to persons acting in the course of a business. They do not apply, for example, to individuals supplying the restricted items to other family members or to house guests. You can view the legislation in detail here.
Businesses are invited to join us online for the new look Open Forum to ask us about our plans to create a greener and cleaner Westminster. Open Forum offers an opportunity for you to hear from the Leader of the Council and Cabinet Members, and have your questions answered. We are focusing a large part of the discussion on the theme of the environment, including the climate emergency, air quality, recycling and other environmental issues that affect businesses and residents in Westminster. 
Register to attend Open Forum here. You can submit a question beforehand or live on the night, and we will answer as many as possible during the event. Any questions not answered will be responded to after the meeting.
Support for your business

Rapid-Response Digital Skills Training Offer: This October, you can receive in-depth digital skills training free of charge in your lunch break. Three and Imperial College have partnered with Westminster Council to provide a series of training modules, free for all Westminster businesses, beginning on 27 October. From training on how to create a digital track and trace system to establishing a social media presence, there’s something for every business. Please follow the Eventbrite links below for more information and to sign up for the modules.

Small business grants: Facebook has set up a £5m grant fund for small businesses in London that have been badly impacted by the pandemic. The social media giant is inviting companies with between 2 and 50 employees that have been operating for at least a year to make an application. You can find out more about the grant, or make an application by following this link.

Boost your broadband: The Connect Westminster project offers businesses up to £2,000 towards the capital costs of upgrading their broadband connection to ultrafast levels. Upgrading your broadband brings real business benefits such as:
  • Increasing your profits by offering better services to more satisfied customers
  • Improving your customers’ experience with quicker communication and faster file-sharing thanks to higher upload and download speeds, especially for large files
  • Reducing software and hardware costs by helping you switch to online data storage solutions
  • Enhancing the way you communicate and collaborate through online video conferencing and cloud-based information sharing
  • Future-proofing your business with the latest technology to meet your customers’ needs
Visit the website for more information, the eligibility criteria and to make an application. This £2.8m project is funded by Westminster City Council and the European Union’s Regional Development Fund.

Kickstart Scheme: The Government’s £2bn Kickstart Scheme is open for applications from employers. These six-month placements are open to those aged 16 to 24 who are claiming Universal Credit and at risk of long-term unemployment. Employers will receive funding for 100% of the relevant National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week, plus associated employer National Insurance contributions and employer minimum auto-enrolment pension contributions. Find out more here.
Have your say on busking in Westminster: We’re proposing a new policy for busking and street entertainment, and we want to know what you think. The policy aims to support busking while protecting residents and workers from negative impacts, such as excessive noise and overcrowding.
We want to hear what residents, businesses and performers think, to make sure we are striking the right balance. Find out more and have your say by 1 November.

Crowdfund Westminster: Created by Westminster City Council in partnership with crowdfunding platform Spacehive, this exciting new programme is designed to enable Westminster residents and businesses to support diverse projects that will benefit our communities. Along with advice and support the Council has funds it can pledge to projects (with funding dependent on the nature of the project).

The Westminster Community Enterprise fund is a £100,000 fund designed to support crowdfunding campaigns throughout the borough that create or develop a new space supporting business and enterprise. Throughout the coronavirus outbreak and lockdown, we’ve seen an incredible outpouring of support and compassion across Westminster’s communities. Crowdfund Westminster will enable us to channel that fantastic community spirit to support projects that help residents get back on their feet, learn new skills and bring disused spaces back to life.
If you have an idea for a community project, now is the time to try it out! We can work with you to shape up your thoughts into a crowdfunding campaign to join the #CrowdfundWestminster Autumn cohort where there are only two weeks left to be able to join this round. If you would like to register your interest in Crowdfund Westminster, then please click here.

GLA property advice seminars for Westminster businesses: The London Business Hub has launched a Property Advice Service. This program is designed to help level the property playing field in the complicated pandemic landscape. The service can:

  1. Provide FREE support and advice to London-based micro and small/medium size businesses.
  2. Cover issues such as signing your first lease or licence, renewing an existing one, rent disputes, considering going to arbitration and eviction.

The service will commence in early October and continue operating until at least December this year. You can register your interest by following this link.

Commercial Waste Services: Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you are experiencing any commercial waste collection issues, we can assist in providing a range of waste collection services.

It remains business as usual for Commercial Waste Services and we continue to be available around the clock to collect Westminster’s waste and recycling and maintain clean streets. We can also support your business through a number of bespoke services such as our premises disinfection service and with sector-specific waste and recycling advice. Visit our site for more information on how we can help.

Premises Enquiry Line: To help reduce the spread of coronavirus, businesses and organisations are now legally required to comply with the Government’s new regulations. Residents and visitors can call 0207 641 4747 to clarify whether a business or organisation is following the regulations or would like advice on what to expect from premises in Westminster who are complying with the regulations. We will also follow up with businesses or organisations if required. The line is open from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

For more information on 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 do need bespoke advice, don’t hesitate to contact our Business Unit as they may be able to help with your situation.
Visit the Business Westminster website
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