As the latest national lockdown for England yesterday ended and Oxfordshire moved into tier two (high alert) of the Government’s new local restriction measures, OxLEP has emphasised its commitment to supporting the county’s business community as the pandemic continues and with less than a month to go until the UK leaves the European Union.
In a statement, Nigel Tipple – Chief Executive of OxLEP – said:
“As England emerges from this lockdown, we will continue to work closely with the Government, Oxfordshire’s health officials, our local authority counterparts, the county’s MPs and our business community to ensure that businesses can safely return to operation with the appropriate support readily available where it’s necessary.
“This winter period will clearly be extremely challenging for many businesses across the county. Coronavirus has created an unprecedented situation and will cause concern and disruption to businesses of all sizes for the foreseeable future.
"We will work hard to make sure our business community are supported to be both resilient and productive in the lead-up to Christmas and as we enter 2021.
"We will also aim to ensure our businesses are well-prepared for the UK’s departure from the European Union too, directing them to effective support, whether our own support or indeed Government or partner-led.”
Where do I find the right business support?
During the coming weeks and months, we will continue to signpost our business community to a variety of support resources, helping them to make positive decisions during this time.
We have introduced a number of new programmes and funds in recent times, aimed at providing critical help to businesses. In addition, with the UK leaving the European Union at the end of 2020, it's key for Oxfordshire businesses to check the new rules that will come into operation from 1 January 2021 and to take action now.
UK transition-specific support:
With the UK exiting the European Union, it's key for Oxfordshire businesses to check the new rules that will come into operation from 1 January 2021 and to take action now. With this in mind, we will continue to support our business community, as well as signpost them to a variety of resources, helping businesses to make positive decisions during this time.
Oxfordshire businesses will have to make a number of changes to ensure continued flow of people, data, goods and services between the UK and the EU.
These actions are required for Oxfordshire businesses:
- If you sell goods to the EU you must prepare for new customs procedures
- If you travel to the EU for work purposes you will need to check if you need a visa or work permit and apply if necessary
- If you employ overseas nationals you will need to prepare your business for the implementation of the new immigration system
- If you are a UK business or organisation that receives personal data from contacts in the EEA, you may need to take extra steps to ensure that the data can continue to flow legally at the end of the transition period
- If you provide services in the EU, you must ensure that your qualifications are now recognised by EU regulations to be able to practice or service clients in the EU
Alongside this, Oxfordshire businesses can benefit from a number of webinars too - created alongside partnering growth hubs - offering advice across several key areas, including tariffs, customs and supply chain management.
COVID-19 specific support:
Oxfordshire Kickstart Grant Scheme:
The Oxfordshire Kickstart Grant Scheme will open for applications from the county’s businesses for one day only at 10am on 8 December 2020.
Most grants awarded will be in the range of £1,000 to £3,000 although grants of up to £5,000 will be considered in exceptional circumstances at the discretion of OxLEP Business. This is a 100% grant scheme funded by the Government (through the European Regional Development Fund) and there is no requirement for businesses to contribute financially.
To manage the expected demand, the Growth Hub will close the application process when the first 75 applications have been submitted through the online form. The scheme's application portal will open at 10am on 8 December and will close at 5pm on that day, or once the 75-application limit has been reached, whichever comes first.
The peer networks programme brings together cohorts of business leaders so they can discuss business challenges with their peers.
Delivered through a series of group sessions, businesses gain and reflect valuable feedback from peers and identify practical solutions to overcome business challenges. Businesses will then choose which coach, mentor or business advisor to work with to further explore solutions to your challenge.
Business support tool:
Through the business support tool, businesses can complete a simple online form and receive a bespoke business support plan, aimed at coming up with practical solutions to challenges currently faced:
The eScalate programme supports growing businesses that have scale-up potential. It also supports SMEs that are social enterprise, social entrepreneurs, enterprising charities and other purposeful businesses committed to enabling positive social and environmental impact.
Innovation Support for Business (ISfB):
ISfB is a programme designed to drive and commercialise the innovative business ideas of Oxfordshire's SMEs and entrepreneurs.
Skills for Business:
Skills for Business provides practical support to small to medium-sized businesses to identify and evaluate their skills and learning needs including upskilling current staff.