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Key policy updates – London Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Key policy updates from the last week – London Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Business support

CBILS has been extended

  • More businesses are now set to benefit from the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) as the Government has made changes to state aid rules, according to a Government news story. This means that more small businesses can benefit from loans up to the size of £5m.
  • Prior to this announcement, businesses which were classed as “undertakings in difficulty” were unable to access CBILS because of EU rules, however this has now changed.
  • The UK Government, alongside industry groups, lobbied to relax the restrictive rules in the European Temporary State Aid Framework to ensure more businesses can access much needed funding.
  • • The full correspondence between representatives of the UK, EU and industry groups can be found online here.

BEIS funding for small business training

  • • BEIS has committed £20 million to improve small business’ management, productivity and problem-solving skills through 2 training programmes.
  • • The Small Business Leadership Programme will focus on strengthening decision makers’ leadership skills, so they are able to address management challenges
  • • The Peers Network Programme will focus on helping business owners improve their problem-solving skills, such as finding new customers and using technology to adapt a business model.

£20 million in new grants to boost recovery of small businesses

  • Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government announces £20 million new funding to help businesses across England get back on track.
  • Small and medium sized businesses in England can access grants between £1,000 – £5,000 for new equipment and technology and specialist advice
  • Minister confirms new support while visiting businesses and local leaders across Cornwall

Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government – £1.3 billion investment to deliver homes, infrastructure and jobs

  • • Over 300 shovel-ready projects in England to share £900 million investment to build homes and infrastructure, and create jobs o Officials have said that the move will help to build up to 45,000 homes, create up to 85,000 jobs and cut CO2 emissions by roughly 65m kg.
  • o £22.1m was allocated to London through the London Economic Action Partnership
  •  
  • • £360 million investment confirmed to deliver 26,000 new homes on brownfield land
  • • Strict accreditation rules for tradespeople involved in the £2 billion Green Homes Grant scheme to ensure homes are of the highest quality

Support line for apprentices

    • A new online and telephone support service for apprentices who have lost their jobs during the COVID-19 outbreak has been launched today by the Government. o The new Redundancy Support Service for Apprentices (RASSA) will ensure apprentices can access local and national services that provide financial, legal, health and wellbeing support, and help them to find a new job should they need it.
    •  
    • From today, employers large and small are also being encouraged to take advantage of generous new cash incentives designed to create more high quality apprenticeship opportunities so more people, particularly young people, can kick-start an exciting and rewarding career.
    • Employers are being offered £2,000 for each new apprentice aged under 25 they hire, and £1,500 for each new apprentice they hire aged 25 and over, up to the 31st January 2021. This includes taking on an apprentice who has been made redundant.

More information on Job Retention Bonus was announced

  • It states that now employers can claim the bonus for all eligible employees who had been previously furloughed, which equates to £1,000 for every previously furloughed staff member if they are employed until January 2021.
  • As the scheme is designed to protect jobs, those who are serving notice for redundancy will not be eligible for the bonus.

The Mayor of London has pledged a £1m fund to help small businesses and community groups

  • The aim of the fund is to make sure that the community groups and SME’s are well prepared for future emergencies.
  • Businesses, social enterprises and community groups will be matched with innovators who will help them find new ways of delivering their products and services in these new circumstances.
  • Grants of up to £50,000 will be available to support designing and testing these innovations.

New law to help those made redundant after furlough

  • A new law to ensure furloughed employees receive full redundancy payments, and thus on their full ‘normal’ pay rather than a lower rate due to them having been furloughed. o This will ensure that those who were first furloughed under the CJRS and have subsequently been made redundant will not lose out on money for the duration of them not working.
  • o The changes will also apply to statutory notice pay and other entitlements, providing some reassurance during this difficult time, according to the recent announcement.
  •  

New TfL app to help Londoners plan ahead

  • • The new iPhone app provides real-time train times in a mobile-friendly way and information to enable travel at quieter times outside peak hours to help customers maintain social distancing.
  • • The app also offers alternative routes and walking and cycling options. These features will develop further based on customer feedback.
  • • An Android version will be released later this year.

Policy updates – note that the House of Commons is in recess from 22nd July to 1st September

New Government consultation on traffic management for Kent

  • • The Government has launched a consultation about legislation it proposes to renew and update to ensure that traffic management plans can be effectively enforced, and incentivise hauliers to ensure they are ‘border-ready’ before setting off for Kent.

Homeowners offered up to £10,000 for energy efficiency changes

  • • Under the new “green homes grants” scheme, more than 600,000 people in England will be eligible to apply for vouchers to install insulation, heat pumps, and solar panel systems.
  • • Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the scheme is a “vital part of our plans for jobs”, to enable the UK to have a “green recovery” from the effects of the coronavirus on the economy.

LA grants leftover funds

We wanted to let you know that BEIS Secretary Alok Sharma sent the attached letter to local authority chief execs late last week, stating that the three grant schemes will be closed on 28th August. Any unspent funds will have to be returned to BEIS.

We’ve done a quick calculation of the latest figures for the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Fund and Small Business Grant Fund:

 

Local authority

Initial Allocation

Number of  hereditaments that the local authority has identified may be in scope to receive a grant as at 19 July

Number of grant payments made  to hereditaments as at 19 July

Value of payments (£)

Percentage of identified hereditaments paid

Ealing

£68,212,000

5,440

5,440

£74,725,000

100%

Harrow

£42,216,000

2,606

2,606

£38,270,000

100%

Hillingdon

£45,756,000

3,035

3,035

£40,880,000

100%

Lewisham

£47,004,000

3,089

3,089

£39,050,000

100%

Newham

£58,660,000

3,907

3,907

£54,325,000

100%

Westminster City Council

£78,090,000

5,326

5,326

£94,540,000

100%

Havering

£40,532,000

2,751

2,750

£37,055,000

100%

Bexley

£36,438,000

2,734

2,730

£33,615,000

100%

City of London

£14,740,000

1,157

1,155

£18,045,000

100%

Merton

£29,318,000

2,091

2,084

£27,650,000

100%

Waltham Forest

£54,066,000

3,130

3,090

£42,225,000

99%

Tower Hamlets

£78,818,000

5,164

5,021

£73,205,000

97%

Sutton

£28,160,000

2,027

1,968

£25,335,000

97%

Haringey

£56,312,000

3,405

3,295

£48,520,000

97%

Enfield

£50,182,000

3,203

3,039

£43,335,000

95%

Richmond

£41,610,000

2,731

2,526

£41,190,000

92%

Redbridge

£49,612,000

3,335

3,045

£43,965,000

91%

Islington

£57,768,000

3,908

3,553

£58,165,000

91%

Croydon

£60,588,000

3,933

3,564

£48,120,000

91%

Lambeth

£57,500,000

4,304

3,885

£53,805,000

90%

Wandsworth

£58,192,000

3,825

3,452

£53,885,000

90%

Brent

£64,386,000

4,602

4,046

£59,660,000

88%

Bromley

£52,482,000

3,683

3,226

£46,345,000

88%

Greenwich

£36,852,000

3,045

2,656

£34,000,000

87%

Southwark

£70,062,000

4,953

4,286

£62,480,000

87%

Barking & Dagenham

£26,938,000

2,241

1,936

£24,895,000

86%

Hounslow

£36,520,000

2,811

2,403

£33,885,000

85%

Camden

£70,150,000

4,387

3,731

£70,760,000

85%

Hackney

£64,622,000

5,112

4,331

£63,695,000

85%

Barnet

£65,756,000

4,284

3,614

£57,875,000

84%

Kensington & Chelsea

£40,964,000

2,653

2,235

£42,075,000

84%

Hammersmith & Fulham

£49,208,000

3,131

2,596

£44,095,000

83%

Kingston upon Thames

£30,646,000

2,656

2,009

£28,925,000

76%

Totals for London

£1,662,360,000

114,659

105,629

£1,558,595,000

92%

92% of London businesses that were identified as potentially being eligible have received a grant, the same as the national figure.

Twin call for supply chain partners for DWP CAEHRS

                               

 

 

 

Twin Employment and Training (TET) is seeking Expressions of Interest (EOI) from potential supply chain partners for the DWP Provision of Employment and Health Related Services (CAEHRS) from 2020 to 2025. CAEHRS is designed to support the provision of Employment and Health related programmes and will be available for use across government and other public sector contracting authorities, all of which are identified in the contract notice.

With the changes in economic conditions triggered by the impact of COVID-19 this is likely to become a key area of strategic focus for all these organisations over the short and potentially medium term.

Alongside a strong track record of local service integration, potential partners must be able to demonstrate an innovative approach to the Lots that they seek to deliver to, as well as high performing provision with specialist cohorts in the following lots:

• Central England (Lot 1)

• North East England (Lot 2)

• North West England (Lot 3)

• Southern England (Lot 4)

• London & Home Counties (Lot 5)

• Wales (Lot 6)

• Scotland (Lot 7)

Key areas of support and delivery

• Employability

• Criminal Justice and Offender Related Services

• Health and Wellbeing Related Services

• Education and Skills

• Careers and Advice Services

• Enterprise and Business Support

• Youth

• Housing

• Addictions

• Labour Market Intelligence and Employment Related Data Services

Customer groups include:

BME groups/ Ex-military personnel/ Ex-offenders/ Faith based/ Gangs/ Graduates/ Homeless people/ Lone parents/ Male offenders/ Over 25s/ Over 50s/ People who are drug or alcohol misusers/ People who are hearing impaired/ People who are visually impaired/ People with autism/ People with learning difficulties/ People with mental health needs/ People with other physical health conditions/ Professionals/ executives/ Refugees/ asylum seekers/ Whole families/ Young people (NEET)/ Travellers.

Special Note:As part of our commitment to local communities we are particularly interested in hearing from you if you are from the voluntary, CIC or charity sector.

Interested?

If these DWP programmes are of interest to your organisation, please complete our short EOI form and return to businessdevelopment@twinuk.com by mid-night 14th July.

EOI’s received after this time will not be accepted, please include the name of your organisation in the file name when returning your EOI.

If you have any difficulties completing this EOI or have any other questions please contact us here, businessdevelopment@twinuk.com

 

 

Summary of Chancellor’s statement, 8th July 2020

 

Support for jobs

  • Job Retention Bonus – businesses will receive a £1,000 bonus for every furloughed employee who is still working at their company as of 31st January 2021
  • Kickstart Scheme – designed to help 16-24 year olds. Those aged 16-24, claiming Universal Credit and at risk of long-term unemployment, will be eligible. Funding available for each six-month job placement will cover 100% of the National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week – and employers will be able to top this wage up.
  • Apprenticeships, skills and training
    • Businesses will be given £2,000 for each new apprentice they hire under the age of 25. This is in addition to the existing £1,000 payment the Government already provides for new 16-18-year-old apprentices and those aged under 25 with an Education, Health and Care Plan.
    • A £111 million investment to triple the scale of traineeships in 2020-21 ensuring more young people have access to high quality training.
    • £17 million of funding to triple the number of sector-based work academy placements in 2020-21
    • Nearly £900 million to double the number of work coaches to 27,000;
    • Over a quarter of a million more young people to benefit from an extra £32 million investment in the National Careers Service.

 

Infrastructure spending and decarbonisation

  • £8.8bn in spending on infrastructure, decarbonisation and maintenance projects
  • £3bn for green investment package
    • £2bn Green Homes Grant – homeowners and landlords in England can claim vouchers for green improvements e.g. loft, wall and floor insulation
    • £1bn for retrofitting public buildings
  • £5.8bn on shovel-ready construction projects
    • £1.5 billion for hospital maintenance and upgrades
    • £100 million for our local roads network
    • over £1 billion to start to rebuild schools in the worst condition in England, plus £760 million this year for key maintenance work on schools and FE colleges
    • £1 billion for local projects to boost local economic recovery in the places that need it most
    • £142 million for court maintenance to repair around 100 courts across England.

Support for hospitality and leisure

  • New discount scheme for restaurants, cafes and pubs – 50% off, up to £10, sit down meals throughout August
  • VAT cut for most tourism and hospitality-related activities, from 20% to 5%. This will run for six months, starting next Wednesday (15th)

 

Support for housing

  • Stamp Duty threshold raised from £125,000 to £500,000, running until 31st March 2021, effective immediately

 

TFL Road Freight Updates, June 26th

Here is your weekly commercial drivers’ travel update, which sets out changes and events that could affect your planned operations.

Congestion charges – We made a number of temporary changes to the central London Congestion Charge to help us get London moving safely and sustainably. The temporary changes are designed to reduce traffic in central London and enable more journeys to be made safely by foot or cycle, while keeping the bus network reliable for those making essential journeys. The temporary changes were applied as of Monday 22 June.

These changes included increasing the Congestion Charge to £15 per day, removing the £1 Auto Pay and Fleet discounts, and extending the hours of operation to between 07:00 and 22:00 seven days a week (excluding Christmas Day). The Residents’ Discount will also be closed to new applicants from 1 August. These temporary changes to the Congestion Charge will be kept under review. For more information visit our Congestion Charge page.

Streetspace For London – In line with our plans to create more space on the streets for people to walk or cycle while social distancing, there will be continuous updates to the layout of various roads. These changes include extending footways and bus and cycle lanes. While we don’t expect the works to impact your journeys, we want you to be aware of the layout changes and will continue to provide a list of upcoming changes. Find out more about the Streetspace For London plan.

From Friday 26 June to Thursday 2 July layout changes will be introduced to the following areas:

  • Clapham High Street, Lambeth – This week, we have worked on widening the footpaths on Clapham High Street to allow for social distancing. This work means the temporary removal of loading and parking bays outside of building numbers 21, 59-79 (Metro Bank) and 157-161. These measures will allow pedestrians additional space to social distance while walking through the area.
  • Brompton Road, Kensington & Chelsea – Next week, we will be working on widening the footpaths on the south side of Brompton Road between building numbers 137-249, from the Hans Road junction to just after the Egerton Road junction. The loading bay between building number 187-191 (Emporio Armani) will be reduced to 15 metres long. The loading bay outside number 197-207 (Bunch of Grapes pub) will be reduced to 12 metres long. The pay and display parking area nearby on Yeoman’s Road will be converted into a temporary 24hr loading and disabled parking bay. Additionally, the loading bays outside of building number 221-225 and 227-235 will be removed and the pay and display parking nearby on Egerton Terrace will be converted into a temporary 24hr loading and disabled parking bay.
  • Euston Road, Camden – Next week, work continues around Euston Road to make space for new cycleways and bus stop bypasses. The speed limit will be reduced from 30mph to 20mph. It will not be possible to turn left eastbound from Euston Road onto Ossulston Street and Charlton Street. Additionally, the westbound left turn from Euston Road onto Upper Wolburn Street will not be possible, this is to allow for safer cycleways. The new cycle route will connect with the existing cycle routes C6 at Judd Street and Gower Street.

In most cases loading bays on red routes will not be affected by the Streetspace programme. However, if you encounter a problem, please email us streetspacelondon@tfl.gov.uk. We aim to complete these works as above but please note dates and times are subject to change.

Road updates

Shops reopening – From Monday 15 June, as non-essential retail shops begins to reopen, the roads surrounding shopping destinations may be busier than usual. Currently the busiest times on our roads are between 06:00-09:00 and 16:00-19:00, and these times are likely to extend with the reopening of shopping destinations. Journeys may take longer. If you can, take an alternative route to avoid areas immediately around shopping destinations. If you must drive near shopping destinations, please take extra care, as there are likely to be more people walking and cycling. Queuing systems for entry to shops may also mean that people use the road to maintain social distancing. 

A40 Westway – As of the evening of Sunday 14 June the speed limit on the elevated section of the A40 Westway was lowered from 40 to 30mph. This will help protect the flyover and significantly reduce the likelihood of unplanned work and restrictions ahead of major maintenance work planned here for summer 2021.

Greenwich and Bexley – Until Saturday 27 June there will be various closures of the A102 and A2 each week night from 22:00 – 05:00. No works will take place at weekends and the Blackwall Tunnel will remain open. These are TfL works for essential maintenance. Please leave more time for your journey and follow the signed diversions, check status updates for more information.

Shoreditch – Until 30 September 2020, Shoreditch High Street will have a contra-flow reducing the width of the carriageway in both directions between Holywell Lane and New Yards Inn. This is due to Shoreditch Village development works.

London Bridge – Until 31 October 2020, London Bridge is closed to general traffic (except buses, licensed taxis, motorcyclists and cyclists). Diversions are in place and there are changes to the junction either side of the bridge. Please take extra care when driving while all users, including pedestrians, get used to the new layout. 

Drivers using Blackfriars Bridge or Tower Bridge should expect queues while crossing the river. Travel outside of peak times and use alternative river crossings including Vauxhall, Westminster and Lambeth bridges where possible for an easier journey. This is for essential maintenance works being carried out by the City of London Corporation. Please visit our London Bridge works page for more information.

Tunnel closures

There are no tunnel closures this week. 

See the latest status updates on road travel.

Local Business wins UK Enterprise Award

Local business owner, Nicola Barrett of Prestige Intouch was awarded

Best Mobile Beauty Therapist (London): Nicola Barrett

by the prestigious 2020 UK Enterprise Awards proudly hosted by SME-News!

“Prestige Intouch, like all of our victors, has demonstrated excellence, commitment, dedication even in the face of uncertainty. For this, we humbly commend you!”

Redbridge Chamber of Commerce congratulates you!

Covid-19 Finance Planning

As lockdown measures begin to ease, business’ owners need to start planning now for the impact on their cash flow and reserves.

Whilst Government have provided short term fixes for business, the real pain is likely to be felt once lockdown has been lifted and we all return to work. There are six key dates over the next year that need to be considered and planned for very carefully.

1. 21st September 2020

For most businesses, the lockdown itself will not be the worst period for cash flow, instead it will be when things start up and running again. As the new working capital cycle begins, there will be certain commitments, and the reserves you would normally rely on have already been depleted.

If we assume that most businesses are going to get back to some sort of ‘normal’ in June or July, the peak effect of the working capital rebuild is probably going to hit in September. Therefore, the last week of September is a key date that businesses should start planning for now.

2. 1st October 2020 and 1st January 2021

Most companies have December or March year-ends, 1 October this year and 1 January next year are key dates as they are when Corporation Tax payments are due.   The crisis hadn’t kicked in back in December and was only just taking hold in March, so profits were probably higher at year end than now and the tax bill will be higher accordingly.

The lockdown may have depleted the cash generated in your last financial year meaning it is no longer there to pay the tax due. For December year-ends, who have just gone through the September working capital peak, cash could be particularly tight when Corporation Tax falls due.

3. 7th November 2020

For businesses with a March/June/September/December VAT stagger, 7th November is the due date for the VAT on the September quarter. The September quarter is likely to be the first quarter with a significant liability from returning to normal trading.

Bearing in mind that this payment is going to be following hot on the heels of the September working capital peak and potentially the October Corporation Tax payment, the VAT payment will need to be planned for.”

Whilst it may be possible to spread the payment with a Time To Pay arrangement with HMRC, or short-term borrowing, these tactics are potentially dangerous to enter into.

The VAT man is one not to get on the wrong side of and if there is one thing that will push businesses into insolvency more than any other, it’s getting behind on their VAT.

4. 31st January 2021

The end of January is the payment date for income tax. While this is a personal liability, not a company one, for many owner-managers, all income comes from the business, so there is usually a knock-on effect.

Since the government made it possible to defer the 31 July 2020 payment on account, the amount that will be due on 31 January 2021 will potentially be that much higher.

We should all set our 31 July 2020 payment to one side so we have it ready, but if you have reduced your drawings to protect the company, that may not have been possible, so you may need to draw money from the company to pay the tax due, causing more issues with cash flow.

Whilst you could potentially agree a Time To Pay arrangement with HMRC, you are only spreading the debt and causing more stress to on-going cash flow.

The January 2021 payment will be based on your income to 5 April 2020, which was again pre-crisis and may well be higher than your current income for the tax year 5 April 2021.

It may, therefore, be possible to reduce the payment on account that needs to be made on 31 January alongside the 2019/20 final payment.

Get your tax return done as soon as possible so that you know what the amount is. Remember any Grants received from Government are taxable as income, so allow for that in your calculations.

5. 31st March 2021

One of the first things the Chancellor announced was that VAT that was due during lockdown did not need to be paid until the 31st March 2021, so this is a significant date. Given the various stress on businesses’ cash flow that have already had a significant impact, this has the potential to be one of the most critical dates of the COVID-19 crisis.

It is essential to confront the realities of the situation now and as it’s more than nine months away, you have time to plan, put money aside or arrange facilities to fund it.   The worst thing you can do, as a business owner, is to put your head in the sand and ignore this potential issue that’s coming towards you.

Other dates to keep in mind are rent quarter days; traditionally in the UK, quarterly rent is payable in March, June, September and December.

If your business pays rent quarterly, then three of these quarter days closely coincide with the key dates we have identified at the end of September 2020, December 2020 and March 2021.

6. 1st May 2021

The final date to be aware of is the year anniversary of the CBILS (Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme) and BBLS (Bounce Back Loan Scheme). These started to be advanced in April and May 2020, mostly with twelve-month repayment holidays, so most repayments will start around 1st May 2021.

The CBILS loans are assessed for affordability, often assuming a return to 2019 trading levels by the time the loan payments commence while the BBLS loans were issued with no checks on affordability at all!

Due to the significant impact on the economy, it’s quite likely that 2019 sales levels will not return as quickly as hoped and that, combined with the aforementioned pressure on cash flow, many businesses could find themselves unable to repay their loan which could result in a second wave of business failures over the course of summer.

Those businesses that are prepared to confront the brutal facts of their current reality will be the ones that prevail in the long term.

The dates above are key; start thinking about how you might navigate through a series of ‘pinch points’ from a cash flow perspective and lay your plans now.

If at all possible, take advantage of the CBILS or BBLS loans now to cover your cashflow later, rather than deferring VAT and Tax payments and having to apply for loans when the business is in distress, which are unlikely to be granted at that point.

By planning now you will have longer to pay the debt back and more certainty in your financial planning, allowing you to concentrate on rebuilding the business and that vital cash flow.

The key to business resilience will be to address these challenges head-on and it all starts with planning now.

There is a Zoom meeting on Tuesday 26th May @ 11am where we can address any concerns or ideas that you have concerning the above – That invite has and will further be sent under separate cover.

 

Coronavirus update, VE Day 2020, COVID-19 testing, May bank holiday refuse collection & more

VE Day 2020

    Marking victory in a national crisis

We’re calling on everyone to join in this Friday 8 May, as we celebrate the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe following World War ll. We may not be able to get together for the special VE Day bank holiday, but there are many ways we can join in spirit to mark the occasion and celebrate our community in our own time of national crises.

 

   

Week of activities leading to VE Day in Redbridge

Redbridge’s culture teams have lots of activities and events throughout the week leading up to VE Day, so people can join in celebrations safely from home and learn about the war and its impact on Redbridge.

Look out for new films from Redbridge Museum and Redbridge Drama Centre that will showcase different aspects of the war in the borough. Our libraries will also be hosting a range of online craft and activities themed on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics), including songs, films and literature relating to World War II. 

► Read the full programme of events

 

   

Hunting out your bunting

The BBC is encouraging people across Britain to mark VE Day, express their pride in our country and to remember and honour the men and women of World War II, by asking people to get creative and make their own special ‘Great British Bunting’ to hang in their windows.

More on BBC Make a Difference

A moment of remembrance to honour lives lost

    At 11am on Friday 8 May, all communities are invited to pause for a two-minute silence outside their homes to honour the service and sacrifice of the Second World War II generation, and also take the opportunity to reflect on the devastating impact COVID-19 has had on so many lives across the world. 

This part of VE Day is a chance for people across all generations and communities to join in a national moment of reflection and remembrance. The circumstances today are different to those of 75 years ago, but the response of our communities remains the same: Be kind. Unite. We can, and we will, pull through this together.

Coronavirus testing

    Testing for coronavirus is being made available at mobile testing sites across London for those who are eligible. Testing is available by appointment only.

 

► Who can apply

Early May bank holiday rubbish collection dates

    Thank you to everyone for your support while our teams continue to collect rubbish.

May bank holiday service changes:

Normal collection date Revised collection date
Friday 8 May Monday 11 May
Monday 11 May Tuesday 12 May
Tuesday 12 May Wednesday 13 May
Wednesday 13 May Thursday 14 May
Thursday 14 May Friday 15 May
Friday 15 May Saturday 16 May

► More information about rubbish collections 

Keep an eye out for your vulnerable neighbour

    If you are concerned for the safety of a vulnerable adult who may have learning disabilities or mental health problems and could be being abused, please contact our First Contact Team on 020 8708 7333 from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm or email Adults Alert.

Report abuse of a vulnerable adult  

Don’t avoid hospital A&E in an emergency

    People are being urged not to avoid going to hospital because of coronavirus if they have a health emergency.

Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BRHUT), which manages our local hospitals is concerned that people may be avoiding coming to emergency departments due to their concerns about coronavirus. Hospitals have been set up to manage both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients, and BRHUT is stressing that people should visit hospital in an emergency to avoid risking their long-term health. 

► Read more about hospital services

If teenage anger turns to violence

    Arguments are a natural part of family life, and if tensions are mounting indoors, anger and frustration can be common from teenagers. However, it is not acceptable for your teenager to use aggression, threats or become violent towards you or their brothers or sisters.

If you’re concerned for yourself or your family, or know somebody else who may be fearful of their child, contact Reach Out for help and support on 0800 145 6410 from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. 

► More on Reach Out

New virtual service for young people launches with Olympian and European boxing champion

    We’ve partnered with BoxUpCrime to launch a new virtual workout and telephone support service for children and young people aged from 8 to 17 years old

BoxUpCrime offer live weekly workouts and training videos via its Instagram account; as well as information and advice on how to prepare healthy meals, support with CV writing, and ideas on how to remain active and motivated at home. BoxUpCrime kick-started its live weekly workouts with European boxing champion, Lawrence Okolie, last Friday.

The team also offer daily telephone support and an advice hotline for children and young people in the borough who may be struggling at home during the lockdown. Children and young people can text, WhatsApp or call to chat with one of its qualified team members on 07903 101 748 (9am to 9pm).

► More on BoxUpCrime

Packed lunch service delivers for 1,700 children

    The council took early action to provide packed lunches to around 1,700 children who are entitled to free school meals, but who aren’t attending school due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Councillor Jas Athwal, Leader of Redbridge Council, said: “It is so important that young people eat a healthy and balanced diet, especially while they’re still growing. While schools are closed for the majority of local children, we want to make sure those relying on school meals aren’t missing out.”

► More on school meals for eligible children

Police say thanks, and keep going!

    The Metropolitan Police Service has taken to social media to thank people for supporting the national fight against COVID-19 and reinforce the importance of social distancing, and continuing to stay home, protect the NHS and save lives.

Its message is: “Keep going, it’s the only way we’ll defeat the disease and keep people safe.”

► Watch the #LondonTogether video

How has coronavirus affected you?

    Would you be interested in taking part in a study into the social and psychological effects of COVID-19?

The research by University College London will be used to understand the effects of the virus and social distancing measures on mental health and loneliness, and to inform Government advice and decisions.

The researchers are looking for adults who are happy to take part and spread the word. Participation involves answering a 10-minute online survey now and then answering a shorter follow-up survey once a week, whilst social isolation measures are in place.

► How to take part

Further advice and guidance

    Visit our coronavirus information hub for updates

► More about the virus: what you need to do

► NHS advice 

► Information on sick pay for those affected 

► COVID-19: stay at home guidance

► COVID-19: guidance for employees, employers and businesses

► COVID-19: guidance for health professionals

► Information about housing

► What you need to know about benefits

 

 

 

Stay up to date

We will be keeping residents up to date with latest information on COVID-19 by email.

Protecting businesses from COVID-19 scams

Malicious email attachments, false government grant phone calls and CEO impersonation scams are among a raft of scams undermining businesses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The increasing risk has led National Trading Standards to launch Businesses Against Scams – a free online training tool to protect businesses, employees and customers from costly scams.

With remote working and many businesses having to stop or diversify their trading practices, criminals are seizing the opportunity to target employees who are isolated from colleagues. Scams include criminals impersonating government officials or a senior member of the business in order to put pressure on employees to give out sensitive information or make payments.

Criminals will also try and gain access to businesses devices and networks, and everything stored on them. They can do this by:

  • Sending emails with malicious attachments;
  • Exploiting vulnerabilities in your operating systems if they are not up-to-date;
  • Trying to get you to click links or visit malicious websites.

Once they have access to your device and your data, they may try to steal your data or extract money from you by getting you to pay a ransom.

At a time when businesses are already facing challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, the proliferation of related scams are adding further strain on businesses. This includes scams directly targeting businesses – such as tax refund frauds – which can lead to significant financial losses for businesses.

Scams targeting customers also undermine businesses, as criminals often impersonate businesses to defraud their customer base, causing reputational damage and potential loss of business. The emotional and mental impact on employees and business owners who have fallen victim to a scam can also be devastating and long-lasting.

The increased risk for businesses has led National Trading Standards to encourage more businesses to join Businesses Against Scams. The initiative provides free tools for businesses to help upskill and train their workforce, through free online training modules that will help staff identify and prevent potential scams. Businesses can take the training and sign up at https://www.friendsagainstscams.org.uk/BAS.

Louise Baxter, Head of the National Trading Standards Scams Team, said:

“Criminals will use every opportunity they can to defraud innocent people. They will continue to exploit every angle of this national crisis and we want businesses to be prepared. We’ve launched Businesses Against Scams as a free tool for organisations to help them protect their business, their staff and their customers.”

Lord Toby Harris, Chair of National Trading Standards, said:

“COVID-19 has presented new opportunities for businesses to be exploited. Criminals are expert at impersonating people, businesses and the police. They spend hours researching a business for their scams, hoping an employee might let their guard down just for a moment. Business must be vigilant at all times. Never rush, act cautiously and always challenge.

“The Businesses Against Scams initiative empowers businesses and their employees to take a stand against scams by equipping them with the advice and knowledge on how to identify and prevent a scam.”

Four common scams targeting businesses include:

Government grant/tax refund scams – A business is contacted by phone, email or post by government imposters suggesting the business might qualify for a special COVID-19 government grant or a tax refund. Variations on the scheme involve contacts through text messages, social media posts and messages.

Businesses should be cautious about unexpected urgent communications offering financial assistance. Check that the information is genuine by using official government websites.

Invoice/mandate scams – A business may be contacted out of the blue by someone claiming to be from a regular supplier. They state that their bank account details have changed and will ask you to change the payment details.

Never rush a payment. Use contact details that you have used before to check that it is genuine.

CEO impersonation scams – A sophisticated scam that plays on the authority of company directors and senior managers. An employee receives a phone call or email from someone claiming to be a senior member of staff – they ask for an urgent payment to a new account and instil a sense of panic. Scammers may even hack a staff email account or use spoofing software to appear genuine.

Be cautious about unexpected urgent requests for payment and always check the request in person if possible.

Tech support scams – With more people working remotely and IT systems under pressure, criminals may impersonate well-known companies and offer to repair devices. Criminals are trying to gain computer access or get hold of passwords and login details. Once they have access, criminals can search the hard drive for valuable information.

Always be suspicious of cold callers. Genuine companies would never call out of the blue and ask for financial information.

If a business believes they have been the victim of a scam they must contact their bank immediately and report any suspicious activity to Action Fraud https://www.actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.

Businesses Against Scams is a new element of the successful Friends Against Scams initiative, run by National Trading Standards to provide free online training to protect and prevent people from becoming victims of scams www.friendsagainstscams.org.uk/