Launch of Discretionary Grant Scheme and ongoing Covid-19 Support

I hope that you, your families, and your employees continue to be safe and in good health.  All of us at the council do understand that these are incredibly difficult times both financially and socially.

Many of you will be aware that the government has now introduced an additional discretionary grants fund that will help provide assistance to some of the businesses that have not had access to other support schemes.

This discretionary grants fund is managed by the council and will award grants reflecting the size of business, level of fixed property costs and scale of impact experienced.  The amount of funding the council has received is limited at £3.2m, consequently the scheme eligibility criteria is limited initially to those categories of businesses that are specified in central government guidance.

Businesses eligible to receive this new funding must be a small or micro business, a charity, or social enterprises with a turnover of not more than £10.2m and fewer than 50 staff.  Applicants must also be either:

  • a small businesses in shared offices or other flexible workspaces;
  • market traders with fixed building costs who do not have their own business rates assessment;
  • bed & breakfasts which pay council tax instead of business rates or;
  • charity properties in receipt of charitable business rates relief.

Further details, the full eligibility criteria for businesses and how to apply can be found on the Herefordshire Council website at: https://www.herefordshire.gov.uk/info/200250/coronavirus/906/herefordshire_coronavirus_discretionary_grant_fund

This scheme is now open and completed applications must be received by midnight on the 28th June 2020.

In distributing this funding we are trying to help as many businesses as possible, while continuing to press government for further funding to support the local economy and help us build back better.  If there is funding remaining in the scheme after the first round we will open the scheme more widely as we recognise that there are still other businesses who have slipped through the cracks of the various central government support.

Other support the council continues to give to businesses includes £52.4m paid out to more than 4,500 businesses in the county (up until 31 May 2020) in government grant funding.

I would like to reiterate that the all the information on the government schemes can be found via the Marches Growth Hub website https://www.marchesgrowthhub.co.uk/advice-and-support/coronavirus-information-for-businesses/.

For information regarding local support available from the council, including the roll out of business grants and advice, please visit the council website at https://www.herefordshire.gov.uk/coronavirus.  Both these sites are updated regularly and should provide the latest national and local information.

We know that the ongoing situation is placing a considerable level of stress on many impacted businesses and their employees and we recognise that there may be a need to access mental health and wellbeing advice.  Please visit https://www.wisherefordshire.org/mentalhealth for details of the local advice and services.

Additionally there is still a need to adhere to the latest government public health advice, and we would encourage every employer currently still operational to make themselves familiar with this.  Here is a link to the public heath guidance: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-list-of-guidance

We are aware that the nature of the situation and the balance between reopening your business and protecting both you and your employees is an additional stress and complication.  We also recognise that there is still considerable uncertainty for many businesses in terms of when you may be allowed to reopen and what measures you will have to put in place.

The council are doing our best to help preserve good businesses and assist hard working families.  Wherever possible we will attempt to give you information and guidance that can assist your business.  Our collective future economic success may well depend on how we all react over the next few months.  I continue to wish that you and your families remain in good health and your business remains resilient.

Kind regards,

Cllr Dr Ellie Chowns

Cabinet Member- Environment, Economy & Skills

Local food/deliveries and warmer homes updates

The latest on two local resources:

  • WISH Herefordshire is a useful source of information, including local food stores / deliveries and virtual exercises and activities to do at home. Work is undertaken to keep this information up to date and relevant. If you know of any changes or additional services please could you ask they register them with WISH. A lot has been added to this site in light of Covid 19 and any help you can give to promote WISH locally, as a community resource, would be greatly appreciated.
  • Warmer Homes Herefordshire Herefordshire Council is working with E.ON to help people across the county improve the heating of their homes by installing free first-time gas central heating systems in around 300 eligible residents’ homes.

The project follows a successful funding bid by the Council to the £150 million Warm Homes Fund, established by National Grid, and administered by community interest company Affordable Warmth Solutions.

Eligible households not connected to mains gas and currently relying on inefficient ways of heating their homes, for example electric storage or panel heaters, could be eligible for the measures, which are part of the Warmer Homes Herefordshire scheme. Subject to eligibility, where there is no existing gas supply to the property, a new gas network connection will also be provided by Affordable Warmth Solutions, usually at no cost.  Act now! – For further information and the application form please see Warmer Homes Herefordshire.

Please contact projects direct with any queries.

Herefordshire Community Foundation Grants

The Herefordshire Community Foundation has a Flood Fund for victims of Storm Dennis and they also have a fund from the National Emergencies Trust (NET) Coronavirus Appeal.

The first phase of the Flood Fund grants went to households which had been damaged. They are now interested in hearing from community groups such as Scouts, Rowing Clubs and similar where their premises were flooded. Contact the Herefordshire Community Foundation by email at ceo@herefordshirecf.org, or phone 01432 272550, to discuss an application for funds.

The NET Coronavirus Fund is aimed at the most pressing needs currently i.e. front-line volunteer groups delivering to most isolated. If you are a group that might need support for volunteer expenses or have other costs please contact the Herefordshire Community Foundation by email or phone for further information.

Coronavirus: Updates and the latest funding opportunities

  • Herefordshire Council website updates on how Coronavirus is affecting our services, with sections on community and social care, council services and business support, transport and leisure plus links to national guidance.
  • Herefordshire Council’s funding and enterprise officers are monitoring closely any funding and grant support which is becoming available to support the vital effort of local communities at this time. Current funding opportunities and business support for community, voluntary sector and statutory projects in Herefordshire. Of particular interest may be the Fastershire ‘Keep Connected’ grant to help adapt and continue to deliver their services remotely during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The grant, worth up to £500 for new software subscriptions, online platforms or technology, is available to any not-for-profit groups or organisations, including charities, community groups and Parish/town councils.
  • Talk community Covid 19 response. Herefordshire Council are working with a number of key strategic partners and communities to help support elderly, frail, disabled, and vulnerable people and families in Herefordshire. As part of Talk Community, Link workers (redeployed council staff), may be in touch with you to ensure connectivity with local initiatives. The Talk Community helpline is 01432 260027.
  • WISH Herefordshire is a useful source of information, including local food stores / deliveries and virtual exercises and activities to do at home.

Coronavirus: Latest on local funding

Please find below and attached, updates on funding information. All the website information will be updated as changes occur, so it is worth going back to the regularly. Do share this information with those you feel may benefit.

Coronavirus: Emergency Fund for Local Sports Clubs

Sport England is making up to £195 million of funding available to help the sport and physical activity sector through the ongoing coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis.

The package includes a £20 million Community Emergency Fund, which is now open for local sports clubs and voluntary/community sector organisations (that deliver or enable sport and/or physical activity) to bid into.

Grants between £300 and £10,000 are available.

The fund’s been developed to help organisations meet their obligations, in particular fixed costs, which are no longer supported with revenue as a result of coronavirus, such as rent, utility costs, insurance, core staff costs, and facility or equipment hire.

To find out more visit the Sport England website: https://www.sportengland.org/how-we-can-help/our-funds/community-emergency-fund

Coronavirus: Fastershire “Keep Connected” Grant

The Fastershire ‘Keep Connected’ grant from Herefordshire Council aims to support groups and organisations in Herefordshire who have been forced to change their approach to delivering an activity, service or support in order to continue to engage with local people by using video or conference calls or other internet technology, that will act as a substitute for your usual meetings/interactions with groups of people which are no longer possible due to the current situation.

The maximum grant is £500 per organisation/group.

We know that groups and organisations may need to make quick changes in order to continue to support or engage with your members, clients, community or the wider Herefordshire public, so we aim to turn around applications within 3 working days. We have a limited budget for this so may need to withdraw this opportunity at short notice. If this is the case, please be assured that all grants that have been offered will still be paid but only upon receipt of the required evidence of spend.

Herefordshire Council offers a range of grants. You can only apply to Herefordshire Council for one grant for this type of project/initiative.

Please contact projectdevelopment@herefordshire.gov for guidance on the most appropriate grant or funding for your project.

Please contact delegatedgrants@herefordshire.gov.uk with any enquiries about applying for this ‘Keep Connected’ grant.