I am writing to you with a further update on the current situation.
Firstly, for those in small business locally the Government has announced a further package of grant and rate relief. The initial scheme was targeted particularly at those businesses which have been required to close, such as non-food shops, hair and beauty salons and leisure businesses. However a number of problems have emerged, such as where a business does not pay rates directly but is located within a larger building which does. They have not been eligible for the grant support even though they are in the affected sectors.
The Government has now given local councils extra money and discretion to deal with these kinds of circumstances, or to extend support to businesses that are specifically important for a local area. Details are here.
You will need to approach Epsom and Ewell, Mole Valley or Reigate and Banstead councils to check their decision about your eligibility.
If any of you are having problems accessing the Business Bounceback Loans, aimed at small businesses, announced last week by the Government please let me know. These are low cost loans with no interest due in the first twelve months, and allow you to borrow 25% of your annual turnover up to £50,000. In many cases I can nudge the banks into action.
Pro Bono Help from Local Business Advisors and Accountants
I also have two offers of pro bono help from local business advisors and accountants if anyone is struggling with sorting out their business in the current crisis, and could do with some expert advice. Please let me know if you are interested, and I will put you in touch.
Community Recycling Centres
There is good news on the refuse collection front. Surrey County Council has announced that most of the waste sites in the County will reopen next week. There will be a two stage process though; at first they will only accept garden waste and black bin bags. They expect to fully open the sites for all waste within a month, and possibly sooner if there is capacity to do so. However access will be governed by social distancing rules and so in the early days there are likely to be queues. You will also only be allowed one person outside each vehicle at once.
The opening hours for phase one will be;
Chertsey, Earlswood, Epsom, Guildford, Leatherhead, Shepperton, Witley and Woking CRCs: opening hours: 9am-6pm, seven days a week.
Camberley and Farnham CRCs: opening hours: 9am-4pm, seven days a week.
Bagshot, Caterham, Cranleigh, Dorking and Warlingham CRCs: remain closed.
I have been highlighting local charities in need of support if you want to help out in the current situation.
The local branches of Age Concern are doing a fantastic job of helping out vulnerable elderly people during the crisis, organising food deliveries, the collection of prescriptions or just providing a befriending service. Thank you to everyone involved. If you would like to support their work, these are the relevant details.
For Age Concern Epsom and Ewell click here
For Age Concern Mole Valley click here
For Age Concern Banstead click here
Supporting Local Businesses
My team and I have been talking to local businesses about the current challenges. So that we can all support them and help them through the current crisis, we are starting to build a list of those which are not yet able to open and are doing delivery and click and collect on my website. This already includes a list of cafes and restaurants that have told us that they are doing takeaways, but also now other firms that are working to keep their customers supplied. Please let me know if the business you work for is doing this. I will be putting the details on my website www.chrisgrayling.net
NHS Seacole Centre at Headley Court
Earlier this week I did my first and only local engagement since March – a socially distanced visit to the opening of the new NHS Seacole Centre at Headley Court. It’s a new facility which will treat Coronavirus patients who do not need full critical care. I would like to congratulate the local NHS, military and construction teams who turned buildings that had fallen into disrepair since the old Headley Court closed into a smart, modern clinical facility in less than a month.
Many thanks to all of you who are keeping the social distancing guidelines. Please keep this up over the coming days. It’s really important that we do.