Non-financial support for businesses

This information was last checked on 27 July 2020.

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Sources of information and support for businesses

The new Government Business Support Hub brings together all of the up-to-date information, advice and guidance published by Government. It contains information for sole traders and the self-employed as well as businesses in general.

If you can’t find the information that you need on the Hub you can speak directly to an adviser on the Government's Business Support Helpline on FREEPHONE 0800 998 1098.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), the Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce and the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) all have useful information and advice for businesses on their websites.

Advice and support from the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority

The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CPCA) has launched a new suite of support for businesses in the local area that have been affected by the Coronavirus crisis:

  • The Covid-19 Business 1-2-1 Support Service: a free 1-hour consultation, on the phone or via video link, from an experienced business adviser to discuss your business needs and provide guidance on how to access support.
  • Free access to a range of webinars that are designed to support your business through the impact of Covid-19.
  • A new Talent Portal For employers to find staff with the necessary skills to enable your business to operate during this difficult time.
  • The Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Retraining Scheme is a new pilot programme to prepare adults for changes to the economy.

Free one-to-one advice from expert advisers

The Recovery Advice for Business scheme, supported by the Government and hosted on the Enterprise Nation website, gives small firms access to free, one-to-one advice with an expert adviser to help them through the Coronavirus pandemic and to prepare for long-term recovery.

Advice offered includes bespoke, specialist assistance from accountancy, legal, and advertising to marketing, recruitment and digital to help businesses adapt to difficult circumstances and to bounce back as the UK economy recovers.

Training

Free online learning platform to boost workplace skills

‘The Skills Toolkit’ offers an opportunity to learn new skills to help to get ahead online and gain the knowledge we’ll all need for the future. The platform also offers employees who have been furloughed an opportunity to keep up their skills development while they are at home.

The free courses on offer cover a range of levels, from everyday maths and tools for using email and social media more effectively at work to more advanced training.

For example, individuals will be able to access courses helping them to create great online content developed by the University of Leeds and the Institute of Coding, to understand the Fundamentals of Digital Marketing from Google Digital Garage and to learn how to code for data analysis from the Open University.

All courses are online and flexible, so people can work through them at their own pace.

Fully funded bespoke online training for you and your employees

Fully funded bespoke training for employers and their employees is available through online and distance learning to Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) across Greater Cambridge and Greater Peterborough.

Skill’s Support for the Workforce’s (SSW) network of expert delivery partners are now able to offer a wide range of funded training courses. Making use of technologies such as; Skype, Zoom, webinars, online distance learning platforms and training portals, means that both new and existing learners can access training at a time and location that best suits the learner and the needs of the employer. Distance and online learning now available in the following areas:

  • Digital Marketing and IT
  • Business
  • Health and Social Care
  • Leadership and Management
  • Information, advice and guidance
  • Customer service
  • Construction

This is subject to availability.

Gain digital skills

With the spread of the coronavirus, having the right digital skills to do business online is more important than ever. BT is working with a range of partners, such as Google Digital Garage and Small Business Britain, to run a host of free webinars and courses with experts to help SMEs cope.

These online courses will help SME owners and their employees improve their digital skills through new online tools, social media advice and new digital tips and tricks, empowering them with the skills they need today during these challenging times.

Other learning opportunities

The Open University is offering free courses via its OpenLearn website including a wide range of business courses.

FutureLearn offers business courses from universities all over the world, including the Open University. Many of them are free.

Cambridge Network have a number of existing and up-coming webinars to support businesses

Mentoring

Be the Business are offering two mentoring support schemes.

Be the Business Rapid Response Programme

Be the Business Rapid Response Programme is a 12-week programme, created specifically to help SMEs through this difficult period of uncertainty and change.

The focus of the support is intended to be around business continuity, pivoting of the business plan, advice on next steps and how to rebuild. The mentors are leaders from top firms such as BAE Systems, Amazon and Accenture

Mentoring will take place via video conferencing and phone calls only, and the structure encourages frequent, short conversations across three months with the allocated mentor.

The eligibility criteria for the programme are as follows:

  • Minimum of £1 million turnover and 6 FTE staff
  • Key decision maker in business
  • Any sector

Please be aware that the mentor is not responsible for providing legal or financial advice in a professional advisory capacity.

Be the Business Mentoring for Growth

Be the Business Mentoring for Growth supports SME businesses with over 10 full-time employees and an annual turnover of at least £2m and is open to all business sectors. It has been designed for business leaders and senior management who are looking to take their business to the next level and feel that they would benefit from accessing the experience and knowledge of a mentor from a larger multinational business, such as Siemens, GSK, Accenture, Amazon and the John Lewis Partnership.

The organisers of Mentoring for Growth scheme recognise the difficulties caused by current economic environment. Therefore, although originally established to support productivity growth, they are also open to receiving applications for the free mentoring service to help eligible businesses through the Coronavirus crisis. You can find out more about the scheme and which firms would be eligible to apply on the Be the Business website.

If you’d like an initial chat to discover whether either could be the right for you and your business you can email Iain Crighton on iain.crighton@growthco.uk, who is managing the programmes in Cambridgeshire, or call him on 074074 25315

Business support from Anglia Ruskin University

Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) is offering organisations impacted by COVID-19 access to two new initiatives:

Innovation vouchers

ARU’s innovation voucher initiative gives you access to academic knowledge that can help your business through this difficult time. It could be advice (consultancy) on how to develop your innovative idea, learning more about diversifying your business offer through R&D activities, or how you should make the most of intellectual property.

Internships – access student and graduate talent

If you have a new business challenge that has arisen as a result of the pandemic you could benefit from an eight-week internship.

ARU’s fully-funded internship programme will connect you to one of their recent graduates, giving you the opportunity to inject fresh ideas into your business, and them the opportunity to gain valuable work experience.

Free digital advice

Digital Boost provides free digital advice for small businesses and charities impacted by coronavirus, provided by expert volunteers. Organisations in need are matched with digital experts to offer one to one conversations and practical webinars for free. The experts include volunteers from top organisations such as BCG Digital Ventures, Google, Oxford University, McCann and Global Tech Advocates, all ready to mentor small businesses and charities. Topics they can help with include:

  • Online marketing: social media, search engine optimisation, sales and marketing
  • Design and brand: e-commerce websites, branding and logos, user research
  • And more: remote working, content strategy

Digital Boost is a partnership between BCG Digital Ventures and Founders4Schools and its supporters include the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Support for SMEs to rapidly innovate to adapt

A new Accelerator run by the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) is offering free support to help SMEs rapidly innovate during the COVID-19 crisis. SMEs based in the Greater Cambridgeshire and Greater Peterborough area will be eligible for support to enable them to find new, innovative ways to operate, rewire supply chains, and ensure that the needs of the most vulnerable are met.

Support will be delivered through a combination of one-to-one business support, capacity building and mentoring, as well as convening partnerships and drawing on the collective knowledge of CISL’s global network to support small businesses via webinars tailored to local business needs.

Innovate to Adapt is supported by the European Regional Development Fund. You can contact the Accelerator team on accelerator@cisl.cam.ac.uk. 

Environmental Health and Licensing

The Environmental Health and Licensing Team would like to thank the businesses within South Cambridgeshire for operating in such a compliant way despite this obviously requiring difficult decisions or significant adaptation to your ways of working. We are dealing with low numbers of concerns from employees and members of the public regarding business closure or Covid-19 controls. If your business requires advice regarding business closure, licensing, food hygiene or health and safety, please contact us at env.health@scambs.gov.uk, licensing@scambs.gov.uk or 03450 450 063.

Support with trading internationally

The Department for International Trade (DIT) can deliver a range of support  for UK businesses that export or deliver goods and services abroad and have been impacted by the spread of Coronavirus. It includes:

  • DIT support for UK business trading internationally, for example in providing assistance with customs authorities or sourcing new suppliers
  • financial support for business trading internationally

DIT are also running a series of webinars to help businesses through Coronavirus.

Late payment support through the coronavirus crisis

Many small businesses are reaching out for assistance, with disputes over delayed payments or in some cases, non-payment because of the financial hardship being experienced by all sectors during this difficult time. 

The Small Business Commissioner has helped small businesses recover over £7.2 million owed to them (Dec 17 - May 2020) and £500,000 specifically during the coronavirus crisis.  If you’d like more information or help:

Support from Companies House

Companies House have announced that businesses can apply for an additional 3 months to file accounts to help companies avoid penalties as they deal with the impacts of COVID-19. Full guidance on applying for an automatic and immediate extension can be found on the Companies House website.

Continuing apprenticeships

The Education and Skills Funding Agency is taking steps to ensure that, wherever possible, apprentices can continue and complete their apprenticeship and to support providers during this challenging time. New guidance has been published for apprentices, employers, training providers and assessment organisations.

Cyber security including video conferencing

The National Cyber Security Centre has issued guidance to help you to choose, configure and deploy video conferencing services within your organisation.

It also has a range of information to help SMEs to significantly increase their protection from the most common types of cyber crime including a Small Business Guide and an A-Z of cyber security.

Avoiding scams

HMRC have published guidance to help businesses recognise when contact from them is genuine, and how to recognise phishing or bogus emails and text messages.

Sector support

Advice for tourism and event businesses

The VisitBritain Advice Hub has all of the official information for tourism and event businesses in one place and is updated regularly. This includes:

  • Government guidance on business closures and reopening  
  • Guidance on how to provide a safe environment for both your employees and customers
  • A communications guide to keeping in touch with your customers during the COVID-19 pandemic

UK-wide industry standard and consumer mark for businesses in the visitor economy

VisitBritain and VisitEngland have launched a UK-wide industry standard and consumer mark to provide a ‘ring of confidence’ for tourism as the sector works towards reopening.

The ‘We’re Good To Go’ industry standard and supporting mark means businesses across the sector: can demonstrate that they are adhering to the respective Government and public health guidance; have carried out a COVID-19 risk assessment; and can check they have the required processes in place. The scheme is FREE to join and open to all businesses across the sector.

Supporting farming and rural communities

The Rural Payments Agency has the latest information for farmers, landowners and rural businesses during the Coronavirus outbreak.

The Farming Help Charities – Addington Fund, Farming Community Network (FCN), Forage Aid, Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution and RSABI, supported by The Prince's Countryside Fund - are working together to support the Farming Community during the current Coronavirus outbreak.

Please get in touch on 03000 111 999 if you:

  • Feel concerned or anxious and would like to talk to someone who understands farming, will listen to you and help you think through your options
  • Would like help to draft a contingency plan to ensure you and your farm are prepared, should you be unable to work for a time
  • If you or people you rely on become ill or are self-isolating and you need to find help locally they will endeavour to find support for you in your local area. They will source contact details of local organisations and groups who may be able to assist you in finding help to feed livestock, collect shopping or collect prescriptions if you are unable to do so.

Diversifying your pub and supporting your community

Public is the Hub’s Community Services Fund can help pubs to diversify and support their local community. The free of charge initiative can provide:

  • More information on developing your pub into a hub for your community
  • Access to experts in the licensing trade
  • A grant of up to £3,000, subject to meeting their guidelines
  • PR and Media coverage

Trade associations and business representative organisations

The Government has provided a list of Business Representative Organisations and Trade Associations that businesses can speak to for advice. Sector specific guidance and Q&A are included on the websites of many of their websites, and many of them are happy to hear from non-members and members alike.

Doing business with the Council

South Cambridgeshire District Council is committed to continuing to work with businesses during the Coronavirus outbreak. We are still issuing tenders for contracts with the Council. If you are interested in finding out what opportunities are available you can go to the Proactis portal (select the LGSS portal) or the Contract Finder website. You can also sign up for regular updates on new opportunities from a range of local and national public sector organisations.

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