Latest Coronavirus Update

Coronavirus tier restrictions explained

The Government has divided England into three tiers, representing the risk posed by coronavirus in a certain area – medium, high and very high risk.

Each one has different restrictions to help control the virus.

Worcestershire is currently in Tier 1 or medium risk.

Find out what coronavirus restrictions are in place in this area.

Whether or not Worcestershire is moved up a tier will depend on the level of infection in the county.

Worcestershire Public Health team has published a statement explaining when, how and why Worcestershire may go into Tier 2.

We can help save lives and avoid further restrictions in our area if we follow the rules.

Please do everything you can to help control the spread of this virus.

Wear face coverings outside schools

Collecting and dropping off children at the start and end of the school day can mean keeping a safe distance is hard. Worcestershire Public Health is now asking parents and carers to wear a face mask when dropping off children if it not possible to social distance.

Read more about parents being advised to wear face coverings outside schools.

Why self-isolating is important

If you have symptoms of coronavirus you must self-isolate immediately and get a test.

By self-isolating, you are not only protecting your community, you are also helping all those who may become very sick if they become infected and those key workers who have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic. It’s an incredibly important and effective way of slowing the spread of a disease like covid-19.

We now know that people can pass the virus on even when they don’t have symptoms. If you leave home while you could be infectious, even if you feel fine, you could pass the virus onto other people, including people who are vulnerable to very serious illness.

Read more about why self-isolating is important to protect your loved ones and your community.

Have a covid-19 safe Halloween

Halloween, like so many other events, will have to happen differently this year due to the pandemic.

The safest way to enjoy Halloween is to have a party in your bubble. There’s lots of ways to celebrate whilst doing what’s right for your family. Here’s just a few ideas:

  • Watch a scary movie together
  • Carve pumpkins
  • Decorate your home
  • Have a Halloween hunt in the back garden (think Easter but with pumpkins or treats)
  • Make Halloween themed food
  • Dress up – staying in is the new going out. Have a virtual fancy dress competition over a video messaging platform.

You could also go out for a spooky walk in your favourite Halloween costume with people in your bubble. Masks are encouraged! This year will be special as there will be a full blue hunters moon on 31 October.

Whilst on your walk you can play Worcestershire spooks safely Halloween Bingo. Whoever spots a line of spooky creatures or the whole bingo card, gets a treat from a grown up. It’s a nice alternative to trick or treating.

Worcestershire County Council has produced a spooks fun pack containing puzzles and posters to print off, colour-in and put up in your window.

Download the Worcestershire Spooks Safely pack.

Remember the fallen from home

Residents are being urged to remember those who sacrificed their lives in two World Wars, and conflicts since, from the safety of their doorsteps.

Coronavirus cases continue to rise across our district and restrictions to help stop the spread of the virus mean remembrance events will have to take place differently this year.

Wychavon District Council has issued advice to local organisers to help them plan this year’s events which will be small, socially distanced and invite-only.

Residents are being urged to stay away from war memorials between 10.30am and 11.30am on Remembrance Sunday (November 8) and Armistice Day (11 November) when these services may be taking place.

Instead people are being urged to pay their respects by standing on their doorsteps at 11am on both days to join in the national two-minute silence.

If anyone wants to lay a wreath or poppy cross on a war memorial then they are encouraged to do so at other times to suit them between 6 and 11 November.

People are also encouraged to print off the official poppy picture from the Royal British Legion website and display it in their window, in return for a donation to the charity.

Droitwich artist Rosie Philpott has also produced some posters that can be coloured in. If you download them you are encouraged to donate to the Poppy Appeal.

Poppies can also be bought online.

Download the official poppy poster

Download remembrance coloring in pages from Rosie Philpott

Find out more about local remembrance events

Cllr Richard Morris, Armed Forces Champion for Wychavon District Council, said: “All of us want to pay tribute to those who sacrificed so much for us, especially as this year marks 75 years since the end of the Second World War. This year we will have to do that differently as we fight an enemy of a very different kind to the one our troops faced.

“I urge everyone to print out the official poppy picture – or download one of Rosie Philpott’s and colour in their own – and display them with pride. We want as many people as possible to get out on to their doorsteps at 11am, and from a safe distance, remember our fallen.”

Coronavirus: Help for Businesses latest update

New Job Support Scheme announced

The Government has announced a new Job Support scheme to help protect viable jobs in businesses facing lower demand over the winter months due to Covid-19.

The scheme will open on 1 November 2020 and run for six months.

Under the scheme, businesses will continue to pay employees for the time they work. The cost of hours not worked, will be split between the employer, the Government (through wage support) and the employee, by way of a wage reduction.

Find out more about the Job Support Scheme.

Cllr. Richard Morris
Wychavon District Council
Deputy Leader and portfolio holder for economic growth and tourism

Funding for Worcestershire agri-tech support industries

Pershore College is launching a call for grant proposals to support the development of the agri-tech sector within Worcestershire.

The grants of £1000 upwards will support Worcestershire companies to make capital purchases needed to develop innovations to improve efficiency, profitability, and resilience in the horticultural and agricultural sectors.

A total grant pot of £160,000 aims to help approximately forty businesses at a forty percent intervention rate making a total investment of £400,000.

The project is part of GrowAgri Worcestershire, a £1.5m joint initiative between the college and the European Regional Development Fund, which also delivers tailored business support to small businesses operating within agri-tech and agri-food industries.

For more information please call Project Manager Mark Harwood-Browne on 07809 163008.

Latest visitor economy updates

Visitor economy businesses can now check if they are eligible for the Local Restrictions Support Grant (LRSG). The grant is for businesses that were open as usual, providing services in person to customers from their business premises, but which were then required to close for at least 3 weeks due to local lockdown restrictions imposed by government. The grant is for businesses that pay business rates on their premises.

Many visitor economy businesses may have queries on the details in the recent guidance. Please see The visitor economy guidance for clarifications from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). This includes advice for hospitality staff when wearing face coverings; and how event venues and hotel function spaces should comply with COVID secure regulations. There is also advice for coach tour operators and for guided tours.

Guidance on working safely during COVID-19 in England has been updated following the national measures announced last week.

Other guidance updates are as follows:

The deferral of VAT payments guidance has been updated, see Businesses who deferred VAT.

The list of jobs that qualify for travel exemptions now apply to National Lottery and advertising productions, and guidance has been updated for elite sportspersons.

The safer travel guidance for passengers reflects latest rules on social contact and face coverings.

The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme video guidance has been updated with information on how to claim the second grant.

Updates have been made to the guidance on how to self-isolate when arriving in the UK.

For more information on guidance and support available to businesses see the Visit Britain/Visit England Business Advice Hub.

See all COVID-19 updates and guidance for business here.

Malvern Festival of Innovation

Despite the pandemic the annual Malvern Festival of Innovation, Covid-19, Innovation-20, will not be beaten into submission this year and returns on 5 to 10 October 2020.

The Festival includes popular events such as The Next Generation Innovators schools’ event which will be entirely virtual with a curated morning on Tuesday 6 October. It will provide a unique and fascinating insight into STEM careers and tech innovation.

The popular Start-up Stories evening on Wednesday 7 October will feature insights from entrepreneurs. And on Friday 9 October at the morning session, the Environment & Sustainability business symposium returns.

The Family Show rounds off the Festival on Saturday morning featuring neuroscientist Professor Gina Rippon author of ‘The Gendered Brain’. This will be followed by the National Physical Laboratory’s outreach manager Andrew Hanson MBE explaining the fascinating science of colour, of which there is more than meets the eye!

Dr Adrian Burden explains “As we near the Festival dates, we’re looking carefully to see what we can host safely within the evolving legislation in front of a restricted live audience at The Coach House Theatre and the Malvern Theatres, as well as streaming the events live using Zoom and Facebook for a wider reach.”

Please see the Festival programme for updates and details about registering.

Construction starts on new workspace units at Vale Park, Evesham

Evesham based developer, Chase Commercial Ltd, has started construction on 28,200 sq.ft. of production and warehouse accommodation at Vale Park South, Evesham.

In conjunction with Wychavon District Council, Chase Commercial is constructing 10 new units ranging in size from 2,100 sq.ft. to 5,000 sq.ft. The units which are to be constructed in two terraces can be combined, if required, for larger occupiers.  The units are due to reach practical completion in April 2021 and are available on either a freehold or leasehold basis.

The units, targeted at small businesses, are the first phase of a wider planning consent that includes two further units of 22,500sq.ft. and 28,200sq.ft. respectively.

Julian Meredith, Director of Chase Commercial stated “We are delighted to be able to start construction with these units for which we are already seeing strong demand from both local occupiers and other small businesses from outside the immediate area. There remains a shortage of small new units for occupiers in and around Evesham and these units will go some way to filling that requirement.”

Wychavon is underwriting the cost of the units as part of its plan to help rebuild the local economy because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The scheme has received £600,000 from the Government’s Getting Building Fund, which supports job creation, skills, and infrastructure projects.

Cllr Richard Morris, Deputy Leader of Wychavon District Council and Portfolio Holder for Economic Development stated “We are committed to helping our local economy build back better from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Coronavirus crisis has undermined private investor confidence despite strong evidence of growing demand for small to medium sized flexible business space from local companies. This impasse threatened to stifle economic growth and job creation just when it is needed most, this is why Wychavon has stepped up to fund this scheme and demonstrate its confidence in our local economy.”

For further information please contact the letting agents on the scheme Alder King Adrian Rowley 01452 627133, SBK Tony Rowland 01386,765700 and Savills Christian Smith 0121 200 4507, or see www.valeparksouth.co.uk.

Julian Meredith, Chase Commercial Ltd; Kevin Zamur, Benniman Construction Group; Phoebe Dawson, Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership; Cllr Richard Morris, Deputy Leader for Wychavon District Council; Shawn Riley, Wychavon District Council

Government apprenticeship incentive – don’t miss out!

Don’t forget, you still have time to hire an apprentice and take advantage of the Government’s apprenticeship incentive.

All employers that hire an apprentice between 1 August 2020 and 31 January 2021, will be entitled to Government incentive payments of £2,000 for apprentices aged between 16 and 24 and £1,500 for apprentices aged 25 and over.

The incentives are in addition to the £1,000 incentive already in place for those hiring 16 to 18-year-old apprentices.

To find out more contact Worcester Apprenticeships  on 0300 666 3 666,  info@worcsapprenticeships.org.uk.

Support from Wychavon to employ an apprentice

Along with the Governments incentive package, Wychavon is committed to helping and encouraging businesses to grow and employ apprentices.  We have been given extra funding to help businesses with the cost of taking on an apprentice, your business can apply for this funding as well as receiving the Governments incentives.

We have now added a tiered funding system to our business apprentice grant scheme, starting at £1000 moving up to £2000 for the higher-level apprenticeship. Funding is available to award an apprenticeship grant depending on the level of the apprenticeship being take (subject to qualifying criteria).

  • £1,000 Intermediate apprentice, Level 2
  • £1,500 Advanced apprentice, Level 3
  • £2,000 Higher and Degree apprentice, Level 4 and above
  • Low carbon sector applications will receive an extra £100 per grant
  • All funding will be granted on a first come first serve basis
  • To apply for a bursary, or business grant please complete the application forms at wychavon.gov.uk/business/apprenticeships and send them to Wychavon’s Skills Officer, Sue Owens, at Sue.Owens@wychavon.gov.uk

Apprentices – get help funding your apprenticeship

A new bursary has been made available to help encourage young people across Wychavon to enroll in an apprenticeship.

Apprentices can apply for Wychavon District Council’s new Apprenticeship bursary to help them cover the costs of travel, clothing and tools or equipment.

Apprentices can claim the following, where applicable:

  • Maximum of £50 per month for up to 6 months for travel expenses
  • One-off grant payment with a maximum value of £75 for clothing
  • One-off grant payment with a maximum value of £100 for tools or equipment

To be eligible for the bursary, apprentices must live within the district of Wychavon, be aged between 16 and 24 years old and be in receipt of an apprenticeship salary of £175 or less per week (this can be flexible depending on individual circumstances).

The aim of the bursaries is to encourage more young people to consider an apprenticeship as a viable choice for a career and to help them overcome cost barriers. More apprenticeship qualifications are being made available and some industries now offer degree level apprenticeships, which provide work experience while studying for a degree.

Funding will be granted on a first come first serve basis.

To apply for a bursary contact Sue Owens, at Sue.Owens@wychavon.gov.uk. Or complete the application form at www.wychavon.gov.uk/business/apprenticeships and send it to Sue Owens, Wychavon’s Skills Officer.

Employer Guide to the Summer Statement – People and Skills

In response to the challenges faced by businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic there has been significant investment in skills from central and local Government to support business recovery plans.

Apprenticeships, Traineeships, investment in the National Careers Service, and a new Kickstart scheme are the crucial elements of a new ‘Plan for Jobs’.

If you offer a traineeship in your business for 16 to 24-year olds you can claim up to £1000. A traineeship is a skills development programme that includes a work placement. It can last from 6 weeks up to 1 year (although most will last for less than 6 months). Traineeships help 16 to 24-year olds get ready for an apprenticeship or job if they don’t have the appropriate skills or experience.

New or expanding employers can claim incentive payments of £1,000 for up to 10 learners to help with employer costs such as administration, equipment, and set up costs for example.

Employ a 16 to24 year old in your business for 6 months and claim up to £6500 from the Kickstart scheme.

The Kickstart scheme is for those aged 16 to24, claiming Universal Credit and at risk of long-term unemployment. It is worth £2 billion and will give hundreds of thousands of young people, in every region, the best possible chance of getting on and getting a job. There is no cap on the number of places per employer. 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.

For more information on how to access these schemes please contact Worcestershire Business Central on 01905 677 888 or email info@business-central.co.uk.

Worcestershire LEP conference goes digital this October

A new virtual business conference has been confirmed for October 2020 to bring businesses across the county together and demonstrate the progress and scope of key programmes being delivered in Worcestershire.

For the first time spread out over 5 days, the Worcestershire LEP (WLEP) virtual conference will allow for a more comprehensive delivery of content on key business concerns, local growth projects and schemes helping to achieve the vision of a connected, creative, dynamic economy for all.

Taking place from 12 to16 October, each day will focus on a theme with a daily format allowing for users to plan their day around the content they would like to see from wherever they may be.

Each morning will start with an ‘Espresso update’ available in both a short-written piece and video format. This breakfast update will not only recap and reveal, but it will also be the perfect instant update for those that want to stay informed with links to find out more.

The main feature each day will be ‘Connections Time with Have Your say” where Worcestershire LEP Chief Executive, Gary Woodman will be joined by a panel of guest speakers to discuss and highlight what has been achieved so far on the subject, the benefits these achievements bring and their aims for the future. Viewers will be asked to contribute through polls to help shape the future approach.

Available on demand, WLEP will also release both new and archive footage every day through the week that will both inform and promote business in Worcestershire.

Each day will then end with some catch-up responses across social media to the day’s content alongside some previews of the content coming later in the week.

Visit the Worcestershire LEP website to find out more information on the topics, speakers and to register for the virtual conference – www.wlep.co.uk.

Everything online

The Chamber of Commerce Herefordshire and Worcestershire, and Worcestershire Business Central are just two of many business support organisations that are providing online advice to support current business needs and future recovery plans. They both have a series of webinars available in place of events, training courses and face to face meetings to inform you on the latest government updates, business support, HR and legal advice, mental wellbeing and much more.

Here are links to book some of the latest Chamber webinars:

HR focus the new Job Support Scheme

Home working

EU Exit Are You Ready?

Kickstart

You can view all past webinars on their YouTube Channel. To find out about their virtual training days for the recovering business head straight to the training calendar for upcoming courses.

WBC offer free business support webinars to help your business during the COVID-19 pandemic they are listed here – upcoming events.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): what you need to do

www.gov.uk/coronavirus

The information available to businesses is changing regularly. We will continue to actively provide a regular information service as soon as we receive information.

Businesses can receive these updates by signing up to our business e-newsletter