What’s New for Small Businesses This Week? – 09/10/2020

What’s New for Small Businesses This Week? – 09/10/2020

This week the Chancellor Rishi Sunak has pledged to create new opportunities for UK entrepreneurs in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Budding entrepreneurs will be keen to see what policies are actually put in place to make this a reality. Also, eBay has removed fees for the first 100 sales on its website to encourage more online start-ups.

Here is an at a glance look at the news you need to know:

  • West Midlands launches open for business campaign
  • Chancellor pledges to create new opportunities for entrepreneurs
  • Northern Ireland announces two new funding schemes for SMEs
  • eBay to waive fees on first 100 sales in start-up drive
  • Tees Valley start-ups given a helping hand
  • Pubs and restaurants in Scotland to close under new Covid-19 restrictions
  • Farmers given £25m funding boost for new equipment

West Midlands launches open for business campaign

A new campaign has been launched to support small businesses in the West `Midlands. #WMOpen4Biz is run by the West Midlands Combined Authority and backed by the region’s trade and industry leaders, to encourage shoppers and residents to safely return to town and city centres. 

Since June, businesses and offices have been opening their doors again, putting in place measures to ensure they are ‘Covid-secure’ and that residents can shop and work safely. The campaign was kicked off by Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, who visited a host of independent shops in Wolverhampton and Birmingham to see what steps they have taken to make themselves safe.

Chancellor pledges to create new opportunities for entrepreneurs

Rishi Sunak has vowed to create new opportunities for UK entrepreneurs in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis. Speaking at his first Conservative Party Conference as Chancellor, Sunak said it was his “single priority” to “create, support and extend opportunity to as many people as I can” and “to not let talent wither or waste” during the pandemic-induced recession.

“In a free market economy it is the entrepreneur, who is critical,” he said. “And we will make it easier for those with the ambition and appetite to take risks and be bold, to do what they do best and create jobs and growth.”

Sunak’s speech was well received by business groups. Roger Barker, policy director at the Institute of Directors, said that “business leaders share the chancellor’s priority of creating opportunity”.

“To get companies on the front foot, the Treasury should act quickly to ease employment costs,” he said. “With job losses expected to mount, firms that are finding chinks of light should be empowered to pick up the slack.”

Northern Ireland announces two new funding schemes for SMEs

SMEs in Northern Ireland stand to benefit from two new funding schemes announced by economy minister Diane Dodds. The initiatives, administered by Tourism Northern Ireland and Invest Northern Ireland respectively, have been introduced to help small businesses assess the effect of Covid-19 on their business and develop a strategic recovery plan.

Both schemes will provide up to £8,000 to eligible businesses to undertake a business and financial review to plan for recovery. Eligible businesses for the Invest NI Covid-19 Business and Financial Planning Grant must be a micro or SME with an annual turnover of at least £500,000 that have experienced a 40% reduction in turnover between April and June as a result of the pandemic.

Applicants to the Tourism NI Businesses and Financial Planning Support Programme must be an existing tourism business operating in Northern Ireland. Both schemes close at 5pm on November 30, 2020.

eBay to waive fees on first 100 sales in start-up drive

First-time sellers on eBay will no longer have to pay fees on their first 100 sales each month thanks to a new offer from the ecommerce platform. The “Pay As You Grow” initiative for UK start-ups was launched today (Friday October 9) and runs until the end of the year.

Inspired by the government’s new Pay As You Grow policy on loan repayments for small businesses, it’s designed to encourage entrepreneurs to set up their own online businesses at little to no cost.

Listing fees, or “Insertion Fees” as they are known as on eBay, are among the biggest expenses for businesses selling online and can often be a barrier to getting started. Up until now, on eBay these fees were non-refundable, even if an item doesn’t sell. eBay also normally applies a “Final Value Fee”, which is a proportion of the final sale.

Under eBay’s new Pay As You Grow scheme, no listing fees or final value fees will be charged for any first-time seller on the site for their first 100 sales each month, followed by discounted fees thereafter. Businesses will only have to pay as their sales start to grow. 

Fees will be reduced by 50% for the next 100 sales for first-time sellers and reduced by 25% for the 100 sales after that each month.

This new scheme will serve as a major cashflow boost at a time when small businesses and entrepreneurs need it most, and as hundreds of thousands of people across the country face unemployment and need to seek new ways to earn a living.

It builds on eBay’s continued efforts to create new economic opportunities right across Britain, following a wide range of seller support policies brought in since the start of the pandemic, and alongside its ongoing investment in eBay for Charity.

Tees Valley start-ups given a helping hand

Tees Valley start-ups will be given a helping hand to get off the ground courtesy of a newly-launched initiative. Start2Succeed aims to enable entrepreneurs to overcome the many challenges faced by start-ups, by providing advice, guidance and support.

Run by Middlesbrough-based Tees Valley Business Hub and led by entrepreneurs Matt Atkinson and Jordan Dargue, the scheme will begin with a series of free business model index workshops looking at the health of the start-ups maximising their potential to succeed, particularly through the current pandemic. 

They will also provide a longer-term vision to grow and scale quickly.

The first workshop will be held online on October 22, with further workshops planned for November and December, as the recently-established Tees Valley Business Hub ramps up its support for the region’s business community. The venture is based in Boho, Middlesbrough, and provides support in areas including digital, new market entry, product development and core back office functions such as human resources, accountancy and marketing.

Pubs and restaurants in Scotland to close under new Covid-19 restrictions

All pubs and restaurants across central Scotland will be closed under new measures aimed at tackling a surge in Covid-19 cases. The new rules will apply to licensed premises across the central belt, including Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Pubs and restaurants will be able to open in other parts of Scotland, but can only serve alcohol outdoors. The new rules, which come into force from 6pm tonight (Friday) until October 25, apply to the Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Lanarkshire, Forth Valley, Lothian and Ayrshire and Arran health board areas.

The new rules for the five central belt areas are:

  •     All licensed premises – with the exception of hotels for residents – will be required to close indoors and outdoors, although takeaways will be permitted
  •     Cafes which do not have an alcohol licence will be able to stay open until 6pm
  •     Snooker and pool halls, indoor bowling alleys, casinos and bingo halls will also close in the five health board areas for two weeks from October 10
  •     Contact sports for people aged 18 and over will be suspended for the next two weeks, with an exception for professional sports
  •     Indoor group exercise activities will not be allowed, although the current rules will remain in place for under 18s and gyms can remain open for individual exercise
  •     Outdoor live events will not be permitted for the next fortnight

Farmers given £25m funding boost for new equipment

 Farmers could be in line to receive £25m in grants for productivity-boosting farming equipment under the third round of the government’s Countryside Productivity Small Grants scheme. Under the initiative, farmers can apply for grants of between £3,000 and £12,000 to buy new and innovative equipment – from livestock monitoring cameras to precision farming technology – which helps businesses save time and money and improve productivity.

Those who have been successful in applying for grants in previous rounds will also be able to apply for different pieces of equipment within this final round, up to the scheme’s limit of £12,000 per farmer, meaning that they can streamline other elements of their business or start the move towards more sustainable farming.

To date, £35m has been allocated to farmers in the scheme’s first two funding rounds. Farmers will have until midday November 4 to make an application to the Rural Payments Agency.


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