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Reducing pressure on public transport 

West of England Mayor, Tim Bowles, is calling on businesses and organisations in the region to play their part in reducing pressure on public transport, as lockdown restrictions are progressively eased.

Capacity is just 25% of normal levels on buses and 10% on trains due to social distancing so the Mayor is asking employers to do what they can to share government travel guidance with staff, encourage cycling and walking and support them to avoid travelling at peak times where possible.  

Read more... 

For travel advice visit the Travelwest website

New support for businesses 

Cash grants now available to support businesses 

The Government’s new discretionary fund for small businesses is now open for applications. The fund has been set up to help certain small businesses previously outside the scope of the other business funding available, such as the Small Business Grant Scheme and Retail Hospitality and Leisure Grant Scheme. 

This additional funding is aimed at helping small businesses impacted by coronavirus with ongoing fixed property-related costs, such as businesses in shared spaces. It provides a discretionary grant up to a value of £5,000 to eligible businesses, charities and community organisations. 

Regional Mayor, Tim Bowles, has welcomed the scheme that the West of England Combined Authority has helped shape with regional partners and government, to ensure people and businesses across the region are getting the support they need.

For details and how to apply click here.

Our West of England Growth Hub continues to support small and medium-sized enterprises from across our region, helping them navigate information on available Government support, as well as accessing other help and guidance. To speak to an enterprise executive, contact us here.

Coronavirus business support schemes
The Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme is now open for small and medium sized employers to claim back employees' coronavirus-related Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). The scheme covers eligible periods of sickness starting on or after 13 March 2020. You can submit a claim here.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is remaining open until the end of October. From the start of August, furloughed workers will be able to return to work part-time with employers being asked to pay a percentage towards the salaries of their furloughed staff. You can submit a claim for employees’ wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme here.

Applications are now open for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme. If you're self-employed or a member of a partnership and have been adversely affected by coronavirus, you can find out if you are eligible for this scheme and how to claim a grant here.
Innovation Funds
The Government's £500 million Future Fund is now open for applications, with innovative and high-growth businesses able to secure investment to help them through the coronavirus outbreak. UK-based companies can now apply for a convertible loan of between £125,000 and £5 million to support continued growth and innovation in sectors as diverse as technology, life sciences and the creative industries. Companies can check they meet the criteria for funding by going to the British Business Bank website.
The Government has also announced a Clean Growth Fund to support green start-up companies across the UK. The fund will supercharge the development of next generation clean, low-carbon technologies.

Working safely during the coronavirus pandemic
The government, in consultation with industry, has produced guidance to help ensure workplaces are as safe as possible. The guidance covers 8 workplace settings which are allowed to be open, from outdoor environments and construction sites to factories and takeaways.

Beyond Covid-19 – pursuing an inclusive recovery
The Covid-19 pandemic will reshape the nation’s economy, industries and our society in a fundamental way. Senior figures from industry, education and local government have joined the West of England economic recovery taskforce, led by the Regional Mayor, Tim Bowles, to work together on a recovery plan to get the region moving safely again.
Poku Osei is a member of the taskforce focusing on young people, skills, employment, equal opportunity and inclusion. He is the founder and CEO of social mobility enterprise, Babbasa, which supports underrepresented young people into employment and enterprise. He is also the Founder of the World Economic Forum initiative – Global Shapers in Bristol, and Co-founder of The Black Professionals Network. 

Public survey on the use of green spaces

We are working with researchers from UWE Bristol on a survey to investigate how social distancing measures have changed the way that residents are using green spaces and connecting with nature in the West of England.
The aim is to learn more about the public’s changing habits and relationships with the region’s parks and green spaces in the wake of social distancing measures introduced by the Government in March to protect the public from the spread of Covid-19. The results of the survey will be shared with policy makers, local authorities, planners and property developers to enable them to make informed decisions on how green spaces should be provided, promoted and managed, and how their use and importance changes during pandemics.

Bridge superstructure arrives in Bath
The last two parts of the Bath Quays bridge superstructure have arrived in Bath from Belgium – and residents will soon be invited to name the bridge in a new online competition.

Once completed the 60m long steel bridge will be the first new crossing point over the River Avon in Bath for 100 years, providing a new route for pedestrians and cyclists and greater connectivity around the city. The scheme is part-funded with £1.9m from the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership through the Local Growth Fund, administered by the West of England Combined Authority.
Read more…
Economic briefing 

We’re tracking the impact of the pandemic on our region’s economy, building up the picture over time, drawing on what businesses are telling us, and the economic indicators available.

We’re putting together weekly briefings intended to deepen our understanding of the challenges faced by businesses across the region’s industries, and where there might be gaps in support coming from government.

You can find the latest briefing here.

Mayor's Blog

In his latest blog, Mayor Tim Bowles talks about the important role businesses and employers have to play as we emerge from lockdown. 

The West of England Combined Authority (WECA) covers
Bath & North East Somerset, Bristol and South Gloucestershire.
WECA also supports the Local Enterprise Partnership and
Joint Committee, which includes North Somerset.

Our mailing address is:
West of England Combined Authority, 3 Rivergate, Temple Way, Bristol BS1 6ER

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