Havering Council has launched a new dedicated helpline and webpage to support local businesses through the COVID-19 crisis.
The helpline – 0345 017 0743 – is available Monday to Friday, 9 am to 4 pm, and launches at 9 am tomorrow (Wednesday 8 April). There is also a new email address, email@example.com, as an alternative way of contacting the council.
This is in addition to the already established Business Rates support email.
The webpage, www.havering.gov.uk/covid19business, gives businesses access up-to-date information regarding the latest Government support measures and local assistance.
The new services are part of the borough’s ‘Business and Self Employed People Plan’ to help with the economic burden of the coronavirus outbreak.
The Government has put in place significant packages of support for individuals and businesses whose finances are affected by COVID-19, and there is further support being provided by other reputable organisations.
In addition, Havering has paused recovery action on all business rates for three months and will be introducing a Business Impact Survey to better understand the concerns and impact that COVID-19 is having on local business. The survey will be hosted on the new webpage.
The Council will also be hosting live Q&A sessions via its Facebook page, which will focus on business-related topics. Questions answered by Councillor Damian White, Leader of the Council, and its Economic Development and Business Rate teams. The first session, which will take place on Tuesday 14 April at 2 pm, will concentrate on the new Business Hardship Grants.
The Council is working with the Government to implement additional measures to support businesses, which include:
- All retail/hospitality/leisure businesses receiving 100% retail rates relief discount for this financial year
- A business rate holiday for nurseries for the 2020/21 tax year
- A Small Business Grant Fund, the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Funds, and Business Hardship grants for those receiving either Small Business Rates Relief (SBRR) or Retail Discount Relief
- Relaxing planning rules to allow pubs and restaurants to operate as hot food takeaways for a 12 month period
To help keep businesses up to date with the latest advice, the monthly Business Briefing e-newsletter is now being sent out twice a week. Businesses and individuals can sign up to this the newsletter on the Havering website, www.havering.gov.uk/covid19business.
Councillor Damian White, Leader of Havering Council said:
“We understand that these are times of great uncertainty for many businesses, particularly for those that have closed their doors to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. This is why we want to make sure we make it easier for businesses to access the information and help they need to weather this storm.
“This is why we have launched our new webpage, email address and dedicated helpline to provide businesses with further assistance through these uncertain times.”
For questions related to grants and rates, businesses can reach the Business Rates team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.