Emergancy COVID-19 Notices for the Liverpool City Region - 2020-05-13

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... Important Daily Notices ...

AS This page is to place quick update important notices that are being sent to us from Government and other organisations over the Coronavirus Emergency affecting our country (UK)...  Please remember that the information changes quickly, so always check to see what time and when the last post was made.  We will update as and when we can...  Users of our Formby Reporter's Free Email Service will get most updates 1st and then they will be added on here as soon as we can...  If you have any updates to send in or any views on the posts on here, please email us to:- News24@SouthportReporter.Com.

Published weekly, as normal...
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This page last updated on 13 May 2020

Small firms hit by Coronavirus could miss out on Bounce Back Loans

WE understand that only 8 banking groups have so far been authorised to handle applications for the UK Government's Bounce Back Loan Scheme, that is 100% backed by Government and not the Banks. Some businesses are getting them with ease, but others are having major problems, like with Barclays Bank, who have flagged some of their account holders accounts with a unknown flag, that is now blocking them from accessing the loans raising fears that many small businesses could be locked out of the scheme. This and the low number providers has lead to a call that both the UK government and the British Business Bank must pull out all the stops to ensure the scheme has sufficient capacity to meet demand and fix problems quicker.

As many Small businesses have been scrambling to apply to the new scheme, which offers loans worth up to ₤50,000 at an interest rate of 2.5%. The 1st 12 months are payment and interest free, many are asking why the UK Government did not introduce this scheme 1st and then the bigger cash scheme later or at the same time?

Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said:- "Unfortunately, we are hearing lots of reports that bounce back applications are hard to access or enquiries are simply being acknowledged with a 'we'll call you' message and nothing further."

For customers of using the Barclays website, as a business (Southport Reporter), we can confirm this is definitely happening. Like some of our readers have reported, who are with Barclays, we have also found that if you get in contact with them, via the original phone number, that was provided on the original error page, and you do what is required to:- 'fixed,' the problem, as reported to you on the call, the page still blocks you from applying. Also, it is worth adding that calls can often last over 3 to 4 hours, most on a 03457 or 0800 numbers, is time wasted. In our case we got asked to verify our ID, we found the system still would not let us apply, even though it was corrected. Back on the phone for even more time wasted, only to be told, after a 3hr call that they will:- "Call us back to fix it, sometime in the next 2 to 3 days."

A Barclays spokesman has already said:- "We're sorry that some customers are still having trouble applying for a Bounce Back Loan on our website and may be receiving an error code. We require additional information from some customers to complete their application, and have updated the system to explain and request a call back."

"Long hours wasted at banks and on phones, when you should be sorting out your invoices and getting ready for customers, the last thing you need is any time lost like this."
A Barclays client told us and we fully agree.

For those businesses affected, this is is not acceptable.

We would like to know if you have been affected by this problem. Please email us to:-
News24@SouthportReporter.Com and let us know. The more we are aware of how big the issue is, the more we can wait we can use to push the Bank to get sorted.

More than 1 in 3 closed small firms fear they'll never reopen amid widespread redundancy plans

A new study from the UK's largest business group underscores the threat posed to millions of livelihoods by a sudden retraction of support for small firms in the weeks ahead.

FSB's fresh survey of 5,471 small business owners across the UK finds that 44% of North West businesses (41% at UK level) have been forced to close since the beginning of the Coronavirus outbreak in the UK. Of those that have closed, 38% of NW businesses (35% at UK level) are not sure whether they will ever reopen again.

For those small businesses paying a mortgage or lease on their premises, 34% of NW businesses (28% at UK level) have failed to make, or faced severe difficulties in making, rent or mortgage repayments as a result of the pandemic's economic impacts. 27% of NW businesses (25% at UK level) have had to shelve product development plans. Among NW exporters, one in four (21% at UK level) say they have had to either reduce or cancel international sales.

In response to the strain being placed on them, 41% of NW small employers (37% at UK level) are considering, or have already made, redundancies.

74% of small employers across the NW (71% at UK level) have furloughed staff to aid the survival of their business, illustrating the extent to which the Job Retention Scheme has protected the livelihoods of millions as economic activity has slumped.

As initial efforts are made to switch the economy back on, 70% of these NW businesses (74% at UK level) say the ability to partially furlough workers would benefit them. Of these, 47% of NW businesses (50% at UK level) say they want to bring staff back gradually, and 34% (31% at UK level) say it would keep their business viable.

FSB North West Chairman, Chris Manka, said:- "The impact of the Coronavirus pandemic has been felt right across the small business community, with thousands of small firms all over the UK fearing for their futures. The Government has stepped up with a huge range of support for millions of small businesses and sole traders, from income support schemes, to cash grants, to help with accessing finance and business rates breaks. Policymakers now need to realise that the economy will not go from zero to a hundred overnight once we're into the recovery phase. The crucial support that's on offer needs to be kept under review, and adapted to reflect the new normal as we chart a course back to economic recovery. Take the Job Retention Scheme. A big chunk of small business owners who have saved jobs by making use of it say that the ability to furlough staff on a part time basis; allowing them to work according to client demand and gradually come back into the workplace, whilst being supported by the scheme the rest of the time; would not only be helpful, it would save the firm. Part time furloughing is not a nice to have, it's fundamental to saving jobs."

The new study also highlights those within the small business and self employed community that have struggled to access Government initiated support.

Among small firms that pay business rates, close to 1 in 7 (15%) say their landlord charges them for rent and business rates in a single recurring bill, meaning they risk missing out on cash grants linked to the payment of rates.

The Government has now launched a discretionary fund aimed at helping those faced with this situation, though the vast majority (81%) do not know what share of their single charge is accounted for by rates, making it difficult for them to establish what, if anything, they might be due.

8% business owners have applied for Universal Credit, with 29% having their applications rejected. Even amongst those that have had applications approved, less than 1 in 7 (13%) have received their advanced payment.

Meanwhile, of those small business owners that say they are not using the self employed Income Support Scheme, the majority (68%) say this is because they are directors of limited companies. FSB continues to make the case for support for those excluded from existing grant schemes, including by calling for increased access to improved local hardship funds.

Chris Manka added:- "The support measures that we've secured are helping the vast majority, but they're not helping absolutely everyone. We're hearing from business owners who are falling through the cracks and taking their stories straight to the top of Government. Policymakers need to be in listening mode and prepared to help the most vulnerable over the challenging months ahead. No one should be left behind."

Applications for Self Employment Income Support Scheme open early

THE Government's world leading scheme to support the self employed has opened for claims; weeks ahead of schedule. From 13 May 2020 self employed individuals or members of partnerships whose business has been adversely affected by Coronavirus will be able to apply for a Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grant worth 80% of their average monthly trading profits. Millions are expected to benefit from the scheme with the payments; to be paid in a single instalment covering three months and capped at ₤7,500; expected to land in bank accounts within 6 working days of each claim. Everyone eligible for the SEISS, which is 1 of the most generous support schemes announced by any Government in response to Coronavirus, will be able to receive the Government grant by 25 May 2020, or within 6 days of a completed claim.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, said:- "We're working ahead of time to deliver support to the self employed and from today, applications open for the millions of people eligible for the scheme. With payments arriving before the end of this month, self employed across the UK will have money in their pockets to help them through these challenging times."

People will be able to make their claim on a specified date between 13 May to 18 May 2020, based on their Unique Tax Reference number. HMRC has assigned eligible self employed individuals a specific date to apply on and this can be checked on HMRC's online checker.

The SEISS is part of a comprehensive package of support for self employed people, including Bounce Back loans, income tax deferrals, rental support, increased levels of Universal Credit, mortgage holidays and the various business support schemes the Government has introduced to protect businesses during this time.  

 Derek Cribb, CEO of IPSE (the Association of Independent Professionals and the self employed) said:- "For the self employed, Coronavirus is not only a health crisis, but also a pressing income crisis. It is therefore very welcome that the Government has managed to get this new scheme in place ahead of schedule, and that a section of the freelance community can now get the help they need early. We are delighted that the Government has heeded much of IPSE's advice by setting up the Self Employment Income Support Scheme, which extends a much-needed lifeline to those self employed people who are eligible for it."

Mike Cherry, National Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said:- "The Self Employment income support scheme represents a lifeline for the millions of self employed people who are expected to qualify. I would encourage all those who think they are eligible to use the online checker if they've not done so yet, and to apply on the date allocated. We are particularly pleased to see the scheme opening earlier than scheduled, with a simple fast track application and a promise for speedy payment. Getting the system designed and built ahead of schedule is impressive. Just like the Job Retention Scheme portal we hope it will cope with the high expected demand. I would like to pay tribute to the staff of HMRC for the behind the scenes work to get this scheme off the ground."

Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the Federation of Master Builders said:- "The self employed account for 40% of the construction workforce so the Government's decision to bring forward the payment to the end May will be very welcome news for the many independent trades people who operate in construction. The Government's support package to date has been targeted at businesses so the self employed will be welcoming this cash boost at a time when they need it most."

Ambulance Service response to COVID-19 strengthened by 450 frontline recruits

NORTH West Ambulance Service (NWAS) has boosted its workforce to support the Region throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, bringing more than 450 new workers to the frontline in recent weeks.

An additional 187 staff are in place to handle 999 calls across the Greater Manchester, Liverpool and Preston emergency operations centres, while 150 additional NHS 111 clinicians, health and service advisors have joined the team at the Liverpool and Greater Manchester contact centres.

Recruitment and training of new starters is continuing in NHS 111, with 142 staff expected to have joined the service by August, ready to support members of the public with urgent health concerns.

Temporary training centres were set up using empty spaces in local Schools to help train the workers, which include:- Student Paramedics, Apprentices, staff who have been redeployed from other parts of the trust, and some agency workers.

NWAS has also increased the number of ambulances available by converting 80 non-emergency patient transport vehicles and adding the equipment needed to respond to emergencies.

To staff these additional vehicles, Student Paramedics and apprentice emergency medical technicians have become fully operational and 150 of NWAS' patient transport service (PTS) employees have volunteered to receive additional training and work alongside emergency service clinicians to provide a safe and effective service.

Daren Mochrie, Chief Executive, said:- "Providing the right care to the people of the North West is always our number one priority and we knew from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic we would need to be ready for an increase in demand on our service. Expanding our workforce in this way has allowed us to continue to help those who need us. It was not an easy task ; increasing our workforce at this pace and scale has taken a real team effort from across the organisation so thank you to all the departments who have been involved; from IT to estates, our education and training, HR, transformation and programme management teams, as well as all the clinical and operational staff who have welcomed new colleagues and supported them. It takes courage to step up to a challenging new role at a time like this and we really do appreciate the support and input from all our new starters and volunteers. We have received so much support from the public and all we ask is that everyone continues to help us out by following Government advice and doing your part to protect the NHS and save lives. We are here for you if you need us; dial 999 if you have a life threatening illness or injury, such as chest pain, symptoms of a stroke or severe bleeding. If it's not an emergency, you can visit:- 111 Online for urgent care advice."

For more information about NWAS or for current vacancies, visit:- NWAS.NHS.UK.

"No awkward silences please..." Take a moment to talk about organ donation during:- 'Dying Matters Awareness Week'

ON the 20 May 2020 the law around organ donation is changing in England, subject to finalising the Parliamentary process, and we want to encourage everyone to consider the options and register or share their decision.

Under the new law, all adults in England will be considered as having agreed to donate their own organs when they die unless they record a decision not to donate, (known as 'opting out'), or are in 1 of the excluded groups.

Those excluded will be people under 18, those who lack the mental capacity to understand the new arrangements and take the necessary action; people who have lived in England for less than 12 months or who are not living here voluntarily and those who have nominated someone else to make the decision on their behalf.

It is important that people know they will still have a choice whether or not to donate. Families will still be consulted, and people's faith, beliefs and culture will continue to be respected. Where the individual hasn't expressed a decision, specialist nurses will support their families to make a decision, based on what their loved ones would have wanted. If the decision is not to donate, this will be honoured and upheld.

Very few people die in the circumstances where organ donation is possible so every organ donor is precious. Organ donation will not go ahead if a potential donor tests positive for Covid-19. However, there are still life saving organ transplants taking place at this time, bringing hope to seriously ill patients on the Transplant Waiting List.

Anthony Clarkson, Director of Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation at NHS Blood and Transplant, said:- "This year during Dying Matters Awareness Week, we are asking everyone to talk about organ donation. Not only is it important to register your choice, but also to discuss your decision with your family and friends. Even though the law around organ donation is changing on the 20 May 2020, there is no deadline to making your donation decision, you can register your choice at any time. Your family will always be involved in discussions about the possibility of donation, so it is vital you share your choice with them, whether you are with them in person, or are staying connected via a chat over the phone or on family Zoom or Skype calls."

The main theme for this year's Dying Matters Awareness Week (11 May to 17 May 2020) is:- 'Dying to be heard.' It encourages us to also consider the other side of conversation; not just talking but listening too. If you've already made your organ donation decision, do you know the decision of those around you?

If organ donation becomes a possibility, relatives find it much easier to support a loved one's decision if they already know what they wanted.

If you haven't already, please make your choice now, register it on the NHS Organ Donor Register and tell your family. For more information and to register your decision, whether you decide to opt in or opt out, visit:- OrganDonation.NHS.UK.

Total UK cases COVID-19 cases - update for Liverpool City Region and surroundings

AS some people within England who cannot work from home are returning to their workplaces, as the Government begins easing some lockdown, a reminder of the continuing pandemic comes as the latest UK fatalities show a rise of 494 deaths, Currently that national total number of COVID-19 recorded deaths stands at 33,186 people. The number of COVID-19 infections has risen by 3,242, taking the total of laboratory confirmed infections to 229,705, ac cording to the Department of Health. In England, we have been told that there are now a total of 139,086 confirmed cases. In the North West, the total of confirmed cases now stands at 22,853, both past and current. The number of laboratory confirmed cases within the following Local Authorities, in and around the Liverpool City Region are as follows:-

► Liverpool, 1,515 confirmed cases.

► Sefton, 874 confirmed cases.

► Wirral, 1,144 confirmed cases.

► St. Helens, 708 confirmed cases.

► Halton, 351 confirmed cases.

► Lancashire, 3,239 confirmed cases.

► Cheshire West and Chester, 943 confirmed cases.

► Cheshire East, 1,050 confirmed cases.

► Manchester, 1,362 confirmed cases.

► Stockport, 978 confirmed cases.

► Trafford, 696 confirmed cases.

► Wigan, 1,033 confirmed cases.

► Bolton, 913 confirmed cases.

► Rochdale, 674 confirmed cases.

► Bury, 651 confirmed cases.

► Tameside, 558 confirmed cases.

► Oldham, 960 confirmed cases.

► Blackburn with Darwen, 372 confirmed cases.

These stats are according to Public Health England as of 13/05/2020. Last updated 4.24pm GMT. UK total includes cases detected through:- "Pillar 2" testing (tests carried out by commercial partners) and therefore does not equate to the sum of the 4 countries' counts, which only include:- "Pillar 1" (tests carried out by NHS / PHE / Devolved Administration Labs).. UK total includes cases detected through:- "Pillar 2" testing (tests carried out by commercial partners) and therefore does not equate to the sum of the 4 countries' counts, which only include:- "Pillar 1" (tests carried out by NHS / PHE / Devolved Administration Labs).

UK Government Coronavirus Press Conference on 13 May 2020 Video



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