Norman’s Notes March 2021

Normans Notes

Last chance to claim Business Restrictions Grants

Mid Sussex District Council continues to urge local businesses to submit applications for the Government’s Covid-19 restrictions grants by 31 March.

The deadline to apply for most business support schemes is midnight on Wednesday 31 March and it’s vital that Mid Sussex businesses apply for the financial support they are entitled to, before it’s too late.

MSDC is distributing Government Covid-19 restrictions grants to Mid Sussex businesses that have been adversely affected by the pandemic. Any business that has been mandated to close by the Government since 5 November 2020 is entitled to support and can apply at:

Businesses that have remained open but have experienced a significant drop in income because of Covid-19 can also apply for financial support through a discretionary Additional Restrictions Grant. The current funding window for this also closes on the 31 March.

Cllr Jonathan Ash-Edwards, Leader of MSDC says: “There is around £10million of Business Support Grant money that the Council is holding for local businesses who have been adversely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. This funding that remains to be claimed is ring-fenced, it can’t be used by the Council for any other purpose, and if it’s not spent supporting Mid Sussex businesses then it must be sent back to the Government.

“Time is now running out to ensure that money reaches all the local businesses that need it because the deadline for applications is 31 March at midnight. If you have a business that has been negatively affected by Covid-19, and you haven’t yet claimed the grants that you’re entitled to, please go to

“If you’ve been forced to close your business after 5 November 2020, you can claim for a number of different grants.

If you need any help, or you have any questions, please email the team at MSDC: or visit our webpage at

Restart Grants

Check if you are eligible for a coronavirus Restart Grant. They are available from 1 April 2021 and they are intended to support businesses to reopen safely, as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

Eligible businesses in the non-essential retail sector may be entitled to a one-off cash grant of up to £6,000 in non-essential retail or £18,000 in the hospitality, accommodation, leisure, personal care and gym sectors.

Your business may be eligible if it is:

  • based in England
  • rate-paying
  • in the non-essential retail, hospitality, accommodation, leisure, personal care or gym sectors
  • trading on 1 April 2021

If you need any help, or you have any questions, please email the team at MSDC: or visit our webpage at

The Kick Start Scheme

This project provides funding to create new job placements for 16 to 24-year-olds.

Employers of any size can apply for funding which covers: National Minimum Wage (or the National Living Wage depending on the age of the participant) for 25 hours per week for a total of 6 months and associated employer National Insurance contributions.

Employers can spread the start date of job placements up until the end of December 2021.

Further information is available at:

Changing work patterns

As we come out of Covid restrictions into a new life, which we all hope will be more “normal”, talk is that ministers are preparing to make flexible working a permanent feature of our working lives. We read in the national press that plans will be developed to strengthen workers rights to work from home or request different and more flexible working hours.

Permanent changes of this magnitude will almost certainly involve public consultation. Workers “rights” as well as those of employers will have to be considered.

A key component in rebuilding our economy will be the ability of workers to pivot into new jobs requiring different skill sets. Our MP, Mims Davies, has written about this often. There are a range of coaching and training opportunities available, many sponsored or financed by government, to assist existing workers and those on the cusp of leaving school, to gain the necessary skills to play their part in our new norm.

Gillian Keegan, MP is Chichester’s first female MP. In February 2020 she was appointed as the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Apprenticeships and Skills and is the first former apprentice to hold the office. She speaks passionately about the importance of apprenticeships in the development of future workforces and rebalancing the mantra that 50% of all school leavers should go to university.

I wonder how these changes will impact on East Grinstead and our surrounding villages? More people working from home will certainly mean an ever-greater demand for places for informal business meetings; will that mean more coffee shops, meeting rooms in existing outlets like The Tasting Rooms and The Bookshop on the High Street, purpose-built hire by the hour office space and mini convention centres such as can be provided by Chequer Mead Theatre?

COVID-19 News at mid-March

Due to the delay in reporting, the following data reflects the position a couple of weeks ago, but it’s good news! Covid levels in Mid Sussex are below 20 cases per 100,000, so Mid Sussex has a similar infection rate as it had in mid-September 2020. By the end of February over 40,000 Mid Sussex residents had been vaccinated. The vaccination roll-out has seen an impressive display of volunteers and the NHS working together to achieve the largest such programme in history. Impressive!

Covid rates fell in Worthing and Arun early in March, but increased in Chichester and Crawley. The average Covid rate in West Sussex remains steady and slightly below the South East average of about 36 cases per 100,000.

This rapid fall from high Covid levels at the start of 2021 is reflected across England. Most local government authority areas in Sussex now have Covid rates well below 50 cases per 100,000 compared to the England average of about 55 cases per 100,000.

Stage one of the roadmap started on Monday 8 March 2021 with schools re-opening. In addition, appropriate political campaigning for the May elections is now permitted. Lateral Flow Tests are being used to identify people who have Covid, but have no symptoms, to try to maintain the lower Covid rates.

Both hospitalisations and Covid death rates continue to fall in Sussex from the high levels of late January and are now similar to those seen last October.

The excellent local Covid vaccination programme will assist in bringing hospitalisations and Covid deaths down, but the risk of new variants remains.

People aged 50 plus are eligible for their first vaccination. The vaccination of medically vulnerable people aged 16-64 also continues alongside the second vaccination for those people first vaccinated in January/February 2021. Younger age groups will follow as vaccine supplies permit.

May elections

Electoral Services at Mid Sussex District Council have been working hard to ensure the West Sussex County Council and Police and Crime Commissioner elections to be held on Thursday 6 May are as safe as they can be. There is also a by-election for a vacant District Council seat, the election for which has been held over since last year.

Postal votes are available by visiting to download a form to be completed and signed. This can then be posted back to the electoral services team or scanned and emailed to

If you wish to vote at a polling station, you can reduce delays and person-to-person contact by taking your poll card with you. It will have a QR code to negate manual crossing off your name on the voter’s roll.

Some key points:

  • Please wear a face mask.
  • You will be asked to use hand sanitiser and maintain social distancing at all times.
  • Don’t forget your poll card.
  • Poll staff will wear face masks and shields.
  • You can bring your own pen or pencil, but freshly sanitised pencils will be available.
  • Poll staff will sanitise issuing desks, polling booths, ballot box lids and other touch points regularly.
  • There will be limits to the number of people allowed in each polling station at any time: this will depend on particulars at each polling station.

2021 Census Follow-Up Process

The official Census date of Sunday 21 March has now passed. Census reminders will start to be sent out to households across the district that have not returned their questionnaire. Field officers from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) will begin their work on Tuesday 23 March, following up non returners.

Should MSDC receive telephone enquiries regarding completion of the Census document, residents will be directed to or the national helpline: 0800 141 2021. As with many helplines there are reports of long waits, but help is available for distressed elderly or infirm residents who require a paper form and are without internet access and unable to get through to the helpline.

They are advised to call the District Council Contact Centre on 01444 458166. The Contact Centre staff will be able to order a household form for them using the online process, which will be delivered by post.

With field officers now out and about, ONS have provided clear guidance on what a member of the public should do if they are concerned that the person on their doorstep is not a genuine census official:

  • Census officers will carry an ID card with their photograph and name.
  • Census officers will work through the day to make contact with residents but will not call

before 09:00 or after 20:00.

  • Census officers will never ask for money or bank details.
  • Census officers will never need to enter someone’s home.
  • Census officers will have census leaflets and paper questionnaires with them.
  • If the householder is still concerned, ring the contact centre for further advice: 0800 141 2021.

There is also help available for East Grinstead and surrounding village residents by calling Being Neighbourly East Grinstead.

Give them a call on 01342 323636 and press 1. They will take your name and number and get someone to call you back. They have been immensely helpful throughout Covid Lockdown and they are now also assisting residents in other ways, including with completion of Census forms.

Author: Lee Farren
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