Norman’s Notes

Normans Notes

Lockdown re-imposed

We have re-entered Lockdown; a place none of us wanted to be in and all worked so hard, locally, to avoid. These will come in to force at 00:01 this Thursday, subject to Parliamentary approval. 

There are three main areas of restrictions:

Requiring people to stay at home, except for specific purposes

People should stay at home and work from home unless they cannot do so (such as construction) in which case they should go to work as normal. Schools will remain open. Other exemptions include outdoor exercise, medical reasons, or shopping for basic necessities. 

Preventing gathering with people you do not live with, except for specific purposes

Gathering indoors or in private gardens with people you do not live with will not be allowed. Parks and those playgrounds currently open will remain open.

Closing certain businesses and venues

The following businesses and venues will be required to close: all non-essential retail, leisure facilities, hospitality businesses, entertainment venues and personal care facilities. Food shops, supermarkets, garden centres and some other retailers providing essential goods will be allowed to remain open. Hospitality can only provide takeaway and delivery services.

These restrictions will be in place until 2 December, when the Government will seek to return to a regional approach of tiered restrictions. The Government guidance published so far can be found at www.gov.uk/guidance/new-national-restrictions-from-5-november/

Protect your business from flu this winter

You and your staff, who are eligible for a free flu vaccine, are strongly urged to take up the offer to protect yourself, your business and help reduce pressure on the NHS. I am concerned there will be confusion between Covid-19 and the normal annual flu symptoms.

The flu vaccine is the best protection we have against the concurrent flu season, which is unpleasant and can trigger severe illness in those who are most vulnerable. 

Due to high demand, there may be some delay getting a vaccination appointment, but your GP surgery or pharmacy will tell you when more appointments are available, if there are none at present.

Covid Recovery Fund

MSDC has pledged to award a total of £300,000 in grants to local businesses, community groups and voluntary organisations affected by the coronavirus pandemic, through a new Covid-19 Recovery Grant Fund. Grants of £1,000 to £5,000 are available now to help local businesses and organisations through the Covid-19 crisis. 

The pandemic and ensuing lockdown have taken their toll on the resilience of our local businesses and voluntary organisations. Many have incurred unexpected costs or lost significant revenue because they have been unable to operate their businesses at capacity or carry out fundraising activities as usual. I am encouraging local businesses, and organisations, to apply now for a share of the £300,000 grant fund, to assist in adapting to the current restrictions and develop new ways of working in the future. The application window is short!

To apply visit www.midsussex.gov.uk/licensing-business/corporate-grants/

Mid Sussex Economic Recovery Plan

MSDC is to initiate an important step in maintaining its reputation as an economically successful district. The Economic Profile of the District highlights that the businesses and residents in the area benefit from our locality: a resilient business economy, operating in diverse sectors and with a higher than average survival rate for start-up businesses compared to other parts of the UK. In addition, the District has a reputation for having a highly skilled workforce and a significant proportion of London commuters enjoying above average salaries and relative work stability.

For many years, ensuring Sustainable Economic Growth, has been a Corporate Priority for Mid Sussex and there has been a focus on economic development and inward investment with notable successes. MSDC has been able to secure significant external investment in the infrastructure required to help businesses to start up and develop. Successes include £5.8 million government investment in digital infrastructure; over £23 million in dualling the A2300; and over £21 million in sustainable transport measures: all projects which are being delivered on the ground now.

However, the impact of Covid-19 has severely tested the landscape. Although the economic impact of the crisis is still far from clear, we know that 31% of the Mid Sussex work force is currently furloughed. In addition, work by the ONS suggests that 24% of residents are in jobs that are ‘most at risk’ from the crisis. Unemployment has risen from 1.3% to 3.9% and this may increase further.

MSDC has provided immediate support and advice to businesses and residents including: over £26.4 millions of business grants being paid to nearly 2,065 businesses and organisations; holding regular liaison meetings with businesses, our three excellent Business Associations, and the Chamber of Commerce; delivering a package of measures to ensure the re-opening of our High Streets safely; providing advice and assistance to 71 new food businesses and helping pubs, social clubs and other licenced premises to open safely; and supporting the development industry (a key employment sector and provider of new homes including affordable homes) to continue to operate in a Covid-19 secure way.Please watch this space and interact with East Grinstead Business Association; we will be working closely with them to communicate further.

 MSDC’s role in supporting our most vulnerable

Cllr Ash-Edwards has said, “MSDC has provided support and grants to the food banks within our district as required and will continue to do so. There is some excellent work going on right across the district to support vulnerable families, whether from local Councils, the community or voluntary sector.

There is also additional financial support in place for low income residents and those in financial difficulty. The Government has provided a £1,000 uplift to Universal Credit this year and MSDC is using our share of the national Council Tax Hardship Fund to boost the support to low income families through the Council Tax Support Scheme. Of course, this is in addition to the very considerable support the Government has provided more broadly throughout the pandemic, to support incomes and livelihoods.”

WSCC’s role in supporting our most vulnerable

WSCC received £737,000 from the Government’s Local Authority Emergency Assistance Grant and this is being used to provide support to residents with food and essential supplies. Some of this funding has also been provided to Food Banks across the county. 

The West Sussex Community Hub was established in March 2020 to support anyone adversely affected by Covid-19, including ensuring access to food and essential household supplies as well as information and advice. To date the Hub has received more than 54,000 inbound calls and requests for support and delivered 3,500 urgent food parcels across West Sussex.

It is important that this provision is available to all families in need, whether eligible for free school meals (FSM) or not. Sadly, the pandemic has hit many families who never anticipated being in the position they now find themselves. Many of them are not yet on the FSM register, but they will be receiving the additional £1,000 per year, per child, via the most effective route available, which is Universal Credit.

With many employees on shorter hours, if they are struggling for food please direct them to the Community Hub for additional support. It is open 7 days a week from 8am-8pm, either by phoning 0330 0222 7980 or via www.westsussex.gov.uk/covid19communityhub

Corporate responsibility involvement

I am aware many good folk are working very hard to maintain their business or employment, but if you can offer time to support the local community please do contact Mid Sussex Voluntary Action. 

MSVA has some excellent advice on grant funding available across many different areas of need, not just Covid related. This may be useful if you already support a charity which has been unable to fundraise during lockdown. 

There are also trustee opportunities available; perhaps for those on reduced time to learn new skills, broaden business networks and meet interesting new people. They also have training, job adverts in the voluntary, NHS and other sectors and surveys and support sections.

There is a great opportunity to boost mental health, get about and do some good by reaching out directly to a charity or community group or going to MSVA here:

https://www.msva.org.uk/ 

Author: fiona bewers
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