Covid-19 (Coronavirus)

COVID-19 Update: Planning

Role of the director in a crisis

Quest - Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme - FAQ

Chamber of Solutions 4: 29th April 2020

Chamber of Solutions: Business in Distress event/discussion

COVID-19 Update: Self Employed and Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

COVID-19 Update: Grants Go Live and Furlough

COVID-19 Update: Remote Working, Security and Chamber Events

COVID-19 Information From Our President

 

With the recent pandemic declared by the Government surrounding Covid-19 (Coronavirus) we have made the decision to set up a dedicted page on our website to bring you the latest information and a "go-to" for business advice and links.

The Hampshire Chamber team are working hard to keep up-to date with developments and are fully prepared to advice businesses in the area in whichever capacity we can. If you require any information please email info@hampshirechamber.co.uk.

As the Coronavirus continues to impact the operations of businesses, learn more about the steps that Chambers and members can implement to minimise impact on local communities and support the UK government's strategy.

The information below will consist of Government, local Council and useful links to external websites so you can keep informed on information regarding Covid-19.

If you are looking for support for those affected by Covid-19, please visit the Government website here. This will cover a variety of topics and useful points for those with sick pay, business rates, the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, support for paying tax and how to apply for Government funding. You can also view guidance for employers, employees and businesses here.

Key information from the Government regarding businesses and spending:

- The Government will step in to help pay people's wages, covering 80% of the salary of retained workers who are unable to work (up to £2,500 a month).
- This will include wages backdated to 1 March and will be open by the end of April for at least 3 months (open to any employer in the country).
- There is no limit on the funding available for this scheme.

Other new financial measures announced include:
- Deferral of next quarter of VAT payments so no business will pay VAT from now until the end of June and will have until the end of the financial year to repay bills.
- Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (announced 11 March) will now be interest free for 12 months (originally 6 months).
- Universal Credit allowance increased £1,000 a year and the next tax self assessments will be deferred until the start of next year.
- Self-employed people will get full Universal Credit at a rate equivalent to statutory sick pay.
- A further £1 billion announced to cover 30% of housing rental costs.
- The Chancellor promises further measures to be announced to ensure larger and medium sized businesses will be able to access the credit they need.

The Chancellor has released the following update for the self-employed. The Self-Employed Income Support Scheme can be found here, with the FAQ's here. If you need assistance applying for the scheme, please visit this page.

Click here for the full statement.

The British Chambers of Commerce have an excellent page full of links and advice which can be viewed here.

At the Budget 2020 on Wednesday 11 March, the Chancellor announced a ‘Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme’, and that it would become available ‘over the coming weeks’. More information can be found on the British Business Bank website. Also visit the British Business Bank FAQ's section here.

When will the scheme be ready?

The government’s intention is to have the scheme up and running by the end of April so that the April payroll can be reimbursed through the scheme. Claims can be backdated to 1st March 2020. However, employers do not need to wait until the grant scheme is up and running to put employees on furlough.

Which employers is the scheme open to?

The scheme will be available to all UK employers, including businesses, charities, recruitment agencies and public authorities, of any size and in any sector. To be eligible, employers must have created and started a PAYE payroll scheme on or before 28th February 2020 and have a UK bank account.

How much can employers claim?

HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers’ usual wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 (gross) per worker per month, plus the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer contributions on that wage.

Further information can be found on the Government website.

Please visit the NHS website for medical information and advice.

The WHO (World Health Organisation) website can be found here.

Businesses have been given a three month company house extension. For more information, please follow this link.

If you are looking for manufacturing advice, please visit this link. Advice on Covid-19 and the ATA Carnet can be found here.

As a membership organisation, we are working tirelessly with stakeholders and members to be able to offer as much support and guidance as possible. We are in the process of offering events and training, virtually, to our members. We are in frequent contact with industry experts to give you the most up-to date and relevant information to be able to offer events and training.

Our membership continues and there a still huge number of benefits that comes with this.

  • Westfield Health - contact membership@hampshirechamber.co.uk

  • eLearning - contact train@hampshirechamber.co.uk

  • Chamber Protect - Quest. This is your access to legal/HR/tax advice. 24/7 365 days a year - contact membership@hampshirechamber.co.uk If you are members of the Chamber, you will have access to Quest. Please visit their FAQ's page here.

Our upcoming events and training: Please visit our events page.

Rob Lewis of Mission Performance Ltd has been chairing the Chamber of Solutions series over lock down. Rob has put together a special set of programmes entitled "Your antidote to uncertainty" and in particular a series called: 

'Resilience with Vulnerability' that has been informed by your feedback from the Chamber of Solutions. View more details here.

It is delivered by Mission Performance's senior facilitating team and all are delivered virtually and can cater for any group size.

To find out more email Rob: lewisr@missionperformance.com

For information from you local Chamber, please visit below. If you have any information or support you can offer. Please send this to ben.mcdonald@hampshirechamber.co.uk

The latest information from Andover Town Council can be found here.

The latest information from Basingstoke and Deane Council can be found here.

Business Hampshire have provided the following information.

The latest information from the Enterprise M3 Growth Hib, can be found here.

Fleet Coronavirus Information HUB.

Andover BID.

The Latest information from Portsmouth City Council can be found here. Business support is available here. Call their dedicated helpline on Telephone Number: 023 9268 8004. This line is currently open from 9am-5pm Monday to Friday. Call their dedicated business support line on Telephone Number: 023 9284 1641. Grant funding is now available through the Council. Please visit this link for more information.

The latest information from Havant Council can be found here.

Information from Gosport Borough Council can be found here.

Invest in Gosport information can be found here.

Information from Shaping Portsmouth can be found here.

Fareham Borough Council information can be found here.

Go! Southampton have shared their guidance and advice on Coronavirus here.

The latest information from Southampton City Council can be found here.

Southampton Council have released this update.

Eastleigh Borough Council have shared their support here.

New Forest Area Information

New Forest District Council can be found here.

New Forest Business Partnership can be found here.

The latest information from Winchester City Council can be found here.

The Winchester BID have shared the following information on their website.

If you are looking for business support, please sign up to this newsletter.

Winchester Response Centre.

Links to Chamber members websites:

Federation of Small Businesses.

Menzies

Moore South

Moore Blatch

Solent LEP

WSX Enterprise

Enterprise M3 Business Update

This page is updated frequently with the relevant information.

Being a Director in a Time of Crisis

The role of a company director is a challenging one at the best of times and, as we know all too well, these are not the best of times. The normal day-to-day business of steering an organisation smoothly on a path of growth and prosperity is replaced by an existential threat and the need for cool-headed crisis leadership.

Nothing tests organisational leader like a crisis. The bizarre events surrounding a crisis profoundly affect the people in an organisation on a practical and an emotional level as well as threatening your organisations survival.

But there are actions a leader can take before, during, and after a crisis to shorten the duration and reduce impact of these extremely difficult situations. We all know that in a business crisis the control of cash flow becomes vital Somewhat akin to the role triage in the world of medicine. Cashflow control is the equivalent of stopping the patient bleeding to death. In business, as in the medical world, stopping the bleed is not enough to survive. Both worlds need the patient/ organisation to get better. We need to be able to fight another day and plan for recovery

 At its core, leading the organisation through crisis requires an understanding of the importance of three key skills and characteristics

·         Communication

·         Clarity of vision and values

·         Caring relationships

As Directors leading the organisation we need to develop, pay attention to, and practice these characteristics and skills. If done well they help us handle the human dimension of a crisis. At the end of the day businesses are as much about people as they are cash flow.

So, how should directors respond to a crisis?

It is important to recognise that the role of the board changes in crisis. The immediate objective is to contain the situation and then try to get back to ‘business as usual’ as soon as or if at all possible.

Crises have different levels of severity and the boards response is driven by the seriousness it presents to the organisation and stakeholders.

What are the different levels of crisis severity?

In our recent chamber of solutions business panel sessions, a number of participants posed the question how do I know that my organisation is in distress/ crisis? Gene Klann in his book Crisis Leadership categorises crisis in 3 levels:

·         Level 1 – the organisation will be publicly embarrassed and the delivery of its vision, purpose and values threatened

·         Level 2 – the crisis could result in personal injury, some property loss, possible loss of life/livelihood and possible reputational damage

·         Level 3 – the crisis will result in loss of livelihood/life, significant property or financial loss, reputational damage and threaten the organisation’s survival

For many of us in the current situation we are facing crisis at category somewhere between level 2 and level 3

For many of us the current situation has rocked our world. The best laid plans are severely constrained by external forces, other decision-makers and factors beyond our control or prediction.  Anxiety and frustration is high. It would be interesting to see how many organisations in their risk and crisis planning actually foresaw a global pandemic as a business existential threat!

It is clearly wise to plan for a crisis, and tools such as the risk register takes on new significance. Rather than being the bland document many of pay lip service to it can help the board to do ‘what if’ scenario planning.

Every crisis has a pace of its own. As the COVID-19 crisis shows, the pace at which crises take hold can be fast and furious and their range and scale of impact can be wide – The directors of company need to match the tempo and get into battle rhythm to deal with the crisis lifecycle not just the crisis event. ( i.e. what happens when we come out of lockdown?)

Unlike business as usual the board and/or its crisis leaders are in a very uncomfortable position in that we are faced with uncertainty and an information deficit that would normally provide clarity and therefore risk / threat assessment and mitigation.

It is absolutely vital that the board reprioritises what is now urgent for the survival of the business and plans for the post crisis world and its future. This will include taking into account a number of factors including the needs of the business itself, its vision, its purpose, its strategy. The directors also need to look outward considering its shareholder’s needs, employees, stakeholders, society at large and its own reputation. In normal operation the tyranny of the urgent often t stops us doing this. The ironic consequence of the current crisis is that we now have the impetus and time to do this. We need to look at what needs fixing, where we need to focus and what do we need to do to prepare / grow our business for the future. This tiring and emotionally and physically draining. Most of us are already weary from running to keep still. If this sounds familiar, remember that this is not new. The Viking very successfully operated with the following mantra:

You can run and die tired or you can stand and fight

This is the choice we as directors have to make

Leadership in a time of crisis

A few years ago, the consulting firm, Deloittes tried to characterise what the key tasks of crisis leadership. I have listed and an expanded these here.

·         Decisive leadership – In crisis time is your enemy, you are dealing with uncertainty and you will never have enough data. Mistakes will occur, especially at the early stage of a crisis.  Those mistakes are learning opportunities and actually provide information for your next action as a board.  We need to lead from the front, falling back on the excuse of insufficient information is no excuse for not moving forward. As our knowledge of the crisis grows, our confidence in our decision choices increases

·         Active communication - prioritise stakeholders and have a practical strategy for communicating clear, understandable messages. In crisis situations honesty and transparency are critical. Disseminate the facts where they are known and where the facts are not known, say so but explain how you are going to get actionable data.

·         Continuous assessment and review – The COVID-19 crisis is continually evolving with new information emerging minute-by-minute. This is true in any crisis event (e.g. Grenfell tower, Terror attacks natural disasters).In situations like this it is important to keep up to date with the latest developments, constantly reframe the crisis, be flexible and review the options available. Know when to ditch the plan if it is not working and have the courage to do so.

·         Intelligence gathering - drive towards actionable intelligence), information that can be acted upon. Crisis is full of uncertainty and crucial information can come from a wide variety of sources. Cast a wide net but always check the validity and quality of those sources upon which decisions or actions are based.

·         Managing the crisis life cycle – remember the aftermath and not just the event – organisations are judged by how they fare afterwards. A recent example would be the Grenfell tower disaster, the primary crisis was the fire but the secondary crisis was sourcing accommodation for displaced people.

A crisis severely tests an organisation’s leadership, decision-making and strategic-thinking abilities and it is the job of the directors and the board to rise to this test.

Get the basics right

In conclusion, dealing with a crisis means falling back on some of the softer characteristics of leadership such as good communication, honesty, integrity, empathy and courage.

The board needs to exercise its ability to absorb and act on high volumes of complex information. There will be many things beyond the control of the organisation so concentrate on controlling the things that are within your power to control.

The three keys to communication in a crisis are The Three Es: Empathy, Ethics and Emotional Intelligence. Understand the position of your stakeholders, ensure the values of the organisation are aligned with the public mood and learn from your mistakes and successes.

In these extraordinary times it is important to remember that the role of the director is to provide leadership and reassurance from the top and help to steer the organisation away from the rocks and into calmer waters.

 

David Joel   president of the Hampshire chamber of commerc