I was hoping to get this update out on Tuesday, but a series of twists and turns in events and a general outbreak of hoo-ha set me back two days. As a result, this update is now quite long. A quick reminder that the BID Team is always available should you have any questions or need our support - please email email@example.com or telephone 07917 692690. Right, here we go:
Town Centre Footfall Trends: week commencing 29th June 2020
The Springboard counter shows that there are still more people in town than there were during lockdown, although footfall is , as always, affected by the weather. Last week saw some pretty horrible days, and this is reflected in some drop in numbers of people in the high street.
In the week beginning Monday 29th June, footfall dipped down from Monday to Friday, but saw significant increases on Saturday and Sunday. By the end of the week, footfall was still 44% higher than the last week of lockdown. However, compared with the same week in 2019, footfall was down by 38%.
To see the effect of re-openings on the Night Time Economy, I then focused on the hours between 5pm and 11pm, and can report there was a 19% increase in footfall on Saturday night.
Reopening of more businesses: Saturday 4th July
It's great that more businesses reopened at the weekend. We hope it went well , and you've been able to review your risk assessments and preparations now you've experienced them in action.
We are mindful that not all businesses are able to reopen yet, and our biggest hope is that the next phase progresses safely and smoothly, and we can see all of you back in operation at the earliest opportunity.
The "Reopening High Streets Safely" fund: What can it be used for?
Arun District Council was allocated £143,718 from the Government's Reopening High Streets Safely Fund to support the safe reopening of high streets and other commercial areas.
There's been a fair bit of speculation on social media as to what the funding can be used for, including suggestions that some businesses have received direct financial support, and that the money could be used to subsidise parking. This is not the case.
The funding has been specifically allocated to allow authorities in England to put in place additional measures to establish a safe trading environment for businesses and customers. The types of things the money can be used for are extremely focused - I've provided links to the source documents below. You''ll need to read both the initial guidance, and the Frequently Asked Questions document to see why it can't be used for anything that isn't directly related to Covid-19 safety - car parking initiatives are specifically excluded.
The proposed Planning and Business Bill hasn't gone through all of the stages required for it to become law yet - the date for "Royal Assent" is set for 13th July. You can track the bill's progress here: https://services.parliament.uk/Bills/2019-21/businessandplanning.html
If the bill is passed, there will still need to be a period of time allowed for ADC to implement the new systems. I'll let you know as soon as details about how to apply are released.
Just a reminder that you must have a licence to place chairs and tables outside your business premises – please don’t use the pavement for tables and chairs if you don’t have a licence.
Bognor Regis General Market
Fully recognising that this would would have been more timely information had the update gone out on Tuesday as planned........
The Bognor Regis General Market will re-start on Thursday 9th July. We're taking a very careful approach with its return, operating only on Thursdays to start with, and a full review after the first two weeks. The market has been risk assessed, and the traders will each have carried out their own individual risk assessments and taken actions to make sure their stalls are Covid 19 secure.
To make sure we get it right, we'll be starting off with a very limited number of stall holders - all of whom are experienced traders that have been regularly operating under the BID's Trading Licence, and they'll be positioned at the southern end of London Road to maximise the amount of social distancing spaces needed further up for businesses' queuing systems and pedestrians.
Once we're satisfied that it's running safely and smoothly, we'll look to increase the number of stalls, but safety will be the priority in any decisions that are made.
Summer Economic Update: A Plan for Jobs 2020
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, presented his ‘Plan for Jobs’ to Parliament on Wednesday 8 July 2020, to outline how the government will boost job creation in the UK. The plan includes:
• A Job Retention Bonus that will be introduced to help firms keep furloughed workers. UK Employers will receive a one-off bonus of £1,000 for each furloughed employee who is still employed as of 31 January 2021.
• A new £2 billion Kickstart Scheme will be launched to create hundreds of thousands of new, fully subsidised jobs for young people across the country. Those aged 16-24, claiming Universal Credit and at risk of long-term unemployment, will be eligible. Funding available for each six-month job placement will cover 100% of the National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week – and employers will be able to top this wage up.
• A total of £1.6 billion will be invested in scaling up employment support schemes, training and apprenticeships to help people looking for a job. Young people, who are amongst the worst hit by the crisis, will benefit from this.
• The plan will also create tens of thousands of jobs through bringing forward work on £8.8 billion of new infrastructure, decarbonisation and maintenance projects.
• A temporary increase to the Nil Rate Band of Residential SDLT (Stamp Duty) from £125,000 to £500,000 will be introduced until 31 March 2021. This will drive growth and support jobs across the housebuilding and property sectors.
• The rate of VAT applied on most tourism and hospitality-related activities will be cut from 20% to 5%.
• To encourage people to safely return to eating out at restaurants, the Government has introduced a new Eat Out to Help Out discount. The scheme will support over 129,000 businesses in the hospitality industry. Diners can get 50% off meals and non-alcoholic drinks, up to £10 per person, at participating restaurants, bars and cafes when they eat in. The scheme is valid all day every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday during August. Participating restaurants and establishments will be reimbursed for the discount they pass onto customers. Detailed guidance and registration details for restaurants and establishments will be published on 9 July and restaurants and outlets can register for the scheme from Monday 13 July.