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Coronavirus (COVID-19): Business briefing – 28 April 2020

Free digital skills training to boost UK’s productivity as a high-skill, knowledge-based economy
A new online learning platform to help boost the nation’s digital skills while people are staying at home has been launched today (28 April) by Education Secretary Gavin Williamson.

The free courses are available through a new online platform hosted on the website, called The Skills Toolkit. The new platform gives people, including those on furlough, access to free, high-quality digital and numeracy courses to help build up their skills, progress in work and boost their job prospects.

Individuals will be able to access courses helping them to create effective online content developed by the University of Leeds and the Institute of Coding, to understand the Fundamentals of Digital Marketing from Google Digital Garage and to learn how to code for data analysis from the Open University. All courses are online and flexible, so people can work through them at their own pace.

Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “The impact of COVID-19 has shown how important digital skills are – both for work and other aspects of our lives. Technology is going to play a hugely important role in our economic recovery and this new platform will help ensure everyone is able to improve their digital skills and take advantage of the opportunities ahead.”

Julian David, CEO of techUK said: “techUK is pleased to see Government taking an active role in signposting and motivating the public to take advantage of the digital skills training industry offers, techUK has long advocated for a move in this direction. Digital skills will be crucial to the future of the UK economy and our recovery from the COVID crisis.”

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson added: “I know how difficult the recent months have been and the huge changes the coronavirus has brought on the daily lives of us all.

“The high-quality and free to access courses on offer on our new online learning platform, The Skills Toolkit, will help those whose jobs have been affected by the outbreak, and people looking to boost their skills while they are staying at home, protecting the NHS and saving lives.

“I want businesses to encourage their furloughed employees to use The Skills Toolkit to improve their knowledge, build their confidence and support their mental health so they have skills they need to succeed after the coronavirus outbreak.

The Skills Toolkit courses have been selected on the advice of experts and leading employers to make sure they meet the needs of business, not just for today but in the future.

Employers are also encouraged to use The Skills Toolkit to help to support and develop furloughed employees who are interested in learning from home.

Click here to find out more.

South East Digital Skills Partnership
The South East Digital Skills Partnership is compiling information and guidance on ways in which its extensive network of digital partners are helping education, businesses and residents to respond to the current situation. This includes information on:

  • Remote working tools
  • Online advice for self-employed
  • Cyber security training

Our Digital Skills Coordinator is providing weekly updates, adding to the DSP’s growing list of resources for business, educators and students, and residents, including furloughed staff and those looking for work.

Click here to find out more and stay up to date.

Coronavirus recovery plan ‘must tackle climate change’
Tackling climate change must be woven into the solution to the COVID-19 economic crisis, the UK has told governments this week.

Environment ministers from 30 countries met in a two-day online conference in a bid to make progress on cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

The UK, as incoming Presidency for the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), co-hosted the two day virtual conference (Petersberg Climate Dialogue) with Germany.

COP26 President and UK Business Secretary Alok Sharma gave his closing remarks Climate Dialogue by video on Tuesday 28 April 2020 – click here to view.

“I am committed to increasing global climate ambition so that we deliver on the Paris Agreement (to stabilise temperature rise well below 2C).

“The world must work together, as it has to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, to support a green and resilient recovery, which leaves no one behind.”

The conference focused on how to organise a “green” economic recovery after the acute phase of the pandemic is over.

The EU Commission’s Green Deal chief, Frans Timmermans, said every euro spent on economic recovery measures after the COVID-19 crisis would be linked to the green and digital transitions.

Latest information and updates

Ask a question at a coronavirus press conference
Find out how you can ask the government a question at the daily coronavirus press conference here.

Apply for a Coronavirus Bounce Back Loan
This scheme will help small and medium-sized businesses affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) to apply for loans of up to £50,000. Click here for more information.

New guarantee on death in service benefits for frontline health and care staff during pandemic
The families of health and care workers on the frontline in England will benefit from a new life assurance scheme during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Click here for more information.

How to work safely in domiciliary care
New guidance has been published for those working in domiciliary care providing information on the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) – click here.

New guidance for social landlords on essential moves
Councils and housing associations should continue to support vulnerable people to move home. Click here for more information.

Bridging payments to give cash injection to Stewardship claimants
Countryside Stewardship and Environmental Stewardship claimants will be offered bridging payments for the 2019 claim year. The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) has confirmed today that farmers and land managers will be offered bridging payments for unpaid claims on their stewardship agreements. Click here for more information.

BEIS Webinar: Financial support for small businesses during COVID-19

Register to join a free webinar hosted by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) at 11am on Monday May 4 to find out how small business can access the coronavirus business support measures that have been made available to UK businesses.

The webinar will cover:

  • Eligibility for small business grants
  • Applying for a loan
  • Tax
  • Claiming for wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

You will have the opportunity to ask questions during the webinar. Click here to sign up.

Resources to support your business

DASA (Defence And Security Accelerator)
The Defence and Security Accelerator is part of the Ministry of Defence. We provide funding to help innovators develop solutions to Defence and Security problems. At present, we have a £1m fund to support innovation related to COVID19 and have accelerated our review processes to turn proposals around rapidly. If you have a potential innovation, you can submit an outline and request a discussion with your regional Innovation Partner through our website – click here.

DASA has a wide rage of competitions and offers of funding open to businesses including COVID-19 – click here to find out more.

Government Coronavirus Business Support Hub
You can go here to find out all the latest information about what funding and support is available for your business, managing your business during coronavirus and business closures. There is also a new ‘support finder’ tool (available here) to help businesses easily determine what financial support is available to them during the coronavirus pandemic through a quick and simple online questionnaire. You can find out more about the tool here.

Government Coronavirus Business Support Whatsapp
The government has also launched a Coronavirus Information Service on WhatsApp which is now updated with business support advice. Text ‘hi’ to 07860064422 via Whatsapp and there are business support measures highlighted under option 5 with the relevant links to pages. Click here for more information.

Government Business support helpline
Contact the government’s business support helpline for free advice

Phone: 0300 456 3565
Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm

HMRC Helpline
HMRC have online help set up to help businesses and self-employed people concerned about not being able to pay their tax due to coronavirus.

The best way to get help from HMRC on any topic is to contact them online – click here. Alternatively, you can call them on 0800 0159 559

Government departments are hosting a series of webinars to help businesses understand the support available:

  • for topics that cover supporting and retaining staff and the self-employed, register to attend future webinars here or watch recorded sessions here
  • for international trade, register here

Coronavirus Business Support blog
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy have created the Coronavirus Business Support Blog to help business get the support they need to help with the impact of coronavirus. Click here to find out more.

Find a Job Service
If your business needs more workers as a result of COVID-19, such as those in food logistics, preparation and retail, post vacancies on Find a Job – click here.

Coronavirus support from Business Representative Organisations and Trade Associations
Business Representative Organisations and Trade Associations are providing coronavirus related  support for specific sectors. Click here to access the full list.