Wolves in Business, a local economy support package. We’re making millions of pounds of grant payments available and are developing new measures in partnership with business groups across the city.
We’re determined to keep Wolverhampton’s business community vibrant and resilient by being on the side of our local businesses, their employees and those who are self-employed.
We may be a small team but like our small business community we believe we have made a big impact. We hope this booklet gives a flavour of what we can do; and how we have adapted through the pandemic to ensure our support is tailored to the changing needs of the business community. Working together we continue to have a big impact on the Wolverhampton economy.
We're here to help
This is a time of great anxiety for workers and businesses. City of Wolverhampton Council will do all in its power to help you through this.
How we’re responding as a council
We have launched a comprehensive economic package to help businesses, voluntary and community sector groups and the city’s residents cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. Wolves in Business is designed to offer advice and guidance to ensure we are relevant during these uncertain times and as we move forward.
The new Black Country Small Grants Programme goes live in November.
The Government scheme – supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) - is being delivered by the Black Country Growth Hub.
It will provide grants of £1,000 to £3,000 (and in exceptional cases up to £5,000) for small firms to buy in critical consultancy support.
Areas of support include legal, finance, human resources, health and safety, Covid-19 risk assessments and prevention measures, or purchasing IT or small pieces of equipment to adapt to new ways of working.
Businesses are being encouraged to register for the Black Country Growth Hub Newsletter to receive notification as soon as the scheme goes live.
Basic eligibility will include evidencing significant financial loss over recent months and a specific need for consultancy support.
A visitor economy package is set to go live in November to support 40 Black Country businesses in the hospitality sector.
Bents Limited, a new private-sector partner with expertise and experience of delivering for two Local Enterprise Partnerships in the Midlands, will deliver this Government scheme.
It will offer diagnostics/needs analysis through to one-to-one support, workshops and webinars, and grants of £1,000 to £1,800 for more specialist support and the purchase of small items/equipment.
Businesses can register their interest by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Residents are being encouraged to download the NHS Covid-19 App when it arrives – expected to be Thursday 24 September – while businesses and community venues are being encouraged to create Covid-19 App posters to display in their premises from the day the app launches. The posters feature a QR code which customers and visitors will be able to scan using the app to safely and securely 'check in' at the venue. Customers will receive an alert if they have recently visited a venue where they may have come into contact with coronavirus. Here you will find a guide on creating the QR poster for your businesses or community venue.
The app also allows people to report symptoms and book a coronavirus test and features a handy countdown timer for people who have been asked to self-isolate, so that they can keep track of when their self-isolation period is due to end.
The NHS Covid-19 App will be available to download from the App Store or Google Play for free. For more information, please visit www.covid19.nhs.uk.
As part of our ambitions to help local businesses recover from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic we would like to offer you free of charge one-to-one specialist professional advice with a trusted and accredited occupational health clinician. Support would be provided on-line via a suitable digital platform , offering an opportunity for you to talk through any concerns you may have around working safely and effectively in line with existing legislation and current coronavirus (Covid-19) guidance. To express an initial interest in having a free of charge chat with one of these specialist advisors to find out more around any aspect of operating your business safely during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, please email us at Business.Development@wolverhampton.gov.uk
These business support sessions will be made available by the council from 28th September 2020 onwards with slots available for up to an hour throughout this and future dates.
Tesco Bags of Help COVID-19 Communities is a short-term fund to support local communities across the UK in response to the coronavirus/COVID-19 crisis. It will support organisational need rather than fund specific projects.
Applications will be accepted from organisations such as women’s refuges, food banks, hospices, homeless charities, charities supporting the elderly, and charities supporting children’s activities. This list is not exhaustive and other organisational types will be considered.
Tesco is looking to support organisations:
- Whose need for services has been disrupted – for example a food bank whose stocks are running low and need an immediate donation to enable the food bank to restock.
- Who need to put in place new services – for example charities setting up a new home service to the elderly who usually attend a monthly lunch club or a charity needing to set up a telephone service to support beneficiaries.
- Finding increased demand – a holiday hunger club needs more resources due to schools closing, or a children’s centre needs an additional temporary staff member.
Due to the need to respond quickly to the emergency a streamlined application process and payment process has been set up to make it easier to get funds distributed quickly. Tesco expects to be making weekly awards to groups across the UK. This is a rolling programme. Applications can be made at any time during the next few months.
The Barclays Foundation has launched a £100m COVID-19 Community Aid Package of £100 million to charities working to support vulnerable people impacted by COVID-19, and to alleviate the associated social and economic hardship caused by the crisis.
The package is made up of two components.
Component 1 - Charity Partners Programme
- A £50 million fund that will be disbursed principally in the UK, but also in Barclays’ international markets, including the USA and India.
- Funding deployed via partnerships with trusted charities who can have a direct and immediate impact on the communities we wish to help in those geographies.
- Funding to be targeted at programmes as local to Barclays major locations as possible – the places where Barclays colleagues live and work, and where they can potentially help directly.
- The money will be used to help disadvantaged people (those suffering from social and economic deprivation as a consequence of COVID-19), the elderly and vulnerable communities most at risk from COVID-19, and to support NHS staff and other keyworker communities.
Component 2 – Employee Matched Donations Programme
- A £50 million commitment. Barclays will match an individual colleague’s donations to charities working to support vulnerable people impacted by COVID-19, and in alleviating the associated social and economic hardship caused by the crisis.
- A colleague may select a charity of his or her choice for their donation and matching programme, provided the charity is officially registered, and is engaged in supporting communities impacted by COVID-19.
- Un-utilised corporate funds (any balance of the £50 million) at the end of 12 months would be deployed to the Charity Partners Programme so that Barclays meets its overall public commitment of a £100 million contribution to COVID-19 Community Aid.
Update - Successful applicants wil be notified by the Thursday 7 January
The City of Wolverhampton Council is looking to engage up to 200 City-based businesses into a free package of intensive short term and ongoing long-term support to be delivered in collaboration with the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), and the Black Country Chamber of Commerce.
The scheme, thought to be a first in the country, will focus on improving financial management; encouraging product, service and market reviews, and improving digital awareness and application – and is designed to rapidly build the capacity to survive and grow in the Covid-19 hit economy.
Importantly the package includes free membership of the FSB or the Chamber – two key business support organisations active in the City, each of whom provide a comprehensive package of support available to their members.
The Programme will be open to sole traders, micro and small businesses from across a range of sectors.
The basic eligibility criteria include:
- employing no more than 25
- turnover below £1m
- primary trading base in the Wolverhampton local authority area
- not a member of the FSB or the Chamber within the past 12 months
- not a participant in a Council Business Support Programme within the past 18 months (excludes government Covid-19 related grant schemes)
There will be an application process, and assessments will be based on:
- commitment to an initial Business Review
- attending a series of thematic and membership offer webinars
- signing up to the Wolves@Work pledge
- evidencing ambition and passion
Priority will be given to businesses that have not been on a Council Business Support Programme within the past 18 months
We intend to run 5 cohorts of 40 businesses over the next 12 months; each cohort will reflect a cross-section of business sectors and sizes, and a decision to be accepted or not will be final.
The programme will go live early in the new year with applications being invited through December. A key part of a successful application will be to show ambition and passion about the business and programme – and the package being offered will be worth on average £750 to each participating business.
Apply for the Business Relight Programme
Councillor Stephen Simkins, Cabinet Members for City Economy noted: “These are incredibly difficult times for our small businesses, and we are constantly looking at new ways we can support them and help them bounce back from the current crisis. Through our work in administering thousands of vital business grants during the Covid-19 pandemic we have identified where some small businesses need more than just financial support. The Relight Business Programme provides more tailored support from business professionals that will help build capacity in some of our smallest, but most ambitious businesses.”
Membership of the Federation of Small Businesses or the Black Country Chamber of Commerce comes with the package - as does a financial health check, and focused support on funding, financial management and cashflow; and product, service and market reviews.
Karen Wooley, West Midlands Development Manager at the FSB commented, “It is challenging to run a business in the best of times, but the past 8 months have presented incredible challenges for our local entrepreneurs and we want to support them in whatever way we can. The economic disruption caused by Covid-19 calls for some new thinking and what we have here is, I believe, a first for the City. The offer of Wolverhampton Council to provide businesses with a 12-month FSB membership, along with a wrap-around programme of support, is an example of the Council’s commitment to nurture and protect its small businesses with a robust suit of immediate, on the ground advice and resources to help them through the crises and beyond - enabling them to not only survive, but to thrive.”
The Council believe there is real value for a business in being a member of a business support organisation and equally believe that this can be significantly enhanced through an intensive package of focused support to build resilience and capacity – and the package being offered will be worth at least £750.
Corin Crane, Chief Executive at the Chamber of Commerce added, “The Black Country Chamber of Commerce has been helping local business over the past two centuries and, during COVID-19 have turned to us to help them navigate the challenges which many now face. Participating businesses will have to commit to actively use their membership and participate in this intensive programme of support and the cohort, account management, and focussed support on offer will give many businesses a means by which to navigate these very challenging times.”
These are unprecedented times for us all, however we are committed to continue to provide the best support we can to businesses and jobseekers. We are here to help you plan your current and future workforce needs as you navigate the current COVID-19 situation. Our consultancy services are fully funded and over 600 businesses have accessed the support in the last three years.
Wolves at Work business services are ready and available to offer support to businesses looking for assistance on the following:
- Recruitment - we can advertise and promote your vacancies and assist with sourcing new talent through the highly successful Wolves at Work project
- Redundancy support
- Advice on upskilling your workforce to meet future business needs
- Information on the Job Retention Scheme and links to training for furloughed staff
- Useful connections to further business support
Please don’t hesitate to contact us for recruitment or workforce support: email@example.com
Or call the Business Support line: 01902 290242 between 9am and 5pm from Monday to Thursday or from 9am to 4.30pm on Fridays
Job Retention Scheme
Claim for wages through the coronavirus job retention scheme.
It will allow you to retain your staff and ensure your business can resume quickly when re-growth occurs.
There are also several useful websites to further explain the support available to businesses and their employees:
- Black Country Chamber
- Instutute of Directors (IOD)
- Business Support
- Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD)
- Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS)
A useful tool for further support are the following webinars on employment topics:
Black Country-specific advice and support for businesses is available through the Black Country Growth Hub.
The Federation of Small Businesses has also published guidance on what you can do to protect your business and employees.
The Black Country Chamber of Commerce have also published a number of interpretative and advice documents on the Government support schemes.
Guidance for food businesses reopening and adapting their businesses during COVID-19 can be found on the Trade with Confidence website.
Through the summer we ran a series of 7 webinars and 5 surgeries with the support and involvement of a number of businesses that represented a cross section of business sectors, sizes and structures. Our thanks go to our Economic Growth Board members John Wood, Director at the Liberty Group, Scott Thompson, Managing Director at the Thompson Group, Matt Weston, Director at Stones Throw Media, Anna-Maria McCauliffe, Director of the McAuliffe Group, Maria Posiwnyncz, owner of The Accountancy Firm; Sham Sharma, owner of Zuri Coffee; Henry Carver, Managing Director of Carvers; and Russell Jones, General Manager Marketing and Commercial Growth at Wolves FC.
The titles of the webinars were:
- Cut Costs and Streamline Processes to Improve Productivity and Efficiency
- Plan ahead and Plan for Success
- Lead and Don’t be Led
- Innovate and Diversify
- Invest and Identify New Customers and Market Trends
Our thanks too to Maqq Rafique, Director of Airguard Filters; and Keith Milford, owner of PrintDot. Maqq and Keith successfully pivoted their businesses early this year to respond to the needs of the NHS and essential businesses, securing AIM for GOLD grant support to implement investment in new machinery. They shared their stories in 2 of our recent growth planning webinars:
- Growth Planning – the creative sector
- Growth Planning – the manufacturing sector
Time for another ‘Small Business:Big Impact’ booklet...you bet, and you could be part of it!
Maqq Raffique (centre of second row) from Airguard Filters pictured with staff at University Hospital Birmingham – Airguard diversified its business away from manufacturing air filters for power generators and into making PPE for the NHS over the summer
We’ve already showcased over 50 Wolverhampton businesses in our first 3 editions so now it’s on to the fourth - and a bumper edition this time!
It’s been an incredibly challenging time, but we have been amazed and immensely proud of the numerous companies that have developed new products and services, entered new markets and in some cases changed their business model completely through the year.
There were those who responded to the call to support the needs of the NHS through the spring and summer. There was some quick repositioning, re-engineering and re-prioritising to provide a range of equipment from ventilators through to PPE. Productive capacity was re-focused and scaled up and much needed vital equipment is now with local hospitals and care workers.
Many others responded to the changing environment in which we are living our lives – supplying safety barriers to shops, restaurants and pubs; and others still have pivoted, developed new products and services, entered new markets and changed their business model.
If you are proud of what you have achieved this year and want to share your business story in our next booklet please email firstname.lastname@example.org