This week, I want to use my column to highlight the help available to local businesses and individuals who need to access financial support. I have been contacted by a number of local businesses – some small, some independent, some very new – with their financial concerns.
There is a wealth of advice online for businesses – the British Chambers of Commerce, UK Finance and the British Business Bank all have a range of support available, like assistance with applying for government loans and providing clarification of support available. Here in Oxford (and in Oxfordshire more widely), the local growth hub is OxLEP, which is not only helping local businesses in financial stress, but also enabling local businesses to support the national effort in areas like producing protective equipment.
Oxford City Council have a useful tool on their website for calculating what your business is eligible for – you can find out more here. By following that link, you can also find quick links to then apply for all of the government support schemes available. This includes schemes that aren’t yet available, so you can see what you will be able to apply for in future. I would encourage people to utilise all of these resources where they can, and ensure they are accessing as much as the government support as they deserve.
If you want to support local businesses from your home, Oxford City Council also have a directory of local businesses which are now operating online or by telephone – helping you to access shopping remotely, too.
For the self-employed:
While the online application form is not yet up and running, you can access government advice on their website. The Federation of Small businesses, and trade groups IPSE and the IOD have also got helpful information on their websites, which might help to answer complex questions, or clarify questions from small company directors and self-employed people.
Last week, I covered some of the support available for families and individuals who might find themselves applying to Universal Credit for the first time. Oxford’s network of advice centres are also available to provide debt advice for people who find themselves struggling to pay bills during this outbreak. Online, Citizens’ Advice and the charity ‘Step Change’ are also providing advice and guidance for those dealing with debt repayments. The regulator the ‘Financial Conduct Authority’ (FCA), and the Money Advice Service, also have advice for consumers at this time. Websites providing advice for businesses, like the British Chambers of Commerce (above), also have a wide range of advice concerning the Job Retention Scheme.
For my constituents:
My office is working from home, but we can still be contacted by email at Anneliese.firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are unable to access email, you can call us on 01865 595 790.
While I encourage everyone to make use of the schemes available, I will also continue to raise many of the considerable problems with their coverage and operation, both in Parliament, in the media and directly with Government ministers.