12 Jun Norman’s Notes
Business Support Grants
MSDC have paid £24.5m to 1,912 businesses under the first grant scheme for small businesses and those in the leisure, retail and hospitality sectors.
Last week, we launched the second phase of the grants scheme, using £1.4m of funding from Government. The Government has set a number of priorities for the grants (such as shared business spaces, market traders and some B&Bs) following which the Council will use its discretion to support other businesses, especially those who were not eligible in the first round of grants.
Grant funding of between £2,500 and £25,000 will be available, but we expect this funding to be oversubscribed. Therefore, the scheme will be open for applications until 14th June following which we will assess the total volume of applications against the funding available and make grant awards accordingly.
Full details of the discretionary business grant scheme can be found at:
Coronavirus financial impact at MSDC
The Mid Sussex District Council Cabinet met recently to consider the impact of Coronavirus on the Council, review performance during 2019/20 and review performance during Q1 of 2020/21.
The report on the impact of coronavirus provides a detailed review of the work we have done to support residents and businesses in the district. It also contains a rather stark assessment of the impact on the Council’s finances. It will be necessary for the Council to agree a revised Budget & Corporate Plan in the coming months for the remainder of this financial year and the longer-term outlook means significant challenges lie ahead.
Mid Sussex’s finances were in a good position before the pandemic hit, but like every Council in the country, we will have to address the financial impact of what has happened in these past few months.
Local Support Networks
There are currently over 5,100 Mid Sussex residents in the Government’s ‘shielded’ group of whom more than 2,560 have registered for additional support.
MSDC has been complementing the work of WSCC and the NHS by working with the third sector to support those who are vulnerable but not in the shield.
Now that people are beginning to return to work, it is possible that the support needs of some residents may have changed. We have therefore written, in the last week, to 4,200 households that have previously requested support from some of the Council’s services (such as an assisted bin collection) to ensure they are still receiving the help they need. This letter provides information on how to access support via the West Sussex Community Support helpline.
Government Tenders have Increased Significantly
A recent report reveals that nearly 400 Coronavirus-related government contracts have been awarded, worth over £1.7bn.
There has been an 18% increase in published public sector tenders in May v April, with an almost 300% increase on the Coronavirus-related awards. Traditional competitive tender processes were put aside to tackle the emergency. Of the 385 contracts awarded, a quarter were to new suppliers.
The list of contracts includes 44 Department of Health contracts worth £565m, 5 Department for Education contracts for £297m, 3 Crown Commercial Service contracts worth £195m and 1 Environment Agency contract of £208m.
Accommodation and food, to support vulnerable adults and children was the largest contract area, worth £461m, followed by Testing (£421m) and PPE (£342m). Other notable contracts are for ventilators, IT and telecoms.
Some Non-Pandemic News – Why does Parliament require major restoration?
The Palace of Westminster has a floorplate equivalent to the size of 16 football pitches with 1,100 rooms, 100 staircases, three miles of passageways, 4 floors and 65 different levels.
Some of the key challenges include:
• The Palace is at high risk of sudden catastrophic failure from major fire, flood or stone fall
• The heating, ventilation, water, and electrical systems are outdated and steam pipes run alongside electrical cables throughout the building
• The sewage ejector system installed in 1888 is still in use today
• Hundreds of miles of cabling need replacing and more than 1,000 spaces contain asbestos
• Thousands of ventilation shafts need upgrading to protect the building against a major fire