Please find below a few updates regarding the Covid-19 financial support checker, benefits you may be eligible for, financial wellbeing support available and recovery fund grants, and Covid-19 related fraud.
- Covid-19 financial support checker
You can use this tool, answer questions about your business, and find out what loans, tax relief and cash grants you may be eligible for, whether your business is open or closed https://www.gov.uk/business-coronavirus-support-finder
- Find out what benefits you may be eligible for
To find out what benefits you might be able to claim, visit this website https://www.entitledto.co.uk/ enter your details and you’ll receive an estimate of your entitlement to benefits, tax credits and Universal Credit. This service is free of charge.
- Financial Wellbeing Support available
As part of HSBC’s Social Responsibility commitment they have a complimentary Financial Wellbeing service available to support local businesses and their employees.
The programme is designed to help promote and maintain employee wellbeing with each organisation. HSBC can provide businesses with a selection of digital webinars on topics such as budgeting, cutting costs, managing debt and credit reports.
This can be followed by a confidential telephone 1 to 1 appointment for individuals, this allows employees to discuss their own personal circumstances giving them the opportunity to speak about any problems or concerns they may have.
This complimentary service is not an opportunity for HSBC to sell their products and there is no requirement for the business or employee to have a banking relationship with HSBC.
If you would like to find out more about the service, please do not hesitate to contact me, and I’ll put you in touch with Tracy Johnson, Branch Manager at Blackburn.
- New Round of Culture Recovery Fund Grants Programme Open for England
The Culture Recovery Fund is provided by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and administered by Arts Council England. The fund is part of the Government’s £1.57 billion package to protect the UK’s culture and heritage sectors from the economic impact of COVID-19.
The second funding round of the Culture Recovery Fund: Grants programme seeks to support cultural organisations as they transition back to a viable and sustainable operating model during April-June 2021.
A total of up to £250 million will be awarded in grants. Applications will be accepted from arts and cultural organisations in England, including charitable and non-profit organisations as well as private organisations and commercial for-profit ventures.
You can find more information here: https://www.artscouncil.org.uk/funding/culture-recovery-fund-grants-second-round#section-7
- Beware of Covid-19 related fraud
There has been an increasing trend of COVID-19 phishing and SMS text message scams. As it stands, there are five key trends:
- Fake URL links claiming to redirect you to GOV.UK website to claim relief payments.
- Lockdown fines suggesting you have breached government regulations.
- Offers of health supplements that will prevent you from being infected.
- Financial support that appears to be from your bank.
- Fake text messages claiming to be from the NHS advising individuals that they are eligible to apply for vaccine, but requiring sensitive data such as financial information to make a payment.
To protect yourself and those close to you:
- Keep abreast of the news: As awful as it may seem, knowledge of attack methods and techniques will hone the ability to separate fact from fiction.
- Don’t click links within emails or text messages, unless they are from a trusted source (like me!)
- Don’t call back using an unrecognised SMS phone number: This could lead you to speaking directly with a criminal or criminal organisation.
- Use official channels: For example, use GOV.UK, the BID or BwD Council website to find relevant information about COVID support and support services. Once the official communication channels are known you can verify information and find out what the next steps are.
- Guard your data: A legitimate organisation won’t make unsolicited requests for sensitive information or payments. For example, the vaccine is only available on the NHS for free to people in priority groups. Use the official NHS app only available from Google Play or Apple Store for more.
- Don’t give into pressure: If someone tries to coerce you into giving them sensitive information, end the conversation.
- Watch your digital footprint. Cyber criminals will use social media accounts and relevant websites to research you and make their scams more effective.