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Advice for suppliers during coronavirus

We are aware that some organisations that provide goods or services to the council may experience financial hardship as a consequence of the unprecedented actions taken by the UK government to help mitigate the national and global spread of coronavirus.

We are already working with our software supplier to put in place the announced changes to business rate liabilities as quickly as possible. This will mean reductions to bills previously raised for a large number of businesses based in Bracknell Forest. The bills will be re-issued as soon as we are able to. Meanwhile, no recovery action will be taken for business rate customers whilst these changes are made.

The government has also announced extra financial help for businesses and that these will be administered by local authorities, specifically:

  • small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief
  • grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000

We are waiting for detailed guidance from the government and are planning to pass the money onto businesses in April as soon as it has been received.

While other financial support packages have been announced by government for individuals and the NHS, at this stage nothing has been made available for local councils. Our sector is lobbying hard for additional funding or flexibilities to help us maintain essential services as our income comes under threat and we are being asked to take on urgent additional responsibilities.

We understand that many of our suppliers and partners are being impacted financially already or can reasonably expect to be in the weeks and months to come. We wish to engage positively with you to understand specifically how you are being affected and what additional support could help secure business continuity beyond the current crisis.

We are already working with our local health partners to make a case for additional money from government for social care providers. We believe that there is also likely to be a good case for some support for other sectors. It is being reported that additional support is being urgently considered by government for all employers to assist with staffing costs while business income is impacted. We would encourage you to liaise with your normal council contact to make sure your situation is understood.

We accept that in these unprecedented times we will need to take a flexible approach to working with our suppliers, with a view to achieving a return to 'business as usual' at some point in the months ahead. We acknowledge that this may include agreeing commercial arrangements that are departures from our agreed contract terms.

At this time, however, we have not yet been granted by government either the legal flexibility nor the extra funding to allow us to enter into different, open-ended agreements. These are issues being raised by our sector nationally and we are hopeful that positive responses will be forthcoming in the relatively near future.

In the meantime, our contract managers will continue to work with you to understand any immediate challenges you face and assist you as much as possible.

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