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West Berkshire Council sent this bulletin at 01-07-2021 07:12 PM BST

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Economic Development Strategy Refresh adopted by Council

EDS refresh
We are thrilled to announce that on 10 June 2021 a refreshed version of our Economic Development Strategy was adopted by the Council. It is a key document that sets out the short, medium, long-term and ongoing actions for our Economic Development Team.

We undertook to refresh the strategy, which was first adopted in early 2020, in order to take account of the challenges posed to local economic recovery and renewal by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

 Read the Economic Development Strategy June 2021 Refresh hereT

The refreshed strategy has a focus on recovery and we have developed actions in the four areas seen to have the most relevance locally. These are:

People – good jobs and greater earning power for all in West BerkshirePlaces –
creating prosperous communities across West BerkshireInfrastructure –
future-proofing West Berkshire’s infrastructureBusiness Environment –
making West Berkshire the best place to start a grow a business

Read the original 2020 – 2023 Economic Development Strategy here

Newbury Town Centre Masterplan Vision – take the survey
Newbury Vision Survey Graphic

Since December 2020, meetings and workshops have been held with a range of stakeholders around the Newbury Town Centre Masterplan. The initial public survey received over 4,000 responses, and we’ve come up with proposals which reflect those responses, compiled into a document called the Vision for Newbury Town Centre.

We now need feedback on this draft Vision, so we have launched a survey to gather public feedback which is open for 2 weeks until 16 July. It takes around 7 minutes and is an opportunity for you to help shape the direction that this key project takes, which will influence the planning framework for the future of Newbury Town Centre.Please have your say and pass the survey on to as many people as you can.

Take the 7 minute survey on the draft Vision

New Peer Networks Programme for Berkshire business leaders

Peer Networks Programme

Thames Valley Berkshire Business Growth Hub has announced it will run a second peer-to-peer networking programme for Berkshire businesses following the success of last year’s pilot.

Part of the Government’s Peer Networks initiative, the free programme will bring together diverse cohorts of business leaders to discuss business challenges and opportunities. Delivered through a series of six high impact group sessions with a trained facilitator, business owners will share experiences, discuss common issues and identify practical solutions to overcome them. The programme aims to help small to medium enterprises (SMEs) create a trusted local support network, accelerate growth and improve productivity.

The free programme is open to small and medium sized businesses that have been operating for a least one year, have a minimum of five employees and an annual turnover of a least £100,000. There will be multiple start dates from July 2021.

Read more and sign up to the Peer Networks Programme

Changes to the Furlough schemeThe Government’s Furlough Scheme changes from 1 July 2021.

From today, (1 July 2021) the level of grant provided by the Government will reduce and employers will have to contribute to the cost of their employees’ wages. Most recently, the government has provided 80% of employees’ wages for hours not worked (up to a cap of £2500), while the employer providing employer’s NI and pension contributions. This is changing from today as follows:
Changes from 1 JulyGovernment contribution: 70% of wages for hours not worked, up to £2,187.50
Employer contribution: 10% of wages for hours not worked + employer’s NI + pension contributions up to £312.50Changes for August and September 2021
Government contribution: 60% of wages for hours not worked, up to £1,875
Employer contribution: 20% of wages for hours not worked + employer’s NI + pension contributions up to £625With these changes and combined contributions from the Government and employers the employees will continue to receive 80% of wages for hours not worked, up to £2500.

Read more about the changes to Furlough on the Government website

T-Level industry placements – £1,000 employer incentives

T-Levels

T-Levels are a new 2 year qualification for 16 – 19 year olds which offer a vocational path after GCSEs, equivalent to 3 A-Levels. T-Levels are designed in collaboration with employers and they provide students with practical skills to thrive in the workplace in way that meets the needs of industry.

Every student must complete a 45 day industry placement, and if you think your business can offer one, then you can claim a £1,000 grant to do so. Offering a placement is an excellent opportunity for your business to tap into the emerging pipeline of talent, whilst also supporting our future workforce.

Read more about offering a T-Level industry placement

You will need to partner with a school or college, and Newbury College is a local provider recruiting to T-Levels from September 2021.

Free workshops for small businesses and start-ups: The Real Business Club

Real business club cropped

West Berkshire Council has partnered with The Real Business Club to offer free workshops to West Berkshire residents, small businesses and start-ups, with funding from our adult learning budget. 

A new series of workshops, with dates to be confirmed, will be opening up across this summer and into the autumn. Topics will range from starting your own business, to finance masterclasses for business owners, to marketing and sales for businesses.

These are all evening workshops delivered over a matter of weeks, so we wanted to get them on your radar early. Keep an eye on the links above, or sign up to the waiting lists, as dates will be released over the coming weeks. 

Kickstart – 6 months left to participateKickstart cropped

You now have 6 months left to recruit a local young person through the Government’s Kickstart Scheme, which closes on 31 December 2021. Kickstart will fully fund the wages of a 16 – 24 year old if you can offer them a quality 6 month, 25 hour per week placement. 

Businesses across West Berkshire have used the scheme to take on new recruits, including West Berkshire Council, which has recruited 8 people so far through the scheme, at no cost.  We asked two of our new recruits about their experience; read the interviews here:Interview with our Legal Services Team Kickstarter Interview with our Planning Services Team Kickstarter

If you are interested in using the scheme to create new roles, then our Economic Development team can offer advice on putting together a successful bid. 

Contact us here.Thanks for reading! The West Berkshire Business Newsletter will be back with regular bulletins.

For more frequent updates from the Economic Development team, follow us on Twitter and Instagram.


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