Items of Interest

1.The Small Business Discretionary Grant Fund will be open from today (after 1.30pm), Wednesday 27 May, and details will be available here. Please share with your networks once live.

2.The Prime Minister announced yesterday that high street shops, department stores and shopping centres across England are set to reopen next month once they are COVID-19 secure and can show customers will be kept safe. Outdoor markets and car showrooms will be able to reopen from Monday 1 June, and all other non-essential retail outlets will be expected to be able to reopen from Monday 15 June if the UK Government’s five tests are met; click here for more, and here for updated guidance.

3. An Enterprise Nation online small business meet-up for Bristol businesses takes place today, Wednesday 27 May (10am-12pm); more here. And read Enterprise Nation’s guide on the steps you need to take to bring employees back to work here.

4.Through a partnership between Tobacco Factory Theatres, the Cube Microplex and the Gane Trust, £500 bursaries are available via a hardship fund for artists and arts-workers living in the Bristol area; more here.

5.UK Learns is a new online platform that provides a curated selection of online courses, from data science to childcare, to help the UK workforce and businesses acquire new skills and earn qualifications and accreditations. Many are free of charge, some for a limited period; more here.

6.The Future Bright service helps West of England businesses and employees realise their full potential through developing workplace skills. Among other things it supports businesses by providing access to training and development, and identifying ways to motivate staff, increase productivity and reduce absenteeism. Future Bright’s eligibility criteria have been extended during the current coronavirus situation to potentially cover those affected by redundancy, shortened hours and being furloughed. The service may also support the severely impacted self-employed.

7.Innovative businesses and start-ups are set to benefit from a £40m UK Government investment to drive forward new technological advances; more here. And the UK Government is launching a new effort to support green start-up companies, joint-funding a £40m venture capital fund to help the development of next generation clean, low-carbon technologies; more here.

8.View Natwest’s coronavirus business insights hub here.