Business owners in Shrewsbury are being offered a package of support, ranging from employment law advice to technical expertise, to help them continue to operate during the Coronavirus lockdown.

The service is being provided by Shrewsbury BID (Business Improvement District) for its members – around 500 businesses operating in the town centre – the majority of which have been severely impacted by the crisis.

Ann Tudor, from TCA Accountants and Shrewsbury BID Director, said the group was in regular contact with its members about accessing the government support, but many were also in need of further support in the form of relevant professional advice.

She said: “Businesses are appreciative of the speed with which the government has announced various employment support schemes, but many are now in need of more specific advice about what to do next.’’

Stephanie Mansell-Jones, business liaison at Shrewsbury BID, “We will be offering our members a free service over the next three months where they can be in touch with specialist employment lawyers and ask any questions or queries relating to the COVID-19 government employment support.

“We will also be providing other forms of support, such as technical advice regarding online sales and mental health support.

“A lot of our members are small independent businesses with very few employees, who don’t have legal or HR departments to support them.

“This service will provide some guidance and reassurance during what is a very difficult time for all businesses.”

Shrewsbury BID has appointed employment law specialists Bennett Briegal Solicitors to provide the bespoke package of support, as well as answering direct calls from BID members.

Paul Bennett, partner and employment solicitor at Bennett Briegal, said: “Shrewsbury is my home town so to get the chance to support the businesses locally in these uniquely challenging times is something we at Bennett Briegal were incredibly keen to do in conjunction with the Shrewsbury BID team

“We will be focusing on supporting employers with the new sick pay regime including the reclaiming of statutory sick pay element, with the coronavirus job retention package of support for businesses known as furloughing, and the self-employment income support scheme for the business owners themselves.

“Outside of these parameters we will encourage members to access other local experts if they need more and as Chair of the Professionals Partnership of the Shropshire Chamber of Commerce, we can hopefully help other advisory businesses as an extra benefit to the local economy.’’

“The schemes announced by Government are new and likely to evolve. Over the next three months we hope to ease the barriers for Shrewsbury BID members who employ others to ensure their position is enhanced.

“We have developed a suite of user-friendly guides and templates for Shrewsbury BID members’ own use, and they can access two video or telephone call sessions per month to build on those materials. We will also be recording some Podcasts to keep the content accessible and quick to update.