Support for employers and jobseekers

Karin Smyth MP at her South Bristol Jobs and Apprenticeships Fair in 2018

As a result of the coronavirus crisis, many people in Bristol South are facing an uncertain future when it comes to employment and their businesses. There is help available and I’ve compiled this list of local support…

For jobseekers

Financial support

You may be able to get Universal Credit if you’re on a low income, out of work or you cannot work. See here for details.

Other support

ACAS offers a free employee advice service for support around employment rights, see here.

Finding work

A regularly updated searchable vacancy list is available here.

See also Bristol City Council’s Ways2Work jobs search here.

The Voscur website has a jobs board with paid (and unpaid) opportunities in the voluntary sector, see here.

The latest NHS job vacancies are available here.

It’s also worth checking on employers’ websites directly. Key Bristol employers include Computershare, Asda and Bristol Airport.

Skills, training and support

Apprenticeships allow you to earn while you learn. Most combine employment with one day a week in college. Check the national database of apprenticeships for a suitable vacancy, see here.

City of Bristol College – which includes South Bristol Skills Academy in Hengrove – has a range of courses and apprenticeships to help you with your career, see here.

The Women’s Work Lab supports unemployed women in receipt of benefits with part-time courses and work placements designed to lead to paid employment. To register your interest, see here.

FutureBright offers free career coaching, training and support to help those whose jobs have been impacted by the pandemic (job loss and redundancy, reduced hours and those self-employed or furloughed and now claiming Universal Credit). More info here.

South Bristol Youth supports young people (14-19) with maths, communication and securing apprenticeships and places on higher education courses. More info here.

For businesses

Bristol City Council website has more information on making your business COVID-19 secure, it includes and overview of the latest Government guidance and what to do if you get a local outbreak among your team. See here.

BusinessWest, a not-for-profit organisation supporting businesses across the region, has a range of support on offer, including advice, guidance, partnering and mentoring opportunities, see here.

The Federation of Small Businesses website has lots of resources including advice around making your business COVID-19 secure, templates and wording you can use and how to carry out risk assessments. More info here.

Financial support

Government Job Support Scheme (JSS): Replacing furlough, the JSS allows employees to work a minimum of one third of their hours covered by the employer – the government will match this, topping it up to cover another third of their hours – giving them two thirds of their pay. The scheme starts in November and runs for six months, until the end of April 2021. Employers do not need to have used the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough) to use this scheme. More info here.

Job Retention Bonus: The Government is offering employers a one-off bonus of £1,000 per employee for those previously furloughed but remaining continuously employed by the same organisation through to 31 January 2021. Payments will be made in February 2021. More info here.

If you are registered for Self-Assessment tax returns, your July 2020 Payment on Account may be deferred to 31 January 2021. See here for details.

Business loans – extended to 30 Nov 2020: Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS): For SMEs to access loans of up to £5m, 80% government-backed with the Government paying interest and fees for the first 12 months. Apply here.

Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS): For SMEs to access loans of between £2,000 and 25 per cent of their turnover, to a maximum of £50,000. The loan is 100% government-backed with no interest or fees for the first 12 months, with an interest rate of 2.5% thereafter. More info here: LINK Businesses which have taken out a Bounce Back Loan can extend the loans to pay them back over a 10-year period as part of a new Pay As You Grow scheme, which should reduce payments by almost half. Apply here.

Sick Pay for Employees: Businesses with fewer than 250 employees may be entitled to claim back up to 2 weeks’ sick pay for employees taking time off due to coronavirus. More info here.

Business Rates Holiday: Retail, leisure and hospitality businesses with occupied premises and nurseries can take advantage of a business rates holiday covering the period April 2020 – March 2021, amounting to a 100 per cent discount for the year. More info here.

VAT relief: A temporary VAT cut from 20 per cent to 5 per cent for businesses will remain in place for certain sectors until March 2021, this includes hospitality and tourism. Businesses who took advantage of the VAT deferment from March to June 2020 can contribute smaller payments over a longer period, spreading interest-free payments out over 18 months to March 2022.

Retraining employees

The West of England Combined Authority (WECA) has launched a Workforce for the Future programme to help businesses respond to the impact of COVID-19 on employees. It includes a free service to help SMEs with fewer than 250 employees across the region to upskill and retrain employees and support them in bringing in apprentices and make use of work placements. More info here.

Kickstart Bristol: The new Government scheme to create high quality six-month work placements for young people (aged 16-24) who are on Universal Credit or at risk of long-term unemployment. The Government funding will cover 100 per cent of the relevant National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week, including National Insurance contributions and employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions. There is also a further £1,500 available per job to help cover set up costs. Employers with recruiting for new roles (not existing roles) are currently being sought particularly in South Bristol. See here for more details.

Other support

WECA has launched a Thrive at Work programme to support SME businesses and employees with mental health. It includes free mental health e-learning and other resources created in partnership with mental health charity Mind. More info here.

If you live or run a business in Bristol South, I’d be very interested to hear how you’ve been affected by the COVID-19 crisis. You can reach me via email at or by calling: 0117 953 3575.