Money now available for any York business looking to hire apprentices

Starting on May 17th, SMEs and charitable organisations across the city of York will be able to access additional public funds to aid in the hiring of new apprentices or to develop existing employees.

The funding is being made available by City of York Council from unallocated funds from its Apprenticeship Levy*, and comes as part of the council’s continuing efforts to support the creation of apprenticeship opportunities for people of all ages.

The total amount available to local businesses each year could be around £100,000, with individual businesses being able to request a portion to offset the training and assessment costs for new apprenticeship starts. This funding is in addition to the Government’s financial incentives, of up to £4,000** for employers who hire a new apprentice.

York businesses and charitable organisations are being encouraged to come forward if they would like support to provide apprenticeship opportunities for new or existing employees.

Cllr Andrew Waller, Executive Member for the Economy and Strategic Planning, City of York Council said:

“This apprenticeship funding will help small businesses and charities looking to help train their next generation of employees, and underlines the council’s commitment to skills and employment opportunities across the city.

“Apprenticeships provide opportunities for people across our city, from school leavers taking their first steps into the world of work, to those of any age looking for a change of career.”

Businesses and charities looking to take part in the scheme can find out more by visiting the York Apprenticeship Hub at york.gov.uk/HiringAnApprentice.

*All organisations with an annual wage bill of more than £3m legally have to set aside 0.5% of their payroll for apprenticeship training, creating a fund called the Apprenticeship Levy.

Under the government scheme, 20% of any levy not allocated by the authority can be offered to other local SMEs and charitable organisations, under the government scheme. This approach has been approved by City of York Council.

**National apprenticeships grants are currently £3,000 for hiring an apprentice of any age until 30 September 2021, plus the existing £1,000 if the apprentice is aged 16-18 or up to 25 with an Education, Health and Care Plan

Cabinet Office starts recruitment in York

Recruiting to the first 19 new Cabinet Office posts based in York will begin this week (17 May).

The news follows an announcement earlier this year that around 200 roles from the Cabinet Office would move to York over the next four years. The Civil Service department is responsible for the execution of a wide range of government policy and employs almost 8,000 people across the UK, 400 of whom are already based in York.

The first phase of recruitment features a wide range of policy and analytical roles, including a Programme Manager and Business Analyst positions. Apprenticeship vacancies in policy and project management will also be offered and candidates will not require any previous civil service experience to apply.

Ian Floyd, Chief Operating Officer at City of York Council said:

York is world renowned for its heritage and culture, and the Cabinet Office’s decision to re-locate jobs to York, as part of it s wider programme to move civil servants out of London, is a vote of confidence in our city.

“It recognises York’s fantastic geographical and digital connectivity, our highly skilled workforce, high quality housing, schools and quality of life, and our ambition for continued innovation and creativity.

“Including a number of apprenticeships in the first phase of the recruitment highlights not only the part apprenticeships have to play in the city’s skills mix, but will also enable local people to apply for the posts, regardless of previous civil service experience.

“I look forward to seeing what further opportunities for local residents Cabinet Office investment will bring to our city.”

Cabinet Office Permanent Secretary Alex Chisholm said:

I am pleased we are growing our presence in York as part of our drive to move Civil Service roles out of London.

“These roles provide an exciting opportunity to work on important issues right at the heart of government and I encourage anyone with the experience we are looking for to apply.”

The roles are being advertised on Civil Service Jobs. Those interested in applying for the roles can also access more details on how to apply for civil service roles.

Make it York activities scaled back

Make It York’s economic development arm is set to merge its expertise with the council’s, “to maximise resources and strengthen York’s future, as arrangements for the city’s destination management organisation are set to be agreed by senior councillors”.

In February, the council’s Executive agreed arrangements for the next contract between City of York Council and Make It York (MIY) in order to secure an even stronger future for both organisations.

This includes both organisations merging their economic development and inward investment functions with the council taking the lead. This merger was approved by 87% of city stakeholders who took part in a consultation on proposals for MIY’s future earlier this year.

Under the proposals, Make It York would continue to support the city centre, its markets and tourism through activities that include culture and events. MIY’s revised role, performance measures and governance are also set to be clarified.

There may continue to be misgivings about how MIY manages City centre activities.

There was a recent controversy about the location of the traditional Carousel while some residents point to the lack of a Farmers Market in the forward programme.

Relationships between market stall holders and the organisation have not always been harmonious.

Even by York Council standards, Make it York has a largely impenetrable decision making and accountability structure.

Council seeks innovative proposals to support local businesses and communities

Image result for build something new gifsThe City of York Council is seeking bids from organisations wishing to access funding from the £220m UK Community Renewal Fund.

City of York Council has been chosen by the Government as the lead authority for the York area and is inviting bids which will support communities, local businesses, create new jobs and support people into employment.

As a lead authority, the council is responsible for receiving bids, selecting the bids that will be sent to the Government for consideration and paying grants to successful projects as well as managing their performance.

The fund has been designed to help support local areas to pilot innovative new approaches and programmes that unleash their potential

Projects proposals are encouraged from all areas of York and should align with local priorities. Proposals should also align with the programme themes:

  • investment in skills – work based training; retraining, upskilling or reskilling; digital skills and inclusion
  • investment for local business – support for new job opportunities; innovation potential; supporting decarbonisation measures
  • investment in communities and place – feasibility for net zero and energy; promoting culture led regeneration and community development; improving green spaces and preserving local assets; promoting rural connectivity
  • supporting people into employment – engagement with local services; addressing barriers to gaining employment; developing basic skills; testing what works in helping people into work

The Government has introduced the fund as it prepares for the launch of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund in 2022, which will replace EU Structural and Investment Funds.

Successful Community Renewal Fund bids will be for 2021-22 only and projects must be completed by the end of March 2022.

Applicants should note that York is not classed as one of the Government’s 100 ‘priority places’ across the UK. As such, The City of York Council is particularly interested in project proposals that are ambitious, offering fresh ideas.

The deadline for submitting applications is 16 May. The City of York Council will then produce a shortlist of projects for submission to the Government.

The UK Community Renewal Fund Prospectus provides more information on the fund, including assessment criteria.

Further information can be found here.

Councillor Andrew Waller, Executive Member for Economy and Strategic Planning said:

More tech jobs for York

Bosch subsidiary, ETAS Ltd, has reached an agreement with the UK Government to significantly expand the activities of the embedded software centre of excellence in York.

ETAS Ltd, the UK arm of the global software engineering company specialising in solutions to drive the development of embedded systems for the automotive industry, will make a significant investment to expand the centre of excellence. This move represents a vote of confidence in the current climate for the automotive sector.

The newly expanded centre will develop the middleware that will power future generations of advanced autonomous and highly automated driving to be delivered at scale for mass production and allow the world to realise the ambition of accident-free driving. It will also help deliver on the Government’s net zero and levelling up ambitions by securing highly skilled technology jobs in the North of England.

ETAS Ltd has doubled in size in the last five years and today’s announcement will help to further strengthen the automotive cluster in the region.

The current York location has been part of ETAS Ltd since 2003 and is currently responsible for the development of real-time operating systems and basic software for the automotive industry. To date more than 1 billion copies of the ETAS York operating system have been deployed and are driving on the roads globally.

The council has been leading the way with its Smart Transport initiatives since 2018 with the Eboracum Research Project. Traffic signal plans where automatically updated using live on-board vehicle journey times and the findings where warmly received by the transport industry.

The work continues with the Smart Transport Evolution Programme which began in September 2019 and has so far welcomed a real-time city-wide traffic model which uses many live data feeds to forecast 5-60 minutes ahead and produce alerts for traffic control operatives or drivers.

The programme will shortly be delivering Green Light Optimal Speed Advisory, a service that sends real-time and future traffic signals conditions into smart phones and cars and advice of the most efficient speed to travel safely to get through on green.

All this has been made possible by upgrades to the City’s smart infrastructure and puts York in a great place for the adoption of Connected and Autonomous Vehicles. 

Council snubbed by government in York Central funding deal

Illustrative York Central Masterplan approved in 2019

The council’s “continued role” in unlocking a new generation of jobs, homes and cultural facilities in the York Central site will be considered by the Executive next Thursday, 22 April.

Funding to complete infrastructure works at the York central site (located behind the railway station) is being made direct to the landowners – led by Homes England – by the government.

It means that the Council’s role will be peripheral despite many millions having already been invested in the project. That may be good news for taxpayers who have seen projects like the Community Stadium and Guildhall refurbishment delayed and go over budget in recent years.

Now contract supervision and liability will rest mainly with Homes England.

Transparency isn’t a strong point for any of the “partners” involved in the York Central project (or the current York Council for that matter). We doubt if engagement will improve under the new governance arrangements.

The Council does remain the planning authority although that role could be undermined as they pursue “Enterprise Zone” status for the project. Planning rules are lax in such areas.

Council report April 2021

The Council is still set to spend nearly £50 million on the project and is dependent on the additional business rate income from Enterprise Zone new businesses to repay its borrowing.

The report being considered next week skates over the risks of this approach,. Those risks appear to have increased since the pandemic with office based developments likely to be less attractive for a while at least.

There are a number of significant planning issues still to be resolved.

These include the (bizarre) suggestion for making the Leeman Road tunnel one way, the absence of an attractive pedestrian/cycle access from the Wilton Rise area and continuing doubts about severing the existing Leeman Road footpath link near the Railway Museum

Last summer Labour Councillors even tried to ditch the project.

The Council has issued the following statement,

“Despite the ongoing challenges of the pandemic, the council has worked with York Central partners Network Rail, Homes England and National Railway Museum to maintain momentum and progress on the 42 hectare York Central site.

After partners finalised the £155 million funding, secured planning permission and started work on the infrastructure to unlock the site, which will deliver up to 2,500 homes and space for up to 6,500 jobs.

Executive will be asked to approve changes to the way the project will be delivered and managed.

This includes the main grant holder, Homes England, taking on the delivery of the bridges, footways, cycleways, roads and other infrastructure to open up the site.

The council will also receive £3.86 million from the government grant to cover the costs incurred advancing the infrastructure project”.

Shoppers returning as York City centre reopens

Restrictions on shops, hairdressers and outside catering eased today. Sunshine helped to attract a good number of visitors to the City centre.

Join the conversation about Acomb Front Street’s future

Businesses, residents and visitors are being asked what they love and what they’d like to change about Acomb’s Front Street.

The consultation is the much delayed opportunity to help with the regeneration of the Front Street area.

Fruit stall

The council committed to a £50,000 investment in Front Street, one of the city’s most important shopping areas, before the pandemic brought about even larger challenges to high streets across the UK.

Acomb’s Front Street plays a vital role in the community and the wider city, and is home to many established and well-loved local independent retailers and community spaces. It has a lower than national average proportion of empty units, with occupancy rates bucking the UK trend by increasing significantly in the last three years.

The council is now asking for views which will help to keep Front Street at the heart Acomb’s economy and community.

The Council says that last year “we postponed the survey because of Covid-19. Your views in the survey will be used to create a ‘brief’ of community ideas which we can check with local people before the council executive decides what improvements to make”.

500 residents have already had a new COVID-secure knock on their door from IdB, a market research company working with the council.  The council is working alongside IdB to ask for feedback and ideas from a diverse and representative cross section of Acomb residents. The surveys will be dropped with residents in a sterile bag, along with gloves, an antiviral wipe and a return bag. The market researcher will then return later that day to collect the questionnaire.

Residents can also get involved by:

Coronavirus York updates; 31st March 2021

Deaths

The ONS have updated their weekly monitor of the number of deaths among York residents from COVID-19.

During the week ending 19th March 2021 two residents lost their lives. Both were hospital patients.

There were no deaths in care homes.

No further deaths have been announced by the York Hospital Trust today.

It is now two weeks since the last hospital fatality in York

Test results

Five additional positive test results have been announced today. That brings the total up to 12,198

Citywide case numbers have fallen from 67 to 63 today. There may be a small rise tomorrow before numbers are expected to fall to a 2021 low on Saturday

The infection rate per 100k population figure has fallen to 29.91 today. There now appears to be a real possibility – for the first time in 2 weeks – that a downward trend in infection rates will resume over the Easter period.

For the first time in over a week, infection rates have fallen today at City, county, regional and national levels.

Neighbourhoods

16 York neighbourhoods now each have fewer than 3 cases

There has been a modest increase in infection numbers in the Holgate and Westfield neighbourhoods

Vaccinations

As at 28 March, 91,467 people in York had received their first dose of the vaccine, an estimated 52.6% of the adult population.

9,222 people have received both doses of the vaccine, accounting for an estimated 5.3% of the adult population.

For the first time yesterday at a national level, more people received their second dose than received their first dose of vaccine.

Tests

4,399 people in York had PCR tests during the week ending 26th March 2021

Of these, 1.6% were positive. That is an improvement on yesterdays figure of 1.8%

858 “lateral flow” tests were also carried out on 30th March 2021

Hospitals

There has been a further drop in the number of patients being treated for COVID-19 by the York Hospital Trust

What to do over Easter

This is what the Council is recommending for the Easter holidays. The weather is expected to become cooler and most lockdown RESTRICTIONS ARE STILL IN PLACE

Find more ideas for things to do at home/virtually on the Shine website – https://www.yor-ok.org.uk/young-people/shine-new.htm

Council updates businesses on the restart grant payments

Restart Grants will start being paid to York businesses from w/c 12th April after the government confirmed it would transfer money to local authorities after the Easter weekend.

The council continues to prioritise paying government grants into the bank accounts of qualifying businesses as quickly as possible.

April sees the next phase of grant payments with restart grants being paid to non-essential retail, hospitality, accommodation and leisure businesses that are liable for business rates. Businesses that have already qualified for payments from other grant programmes do not need to reapply, and will automatically be paid if they are eligible.

New businesses that started trading between 5 January and 1 April may qualify for restart grants. They can apply through the claim form on the council website, which will be available from Monday 12 April.

Eligible business who have not yet applied for Additional Restriction Grant (ARG) funding must do so before 31 March 2021. See details of available business grants and check if you’re eligible online. After this date businesses will not be able to apply for the ARG grant, but those who have already qualified will continue to receive payments from April onwards in line with roadmap periods.

All qualifying businesses liable for business rates will continue to benefit from business rates relief as previously announced in the March Budget.

Councillor Nigel Ayre, executive member for finance and performance said:

Throughout the pandemic we have prioritised keeping businesses as up to date on the process as we can and in getting payments to them as quickly as possible.

“We are now over a year on since the first lockdown and it has been an incredibly challenging year for us all. We continue to be incredibly grateful to the business community for their understanding and support and to our council staff who are working tirelessly to get each payment into the bank accounts of businesses as soon as possible. We expect these payments to be made from 12 April but as ever will keep businesses updated.”

Councillor Andrew Waller, executive member for the economy and strategic planning said:

Many businesses are seeking to re-open as safely as possible, and the council is committed to supporting local businesses through this process.

“The finance team is working hard to ensure that as soon as Government funding is received, payments are made to business’ accounts. We know that the quick payment of these grants is essential for eligible businesses. This is why I have recently written to the Secretary of State to urge for the current system to be streamlined to ensure businesses receive payments as quickly as possible.”

“We continue to update our website with the latest information and eligibility criteria for certain support online.

“Any businesses who have fallen through the cracks of government support please get in touch with us as soon as possible on email: economicgrowth@york.gov.uk.”

Shielding lifts after 1 April as infection rates fall

Clinically extremely vulnerable people in York are being reassured that help is still to hand as, from Thursday 1 April shielding will stop, as virus infection rates continue to fall.

Affected residents will be getting updated guidance from the Government asking them to take extra precautions to reduce their risk of infection from Covid-19. These set out practical steps to reduce the risk of catching the virus, including continuing to maintain strict social distancing and to keep overall social contacts at low levels, such as working from home where possible.

The move follows the first dose vaccination of more than 9 in 10 clinically extremely vulnerable people as well as a steady decrease in the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalisations for the last few weeks. People aged 16 or older who have been advised they are clinically extremely vulnerable and who haven’t had their first vaccination should book it via the NHS website. Please take up the second dose of the vaccine when it is offered to further increase your level of protection.

York’s community hubs and the network of food deliverers will continue to offer support. Anyone already registered for priority access to supermarket delivery slots will to be able to access them until 21 June 2021.

Cllr Carol Runciman, Executive Member for Health and Adult Social Care, said:

Shielding helps safeguard those who are the most clinically vulnerable in our communities. We recognise how difficult this period has been for so many and the impact it has had on people’s wellbeing.

“Being able to lift shielding is testament to the efforts of everyone in the city in stopping the spread of the virus. It means people can start thinking about easing up on the more rigid guidelines and begin going out more. To keep York open and the people we love safe, please continue to observe hands, face, space.

“We are still here to help. Our community hubs can support anyone who needs it, whether to talk to someone or to collect essentials. Please call 01904 551550 or email covid19help@york.gov.uk if you need support.”

Sharon Stoltz, Director of Public Health at City of York Council, said:

Thank you to everyone who has shielded or has helped someone who is shielding: we know how challenging and worrying this period has been for individuals and families.

“Whilst this is another positive step in the road to normal we all still need to be careful. If you have been shielding, please continue to take extra precautions after 1 April to keep yourself as safe as possible.

“No vaccine is 100% effective. Even if you have had both doses, there is still no absolute guarantee that you will not become ill from Covid-19, so please remember hands, face, space.”

The Romans are leaving

See the source image

The Councils planning committee have rejected plans to establish a Roman visitor attraction on the lower floor of a block of flats on Rougier Street. The building would have replaced the (rather less than iconic) “Northern House” 60’s office block.

Opponents of the scheme cited the building’s size and the lack of affordable housing units to justify their decision.

The developers now have the options of appealing against the decision, submitting fresh plans or walking away from the City.