COVID-19: Emergency business loan scheme revamped after criticism

The emergency loans scheme for businesses struggling to survive amid the coronavirus pandemic has been revamped following strong lobbying from the IAAF, along with many other organisations.

The Treasury said it had received more than 130,000 loan enquiries from firms but fewer than 1,000 had been approved.

Business Secretary, Alok Sharma, said the changes to the scheme would make it easier for firms to access loans.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak will speak to the banks, which have been accused of taking advantage of the crisis.

The changes to the business interruption loan scheme will mean more businesses are able to access financial support during the lockdown.

Previously, government-backed loans for small businesses were only available to firms that had been turned down for a commercial loan from their bank.

Following the changes to the scheme, applications will not be limited to businesses that have been refused a loan on commercial terms. However, the Treasury did not put in place restrictions on the interest rates that banks can charge for loans.

Larger firms with a turnover of up to £500m will also be eligible for more help.

The revamped scheme will offer government-backed loans of up to £25m to firms with revenues of between £45m and £500m.

“We have also listened to the concerns of some larger businesses affected by Covid-19 and are announcing new support so they can benefit too,” said Mr Sunak.

Banks will also be banned from asking company owners to guarantee loans with their own savings or property when borrowing up to £250,000.

“We are making great progress on getting much-needed support out to businesses to help manage their cashflows during this difficult time – with millions of pounds of loans and finance being provided to hundreds of firms across the country,” Mr Sunak said.

“And now I am taking further action by extending our generous loan scheme so even more businesses can benefit.”

There has been widespread concern, acknowledged by the government, that some of the emergency measures to provide financial assistance to businesses are not working.

Too few firms felt able or willing to take on loans that carried an 80% government guarantee to the lender but not the borrower. The Treasury has announced new rules, meaning business owners asking to borrow less than £250,000 will no longer have to offer up personal guarantees.

Perhaps most importantly, the requirement for companies to have first tried to get a normal commercial loan elsewhere will be dropped.

However, they are still loans. Companies wishing to take them out will be 100% liable for the debt and the government has not capped the interest rate banks can charge even though banks are able to borrow at close to 0%.

Details of the revised scheme can be found at the goernment’s Business Support website.

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Valeo gets Road Safety Innovation Award for eCall system

Valeo has received the 2020 Road Safety Innovation Award in the “preventing the consequences of an accident” category for its Valeo Rescuer solution.

As of April 1, 2018, all new vehicle platforms approved for manufacture must be fitted with an integrated automatic eCall system that instantly connects the vehicle with emergency services in the event of an accident.

As road safety is one of Valeo’s key priorities in the development of all its innovations, both in original equipment and for the aftermarket, the Group designed the new safety solution to be available for all vehicles, even those more than two years old.

Valeo Rescuer is the first eCall system to comply with European standards, applicable for vehicles already on the road.

Valeo Rescuer also includes a breakdown assistance service, called b-Call, which the driver can trigger at the push of a button.

By simply plugging it into the vehicle’s 12V socket, users can activate their subscription to a support service through a dedicated Valeo mobile application.

The solution will be on sale in the coming months.

Valeo has been a signatory of the Road Safety at Work Charter since 2016 and organizes annual nationwide Road Safety Days, as well as a range of awareness-raising initiatives for its employees.

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Bosch announces launch of new ADAS calibration course

Bosch has announced the launch of a new two-day IMI accredited ADAS calibration course – VSB41.

The course covers the various different systems fitted and trainees will have the opportunity to carry out the calibration of different ADAS sensors, using the Bosch DAS 3000.

The assessment day consists of an on-line multiple-choice knowledge test and practical assessment.

A Bosch spokesperson said: “This new course is designed for vehicle technicians and body repair workshops who are working on ADAS-equipped vehicles.

“The training covers the various different systems fitted and participants will have the opportunity to carry out calibration of multiple ADAS sensors, all using the Bosch DAS 3000.

“Whilst Bosch equipment is used during the training, feedback has shown that it will also benefit workshops who use other manufacturer’s ADAS equipment.”

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Three good news stories from ECP

  1. Euro Car Parts is supporting the AA’s new partnership with the London Ambulance Service, supplying parts to keep NHS staff on the road during the coronavirus pandemic. Andy Hamilton, CEO at Euro Car Parts, said: “The aftermarket has a critical role to play in keeping key workers moving at this time. We’re proud to supply parts to roadside recovery services like the AA, and in turn, to their partners in the NHS, to ensure ambulance crews can reach patients who are in need.”
  2. The Kettering branch of Euro Car Parts has been working closely with Kettering Borough Council to supply 10 foot pumps for blow-up beds that the council is giving out to homeless people in the area. Gene Picton, Kettering branch manager, said: “All of us are being affected in some way, but we can’t forget about the homeless as among the most vulnerable of all.”
  3. A Euro Car Parts sales advisor in Cannock helped a vulnerable pensioner who was unable to go to collect her medicine prescription because her car was off-road. The sales advisor located the part needed to fix her vehicle in branch and arranged for a mobile mechanic to visit her so that it could be repaired as quickly as possible.

Autoparts UK, Midwest Motor Factors and Monmore close as resources provided to assist NHS and frontline workers

Autoparts UK, Midwest Motor Factors and Monmore Autoparts will temporarily close until at least Monday 13 April, following the government’s new measures to stop the spread of COVID-19.

As part of Arnold Clark, the safety of employees, customers and the community is paramount and this decision complies with the government’s advice to stay at home and beat the pandemic.

Instead, the company is making an enormous amount resources available, providing 400 vehicles to NHS and frontline workers free of charge, ensuring they can get to work if needed. Arnold Clark employees have also responded to the government’s call for help and are volunteering within the NHS and are also providing roadside recovery, emergency repairs and parts for all emergency vehicles where necessary.

At Autoparts UK, a team of 10 specialist parts people are in place to assist blue light workers. Each individual will identify the parts required, collect stock from the branch and deliver it to their premises or be available for collection.
Autoparts UK, Midwest Motor Factors and Monmore Auto Parts have also supplied 10,000 disposable seat covers for use by NHS staff.

At every Arnold Clark rental location, there are two vehicles being used by essential community groups to assist local people with food and supplies.

Craig McCracken, Group Factor Manager, said: “We have been overwhelmed by the number of employees who have volunteered to support NHS staff. By closing our doors to the public and trade, we are in the best possible position to continue to support the NHS, government and local authorities with the vehicles, parts and servicing they need during this pandemic.”

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Servicesure steps in to freeze fees for garages

The Parts Alliance has acted quickly to freeze the membership fees paid by its national garage network.

The move has naturally been welcomed by garages who have appreciated the speed of the response at a time when cash flow has come under sudden pressure.

Colourspray Auto Services in Merseyside offers MOTs, servicing and bodywork. He took the difficult decision to close the business on 28th March.

“Servicesure contacted us to tell us they were freezing our membership fees and to have someone be proactive in trying to help is great,” said owner Graham Young. “It’s not about the amount of money saved, it’s the fact that Servicesure offered it unprompted as a way of supporting us.

“The support we’ve had from Servicesure, CES and The Parts Alliance has been great. It’s easy to make promises when the going’s good, but it’s times like this when you really know who’s there for you.

“I know we’ll come out the other side of this and we’ll remember the people who stood by us and supported us however they could.”

Garages like other UK businesses have been left reeling after the sudden measures taken to control the impact of the rapidly escalating COVID-19 crisis.

Garages are entitled to stay open to keep cars moving but decisions are being made on an individual basis as owners wrestle with the social and financial implications.

“We saw trade drop off when the MOT exemption announcement was made and I didn’t want to risk the safety of the team, so we closed the business down,” added Graham.

The DVSA confirmed a six month MOT extension in a decision which, in the view of the IAAF and IGA trade associations, will present ‘huge challenges’ for garages.

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KYB celebrates 10,000th app download

The KYB Suspension Solutions mobile App continues with strong growth in popularity among European workshops, having now been downloaded over 10,000 times.

The app has three main features to help technicians find and fit suspension components and to explain, communicate and sell suspension to the motorist.

The first allows technicians to suggest suspension work to a motorist.

After assessing the vehicle the technician inputs the “symptoms” the vehicle is showing into the App, attaching a picture if required.

The app then takes this information and creates a specific vehicle report, which is text to the customer, all for free.

This report contains a button to “call the workshop”- on average this button is clicked by the motorist one in four times.

The second feature allows the technician to take ‘before and after’ photos when working on a vehicle’s suspension.

The app sends these pictures along with a vehicle to the customer.

The report explains the completed work and the benefit it will have on the vehicle and shows them the pictures of the old and newly fitted components.

The final feature provides detailed, part specific technical advice for a suspension job.

Technicians can either enter the car make and model, the VIN number, or the registration number and they will be shown the KYB part numbers required and a detailed technical bulletin which includes an illustrated set by step guide to fit the part, as well as the tools required (and relevant torque settings), and an estimate for the time needed to complete the job.

If there is a KYB fitting video available for this reference, this will also be provided

The KYB Suspension Solutions App is free to download and free to use, available in 20 European languages and fully customisable so all reports sent out feature your workshop’s name, contact number and logo.

The app is available from the App Store and Google Play.

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Schaeffler announces date for REPXPERT Academy LIVE Blackpool

Schaeffler is currently accepting registrations for the next REPXPERT Academy LIVE event, due to be held at Blackpool and The Fylde College on Saturday 20th June.

It will be the third-running of the roadshow, created to educate workshop owners and technicians on the latest Schaeffler technical training modules, covering timing belt drive best practice, an introduction to double clutch repairs and modern thermal management systems – all in 45-minute segments.

REPXPERT Academy LIVE also provides a business element; the first two events showcased REPXPERT brand ambassador and The Garage Inspector, Andy Savva, who delivered a session on how owners can ‘empower their business’.

For the Blackpool event, however, Schaeffler has secured the services of Hayley Pells, owner of Automechanika Garage of the Year, Avia Sports Cars, who will be presenting a session on the hottest topic of the moment: electric vehicles (EV).

Hayley will be discussing how to operate a successful EV and hybrid workshop, along with best practice and safety requirements.

Outside of the classroom, there will be plenty for visitors to sample, with a host of guest exhibitors, as well as displays from Schaeffler, the Institute of the Motor Industry and Blackpool and The Fylde College.

Entry to REPXPERT Academy LIVE is free of charge, with every visitor offered complimentary breakfast, lunch and refreshments throughout the day.

Doors open for registration at 8am, with the event due to end at around 3pm.

Coronavirus
The Schaeffler REPXPERT Academy team has said it’s acutely aware of the COVID-19 outbreak and government guidelines currently in-place.

It is in continuous dialogue with the host venue, and at present, is continuing to prepare for REPXPERT Academy LIVE as normal.

The health and wellbeing of staff and visitors is of the utmost importance, so if current government guidelines are extended beyond the planned event date then, unfortunately, the event will be cancelled.

However, if rules regarding free movement and social distancing are relaxed, then the event will go ahead with all necessary provisions and precautions taken to ensure that everyone enjoys the day in a safe environment.

Schaeffler will continue to provide updates via both the automotive trade media and on REPXPERT, Schaeffler’s workshop portal.

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Rollings roll out for customers

After considering numerous requests from their customers, Rolling Components have decided to open with skeleton staff for urgent items required by garages and motor factors to keep key workers moving.

They will, therefore, be operating 9.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. ( Monday–Friday) in order to receive orders for urgent items. However, due to the current situation, they cannot guarantee next day delivery.

If anyone has an urgent order, they should email [email protected].

As soon as there is an improvement in the situation, Rolling Components will reinstate normal operations.

Please check the Rolling Components website for regular updates.

 

GS Yuasa Academy becomes first battery training resource to receive CPD accreditation

GS Yuasa Academy has become the first battery training program to provide training accredited by the leading independent CPD accreditation institution.

GS Yuasa Academy is the most powerful comprehensive online battery learning platform available. Featuring over 20 detailed training courses, it covers every step of a battery’s ‘journey’ – from leaving the shelf, through ongoing maintenance, to end of service life.

CPD (Continuing Professional Development) accreditation comes following a comprehensive assessment of the site to ensure it meets the institution’s standards and benchmarks. This announcement sees the battery manufacturer become the first to offer CPD accredited battery training.

Users of the online training platform can claim CPD points and prove to employers and professional bodies that they have kept their skills and knowledge up to date with industry standards.

Designed for individuals and organisations alike, GS Yuasa Academy delivers professional battery training through its blend of engaging video content and downloadable support material. Each module only takes a few minutes to complete, can be completed at your own pace and results in a downloadable certificate bearing the CPD logo upon successful completion.

Ian Newham, Training Manager at GS Yuasa Battery Sales UK Ltd, said: “We’ve worked hard to create the first comprehensive battery training platform so are understandably proud that it’s now become the first to receive CPD accreditation. We are pleased to have been recognised by an external training assessor with such high standards.

“We’ve seen incredible engagement since the launch of GS Yuasa Academy – workshops, technicians, distributors and individuals have all rallied behind it. We know they love the broad range of content and the dynamic way in which it’s delivered. The fact that users can simply leave the site and then pick up where they left off is a real bonus for technicians and workshop owners with a busy work schedule too.”

To find out more about GS Yuasa Academy, or to start learning now, visit academy.gs-yuasa.uk.

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