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Published: April 20, 2020 | Updated: April 20, 2020

Dorset Biz News update with Dextra Group plc, PKF Francis Clark & Sandbanks Ferry Company

By Andrew Diprose, editor

Dorset lighting manufacturer pulls out the stops for the NHS

The UK’s largest privately owned lighting manufacturer is pulling out all the stops to prioritise orders for the NHS, NHS suppliers and food production industries during the coronavirus crisis.

Dextra Group plc says investment in manufacturing equipment and facilities allows it to design, manufacture and deliver at unprecedented speeds which is more crucial than ever at the present.

Working within government guidelines, and implementing social distancing measures at its Gillingham manufacturing site, it is able to supply both standard and bespoke products in as little as 24 hours from point of order.

Jobs completed so far include:

  • Lighting for conversion of a leisure centre in South Wales to a Covid-19 ward.
  • Lighting for conversion of a walk-in NHS centre in central London to a Covid-19 ward.
  • 3,000 panels to protect both customers and staff for a major supermarket chain operating in the UK.
  • Work at supermarket distribution centres.
  • Lighting for staff food and drink shops for various Nightingale Hospitals across the UK.

And the company hasn’t just been supplying lighting.

Visors, eye protection glasses, FP2 face and nose masks and boxes of nitrile gloves have also been donated to doctors, nurses, care homes and care workers locally.

Using its own fleet of liveried vehicles, Team Dextra also joined in with the Clap for Carers on Thursday evening to show appreciation for the NHS and care workers.

Rupert Martin, Company owner and Group Chairman, said “Healthcare, retail and logistics have been sector specialisms for Dextra Group for many years and we have continued to meet the specific needs of the NHS, supermarket stores and their distribution centres in very short time scales.

“I’m incredibly proud of my company and thank our loyal workforce in these challenging times.”

Dextra employs 500 staff with 310 currently furloughed to ensure the company is following government guidelines and social distancing measures.

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Free online coronavirus resource for self-employed

Chartered accountants and business advisors PKF Francis Clark have launched an online calculator to help the self-employed find out the help they can expect from the government’s Coronavirus Income Support Scheme.

The tool is part of a range of free online resources created by the south west firm to help those affected by the pandemic to access the variety of support available.

The Self-employment Income Support Scheme will provide a taxable grant worth 80 per cent of an individual’s average trading profits over the last three years, up to £2,500 per month.

It is available to self-employed people, or members of trading partnerships, with trading profits of less than £50,000.

The south west has the highest rate of self-employment in the UK outside London, at around 17 per cent of the region’s labour force.

John Endacott, Partner and Head of Tax at PKF Francis Clark, pictured left, said: “This is a deeply worrying time for our region’s self-employed community as the coronavirus lockdown is impacting on their income and, in many cases, their ability to work altogether.

“The Self-employment Income Support Scheme is a vital lifeline for many, with grants due to be paid in June as a single lump sum.

“Those who are not eligible for this scheme, or are newly self-employed, should consider applying for Universal Credit.

“Our teams are monitoring all the measures announced by the government to address the economic impact of coronavirus and analysing what they mean for individuals and businesses.

“We are regularly updating our website with information and resources to help those affected navigate the variety of support available.”

PKF Francis Clark’s online calculator allows anyone who is carrying on a self-employed trade for income tax purposes to check if they are eligible for a grant via the Self-employment Income Support Scheme and work out how much they may be able to claim.

The firm, which has an office in Poole, is also helping businesses across the region to access funds via the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, as well as advising businesses on other grant support.

More information can be found here.

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Final ferry crossing tonight as service withdrawn until further notice

The Sandbanks Ferry Company, which runs the chain ferry service between Studland and Poole, is to withdraw its service from Tuesday April 21 until further notice.

The final crossing was the 19.10 from Studland on Monday April 20.

The company says the government-directed lockdown in response to the current coronavirus health crisis has led to a significant reduction in ferry passenger numbers.

The announcement that the lockdown is to continue for at least three more weeks means it is no longer economically or environmentally viable to continue to run the ferry service during the coronavirus crisis, according to the company.

Mike Kean, Managing Director, pictured left, said: “It is with great sadness that we have had to make the decision to withdraw the ferry service.

“We have been tirelessly exploring all avenues over recent weeks to try to secure financial support from central government through this unprecedented time, but this has not been forthcoming, and we have had to make the very difficult decision to withdraw the service.

“We were prepared to continue to operate at a financial loss to support key workers, but without greater support, this is no longer possible.

“While I know this will be difficult for the small number of key workers that are still using the service to get to work, I hope they will understand why this decision has been taken.

“We would like to thank them, and Dorset Council, for their support and understanding through this difficult time.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to our staff who have worked fearlessly over the last month in jobs that by their nature involve close contact with colleagues and customers alike.”

While the ferry is out of service, maintenance work will be carried out in a bid to reduce the amount of time needed for the ferry refit later this year in November.

Mr Kean added: “We will continue to closely monitor the current situation and look at ways to return the ferry to service as soon as possible, when we look forward to welcoming our passengers back once it is safe for them and our staff to do so.”