April Bulletin

Forest Economic Partnership is now into its third year. In the first two years the FEP has had some impressive milestones!  

TimeLine FEP

With new and exciting projects in the pipeline. 

One of the many projects FEP’s subgroups have been working on is the viability and community appetite for a Biosphere Reserve for the Forest of Dean. In February FEP submitted a bid to the Heritage Lottery for £10K to support a community engagement exercise. However, due to the current circumstance surrounding COVID-19, the National Lottery Heritage Fund have withdrawn all application until at least October 2020 and as such the Biosphere Reserve Action Group will review all the funding options for this project

COVID-19 - Help for Businesses 

The Chancellor has set out a package of temporary, timely and targeted measures to support public services, people and businesses through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19.  

This includes a package of measures to support businesses including:

- A Statutory Sick Pay relief package for SMEs

- A 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England

- Small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief

- Grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000

- The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank

- A new lending facility from the Bank of England to help support liquidity among larger firms, helping them bridge coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans.

The Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will support self-employed individuals (including members of partnerships) whose income has been negatively impacted by COVID-19. The scheme will provide a grant to self-employed individuals or partnerships, worth 80% of their profits up to a cap of £2,500 per month.

HMRC will use the average profits from tax returns in 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 to calculate the size of the grant. The scheme will be open to those where the majority of their income comes from self-employment and who have profits of less than £50,000. The scheme will be open for an initial three months with people able to make their first claim by the beginning of June.

Individuals should not contact HMRC now. HMRC will use existing information to check potential eligibility and invite applications once the scheme is operational. HMRC will then pay the grant directly to eligible claimants’ bank accounts. HMRC is urgently working to deliver the scheme; grants are expected to start to be paid out by beginning of June 2020. For eligible individuals who have not submitted their returns for 2018-19, they will have 4 weeks’ notice from the date of the announcement to file their returns and therefore become eligible for this scheme.

HMRC are publishing guidance on the scheme, available here. This guidance will continue to be updated.

The Local Enterprise Partnership for Gloucestershire, GFirst LEP along with their Growth Hub Network are committed to supporting Gloucestershire businesses in these unprecedented times. 

They have produced a business survey that asks how the Coronavirus outbreak is affecting your business and what specific help your business needs. This important information will then be swiftly shared with Government departments. 

Please take a moment to fill in the survey by following the link below. 


For more information on business support pledged by the Government please see: https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/coronavirus-business-support/

Forest of Dean District Council - Folk2Folk Peer Lending

Forest of Dean District Council has partnered with award-winning local lending company FOLK2FOLK to help local, credit-worthy SMEs in the Forest of Dean with straightforward access to finance.

FOLK2FOLK specialises in match-making businesses looking for loans to grow, develop or diversify with individual and institutional investors looking to receive a good return on their investment. By becoming a FOLK2FOLK lender, the council will be able to invest and grow public money locally whilst also benefiting local businesses. 

FOLK2FOLK’s business loans start at £50,000, range from six months to five years, and are secured against land or property. Find out more about business loans from FOLK2FOLK by calling 0333 455 1902 or emailing enquiries@folk2folk.com 

Forest of Dean District Council - Corporate Plan

Last month the Forest of Dean District Council launched its corporate plan (https://www.fdean.gov.uk/media/7263/corporate-plan-2019-2023.pdf) with a strong focus on developing a vibrant economy that is resilient and future proofed, addressing climate change, through their planning policy, the Forest Economic Partnership and GFirst LEP - the Gloucestershire Local Enterprise Partnership.

Gloucestershire Rail Strategy 

As part of the Local Transport Plan, Gloucestershire County Council have updated their Rail Strategy. Locally this looks at the possibilities of:  

  • Introducing an hourly service from Birmingham, Cheltenham, Gloucester to Cardiff.  
  • Rail Bridge across the Severn 
  • A service from Lydney, Severn Tunnel Junction to Bristol. 

The statistics in the report confirm that in Gloucestershire 1% of the population are using rail to travel to work compared to the national average of 5% and underlying causes are the regularity in service delivery and the stations. 

The final version of the Gloucestershire Rail Investment Strategy can be viewed at the following link:


Making an Economic Case for Culture

Carolyn Black - Creative Arts & Culture Project Manager, Canopy presents an economic case for culture in the Forest of Dean: 


For more information please contact fodcreativecanopy@gmail.com  

Dates for your Diary:

Please note that all meetings prior to the 30 April 2020 have been postponed. 

15 April 2020 

Digital Connectivity Sub-Group (Closed Meeting) 9:30 to 11:30 at Brockweir Community Cafe, Mill Hill, Brockweir, NP16 7NW - POSTPONED

28 April 2020 

Education & Skills Sub-Group (Closed Meeting) - 14:00 to 16:00 at Gloucestershire College, Forest of Dean Campus, Cinderford.- POSTPONED

17 June 2020

Stakeholder Meeting - 9:30 to 11:30 at Vantage Point Business Village, Mitcheldean, GL17 0DD - Please RSVP to fep@fdean.gov.uk 

17 September 2020

Stakeholder Meeting  9:30 to 11:30 at HillsideBrewery, Holly Bush Farm, Ross Rd, Gloucestershire, GL17 0NG

17 December 2020

Stakeholder Meeting (Venue TBC)