Business Update – 14 July 2021

Welcome back to our Weekly Digest. Read on for the latest updates and some ideas to help us all move forward.

England to Lift All Remaining COVID-19 Restrictions on 19 July

All remaining lockdown restrictions in England will be lifted by 19 July after delaying it last month, according to the Health Secretary. Britain’s successful vaccine rollout means that nine out of 10 adults in the UK now have antibodies against COVID-19.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have their own road maps out of lockdown.

UK’s First Megalab Opens to Bolster Fight Against COVID-19

The UK’s first testing megalab, the Rosalind Franklin Laboratory in Royal Leamington Spa, has opened and will serve as one of the centrepieces of UK’s future test and trace infrastructure.

It will be part of the NHS Test and Trace network and will use cutting-edge technology to process more tests and adopt the new genotype assay testing that can quickly identify variants and new mutations.

UK Business Confidence Rises to 16-year High

British business confidence has soared to a 16-year peak on easing Covid restrictions, according to a survey by BDO. Its business optimism indicator jumped to 112.45 points in June– the highest level since 2005 and the fifth consecutive monthly gain.

Government to Boost Support for Northern Ireland Agri-Food Traders

Traders moving agri-food from Great Britain to Northern Ireland will benefit from increased government support until the end of 2023 through the Movement Assistance Scheme. Under this scheme, certain certification costs will be covered when moving agri-food products.

Aside from being extended to the end of December 2023, it will also be expanded to cover costs related to:

  • scrapies testing for sheep exports
  • sample testing and certification required for individual seed lots from 1 August
  • the Plant Health Exports Audited Trader Scheme (PHEATS)
  • exporters in Great Britain who move organics solely to Northern Ireland, and Northern Irish importers who face new costs to receive these goods from Great Britain

£226 Million Support for Bus Services

Bus operators will benefit from £226.5 million in government funding to ensure they continue to run vital services as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. The funding will run from September 2021 to April 2022 and will support operators across England.

New Subsidy Scheme to Support UK Jobs and Businesses

The new UK-wide Subsidy Control Bill will provide quicker and more flexible support to UK businesses following Brexit. Previously, when the UK was a member of the EU, it followed the EU’s State aid regime which governed the awarding of grants, loans, and guarantees.

This is a lengthy bureaucratic process of being notified to and approved by the European Commission in advance. This delays these funds from being accessed by businesses in good time. However, with the new UK system, subsidies are permitted if they follow UK-wide principles.

These principles will allow authorities to award subsidies where they’re needed without so much red tape.

COVID Local Support Grant Extended

The government’s COVID Local Support Grant has been extended until September, bringing it in line with the end date for furlough and other COVID-related support. The funding is ring-fenced so that 80% is used to support families with bills for food, key utilities and other essentials. Across England, the total new funding is £160 million.

Cash Boost For Apprentices Launched

Employers of all sizes in England can now apply for additional funding to help them take on new apprentices. The boost to the apprenticeship incentive scheme has been available to claim from 1 June. Businesses can apply to claim £3000 for each new apprentice hired as a new employee from 1 April until 30 September.

Debt Respite Scheme ‘Breathing Space’

Under the debt respite scheme called Breathing Space, those facing financial difficulties will be given 60 days to get their finances back on track, with most interest and penalty charges frozen, and enforcement action halted.

Professional debt advice will also be provided. Recognising the link between debt problems and mental health issues, these protections will be available for those in mental health crisis treatment for the full duration of their crisis treatment plus another 30 days.

Please get in touch with us if you need any help with your cashflow. We are here to help.

Over £150 Million Funding for New ‘Help to Build’ Scheme

The new £150 million ‘Help to Build’ scheme will make it easier and more affordable for people to build their own homes. New homes can be made to order or built from scratch, and will benefit small building firms as part of the government’s Plan for Jobs.

Also, a £2.1 million additional funding has been announced to help communities decide where they want new homes, shops, and offices to be built and what they should look like.

Recovery Loan Scheme Launched

The government has launched a new Recovery Loan Scheme to help companies access loans of £25,000 up to a maximum of £10 million. The loans will include 80% government guarantee and interest rate cap of 14.99%.

This is in addition to the extended furlough until 30 September and the New Restart Grants scheme.

Job Retention Scheme Extended Until End of September

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended until 30 September 2021. It will remain unchanged until the end of June, and a phased reduction in the level of funding will be implemented from 1 July 2021.

Currently, employers can claim grants equal to 80% of a furloughed employee’s reference pay. Grants for each worker are capped at £2,500 per month.

For claims starting 1 July 2021, the grant will be reduced to 70% of the reference salary and capped at £2,187.50 per month. It will be further reduced to 60% of the reference salary with a cap of £1,875 starting 1 August 2021.

You can read more about it here.

SME Brexit Support Fund Launched

A £20 million SME Brexit Support Fund has been announced to help businesses adjust to new customs, rules of origin, and VAT rules when trading with the EU.

Traders will be able to apply for a grant of up to £2,000 to pay for practical support for importing and exporting. This fund will help businesses prepare for the implementation of import controls that will take effect from April and July.

More details can be found here.

Kickstart Scheme grant

  • Provides funding to create new job placements for 16 to 24-year-olds on Universal Credit
  • Covers 100% of the National Minimum Wage (or the National Living Wage) for 25 hours a week for a total of six months
  • Also covers National Insurance contributions
  • Employers can spread the start date of the job placements until the end of December 2021

More information can be found here.

Eight Tips to Calmly Handle Company Crises

Running a business has its own ups and downs. Sometimes, ideas fail and things go out of hand, leading to a crisis within the business. In this Forbes article, members of the Young Entrepreneur Council share eight tips to manage company crises calmly and competently.

  • Take a moment to sit and think, without distractions. It’s through clarity that you can make the best decisions and take the right actions.
  • Ask senior leaders to help address the crisis. Catch up with leaders, explain the current situation, and ask them to help you address the crisis.
  • Respond in a calculated manner instead of reacting. Responding requires you to take a moment, gather all relevant information, and make a plan to move forward.
  • Encourage employees to stick to their daily routines. This keeps a sense of normalcy and prevents placing unnecessary stress on employees.
  • Take ownership of successes and failures. Resist the urge to shift blame as this will only cause more problems and worsen the crisis.
  • Remember your company’s purpose and vision. Re-centre everything to your true north in order to stay calm and manage the crisis.
  • Quantify the issue to put it into perspective. Being able to quantify the issue as a one-dollar problem or a thousand-dollar problem, for instance, can help you approach the crisis from a composed viewpoint.
  • Create a plan of action with detailed steps. Proactively define priorities and then communicate the three or five most important steps. Having a plan will not only help address financial concerns and preserve operational continuity, but will also make your team feel secure.

Need more focused business advice? Get in touch with us today and let us talk about your specific situation and how we can help you.

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