14/04/2021

COVID-19 Business Update – 14 April 2021

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

Study: UK Variant Not As Severe As Feared

The COVID-19 variant, known as B.1.1.7, that was first identified in Britain does not cause more severe disease, according to a new study published in the medical journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases. However, it was about 40% to 70% more transmissible.

A separate study published in The Lancet Public Health medical journal also found that vaccines were likely to be effective against the UK variant.

While this may be a relief, it still pays to be diligent.

More Than 32 Million People Have Received at Least One Dose of COVID-19 Vaccine

Over 32 million people in the country have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine. The programme in England is now inviting those that are 50 years old and above to book appointments after the first four groups (70 years old and above, care home residents, healthcare workers, and people required to shield) were offered a vaccine shot by mid-February.

The over 50s in Scotland and Wales and the over 40s in Northern Ireland have been asked to book appointments. The rest of the population will then be vaccinated in age order.

New Support for Disabled Jobseekers

The government will boost the number of specialist advisers dedicated to helping disabled jobseekers to secure and stay in work, with an additional 315 Disability Employment Advisor (DEA) roles to be in job centres across the UK by May 2021. This will bring total numbers to 1,115 once the process is complete.

With the government’s Plan for Jobs underpinned by the Access to Work scheme, those with disabilities are already benefiting. This scheme includes grants worth up to £62,900 and can cover the cost of necessary workplace adjustments.

New 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.

Ban on Commercial Evictions Extended to 30 June

Business owners are being given further support after the government extended the ban on commercial evictions to 30 June. Meanwhile, the bailiff-enforced eviction ban was also extended to 31 May to protect residential tenants.

These extensions should help those badly hit by the pandemic, such as bars and restaurants. With around 49% of hospitality workers and 36% of retail workers currently renting, the new measures will protect jobs as businesses reopen and many more renters can return to work.

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.

Pavement Licences Extended to Help High Streets Recover

Communities Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP announced that he intends to extend pavement licences for a further 12 months to help the hospitality industry recover once lockdown restrictions are lifted.

Hospitality venues will be allowed to serve customers outdoors from no earlier than 12 April. The extension of provisions around pavement licences, which will be subject to parliamentary approval, will make it easier and cheaper for pubs, restaurants and cafes to serve people outside.

Further details can be found here.

Guidance on the Reopening of Businesses

The government has published the ‘COVID-19 Response – Spring 2021’ which will serve as a roadmap out of the current restrictions. You can check out the step-by-step plan here.

Online VAT Deferral Payment Scheme

Businesses that deferred VAT payments last year can join the new online VAT Deferral Payment Scheme to pay it in smaller monthly instalments.

To take advantage of this new payment scheme, businesses will need to have deferred VAT payments between March and June 2020 under the VAT Payment Deferral Scheme. These businesses will be given the option to pay their deferred VAT in 2 to 11 equal monthly instalments starting in March, April, May, or June 2021, with no interest.

The new scheme will be open until 21 June 2021. Further details can be found here.

£20 Million 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.

Brexit Checker

Doing business with Europe has changed. You need to follow new rules on exports, imports, tariffs, data and hiring. The GOV.UK website has detailed guidance on what the new rules mean for your business. You can also use the Brexit checker to get a personalised list of actions for you.

Ongoing COVID-19 Business Support From the Government

After almost a year of lockdowns and COVID-19 restrictions, many firms in the UK are still in need of support to stay afloat. Below is a comprehensive list of government support programmes that are available to your small business.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Deadline: 30 April 2021

  • 80% of employees’ monthly salary covered for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500
  • Employers will have flexibility to use the scheme for employees for any amount of time or shift pattern, furloughing employees on either a full-time or part-time basis
  • No employer contribution for hours not worked, employers only have to cover National Insurance and employer pension contributions

More information can be found here.

New Deadlines for Job Retention Scheme Claims
Use this list of monthly deadlines to help you submit before it’s too late.

14 April 2021– Final date to submit claims for March 2021 by 11:59pm
14 May 2021– Final date to submit claims for April 2021 by 11:59pm

Corporation tax filing extension

Deadline: Apply for the extension before your normal filing deadline

You can apply for a three-month corporation tax extension to the deadline of filing your accounts, as long as your deadline falls between 27 June 2020 to 5 April 2021.

More information can be found here.

Kickstart Scheme grant

Deadline: Not specified

  • 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.

Self-employed Income Support Scheme

Deadline: Online claims service for the fourth grant will be available from late April 2021 until 31 May 2021.

  • The fourth grant will be calculated at 80% of 3 months’ average trading profits and will be paid out in a single instalment capped at £7,500 in total.
  • The fifth and final grant covering May to September can be claimed from late July. The amount will be determined by how much your turnover has been reduced in the year April 2020 to April 2021.
  • The fifth grant will be worth 80% of 3 months’ average trading profits, capped at £7,500, for those with a turnover reduction of 30% or more.
  • For those with a turnover reduction of less than 30%, the fifth grant will be equivalent to 30% of 3 months’ average trading profits, capped at £2,850.

More information can be found here.

Flick us a message if you need our expert assistance on your applications and so we can help you evaluate your options.

What Causes Your Profit Problem?

Do you ever feel stuck in your business? After all the time and effort you’ve put into it, your revenue seems to have plateaued or maybe has even decreased. If you’re having a profit problem, it can be a sign of a deeper issue that needs to be fixed.

Below are the three key areas that you should look into:

  • Products or services– Are your customers happy with what you’re offering? Listen to what they have to say and make the necessary improvements.
  • Systems and structure in place– Next, evaluate if you’ve put a good structure and systems in place. As your business grows, some systems you created in the beginning may no longer work. Also ask your staff for their opinions as they may draw insights on issues you didn’t know existed.
  • People and company culture– Did you hire the right people for the job? Are you lacking key talent that could potentially boost your business performance? Also, take a good look at the company culture you’ve created. You may be surprised to find out that you have fostered an unsustainable working environment full of inefficiencies, disarray, or burnout.

While some business challenges are out of your control, it’s important to first cross out possible issues that are within your control. The good thing about finding out that the cause of your profit problem is something internal is that it also means that you have the power to fix it.

Need tailored business advice? Get in touch with us and let’s talk about your specific situation.

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