29/04/2021

COVID-19 Business Update – 28 April 2021

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

Study: Vaccinating Adolescents Can Help Prevent Third Wave of COVID-19 in the UK

According to a report from Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, vaccinating older children and slowing down the easing of COVID-19 restrictions could help prevent a third wave of COVID-19 infections in the UK. While the government’s road map suggests all restrictions could be lifted in England on 21 June, scientists have warned that this could lead to a resurgence of the coronavirus.

UK Economy Predicted to Grow at Fastest Rate Since WW2

The UK economy is forecast to grow at the fastest rate since the second world war this year after businesses adapted better to COVID-19 restrictions and consumer spending booms amid the easing of lockdown measures.

According to EY Item Club, it expects GDP to grow by 6.8% in 2021 – a sharp upgrade on the 5% growth rate it had estimated in January. The UK economy shrank by 9.8% in 2020, the worst performance in the G7.

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.

MYOB Launched New Business Management Platform

MYOB has launched a new extension for its business management platform called Advanced Professional Services Edition.

This extension is built on its cloud Enterprise Resource Planning platform to enable managers to view operation insights, improve services, evaluate task efficiency, and allocate accordingly. It joins previously launched editions with bespoke solutions for the manufacturing, building, and construction sectors.

Exporting Boost to UK FinTech Sector

The Department for International Trade (DIT) has announced a package of export support for the FinTech industry to boost trade, jobs, and economic growth. This includes FinTech Export Academy and FinTech Champions scheme to provide sector-specific advice. Ultimately, these measures should help boost the UK’s presence in overseas markets and establish the country as a global hub for FinTech and digital service.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The deadline for the submission of claims for April 2021 is on 14 May 2021 (11:59pm).

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.

Here’s How Small Businesses Can Bring Shoppers Back Into Stores

With vaccination availability increasing in the country, small business owners can start to refocus their efforts on encouraging in-person visitors. This Forbes article shared some tips to effectively boost in-store traffic in the next months.

  • Focus on personalisation– It is about relationship-building and appealing to consumers’ desire to invest in a company’s products and its values. With consumers having unlimited choices at their fingertips, you can stand out by providing a personalised experience that strengthens brand loyalty.
  • Prioritise authenticity– Research shows 86% of shoppers value authenticity. Don’t just preach authenticity through customer emails and digital ads, you need to bring that same energy to in-person interactions.
  • Align innovation with intent– Pair in-person with digital approaches to improve interactions with customers and ease the transition back into stores.
  • Tap into senses and sensibilities– After a year of limited contact, customers are happy to get in front of people. Create in-person experiences that engage multiple senses and cultivate an immersive in-store vibe.
  • Add mobile to the in-store journey– Review your mobile engagement to make sure it reflects current products and services, while showing you’re ready to reconnect with consumers.

Need more focused business advice on how to attract in-person visitors? Book a one-on-one consultation with us today and let’s work out a plan!

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