COVID-19 Business Update – 28 October 2020

Welcome back to our Weekly Digest. We hope you and your family are safe and doing well. Read on for this week’s updates and some ideas that will help us all move forward.

UK Economy Slows as Restrictions Hit Travel, Leisure, and Hospitality

Business activity has increased so far in October, but at the slowest pace since June, according to data firm Markit.

Markit’s Flash UK Composite Output Index was at 52.9 in October, down from 56.5 in September. While any figure above 50 points shows growth, it is worrying as it indicates the economy is losing steam just as some areas in the UK head into stricter lockdown measures.

If your business is currently struggling to stay afloat, get in touch with us today so we can work out a plan.

UK to Boost Business Aid

UK Treasury chief Rishi Sunak is poised to increase subsidies for bars, pubs and restaurants impacted by tight COVID-19 restrictions.

The new funding which could amount to 13 billion pounds over the next six months, comes just a month after the Treasury chief unveiled his “job protection” plan.

The government is also offering grants of up to 2,100 pounds a month for hospitality venues hit by restrictions imposed on “high risk” areas or Tier Two, while additional support is already available for businesses in “very high risk areas” or Tier Three.

If you need some assistance in getting government funding for your business, flick us a message so we can help you consider your options and submit your applications.

‘Time is Running Out’ Campaign Launched

The government launches the ‘Time is Running Out’ campaign, urging business leaders to step up their preparations for the UK leaving the EU on 1 January 2021. This call to action is to prevent businesses from getting caught out by new rules at the end of the UK transition period and get ready for changes and opportunities.

In just over 8 weeks, the UK will be leaving the EU Single Market and Customs Union. Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove emphasised that it is on all of us to put in the work to embrace the new opportunities and challenges that come with being an independent trading nation with control over its own borders, territorial waters, and laws.

You may check gov.uk/transition to see actions you need to take or get in touch with us so we can provide some expert guidance.

Job Support Scheme Extended to Cover Closed Business Premises

The Job Support Scheme will be extended to support all UK businesses legally required to close as a direct result of local or national COVID-19 restrictions (including businesses required to provide only delivery and collection services from their premises).

Through this, employers will receive grants to pay two thirds of the wages of staff who were employed on or before 23 September and are unable to work for a minimum of 7 consecutive days, up to a maximum of £2,100 a month. Employers will not have to contribute to wages but will have to cover pension and national insurance contributions.

The new Jobs Support Scheme will commence on 1 November 2020 and should help cushion the impact of the pandemic. More details can be found in this factsheet with further guidance due “in the coming weeks”.

Support for Areas on Very High Alert

Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently announced the following support for areas on Very High Alert under the new Three-Tier COVID-19 Lockdown System:

  • The Job Support Scheme, combined with Universal Credit, will allow low income individuals affected by business closures to receive at least 80% of their wages.
  • Up to £465 million will be provided to implement and enforce restrictions on top of the £1 billion of additional funding for local authorities across the UK.
  • The government will work with local authorities to allocate testing and introduce local contact tracing.

If you find it difficult to adapt to the new Three-Tier Lockdown System, message us so we can help you operate your business safely and more effectively.

UK Starts Real-Time Review of Moderna’s COVID-19 Vaccine

The UK’s health regulator has started a real-time review of Moderna’s experimental COVID-19 vaccine candidate. Such a process allows for a shorter time to approve a treatment, while maintaining the same standards of safety and effectiveness.

UK Considers Reducing Quarantine Period for COVID-19 Contacts

Like many other countries in Europe, the UK is facing a surge in COVID-19 cases. However, the government is looking at how long those exposed to COVID-19 need to be quarantined.

Currently, those exposed to the virus are ordered to stay at home for 14 days. However, they are looking at what can be done around these isolation periods and the process will be scientifically led.

Peer Networks for Businesses

Peer Networks is a peer-to-peer networking programme for small- and medium-sized businesses delivered locally by a network of Growth Hubs across England.

Through the Peer Networks, groups of individuals can discuss and work through common business challenges. Whether you experience business issues in finance, HR, sales, or marketing, expert facilitators can help you establish a trusted support network that will empower you to improve your business performance.

In order to join this programme, SME businesses must:

  • Be based in England
  • Have been operating for at least one year
  • Have at least five employees
  • Have a turnover of at least £100,000
  • Aspire to improve

You can check further details here. Meanwhile, if you prefer having a dedicated business advisor and more focused business guidance tailored to your unique situation, get in touch with us so we can schedule a consultation.

New Grants for Northern Ireland Businesses

Two new schemes that will help businesses in Northern Ireland to recover have been announced. These schemes will be administered by Tourism NI and Invest NI, and will provide £8,000 grants for businesses.

The Invest NI scheme contributes toward the cost of an adviser to carry out an analysis and strategic review of businesses. It is targeted at manufacturing, construction, professional services, information and communication, and technology businesses.

To be eligible for this grant, you must be a micro or small to medium enterprise with annual turnover of at least £500,000 that experienced a decline of 40% in turnover between April-June due to Covid-19.

Meanwhile, existing tourism businesses operating in Northern Ireland are eligible for the Tourism NI scheme. This grant is intended to support such businesses and help them survive the winter period.

If you need guidance with your application or would like to know about other funding assistance programmes, book a consultation with us so we can help you assess your options.

VAT cut extended for Hospitality and Tourism sectors

Part of the Chancellor’s announcement includes an extension of the VAT cut for the hospitality and tourism sectors. The temporary reduction of VAT rates from 20% to 5% will remain in place until 31 March 2021 instead of January.

The cut applies to food and non-alcoholic drinks, accommodation and admission to tourist attractions across the UK.

Giving businesses flexibility to pay back loans

More than a million businesses who took out a Bounce Back Loan will be given flexibility with repayments through a new Pay as You Grow system. We’ll keep you informed as we get more details.

What funding is available for your business?

With two-thirds of UK companies completely operational, but many still in a state of financial distress, the government continues to provide support for business recovery.

To cover the impact of the crisis, there are grants made available by the government such as the £1.25b Future Fund and R&D rescue package for fast growth businesses and smaller businesses with a Research & Development focus. The UK government has recently expanded this rescue package for start-ups.

If your business has been severely hit by COVID-19 and you need more support, the government is giving businesses access to financial support through various initiatives such as the Bounce Back Loan Scheme, where you can get up to £50,000 no-interest loans for the first 12 months.

The Business Interruption Loan Scheme offers a maximum loan of £5 million made available through commercial banks, lenders have provided £12.2 billion worth of facilities to 55,674 companies.

You can also claim for 80% of your employee’s wages plus any employer National Insurance and pension contributions if you have put them on furlough because of COVID-19 under the Job Retention Scheme, which has been extended until the end of October. You can check your eligibility here.

With all the financial assistance schemes available for businesses, it can be difficult to assess which one is suitable for your business. Get in touch if you need some help.

How to Write a Business Proposal

So you’ve found a great opportunity to sell and you need to submit an impressive business proposal to convince your potential client to grant you the contract. It may seem overwhelming at first, but you can craft this document with a bit of a know-how and a good understanding of your business and what you can offer.

Below are the basic points to be included in your business proposal:

  • Title page
    This keeps your document tidy and gives a nice first impression of how you do business.
  • Cover letter
    Your cover letter should introduce your business and your proposal. It is recommended to keep it concise, friendly, and with a positive tone.
  • Table of contents
    It will let your potential client know right away what are the points included in the document.
  • Executive summary
    Present a high level overview of the problem you’re meaning to solve, overview of the solutions you will provide, the expected result, and a call-to-action.
  • Proposal
    Identify the gap and how you intend to fill this gap.
  • Services and methodology
    Go into the finer details of what products or services can get from you to address their needs. Provide a timeline to transform your proposal to reality and share a realistic delivery plan.
  • Why hire us
    Lay out what sets you apart from other players in the industry. Let your potential client know about your experience, expertise, relevant projects you’ve worked on, and case studies or testimonials from previous clients.
  • Costs
    It is good to let the client know right on how much it will cost to execute what you proposed and what you expect the return to be.
  • Terms and conditions
    Outline what the client can expect from you and your business by agreeing to your proposal. Through the terms and conditions, you will also be able to set expectations regarding delivery dates and payments.
  • Agreement and call to action
    This section is where the client can formally agree to your business proposal. Add a gentle call to action to encourage them to sign.

In some cases, it is the client which provides the outline or template for the proposal. Regardless, when writing a business proposal, it is important to ensure that it shows your potential clients the value that you can add to their business. Be as detailed as possible regarding your plan and make it visually appealing for a positive first impression.

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