09/09/2020

COVID-19 Business Update – 9 September 2020

Welcome back to our Weekly Digest. We hope you and your family are safe and doing well. Read on for this week’s update.

£20 million available in grants for SME Business Recovery

The Government has made £20 million of funding available to small businesses to boost their recovery from the pandemic.

One of the purposes of the grant is to help businesses access new technology and equipment as well as professional, legal, financial and strategic planning advice. Small and medium businesses can access between £1000-£5000 through the grant, and there is no obligation for businesses to contribute financially. Get in touch with us to find out if you’re eligible for the Recovery Grant.

UK COVID-19 Cases Continue to Rise

Deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam said the rise in the number of COVID-19 cases was of great concern and that some people had been too relaxed.

The UK recorded 2,948 daily cases, according to government data published on Monday. This represents the second biggest 24-hour rise since May.

Everyone is encouraged to follow the guidelines and do their part in the fight against the coronavirus.

Social gatherings of more than 6 people banned from 14 September

A new legal limit will ban groups of more than 6 from meeting anywhere socially (indoors or outdoors). The limit will start 14 September with exemptions including schools, workplaces, households with more than 6 people, COVID-secure weddings and team sports. More details are expected to be announced soon.

Difficulties in Getting a COVID-19 Test

Many people have reported that they struggled to obtain a test nearby and have been asked to drive long distances to test centres even when local ones are quiet.

According to Sarah-Jane Marsh, the director of testing at NHS test and trace, the problem was not a lack of capacity at testing centres but at the labs that process the swabs. When demand is too high, access to tests is paused to control the flow and prevent backlogs that lead to delayed results.

Health secretary Matt Hancock assured the public that it would just take a couple of weeks to boost capacity and resolve this issue in the short term.

Government Launches New Campaign For UK Transition

The UK has left the EU, and the transition period after Brexit comes to an end this year. The government has launched a new campaign to help EU businesses get ready to trade with the UK after 31 December 2020.

Check the new rules effective January 2021 here. You can also contact us if you have any questions about this matter.

New £2 Billion Kickstart Scheme Opens

An innovative new scheme to help get young people into work and drive the UK’s economic recovery was launched by the government.

Businesses can now sign up to be part of the landmark £2 billion Kickstart scheme, giving unemployed young people opportunities for high-quality, government-subsidised jobs across the country.

Under the scheme, employers can offer people aged 16 to 24 years old who are claiming Universal Credit a 6-month work placement. The government will fully fund each “Kickstart” job – paying 100% of the age-relevant National Minimum Wage, National Insurance and pension contributions for 25 hours a week. Also, the employers will be paid £1500 to set up support and training for those on a Kickstart placement, as well as for uniforms and other set up costs.

More information about the Kickstart scheme can be found here. Alternatively, you may contact us for guidance on this matter or for timely business advice.

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 Much Debt Can Your Business Take On?

During an economic downturn when business is slow, a cashflow boost in the form of debt might be necessary to maintain the smooth running of your business. While there are plenty of lending options to consider including government-backed funding schemes, you shouldn’t borrow what you can’t pay back.

So the question is: How much debt is too much?

This timely Forbes article teaches how to calculate three important metrics that will keep you honest about how much debt you can take on. However, if you need personalised advice based on your unique business situation or some help with loan applications, drop us a message.

Helping Your Team Overcome the Trauma of the Pandemic

When COVID-19 hit, we witnessed a significant change in our lives. While the immediate concerns involve worker safety, disrupted supply chains, and financial losses, the pandemic can also adversely impact our mental health.

Although some people brush off the trauma that the crisis has caused, how you cope can affect your life and your work performance in ways you may not imagine. This Harvard Business Review article outlines the things business leaders can do to support their team members.

  • Build a culture of connection by intentionally checking in with your team on a regular basis.
  • Offer flexibility and be inclusive.
  • Communicate more than you think you need to.
  • Modify policies and practices to reduce stress for everyone.

The best part about adopting these steps is that they won’t just allow you to help the sanity of your staff during and after this pandemic, it can also make you a more effective leader even without this crisis. If you need personalised guidance on improving the overall performance of your business as you recover from the impacts of COVID-19, feel free to get in touch.

Avoiding COVID-19 Online Scams

Recently, there has been a significant increase in COVID-19-related online scams that steal your personal data, impersonate authorities, offer fraudulent medical goods and services, and make fake requests for charitable donations. Below are some tips from Google Safety Center to keep you from falling victim to these scams.

  • Know how scammers may reach you– Aside from emails, they may also use text messages, automated calls, and malicious websites.
  • Check trusted sources directly– Scammers may pose as trusted and authoritative sources. So directly visit reliable sources instead to get the latest factual information.
  • Be cautious of requests for personal or financial information, pause and evaluate before sharing– Do not provide confidential information such as logins, bank details, and addresses to suspicious or unverified sources. Donate directly through non-profits.
  • Double-check links and email addresses before clicking– Fake links imitate established websites by adding extra random letters and numbers or words, so be extra careful and check before you click.
  • Search to see if it’s been reported– Copy and paste the email address, phone number, or suspicious portion of the message on your search engine to check if it has already been reported.
  • Add an extra layer of security to your account– Add two-factor authentications to your accounts for extra protection online.

If you encounter phishing pages, you can report it here. For malicious software, you can report the site here.

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