Weekly Digest – 22 July 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.

UK Covid-19 Vaccine Triggers Immune Response

Oxford University scientists’ experimental coronavirus vaccine has shown early but promising signs as it produced a dual immune response in people aged 18 to 55 lasting at least two months after they were immunised.

Larger trials to evaluate its effectiveness, involving approximately 10,000 people in the U.K. and participants in South Africa and Brazil are still underway.

Aside from the Oxford vaccine, the UK government aims to secure stocks of up to 12 COVID-19 vaccines that are being developed around the world to ensure that it has something that works as early as possible to end the crisis. While the “when” and “how” of the end of the pandemic remain unknown, reimagining your organisation and re-evaluating the way you work can help you rise to the occasion and lead your business as the “new normal” we hear so much about takes shape.

If you want to talk about your specific situation, please get in touch with us and we’ll help you work out a strategic plan.

Temporary VAT Cut for Food, Non-Alcoholic Drinks, Accommodation, and Attractions

The UK Government has announced that from 15 July 2020 to 12 January 2021, there will be a temporary reduction to the Standard Rate of VAT from 20% to 5% for supplies of food and non-alcoholic drinks from restaurants, pubs, bars, cafes, and the hospitality sector across the UK. This move is designed to increase customer demand in response to the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is great news for the hospitality industry as they start to reopen, albeit on a reduced capacity basis. If you need some guidance on how to operate safely after a period of inaction, you may visit this resources page by the national tourism agency, which focuses on practical guidance for reopening during the pandemic. Meanwhile, if you need personalised advice for your business, feel free to drop us a message.

Growing Your Network When There are No Networking Events

As a business owner, you may have been part of the typical ways of networking like attending conferences and business dinners. However, with so much of the world in lockdown at the moment, growing your professional connections the traditional way may not be possible.

While you can build relationships virtually by engaging on LinkedIn and other social media platforms, this insightful Harvard Business Review article shares other strategies to consider including:

  • Turning canceled conferences into private networking opportunities.
  • Rethinking geographic boundaries when creating guest lists for virtual cocktail gatherings.
  • Inviting senior leaders to online working group meetings.

Aside from virtual conferences, sharing your expertise, whether by volunteering, creating online content or courses, or contributing to online communities, can introduce you to new people who need what you offer. If you want to talk about your specific situation and rethink your business strategy, please get in touch with us and we’ll help you work out a plan.

Beware of COVID-19 Scams

Scammers are taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to con people into giving their money or confidential personal information. Here are some of the COVID-19 scams to look out for:

  • Scams offering COVID-19 testing, vaccines, or a cure
  • Fake charities
  • “Person in need” scams
  • Scams targeting Social Security benefits

While the reason behind the fraud is new, the tactics are familiar. The best defence is to say No if anyone contacts you asking for your personal information like, bank account or credit card details, or driver’s licence number; someone you don’t know requests money through a payment app or pre-paid gift cards; someone you don’t know sends you a cheque for some reason and asks you to send a portion back; or simply your gut tells you that it is too good to be true or it doesn’t feel right.

It pays to be wary in these situations so please be on the lookout for these scams.

What funding is available for my business?

You may be eligible for some grants made available by the government such as the 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 to include those whose parent companies are based abroad. As of this week, a total of 429 convertible loans have already been approved, representing over £419 million, and the government says it is willing to increase the fund’s size if necessary.

There is also the Small Business Grant Fund, which is a one-off grant of £10,000 that supports small businesses that pay little or no business rates as a result of small business rate relief (SBBR), rural rate relief (RRR), and tapered relief. Businesses in the retail, hospitality, and leisure industries that use premises with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000, and will therefore pay no business rates for the current year, will receive grants of £25,000 from their Local Authority. For further details on eligibility and payment arrangements, contact your local authority.

If your business has been severely hit by COVID-19 and you need more support, the government is giving small- and medium-sized businesses access to financial support through various initiatives such as the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS), where you can get up to £50,000 no-interest loans for the first 12 months. Approximately 1.05 million smaller businesses have received a total of £31.7 billion through this scheme so far.

As for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, which offers a maximum loan of £5 million made available through commercial banks, lenders have provided £11.9 billion worth of facilities to 54,500 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 recently 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. We can help you evaluate your options if you get in touch.

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