Weekly Digest – 23 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.

New COVID-19 Restrictions

As the UK reached “a perilous turning point”, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced a set of new restrictions for England which could last for up to 6 months.

Below are the new rules as summarised by BBC:

  • Office workers are being told to work from home again if possible
  • Penalties for not wearing a mask or gathering in groups of more than six will increase to £200 on the first offence
  • From 24 September, all pubs, bars and restaurants will be restricted to table service only. Takeaways can continue
  • Also from 24 September, hospitality venues must close at 22:00 – which means shutting then, not calling for last orders (in Scotland the same curfew rule comes into force on Friday)
  • Face coverings must be worn by taxi drivers and passengers from Wednesday
  • Retail staff and customers in indoor hospitality venues will also have to wear masks from Thursday, except when seated at a table to eat or drink
  • From 28 September, only 15 people will be able to attend weddings and civil partnerships, in groups of six. Funerals can still take place with up to 30 people
  • Also from 28 September, you can only play indoor adult sports in groups of less than six
  • The planned return of spectators to sports venues will now not go ahead from 1 October

Some of these new rules may be quite difficult for small businesses. So if you need some guidance on how you can adapt and pivot your business, don’t hesitate to drop us a message.

Business Support Loans to Be Extended

The UK-wide programme of business support loans will be extended, as the spread of COVID-19 worsens. This move to bolster businesses is intended to cushion the impact of the pandemic on the economy.

This week, Chancellor Rishi Sunak is expected to unveil plans to extend four loan schemes, which have already backed £53 billion in lending to companies. We will keep you updated as soon as we have more information.

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.

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.

Sleep is NOT for the Weak

Significant changes in the way we live brought by the pandemic, such as extended periods of lockdown, work from home setup, and social restrictions, have blurred the lines between life and work. Sometimes people forget even the simplest self-care habits such as getting enough rest.

Sleep is as close to a panacea as we are likely to get in our lifetimes: it helps us recover from injuries and illness, plays a vital role in memory formation, and helps keep us healthy. Disrupting our sleep has an adverse impact on nearly every system in our bodies.

The uncertainties due to the current global crisis also cause high levels of stress. In a recent study by the National Bureau of Economic Research, it was found that unemployment disrupts sleep, along with other negative impacts on health and well-being.

Even if you’re not unemployed, the pandemic has been stressful enough that many people are experiencing ‘coronasomnia.’ In this article, a Harvard Business Review editor describes her experiments with four different tactics to get better sleep. The one that worked best for her was setting aside all electronics and avoiding all screens for two hours before bedtime.

These have been unusual times that are impacting nearly everyone on the planet. We hope that you are finding ways to make this a time not just for survival but for growth as well!

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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