Weekly Digest – 23 December 2020

Thank you for your amazing support during this incredibly busy and challenging year. We hope you and your loved ones enjoy a safe and healthy festive season. We look forward to working with you next year!

As usual, here are the latest updates and some ideas to help us all move forward.

UK Recovered Quicker Than Forecast After First COVID-19 Lockdown

The UK economy staged a faster recovery in the third quarter of the year than was first estimated, after the ending of the first lockdown triggered a rapid return to work, according to the Office for National Statistics.

GDP increased by a record 16% in the three months to the end of September rather than the 15.5% in its first estimate. This leaves the economy 8.6% smaller than the year before, rather than the 9.7% initially estimated.

France to Reopen Border to Passengers From UK

France agreed to reopen its borders to passengers from England on Wednesday, providing they have a negative COVID-19 test that is less than 72 hours old. Earlier on Monday, about 1,500 trucks were stuck in Kent after France activated a 48-hour border closure.

COVID-19 Vaccine ‘Highly Likely’ To Work on UK Variant, Says BioNTech

Ugur Sahin, the head of the German pharmaceutical company BioNTech, expressed confidence that his company’s vaccine would be effective against a coronavirus variant rapidly infecting people across London and southern England.

He said that 99% of the proteins that make up the virus variant remain the same as the original. However, it will take about two weeks to get the data about whether the vaccine is effective against the variant, which he said would be published.

The Transition Period with the EU is Almost Over

The UK government is urging businesses to make final preparations for a new trading relationship with the EU from 1 January 2021, saying a new centre to monitor goods will help ease what it described as “short-term disruption” after Brexit.

With just several days to go before the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December, there are new rules to follow if you are:

  • Importing or exporting goods from the EU
  • Moving goods to or from Northern Ireland
  • Travelling to the EU
  • Living and working in the EU
  • Staying in the UK if you’re an EU citizen

Exporters and importers are reminded that, with or without a trade deal, they must get ready for new paperwork and procedures at the border when the UK leaves the European Union’s single market and customs union.

You may check gov.uk/transition or use this free online tool to check what actions you need to take. Alternatively, you may get in touch with us so we can provide some expert guidance.

Aside from preparing you for changes, we can also help you identify opportunities for businesses through new free trade agreements or regulation updates.

What funding is available for my business?

To cover the impact of the COVID-19 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.

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 (BBLS), where you can get up to £50,000 no-interest loans for the first 12 months.

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offers a maximum loan of £5 million made available through commercial banks.

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 31st March 2021. 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. Let us help you consider your options and apply for funding and government support. Contact us today!

5 Ideas for Your Business This Holiday Season

The holiday season is upon us. For many businesses, it is the busiest and most profitable time of the year. While it is undoubtedly exciting, it can be a little nerve-wracking at the same time.

Here are 5 ideas for you to prepare and grow your small business during this time of year:

  • Create a Holiday-Focused Marketing Campaign– Everyone loves the holidays. So let your target market know that you have what they need through holiday-focused marketing efforts this gift-giving season.
  • Stock Up on Extra Inventory– It might be a good idea to have extra inventory in case your holiday sales are better than expected.
  • Decorate Your Windows and Stores– If you are operating during the holidays, take time to decorate your storefront to match the season. It will add a festive vibe and draw people’s attention. Meanwhile, if you are running an online business, you can also temporarily change the look and feel of your website or add bits and pieces to project a holiday theme.
  • Prepare Your Staff– Expect that it will be busier than usual during the holidays. So set a meeting or train them so they will be prepared in case it gets busy.
  • Invest in New Software or Tools– A new bookkeeping, inventory tracking, employee management, or other systems can help your business run more smoothly. If you have the budget, this is the best time to upgrade and gift your business new software or tools.

Interested in more business and finance tips? Contact us and let’s schedule a one-on-one chat.

New Year’s Resolutions For a Better Financial Health in 2021

With all the unexpected twists and turns, challenges, and massive disruptions we’ve experienced in 2020 due to COVID-19, we can all agree how important it is to have a sound financial health to weather storms and bounce back quickly from a crisis.

Here are some money-related resolutions you might want to consider for the coming year:

  • Save more– Set up a savings regime, no matter how small.
  • Pay off your credit card debt– Get into the habit of paying off your credit card debt in a timely manner to avoid interest and penalties.
  • Cook more meals at home– It is not only cheaper, but also more fun especially if you do it with your family.
  • Refinance or pay off your mortgage faster– Review your mortgage instead of rolling it over when it matures. You may also want to pay it off faster by switching from monthly to fortnightly payment scheme or making lump-sum payments.
  • Get insurance– Insurances provide protection when you need them and can give you peace of mind.
  • Stick to your budget– Track your spending and identify expenses you can cut back. Once you’ve set your budget, stick to it.
  • Start an emergency fund– The pandemic has taught us it pays to be prepared for anything and this includes having a dedicated fund set aside for such unprecedented events. It is recommended to have at least 3 to 6 months worth of living expenses as your emergency fund.
  • Seek expert advice– When making crucial personal or business financial decisions, getting advice from an expert can make a huge difference.

Let us be your partner throughout your financial journey–get in touch with us for unbiased, independent advice.

Get in touch

Contact us if you have any questions or want to discuss the next steps for your business. Otherwise, we’ll resume this digest in January.

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