Weekly Digest – 26 May 2021

Welcome back to our Weekly Digest. Read on for the latest updates and some ideas to help us all move forward.

60 Million Doses Administered in the UK

Over 60 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, 22.6 million have already been vaccinated with both doses and 37.9 million people received at least one jab.

The government met its target of offering a vaccine to the most vulnerable by 15 April and is on track to offer a first dose to all adults by the end of July.

UK Borrowing Shows First Annual Fall Since Start of Pandemic

Public sector borrowing showed its first annual fall since the start of the pandemic, declining to £31.7 billion as parts of the economy reopened.

Borrowing in the 2020/21 financial year hit £300.3 billion, or 14.3% of annual economic output, the highest since the end of World War II. However, this figure was £2.8 billion lower than an initial forecast a month ago.

JETS Job Scheme Relaunching 100,000 Careers

Around 100,000 people who lost their jobs amid the pandemic are on the road back to work due to Job Entry Targeted Support (JETS) – a government scheme that provides targeted support to relaunch careers.

The support helps people out of work for three months by giving them access to support needed to move back into work quickly. This involves specialist advice on how to utilise existing skills and build new ones to move into growing sectors where jobs are available. Additionally, CV and interview guidance is provided.

Government Unveils New Self-Isolation Support Pilots

The government will launch new self-isolation support pilots for 9 areas across England with higher COVID-19 rates. The government will invest £12 million for a range of initiatives such as:

  • alternative accommodation for people in overcrowded households
  • social care support such as increasing existing social care support for vulnerable adults
  • providing ‘buddying’ services for people whose mental health has been affected by lockdown
  • language communications support for individuals where English isn’t their first language.

Potential Australia-UK Trade Deal Could Spur Post-Pandemic Economic Recovery

Australia and the UK started discussing free trade agreement in 2020, and it now seems that a meeting of minds is imminent. The two countries hope the deal can be fully agreed by June.

The agreement would reduce tariffs on goods, ideally to zero. Further, it should improve opportunities for business travel and support the mutual recognition of professional qualifications.

Ultimately, this deal could provide considerable gains for both businesses and consumers, spurring a post-pandemic economic recovery in both countries.

Changes to COVID-19 Restrictions

As lockdowns and social restrictions eased on 17 May, BBC has created a comprehensive recap of the restrictions in place now.

Guidance for COVID-19 variant first found in India

If you’re in an area where the new COVID-19 variant is spreading (find the list of areas here), you may need to take particular cautions outlined here.

Travelling to green, amber and red list countries

It is now legal for people across the UK to take an overseas holiday. On England’s traffic light list system, countries are classed as green, amber or red – with varying rules for quarantine and COVID-19 tests in place for each. The list is reviewed every three weeks and countries can be moved at short notice. There are similar rules for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Debt Respite Scheme ‘Breathing Space’ Launched

Around 700,000 people struggling with debt problems will benefit from a new debt respite scheme called Breathing Space.

Under this scheme, those facing financial difficulties will be given 60 days to get their finances back on track, with most interest and penalty charges frozen, and enforcement action halted.

Professional debt advice will also be provided. Recognising the link between debt problems and mental health issues, these protections will be available for those in mental health crisis treatment for the full duration of their crisis treatment plus another 30 days.

Over £150 Million Funding for New ‘Help to Build’ Scheme

The new £150 million ‘Help to Build’ scheme will make it easier and more affordable for people to build their own homes. New homes can be made to order or built from scratch, and will benefit small building firms as part of the government’s Plan for Jobs.

Also, a £2.1 million additional funding has been announced to help communities decide where they want new homes, shops, and offices to be built and what they should look like.

Recovery Loan Scheme Launched

The government has launched a new Recovery Loan Scheme to help companies access loans of £25,000 up to a maximum of £10 million. The loans will include 80% government guarantee and interest rate cap of 14.99%.

This is in addition to the extended furlough until 30 September and the New Restart Grants scheme.

Job Retention Scheme Extended Until End of September

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended until 30 September 2021. It will remain unchanged until the end of June, and a phased reduction in the level of funding will be implemented from 1 July 2021.

Currently, employers can claim grants equal to 80% of a furloughed employee’s reference pay. Grants for each worker are capped at £2,500 per month.

For claims starting 1 July 2021, the grant will be reduced to 70% of the reference salary and capped at £2,187.50 per month. It will be further reduced to 60% of the reference salary with a cap of £1,875 starting 1 August 2021.

You can read more about it here.

£20 Million SME Brexit Support Fund Launched

A £20 million SME Brexit Support Fund has been announced to help businesses adjust to new customs, rules of origin, and VAT rules when trading with the EU.

Traders will be able to apply for a grant of up to £2,000 to pay for practical support for importing and exporting. This fund will help businesses prepare for the implementation of import controls that will take effect from April and July.

More details can be found here.

Ongoing COVID-19 Business Support From the Government

After almost a year of lockdowns and COVID-19 restrictions, many firms in the UK are still in need of support to stay afloat. Below is a comprehensive list of government support programmes that are available to your small business.

Kickstart Scheme grant

  • Provides funding to create new job placements for 16 to 24-year-olds on Universal Credit
  • Covers 100% of the National Minimum Wage (or the National Living Wage) for 25 hours a week for a total of six months
  • Also covers National Insurance contributions
  • Employers can spread the start date of the job placements until the end of December 2021

More information can be found here.

Self-employed Income Support Scheme

Deadline: Online claims service for the fourth grant will be available from late April 2021 until 31 May 2021.

  • The fourth grant will be calculated at 80% of 3 months’ average trading profits and will be paid out in a single instalment capped at £7,500 in total.
  • The fifth and final grant covering May to September can be claimed from late July. The amount will be determined by how much your turnover has been reduced in the year April 2020 to April 2021.
  • The fifth grant will be worth 80% of 3 months’ average trading profits, capped at £7,500, for those with a turnover reduction of 30% or more.
  • For those with a turnover reduction of less than 30%, the fifth grant will be equivalent to 30% of 3 months’ average trading profits, capped at £2,850.

More information can be found here.

Flick us a message if you need our assistance with your applications.

Project Management Tips to Help You Achieve Your Goals

Planning your path towards your goals is one thing, but staying on course can be a different challenge. In this Forbes article, you’ll learn some tips to help you hit your targets. Here’s an overview of the key points:

Visualise the work needed to achieve your goal.

  • Write down the steps that are necessary to achieve your goals.
  • Write down all your other work tasks and engagements.
  • Keep a to-do list for responsibilities at home, and discuss family plans for the week.

Sort the work and optimise your schedule around known constraints.

  • Start with time-sensitive tasks that have fixed deadlines.
  • Block off your calendar for a couple of segments each day.
  • Split your tasks into two lists.

Stick to the plan.

  • Start your day by determining the tasks you’ll work on, write them down on sticky notes, and post them somewhere that’s easily visible to you.
  • Celebrate accomplished tasks, and take note of unplanned tasks.
  • Summarise your work for the day.

Need expert help on project management? Book a one-on-one consultation with us!

Get in touch

Contact us if you have any questions or want to discuss the next steps for your business.