Weekly Digest – 4 November 2020

Welcome back to our Weekly Digest. We hope you and your family are safe and doing well. Read on for this week’s updates and some ideas that will help us all move forward.

England Back in Lockdown As UK COVID-19 Cases Surge Past One-Million Mark

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced a second national lockdown for England to prevent a medical and moral disaster. This comes as the United Kingdom passed one million confirmed COVID-19 cases last weekend.

From Thursday, pubs, restaurants, gyms and non-essential shops will have to close for four weeks. However, unlike the previous restrictions, schools, colleges, and universities can stay open. After 2 December, the restrictions would be eased and regions would go back to the tiered system.

If you need some guidance on how to operate your business amid these new restrictions, get in touch with us.

Rapid COVID-19 Testing in Liverpool

A half-million people in Liverpool will be regularly tested for COVID-19 in Britain’s first citywide trial of widespread, rapid testing to combat the virus. Liverpool has one of the highest infection rates, with more than 410 cases per 100,000 people.

The program may last 6 to 8 weeks in order to bring the local outbreak under control. Approximately 2,000 military personnel will help the National Health Service and independent contractors to conduct the testing.

Government Increases Support for Self-Employed

The UK government will be increasing its support to the self-employed over the coming months through the following ways:

  • UK-wide Self-Employment Income Support Scheme will allow self-employed individuals to receive 80% of their average trading profits for November.
  • Grants will be paid faster, with the claims window opening by 30 November rather than 14 December.

The increase means £4.5 billion of support for the self-employed between November and January. Also, more businesses will be able to benefit from government loan schemes, as deadlines for applications for additional support and the Future Fund have been further extended until 31 January 2021.

Is your business still struggling? Let us help you consider your options and apply for funding and government support. Contact us today!

Small Business Owners in North London Remain Positive Despite End of Furlough Scheme

Small businesses said they really had to adapt to make it through the COVID-19 crisis, but remain positive for the future.

In a survey of 200 leaders of small businesses in North London, around a quarter have already seen their revenues surpass pre-coronavirus levels and 17% have seen their company grow. This is despite the chancellor’s furlough scheme, or job retention scheme, coming to an end.

If you need help on how to bounce back stronger, don’t hesitate to send us a message so we can work out a plan.

How to Take Your Retail Business Online

With the COVID-19 restrictions and the tough economic times we are experiencing, now is the right time to add a new revenue stream and get your retail business online. You can either launch your own website or use an existing ecommerce platform.

Have your own ecommerce website

If you already have your own website or you are planning to launch one, you can add in an online shop to that. There are several ecommerce platforms that can integrate with your website or act as a standalone website. These include:

Sell on an existing ecommerce platform

If you don’t want to manage your own website, you can list your products on an established ecommerce website instead. Look through the available options and identify which ones suit your needs. Some of the best options include:

Whatever route you decide to take, take the time to write detailed product descriptions, take high quality photos of your products, and make use of available features on the platform to increase your chances of making a sale.

‘Time is Running Out’ Campaign Launched

The government launches the ‘Time is Running Out’ campaign, urging business leaders to step up their preparations for the UK leaving the EU on 1 January 2021. This call to action is to prevent businesses from getting caught out by new rules at the end of the UK transition period and get ready for changes and opportunities.

In just over 8 weeks, the UK will be leaving the EU Single Market and Customs Union. Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove emphasised that it is on all of us to put in the work to embrace the new opportunities and challenges that come with being an independent trading nation with control over its own borders, territorial waters, and laws.

You may check gov.uk/transition to see actions you need to take or get in touch with us so we can provide some expert guidance.

Support for Areas on Very High Alert

Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently announced the following support for areas on Very High Alert under the new Three-Tier COVID-19 Lockdown System:

  • The Job Support Scheme, combined with Universal Credit, will allow low income individuals affected by business closures to receive at least 80% of their wages.
  • Up to £465 million will be provided to implement and enforce restrictions on top of the £1 billion of additional funding for local authorities across the UK.
  • The government will work with local authorities to allocate testing and introduce local contact tracing.

If you find it difficult to adapt to the new Three-Tier Lockdown System, message us so we can help you operate your business safely and more effectively.

Peer Networks for Businesses

Peer Networks is a peer-to-peer networking programme for small- and medium-sized businesses delivered locally by a network of Growth Hubs across England.

Through the Peer Networks, groups of individuals can discuss and work through common business challenges. Whether you experience business issues in finance, HR, sales, or marketing, expert facilitators can help you establish a trusted support network that will empower you to improve your business performance.

In order to join this programme, SME businesses must:

  • Be based in England
  • Have been operating for at least one year
  • Have at least five employees
  • Have a turnover of at least £100,000
  • Aspire to improve

You can check further details here. Meanwhile, if you prefer having a dedicated business advisor and more focused business guidance tailored to your unique situation, get in touch with us so we can schedule a consultation.

New Grants for Northern Ireland Businesses

Two new schemes that will help businesses in Northern Ireland to recover have been announced. These schemes will be administered by Tourism NI and Invest NI, and will provide £8,000 grants for businesses.

The Invest NI scheme contributes toward the cost of an adviser to carry out an analysis and strategic review of businesses. It is targeted at manufacturing, construction, professional services, information and communication, and technology businesses.

To be eligible for this grant, you must be a micro or small to medium enterprise with annual turnover of at least £500,000 that experienced a decline of 40% in turnover between April-June due to Covid-19.

Meanwhile, existing tourism businesses operating in Northern Ireland are eligible for the Tourism NI scheme. This grant is intended to support such businesses and help them survive the winter period.

If you need guidance with your application or would like to know about other funding assistance programmes, book a consultation with us so we can help you assess your options.

VAT cut extended for Hospitality and Tourism sectors

Part of the Chancellor’s announcement includes an extension of the VAT cut for the hospitality and tourism sectors. The temporary reduction of VAT rates from 20% to 5% will remain in place until 31 March 2021 instead of January.

The cut applies to food and non-alcoholic drinks, accommodation and admission to tourist attractions across the UK.

Giving businesses flexibility to pay back loans

More than a million businesses who took out a Bounce Back Loan will be given flexibility with repayments through a new Pay as You Grow system. We’ll keep you informed as we get more details.

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.

Get in touch

Contact us if you have any questions.