Weekly Digest – 5 May 2021

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

Government Invests £29.3 M For New Cutting-Edge Testing Centre

The government will invest £29.3 million through the Vaccines Taskforce in Public Health England’s new testing facilities at Porton Down to speed up the assessment of effectiveness and deployment of existing and new vaccines tailored to tackle variants. This funding will increase the capacity from 700 to 3,000 blood samples tested a week.

Over 50s to be Offered 3rd COVID-19 Vaccine Shot in Autumn

Those aged over 50 years old in Britain will be offered a third COVID-19 vaccine shot in the autumn to eliminate the threat of infection entirely by Christmas.

Trials of two options are under way, with the first involving vaccines specifically modified to tackle new variants and the second is for a third shot of one of the three versions already in use: Pfizer-BioNTech, Oxford-AstraZeneca, or Moderna.

Over 34.6 million people have already received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as of Tuesday.

Smaller UK Companies Race Past Blue-Chip Stocks

Smaller listed companies in the UK galloped past its larger peers over the past year as fading Brexit angst and the quick vaccine rollout has brightened the country’s economic outlook.

The FTSE index of small market capitalisation equities has skyrocketed by almost 70% over the past year, widely outperforming the 23% increase in the FTSE 350 index of the biggest stocks listed on UK markets.

£37 Million Funding for UK Life Sciences Sector’s Data-Driven Initiatives

Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock has outlined the government’s commitment to support the life sciences sector. He pledged £37 million for genomics projects and for data-driven initiatives delivered through the Genome UK Implementation Plan and the UK Functional Genomics Initiative.

This marks an important step in making the UK a global leader in manufacturing for medicines, growing UK-based businesses, and encouraging investment. Through this funding, patients will benefit from better research, treatment, and clinical decision-making.

New 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.

Exporting Boost to UK FinTech Sector

The Department for International Trade (DIT) has announced a package of export support for the FinTech industry to boost trade, jobs, and economic growth. This includes FinTech Export Academy and FinTech Champions scheme to provide sector-specific advice. Ultimately, these measures should help boost the UK’s presence in overseas markets and establish the country as a global hub for FinTech and digital service.

Support for Disabled Jobseekers

The government will boost the number of specialist advisers dedicated to helping disabled jobseekers to secure and stay in work, with an additional 315 Disability Employment Advisor (DEA) roles to be in job centres across the UK by May 2021. This will bring total numbers to 1,115 once the process is complete.

With the government’s Plan for Jobs underpinned by the Access to Work scheme, those with disabilities are already benefiting. This scheme includes grants worth up to £62,900 and can cover the cost of necessary workplace adjustments.

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.

Guidance on the Reopening of Businesses

The government has published the ‘COVID-19 Response – Spring 2021’ which will serve as a roadmap out of the current restrictions. You can check out the step-by-step plan here.

Online VAT Deferral Payment Scheme

Businesses that deferred VAT payments last year can join the new online VAT Deferral Payment Scheme to pay it in smaller monthly instalments.

To take advantage of this new payment scheme, businesses will need to have deferred VAT payments between March and June 2020 under the VAT Payment Deferral Scheme. These businesses will be given the option to pay their deferred VAT in 2 to 11 equal monthly instalments starting in March, April, May, or June 2021, with no interest.

The new scheme will be open until 21 June 2021. Further details can be found 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

Deadline: Not specified

  • 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 expert assistance on your applications and so we can help you evaluate your options.

Tasks Business Owners Should Be Delegating

It doesn’t matter what your big plans are or how well-designed your road map for growth is– the future success of your business will be limited if you don’t work on the right things. This Forbes article discusses the tasks that business owners should delegate to accelerate their business’ growth.

  • Low-value admin tasks– Your time is of high value and it’s finite. So instead of spending your time on tasks that anyone with the right tools can do with little instruction, it’s best to focus on the core activities that drive business growth.
  • High-value tasks you’re NOT an expert in– If you haven’t been working in accounting, marketing, or any other area of specialisation for the past 10 years, find a professional who has. While you can teach yourself how to do all these, your performance won’t likely match the skill of an expert with years of experience, not to mention that you’ll be slower in completing the task.
  • High-value tasks you ARE an expert in– While this may come at a later stage in your business journey, it’s important to train people to perform in the same areas you’re an expert in. This will make your business more resilient to challenges, changes, or unexpected circumstances that will inevitably come.

Need help with the finance-side of your business? Get in touch with us today and ease your burden by delegating your accounting with us.

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