Weekly Digest – 16 June 2021

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

UK Delays Lifting of COVID-19 Restrictions Until 19 July

The UK will delay lifting COVID-19 restrictions, originally scheduled to be lifted on 21 June, until more people get vaccinated. The current restrictions will be in place until at least 19 July. By that time, two-thirds of the adult population is expected to have already received two doses of an approved vaccine.

However, the 30-guest cap on weddings and funerals will be lifted on 21 June, but social distancing rules must be followed.

Based on latest data, 41.7 million people in the UK have received a first dose, and 30 million of those have already been given a second dose.

Calls for Furlough Extension Rejected. Furlough to run til September

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has rejected calls to extend the business rates relief and furlough scheme which are set to begin to wind down from the start of July, despite the delay in the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions to 19 July.

The furlough scheme will wind down from paying 80% to 70% of people’s wages, with support scheduled to be withdrawn altogether by September. Meanwhile, business rate relief is set to decline from 100% to 66% from 1 July, but will remain in place until March 2022.

COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Study Starts in Cambridge

Clinical trials to identify which COVID-19 vaccine works best as a third ‘booster’ jab to be given at least 10 to 12 weeks after a second dose have started in Cambridge.

The Cov-Boost study involves about 180 participants for a national trial, which will test seven vaccines- Oxford-AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Novavax, Valneva, Janssen, and Curevac. This government-funded trial, led by the University of Southampton, is being conducted at 18 sites across the UK.

Ireland Doubles Isolation Period for UK Travellers Not Fully Vaccinated

Travellers from Britain who are arriving in Ireland will have to self-isolate for 10 days instead of just 5 if they’re not fully vaccinated. At the 10-day mark, they must take a second PCR test.

The tightening of travel restrictions is due to the growing concern over the rapid spread of the Delta COVID-19 variant, which was first identified in India.

UK & Australia Agree on Free Trade Deal

A major free trade agreement between the UK and Australia has been finalised, following similar UK trade deals with Japan and the European Union post-Brexit.

The deal eliminates tariffs on UK exports and tariffs on imported Australian goods such as wine, swimwear, and confectionery goods. British products including Scotch whisky, biscuits, ceramics, and cars will be cheaper to sell into Australia.

UK farmers will be protected by a cap on tariff-free imports for 15 years, using tariff-rate quotas and other safeguards.

Aside from strengthening economic links, the two countries also plan to improve cooperation on security, climate change, science, and tech.

Government Support for the Scottish Seafood Exports Sector

The Scottish Seafood Exports Taskforce grew from consultation with the industry to deliver action on medium- to long-term export issues experienced after Brexit. The taskforce brought together key industry representatives from the catching, processing, and aquaculture segments, as well as senior political officials from both the UK Government and Scottish Government.

The UK Government has committed £100 million into the Scottish seafood exports sector to ensure the future of the industry that is vital to a lot of coastal communities.

Cash Boost For Apprentices Launched

Employers of all sizes in England can now apply for additional funding to help them take on new apprentices. The boost to the apprenticeship incentive scheme has been available to claim from 1 June. Businesses can apply to claim £3000 for each new apprentice hired as a new employee from 1 April until 30 September.

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.

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.

Eight Key Signs You Need To Hire Additional Support Staff

How do you work out when it’s time to bring on new team members? For busy business owners and those that are new to the game, it may not always be clear when it’s time to move beyond your core employees and get additional help.

In this Forbes article, a panel of Young Entrepreneur Council members share eight telling signs that you need more support staff. Below is an overview of the indicators you should look out for:

  • Your team hesitates to use time off
  • Employees complain of being too busy
  • Staff are behind on key responsibilities
  • KPIs and success rates begin to fall
  • Managers and employees lose focus
  • Overtime and errors spike
  • Customer service tickets pile up
  • Customers complain more frequently

Do you manage your own books? It’s best to focus on your core responsibilities as a business owner and get expert help for the financial side of your business. Book a consultation with us and let’s discuss how we can make your life easier.

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