Weekly Digest – 18 August 2021

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

COVID-19 Self-Isolation Rules Ease for the Fully Vaccinated

Under new rules implemented from Monday, people in the UK who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 no longer have to self-isolate for 10 days if they come into contact with someone who has tested positive. However, they are advised to take a PCR test.

The change in rules will help businesses struggling with labour shortages over the compulsory self-isolation requirement. If someone develops symptoms, the person will be required to self-isolate, get a PCR test, and stay in isolation until the test result comes back.

Blue Planet Fund Launched

The government is ramping up its support to protect the world’s ocean through its Blue Planet Fund. Under this government support, £16.2 million will be awarded for five programmes to tackle climate change, restore ocean health, boost marine protection, combat marine pollution, and tackle the decline of global coral reefs.

Government Launches ‘Cyber Runway’ to Grow the Cyber Sector

The UK government has launched a new programme called Cyber Runway to boost the cyber sector.

Through Cyber Runway, entrepreneurs and businesses from the UK will have access to business masterclasses, mentoring, product development support, networking events and backing to trade internationally and secure investment.

The programme will be delivered by Plexal, CyLon, Deloitte, and The Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT). The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport aims to support at least 160 organisations over the course of 6 months.

Unemployment Rate Fell in June Quarter, Wage Growth Jumped

While the unemployment rate fell to 4.7% in the three months to June, annual growth in average pay was 7.4%.

Job vacancies have hit a record high of 953,000 in the three months to July, according to the Office for National Statistics. Businesses have been struggling to recruit staff due to the competitive jobs market, and the staff shortages are pushing wages up.

New Strategy to Help Hospitality Venues Bounce Back

Business Minister Paul Scully launched a new strategy to ensure England’s pubs, bars, restaurants, and other hospitality venues will be able to build back after the pandemic and thrive long-term. The Hospitality Strategy which you can find here focuses on reopening, recovery, and resilience.

COVID Local Support Grant Extended

The government’s COVID Local Support Grant has been extended until September, bringing it in line with the end date for furlough and other COVID-related support. The funding is ring-fenced so that 80% is used to support families with bills for food, key utilities and other essentials. Across England, the total new funding is £160 million.

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’

Under the debt respite scheme called Breathing Space, 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.

Please get in touch with us if you need any help with your cashflow. We are here to help.

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.

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.

Government to Boost Support for Northern Ireland Agri-Food Traders

Traders moving agri-food from Great Britain to Northern Ireland will benefit from increased government support until the end of 2023 through the Movement Assistance Scheme. Under this scheme, certain certification costs will be covered when moving agri-food products.

Aside from being extended to the end of December 2023, it will also be expanded to cover costs related to:

  • scrapies testing for sheep exports
  • sample testing and certification required for individual seed lots from 1 August
  • the Plant Health Exports Audited Trader Scheme (PHEATS)
  • exporters in Great Britain who move organics solely to Northern Ireland, and Northern Irish importers who face new costs to receive these goods from Great Britain

4 Ways Your Business Can Increase Its ROI in 2022

Finding ways to boost your business’ profit margins can be challenging, especially if you’ve already tried many of the traditional ways of improving the stability of your cash flow during the pandemic. This Forbes article shared some unusual methods to grow your ROI.

  1. Invest in high-performing marketing platforms. Look into platforms that are not as saturated as Facebook, including Youtube and Instagram. You could also switch gears by starting a company podcast.
  2. Automate more tasks. Automate more tasks with the assistance of AI-driven tech and integrations to free up your team’s time and allow them to focus on getting higher level work done.
  3. Unclog your sales pipeline. Sit down with your sales team and outline your customer journeys. Remove stumbling blocks and friction points to improve your sales pipeline and speed up your sales cycle.
  4. Reorganise your team. Switching responsibilities between team members could improve your efficiency and may allow you to keep the same amount of core staff while scaling your business.

Do you need expert advice on your specific situation? Get in touch with us today and let’s work out a plan!

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