Weekly Digest – 2 June 2021

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

Good News with Zero-Death COVID-19 Milestone

For the first time since the pandemic hit the UK, the number of COVID-19 deaths the UK government announced on Tuesday was zero.

This milestone reflects the devastating impact the coronavirus has made and its staggering turnaround since the vaccine rollout started. According to Scripps Research Translational Institute director Eric Topol, it is likely not a coincidence that the UK and Israel, which are the two countries leading the world in vaccination, have both achieved zero death days now.

UK Approves Johnson & Johnson’s Single-Dose COVID-19 Vaccine

The medicines regulator approved Janssen’s single-dose Covid-19 vaccine for use. Janssen is a pharmaceutical company of Johnson & Johnson.

The government’s Vaccine Taskforce has secured 20 million doses to be rolled out across the UK. The doses were expected to be available later this year. This vaccine was found to be 67% effective in preventing infections and 85% effective in preventing severe cases and hospitalisations.

UK Could Make COVID-19 Jabs Compulsory for Healthcare Workers

The government is thinking about making COVID-19 vaccination compulsory for healthcare workers to halt the spread of the coronavirus in hospitals, according to vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi.

OECD: UK Set for Stronger Post-COVID Recovery

The UK’s economy is likely to grow 7.2% in 2021, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). This figure is higher than its March projection of 5.1%.

It also raised its forecast for global growth to 5.8%, compared with the 4.2% it predicted in December. According to the OECD, the UK is set to have the fastest economic growth among the large rich countries.

UK Economic Optimism Hits Highest Since 2016

UK firms are more optimistic about the economy than at any time since 2016 amid the further easing of COVID-19 restrictions in May, with the Lloyds Bank Business Barometer increasing by five percentage points to 37 in May.

Overall, business confidence rose to a three-year high of 33, increasing across all sectors and in eight of 12 regions and nations in the UK.

Single-Site Business Trade Increases Across All UK Countries

All four UK countries witnessed a boost in the percentage of single-site businesses currently trading from late March to early May 2021, as COVID-19 restrictions were eased.

Wales had the highest percentage of single-site businesses trading in early May 2021 at 87%, while England saw the smallest increase from 75% to 83%.

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.

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.

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.

Debt Management Tips for Entrepreneurs

When building a business from the ground up, you may get to a point where you need to take on some debt in order for your business to take off or grow. This Forbes article differentiates good debt from bad debt, shares some ways to avoid bad debt, and provides some tips to manage debt.

Below is an overview of the effective debt management tips for entrepreneurs shared in this article:

  • Analyse your budget regularly– Know where your money is going and find ways so debt won’t get accumulated.
  • Identify the most appropriate sources of financing– Typically, there are two primary sources of funding for small business owners: debt from banks and financial institutions and debt from family and friends.
  • Consolidate debt payments– Combine short-term loan payments into a more significant debt payment to preserve the business’ credit score. If your debts are piling up, try to negotiate with creditors to set a more reasonable credit limit.
  • Create a contingency plan– Establish a contingency plan in place and have enough liquid assets to repay huge liabilities.

Financial assessments, proper debt management, and growth plans are important to run a successful business. Need help getting a grip on your business finances? Book a one-on-one consultation with us today!

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