Weekly Digest – 25 August 2021

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

UK Orders 35 Million More Pfizer Vaccines

The UK has ordered 35 million more doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to prepare for booster shots and to counter any new variants, but the head of the WHO has said booster vaccines should be delayed to raise vaccination rates globally.

The new orders will serve as a way to “future-proof” the jabs programme and the vaccines will be delivered from the second half of next year.

UK Private Sector Growth Hit 6-Month Low in August

Growth across the UK economy has hit a six-month low due to supply problems and staff shortages. Service sector firms and manufacturers reported that issues with hiring staff or obtaining raw materials worsened in August.

A separate survey from the CBI also found that factory shortages are at record levels (since 1977), with plastics and electronic components in particularly short supply.

Free Antibody Testing Program for COVID-19 Positives

The UK government announced the rollout of a new nationwide antibody surveillance programme, which will make free home antibody tests available for up to 8,000 COVID-positive people a day.

Under the scheme, anyone over 18 years old can opt in to take part when booking a PCR COVID-19 test through the NHS Test and Trace system.

£160 Million Government Funding Boost for Energy Efficiency of Social Housing

The Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund has been launched to allocate grants to those managing social housing properties with energy performance certificate ratings of ‘D’ or below.

The scheme will support retrofitting at up to 38,000 properties in the first instance, out of the 1.6 million such properties in the UK.

According to the Department For Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), which is overseeing the Fund, the £160 million pot announced is the first phase of the scheme and additional support will be announced in the future.

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.

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.

Training Incentive Allowance

The Training Incentive Allowance can help with tuition fees, books, childcare, equipment, transport and any additional caring costs while studying. It’s available for courses at levels 1-7 of the NZ Qualifications Framework. Visit the Work and Income website to find out who’s eligible, how much you can get and who can apply.

Three Sales Strategies to Help You Grow Your Business

Marketing is essential in growing a business. Without customers coming your way, you can’t increase sales.

Businesses can boost their sales by implementing visibility strategies that can get their products or services in front of more customers. However, aside from great marketing, you would also need the right sales systems in place.

This Forbes article shares three sales systems that can help small businesses increase their revenue. Below is a rundown of these strategies:

  1. Create a sales funnel that adds value and nurtures prospects. A sales funnel is a step-by-step process that leads consumers into making a purchase. The best way to develop a solid sales funnel is by adding value for customers, followed by offering content that solves their pain points.
  2. Have better discovery conversations, and disqualify the wrong fits. Your goal should be to onboard customers who make sense for your business and would benefit from your services.
  3. Show up in all the mediums and methods your ideal consumers use. Show up where your customers are– you can use blogs, videos, podcasts, or other formats to reach your ideal customers.

Do you need more tailored business advice? Get in touch with us today and let’s work out a plan together!

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