Weekly Digest – 28 July 2021

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

UK COVID-19 Cases Have Been Dropping Dramatically

The number of COVID-19 cases reported each day in the UK is declining almost quickly as it rose, with cases down to just 25,000 on Monday. According to experts, a likely explanation is a combination of warm weather — which encourages people to spend less time indoors — and fewer public gatherings.

While there’s no guarantee that the UK’s downward case trend will last, as most social-distancing restrictions in England lifted on July 19, this promising trajectory may bode well for other highly vaccinated countries where cases are continuing to grow.

£375 Million Scheme to Drive Investment in Innovative Firms

A £375m scheme to drive investment in the UK’s most high growth, innovative, and R&D intensive firms opened on 20 July to boost the post-pandemic economy.

Under the Future Fund: Breakthrough scheme, the government will co-invest with private investors to help scale-up innovations across UK industries including life sciences, quantum computing, and clean technology.

In order to be eligible, businesses must have commitments of 70% of an investment round from private investors with a track record of financing innovative companies.

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.

Subsidy Scheme to Support UK Jobs and Businesses

The UK-wide Subsidy Control Bill will provide quicker and more flexible support to UK businesses following Brexit. Previously, when the UK was a member of the EU, it followed the EU’s State aid regime which governed the awarding of grants, loans, and guarantees.

This is a lengthy bureaucratic process of being notified to and approved by the European Commission in advance. This delays these funds from being accessed by businesses in good time. However, with the new UK system, subsidies are permitted if they follow UK-wide principles.

These principles will allow authorities to award subsidies where they’re needed without so much red tape.

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.

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.

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.

Road Freight Goes Green with £20 million Funding Boost

The government encourages fleet operators to convert to battery-electric vehicles and transition to zero emission road freight.

Funded by the Department for Transport and delivered by Innovate UK, a £20 million funding boost has been allocated to develop innovative solutions to support the uptake of zero emission trucks.

This announcement follows the launch of the government’s transport decarbonisation plan as part of the broader goal to meet net zero emission by 2050.

£22.2m Innovation Funding for Welsh Media Industry

The UK government awarded £22.2 million to media.cymru to help make the Cardiff capital region a global hub for media innovation and production. Led by Cardiff University, media.cymru brings together 24 media production, broadcast, technology, university, and local leadership partners to boost media innovation.

Across five years, the programme aims to create more innovative firms, create over 2,000 jobs, and nearly triple the productivity growth rate of the region.

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

How Startups Can Overcome the Challenge of Scaling Up

When a startup tries to make the leap and scale up its operations, it may be faced with issues such as lack of funding, loss of focus, changing market needs, and being overtaken by competitors. So if you’re ready to take your business to the next level, read this Forbes article that shares some steps to improve your chances of success.

  • Build a strong ecosystem. Build a solid foundation by establishing a strong ecosystem of strategic partners and investors.
  • Prove you mean business. Take time to find ways on how to prove the validity of your products or services in order to build a good network of partners and increase your customers.
  • Find your manufacturing match. If you sell physical products, finding a manufacturing partner who shares your vision is crucial.
  • Lower the cost of entry. Find ways to manufacture your products as cost-efficiently as possible not only to make your business more attractive to potential partners, but also to improve your profitability in the future.
  • Build your supply chain. Establish robust supply chains from day one instead of pouring all your resources into R&D or other areas of your business.

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