Weekly Digest – 30 June 2021

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

England’s COVID-19 Restrictions to be lifted by 19 July

The final easing of lockdown measures in England is still set for 19 July. According to the new health secretary, ministers see no reason to go beyond the target date. Although there is still an increase in cases, the number of deaths remains low.

Until lockdown is further eased, limits will stay in place on gatherings. Currently, groups of no more than 30 are allowed to meet outdoors, while up to six people or two households are allowed to meet indoors. Capacity limits will continue at venues and nightclubs will stay closed.

Reviews are underway with regards to rules on social distancing and face masks after the lifting of rules on 19 July.

COVID-19 Vaccines Have Prevented 7.2 M Infections and 27,000 Deaths in England

Latest modelling analysis from Public Health England (PHE) and the University of Cambridge’s MRC Biostatistics Unit suggests that the vaccination programme has prevented an estimated 7.2 million infections and 27,000 deaths in England alone.

These results were produced using the real-time pandemic surveillance model, looking at the direct and indirect impact of the vaccination programme on infections and mortality. The total was calculated by comparing the estimated impact of vaccination against a worst-case scenario where there are no vaccines in place.

Government Provides Highest Level of Support for Exporters in Three Decades

UK Export Finance (UKEF) provided £12.3 billion in support for UK exports from 2020-2021– the most in 30 years– and supported up to 107,000 UK jobs. Around 79% of the companies UKEF supported were SMEs, and this backing helped exporters keep selling to the world amid the pandemic.

It also introduced a Temporary Covid Risk Framework (TCRF) to back businesses affected by COVID-19, issuing £7.3 billion of support through it. On the other hand, major exporting firms were provided £7.6 billion of support to support up to 76,000 jobs through its new Export Development Guarantee.

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’ 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.

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Pushing Through With a New Product or Service

As a business leader, you’re probably full of ideas, especially when it comes to new products or services. However, this doesn’t mean that you should always move forward with them.

In this Forbes article, members of the Young Entrepreneur Council share some questions you can ask yourself before investing time, money, and resources into a product or service idea.

  • Does the customer need this feature?
  • Is the market large enough?
  • How does it help revenue or retention?
  • Will the product or service be able to scale?
  • Is creating the product within my budget?
  • Do I have to make the product myself?
  • Would I use it?
  • Would my enemy use it?

By spending time thinking about these questions, you’ll be able to decide if you should push through with your idea or not.

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