Weekly Digest – 9 December 2020

Welcome back to our Weekly Digest. We hope you and your family are safe and doing well. Read on for this week’s updates and some ideas that will help us all move forward.

UK Gives First Doses of COVID-19 Vaccine

The UK is getting a head start on the roll out of the first doses of COVID-19 vaccine after regulators gave emergency authorisation to the vaccines produced by Pfizer and BioNTech.

The initial shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were delivered to a selected group of U.K. hospitals on Sunday. The first recipient is a 91-year old woman.

The first 800,000 doses are going to people over 80 who are either hospitalized or already have outpatient appointments scheduled, along with nursing home workers. Others will have to wait for now.

MarketFinance Launched Business Booster Fund

Fintech business lender MarketFinance has launched a Business Booster Fund that will make grants of £5,000 available to UK small businesses.

This initiative is aimed at supporting passionate and driven UK-based entrepreneurs, giving them a kickstart as they head into 2021. Any business from any sector can apply, so long as it’s been trading for at least two years and is showing positive growth.

It’s not necessary to be an existing customer of MarketFinance to be eligible for the grant.

If you need help with your application or would like to consider other financing options you may be eligible for, please get in touch with us.

Furlough Claim Deadlines Have Changed

There are now stricter time limits for making claims under the Job Retention Scheme (furlough). Claims made from 1 November 2020 must be submitted by the 14th of the following month.
This means furlough claims for days in November need to be submitted by 14th December.
HMRC may accept a claim made after the relevant deadline but only if the employer has a reasonable excuse for failing to make the claim in time. Ask us if you have any questions.

High Value Business Travelers Exempted From Quarantine

The Department for Transport has announced a new set of exemptions for passengers arriving into the UK. As of 5 December, select individuals will no longer have to quarantine upon arrival, including:

  • “Individuals undertaking specific business activity which would deliver a significant benefit to the UK economy — including activity that creates or preserves 50+ UK jobs”
  • Domestic and international performing art professionals, TV production staff, journalists, and recently signed elite sportspersons

This is to ensure that “industries which require specific, high talent individuals who rely on international connections can continue to complete their work.” Those who are exempt will only be allowed to meet with others as required by that specific activity during their travels.

More Than £1 Billion Spent On UK’s Small Business Saturday

Money spent on Small Business Saturday, held on 5 December hit £1.1 billion, exceeding the billion-pound mark for the first time ever.

The UK’s eighth annual Small Business Saturday saw 15.4 million people hitting the high street and showing support for local businesses. Although there has been a 2.2 million decline in footfall compared with last year, the average per person spend rose from £45.42 in 2019 to £70.74 in 2020, a 56% increase.

Record UK Grocery Sales in November

November was the biggest month ever for UK grocery sales with shoppers spending almost £11 billion as the return of lockdown in England drove supermarket purchases of food and alcohol.

Analysts at Kantar said total grocery sales rose by 11.3% in the three months to 29 November. With lockdown in place across England and parts of Scotland for the entire month and until 9 November in Wales, online grocery shopping reached a new peak of 13.7% of the market last month, up from about 7% before the pandemic.

Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) Open For New Grants

Be careful of conditions to claim.

To be able to claim for the third grant, you must either:

  1. be currently trading but are impacted by reduced demand due to coronavirus
  2. have been trading but are temporarily unable to do so due to coronavirus

You must also:

  1. intend to continue to trade
  2. reasonably believe there will be a significant reduction in your trading profits due to reduced demand or your inability to trade

You must also meet all other eligibility criteria to make a claim.

VAT Deferral Payment Extension

For those who deferred their VAT payment for one of the quarters that was in the deferral scheme earlier in the year, the initial guidance was that you have until the end of March 2021 to repay. HMRC have now said that you can pay this off by the end of March 2022 but you must pay it in monthly instalments.

You can pay it off in up to 12 monthly instalments between March 2021 and March 2022 but you will have to opt-in for this scheme, HMRC will release details as to how to opt-in in the new year. You also must have no VAT returns outstanding. Full details can be found here.

For assistance on your VAT or other tax matters, feel free to get in touch with us.

Make Final Preparations for the Brexit

The UK government is urging businesses to make final preparations for a new trading relationship with the EU from January 1, saying a new centre to monitor goods will help ease what it described as “short-term disruption” after Brexit.

With just a month to go before the end of the Brexit transition period, exporters and importers are reminded that, with or without a trade deal, they must get ready for new paperwork and procedures at the border when the UK leaves the European Union’s single market and customs union.

You may check gov.uk/transition to see actions you need to take or get in touch with us so we can provide some expert guidance.

Three Households Can Mix Over Christmas in UK

People from up to three households will be able to meet up during a five-day Christmas period of 23 to 27 December. They can mix in homes, places of worship, and outdoor spaces, and travel restrictions will also be eased.

Anyone travelling to or from Northern Ireland may travel on the 22 and 28 December, but otherwise travel to and from bubbles should be done between the 23 and 27.

Further details of the rules can be found in this published guidance for England.

Government Increases Support for Self-Employed

The UK government will be increasing its support to the self-employed over the coming months through the following ways:

UK-wide Self-Employment Income Support Scheme will allow self-employed individuals to receive 80% of their average trading profits for November.

Grants will be paid faster, with the claims window opening by 30 November rather than 14 December.

The increase means £4.5 billion of support for the self-employed between November and January. Also, more businesses will be able to benefit from government loan schemes, as deadlines for applications for additional support and the Future Fund have been further extended until 31 January 2021.

Is your business still struggling? Let us help you consider your options and apply for funding and government support. Contact us today!

What funding is available for my business?

To cover the impact of the COVID-19 crisis, there are grants made available by the government such as the £1.25b Future Fund and R&D rescue package for fast growth businesses and smaller businesses with a Research & Development focus.

If your business has been severely hit by COVID-19 and you need more support, the government is giving businesses access to financial support through various initiatives such as the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS), where you can get up to £50,000 no-interest loans for the first 12 months.

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offers a maximum loan of £5 million made available through commercial banks.

You can also claim for 80% of your employee’s wages plus any employer National Insurance and pension contributions if you have put them on furlough because of COVID-19 under the Job Retention Scheme, which has been extended until 31st March. You can check your eligibility here.

With all the financial assistance schemes available for businesses, it can be difficult to assess which one is suitable for your business. Get in touch if you need some help.

Do you need help chasing payments and keeping your invoices on track? Get in touch with us today and let’s discuss how we can help you.

Best Online Booking Systems to Check Out

As COVID-19 restrictions continue to ease and businesses start to reopen, having a reliable scheduling app could make the life of a business owner much easier. Here are some of the best online booking systems you might want to use for your business:

Acuity Scheduling

Who’s it for?

  • General businesses
  • Fitness studios
  • Education/ coaching
  • Salons and spas

Key Features

  • 2 minute set-up demo
  • Customers can view real-time availability
  • Self-booking
  • Time zone auto-adjust
  • Automatic reminders for customers
  • Stripe, Square, and PayPal integration

Calendly

Who’s it for?

  • General businesses

Key Features

  • Powerful integrations including: Zoom, GoToMeeting, Facebook, Google Calendar, Office 365, Stripe, and Paypal
  • Flexible meeting type options
  • Advanced analytics options
  • Intelligent scheduling with caps and buffers

Setmore

Who’s it for?

  • General businesses
  • Beauty and wellness
  • Salons and spas
  • Consulting/sales
  • Trades businesses

Key Features

  • One-click video appointments option
  • Free package comes with one to four staff logins
  • Integrations with other apps including: Facebook, Instagram, Slack, Google Calendar, Office 365, Xero, and QuickBooks
  • Weekly projected revenue reporting options

Mindbody

Who’s it for?

  • Salons and spas
  • Fitness studios
  • Beauty and wellness

Key Features

  • Subscription fee relief for specific businesses
  • Price increase suspended for 2020
  • Powerful peer business support through Mindbody One
  • Advanced marketing options
  • POS (point of sale) integration options

GigaBook

Who’s it for?

  • General businesses
  • Technology teams

Key Features

  • Multiple integrations including: Stripe, PayPal, Office 365, and QuickBooks
  • Advanced dashboard and reporting
  • Open API
  • Easy rescheduling
  • Automated reminders
  • Intelligent booking capacity tools

Get in touch

Contact us if you have any questions.

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