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Weekly Digest – 18 November 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 Economy Grew at Record 15% in Q3

The UK economy grew by a record 15.5% in the third-quarter, according to official data released last week, marking its sharpest quarterly expansion since records began in 1955.

However, the Bank of England said it expects the economy to contract by 11% this year, after a second lockdown in early November. The tight COVID-19 restrictions combined with a surging unemployment rate could lead to a slow march to a long winter.

COVID-19 Tier System Under Review

The UK government is reviewing the tiering system to decide which COVID-19 restrictions should be put in place when the national lockdown ends on December 2.

Epidemiologist Dr. Susan Hopkins who is advising the government on its pandemic response said it would have to consider strengthening measures “to get us through the winter months until the vaccine is available for everyone”.

However, the government hasn’t come to a conclusion yet.

Research: Business Owners Relied on Peer-to-Peer Support During Lockdown

According to a new research by leading business support provider, BizSmart, 92% of business owners found the support of like-minded professionals instrumental during the initial COVID-19 lockdown.

Overall, 71% of respondents confirmed they are concerned about the impact of the second COVID-19 wave on their business, with 80% believing the majority of UK business leaders would benefit from peer-to-peer support as the country continues to navigate through the pandemic.

Meanwhile, if you want to get personalised business advice and guidance, flick us a message so we can schedule a one-on-one consultation.

Janssen to Begin COVID-19 Vaccine Trials in the UK

Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies, part of Johnson & Johnson, is the latest study in the UK, jointly funded by the government’s Vaccine Taskforce, to test the safety and effectiveness of a potential COVID-19 vaccine.

Around 6,000 UK volunteers, some from the NHS Vaccines Registry, will take part in the Janssen studies at 17 National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) sites. Recruitment into the study will complete in March 2021 and the trial will last for 12 months.

UK Independent Bookshops Go Online

Faced with COVID-19 restrictions and fierce competition from Amazon, 250 independent bookshops from the UK have joined together on a new online platform.

The Bookshop.org platform could provide a lifeline to small bookshops affected by the pandemic by allowing each bookseller to create their own digital storefront and make book selections for customers rather than leaving those decisions to an algorithm.

For each book purchased on its own carefully curated page, the bookstore receives 30% of the sale price. If, on the other hand, the sale is made from Bookshop.org’s site-wide search bar, 10% of the sale price will be placed in a common fund and redistributed among the members.

Are you interested in taking your small business online? Contact us today so we can work out a plan.

UK Quarantine-Free Travel Possible With Rapid COVID-19 Tests

U.K. Transport Secretary Grant Schapps has announced plans to introduce quick COVID-19 tests to eliminate the need to quarantine. The Transport Secretary was referring to a trial where swabs of the nose or throat are placed on a test device and the results are displayed within 15 to 30 minutes.

Currently, the UK is on lockdown until December 2 and strict travel restrictions banning foreign holidays are being implemented.

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!

‘Time is Running Out’ Campaign Launched

The government has launched the ‘Time is Running Out’ campaign, urging businesses to step up their preparations for the UK leaving the EU on 1 January 2021. This call to action is to prevent businesses from getting caught out by new rules at the end of the UK transition period and get ready for changes and opportunities.

In just over 8 weeks, the UK will be leaving the EU Single Market and Customs Union. Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove emphasised that it is on all of us to put in the work to embrace the new opportunities and challenges that come with being an independent trading nation with control over its own borders, territorial waters, and laws.

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.

Support for Areas on Very High Alert

Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently announced the following support for areas on Very High Alert under the new Three-Tier COVID-19 Lockdown System:

  • The Job Support Scheme, combined with Universal Credit, will allow low income individuals affected by business closures to receive at least 80% of their wages.
  • Up to £465 million will be provided to implement and enforce restrictions on top of the £1 billion of additional funding for local authorities across the UK.
  • The government will work with local authorities to allocate testing and introduce local contact tracing.

If you find it difficult to adapt to the new Three-Tier Lockdown System, message us so we can help you operate your business safely and more effectively.

Giving businesses flexibility to pay back loans

More than a million businesses who took out a Bounce Back Loan will be given flexibility with repayments through a new Pay as You Grow system. We’ll keep you informed as we get more details.

What funding is available for my business?

With two-thirds of UK companies completely operational, but many still in a state of financial distress, the government continues to provide support for business recovery.

To cover the impact of the 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. The UK government has expanded this rescue package for start-ups.

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 the end of October. 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.

Customers Not Paying? Here are Tips to Prevent Non-Payments

At some point, businesses will face the inevitable non-paying customer problem. Whether it’s a regular customer who continuously misses due dates or a one-timer who completely ghosts you, dealing with non-paying clients can be stressful and frustrating.

Here are some tips to make sure they don’t miss a payment deadline:

  • Always discuss payment terms upfront.
    Detail all projected costs, including installment fees and payment deadlines right from the start of the engagement.
  • Provide multiple payment options.
    The more flexible your business is in terms of payment, the easier it will be for customers to send their payments across. Accept digital payments and credit cards to accommodate those who prefer paying with these options instead of cash.
  • Send invoices immediately.
    Give your customers enough time to pay you by sending invoices and billing them upfront.
  • Take time to follow-up on payments.
    Don’t hesitate to reach out to customers who haven’t paid you yet. Some people genuinely forget about due dates and simply need to be reminded.
  • Work with a factoring company.
    A factoring company will pay you immediately following an invoice, using it as collateral. When the customer themselves pay the invoice, the transaction will be closed.

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.

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