Weekly Digest – 12 August 2020

Welcome back to our Weekly Digest. We hope you and your family are safe and doing well. Read on for this week’s update.

Contact Tracers Going Door-to-Door

The government is overhauling their testing and contact tracing efforts to avoid a potential increase in infections.

The army of officials tasked with finding people who’ve come into contact with COVID-19 positive individuals will be replaced by locally-based teams. The volunteers will go door-to-door to track down those infected by the virus.

The change will take effect on the 24th of August, and the NHS Test and Trace service will reduce its staff capacity from 18,000 to 12,000. The shift to this localised approach comes after criticisms that the contact tracing program is not reaching enough potential coronavirus cases.

Consumer Spending Close to Pre-Pandemic Levels

Britain’s economy will be officially declared in recession this week for the first time since the 2008 financial crisis, with figures from the Office for National Statistics expected to show that gross domestic product fell in the three months to June by 21% due to the impacts of COVID-19.

Despite this, latest figures from the British Retail Consortium and KPMG indicated that a recovery in consumer spending is underway, with total retail sales increasing by 3.2% in July compared with the same month a year ago.

Food, furniture, and homeware sales boomed, as people chose to invest in their homes when their holiday plans were cancelled due to COVID-19. The release of pent up-demand in July fuelled a rise in food and drink spending in particular, while the warm weather encouraged more people to spend in sports and outdoor stores.

Although there are signs of recovery, many small businesses in the UK continue to struggle, with some consumers still reluctant to go out and office workers resuming their work from home arrangements. If you need professional guidance on how to adapt in the current market landscape, don’t hesitate to drop us a message.

This week is Shop Local Week!

According to research from Small Business Britain two-thirds (64%) of small businesses in the UK believe that the pandemic has increased support of their sector.

Small businesses have played a key role in supporting communities throughout the crisis. With this, the government is urging UK shoppers to help out local businesses in their recovery by participating in the initiative called Shop Local Week.

The campaign runs from August 10th to 16th and has been devised as a means of encouraging local consumers to put money back into the local economy by spending money in local small- and medium-sized businesses.

Now, more than ever, small businesses should take the opportunity to build resilience for the uncertain times ahead. If you need expert advice on how to pivot your business amid the pandemic, feel free to drop us a message so we can work out a plan.

Reinventing Your Business for Speed in the Post-COVID World

The pandemic has prompted business leaders to embrace technology and data, reinvent core processes, and adopt collaboration tools. In the post-COVID-19 era, there will be an increasing need for businesses to get things done fast without compromising quality. This McKinsey article talks about nine actions to unleash sustainable speed:

  • Speed up and delegate decision making.
  • Step up exe
  • Cultivate extraordinary partnerships.
  • Flatten the structure.
  • Unleash nimble, empowered teams.
  • Make hybrid work, work.
  • Field tomorrow’s leaders today.
  • Learn how to learn.
  • Rethink the role of CEOs and leaders.

The coronavirus is one of the greatest challenges of our times. If you want to stay afloat, the time to build a business designed for speed is now. We can help you reimagine your business and reinvent the future so you can come back stronger as the economy gradually reopens.

Government Invests £150,000 in Scottish Research Projects to Boost Jobs

The UK Government is investing £50,000 each in three ambitious Scottish research projects:

  • HotScot – (University of Strathclyde) a project aimed at extracting low cost, low carbon heat from old flooded mines in Glasgow;
  • Centre for Regulated Bio-Manufacture – (Edinburgh’s Heriot-Watt University) a project to establish an advanced therapies, biologics and manufacturing cluster in the Lothian region; and
  • Digital Dairy Value-Chain – (Scotland’s Rural College) a project that will combine digital communications with advanced manufacturing to help create a modern and more efficient dairy industry in South West Scotland and Cumbria.

Ultimately, these projects will help drive local economic growth, provide skills training, and create high-value jobs in the mentioned areas.

A total of 17 projects across the UK will be granted £50,000 each to boost economic recovery through research and development. If the early stages of development are successful, they can apply for a further investment of £10-50 million early next year.

What funding is available for my business?

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

There is also the Small Business Grant Fund, which is a one-off grant of £10,000 that supports small businesses that pay little or no business rates as a result of small business rate relief (SBBR), rural rate relief (RRR), and tapered relief. Businesses in the retail, hospitality, and leisure industries that use premises with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000, and will therefore pay no business rates for the current year, will receive grants of £25,000 from their Local Authority. For further details on eligibility and payment arrangements, kindly contact your local authority.

If your business has been severely hit by COVID-19 and you need more support, the government is giving small- and medium-sized 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. Approximately 1.08 million smaller firms have received a total of £32.79 billion through this scheme.

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offers a maximum loan of £5 million made available through commercial banks, lenders have provided £12.2 billion worth of facilities to 55,674 companies.

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. Let us help you evaluate your options.

£20 Million in New Grants for Small Businesses

The Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government announces £20 million new funding to help small businesses across England get back up to speed. Small- and medium-sized businesses can access grants between £1,000 – £5,000 for new equipment, technology, and specialist advice. The support will be fully funded by the government from the England European Regional Development Fund and distributed through Growth Hubs in local areas across England.

You can find more information here. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us.

On the Bright Side…

We’re now in the third quarter of 2020 and we are still in the grips of a global pandemic– leaving many scared, frustrated, and struggling. However, among the dire news, there have been a few bright spots, as this article points out, with a listing of 100 positive things that have happened so far in 2020. For example, drive-in movie theatres are showing a resurgence, adoption and fostering of homeless animals has risen, and museums around the world have opened for virtual tours.

We understand that this year seems incredibly hard, and it surely doesn’t feel like a moment when you can easily see the glass as half full or make lemonade out of lemons. While it’s okay to not be okay, we encourage you to find the silver linings.

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