Weekly Digest – 16 September 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.

UK’s Rule of Six Explained

The ‘rule of six‘ started on Monday banning social gatherings of more than six people due to a surge of COVID-19 cases. Here are the specific rules for England, Scotland, and Wales.

Rules in England

  • It is illegal to gather socially (indoors and outdoors) in a group of more than six people.
  • The limit applies to people of all ages including babies.
  • The six people can be from any number of households, but people from different households should still observe social distancing guidelines.
  • Breaking the law results in £100 fines, doubling on each repeat offence up to £3,200.
  • There are exemptions for work, education, places of worship, weddings, funerals, gym classes, and more.

Rules in Scotland

  • It is illegal to gather socially (indoors and outdoors) in a group of more than six people.
  • Children under 12 years old won’t count towards the limit of six people.
  • The group can only be composed of people from two households in total.

Rules in Wales

  • It was already against the law to gather indoors with anyone outside your ‘extended household’, which involves up to four households joining together into a mega-bubble.
  • Gatherings must now be limited to six people, even though you’re already in an extended household together.
  • The rule only applies to indoor gatherings in pubs, restaurants, and in people’s homes.
  • Outdoor gatherings of up to 30 people are still allowed.
  • Children under 11 will not count towards the six-person limit.
  • Face coverings are mandatory in indoor public places.

UK Economy Grows 6.6% in July as Restrictions Eased

The UK economy expanded for the third consecutive month in July, as GDP grew 6.6% compared with the previous month.

This recovery was largely driven by the reopening in July of most of the hospitality industry, including restaurants, pubs and hairdressers. However, the country has only made up half of GDP lost since the start of the pandemic, suggesting a long road to economic recovery.

If your business is still struggling with the impacts of COVID-19, feel free to contact us for expert advice tailored to your unique business needs.

New UK Trial for Inhaled Dose of Vaccine Instead of Injection

UK scientists at Imperial College London will trial a potential vaccine being developed there and the one being developed at the University of Oxford, to determine whether they are safe and more effective when inhaled than when injected.

Participants of the trial will inhale doses through their mouths. The hope is that this method will directly target the cells lining the airways, which are the typical points of infection for respiratory viruses.

UK’s Unemployment Rate Rises

The unemployment rate increased for the first time since the coronavirus lockdown began in March, rising to 4.1% in the three months to July from the 3.9% level it had clung to since early 2020.

This led to fresh calls for finance minister Rishi Sunak to extend a job subsidy programme due to expire next month. Currently, there are no official announcements regarding an extension of support, but we will keep you posted.

If you need some assistance in gaining access to additional funding for your business, get in touch with us so we help you consider your options.

New £2 Billion Kickstart Scheme Opens

An innovative new scheme to help get young people into work and drive the UK’s economic recovery was launched by the government.

Businesses can now sign up to be part of the landmark £2 billion Kickstart scheme, giving unemployed young people opportunities for high-quality, government-subsidised jobs across the country.

Under the scheme, employers can offer people aged 16 to 24 years old who are claiming Universal Credit a 6-month work placement. The government will fully fund each “Kickstart” job – paying 100% of the age-relevant National Minimum Wage, National Insurance and pension contributions for 25 hours a week. Also, the employers will be paid £1500 to set up support and training for those on a Kickstart placement, as well as for uniforms and other set up costs.

More information about the Kickstart scheme can be found here. Alternatively, you may contact us for guidance on this matter or for timely business advice.

What funding is available for your 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 recently 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, where you can get up to £50,000 no-interest loans for the first 12 months.

The 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. Get in touch if you need some help.

Government Launches New Campaign For UK Transition

The UK has left the EU, and the transition period after Brexit comes to an end this year. The government has launched a new campaign to help EU businesses get ready to trade with the UK after 31 December 2020.

Check the new rules effective January 2021 here. You can also contact us if you have any questions about this matter.

Keeping Your Mental Health in Check and Supporting Others

With the prolonged lockdowns and tight social restrictions, combined with the financial uncertainty that everyone is facing, it is important to keep our own mental health in check and look out for others. In this Forbes article, Psychiatrist Dr. Dawn Brown discussed some tips on how you can support those struggling with their mental health:

  • Allow for a conversation. As mental health can be a very sensitive matter, start slow and let them lead.
  • Treat them with respect and understanding. Watch your language, don’t judge, and be careful not to make assumptions.
  • Encourage seeking the support they need. Your support alone may not be enough, so encourage them to talk to a professional who is equipped with more resources to help them.
  • Be supportive of positive mental health and do your part to make your workplace better.

Meanwhile, this article focuses on some weekend habits that can help you boost your happiness and productivity. Some ideas include:

  • Going for solo dates to renew your mind and experience something new. This exploration will give you fresh sources of creativity.
  • Do a weekly personal check-in. This will reorient your life if certain aspects are off track and help you assess your emotional well-being.
  • Connect with close friends and family. Stay in touch by scheduling video calls and starting meaningful conversations. Doing this will improve your connection and make you feel better.

Avoiding COVID-19 Online Scams

Recently, there has been a significant increase in COVID-19-related online scams that steal your personal data, impersonate authorities, offer fraudulent medical goods and services, and make fake requests for charitable donations. Below are some tips from Google Safety Center to keep you from falling victim to these scams.

  • Know how scammers may reach you– Aside from emails, they may also use text messages, automated calls, and malicious websites.
  • Check trusted sources directly– Scammers may pose as trusted and authoritative sources. So directly visit reliable sources instead to get the latest factual information.
  • Be cautious of requests for personal or financial information, pause and evaluate before sharing– Do not provide confidential information such as logins, bank details, and addresses to suspicious or unverified sources. Donate directly through non-profits.
  • Double-check links and email addresses before clicking– Fake links imitate established websites by adding extra random letters and numbers or words, so be extra careful and check before you click.
  • Search to see if it’s been reported– Copy and paste the email address, phone number, or suspicious portion of the message on your search engine to check if it has already been reported.
  • Add an extra layer of security to your account– Add two-factor authentications to your accounts for extra protection online.

If you encounter phishing pages, you can report it here. For malicious software, you can report the site here.

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