Weekly Digest – 13 January 2021

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

UK Ramps Up COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout

The UK is looking to accelerate its coronavirus vaccine rollout with the opening of seven regional centers at sports and conference venues, as hospitals are struggling to cope.

According to Health Secretary Matt Hancock, the UK is on track to meet its vaccine target with more than 200,000 people receiving doses every day and the total now standing at about 2 million. Mass vaccination centers will be open daily from 8am to 8pm. Including local doctors’ surgeries and hospitals, some 1,000 sites are now vaccinating.

Pre-departure Testing Requirements

From 4am on 15 January, pre-departure testing will be required for all inbound passengers to England. Passengers arriving by ship, plane, or train will have to take a test up to 3 days before departure and provide evidence of a negative result before they travel. This extra layer of protection is in addition to existing self-isolation requirements.

£4.6 Billion in New Lockdown Grants

Businesses in the retail, hospitality, and leisure sectors are to receive a one-off grant worth up to £9,000 per property to help businesses through to the Spring. A £594 million discretionary fund was also made available to support other impacted businesses.

This follows the Prime Minister’s announcement that these businesses will be closed until at least February half-term in order to help control the virus. The one-off top-ups will be granted to closed businesses as follows:

  • £4,000 for businesses with a rateable value of £15,000 or under
  • £6,000 for businesses with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
  • £9,000 for businesses with a rateable value of over £51,000

The grant is expected to benefit over 600,000 business properties across the UK. More details can be found here or you can contact us if you have any questions or require assistance.

More Than 8,000 New Businesses Launched By Jobseekers in Wales

Between April 2011 and June 2020, more than 8,000 jobseekers in Wales have used support from their local Jobcentre and the New Enterprise Allowance scheme to launch their own business. The top counties in Wales with the most entrepreneurs include Cardiff with 960 start-ups; Swansea with 820; and Carmarthenshire with 670.

The New Enterprise Allowance scheme launched in 2011 has helped participants turn their aspirations into reality by giving access to a personal business mentor, weekly living allowance, and financial backing of up to £25,000 to build their start-up.

Government Loan Schemes Extended

Further extension of all the Government’s current coronavirus business loan schemes have been announced in December. This means applications for Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) and Coronavirus Future Fund have all been extended to 31st March 2020.

Flick us a message if you need our expert assistance on your applications and so we can help you evaluate your options.

Hospitality and Tourism VAT Extension

The reduced rate of VAT (5%) that was previously introduced will still be applicable to food and non-alcoholic beverages from pubs, bars, cafes, and restaurants, accommodation, and attractions in the UK until 31st March 2021.

Businesses Approved to Export to the EU

The government has released some lists of businesses approved to export to the EU.

You can use the lists here to check if your business in Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) or one of the Crown Dependencies (Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man) is approved to export to the EU, and find out what your TRACES number is.

Workplace Trends to Watch Out for in 2021

The significant changes brought about by COVID-19 are expected to have long-lasting impacts on our work life. In a Forbes article, a Retained Search Advisor and Talent Specialist discussed some trends that we can expect to see in 2021 including:

  • Safer work environments– Employers need to have policies and procedures to make sure their workers feel safe.
  • Schedule flexibility– Offering flexibility doesn’t only attract and retain talent, but also boosts morale and productivity.
  • Virtual company culture– Online meetings, networking, and team-building in a virtual setting can promote employee engagement.
  • Mental health and wellness benefits– Added focus on healthcare benefit and mental wellness initiatives can serve as major differentiators in retaining your talent.
  • Increased online presence– Digital presence is important now more than ever and businesses should consider adopting innovative technologies and digital events.
  • Selective candidates– Candidates are being selective in their job moves despite higher unemployment levels. Approach with a strong initial offer as many people are hesitant to make a move amid the pandemic.
  • Additional cybersecurity– With a huge chunk of the workforce accessing systems from home, cyberthieves will exploit weak points to steal pertinent data. Invest in a strong IT function and ensure your workers have proper resources and support from your IT.
  • Local operations– As the pandemic disrupts global supply chains, there will be greater emphasis on local production and a shift in operations to a domestic level.
  • More innovation– Innovation will be at the forefront this year, as COVID-19 forced many businesses to pivot and innovate to stay afloat.

In order to be better suited to face obstacles that may lie ahead, it is important to adapt and make changes to the workplace. If you need expert tips, get in touch with us so we can work out a plan for your specific situation.

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