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

Surge in Vaccine Demand After Expanding Eligibility for Young Adults

Almost half a million vaccine appointments were booked in England within just 5 hours after eligibility was expanded to those aged 25 to 29, indicating high levels of demand among younger groups. The UK has also the lowest levels of vaccine hesitancy worldwide, with the National Statistics survey in February finding just 6% of UK adults expressing hesitancy and 15% among 16- to 29-year-olds.

21 June Lockdown Easing Could Be Delayed

The lifting of the final lockdown restrictions in England which is scheduled for 21 June could be delayed for two weeks after a briefing about the latest COVID-19 data. The delay would allow all individuals above 50 years old to be fully vaccinated and leave enough time for the vaccine to take effect.

We will keep you posted on official announcements.

UK Consumer Confidence at 5-year High

The jump in UK house prices is pushing consumer confidence higher and helping it to rise to its highest level since April 2016. YouGov’s consumer confidence data released earlier this week has shown that people are more upbeat about their personal finances and confident about the future.

Outlook on job security hit its highest at 118.9, while outlook for business activity continues to improve, increasing by 3.8 points. Confidence among households about personal finances is at record high, improving by 2.7 in the past month and expectations higher by 1.5 points.

UK Reports Highest Share of Businesses Open Since June 2020

The proportion of UK businesses that were open in the first two weeks of May increased to its highest since June 2020 at 87%, up from 83% in the previous two-week period. Also, the number of employees on furlough declined to 8% or 2.1 million workers– the lowest since October.

30 Towns in England to Share £725 Million to Boost Local Economies

Thirty towns in England will share £725 million to support the creation of jobs, boosting of local economies, and rebuilding their communities. These new Towns Deals range from seaside towns like Hastings and Hartlepool to the historic market towns of Bedford and Bishop Auckland. The list of the towns and a summary of funding can be found here.

Insights from 14,000 International Shoppers of F&B Products

New Zealand Trade & Enterprise (NZTE) has released its latest research involving 14,000 international shoppers of Food & Beverage (F&B) products across Australia, China, Singapore, Japan, the US, and the UK.

The eight attributes that drive consumer purchases are: tasty, affordable, trusted brand, safe product, healthy, fresh, ethical, and on-trend. Although these may sound obvious, these are valuable insights that you can take into consideration when you market, package, and develop your channels.

Cash Boost For Apprentices Launched

Employers of all sizes in England can now apply for additional funding to help them take on new apprentices. The boost to the apprenticeship incentive scheme has been available to claim from 1 June. Businesses can apply to claim £3000 for each new apprentice hired as a new employee from 1 April until 30 September.

Travelling to green, amber and red list countries

It is now legal for people across the UK to take an overseas holiday. On England’s traffic light list system, countries are classed as green, amber or red – with varying rules for quarantine and COVID-19 tests in place for each. The list is reviewed every three weeks and countries can be moved at short notice. There are similar rules for ScotlandWales and Northern Ireland.

Debt Respite Scheme ‘Breathing Space’ Launched

Around 700,000 people struggling with debt problems will benefit from a new debt respite scheme called Breathing Space.

Under this scheme, those facing financial difficulties will be given 60 days to get their finances back on track, with most interest and penalty charges frozen, and enforcement action halted.

Professional debt advice will also be provided. Recognising the link between debt problems and mental health issues, these protections will be available for those in mental health crisis treatment for the full duration of their crisis treatment plus another 30 days.

Over £150 Million Funding for New ‘Help to Build’ Scheme

The new £150 million ‘Help to Build’ scheme will make it easier and more affordable for people to build their own homes. New homes can be made to order or built from scratch, and will benefit small building firms as part of the government’s Plan for Jobs.

Also, a £2.1 million additional funding has been announced to help communities decide where they want new homes, shops, and offices to be built and what they should look like.

Recovery Loan Scheme Launched

The government has launched a new Recovery Loan Scheme to help companies access loans of £25,000 up to a maximum of £10 million. The loans will include 80% government guarantee and interest rate cap of 14.99%.

This is in addition to the extended furlough until 30 September and the New Restart Grants scheme.

Job Retention Scheme Extended Until End of September

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended until 30 September 2021. It will remain unchanged until the end of June, and a phased reduction in the level of funding will be implemented from 1 July 2021.

Currently, employers can claim grants equal to 80% of a furloughed employee’s reference pay. Grants for each worker are capped at £2,500 per month.

For claims starting 1 July 2021, the grant will be reduced to 70% of the reference salary and capped at £2,187.50 per month. It will be further reduced to 60% of the reference salary with a cap of £1,875 starting 1 August 2021.

You can read more about it here.

£20 Million SME Brexit Support Fund Launched

A £20 million SME Brexit Support Fund has been announced to help businesses adjust to new customs, rules of origin, and VAT rules when trading with the EU.

Traders will be able to apply for a grant of up to £2,000 to pay for practical support for importing and exporting. This fund will help businesses prepare for the implementation of import controls that will take effect from April and July.

More details can be found here.

Kickstart Scheme grant

  • Provides funding to create new job placements for 16 to 24-year-olds on Universal Credit
  • Covers 100% of the National Minimum Wage (or the National Living Wage) for 25 hours a week for a total of six months
  • Also covers National Insurance contributions
  • Employers can spread the start date of the job placements until the end of December 2021

More information can be found here.

4 Ways to Avoid Burnout and Stay Productive

With people working from home now more than ever because of the pandemic, the stresses from mixing work and home life seem to contribute to burnout. This Forbes article teaches how to find the healthy balance so you won’t get overwhelmed and still keep up with your responsibilities.

Below is an overview of the ways to avoid burnout and deal with your tasks effectively:

  • Take regular breaks– Your mind and body need sufficient rest and refueling throughout the day to perform at their best. So take the time to rejuvenate until you feel ready to get back to your tasks.
  • Organise your time– Have some sort of routine to follow. Some people also work when they feel motivated and step away when they find it difficult to focus.
  • Set up a dedicated workspace– Create an optimised workspace that encourages efficiency and free from distractions.
  • Analyse your priorities– Spend your time wisely. The reason some people experience burnout is that they don’t prioritise and focus on doing the wrong things.

Do you have too much on your plate? Let us ease your burden– get in touch with us today and let us help you manage the finance-side of your business!

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