Posted on: 16/07/2021
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government’s objective has been to “protect lives and livelihoods across the United Kingdom”. This remains the Government’s priority as the UK eases restrictions. Step 4 of the Government’s roadmap is due to begin on Monday 19th July, also referred to as ‘Freedom Day’. This step will mark a new phase in the Government’s response to the pandemic, moving away from tight restrictions on the public’s day-to-day lives, and towards advising people on how to protect themselves and others, alongside targeted interventions to reduce risk.
From 19th July, all remaining businesses are allowed to reopen, and all caps on capacities in venues will be removed. Although business owners will be able to choose whether to enforce mask wearing and social distancing in their own premises, such as TfL deciding to keep mask wearing in place, there is no longer a legal requirement to do so. This end to restrictions is news many businesses have been waiting for, but it is essential for Government to provide clear guidance on how businesses should operate and what they should be doing to keep staff and customers safe.
According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), SMEs are fundamental to economic recovery and Government support packages have played a crucial role in helping them to survive during the pandemic. The OECD SME and Entrepreneurship Outlook 2021 has revealed that 55% of SMEs received Government support during the pandemic. However, many of the support schemes have resulted in businesses taking on debt. Business leaders have highlighted to the Government that if support from the Government is stopped too quickly, an increase in bankruptcies and business closures could occur that would interrupt the economic recovery.
Many of the Government COVID-19 schemes put in place since the pandemic started have now closed, but the support that is essential to businesses recovery remains. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is open until the end of September 2021, but from 1st July, the Government is reducing their contribution to 70% of employee’s wages, and from August 1st Government contribution will lower to 60%. Employers will have to top up wages to ensure employees receive 80% of wages. The Recovery Loan Scheme is open until December 2021 and will ensure businesses of any size can continue to access loans and other kinds of financial support up to £10 million per business. The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme Grant will also be open until September 2021.
Despite the business landscape being uncertain, at Exemplas we are proud of the way in which we have supported SMEs across our contracts. We have helped businesses by providing access to funding, aiding navigation through to new supply chains, and highlighting export market opportunities as well as dealing with the growing pains of rapidly expanding innovative businesses. To find out more about how Exemplas helped stabilise and grow businesses during an unprecedented year, click here.
Further information on our programmes and services:
Hertfordshire Growth Hub
The central point of access for business support in Hertfordshire.
Phone: 01707 398168
Innovate UK EDGE East of England
Bespoke, specialist-led growth support for ambitious, innovative businesses from the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK.
Contact Page: https://www.innovateukedge.ukri.org/contact-us
Phone: 01707 398442
Department of International Trade East of England
Securing export opportunities for SMEs in the East of England.
Phone: 01707 398 398
Department of International Trade Yorkshire and Humber
Securing export opportunities for SMEs in the Yorkshire and Humber region.
Phone: 0300 365 1000
Ellenbrooke Consultancy and Training
Helping businesses achieve and maintain certifications to ISO standards.
Phone: 01707 398300