A guide to furloughing

Reputations are made in times of crisis. Today we are facing the biggest crisis of our generation and our actions will speak louder than words. This has never been more important than today when the decision about whether to furlough staff is a reality. What you do for your staff now and how you treat them over this period will be remembered long term. Ian Cowley, Managing Director of Cartridge Save offers his advice on how to approach with care and empathy.

Have a plan in place

It’s essential you have a well thought out plan in place. We hope we don’t have to use it but it’s critical that we’ve considered the possibility. Like most businesses, things are so fast moving, that our situation could change overnight. In that instance, we want to ensure staff have jobs to come back to and furloughing provides a very vital lifeline.

Ultimately, furloughing gives businesses the best opportunity to survive. It’s a positive step. The key is implementing it positively.

Use cashflow forecasts

Base your plan on forecasted cash flow. For example, by forecasting the number of orders, we can work out the resources needed in each department. Things are changing all the time so we need to forecast on a weekly basis, allowing us to make an informed decision. Using this as a barometer, be prepared to implement furlough in waves, in line with the needs of the business.

Identify staff based on resource need

When it comes to who, I’d recommend a two-tier approach. Firstly ask for volunteers, as some employees will welcome the opportunity for health or childcare reasons. Then base further decisions on the skills needed to service the current needs of the business.

Treat staff with respect

When you make the decision to furlough staff, you must communicate with empathy. Clearly explain to everyone why you’re taking this decision and get them to look at the bigger picture with you. It’s likely that managers will understand, but less senior employees may not have the insight needed to see the wider context. For this reason, make yourself available to all staff members, furloughed or not, and put yourself in their shoes when they come to you with questions.

When announcing the decision, manage communication on a one-to-one basis, telling furloughed staff ahead of their colleagues, and ringfence time to be available for follow up questions. Additionally give them access to your HR team and share a clear timeline of when the situation will be reviewed.

Managing the remaining workforce will also require skill. Some will be very worried that they will be furloughed in a further wave, while others may feel they’ve now got too much work to do. That’s why we will only furlough if we really have to, to prevent the impact on the people left behind.

Get the right advice

In terms of accessing the funds, the process looks very simple. It’s based on the PAYE system and will be administered online via a dedicated portal, soon to be launched. For anyone who’d like extra guidance, I’d recommend signing up to a HR subscription service where you can access advice at a fixed rate.

Future proof your decision

Furloughing is a brand new concept and there are no precedents to guide best practice. My advice is to deal with it in a similar way to redundancy. Be very careful to document your decision making process as it’s essential to keep a record showing why you’re doing it and how you’re communicating the decision. Additionally, seek advice from a solicitor with HR expertise – the Law Society has a useful database.

Managing as a leader

It’s a very stressful time to run a company. The situation is unprecedented and the issue of whether to furlough is a real grey area. People have wildly different thoughts. All you can do is trust what’s right for you. I talk to other CEOs in my network and use LinkedIn to see what larger companies are doing. Ultimately, though, furloughing is there to help the whole business community and give you the best opportunity to survive. It should be supported so we come out the other end ready to thrive.

Virtual Meetings – The big mistakes that can make online communications fail

Every human being is enormously skilled at carrying out the normal functions of verbally communicating in a complex social world. Many of us are completely unaware of how skilled we are and, more importantly for learning purposes, we are very often unaware of exactly how we go about doing what we are so good at. Over the years it’s been our mission to decode verbal effectiveness. Verbal Behaviour Analysis or VBA for short, is the result. We have used VBA to identify what successful seller and negotiators do, and have created best practice skills models so that everyone can emulate the skills that lead to success. This becomes even more important in a world where we are forced to communicate with each other online – it’s essential that we understand the gravity of the words we use and the impact of this verbal behaviour.

Whether you’re a seasoned sales professional closing new business deals with blue chips over the phone or a team leader looking to motivate and manage a team of financiers effectively through Skype, verbal behaviour is your single most important skill.

Whilst we may all think we’re pretty good at communicating online or virtually, the likelihood is that you are frequently making errors that are off putting to whoever it is you’re speaking to. It’s simple, yet many of our verbal behaviour habits actually work against us. This can be costly, especially in the current climate where often, big budget, complex projects are being conducted over the phone or online. Here’s a rundown of the top mistakes we make time and time again when trying to strike a deal or building relations online, as well as some advice around how to avoid these common pitfalls.

1) Avoid a push verbal interaction – aim for a ‘pull’

Voice, data and video over IP have given us the power (used properly) to interact fairly fully and to practise plenty of the behaviours that Huthwaite research shows are used more often by successful communicators than by the average. We call them things like “Bringing In”, “Testing Understanding”, “Summarising” and “Building”. The same technologies can also help us to avoid persistent “Shutting Out”, (shown by our research to be a behaviour linked to low success in many contexts) if we use those technologies with care, and remain alert. On a customer conference call, have one of your team lead the conference (or your part of it) and have another colleague on the lookout for who is itching to ask a question, build on a proposal or challenge a claim to ensure the customer feels you are ‘listening’ fully to their needs.

2) Avoid the verbal ‘poker face’

Some people avoid emotive language in business, feeling it isn’t appropriate to express their emotions when it comes to striking a deal or communicating with their team. This can lead to ambiguity and a lack of clarity. Be clear. If you’re disappointed with an offer or a situation, say so. Likewise, if you’re pleased with how the negotiations are moving or something your team has achieved, don’t be afraid to express this. Sharing your feelings in these scenarios is powerful verbal behaviour as nobody can refute your feelings, and it can create a more cooperative environment to strike a deal that benefits your needs or motivate a team to complete a task to the best of their ability.

3) Avoid the counterproposal

Our research shows that successful communicators only make half the number of counterproposals than most. However, many financiers are still falling into this trap, even among the most experienced. Negotiating is about listening and understanding the needs of the other party, whilst maintaining a strong stance. By immediately counteroffering it shows that you’re not listening to the other party – which is an immediate turn off, meaning they are less likely to be flexible when it comes to striking that all-important deal and agreeing to prioritise your work.

4) Don’t demonstrate irritating verbal behaviours

There are a number of behaviours that work to immediately irritate people, from self-praising declarations, such as using the words ‘fair’, ‘reasonable’ and other presumptuous behaviour to telling someone you’re ‘being honest with them’, indicating you may not have been before. Steer clear of this use of language, it can be damaging to any relationship you are building and may put whoever your communicating with on the defensive.

5) Don’t talk for talking’s sake

Perhaps the biggest and most important hurdle to overcome is to sit back and listen. Digest the information you’re receiving properly and take time to really understand the position. This will provide you with an opportunity to explore the underlying objectives of who you’re talking to. You can also use this to build incisive questions that may create doubt in their minds about their position or the point they’re trying to make. In a negotiation this is particularly important – doubt leads to movement, and movement is what you’re trying to create as a negotiator.

Huthwaite International has a whole host of online resources to help educate and up-skill those interested in improving their capabilities.

What we really need is a centralised fiscal response and a single EU debt instrument issue

One of the reasons the market is “cheering” any hint of a potential end to the lockdown is the hope of limiting the damage to the real economy caused by COVID-19. Developed world governments decided to go into lockdown knowing that it may cause the deepest recession we have seen since the 1930s. We are talking about millions of jobs being lost, kids and students not being able to go to school, etc. This is even worse for the developing world where the majority of jobs are manual labour. In economies like Bangladesh, India, Mexico and some African countries, working from home is not an option. You don’t work you don’t eat, it’s as simple as that. Leaders in the developing world have to weigh the cost of the lockdown vs the cost of letting people go about their daily activities and dealing with the consequences. There are no easy options.

Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs are predicting that US Q1 GDP growth will be hit by between 5% and 10% with Q2 GDP falling at the annual rate of 25% to 30%. We have not seen anything like this since the 1930s. But this might already be priced into the market as everyone is talking about it. So, the real question is whether instead of a great recession, we end up with a depression? In other words, permanently higher unemployment.

During the 2008 crisis it took around two years for the MBS markets to seize and take its toll on the wider market and the economy. Things are happening a lot faster this time. It took two weeks for the 20% plus market correction in equities credit (both IG and HY). It took three to four weeks for layoffs and a huge contraction in GDP. This means some countries could start reporting double-digit unemployment in a matter of months not years.

The good news this time around is that most developed world central banks have stepped in immediately to support the financial system. They threw the whole kitchen sink at this crisis making sure we don’t have any nasty liquidity surprises. The ECB will spend a total of 1.1 trillion euros on Eurozone bonds over the next nine months, the most it has ever spent on assets in such a short period of time.

Now it’s time for fiscal stimulus to start feeding through to support the economy. The trick here is to funnel the money to households and not only offer credit lines to corporates. We have to fix the demand issue when it comes to households and not only the insolvency risk of the corporate sector. So if fiscal stimulus is not reaching households fast enough and is not targeted enough we might get into a depressionary scenario very quickly. This is especially true for the so-called gig economy where people could get laid off quickly and without compensation.

The eurozone is estimated to have shrunk 10% and we believe the worse is still to come. Italian PMI for hotels, restaurants and other hospitality sectors shrank to 15 in March. These aren’t numbers from a recession. It’s an economic disaster, depression-like dynamics. In times like these if we don’t get a powerful and coordinated fiscal response, individual countries would start looking to exit or at least challenge the status quo, looking towards protectionism.

One of Europe’s challenges is that it suffers from policy limitations. There is a common currency with a single central bank but no common fiscal authority. We are seeing some serious firepower from the UK, Spain and Italy but what we really need is a centralised fiscal response. The simplest and quickest way could be through a single EU debt instrument issue. So-called Coronabonds would be a form of debt mutualisation, which has been criticised by Germany during the last round of talks. The problem is that Germany still sees this solution as equal to accepting a lack of budgetary discipline for southern European countries. Germany appears to not realise that now is really not the time to have such complicated arguments. By holding out on a point of principle, Germany and the Netherlands are risking permanent impairment of some sectors of the European economy and its consumer demand. They are probably worried that once the first Coronabond is issued the floodgates to risk-sharing debt instruments will open.

The SURE fund loan solution is a good start, in addition to the national level policies, although we do not know whether €100bn is anywhere near what’s needed. If this solution is essentially a pan EU version of Kurzarbeit it might be sensible, as the people benefitting from this would claim unemployment anyway, and it at least gives companies breathing space regarding salaries, which for many businesses are a large portion of the fixed costs.

The EU tends to learn and evolve during times of crisis so let’s hope this time it’s the same. We hope European policymakers, just like central bankers, use what was learnt a decade ago and will be quick to respond.

By Artur Baluszynski, Head of Research at Henderson Rowe

Leasing Firm Issues Advice for Motorists

With the Government issuing ah-hoc motoring-related updates, the UK’s leading car leasing company has issued its top tips for motorists to help keep them up to date.

Current advice about the use of a vehicle is clear – only use it for absolutely essential travel. This includes driving to work, to the shop for essentials, to the chemist for medicine or travelling to support vulnerable friends or family.

Here’s the top three pieces of information motorists need to know:

  • Fuel – motorists can get fuel but only if it is to facilitate essential travel
  • MOT – if its due from 1st April – there is a six-month extension. If a vehicle failed its MOT before this date – it does need to pass to be on the road now. Limited garages are open across the UK
  • Vehicle Excise Duty (more commonly known as car or road tax) – the planned increase is still going ahead from this month, meaning, most car owners will face increased costs

Mike Thompson, Director at LeasingOptions.co.uk said: “There’s so many changes and restrictions for motorists at the moment it’s hard for people to keep up.

“The key to motoring at the moment is that it has to be based on essential travel. During this time though there are still pieces of information vehicle owners need to know, so we have pulled together this helpful guide.”

For those that have leased their car – LeasingOptions has also provided top tips specifically for them:

  • Payment breaks – if you are experiencing financial difficulties – contact your funder and see what options are available
  • Lease Contract – if your contract is up for renewal in the next few months there may be an option to extend and save up to 25% a month
  • Key workers – where possible, LeasingOptions will prioritise deliveries for key workers and vulnerable people as defined by HM Government

Conveyancing Association and Lease Administrators work together to help home movers during Coronavirus crisis

Members of the Conveyancing Association (CA), the leading trade body for the conveyancing industry, have set out a number of measures for member firms to adopt during the Coronavirus crisis, in order to keep Lease Administrators up to date on lease assignments and ensure prompt payments.

Following feedback from CA member firms and Lease Administrators, the following best practice measures have been agreed which the CA believes will assist both Lease Administrators and their customers, especially where a Lease Administrator may be working from home or unable to access or process physical documents. They are:

  • For conveyancers to always send documents by e-mail rather than post, and for all Lease Administrators to provide e-mail contacts and accept e-mailed documents. Many Lease Administrators already publish guidance and online contact details for conveyancers, as well as to their customers on standard documents such as rent and service charge demands – conveyancers should use these to avoid posting documents.
  • For conveyancers to ensure all payments are sent electronically and for Lease Administrators to provide bank details or other payment facilities to conveyancers to avoid cheques being issued.

The CA is also urging those Lease Administrators who can do so, to authorise HM Land Registry during the lock down to accept conveyancer evidence that they have contacted the Lease Administrator, and that there has been confirmation of compliance with the alienation provisions required for lifting a restriction against registration, if the Lease Administrator is not able to provide a certificate of consent in required form within 20 working days due to the current crisis.

The CA has acknowledged that this is a departure from previous practice but says there are major concerns over cancelled registrations where some Lease Administrators might be struggling to deal with paperwork during the coronavirus crisis and any authorisation given by Lease Administrators would be temporary during the lock down period.

Both Conveyancers and Lease Administrators are also calling on the Land Registry to help the industry by relaxing their rules on acceptance of deeds with e-signatures. In the current crisis, they argue that physical execution of deeds can be burdensome and time-consuming. They say the industry would welcome the Land Registry offering assistance and solutions at this time.

Beth Rudolf, Director of Delivery at the Conveyancing Association, commented: “Clearly, this is a difficult time for all conveyancing stakeholders as we seek to keep the process moving and therefore, following member feedback, we hope that these practical steps if adopted by Lease Administrators will make things easier for all concerned. The third measure is a shift however we believe that this will help maintain an up to date register at HM Land Registry.”

Time for employers to show loyalty to their staff says entrepreneur

Unlimited Wellbeing founder, Sanjiv Corepal, says that it is time for business leaders to step up and show loyalty to their workforce during the coronavirus crisis and says he is dismayed by the actions of some high profile companies who have rushed to make employees redundant in order to cut costs. “As employers, we are always quick to demand loyalty from staff,” says Sanjiv. “Loyalty is a two-way street though and it is now that our people need us to repay them by doing everything possible to make sure that they are looked after during this difficult and traumatic time.”

Sanjiv admits to having had numerous sleepless nights over the last few weeks, trying to ensure safe passage for his businesses through the current crisis with a significant and sudden decrease in revenue caused by the lockdown.

“We have applied to take advantage of the various government schemes available,” explains Sanjiv, “In the short term though there are still all the normal costs to be covered including the monthly payroll bill and in many ways it would have been easier to let people go or reduce their pay. That would have been grossly unfair though, our team have shown incredible loyalty and dedication over the last couple of years to make our businesses successful so we can’t just turn our backs on them now.”

Sanjiv says that all Unlimited Wellbeing employees remain on full pay, although many are now on indefinite furlough leave as part of the governments job retention scheme which contributes up to 80% of workers wages up to £2500. “We aren’t asking anyone to take a reduction in pay,” says Sanj. “We aren’t a huge company, but we will do whatever it takes to make up the shortfall for as long as we can, even if that means paying people out of our own pockets if we have to.”

Sanjiv is also adamant that looking after employees goes beyond financial support. “With many employees either working from home or in a furlough situation, we need to be mindful of their mental health too. “We are proud to be supporting a number of businesses with a range of online mental health solutions for their employees who are in lockdown,” says Sanjiv. “It’s good to see so many responsible employers taking this so seriously.”

A number of high-profile businesses have made news headlines recently with large scale redundancies and placing staff on unpaid leave amongst the measures being taken. Sanjiv says that whilst he understands the pressures that business leaders are under, there will be a heavy price to pay in the future. “Some of these businesses may find it very difficult to retain or attract quality people when things return to normal. “One of the few positives to come out of this situation is an increased sense of community and customers may be very unforgiving as well and simply take their business elsewhere.”

Sanjiv is adamant that when the country finally begins to emerge from the current lockdown that businesses need to be able to bounce back quickly and says that looking after employees now is the only way to achieve that. “Getting a business back on its feet can only be done with the full support and hard work of the people who work there. Those businesses that have shown loyalty to their people now are the ones that will receive it back when things return to normal.”

Government loans only appeal to half of business owners

Business finance lender MarketFinance sought the views of business owners following the wide ranging measures announced by the Treasury recently. Despite the sizeable fiscal stimulus, more than two thirds (67%) believe funds will not reach them in time and they will run out of cash before Easter (12th April).

Loans

Only half (52%) of UK businesses are considering taking advantage of the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS which offers up to £5m, interest free for the first year, over 6 years) to shore up their businesses. Because most businesses (67%) have a pre-existing loan, their biggest concern (36%) is making repayments for any additional loan. Invoice finance (borrowing against invoices on completed work) ranked highest as an alternative to taking a loan, with 48% considering this option over the next 12 months, to avoid the addition debt burden.

Cash flow

With revenue at companies across the country being hit hard, 80% reported a decrease this month of between 40-50%. They are seeking immediate measures to ease this pressure on cash flow. Business owners ranked a larger overdraft facility as first preference before seeking a business credit card and in third place, using invoice finance as a means to inject working capital into the business.

Anil Stocker, CEO at MarketFinance, commented: “Business owners are uncertain on revenue numbers for this year with a third expecting at least a 50% drop in sales and, rightly, weary of taking on more loans that they might not be able to pay back. It’s important to realise that in the fine print, many banks will ask for additional security and Personal Guarantees for loan amounts greater than £250,000 of borrowings.

“The number of businesses that believe they won’t make it to Easter has doubled from a third to two thirds despite the Treasury’s announcements. Time is of essence. It is imperative that businesses are made aware on how to access the measures they have announced but also to widen the range of finance options available to them.”

Advice

Most (35%) business owners are turning to their accountants for advice on what to do next before consulting their friends and family (21%). Only one in six are seeking advice from their bank manager on what to do. Business owners feel their accountants are the most accessible given the remote working environment.

Accountant Rashesh Joshi at Alexander Rosse commented: “The government headlines from last week covered numerous initiatives to be implemented such as the CBILS scheme, the job retention scheme and a new lending scheme facility for larger firms amongst a raft of other measures. The reality on the ground is unfortunately unlike the rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus.

“We have been touch with a number of the accredited lenders and our colleagues at larger accounting practices. Feedback, information and practicalities of the application process and lending criteria are decisively in slow motion. It seems large institutions with all their resources had no contingency plans in place. We are aware of challenger banks and other businesses who could act quicker but have been frustratingly left out of the original process (but now invited) thereby losing further critical time as highlighted in MarketFinance’s research.”

Rashesh added: We are partnering with our clients to help with their cashflow forecasts, rationale for the loan application, contingency plans, how they would cope with self-isolating staff and a whole raft of questions that the banks will ask before they will even consider lending. We are encouraging lenders to get with the reality on the ground which is frankly brutal. In our view the process needs to be simpler and quicker and bridging finance also made available to small to medium businesses.”

Anil Stocker added: “Economies around the world are in a state of shock. In the UK, the government has poured billions in subsidies, grants and guaranteed loans for businesses, but nobody can be sure how well the rescue will work and how this money will be propagated around the small business community. It is critical that business owners have a prepared mindset for all scenarios. They will be heavily reliant on all their advisers – accountants, bankers and boards – to help them navigate the turbulence ahead.

“The government needs to urgently implement and deploy their policy announcements. Business advisers will play a key role in guiding businesses on the best finance options for them. It’s imperative they are up to speed with all the necessary information and nuances of what is available.”

Eight tips to futureproof your business during a crisis

During troubling and unpredictable times, it’s natural for businesses, no matter what industry or sector, to feel anxious and unsure what the next steps should be. A crisis period can be daunting, but there are simple measures that businesses can stick to in order to improve their chance of success. Here, Rachel Massey, Director of Marketing at Huthwaite International, shares seven tips to help futureproof your business in uncertain times.

1) Stick to what works

If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. Things are uncertain for the whole nation, so know that it’s not just your business that may be struggling. Now isn’t the time to make any drastic changes to your business as the future is too unpredictable. Instead – focus on a proven sales methodology. Stick to tactics you know work. Now is more important than ever to take the time to carefully listen to their requirements, instead of getting lost in the unpredictability. Focus on open discussions and conversations, this means you can position yourself as a helpful adviser and problem solver – something valuable to your customers during a crisis.

2) Don’t be afraid to negotiate

Although you may be finding yourself in a slightly subdued position, negotiations can still take place and you shouldn’t be afraid of doing so. In fact, now is an opportunity for businesses to negotiate and strengthen their positions with new or existing customer, either to reach an agreement or settle on a compromise that satisfies both parties. There is no harm in negotiating during a crisis. If anything, it may lead to a more pleasant and agreeable deal for both parties.

3) Ensure constant and consistent communication

It’s important to ensure that messages, updates and announcements are relayed effectively and efficiently and this shouldn’t change during a crisis. In fact, levels of communication for businesses should increase. This goes for all communications for the business whether it’s internal, to customers or to third parties. This constant communication is reassuring and helps keep spirits and motivations high. It also helps people to feel informed and prioritised during uncertain times. Keep conversations clear and consistent. If the advice and updates are confusing and provide conflicting opinions and frequent changes in direction, confidence will be damaged or lost completely.

4) Remember feelings matter even more

Being really honest with your customers and confirming that you are ‘delighted’ or ‘disappointed’ within negotiations is powerful verbal behaviour. In times of crisis, when negotiations may be high stakes or highly emotional, the other party might disagree with you on the substance of the negotiation but nobody can refute your comments on your own feelings, which means referring to them can help establish a co-operative climate. Some 60 per cent of skilled negotiators in our research say they do it.

5) Build a position of authority

For many businesses, this crisis period can be key to help establish a position of authority. Utilise this phase to help build or maintain that authoritative position that can be carried through, once the period of uncertainty comes to an end. If you’re able to offer consistent guidance to your customers in a time of need, they will see you as an irreplaceable asset.

6) Consider where you add value

In the current climate, many people across the globe will be reluctant to spend in large quantities and may be in a position where they need to hold back and not make any hasty decisions. This is where it’s really important to take a step back and consider how you can truly add value. This will provide benefits not only in the short term, but also in the long run. Of course, initially, the value you can add will be appreciated and will allow you to maintain a positive relationship. But in the long run, this kind of value-added proposition will go in your favour. These acts of going above and beyond will be noted and will lead to an increased sense of trust and appreciation long term – something invaluable for businesses.

7) Be prepared to be adaptable

Of course, for all industries, this turbulent time is a period of transition and adaptation and it’s really important to anticipate that. If not, you may find yourself thrown in at the deep end as the matter progresses. It’s important to acknowledge that the buying cycle will inevitably change and you will have to adapt with it and this may mean having a strategy in place for various outcomes. Therefore, having regular briefings and communication announcements to ensure everyone is on board should procedures need to change and also keeping a close eye on the specific news stories, policy changes etc. of industries you work with is essential. It’s important to try to stay ahead of the game and anticipate what might happen so that when or if it does, you are prepared.

8) Negotiate to access hidden cash

According to Huthwaite research, businesses with a systematic approach to sales and negotiations experienced 42.7% greater revenue growth than those without. When times are challenging, looking at where you can negotiate with your own suppliers can be a key way to alleviate funds and help overcome cash flow issues. Consider what contracts you have in place and where there may be some wriggle room to reduce rates and help ease the burden of heavy and regular financial outlay.

By Rachel Massey, Director of Marketing at Huthwaite International, a leading global provider of sales, negotiation and communication skills development.

Coronavirus Budget provides short-term boost – but debt problems likely to increase

The Money Advice Trust has responded to today’s Budget and the Bank of England’s interest rate cut announced this morning.

The charity, which runs the National Debtline and Business Debtline advice services, has welcomed announcements designed to support households and small businesses affected by Coronavirus in the short term.

Joanna Elson OBE, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs National Debtline and Business Debtline, said:

On Coronavirus-related measures

“Families and businesses across the country are worried about what Coronavirus will mean for their finances – and today’s Budget provides a much-needed boost to help them through the economic shock ahead.

“The newly-announced hardship fund for households and new support and forbearance for small businesses affected by the outbreak are particularly welcome – but it will be crucial to make sure that this support reaches those who need it most.

“Together with the Bank of England’s interest rate cut and the welcome additional forbearance measures announced by several banks in recent days, we are reassured that the impact of Coronavirus on household and business finances is being taken seriously.

“However, we can expect debt problems to increase significantly as a result of the financial shocks ahead for households and businesses. This comes at a time when the debt advice sector is already struggling to meet current levels of demand – and it will be crucial to work together to ensure that everyone who needs advice is able to access it.”

On the rest of the Budget

“Today’s Budget includes welcome changes to Universal Credit, with a lower cap on deductions from benefits and more time for people to repay advances. This is a further step in the right direction, but a more fundamental review of the deductions system is needed – along with a firm commitment to include Universal Credit advances and deductions in the government’s new Breathing Space scheme as early as possible.

“We are pleased to see further action on affordable credit, with plans to allow credit unions to offer a wider range of products and services. However, 18 months on the Budget makes no mention of the No Interest Loan Scheme and we would welcome clarity on the government’s plans in this area.”

It’s worth a Tri-athlon – for a good cause

Have you got what it takes to complete the Olympic distance challenge? 1500m swim, 40km bike ride and a 10k run…

Attracting over 11,000 participants and 30,000 spectators each year, the iconic triathlon has become a must-do event in the sporting calendar. With a variety of distances, routes and wave categories to choose from, there’s something for everyone.

So, the Connect for Intermediaries team would not only love your support, but are throwing down the gauntlet and challenging other members of the industry to put a team together and show what the people in financial services are made of.

It’s time to dust off your trainers, dig out that wetsuit, pump up those tyres and have some fun. It will be fun, honest!

Places are going quickly so, if you want to enter, you need to do it now. It’s all for a good cause and it could be the start of something much more.

The team, Kevin Thomson, Connect for Intermediaries, Louisa Sedgwick, Vida Homeloans and James Lucas, Barcadia Media, will be raising money for MacMillan Cancer Support, a cause that is close to their hearts.

Training has started but, with only five months to go, the team is praying for better weather as they will need to step up a gear to be ready to take on the challenge on August 8th.

Kevin Thomson, sales director at Connect for Intermediaries, says “So many people are affected by the dreaded news of the word Cancer. Macmillan are there to help in so many different ways that unless you need it (and I hope that you don’t) you don’t necessarily realise that their support is there or needed but when turned to their warmth their understanding is truly amazing”.

Louisa Sedgwick, Vida Homeloans, added “When Kevin asked me to join his team, I jumped at the chance, when I realised he didn’t want me to swim that was! Everyone in the world will be affected by cancer, whether that be directly or indirectly. Macmillan offer the support that we may all at some point in our lives need to help us through what is likely to be an incredibly harrowing time.”

James Lucas, Barcadia Media, finished by saying “I’ve taken part in the London Marathon for charity in previous years, but training for a Triathlon is on another level! Now that Spring is finally here, we’ll definitely be upping the ante and it’d be great if as many people as possible would come and join us for some much-needed moral support!

“Macmillan is a charity close to my heart, so I urge you all to dig deep and help to raise money for an amazing cause.”