02 Feb A shot in the arm for business
The news that the first Pfizer Covid vaccines have been administered signals the start of a new phase of pandemic management. It’s not the end of the road, with the vaccination programme likely to stretch well into 2021. Nevertheless, as Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford commented: “We hope, of course, this marks a turning point in the pandemic and that it’ll put us on to what is going to be a long path back to normality.”
It might be only the start of the recovery phase but the roll-out of the vaccine has been a shot in the arm for business. So much so that a survey by the Institute of Directors (IoD) revealed that 64% of company directors saw the news of the vaccine as a catalyst for improved prospects in 2021. Moreover, net optimism for the outlook over the next twelve months rose from +8 to +24; a figure which, according to the IoD, hasn’t been seen since before the first lockdown in March.
Commenting on the results of the survey IoD Chief Economist Tej Parikh said: “At long last, business leaders have something to aim at. The arrival of a vaccine provides some light at the end of the tunnel.” He went on to highlight the importance of providing continuing support for companies in order to stave off the prospect of businesses folding just as the end of the pandemic is in sight. Areas put forward for consideration include the continuation of grant support alongside the widening of SME tax reliefs for productivity-enhancing technology. The idea of cutting National Insurance was also mooted by the IoD as a way of enabling directors to have the freedom to create capacity and drive jobs growth.
Regardless of the level of support provided, turning businesses around in the face of a global pandemic will take a high level of directorial skill and ability. And whilst directors may be focusing on recovery it is also vital that they don’t neglect the day to day; making sure that they continue to abide by corporate governance best practices and that regulatory returns aren’t missed along the way.
That’s especially true for those businesses for whom Christmas and New Year season coincides with corporate reporting deadlines. With this in mind in November Companies House counselled companies to submit returns in good time and preferably online. This, Companies House say, will help to avoid the chance of late returns potentially incurring a fine if they have to be corrected and re-submitted. With the arrival of the first vaccine the turning of the year marks a potential turning point for businesses. It’s time therefore to ensure that any recovery isn’t hampered by late returns and consequent fines.