Page 3 - Evolve Magazine Spring 2021
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 CEO Introduction:
 Hello everyone and welcome to the latest issue of our magazine.
It seems that much has changed since our Winter Edition and yet, at the same time, so little seems to have changed. I am writing this on the day after the latest budget announcement and I have to say that much of it was very encouraging for the sectors we work in.
The VAT level for hospitality businesses being left at 5% until September and then a phased increase back to 20% is great news. The business rates holiday being extended until the end of June is also a real incentive to invest for the summer. Added in to that are the real tax benefits from investing in a business, which should encourage and enable many of us to bring forward those projects we had on the back burner.
The extension of the furlough scheme until September, albeit with a couple of caveats, is also welcome news.
It allows us to bring back our staff more cautiously as business builds up over the summer months. I know, from a personal perspective, that without furlough payments our company would just have not survived. I’m sure that many of you out there in the same sectors feel exactly the same way too.
One area which has been affected is in cash payments, so it’s really good to see the limit increased on contactless payments from £45 to £100. Many people have just stopped carrying cash at all during these lockdowns so it now allows businesses with a higher average transaction value to quickly and easily accept payment.
I think we’re all very impressed at the speed of the vaccination programme too. Our target for the middle of February was not just met but exceeded and the estimated date for all adults to have been vaccinated has been brought forward from September to July. However, I do think this virus will be with us for the long term so vaccination may become the ‘norm’ going forward in later years.
Thinking of ‘the norm’ when, if ever, will we actually return to normal operation again? I know that many of the things we did before will change, some for the better and some maybe not. It is anticipated that it could take
ten years to fully recover economically. From my own perspective I really do think that once the doors are opened and restrictions removed people will be desperate to get out and about. I’m sure this will be reflected
in the numbers of people flocking to our visitor attractions, farm shops, cafes, restaurants and even non-essential retail.
What about ‘staycations’ too? Watching the news recently it seems that there has been a surge of interest in holidays both at home and abroad. With many people hesitant to fly and with other countries lagging behind
UK in their vaccination programmes then I think the total numbers going outside of UK will be dramatically limited. That gives us a real opportunity then to attract them to our businesses and show them how much enjoyment there is to be had close at hand. Hopefully then going forward, people will want to come back time and again.
It is challenging times but the British Spirit will prevail I am sure and we will find ways to both make it work and make money.
There are many new developments here in this magazine for you and hopefully some of them will be of interest. In closing, I wish you all a very successful 2021 and if we can help you in any way at all just give me a call.
Owen Gleadall Merlinsoft CEO
 Our mission statement is simple - ADD VALUE - BE KIND
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