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Government’s support will unleash demand

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AT THE TIME of writing, the number of coronavirus infections globally has risen to more than 3.5 million, the number of deaths to 245,584. The contagiousness of the virus has surprised many people including me. The government lockdown, which as I write has lasted just over six weeks, has had a devastating effect on businesses and individuals worldwide. 

However, there appear to be some green shoots of a business recovery on the horizon as well as hopes of a vaccine which could be available in a few months’ time.

The peak of the pandemic appears to have passed with the number of infections and the death rate in most countries falling daily. Some countries such as Italy and Spain are beginning to relax lockdown. 

Encouragingly The Oxford University Jenner Institute’s ground-breaking clinical trial of a vaccine for Covid-19 could lead to a public release of it by as soon as early September.

Professor Adrian Hill, director of the Jenner Institute, is 80% confident that this vaccine will work. They have already secured a manufacturing and distribution deal with Astra Zeneca that will give the NHS priority access if positive results are returned.

Several national DIY stores such as Homebase, Wickes and B&Q are about to open again. The government’s five-point test before lockdown is relaxed has not quite been passed yet but I expect it will start by the time you read this article. 

The key will be to relax lockdown gradually and keep the social distancing rules as much as practically possible. 

Personally, I have been encouraged by how prompt the government has been in giving out grants to small businesses and repaying 80% of furloughed employees’ salaries under the Job Retention Scheme. The improvements to the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan scheme will help small businesses too. 

So if your business has been badly affected by the lockdown, do not be deterred. When you restart it you will have less competition and the huge government financial support is likely to boost pent-up customer demand substantially. 

Do not concede defeat. Go for it with renewed vigour and make a great success of your business.

Tony Byrne is a chartered and certified financial planner, a chartered wealth manager and author of Wealth Magic.