Government announces Job Support Scheme to replace furlough from 1 November

The government’s furlough scheme, brought in at the start of lockdown, has been a lifeline to many businesses and saved the livelihoods of millions. The furlough scheme comes to an end on 31 October and the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has revealed that the new Job Support Scheme will replace it.

The Job Support Scheme will initially run for six months from 1 November until 1 May 2021. It is designed to top up the salaries of staff that businesses are unable to bring back into full-time work. Employees must work at least one-third of their regular contracted hours to be eligible. The government and employer will each pay one-third of the remaining wages to the staff member, meaning the employee takes home at least 77% of their pay. While at the height of the furlough scheme, the government paid 80% of workers’ wages, under the new scheme it will pay a maximum of 22%.

The Job Support Scheme is available to small and medium-sized businesses (often defined as organisations with 250 employees or fewer). Large businesses are also eligible so long as they can prove their revenue has fallen as a result of the pandemic.

Employees must have been on the firm’s payroll since 23 September and they can be moved on and off the scheme, or work different hours. Each working arrangement must cover at least seven days.
Workers cannot be made redundant or put on notice while a Jobs Support Scheme grant is being claimed on their behalf and, as with the furlough scheme, employers will be reimbursed by the government after the work has been done.

In addition, to further minimise unemployment, the UK government will also give firms:

  • £1,000 for every furloughed employee kept on until at least the end of January
  • £1,500 for every unemployed 16-24 year-old given a ”high quality” six-month work placement
  • £2,000 for each under-25 apprentice taken on until the end of January, or £1,500 for over-25s

Michael Copeland, senior area manager at Practice Plan parent company Wesleyan, the specialist financial mutual for dentists, commented on what the new scheme might mean for dental practices: “The Chancellor’s new measures will be welcome news for dental practitioners, many of whom are struggling to recover from impact of  lockdown. The Job Support Scheme announced today could help practices avoid redundancies and protect vital patient care services. It could also provide a further incentive for practices to bring back furloughed staff– supporting the profession’s efforts to resume a wider range of services.

“Extensions to the repayment terms of Bounce Back Loans and Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans will also help practices as they can keep essential cash in their business for longer. Together, steps like these will support the sector’s ongoing recovery – so essential to the wider wellbeing of the nation.”

Practice Plan marks its 25th year of helping to build strong, sustainable practices

10th August 2020 marks the 25th anniversary of Practice Plan, the UK’s leading provider of practice-branded membership plans. 

The company’s 25th year has been uniquely challenging with the arrival of COVID-19 and its impact across dentistry and society as a whole. Like dental practices, Practice Plan has adapted to the situation and moved quickly to find new ways to support its customers.

For example, by creating an online COVID-19 Resource Centre which was open to everyone in recognition of the support that the profession as a whole needed and which has been seen by more than 20,000 people. Practice Plan Group also delivered over 1,000 hours of virtual support to members and halved their admin fees for practices for April and May.

Nathan Beckett

Nathan Beckett, Managing Director of Practice Plan Group and Head of Dental at Wesleyan, said, “This year has been an incredibly testing time for our customers. We knew they would remain as committed as ever to supporting their patients in whatever way they could, and we were determined to do the same for them. Despite the extremely tough times practices have found themselves in, it has been heart-warming to see how many have taken the time to tell us how much they have appreciated the financial and wider support we’ve provided since the very first week of lockdown.”

As the world continues to deal with the fallout from the pandemic, Practice Plan is continuing its support for their customers by freezing its admin fees until at least 2022.

The plan provider is also using its 25th anniversary as a chance to raise funds for the dental charity Bridge2Aid.

Nathan added: “We are proud to have achieved this milestone and would like to thank all of our practices who have supported us during the past quarter of a century – we couldn’t have done it without you. We all find ourselves in very strange times right now. But we remain dedicated to looking ahead and proactively supporting our loyal customers and welcoming new practices, helping them to keep moving forward and build strong, sustainable businesses. Together we will weather the storm and be ready for the next 25 years!”

For more information visit: https://www.practiceplan.co.uk/

Are your customers right at the heart of your business?

By Les Jones, Creative Director at Practice Plan

In this highly competitive consumer world where customers are like gold dust, it never ceases to amaze me how many times I find myself in a situation where I’m ready to part with my money, but my supplier of choice is unable to take it.

It seems the art of grabbing defeat from the jaws of success is alive, and thriving, on the high street.

Here are two recent examples of how my desire to part with my hard-earned cash was thwarted by the very people I was trying to give it to.

One size does not fit all

I’m off on holiday in the next few weeks and, as is traditional, I thought I’d treat myself to a few new items of clothing to boost my holiday image. So, I pop into French Connection (I know what style is all about!) and I find a few pairs of trousers that seem to fit the bill. Yet, as I flick through them on the rack, something strange emerges – every single pair, in every colour are a 32-inch leg.

Now, despite the fact that I’d like to think I’m a strapping six-footer, I am, in fact, 5 ft 8 and not much more than a 29-inch leg. I ask the sales assistant if she has any of the trousers in a different length to which she says ‘no, sorry, we only do them in a 32-inch leg, you’d need to roll them up or get them shortened.’

I can only assume that the decision to restrict the trousers to just one length somehow makes the production run easier and more cost-effectively. But it’s also a sales barrier – because I don’t want to roll the trousers up and I can’t be bothered to get them shortened. So, I decide to take my business elsewhere and FCUK lose out on a £100 sale.

The breakfast deadline

I’ve written before about my cycling exploits and how every good cycle ride has a great coffee stop at the halfway point. A recent ride out was no exception. I cycled out one morning, got 25 miles under my belt and then decided it was time for breakfast. I was looking forward to an egg and bacon bagel and a great cup of coffee. I stopped at a cafe I’d not tried before and when the waitress arrived I put my order in. However, I was immediately knocked back by being informed that the bagels were part of the breakfast menu, which finished at 11am. It was now 11.20am and the lunchtime menu had kicked in – I could choose from a list of sandwiches.

Lunchtime! Who has their lunch at 11.20am?

I don’t know about you, but when you have visions of a bacon and egg bagel in your head, a cheese and pickle sandwich is not going to cut it! So, I decide to leave it and I cycle a further five miles to another cafe that is able to satisfy my growing need for breakfast.

Again, there’s probably a perfectly good reason why the cafe has organised its menu availability that way – but, I’m guessing it’s all about making things easier for them, not better for their customers.

They lost my business that day, and they’ve probably lost it for the foreseeable future. When you factor in the lifetime value, that could represent a reasonable amount of income lost.

The amazing thing is the bagel, bacon and eggs were in the building, as were the tools to cook them, as was my money – we just couldn’t do the exchange!

Barriers in your practice

I could also drone on about the car hire company that wouldn’t hire me a pre-booked car because I didn’t have a credit card – even though I had the money and the paperwork! Or the shoe shops that entice me in with their lovely displays but eight times out of ten can’t sell me a pair of shoes as they don’t have my size (7) in stock. The list goes on.

So, the question is – is any of this happening in your dental practice, are there barriers that you are inadvertently erecting which are costing you much needed income? Are you really putting the customer right at the heart of your business and responding positively to their wants and needs…or do they just have to fit in with your way of doing things?

Keeping a note of how many times patients don’t go ahead with an appointment or a treatment plan might give you some valuable insights into how you could change the way you do things to ensure the pendulum swings back in your favour.

I’m guessing that none of the examples I’ve given are isolated ones, I bet they happen every day – what wasted opportunities for those businesses involved.

Make sure you don’t fall into the same trap.

Les Jones is the Creative Director at Practice Plan, the UK’s number one provider of practice-branded dental plans. He has over 30 years’ experience of working within the creative and dental sectors in the fields of design, marketing and strategic consultancy. If you are interested in finding out more about how we help practices to become more profitable, call 01691 684165 or visit building.practiceplan.co.uk