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COVID-19 Update – 30th April 2020

We are pleased to issue our 21st Scottish Dental Sector Covid-19 update with you this morning. There has been a marked slowing down in financial announcements recently, but we wanted to share a few recent updates with you.

The UK death rate reached 26,097 today after including the care home statistics for the first time. This is now well above the original governmental target of containment below the 20,000 mark. Let us hope that the current containment strategies reduce the daily rate of these tragic deaths.

General Update

In my last update I encouraged signing up to the group ‘Saving Scottish Dental Practices’, and we are aware that the benchmarking of ‘residual overheads’ among practice principal members was undertaken. I have assisted many practices over the weekend to provide their submissions in relation to the survey. This has been collated and used as for a political approach in an effort to have the Scottish Government provide some support to fully private and mixed practices.

Whilst it seems a remote possibility that further support will be forthcoming there is always merit in ‘asking the question’, and we will look forward to seeing the response flow in due course.

You can still join the group at this link – Join the Network

We wish them every success with the campaign and look forward to seeing the project impact develop.

Clinical/Business Update

Clearly the consideration about how things will look post lock-down is foremost in minds at the minute.

Business and cashflow planning will form an important part of the next steps. It is of course hard to forecast accurately what the ‘bounce back’ period will look like until we have a better understanding of the clinical conditions which will be required. I intend to focus our attention in that direction in preparation of guidance emerging and will look forward to supporting everyone through that phase of recovery.

A number of our discussions this week have included the consideration of investment in to air filtration technology and I know that many have taken an early adopter strategy to purchase the kit. The justification available is multi faceted for this approach and includes the reassurance offered to the patient base and the dental teams that the practice is prepared to invest on behalf of their wider health. It is anticipated that anxiety may be high in the post lock-down period as people are likely to have a fearful perspective when ‘stepping out in to the unknown’. We await any guidance on whether this technology is likely to be mandatory or not and in conjunction with other cross infection measures and PPE what total cost impact it may have on practices. My eye was caught today by the release of the predicted pricing uplifts post lockdown. This is shared by DD on their website at the following link DD predicted price rises. This suggests the frightening comparison of £38.60 per patient post lock down versus £0.33 pre lock down solely for PPE. The assumptions used are listed on their page, and are written for the English UDA system, but can be easily related to the Scottish system. This represents an unprecedented rise in PPE costs of 11597% which if accurate will require some careful financial control and planning.

As we all know the AGPs involved are considered to be at the heart of the concerns at present and I have spent a large part of today in the ‘virtual company’ of a good friend and fellow specialist dental accountant sharing our thoughts on support we can offer. Among a multitude of subjects we discussed the research options around AGPs and mulled over the content of a recent article by Dominic O’Hooley which I share below. As a non clinician I found the article very useful and if you have not seen it already I hope you find it insightful.

AGP Article

Another possibly useful document worth reading is the recent Henry Schein Bounceback guide which has some valuable tips worthy of consideration. Again I am happy to share at the following link Bounce back Guide.

I’m also happy to share today’s update from Lee Savarrio below;

Chief of Dentistry Update 29-4-20

I have mentioned in various prior updates the widespread problems with the policies in place relating to business interruption insurance cover. I’ve been made aware that the BDA have created a service to review policies and assist with claims.It may therefore be of value to upload your details to their data capture form to allow them to undertake a free review of your claim. This can be done at the following link BDA Insurance review

Funding Update

Business Support Grant – Phase 1 & 2

I am happy to confirm that these grants continue to flow this week. I am pleasantly surprised to hear that Edinburgh City Council are making some progress with their funding after some initial delays. I am also informed that Edinburgh City Council have released at least one of the higher £25k (clinic) grants today which is likely to provide some much needed cashflow at this time.

Phase 2 applications for those practices with multiple properties opens on 5th May and I encourage you to keep an eye on your local council website if this applies.

Job Retention Scheme (Furlough)

True to their word we have seen the first grants being received this week for the submissions made last week. HMRC deserve some credit for delivering this portal and cash flow in the timescale involved. We have submitted a large number of furlough grant applications free of charge on behalf of our clients and are delighted to see the funds arriving to support their teams this week.

Many have asked how to deal with holidays and their furloughed teams. I would point towards the guidance offered by ACAS on this matter at the following link ACAS guidance.

In summary I confirm that the usage of leave during furlough is perfectly possible and will potentially be helpful to remove the risk of staffing shortage when re-opening. There are a number of requirements involved, which is principally the requirement to top up the furlough amount to 100% for each day of leave. An employer can enforce the usage of leave but must give adequate notice. The required minimum notice period is defined as being twice the length of leave period. Whilst it may not be the most positive of holidays for team members it is hoped that with a fair minded suggestion of the amount of leave required to be taken, that most employees will understand the reasoning behind the request and be supportive. In the interest of clarity I confirm that you do not need to un-furlough an employee to have them use their leave.

Please feel free to book a free consultation meeting at any time if you would like some advice or to discuss your own circumstances in detail. You can book an online meeting with me at a time to suit you at this link. In these times of social distancing the face to face option online is a welcome connection!

Bounce Back Loans For Small Businesses

The government have responded to the pressure applied on them to unblock the delays and problems which were being encountered by those applying for the CIBLs loans. It was felt that the fact the government were not securing the full 100% of these loans was slowing the processes significantly for the banks.

In the last two days they have announced, in overview, news of an additional loan scheme to assist small businesses to access low cost and quick funding.

These loans are as follows;

  • £2,000 to £50,000
  • Capped at 25% of turnover
  • Simple application forms and process
  • Paid withing 24 hours of approval
  • Guaranteed 100% by the government
  • Interest and repayment free for 12 months
  • Repaid over a maximum of 6 years

Eligibility is currently defined as any business who

  • Is based in the UK
  • Has been negatively impacted by Covid-19
  • Who was not an ‘undertaking in difficulty’ on 31st December 2019

The definition of an ‘undertaking in difficulty’ is contained within the state aid rules. In general however it can be interpreted as those businesses with negative balance sheets as at 31st December 2019.

As always, I suggest the ‘devil is in the detail’, which at this stage has not been released. You can keep an eye on emerging detail at this link – Gov UK

It seems likely that this loan scheme would be available to practices, associates and therapists alike and may be a useful funding source to ride through the current challenges.

The loan scheme will launch on the 4th May and until then cannot be accessed.

Once again love and best wishes to you at this time from myself and the full Dental Accountants Scotland team. I hope you manage to stay safe and well.

As a recurring reminder – our full team are now working remotely but ready and willing to continue to do all we can to support you in any way possible. Please accept my ongoing apology for any delayed reply to your emails while we work harder than ever to support you during this crisis. The level of correspondence required has severely tested my words per minute typing skills! For any urgent queries you may have please continue to call my mobile 07375 700468 (day or night) or book a zoom online consultation here and I will be glad to support you in anyway. Our no fee advice is available to you at this time and we will do all we can as part of your team.

I invite you to keep up to date with information our blog and to like our Facebook page to stay in touch.

Stay safe and look after yourself and all around you at this difficult time.

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