A lot happens in a short time at present. I am very proud of the agility and determination MRS has demonstrated in protecting and promoting the interests of our sector, as well as realigning our own member services to suit this new environment. Our CodeLine team is handling unprecedentedly high call volumes at the moment, and we are putting all the feedback from these queries into our coronavirus FAQ section with topics ranging from furloughing to personal finances.

With two letters already sent to the Chancellor that highlight the value of the research sector to the UK economy and the fragile livelihoods of fieldworkers and SMEs, we continue to run full tilt at government.

Our policy team is working closely with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). While the government’s policies are seeking to respond appropriately to the threats to the economy, currently I am disappointed that it has not found a way round the issue of remunerating directors of limited companies who take all their income from dividends. We have a reasonable number of small operations in the sector who are set up on this basis. However, I am told this is being readdressed and this open letter from accountants issued yesterday will help.

I am also concerned about the low success rate of the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), with signs of significant variation in the requirements demanded by banks.

I have managed, for the first time since I joined MRS, to get hold of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), and will be joining a sector round table with them today.

Some members have asked why we are still charging for MRS training. All of our trainers are experts and leaders in their field - and we pay for that expertise. We want to continue supporting them as small businesses during this time. We have been working hard with trainers to move all face-to-face MRS courses online up until and including July.

MRS members do however enjoy 30% off the standard course price.

There is also plenty that we are offering the sector for free during this time. We have been working hard to ensure that we can still support and develop professionals so we’ve upped the amount of online content including webinars and videos for MRS members, and created a comprehensive Covid-19 hub, with guidance and business resilience information.

As ever, please tell me if you feel there is a gap in our support and we will endeavour to address it. I wish you good health in the coming week.

 

Regards,

 

Jane Frost

Coronavirus: help and support

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