Building education sector resilience in challenging times

  • Insight

10 August 2020

The First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, is often quoted as saying “A good education is the most important gift we can give our young people”. It is critical that the education institutions we have in Scotland remain open for learning and that each one is able to build business resilience through these exceptional times. 

In this article, we point to the various ways we hope that we can help you achieve and improve resilience to enable you to continue providing this essential service.

We know the education sector to be pragmatic, innovative and adaptable. It is this attitude that is needed now, to tackle the unforeseen obstacle that is the Coronavirus pandemic, and further to drive the sector forward so it may continue thriving for years to come.

To help you effectively navigate the easing of lockdown and beyond, we’ve rounded up some of the updates we have produced to enable you to build resilience for your institution; through financial support, and property to flexible Furlough – we’re here to help you now, in planning for the future and eventually returning to business as usual.

That’s why we’ve created our Business Hub. It includes insights, updates, podcasts and practical information to help your business or institution remain as robust as it can be in these most difficult of times. Below are summaries of the most relevant insights on our Business Hub for the education sector.

Government financial support for business during Covid-19

While not all of these schemes are open to all education institutions, we’ve rounded up everything you need to know about the wide range of financial support measures that the UK and Scottish Governments have put into place recently, including what the measures entail, eligibility criteria, and how to apply.

Practical protection for directors 

The management teams of further and higher education institutions have been forced to make swift business decisions to ensure the wellbeing of a wide range of stakeholders. Some may find themselves as directors of trading companies with responsibilities as such under the governance arrangements for those companies.  With such rapid change in an unprecedentedly short timescale, it’s vitally important for directors to understand – and mitigate – the personal risks involved. Our corporate law expert, Euan Tripp, summarised what you should keep in mind through lockdown and beyond.

Our Business Resilience Checklist

Our Business Resilience Lead, Neil Amner, considered which elements of business life may need attention during the pandemic, and produced a Business Resilience Checklist to help you discern your priorities - it may illuminate areas you haven’t yet considered. Your circumstances, challenges and requirements will be specific and reviewing them will be paramount to remaining robust.

The Job Retention Scheme

We’re all familiar with the idea behind the UK Government’s Job Retention Scheme, a brand new concept in employment law known as ‘Furlough leave’. There have been various updates to the Scheme since it launched, and to help you digest them, we’re updating our insight article as new information emerges. It explains the key factors and is essential when making workforce decisions.

When is your self-employed consultant actually an employee?

Even before Covid-19, the nature of work had for some time been changing. Gone were the days when having a job necessarily meant working for a company on a long-term basis, on a fixed schedule and under a contract of employment. Many colleges and universities have working relationships with suppliers of important services on consultancy contracts. Our expert, Barry Nichol, explains how the traditional self-employed / employed definition has blurred in recent years and details what you need to know to ensure that you’re acting in the best interests of your people, while also complying with employment laws.

Online disciplinary and grievance meetings

Given the virtual environment that the majority of us are operating from currently, the prominence of the online meeting has grown considerably. This has opened up many doors and ensured that working practices have continued somewhat normally for many, however, it may not be appropriate to hold every meeting in this way. Jemma Forrest considers whether or not employers should be holding disciplinary and grievance meetings remotely in this insight.

Income tax relief restrictions 2020-21

Income tax relief for interest paid on borrowings of residential property landlords is now restricted to the basic rate of income tax (20%) with effect from the start of the 2020/21 tax year. Those with responsibility for looking after student residential provision will be interested to see how our tax law expert, Martin Campbell, explains the impact of this restriction to income tax relief on buy-to-let properties and planning options for landlords to minimise the tax impact in these financially challenging times.

Private rented housing

Likewise, the way in which the Scottish Government has temporarily changed the law relating to evictions from privately let residential property may be relevant to those managing student accommodation, or dealing with students impacted by the changes. There is aid for Landlords available under the Covid-19 loan scheme and our expert, Adele Nicol, has summarised everything you need to know, and created a helpful Q&A, which you can download for reference.

We’re here to help

We are offering initial 20 minute pro-bono appointments during the pandemic, to enable you to ascertain whether or not you require further legal advice. If you have questions, please contact me, your usual Anderson Strathern contact, or visit our Business Hub to access all of the above information in full.

For updates on government measures that are specific to education, please see the UK Government website, which is updated regularly.

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