James Pinchbeck

Marketing Partner, Streets Chartered Accountants

James Pinchbeck is Marketing Partner at Streets Chartered Accountants, a top 40 UK accountancy practice. James, as a specialist in marketing professional services, is responsible for the development and implementation of the firm's strategic marketing as well as its engagement in the community it which it works and serves. His role allows him to capitalise on his broad interest in the national and local economy as well as his passion for enterprise. As part of his wider interest in enterprise, marketing and education, James is a board member of NBV – the East Midlands Enterprise Agency, an FE College Governor and a board member of the University of Lincoln’s Business School. He is also an Institute of Director’s past Branch Chairman.


As lockdown restrictions are irreversibly eased, we are no longer asked to continue to work from home (WFH) if we can. Over the last few months workers returned in the hospitality, leisure and non-essential retail sectors, yet many more businesses have had workers continuing — even preferring to — work from home.

Pre COVID, the majority of businesses favoured more traditional ways of working with a workforce based at a place of work. But the pandemic accelerated the need to adapt, coupled with increased take-up of technology (much of which already existed), and highlighted that the physical place of work is not as important or deemed as essential as previously thought.

At the moment there are two contrasting approaches to either the return to business or getting to grips with the new norm: either the hard-line return to the place of work or to indefinitely working from home. The latter though is likely to be a mix of WFH and some in-person attendance at the employers’ premises, so-called hybrid working.

Certainly, it is challenging for employers to decide what might be best for them, having to balance the needs of the businesses and those of its employees. In many cases WFH has suited employers and employees alike, often providing for a better work/life balance, without loss of productivity, and perhaps even some sense of novelty.

Though WFH has not suited all, either due to the nature of their work, access to suitable technology, lack of a ‘space’ to work in, general wellbeing and mental health. And we should probably expect for COVID restrictions or the need for COVID security to mean that we might not see a full return to work for all.

So are businesses really under pressure to consider how they manage workforce? Is it paramount that we decide whether it’s a full return or time to offer hybrid working for all? It would seem many small and medium sized businesses have not considered their approach, perhaps either because they are pre-occupied with day to day matters, or more likely they don’t know where to start.  

Perhaps the start pointing is asking the question, what has changed? What is different about my business, how, who and where we work?

Whilst doing nothing may seem the easiest option, it could be the costliest. Those businesses that don’t consider the lasting impact of the pandemic on the way we work and want to live our lives could be at risk of loss of personnel, challenges in recruitment and find themselves less competitive and profitable in the longer term.

There is also a risk that those offering hybrid working or perhaps even more extreme full and permanent working, fail to consider the wider implications.

For centuries the place of work has provided a sense of identity and purpose, it has been a place that has harboured and embraced an organisations culture and values, it has been a power house for innovation, creativity and collaboration, a place to nurture, train and develop staff and physical representation of the business to its customers and marketplace. Can all this be replaced purely by digital connectivity?

Please don’t think this is the viewpoint of a luddite advocating a return to the office, more is the thought and concerns of someone who feels there is a real need for a well-considered approach to the way we all work in a post pandemic world.

James Pinchbeck is Marketing Partner at Streets Chartered Accountants, a top 40 UK accountancy practice. James, as a specialist in marketing professional services, is responsible for the development and implementation of the firm's strategic marketing as well as its engagement in the community it which it works and serves. His role allows him to capitalise on his broad interest in the national and local economy as well as his passion for enterprise. As part of his wider interest in enterprise, marketing and education, James is a board member of NBV – the East Midlands Enterprise Agency, an FE College Governor and a board member of the University of Lincoln’s Business School. He is also an Institute of Director’s past Branch Chairman.

What were we hoping for or anticipating on a grey day in March, nearly 12 months since the start of lockdown? Perhaps for many it wasn’t all a ray of sunshine from the Chancellor Rishi Sunak as he delivered the 2021 Budget. Whilst the announcements might not have us grabbing for the factor 50 sun cream, he certainly did provide a level of optimism for businesses and business owners.

The Chancellor highlighted that we were experiencing a swift and sustained economic recovery in the face of the pandemic. Whilst the cost of the necessary measures to support the economy, jobs and livelihoods was at a level only comparable with that faced over the period of the world wars, our long-term economic prosperity would be underpinned through investment in improving productivity, harnessing innovation and through focusing on a more sustainable and green economy which embraced technology and skills.

Our journey to the future though starts in the here and now, with, in the coming months, a focus on supporting the economy and businesses whilst at the same time safeguarding jobs, as well as ensuring those out of work or looking for work can find suitable vacancies. Certainly, it’s clear support through apprenticeships and skills training is high on the agenda.

In outlining the government’s response and support for those affected and impacted by the pandemic, the Chancellor reiterated that the roadmap for our exit out of lockdown was irreversible. It was then great to hear that measures of support for businesses, including the employees and the self employed are going to be in place for perhaps much longer, perhaps longer than might have been thought prior today. This takes into account that for many, getting back to business, reopening and returning to pre-pandemic trading levels is going to take some time, not least for sectors like the entertainment, hospitality and leisure, bricks and mortar non-essential retail, the arts and sport.

Looking at the key announcements and measures to support businesses, the workforce and the self-employed, the following were perhaps key:

  • Furlough to remain in place until the end of September, with employers being asked to contribute towards salary at the rate of 10% in July and 20% in August and September
  • For businesses looking for support to ‘restart’ their business there was the introduction of the Business Restart Grant, with £6,000 available to non-essential retail and £18,000 available to those in the hospitality sector. This is in addition to the provision of the new Recovery Loan Scheme which will provides loans from £25,000 up to £10,000,000.
  • Those benefiting from the business rates holiday will be able to continue to do so until the end of June at which time relief will be reduced to two thirds.
  • Those who are self-employed will benefit from an extension to the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme and the provision of a 4th and 5th grant application. The scheme will also now be open to those who have not been able to apply and the newly self-employed if they filed a Self-Assessment Tax Return by midnight on 2nd March.
  • The hospitality and tourism sector will benefit from a continuation in the rate of VAT charged from 20% to 5% until the end of September, at which time the rate will increase to 12.5% for 6 months.
  • For many small businesses facing increased and tough competition, the Chancellor announced measures to introduce a Help to Grow programme which provides management training and access to technology and financial support for purchasing software – hopefully accounting software
  • In addition, the housing sector received perhaps an already anticipated boost with the extension of the removal of stamp duty on house sales up to £500,000. This will remain in place until 30th June.

Perhaps the headline grabber wasn’t the pending increase to Corporation Tax (from 19% to 25% in 2023), or the fact that duties on fuel and alcohol remain unchanged, but it was the introduction of the ‘super deduction’ tax relief available to those making business investments. The two-year tax break would allow companies to deduct 130% of their investment from their taxable income, cutting their taxes by the equivalent of 25p in the pound.

Overall it was perhaps as expected a Budget for the here and now, but the Chancellor was more than clear about the need to ensure government borrowing and the budget deficit are not only kept in check, but that the national burden of debt is reduced, whether this is in his lifetime or the next generation of chancellors, only time will tell. 

We would though be naive to think we shouldn’t expect tax hikes and reform of tax legislation at a time when it might at least be more palatable. For now, given the element of certainty provided, the scene and conditions have been set for businesses to work on and put in place their roadmap to recovery.

More of our budget coverage:

James Pinchbeck is Marketing Partner at Streets Chartered Accountants, a top 40 UK accountancy practice. James, as a specialist in marketing professional services, is responsible for the development and implementation of the firm's strategic marketing as well as its engagement in the community it which it works and serves. His role allows him to capitalise on his broad interest in the national and local economy as well as his passion for enterprise. As part of his wider interest in enterprise, marketing and education, James is a board member of NBV – the East Midlands Enterprise Agency, an FE College Governor and a board member of the University of Lincoln’s Business School. He is also an Institute of Director’s past Branch Chairman.

It has now been seven months since the start of lockdown and certainly the business world has experienced many changes in terms of responding to, and getting to grips with, the impact of the pandemic.  

The way we work, where we work, when we work and even the type of work we do has changed for most of us, if not all.

As is often the case with such significant changes and circumstances, it is not untypical for new words and phrases to come to the fore as we look to be able to communicate with each other on and around the situation.

Over the last few months or so there have been a number of words and phrases bandied about, some perhaps new words and some words and phrases that have gained increased use or used in a new context.

The following 10 words or phrases are the ones that seem to have had wider use and perhaps some of these provide a little light relief:

  1. Unprecedented – How many meetings or discussions are including this word and the use of the word ‘times’ to follow as we try to understand and assess the situation we are in and the conditions we face.  
  1. New norm – in a world turned seemingly upside down and with our pre-lockdown sense of the norm and routine gone, we are all trying to define and even shape what normal now is and looks like. Most of us want some sense of order, routine, processes and structure so that we can function and have a sense of purpose.
  1. You’re on mute – whilst the likes of Zoom, MS Teams and google hangouts existed pre lockdown the norm was still to have in person meetings, perhaps with the occasional virtual one. Virtual meetings though have given rise to its own language and typical behaviours. It would be interesting to know how many times someone has said ‘you’re on mute’ as someone attempts to re-enact a silent movie without the subtitles.
  1. Sorry I am late I had trouble connecting – with our roads less busy, stuck in traffic is unlikely to be something you hear from someone late for a meeting. It now seems either as a genuine or less so excuse we seem to blame our connectivity or this has become an acceptable excuse.
  1. Pivot – whilst some businesses may have considered the need to respond to lasting change brought about by the pandemic, others have been more focused on short-term survival. In doing so they have chosen to ‘pivot’ their business looking at business models or practices conducive to survival.  According to the Harvard Business Review, pivoting is a lateral move that creates enough value for the customer and the firm to share.
  1. Repurpose – whilst sounding like a word you might here in a spoof business comedy as some form of management speak, many business leaders and managers have had to either look for alternative markets for their goods or services or look to different business models and processes. The skills and role of those able to repurpose are likely to be in demand for some time – perhaps with businesses even looking to appoint Repurposing Officers (ROs).
  1. Blursday – a new made up word being used to describe the situation when lockdown and working from home has got to the point that you have no real idea what day it is, even that you didn’t realise it is a non-working day.
  1. Quranteams – a term being used to describe your virtual work bubble – we do like to have a name for everything.
  1. Worklife blend/balance – even before lockdown greater consideration was being given by individuals to their work-life balance. Though for those working and perhaps surprisingly those furloughed, greater consideration and importance is being placed on one’s worklife balance, wellbeing and mental health.
  1. Embracing technology – whilst technology, its use and application has accelerated the pace of change it has never been as fast as it has been since lockdown. The term embrace technology has possibly been used to describe the situation where we all, whether in our work, personal or family life, have had to get to grips with and use more technological applications. For some this may have been easier than for others, however it has highlighted issues around skills and proficiency and the need for training, support and investment.

No doubt more words and phrases will come to the fore over the coming months, some will be lasting in terms of vocabulary and some new words may even make the next edition of the Oxford English Dictionary. 

James Pinchbeck is Marketing Partner at Streets Chartered Accountants, a top 40 UK accountancy practice. James, as a specialist in marketing professional services, is responsible for the development and implementation of the firm's strategic marketing as well as its engagement in the community it which it works and serves. His role allows him to capitalise on his broad interest in the national and local economy as well as his passion for enterprise. As part of his wider interest in enterprise, marketing and education, James is a board member of NBV – the East Midlands Enterprise Agency, an FE College Governor and a board member of the University of Lincoln’s Business School. He is also an Institute of Director’s past Branch Chairman.

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