Re-opening businesses: Kick-start the "enablers".

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Certain types of business occupy pivotal roles in the flow of social and financial activity. If they are not up and running, nothing downstream of them can properly come back to life. It is important to identify these enabling facilities and make sure that, especially where they have decided not to continue working remotely, they are cleared to re-start operations, helped to do so safely, and advised that in fact they have an obligation to get back in harness and clear their backlogs as quickly as possible to help the country get back on its feet. Legal and financial concerns are obvious contenders. Most large firms have managed to maintain limited services, but many smaller ones such as Solicitors’ offices have found themselves ill-equipped to do so and in the face of too many obstacles some have simply pulled down the shutters and stopped communicating. The sector is however probably well placed for an early restart, with some encouragement. In terms of Safety, the confidentiality of client information already imposes a certain discipline. Much can be done by phone and on-line, but for essential face-to-face conversations discrete consultation areas are common and regulated by scheduled appointments which could be fixed duration, with screens etc. added as appropriate. Office facilities are also often well segregated and could be further adapted for distancing if need be, and in many small businesses part-time staffing can further reduce contact. With careful thought, signing off of documents could be done safely, and short journeys specifically necessary for legal transactions made a reasonable cause to be out. In terms of Impact, the ravages of Covid-19 will for Solicitors unfortunately mean a huge backlog of winding up of estates and inheritance issues, even winding up of businesses, untanglement of debts etc. Property transactions too are virtually at a standstill, creating hugely stressful situations for those involved and probably also huge financial strain. Re-starting these would enable a flood of consequentials. Small firms and self-employed tradesmen depend a lot on house-movers for alteration and upgrade work. Removal firms say they could already work safely in controlled circumstances, but have nothing to do. There are many more similar examples. Registers of Scotland have already gone the extra mile to make an enhanced level of digital property business possible for the time being, and Authorities, Organisations and companies are working together to build a framework that will allow things to hang together until some degree of unlocking occurs. If this were to be sooner rather than later for Solicitors, the stimulus to public confidence and mental wellbeing would be huge, but so would the subsequent stimulus to the wider economy. Significant sums of money would suddenly be changing hands, with the Scottish Government of course due a sizeable portion. It’s hard to think of other areas of Lockdown easing with such immediate and potentially far-reaching benefits.

Why the contribution is important

Early arrangements for restarting the work of certain pivotal Legal and Financial businesses would go a long way toward de-stressing everyone involved for example in stalled property transactions or inheritance matters. In addition this would unlock the flow of significant amounts of money into the wider economy, provide some much-needed revenue to the Scottish Government, and stimulus to many other business activities downstream when they too are able to inch back toward normality. In some cases it may even provide them with an essential lifeline.

by ItsYourMove on May 07, 2020 at 12:29PM

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