COVID-19 – HERE IS THE LATEST GOVERNMENT AND ICAEW ADVICE FOR BUSINESSES:
From the UK Government:
- Guidance to Employers and Businesses on Coronavirus (Covid-19) – Updated 18 March 2020
- Guidance Covid-19 Support for Businesses – Updated 18 March 2020
- Guidance Covid-19 Support for Businesses – Updated 18 March 2020
From The Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales: https://www.icaew.com/insights/coronavirus
COVID-19 – HERE IS CMB’S PERSPECTIVE AND ADVICE ON THINGS AS THEY STAND
CMB can offer services to deal with all issues either directly or through our trading partners. We have built up strong relationships with a large number of funders and legal advisors. Do not hesitate to contact us should you wish to know more.
In the meantime, we urge you to consider some key areas that you should be focussing on right now:
- The Workplace:
We recommend that you immediately consult with employees, on matters including:
- Working from home or remotely.
- Dealing with calls and emails
- Holiday planning e.g. taking early annual leave
- Sick pay policy
- Redundancies and temporary layoffs
- Customers and Suppliers
You should at your earliest convenience, liaise and notify customers, suppliers, contractors and trading partners of your contingency plans. A Coronavirus Statement on your website should be the first place to start.
- HM Revenue and Customs (e.g. PAYE, NIC, CIS (Construction Industry Scheme), VAT, etc)
Speak with HMRC at your earliest convenience if you foresee tax payments being unaffordable. Right now there are HMRC procedures for agreeing time-to-pay applications and also the waiving of statutory interest and penalties on late payments.
These procedures will become increasingly commonplace in the weeks ahead so do not delay. There is an emergency dedicated hotline for those struggling to make historic and future tax payments. This what HMRC are saying:
HMRC has a set up a phone helpline to support businesses and self-employed people concerned about not being able to pay their tax due to coronavirus (COVID-19).
The helpline allows any business or self-employed individual who is concerned about paying their tax due to coronavirus to get practical help and advice. Up to 2,000 experienced call handlers are available to support businesses and individuals when needed.
If you run a business or are self-employed and are concerned about paying your tax due to coronavirus, you can call HMRC’s helpline for help and advice: 0800 0159 559.
For those who are unable to pay due to coronavirus, HMRC will discuss your specific circumstances to explore:
agreeing an instalment arrangement
suspending debt collection proceedings
cancelling penalties and interest where you have administrative difficulties contacting or paying HMRC immediately
The helpline number is 0800 0159 559 – and is an addition to other HMRC phone contact numbers.
Opening hours are Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm, and Saturday 8am to 4pm. The helpline will not be available on Bank Holidays.
- Business Rates
Try and defer business rate payments or claim business rates reliefs, if applicable, via your local authority.
Funds were previously available to local authorities to provide grants of up to £3,000 per business for those companies already benefitting from small business rate relief. The government is increasing those grants up to £10,000. The process for claiming this grant is currently unclear and may differ from authority to authority.
The Government will also abolish business rates for businesses with a rateable value below £51,000 in the hospitality, retail and leisure industries for one year and there will be further rate reliefs for pubs and bars. These businesses will also be eligible to apply for further grants of £25,000 where they are operating from smaller premises, with a rateable value over £15,000 and below £51,000.
Seek to agree to rent and expenditure deferrals. Manage their expectations if the funds required to pay rent by the due date are no longer readily available.
- Banks and Cashflow
- Prepare new or updated bank facilities
- Prepare and keep revising your cash-flow requirements
- Consider loan repayment holidays
- Consider using the Government’s business interruption loan scheme
- Defer capital expenditure
- Defer finance payments, hire purchase and leasing
- Accelerate income
- Update credit control procedures
The British Business Bank is to support up to £1 billion of lending by guaranteeing up to 80 per cent of business interruption loans (up to £1.2 million per business). This scheme is available to businesses with turnovers of up to £41 million that are headquartered in the UK.
A major new scheme, Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF), is being launched by HM Treasury and the Bank of England to help provide support for liquidity amongst larger firms and help them bridge Covid-19 disruption to cash flows through loans. The CCFF will provide funding to businesses by purchasing commercial paper of up to one-year maturity, issued by firms making a material contribution to the UK economy. The financing will be open to firms who can demonstrate that they were in sound financial health prior to Covid-19.
The government is increasing the amount SME’s can borrow through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (delivered by the British Business Bank) from £1.2 million to £5m.
Businesses can access the first six months of that finance interest free, as the government will cover the first six months of interest payments.
Contact your bank immediately to see how they can help. The government will not charge business or banks for this guarantee. It is understood that banks are already getting a lot of enquiries from businesses looking for loans.
- Other cost saving measures
- Reduce stock levels
- Review insurance policies for levels of business interruption cover.
- Review all contractual obligations and advanced orders
- Review your business’s Terms & Conditions
- Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
The Government is making it easier for employees to claim SSP by making it applicable from the first day of absence due to Covid-19 infection or self-isolation related to the virus.
Employers with fewer than 250 employees will also be able to claim back the first two weeks’ worth of SSP, per employee. These measures will remain in place until 13 November 2020.
Employers should refer to the published guidance “Guidance to Employers and Businesses on Coronavirus (Covid-19) “(see above).
Employees should go to https://www.gov.uk/statutory-sick-pay for further Government advice.
Those not eligible for SSP, such as the self-employed, will have to seek financial support through the benefits system.
The Government has confirmed that self-employed individuals can claim from the first day of illness or self-isolation instead of waiting for seven days, but it may take several weeks for a claim to be processed under Universal Credit.
Those who are self-isolating will not be required to go to a jobcentre to begin this process.
OVERALL ADVICE FROM CMB
The situation surrounding COVID-19 is changing on a daily basis and the Government has made it clear that it may need to take further steps to contain the virus and deal with the impact it is having on the UK economy.
During these challenging and uncertain times, it is important that you have a professional adviser by your side that you can trust.
We can help with the majority of the points outlined in this guide and, in these difficult circumstances, our team will make every effort to try to assist with any enquiries you may have.
We not only want to help with your Rescue to Recover plan but we want to assist you with taking the following step with our Recover to Maintain plan.
We urge you to keep in touch, but more importantly to stay safe and healthy.