We are writing to our clients as many of you will be concerned or worried about the coronavirus outbreak and how it will affect us and our businesses. We would like to inform you of some of the preparatory steps we have taken and summarise the assistance being made available to businesses that will be struggling as a result.
This week, we have undertaken the following precautions:
- We have allowed staff to work from home where this is necessary in order to self-isolate, however we intend to continue to have a team in the office;
- We have increased sanitation procedures and encouraged all staff to avoid close contact with colleagues where possible, and wash hands regularly;
- We are encouraging staff and clients to make use of virtual rather than face-to-face meetings where possible.
It is our intention to be able to continue to provide our services to you as normal, however it is possible that Government advice will place further restrictions on our ability to do that.
In that eventuality we will prioritise our work to ensure that more urgent tasks (payroll services for example) are completed on time.
The Government have made various announcements during the last few days, both as part of the Budget speech and subsequently, in relation to the support they will offer businesses. These include:
Loans for businesses
Businesses will be able to take advantage of government-backed loans via two schemes, one for large firms and one for small and medium-sized ones. The Chancellor said that he wanted SME’s to be able to go into their bank from next week (w/c 23 March 2020) and be able to take out loans to cover business interruptions.
It is intended for these loans to be “low cost” and have no interest payments for the first six months.
Further details in relation to this funding and eligibility can be found at https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/coronavirus-business-interruption-loan-scheme-cbils/
Individuals who are struggling will be able to take a 3-month repayment holiday on their mortgage. There has currently been no guidance from the Government as to whether their will be similar assistance for tenants and buy to let landlords, however it is anticipated that this may be available shortly – the Government have said that it is keen to protect jobs and will “go much further to support people’s financial security”.
Rates grant of £10,000
Small businesses that currently receive small business rate relief or rural rate relief will be able to apply for a grant of up to £10,000.
Business rates holiday
There will be a 12-month business rates holiday for all businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sector
Grant funding for the retail, hospitality and leisure sector
There will be grant funding of up to £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses whose premises have a rateable value of between £15,000 and £51,000.
Statutory Sick Pay repayments
Small and medium sized businesses will be able to claim 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of COVID-19.
Time to Pay
The Chancellor announced that all businesses and self-employed individuals who are in financial distress and with outstanding tax liabilities may be eligible to receive support through HMRC’s time to pay service.
If the liability relates to self-assessment and is less than
£10,000, this can be applied for online.
The following website link provides more guidance. HMRC’s helpline is 0800 015 9559
The Government have confirmed that their advice to avoid pubs, clubs etc is sufficient for those businesses that have insurance cover for pandemic or government-ordered closures.
Businesses are encouraged to check the terms and conditions of their policies and contact their providers to see if they are covered, however they have advised that most business-interruption policies are dependant upon damage to properties and will exclude pandemics.
The Government announced in the House of Commons on 17 March 2020 that they will delay the changes to the IR35 legislation by 12 months. These changes will now take effect from 6 April 2021.
Final details of how to take advantage of all the assistance summarised above are not yet available, however it is anticipated that more information will be released w/c 23 March and we plan to issue an update to this guidance once this is available.
We will of course be happy to offer help and support where we can. Please call us on 01257 263015.
Working together will allow us to manage this difficult situation effectively and keep safe those that matter most to us at home, work and in the wider business community.
Your patience and understanding is very much appreciated during this period of uncertainty.
R P Smith & Co and John Goulding & Co
18 March 2020