Support for business

Coronavirus – Support for businesses and individuals

  1. Keep in touch

Communication is vital in any crisis. The sooner that we are made aware of any problem, the easier it might be to solve especially with reference to HMRC payments.

The earlier you can get their your accounts info to us, the easier it will be to plan tax payments. Even if you think they are OK and will weather the storm, you should at least be made aware that assistance is out there.

If it gets to the point that they you believe you will have to put the business up for sale, do nothing until you have spoken to us. You won't get a good price in this market. Please don’t take well-meaning notice of their your friends and take action without consulting us first. The answer will not always be to go bankrupt or close the business.

  1. Potential problems with HMRC

HMRC are there to help and have put more resources into HMRC's Time to Pay Service. All businesses in financial distress and with outstanding tax liabilities may be eligible to receive support.

  1. Time to investment in capital items

Investment advisers say that you should have a cash pile of at least two months to weather any financial storm. Many won't have two months set aside, but those that do and might have been considering making a large purchase such as a van could find that that the deals are more favourable now than previously.

  1. Check insurance policies

Check out any insurance policies you may have – would you, or your staff, be covered in any sickness claim? This is the value of having keyman insurance.

  1. Government help

Government guidance includes the COVID-19: guidance for employers and businesses factsheet.

This Budget paper advises what needs to be done if Coronavirus is suspected among any members of staff and details the financial measures that are being made available including:

  • Refund for businesses and employers required to access Statutory Sick Pay
  • 100% Business Rates retail discount for one year
  • Funding support for those small businesses that pay little or no Business Rates because of Small Business Rate Relief
  • The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
  1. Financial Help

Investigate what help is available from your bank, what terms and conditions there are, and whether the help is currently needed. RBS, Lloyds Bank and Barclays have pledged to offer support by mortgage repayment holidays, temporary increases in credit card limits, waiver of fees on early access to fixed savings accounts and late credit card, mortgage, and loan payments.

  1. Supply chains

Outside source supplies to contact their suppliers. Suppliers will be more likely to contact them if they have to resort to restrictions. Look at investigating alternative suppliers. Supply chain issues are already threatening to derail some small businesses. Investigate the whole supply chain – you may say 'it's OK I get my supplies from XYZ Ltd based in the UK', but do you know where XYZ Ltd gets its supplies from?

  1. Late payments

When cash is restricted, the temptation is to make late payments. This must be resisted, if only for reputational reasons. Late payments are already causing problems for businesses as 74% of business owners reported invoices due to be paid at the end of February had not been settled and were unlikely to be cleared before the end of March (business lender MarketFinance.com). Check your debtors. Review which customers are more likely to get into difficulty and suggest they pay your bill by instalments (if such arrangements are not already in place). Tighten up your invoicing processes.

  1. Review business costs

Look at all costs and reduce discretionary and non-essential expenses as far as possible. Fixed costs such as wages, rent, utilities, financing costs and tax liabilities not affected by a decline in sales need to be properly managed. Investigating whether costs can be spread rather than paying in one lump sum (e.g. car insurance).

  1. Review marketing strategy

No one is going to do or buy much other than the essentials during this crisis and, although this situation might lead you to reduce costs by rethinking the marketing strategy, this might not be the right time – consistency is key to recovery.

  1. Review mortgage payments

Banks will be lending cheaply. Consider remortgaging. Mortgages are based on past data, which will invariably be better for these past three years – defer applying and that may mean lending based on reduced profit figures making it more difficult to get a mortgage.

  1. Carry on

It is vital that the business must at least give the impression that it is carrying on. This may be impossible if the business is a restaurant, but is feasible for the many others who might have to self isolate. There are such businesses as Virtual Assistants that can help.

And finally, 13. look ahead

The coronavirus crisis will change the way businesses and society works. When the urgent part of the crisis is over, businesses should consider what this crisis changes for them, what they have learned and plan for any future crisis.

It’s important to look ahead. As Eliot Hoff, the head of APCO Worldwide’s Global Crisis Practice has said about the virus: “There will be an end to this, as there is with every crisis.”

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