The question echoing throughout Hertfordshire, Essex and businesses throughout the UK during these testing times is “What can you do to help your business/sole trade through the COVID-19 crisis?” – HB Accountants are here to help you.
Get key information over to your accountant sooner
The sooner your accountant is made aware of any problems it will be easier for them to help you solve them, especially if they relate to HMRC payments.
Your accountant should help you plan and delay any payments that are due, and the earlier they receive your accounts drafted, the easier it will be for you to plan for these tax payments.
If it gets to the point where you think you may need to take drastic action to save your business please speak to your accountant and legal team first before making any changes.
Prepare a cash flow forecast, and update that forecast throughout the crisis, preferably weekly. This will give you forewarning of any cash flow problems so you can act early to address them.HB Accountants are always on standby to help if you require any assistance with this.
Confirm Tax Bills Earlier
In times of crisis, it’s easy to defer drafting your accounts, but this will be the best time for clients to get these finalized in order to plan through the crisis.
Time to Pay Arrangements (TTP)
The Time to pay service allows businesses and the self-employed to defer tax payments.
The new helpline detailed below 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 HMRC call-handlers have been assigned to support businesses and individuals when needed.
The helpline is open for businesses and self-employed questions regarding due or late payment of tax due to coronavirus related issues.
The new HMRC helpline for help and advice is available at 0800 0159 559, and is an addition to other HMRC phone contact numbers.
HB Accountants are always more than happy to call HMRC to help delay tax payments for our clients – please get in touch if you need assistance.
Check Insurance Policies
Check your insurance policies to see what you and your business are covered for, keyman insurance policies should cover staff if any sickness claim is made.
The below government websites outline the reliefs currently announced:
HB Accountants have identified those which we believe will be most important to our clients below:
Employees and Self-Employed individuals:
- People who cannot work due to coronavirus and are eligible for Statutory Sick Pay will get it from day one, rather than from the fourth day of their illness. The government intend to legislate so this measure applies retrospectively from 13th March 2020
- Statutory Sick Pay will be payable to people who are staying at home on government advice, not just those who are infected, from 13 March 2020 after regulations were laid on 12 March 2020. Employers are urged to use their discretion about what evidence if any, they ask for
- If employees need to provide evidence to their employer that they need to stay at home due to coronavirus, they will be able to get it from the NHS 111 Online instead of having to get a fit note from their doctor. This is currently under development and will be made available soon
- A new Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank, will enable businesses with a turnover of no more than £41 million to apply for a loan of up to £1.2 million, with the government covering up to 80% of any losses with no fees. This will unlock up to £1 billion pounds to protect and support small businesses
- For businesses with fewer than 250 employees, the cost of providing 14 days of statutory sick pay per employee will be refunded by the government in full. This will provide 2 million businesses with up to £2 billion to cover the costs of large-scale sick leave.
- There will be a £3,000 cash grant to 700,000 of our smallest businesses, delivered by Local Authorities, and worth a total of £2 billion
- The government is temporarily increasing the business rates retail discount in England to 100% for 2020-21 for properties below £51,000 rateable value. Nearly half of all business properties will not pay a penny of business rates
The Chancellor is speaking this afternoon and we expect more help for businesses and self-employed individuals to be announced. As soon we have word on this we will issue a further update.
Speak to your bank about what help is available. RBS, Lloyds Bank and Barclays have pledged to offer support by providing 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 repayments.
If you source outside supplies contact your suppliers – suppliers will likely only contact you when they are facing restrictions. Start to investigate alternative suppliers so they are there if you need them.
Check and clear your debtors, review if any clients are likely to get into difficulty with payments and suggest they pay your bill in installments, also tighten up your invoicing process.
Do not be tempted to make late payments, this could cause reputational damage.
Review business costs
Look at all your costs and reduce discretionary and non-essential expenses. Fixed costs such as wages, rents, utilities, financing costs and tax liabilities not affected by a decline in sales need to be properly managed.
Look into whether your costs can be spread rather than paying in one lump sum (i.e. car insurance).
Carry on and look ahead
It is vital to give the impression that business is continuing, this may not be possible if you are in the leisure sector, but it is feasible for many others even if you have to self-isolate. It is key to have a remote working plan in place.
The coronavirus crisis will change the way businesses and society works. When the urgent part of the crisis is over, you could consider what this crisis changes for you and what you have learned and plan for any future crisis.
Please know that HB Accountants has a business contingency plan and we will do everything we can to support our clients during this uncertain period, please do not hesitate to contact us here if you have any concerns or queries regarding the above or anything to do with the COVID-19 outbreak. We are here for you during this difficult time.
Stay safe and healthy
From all the Team at HB Accountants
The information contained above is for general guidance purposes only. Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the contents are accurate, please note that each individual has different circumstances and it is essential that you seek appropriate professional advice before you act on any of the information contained herein. HB Accountants can accept no liability for any errors or omission or for any person acting on or refraining from acting on the information provided above.