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coronavirus update 26/03/2020 (2)

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE 28 MARCH 2020

 

 

COMPANY DIRECTORS – LACK OF SUPPORT?

The support offered to Company Directors so far, is restricted to a claim under the Job Retention Scheme (JRS). Many Directors take a small basic salary and the remainder of their remuneration as dividends. This is perfectly legal. It is slightly more tax / NIC advantageous but that advantage narrowed significantly with the introduction of the Dividend Tax. Many business owners are advised to operate through a Limited Company for the protection of Limited Liability that it provides.

Under the schemes announced so far, Employees will get 80% of their wages covered by the JRS and they will continue to accrue holiday entitlement. The Self Employed can made a claim under the Self Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS). Great news.

Business owners have been asked to help the Government to administer a huge new benefits system, as Employers, the JRS, to support employees.

Many Business Owners will suffer severe financial losses during these difficult times and whilst obviously it is a ‘Health over Wealth’ situation, we need strong businesses in future to repay the debt that we are building up.

In such difficult, fast moving times, we cannot have a totally fair system. However if we really are ‘all in this together’ why is there such a disparity for Small Business Company Directors, who were once considered the backbone of the UK economy?

These business will contribute significantly to the future prosperity of our country and will pay their share of taxes, to repay the debt.

If you agree, please consider signing the petition below.

HERE

 

 

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE 26 MARCH 2020

            

  • WhatsApp Groups
  • Rates
  • Self Employed
  • Personal cashflow
  • Job Retention Scheme
  • Summary of the Main Reliefs Announced So far

  

None of this information is precious or restricted and this is definitely not a sales pitch. We need to get as much information out, to as many as we can, as quickly as we can, please.

  

WhatsApp Groups

 We have 5 WhatsApp groups running now to ask questions on;

    1. General
    2. VAT
    3. Employers & JRS
    4. Self Employed
    5. Rates

You can join any, or all of the groups. Click on the invites on our website

http://advocouk.com/covid-19/join-our-whatsapp-groups

 Please join the groups of interest to you, ask questions and I will answer them ASAP. I will use these as a basis for a FAQ sheet as well.

 

Rates 

This is causing a lot of confusion and I believe there may be some more guidance on rates, being released. I will be doing a video specifically on Rates later today, which will be on the website later.

We believe that any rates reliefs will be a relatively automatic process but if your business qualifies for a grant, you will probably need to submit some information, including bank details, to your Local Authority, probably by a secure portal.

Please do not give anyone your bank details over the phone, scammers are already trying to take advantage.

Please have a look at our ‘current’ guidance at Rates which I have copied and pasted to the end of this, but this will probably be updated later.

 

 Self Employed 

So sorry for the delay on this but the Chancellor is speaking today on this subject, presumably in the early evening slot.

 Just to confirm, we do not have any detailed guidance as yet for the self employed or Company Directors or property landlords.

 The administration to support the self employed is very difficult and I think this is the main reason why any announcement has been delayed.

The Universal Credit helpline has been drowning in calls. At one point there were reportedly 76,000 in the queue.

 

Personal Cashflow

I would now recommend that everyone completes a list of their income and expenditure, if you have not already done so.

Accountants love a budget / cashflow but it not boring in these circumstances, it is essential that we all have an understanding of what is coming in, going out and when.

 There will be a spreadsheet available on our website later today called PERSONAL CASHFLOW. This will be a spreadsheet but use it as a template if you do not like spreadsheets and use a pen and paper instead.

 If you have not done this before, you need to prepare first.

Get as much paperwork together as you can, so all of your bills, invoices etc. Print or download your last 3 months bank statements and use these as a guide.

 Find somewhere quiet and you will need at least an hour in my experience.

 Use the excel sheet or your paper, to just put your outgoings in date order, using previous months bank statement as a guide. Complete everything you can as best you can, this will not be perfect. Highlight or circle anything that is uncertain.

 Depending on your opening bank balance and any reserves that you may have, the timing of any income that you may be getting in future, this cashflow should help show when you may have a personal cashflow issue.

 You need that information first before you can think about what to do about it.

  

Employers – Job Retention Scheme - JRS

 Myth – “We have to be closed down by the Government to claim back employee wages under the scheme. “      Total Nonsense.

 Please, if it is not safe to go to work, send your staff home.

All Employers can claim employee wages back under the JRS. You do not have to wait to be shutdown by the Government or for the country to be put on total lockdown.

 Health has to be the priority now more than ever.

 If an Employer advises staff to go home and they are not working, the Employer can put the employees onto ‘Furloughed’ status (we have template letters that you can email to staff)

Once staff are Furloughed, the Employer will be able to claim 80% of their wages for those employees not working, up to a maximum of £2,500 pm, if you keep the staff on the payroll.

 The scheme applies to all employers and it is for all employees under the PAYE system. It will apply even if employers have laid staff off since 1 March.

 This assistance will be a grant (not a loan) from HMRC to cover wages.

 It is not a loan but it will need to be claimed and this will be through the PAYE system.

 https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses#support-for-businesses-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

 There are still many questions to be answered about this scheme, for example, what does not working mean.

 As soon as we have the detail we will provide an update.

 

Summary of the Main Reliefs Announced So far

I have attached a summary of the main reliefs attached so far and also various links below.

Please use these links, they are all very useful and also have a look at our overview

 

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses#support-for-businesses-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

 

https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/coronavirus-business-support/

 

https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/faqs/

 

CRORONAVIRUS UPDATE 24 MARCH 2020

 

Last night saw a very historic announcement from Boris, which included closing many more businesses for 3 weeks initially, a full list below;

 https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/874732/230320_-_Revised_guidance_note_-_finalVF.pdf

 We have also now got some detail on the help that will become available for the self employed and there is a video on our website and Facebook and we have updated our self employed guide on our website as well.

 None of this information is restricted, please share with your friends and family, anyone who will benefit.

 

Should We / Can We Stay Open?

 

Some businesses will have to stay open if they provide essential services or if they are linked to essential services. The NHS and MOD for example are essential services and if you are supplying or supporting them, you may also be essential. The full list is available at the link below and I have copied and pasted these at the end of the notes.

 

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision/guidance-for-schools-colleges-and-local-authorities-on-maintaining-educational-provision

 If you can stay open you need to consider staffing requirements carefully.

 If you have any staff in the at risk categories, or they should be shielded, or they are in contact with anyone in those groups, they should really not come to work and they only can if they travel alone and they are working alone.

 These staff should be Furloughed, put on short term lay off but not being made redundant. Please see our guidance on the Job Retention Scheme.

 Then consider your remaining pool of staff and use some form of selection criteria to decide who can continue to work to help you provide your essential services.

 

Below is a list of retailers that will be allowed to stay open:

Supermarkets and other food shops Pharmacies Petrol stations Newsagents Bicycle shops Home and hardware stores Laundrettes and dry cleaners Garages Pet shops Post Offices Banks

Businesses will still be able to take online orders and deliver items to people's homes.

 

Looking at the partial lockdown, many of our clients will now be closing.

 If you are closing your business this will be a very difficult time. Your business is very personal to you and you probably spend more time in your business than anything else in your life.

 You will be worrying about finances, your staff, your customers and suppliers, as well as your friends and family. This is all very natural, we are all in the same boat, you are not alone.

 

If you have had to close and your staff are ‘not working’ they can be laid off temporarily, without being made redundant. This is termed, ‘Furloughed’ You are entitled to reclaim 80% of employees pay if they have been Furloughed.

 We will be sending clients a letter that they can send to staff to confirm they have been furloughed. These are unprecedented times but we still need to try and comply with Employment Law as much as possible. Obviously you cannot call staff meetings and so we think a letter is the best we can do in the circumstances.

 We would recommend that you try and let people know that you are closed temporarily and that you will be back ASAP and in the meantime they can contact you.

 Once you have done all of the essential temporary close down measures needed, take a step back. It has been a very chaotic couple of weeks. Your health and wellbeing and those around you, is more crucial than ever in difficult times. Recharge your batteries.

 You will then be in a much better frame of mind to consider the future of the business. We undoubtedly have difficult times ahead so use the time wisely so that you can position your business as well as possible.

 Look at the guides on our website, make a note of any questions that you have as you go through them and send us an email or call us. We are still very contactable.

  • Look at your business and your personal cashflow (or do a cashflow if you have not yet). There will be a template on our website. Identify when a cashflow problem hits.
  • Complete a personal income and expenditure plan, use your last 3 months bank statements.
  • Make a plan – what are you going to do when you can open again. We do not know when this will be but prepare. The plan can always be adapted.
  • Look at your business plan or do one. Review it, refresh it.
  • If you need to apply for any funding all of the above documents will be useful and will ensure we can approach lenders as well prepared as possible.

  

Essential Services

Health and social care

This includes but is not limited to doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, social workers, care workers, and other frontline health and social care staff including volunteers; the support and specialist staff required to maintain the UK’s health and social care sector; those working as part of the health and social care supply chain, including producers and distributers of medicines and medical and personal protective equipment.

 Education and childcare

This includes childcare, support and teaching staff, social workers and those specialist education professionals who must remain active during the COVID-19 response to deliver this approach.

Key public services

This includes those essential to the running of the justice system, religious staff, charities and workers delivering key frontline services, those responsible for the management of the deceased, and journalists and broadcasters who are providing public service broadcasting.

 Local and national government

This only includes those administrative occupations essential to the effective delivery of the COVID-19 response, or delivering essential public services, such as the payment of benefits, including in government agencies and arms length bodies.

 Food and other necessary goods

This includes those involved in food production, processing, distribution, sale and delivery, as well as those essential to the provision of other key goods (for example hygienic and veterinary medicines).

 Public safety and national security

This includes police and support staff, Ministry of Defence civilians, contractor and armed forces personnel (those critical to the delivery of key defence and national security outputs and essential to the response to the COVID-19 pandemic), fire and rescue service employees (including support staff), National Crime Agency staff, those maintaining border security, prison and probation staff and other national security roles, including those overseas.

Transport

This includes those who will keep the air, water, road and rail passenger and freight transport modes operating during the COVID-19 response, including those working on transport systems through which supply chains pass.

 Utilities, communication and financial services

This includes staff needed for essential financial services provision (including but not limited to workers in banks, building societies and financial market infrastructure), the oil, gas, electricity and water sectors (including sewerage), information technology and data infrastructure sector and primary industry supplies to continue during the COVID-19 response, as well as key staff working in the civil nuclear, chemicals, telecommunications (including but not limited to network operations, field engineering, call centre staff, IT and data infrastructure, 999 and 111 critical services), postal services and delivery, payments providers and waste disposal sectors.

  

Cashflow

Cashflow is going to be even more crucial than ever during this uncertain period. We recommend that our clients start by making an initial cashflow forecast for the next month. It does not need to be sophisticated. 

Something simple and understandable is better than nothing or something too complex. Make notes of any assumptions. Use the last months bank statement as a guide to the typical transactions and the timing of them. 

There will be a spreadsheet template on our website.

  • Consider spreading payments initially and focus on your largest outgoings first, contact them and ask if they can help
  • Contact banks and ask for a short term loan repayment holiday, this will extend the term of the loan
  • Contact other finance providers and ask for a short term loan repayment holiday
  • Consider deferring tax payments
  • Contact the Local Authority about grants and hardship funds
  • Contact the Business Support Line – 03004563565
  • Contact your insurer and see if you have any insurance cover
  • If you are Self employed contact JobCentre Plus about the assistance they may be able to receive

 

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE 21 MARCH 2020

The Job Retention scheme was the big announcement yesterday.

 There are still some questions which will hopefully become clearer over the weekend.

 Can you please send wendy email addresses of bookkeepers, bankers etc anyone who you think may benefit from our updates.

Attached is a guide for the Job Retention Scheme which was the biggest announcement last night.

READ MORE HERE

The full package of measures, announced so far to support businesses include;

  • a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
  • deferring VAT and Income Tax payments
  • a Statutory Sick Pay relief package for SMEs
  • a 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England
  • small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief
  • grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
  • the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank
  • a new lending facility from the Bank of England to help support liquidity among larger firms, helping them bridge coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans
  • the HMRC Time To Pay Scheme

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19

 

Other Measures Announced on 20 March;

Self-employed will able to access universal credit, up to the value of statutory sick pay.

 Tax self assessment payment normally due on 31 July 2020 will be deferred until January 2021

There will be £1bn support for renters.

 

Business Interruption Loans

 These will Interest free for 12 months and we can  start to apply on Monday. We believe that the process will be as follows; 

    • Last years annual accounts
    • Current up to date Management Information
    • Forecast of the level of funding  required

  

VAT Payments

 VAT payment deferral scheme – Automatic, no application required

 No VAT payments from now until end of July.

 Any VAT deferred will be repaid by the end of March 2021, with no penalties or interest

 This will give 8 months to make up the quarters payment that has been deferred from August 2020 to March 2021.

 

Other announcements on 20 March included;

 Cafes, pubs and restaurants must close from Friday night (20/3), except for take-away food.

 Night clubs, theatres, cinemas, gyms and leisure centres have also been asked to close "as soon as they reasonably can". 

 Crucially they did not include shops.

Boris Johnson said, 'We'll stand by businesses if you will stand behind your workers.’

 Other words used included

 Unprecedented,      All in it together,         Colossal Intervention ……….

  The announcements are a clear indication that Employers should try to avoid making staff redundant. The Government are paying a grant of 80% of wages up to £2500 pm for 3 months. This will give employers a lot of comfort and now you can look at making more medium term decisions.

 

This is all very welcome, it does provide a lot of businesses with a much better platform

and helps with employment costs and follows the measures for the Rates system. This will mitigate the  huge redundancies which were looming imminently next week before these measures were announced.

 However businesses have lots of other outgoings to consider as well and please still remember that ultimately cashflow will be king over the coming months.

 There is still a lot more help needed for the self employed and we hope that this will come through in further announcements next week.

Hopefully this indicates that they believe that this virus is causing a short term shock to the economy and they want businesses to be able to adhere to the medical advice but when we can all return to ‘normal’, businesses will be in a position to fire back up and trade at as close to capacity, as quickly as possible. This will help the economy to recover as quickly as possible.

  

Our Dial In Call Last Night

Thank you for all those that dialled in and apologies if you could not get through.

Thank you to Steve Gill and Anna-Maria Geare for their banking advice and also to Gill Fribbance (Nantes Solicitors for her Employment Law advice). I would also like to thank Geoff Timms of Comms UK for his advice about, laptops etc and alerting us to the banking scammers who are unbelievably taking advantage of this situation.

Honestly I really did not anticipate that many people would dial in but it does indicate the level of concern that we are all feeling at the moment. We are all in the same boat which is hopefully a little reassuring.

Apologies for some of the issues on the call with sound etc. I only thought about doing a call on Thursday night, when I was hopeful that the Chancellor was going to make some positive announcements. We were still testing at 4pm!

I wanted to be able to get the information from the Chancellor across ASAP and crucially before the weekend. We have had a lot of discussions with clients this week and a lot were heading towards considering redundancies over the weekend.

We do not have all of the answers but hopefully we cleared up some issues and it gave some of you a bit of breathing space and a slightly easier weekend.

I am looking at ways to improve our general communication with clients. We want to speak to all of you every day but that is impossible. We are also preparing for a lockdown.

I am looking at videos or webinars to provide information for clients (and non-clients, please share this to whoever you feel may benefit). You can then look at these in your own time and I can then follow this up with group calls. I will look to split the calls into groups, so that we have less people on each call.

If we do group calls in the future can I respectfully ask that you try and take the call in a quiet room away from background noises, TV’s and other devices which may create interference.


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