Business Briefings by Bob Hutchinson
Principal Eros Business Consulting
Eros Business Consulting and its associates in business management, Kinnaird Hill and Face2Face offer some pointers in the Covid-19 Struggle
We are entering a very difficult period for business. So we have put together some thoughts and advice that may be helpful, or at least thought provoking.
We all need to think clearly and act decisively to ensure that we have a business once the crisis is over.
If you think you may soon have a cash flow problem, act now!
We will try to keep this information as current as possible but the situation is very fluid as you will understand and we are still waiting for policy changes for the self-employed.
However late last night:
The Chancellor, this evening,(20th March) announced further measures to support people and businesses through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19.
The Chancellor’s statement can be found at GOV.UK.
Updated guidance for employers, businesses and employees is available at:
COVID-19: support for businesses
We will continue to share the most up to date information directly with you as it becomes available.
This followed some of our earlier advice on staffing in our content below.
The Government wants us to retain our staff wherevr the situtaion allows and the above measures will help. Good staff are difficult to find and retrain and those you look after will pay you back in dividends.
If you need advice let EROS and our associates point you in the right direcetion. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Call +44 (0) 1787 326468 (pm Only)
Latest information on Self Employed Support March 26th
GOV¯.UK has further details about who is eligible for the scheme and how it will work
Self-employed people do not need to get in touch with HMRC as the scheme isn’t yet open for applications. HMRC will contact eligible customers by the beginning of June, inviting them to apply.
Deferral of Self Assessment Income Tax payments due in July 2020 and VAT payments due from 20 March 2020 until 3¯0¯¯ June 2020
VAT … Get on the phone
There is a deferment procedure, the situation is very fluid and so could change. If you are having financial difficulties due to the coronavirus then you can apply for a deferment of VAT. Currently they are not checking the validity of any information received. Also bear in mind, better to defer it early than realise too late that you have a cashflow problem.
The HMRC telephone number is 0300 200 3853. You will need the following information to hand.
1 VAT number
2 Date of VAT registration
3 Details of the last VAT returns box 5 figure.
4 Name address and post code of the business.
You will then need to explain that your income has been severely depleted/ceased due to the Coronavirus and that you will not be able to pay the VAT debt/liability. Ask for a deferment of 3 months and when this is agreed you will need to cancel the DD if one is set up. HMRC will not chase the debt if this action has been completed but if the DD is not cancelled then they will proceed as normal and take your money regardless of any agreement.
The specialist unit hasn’t yet been set up yet so any calls on the specialist number are just going through to the normal teams. They are very short staffed.
Tax ….. Get on the phone
All businesses and self-employed people in financial distress and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support from HMRC through the Time to Pay arrangement. This will be viewed on a case by case basis. HMRC’s dedicated helpline number is 0800 0159 559.
When talking to HMRC do not understate your predicament. You are in dire trouble and emphasise that. Let’s not have any stiff upper lip, ‘oh its not too bad’, or they might just believe you and you will end up with no help!
Creditors… Get on the phone.
We all have monthly payments to make. We are talking about Rent, Suppliers, Utilities, Wages, Bank loans.
People we have spoken to are concerned about their image/ credit score, they are worried suppliers will think they are not going to pay. Let us remember, EVERYONE is in the same boat.
So we want to do the following:
- Make sure we are taking advantage of all the days of credit on offer. If you normally pay after 20 days, but actually have 30 days to pay…. You pay on 30 days…. Or perhaps 35
- Discuss with suppliers a longer credit term. If you are currently on 30 days, tell them you now pay on 45 or 60 or even 90. We must spread our payments, make our money last.
- If you pay Rent, contact the landlord and explain that you need to halve your rent for the next three months. If you think you can get a rent holiday, then go for that. Negotiate hard.
- Suppliers, remember they want to supply us, and we want a discount. For the next three months we want to carry on trading with them but we are looking to cut the cost, we want a 5, 10, 15 or 20% reduction in pricing. You know your suppliers, you know how much they can shave off the price.
- Utility bills, Gas, Electricity. They could be trickier, but contact them and advise them that you need a payment schedule. Aim to cut the payments to them by 50%. They will not want to do so, but hold firm and explain that you will catch up but it is impossible to maintain current payments. Come to an arrangement. If they refuse, then consider simply reducing the payments to them anyway.
- The Bank. As they are continually reminding us, they are here to help, they have an understanding ear, they are the friend of business. So again, ask for a repayments holiday for business loans. 3 months non-payment would be very good for cashflow.
- Let’s review what else we spend our money on. It might be a good time to stop all capital expenditure plans, put on temporary hold new employees, expansion, or any other business activity that needs money now. Are we employing temporary staff? do we have temporary consultants? Can we halt those projects? Keep the old van or car for a few more months.
- How much are we spending on leases, be they cars, vans, photocopiers, printers etc. Let’s get on the phone and negotiate a payments holiday. 1, 2 or 3 months not paying could amount to thousands of pounds. We can catch up by adding 1, 2 or 3 months at the end of the lease.
- Staffing. Obviously anything we do in this area must take into account the HR rules but for many businesses the monthly wage bill is a significant outlay. Let us also remember that Good staff are often the foundation of the business. So consider the staff you have, who is most crucial, who sadly do we not really need at all.
Be careful, do not think to lose too many staff, you do not know who is going to be hit by the virus, at the moment you may not have enough work for everyone, but you may need them all by the time the crisis passes.
So consider pay reductions, job sharing, cutting hours, putting people onto half pay for a week or two and send them home, even unpaid leave. What we want to achieve is a reduction in our costs but maintain our staff resource.
It may seem harsh, but frankly people will need their job, and so a reduction in pay will hurt, but will seem much more preferable to the other option…redundancy.
Remember making staff redundant can be expensive, especially if they have worked with you for a few years.
IR35 Private Sector
The Government have announced that they are now delaying the rolling out of the new private sector IR35 regime until 1st April 2021.
This could release those large companies who have not yet or are in the throes of issuing Status Determinations from having to do so.
If you have any IR35 queries contact your relationship partner or one of our managers.
Those employees who follow the Government advice on self-isolating and have to stay at home and cannot work as a result, will be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) from day 1.
Anyone not eligible to receive sick pay, including those earning less than the average of £118 per week, some working in the gig economy, or self-employed, the Government state they may be able to claim Universal credit and/or contributory Employment and Support Allowance. If someone needs money urgently due to the COVID-19 crisis they can apply for an advance.
SME businesses (fewer than 250 employees) will be refunded up to 2 weeks SSP for eligible employees who have been off work due to COVID-19. The Government will be working with employers to set up a suitable repayment mechanism.
There is a 12 month business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses for the 2020/21 tax year in England.
A £25,000 grant will be provided these businesses operating from small premises with a rateable value of between £15,000 and £51,000.
There will be additional funding for local authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief (SBRR) by way of a grant of £10,000.
On the surface the above looks good, and for anyone it applies to, in one of the three categories, then it could be a great help. However some of us do not work in these categories, and so we must wait to see if the Government are going to expand their grants to others.
Business insurance CHECK!
Businesses that have cover for both pandemics and government ordered closures should now be covered, on the grounds that the government and the insurance industry have confirmed the advice given on 17th March would make the claim valid. Businesses should check to see if their insurance policy covers this as many will not.
The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
This will be launched next week by the British Business Bank to support businesses to access bank lending and overdrafts. The government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan to give lenders the confidence to continue to provide finance for SMEs. The government will not charge businesses or banks for this guarantee. Businesses can access the first 6 months of this finance interest free.
Those affected by COVID-19 will be able to have a 3 month mortgage holiday. Lenders should be approached on this matter immediately if affected. It is not clear if this applies to corporate mortgages as well as personal. The best answer is to ring and ask. If you do ring, be prepared to ask for a payments holiday, even if you are told the new regime does not apply.
Further announcements are likely for the self-employed, we expect the current grants to include many more business sectors
Human Resources, health and safety and employment issues helpline
If you are a member of our fee protection insurance scheme you are entitled to use the free advisory helpline from Markel. The number is 0345 250 0762
If you are not sure contact us and we will check for you.
You will also find below a link to a help sheet put together by the company we use for HR. Face2face are in our opinion a good advisor.
COVID-19 Update from face2face
The official guidance is evolving in these unprecedented times, and each day we have a new take on the issues we are currently facing. So I thought I would share our latest article with you around driving the right behaviour with your workforce, and what do you do if you have staff refusing to self-isolate.
See attached link to my article which may give you some assurance that we are striving to support you and your business at this time, any questions do not hesitate to contact me: http://bit.ly/33wIytw
It is early days, the Government are still making policy and in reality it will take them a week or so to really understand the help that could be considered.
Our advice is to tighten belts now.
We have put this list of hopefully useful ideas together with the help of my colleagues at Kinnaird Hill, in St Ives Cambs and with HR assistance from Face2Face.
We do appreciate that all businesses, a few days ago were running good, successful, well managed businesses, and they are now going to have a very hard time for the next few months.
The paper was put together for Eros Business Consulting specialists in Optical and Primary Care Business Strategy and Indirect Taxation for Opticians, by Kinnaird Hill (St Ives, Cambs) specialist account in SME’s and GP Practice.
Call us for an assessment of your needs and a discussion of how we can help with practical ideas.
Eros Business Consulting Ltd, Hall Barn, The Street, Preston St Mary, Suffolk C010 9NG, 01787 326468
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Call +44 (0) 1787 326468 (pm Only)