Essential business preparations for COVID-19
The UK is seeing an unprecedented amount of disruption due to the current coronavirus outbreak and in response the Chancellor has announced a number of measures to help businesses deal with this crisis.
Understandably, business owners will be concerned during these difficult times, but they must take practical steps now to help protect themselves, their business and their staff.
To help, we have put together a checklist to give help and advice on how to try and mitigate some of the impact of COVID-19:
- Consult with employees, on matters including:
- Remote working
- Early holidays
- Short-time working
- Sick pay policies
- Health & safety policies
- Redundancies and temporary layoffs
- Liaise and notify customers, suppliers, contractors and trading partners of your contingency plans
- Defer tax payments by agreement with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), for:
- CIS (Construction Industry Scheme)
- MGD (Machine Games Duty)
- Defer business rate payments or claim business rates reliefs, if applicable, via your local authority
- Agree to rent and expenditure deferrals
- Prepare new or updated bank facilities, including capital holidays
- Consider using the Government’s business interruption loan scheme
- Defer capital expenditure
- Defer finance payments, hire purchase and leasing
- Accelerate income
- Update credit control procedures
- Reduce stock levels
- Review insurance policies
- Review all contractual obligations and advanced orders
- Review your business’s terms & conditions
HMRC is offering time to pay applications and may even waive interest and penalties on late payments for those struggling to make tax payments.
To help with the surge in applications it anticipates, HMRC has established a dedicated helpline manned by more than 2,000 personnel to help businesses and self-employed individuals in financial distress, who may have outstanding tax liabilities.
Those who call the line will be offered advice, as well as other options including:
- instalment arrangements
- suspension of debt collection proceedings
- cancellation of penalties and interest where a business has administrative difficulties contacting or paying HMRC immediately.
The line will be open Monday to Friday from 8am to 8pm, and Saturday from 8am to 4pm.
If you run a business or you are self-employed and concerned about paying tax due to the impact of coronavirus, you can call HMRC’s helpline for advice on 0800 0159 559.
Funds are available to local authorities to provide grants of up to £25,000 per business for those companies already benefitting from small business rate relief. The process for claiming this grant is currently unclear and may differ from authority to authority.
The Government will also abolish business rates for businesses in the hospitality, retail and leisure industries for one year.
Business interruption loans
The Government is to support up to £330 billion of lending by guaranteeing up to 80 per cent of business interruption loans of up to £5 million per business.
This scheme is available to businesses with turnovers of up to £41 million that are headquartered in the UK.
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
The Government is making it easier for employees to claim SSP by making it applicable from the first day of absence due to Covid-19 infection or self-isolation related to the virus.
Employers with fewer than 250 employees will also be able to claim back the first two weeks’ worth of SSP, per employee. These measures will remain in place until 13 November 2020.
The Government has provided further advice to employers, which can be found by clicking here.
Those not eligible for SSP, such as the self-employed, will have to seek financial support through the benefits system.
The Government has confirmed that self-employed individuals can claim from the first day of illness or self-isolation instead of waiting for seven days, but it may take several weeks for a claim to be processed under Universal Credit.
Those who are self-isolating will not be required to go to a jobcentre to begin this process.
Seek help now
The situation surrounding COVID-19 is changing on a daily basis and the Government has made it clear that it may need to take further steps to contain the virus and deal with the impact it is having on the UK economy.
During these challenging and uncertain times, it is important that you have a professional adviser by your side that you can trust.
We can help with the majority of the points outlined in this guide and our team are standing by today to help you with any enquiries you may have, so please feel free to contact us.