Planning Ahead

With the current coronavirus situation, have you taken the opportunity to plot and plan for yourself, your families and your business ? It has always been important to look after yourself first before you can then look to help others. A good analogy of this is in an aircraft emergency, they always tell you to put your own oxygen mask on first !

In the first instance, and to keep up-to-date, I can recommend the following links :

Federation of Small Businesses (FSB)

MoneySavingExpert (Martin Lewis)

Support for Businesses (Gov.UK)

Guidance for Employees (Gov.UK)

It is worthwhile looking to see which reliefs you or your business may be eligible for, and make the claim(s). However, I do need to forewarn you that you will need to be patient, as it will take some time for the reliefs to be implemented. This is understandable – we are in uncharted waters, and nobody (apart from China ?) could have foreseen how serious and how devastating the coronavirus would be.

For businesses, there seem to be two problems :-

– business has fallen off a cliff ; and/or

– cashflow problems because your customers / clients cannot afford to pay you

To summarise some of the reliefs that seem to be more applicable to SMEs and individuals :-

Furloughing, is where you put your staff on hold rather than sacking them, or making them redundant. It is part of the government’s Job Retention Scheme, and essentially the government pays 80% of wages, up to £2,500 per month.

If you pay business rates, your business may be eligible for a Business Support Grant of £10,000. In my borough, Barnet, they have already made some of these payments automatically where they have the bank details.

Your business may be eligible for a Business Interruption Loan. You need to apply to your own bank. If the application is accepted, the government guarantees 80% of the loan, and covers interest for the first 12 months. You will need to provide accounts and cashflow forecasts.

If you are self-employed, you can claim 80% of your 2019 business profits, up to £2,500 per month (ie it is not dissimilar to the relief for employees). HMRC will contact you.

If you are VAT registered and owe VAT between 20/3/20 and 30/6/20, you can defer payment until 31/3/21. You still need to submit your VAT returns on time. If you pay by direct debit, don’t forget to cancel this with your own bank.

If you owe any self-assessment income tax in July, you can defer payment until 31/1/21.

Update 27/4/20 : The government have now announced the ‘Bounce Back Loan’ for small businesses. It is designed to be quicker and easier to apply for and launches on 4/5/20 : Bounce Back Loan

I have deliberately tried to keep this summary shorty and sweet. I hope it helps, and let’s hope that things return to normal soon. But in conclusion, have you considered taking advantage of some of the lessons learned during this period ? Eg maintaining and improving your ability to work from home / remotely, video-conferencing etc. I also know that the online bookkeeping packages (ie FreeAgent, Xero, Kashflow, QuickBooks etc), have been invaluable in providing up-to-date figures to be able to make claims.

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