At the time of writing, the advice and information from the HM Government is changing on a daily basis. However, the latest announcements relating to financial help to businesses will hopefully provide some comfort to everyone.

Helpline
HMRC now have a dedicated helpline for Coronavirus related queries: 0800 0159 559 
IF YOU ARE IN FINANCIAL DISTRESS PLEASE CALL THEM.  They are not monsters and are there to help.

Government – Package of Measures
The Government announced both in the Budget and on 17th March 2020 the following options to help your business:

  • Business Interruption Loan Scheme – this will enable businesses to apply for a loan of up to £5 million, with the government covering up to 80% of any losses with no fees.
  • £10,000 cash grant for the smallest businesses who are currently eligible for rates relief, delivered by local authorities.  If you fall into this category you will be contacted – you do not need to apply.
  • Business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses – no rates to pay for the 2020/21 tax year.
  • £25,000 grant for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with a rateable value of between £15,000 and £51,000.

The full advice on how to apply for these loans will be available in the next few days BUT we anticipate that the conditions of all these loans and grants will include having your accounts filed up to date.

Therefore, our advice is to make sure all your paperwork is up to date.  If your accounts are due and not with us, get in touch and we can let you know what we need from you. Then you will have all the documentation to hand if it is required.

Insurance
Check your business insurance policy, specifically for Business Interruption Cover.
Again the terms of your insurance paying out may be on the condition that your accounts are filed up to date, and the accounts may be used to justify loss claims.

We are planning to hold a webinar this week to talk through all these points in more detail and you will be able to ask Andrew specific questions.  Details of this will be circulated as a meeting appointment.

Self- Isolation Upside
If you are in self-isolation or have some unexpected downtime if work is quieter, why don’t you consider organising all your paperwork ready for your 2020 tax return?  This way we can get it submitted straight away for you and it will help you to plan your cash flow for the coming year, or if you are due a refund you will receive it sooner and at a time when you need it the most.

Employee Measures
If you haven’t already done so, you must ensure that your staff are aware of the measures you have in place to cope with virus-related problems, and to review the terms and conditions of their contracts.

This will include your terms of sick pay and their obligations to assess their health every day before coming to work.

If they have a new dry, persistent cough or a temperature in excess of 37.8C, or any of their household members have these symptoms, or if they have been in contact with someone who has recently returned from an area where there has been an outbreak of COVID-19, then they must not come to work.

Where members of staff are self-isolating, and are unable to work from home, they are entitled to be paid Statutory Sick Pay (“SSP”) from day 1 of absence and the business can reclaim the first 14 days of SSP back from HMRC.

However, SSP is only £96.25 per week so employees may struggle to make ends meet.

Help with Household Costs
You may therefore also wish to circulate the following to staff members for financial measures they can take as individuals:

This is going to be a very difficult time for absolutely everyone, and the shortage of income will cause severe difficulties in most households. If you do not have adequate savings, you should consider the following

  • Contact your mortgage lender and ask for a payment holiday.  Many lenders have already announced that they will grant payment holidays, but since the terms are different for each lender, you must speak to your own lender.
  • If you are in rented accommodation, you should contact your landlord as soon as possible. If you are entitled to certain benefits or credits, then you may be entitled to Housing Benefit.
  • Depending on your circumstances, you may be entitled to other benefits including Universal Credit. The claims process has been speeded up to enable claimants to be paid quickly

If you have credit card debt, you should speak to your credit card company. They may be able to extend your credit card limit and could potentially grant some relief from the interest charges.

If you need anything let us know. Our business depends on your business and we must all pull together. Keep washing your hands!

We strongly advise you to seek appropriate advice before taking action on any of the points listed above.
All information contained in this document are correct at the time of writing.  Legislation and regulations may change at any time.

If you are in any doubt, please call us for clarification.
About us:  Leggate Associates Limited was formed by Andrew Leggate LL.B FCMA FCA CGMA who has over 35 years of tax and accountancy experience in industry and practice, and the practice is managed by Joanne Leggate FMAAT, ATT (Fellow).  Our clients range from building subcontractors to multi-million pound concerns and high net worth individuals all over the UK.  Please see our website www.leggateassociates.co.uk  or follow @LeggateAssoc on Twitter for occasional updates.
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