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Coronavirus Actions
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The Government is introducing drastic measures to facilitate social distancing in an attempt to control the spread of coronavirus.  Unfortunately this will have the effect of threatening many small businesses with closure.

At this difficult time we want to highlight potential actions you can take if your business is  struggling. Note we have written this with our Business Companion clients in mind, and these are only suggestions. We have had to make many assumptions where details are lacking but will follow with further advice as things become clearer.

We will be working as usual and are here to support you.  Call or with any specific problems/ questions

Keep well and keep strong.

Jennifer, Mark & Lorraine 
Coronavirus Actions
· Reduce Your Outgoings
· Action each Business Should take
· Action for Employers – March Payroll
· Actions for VAT Registered Businesses
· Sources of Credit
Reduce Your Outgoings
If you are already struggling with cashflow there are several regular payments that you could delay. Bear in mind that they will have to be paid at some point.

Self Assessment & PAYE
HMRC will not be in a hurry to chase taxes at the moment and appeals are likely to be accepted for businesses affected by Coronavirus. The Chancellor has promised ‘improved Time to Pay (TTP) arrangements’. Consider delaying the following tax payments:
  • Self Assessment – Tax due or payments on account due on 31st July. If you need to discuss TTP options with HMRC ring 0300 200 3820 (8am – 5pm weekdays, quieter first thing).
  • PAYE – stop paying by Standing Order or Direct Debit. Check whether you already have any credit on your account so you don’t overpay for March (we will do this for our clients).
Note: HMRC helplines are likely to be completely jammed at the moment so you may not get through. Consider writing to HMRC instead – or we can help you with this.

Pension Contributions
If you will struggle to pay pension contributions please let us know.  We will then submit the contribution schedules as normal but we can delay the payments from your Direct Debit.  Do not cancel your direct debit – as this is difficult to reinstate. Once pension contributions are a few weeks late the pension provider may contact the Pensions Regulator.  But we can’t imagine that they will be quick to impose fines.

Rent and rates 

  • Stop paying Business Rates. For this year, there will be a business rate holiday in England for eligible businesses in the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors with a rateable value below £51,000.
  • There will be an increase in the business rate discount for pubs from £1,000 to £5,000.
  • Send us a copy of your Business rates bill so we can see your Rateable value.
  • If you rent your premises and are in difficulties negotiate terms with your landlord.
  • Are you working from home now?  If so do you need to retain your premises?
Action each Business Should Take
1) Look through your insurance documents to see if you have business interuption cover.

2) Directors, stop paying yourself dividends.  Instead consider increasing your salary.

3) Cease Paying Corporation Tax: we can write on your behalf to explain that a loss in the coming year will offset any profits made hitherto.  Therefore you will be applying for a rebate.
Action for Employers – March Payroll
Consider carefully how much you pay each employee/ Director for March. As this may effect the repayments you receive from the government.  Let us know about any changes to normal rates as soon as possible. 

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

The Government will pay up to 80% of employees wages (up to £2,500 per month) for three months (and this may be extended). We can help small business owners make the grant applications to HMRC for this scheme. It can be backdated to start in March or you can start it in April. Consider the following:
  • Check the staff contracts you have issued for clauses for lay-offs/ short time working. What have you promised? Can you lay off people without triggering a redundancy? 
  • The better option may be to designate workers as ‘furloughed’ and benefit from the coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. They will still be employed but will not be working. 
  • Identify those staff who cannot work at all anyway, for instance due to caring responsibilities. You may want to prioritise them as  ‘furloughed workers,’ whilst keeping a few other employees working.
  • You do have to seek agreement from employees to be furloughed, for instance by letter.
  • If staff are to be furloughed in April consider whether they have received a sensible wage in March.  The 80% paid by Government will be based on previous wages (but we don’t yet know exactly how it will be calculated). 
  • Consider whether you can actually afford as employer to pay the extra 20% of wages – if you can’t afford to make this top up, it is not compulsory.
  • Consider your own salary as a Director.  Is it possible that you or a fellow Director will be furloughed – if so consider increasing your salary in March.
  • Tell us when you send us the payroll information who will be furloughed or made redundant and when. Let us know asap if there are adjustments for March.
  • We will submit information to HMRC about the employees that have been furloughed and their earnings through a new online portal (details waited from HMRC).
  • The repayment of wages from the government may take a while to come through (several weeks) warn your employees if their wages are likely to be delayed.
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
As explained in our Spring Budget Newsletter Statutory Sick pay (SSP) is now payable for those asked to self-isolate with or without symptoms because of Coronavirus, and the Government will refund the cost to smaller businesses.  The SSP rate is £94.25 per week for up to 28 weeks and it is now payable from day one of sick leave.

SSP is a contributory benefit related to an employee’s National Insurance contributions.  If you are an employer please check the wage and hours rates for your employees. In order to benefit from the new rebate of SSP your staff have to be earning at least £118pw for eight weeks.  This could mean that you increase staff hours or rates from March.  If the rate is maintained in April employees will have the eight weeks minimum required to be covered by the scheme, if required.  This means that the SSP and related claim to the HMRC will be processed when we run your payroll.
Actions for VAT Registered Businesses top
  • For those on VAT Annual Accounting – if you would like to reduce your interim payments to a token amount from March let us know and we will write to HMRC to explain the situation.
  • For those who have quarterly VAT returns, VAT payments due up to June will be deferred. Taxpayers will be given until the end of the 2020 to 2021 tax year to pay any liabilities that have accumulated during the deferral period. VAT refunds and reclaims will be paid by the government as normal.
Sources of Credit
  • Talk to your suppliers – can they extend credit?
  • Confirm your overdraft and loan arrangements
  • Local authority small business grant funding of £10,000.  This is for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief. Your local authority will write to you if you are eligible for this grant. We may be able to speed this up for you by sending them your rates bill and bank details.
  • Business grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000. Your local authority will write to you if you are eligible for this grant. Again this may be speeded up by sending them your details.
  • Small firms will be able to apply for a ‘Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan‘ of up to £1.2million. Any small business interested should approach one of the accredited lenders with their borrowing proposal. The main criterion is for your business to be unable to meet a lender’s normal lending requirements for a fully commercial loan or other facility, but would be considered viable in the longer-term. cbils/Go to the British Business Bank Website for more information.
For more information on Government support go the the HMRC Website.
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Simple Accounting Limited offers a cost effective Business Companion service to business owners who use MYOB, Acclivity, Mamut, Solar Accounts, Quickbooks or Clearbooks.

‘All clients using these software packages can benefit from our support. Visit our website for a look at the resource on offer.’
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