Coronavirus Update 27/03/2020
At the bottom of this page you'll find:
A business help sheet which explains what help you can get and under what circumstances
The ICAEW guidance on Employee Furlough
A letter template you can use to furlough the employment of your staff if necessary
These are very uncertain times with fast-changing circumstances with a raft of announcements and little substance in place to receive any of the measures introduced.
Getting clarity on what you should do and what you can do may be difficult and I would like to help by passing on some useful reference points, advice and reassurance.
Top of the list is, of course, the need to protect ourselves and those around us. We continue to monitor the coronavirus situation daily and to keep abreast of the UK government guidelines. Click on this link for useful references https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response
For those of us running a business, we are going to have challenges around how to work with customers, teams and suppliers. There will be cash concerns for many and some people may worry about longer-term viability.
In the Budget, the government announced support including bank loans, HMRC Time to Pay arrangements and rate reliefs. A new temporary coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme will be introduced, delivered by the British Business Bank. These measures will be referenced in the above link.
All the big banks have announced that they want to offer full support for small businesses during the crisis – each has set up dedicated advice services. If you or your business has financial problems, the best advice is to contact your bank as early as possible – they are likely to be besieged with similar requests, so the earlier you speak to your bank the better. Some banks are offering mortgage holidays, others may increase your overdraft facility or loan facility during this period. Find more information at:
ROYAL BANK OF SCOTLAND: www.business.rbs.co.uk/business/support-centre/service-status/coronavirus.html
I would urge you to consider your cashflow requirements over the next few months and to speak with your bank as a matter of urgency if you think you will need help. The sooner you act, the better chance you will have of receiving help.
As a priority, consider asking for time to pay tax bills. Call the HMRC Time to Pay coronavirus helpline on 0800 015 9559 or visit the website. Instant cash flow benefit can be obtained by deferring part or all of your PAYE, National Insurance, VAT or Corporation Tax payments, so these amounts don't leave your bank account when you most need it.
Employers with fewer than 250 employees will be able to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for employees unable to work because of coronavirus. This refund will be for up to 2 weeks per employee. Find out about other government support for businesses here https://www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-employees-employers-and-businesses
The regulations referred to above extend the statutory sick pay (SSP) rules to provide that individuals who are isolating themselves from others in accordance with advice on coronavirus disease are deemed to be incapable of work. We understand that a mechanism to enable businesses to recover coronavirus-related SSP is some months away, so in the meantime, we recommend you make payments of SSP related to COVID-19 within a special pay element within your payroll for easy future reference. If we administer your payroll, please let us know if/when you are making payment of SSP in relation to Covid-19.
Further announcements since the budget refer to Job Retention Scheme where in certain circumstances the government will pay up to 80% of workers pay where there is no work for them and you wish to retain them on the payroll. Sending the employees home requires a discussion with them and the issuing of a furlough letter. The furlough period needs to be for a minimum of 3 weeks and may be extended but I think the government has done this to make sure employees stay at home. I attach guidance in respect of The Furlough Scheme and an example letter to give to employees after the discussion. If we prepare your payroll we will require the information of when employees were sent home and deal with the claim.
Yesterday there was the announcement in respect of the self-employed. Self-employed should receive a grant in June 2020 in respect of 3 months of their average profit over the last three years provided their annual profit is below £50,000 up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. There are qualifying criteria and we will generate a letter in the next week if you are a self-employed client with a calculation of the expected position. Unlike employees self-employed can still continue in their business.
As the self-employed package will not generate any cash until June 2020 the Government has said that Universal Credit may bridge the gap until the funds are received. It is possible to get an advance after 10 days and while there are long queues for this it may be the first method to receive funds.
I have tried to pull this all together on a help sheet showing 14 items of support and the criteria and notes on them. If you need any help with any of the points then please email firstname.lastname@example.org and enter the HELP number in the subject of your email and give us details of your question. We will respond to these as quickly as we can.
The Stead Robinson office is closed because we're all working from home. You can still call and e-mail us during our normal hours: Monday to Thursday 8.30am-5.30pm and Friday 8.30am-3.00pm.
I need to say again - There will be an end to this crisis. Please stay safe and let us know if you have any particular concerns or problems. The sooner you speak to us, the greater the chance we'll be able to help.