Coronavirus (COVID-19)

COVID-19 – Resources, Guidance and Help

View our other COVID-19 guidance pages:

ATN Partnership has created a COVID-19 Finance Team which will act as the central hub for our wider team and clients for information, guidance and advice.

Our aim is to be able to quickly and effectively help businesses access the COVID-19 measures that they are eligible for.

As you will appreciate the situation is constantly evolving and there is always a delay between any government announcing measures and enacting the legislation that they require to implement their plans.

There is then a further delay as the processes are thought through, the relevant public bodies who will be responsible for administration are identified and the exact mechanisms and criteria of the various schemes are finalised.

What is clear is that the Government is throwing a huge amount of money at this and that businesses are going to be faced with a number of issues over the coming weeks and months. 

We have summarised below some practical points and suggestions to help businesses get through the next few weeks but please do contact us so we can talk to you about your business.  This page will be updated regularly as new measures are announced and as we get more clarity on how to access the support available.

As a side note, we want to update this information as quickly as possible so whilst the information is accurate, you may spot the odd typo or spelling mistake – no need to contact us as our proof reader will delight in letting us know!

Insurance

  • You should immediately check your insurance to see if you have cover for pandemic and/or government ordered closure. Most businesses are unlikely to be covered as standard business interruption policies are dependent on damage to property and will usually exclude pandemics.

Compliance

  • The various measures announced by the Government relate to payment deadlines, not filing deadlines.  You should continue to meet all statutory filing dealines for VAT Returns, RTI, CIS, Corporation Tax, annual accounts and Confirmation Statements.
  • Penalties can and will be enforced for late filing.  Regulators have extremely limited powers not to collect and nothing has been announced to enhance these.
  • You can apply for extensions in some circumstances but must do this before the filing deadline.  Usually you will need to be able to tell HMRC the amount of any liability so the computations must be up to date.

Remember that annual accounts are due 9 months after the year end.

You can review the full years tax calendar but please contact us if you have any concerns about meeting your filing deadlines. 

Your Bank

  • Wants to help this should be your first port of call because it is extremely likely that it will be in a position to help much earlier than the various public sector bodies.  They will also have business continuity structures in place so should be able to weather the impact of things like staff shortages better than most.

Even if you don’t have a relationship with your bank, find out what they are going to offer and how you go about accessing it.

  • We are aware of two banks that are planning to waive arrangement fees and provide short term emergency loans to small businesses. 
  • Practical help will be such things as:
  • Loan repayment holidays
  • Overdraft extensions
  • Short term loans

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)

See our latest Guidance on CBILS.

  • We are expecting this to go live in the week commencing 23 March 2020.
  • This programme will be provided by the British Business Bank.  As the Bank operates through a number of what are referred to as ‘participating providers’ there may well be other types of finance available in addition to loans.
    • We anticipate the following support:
    • Loans
    • Invoice discounting and factoring 
    • Overdrafts
    • Asset finance
    • Merchant finance 

There are 22 participating partners in our region (broadly South East/London).

The scheme will be very similar to the Enterprise Finance Guarantee scheme (EFG) (read our EFG blog here) whereby the Government will provide a guarantee against the outstanding balance (probably up to 80%) significantly reducing the need for credit checks.

In addition the Government will also pay the first 12 months interest and the maximum value of the facility under the scheme will now be £5 million (originally £1.2m).

There are some eligibility criteria and sectors such as agriculture, fishing and freight may well be excluded – contact us to find out more.

HMRC – Time to Pay

  • PAYE, VAT, Corporation Tax, Personal Tax and CIS tax deductions all represent sizable outgoings for many businesses.  HMRC will consider requests for more time to pay and it may be a sensible precaution to look into this now.
  • You can either contact us or you can speak to HMRC directly on 0800 0159 559 (lines are open from 08:00 – 20:00 Monday – Friday and 08:00 – 16:00 on Saturdays). 
  • We are speaking to HMRC regularly to gauge how sympathetic their approach is in the current circumstances. Our understanding is that the scheme is being “expanded”.
  • On Friday 20 March the Chancellor announced additional measures with respect to VAT and Income Tax.
    • VAT:
      • VAT payments (not returns) can be deferred from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020;
      • All businesses are eligible;
      • The deferral is automatic, there is no application required;
      • You do not need to make a VAT payment during this period;
      • You must pay the deferred VAT by 31 March 2021;
      • VAT refunds and reclaims will still be paid by the government as normal.
      • You must cancel your Direct Debit mandate with your bank – if you do not then HMRC will still collect.
    • Income Tax:
      • Self Assessment Tax payments due on 31 July will be deferred until 31 January 2021;
      • The deferral is automatic, there is no application required;
      • No interest or penalties will be applied
      • This deferral does not affect Time to Pay offers on current liabilities.

£10,000 Grant for Small Businesses

  • This is an increase on the £3,000 originally outlined – there are not two schemes.
  • To be eligible the business must also be eligible for Small Business Rate Relief or Rural Rates Relief.  The scheme will be operated by the local authority, no money will be available until early April.  We are awaiting clarity on the process.

£25,000 Grant 

  • This is available for businesses operating in the hospitality and leisure industry and to be eligible your business premises must have a rateable value of between £15,000 and £51,000.
  • [Note: Hospitality and leisure businesses are shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas, live music venues, venues for assembly and leisure, hotels, guest and boarding premises, self contained accommodation.]

Note – for both of the above mentioned grants you do not need to do anything.  Your local authority will write to you if you are eligible for these grants.

Business Rates Relief

  • All retail, hospitality and leisure businesses will be exempt from Business Rates for 2020/21. 

Nursery Business Rates Relief

  • All nurseries in England that are providers of Ofsted’s Early Years Register or who provide the Early Years Foundation Stage will not pay any rates for 2020/21.

Note – for both of the above mentioned reliefs you do not need to do anything.  Your local authority will write to you if you are eligible.

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)

  • You can pay your employees SSP from day one of their sickness (previously day 4) and can reclaim 14 days of COVID-19 related SSP.
  • It is important to note that you must maintain a record of the absence and the employee should obtain and provide to you an isolation note from NHS 111 Online or NHS website if they live with someone who has symptoms.
  • There is no repayment mechanism in place at this time. This will be agreed in the “coming months”.
  • There are no details at this time as to how this will be administered.

Delay expenditure

  • Think about your expenditure – this period will be about cash not profit.
  • You should delay any large scale expenditure on things like vehicles, plant, IT, non essential repairs, etc. even if you are contractually committed, speak to the vendor and put them in the picture.
  • We have extensive experience of working with financially stressed businesses and can tell you that most suppliers will work with you when times are difficult provided there is dialogue – suppliers can manage bad news, they can’t manage no news.
  • Stretch service intervals (particularly if assets are going to be dormant or see reduced usage), ask lease companies for payment holidays or to extend terminating arrangements, speak to your largest creditors about a payment plan.

Financial forecasting and planning

It is unclear how much evidence businesses will be required to submit in order to access the support available but it is likely that they will have to demonstrate two things

  1. That the amount of fiance sought is required;
  2. That the amount of finance sought is sufficient;

Beyond the requirements that different providers may have it is now more vital than ever that businesses have a good idea of what their short term cash flow looks like and a 12 month forecast is vital.

Charities

There has been no specific announcements regarding charities in England and Wales (there is a £20 million ‘resilience’ fund in place in Scotland). 

The Communities Secretary is working with the Chancellor to “…provide the support that may be required”.  We continue to monitor announcements from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and Charity Commission.

This id the Gov.uk Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance for the charity sector

Useful links

Government help and support for your business

Support for Business

Guidance for employees, employers and business

Guidance for employers and business

Guidance for employees

Chancellor’s March 2020 Budget – additional measures 

Business Rates Relief

Small Business Rates Relief

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