Support for your business during the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic

We’re all in this together, maybe not the same boat, but definitely the same storm.  So let’s work together to ride out the storm.  At PPF we’re focusing on the things we can control, and how we can help you get through this.

I know listening to Boris announce a second national lockdown wasn’t quite the Halloween we expected.  But we are much more prepared for this one than we was back in March.  Many fabulous business owners found great ways to pivot their businesses, and now is the time to take what we learnt and take it to the next stage.

I also know the ever changing advise doesn’t help, our offerings, or our mental states!  Let’s look at what you have achieved so far in 2020.  Look at how well your business has adapted and grown already this year.  We can certainly get through a second lock down.

We’ve put together all the information you need to ride this out, along with our top tips to see you through.

It’s been a busy 7 months so far, but we are still here to help and will jump on a call – telephone or video! – to talk through anything you need.  Here’s an update on everything we’re continuing to do for our clients, as well as what we will be doing next.

I will be updating this blog as and when we get more information on government support so please do save the link and and check for further updates – and also keep an eye on our social media channels as we’ll be posting any updates there as and when we receive them too.

We’re all in this together, and together we will get through it 🙂

Stay safe

Cheryl & the PPF Team x

Government help – what is available?

This is the main HMRC business support page with up to date information on the support measures for available for businesses, so good to keep it bookmarked for easy reference.

We’ve written a blog on all the updates from the Chancellor’s Summer Update, which you can read here.  Details from the Winder Economy Plan announced on the 24th September have been added to the relevant sections below.

Statutory sick pay relief for small businesses

Changes have been made to SSP for those off work due to coronavirus related illness. Download our Coronavirus SSP Fact Sheet for more details.

Help for Employers

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) introduced us all to the word ‘furlough’ .  This scheme has helped many employees retain their jobs, and has been widely used by businesses (download our CJRS Fact Sheet here).  The first part of the scheme is now closed, with the second stage (Flexible Furlough) was due to end on the 31st October.

However, along with the second lockdown announcement came the news that the furlough scheme has been extended, and this time it will support even more employees.  Check out our latest blog with all the information we have on the furlough extension.

As part of the Winter Economy Plan the Job Support Scheme was announced, and updated on the 22nd October to cover the new tier system.  This will replace the furlough scheme.  It was due to start on the 1st November for 6 months.  However this has now been postponed until the extended furlough scheme closes – date to be confirmed!

The Job Retention Bonus due in February will also now not be paid in February – as furlough will be extended, therefore the reason for the bonus is now not valid!  It’s unclear if this is cancelled completely, or just pushed back to later in 2021.

Full HMRC guidance for both scheme’s can be found on Gov.uk.

Business Grants

Along with the announcement of the second lockdown and extended furlough was the announcement of new grants.

Businesses with physical premises legally told to close under national or local restrictions will receive grants as follows:

  • Properties with a rateable value of £15,000 or under will receive grants of £667 per two weeks of closure (£1,334 per month).
  • Properties with a rateable value of over £15,000 and less than £51,000 will receive grants of £1,000 per two weeks of closure (£2,000 per month).
  • Properties with an rateable value of £51,000 or over will receive grants of £1500 per two weeks of closure (£3,000 per month).

We await more details on how to claim these grants, however I expect these will be via the local councils as the previous grants.

Business Loans

There are two loans available for businesses to help with cashflow – the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) and the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBL).  Both have a degree of government backing, and both have interest free periods and generous repayment terms.

  • Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) – Small and medium businesses can access loan facilities via the CBILS delivered by the British Business Bank, ideal for loans over £50k.  Download our CBILS Fact Sheet for more information.
  • Bounce Back Loan Scheme – Rishi Sunak announced a second loan scheme for small and medium businesses on the 27th April.  For loans of between £2k and £50k this scheme is the better option, and the funds will be paid out within days.  You can apply for up to 25% of your turnover.  Download our Bounce Back Loans Fact Sheet for more information.

As part of the Winter Economy Plan the government announced Pay as You Grow which will help relieve some of the pressure of the repayments:

  • loan terms can be extended from 6 to 10 years (cutting repayments almost in half)
  • businesses who are struggling can apply for interest only repayments for 6 months
  • and those who need it can apply for a further 6 month interest free period.
  • None of these measures will affect your credit rating.

The deadline for applications has now been extended to the end of the year, and we are expecting a new loan scheme to be announced in January 2021.

From the 10th November 2020 you can apply for a top up of your loan if you didn’t take the full 25% in your original application.  The turnover figure will remain as the figure you used in your original application – so an increase in your turnover since the original application will not be taken into account.

Tax Bill Deferrals & Payment Plans

Automatic tax deferrals are available for VAT and Self Assessment, for all other taxes there is a new Time to Pay Helpline to arrange deferrals and payment plans.  Download our Tax Deferrals & Time To Pay Fact Sheet for more information.

Originally the VAT was deferred until 31st March 2021 – however as part of the Winter Economy Plan you will be able to apply to pay this deferred VAT in 11 equal monthly instalments between April 2021 and March 2022.

Similarly additional help for Self Assessment tax bills have also been announced.  There is an option for all tax due in January 2021 (including the deferred July 2020 payment on account) to be be paid in 12 monthly instalments to January 2022.  You will need to apply for this, we await further details on how and where to apply.

VAT Reduction for Hospitality

As part of the Summer Update a reduction of VAT to 5% for the hospitality industry was announced.  This has now been extended until 31st March 2021.

Business Planning & Cashflow Help

Planning and cashflow are the two key issues at present, and we can help you with both. We’re currently offering 2 planning services – continuity and recovery.

Business continuity planning will help you to identify the actions you need to weather out this current storm.  We held a webinar to introduce continuity planning which you can watch here and offering a few options to help you develop your plan.

Business recovery planning is all about hitting the reset button and planning for the new normal.  We are holding a webinar on Tuesday 3rd June at 3pm to talk you through this type of planning and assisting you to prepare your own recovery plan.  Find out more and book your spot here.

Maintaining a healthy cashflow is crucial to survival in the best of times.  During times like this it’s normal to feel like you can’t chase for payment of your invoices – however it’s more crucial than ever that you do!  Changing your approach, and being sympathetic without being walked over isn’t always easy to get right, but we teamed up with Chaser to help keep payments coming into your business.

We can also help you to understand your cashflow as well as ensure you maintain a positive cashflow, as well as assist in applying for loans if required.  Here is a basic cashflow forecast spreadsheet you can use to work out where you actually stand.  Preparing a cashflow forecast will help to alieviate immediate fears of your cash running out, as well as pinpointing when you will need help and how much. This spreadsheet includes tabs for both your business and personal cashflow.

We also use Float Cashflow software which links to Xero and are able to provide either the software, or a cashflow forecast, as well as business plans if required for loan applications.  Please just drop us an email and we can talk through how we can best help you.

General business tips/advice

There are many things you can do to ease the pressure while needed, we’ve put together a few of our top tips.  We also have blogs on working from home, and working with kids!

  • Cancel all non essential monthly subscriptions – check for break and cancellation clauses first though!

  • Can you downgrade any services/subscriptions to lower tiers and therefore lower costs – ie Zoom – do you really need to be paying for Pro – can you downgrade to the free version temporarily (again double check your contracts, I’m not sure of Zoom’s t&cs just using this as an example!)

  • Keep talking to your suppliers, keep them updated if you’re experiencing any trouble paying them, let them know of any issues asap.  Most businesses will be in a similar position.  Keeping the lines of communication open will be key for the next few months.

  • Prioritising paying your suppliers is a must.  We need to keep the economy going as much as possible, but who do you pay and who do you not?  My first tip is who do you still want to be working with once this is all over? Prioritise those you need to work with right now – the ones who will get you through this.  The suppliers who need to keep supplying you products and services so you can keep trading to some degree.  Those you dont need, and the bog boys, can wait.

  • Can you get a break clause in your lease or negotiate new terms?

  • If your premises are empty then make sure all appliances are turned off to save electric and minimise the bill!

  • Cancel your broadband and any other services you can (obviously check your contracts for minimum term/re-connection costs)

  • Only order items you really need – I know it makes sense to bulk buy in normal times, but we’re trying to keep costs to a minimum so look to implement a ‘Just In Time’ ordering process where you can.

  • Can you reduce staff costs? I know this will be controversial as you won’t want to loose staff at this time, but it’s a reality some may need to explore.

  • Check your insurance policies for business interruption and/or loss of earnings – you may be able to make a claim if need be.

  • Email scams – those scammers love to exploit these type of situations, and I expect there will be loads of ‘get your Coronavirus refund’ emails on their way – be on high alert – HMRC will not email you re a refund – always check the email address it’s coming from and if in doubt just ask – never click on links unless you know for sure it’s genuine.

  • Can you be more creative with your offerings – offer delivery if you’re a restaurant or high street shop, switch to online events/training (using Zoom!), can you sell online rather than face to face?  Can you sell gift vouchers to be used when everything calms down? Is your offering something that will help others get through these uncertain times? Can you deliver something to kids over the internet via a webinar that will keep them entertained and give parents a chance to work or recharge for half an hour?  I’m happy to run through any ideas you may have to see if they are viable options – just give me a shout 🙂

  • Use the time wisely – do that job you’ve been putting off cause you don’t have time -re-write your website, do the blog, answer those emails you’ve been putting off, look at your current processes – can you improve them, get those missing records to your accountant (nudge nudge haha!) – do all the things that your future self will thank you for and will help once this has all passed and you’re back to having no time again.  We’re always saying I don’t have time or I wish I had more time – well this could be your opportunity.

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