Time has sort of taken a whole new dimension these last 3 weeks, and since the ‘lock down’ announcement, we’ve all had our worlds turned permanently upside down. We’ve given up on ’normality’ and we are now innovating and adapting to this new chapter of our lives, where, for the first time the playing field has been levelled for many of us. Somehow, we’ve taken a step back (or maybe forwards) in time and we have started to appreciate things we have previously taken for granted. The sight of a bread van doing home deliveries of fresh bread brings unquantifiable amounts of joy. We openly worship a milkman who can deliver not only fresh milk, but eggs and butter. A supermarket without a queue warrants unheralded levels of excitement. The days roll into one another, a little bit like that period between Christmas and New Year, as time marches on, but perhaps with a new value for many of us. Nature has also found some limelight. Walking is the new coffee shop. Outdoors is a cherished and rarefied air.
And whilst we make these quantum adjustments to our lives, we still have the ‘day job’ and I thought it would helpful to round up where we are and what we are seeing just now.
Job Retention Scheme
Some of us have already decided that the best thing we can do right now is turn off the lights and send everyone home. The introduction of the Job Retention Scheme (the Government’s offer to pay a grant of up to 80% of an employee’s salary costs (or £2.5k, whichever is the lower) if the employee is furloughed rather than made redundant), has been taken up in droves. That’s hardly surprising, given that salary costs are often the single biggest overhead. And where, as we can now see, a business is given little or no other support, this is the first thing that many businesses owners have done. But perhaps, what is surprising, is that the Government are surprised. Really? With an early take up of something like 3 times government predictions and likely to go way beyond that, we’ll have to watch closely how this plays out. But the news is, that HMRC are opening the portal to make the claims next Monday (20th April). We are very happy to make these claims on your behalf (we’ll need information from you to do that) and we’ll get our heads around it as quickly as possible. As it’s likely to get more visitors at 0800hrs next Monday than the Glastonbury website does on ticket day, I think we should all manage our expectations on how the technology will cope. Let’s face it, even B&Q now have a queuing system on their website!
Please get in touch if you want us to make the claim on your behalf.
Where small businesses pay little or no rates there is a grant available of £10k paid by your local authority. Whilst we have seen some of these already being paid, it’s now becoming clear that each Local Authority has a different process. We originally thought this was automatic, and in some cases it is, but it now looks as if you may have to make contact with your local authority and the best place to do this is via their website. You should also check the post at your business address to see if they have written to you.
Retail, Hospitality and Leisure
These grants are now being paid and in most cases the local authority have written to the business owner asking for basic details. It does, however, appear to have a wide definition of the terms and retail can, in some cases, extend into some service industries.
The offer of the Government to underwrite 80% of any amount borrowed from commercial lenders and pay the first 12 months interest on the debt appears slow to get off the ground. Whilst the Government issued guidance to banks to relax the terms (largely around security requirements) we have seen very few approved applications. It is, however, important to note that we have not seen a large number of refusals. The prime reason for this appears to be the processing capability of the banks, my advice is to persevere.
Loans and Finance
Obtaining a 3 month holiday from loan and finance companies appears, on the whole, to be accepted. However, we are aware of certain finance companies that have given a flat refusal to holidays. This seems surprising in that it’s ok for some, but not others. Once again it is perhaps a question of perseverance.
VAT, PAYE, Self Employed Taxes, Corporation tax
In all cases, we are seeing an acceptance from HMRC regarding time to pay. The deferred payment date for VAT (for payments due between 20th March 20 and 30th June 20) is 31 March 2021 and the deferred payment date for self-employed taxes (2nd instalment due 31 July 20) is the 31st January 2021. A call to the COVID-19 helpline at HMRC 0800 024 1222 is required if delays in payments are anticipated.
Where an individual is self-employed in the year ended 5 April 2020, and continues to be self-employed, a grant of up to 80% of taxable profits or £2,500pm is payable. HMRC have all these details and we are expecting this process to be automatic. No payments are expected before June 2020. We will update you as and when we have more information.
We now know this lock down will continue for at least another 3 weeks and in that time, as in the last 3 weeks, there will be more announcements and more changes. We will do our best to keep you informed but we are also grateful to hear any information you may have that could help others. In the meantime, here are my contact details, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
Landline – 01326 660022
Mobile/WhatsApp/Text – 07779799995 – Mike Hutchinson
Zoom ID – 205 677 7765 – Mike Hutchinson