3rd set of Financial Measures – 20th March 2020

As I lay awake last night processing all the proposals announced by the Government in the last 10 days, I chewed over many possible titles. In the end my experience at Majestic this week shone through. Thursday was their biggest day ever. Bigger than Christmas eve and New Year’s eve. Well, Majestic, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

There were some extraordinary announcements in yesterday’s Coronavirus conference and I shall come to those in a moment. But it is really important that we don’t overlook the ‘whole’ message given by the Government because clearly they are all interlinked.

In addition to the financial measures announced, Boris told Bars, Restaurants, Cafe’s (places where people congregate) etc that they must shut.  It was no longer optional. The theme running through these announcements appear to have 3 threads;

> Health – the danger of the virus itself

> Social – what each and everyone of us must do

> Economic – how we plan to protect the economy

Emphasis is now being placed on us all taking responsibility for our individual actions and that includes reducing our social interaction. The consequence of which would be to get through this period as quickly as possible and therefore return the economy to ’normal’ sooner. So arguably, it’s an economic measure too, and therefore very relevant to all of our businesses.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

The Government are offering to pay up to 80% of an individual’s salary in situations where otherwise that individual would be laid off. The features of this remarkable offer include;

> it’s a grant (not a loan) so not repayable

> open to every business

> backdated to 1st March 2020

> open for a minimum of 3 months (with the intention to extend if needed)

> there is no limit to the funding available for the scheme

> funds will be available ‘within weeks’ (he also said ‘by the end of April’)

> accessed through HMRC

There are more details to follow and we will continue to keep you updated, but I would imagine this measure will be a great relief to many. It does have ramifications, greater in some businesses than others, but generally an incredibly generous measure.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

This is the Government backed loan scheme accessed through your High Street bank (amongst others) – the interest free period is now extended from 6 to 12 months

There is further information about this scheme available here https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/coronavirus-business-interruption-loan-scheme-cbils/ this gives details of eligibility and states that it is only available where existing facilities from ’normal’ lenders are not.

In this respect, we aware that funds may be available, through other sources with rates starting at 1.9%

Understanding if you need to borrow, who you can borrow from, how much you may need to borrow, how long for, are all considerations that you need make in the next week or so. Please contact us so that we can help you with that process.

VAT – deferred

All VAT due and payable in the quarter ended 30 June 2020 is deferred and will not become payable until 31 March 2021.

This is a cash flow benefit in the short term. We are also expecting something to be said about PAYE, although we are aware that HMRC have extended their ’time to pay’ window if you call them and give them an outline of your circumstances.

A national advertising campaign advising business owners to ’sit tight’.

Rishi indicated a campaign that he encourages all business owners to read carefully before deciding to make anyone redundant. We’ll be reading that carefully and reporting back the contents as we begin to understand it.

Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit

There are increases in both these areas of an additional £1k pa.

Self employed

Access is being given to self employed workers to the equivalent of statutory sick pay. So far, this area has had the least attention. I am aware of many self employed individuals, working from home, or in another’s premises with very little access  to grants or funding. Many operate through companies and therefore possibly fall between two stools.

It’s a question that I am being asked over and again and we will watch carefully to see what announcements are made.

Income tax payments – due 31 July 2020

Postponed until 31 January 2021

Renters 

Rishi said ‘I’m announcing today £1bn of support for renters, by increasing the generosity of housing benefit and Universal Credit, so that the Local Housing Allowance will cover at least 30% of market rents in your area’. I’m not entirely sure what this means, but we’ll look into it and explain further as we understand it.

Conclusion

Undeniably, considerable steps taken to shore up our economy with some remarkable steps taken to protect individual’s income, where they are vulnerable for redundancy. The last 10 days or so have been a whirlwind of proposals, offers, grants, loans, and will need to be weaved into all of our business plans. But once again, I urge you all to make a plan, starting with the end in mind. The decisions we make over the next few days must be the right decisions to protect our business in the long term. The offers are undeniably generous, but they are also complex. For some it will be ‘bingo, let’s hibernate, see you in July’, for others a far more complex set of decisions. We don’t have all the answers, but we get a blend of responses from everyone we talk to and we really want to share that knowledge to help you make the right decisions. So, please call.

In the meantime, let’s adopt the Chancellor’s message of compassion, let’s all think how we can give & what we can do that helps others, no matter how small. Our Government is giving in spades – what are you giving?

Finally, in addition to my ramblings, you might find the following (from the horse’s mouth) useful;

The Chancellor, this evening, announced further measures to support people and businesses through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19.

The Chancellor’s statement can be found at GOV.UK

Updated guidance for employers, businesses and employees is available at:

COVID-19:support for business

COVID-19: guidance for employees

Happy to be contacted by any means;

Landline – 01326 660022

Mobile/WhatsApp/Text – 07779799995 – Mike Hutchinson

Zoom – ID 205 677 7765 – Mike Hutchinson