Last updated : 16th March 2020.
Following the recent developments surrounding COVID-19 (Coronavirus), our top priority remains the health and well-being of our colleagues, whilst ensuring that we are available to continue to deliver a high quality service to all our clients.
We have long been a supporter of agile working and have invested heavily in secure, cloud based technology. As a result, we do not expect day-to-day business to be impacted, but have implemented a range of measures to ensure an uninterrupted service:-
- We may be working from home, or remotely, but can always be contacted by email or telephone;
- We are limiting in-person meetings, but can always arrange video, conference calls or screen share via Skype, FaceTime, Zoom or Team-viewer, Microsoft Teams;
- When requested, please supply information promptly, for example, to process payroll, file VAT or statutory accounts, to avoid any delays;
- For certain clients, there may be operational issues in processing payments to suppliers or employees, therefore please ensure your client account is sufficiently and promptly funded when requested.
- For further information, please contact your usual Relationship Manager by email or, by telephone on 01923 332 586.
PREPARING YOUR BUSINESS
It is unclear how long this outbreak could last and the severity of its effects. Some of our clients have already reported the negative impact of COVID-19. We would therefore like to take this opportunity to advise clients to take sensible precautions in preparing their business, if not already done so:-
- First and foremost, employers should ensure that they are taking any necessary steps to protect their employees. All employers have health and safety obligations to keep employees informed about health risks that may arise in carrying out their duties and to ensure that working practices do not create undue risks to employees;
- If not already done so, bring your P&L and Balance Sheet up to date so you have the best idea of your financial position. Cloud accounting software such as Quickbooks / Xero can help.
- Businesses should assess their working capital position and ensure enough funds are available to cover a drop in sales, and upcoming liabilities such as salaries and VAT. Now may also be a good time to negotiate temporary credit terms with suppliers and speak to landlords about reduced or deferred rent;
- Contact debtors and chase overdue invoices. Look at reducing credit days and credit limits.
- Ascertain the nature of insurance policies that you have in place which could, in principle, cover business interruption, supply chain and other losses (including third party claims or losses incurred as a result of disrupted or cancelled business travel);
- High levels of awareness around COVID-19 and resultant public concern has seen an increase in criminals using public health themed phishing emails to deliver malware and steal sensitive information. Staff should be advised of this and reminded of relevant processes for handing suspicious emails.
The UK Government introduced a raft of measures in this week’s Budget to support businesses in response to COVID-19. The key points include:-
- For businesses with fewer than 250 employees, the cost of providing 14 days of statutory sick pay per employee will be refunded by the government in full;
- Companies with a rate-able value of less than £51,000 will be eligible for a 100% Business Rates discount for one year and expanded to include leisure, restaurant hospitality sectors, but larger retail and leisure chains are unlikely to benefit;
- A new temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme. The scheme will support loans of up to £1.2 million per small business;
- All businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time To Pay service. If you are concerned about being able to pay your tax due to COVID-19 then we can assist or call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559;
- Moreover, if COVID-19 has affected your company and you need more time to file your accounts, you should apply for an extension before your filing deadline.
As developments unfold, we will make further announcements on our website and social media.
For further information, please contact your usual contact or Relationship Manager, or telephone on 01923 332586.
Sarosh Afzal & Team