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[12.03.2020]

COVID-19: Support For Your Business

We are currently experiencing a time of high anxiety in our communities with the threat of COVID-19. We all know it could cause serious damage medically and economically.  While we can’t help you with the former, we are hoping with this blog, to give you any advice, information and reassurance possible right now with regards to the latter.

Keep in mind that, while it is seriously disruptive, the Chinese experience suggests that this is a short-term phenomenon and things should get back to normal within 2-3 months.

News and advice

First let’s look at yesterday’s budget.  The new chancellor delivered an historic budget, particularly by Conservative standards, that outlined billions of pounds of investment.  The good news for small and medium size businesses, is that he directed considerable support towards them.

  • The first piece of good news was confirmation that the government would cover statutory sick pay (from day 1, not day 4) for those advised to self-isolate because of Covid-19.  This refund from the government will cover up to 14 days for small and medium businesses with fewer than 250 employees. This will be particularly helpful now that people are being told to self-isolate if they have a fever or a new and persistent cough.
  • The Chancellor also announced a COVID-19 business interruption loan scheme with support of £1bn lending to small businesses. So, the government will guarantee bank loans to small businesses for amounts up to £1.2m. They will also cover bank losses up to 80%.
  • Another welcome step announced was that business rates for some smaller companies will be scrapped for one year. This applies to the retail, leisure and hospitality industries, if they have premises with a rateable value up to £51,000. This should help ease the dip in demand that some businesses of this type might have to endure until the end of 2020.
  • Don’t feel left out if your small business is eligible for small business rates relief, you’ll get an additional £3k cash grant from the government.
Other announcements included:
  • Entrepreneurs Relief lifetime limit reduced by 90% to £1 million
  • £130m in new funding to extend start up loans and £5 billion of new export loans for businesses
  • £5bn to invest in gigabit broadband to remote areas of the country

Of course, we don’t know yet how easy it will be to access these reliefs. Or how quickly many of them, such as the refund for statutory sick pay will be processed. But we can all agree that these are steps in the right direction.

Leaving the budget behind, we’ve listed some steps you can take to help your business come through the next few months with the minimum of upset.

Cashflow

Some of our clients are facing an unpredictable few months, where jobs they had lined up are being cancelled. If that’s the case for your business and you’re not sure you can ride out a dip in income, we could help you look into alternative financing to help you bridge the gap.

Meetings

If you don’t need to see your clients or customers face to face and can provide your services over the phone or via email, then make that switch temporarily.  We use Zoom to meet face to face when we can’t be in the same room.

Travel

Many conferences and festivals are being cancelled anyway, but if you and your employees normally travel a lot or have some travel coming up, consider if there are other ways you can achieve the same outcomes you were travelling for. Or if it can be postponed until later in the year.

Working from home

If at all possible, work from home and allow your employees to do so as well.  We’ve been moving towards digital working for some time now, and most of us are set up for working from home.  Finding ways to ease into remote working, will help reduce the risk of infecting each other. You might just find that you find that you enjoy it and that your staff are more productive. Again, there are lots of apps and software out there than can make it easy to do such as:

For more advice  on how businesses should prepare during the Covid-19 crisis see the links below.

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