Reliable, proactive accountancy services for great small businesses.
April 30th 2020

Coronavirus: resource hub for small businesses

Breaking news

A new "bounce back" loan scheme has been announced. The scheme will provide government-backed loans of between £2,000 and £50,000 to small businesses affected by Covid 19.

Read our blog here...

General

UK Government - latest advice

UK Government - support for businesses; and for employees

NHS guidelines

BBC - what are the symptoms?

Federation of Small Businesses - general advice for employers; a handwashing poster; summary of measures announced in the Budget

Dept for Work and Pensions - press release about support for businesses, workers and benefit claimants

OSCR - Covid 19 Guidance for Charities

Apparently a new "national business support helpline" has been set up for Scottish businesses. The number is 0300 303 0660. Do share your exeriences of what help this helpline offers so we can relay that to others.

In Orkney the Council ("and other partner agencies") has set up an "Economic and Business Response and Recovery Group". Here's the press release - it seems to confirm that it will be the Council that administers the rates relief and the grants and that they will "be in touch with local businesses who are eligible in the coming weeks". We await more details.

"Stay at home" - what the UK Government guidance actually says

The UK Government has now published guidance on the "staying at home" measures announced last night (23 March). A confusing narrative has developed around the "essential work" aspect - what is clear from the guidance is that people should only travel to and from work "where this absolutely cannot be done from home".

It does NOT say "people should only travel to and from work where their job is essential". Barring certain businesses operating in sectors that HAVE been told to shut down (and there are many of those, detailed here), people working in other sectors are - at least for the moment - generally permitted to travel to and from work where they "absolutely cannot work from home". Full guidance here..

The Scottish Government has however advised that all building sites, except those building hospitals, should close.

See this article from the Guardian which highlights some of the confusion that surrounds the advice that's been given - and how that contrasts with the legal position "police warned against overreach".

What are small businesses doing to survive?

With a few exceptions, most of our clients are open for business - in some cases with a somewhat modified approach. PLEASE support small businesses through this crisis where possible and #shoplocal. Tesco and Amazon will survive - many small businesses may not. Read our new blog "Ten reasons to #shoplocal"

In summary, from a financial perspective these are probably the top three things small businesses need to be doing right now.:

1. keeping things going - and where possible finding other ways to generate income (it's time to get creative);

2. cutting non-core costs;

3. seeking support from the Government, banks and other creditors

Some businesses are finding a way through this. Here's a great article from the BBC "Six things that are booming in sales"

See the Kirkwall BID Facebook page for updates on Kirkwall businesses.

Edinburgh Evening News - how a butcher saved my bacon

Restaurants switching to takeaway - planning permission restrictions temporarily lifted (we have read)

Glasgow Hotel group closes, offers rooms to NHS

This Dundee gin distillery is turning out hand sanitiser, working with local care partnerships.

This brewery has launched a 'pub in a box' so punters can enjoy an authentic pub experience whilst in self-isolation.

Tell us about other examples you come across and we'll post them up here.

HM Revenue & Customs

HMRC - Time to Pay support helpline (the number's 0800 024 1222). Have your VAT number, Corporation Tax UTR, or PAYE Accounts Office Ref Number (as appropriate) to hand. If you're phoning for a company, they might not talk unless you are also a director of the company. So hand the phone to a director (if you're not one yourself!) when you finally get through.

Also, HMRC seem to be saying they won't grant a deferral until there is a tax liability showing on their records. This is a total nuisance (say you're about to submit your PAYE but have already paid the last one, there might not be anything showing outstanding). So - our suggestion - ALSO write to HMRC at HM Revenue & Customs BX9 1AX and tell them you are requesting a deferral of VAT/ Corp Tax/ PAYE. That way you've something on record to show you have asked. A "belt and braces" approach may save you time and trouble down the road.

Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce - good article on Time to Pay, plus other information on the latest support measures

If you expect to have difficulty paying business or personal tax bills, speak to us asap - do not leave it til the tax is already overdue.

Relief for businesses and the self employed

  • Self Employed Income Support Scheme - get the details here...
  • "Job Retention Scheme" - grant scheme to pay 80% of wages of staff who are “furloughed” (temporarily put on leave) - get the details here;
  • As the scheme is backdated to 1 March, it should cover staff who have already been laid off - as long as they are taken back into employment;
  • business interruption loan scheme - interest free period will be 12 months not 6 months - banks are ready to start lending from Monday 23 March;
  • Business Hardship Support Fund - details announced 21 April 2020, further information here...
  • the "next quarter's" VAT payment - payments due between now and June - will now be deferred and will not need to be paid "until the end of the year";
  • increases to Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit, both up by £1k "for the next year";
  • Income floor suspended for the self employed so they get UC "at a rate equivalent to SSP for employees";
  • The next Self Assessment payments - i.e. the July 20 payments on account - to be deferred until January 21;
  • £1bn support for renters.
  • Rates relief: Further details here... Scottish businesses working the the retail, hospitality, leisure and aviation sectors will receive 100% rates relief for the whole of 2020/21. This will cover a wide range of businesses including restaurants, bars, pubs, cafes, shops, cinemas, bingo halls and letting agents.
  • Prince's Trust Enterprise Relief Fund. The Fund provides grants to 18-30 year olds across the UK who are self employed/ running their own businesses and have no other income. Full details and to register here...

Innovative firms

  • Businesses driving innovation and development may be able to access a support package announced on 20 April; the package includes a £500m "Future Fund" for high-growth companies impacted by the crisis; and £750m of targeted support for SME's focusing on research & development.

Gaps in the current support schemes

Despite all the support measures that have so far been rolled out, gaps remain, including:

  • those who started self employment since 5 April 2019 will be unable to access the Self Employed Income Support Scheme - the Scottish Government estimates 15,000 people may be affected; and
  • directors of small companies who take the majority (or all) of their earnings as dividends, rather than salary

The Scottish Finance Secretary has written to the Treasury to ask for these gaps to be filled.

Third sector support

The £20m Third Sector Resilience Fund supports third sector organisations at risk of closure due to Covid 19. The Fund launched to applications on 25 March. Further details here...

Personal finance

Moneysavingexpert.com - Martin Lewis has a ton of information here especially on the personal finance front - mortgages, credit cards - lender by lender info etc

Landlords

This week (w/c 31 March) the Scottish Parliament will debate a bill to secure additional powers - these include increasing the minimum notice period for private and social tenants to up to six months depending on the grounds used, to protect them from eviction.

Employment and governance matters

Companies who may struggle to file their accounts within the normal timeframe due to the covid outbreak may apply to Companies House for a three extension. Further details here.

Gov.uk - "stay at home" advice

BrightHR - factsheet for employers offering guidance on some tricky questions employers are being asked by their staff

ACAS - advice for employers specifically on sick pay etc

Chartered Institute of Public Relations - sensible guidance on communicating with employees

Chartered Instute of Personnel and Development - guidance on health & safety and resourcing issues

Advice from the The Chartered Governance Insitute about holding AGMs during the current crises

Financial support

Self Employed Income Support Scheme unveiled. Full details HERE.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme - read our summary here.

The £10k and £25k local authority business support grant schemes are now open. Get the details here.

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme is now also open. Read our summary here.

Businesssupport.gov.uk - good summary of measures available to support businesses

Job Retention Scheme - what we know so far.

VAT deferral - more detail on how VAT deferral will work here.

Scottish Govt - business support site for Scottish businesses - will supposedly be updated with more info on how some of the recent support measures can actually be accessed

Scottish Enterprise have opened a helpline and may be able to provide advice on how to access some of the support. 0300 303 0660

We have heard that support is now available for employees and self employed people who are off work because of the outbreak, in the form of a "Covid-19 Pandemic Employment Payment" which is administered through local Job Centres. More here...

Facebook Business Boost grant - more here...

Statutory Sick Pay and Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for freelancers

Great article here on Accountingweb explaining the availability (or otherwise) of SSP and the CJRS to different categories of worker.

Private lenders

Many lenders are offering extra help and support to businesses and individuals.

According to this article, they now include RBS, Lloyds, Natwest and TSB.

This is what specific lenders are saying:

RBS

Bank of Scotland

HSBC

Lloyds

Natwest

If you anticipate any difficulties with meeting lending commitments, act now - do not put it off.

Support measures previously announced

So far...

UK Government - it must be said that as of today (17 March) it is still unclear how or when many of these can be accessed.

Scottish Government - helpline for Scottish businesses

Advice for finance teams

Guidance from the ACCA - on finance teams and more general stuff as well.

Cancelling an event?

Eventbrite - has published an article with tips and suggestions (not just applicable to Eventbrite hosted events)

And here's the latest on Eventbrite's refund policy.

Travel

The Orcadian - Northlink running reduced timetable (3 April)

Loganair reveal lifeline schedule (26 March)

The Orcadian - Loganair reduces schedule

Edinburgh Chamber - LNER announce special timetable (20 March)

Remote working

Enterprisenation - a good article on some of the tools that are out there to support remote working.

We can advise employers on remote working technology, protocols etc - contact Dave for assistance.

More articles....

Monster - 10 tips to make working from home work for you

Saga - make extra money working from home

IR35 / Off Payroll Working - delayed

It has been confirmed the private sector reform measures, which were due to take effect 6 April 2020, will now be delayed until April 2021.

How many confirmed cases in your area?

BBC - enter your postcode etc

Wellbeing

Looking after your mental and physical wellbeing - and that of other people in your household - may be very challenging during periods of "lockdown". But it's crucial - and if you run a business, you may have the wellbeing of staff to consider, too. Here are some artucles offering suggestions and tips...

Daily Mail - sing yourself happy; surprising ways to keep positive and stay well

Mind - "coronavirus and your wellbeing"

Mental Health Foundation - "looking after your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak"

BBC - how to exercise while staying at home

The post Covid era

A good article from Digit speculating on what the post covid working world might look like.

Need help now?

Contact us today with all enquiries - we support small businesses.

You might also find our other blogs helpful. Here's one on things small businesses need to be considering/ doing now to deal with the crisis.

Scholes Chartered Accountants.

SHARE
FREE CONSULTATION FORM

Let's talk

Book your free consultation now:

Preferred Method of Contact