COVID-19 and what we can do to help

We appreciate that these are very worrying times, however, we are here to help. When, now more than ever we need the thrill of live sport, concerts, and theatre – it is disconcerting as each event is cancelled. However, self- isolation and social distancing are made a lot more bearable by the body of work made available by streaming services and information provided by vloggers. At Axia Media Group, we can ease any additional burden of financial worry. I’m sure by now, you will have heard about the unprecedented package of financial support the government has put together for the self-employed and all businesses. As you can imagine, this is changing rapidly and it can be difficult to keep track of what is available and more importantly, what you can apply for. By letting us help you with any grant or loan applications, including ‘Time to Pay’ tax arrangements, we can ease any additional worry you might now have.

The following advice is from the Governments website Gov.uk as of 23 March.

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Coronavirus Job retention scheme

WE can support you with payroll and any necessary applications and submissions under this scheme. HMRC will be setting out further details as there will be a new online portal for use when submitting information about your employees. This will require you to designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers’, ensuring you notify them of this as changing the status of their employment remains subject to employment law.

HMRC are urgently working on a system for reimbursement of 80 % of furloughed workers wage costs (with a cap of up to £2,500 per month) but payments to employers cannot yet be facilitated.

VAT and Income Tax payment deferment

Support from the government will mean that businesses can defer Valued Added Tax (VAT) payments for 3 months from 20 March until 30 June 2020 and any Income Tax payments due in July 2020 under the Self-Assessment system are now deferred until January 2021. This in an automatic offer to all UK businesses with no applications required.

Business Interruption Loan Scheme

This is now available to support short term cash flow, known as the temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, it will support SMEs with access to loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million, for up to 6 years. Also on offer, is a Business Interruption Payment which will cover any lender-levied fees and interest payments for the first 12 months. This means that smaller businesses will benefit from lower initial repayments and no upfront costs.

To give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to SMEs the government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan. However, this will be subject to pre-lender cap on claims. Currently, there are 40 commercial lenders (including all the major banks) who will deliver the scheme, but it will be backed by the government-owned British Business Bank.
The other key measure available for larger firms is The Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF), the Bank of England will buy short term debt from larger companies who have been affected by a short-term funding squeeze, allowing finance for short-term liabilities. Their support for corporate finance markets overall will also ease the supply of credit to all firms.

If you pay business rates

The government has announced a business rate retail holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year. You don’t need to take any action as this will be adjusted when local authorities issue Council Tax bills in April 2020. You may find they need to reissue a bill automatically to exclude the business rate charge. Retail, hospitality and leisure businesses operating from smaller premises, with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000 will also be provided with a £25,000 grant. Any occupations in Sport and Media that meet the requirements, may be able to apply. Call us for more information.

You pay little or no business rates

Additional funding for local authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief (SBBR) has also been supplied by the government. This takes the form of a one-off grant of £10,000 to businesses currently eligible for SBRR or rural rate relief. If eligible, you don’t need to apply for this as you will be contacted by your local authority and the funding will be in place in early April.

Sick Pay

For many self-employed people, it just isn’t feasible to work from home so what does that mean for you?

Well, for anyone who isn’t currently eligible to receive sick pay, a claim for Universal Credit can be made. Anyone earning less than an average of £118 per week, is also eligible. Universal Credit is automatically adjusted to people who receive it.

If your business has fewer than 250 employees, the government will be working on a method of repayment of any SSP that you pay to your staff. As an employer, you will be eligible to reclaim up to 2 weeks of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for every eligible employee who has been off work due to COVID-19. If this applies to you, then you must ensure that all your staff records are up to date, this is where we can assist you with any payroll processes including calculations of SSP. We can also make all necessary submissions and reclaims to HMRC. A fit note for absences related to COVID-19 won’t be required for your employees but if you need evidence from them they can access an isolation note online from either NHS 111 online if they have symptoms, or the NHS website if it’s someone they live with.

Insurance

As the government and insurance industry confirmed on 17 March 2020 that advice to avoid pubs, theatres, etc is sufficient to make a claim, businesses that currently have cover for both pandemics and government-ordered closure should be covered.

However, as you will be aware, insurance policies differ significantly, so please check the terms and conditions of your specific policy and if necessary, contact your provider. Unfortunately, most businesses are unlikely to be covered, as standard business interruption insurance policies are dependent on damage to property and will exclude pandemics.

Why not let Axia Media Group help you apply by completing any necessary applications, and, on the completion of an authority, we can speak directly with your lenders to negotiate on your behalf? You don’t need to feel daunted by the task of keeping up with the rapidly evolving financial landscape, let us do that for you.

We’ll ease the burden and ensure you aren’t missing out on the myriad of financial support now available. Contact us today for a free telephone conversation to confirm what help you’re entitled to and how best to access it.

COVID-19: What Your Accountant Can Do To Help – Loans & Grants

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