For business owners, the events of the past weeks have been very troubling. The restrictions and requirements are changing on an almost daily basis and, for many, the necessary planning and decisions are adding to an already weighty workload.
Aside from the added work, there is the strain of trying to run a business in the face of ever-increasing challenges. In the past couple of years, we’ve all faced a barrage of hurdles – first recession, then Brexit, and now this. For some, it will open up new possibilities, but for many it’s a period of concern about ensuring continuity, providing assurances for employees and tackling any projected income issues.
Picking up the phone to your accountant at this point could well provide you with some reassurance about the situation you face, as well as up to date knowledge on the support you can access from the Government, your bank and other organisations. Being fully up to date with your cashflow situation is vital in avoiding nasty surprises, and there may be steps you can take to reduce some of the impact.
To help with this, we have also put a couple of resources that could be useful for you. You will find below what is essentially an agenda for a discussion on coronavirus and the creation of some continuity planning. We are also sharing a checklist of steps you could take to evaluate risk and shore up in ‘tough times’, which you can download here.
One thing that might be useful is to identify a member of staff to take responsibility for keeping up to date on the changing situation. The best, and least alarmist, source of information is:
On this page, you can sign up for email alerts so that you can be updated on any required changes, and that will free you up from hunting around the BBC or other news outlets to see what might be happening.
Delays in paying your tax bill
If you believe that the coronavirus will impact your ability to pay your tax bill, it is very important to contact HMRC as soon as possible.
You have to pay interest if you pay late. You may avoid penalties by contacting HMRC as soon as possible.
There is a specific helpline for coronavirus related calls:
HMRC Coronavirus Helpline
Telephone: 0800 015 9559
Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm
Saturday, 8am to 4pm
At the time of writing, we are waiting to hear the full detail of Government support for businesses and will update you once this is confirmed.
This piece gives you an overview of current understanding following the 2020 Spring Budget, but the support the Government is offering businesses, self-employed people and employees is changing on an almost daily case. If you want a clear and full picture, we’d suggest you give us a ring and we can see what relief you might be entitled to and how to go about obtaining it.
Again, the Gov.uk website is the best source of up to date information if you want to look online to find out more about the various grants, loans and other support for businesses including rates relief and prompt payment schemes. There is a section on advice for companies and employers which is being regularly updated.
“WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO ABOUT CORONAVIRUS RIGHT NOW?”
This is the question we all need to answer. The agenda below will provide some structure for your thinking and planning for how to put your business and staff in the best place to achieve continuity.
It isn’t intended for use if the situation turns into an emergency, and it is crucial that follow-up meetings are scheduled. We recommend you set up a weekly Coronavirus report and review meeting to ensure that the discussions do turn into actions.
Topic 1 – Introduction and purpose of the meeting
State the purpose of the meeting, to create a Coronavirus action plan to:
- Reduce risk and financial impact
- Support the government's objective to minimise and slow down the spread to reduce pressure on the NHS
- Explore if there is an opportunity to provide support to the community
- Review the situation report using the prompt questions
- Get agreement of the level of risk to the business
Topic 2 - Employees
Our duty of care
- Advise of sick pay
- Encourage employees taking sick days
Consider a remote working policy
Policy customer visits
- Encourage video / Skype / tele conference style meetings
- No shaking hands
Policy on events
- Defer non-essential seminar training
Topic 3 - Customers
Advise customers of the firm’s Coronavirus plans
- Fewer face to face meetings
- Use of video calls
- Courier papers rather than drop off
Offer Coronavirus support
- Blog posts and newsletter
Topic 4 - IT & Cybersecurity
Remote working’s impact on cybersecurity is a topical subject. In an effort to do the right thing by having people work at home to limit the impact of Coronavirus, you may create a bigger problem; home working environments are likely to be insecure and not risk assessed, e.g. home Wi-Fi and sharing of work devices with family members.
What IT is required?
- Remote working
- Video conferencing
What data security risks need to be addressed and managed?
Topic 5 - Marketing & Business Development
Events and exhibitions – cancel?
- Switch seminars for webinars
Budget and resource
- Do we need to step up our investment?
Topic 6 - Purpose
What can we do to support the community?
- Town or region
Topic 7 - Financial Impact
Cashflow management is key.
Consider the impact of:
- Customers paying more slowly
- Bad debts
- Fewer new customers
- Risk of clients moving to lower-priced competitors
- Customers asking for lower prices because profits are hit
Look at payment terms
- Offer customers time to pay
Expenditure – cut non-essential
- Delay capital purchases
- Finance all capital purchases
- Avoid discretionary costs
Contact your bank – if you have an overdraft can it be converted to a loan?
- Loan holidays
- Alternative funding for the business
Bookkeeping, VAT and payroll – do we need our accountants help?
Topic 8 - Actions
- Agreed actions
- To do or project
- Who is producing notes?
- When and how are they to be circulated?
- The date for next review
It can be difficult to focus on trying to make plans when it feels like the sands are shifting all the time but being clear on where you stand, where you are exposed, and what options are open to you is absolutely the best way forward. If we can do anything to help you to prepare for the coming period, or to get a better handle on your accountancy figures, just give us a call or drop us email.