Jackson Moughal No Comments

COVID-19 CORONAVIRUS – HEADLINES AND HOW CAN WE CAN HELP

Firstly, all my thoughts and well wishes are with you all, and hope you all keep safe and be sensible to avoid catching the Coronavirus. We have been taking a number of calls with regards to the current situation and apologises for not being able to get round to all of our clients. As a result, we have drafted the following brief note to keep you updated.

Since last week the Chancellor made announcements to help small and medium sized businesses. Many of these announcements have been extremely encouraging, however, the way to get help is still somewhat unclear.

On 20 March 2020, Boris Johnson  took the extraordinary step of ordering pubs, clubs and restaurants across the UK to close that night. This has affected a large number of our clients who operate as restaurants and take-aways but also shop-keepers and those supplying to the retail industry.

Please note, restaurants and take-aways can, for now, can remain open only if they are providing take-out food.

The Chancellor’s speech of 20 March 2020 announced an unprecedented wage-support scheme to try to prevent thousands or millions of job losses.

WHAT CAN WE DO

I am here to assist and help you to access what ever grants and loans there are available under the various Government Schemes and together we can get through these very troubling and difficult times for all our businesses.

At this moment in time, the various schemes are not accessible and when these various portals to access the schemes are available, I will contact you at that stage.

SCHEMES AND GRANTS AVAILABLE

The following is a summary of what is the current position based on the Chancellors speech on 20 March 2020 and information on the GOV.UK webpages on 20 March and this includes a package of measures to support businesses including:

  1. Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)
  2. Deferring VAT and Income Tax payments
  3. HMRC Time To Pay Scheme
  4. Statutory Sick Pay relief package for SMEs
  5. Small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief
  6. Grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
  7. the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank – https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/coronavirus-business-interruption-loan-scheme-cbils/

CORONAVIRUS JOB RETENTION SCHEME (CJRS)

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will be a government grant – employers can claim for 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month.

The scheme will be:

  • Backdated to March 1st March 2020
  • Claimed initially for at least three months but could be extended ‘for longer if necessary’

Who is eligible for the CJRS scheme?

All UK businesses are eligible (or in the Chancellor’s words “Any employer in the country – small or large, charitable or non-profit – will be eligible for the scheme.”)

When will you be able to make a claim under the CJRS scheme?

No date has been set as yet, but the following are indications it will not be immediate:

  • “HMRC are working urgently to set up a system for reimbursement. Existing systems are not set up to facilitate payments to employers.”
  • “HMRC are working night and day to get the unprecedented Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme up and running and we expect the first grants to be paid within weeks.”
  • “If your business needs short term cash flow support, you may be eligible for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme”

What is a furloughed worker?

We understand that a furloughed workers are “workforce who remain on payroll but are temporarily not working during the coronavirus outbreak” per GOV.UK news story.

It is noted that employers will need to notify employees of this change in employment status to furloughed, but that changing the status of employees remains subject to existing employment law and, depending on the employment contract, may be subject to negotiation.

OTHER GOVERNMENT ASSISTANCE

On 18 March 2020, the Scottish Government (https://www.gov.scot/news/gbp-2-2-billion-for-business/) support relating to business rate.

Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop has addressed the Scottish Parliament on the economic impact of COVID-19 in Scotland.

In her statement she warned that as a result of coronavirus, the Scottish economy is facing an immediate collapse in demand.

She outlined the actions being taken by the Scottish Government to support businesses including a package of measures worth £2.2 billion from 1 April:

  • a full year’s 100% non-domestic rates relief for retail, hospitality and tourism
  • £10,000 grants for small businesses in receipt of the Small Business Bonus Scheme or Rural Relief
  • £25,000 grants for hospitality, leisure and retail properties with a rateable value between £18,000 and £51,000

Self employed

Sadly, with the exception of the VAT and 31 Jul income tax deferral payments and applying for Universal credit there is currently no income support as is the case for employees. The Government has stated that it is looking into the position with regards to the Self Employed and will make further announcements in due course.

Sources of further information

I would expect HMRC’s and the gov.uk websites will be updated to provide additional information on the CJRS scheme, Small Business Interruption Loans and grant claims for rates relief.

Once more information is available, I will contact you at that time. But for now please keep safe and follow all the Government guidance on social distancing.

PracticeWEB No Comments

SME output grows at fastest rate for 7 years

Output among small and medium-sized manufacturers grew at the fastest pace in 7 years as demand for exports remained strong in Q2 2017.

Out of 364 businesses polled for the SME trends quarterly survey, 38% reported an increase in total new orders in the 3 months to 31 July 2017.

36% also said the volume of orders grew at a strong pace, with export orders growing at the highest rate since April 2011.

Furthermore, 28% of SMEs took on more staff in Q2 2017 and intend to continue recruiting in the next quarter. 

Overall, 19% of firms were optimistic about the general business situation compared to 3 months ago and 22% are more confident on their export prospects for the next 12 months.

Alpesh Paleja, principle economist at the Confederation of British Industry, said:

“Firms are clearly in an exporting sweet spot, able to exploit the competitiveness gains from a low exchange rate and a firm global backdrop.

“But the boost from a lower exchange rate will fade over time, so maintaining frictionless and tariff-free trade routes with the EU will be critical for future exporting success.”

Talk to us about exporting for your business.

PracticeWEB No Comments

Businesses prepare for data protection regulation

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) is urging businesses to prepare for the General Data Protection Regulation, which comes into force from 25 May 2018.

All businesses holding personal data will need to make sure their procedures are fit for purpose and compliant with the new rules.

Legislation will impact UK businesses post-Brexit, and if found non-compliant may result in potential fines of up to €20 million – or 4% of annual global turnover.

BCC has issued the following steps to its members:

  • organise personal data the company holds, where it’s sourced from and who it is shared with
  • review privacy notices and plan for changes before the new law comes into force
  • review the process of seeking and obtaining records consent from individuals
  • ensure procedures are in place to detect, report and investigate personal data breaches
  • designate a Data Protection Officer (if needed) to take responsibility for data protection compliance.

David Riches, executive director at BCC, said:

“The General Data Protection Regulation is intended to reflect modern working practices in the digital age and will strengthen consumer trust and confidence in businesses. 

 “With 12 months to go, there are procedures businesses should be reviewing to determine what changes may need to be introduced to be compliant. 

“Businesses that are already vigilant about their data protection responsibilities won’t be unduly burdened by the new legislation.”

Talk us about how these changes may affect your business.

PracticeWEB No Comments

FSB issues cybercrime warning

Small businesses are being urged to take steps to protect themselves from the threat of ransomware attacks after hackers targeted the NHS earlier this month.

Research from the Federation for Small Business (FSB) claims 7 million cybercrimes are committed against SMEs in the UK every year, equating to more than 19,000 a day.

FSB figures show the average cybercrime incident costs a small company £3,000 and takes 2.2 days to recover from.

Dave Stallon, commercial director at FSB, said:

“We are raising the alarm. It is vital small businesses and the self-employed prioritise this – and they do it today.

“These businesses have limited resources, time and expertise to deal with the current and growing cybercrime threat but there is assistance available. They should follow our guidance – and do it now.”

Mike Cherry, FSB chairman, added:

“We are urging all small businesses to take steps to reduce the risk of an attack.

“Businesses should immediately check for updates to their operating systems and anti-malware software and download them where needed.

“We advise small firms to make sure their data is backed up – if the worst happens, data cannot then be held to ransom.”

Contact us to discuss protecting your business.