What help can British businesses expect amidst COVID-19?

It was Friday evening and I stood dumbfounded at the TV looking at the support the UK government were pledging for businesses and those in employment.

Regardless of any political persuasion, I felt instantly patriotic and quite emotional as Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, announced measures to help smaller businesses and the self employed affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

At Insight Finance Solutions we had spent the week advising our clients and also other small businesses across the UK on what they could do to plan, protect and safeguard their businesses throughout this unprecedented pandemic.

My greatest advice to any business owner or freelancer right now is don’t try and figure all of this out by yourself. This is a global crisis like none of us have ever experienced in our lifetime. People are willing to help to ease stress and anxiety where possible and that is exactly what we have done at Insight Finance Solutions. If you are reading this and you need help making sense of the support pledged by the government for businesses, please get in touch.

I posted a couple of videos offering our help and expertise at what is a very anxious time:

 

☝️An update from our earlier video. In light of these unprecedented times, it’s about coming together and sharing your expertise to help others. 💕 We are extended our accountancy expertise to any small businesses in our local area of Bakewell and surrounding villages and also have the capacity to offer virtual support via Zoom. 💻 We have always been a remote virtual business so we are already geared up for online working. 🙏 If you need help navigating your business financially through this time please send me a message and let’s see how we can help you. 📞 We are offering calls and advice free of charge because we passionately believe in helping small businesses through this time. ❓Know anyone who might need our help? Direct them to this video and tell them to drop us a message. Everything treated in the strictest confidence and hopefully we can relieve a little anxiety with possible solutions at this time.

Gepostet von Insight Finance Solutions am Mittwoch, 18. März 2020

As at March 20th, these were the additional measures announced to help small businesses and the self-employed impacted by COVID-19:

  • Suspension of the minimum income floor for the self-employed: self-employed people can now access, in full, Universal Credit at a rate equivalent to Statutory Sick Pay for employees
  • Taxes – next self-assessment payments deferred to Jan 2021 for the self employed
  • The introduction of a new job retention scheme will cover up to 80 per cent of wage costs for employees put on furlough leave (details to be confirmed) backdated to 1 March for a period of three months or longer, if needed, for small businesses, charities and not for profit organisations.
  • Grants due to be available to business within weeks.
  • The business loans that were previously announced will be available from Monday 23 March and will now be interest free for 12 months (was 6 months)
  • Deferring the next quarter of VAT through to the end of June (those payments can now be paid at the end of the financial year)
  • Universal Credit – standard allowance to rise over the next 12 months by £1,000

What happens if I am self-employed? I am a freelancer/sole trader/contractor what support is available to me?

Many criticised that the above measures were not enough for all though and many freelancers, sole traders and contractors have been left with crumbling businesses. The Government has said it will announce further measures to support self-employed people over the coming days.

What I would say on this is it is going to take more time to come up with a plan for freelancers. All those who are in employment or recently laid off and paid via PAYE, HMRC are provided with details of your earning every month so the Chancellor is able to see the totals at a glance.

For those who are self employed in a sole trader, freelance and contractor capacity, the last information HMRC have in relation to your earnings is self assessment returns for the tax year to 5th April 2019 which could now be very out of date. We’re a couple of weeks shy of knowing what our earnings are in this tax year and some of us don’t submit that information until eight months later. Equally, the term ‘self employed’ can cover various different earnings scenarios, so it’s going to take a little longer to come up with a package for the self employed.

Monday nights briefing was expected to announce a package for self employed people but more important things needed discussing like the soft lockdown that was announced. Last night’s briefing centred around needing an additional 250,000 NHS volunteers over the coming weeks. As tough and difficult as that is for a sole trader needing answers right now, the briefings will always prioritise the most pressing issue and saving the NHS from collapse is something we all need to move our own stress to one side for.

Many accountancy peers and I are expecting an announcement to be made by the end of the week so sit tight and if you need additional support and advice in the meantime, please get in touch or see some of the in-depth questions and answers from the Federation of Small Business below.

If you are a small business

The Federation of Small Business has created a wealth of information online in this article here: https://www.fsb.org.uk/campaign/covid19.html. I’ve included this link because it’s a wealth of information that the FSB have committed to keep updated as we progress through the pandemic.

It has been set out in an easy to read format as follows:

Cash Flow Issues

Your Business Premises

Business Rates

Paying Tax

Statutory Sick Pay and Employment Allowance

Further Actions To Take

Guidance fro Employers

How will I pay my staff?

Need help? Get in touch

Seriously, we mean it. Get in touch. This is a time in our lives when human beings need to come together to support one another as best as they can. We are here to lighten the stress, work with you on helping you understand what help and support is available with the ultimate aim of safeguarding your business as much as we can and seeing you through this period.

To arrange a non-judgemental, understanding, calming and supportive chat with ourselves please get in touch.

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