We, at Jones Hunt & Keelings, still currently remain open to assist you with any needs or clarification you may need regarding the below and any future announcements.

As a business, the health and wellbeing of our Clients and Staff is always our top priority. We are closely monitoring the Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation as it unfolds and are continuing to adapt, following guidance issued by the Government and Health Authorities to keep everyone as safe as possible. Our thoughts go out to anyone who has been personally impacted and we hope that you and your families are safe and well.

For the moment, Jones Hunt & Keelings are working very hard in challenging circumstances to serve our Clients, we’ve implemented several additional precautions, and continuing to monitor the situation. With this in mind we would advise clients do not attend the office, unless it is completely necessary, to drop records or documentation that cannot be emailed or uploaded to our portal Iris Openspace.

We will conduct meetings either over the phone or through video conference, Zoom, to ensure we are keeping everyone as safe as possible. The weeks and months ahead will be testing and ever-changing and we will keep you updated as the situation evolves. In the meantime, we would like to thank every one of you for your continued support.

Please see below the latest Government position:

BUSINESS RATES

In the Budget last week, it was announced that there would be a 100% discount available to businesses in the retail, leisure and hospitality sector, including pubs, for those businesses with a commercial property with rateable value < £51,000. Yesterday this relief was extended to ALL businesses (in THIS SECTOR ONLY) regardless of rateable value.

This applies for the following 2020/21 tax year only, normal service is expected thereafter. There is to be further detail on this announced on 20 March. The relief should be applied automatically by each local council/authority so we are not expecting you to have to make a claim for this relief.

SMALL BUSINESS GRANT

Also in the Budget, a £3,000 grant is offered to those businesses which are eligible for Small Business Rates Relief (available for businesses with properties with rateable value < £12,000). Yesterday this was increased to £10,000.

The department for BEIS is to write to local councils to detail how this works in practice within the next week, and the onus is on the local council to administer the grant so there should be no extra work required by you if it is applicable, however it is unlikely the grant will be paid out until Mid-Late April 2020 best case scenario.

Also announced yesterday, a £25,000 grant for those businesses in the retail, hospitality, leisure, pub sector who have commercial properties of rateable value between £15,000 – £51,000.

STATUTORY SICK PAY

For employees, SSP will be paid from the 1st day of sick leave at a rate of £94.25 per week (increasing to £95.85 from 6 April 2020). This covers taking leave for self-isolating even if not officially sick/diagnosed with Coronavirus, employees are advised to obtain evidence by ringing NHS 111.

For employers, the Government is to refund employers for the first 14 days of SSP (if your business has less than 250 employees), the process for obtaining SSP refund is not currently available, it is envisaged employers will be waiting a few months to claim the refund and are advised to keep good records of their employees they are claiming for when the ability to make a claim is possible.

For the self-employed, the Employment and Support Allowance, is available, which is payable at £73.10 per week if over 25 years old (£57.90 if under), or people affected by Coronavirus, previously this applied to those who were unable to work for a period greater than 8 days, this will now apply from day 1.

Our Payroll Team are fully prepared and happy to assist in any way we can.

IR35

IR35 legislation, which applies to certain workers providing their services to a large or medium sized employer through an intermediary, has been delayed until the next tax year beginning 6 April 2021.

If you have been affected by IR35, you are encouraged to contact your client to see how this affects any agreements you had in place.

CORONAVIRUS BUSINESS INTERRUPTION LOAN SCHEME

In the Budget, loans of £1,000 – £1,200,000 (extended to £5,000,000 per the Government’s announcement on 17 March 2020) are being made available to all VIABLE businesses on terms 3 months – 10 years, but will be dependent on your bank/loan provider who may have their own specific terms and conditions. The Government has advised these will be interest free for the first 6 months, but commercial rates will apply from then onwards. The business must prove it was viable before the virus impacted them and there may be some other financial eligibility hoops to jump through before accessing this money. Extended overdraft facilities/ invoicing financing/ asset financing may also be available.

The Government has advised that these will be available starting Monday 23rd April and you should contact the bank and finance providers directly.

UNABLE TO PAY YOUR TAX?

HMRC are advising people to contact them on 0800 0159 559 for Time To Pay Arrangements, if Coronavirus is making it difficult to pay your taxes. These are on a case to case basis at HMRC’s discretion based on your personal circumstances and liabilities.

Those of you who are registered for self-assessment and are, therefore, required to make personal tax Payments on Account each year, may have experienced a significant fall in income recently or incurred additional expenses. We may be able help by reducing your next Payment on Account due by 31st July.

If this is the case, we would highly recommend sending through your information to our personal tax team as soon as possible. We can then assess whether there is scope to reduce your July 2020 payment. We can also assess your potential tax liabilities due in January and July 2021, to help you to plan ahead and to ease your concerns.

MORTGAGE HOLIDAYS

The Government has also announced, on 17 March 2020, a 3 month mortgage holiday. The interest for these 3 months, however, will not disappear and simply be bulked into future payments. The Government has advised that taking the mortgage holiday won’t affect your credit ratings.

This is a strict 3 month holiday at the moment with normal repayments, possibly with the unpaid interest, expected to be recouped at a later date.

BOOKKEEPING & MANAGEMENT ACCOUNTS

In order to apply for a time to pay arrangement, or a loan, HMRC or your loan provider will ask questions about income and expenditure and whether you will be able to afford to keep up with the instalments.

It is highly recommended that your business affairs are brought up to date and that you have prepared a budget or forecast to ensure that you can afford the monthly instalments.

Our bookkeeping department are happy to assist you with drafting a budget or to help you get your bookkeeping records up to date so that you know exactly where you stand.

CASH FLOW MANAGEMENT

As mentioned above, planning is key and cash flow is everything to small businesses. It is important that your business keeps on top of the accounting records so that you know exactly where you stand.

We can help you with budgets and forecasts to ensure that your business has the available cash to pay your staff, and suppliers, for the next 3-6 months. We can be your contingency plan and step in if your finance team have been advised to self-isolate. Alternatively, as part of a cost reduction exercise, we can supply you with services by utilising advances in technology. We have helped a number of our clients go digital, saving compliance time and costs.

If you’re worried about cash flow, then please do not hesitate to contact us.

As you are aware this is an ever-changing scenario with new measures being introduced daily to help businesses and individuals cope with this difficult time.