We continue to talk to clients and investigate the questions being raised.

Here are the headlines of what we know to date:

Job Retention Scheme

A government grant to cover 80% of salary of workers who would otherwise be laid off.

This is open to any employer in the country and covers the cost of wages backdated to 1 March 2020 including employees employed up to 28 February 2020.

HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers costs, capped at £2,500 a month.

Furloughed means “grant leave of absence to” consequently these workers cannot be doing any work and will need their work reallocated to other workers potentially with a handover.

https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/coronavirus-job-retention-scheme/

The Government’s Guidance for Employers and Businesses

This sets out the package of measures announced by the Chancellor including details regarding;

  • Statutory Sick Pay – Support for businesses who are paying sick pay to employees
  • a 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England
  • grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses

“Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme’ (CBILS)”

CBILS provides cashflow support for up to 12 months (or possibly more) to cover disruption caused by Coronavirus.

The scheme provides for loans up to £5m for businesses with revenue up to £45m. No interest is payable for the first 12 months as this is settled by the government.

Any small business interested in CBILS should, in the first instance, approach one of the 40+ accredited lenders with their borrowing proposal. The government suggests that the application process should be simple. Here are some FAQs for SMEs. We are working through the details of many more questions.

You will need to give thought to what support you are seeking and the health of your business before the Coronavirus measures came into place.

The CBILS guarantees 80% of the loan and are to the lender. Security to cover the remaining 20% will be required, possibly in the form of Personal Guarantees. The borrower remains liable for 100% of the debt.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)

Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF)

Bank of England can finance working capital by purchasing commercial paper from larger business ‘making a material contribution to the UK economy’.

Businesses do not need to have previously issued commercial paper in order to participate in the scheme. The scheme will operate for at least 12 months and provides a minimum facility of £1m.

https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/markets/market-notices/2020/ccff-market-notice-march-2020

Tax & VAT

VAT – It may be possible to spread the quarterly liability over the following three months to spread the cashflow and to roll that forward. You need to pre-agree that with HMRC who may now be prepared to give more given the government directives.

From 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020 all VAT registered traders can defer VAT payments. This is an automatic offer from HMRC and no application is required. Clarification on automatic direct debits already set up with HMRC is being sought so you may be advised to cancel any arrangements in place and then set them up again subsequently. VAT refunds and reclaims will be paid by the government as normal.

Businesses should continue to file their VAT returns by the due date.

PAYE – This is a monthly liability but HMRC may be flexible to paying each month in arrears. This would need HMRC agreement in advance.

It is not yet clear exactly how the Time to Pay policy will work but suggestions include;

  • agreeing to pay by instalments
  • suspending debt collection proceedings
  • cancelling penalties and interest where you have administrative difficulties contacting or paying HMRC immediately

The HMRC Coronavirus helpline is 0800 0159 559.

Insurance

Most businesses are unlikely to be covered, as standard business interruption insurance policies will exclude pandemics but do check the terms and conditions of your policy.

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

Filing Deadlines

Businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic can now apply to Companies House to request an extension to file their accounts, reports and confirmation statements.

The maximum extension is three months, but stringent conditions apply, the most important being that any appeal must be lodged before a company’s filing deadline.

Updated government advice states that all appeals are treated on a case-by-case basis, and the COVID-19 appeals process will follow the existing criteria based on those for unforeseen poor health.

Complete ban on evictions

No renter in either social or private accommodation will be forced out of their home during this difficult time.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/complete-ban-on-evictions-and-additional-protection-for-renters

Commercial Tenants

Commercial tenants unable to pay rent because of coronavirus will be protected from eviction

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/extra-protection-for-businesses-with-ban-on-evictions-for-commercial-tenants-who-miss-rent-payments

Mortgage Holiday

This is available to all sectors and buy-to-let landlords but is merely a deferral of the repayments and consequently interest still accumulates on the outstanding loan.

Rent Holiday

Tenants can apply for a rent holiday although it is noted that this is just a deferral and not a waiver of the amounts due.

Time to talk

This is an extraordinary challenge we all face. If you would like to talk through the issues you are facing, please speak to your usual Goodman Jones contact or email info@goodmanjones.com

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