CLIENT MEMORANDUM

To: All Business Clients Date: 18th March 2020

CORONAVIRUS – COVID-19

In these uncertain times, we wanted to reach out to all our clients to let you know that we are here to offer support and guidance over the next few months.

The health and well-being of our team members are important to us so, to the extent practicable we are allowing team members to work from home. This should be invisible to you since they access our file server and work as if they were in the office. We will continue to deal with your affairs without impediment.

Our offices will be manned by a skeleton staff, with at least one member of the senior management team present. However, we will not be accepting visitors. If you want to drop something off, alert our reception staff of your presence, place your delivery on the table outside the office door and we will pick it up as soon as you leave.

We exist not only to help you comply with your legislative/regulatory needs but to support you, as a business. These times are as challenging for you, as they are for us. We are on hand to support you, so please contact us if you are experiencing difficulties as a result of COVID-19.

Our generic advice:

• Keep an eye on https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response
• Protect the health of yourself, employees and customers
• Reduce the risk of financial impact to your business
• Work through and revise your policies on employment, customers, IT and marketing
• Summarise your action plan
• Talk to us – we are all in this together!

COVID 19 Business Support

At Howsons in these constantly changing and stressful times we are trying to keep our clients and the local business community updated with information that we hope will be useful.
HMRC tax helpline for businesses and self employed affected by Coronavirus COVID-19
A dedicated helpline has been set up to help businesses and self-employed individuals in financial distress and with outstanding tax liabilities receive support with their tax affairs.
For those who are unable to pay due to Coronavirus, HMRC will discuss your specific circumstances to explore:

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

If you are concerned about being able to pay your tax due to COVID-19, call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559. Opening hours are Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm, and Saturday 8am to 4pm. The helpline will not be available on Bank Holidays.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme is to be provided by the British Business Bank. Businesses with a turnover of no more than £41 million will be able to apply for a loan of up to £5 million, with a government backed 80% guarantee against the outstanding facility balance. The government will also cover the first 6 months interest payments, so the first 6 months will be interest free. The loan scheme should be available within the next few weeks.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme – Temporarily Replacing the Enterprise Finance Guarantee Scheme

Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay

For businesses with fewer than 250 employees, the cost of providing 14 days of statutory sick pay per employee will be refunded by the government in full.
SSP will now be available for eligible individuals diagnosed with coronavirus or those who are unable to work because they are self-isolating in line with government advice.
The weekly allowance for SSP will increase from £94.25 to £95.85 on 6 April 2020.

£10,000 one-off cash grant

There will be small business grant funding available of £10,000 for all businesses in receipt of Small Business Rates Relief (SBRR) and Rural Rates Relief. The grant which is to be available from early April will be paid by local authorities to assist businesses in helping them to meet ongoing costs. You do not need to apply for the grant. If your business is eligible for SBRR or rural rate relief then you will be contacted directly by your local authority.

Support for small businesses that pay Business rates

The business rates retail discount in England will be increased to 100% for 2020-21 for properties in the retail, hospitality and leisure businesses below £51,000 rateable value. Nearly half of all business properties will not pay any business rates.
Businesses that received the retail discount in the 2019 to 2020 tax year will be rebilled by their local authority as soon as possible.
A £25,000 grant will be provided to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses operating from smaller premises, with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000.
Any enquiries on eligibility for, or provision of, the reliefs should be directed to your local authority. Guidance for local authorities on the business rates holiday will be published by 20 March 2020.

Insurance

Check your insurance to see whether you are covered for business interruption.

Mortgage payment holidays

Mortgage lenders have agreed to help people having difficulties with their finances as a result of COVID-19, including payment holidays of up to three months.