As the coronavirus puts an increasing strain on business finances, Stockport accountants Bennett Verby outline some advice and available support for businesses concerned about cash flow.
The news about coronavirus is constantly changing and very worrying for business owners and employees alike. As a business owner, you should keep up to date with Government advice here about how to look after your staff and slow the spread of infection. However, there is financial support available for businesses.
HMRC coronavirus helpline
If you are concerned about cashflow or tax, HMRC have set up a helpline for businesses worried about not being able to pay their tax due to coronavirus. HMRC will discuss your specific circumstances to explore:
- agreeing an instalment arrangement
- suspending debt collection proceedings
- cancelling penalties and interest where you have administrative difficulties contacting or paying HMRC immediately
The helpline number is 0800 0159 559 – and is an addition to other HMRC phone contact numbers.
Opening hours are Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm, and Saturday 8am to 4pm. The helpline will not be available on Bank Holidays.
Negotiate with creditors and suppliers
If you risk struggling to make payments, contact your credit suppliers them to ask about repayment holidays, credits and overdrafts. You may be able to aid cash flow by relaxing repayments during the coronavirus outbreak.
Likewise, discuss arrangements with suppliers. You may be able to negotiate improved terms for payments and pricing with your suppliers.
Seek support from the government
The Government package of measures to support businesses includes:
- a statutory sick pay relief package for SMEs, so businesses with fewer than 250 employees will have 14 days’ sick pay per employee refunded.
- a Business Rate Relief for small businesses and pubs as announced in the Budget is being extended to the entire retail, leisure and hospitality sector.
- small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of Small Business Rates Relief (SBRR) and Rural Rates Relief. Check with your Local Authority whether you qualify.
- the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme to support long-term viable businesses with a turnover of less than £41 million who may need to respond to cash flow pressures by seeking additional finance. To apply, visit the British Business Bank website and follow the information provided.
- the HMRC Time To Pay Scheme
If you are self-employed and not eligible for Statutory Sick Pay, you can receive contributory Employment and Support Allowance at £73.10 per week from day one of sickness (previously this was from day eight) if you are self-isolating in line with advice or have contracted Covid-19.
At time of writing, only these measures are available, but as changes are happening at a rapid rate, information about further support which comes available will be listed here.
Businesses in difficulty or in need of further advice should contact an accountant for additional guidance.