Simon Robinson’s Viewpoint
8 April 2020
Right by your side (albeit virtually)
Just when it looked like we could all move forward with more clarity around Brexit, the coronavirus pandemic has transformed life and business on a global scale. It’s a time of unprecedented and rapid change. Here, at Shipleys LLP, our key objective is to protect the wellbeing of our people, our clients and our contacts while ensuring we continue to deliver a quality service.
To this end we have now closed our offices and switched over to our systems that facilitate remote working for our staff. These include facilities for online meetings and conference calls to enable us to deliver timely advice when our clients need it.
Our staff are still available, albeit remotely, and please do contact them. It’s very much business as usual.
Our main phone lines are being covered during office hours, although they can experience busy periods. To get through quickly to your main Shipleys contact, please either:
- call their direct phone number or mobile if you know it
- email them directly and they will call you back – obviously things are very busy at the moment but we will endeavour to get back to you as soon as we can
- use our general office emails and we will forward the message on to one of the team who will give you a call – London: firstname.lastname@example.org; Godalming: email@example.com
Please don’t forget we have specialist teams ready to help if your organisation struggles with disruptions to your own teams. These include HR advisory, payroll, bookkeeping (including experts in many online software packages) and accounts production specialists.
In addition, we are closely monitoring the financial measures the Government is putting in place to help UK businesses weather the dramatic economic conditions. We have set up this page – see here – on our website which has a helpful overview of all the measures currently introduced. We are updating it regularly as new announcements are made.
At the time of writing, and by way of a quick summary (there’s more here), these include substantial reductions and exemptions in some business rates, as well as grants to some small businesses. Employers with fewer than 250 staff can reclaim 100% of employees’ first two weeks’ statutory sick pay resulting from COVID-19.
More detail has now been released about the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. This Scheme will enable businesses to access grants which cover 80% of the wages for employees not working, up to £2,500 a month. The grants will be backdated to 1 March and it is envisaged this assistance will be available for three months, but it may be extended.
A similar set of measures to protect income for the self- employed has also been introduced, although currently the grants will not be available till June.
Various tax payments have been deferred (for example the self assessment payment on account for July 2020 is deferred till 31 January 2021 and VAT payments due between 20 March and 30 June have also been deferred). Filing company accounts can also be delayed.
In all of these cases though it’s very important to check the process and eligibility criteria involved. Our coronavirus web page has helpful overviews and links to the relevant Government pages.
One very welcome development amidst all the news is that the planned changes to IR35 in the private sector have been delayed till April 2021.
Money’s too tight to mention
The systems for some grant- based measures the Government has introduced are still being developed by HMRC. In the interim, businesses are being encouraged to utilise the Government’s business interruption loans. Following some initial criticism, in addition to the scheme for SMEs with turnover of up to £45m, there will be a different scheme for larger businesses with turnover of between £45m and £500m. A third financing option, the COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility through the Bank of England, is also aimed at larger firms.
Businesses trading internationally can also access financial support through UK Export Finance (UKEF).
Mortgage support (see here ) for households affected by coronavirus has been introduced. Information released so far indicates that mortgage lenders will be operating a fast-track system for approval, but not everyone will be granted a payment holiday. Any unpaid interest will still be recovered later, but individual credit ratings will not be affected.
COVID-19 will no doubt have a significant effect on the property market.
Property and property investments often represent the major financial asset of most people so, in this Shipshape, we have also covered a number of property-related issues.
One development to be aware of following GDPR, is a requirement for landlords to register with the Information Commissioners Office since a property rental business now falls under data protection laws.
Property is, of course, a key cost to many businesses too. In this issue we have highlighted tax breaks a business can claim on repairs and improvements to its premises. We have also explained the newly increased structures and buildings allowance which will be helpful once things return to normality.
Away from the current uncertainty and property, elsewhere in this issue, we look at Shipleys’ work supporting the UK’s TV and film industry. We also welcome new corporate tax specialist Steve Hanlon, and our thanks to Ewan Cresswell, Chairman of Integra Technical Services, who kindly agreed to be the subject of our client profile.
Enjoy the read and, if we can help in any way over the coming months, please do get in touch.