Managing Your Business Through COVID-19

The spread of COVID-19 has created an unprecedented situation. Health and well-being will always be the most important thing, but as a business owner, you will be faced with many tough decisions over the next few weeks.

It is certain that the economy will be adversely affected by the spread of the virus and this will undoubtedly have an impact on your business sector. Now is the time to plan for contingencies to see you through the next few weeks.

Cash flow, always important, will become critical. Though it is certain the spread of the virus will continue, it is less certain how long the impact on your business will last. So now is the time to analyse your income and expenditure to gauge the effect on your business

For example, what would happen if you lost 50% of your sales? What savings can you make to reduce the impact of the downturn in revenue? Will you have the cash reserves to see you through the period of downturn, and if not, where will you go to get funding?

As the business owner, you will know your business inside out, but here are some examples of the things you may need to consider:

HMRC

If you have Corporation Tax, VAT and PAYE liabilities, then you could approach HMRC to delay payments for them – they may be willing to negotiate a payment plan.

If you are looking to defer tax payments see this link here - https://www.gov.uk/difficulties-paying-hmrc

Suppliers

You may wish to approach your suppliers to extend credit terms.

Customers

If you currently have credit terms with customers, can you ask them to pay more quickly?

Loans/ Bank overdrafts

If you currently have outstanding loans, would you be able to negotiate a payment holiday? Do you have an overdraft facility with your bank, and can you increase it in the short term?

Please remember, for the 4 points above you must ensure that you have agreement with the relevant parties that you are going to defer payment, or in the case of customers, propose more favourable terms. If you do not get agreement, it could result in a breach of contract

Staff

The closest business relationship you have is with your staff, but hard decisions will have to be made if you are looking at a downturn in revenue. You may have to consider a reduction in staff pay to see you through the coming weeks. The impact will depend on what you think will be the revenue reduction, but you may have to ask staff to reduce their hours in line with the revenue reduction. If the outlook is bleaker, redundancies may have to be considered but remember, there will have to be redundancy payments.

Government Help

Both the UK and Scottish Governments have published a set of measures to help business through the inevitable downturn.

These measures can be found on the government websites, but here are some of the packages available

The Scottish Government has set up a dedicated helpline for advice – 0300 303 0660. The Scottish Government has also introduced a set of measures:

  1. 75% rates relief for retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a rateable value of under £69,000 - from 1st April 2020
  2. A fund to provide grants of at least £3,000 for businesses in industries suffering from the worst effects of the virus
  3. Rates relief on all properties of 1.6% - from 1st April 2020
  4. Rates relief of up to £5,000 for pubs with a rateable value of less than £100,000 from 1st April 2020
  5. The Scottish government has also set up a hardship fund - £30m – to help those either self - employed or who have lost their job.

The UK Government has also announced some measured to alleviate the effects of COVID-19

a. Statutory Sick Pay paid to staff as a result of the virus will be refunded by the government

b. Loans of up to £1.2m will be under-written to 80% by the Government.

Social media is a good source of information from both Governments, and here is a couple of web sites that are well worth a look:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-support-for-employees-benefit-claimants-and-businesses

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-employees-employers-and-businesses

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

Please remember in all cases you must keep dialogue open with suppliers, customers, staff and HMRC.