Top Tips for Surviving Challenging Times and Technical Update on Business Support

Tips for surviving Challenging times
This is a copy of our latest newsletter sent to clients and contacts of IN Accountancy on Thursday 9 April 2020, with updates relating to support for businesses during the Coronavirus / COVID-19 Crisis as well as our top tips to make the most of the challenging situation we find ourselves in.

All previous newsletters and articles can be found on our home page:

Well, wow. What a crazy week or so since I was last in touch with you via this platform. I hope you and your loved ones are all still staying well.

It definitely seems a little more real now as we have seen clients and friends impacted, not just financially and economically, but also physically by this dreadful virus.

I have been in touch with a great many of you individually over the last 10 days or so, and hopefully have answered many of your questions.  

We are at last starting to see some of the Small Business Grants (SBG) be paid out, and Stockport Council assure us that they hope to have paid the majority of SBG within the next 5-10 days. So if you are still waiting, hang in there.

There are only a few changes in legislation / support available / technical details published since my last communication, and I have highlighted these in a separate section below. Do have a quick scan – some important updates are highlighted  in purple 🙂

There is much that we still don’t know but rest assured that as soon as we find out more information we will communicate with you.

In the meantime, below are my top tips for surviving in such uncertain times as we now face – I’m sure you will have more that you can add to this, and I hope you find them useful.

The sun is set to shine this weekend, and I am incredibly grateful to have a garden, two healthy happy children and that I can speak with my parents on the phone every day while they self isolate in Belfast. I’d love to hear what you’re grateful for.

Have a wonderful weekend, look after one another and stay safe and well,

Sarah x

Top Tips for Surviving Challenging Times

  1. CASH is always King.
    • Never more than right now. If you don’t yet have a robust cashflow forecast in your business, now is the time to do one. While you are at it review and reduce any unnecessary expenditure and talk to both customers and suppliers about payment terms.
  2. Look after yourself!
    • Your physical and mental wellbeing is paramount to coming through this. Make time for, and prioritise your health and fitness. Keep a positive mindset – remember, that what you say to yourself, about yourself, when you’re by yourself will have a massive impact on your mental wellbeing.
  3. Review and reset your Goals
    • Many people will have approached January with new business and personal goals. These simply may no longer be relevant or achievable. Instead of worrying about what you won’t be able to achieve, use this time to reset and refocus on what is achievable in this emerging new world. Be prepared to flex and shift these over time.
  4. Routine and Structure
    • So much more important now than ever, especially if you are working remotely and used to having structure in your world.  Structure your day and make routines that work for you.
    • With little to do people can drift, which can lead to melancholy, anxiety and depression. So fill your calendar with the people and things that you love – exercise, reading, cooking, catching up with friend and family (remotely of course unless you share a home), meditation, culture, board games and jigsaws, trying a new skill – painting, drawing, music?? 
  5. Be Grateful
    • It’s always so easy to focus on what’s wrong – take some time every day to remember what you are grateful for. It’s impossible to hold fear and anger when you are practicing gratitude – make it part of your routine… Maybe first thing in the morning to start the day off well, and last thing at night to ensure a restful sleep.
  6. Look for the Opportunity
    • Innovation happens in times like these. We have already seen so much evolution – personal trainers coaching their clients remotely in their own homes, even my family’s music teachers have taken their businesses online (and believe me when I say they’re even more technophobic and Andy!). It’s amazing what we can achieve when the normal modus operandi is taken away! 
  7. Be a Leader
    • People around you need strength – now is your time to stand up, be strong and lead them, whether this is at home, or at work. Be someone they can turn to.
  8. Look to the Future
    • This will pass. We may not know when, but it will. So while we need to be realistic about where we are right now, and understand that it won’t go back to how it was, probably ever, the future is still bright. So what’s your plan for the future – what might people need that you can provide. 
  9. Take the Lesson
    • There’s always something to learn – I’ve said to look for the opportunity, and we should also look for the lesson. Perhaps we’ve been living way beyond our means. Perhaps our business isn’t quite what it needs to be. Be critical, but not with a view to blame yourself, or heaven forbid, others. With a view to doing things differently next time.
  10. Adapt for Strength
    • Most of us love to be certain, of where we are in the world and what tomorrow will bring. And right now nothing feels certain. And that’s ok – the faster we become aware of that, the better we will cope. Remember the saying attributed to Darwin, that “it’s not the strongest or the fittest, nor the most intelligent of the species that survives, but the one most adaptable to change”
  11. Provide more value
    • A little like being the Leader – look for ways you can help the people in your life. Whether these are your clients, your friends or your family. Not because you want something back in return, but simply because you can. 

OK, so here’s the technical bit:
Updates since last time:

HMRC’s Guidance for Employers has been updated at 7 April 2020 

This includes:

  • More details on specific businesses and venues which must close, and those which are exempt. Also some sector specific guidelines for those unable to work from home.
  • Good practice for employers including guidance on social distancing, absence, sick pay, shift work and more

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) has been updated at 4 April 2020.

This includes:

  • More details of employees for who you can claim, including employees who are shielding or required to look after children, apprentices, agency workers, employees whose pay varies, and those on fixed term contracts 
  • Details regarding furloughing of company directors, including PSCs, and the process involved – i.e. board level communication and minutes of meeting What you need in order to claim (including UK Bank account)
  • Details regarding National Minimum Wage (NMW at 28 Feb 2020 to be used)
  • Process around agreeing to furlough employees – nb To be eligible for the grant employers must confirm in writing to their employee confirming that they have been furloughed. A record of this communication must be kept for five years.
  • Details of how much you can claim, including treatment of Employer National Insurance and Pension Contributions; Past Overtime, Commission, Fees and Bonuses; Benefits in Kind and Salary Sacrifice; Student Loans amongst others.
  • The minimum furlough period is 3 weeks – this can be extended. If employees do come back to work after the three weeks, and are furloughed again, there is another minimum three week furlough period to be adhered to.
  • Making your Claim – the link includes details of what you will need in order to make your claim. You will need to calculate the amount you are claiming. HMRC will retain the right to retrospectively audit all aspects of your claim.
  • Getting Paid – HMRC will check your claim, and if you’re eligible, pay it to you by BACS to a UK bank account.
  • When the Scheme ends – you will need to either bring your employees back to work, or where appropriate terminate their employment, following all the correct employment law procedures.
  • When your employees are on furlough you CANNOT ask them to undertake any work for your organisation. But they can take part in training and volunteering.
  • Your employees retain all their usual employment rights while furloughed.
  • Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme Grants are to be treated as income in your accounts.

Important and not included in the page, so not yet official, but we are hoping for confirmation next week: 

1. We understand that HMRC are hoping for the online portal to be operational from 20th April, with the first payments to employers being made by 30th April
2. There is likely to be an ‘Employee Hotline’ to enable employees to confidentially ’shop’ any employers who are asking them to work whilst on furlough.
3. As records relating to furloughing are to be kept for 5 years, it is likely that HMRC’s ability to audit companies’ records relating to this to last at least this long.

Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS)

There is no further update relating to this scheme. Please see my original article for details: 

Here are answers to a few of the questions we’ve been asked in the last week – if you have any more, please feel free to send them my way and I will do another update as soon as possible…

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