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A Note from Will Farnell

Posted 17/04/2020 by Amy Patterson

During a recent webinar with our clients I shared information on the support available to them, and also discussed some of the areas that support was not currently in place. I made the point that we would continue to lobby to ensure that support reached those that needed it. Whilst I don’t have news of an answer yet I wanted to update you on some of the things that are happening.

I was invited to join a conference call this week with Paul Sculley MP, the Minster for Small Business. The call consisted of representatives from the ACCA and ICAEW (UK accountancy bodies), the British Chambers of Commerce and the Institute of Directors (IoD).

I was very pleased that the first point the Minister mentioned was the current lack of support for Directors of owner managed limited companies. He advised that discussion is taking place across government, but it is an incredibly difficult area to easily support using data held by government. The single biggest issue is distinguishing between dividend taken from your own business and those dividends received as investment income from blue chip companies. The IoD particularly are continuing to discuss and propose options to HM Treasury. Whilst it is therefore disappointing that there is no clear solution on the immediate horizon it is reassuring to hear that the issue is still being pushed and government have not closed the door on support.

On a positive note is it pleasing to hear from a number of our clients that meet the criteria for business rate grants, that these are now hitting bank accounts. If you believe you should be eligible as you operate from business premises and have not had notification from your local authority do chat with your FC contact who can advise on the steps to take.

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans Scheme (CBILS) was also discussed at great length on my call yesterday. The government intent is honourable in making the scheme available but currently only around 2% of businesses have been able to access funding. The government did announce changes to the scheme recently, removing the need for personal guarantees amongst other changes, but we are not yet seeing this filter through to a large increase in loans being made. All of the bodies on the call with the Minister stressed the need to get cash moving through the system. I expect to see further changes being made to the scheme the longer we find ourselves in a lockdown scenario. If therefore you have made an unsuccessful application, it may be worth trying again at some point as new lenders are also being added on a regular basis, alongside the criteria changes being made.

Finally, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (JRS) has been implemented to enable employers to protect jobs by providing grants for 80% of salary for staff furloughed. The HMRC portal to enable these claims to be made is due to be available on Monday next week (20th). Government intentions are that this will enable payments to be made by the end of April to help employers meet April pay runs. I have no doubt that the system will be under intense pressure on Monday. If the FC team are assisting you with this, we will do all we can to process your claim as quickly as possible.

I will continue to work with the various bodies to ensure we are relaying the reality of what small businesses are facing and will provide feedback where I can. Do please feel free to share any information that will be useful with these discussions whether this is good news on recent receipt of grants, or challenges of getting access to the loan schemes.

For now, keep safe and well and do let us know what we can do to support you.

Best wishes

Will Farnell

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