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COVID-19 – Small Business Grant Scheme

Many small businesses are under the impression they need to be paying rates to received this grant – the opposite is actually true! 
 
The Small Business Grant Scheme is for businesses who pay little or no rates due to them being in receipt of either SBRR (small business rate relief) or RRR (rural rate relief). There is a government help page here that tells you the official wording.
 
Being a rate payer just means that you or your company are registered for business rates – you don’t actually have to pay anything! So if you get Small Business Rates Relief in full or partially, if you pay some rates or none at all, this grant is for you! It’s all done by your local council via their rates records to ensure only the right people receive it, it’s designed to help you cover rent and premises expenses during this uncertain period.
 
So in short, if you have a rate demand for your premises (even if it is credited in full for rates relief) you can definitely apply!
 
Most councils have online forms to complete, others are sending application forms via post, a few of the one’s we know are relevant to our clients are below:
 
 
 
At time of writing, Chelmsford are aiming to have their online form up by the end of 3rd April, Castle Point haven’t indicated any dates as to when their application system will be ready and Braintree were saying they will post applications forms which can be scanned and e-mailed back to them.
 
Please note this information is correct as of 2nd April.

COVID-19 – Self Employed Help

You may be here looking for our advice to the self employed following the announcements made by the government, but we’re not actually going to do a blog about it.

Why?

Because we feel the advice needs to be interpreted for everyone, we’ve already been in touch with all of our self employed clients to tell them what help is available for them and will of course update them if the situation changes, that’s not to say we’ll only advise our existing clients but we don’t want to add to the vague advice and opinions floating around, if you’ve any specific questions about how the help for self employed will affect you please do get in touch!

COVID-19 Help

We’re doing our best to digest the information coming from the government and advise what it means for everyone, we’re doing regular e-mails for all of our clients but we’re repeating that information here for all.

We’ll be putting that disclaimer at the start of each of our posts, along with the date that the information was correct as of so you know how old the information is. 

We’ve added a new menu item on the left to keep all the information in one place for you, check there for any updates.

As this is an ever changing situation please do get in touch with us, we are extremely busy helping people at the moment but will do our best to help as quick as we can.

COVID-19 – Government Assistance Update

We’re doing our best to digest the information coming from the government and advise what it means for everyone, we’re doing regular e-mails for all of our clients but we’re repeating that information here for all. Please note this information is correct as 21st March 2020.

Further to our previous blog, further assistance for businesses has been announced by the government during the week.
 
The headlines are as follows:
 
Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)
The detailed terms and conditions for this loan will be released on Monday 23rd March. 
 
It was announced this evening that these loans would be interest free for 12 months.
 
The loans we be accessed via banks rather than HMRC. We are happy to assist with the loan application.
 
Small Business Grant
A £10,000 grant will be available to small businesses who let premises with a rateable value that falls under the Small Business Rates Relief (usually £15,000).
 
A £25,000 grant will be available to small businesses in the hospitality, leisure and retail sectors who let premises with a rateable value of between £15,000 and £51,000
 
These funds will be provided by the local authority in which the premises are situated.
 
The local authority will contact your business during April with details of the grant and how to access this. To ensure more straightforward access to these funds you should ensure that your business is properly registered as the tenant at the premises which you are letting. We are happy to discuss this with you further.
 
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)
We await detailed guidance next week to confirm the following information which was announced this evening:
 
If businesses cannot afford employees as a result of COVID19, from the 1st March 2020 to the 31st May 2020 the government will pay 80% of employee wages up to a maximum of £2,500 per employee.
 
These funds will be obtained via a grant from HMRC before the end of April.
 
This grant could be extended to wages payments beyond the 31st May 2020.
 
VAT Payment Deferral
We await detailed guidance next week to confirm the following information which was announced this evening:
 
The next quarter of VAT payments will be deferred.
 
No business will pay any VAT from now until the end of June.
 
The exact definitions here will be clarified next week when additional information becomes available.
 
Self Assessment Payment Deferral
We await detailed guidance next week to confirm the following information which was announced this evening:
 
The 31st July 2020 payment on account of income tax for the self employed will be deferred until the 31st January 2021.
 
At this point, the deferral of payment does not appear to relate to directors / owners of limited companies.
 
Self Employed
Those who are self employed, with reduced income as a result of COVID19, will benefit from increased levels of available Universal Credit.
 
If you are concerned by your business survival and personal finances please do not hesitate to contact either myself or Martin to discuss this further. We have already discussed business finance survival strategies with various clients and would like to offer this help to everyone who requires it. Please do not hesitate to contact either of us should you need to.
 
Rebecca and Martin

COVID-19 – Funding & Tax

We’re doing our best to digest the information coming from the government and advise what it means for everyone, we’re doing regular e-mails for all of our clients but we’re repeating that information here for all. Please note this information is correct as of 17th March.

We are aware that many of our clients business’ could be affected by COVID-19, ranging from a direct loss of work, to cash flow problems, staff absence, etc

We’ve had some clients contact us regarding what financial help might be available to them, especially following last week’s budget. 

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)
At present, the terms and conditions of the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) have not been finalised by the government. Updates on the availability of this funding can be found via the following link:

https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/supporting-business-loans-enterprise-finance-guarantee/

Small Business Grant
In addition there is no update from the government on the £3,000 grant available to small businesses who let premises with a rateable value of less than £12,000.

When the CBILS and grant funds become available we can discuss your requirements and assist you and your business with the application for these funds.

Tax helpline for businesses affected by COVID-19
HMRC have set up a helpline for businesses and the self employed who are concerned by / cannot pay their tax liabilities as a result of COVID-19. Further details can be found via the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/tax-helpline-to-support-businesses-affected-by-coronavirus-covid-19

Due to this government initiative being in the early stages, it’s unclear at this point what HMRC will be able to offer to you in respect of setting up an instalment arrangement or the suspension of debt collection proceedings. We are happy to discuss this and the potential merits of your case.

We will continue to provide key updates as they happen. Should you wish to discuss any of the above please do not hesitate to contact either of us. 

Rebecca & Martin

Is my HMRC email a fake?

With the ever busy January behind us, we wanted to quickly address something a lot of people suffer from, receiving a fake HMRC email. 

So, how can you tell if it’s real? 

The first step is to think about what the e-mail says, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! Do you do a tax return or have any reason that the HMRC would want to contact you?

The really important thing to remember is if you’re not doing anything wrong then you’ve no reason to fear calling them to check the validity of an e-mail! There’s also some useful information online at https://www.gov.uk/topic/dealing-with-hmrc/phishing-scams

Remember, scammers are getting more and more sophisticated and fakes are becoming harder to spot. We’re more than happy to try and help you if you are still unsure, you can forward the e-mail to us for our opinion, please don’t send any attachments with it or we will probably not open it, we want to protect ourselves too!

But remember, if you’re in doubt then don’t click on any links, give the HMRC a call.

Got QuickBooks but need help?

We’ve had a few calls and emails over the last few months regarding QuickBooks with a similar theme, people have seen the adverts on TV and heard the radio ad’s saying how easy your accounts can be when you use QuickBooks and they’ve got it, set it up the best they can and then realised they still have to do more than they thought! I definitely feel that the adverts make it seem simpler and more automated than it is! 

We can help in a few different ways – if you want to remain independent without a bookkeeper or accountant helping, you could book some of our bespoke training, either in our training room at our office or at your premises. Being bespoke means it’s nice and easy to make it relevant to how you’re running QuickBooks and how your business runs. Being bespoke doesn’t mean it costs a fortune! 

Another way we can help is by helping you with the setting up of the system, making it easy to get the information you need and easy to put the information in to get that! Or we can take some of that strain away to let you get on with running your business, we love doing bookkeeping and accounts but know most people don’t!

So if you’re struggling with QuickBooks please get in touch and see how we can help!

The Practical Year

We’ve spent the year trying to release a new blog every 4 weeks and it’s fallen on 31st December for our last one, perfect timing for a summary of our year.

And what a year it has been! I set myself some targets at the beginning of the year and managed to hit them all by September which I’m really proud of, especially as it meant they happened before we merged companies. The merger was of course a big part of the year, as it’s seen both businesses grow from strength to strength. Another big highlight for me personally were employing Susan back in May, from the business side representing the growth in the business to need an employee and personally getting the chance to work with her again!

We moved to our first office back in April which we’ve already outgrown! We’ve now settled in well in our new office at Kent Elms Corner, with enough space to enable us to conduct meetings and training within our own space.

All of that is going to help us to continue the growth next year but equally important is that it will help us continue to offer the service level our clients expect and that we want to deliver, something we never want to slip however much we grow.

I’ll finish this blog by wishing our all clients, suppliers, family, friends and anyone else reading this blog a Happy New Year!

Christmas isn’t for paperwork

In case you haven’t noticed, Christmas is coming! With the majority of our clients being small businesses, it probably signifies a time with a bit of down time where no doubt instead of resting you’ll be trying to catch up on paperwork. If that’s you then don’t forget, we’re here to help! Even if it isn’t directly bookkeeping related work that’s eating your time, we can relieve the pressure there to let you concentrate on running of your business and importantly at this time of year especially, take a break!

It may be there’s nothing obvious we can do for you but even just having a chat through might help – feel free to give us a call to chat things through! I often come away from networking sessions with little nuggets from others which can help a new idea grow or help improve our internal systems, one of our aims for next year is to share more of these and our customers posts through our facebook page (do follow us if you’re not already!) so feel free to give us a nudge if there’s anything specific you’d like us to share.

We’ve moved – again!

I know it’s only been less than 6 months since I wrote a blog saying we’d moved, but we’ve done it again! We knew when we merged that an office move would have to happen, an office with 2 desks just doesn’t work for a company having 3 full time employees! Thankfully, it didn’t take long – we’ve found a lovely new office at Kent Elms Corner, with the lovely Elms Cafe one side and The Fish Shop the other so we’re good for lunch too! 

We’ve got free parking outside for up to an hour and a lovely big letterbox for all your paperwork drops, all of which should be directed here from now (as I’m moving house soon too so don’t drop there anymore either!). 

As part of our lovely new base we’ve got a dedicated meeting and training room, allowing us to improve our training offering and be more available for client meetings by having the space in house, so please pop in and have a cup of tea and a look around. We certainly love our new space and can’t wait to get stuck into work here!