The 2020 Budget & Covid-19

So, 2020 has had an interesting start and it looks like things are going to get increasingly uncertain! Last week, the Spring 2020 budget was announced and this, combined with the Corona Virus pandemic is a cause for concern for many business owners. To make things worse, the situation is changing daily and there is so much uncertainty it is making it difficult to make business plans effectively. We feel your pain! To try and help ease some of the confusion, I've put together a short summary of the key points that are most relevant to many of you within the Hustle & Heels network. Business Rates

Everyone hates them, but lots of you could get 100% relief on your business rates! Businesses in the hospitality, leisure and retail sectors, with a rateable value of less than £51,000 will pay no business rates during the 2020 to 2021 tax year as relief of 100% will be granted. This relief extends to shops, cinemas, restaurants museums, art galleries, theatres, gyms, small hotels, sports clubs and night clubs.

Did someone say free cash? Any company eligible for Small Business Rate Relief will be allowed a £3,000 cash grant. You should check your local authority website for information on how this will apply to your business specifically, although it appears that the Government will provide the funding directly to Local Authorities to cover this. As things are continually changing, some local authorities may not know exactly what is happening and may want to wait until the Guidance for local authorities is published on or around 20 March, but put that date in your diary and if you haven't heard anything by then, get on the phone to your council!

Deferred tax payments? Yes please. As businesses face reduced demand, cancellations and a slowdown in business, cash-flow is going to be a huge problem. You may however be able to defer the payment of taxes to ease the burden. You can get more information and support through HMRC's Time To Pay service.

Teamwork makes the dream work Small businesses rely heavily on the team around them. But how are you going to cope if members of your team have to take time off of work because they become unwell as a result of the virus? Well, small and medium-sized businesses with less than 250 employees, will be able to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19. The refund will cover up to 2 weeks for each eligible employee off work because of COVID-19. Due to the nature of the virus and government advice, a GP’s note doesn’t need to be provided, although employers should maintain accurate records of staff absences. It is still not clear on how the repayment will be made so you will need to keep an eye on changes to the government advice going forward.

Funding

There is also a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme being set up through the British Business Bank to help businesses access lending and overdrafts. Our research has shown us that most business owners within the Hustle & Heels network started and maintain their businesses through self-funding, meaning this loan scheme is not something you are all going to be bothered about *cue Destiny's Child Independent Women* but it doesn't hurt to know what help is available.

As always, professional advice should be sought before a decision is made to take out any form of loan or overdraft, particularly in difficult economic times.

Local authorities are under a duty to support you too, so keep an eye on your local council's website for news updates.

At this time, I know there is a lot of information to digest and that things continue to change rapidly.

This is the perfect time to improve your online presence, so I look forward to seeing more of you online! Until then, I encourage you all to stay safe and well informed.

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