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STANTA Easter newsletter

Well, it’s the end of week three of the new reality of living with the measures introduced to reduce the spread of the Covid-19 virus and we hope you are remaining healthy and safe – which is what matters most. We want to keep you up to date with all the latest help and support that is available as things constantly evolve and will be sending out a twice – monthly update for the near future. There’s a lot to include, so apologies in advance for the length of this email.  We suggest you go and make a cup of tea / coffee or pour yourself a glass of wine / G & T and sit down comfortably !

Priorities for your business now

Cashflow

  • Forecast when you will have cash coming in and out, redo your cashflow forecast
  • Review costs and outgoings – can anything be switched off or toned down?
  • Look at deferring costs where sensible and talk to suppliers
    • Can you reduce, defer, suspend any costs
    • Can you negotiate discounts or reductions with suppliers
    • Can you extend payment terms
    • Recognise that not all costs can be jeopardised and must be paid
    • Talk to yourlandlord about your rent (or mortgage provider)– many landlords recognise their tenants have difficulty paying the rent and are trying to help (also new measures mean no business can be evicted if they miss a payment in next 3 months)
    • Keep suppliers sweet, build relationships with them and remember they are in the same boat as you and you will need to work with them when everything gets back to normal
    • Be careful how much cost you defer as this may store up problems for later as you will still need to pay at some stage (discounts / reductions are better)
  • Debtors – keep chasing money you are owed
    • Get cash in even if you offer stage payments, discounts and reductions
  • Review staffing levels and consider furlough scheme where appropriate
  • Keep work coming in where you can – be proactive getting work in; can you adapt your business and move on line or deliver goods (eg butchers and restaurants)
  • Use zero interest credit card to pay for goods, if possible
  • Contact your bank to request an overdraft /short term loan

Government Support Schemes

  • Consider applying for a Coronavirus Business Interruption loan in case of need
  • VAT (just cancel the direct debit) and income tax deferral schemes (remember you will need to pay theses eventually so consider ring-fencing this money).
  • Self-employed – await communication from HMRC regarding support available
  • Staff furlough scheme
  • If you have existing loans ask for a capital repayment holiday to save cash
  • Review the government grants that are being offered to assess if you’re eligible (see various links below)

Marketing

  • Review marketing costs and ensure they are still value for money
  • Ramp up social media advertising and marketing
  • Join in with on-line networking – networking groups have gone on line using Zoom and Twitter. It’s a new way of networking and everyone is finding out what works best, so join in!

Staff

  • May need to furlough staff but
  • Keep in close contact with staff whether WFH or in premises  – many enjoy the social contact with colleagues and will be missing this and also may be  worried about the current situation
    • Regular team meetings and manager meetings
  • Think about their well-being and mental health, you will need them when everything gets back to normal

Clients / Customers

  • Keep in touch with clients via social media, email, telephone , indirectly or 1 to 1
  • Keep reminding clients you are still there and available to help and support where you can

Business processes

  • Take this as an opportunity to review processes in the business and get it working better
    • Can you reduce paper in the office?
    • Can you adapt the business to use more sales outlets e.g. move on-line / direct sales?
    • Does your website need a refresh?
    • Can you and  staff update skills with some training
    • Write or update  your business plan and think what the world will look like post Coronavirus
    • Take action and make decisions now

STANTA Workshops – see below
Business Advice continues – see below

Update on Job Retention scheme – courtesy of DoHR  Ltd (a local HR company)

  • If your contract allows employees to work for others while employed by you, they CAN work for someone else while furloughed.
  • Commission can be included in the calculation for pay – using variable pay formula
  • Overtime can be used in the calculation for pay – using variable pay formula
  • The 80% does not include non-monetary benefits e.g. car or health insurance, presumably as the employee continues to receive these.
  • Company Directors and office holders can be furloughed, but this must be adopted formally as a resolution of the Company. Once furloughed, the Director / Office holder may ONLY carry out STATUTORY duties.
  • Employees can be furloughed multiple times as long as each occasion is at least 3 weeks.
  • As furloughing someone is a change to their contract of employment, it must be confirmed in writing and you must keep a record of the communication on the employee’s file for 5 years (presumably so HMRC can check your records at a later date).

There are still unanswered questions, especially around annual leave. DoHR will continue to update the FAQ and hold regular briefings which can be watched back from their Resources page.

Small Business Grant and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grants

The Small Business Grant for £10k is available for small businesses on the small business or rural rates relief registers. The council will contact you if you are eligible and will pay automatically (although they may need extra information).
Businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors are eligible for a cash grant of £25k per property. They will  also will not have to pay business rates for the 2020-2021 tax year. Full details of government schemes are available here: https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/coronavirus-business-support/

Changes to Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme announced
The government have very recently announced that under changes to the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS):

  • Applications will not be limited to businesses that have been refused a loan on commercial terms, extending the number who benefit. However, the Treasury has not capped the interest rates banks can charge.
  • Banks will be banned from asking company owners to guarantee loans with their own savings or property when borrowing up to £250,000
  • Larger firms with a turnover of up to £500m will also be eligible for more help – with state-backed loans of up to £25m available to firms with revenues of between £45m-500m.

Opportunities for Businesses to Help with Covid-19
The Government is asking businesses if they can offer coronavirus (COVID-19) support. The support needed includes:

  • Medical testing equipment, medical equipment design, protective equipment for healthcare workers, such as masks, gowns and sanitiser
  • Hotel rooms, transport and logistics, for moving goods or people
  • Manufacturing equipment
  • Warehouse or office space, for medical use or storage
  • Expertise or support on IT, manufacturing, construction, project management, procurement, engineering or communications
  • Social care or childcare

Other Sources of Funding for Businesses
In addition to the funding and support available through the Government schemes, some other organisations are offering funding which you may be eligible to apply for including the following:

Survey
Visit Hertfordshire Growth Hub’s business resource page and take a three minute survey on the impact COVID-19 is having on your business.  This will help them prepare the support you need.

Other useful sources of information:
https://www.hertschamber.com/
https://www.visithertsbusiness.co.uk/insights-and-resources/information-for-investors-on-covid-19/
https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/
https://www.britishchambers.org.uk/page/coronavirus
https://www.hertfordshirelep.com/
https://www.hertsgrowthhub.com/covid-19
https://www.hertfordshirelep.com/what-we-do/priorities/business-support/better-business-for-all/
https://smallbusinesssaturdayuk.com/
https://www.ten2two.org/ – help with managing working from home

The Hertfordshire Opportunities Portal (HOP)’s Covid-19:
The Latest Support and Guidance has lots of useful information covering:

  • School closures and home learning resources
  • Apprenticeships
  • Further Education
  • Higher Education including the University of Hertfordshire
  • Resources for working from home

Finally, and most importantly – we hope you all stay safe and well and best wishes for a
VERY HAPPY EASTER WEEKEND!

Best regards

Mel, Mark, Ginny & Eva