In light of the government guidelines, all our offices are now closed and our teams are all working remotely, but are on hand to help you through these challenging times.

For assistance please get in touch with your main contact directly or email our covid19help@armstrongwatson.co.uk. Alternatively if you wish to talk to us, please call 0808 144 5575.

CORONAVIRUS

What's available for your business?

Hospitality, leisure and tourism businesses are going to face tough times over the coming weeks and months. COVID-19 has struck at the worst time of year for many, when cash reserves are at their lowest.

We’ve prepared a summary of the support announced to date. Most of this will take some time to feed through to businesses, so we’ve prepared this traffic light list of actions you can take now.

Green

  • A new Coronavirus Job retention Scheme has been introduced for all UK employers to access support to continue paying part of employees’ salaries for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during the crisis. You will need to designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers,’ and notify your employees of this change - changing the status of employees remains subject to existing employment law and, depending on their employment contract, may be subject to negotiation. There will be a new online portal set up to submit information to HMRC about the employees that have been furloughed and their earnings. HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. HMRC are working urgently to set up a system for reimbursement. Click here for further information.
  • A three-month mortgage holiday for those in difficulty because of coronavirus. For personal mortgages, many lenders already offer repayment holidays. Approach your mortgage provider directly. If your mortgage doesn’t provide for a repayment holiday then we expect your lender will change this in the coming weeks.
  • For commercial mortgages and business loans, many lenders will already offer repayment holidays. Contact your business bank manager to see whether this is already available to you.
  • A 12-month business rates holiday for all shops, pubs, theatres, music venues, restaurants and any other hospitality or leisure business. If you have already received a business rates statement for the coming year then this amount should be recalculated to nil. The Government has said this will be done by the local authority “as soon as possible” so we would expect this to take place before the first payments for April 2020. If you have a direct debit in place to pay your business rates then consider cancelling it to ensure amounts are not paid in error.
  • HMRC have scaled up their time to pay arrangements. All businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities can ask to receive support with their payments through HMRC’s Time To Pay service. These can be setup to spread the cash flow effect of any outstanding tax liabilities. These will be assessed on a case by case basis. Telephone the helpline on 0800 0159 559. You’ll need your relevant tax reference(s) to hand. If you make a time to pay arrangement and have a direct debit in place to pay these liabilities then consider cancelling it to ensure that the full liabilities aren’t withdrawn in error. For furth information read the government guidance here
  • Planning rules will be relaxed to allow pubs and restaurants to provide take away hot food and drinks services during the coronavirus crisis. If you intend to take advantage of this then you will need to update your menu and inform your local planning authority of the change in services.
  • Your obligations for refunding deposits to future guests will depend upon your terms and conditions or those of the online agent through which the booking was made. If the terms and conditions state the deposit is not refundable then you can retain these funds. However, you may wish to issue vouchers for a future date to encourage a visit from these potential guests at some point in the future. You can also encourage others who are entitled to refunds to accept vouchers in the same manner to support businesses effected by coronavirus.
  • Review your workforce, employment contracts and consider your options – you should talk to your solicitor to ensure you don’t fall foul of your contractual obligations or Employment Law.

Amber

  • Check your insurance policies – although insurance cover will vary significantly, some policies protect businesses from loss of earnings arising from pandemics or Government closure.
  • A cash grant of £25,000 for those businesses with a rate-able value of between £15,000 and £51,000. Guidance for local authorities will be published on 20 March 2020. Enquiries on the provision of the grant should be directing to your local authority.
  • Interest-free (for 12 months) business interruption loans and overdrafts up to £5m – this is expected to be available from early week commencing 23 March 2020. Contact your business bank manager to remain informed on whether this is available to you.
  • Further support for businesses has been provided by deferring VAT and Income Tax payments. VAT payments will be deferred for 3 months. Income Tax payments due in July 2020 under the Self-Assessment system will be deferred to January 2021. For VAT, the deferral will apply from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020 and all UK businesses are eligible. This is an automatic offer with no applications required. Businesses will not need to make a VAT payment during this period. VAT refunds and reclaims will be paid by the government as normal. No penalties or interest for late payment will be charged in the deferral period.

Red

  • A cash grant of £10,000 for businesses in receiving Small Business Rate Relief (up to a rate-able value of £15,000). Funding will be providing by local authorities in early April – the Government says it will be automatic and you do not need to apply for this, however, it seems some local authorities are still requesting bank details and/or applications so please refer to the latest guidance on your own local authority dedicated Covid-19 web pages.
  • Small and medium sized businesses can reclaim up to 2 weeks of SSP paid to employees who are absent due to Coronavirus – the Government will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism “as soon as possible”.

Contact us

Understandably you are very concerned about how this pandemic will affect your hospitality, leisure and tourism business day-to-day and the impact of this long term. Please remember as your trusted adviser, we're with you with any immediate planning or questions you might have.
 
If you'd like to speak with one of our advisers, please call 0808 144 5575 or email help@armstrongwatson.co.uk.