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These Times are a Little Too Interesting!

19 March – Some practical advice from our Corporate Tax Partner, Brian Jukes.

It seems that someone must have been overusing the phrase “may you live in interesting times” because they are certainly getting their wish at the moment.  If you look up the origin of this phrase it appears that it was not Chinese, as commonly thought, but perhaps a creation of the Chamberlain family (of British politics fame).  Whatever the derivation, its use has generally been in times of high anxiety, which is exactly where we find ourselves now.

Never in my lifetime has there been such a significant event with such far-reaching consequences.

Just like many other professional service firms, Dafferns are taking our role in this crisis very seriously in supporting our clients to obtain the information they need right now.  The Dafferns partners and staff will be available throughout this uncertain period to answer questions and provide advice where needed.

Most importantly, businesses will be planning to establish how they can survive the next few weeks and months financially.  Every business owner will be best placed to formulate their own plans because they have a very personal understanding of the particular stresses and strains they might face, but there are certain practical steps all businesses should be considering and there are daily announcements from the Government to keep abreast of.

We would signpost the following issues as being key to successfully navigating the Coronavirus crisis

  • Cash flow. Any accountant worth his salt knows that cash is king and right now that is truer than ever.  Take whatever steps you can to preserve cash sooner rather than later, but don’t fall out with your suppliers in the process.  Be radical – what might have seemed unthinkable days ago may now be perfectly reasonable behaviour.  But don’t lose sight of the fact that we will come out the other side of this crisis eventually and we will be judged on how we acted in the time of need.
  • Employees. Stay close to your staff and provide support wherever possible.  Plan for absence of key staff, take heed of Public Health announcements and be aware of high-risk individuals.  Provide advice and support on effective homeworking and organise regular points of contact – preferably by video calling.
  • Customers and Suppliers. Work with clients/customers and suppliers to be flexible in delivery of your and their offerings.  Keep in touch and don’t assume anything.  Don’t forget that your customers and suppliers are going through the same experience as you and they may not be financially secure.
  • Government Support. Various measures have been announced to support business through the economic impact of Coronavirus.  Take advantage of any that may apply to you such as the business interruption loan scheme, grants for small businesses, statutory sick pay support and time to pay arrangements for all taxes.  The following link takes you to the relevant page of the Government website. Please click here
  • Be aware. Don’t forget that some unscrupulous individuals will view times such as these as an opportunity to defraud your business or break into your business premises because our focus is elsewhere.  Keep your guard up and stay safe.

Professional advice.  We are here to support you through this.  Please check back to the Dafferns website regularly as we will be posting new articles on a daily basis as the situation evolves.  In particular, if you would like help in liaising with HMRC or in accessing loan funding, please contact your normal relationship partner.

If finances are really tight and you have used up the Government support available, don’t be afraid to seek business recovery advice from an insolvency practitioner.  Speak to them sooner rather than later – don’t let any sense of stigma cause you to be drawn into trading whilst insolvent.