Small Business Grant Scheme
The Government is providing a Small Business Grant
Scheme consisting of funding to local authorities. This
supports small businesses that pay little or no business
rates as a result of small business rate relief (SBBR),
rural rate relief (RRR), and tapered relief. These firms
can receive a one-off grant of £10,000 to help them
meet their ongoing financial commitments.
To qualify, your business must:
• Be based in England
• Be a small business and be in receipt of SBBR
• Occupy a property.
Be sure to get in touch with your local authority to
apply for this funding.
Many businesses have been identified as having
insufficient insurance provisions to cover the impact of
the crisis. For this reason, cash grants of up to £25,000
in the retail, leisure, and hospitality sector will be made
available with a rateable value between £15,000 and
The introduction of IR35 off-payroll working rules in
the private sector will be delayed by a year to 2021. They
were to be introduced in April 2020 and this was set
to have a significant impact on many businesses that
make use of contractors and freelancers.
HMRC payment plan and helpline
HMRC has set up a helpline to support business and
the self-employed affected by Covid-19. If you think
you will struggle to pay HMRC, then contact them
immediately. Explain your situation to them clearly
and in normal circumstances they might then set up
a payment plan. They offer this extra time to pay in
situations where someone can’t settle the tax liability
now but will be able to do so at a future date. You can
then make payments in instalments on specific dates
they will agree with you. The helpline can be accessed
by searching ‘tax helpline’ on gov.uk.
Support package for the
The Chancellor has announced a £6.5bn bailout
through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.
Grants of 80% of historical income of up to £2,500 a
month will be issued to those in the self-assessment
system with an income below £50,000.
More than 50% of the applicant’s income must be
from self-employment. The calculation for the grant is
based on the average of their income declared in their
last three tax returns. If they have not filed three years’
28 Removals & Storage June 2020
worth of tax returns, then it will be based on whatever
they have submitted in that timeframe.
Universal Credit, working tax credits
and housing benefit
A £7bn welfare support package means government
measures aren’t just aimed at businesses, but workers
as well. Since 6 April, the Universal Credit ‘standard
allowance’ of £323.22 per month for single people, and
£507.37 a month for couples, increased by £1,000 for
12 months. Working tax credits will be increased by
the same amount. Housing benefit will be set at 30% of
Cashflow management and credit
Many businesses have experienced a sudden slump
in terms of demand for their products and services.
The result is significant negative implications on cash
positions, with withdrawals likely to be greater than
cash injections for many businesses.
While this is understandably very worrying with
things like employees’ wages to fulfil, remember many
businesses experience some form of these challenges in
the business life cycle, regardless of coronavirus. The
good news is there are some credit control tips that can
• Review your sales ledger as to who still owes you
money and how much
• Send any invoices out promptly
• Check for invoices that have already been sent out
and now need paying, plus any overdue ones
• Start, or continue, chasing those that owe you money
• Offer discounts potentially for early payment
• Where customers are struggling to pay what is owed,
consider offering them a payment plan so at least
some money is coming in
• Consider factoring that allows you to collect a cash
advance, from an organisation that purchases your
invoices or debt, as a percentage of the value of your
• Look at invoice discounting, whereby you draw
money in the form of a loan against your sales
invoices before your customers have actually paid you
• Review your profit extraction strategy in line with
As cash coming in dries up, your ability to pay for
things may be limited. Naturally, you will therefore look
to cut costs and make savings. The likelihood is one of
your biggest outgoings every month will be your payroll.
Making employees redundant could be an eventual
option but that carries potential operational, customer
service and emotional consequences. You may have
some loyal staff who have helped you build the
business into what it is today. You may be very reliant
on their attitude, knowledge and skills, which means
redundancy is an absolute last option after all others
have been exhausted.
Instead, consider the example of how the
manufacturing business, Barry-Wehmiller, avoided
mass layoffs during the great recession. When 40% of
its product orders dried up in 2009, CEO Bob Chapman
found an alternative to redundancies. His solution
required all employees, at all levels, to take unpaid
leave of up to four weeks. That meant the financial pain
wasn’t taken out on any one group and everyone felt they
were pitching in to help each other. It’s a great example
of a people-first approach, and meant Barry-Wehmiller
was in a very strong position for the economic recovery.
Check your lease carefully for a ‘force majeure’ clause.
The question is whether coronavirus would classify as
such an event: it might, should there be a mandatory
quarantine as a result of the virus. In such an event you,
the tenant, may be able to suspend rental payments.
Force majeure clauses do, however, tend to be rare.
Apparently, many of today’s leases include a rent
suspension provision if a business is impacted by an
uninsured risk. Other attempts to independently close,
for example, would likely see you struggle to withhold
rent under the terms of the lease.
Again, communicate with your landlord as early as
possible. You may be able to negotiate a rent holiday,
also known as a rent-free period. To do so, and to
leverage your negotiating position, consider:
• Any disrepair in the property that you’ve had to
carry out work on at your own expense
• Work to bring the property in line with planning,
fire, and other regulations
• Any fit-out work you had to conduct to establish
your business in the property, plus how this has
enhanced the value of the landlord’s building
• The total period of loss of trading as a result of any
of the disruption from the above forms of work
• Your past good record of paying rent on time if
These are difficult times and some leeway may be
given to good tenants.
For more information, visit
Further details of all the government support schemes available to businesses can be found at