Business Interruption Insurance Ruling

Many of you might have already seen late last week; as we hinted in a newsletter towards the back end of 2020, that the Supreme Court found largely in favour of small firms receiving payments from business interruption insurance policies.

It is suggested that insurance companies will contact those companies impacted by this ruling but we also suggest that should you have any doubts whatsoever then you too contact your insurance company directly.

For a more detailed review of the ruling click here for the BBC news article following the events of last week.

National Lockdown Financial Support

As expected a financial support package has today been unveiled and we would assume; though cannot say for certain, there may be more support on the way.

In summary, there is 

  • one-off top up grants for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses worth up to £9,000 per property to help businesses through to the Spring
  • £594 million discretionary fund also made available to support other impacted businesses
  • comes in addition to £1.1 billion further discretionary grant funding for Local Authorities, Local Restriction Support Grants worth up to £3,000 a month and extension of furlough scheme

For more detailed guidance this can be accessed here.

National Lockdown Support

Yesterday the Scottish and English governments announced national lockdowns with schools being closed. The net result being all of England and Scotland must stay at home except for a handful of permitted reasons.
 
We’re not going to go over the full announcement but more details about this can be found here if you wish to seek clarification.
 
Instead, we wish to focus on what we know thus far in terms of support and how we will be adapting to support you.
 
Help for businesses
No extra help, beyond what was announced before Christmas, has been announced for businesses who either cannot trade or have their trade severely disrupted. But this still means there are grants available from your local authority if you have been forced to close. And the furlough and self-employed grant schemes are still running across Jan to April 2021.
 
What does this mean for you and your business?

  1. Find out whether these lockdown announcements mean you can trade for the next 6-7 weeks though internally we recommend you look to the end of February given the time lags repeatedly being mentioned with respect to these measures and the vaccines.
  2. Review your resourcing requirements but also how many of your staff will now have childcare duties.
  3. Rethink your business plan, cash flow plan and also revisit your contingency plans

How we will be helping you through these times?

  1. All our team will be working tirelessly as they have already and there will be no break in support from our end so we will be here for you as we have from the start.
  2. We will continue to monitor updates and share these with you as soon as feasibly possible to assist you through these times.
  3. We will be running two drop-in sessions every week for the duration of this lockdown just for you to have a chat and we can run through anything you wish to alongside other business owners from:
    1. 5pm until 6pm every Tuesday (jump on here as the link will be the same each week); and
    2. 8am until 9am every Thursday (jump on here as the link will be the same each week).

Of course, if there is a growing need in any particular areas, we will address this as we did the first time round and look to assist where we can.

Also, please note that regardless of any extension with regards to the self-assessment filing deadline we will continue to work towards getting all tax returns submitted by 31 January 2021 for those that submitted their information on time to us as we see any delay as just being moving the problem.

Summary
We have been here before and stood alongside you and are still alongside you today in order to help you the best we can come out the other side.

Let us work together and stick together and never forget the mental health strain of this all so if you ever need to talk please reach out to us and we will be there for you and that includes calling the team or me on my mobile number if you need to.

The Chancellor extended the support

The Chancellor extended the support available once again there yesterday which further reinforces the fact that the battle against COVID-19 is still far from being over and based on his extended timescales it would be reasonable to expect at least some form of disruption into April/May and most likely for at least the first 6 months of next year though there are plenty of positives signs.  

The three key announcements yesterday were:

  1. the extension of furlough payments to 30 April 2021
  2. businesses will now have until 31 March 2021 to access the Government-backed loan schemes
  3. the budget announcement will be on 3 March 2021 whereby further support packages are expected to be announced including there being mention of new loan schemes that will replace the current Government-backed loan schemes

For the full release and to read more please click here.

How Us Winning Digital Accountant of the Year 2020 Could Benefit You

I’m going to show you how we took our business from strength to strength, and how you use the same processes to do the same.

[Want to get straight to the FREE resources? Click here]

If I take you back to 2017, will you promise not to run off into a pub to hug a load of strangers as soon as I open the DeLorean doors?

Promise? Ok… I’m trusting you.

We’re in Costa Del Cramlington three years ago, and we’re stood outside Graeme Tennick & Co HQ. There’s me upstairs in my office, looking pensively out the window. I’m frustrated with working long hours and seeing little in return.

You see, I know we’re not that tech-savvy, and it’s worrying me. And on top of that, we’re quite a way behind a lot of our competitors, which is even worse.

Perhaps you’re feeling like this right now? If so, I’m going to put the violins away and show you exactly how we went from this to winning Digital Accountant of the Year in 2020.

Let’s get started.

Digital Accountant of the Year 2020 – What Even Is It?

It’s all about you, actually.

You see, the award goes to a partner or practice owner that uses technology in innovative ways to help improve client’s businesses (and their own).

Thanks to technology, I can speak to friends in Australia at the click of a button. But with this new technology comes what I call the ‘Amazon Era’, whereby we want more, for less, quicker.

You now face competition from businesses and software companies around the world. As challenging as it may be, it also presents new opportunities, which is your first takeaway:

If you run a small business, you can use your size to your advantage since you’re more agile than the larger corporations. Where they perhaps used their size and financial might in the past, you’re in a better position today.

Back to 2017

Since I’m dragging you back and forwards through time, I’ll let you have a pint before we crack on with storytime again.

Enjoy that? Good. Moving on.

Now we’re somewhere a bit more interesting. We’re on a ski trip in Morzine, a town on the French/Swiss border. As you know, I’m stressed about work. I self-financed everything, had five staff members to look after and my margins were getting narrower by the day.

It was on this trip where I have a word with myself and go home a new person, full of fresh ideas and vigour. Now, I know what you’re thinking: does that make the trip tax deductible? Sadly not.

A Revelation

I realised that I’d structured my business around clients first, and me last.  And because of this, I’d always seen tax savings a sign of success – telling clients this was how best to judge us. This was wrong.


So the journey of transformation began. I tipped my business upside down, gave it a good shake, and rebuilt it around four key pillars that ultimately meant we won the award.

  1. People
  2. Process
  3. Technology
  4. Data

People

We already had a great team, but I knew I needed to hire more people from different backgrounds – and I certainly did that. In fact, neither of my last two recruits have an accountancy background. One is from my local pub, and the other a software/data engineer.

Emma – Customer service will always play a big part in the future of our business. While Emma trains to be an accountant, she already had people-skills that you can’t teach. It’s something our clients love when dealing with her.

Ewa – We were using 23 pieces of software before Ewa came on board, and she showed us that we were not using them efficiently or, in some cases, correctly.

Processes

People and technology come with a catch-22. You see, when you put all of the emphasis on people rather than processes you come a little unstuck when one person leaves.  And when you add technology into the mix, it can be easy to have an over-reliance on the software.

We stripped everything back and started with a good old Excel spreadsheet (admittedly, using it better than the Government).

It’d be helpful for you to do the same exercise. What you need to do is list every process in your business, the technology you use, and then assign responsibilities to each one.

What you’ll find it by sharing ownership with the correct people, you’ll progress as a business rather than it falling on you – the business owner. I’d actually slowed growth by doing it myself.

Having your people and processes working correctly and together frees up your own time. Time you can spend developing new ways to make your clients’ lives easier.

Technology/Data

Technology allowed us to very quickly make up for lost time. It felt like a 5000m race where the runner at the back has a burst of energy and catches up to the main pack.

Being an impatient bugger, I got a bit excited and invested in too much software too soon without the correct foundations in place. That didn’t work.

When I got it right (but still by no means perfect), we built solid foundations and have been using technology to help clients with answers to their individual problems ever since.

We now have software that allows us to:

  • Qualify a lead before we even have a meeting,
  • Support a client anywhere in the world
  • Predict and fix a problem for a client before they know they even have one
  • And run a more profitable and agile business than we ever thought possible

Technology provides us with the data necessary to do all of the above, without needing a finance team of 10 or an investment that means a getting a second mortgage on your home.

What Difference Has This Made For Our Clients?

We are now regularly seeing clients surpass year-on-year figures, and hit targets while enjoying personal rewards like cars, holidays, and holiday homes – all while also striking a better work-life balance.

Clients love our ‘value-based’ approach. Now our success is measured on the difference we make to their lives, instead of how much tax we save them.

What’s Next Following The Award?

Everything is a work in progress, so while we’ve come a long way since 2017, we’re still learning and evolving. In the short term, we’re working on the following:

  1. A complete rebrand that matches our company goal of building sustainable legacies underpinned by the right blend between technology and people.
  2. A very modern and dynamic marketing machine that is fit for purpose and designed to maximise the value we add to the right people at the right time.
  3. A NEW website to serve as a resource centre to help support you, and make it easier than ever to use.

There are of course other ideas in the pipeline, but you’ll have to wait for those.

What’s Next For You?

Are you feeling inspired to work on your own business and take a fresh look at your people, processes, technology, and data?

We are far from the finished article. However, this award proves just how far we have come and we would love help more businesses develop in the way we’ve done.

If you want to learn from our mistakes and successes, we’ll help you build a sustainable legacy you, your team, clients, friends, and family would be proud of.

Start with these FREE downloads. They’re actionable tasks and processes you can use to improve your business. In fact, they’re the very same we used.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch at graeme@gtaccountants.co.uk if you have any questions.

Lockdown 2 Government Support Summary

This email takes you through the announcements and what it means for your business.

On the one hand it is great to see the government making available this help. But this probably means we will see fairly strict lockdown conditions between now and March 2021. We hope we are wrong about this, but in your contingency/scenario planning, particularly in regard to cash, please extend this 4-week lockdown until the end of March. If you need help with your business planning, please get in touch.

Here are the full details from the Government’s announcement.

The Self-Employed Income Scheme
On 30th November you will be able to claim a grant for up to 80% of your profits, to cover you for Nov – Jan 2021. This is capped at £7,500. They also declared there will be one more grant which will cover the period Feb – Apr 2021. Details are yet unknown of when this will be paid or for how much.

To receive these grants, you need to have received the previous grants and it is currently anticipated that this portal will open towards the end of this month.

The ‘Furlough scheme’
This has now been extended to the end of March. Which in effect means that we are unlikely to see the Job Support Scheme operational… You can Furlough any member of staff, as long as they were on the payroll before Oct 30th 2020. And the government will pay up to 80% of their wages, capped at £2,500 per month.

As a result of extending the Furlough scheme the planned Jan 2021 ‘Job retention bonus’ of £1,000 for any employee you Furloughed who you still employed has been deferred. Until when? Who knows?

Help with cash flow
If you haven’t taken a Bounce Back Loan or didn’t take the maximum amount available to you, you can now top this up. And you will be able to take out a CBIL or Bounce Back Loan now until the end of Jan 2021.

Mortgage payment holidays for those who haven’t taken a payment holiday will be available for 6 months, without this being noted on their credit files.

As with everything these days the above is all subject to change but this looks like what we will be working with for the weeks ahead as a minimum.

Additional grants???

There are meant to be more local authority grants coming but more details are yet to be released and these may be discretionary rather than automatic but watch out for updates from respective local authorities over the coming weeks and hopefully within the next 10 days or so.

We have also got a fantastic link below to what grants you could perhaps access but which are not so widely known which can be accessed here so please feel free to follow this link here to see what you could access.

Some inside information perhaps?

We have heard on the grapevine; though not confirmed, the following:

  1. The Government are allegedly working on a new support package which is currently going through the EFG and may mirror the current CBILs scheme but be more easily accessible but please note whilst we have heard this on good authority this is not guaranteed.
  2. Following on from the above the second BBL opportunity for some; it is widely known that the first bounce back loan was never intended to cover the lengthy period of uncertainty that we now face.  There are also now rumours of a second bounce back loan opportunity exceeding the original 25% of turnover/£50k limited to reflect the increased term that the original loan was never designed to cover.

Watch this space but we thought we would share these with you as they came from a source well connected within the Bank of England.

Lockdown 2 Update (Kind Of)

As promised we thought we would get another newsletter out following the weekend’s announcement.

There are a lot of rumours circulating though including uplifts in the claims that can be made by the self-employed, proposed extension of applications for the bounce back loans and CBILs loans to 31 January 2021 AND also allegedly a second opportunity to go and get an uplift in any bounce back loans you had previously accessed if you never utilised your full allocation first time round.

There is so much information circulating online at the minute and a lot in the small print that has either been missed or yet to be finalised.

We will provide you all with a more comprehensive and clearer update once everything has been signed off in Parliament which none of it has yet but this may not come until the end of this week or early next hence us providing this update now and hopefully some positive news in the pipeline for some extra support.

As ever we as a team are here for you and if you want to reach out and chat please feel free to call your client account manager.

Another lockdown – we are here to support you

So we had unscheduled announcement from Boris tonight so we thought it right that we should get this newsletter out straight away.

As with the first lockdown, the first thing we urge is calm.

If you do urgently want to talk though and are feeling overwhelmed  lost and just a range of emotions and want a friendly ear to bend, I am opening my diary fully tomorrow even though it is a Sunday during these unprecenteded times.

To book something in the diary just follow the link below:

https://calendly.com/graemetennick/15min

The details that have been announced are still to go through Parliament on Wednesday but even prior to that we as usual will expect more details behind the headlines to filter through over the next few days which naturally will filter through the press but we will follow this newsletter up with another once known.

One of the key financial headlines was the extension of the furlough scheme but again more details are to follow.

Job Support Scheme Update

This may have crept under the radar for some last week but there was a subtle very positive tweak by Rishi Sunek in an announcement last week that we wanted to highlight.

The Job Support Scheme; as you all know, comes in from 1 November to replace the current furlough scheme and will run for six months.

The change is that the minimum hours required for employees to work has dropped from 33% to 20% and the employer contribution for non-worked hours has dropped from 1/3 to 5%.

The full and updated summarised factsheet can be found here along with the eligibility criteria and we have attached the more detailed guidance here also.

Government Support – Recovery SME Grant

You may have already seen our posts regarding this but if not the Government has made £20m of funding available to boost small businesses recovery from the Coronavirus pandemic.

How much is the Recovery Grant?

It is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The eligible SMEs can access grants of between £1,000 – £3,000 (up to £5,000 in exceptional circumstances) for specialist advice.

There is no obligation for businesses to contribute financially as the grant is fully funded.

First come, first served

Given the current state of the economy, the scheme is guaranteed to be very popular. Therefore, funding is extremely limited.

Expressions of interest (EoI) should be made as soon as possible after the scheme opens.

There is no waiting list so decisions will be made on a first come, first served basis.

The gateway diagnostic will close when the expression of interest (Eol) limit has been reached.

Each Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) area has different guidance, start and closure dates. You can find your local LEP details here.

If successful, how long will the business have to wait to receive the grant?

Grant payments will not be made until up to 10 weeks after the purchase of the item or service the business has paid and claimed for.

The business will be paid upon production of an invoice for the service.

The details

Who is eligible for this grant?

Though this might vary from one hub to another many state that to be eligible for this grant you:

  • Must be an SME (including third sector organisations, social enterprises and trading charities) based in Berkshire.
  • Needs to have been negatively impacted by COVID-19.
  • Must have the ability to survive following the impact of COVID-19.
  • Staff headcount must be below 250 FTE. Businesses with more than 250 employees will not be eligible.
  • Must have a balance sheet of below €43million.
  • Must have a turnover of below €50million.
  • If the business has received state aid in the last 3 years the total should not be in excess of €200,000. Businesses exceeding this level of state aid funding will not be eligible.

What expenditure is eligible?

The grant is available to help SMEs access one-to-one specialist advice to address their immediate needs. The grant must cover 100% of the cost of the service or product and cannot be used to part-fund expenditure.

Examples of eligible expenditure that you could potentially provide them yourselves:

  • Review of the business strategy, including strategic and business plans (using Clarity)
  • Coaching and mentoring in leadership and management development / Change management
  • The introduction of new technology – apps to help with forecasting, cashflow and budgeting, for example
  • Developing or revising marketing/digital strategies to reach new markets
  • Rebuilding a viable business model
  • Skills analysis and development plans
  • Employee engagement, welfare and wellbeing

Please note these are examples only and not an exhaustive list.

What will they need for their expression of interest (EoI)?

Each LEP has their own guidance, start and close date so please follow the link above for specific details and contact your local hub directly if you have any queries. We know that some hubs are opening on 15 September so we suggest you act fast if this of interest. 

How will businesses be assessed?

Key eligibility checks will also take the following into account:

  • Their potential to respond/adapt/strengthen from the impact of COVID-19
  • The ability to identify opportunities to rebuild following the impact of COVID-19
  • The ability to deliver within the timescales available (one month)

Due to the high volume of EoIs expected, it may take up to 10 working days for full application forms to be sent. LEP or Growth Hub staff will not be able to provide an update on the status of your application.

Get in touch to find out how we can help you build your business legacy

If you are looking to shape your businesses future through a strategic approach to accountancy we’d love to hear from you.