A-Z support for businesses during the Coronavirus outbreak

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Shelley Bonney, a solicitor in our Company Commercial team has pulled together a really useful A-Z of support for businesses during the Coronavirus outbreak.

For our full list of support for businesses links please click here.

WSP Solicitors – A-Z Support for Businesses

Accounts

As a consequence of the Coronavirus if you are unable to file your company accounts by the deadline date you can apply for an extension see link. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-if-your-company-cannot-file-accounts-with-companies-house-on-time

Business loan interruption scheme

A Temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme administered by the British Business Bank, has been set up to support businesses in accessing bank loans (worth up to £1.2 million) and overdrafts applicants can approach one of the accredited lenders.

Commercial premises

UK commercial and residential tenants who miss rent payments due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic are to be protected from eviction for at least three months. If you are concerned that you are a commercial tenant facing eviction contact our commercial property department on 01453 847200 or by using the contact form found here or in the sidebar of this page.

Directors

Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a single solution available to sole directors who are now struggling. Instead, the support that is available is reliant on different sources, and dependent on circumstances.

These include (but aren’t limited to)

  • Deferred VAT and income tax payments
  • Changes to accessibility for Universal Credit, and Employment & Support allowance
  • Statutory Sick Pay relief package for SMEs, which may be useful should you fall sick with the virus
  • Business rates holidays, as well as the Small Business Grant Scheme
  • Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
  • HMRC Time to Pay Scheme

Employees 

This is a tough time for employers and employees alike, it is often said that the employees of a business are its greatest asset, the links below give guidance on how you can help protect and support yours.  https://www.cipd.co.uk/knowledge/fundamentals/emp-law/health-safety/coronavirus-factsheet ; https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19

Force Majeure

Where Coronavirus causes business disruption, from fulfilment of deliveries to cancellation of events, a common question is whether commercial parties can rely on force majeure clauses in their contracts. The position will depend upon the governing law and the terms of the contract. If you require any assistance to decide if you can rely on a force majeure clause, please contact our Company Commercial team on 01453 847200 or using the contact form found here or in the sidebar of this page.

Grants 

The government is providing business cash grants to help some  businesses during this time of crisis details of the Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF) and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLGF) can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses

Home

We all know the importance of staying at home right now. To reduce social contact, the Government has ordered certain businesses and venues to close. More detailed information and exemptions can be found on https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/full-guidance-on-staying-at-home-and-away-from-others/full-guidance-on-staying-at-home-and-away-from-others

Insolvency

The UK government has announced changes to insolvency laws in response to COVID-19, the aim of this is to give company’s extra time and space to weather the storm. There will be a temporary suspension of wrongful trading provisions for company directors to remove the threat of personal liability during the pandemic, applied retrospectively from 1 March 2020. In addition, there are assistance to be available to companies under the legislation are:

  • a moratorium for companies giving them breathing space from creditors enforcing their debts for a period of time whilst they seek a rescue or restructure;
  • protection of their supplies to enable them to continue trading during the moratorium; and;
  • a new restructuring plan, binding creditors to that plan.

Jobs

If you are an employer during these turbulent times the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is a temporary scheme open to all UK employers for at least three months starting from 1 March 2020. It is designed to support employers whose operations have been severely affected by Coronavirus (COVID-19). Find out if you’re eligible and how much you can claim to cover wages for employees on temporary leave (“furlough”) due to Coronavirus (COVID-19). https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

Knowledge

is as they say power. Make sure you keep up to date with the latest resources and guidance to help protect your business as best you can in these turbulent times.

Landlords

With appropriate legal advice, businesses and individuals Landlords can still enter into property transactions. You can contact our commercial property team directly here. They will be happy to provide you advice on COVID-19 issues that may affect your leasehold property.

Money

Cash as they say is King and many businesses are experiencing cash flow pressures through no fault of their own. Carefully monitor your cash flow, get help from your bank or from the various government schemes on offer and take advice from your accountant, try to ensure you are protected as much as possible and have claimed what you are entitled to for you and your business.

New Business

Yes you heard that right! Just because we are in the grip of a pandemic doesn’t necessarily mean that there isn’t work out there or opportunities to cease. It may require a little lateral thinking or diversification.

Operating as a food take away business

The Government is granting permission for pubs and restaurants to operate as takeaways as part of Coronavirus response Planning rules will be relaxed so pubs and restaurants can operate as hot food takeaways during the Coronavirus outbreak. Please see the link below for more information,

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-to-grant-permission-for-pubs-and-restaurants-to-operate-as-takeaways-as-part-of-coronavirus-response

Personal Guarantees

If you are a director of a limited company that is considering arranging finance in the company’s name such as a business loan or an overdraft facility from a bank or another lending institution then the lender may make it a condition of their support that you, the director, are required to provide a signed, written personal guarantee (PG) as part of any security arrangements. Lenders often require such a guarantee when providing business finance to bolster their security thus reducing their risk. If you are required to give a PG you will require Independent legal advice before executing the document and our corporate commercial team can assist please contact us using the form in the sidebar of this page.

Questions

in these unprecedented times of crisis it is natural for people to have questions and queries. At WSP Solicitors we pride ourselves on giving plain, straightforward advice. So if you have a legal question please rest assured we will do our best to assist you and refer you to the relevant person or department to assist. You can get in contact with any of our solicitors directly here.

Remote Working

Businesses looking to implement remote working should:

  • ensure they have the appropriate technological tools in place, including data security measures and confidentiality procedures;
  • amend employment contracts if needed and shape a new remote working policy to help set boundaries, manage expectations and support their culture;
  • consider whether their remote workers need to complete a short health and safety assessment for their chosen location, as employers continue to have some responsibility for employees’ work environments, even outside the office; and
  • update their employer’s liability insurance policy to cover remote working.

They should also be mindful not to:

  • expose their company to data breaches. Remote workers should be educated about inadvertent disclosure when working in public spaces, and the implications of taking work abroad and unintentionally transferring confidential data across borders;
  • treat remote workers and onsite workers differently. This could put the firm in breach of discrimination laws and leave remote workers feeling isolated; or
  • expect remote workers to be constantly logged in. Remote working culture risks blurring the line between work life and home life and could breach employees’ rights under working time laws.

Shareholders Agreements

It is an unfortunate that for some shareholders of private companies, the Coronavirus will lead to dispute, disagreement and maybe even death.

So if you’re a shareholder of a limited company how can you try to protect yourself and the company? Generally, the best way for shareholders to control and protect their interests in a limited company is by having a shareholders’ agreement in place. Such an agreement can be entirely bespoke to fit the needs of the shareholders collectively, and as individuals. Shareholders’ agreements can include provisions that specifically set out how disputes between shareholders should be resolved and succession arrangements. If you would like to discuss shareholder’s agreement, please contact our corporate commercial department using the contact form found here or in the sidebar of this page.

Tax

The government has set up a tax helpline to support businesses affected by Coronavirus (COVID-19) New HMRC helpline launched to help businesses concerned about paying their tax due to Coronavirus (COVID-19). HMRC’s helpline for help and advice: 0800 024 1222. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/tax-helpline-to-support-businesses-affected-by-coronavirus-covid-19

 Universal Credit

The minimum income threshold for Universal Credit will be temporarily removed from 6 April for the duration of the outbreak for those directly affected by COVID-19 or in self-isolation. Universal Credit will be available to those directly affected by COVID-19 or in self-isolation, with no need to attend a job centre. This measure is designed to provide compensation for any income losses.

 VAT 

The government is currently offering support for businesses through deferring VAT payments. They will  support businesses by deferring Valued Added Tax (VAT) payments for 3 months.If you’re a UK VAT registered business and have a VAT payment due between 20 March 2020 and 30 June 2020, you have the option to: defer the payment until a later date or pay the VAT due as normal. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/deferral-of-vat-payments-due-to-coronavirus-covid-19

WSP Solicitors

WSP Solicitors are an independent legal firm with offices in Stroud, Dursley and Gloucester. We have been offering straightforward legal advice and support to local people and businesses for over 250 years. We listen, we understand and we advise. So when situations in your life become difficult, we can help you make everything easier again. Even in these difficult times we are still here and working hard to support you and the community. We offer a wide range of services across all aspects of personal and business focused legal matters. Get in touch here today.

X  

Disease X is a placeholder name that was adopted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in February 2018 on their shortlist list of blueprint priority diseases to represent a hypothetical, unknown pathogen that could cause a future epidemic The rationale was to ensure that WHO planning was sufficiently flexible to adapt to an unknown pathogen.

The World Health Organisation website contains a wealth of information and advice. Links to their website and dashboard can be found below.

https://www.who.int

https://experience.arcgis.com/experience/685d0ace521648f8a5beeeee1b9125cd

You

Whether you are a director, a shareholder, a sole trader, a partner or an employee, You are a vital part of your business without whom your business would not be the same. It is easy in these stressful and unprecedented times to focus so entirely on your business it is to the detriment of yourself. Now more than ever it is vital that you look after your mental and physical health. The links below may help you.

https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/coronavirus-covid-19-staying-at-home-tips   https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

Zoom

for those of you who don’t know Zoom is a video conferencing application that can be utilised for video conferencing and keeping in touch with colleagues. This and other such video conferencing apps such as micro soft teams, WhatsApp, FaceTime and the like are set to become invaluable to most businesses in the coming weeks and months.

To get in contact with Shelley directly please click here. Alternatively you can contact us through the contact form found here or in the sidebar of this page. We are still here to make your life, less complicated.

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