Act fast to get business help, Lancashire expert warns

Lancashire business owners are being urged to act swiftly and make the most of government support to manage cashflow and trading challenges in the coronavirus crisis.

Monday, 23rd March 2020, 11:45 am

Tax experts at accountancy and business advisory firm MHA Moore and Smalley, say owner-managed businesses should be speaking with HMRC as soon as possible about deferring tax payments and accessing other support.

The firm gained experience of helping businesses negotiate with HMRC to delay PAYE, National Insurance and VAT payments during the financial crisis a decade ago and believe the scheme could offer a vital lifeline.

Tony Medcalf, tax partner at MHA Moore and Smalley, said: “It’s absolutely critical that small and medium-sized businesses engage with HMRC as soon as possible, rather than waiting to see how they will be affected.

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Tony Medcalf

“When HMRC launched Time to Pay following the 2008 banking crisis, they were a lot more accommodating than many businesses thought they would be, and we were able to help many businesses negotiate later payments.

“Business owners should now be seeking professional advice on negotiating with HMRC to agree their tax deferment and repayment plans.”

Tony added: “This is very tricky situation for businesses to be in, but there will also be opportunities when this is over. Businesses need to go on a war footing immediately and make sure they take advantage of all the support available to be able to come out the other side.”

Among the support measures government has made available for business, are government-backed guaranteed loans at “attractive rates”, with a £330bn pot available to firms which need money to pay rent, suppliers, staff or purchase stock. SMEs can borrow up to £5m with no interest due in first six months.

Retail, leisure and hospitality companies will be exempt from business rates for a whole year, and firms in this sector with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000 will be given a cash grant of up to £25,000.

Small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief. Government has also launched a new lending facility with the Bank of England to support larger companies.