COVID 19 Pandemic – Effect on UK finance and Steps taken to Counter

In what can very well be termed as an unprecedented step in the history of the country, the UK was put under lockdown for the first time after the outbreak of the COVID 19 epidemic on 23rd March. It’s nearly 2 months since then and still, there is hardly any sign of relief visible at the end of the tunnel. At the timing of writing this page, the death toll has reached 34,366 and the number of confirmed cases in the UK is 240,000. With the situation looking grim, there is hardly any likelihood of things getting better in the near future. The days ahead remain blurry and uncertain, to say the least!

Let us now turn our eyes on the economic front that the professional accountants in Mortimer Common and elsewhere, working for various financial institutions and other businesses are worried about. This epidemic, needless to say, has taken a humongous toll on the world economy and there’s no respite for the UK either. Now that we are into the 2nd month of lockdown, the ill effects are getting all the more palpable day by day.

The Effects of COVID 19 on Economy….now and in the days ahead

As per the pundits, this pandemic is likely to take a huge toll on British finance, with the lockdown well set to squeeze the economy by 13%. This is going to be the worst recession that the country is to see in three centuries. The economists and the budget forecasters have cautioned that the public borrowing is going to shoot up to the highest point since the 2nd World War.

Senior economists have warned that the economic output of the country is set to plunge by 35% during the April-June period alone, sending a chill through the spine of the accountants in Swallowfield and other places, working in various businesses – small, medium and large. The unemployment rate, on the other hand, is set to get more than double, to be in tune with 10%, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR). However, they assured that the situation may recover towards the later part of the year, once the restrictions of lockdown are slowly waived off and life returns to normalcy. But that seems to be things of a distant future at present!

The IMF meanwhile, has forecasted a 6.5% shrinkage of British Economy in 2020, though they have also forecasted 4% growth in 2021. Still, all said that done, the situation of public finance in Britain looks grim these days. The budget deficit could spiral up to 273 billion pounds in the 2020-21 Tax Year, which is 5 times more than the previous estimate.

This will be equivalent to 14% of GDP, which is more than the 10%-level that it had reached when the global economic meltdown started in 2007. Following that recession, Britain was gradually able to lower the deficit to the tune of 2%, thanks to the decade-long cuts in expenditure in several public services. But thanks to this lockdown, those amends have been washed down the waters of the Thames into the English Channel and the Government has to start afresh! That is what the professional accountants in Reading who are working for small businesses are so jittery about.

However, Resolution Foundation, a financial think tank has cautioned that the economy may have to bear a much harder blow than what has been forecasted by the OBR.

Remedial Steps Taken by the Government

In the wake of this unprecedented scenario, the Government has started taking evasive actions to make amends and limit the damage. The Bank of England has cut the rate of interests twice last month and has ramped up the bond-buying program that it had rolled out, by a whopping 200 million pounds, which is a record. Besides, it has taken other measures to help the companies of various scales to get credit, accountants in Shinfield, who are working closely with small business to get the any government assistance available to them immediately to keep their business afloat.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has announced that the banks were speeding up the process of issuing the state-backed loans to the businesses. However, he warned that it will be impossible to save every business and job and that is what has sent cold waves amongst the business fraternity, with the accountants in Earleyand other places sweating out to find out a feasible solution.

Again, on 20th March 2020, Rishi had announced that the UK Government will be launching multiple financial support schemes for the businesses – definitely, music to the ears of the stakeholders. The schemes, as he said, are all designed to offer a wide gamut of financial assistance and a shot in the arm to the British businesses that are affected by the pandemic and the resultant lockdown.

Here are some of the schemes announced by the Chancellor.

CCFF – (COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility)

The Bank of England has decided to support the large scale businesses that are affected by the Pandemic, by purchasing the short-term debt instruments that are issued by the companies. The scheme will be delivered by the commercial lenders and supported by the BoE.

●Companies, backed by the commercial banks will be eligible to issue various short term debt instruments, like commercial papers, which the BoE will buy back.
●The minimum size of every individual instrument must be £1 million, while the total amount will be to the tune of £0.1 million.
●The scheme will be valid for 12 months

CBILS (Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme)

This is a pair of business interruption loan schemes announced by the UK Government. While one is specifically meant for the small and medium scale businesses, (with the turnover less than £45 million), giving some sigh of relief to the accountants in Sonning dealing with the finance of these SMBs, and the other one designed for the larger businesses with a turnover of £45 million or more.

BBLS (The Bounce Back Loan Scheme)

This enables smaller businesses to apply for loan more quickly during the coronavirus outbreak.The scheme will help small and medium-sized businesses to get loan between £2,000 to 25% of their business turnover. The maximum amount business can borrow is £50,000.

The government will guarantee 100% of the loan and there won’t be any fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months. After 12 months the interest rate will be charged at 2.5% a year. Accountants in Woodley had assisted and advised several businesses and their client about this loan and process to make an application.

SBGF (Small Business Grant Fund) and RHLGF (Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund)

These two schemes are meant for businesses that are based in England. They will be taken care of and administered by the local authorities, and they will directly get in touch with the businesses that are eligible for these schemes.

Besides, the government is also taking measures that are aimed to support the businesses and help them maintain production continuity, thereby ensuring there is no stoppage to production, which will create a stoppage of cash inflow.

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme

The scheme allowsindividual to claim a taxable grant of 80% of their average monthly trading profits, paid out in one instalment covering 3 months to maximum of £7,500 altogether. The scheme will run until 30 June 2020, but it may be extended. Accountants in Reading are helping sole trader and partnership business with more information on how to make a claim

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

If business are unable to pay their staff wages because their operation have been severaly affected by coronavirus (Covid-19), they can furlough employees and apply for a grant that will cover 80% of their employee monthly wages who are furloughed up to maximum of £2500 per month plus Employer National insurance contribution and pension contribution.

The CJRS (Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme) is one the very popular and helpful scheme for business to support their staff in these difficult times. Accountants in Wokingham are wrking very hard to make such claim on behalf of our client and help them in this unprecedented situation at no extra cost.

Here are some other measures taken:

●The Government has also decided to suspend the wrongful trading regime, which was governed by the sections 214 & 246B of the Insolvency Act, 1986.
●The Government has also implemented various measures for saving the businesses with offices and business units in rented properties from being evicted by their landowners due to the non-payment of monthly rents.

Final Words….
Various economic support schemes, interest rate relief schemes, as well as other measures taken by the Government in the UK, are likely to go miles in ensuring support, safety and security to the businesses, more so the smaller and medium scale ones.

Thus, we at Biz Accounting Solutions Ltd encourage our valued clients to consider and grasp these opportunities after going through them carefully and meticulously.

For further details and obligation-free discussions about these schemes and other issues, please feel free to call us at 07877224964.