Baines Jewitt providing expert post-Covid business advice

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We are living through extraordinary times – that much is evident. The coronavirus pandemic and lockdown have paved the way for a complete change in our commercial and personal lives.

But as the restrictions begin to ease, thoughts have turned to rebuilding and recovery.

Adjusting to the new normal is not going to be easy, and that’s why it is crucial to have the right support and advice in place when it comes to getting back on track, according to Stockton-based Baines Jewitt, one of the largest firms of chartered accountants, business advisers and tax experts in the Tees Valley.

With a range of expertise that includes taxrelated issues, budgeting, business planning, debt control, financial performance, investments, pensions and accounting services, the Baines Jewitt team is well-equipped to provide advice on the latest developments and actions taken by the government to support local businesses.

In the space of a few short months, the business landscape has transformed dramatically, and the way of working has altered beyond recognition.

“It is more important than ever before to receive assistance from expert, experienced business advisers to weigh up business and personal options and realise short, medium and longer term objectives,” says Baines Jewitt director Anne Cowley.

“Lockdown and the ensuing economic measures announced by the government to help businesses through the challenges they face have probably altered the way we are going to work and do business going forward. Things are not likely to go back to the way they were in the foreseeable future.

“My key message to businesses is to have a strategy in place, embrace the new working environment, be flexible and plan even more than you did in the past.”

As lockdown was enforced in March, the team at Baines Jewitt moved to different ways of working to ensure their clients continued to receive expert advice at a time when it was most needed.

Working remotely and with a skeleton team in the office, Baines Jewitt’s chartered accountants and professional business advisers have guided their clients through the maze of economic measures announced by the government as the picture has changed and developed. Many queries have been about the furlough scheme and how to access it, as well as cash flow concerns and managing preparations for getting back on track now the lockdown is being eased.

“Despite the current challenges, there are numerous success stories. These include businesses that have been in demand, those who have found more efficient ways of working and entrepreneurs who have emerged with innovative ideas for start-up businesses, perhaps following redundancy or as a result of reassessing life goals,” says director Trevor Cook.

“For existing businesses, many owners, directors and managers are taking stock and putting solid plans in place to bounce back,” he continues.

“Sadly, there will be businesses that are experiencing cash flow issues. So in addition to drawing on government-backed financial support, we would encourage them to explore a range of measures, such as:

> avoiding falling into the trap of ‘over-trading’
> thinking carefully before committing to capital expenditure and consider the funding options available
> ensuring invoicing and credit control systems are working efficiently
> reviewing overhead costs.

“The over-riding message is that things have changed and there will be more change to come. As we move forward, we would recommend planning ahead, maintaining an element of flexibility and talking to your accountant or professional business adviser earlier rather than later,” adds Trevor.

Your quick guide to Covid-19 business support*

Baines Jewitt providing expert post-Covid business advice

The team at Baines Jewitt is closely following the latest developments announced by the government to help UK businesses and the economy address the coronavirus challenge.

They have put together a quick-look guide, highlighting the important points:
> The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) – claim for a percentage of employee wages, plus any employer National Insurance and pension contributions if put on furlough because of coronavirus. The scheme ends on October 31 2020 and the level of support will taper off from August.
> The Bounce Back Loan scheme (BBLS) – aimed at small to medium-sized businesses looking to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000 (up to 25 per cent of their turnover) to help with cash flow and other issues.
> The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) – available to UK- based small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with an annual turnover of £45m or below.
> The Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) – aimed at medium and large businesses. The government has extended the maximum loan size available to £200m, but with restrictions placed on dividend and bonus payments by borrowers.
> The Future Fund – aimed at rapidly growing businesses that typically rely on equity investment. Criteria dependent, but has recently expanded to include firms that have moved their HQs abroad.
> Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) – aimed at the self-employed or a member of a partnership, this scheme provides a taxable grant of 80 per cent of average monthly trading profits, covering three months and capped at £7,500. Applications for first round grants close on July 13 2020. Claims for second and final grants will open in August 2020.
* Information correct at time of writing