Time For Britain To Get Back On Track

Road to recovery

Following the first round of unprecedented support for jobs and the economy from the government, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, unveiled his plans for the U.K.’s second phase of recovery.

As a fan of Crystal Palace FC, recent reports on Britain bouncing back, reminds me of the 2003/4 season when manager of the day, Iain Dowie, commented on his team’s “bouncebackability” when discussing their resilience in the wake of avoiding relegation and then going on to win promotion to the Premier League in the play-offs.

There have been different projections as to the shape of the U.K.’s recovery, and our own “bouncebackability”, most hoping for a ‘V’ shape, but only time will tell.

The first stage has already pumped in £160 billion to the economy, which includes £49 billion for vital services including the NHS, paying the wages of nearly 12 million people and supporting more than 1 million businesses with grants, loans and rate cuts, as identified in our previous blog Coronavirus: the story so far.

In an amazing and historic move, the second stage of recovery focuses on skills and young people, creation of jobs, investment in infrastructure, protection of existing jobs in hospitality by reducing VAT by 15% and an Eat Out to Help Out campaign offering discounts to diners.

Some of the details are listed below:

  • There will be a JRS bonus. U.K. employers will receive a one-off bonus of £1,000 for each furloughed employee who is still employed as of 31 January 2021.
  • A new £2 billion Kickstart Scheme will be launched to create hundreds of thousands of new, fully subsidised jobs for 16-24 year olds across the country.
  • A total of £1.6 billion will be invested in scaling up employment support schemes, training and apprenticeships to help people looking for a job.
  • Bringing forward £8.8 billion of new infrastructure, decarbonisation, and maintenance projects.
  • £5.8 billion will be spent on shovel-ready construction projects to get Britain building.
  • To boost demand in the hard-hit sector of hospitality, a new Eat Out to Help Out discount scheme will provide a 50% reduction for sit-down meals in cafes, restaurants, and pubs across the UK from Monday to Wednesday every week throughout August 2020.
  • The rate of VAT applied on most tourism and hospitality-related activities will be cut from 20% to 5%.
  • To support jobs and growth in the housebuilding and property sectors there is a temporary increase to the Nil Rate Band of Residential SDLT (Stamp Duty) from £125,000 to £500,000 until 31 March 2021.

More information can be found on the government website.

For one, I look forward to the details being fleshed out over the coming days and weeks but I can see green shoots of recovery, and with sadness aside for what has passed and continues to impact our daily lives, the future is looking much, much brighter.

Driving Efficiencies Into The New Dawn

Driving efficiencies with cloud accounting

Whether it is an external go-to-market strategy or an internal process evaluation, the desire is to do it quicker and better each time with minimal fuss and an efficiency of cost. Whilst some of us dream about the ways we might be able to implement Artificial Intelligence (AI) into our businesses, for most, this appears to be a long way off. For others, a more achievable goal is that of using Robotic Process Automation (RPA) for daily tasks. RPA can be implemented once a business maps out its processes and after interrogation of these results, inefficiencies are identified and the repetitive processes are set up to automatically run without the need for human intervention, saving valuable time and money.

Before immersing yourself in flow charts and allocating resources, it is best to target the low hanging fruit and develop an insight into how this technology may help your business today. A logical place to start is with Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to do some of the heavy lifting and begin this exciting journey. OCR can convert images or documents into editable and searchable data. It frees up your time to be more proactive and seek out areas that are more interesting where you can add significantly more value. Whilst some firms are not ready to implement RPA, or even willing to document their processes to enable its use, OCR is more widely accessible and is the first step towards more streamlined and efficient business processes.

Companies are using OCR technology to expedite their bookkeeping and compliance workloads. By using the Hubdoc app, individuals are able to easily snap and send receipts using their smart phone, negating the need for laborious data entry. This has also enabled many business owners to be able to claim back more VAT and store their paper receipts electronically without the need to physically hold onto them, freeing up unnecessary filing and storage space. Hubdoc stores all this information for full compliance with HMRC regulations, as well as, fetching recurring bills from suppliers, and an option for invoices to be uploaded via email to your own private vault.

Hubdoc links seamlessly with Xero, a cloud accounting solution, which is a government approved, Making Tax Digital (MTD) provider. There will be more requests like MTD coming from HMRC and Companies House in the near future with the aim of achieving a paperless system, seeking parity with the major banks and building societies, who moved to online banking more than two decades ago. By using an app stack (a selection of apps to simplify and enhance processes) with a cloud accounting partner of choice, businesses will be a step ahead of the competition and closer to a more efficient model with powerful up to the minute data, where actionable decisions can be made wherever there is an internet connection.

Cloud accounting software gives companies the freedom of information on the go with no need for costly installations on hardware, saving on overheads. Information is securely stored remotely in the cloud, where access can be granted or restricted depending on the requirements within the organisation, to ensure information flows only to those that need it, when they need it. Client accounting solutions from providers who fully utilise this technology support companies in seeking out global best practices.

Using video conferencing to keep in touch with clients has been enforced over this recent period but has hopefully shown companies that there is no need for a physical face-to-face meeting and that the historical “local accountant” being on their doorstep could be confined to the past. By using Know Your Customer (KYC) providers to comply with Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Counter-Terrorism Financing (CTF) guidelines, Enhanced Due Diligence (EDD) can be undertaken by cloud accountancy providers to ensure they satisfy their own moral and ethical standards as well as the laws enforced by government.

If your company is currently using a spreadsheet-based system or another provider and you want to make the switch to cloud accounting, the transition is quick and simple, with providers offering full support. However, if you are not comfortable with the process, you should ask your accountant for assistance. Add-ons to a basic cloud accounting package allow for the managing of payroll, employees’ expense claims, and project management. With over 700 apps that can be integrated with Xero, control over where your business is heading is up to you.

If your business needs help identifying how to maximise cash flow, introducing furloughed staff back into the business or to improve your chances of obtaining a government backed loan, the tools are available with Xero and their partners. It is always important to be clear and focused on the goals that you want to achieve, not only as an individual, but also for your business. That is why a personalised cloud accounting solution can offer you the level of service you need now, tailor-made for you to overcome the obstacles of today but flexible enough to scale with you as your company comes out of this lockdown and grows into the future.

Groundbreaking client accounting package

Personalised Package offering

Not getting the level of service your company deserves? Can’t find a suitable package with scope for growth? Our Personalised Package with transparent pricing puts you in control of your financial destiny.

Fully compliant fixed price monthly packages for limited companies, with a dedicated account manager. You select the number and frequency of any additional operations, tax and payroll or advisory services.

We are there to advise on existing selections that always offer you the best value, which enable us to provide superior financial support as your business environment changes.

Visit Zen Finance Solutions and future-proof your business today.

Chartered Accountants with a difference.

 

 

Coronavirus – the story so far

State of mind

Coronavirus is still dominating headlines across the world. During these difficult times, a lack of information can cause anxiety and distress to individuals and businesses alike.

As a business, we can empathise with the communities in which we operate.

As Chartered Accountants, we are uniquely positioned to provide a trusted source of advice and a platform with whom to share thoughts and ideas at this incredibly difficult time of uncertainty for both individuals and businesses alike.

We have pulled together some of the information available in one place and this will be updated regularly as and when we know more.

For those who have been attending a lot of webinars recently, I am sure you will have heard this many times, first, we will go through some general housekeeping rules: –

  • Stay alert > Control the virus > Save lives
  • Wash your hands regularly

You can spread the virus even if you don’t have symptoms.

Whilst this should still be strictly adhered to, new guidance has been updated for England to be that you are now allowed to meet in groups:

  • Outdoors up to 6 people from different households (no limit if from 2 households)
  • At 1m ‘plus’ distance
  • Indoors from 2 households

More information on this is provided on the Government websiteupdated 2nd July 2020

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have set out their own independent timelines and guidance.

Those people who are clinically vulnerable or who are still shielding should have received a letter containing further guidance based on their specific conditions.

Secondly, in these unprecedented times, the support for businesses and individuals outlined by the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, is detailed on the Government’s website. The details provide a description of the support on offer, eligibility criteria and if applicable (or necessary), how to apply.

Businesses

£20 million to improve small business leadership and problem-solving skills in the wake of coronavirus – updated 3rd August 2020

£20 million new funding to help smaller businesses recover from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic – updated 30th July 2020

Register your business for the Eat Out To Help Out Scheme updated 12th July 2020

Flexibly furloughing employees – updated 1st July 2020

Can your business open from 4th July? updated 23rd June 2020

Guidance for England only at this time.

Help and support if your business is affected by coronavirusupdated 29th May 2020

Watch videos and register for the free webinars to learn more about the support available to help you deal with the economic impacts of coronavirus.

Safety guidance for returning to workupdated 11th May 2020

New funding to support dairy farmers through coronavirusupdated 6th May 2020

Top-up to local business grant funds schemeupdated 2nd May 2020

Coronavirus bounce back loan scheme (BBLS) – updated 27th April 2020

Finally, the Government has realised that not all businesses are equal. This option is targeting small and medium-sized businesses with loans from £2,000 to £50,000 and will launch 4th May 2020.

Government launches business support finder – updated 20th April 2020

Support for businesses through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (JRS)

U.K. wide. Under the coronavirus JRS, all U.K. employers with a PAYE scheme will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis.

There will be a JRS bonus. U.K. employers will receive a one-off bonus of £1,000 for each furloughed employee who is still employed as of 31 January 2021 – updated 8th July 2020

Claims for periods ending on or before 30th June 2020 should be submitted by 31st July 2020. This is the last date to make those claims. Employers need to have made a claim at any point on or before 31st July to be able to make a claim for future months.

From 1st August 2020 the scheme will no longer fund employers’ National Insurance (NI) and pensions contributions for furloughed employees. Employers will have to make these payments from their own resources.

From 1st September 2020 employers will have to start contributing to the wages of furloughed employees. Grants will be for 70% of usual wages in September and 60% in October, but furloughed employees will continue to be entitled to receive at least 80% of their usual wages. Employers will have to make up the difference from their own resources.

Webinar for changes to JRS, claims, flexible furloughing and key dates

For claim periods starting on or after 1 July, you can download a template if you’re claiming for 100 or more employees and upload this when you claim – updated 19th June 2020

Work out 80% of your employees’ wages to claim through the coronavirus JRS – updated 28th May 2020

Find out how to calculate 80% of your employee’s wages, National Insurance contributions (NICs) and pension contributions if you’ve furloughed staff due to coronavirus (COVID-19).

Treasury Direction made under Sections 71 and 76 of the Coronavirus Act 2020 – updated 22nd May 2020

Extended until the end of October with furloughed workers able to return to part-time work from July with the Government topping up the balance of wages. Employers using the scheme will be asked to contribute towards the cost of paying people’s salaries from August. This cost will gradually increase in September and October. The scheme will close for new entrants from 30 June. However, from this point, employers will only be able to furlough employees that they have furloughed for a full three-week period prior to 30‌‌ June, making 10 June the last date an employer can furlough an employee for the first time. Employers will have until 31‌‌ July to make any claims in respect of the period to 30‌‌ June. Updated 29th May 2020

Further support for employers and agents on how to calculate claims with this extra flexibility will be available by 12‌‌ June, including webinars and detailed online guidance.

Step-by-step guide to claim JRS for employersupdated 11th May 2020

JRS up and runningupdated 20th April 2020

Coronavirus JRS YouTube information to prepare for upcoming claimsupdated 9th April 2020

Support for businesses through deferring VAT payments

U.K. wide. The Government will support businesses by deferring VAT payments for 3 months to the end of June 2020, albeit that VAT returns must still be filed on time.

Support for businesses through deferring Income Tax payments

U.K. wide. The self-assessment payment on account, that is ordinarily due to be paid to HMRC by 31st July 2020 May now be deferred until January 2021.

Support for self-employed through the Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS)

SEISS will support self-employed individuals (including members of partnerships) whose income has been negatively impacted by COVID-19.

Webinar on claiming SEISS

The Government will start contacting those who are eligible in the week commencing 4th May 2020.

The Chancellor announced an extension to the SEISS. Eligible self-employed people will be able to claim a second and final SEISS grant in August; this will be a taxable grant worth 70% of their average monthly trading profits for three months, paid out in a single instalment and capped at £6,570 in total.

Claims for the first SEISS grant, which opened on 13‌‌ May, must be made no later than 13‌‌ July. Eligible self-employed people must make a claim before that date to receive the first SEISS grant (a taxable grant of 80% of their average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering 3 months’ worth of profits, and capped at £7,500 in total).

The eligibility criteria for the second grant will be the same as for the first grant. People do not need to have claimed the first grant to claim the second grant but the application must be made by the eligible individual and not an agent as this will trigger a fraud alert and result in significant delays to payment. Updated 29th May 2020

YouTube video on how to use the SEISS eligibility checker

The application process goes live on 13th May 2020 and it is recommended to have already set up your Government Gateway account and have the relevant information to hand, such as, National Insurance number and Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR).

SEISS Eligibility checker

Support for businesses who are paying sick pay to employees

U.K. wide. The Government will bring forward legislation to allow small and medium-sized businesses to reclaim statutory sick pay (SSP) paid for staff sickness absence due to coronavirus.

SSP Rebate Scheme set to launch 26th May – updated 19th May 2020

Check if you can claim back SSP paid to employees due to coronavirus updated 28th May 2020

If you’re an employer, find out if you can use the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme to claim back employees’ coronavirus-related Statutory Sick Pay (SSP).

Webinar on claiming your Coronavirus SSP rebate

Furloughed drivers and recording mobile working time – updated 28th May 2020

For operators and furloughed drivers on EU mobile working time rules and EU and AETR drivers’ hours and tachograph rules.

Support forretail, hospitality and leisure businesses that pay business rates

England only. Businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors will not have to pay business rates for the 2020-21 tax year.

Support for nursery businesses that pay business rates

England only. Businesses in the nursery sector will not have to pay business rates for the 2020-21 tax year.

Support for businesses that pay little or no business rates

Small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief.

Grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000.

Support for businesses through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) – updated 3rd April 2020

The CBILS is offering loans of up to £5 million for SMEs with turnover up to £45M through the British Business Bank. To expedite the payment of funds, and following further guidance from the Government, Personal Guarantees will no longer be required.

Support for large businesses though the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) – updated 3rd April

Loans of up to £25 million to firms with an annual turnover over £45 million and up to £50 million to firms with an annual turnover over £250 million. Expanded to now cover all viable firms as those with turnover greater than £500 million were initially excluded (updated 16th April 2020). Usual credit checks will be performed but this will give banks the confidence to lend to many more businesses which are impacted by coronavirus. Facilities backed by a guarantee under CLBILS will be offered at commercial rates of interest.

This scheme will launch 20th April 2020 and demand is expected to be high.

Support forlarger firms through the COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility

U.K. wide. A new lending facility from the Bank of England to help support liquidity among larger firms, where the BOE will buy short-term debt, helping firms bridge coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans.

 

Support forbusinesses paying tax: Time to Pay service

U.K. wide. All businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time to Pay service. HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559

Commercial insurance

Protectionfrom eviction for commercial tenants

Extension ofBusiness Improvement Districts (BIDs) arrangements

Support for businesses in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

Business Support Helpline(England) Telephone: 0300 456 3565 Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm

Also available on Twitter / Facebook / YouTube

Find Business Support Scotland Telephone: 0300 303 0660 Textphone: 0800 023 2071 Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 5:30pm

Business Wales Helpline Telephone: 0300 060 3000 Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 5:30pm

Invest Northern Ireland Telephone: 0800 181 4422 Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 5pm

Alternatively, support for businesses from outside the Government.

Making Tax Digital (MTD) has been delayed by a year to April 2021 to allow companies more time to put in place digital links.

The controversial IR35 reform where private companies are responsible for working out the tax status of their contractors and freelancers has been delayed by a year to April 2021.

£750M extra funding for frontline charities – updated 8th April 2020

Billion pound support package for innovative firms hit by coronavirusupdated 20th April 2020

Individuals

To boost demand in the hard-hit sector of hospitality, a new Eat Out to Help Out discount scheme will provide a 50% reduction for sit-down meals in cafes, restaurants, and pubs across the UK from Monday to Wednesday every week throughout August 2020 – updated 8th July 2020

To support jobs and growth in the housebuilding and property sectors there is a temporary increase to the Nil Rate Band of Residential SDLT (Stamp Duty) from £125,000 to £500,000 until 31 March 2021 – updated 8th July 2020

Coronavirus: getting testedupdated 28th May 2020

Guidance on coronavirus testing, including who is eligible for a test and how to get tested.

Travel advice : coronavirus – updated 28th May 2020

Guidance for British people travelling overseas during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Check if your employer can use the coronavirus JRSupdated 28th May 2020

Find out if you’re eligible, and how much your employer can claim if they put you on temporary leave (‘furlough’) because of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Eligibility of employees for Job Retention Scheme (JRS) – updated 4th April 2020

Mortgage repayment holidays

Lenders are offering several ways to support their customers who have been affected by coronavirus. It is best to contact your lender directly to see how they can help. Be prepared for high call volumes and to wait for a significant amount of time. If you have a business bank manager, see if they can fast track your call.

Vulnerable individuals

Since the announcement on Sunday 22nd March of the distribution of 1.5 million letters to those who are most vulnerable to this virus and should self-isolate for 12 weeks, confusion has been met by those who do not identify with having any of the diseases and conditions that warrant being at high risk. NHS Digital have posted a statement on this, but if you are in any doubt, please contact your local GP’s office.

Claiming Universal Credit / Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) – updated 19th March

  • those affected by coronavirus will be able to apply for Universal Credit and can receive up to a month’s advance up front without physically attending a job centre
  • the 7 waiting days for ESA for new claimants will not apply if they are suffering from coronavirus or are required to stay at home – so it will be payable from day one

Statutory sick pay (SSP) for employees and self-employed – updated 19th March

  • people who cannot work due to coronavirus and are eligible for SSP will get it from day one, rather than from the fourth day of their illness – the Government intend to legislate so this measure applies retrospectively from 13 March 2020
  • SSP will be payable to people who are staying at home on government advice, not just those who are infected, from 13 March 2020 after regulations were laid on 12 March 2020 – employers are urged to use their discretion about what evidence, if any, they ask for
  • if employees need to provide evidence to their employer that they need to stay at home due to coronavirus, they will be able to get it from the NHS 111 Online instead of having to get a fit note from their doctor – this is currently under development and will be made available soon
  • self-employed claimants on Universal Credit who are required to stay at home or are ill as a result of coronavirus will not have a Minimum Income Floor (an assumed level of income) applied for a period while affected

Support for the bereavedupdated 28th May 2002

Information to help bereaved families, friends or next of kin make important decisions.

What next?

If you require financial support, research the above steps to act as soon as possible and / or contact your accountant. DO NOT DELAY!

Identify areas of your business where cash flow can be maximised. Speak with your customers for prompt payment and suppliers to understand if payments can be put on hold.

If you require further support, please visit our services page to see what Zen Finance Solutions can do for your business. Most importantly, we are all in this together, so be mindful, respectful and stay safe.

 

Remote working: the new normal?

remote working

Do you fear for your employees health? Is your business suffering from the recent COVID-19 outbreaks? Are you travel restricted? Then remote working could be the answer for your business. It has been shown that employees remain productive for longer and can result in up to an additional three weeks of work per year.

With growing numbers of companies offering employees the option of remote working at least one day a week, twinned with the on-going concern of Coronavirus seemingly set to spread and those affected due to rise in the near future, now is the time to ensure your finances remain on track to grow over the coming period and not falter with these current threats becoming more and more common place.

Zen Finance Solutions provide personalised cloud accounting client services for limited companies that are not limited by location. With the technology available today, your local Chartered Accountants no longer have to be on your doorstep.

Zen Finance Solutions hold regular meetings and training sessions remotely via our partners at Zoom. Your dedicated account manager is available to you via phone, email and video conference. Client due diligence is performed through a simple Know Your Customer (KYC) process and the MyZen client portal securely houses all documents digitally and is your hub for our interactions.

Powerful accounting and bookkeeping software is provided by our partners at Xero to give you all the tools you need to effectively run and scale your business. Up-to-date figures are available from wherever an internet connection exists for enhanced decision making, providing your company with extra capacity to evolve and grow in whichever direction you decide.

Zen Finance Solutions are taking on new clients now, so be ahead of the curve and future-proof your business. Visit our website to see our services and contact us today by phone, email, messenger or schedule a follow up call to discuss your requirements.

New clients, new financial year!

new clients image

Exciting times ahead! We are now taking on new clients for the coming financial year.

Please do get in contact using our new clients’ contact form for more information, our booking form to arrange a conversation about the opportunities available to your business, email our support desk for specific questions or call us for anything else.

In the meantime, have a look at our services before choosing the right package for you. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

Zen Finance Solutions are Chartered Global Management Accountants, based in the U.K. and accredited by the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), in partnership with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), adhering to a strict code of ethics.

With the availability and reach of today’s technology, your local accountancy practice no longer must be on your doorstep. That is why at Zen Finance Solutions, whilst we specialise in retail and wholesale, we offer limited companies our client accounting solutions which are not limited to sector or by location.

We exist to support you with all your operational, tax and payroll needs, whilst offering advisory services to help your business from the moment of inception and through the various stages of development as your business grows.

Let Zen Finance Solutions do what we do best, so you can focus on what you do best.

Hello World!

Hello World

Hello and welcome to Zen Finance Solutions. We are currently working hard to get everything in place to go live in February 2020. Please bear with us. We hope you come back to see us then.

In the meantime, have a look at our services and if you would like us to stay in contact or have any questions, please say hello by providing your details, a brief message, and we will get back to you as soon as possible. Thank you.

Zen Finance Solutions are Chartered Global Management Accountants, based in the U.K. and accredited by the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), in partnership with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), adhering to a strict code of ethics.

Zen: meaning “a state of calm”.

With the availability and reach of today’s technology, your local accountancy practice no longer must be on your doorstep. That is why at Zen Finance Solutions, whilst we specialise in retail and wholesale, we offer limited companies our client accounting solutions which are not limited to sector or by location.

We exist to support you with all your operational, tax and payroll needs, whilst offering advisory services to help your business from the moment of inception and through the various stages of development as your business grows.

Our vision

For a paperless, distributed ledger society, that through technology, enables people to take back control of their financial destiny.

Our purpose

To increase business capacity for sustained incremental profits through efficient use of time and accessibility of information on the go. We exist to support our global clients achieve their financial prosperity sooner.

Let Zen Finance Solutions do what we do best, so you can focus on what you do best.