There was a great deal of fear at the start of the pandemic, not just around health but also jobs and the survival of businesses forced to closed. We all (yes accountants too!!!) had to work out how to survive. Part of that meant working out how to apply for the HMRC schemes…
…it wasn’t always easy!
As the country entered its first lockdown in 2020, the government announced a number of schemes to assist businesses. No one really knew how things would play out but a great deal of hope was placed on these previously untested schemes.
The core support was to be provided by the Coronavirus Job Retentions Scheme which aimed to keep unemployment at bay, with businesses further supported by local authority grants and a generous loan scheme…that ended up not being that generous!
Despite much campaigning, there were many who fell through the cracks and felt ignored, with freelance creatives and business owners who relied on dividends being two key groups.
Implementing the schemes
Today we mark ‘Freedom Day’ in the UK (19 July 2021) and whilst it’s not quite the celebration we had hoped, with cases again rising, we feel it’s a great day to celebrate the hard work and invention shown by business owners and….well accountants across the country.
It’s clear that, of all the schemes, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS or Furlough Scheme) has been the most widely used.
Whilst there have been many who have lost jobs and seen businesses fail and there will likely be more to come, it is fantastic to see how many have survived. They survive not just due to Government grants but also the hard work and creativity of business owners, employees and accountants everywhere.
As a firm we made a decision at the start of all this to provide as much support as possible free of charge or at discounted rates. The goal being to support our community as much as possible in the belief that together we would all be stronger on the other side.
As a business owner I sit here now and question that wisdom! Our team have suffered as we not only met all our usual work but also additional support, business plans, forecasts and….those dreaded furlough claims! Let’s not forget, no one had done any of this before and I’m very grateful to our amazing team who took it in their stride, working out new systems, software updates and piecing together solutions in the fly.
For us, doing work for free meant our usual high standard for service slipped but we delivered the work and we have, I am certain, saved businesses and jobs as have accountants and bookkeepers up and down the country.
But it’s this invention and hard work that sees huge numbers of small businesses in the UK not only survive but in some cases prosper.
So, how much has been raised under the furlough scheme itself?
In the latest HMRC report it shows £65.9 billion has been paid out as at 31 May 2021. That’s huge! For those with the time and interest there are tonnes of statistics in those reports around regional payouts, pay by gender and so on.
We’re delighted as a firm that at the same date we had claimed over £1 million for our own clients.
Over that same period, as a firm we’ve helped clients claim over £2 million in Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans and Bounce Back Loans and over £200,000 in local authority grants. Further, we’ve supported self-employed individuals make their claims for Self-Employed Income Support Scheme grants.
It’s clear it’s not all over yet and many fear a further lockdown. Regardless of where your business is at right now, we think it’s vital you have to hand a plan and a financial forecast. It’s these tools, combined with your creativity and hard work that will continue to see you through!