The rate of development of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) has created an unprecedented atmosphere of uncertainty, which has led to self-isolation, partial travel bans, bans on mass gatherings and panic buying. It will also have a significant effect on small businesses like ours, and the clients we provide services to. In the current climate (as from 18.3.20), we have formulated the following plan as to how business can continue.
GBM Accounts Office
It is our intention that our office will remain open for the foreseeable future. We obviously cannot guarantee that this will continue, but we also cannot simply close our doors. Therefore, it is our aim to be open Monday to Friday, 9.00 am to 5.00 pm, with at least one member of staff. NB this may change due to further Government initiatives.
We are also offering staff the option to work from home where practical.
Books Dropping Off
If the office is open, then you should be able to drop books off. Many clients do this as and when convenient, but for the foreseeable future, you may wish to check in advance to make sure that it’s not a problem. As always, if your books and records are small enough to fit through a standard size letterbox (outside of normal working hours), then that option is always available.
If, however, you are restricting your travel and wish instead to post your records, that is fine too. Also, technology is increasingly playing a part, and we often receive electronic records via email or through the Openspace file sharing website.
Given the potential disruption we could all face over the next 3-6 months due to Coronavirus, the importance of dealing with your accounts and tax affairs remains high, and the extra time this could involve means that we would be grateful if you could please let us have your books and records ASAP.
The majority of meetings are to review accounts and get sign off, to enable submissions to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and/or Companies House. We also achieve this quite often remotely, using a combination of email and Openspace. This would be the preferred option, as it would reduce travel and follow the social isolation principle.
Also, please bear in mind that the other usual methods of communication should still be open (email, telephone, text, Whatsapp). We should also be able to accommodate video conferencing if required, using either FaceTime or Whatsapp. It may not be quite as straight forward if staff are working from home, but it should not be insurmountable.
Although the Government are making lots of noises in respect of supporting small businesses, we have not seen much evidence that this approach is being replicated by either HMRC or Companies House. Therefore, we would urge clients to assume that normal filing deadlines still exist. That is the default scenario which we will assume, and as always, we will look to deal with the filing deadlines sooner rather than later.
However, HMRC are providing assistance to businesses who cannot pay their tax due to Coronavirus. This is the Time to Pay initiative, details can be found here as to spreading payments out.
Nick, Tracy, Tracey, Linda and Alana
18th March 2020