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How are we all doing?

Checking in after a hectic and scary week.

Didn't find your answer?

Things have certainly moved on quickly since last week’s coronavirus Budget and AccountingWEB is not the only organisation to be overtaken by events. We switched to working from home over the weekend and one of our team members has been affected by a very nasty fever accompanied by a persistent cough.

The government and its scientific and medical advisers are having to change their responses to the crisis on a regular basis and a further set of economic support measures arrived from the Chancellor last night, including a 12-month delay for new IR35 rules.

There have already been a few conversations on the site about the business impacts and responses to the pandemic, but it seemed like a good idea to pause for breath and ask how everyone out there is doing.

What effects have the virus and remedial measures had on you and your businesses?

How are the impacts playing out among wider industries such as retail, hospitality and manufacturing? 

What are the biggest challenges and what tips can you pass on for coping?

What information are you missing and are there areas where AccountingWEB and its members might be able to help? For example, members have been talking about getting their hands on the £3,000 small business grants administered by local authorities since last Wednesday. Has anyone been able to get their hands on that cash, and how did you go about it?

This is the biggest crisis to affect most of us in our working lives and we’re all in deep waters that none of us have experienced before. As an online community, we should be able to make the most of our ability to share information and practical advice on situations we’re all encountering and how to respond. As accountants, many of the people here will have relevant knowledge about how the impacts are playing out.

Around 30,000 people drop by AccountingWEB every day. So we are not alone. We want this place to be somewhere where accountants and business people can help each other out. Thank you all for your attention and contributions to the coronavirus conversation and let us know about anything to do with the crisis that merits further discussion.

Replies (44)

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By Mr_awol
18th Mar 2020 11:43

John Stokdyk wrote:

For example, members have been talking about getting their hands on the £3,000 small business grants administered by local authorities since last Wednesday. Has anyone been able to get their hands on that cash, and how did you go about it?

£10k now, not £3k.

The cash will be allocated by the local authority responsible for collecting business rates. It will be automatic (apparently) and there is no need to apply as they will contact you - probably with the same efficiency that the local councils do everything else - so although the money should be available from April, it might take a bit longer. Nobody has it yet as the councils are awaiting details from central government but https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-bus... is a good start.

The grant appears to be tied to SBRR and RBRR. Whether businesses exempt from rates - or who instead obtain charitable and/or discretionary relief - will qualify I don't know.

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Replying to Mr_awol:
John Stokdyk, AccountingWEB head of insight
By John Stokdyk
18th Mar 2020 11:59

Sorry about that - you are absolutely right about the £10,000 small business grant.

The figure changed overnight between writing the question and actually posting it.

As I may have suggested, the speed with which this is all happening is hard to keep up with. We'll try our best internally, but having effective back-up from better informed members is especially helpful. Thanks.

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Replying to John Stokdyk:
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By Mr_awol
18th Mar 2020 12:34

As I keep telling clients, it is a rapidly changing situation and details are thin on the ground.

A client phoned me today saying he's had someone offer to 'Help' him claim it! I've told him to tell the scammer to do one as there isn't a claim process for him to undertake. Great to see entrepreneurship alive and well in a crisis eh?

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By AWeb72
18th Mar 2020 11:47

I am hoping, as the days progress, the grant is available for businesses operated from home too, or some other mechanism is introduced for helping them.
The loans announced aren't a great help as who wants to take on more debt with the uncertainty around.

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Replying to AWeb72:
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By Mr_awol
18th Mar 2020 12:07

AWeb72 wrote:

I am hoping, as the days progress, the grant is available for businesses operated from home too, or some other mechanism is introduced for helping them.
The loans announced aren't a great help as who wants to take on more debt with the uncertainty around.

To an extent I'm hoping they wont be.

The grants, and rates relief, are intended to ensure that businesses can continue to meet ongoing costs (rent, etc) during a crisis. Home businesses do not incur those costs and many may be far less affected.

The loans are largely government backed and are to carry attractive terms so are designed to assist people to take the debt without worrying.

It is a balancing act for sure. We need people to be confident financially to ensure they do the right thing. We don't want people self isolating on full pay only to spunk[***] the money down the pub (especially if they then catch coronavirus down the boozer!)

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By Duggimon
18th Mar 2020 11:59

I've just spent the morning doing a cash flow projection for a hotel. It's riddled with disclaimers stating it's essentially a work of fiction, who knows if we'll even have hotels a month from now?

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Richard Hattersley
By Richard Hattersley
18th Mar 2020 12:34

I have a heating engineer here today repairing a faulty boiler (don't ask!). He said his diary has just emptied since the coronavirus. This week he has received cancellation after cancellation, especially from self-isolating older people. He can't remember a time like it.

As for the government's announcement, he can't see anything that would help him immediately other than the three-month mortgage freeze.

EDIT: He just received another cancellation - the booking has just come down with a cough.

When he bought our new boiler, it was the first one the boiler company sold that day - usually, they're shifting loads.

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Replying to Richard Hattersley:
John Stokdyk, AccountingWEB head of insight
By John Stokdyk
18th Mar 2020 14:39

Thanks, Richard - that's a useful vignette from another industry we haven't considered yet. Say your boiler & installation are worth £1k - how many do you think his normal workload involves?

Let's say three and multiply that by 120,000 (number of UK plumbers according to Google) and we're talking about £1.2bn a month impact on that sector as a very, very conservative estimate.

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Replying to RedSquirrel:
By Ruddles
18th Mar 2020 22:31

I wonder if squirrels can catch it? Here’s hoping...

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By ohgoodgodno
18th Mar 2020 13:15

Its scary times, I've not seen anything like it

the last few days have been non-stop on the phone or email to clients who are worried sick and rightly so

whilst some client's are staying positive, for many the outlook is doom and gloom, I'm really concerned for some people's well being

I fear that it could affect many practitioner's mental state being surrounded by this crisis, especially if it lasts for an extended period of time

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By Jekyll and Hyde
18th Mar 2020 13:25

BT shares should be up, at the rate I am on my phone this week!

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By Dib
18th Mar 2020 13:36

It's not the pandemic that is affecting me (although I have to work at home currently because of Government guidelines), it is the infodemic! We are talking ourselves into a crisis. Flu kills about 17,000 people in England annually and nobody bats an eyelid. 71 people die of Covid 19 and it's the end of the world with panic buying and hoarding by selfish pratts who deprive people who need and would benefit from certain medication of that medication.

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Replying to Dib:
Psycho
By Wilson Philips
18th Mar 2020 13:50

The panic buying is disgraceful and those responsible need to hang their heads in shame. Our Tesco has restricted pasta products to 5 items, but who needs 5 packs of pasta? Even worse, as I saw in one trolley this morning, who needs 5 packs of every type of pasta?

Supermarkets need to replace their ‘buy one get one free’ offers with ‘buy one pay double for the second’.

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Replying to Dib:
Red Leader
By Red Leader
18th Mar 2020 14:39

Two big differences with seasonal flu. CV spreads more easily and has a higher mortality rate. Multiply those factors together and you can see the total deaths being many times flu.

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Replying to Red Leader:
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By Dib
18th Mar 2020 15:22

I don't believe there is any evidence that it spreads more easily than flu - both are transmitted in the same way e.g., sneezes and touching an infected surface and transmitting it to the face.

Although there is little evidence of the actual death rate as there are no worldwide figures giving a more statistically valid result such as there are for flu, it is the case that the death rate appears to be higher. However, more detail is required to calculate the actual death rate. There are a number of countries that are not reporting their deaths to the world at large.

Also, we don't have natural immunity to most diseases, apart from those we can be inoculated against, which is why we come down with things like colds and flu in the first place! OK, we get flu jabs but those only work if the specific strain of flu covered by the jab is the one that infects the person; if it another strain of flu then the person will become ill.

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Replying to Dib:
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By SXGuy
18th Mar 2020 15:41

Look at it another way. 80 people a day die in the UK. The top 3 reasons are heart desease, cancer and raspitory conditions. We hear of the number of deaths, and we hear they had underlying health conditions, and as an add on we hear, they tested positive for CV.

What we do not hear, is a) whether these people would have died anyway as a result of the above, or b) whether it was CV that ultimately lead to their death.

What I want to know is, would these people have lived if it hadn't been for CV, and did it play a part in their overall healtg detireating.

All we have is speculated connection made by media outlets.

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Replying to SXGuy:
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By Tax Dragon
18th Mar 2020 15:47

SXGuy wrote:

The top 3 reasons are heart desease, cancer and raspitory conditions.

Dammit I like raspberries.

BBC says your numbers are way too low, btw: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-21667065

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Replying to Red Leader:
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By Tax Dragon
18th Mar 2020 15:23

The people that make the comparison with flu (in a "what's the fuss?" way) completely miss the point.

Flu kills thousands of people despite being a virus we have all (or nearly all) faced before and against which people are vaccinated every year. It spreads from a few to the many (we don't all catch it at once). It serves as a warning to what will happen with this new virus which by definition none of us has faced before and against which there is no vaccine.

Flatten that curve.

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Replying to Tax Dragon:
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By Dib
18th Mar 2020 16:16

This is wrong. The point is that we may have faced a flu virus before but there is no such thing as the flu virus or the flu jab. Flu viruses mutate!

Simplistically, there are a number of types of flu and they are all different in that they look different to our immune systems. If we have caught a particular type of flu before then we will be immune to it because the body will have developed antibodies to it and will 'remember' it so we will not suffer from infection by that type again.

Likewise, if the strain of flu that is one of those in the hypodermic in your flu jab is one that later attacks you, your immune system will cope with it because it recognises it because the flu jab makes the body raise antibodies to the types of flu in the jab. If the type of flu that attacks you is not one of the ones that was in your flu jab and your body has not come across it before, then you will come down with flu because your body has no immunity to it (just like it doesn't to CV). The WHO spends time each year trying to second guess which type of flu will be most prevalent in any given year and send out flu jabs accordingly.

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Replying to Dib:
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By Tax Dragon
18th Mar 2020 16:31

Not heard of partial immunity?

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Replying to Tax Dragon:
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By Dib
18th Mar 2020 16:59

Yes, with my biochem/immunology background I would have. That is why I used the word 'simplistically'.

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Replying to Dib:
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By Tax Dragon
18th Mar 2020 17:11

So you are allowed to be simplistic in your comments, not so the rest of us?

I take your point that the media coverage is also simplistic, but (as Wolf says) governments are presumably being briefed in more detail, with better maths and science. I think it's more important that they now what's happening and give sensible guidance for us to follow than that you or I know, whatever our respective backgrounds.

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Replying to Tax Dragon:
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By Mr_awol
18th Mar 2020 16:20

Tax Dragon wrote:

The people that make the comparison with flu (in a "what's the fuss?" way) completely miss the point.

It astounds me that people are still acting/talking/writing in such a manner. I've seen calls on social media for 'positivity' and bans on the media reporting deaths/infections/etc.

What these absolute morons don't seem to realise, is that the leaders of pretty much every civilised country in the free world don't commit hundreds of billions of pounds/dollars/euros/etc in financial support, lock down entire countries/continents, and risk financial collapse of major employers/taxpayers/civilisation as a whole over a 'bad cold' or 'media hysteria'.

OK, I get that we don't want to all panic and sink into a well of despair, but pretending that 'typical British resolve' is going to stop people dying is just as bad.

If the various governments' current stance and what is currently going on in the world cant convince some people that this is actually quite serious, then I really do worry for the future.

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Replying to Mr_awol:
Lone Wolf
By Lone_Wolf
18th Mar 2020 16:48

This times 100.

As you point out, why do people think governments across the world are risking economic catastrophe with their actions.

This level of action hasn't been seen for any previous outbreak, so clearly something has got them spooked.

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Replying to Dib:
Red Leader
By Red Leader
18th Mar 2020 17:15

CV deaths in Italy are 2500 after just a few weeks.

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Replying to Red Leader:
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By Mr_awol
18th Mar 2020 17:38

Red Leader wrote:

CV deaths in Italy are 2500 after just a few weeks.

+475 in one day.

Next person to tell me (in person) that this is being blown out of all proportion risks being punched in the face. I'm going home.

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By Duhamel
18th Mar 2020 13:45

I worked in London in 2008 early in my career. In hindsight, I was heavily insulated from its effects including the effects on clients, more or less oblivious. If I had been paying attention then I imagine this is how it felt when the music stopped.

Right now we are waiting to find out who doesn't have a chair.

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Replying to Duhamel:
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By claudialowe
18th Mar 2020 15:17

I think that 2008 was different. Yes, there were some very unlucky casualties, but the vast majority of well run businesses survived and continued, and lots are still trading today. CV is affecting every business, however well or badly run, and unless you have huge reserves, then many well run and profitable businesses will have to stop trading.

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Tornado
By Tornado
18th Mar 2020 13:58

It is important that as Accountants and others providing financial services to business, we show some leadership and use our experience and logic to help our clients in a rational way.

I have just spent half an hour speaking to a lady whose family have two catering outlets and are worried mainly about retaining staff and generally keeping going. By the time we had finished the conversation, we had agreed that one of the outlets needs to close completely for a few weeks and all business concentrated in the other.

We had also worked out that this was a good time to create new takeaway/delivery menus for those in self-isolation locally which will provide alternative work for her current waiters and kitchen staff. The bonus of this idea is that this could become a new source of income when we get back to normal.

We also talked about the practical matters of keeping open during the outbreak and it is amazing what can be done if you really think about it.

My view is that situations like this are to be dealt with rationally and new opportunities can be discovered with a little thought. I also believe that people who have created and run their own businesses are open to new ideas and are agile enough to adapt to changing circumstances when given encouragement and support.

Finally, do not keep listening to the constant reports on television and radio as the hype significantly exceeds the facts. Catch up with what is going on at well spaced intervals and use your own common sense to decide how much you actually believe of what you are being told.

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By claudialowe
18th Mar 2020 14:05

I had a very depressing meeting with a cafe owner client yesterday, going through every line of their outgoings. Staff were being let go this morning, and they will try and trade through just on their own. Lots of initiatives like home delivery and take out food talked about. Whether it will be enough to keep them going will depend on how long it last, the attitude of their landlord etc etc. Off to do the same process with a hairdresser later today.............

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By Paul D Utherone
18th Mar 2020 14:11

John Stokdyk wrote:

What are the biggest challenges and what tips can you pass on for coping?

... at the moment, stopping swearing about my cancelled holiday. Up to yesterday lunchtime I was due to head for sunnier & virus free climes on Friday. That all came tumbling down @ 14:30
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Replying to Paul D Utherone:
John Stokdyk, AccountingWEB head of insight
By John Stokdyk
18th Mar 2020 14:43

Sorry to hear about that. I had a few jaunts lined up to some concerts. All now cancelled - so there are a lot of musicians, tour and venue staff kicking their heels and losing out on anticipated income.

These are literally the "gig economy" workers. It's such a grey area that the broader economic impacts are going to be difficult to quantify. But I'm pretty certain the people affected are likely to have the fewest reserves to cope.

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Replying to John Stokdyk:
By Paul D Utherone
18th Mar 2020 16:17

Indeed, I have been talking to quite a few affected this way in recent days.

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Caroline
By accountantccole
18th Mar 2020 14:43

Day 2 of lock down in France.
The internet is coping, just. Thank goodness we upgraded our phones recently, we can have team conference calls for everyone to check in and clients dial the office and it comes to the mobile.
The rates link to these grants is a concern, nothing for those working from home is an issue. Hopefully that will come through at later stages.
Could do with some detail (what is the definition of hospitality?) but I guess they are still making it up as they go along.
On the upside, I am allowed out with the dog (and an appropriately filled in form) and can enjoy my lunch in the garden overlooking the Alps!

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Replying to RedSquirrel:
By Duggimon
18th Mar 2020 16:39

RedSquirrel wrote:

They need a form to prove that the hairy thing with 4 legs that keeps barking is a dog? The way authority works astounds me.

I suspect it's more to prove it's your dog. I've heard mention of people in Spain renting out dogs to people who want to go for a walk but have no excuse.

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Replying to accountantccole:
Hallerud at Easter
By DJKL
18th Mar 2020 16:08

The catch with hospitality is it, so to speak, impacts the whole food chain. We have a tenant who wholesale supplies wine etc to the hospitality industry and I understand they are now struggling, business has totally dried up for them.

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Replying to accountantccole:
By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
18th Mar 2020 17:08

@Acole

That gave me a smile - the French do LOVE a form, even in a crisis!

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By Cyrille1987
18th Mar 2020 16:24

It's tough, really tough out there. I've spent all week on emails and phone calls to some really distressed clients, trying to help them however I can. Lets hope when this over (and it will be over) that HMRC and alike give the profession some credit for helping small business through this.

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blue sheep
By NH
19th Mar 2020 07:19

Its certainly been a busy couple of days, we have been concentrating on contacting the clients at most risk and the ones that we know will need answers (ie those with business property and those with staff mainly).

From a very quick risk assessment I would say I am very worried about 15-20% of clients that are either in a sector likely to be heavily impacted by a shutdown, or those that were teetering on the edge anyway and simply will not be able to survive a crisis.

We do not have many clients in retail or hospitality but of course every single person will be effected. We have some clients that have struggled through for the past few years and had just started to turn things around which is very sad.

The main worry from our personal point of view is not that a huge number of clients will fail but that they will struggle to pay our bills, however having moved to monthly fees a number of years ago we are in a fairly strong position here, if we had carried on invoicing annually I could see massive cashflow problems over the next few months.

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By meadowsaw227
20th Mar 2020 12:43

There is blatant profiteering locally by some "small" shops and chemists.
The government needs to make sure that these businesses DO not receive any state aid and lose their licences to trade ! .

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Replying to meadowsaw227:
Psycho
By Wilson Philips
20th Mar 2020 13:27

Not just the shops

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Andrex-2-Ply-Soft-Toilet-Tissue-Roll-Classic-...

Do you think the seller is a Mr Rutledge?

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Replying to Wilson Philips:
Lone Wolf
By Lone_Wolf
20th Mar 2020 14:44

The toilet roll panic has got to be one of the more perplexing matters in all this.

Has nobody else got a shower head if they run out?

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Replying to Lone_Wolf:
Psycho
By Wilson Philips
20th Mar 2020 15:12

I think that it just indicates that we have more arseholes in this country than we thought.

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Sarah Douglas - HouseTree Business Ltd
By sarah douglas
20th Mar 2020 14:43

I think it is really important that we keep ourselves really healthy in diet and as fit as possible to help the NHS workers, now I like a good pint but Alcohol reduces your immune system so happy to go without.

I have been helping clients all week and will continue to do so.

To keep us fit in the garden I went to Decathlon Braehead yesterday to buy some weights, skipping ropes or a boxing punch bag for 16-year-old and swing ball for the family as last year our swingball was done. I already have the Badminton net , bowls and table tennis to keep us fit. I brought a sewing kit as well to fix all the things I have wanted to fix for ages

Glasgow obviously plans to be superfit as Decathlon the shop was stripped bare. Their was archery and then thought that might be dangerous for the neighbours. Picking up swing ball at Argos but they had no weights left either. So I am going today to buy some plant seeds and tomato plants to occupy me in the garden and pick up a swingball which I ordered.

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