GUIDANCE ON FINANCIAL ISSUES FOR THE SELF-EMPLOYED AND SMALL BUSINESSES
It is worth everyone noting that the Bar Council has a dedicated site on Coronavirus advice and updates. Much of the advice given is of general assistance, and will be of benefit to non-barristers.
In particular there are a number of bulletins from the Bar Council, Legal Practice Management Association and the Institute of Barristers’s Clerks. The latest – on Financial support measures for self-employed barristers and chambers provides guidance that applies to many self-employed people and small to medium sized businesses.
Financial Support Measures for Self-Employed Barristers and Chambers
The following is a list of the measures announced so far that could be of benefit to self-employed barristers
and chambers (that is, the business through which chambers operates); it will be updated as the situation
Measure Further Information
Postpone or spread your
income tax, corporation tax
and VAT payments through
the HMRC Time to Pay scheme
All businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with
outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support, agreed on
a case-by-case basis and tailored to individual circumstances and
Phone the HMRC’s dedicated COVID-19 Time to Pay Helpline on 0800
Spread the payments of your
Self-Assessment tax bill
If you cannot pay your Self-Assessment tax bill, you have filed your
return and owe less than £10,000, you might be able to arrange to pay
in instalments online.
Sign into the Government Gateway
and follow the links from there.
You do not need to contact HMRC if you have set up a payment plan
Call the Self-Assessment payment helpline (0300 200 3822) if you’ve
missed your payment date or you cannot use the online service.
Borrow (up to £5M) through
the Business Interruption Loan
The Chancellor has announced that this scheme, which will be interest free for the first six months of the loan, will be “up and running by the
start of next week”; we are urgently seeking clarification from the
Government that self-employed sole traders and Chambers who do not
operate through limited companies are eligible for this scheme; we will
publish details of how to apply when they are available.
Take a “mortgage holiday” of
up to three months
Contact your mortgage provider to arrange this.
Reclaim the costs of Statutory
Sick Pay paid to employees
The Government will reimburse the costs of SSP paid for sickness
absence, covering up to two weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has
been off work due to COVID-19. The method of claiming the refund has
yet to be announced.
Receive a grant of £10,000 if
you are eligible for Small
Business Rate Relief
If the rateable value of your one business property (ie its open market
rental value on 1 Apr 2015, based on the estimate by the Valuation
Office Agency) is £15,000 or less, you will already be eligible for SBRR.
This could apply to a number of sole-practitioners or very small
chambers will one business property. Your local authority will contact
you to provide a one-off grant of £10,000; you do not need to apply.
Discuss chambers’ rent
liabilities with your Inn
If your chambers rents its premises from one of the Inns of Court,
discuss with it the possibility of postponing all or part of the rent
payments. The Bar Council is contacting the Inns to encourage their
consideration of such requests.
Check if you can claim on your
existing Business Interruption
Chambers should check their existing business insurance to see if it
provides relevant cover, eg Business Interruption arising from notifiable
diseases, though please note that the Association of British Insurers has
advised that this is not standard cover. See the ABI’s statement here.
Seek advice from your insurance broker as appropriate and pay
attention to any time limits in the policy.