Coronavirus: the Chancellor's statement - Michael Izza's message to members
20 March 2020: the Chancellor's announcement this evening of a far-reaching package of measures allows businesses in this country to stand by their employees at a time of national emergency.
Such direct action by Government to keep people in employment is a really good start. It should make a difference to how people feel and keep them working and spending. The real battle now is for public confidence: if we can sustain that, the economics will follow.
Much of the detail is still being worked up and we expect more information to follow (for example on the self-employed). As soon as we can, ICAEW will provide you with more in-depth comments to help you navigate the support now on offer. In the meantime, please keep us updated on the issues you are facing through this form on our website.
Thank you to those who have already been in touch with us to share your issues and concerns. These are providing us with valuable insights to share in my conversations with government departments, the Bank of England and others, as well as helping our teams to prioritise their activities. So far, we have seen some key themes emerging around: -
Many of your comments relate to tax reliefs. On Thursday, our Head of Tax, Frank Haskew wrote to Rt Hon Jessie Norman MP urging HMRC to show flexibility and creativity over the coming weeks. We recommended leveraging employers’ NICs, perhaps through the use of employment grants, such as Coronavirus Retention Scheme, to keep people in work, a measure similar to what was announced by the Chancellor this evening. Administering the new loan scheme will be a huge ask for HMRC, so we are urging them to defer - with immediate effect - any other planned, but non-essential, changes to the tax system. This will help ensure that chartered accountants can focus on supporting their clients through this period.
Prompt and easy access to funding, such as loans and grants, from as wide a range of reputable and regulated finance providers as possible is also a clear concern. David Petrie in our Corporate Finance Faculty has been working closely with the British Business Bank to try to get funds to where they’re needed (notwithstanding the limitations of the CBILS). Access and then understanding the funding is a real issue for businesses as I discussed with the Governor of the Bank of England today.
- Paying wages
The Government’s plans will help keep people in employment and on payroll. We recognise that there are gaps and more clarity is needed and will be making that point to Ministers.
Like many of you, I worked through 9/11 and the 2008 financial crisis, but this is unprecedented. I know members are doing everything they can to help their employees and clients, with many trying hard to stay afloat themselves. Once again, I want to reassure you of our commitment to helping our members during this crisis. Our Technical team is working tirelessly to unpick the detail, help policymakers with their decision making and supply the resources you urgently need at this time.
The situation and the information available continue to change rapidly, but we promise to keep you informed. You can find our latest guidance on our website. Listening to feedback, we have now created a new page summarising the latest practical business advice to help you better support your clients.
Thank you for everything you are doing.