‘Whatever money is needed, we will spend it,’ the Prime Minister said recently. Welcome news if you are among the million or so businesses that the Environment Agency thought would be badly affected by the severe weather. The effects of the severe weather have added up to a bitter blow to the economy, and have been devastating to small businesses without the resources to withstand the financial knock backs. While mobilising the military can offer more practical help, financial futures are looking very bleak indeed.
Help from Government Grants
When the government’s details on the finances were published, they stated that grants of up to £5,000 would be issued to businesses to pay for repairs and flood defences for the future. This is in addition to the £10 million to be set aside for flood stricken farmers, who can apply for grants at the end of February.
Help with Taxes
A tax deferral scheme was also announced, extending by three months all deadlines for VAT, employers’ NI and Corporation Tax for affected businesses. The government will also reimburse local authorities for waiving business rates for a three month period for those businesses.
Support from the Private Sector
Non-governmental organisations are also apparently being helpful. Business groups and insurance companies are getting together to see how businesses can be helped. Following the example of RBS, Barclays and Lloyds are offering similar interest free loans from a $250 million pound fund. HSBC, Nationwide and Santander have also set up support packages and programmes for their customers.
You will, of course, need to be proactive in pursuing these avenues of support. Your outsourced bookkeepers are the ones to talk to about what applications you can make, and how to go about it. It’s going to take time to administer and issue the grants and other packages so getting your applications in early is important.
The Role of Social Media
You could be considering your social media strategy as well, as this is also playing a part and in many cases getting more immediate help to businesses. During the storms many posted on Twitter that they were #openforbusiness despite the weather, so that their customers could support them. The Flooding on the Levels Action Group (FLAG Somerset) also used Twitter, as well as Facebook, to inform local businesses and residents about what was happening and call for specific support and help, which has been having very positive results in getting much needed items and voluntary labour to affected areas.