As the UK’s lockdown continues, enacted to prevent the rising numbers of COVID-19 cases, more businesses are facing uncertainty. The British government has offered support to both employers and employees over the past few months, which has alleviated some of the strain upon the economy. However, there are still many issues facing businesses, as well as the likelihood of strictly monitored and higher taxation as the government seeks to return its borrowed money.
Once businesses are able to open their doors, there is further uncertainty as to the levels of custom they will receive. Will customers be eager to shop, filling the high street and frequenting restaurants, or will they return slowly, cautious in the wake of an international pandemic?
Since there is no clear outcome for the economy after COVID-19, businesses must instead be better prepared to handle a variety of outcomes, securing their business as best as possible.
The government’s financial support has allowed many businesses and their employees to breathe a sigh of relief. With various schemes announced or already in place, such as Rishi Sunak’s furlough scheme, the government now directly supports much of the British economy.
While there have been assurances that this will be gradually eased out, allowing businesses to once again find their feet, there remains uncertainty, perhaps most notably regarding how the money will be reclaimed.
Taxation is likely to rise and, almost certainly, be closely scrutinized to ensure that the government recovers its funds as efficiently as possible. This means that more than before the pandemic, businesses need to ensure that they are entirely adhering to HMRC tax regulations or risk being penalised.
Now is the time to review your business’ finances and check your payroll. As policies change frequently, it is good practice to perform annual reviews. Updated IR35 tax laws have already caused many businesses, especially those who use contractors, to reevaluate their employment structure. While some have outsourced their payroll services to reputable companies who themselves work to stay updated to changing laws, others must ensure their own compliance.
As the UK lockdown is loosened and businesses are once again able to open their doors to customers, a huge change will take place. This may be a gradual growth, as customers remain conscientious of social distance, or it may be more sudden, as many relish in the opportunity to enjoy services once more. Either way, employment and customer demand will change. Furthermore, it is likely that businesses will seek to maximise the potential income during these periods, meaning increased competition.
During this uncertainty, it is crucial that businesses are also prepared to accommodate each outcome, while also remaining competitive. Businesses on the high street, especially those who have not been able to migrate their services online, will have to establish their presence once more.
Securing your place on the high street may mean reevaluating your store or concept. Some restaurants are using the period of lockdown to reevaluate their service layout, widening the distance between tables, and shops are installing new methods of checkout, in some cases eliminating cash payments altogether.
No matter how confident you are in your business’ infrastructure, HMRC compliance, or brand, as society begins to reopen, those who are well-prepared will be more likely to withstand the upcoming uncertainty.
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