What you need to know right now

What could a pandemic breaking out widely in the UK do to your business?  How would it affect your supply chains, customers, staffing and finance? Do you have a plan to cope with short or long-term widespread disruption?

The UK’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said that the COVID-19 was likely to be spreading undetected in the UK already with health officials on the brink of moving into the delaying phase rather than trying to contain transmission of the virus. 

Professor Whitty said: “It’s likely, not definite, that we will move on to onward transmission and epidemic here in the UK. 

As of Thursday 12th March there are 590 confirmed cases in the UK which have resulted in 10 fatalities. 

The government has also announced that workers with suspected COVID-19 will receive mandatory sick pay from the first day of their absence, not the fourth day as the law currently states. 

This will not apply to self-employed or gig economy workers who may have to choose between losing pay during quarantine periods or carrying on with symptoms. 

Banking on recovery

Various banks including Barclays, Santander and Royal Bank of Scotland are proactively contacting their business customers to ascertain whether factory stoppages and shortages in the far east will disrupt their supply chains and cash flow. 

Barclays customer relationship managers are contacting their self-identified most at-risk clients to arrange overdrafts and short-term loans.  These clients have had deliveries from China that have been delayed and payments that have not been received from clients who are under quarantine. 

Natwest have announced that along with fee-free borrowing and temporary emergency loans, they will offer loan repayment holidays for up to six months.

RBS and Barclays alone each have more than one million business banking customers so their interventions ahead of a worsening UK situation is significant.

Many small businesses are using extra supplies which were already stocked in preparation for the Chinese new year holidays when some disruption was expected. The real impact from delays will impact once these supplies run out. 

Andrew Bailey, the incoming governor of the Bank of England, has confirmed that financial support would probably have to be provided for companies hit by disruption

He said: “I’m not, in any sense, reducing the importance of monetary policy, but all the focus is on monetary policy.

“I think it’s quite reasonable to expect we’re going to have to provide some form of supply chain finance in the not very distant future now to ensure that the effects of this shock from the virus are not damaging to many forms of activity.”

He also stressed that smaller companies in particular would need support, and quickly.

Threatening behaviour

The government has officially designated the coronavirus as a notifiable disease which means that some companies will be able to seek insurance compensation for any cancellations. 

Some companies are already reporting that their business insurance is not paying out as the small print indicates that they would only be liable for an outbreak if either found on site or is confirmed within 25 miles of the premises. 

Now is the perfect time to check your business insurance and see exactly what is and isn’t covered. 

Some companies expecting payouts for falling sales, cancelled bookings, staff sickness and self-isolation and recruiting costs for temporary staff may be in for a nasty shock if they aren’t. 

Act now

There will be many consequences of the Covid-19 epidemic for businesses – both predicted and unforeseen. 

Cases are not forecast to peak in the UK for another few weeks so now might be the perfect time to consider how robust your business is to sudden or severe downturns and disruptions. 

Contact us today and one of our expert advisors will arrange a free initial consultation to discuss where your business is strong and where it can be reinforced ahead of any setbacks.

Whether you’re looking for additional or alternative financing or a full business viability review, our experienced team are on hand to guide and advise you accordingly to make sure your business is fighting fit no matter what happens in the weeks and months ahead.