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Given the recent decline in financial performance, the business is now in breach of its covenants with the bank. Should we be concerned?

That will depend on the terms of your facility and the stance taken by your bank.

Banking facilities often place obligations on businesses to stick to certain financial criteria. For example, an obligation to keep turnover or profit above certain levels or a commitment to keep the bank’s exposure within an agreed percentage of the value of the company’s assets (known as loan to value ratio).

The consequences of breaching those covenants will depend on the terms of your facility, but normally this amounts to an event of default. Events of default can result in the loan (or whatever form the facility takes) becoming repayable and could give the bank certain powers to take action to recover the money that they are owed.

Whether the bank will take action during these unprecedented times is another matter, particularly given the extent of support being offered to businesses via mainstream lenders and the political desire to keep viable businesses up and running. Lenders themselves will no doubt wish to remain supportive where possible. The underlying performance of the business (and whether but for the effects of Covid-19 it would have been in a healthy financial position), the relationship you have with the bank and your history with them will no doubt be relevant to the approach taken by the bank. However, early engagement with your bank (as well as other key stakeholders in the business) will be important.

Related FAQs

What can I do to make sure my home-working people are doing so safely?
  1. Keep in touch. If contact is poor, workers can feel disconnected, isolated or abandoned. This can adversely affect stress levels and mental health – especially in the current crisis when everyone is feeling more anxious.
  2. Think about the use of laptops/devices (DSE) at home. Provide a basic form of risk assessment for self-completion.
  3. Remind workers of simple steps to reduce the risks from display screen work:
    • take regular breaks (at least 5 minutes every hour) or change activity
    • avoid awkward, static postures by regularly changing position
    • get up and move or do stretching exercises
    • avoid eye fatigue by changing focus or blinking from time to time
How do I apply for an extension to Companies House?

The application is made via the Companies House website, and only takes a few minutes to complete. Companies House have indicated that the extension is “automatic and immediate” and will be for three months.

Having said that the extension is “automatic”, their website also says that Companies that have already extended their filing deadline, or shortened their accounting reference period, may not be eligible for an extension.

If an extension is granted, it will not affect the due date for filing accounts in future years – so the deadline will revert to the usual date for the next accounting period.

Do you have to reach agreement during collective consultation?

Although an employer is obliged to conduct consultation “with a view to reaching an agreement”, it is not required to actually agree to any counter proposals made by the employee representatives. Merely to consider them in good faith.

When does IR35 generally apply?

It would apply if the contractor uses an intermediary to provide their services or labour and they would be deemed to be an employee or office holder for tax purposes if they were hired directly by the end user client rather than via the intermediary PSC. This would of course require an assessment of employment status for tax purposes.

Contractors who are not taxed in the UK and supply their services exclusively from outside of the UK are unaffected.

If IR35 applies, tax and NIC’s should be deducted under PAYE by the PSC. In reality this has not been happening so a major reform of the regime was due to be implemented in April 2020. The changes were postponed by one year and are due to take effect from 6 April 2021.

“Within IR35” means a contractor arrangement is caught by IR35 and the individual should be taxed as an employee.

“Outside IR35” means a contractor arrangement is not caught by IR35 and the contractor status is fine.

Can construction work be undertaken outside of any permitted hours to make up for site closures?

Many planning permissions contain a condition restricting the hours within which a developer can carry out construction work or are subject to an approved construction management plan setting out the permitted construction hours.

The Business and Planning Act 2020 entered the statute books on 22 July 2020. Section 16 of the Act incorporates a new S.74B into the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. The effect is that any condition/approved document which limits construction hours on a site could be amended through an application to the local planning authority. The application to the local planning authority must set out the date on which the proposed extension to construction hours shall cease (such date being no later than 1 April 2021, after which the original conditions over construction hours will resume). The local planning authority must determine the application within 14 days (beginning with the day after the application was submitted) otherwise there is deemed approval.

New guidance has been published alongside the Act and is available here