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Q&A with an accountant. COVID-19 financial advice


This period has brought a lack of financial uncertainty amongst the hospitality community. We’ve all had to figure things out FAST. Although we’ve been doing our best to digest it for you all, we thought we’d bring in an expert.


Tom Allerton is a chartered accountant and the founder of Bitesize Consulting, a specialist food & beverage accounting firm. His goal is to help small business owners bridge the gap between operations & finance. When COVID-19 started wreaking havoc with the restaurant world, Tom kindly offered free financial guidance for business owners/those working in hospitality via Instagram – LEGEND.


We asked you for your questions. Here, Tom gives us his take on it:

Q: How does Tronc play a part in the Gov paying 80% of my salary? If part of my salary is made up of Tronc and has been for a long time will I get 80% of my final salary or 80% of my base salary?

Tom: The HMRC guidance is not clear on this point as it does not specify whether Tronc should be included in the calculation to assess the 80% salary. There is an argument to say that, since Tronc is processed through a PAYE payroll scheme, that it should be included in the calculation. We are hoping that there will be some clarification on this point in due course. You should speak to your employer to establish whether or not they have chosen to include Tronc in your March payroll calculation.

Q: At the beginning of March, before the Gov announced the help to businesses my employer gave us 2 choices. To be made redundant or to be put on unpaid leave. However we would all prefer furlough now as we didn't know this was an option then, my employer has not been in touch to talk to us about this or replied to emails and i'm worried about where that leaves us. Is there something else that I can do? I've been with this company for over a year

If you have been made redundant, your employer should be looking to re-employ you and put you on furlough, to take advantage of the job retention scheme. It would be advisable to establish your current position – i.e. if you have been made redundant, or if you are on unpaid leave – then contact ACAS for advice on your next steps.


Q: If my employer hasn't been in touch to declare that I am furloughed does that mean I still am? 

Tom: You should contact your employer as soon as possible to get confirmation on your employment status. In order for an employee to be placed on furlough, a formal agreement needs to be put in place between employer and employee.



Q:   If I have been self-employed for only a year, meaning I am yet to file a tax return does that mean I am not eligible for the Gov grants re self-employment?

My understanding is that these people will not be eligible, because they have not submitted (and will not be able to submit) a tax return for 2018/19.


Q: I am a business and have furloughed employees, but I don't have enough cash to pay their wages. What should I do? Should I take out one of the business interruption loans to cover this?

Tom: I would recommend that you speak to your employees individually about their situations. You could potentially pay a proportion of their wages now, then the remainder when the funds from HMRC come through. There are a number of areas of support available to your employees as individuals. Lenders are giving mortgage repayment holidays and landlords are likely to be flexible with rent payments. It is anticipated that the HMRC online service for making claims will be available by the end of April 2020, but it is not yet clear how soon after this funds will be reimbursed.

Q: I am a small business who does not pay business rates - my landlord pays them for me and I pay them back as part of my rent/service charge. What does this mean for me when it comes to grants? 

Tom: It is the business rates payer who will be eligible for a grant. You should speak to your landlord to see if they are willing to offer any support to you as their tenant.



DISCLAIMER: The above is not professional advice and should not be taken as such – it is information advice based on the personal understanding of the schemes. New guidance and information is being issued daily so please check the relevant websites for up to date information as well as consulting accountants, solicitors or HR advisors directly for specific advice.