This announcement comes in light of tougher restrictions being implemented across the UK, with England and Scotland beginning new lockdowns at the start of this month.
One-off grants worth up to £9,000 will be offered to businesses in sectors that have been forced to close, while an additional £594 million discretionary fund has been announced to support other businesses.
The Government says it expects the grants to benefit more than 600,000 business properties in the UK.
Naturally, your clients will want to know if they’re eligible and how they can access this support – so here are some tips on how you can communicate the news with your clients, with minimal disruption to your own work at this already busy time of year.
We know that responding to client queries about a new measure can be stressful and time consuming for accountants, and it doesn’t help that this announcement happens to coincide with the final stretch of self-assessment season.
But getting a message out to your clients promptly should help to answer some of their immediate questions before they come to you with them.
This will help to reassure clients that you’re aware of what’s been announced, and that you have their best interests in mind. It’s a great way to demonstrate that you’re taking a proactive approach – which is much more effective than just telling clients you are.
It also means you’re spending less time on the phone or answering emails, and more time getting on with your January workload.
Even if you don’t have all the answers yet, you can explain the information that’s available to date, and if necessary, tell your clients to expect further communications from you once more information is available – such as a link to their local authority’s grant application portal, for example, when it goes live.
Sum up the key points
Don’t be tempted to over-explain the technicalities of the grants and other COVID-19 support – you should aim to get the basic information across in a clear way.
You can find the full details on the new grants here, but we’ve summed up some of the main points you might want to explain to your clients.
The grants will be given on a per-property basis, and businesses can claim:
- £4,000 if they have a rateable value of £15,000 or less
- £6,000 if they have a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
- £9,000 if they have a rateable value of more than £51,000.
They can access the grant by applying to their local authority, or at least they will be able to in due course.
You could also take this opportunity to point your clients towards any other COVID-related resources you have on your website, or further Government guidance.
Segment by sector
This announcement won’t be relevant to all of your clients, so it’s a good idea to segment your communications by sector using your customer relationship management (CRM) tool.
As we mentioned above, retail, hospitality and leisure businesses are eligible for the new grants, so make sure you include all of your clients who operate in those sectors.
If you can, it’s even better to tailor your communications to each of those sectors individually, adding a layer of personalisation that will make it extra clear to the recipient that your message is relevant to them.
Other businesses that are forced to close by the lockdown may also be eligible for grants, so take some time to think about which of your clients might be affected.
If you’re directing clients towards information on local authority websites, you could also segment your clients by location so you can provide the appropriate link for their region.