With the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the prospect of Brexit uncertainty over the coming months, this is a period of significant change for business customers across the UK. These changes may involve considerable uncertainty for your firm, your customers and your business model, so it’s important to prepare.

Access to finance is only one of the issues you may have to work through but it is important to consider any funding requirements early on.

Banks and finance providers stand ready to support viable businesses and there is a wide range of advice, guidance and finance options available to you.

Lenders have approved finance for over 1.4 million businesses through government-backed coronavirus loan schemes, with bank staff working incredibly hard to ensure companies can access the support they need. These schemes are just one part of a wide package of measures from the industry, including commercial lending, capital repayment holidays, extended overdrafts and invoice finance facilities.

The finance industry is here to help you prepare, so, Let’s Talk Business.

  • Take time to think about how your customers and suppliers could be affected by any upcoming changes, so you are prepared for the potential impact.
  • Ask your bank or finance provider early on if you think you might need additional finance, or changes in your current facilities. The earlier you engage with providers the better – start by checking your provider’s website for details of the support available.
  • Look into alternative finance options. Most applications are successful, but if your first choice doesn’t work out there are many different providers out there. 
  • Know where to go for more information to help your business. Whether you’re looking to export for the first time or wondering how to manage changes to your supply chain, the information on this site aims to provide what you need.

This guide is a starting point for businesses looking for assistance. UK government advice can be found here.

The SME Finance Charter also sets out a series of commitments made by banks and lenders to support small and medium sized businesses through Brexit and beyond. Alongside five key pledges, signatories to the Charter have set out their own individual commitments to business. The aim of the Charter is to let you know how UK lenders in general plan to support their business customers, what this means for your business, whether your lender has signed up to the Charter; and how other lenders are responding, so that you can compare.

The Investing in Women Code   is a commitment to support female entrepreneurship in the UK by improving women’s access to the advice, resources and finance needed to build a business. The Invest in Women Hub  is a new one stop shop to help women with starting and scaling a business.

Every business has a role to play in tackling the impact of climate change by reducing carbon emissions. It is the right thing to do but also makes good business sense. UK Finance and its members are committed to supporting businesses through the provision of advice, support as well and access to finance where appropriate. Read this guide from the CBI to help you get started on planning what you need to do to reduce carbon emissions and whether you should consider using external finance. Read the report here.

Our 10-point checklist to help you prepare

1. Understand your current financial position

Ensure you fully understand your key financial information, including current cash position, lending facilities, debtors and creditors. Assess your current stock holdings and be aware of when any current commitments are due for payment.

2. Identify potential future finance requirements

If you identify a need for external finance, now or in the future, familiarise yourself with the full range of financial options available, and engage with lenders as early as possible. Consider undertaking sensitivity analysis to review the impact of any disruption to sales and payments, and consider what reinvestment might be needed to adjust.

3. Supply Chains

Understand your supply chain and the potential impact there may be on your suppliers. Ensure that where there is a knock-on impact on your business’ working capital requirements this has been factored into your financial plans.

4. Overseas customers

Where you have customers in the EU, have you considered what Brexit might mean for demand, payment terms and contractual arrangements? Engage your key EU customers early. Consider the opportunities to develop other markets and the need for representation and investment to make that happen.

5. Cross-border banking

If your firm has cross-border banking relationships, you should engage with your provider as there may be changes required.

6. Payments

Ensure you understand where you have payment arrangements in foreign countries. Movements in exchange rates are likely to have an impact on you and you may wish to mitigate some of this risk. Whilst businesses will continue to be able to make credit transfers and direct debits in euros through the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) schemes, your fees and charges may change.

7. Staffing

Have you considered the financial implications of the potential change in status of employees from the EU 27, for instance registration fees and other related costs? Have you considered the cost of adjustments due to the coronavirus such as safety measures or staff working from home?

8. VAT / Customs

Changes to VAT registration and arrangements could lead to increased cost and delays which you should factor into your financial planning. Have you familiarised yourself with the relevant VAT and customs changes Brexit might bring for your firm? This is particularly relevant if you currently only export to the EU 27 and are not familiar with customs procedures.

9. Legal implications

Consider the potential consequences across multiple areas including intellectual property, data, product labelling. There is likely to be a resource need to understand these changes and potential consequences for non-compliance. Take the time to review those areas relevant to your firm, and take necessary action.

10. Sector support

Ensure you have identified where you can go to get sector specific guidance and support, tailored to your business. Your trade association and information available on GOV.UK will be able to provide more detailed guidance.

Questions you might have