In 2021, businesses will need to get leaner and fitter to overcome the challenges and grasp the opportunities on the horizon.
What are the challenges that businesses have faced during COVID-19?
Businesses faced a perfect storm as the first wave of support for the economy was due to end last autumn. Then in mid-September the Chancellor gave us a partial, and temporary, reprieve. SEISS has been extended to April next year. The prohibition on landlord forfeiture has been extended to 31 March 2021, as has the prohibition on covid-related winding up petitions and business support loan scheme deadlines. Repayment of CBILS loans has been extended up to 10 years. Deferred VAT is now repayable over a longer period.
At the same time an entirely new restructuring regime has been introduced offering opportunities that are still to be explored. Less helpfully the change to HMRC preference that commenced on 1 December 2020 will affect the banks’ capacity to lend. The outlook remains uncertain. How will the economy recover from a third lockdown and the gradual loosening of restrictions to come? Will the emerging frictions of Brexit cause significant additional disruption? Or will the economy continue a path of gradual and uneven healing?
The Chancellor’s reprieve has given a window of opportunity for businesses to ensure they are prepared for the wider reopening of our economy.