‘The government is creating debt, which will be a big problem next year’
GreenStones is an accountancy practice based in Peterborough. Established in 1982, the company has 22 staff and a turnover of £1.3 million. According to Managing Director Simon Chaplin, not a lot has changed for the firm since lockdown – apart from the volume of work being undertaken by the team.
“We are doing a huge amount of free work to support customers. Some of the team were working 18 hour days, seven days a week at one point. But it has calmed down a lot now.”
Team wise, just one person has been furloughed, the company receptionist who is not needed at the moment because the office is closed.
Financially, Chaplin is grateful to the support GreenStones has received from its bank. “Our bank manager was in touch almost straight away to offer advice and support” he said.
But Chaplin is sceptical. “The government is not supporting small business owners at all. They are creating a huge amount of debt which will be a big problem next year. They have effectively paid employees and self employed people but only lent money to most business owners. You can delay your tax, VAT and Paye, as well as get government backed lending under CBILs. However, this will all need paying back! Some of it in the first quarter of next year. It will be an interesting time when all these liabilities hit, along with the rent for the second quarter.” GreenStones has not been given a rates ‘holiday’ as they are too big to qualify. Again, lots of ‘small’ businesses fall into this category, said Chaplin.
But he is full of praise for the way his team have handled the crisis. “They have been great, and are working harder than ever,” he said.
Going forward, Chaplin does not see great changes in the way the company works. He said: “I don’t think we will be able to operate any better than we do now, although social distancing at work will mean having fewer people in the office, although we were working flexibly anyway. It might mean more video meetings instead of travel to physical meetings but nothing major.”
He added: “Regarding the wider industry, let’s hope it has dragged some accountancy practices into the 21st century.”
And on a personal note, Chaplin is most “looking forward to being allowed out for something to do other than work!”