Caroline Benfield

Businesses in Coventry and Warwickshire have been urged to take advice as soon as possible to make sure they are on a sound legal and financial footing as Covid-19 support starts to be phased out.

The Government has announced that Coronavirus restrictions will be lifted on July 19 but that will also see the beginning of the end for many of the support packages and legal changes designed to help companies survive.

The Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce teamed up with leading regional law firm, Wright Hassall, to share insights with businesses, directors and business owners on looking forward and planning for the future.

Caroline Benfield, Wright Hassall’s insolvency and restructuring team partner, and consultant Elizabeth Taylor, spoke to around 30 companies on the Chamber Live online event, hosted by the Chamber.

Caroline said: “The evidence tells us that corporate and personal insolvencies are down over the past year.

“However, that is due to the fact that there has been so much support available to businesses and measures in place to prevent creditors from pursuing claims.

“As that support is withdrawn, all the signs point towards a very tough road ahead and just as in ordinary times, business owners and directors must do all they can to ensure the ongoing success of their business and ensure it is trading solvently.”

Firms were urged to consider a range of factors as they look ahead, including entering into conversations between landlords and tenants about any rent arrears and restructuring loans that may have been taken out during the crisis – including Government-back CBILs and Bounce Back Loans.

Companies were also warned to prepare for the end of the furlough scheme at the end of September and make a call on whether they would need to keep staffing levels the same as they were pre-pandemic.

On top of that, businesses should look at the levels of crown debt they have accrued and communicate as early as possible with HMRC to plan how to pay it off.

Caroline added: “Many businesses will be facing the unhealthy mix of depleted assets and increased liabilities so I’d urge them to take professional advice now before major issues arise.

“Communication is key. Talk to your landlords, your suppliers, your customers and HMRC. The sooner you do that, the sooner you can start to plan ahead.”

Chris Nagle, Events & Marketing Manager at the Chamber, said: “We are very grateful to Caroline and Elizabeth for delivering such an insightful presentation. There has been lots of support available to businesses during the pandemic to help them survive and it’s important that they are now able to stabilise and grow in the future.”