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Changes to Employee Wage Subsidy Scheme

Changes to the Employee Wage Subsidy Scheme

As we are all aware, the Employee Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) has been an integral part of protecting Irish businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic emergency. The scheme has seen many changes and taken on new forms over the course of the past year, having been set up on an emergency basis but requiring updates and extensions as the pandemic continues. The latest extension to the EWSS states that The Finance (Covid-19 Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2021 has allowed for the scheme to be extended through to December 31st, 2021.

With this extension come two major changes to how the scheme will operate going forward. As our country slowly continues the reopening process, these changes will be important to ensure that the scheme is allocated appropriately.

The two new key changes to the EWSS are as follows:

Change to Assessment Period.

The assessment period for eligibility to this scheme has now changed. It is now a requirement to show that your business will incur a 30% reduction in turnover* or orders for the 2021 calendar year as a direct result of Covid-19.
This can be assessed by:

Comparison to the 2019 calendar year if the business was in operation for the full year.
Comparison to the date of commencement to December 31st, 2019, if business commenced between January 1st and October 31st, 2019.
Comparison to projections for the 2021 calendar year, based on the assumption that the Covid-19 emergency had not occurred, if business commenced on or after November 1st, 2019.

*It is important to note that childcare businesses remain exempt from the 30% calculation criteria.

Mandatory Monthly Reviews to be Submitted Online.

A new key criterion to maintaining eligibility for the EWSS is the undertaking of monthly performance reviews for your business to ensure that your business continues to meet the eligibility criteria for this scheme.

A new form (EWSS Eligibility Review Form) has been created for this purpose, which must be submitted online on a monthly basis.

This form must be submitted by August 15th for June’s reviews and following on from this, will be expected by the 15th of each month.

We hope that this information has been useful for you and as always, please don’t hesitate to contact us here at EcovisDCA where we remain open and ready to help. Please do not hesitate to contact us.

For more information visit Revenue.ie

Brexit - The Urgent Need To Be Prepared

Brexit – The Urgent Need To Be Prepared

In another lifetime we spoke regularly about the looming threat to Irish business that was Brexit. With the Brexit date of January 1st now fast approaching, Brexit preparations join the long list of issues facing Irish businesses going forward. Irish businesses are currently under more pressure than ever before with the current Covid-19 crisis and with a recent survey by Enterprise Ireland finding that just 42% of businesses feel prepared for Brexit, the time to act and prepare is now.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has recently stated amidst negotiations that a failure for the EU and Britain to reach an agreement on post-Brexit trade would be “very, very damaging all-round”, and he re-positioned Brexit as an issue economically on par with Covid-19:

“We’ve all had a very significant shock to our economic system because of Covid-19, the last thing we need now across all of our respective economies is a second major shock”.

With this in mind, and despite all other issues currently facing us, we advise early preparation for Brexit, as it is essential to prepare as much as possible. As the relationship between Britain and Ireland is soon to change, there will now be additional hoops for Irish businesses to jump through in order to trade with Britain. This week we will step away from the usual topics associated with Covid-19 and focus on the issue of Brexit and ways in which Irish businesses can be Brexit ready.

EORI Number

As we have recently discussed, one of the most urgent steps that Irish businesses need to take ahead of Brexit is to register for an EORI (Economic Operators Registration and Identification) number. This number is essential for all businesses importing and exporting goods into the European Union. Applications are made through the Revenue Online System (ROS).

Brexit Readiness Checklist

A helpful way of ensuring you have all Brexit bases covered is to check in with your Local Enterprise Office and avail of their ‘Brexit Readiness Checklist’. This may assist you in identifying any areas of weakness that need to be addressed before January 1st and show you the steps that need to be taken to prepare your business for Brexit.

Customs Issues

One of the main changes which will arise on January 1st for Ireland is the new scenario of facing customs issues in trade between Ireland and Britain. As we have long relied on trade routes with Britain, this will be a major stumbling block to be prepared for and will require your product to be priced with this in mind.

The Clear Customs Virtual Training:

One major issue facing Irish trade with Britain going forward will be the issue of customs. As this will be an entirely new stumbling block between Britain and Ireland, it is advised to research and review any areas in which this may be an issue for your business. Many businesses may not deal with customs in house and will need training in this area.

With this area of confusion in mind, Skillnet Ireland has created a new free of charge online training programme (The Clear Customs Virtual Training Programme) to assist businesses in dealing with the increased customs requirements that will arise as a result of Brexit. Advance training will reduce the likelihood of delays and disruptions for customers and business owners.

The programme will be available to all eligible businesses and will be run as part of the “Getting Ireland Brexit Ready” initiative. Visit the Skillnet Ireland website for full information and criteria.

The Ready for Customs Grant:

Enterprise Irelands “Ready for Customs” grant has been set up to provide companies with the financial assistance they may require as a result of Brexit. Once Brexit occurs, companies may incur additional costs in hiring in house customs officials, mobilizing existing staff to other locations for customs related roles. The grant allows for €9,000 to be made available for each full-time employee as well as €4,500 available for each part-time employee. Repayment may be required if it is established that a customs role was not sustained. Applications will be accepted until December 15th via Enterprise Ireland’s online portal. Visit Enterprise Ireland’s website for full details and eligibility criteria.

Deferred Payments:

Deferred payment can be applied for via Revenue and can allow the deferral of the payment of import charges until the month following import. There may be other reliefs available to you, we advise researching via the Revenue site to see what is available.

Communication:

With the issue of customs, open communication will be key. Communicate with your courier’s & logistics carriers so that you have the full picture of your product’s journey going forward. In uncertain times, knowledge is key.

Funding

We have recently discussed the funding opportunities available to Irish SMEs due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and with Covid rightfully taking up so much airtime, it may slip the notice of many that there are still some funding options available to assist in the Brexit transition for Irish businesses.

Brexit Loan Scheme:

The Brexit Loan Scheme is operated by the SCBI (Strategic Bank Corporation of Ireland) and is intended to assist with liquidity issues that may arise as a result of Brexit and makes funds of up to €300 million available to Irish businesses. Applications can be made through the SCBI website.

Ready for Customs Grant:

The Ready for Customs Grant was announced in the July Jobs Stimulus Package. It was announced that Enterprise Ireland would manage a new fund to assist Irish businesses to increase their capacity to manage the new customs processes ahead. Eligible businesses should visit the Enterprise Ireland website for full information.

Brexit Information Hub

In terms of overarching preparedness, it is advised to visit the Government’s new Brexit Information Hub which is intended to help business prepare for Brexit and beyond. This new service is free of charge and provides information, resources and webinars for all businesses.

We hope that this information assists you in some way to get ready for these further business changes. As always, should you have any concerns or queries about these or any other business and financial issues, please don’t hesitate to contact us here at EcovisDCA where we remain open and ready to help. 

Revenue Irish Tax Firm

Revenue Announce Measures during Covid 19 Outbreak

In recent days, the news around the spread of Covid-19 has become inescapable and naturally worrying for individuals, families and business owners. Here at EcovisDCA we have and will always be committed to providing SME and larger business owners with practical and useful advice to help their businesses survive and thrive, and we intend to continue that trend during this period of adversity and whatever aftermath lies ahead.

In the brief few minutes of the recent announcement by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar regarding the Covid 19 pandemic, it seems that Irish life and business life would be instantly changed. As all schools, childcare facilities and tourism sites would be closed for a period of at least 2 weeks, workers worried about their capacity to continue working. Following on from that, new social distancing recommendations suggesting that workers should work from home where possible and limit direct social contact in the form of group lunches and face-to-face meetings instantly changed how businesses would function in Ireland. Obviously, this is uncharted territory and something that wasn’t planned for in anyone’s business plan for 2020 so it is natural that the business landscape and our economy will suffer to some extent as a result. We here at EcovisDCA will be updating on any and all information pertaining to business life and any news that may light up the uncertain darkness we find ourselves in.

  • Due to the new recommendations and the concerns that workers had for their working capacity going forward, the Government and Revenue have announced updated advice to support workers and SMEs who may experience cashflow issues.
  • All debt enforcement activity is suspending until further notice.
  • The Relevant Contract Tax review due to take place this month is suspended until further notice.
  • A customs ‘green routing’ status will be given to critical pharmaceutical products and medicines.
  • Tax returns should continue to be sent on time.
  • Extended availability of Government subsidised or Government guaranteed loan finance will be offered to businesses affected by Covid 19.
  • Extended grant availability through Enterprise Ireland, Udaras na Gaeltachta and local Enterprise Offices specifically allocated for businesses affected by Covid 19.

Meanwhile, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank have also become the first banks to assure their customers that practices like deferrals will be put in place for mortgage holders who may find themselves unable to keep on top of their payments during this time.

For social welfare support for self-employed please click on the links to get the latest information from Revenue:

https://www.revenue.ie/en/corporate/press-office/press-releases/2020/pr-130320-revenue-announce-measures-to-assist-smes-experiencing-cashflow-difficulties-arising-from-covid-19.aspx

https://www.revenue.ie/en/corporate/press-office/press-releases/2020/pr-100320-engage-early-with-revenue-key-advice-to-businesses-experiencing-tax-payment-problems.aspx

Should you find that your business is beginning to struggle during this time, it is advisable that you contact Revenue directly to discuss your own specific case.

Covid-19

It is currently impossible to avoid the news of the Covid-19 epidemic at the moment as the situation unfolds rapidly and becomes an increased risk of becoming a global pandemic. A pandemic is an issue that we in this country would be unlikely to have prepared for in a business sense and as a result we may see this virus affect our business landscapes in ways we may not have expected. As cases begin to grow in number and community transmission begins to become more apparent, it is important for businesses to have a plan in place for keeping their employees safe.

The Government have recently published an income support and economic stimulus package which outlines the following main points for companies who may find themselves on lock down or needing to self-isolate their staff or work from home or to reduce economic impact:

  • The 6 waiting days for sick pay with a medical cert will be waived.
  • The means test requirement for Supplementary Welfare Allowance for medically certified self-isolation will be removed.
  • Self-employed individuals will now be entitled to receive either illness benefit, or non-means tested supplementary welfare allowance.
  • A €200million liquidity support fund will be available for impacted firms.
  • The existing systematic short time working scheme is available for employees who may be placed on reduced working arrangements.

On a more global scale, it has been reported that businesses worldwide are changing and adapting practises to better cope with Covid-19. Many companies in Ireland, the United Kingdom and the United States have immediately implemented travel restrictions or a work from home policy for the foreseeable future in order to avoid community transmission within the office space. Unfortunately, these issues will naturally cause service issues for some.

From looking at the China model which involves the businesses who were first hit and continue to deal with the fallout of the virus, a few key pointers for other businesses worldwide have been outlined:

  • Plan ahead but be prepared for the need to be adaptable as the situation develops.
  • Keep employees informed consistently so that they feel safe and protected.
  • Relocate labour where possible. In situations where employees can work from home to prevent community transmission this can be effective as well as social distancing practises in roles that can not be completed at home.
  • Utilise social media and shift some operations to an online system where possible.
  • Prepare for recovery be it fast or slow moving.
  • Look for the positive points and identify where your business can improve in the face of adversity.
  • Use the situation to become more innovative and embrace innovation within your business and your employees. Thinking on your feet is essential in such a fast moving constantly unfolding landscape of change.

This will undoubtedly be a period of unease and difficulty for many on both a business and personal level, but through following the appropriate guidelines we can endeavour to keep all feeling safe.

 

Planning Your Best Exit Strategy

We have discussed in the past, the importance of having a long-term plan for your business, particularly for when you are no longer in a position to run the company yourself. The importance of an exit strategy or long-term plan can not be overstated for businesses of all sizes, particularly small and medium enterprises (SMEs). It is as always advisable to stay abreast of current issues and changes that may affect the long and short term plans you have in mind for your business and in this vein, there has been some cause for concern in recent days regarding ways that taxation could inhibit future planning.

A new report issued by PwC this week has stated that current tax rules which hit the transfer of family businesses are putting both jobs and companies at large in danger. These rules make options incredibly limited for business owners as they limit owners passing on their business to family members while they are living. Some anomalies to the system in this respect mean that the new business owner could find themselves incurring high tax costs that would potentially place additional pressures on the business and put it at risk.

PwC have given some suggestions on changes they would like implemented in the next budget to protect business owners and entrepreneurs in the event of passing their business on while still living. One such suggestion is the removal of the current cap of €3million on the value of business assets which can benefit from Retirement Relief. There is also calls for the Entrepreneurial Relief Capital Gains Tax threshold to be reduced to allow further relief to these businesses as well as increasing the lifetime limit applicable and reducing current restrictions which may exclude many. It has also been suggested that tax relief options could be made available.

Consultation with the Government for this process is ongoing and submissions will close on May 24th and there are hopes that there will be changes announced in the next Budget to combat this issue and make the family handover of businesses a smoother and more profitable process. The transition of a business is inevitably a stressful and concerning time, so any changes that can be of benefit and ensure the longevity of an existing healthy business should certainly be embraced.

Should you have any queries or concerns on any business or financial matters, please do not hesitate to contact us here at EcovisDCA where we are always happy to help you and your business.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

The Importance of Financial Management

As our small island continues to recover from the economic crisis, all eyes are of course fixed on the future. One aspect that is often overlooked however, is the future generation of entrepreneurs, investors, business owners and workers currently in school who will be at the helm of Ireland’s business and financial fortune in future years. We are sure that we do not want the next generation to repeat the same mistakes as their predecessors, but it seems that we are overlooking the ways in which we can provide safety and reassurance that they will not.

Recent research carried out by Empathy Research on behalf of Aviva Life Insurance has shown that many individuals (approximately one third of people) are continuing to pay dearly for the mistakes of the past, without implementing any new fail safe techniques in place to prevent future issues. It seems that though we may have learned from past mistakes, we are unclear how to buffer against them in the future. This research for Aviva has found that over half of Irish people have in fact had no education in the area of financial management, and this is a tradition that is being carried on to the next generation. Ann O’Keefe of Aviva’s Retail Life Insurance has said of the findings that:

“Making smart decisions when it comes to personal finances can have a major impact on your life both in the short term and in the longer term. In Aviva, we believe there’s a strong argument to be made for personal finance to be taught in secondary schools to equip young people with the knowledge and tools they need to make the best financial decisions in their later lives.”

The study also found that women may be likely to be more cautious in investments and financial decisions whilst men are twice as likely to be motivated to invest or save by the need to ensure the financial security of loved ones in the event of illness etc. This findings show a grave lacking in financial education which could protect the next generation from making similar mistakes in the future, as well as showing a gap in the market for strong financial planning courses to be made available to the current generation to enable them to understand the past and plan for the future to ensure that we create a strong financial landscape together.

Should you require any help, advice or guidance on any financial or business matters, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us here at EcovisDCA, where we will be happy to support you in getting your business to the next level.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

GROWTH STRATEGIES

From tiny acorns…

We have spoken recently about growing your business internationally and the options which are currently available to assist with this process. Something which we didn’t focus on was general growth and the strategies that must be in place in order to achieve the growth you desire for your business and which it deserves. Business is something which is always in flux, always changing and always on the movie so it is vital to ensure that your business is consistently moving with the times and growing as much as possible along the way. The most fool proof way to ensure that your business grows and progresses it to plan ahead and to have a growth strategy in place.

A growth strategy is essential and will inform all areas of your business from acting as the cornerstone of your marketing plan to your day to day business activities your growth strategy will be a guiding roadmap that will inform all aspects of your business. Your growth strategy should include information about the current market, your current and prospective customers, the products or services you offer and your overall goals for where you would like to see the business grow to. The growth strategy is an essential business tool as it ensures that things are not left solely to chance, which is a dangerous status to be in in business. If you are not sure where to start with a growth strategy here are some handy starting points.

The first thing to consider when contemplating a growth strategy for your business is market research. It is essential to know your product and service and know the market you currently serve. The next step for many is often referred to as cross-selling, and involves either selling more of your existing products to existing customers, or selling what can be referred to as ‘add-ons’ to your current products or services. This is one of the easiest and most popular strategies to put in place as it does not involve developing something new. Rather, this strategy involves building upon what is already in place. The difficulty with this strategy lies in informing all existing customers that you offer these additional products or services and generating interest in this way.

The alternative to this strategy involves essentially pigeon-holing yourself and your customers, which might seem counterproductive but has seen benefits in the past. Studies show that customers tend to stick with suppliers they understand and trust for each individual product or service and are more likely to continue on with suppliers who give a specific service. The other side of this involves choosing a specific section of the market to focus on, which whilst restrictive can pay off when done well.

The final method to consider for your growth strategy will be to ascertain what new markets you would like to enter. Occasionally, opportunities may arise for you to sell your existing products to a new market and this should be considered within a growth strategy if viable for your business.

In this modern age there are many means of distribution of products and ideas so it is essential to factor distribution and marketing into your growth plan. With this ideas as your starting point, you should hopefully be well on your way to growing your business.

Should you require any further assistance or business advice please don’t hesitate to contact us here at DCA Accountants.

 

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT

Whether we are business owners, home owners, parents or employees in this fast-paced world one thing unites us all, we are all incredibly busy. How often a week do we hear the term “I just didn’t have time for that” from friends, colleagues and loved ones? We have spoken in the past about maintaining a successful work: life balance in order to have a happier and more satisfying life. Today we will be talking about something that is critical in your working life, no matter how busy, ensuring that your company has a strong customer focus. Being customer-focused is something which all employers and business owners should ensure that they make time in their busy schedules for, the benefits far outweigh the time cost.

Running a business is time-consuming and often stressful and as our to-do lists grow and grow it is easy to become essentially blind to the smaller details as we focus on the bigger picture and all the tasks that lie ahead. Maintaining a customer focus is a collection of small details that can easily take your business to the next level. If your clients aren’t happy, your business will not be happy in the long run. Customer service is not limited to retail environments or to select departments, and should be an important role for every single employee in your company. Everyone a client comes into contact with should be well versed in providing excellent customer service.

Whether or not your business is obviously centred on customer service, customer service is certain to play a massive role. The essence of customer service lies in the importance of understanding the needs of your customers or clientele and knowing what you and your company can do to meet those needs. Some of the most crucial ways of providing excellent customer service are also the simplest and least time consuming such as ensuring positive and rewarding personal connections with your clients. This might certainly mean an extra couple of minutes of meeting or phone call time but will also send your customers and clients the message that your company cares for them as more than just a number. Other ways in which your company can go the extra mile in terms of customer service include ensuring your service or product has a certain ease of use which will not cause undue irritation to clients and customers, and ensuring that payment methods for suppliers have clearly laid out terms and ease of use.

To conclude, providing excellent customer service is one of the less time-consuming ways of ensuring the longevity of your business and should be implemented by every member of staff. Customers and clients who feel that your company has gone the extra mile for them are more likely to remain loyal, and that loyalty in a world of competitive business will be the reward for time spent whilst excellent customer reviews and word of mouth may assist in drawing in a new client base.

If you require any assistance with business or financial issues or just require business advice or guidance please don’t hesitate to contact us at DCA Accountants where it is our job to make your job run smoothly.

 

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

WHO YOU GONNA CALL? …BANKRUPTCY BUSTERS!

Bankruptcy is not a word that fills anyone with a sense of glee, but sometimes it is the only option for both you and your business during hard times. As is often said in business, there certainly comes a time when it is best to cut your losses and move on. For many, this involves the necessity of filing for bankruptcy until such a time as your finances are once again in order. In the past, becoming bankrupt has often been a very stressful and arduous time. Fortunately, new reforms are set to be introduced which could change this process and make it a lot easier and about as pain free as it is possible for this task to be.

 

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said that there will be reforms introduced which will reduce the period that an individual is bankrupt for from three years to one year. These reforms would require an amendment in the Personal Insolvency Act of 2015, a change which the Taoiseach is said to be strongly in favour of.

 

This amendment would bring Irish insolvency and bankruptcy procedures into line with those currently in practise in the UK and Northern Ireland. TD Willie Penrose has been a major driving force behind this proposed change stating that in his believe it is better that these people be allowed to return to making economic contributions after one year rather than being outside of the business world for three. Penrose states that these people could be entrepreneurs ready to re-enter the business world, but they cannot.

 

CEO of the Irish Mortgage Holders Organisation, David Hall has largely welcomed these proposed changes stating that:

“This development will be of huge benefit to those debtors who are seeking a fresh start and want to rid themselves of debt.”

 

Certainly, these changes will somewhat change the face of business in Ireland and allow more opportunity for change and the ability to move on at a faster pace from a period of business which may have been unsustainable for a great many reasons. As we have seen in the UK and Northern Ireland models of dealing with bankruptcy, this has not caused a great many extra financial issues and should be a good fit for the Irish system.

 

Whilst these new rules will make the process of applying for bankruptcy in Ireland somewhat less painful, it is advisable to seek professional assistance when doing so. Should you require any professional advice or guidance in a matter such as this please do not hesitate to contact us at DCA Accountants where we will be happy to assist and to guide you in the best direction for you and the brighter future of your business.

DIFFICULTIES IN VALUING A BUSINESS

Valuing a business can be one of the most challenging issues faced by business owners and analysts alike. Valuing is a difficult and incredibly complex task, but one that is utterly essential. On occasion, traditional modes of valuation simply do not suit the business type. These techniques often assume a certain level of stability and an imagined risk profile which may not be applicable, and without being adapted, this can result in critical errors in valuation.

In the early stages of your business it can often be a struggle to value the business in an accurate way. This is also often a stage in which it can be difficult to predict the risks associated with the business. In this instance three things must be predicted which can be challenging to do in changing financial times: how will the market you are entering grow and change? What is the likelihood of your business surviving and what risks will be associated with the venture in the longer term?

Analysts can often be more concerned with the general economic growth, rather than the growth of the individual company and this may be something you will have to take into account in your own calculations. For ease: we have collected some of the most common forgotten issues that may become a problem in your valuation and risk assessment, in the hope that you may be able to avoid these pitfalls.

Originality/Diversity: A good thing to bear in mind when valuing your business is that businesses which offer an original/single product or service are subject to a higher risk level than those which offer a well-known or a great many products and services.

Clientele: It is important to take into account your current and projected clientele when valuing and assessing your business. For example, if your business is one which has relatively few clients, then your risk factors will be much higher as the results of losing one of your clients will be much more detrimental to your business than one which has a wide range of clients.

Projected Lifespan: Your Company’s projected lifespan is often difficult to assess but it is important to take into account the changing business world you are entering and whether or not it is likely that your product or service may soon become outdated.

Location: Location is not only a factor in setting up your business, but also in valuing it and assessing its growth capabilities for the future.

Assets/Liabilities: When valuing your business it can be easy to forget to factor in current and projected assets and liabilities. When included, these can paint a more in depth picture of the current and projected value of your company.

Expectations: It is vital to remember that valuations are essentially expectations by nature, and they can be used as a blueprint for the planning and maintenance of your business.

There are always unforeseen circumstances both negative and positive that will affect your business and these cannot be predicted. As such, your valuation is a blueprint for you to build upon rather than a strict prediction.

If there is any way at all we can be of benefit to you in the start-up, maintenance or valuation of your business please don’t hesitate to contact us at DCA Accountants.