Our features writer Jill Theobald says let’s talk money – and preventative practices

A high street bank is currently running an advertising campaign called ‘The M-word’ in a bid to de-stigmatise talking about money and getting people speaking about the subject with their partners and family.

The same could probably be said of businesses, too.

Indeed, as If You Ask Me contributor the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) Irshad Akbar points out, there’s certainly a lot to talk about:

“Small businesses across the Sheffield City Region have had to deal with new costs increases, due to reporting requirements, financial hardship, indirect taxation and uncertainty around Brexit.”

As we reported in last month’s unLTD More than a million small businesses were hit with new reporting requirements due to Making Tax Digital (MTD) being introduced at the beginning of April – and, as Irshad says, the software required to meet MTD obligations alone is set to cost small firms £564 each on average.

Irshad also give us a list of other areas and regulations likely to impact on small firms’ finances – including increases in National Living and Minimum Wage rates, as well as pensions.

So, lots to talk about when it comes to business and the M Word, then.

But as Charise Marsden from Keebles reminds us in her If You Ask me contribution – talking is not enough.

“It’s vital that everything is in writing. Lots of individuals and small companies come to us for help after agreeing a deal on the ‘old gentleman’s handshake.’”

And that can be when the trouble starts.

As Charise adds: “Having these practices in place is becoming increasingly important. The court is encouraging everyone to talk more, mediate more and settle more.”

It’s also important to bear in mind the impact of financial troubles on the workforce itself so it’s great to have input from Lindsey Gaimster of Bhayani HR and Employment Law in If You Ask Me on the subject.

“The first whispers of hardship will generally cause unrest and a company should prioritise opening up lines of communication to quell any exaggerated rumours and to start managing their employees’ expectations,” says Lindsey.

“As an employee you will primarily want to know if your job is at risk and whether you will continue to be paid.”

While Bhayani Law advise both employers and employees on a wide range of employment issues, it is very useful to have Lindsey advising from a staff point of view.

I was made redundant about a decade ago while working for a company which went into liquidation and I all too well remember, and can sincerely vouch for, the feeling of utter panic. Not only was I hugely upset at losing a job I loved, but I didn’t have time to mourn that loss – I had to find another job pronto and worry about how the bills were going to be paid in the meantime.

As Lindsey says though: “Should the worst happen, and your employer becomes insolvent, all is not lost. The Redundancy Payment Service can assist you in recovering statutory notice pay, contractual holiday entitlement, statutory redundancy payments and unpaid wages.”

And relief did come to an extent via that very service for me, so all was indeed not lost.

The lessons in nest practice are clear from our contributors – let’s talk, take action, and get everything in writing in a bid to be best prepared.

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