Old Mill Updates

COVID-19: Practical guidance for our rural and farming clients #7 – 22/04/20

In previous rural updates we have discussed the nuts and bolts of government support for farmers and rural businesses, giving guidance and details on how and where to claim. For this edition, we will start to focus on the future and how to navigate your business through volatility and uncertainty.

Our ‘Virtual Breakfast’ held last week provided us with a new communication platform to discuss such matters and we will look to repeat this weekly until the industry becomes stable again.

As ever, we are here to advise on your financial affairs and highlight opportunities to help and support, so that you can continue running your businesses successfully.

22nd April 2020

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme portal now open

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme portal is now open for claims and early indications is that it’s relatively easy to access and user friendly. The portal can be accessed via the Government Gateway.

To log onto the system, you or the person applying on behalf of you will need to have:

  • A Government Gateway ID and password
  • An active PAYE enrolment

It’s worth noting that once you have submitted the claim, you will see a confirmation screen where a claim reference number will be provided.  Print the confirmation screen or note down the claim reference number provided as you will not receive an email confirmation.

A step by step guide from HMRC can be accessed here.

Old Mill 'Virtual Breakfast' every Friday at 9.00am

We were delighted to see so many of you join us at the launch of the Old Mill ‘Virtual Breakfast’ and particularly welcomed the positive feedback you gave following the event. We will continue to discuss each week the implications of COVID-19 on farming and rural businesses, focusing on strategy and of course the financials.

To remind you of the format, we’ll be joined live by one or two members of the Old Mill team or a guest speaker to answer your questions.  You are welcome to submit questions during the event using the question box on the right of your screen or beforehand to marketing@om.uk.

Click here to join our ‘Virtual Breakfast’ this Friday 24 April at 9.00am with Head of Rural, Andrew Vickery and Rural Tax Adviser, Catherine Vickery.

The link will direct you to a secure Microsoft Teams page.  Here you can click the box ‘watch on the web instead’ which will give you entry without having to download any software.

If you have any problems accessing the event please let us know by contacting marketing@om.uk.

Some of the questions raised on last week’s call included:

If farmers are key workers, am I still allowed to furlough my staff?

Whether your employees are key workers or not, the furloughing of staff should be justified in its relation to the impact of COVID-19. In circumstances where it’s necessary to reduce your number of staff, for example, when your milk buyer is affected by COVID-19 and can’t take your milk therefore your herdsman is not required, or childcare is needed while your children stay at home, then it’s available and reasonable to consider this option.

Click here for more information from us on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and here for details and how to claim on the gov.uk website.


I have a hospitality diversification on the farm having to close due to COVID-19, is there any Emergency Relief for me?

Many of our farming clients have some form of diversification which falls within the description of hospitality.  The answer is yes, if you are currently registered for Business Rates and claiming Small Business Rates relief you can get a grant for up to £25,000.

Click here to find details and how to claim on the gov.uk website.


I am looking to borrow money for expansion of the farm, am I able to utilise the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)?

CBILS is open to all businesses as a way to cover the shortfall in business profit but also to stimulate productivity in the industry.

Animal production, crop growing and mixed farming are all eligible to access the scheme but with a reduced value of the threshold for qualification. See thresholds here.

Click here for more information from us on Emergency Bank Funding and the CBILS: is it a good idea? and Emergency Business Loan Scheme revamped and registering for grants.

Click her for details and how to claim on the gov.uk website.

Evaluate your opportunities – cash and the future

We asked Phil Mills, Old Mill Director and Head of Old Mill’s Food & Drink team to provide his thoughts on how businesses in the Farming and Food industry should be strategising in the current COVID-19 environment.  His five-step plan gives thought to opportunities and the potential to be bullish but only after you understand your financials:

Step 1 – Evaluate your opportunities

Step 2 – Evaluate your financials: Understand your numbers, understand your cash flow, start to model different scenarios

Step 3 – Make a decision and get behind it

Step 4 – Revisit steps one to three weekly

Step 5 – Pause and reflect

Read Phil’s full insight here: COVID-19, cash and the future

Free access still available for Figured forecasting tool

If you require a more detailed forecast plan for your farm, free access is still available for Figured’s budgeting, production tracking and forecasting software.  Familiarise yourself with Figured here:  Building your farms plan.

We will cover the cost of your subscription until Tuesday 30 June and then you can decide whether to cancel or continue. If you would like to register your interest or have any questions, please contact your Old Mill contact or email ben.carter@om.uk.

For more information, or if you have any questions about any of the above, please contact your Old Mill adviser or email enquiries@om.uk.