Tag: Coronavirus Pandemic

Bridging Finance during the Covid19 Pandemic

How has the Coronavirus affected bridging finance?

Some bridging lenders have stopped lending

A number of bridging lenders have stopped providing bridging loans during the current Coronavirus pandemic. Many lenders have announced that they are temporarily stopping all new lending or restricting the size and types of loan that they offer.

Some current lending applications have been cancelled

Some lenders have cancelled on-going applications and have even pulled current offers where contracts have not been exchanged.  In some cases lenders are requiring customers to start the application process again from scratch.

Those still lending have reduced loan to values and loan sizes

Those lenders who are still offering bridging finance are being very cautious and have taken actions such as reducing their maximum loan sizes.  Maximum gross loan to values (LTVs) are down from 80% to around 60 to 65%.

‘Whole new business’

Farmers innovate to get food from field to plate during the coronavirus pandemic. A report from Reuters has explained the struggles that farmers currently face.

New recruits for seasonal work

Finding seasonal workers is a priority in Europe, where spring harvests are at risk because the usual vast armies of migrant labourers cannot leave home as all of the boarders are currently closed.

Spain, the European Union’s biggest fruit and vegetable exporter, has responded by allowing the unemployed to take farm jobs while keeping welfare payments, and has extended work permits for those migrants already in the country.

France has mobilised 15,000 French workers idled by the crisis so far to help offset a potential shortfall of 200,000 foreign labourers this spring. 

It has been suggested that farmers were frustrated that the new recruits lacked skills or had quickly quit. 

Poland, meanwhile, is struggling without Ukrainian seasonal labourers and the Russian Agriculture Ministry said prisoners might help out on farms in the absence of Central Asian workers. 

Germany, Britain and Ireland are allowing companies to bring in trained workers from Romania and other European Union states on charter flights with quarantine measures. 

U.S. President Donald Trump has exempted such migrants from a temporary curb on immigration during the crisis. 

Elsewhere, Nigeria’s federal government is making identity cards so farm workers can move freely during a national lockdown after many were stopped by police. 

Iraq’s Agriculture Ministry said farm workers were exempted from curfew measures and farmers were allowed to move harvesting machinery around the country. 

To keep transport links running smoothly, Brazilian toll-road operator CCR SA has distributed more than 1,000 food and hygiene kits a day to truck drivers as service outlets are closed. 

In Kenya, Rubi Ranch has been sending avocados to Europe by ship due to limited air freight capacity, as airlines have grounded aircraft and cut off the company’s usual supply route.

Farmers cannot be the forgotten heroes of the coronavirus pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has amplified the uncertainty and fragility of the conditions within which farmers operate.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused us all to become acutely aware of our own mental health, as a “new normal” has emerged. In the UK, there is sharp focus on the mental health of keyworkers supporting the nation in an array of fields such as the NHS, social care and education, but one industry’s contribution that should not be overlooked is the farming and agricultural workforce.

Seasonal labour

Concerns around levels of seasonal labour also predates the pandemic, and concerns have been raised by those within the industry throughout the Brexit debate. UK seasonal farming has been chronically understaffed since the UK voted to Leave and the value of the pound fell. As has been widely documented, an estimated 70,000 seasonal workers are required throughout the year, and around 90 percent of those are from outside the UK. But with restrictions on travel due to coronavirus, farmers in the agricultural, horticultural and dairy industries in particular are reporting severe labour issues.

The Government recently launched its “Pick for Britain” campaign to mobilise a land army of British pickers to help fill farm vacancies. This did not come without concerns from farmers, as many seasonal workers are normally returnees, arriving at the start of the season fully trained in the necessary skills and machinery to hit the ground running. By stark contrast, training new UK recruits can be costly and initially result in lower productivity. Furthermore, recent reports note that, following tens of thousands of initial sign-ups, just 112 people were hired by UK farmers last week. Many applicants cited that they could not commit to the full length of the contract, farms were too far away, or they had caring responsibilities and therefore could not work long hours.

Change in consumer demand 

Changes in consumer demand during the coronavirus pandemic, with a move from out-of-home eating to more meals eaten at home – an estimated 500 million more per week – has resulted in some farmers losing their market overnight. This is down to difficulties in redirecting food produce once destined to the foodservice sector, as it been noted that consumers often wont replicate the meals that they would have had out of home, and there are issues with repackaging foods for retail. The impact on dairy farmers has been widely documented with videos of many having to pour away milk – an estimated 1m litres worth – along with the effects on the meat and horticulture sectors. Further to this, farmers have been faced with an increase in the theft of animals by criminals seeking to “cash in” on public concerns about food shortages.

To compound the challenges, the instruction by government to close B&B accommodation and farm cafés amongst other restrictions, and the subsequent loss in public demand, has also impacted farmers who have diversified their sources of income. These diverse streams of income are often vital to small farms’ survival, as many do not make a profit from their farming activity alone, so the financial consequences of this collapse will undoubtedly impact many in the sector.

Over Half a Million UK Companies in Significant Financial Distress

According to redflagalert, a report has suggested thats:

  • 509,000 UK companies are in significant financial distress—the highest number ever measured.
  • The coronavirus lockdown has seen the largest quarterly increase in the number of businesses in significant distress since the end of 2017, growing by 15,000 companies.
  •  This figure is expected to increase throughout Q2 as COVID-19 restrictions continue.
  • The number of critically distressed businesses increased by 10% in the last quarter alone.

During Q1 2020, the number of UK companies experiencing significant financial distress exceeded the half a million mark for the first time since our research began.

Latest figures show a 3% quarterly increase in the number of companies that are unable to meet their debts—that’s 15,000 businesses, representing the largest increase since the end of 2017.

The leading cause of this is the coronavirus restrictions and our data shows that SMEs have been worst hit, representing over 99% of all businesses in distress.

Companies with less than 250 employees are particularly vulnerable at this time as many have struggled to access government support schemes.

Even more concerning is that our data shows a 10% jump in the number of businesses in critical distress in the last quarter—this is usually a precursor to insolvency.

A recent survey from redflaghalert has suggest that there has been a significant increase in businesses experiencing critical distress; 2,289 companies are now in this category. Between Q4 2019 and Q1 2020, the increases in certain sectors have been dramatic:

  • Bars and restaurants: +37%
  • Real estate and property: +21%
  • Construction: +11%
  • Retail: +8%
  • Manufacturing: +8%

The sectors that have been hardest hit by significant financial distress in the last quarter are:

  • Real estate and property: +6%
  • Hotels and accommodation: +5%
  • Construction: +4%
  • Health and education: +4%

Since 2014, several sectors have had huge increases in the number of businesses in distress. These sectors include:

  • Utilities: +132%
  • Real estate and property services: +104%
  • Sport and health clubs: +86%

Year-on-year, all but one (printing and packaging) of the 22 sectors monitored by Red Flag Alert have seen increases in the number of companies in significant distress over the past 12 months, with the worst affected being:

  • Real estate and property: +17%
  • Sport and health: +8%
  • Food and beverage: +7%

Many businesses are currently not failing immediately because the government support schemes. The suspension of court action has stopped many businesses from also going under. However, this will only be a short-term solution and once things start to normalise again the figures may increase.

Typically, it would be expected that 4.3% of these companies will fail each year not because of coronavirus restrictions, but because they were already at high risk of failure from any short-term drop in revenue and cash flow. However, the impact of COVID-19 will see this figure double and leave the UK economy with insolvent debts totalling £8.6bn this year.

Will Coronavirus affect my loan?

Loan and credit card payments to be frozen for three months in UK.

The financial regulator has announced plans to freeze loan and credit card payments for up to three months as part of emergency measures for consumers impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. They have also announced plans to help businesses that are struggling in the current climate.

The new measures which could come into force by 9th April is aimed at consumers and renters who are not benefiting from existing relief measures that have targeted homeowners – with mortgage payment holidays – or business owners.

The FCA has advised that banks and credit card providers will have to ensure that consumer credit ratings are unaffected by any of the measures.

If you are looking for a loan or bridging finance for your business in the agricultural sector. Feel free to give us a call or email us today and we will be happy to help!

UK banks set out details of Covid-19 mortgage holidays

Households hit by coronavirus will not lose credit ratings if they delay payments as the government gives a 3-month mortgage holiday.

The unpaid interest will still be recovered later, but individual credit ratings will not be affected.

The Guardian has suggested that ‘firms will help customers the best way for the individual, but an automatic payment holiday may to always be the most suitable approach and may not be required by all customers’.

Full payment of the arrears will still assume an eventual full repayment of arrears. While a person is taking a payment holiday, the interest that would have been paid will still rack up, and the capital sum of the loan remains.

These holidays are not a long term solution but they are designed to help the temporary income shortfall. If this is a smooth and seamless process that will enable homeowners to self-isolate without having to worry about their mortgage payments then clearly it is a significant move in the right direction.

The Economic Impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic

Shoppers across the country British shoppers have been greeted by empty shelves where toilet paper or canned food are usually stocked due to panic and bulking buying.

Shops are now opening earlier to allow elderly to do their shopping and doing their best keep up with the booming demand for certain products like cleaning supplies or toilet paper, but experts say all consumers have a role in making sure basic goods are available for everyone who needs them.

Most economists expect the long term hit to businesses and consumer spending because of COVID-19 will have long-term ramifications for the greater economy and potentially lead to a recession.

The chancellor, Rishi Sunak has unveiled a package of financial measures to shore up the economy against the coronavirus impact.

It includes £330bn in loans, £20bn in other aid, a business rates holiday, and grants for retailers and pubs. Help for airlines is also being considered.

Manage Seasonal Fluctuations

In business, seasonal fluctuations refer to the peaks and troughs in demand that correspond with different times of year. Most SMEs will experience this at some point, but certain industries can be subject to greater variations due to the nature of their trade. This is especially important during this time with the coronavirus pandemic effecting most businesses nationwide.

The upside is that these shifts are usually predictable, which allows companies to plan ahead and put measures in place to ensure they can fulfil customer requirements however as people and businesses are now learning, it’s not always that easy. It is prudent to review what your business can do to manage cyclical demand effectively.

Here are a few things you can do to control changes in the economic market.

Manage cash flow

During peak seasons, try to reserve cash for the quieter months so you have sufficient funds available all year round or in times of need. Aim to plan at least six months ahead by using historic sales data to forecast levels of supply and demand, although, cases like this are hard to predict. This will help you to better recognise trends in consumer behaviour and account for this in your sales projections.

Control inventory

Regularly monitoring levels of stock can reduce wastage and therefore save costs. Coincide orders with peak periods, so your company does not have surplus stock when business is slow.  

Identify workforce needs

Establish how many employees you need in any given shift, month or season to maximise efficiency and organise staff contracts to reflect business levels. Employing temporary staff can provide additional support during busier periods and this strategy can also keep costs down during quieter months. This may apply to supermarkets and the NHS during this period when they need as much support as possible.

Review payment terms

Long payment terms and overdue client invoices can put a strain on your cash flow. Requesting shorter credit periods may prompt customers to pay for goods and services quicker, giving you adequate working capital to continue trading.