Motorway at night


Business survival toolkit

Cumbria Chamber of Commerce logo

in association with LAMONT PRIDMORE


  • Introduction
  • Expected Timescale
  • Customers, Suppliers and Marketing
  • Credit Control Procedures
  • Your Contract Terms
  • Insurance Cover
  • Other Income Opportunities
  • Cost and Cash Control
    •  Essentials
    • Non Essentials
  • Staffing Levels
  • Quantify the Problem
  • Cash Flow Management
  • Own Resources
  • Sale of Surplus Assets
  • Banks and Other Funders
  • Suppliers
  • Tax Authorities
  • Tax Payment 31 July and Change of Accounting Date
  • Detailed Action Plan
  • Getting Your Business Back Up and Running
  • Disaster Recovery Plan
  • Further Guidance
  • Template Letters



We suggest you discuss this Business Survival Toolkit with your accountant, financial adviser and/or business adviser who will advise you on the best methods of implementation for your business.

This plan is specifically written for those directly affected by flooding, but most is equally applicable if your business has been affected indirectly, e.g. if a key supplier or customer(s) is out of action.


Expected Timescale

The expected period of disruption will not be the same for everyone but if you anticipate being closed for an extended period, we recommend that the business should create a fund of cash or bank facilities to be able to operate with no or considerably reduced sales. Make an estimate of how long your premises will be out of action for and/or how long your customers/suppliers will be affected.


Customers and Marketing

Analyse your likely sales over various markets, taking into account not only the direct impact of your business being flooded but also any impact of the flood on your customers and suppliers as they may also have been affected.

The assessment needs to be realistic and not over optimistic because very important decisions will be taken on the basis of this information. Look at:

  • which, if any customers, you are able to supply currently
  • what you need to do to be able to supply other customers
  • whether there are new channels you could use to sell to your existing and/or new customers e.g. street markets, internet, home deliveries/supply, working with another business
  • which customers will be so badly affected that their sales are likely to cease forever
  • which customers will be affected until they recover from the flood, how long is this likely to be and to what extent (will they not buy at all or will they buy less)
  • which customers won’t be affected at all
  • whether there are new customers/markets you could target
  • whether your suppliers are affected, how long this is likely to be the case for, and where, if necessary you can source alternative supplies.

Make sure you communicate with your customers as soon as possible – and keep communicating with them. Let them know your situation, how it affects them and what you are doing to maintain/restart supplies to them. If appropriate think about how you could access new supplies quickly or provide services to them in a different venue – so that they aren’t forced to go elsewhere. Keep them up to date with the situation as it evolves. When you’re able to get back to normal you might think about how to reward customers who’ve stayed loyal e.g. thank you card, special opening offer, opening event for customers.


Credit Control Procedures

It’s vital for your cash flow that you have stringent credit control procedures in place with any new customers (especially if they may be seeking alternative suppliers as their credit lines dry up) and with existing customers possibly seeking extended credit periods. These are difficult business decisions. You may have opportunities to create new relationships which will develop the business in the future but at the same time you may create additional financial strain on your own business in the very near future or it may even create a bad debt which will cause you serious financial problems in the future.


Your Contract Terms

Review the contractual terms of your business to ensure that you understand the legal status of the various clauses, both for your customers and for your suppliers. If applicable you will need to take a commercial decision on your policy on cancellation of orders, bearing in mind your current financial situation and the potential lifetime value of that particular customer in future years. The more difficult your own current financial situation the more difficult the decision will be on whether you can accept the cancellation or whether you need to pursue a legally binding order. A similar situation will arise when you are considering cancelling orders with your suppliers.


Insurance Cover

Check your business insurance policy to establish whether there is any relief under the business interruption and consequential loss sections.

Ask your insurance company exactly what you can claim for and what actions you need to take. Ask them also about an interim payment to help your business start trading as soon as possible to minimise your loss.


Other Income Opportunities

Explore every possible income opportunity to establish whether new income streams can be created:

  • new products/services that could be developed quickly
  • other ways of getting your product or service to customers
  • employment for a short while to increase income
  • claiming any benefits that may be due to you


Cost and Cash Control

Clearly there will be a number of urgent demands on your time, but taking steps to cut costs and improve cash flow are vital.

The first course of action is to turn off as quickly as possible all non essential cash outflow. This may be business or private expenditure, revenue or capital. Review all standing orders and direct debits, whether business or private, and consider cancelling any non essential payments. The quicker this is done, the longer the business will be able to survive and the more likely it will have the necessary funds to support its recovery.

Essentials Non Essentials
Materials and direct costs of production to meet anticipated sales Stocks of raw materials
Key staff Subcontractors
Light, heat and power (once back in your premises) Non essential repairs and maintenance (DIY)
Insurance Motor repairs and service
Telephone system and internet Telephone calls?
Marketing? (depends on your circumstances) Printing and stationery
Appeal your business rates Marketing? (depends on your circumstances)
Taxes (PAYE, NIC, income tax, VAT) – but try to reduce/defer Cleaning & laundry (change to DIY)
Essential living costs Rates (appeal your business rates)
Repairs to your property Heating
Replacing lost/damaged equipment Pension contributions (suspend)
Investments and savings plans (review)
Capital expenditure (other than replacing flood losses)
Bank loan repayments (agree holiday)
Leasing & HP payments (agree holiday)
Non essential personal expenditure



Regrettably it’s vital to cut staff levels as quickly as possible (in days) to those necessary to meet current or expected sales levels. In order to do this:

  • Review Contracts of Employment
  • Check notice periods to be given to make people redundant and any costs this would involve
  • Consider varying terms and conditions
  • Look at asking staff to take holidays now
  • Consider laying off staff
  • Look at negotiating amended hours or salary levels.

You may decide to take a different approach for different groups of staff, depending on your needs now and in the future.

Make sure you follow the correct processes when carrying out any of these changes and take account of any contractual and legal requirements.

ACAS offer a free service on these issues – ring 0845 057 3170 or Chamber members have access to free legal and HR support, see or call 0845 226 0040.


Quantify the Problem

Reduce costs and financial outgoings of the business to a minimum as quickly as possible (within days). Once you have done this calculate how much money is needed to meet the level of costs and outgoings for the next six months or however long realistically you will be affected.


Cash Flow Management

Once you’ve quantified the problem the business will need to amass the necessary resources to meet these outgoings, whether this is in cash, credit facilities, bank overdraft, sale of surplus assets, introduction from your own resources or loans from friends or relatives, etc to meet these needs. Marshall all your assets and create a war chest for the battle ahead.


Own Resources

The business may need an injection of some of your own resources or those of your family or friends to help meet commitments. You should also keep back say another two months of outgoings as a contingency fund in case you are severely affected for longer than expected.

You may need to give notice of withdrawal from some designated bank or building society accounts and this should be done straightaway. Once you know how much you can introduce into the business from your own resources you will need to work out how you are going to find the balance.


Sale of Surplus Assets

To fund your business you should consider selling any personal or business assets that are surplus to requirements. Trading stocks (if they haven’t already been destroyed) should be reduced to anticipate the non-existent or quieter trading period.


Banks, Building Societies, Hire Purchase, Leasing and Other Funders

It’s vital that you discuss the situation with your banker or funder as soon as you have a draft financial plan in mind. The relationship that you’ve developed with your banker over the past few years will now become an important asset. Your banker should be understanding and supportive but may need to obtain authority from regional office for capital and interest holidays or increased facilities, so timing of the funding application will be very important.

If issues arise with your bank then please contact the Chamber and we will raise them with senior bankers via our Banking Action Group.



Discuss delayed or deferred payment with suppliers. This is a good source of funding.


Tax Authorities

Discuss with your accountant/financial adviser a strategy to arrange for the delay or deferment of PAYE, NIC, VAT and income tax payments. Some authorities are more receptive than others to your financial situation but you can usually obtain a reasonable repayment plan, particularly in the present circumstances.


Tax Payment and Change of Accounting Date

For self employed businesses, consider changing your financial year end to 31 March to relieve the financial losses as early as possible for tax purposes. This is a complex decision which should not be taken without advice from your accountant/financial adviser.

To maximise your cash flow, a claim should be submitted to reduce the tax payment due to 31 July 2020. Consult your accountant/financial adviser on the best course of action.

If you trade as a company you should consider immediately stopping drawing a salary as this will reduce the national insurance and PAYE liabilities. The drawings you need to live on can be taken either by withdrawal from your loan account, by dividend or through the creation of a loan account from the company. These actions will considerably reduce the regular outgoings from the business. This is a complex area and you should consult your accountant/financial adviser before taking action.


Action Plan and Milestones

Draw up an action plan for the next six months covering the following:

  • financial projections for the next six months
  • sales target
  • marketing strategy and plan
  • revenue expenditure budget including staffing strategy
  • capital expenditure budget
  • personal expenditure budget
  • funding strategy and plan
  • tax plan

The plan should be reviewed weekly then monthly to confirm that you are on track, and if you are not on target identify what further action(s) you need to take.

It’s important that you keep your accountant/financial adviser and your bank manager or funder informed of developments, together with the actions you are taking. This will ensure that they are in a position to help if needed.


Getting Your Business Back Up and Running

Click here for our Business Continuity Checklist.


Disaster Recovery Plan – for “next time”

The last thing you want to think about right now is this happening again, However, there are lots of disasters that can hit your business so every business should have a recovery plan. Disaster Recovery Plans usually cover fire, flood, storm, electricity interruption, computer system failure or data corruption, and other potential disasters such as pandemic flu, foot & mouth disease and other human/animal diseases.

Further guidance is available through

As part of this you may wish to consider specific measures with regard to flooding.

More guidance is available at


Further Guidance

Contact Cumbria Business Growth Hub on 0844 257 8450 for advice or to request an adviser visit. Advisers are available, free of charge, to help you implement your immediate recovery plan and a range of specialists are available to help with things like marketing and finance. The Growth Hub will also be able to signpost you to other help.

Your accountant or financial/business adviser will be familiar with your business. It is advisable to work with them and with any other relevant professionals. Funding may be available to support this.



Before taking any action we recommend you contact your accountant or financial or business advisers. Care has been taken in the preparation of this Business Survival Toolkit but Cumbria Chamber of Commerce and Lamont Pridmore accept no responsibility for any loss arising to any person as a result of action or inaction based on this toolkit.

Copyright: Cumbria Chamber of Commerce and Lamont Pridmore. November 2009. Revised and updated December 2015 and February 2020.


Template Letters

Letter 001: Business rates

Letter 002: Revaluation proposal

Letter 003: Tax – change of accounting date

Letter 004: Tax – deferred payment

Letter 005: PAYE – deferred payment


Letter 001

name and address of business

Business Rates Section




Dear Sir

Re: [name of business]

Rating Assessment Number: xxxxx


Our business has been severely affected by the Storm Ciara floods, resulting in our sales being reduced by x%.

We are therefore unable to pay our business rates at this time due to the effect of the floods on the business.

We will try to send you as cheque as soon as the business has recovered from the crisis.

I hope this letter is sufficient for your purposes.

Yours faithfully


Council Addresses

Allerdale Borough Council

Allerdale House

New Bridge Road


CA14 3YJ


Barrow Borough Council

Town Hall

Duke Street


LA14 2LD


Carlisle City Council

Civic Centre




Copeland Borough Council

The Copeland Centre

Catherine Street


CA28 7SJ


Eden District Council

Town Hall


CA11 7QF


South Lakeland District Council

South Lakeland House

Lowther Street




Letter 002

name and address of business


VOA North East and North West

17th Floor

53 Portland Street


M1 3LD





Dear Sir

I enclose my complete proposal to alter the year 2017 Rating List.

If you require any further information do not hesitate to contact me.


Yours faithfully



Letter 003


name and address of business


HM Inspector of Taxes




Dear Sir


Re: [Business name]

Tax reference: xxxx


Our business is being severely affected by the Storm Ciara floods resulting in sales being reduced by x%.

We therefore proposed to change our accounting year end from [month] to [month].

In view of the change of accounting period we wish to reduce our  instalment of income tax and Class 4 National Insurance Contributions due to 31 July 2020 to nil.

We hope this letter is sufficient for your purposes.


Yours faithfully


Letter 004

name and address of business


HM Inspector of Taxes




Dear Sir


Re: [business name]

Tax reference: xxxx


Our business is being severely affected by the Storm Ciara floods resulting in our sales being reduced by x%.

We would appreciate your understanding of the situation by acknowledging that the Income Tax and Class 4 NIC Insurance Contributions due at 31 July 2020 are deferred and interest charges waived.

We will attempt to make payment as soon as our business is back to normal and cash flow permits.

If you require any further information do not hesitate to contact us.


Yours faithfully


Letter 005

name and address of business


HM Inspector of Taxes




Dear Sir


Re: [business name]

PAYE Reference: xxxxx


Our business is being severely affected by the Storm Ciara floods resulting in our sales being reduced by x%.

In respect of the PAYE and National Insurance contributions due, we would appreciate your understanding of the situation over the next few months as we do not have the cash flow to make these payments.

We will attempt to make payment once our business is back to normal and our situation has improved.

I hope this letter is sufficient for your purposes.


Yours faithfully