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In late 2017, a sleep-in shift compliance scheme – the Social Care Compliance Scheme (SCCS) – was launched by the government to pay back social care sector workers who potentially had been paid below the national minimum wage for historical sleep-in shifts.
What is the Social Care Compliance Scheme? (SCCS)
The Social Care Compliance Scheme (SCCS) requires social care employers to apply to join the SCCS scheme if they believe they may have been underpaying workers. Once accepted, employers have to complete a declaration form and submit it to HMRC within 12 months or by 31st December 2018 if sooner. Any underpayment due to employees must be made within 3 months or before 31st March 2019. Employers are supported with advice from HMRC throughout. However, if social care employers don’t opt-in and are found to have underpaid workers, they can be fined 200% of the amount they owe and lose the benefit of discretion by being publicly named.
How might the SCCS impact your company?
Despite the government stating that it is working on options to minimise any impact on the sector, unfortunately, it is inevitable that some employers will face some amount of financial disruption. With a back-payment bill totalling £400million, it leaves many wondering – how are social care employers going to be able to foot the bill when the government admits that until February 2015 its guidance was “potentially misleading”. Some are even calling for the government itself to pay up in order to protect care employers from financial strain.
How we can help
If you feel you may be affected by the Social Care Compliance Scheme, we are here to guide you through any obstacles and turbulence which the SCCS may inflict upon your business.
We will listen to and answer your concerns
Our friendly advisors are here to listen and advise on the best course of action for your social care business and its particular set of circumstances. We are here for any questions you may have regarding how to deal with outstanding back payments or handling pressure from HMRC and can collaborate with you in designing a bespoke survival strategy to ensure your company/business is protected.
Discuss what outcome you are wanting to achieve
The first step is to tell us what you want to achieve for your business in the long term despite possible financial difficulty incurred as a result of the scheme. Maybe you want to continue to trade, maybe you want to sell up, or maybe you want to effectively ‘shut up shop’ and walk away entirely.
Continue to trade
If you want to continue to trade through but feel you’ll struggle to repay your liabilities as a result of the Social Care Compliance Scheme, there are options available to you.
Commercial financing could be an appropriate solution if your company owns property, assets or perhaps regularly has money owing to it in respect of unpaid invoices. This may not be an option if no suitable assets are available as security or indeed if the company cannot afford loan repayments.
A creditors’ voluntary arrangement (CVA) might be what your business needs to keep it stable over an uncertain period. Having to pay back money that you didn’t budget for often results in a cash flow crisis making it difficult or impossible to cover all overheads and pay suppliers. . A CVA would be useful in consolidating unsecured debts by allowing reduced, affordable monthly payments to keep the business afloat. This usually lasts for up to five years.
Continue to trade until a sale of your business
You might be considering selling your business and need to continue to trade until you find a buyer whilst maintaining the provision of social care to those who need it at the same time as also allowing you a way out. Administration may be the ideal procedure under these circumstances, and protects the company from creditor action until a suitable solution is found. A CVA (mentioned above) could also be used as an interim measure until you sell your business, if that fits in with your plans.
Walk away from the business
Maybe you simply want to ‘shut up shop’ in light of the impact which the SCCS will have on you and your business. In this case, a creditors voluntary liquidation (CVL) might be an option to discuss with us. In this scenario, the business assets would be realised and liquidated to pay dividends back to creditors, and the company would cease to exist, along with its debts. The option to buy back the assets of the old company from the liquidator may be available.
If you are a social care provider and are worried about the impact which the Social Care Compliance Scheme will have on your business, don’t panic – there are many options available to you. Based on your desired outcome, whether that be continuing to trade, selling on or closing down, we can work with you to find the most appropriate course of action. Our experienced advisors can talk you through the available solutions during a discussion surrounding your business and what your vision for its future is, tailoring a strategy for resilience against possible financial difficulty. Don’t hesitate – all initial consultations are free of charge and come with no obligation.