Business News

BUSINESS NEWS

 

Welcome to our round up of the latest business and Covid-19 news for our clients. Please contact us if you want to talk about how these updates affect your business. We are here to support you through these tough times.

This week, there is more positive news on the vaccination front with more than 13 million people now having had their second jab and approximately 34 million their first.

 

UK Economy set to grow at its fastest level ever!

The good news this week is that EY item Club has improved its estimate of the UK’s economic performance in 2021 – and forecasts a rebound in growth over the next two years and predicts a return to growth for summer 2021 with GDP to rise by 5% in 2021 and 6.5% in 2022. See: How the UK economy can stay resilient into the post-pandemic future | EY UK

The bad news is that Government borrowing hits record high. The cost of dealing with Covid-19 has meant UK borrowing is at its highest level since the Second World War. Public sector borrowing reached £303 Billion in the year to March the Office for National Statistics have reported. This borrowing will need to be addressed at some point in the near future and now may be a good time to take some time and plan a business strategy to keep you and your business flexible and resilient to changes in government taxation policy. We cannot foresee the future, but we do know the best way to predict the future is to create it!

Please talk to us about our business and cash flow planning services which our most successful clients take advantage of.

 

The end of the landline?

Last week an opinion survey of 2,001 UK adults, which was conducted in mid-March 2021 and commissioned by Uswitch, has revealed that 26% of people with a residential landline do not have a phone attached to it and 35% of respondents said they only have a landline because it’s needed for their broadband connection. The number of homes with a landline has fallen by c.4 million (down 15%) since the year 2000 to about 22 million connections in 2021. The decline in landline use should at least make it easier for homes to handle the pending removal of traditional phone services, which is due to complete on Openreach’s (BT) UK network by the end of December 2025. In their place operator’s will be providing digital (VoIP) style solutions, which most people will be able to take as an optional extra alongside broadband (in the past, broadband was the optional extra).

 

National Insurance “Holiday” if You Hire Military Veterans

HMRC have provided guidance on this new incentive designed to encourage employers to take on military veterans. This relief is only available for 12 consecutive months from the veteran’s first day of civilian employment. This zero-rate can be applied up to the upper secondary threshold (£967 per week). This relief is available from 6 April 2021. For the 2021/22 tax year employers will need to pay the associated secondary Class 1 National Insurance contributions as normal and then claim it back retrospectively from April 2022 onwards. From April 2022 onwards, employers will be able to apply the relief in real time through PAYE.

 

Qualifying veterans

Employers will only be able to claim National Insurance contributions relief on the earnings of qualifying veterans. A person qualifies as a veteran if they have served at least one day in the regular armed forces. This includes anyone who has completed at least one day of basic training.

The relief is available to all employers of veterans regardless of when the veteran left the regular armed forces, providing they have not previously been employed in a civilian capacity.

 

Employments that qualify

Relief is available for any civilian employment. A civilian employment is one that is not part of the armed forces and includes employments with organisations that may have strong links to HM Armed Forces, such as the Ministry of Defence or NATO. Employment with a reserve organisation is not considered as civilian for the purpose of this relief and does not trigger the qualifying period (outlined below).

Employers can claim relief even if the employment starts before 6 April 2021 but will only be able to claim for the remaining 12 month qualifying period. The first day of employment will be the start date taken from the employment contract between the employer and the employee.

This 12 month period does not change if the employment finishes. This means that current and future employers can also claim this relief if they employ a veteran within their qualifying period. Subsequent employers must determine the first day of the veteran’s first civilian employment and confirm that the veteran is employed with their business during the qualifying period.

 

Getting tested for Coronavirus

Guidance on coronavirus testing, including who is eligible for a test and how to get tested, has been updated to help people find a pharmacy where they can collect rapid tests and find a test site where they can collect rapid tests. See: Coronavirus (COVID-19): getting tested – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

 

COVID-19 GOVERNMENT SUPPORT NEWS

Below is our weekly roundup of changes to government support information generally and for businesses, employers and the self-employed.

 

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS)

The online service for the fourth grant is now available. The Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) has been extended to September 2021and details of claims for the fourth grant have now been released. This fourth grant covers February, March and April 2021. There will then be a fifth grant covering May to September 2021.

The latest grant allows the self-employed to claim 80% of their average profits for the period up to 2019/20 and is again limited to £2,500 a month.

Like CJRS there are lots of conditions that need to be satisfied, such as being self-employed in 2019/20 and continuing to trade in 2020/21 or would be doing so if it the business had not been impacted by coronavirus.

In order to be able to make a successful claim, the self-employed profits in 2019/20 must not exceed £50,000 and must be more than 50% of the individual’s total income. If that test is not met, then the same £50,000 and 50% tests are applied to average profits and total income over the four years (or shorter period) to 5 April 2020. This means that those who commenced trading in 2019/20 will now potentially be eligible for SEISS grants, having not previously qualified for the first three grants.

Although we cannot make the claim on your behalf, we can help you determine whether you are eligible and assist you with your claim if required.

Conditions for the fifth grant will be linked to a reduction in business turnover. Self-employed individuals whose turnover has fallen by 30% or more will continue to receive the full grant worth 80% of three months’ average trading profits, capped at £7,500. People whose turnover has fallen by less than 30% will receive a 30% grant, capped at £2,850. We are still awaiting further details of the fifth grant calculation.

See: Check if you can claim a grant through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

 

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) – Other types of employees you can claim for

The guidance on contractors engaged with the public sector, or by a medium or large-sized organisation, in scope of off-payroll working (IR35) rules has been updated.

You can claim other types of employees – as long as they’re paid via PAYE. These employees include:

  • office holders (including company directors)
  • salaried members of Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs)
  • agency workers (including those employed by umbrella companies)
  • limb (b) workers
  • contingent workers in the public sector
  • contractors with public sector engagements in scope of IR35 off-payroll working rules (IR35)

Individuals who are paid through PAYE but not necessarily employees in employment law, can continue to be furloughed from 1 July as long as you have previously submitted a claim for them for a furlough period of at least 3 weeks between 1 March and 30 June and submitted a claim for this by 31 July.

See: Other types of employees you can claim for – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

There is also updated guidance for other types of employees you can claim for and if your employee is clinically vulnerable.

See: Check which employees you can put on furlough to use the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

 

Employees can continue to claim tax relief if working from home

Employees can be paid £6 a week tax free Home Working Allowance whilst working from home. The amounts are free from income tax and Class 1 national insurance contributions (‘EEs and ‘ERs). The normal rule to take advantage of this exemption is that the employee is required by their employer to work from home from time to time and is normally not available where the employee works from home as a matter of choice.

£6 a week tax free for a higher rate taxpayer is equivalent to £538 gross pay (after 40% income tax and 2% employee NICs). The employer would also save 13.8% NICs.

This rule was temporarily relaxed due to the COVID-19 pandemic for 2020/21. HMRC have advised that as long as an employee has been required to work from home at some point during 2020/21 as a result of the COVID19 pandemic they will accept a claim for home-working for the whole 2020/21 tax year. This has now been extended to 2021/22 up until the end of the pandemic.

Where the employer does not pay the allowance, the employee may make a claim for a deduction of £6 a week from their earnings and this has also been extended to 2021/22. That would result in a tax refund of £124.80 for a higher rate taxpayer.

The quickest way to make a claim is to use the HMRC online claims service which requires the employee to set up a Government Gateway account. Alternatively, employees should use HMRC form P87 to make their claim.

See: Claim tax relief for your job expenses – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

 

Companies House (CH) update

You can use a same day service to electronically file a change of company name or incorporate a company (software filing only). You must apply before 11am. If you apply after 11am, your application will not be processed until the next working day. CH have suspended all other same day services until further notice.

See: Coronavirus guidance for Companies House customers – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

 

Guidance for food businesses

This has been updated for allowing hospitality businesses to serve food outdoors. Added information on ventilation and asymptomatic testing programmes is now also included.

This guidance is intended for all workplaces involved in the manufacturing, processing, warehousing, picking, packaging, retailing and service of food. This also includes important information about the risk of community transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19) from circumstances or activities related to the workplace such as transportation and accommodation arrangements. This guidance is of general nature and is intended to be compatible with the relevant health and safety legislation, please note that if there appears to be a conflict between this guidance and the relevant health and safety legislation, the latter shall prevail.

See: Guidance for food businesses on coronavirus (COVID-19) – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

 

General Aviation Roadmap

The government’s vision, strategic priorities and forward programme of work to support the General Aviation (GA) sector has been published.

The General Aviation Roadmap includes:

See: General Aviation Roadmap: spring 2021 (publishing.service.gov.uk)

 

Ventilation of indoor spaces to stop the spread of coronavirus – England

This webpage provides guidance on the ventilation of indoor spaces to stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

The page states, ventilation is the process of introducing fresh air into indoor spaces while removing stale air. Letting fresh air into indoor spaces can help remove air that contains virus particles and prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Guidance is outlined on ventilation in the workplace.

See:   Ventilation of indoor spaces to stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

 

 

 

Self-isolation compliance checks after international travel – England

The government is now carrying out public health self-isolation compliance checks on individuals who have a legal duty to self-isolate (also known as quarantining) for 10 days following international travel.

This means that if you are required to self-isolate, you may receive a visit from someone employed by a company on behalf of the government to make sure you are complying with your legal duty.

 

What to expect from a self-isolation compliance check

Staff employed on behalf of the NHS Test and Trace service will come to the address listed on your passenger locator form. The staff will be wearing NHS Test and Trace uniforms. They will identify themselves verbally and present an ID card with information including their name, role and employer. The staff will follow social distancing guidelines.

The staff will state your name and ask you to confirm it. They will also ask to see your driver’s license or passport to confirm your identity.

They will then ask you a few questions. This will help establish whether you are following your duty to self-isolate and enable them to provide additional information or guidance where necessary. You may receive follow-up visits.

NHS Test and Trace staff do not have enforcement powers, including the power to issue fixed penalty notices or fines. This means they will never ask you for money.

If there is reason to believe you may be breaching self-isolation rules, staff may refer your case to the police. If the police have reasonable grounds to believe that you have committed a criminal offence in breach of your duty to self-isolate, they may issue you with a fine (fixed penalty notice). Fines start at £1,000 for a first offence and can increase up to £10,000 for repeat offences.

If you are not happy with the service, you can complain to NHS Test and Trace online or telephone 119.

See: Self-isolation compliance checks after international travel – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

 

Transport and travel guidance – England

Information for people using transport or working in the transport sector during the coronavirus outbreak has been updated to include guidance on domestic cruise ship travel.

See: Coronavirus (COVID-19): transport and travel guidance – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

 

 

Domestic cruises – England

Domestic cruises depart from and return to UK ports. They may operate beyond UK waters, but are currently restricted to UK port calls and carrying residents from the UK and the Common Travel Area (Jersey, Guernsey, Isle of Man and Ireland) only.

Passengers from outside England should check their local travel restrictions before making travel plans.

See: Coronavirus (COVID-19): domestic cruise ship travel – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

 

Welcome Back Fund – England

Guidance has been updated to help local authorities and partners to deliver activities supported through the Welcome Back Fund announced in May 2020.

See: Welcome Back Fund – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Coming to the UK for seasonal agricultural work on English farms

Advice for seasonal agricultural workers coming to England to pick fruit and vegetables on farms, and their employers has been updated.

See: Coming to the UK for seasonal agricultural work on English farms – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

BUSINESS NEWS

Welcome to our round up of the latest business and Covid-19 news for our clients. Please contact us if you want to talk about how these updates affect your business. We are here to support you through these tough times.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has released its latest indicators for the UK economy and society. The percentage of businesses currently trading has increased gradually from 71% in early January 2021 to 75% in late March 2021, according to the latest figures.

See: Coronavirus and the latest indicators for the UK economy and society – Office for National Statistics (ons.gov.uk)

The main points from the latest ONS figures on the impact on output in the UK economy in February 2021 shows that:

  • Monthly gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 0.4% in February 2021 but remains 7.8% below its February 2020 level.
  • The most significant contributor to the rise in GDP was a month-on-month rise of 0.2% in services in February 2021, but this sector remains 8.8% below its February 2020 level.
  • Monthly production grew by 1.0% in February 2021 but remains 3.5% below its February 2020 level.
  • Monthly manufacturing grew by 1.3% but remains 4.2% below its February 2020 level.
  • Monthly construction grew by 1.6% but remains 4.3% below its February 2020 level.

Hopefully with lockdown easing we will see an increase in business activity over the next few months. Please contact us if you need assistance with reopening, finance and planning ahead.

There is a lot of positive news surrounding the UK vaccination programme including recent analysis that vaccines have prevented more than 10,400 deaths in older adults in England and that more than 32 million people have had the first and nearly 8 million have had their second dose. The next stage of the programme is underway with the target of all UK adults offered a first dose by the end of July.

The government has updated its vaccination programme and issued the protocol for the Moderna vaccine. This protocol is for the administration of the Vaccine to individuals in accordance with the national COVID-19 vaccination programme. See: National protocol for COVID-19 Vaccine Moderna – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

The government has also published the eagerly awaited Global Travel Taskforce publication “Safe return of international travel.” This sets out the recommendations made by the government’s Global Travel Taskforce to support the safe return of international travel following the coronavirus pandemic.

See: Global Travel Taskforce: safe return of international travel – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

As lockdown eases and more businesses open we look forward to warmer times and a better summer!

 

COVID-19 GOVERNMENT SUPPORT NEWS

 

Below is our weekly roundup of changes to government support information generally and for businesses, employers and the self-employed.

 

Changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)

Calculations

Government guidance on calculating how much you have to pay your furloughed employees for hours on furlough and how much you can claim back has been updated with new maximum wage tables and claim dates.

See: Calculate how much you can claim using the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

 

Find examples to help you calculate your employees’ wages

Check examples to help you calculate your employee’s wages, National Insurance contributions and pension contributions if you’re claiming through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

See:  Find examples to help you calculate your employees’ wages – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

 

Check which employees you can put on furlough to use the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

The Section on employee transfers under TUPE and on a change in ownership has been updated.

See: Check which employees you can put on furlough to use the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

 

Steps to take before calculating your claim

The section about employee reference dates added and changes made throughout the page to include employee reference dates.

See: Steps to take before calculating your claim using the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

 

Penalties for not telling HMRC about CJRS overpayments – CC/FS48.

If you have received a grant but were not eligible or you have been overpaid, find out what penalties you may have to pay if you do not tell HMRC.

See:  Penalties for not telling HMRC about Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme grant overpayments – CC/FS48 – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

 

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) Update

This guidance has been updated with information about the fourth SEISS grant. The online service to claim the fourth grant will be available from late April 2021. If you are eligible based on your tax returns, HMRC will contact you in mid-April to give you a date that you can make your claim from. It will be given to you either by email, letter or within the online service. You must make your claim on or before 1 June 2021.

See: Claim a grant through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

 

How HMRC works out trading profits and non-trading income for the SEISS

HMRC look at your trading profits and non-trading income on your Self-Assessment tax returns to check if you meet the eligibility criteria for the fourth grant. They also use your average trading profits to work out how much grant you will get.

See:  How HMRC works out trading profits and non-trading income for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

If you need help in claiming the fourth SEISS grant please contact us. We have access to accurate calculators to work out your likely claim amount.

 

Recovery Loan Scheme update

The Recovery Loan Scheme supports access to finance for UK businesses as they grow and recover from the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Up to £10 million is available per business. The actual amount offered, and the terms are at the discretion of participating lenders.

The government guarantees 80% of the finance to the lender. As the borrower, you are always 100% liable for the debt.

The scheme is open until 31 December 2021, subject to review.

Loans are available through a network of accredited lenders, listed on the British Business Bank’s website.

Eligibility

You can apply for a loan if your business:

  • is trading in the UK

You need to show that your business:

  • would be viable were it not for the pandemic
  • has been adversely impacted by the pandemic
  • is not in collective insolvency proceedings (unless your business is in scope of the Northern Ireland Protocol in which case different eligibility rules may apply)

Business that received support under the earlier COVID-19 guaranteed loan schemes are still eligible to access finance under this scheme if they meet all other eligibility criteria.

 

Who cannot apply

Businesses from any sector can apply, except:

  • banks, building societies, insurers and reinsurers (but not insurance brokers)
  • public-sector bodies
  • state-funded primary and secondary schools

 

What you can get

  • term loans or overdrafts of between £25,001 and £10 million per business
  • invoice or asset finance of between £1,000 and £10 million per business

No personal guarantees will be taken on facilities up to £250,000, and a borrower’s principal private residence cannot be taken as security.

 

How long the loan is for

The maximum length of the facility depends on the type of finance you apply for and will be:

  • up to 3 years for overdrafts and invoice finance facilities
  • up to 6 years for loans and asset finance facilities

 

How to apply

Find a lender accredited to offer Recovery Loans from the list on the British Business Bank website: Recovery Loan Scheme: current accredited lenders – British Business Bank (british-business-bank.co.uk)

 

Financial support for businesses during coronavirus (COVID-19)

The website outlining what financial support you can get for your business has also been updated.  This helps businesses find out how to access the support that has been made available, who is eligible, when the schemes open and how to apply.

Here are the links to the available government schemes:

 

Awarding of functional skills in 2021

Details, by awarding organisation, of the different assessment options available for functional skills in 2021 can be found at the link below.

 

Arrangements for 2021

There are 3 ways learners will be able to access a result.

  1. Assessments can continue to take place in a training provider, college, school, employer premises or alternative location, where it is safe for them to do so in line with public health guidance.
  2. Assessments can be taken remotely or online.
  3. Where neither of these options is possible, and learners need a result to progress, then the grade can be awarded through alternative arrangements.

This flexibility will mean many learners will be able to quickly progress and not be delayed. It will also ensure that apprentices can progress through their apprenticeship and to future employment.

As lockdown restrictions lift, more learners will be able to access assessments at their school, college, training provider or workplace as well as remotely, and the need for alternative arrangements will decrease.

 

The options available

Learners who are ready or waiting to take their functional skills assessment can do so now. They can do this through in-person or remote arrangements. Remote arrangements can refer to the use of remote assessment, remote invigilation, or both. The table below shows what assessment options each awarding organisation offers.

Awarding organisation Remote invigilation On-screen or computer based Paper based Awarding organisation provided test centre
AQA No No Yes No
C&G On request Yes Yes On request
EAL No Yes On request On request
FAQ Yes Yes Yes On request
Highfield Yes Yes Yes No
NCFE Yes Yes Yes No
NOCN Yes Yes Yes On request
OCR No Yes Yes No
Open Awards Yes Yes Yes On request
Pearson On request Yes Yes No
Skillsfirst Yes Yes On request No

 

Learners should speak to their training provider, college or school about which options are offered by the awarding organisation that they are registered with. For reformed functional skills qualifications, if the most appropriate option for the student is not offered by the awarding organisation then it is possible to swap to another awarding organisation.

To find out further information about these options please contact the relevant awarding organisation.

If none of these options are possible, and it is not possible to delay assessment until spring or summer, then the result can be awarded through alternative arrangements.

Remote arrangements can refer to the use of remote assessment, remote invigilation, or both.

 

Remote assessment

Remote assessment is an assessor examining a learner while they are completing the required and timed assessment tasks. The assessor is in a different location to that of the learner. It is a live assessment and is different to on-screen or online assessment. It does not cover independent completion of required tasks or generation of evidence without direct supervision and/or observation of an assessor.

 

Remote invigilation

Remote invigilation can be one or both of live supervision or after-the-fact supervision of a learner completing the required assessment tasks. The invigilator is in a different location to the learner. It ensures that the learner completes the assessment under the required conditions so that the awarding organisation can assure itself of the validity of the assessment and secure the award of the qualification. The invigilator is not assessing the learner.

Note that remote assessment and remote invigilation can take place in a location outside of an approved centre (such as at the learner’s home or an employer’s premises). Remote invigilation can be a sole measure or part of a suite of measures to ensure that the assessment has been conducted under secure conditions.

See: Awarding of functional skills in 2021 – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

 

Private providers of coronavirus testing

The lists of and information about approved suppliers of private testing kits for coronavirus (COVID-19) has been updated.

See: Private providers of coronavirus testing – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

 

Security Industry Authority (SIA) update – the private security industry – FAQs

Information about how the SIA are responding to the Coronavirus pandemic can be found here: Covid-19 and the private security industry – FAQs – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

 

Safer travel guidance for passengers

Guidance on walking, cycling, and travelling in vehicles or on public transport during the coronavirus outbreak has been updated.

 

Haulier advice site locations

This website helps find sites where HGV and coach drivers can get free COVID-19 tests and check their documents to transport goods to the EU. It is regularly updated and the latest news can be seen here: Haulier advice site locations – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19)

These guides are regularly updated and cover a range of different types of work. Many businesses operate more than one type of workplace, such as an office, factory and fleet of vehicles. You may need to use more than one of these guides as you think through what you need to do to keep people safe.

 

What to do if you’re already getting benefits – Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) update

The guidance for people who were receiving benefits before the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has been updated with the latest rates effective form 12 April.

 

 

Universal Credit

You will continue to get Universal Credit as normal during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

If you are working while claiming Universal Credit, your payment will be adjusted if you can no longer work due to coronavirus. Tell DWP about the hours you are working in the usual way in your online account.

The standard allowance increased on 12 April 2021. For example, for a single Universal Credit claimant (aged 25 and over) it has increased from £409.89 to £411.51 a month. This rate will remain in place until the withdrawal of the temporary uplift.

You must still inform them about changes to your circumstances.

 

Interviews and medical assessments

Interviews and assessments will be done by telephone. You should not go to a Jobcentre Plus unless asked to do so for an exceptional purpose, for example to collect your Payment Exception Service vouchers.

 

If you are self-employed and claiming Universal Credit

Since 30 March 2020, the way your Universal Credit payment is worked out has changed because of coronavirus (COVID-19). Payments are no longer calculated using an assumed level of earnings, called a Minimum Income Floor. They are now based on your actual earnings. If your payments were calculated using the Minimum Income Floor, they may change.

 

Other benefits

Your payments will not be affected if you get:

  • Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • New Style Employment and Support Allowance
  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Personal Independence Payment
  • Child Benefit

Interviews and assessments will be done by telephone.

 

 

 

Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit

If you are currently getting tax credits and you cannot work or you are working fewer hours because of coronavirus, you do not need to tell HMRC about this change as long as you are still employed or self-employed.

You must still tell HMRC about other changes to your circumstances. This includes if you or your partner lose your job, are made redundant or cease trading.

The basic element of Working Tax Credit is £2,005 from 6 April 2021 until 5 April 2022. Find out what this means for you.

You cannot claim Universal Credit and tax credits at the same time. If you get tax credits, they will stop when you or your partner applies for Universal Credit and you will be unable to claim them again, even if your Universal Credit claim is unsuccessful. Check how tax credits and Universal Credit affect each other.

See: Coronavirus (COVID-19): what to do if you’re already getting benefits – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

 

What to do if you were employed and have lost your job – Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) update

Guidance for people who were employed and have lost their job due to coronavirus has been recently updated. If you have lost your job, you might be able to get New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), Universal Credit or Pension Credit.

 

New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)

You could get New Style JSA if:

  • you usually work less than 16 hours a week
  • you’re under State Pension age
  • you have made enough National Insurance contributions over the last 2 to 3 years

Your savings and partner’s income will not affect how much you get. You might be able to get New Style JSA at the same time as Universal Credit.

Find out more or apply for New Style JSA.

 

Universal Credit

You could get Universal Credit if:

  • you have less than £16,000 in savings
  • you or your partner is under State Pension age

If you are already getting tax credits, they will stop when you or your partner applies for Universal Credit.

You might be able to get Universal Credit at the same time as New Style JSA. Depending on your circumstances, Universal Credit can include additional amounts for things like rent or the costs of raising children.

Find out more or apply for Universal Credit.

 

Pension Credit

You could get Pension Credit if:

  • you and your partner have both reached State Pension age
  • your weekly income is below £177.10 (for single people) or £270.30 (for couples)

You might still be able to get it even if you have savings, have a pension or own your home.

Find out more or apply for Pension Credit.

Looking for other work

Find full or part-time jobs in England, Scotland and Wales using the Find a job service. There is a different service to search for jobs in Northern Ireland.

 

If you’re still employed but cannot work

Other help is available if you’re employed and:

  • your employer has less or no work for you than normal
  • you are off work because you have coronavirus symptoms, are self-isolating or shielding

See: Coronavirus (COVID-19): what to do if you were employed and have lost your job – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

 

Understanding the possession action process: guidance for landlords and tenants – Wales and England

Guidance for landlords and tenants in the private and social rented sectors to explain the possession action process in the county courts in England and Wales has been issued: Understanding the possession action process: guidance for landlords and tenants – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

 

 

Guidance for landlords, tenants and local authorities – England

Non-statutory guidance for landlords, tenants and local authorities in the private and social rented sectors in the context of Coronavirus (COVID-19) has been updated.

See: COVID-19 and renting: guidance for landlords, tenants and local authorities – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

 

Reopening businesses and venues in England

This guidance details the steps to reopen certain businesses and venues in England.

See: Reopening businesses and venues in England – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

 

Closing certain businesses and venues in England

This guidance sets out restrictions on certain businesses and venues in England during coronavirus restrictions and has been updated for compliance of different social groups with the official guidance. A qualitative study to understand attitudes, behaviours and the issues people face in the pandemic is included.

See:  Closing certain businesses and venues in England – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

 

Maintaining records of staff, customers and visitors to support NHS Test and Trace

Designated venues in certain sectors must have a system in place to request and record contact details of their customers, visitors and staff to help break the chains of transmission of coronavirus.

The guidance has been updated in the ‘Information to collect’ section to give clarity on how venues should ensure that a customer has checked in.

See: Maintaining records of staff, customers and visitors to support NHS Test and Trace – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Furloughing Directors

with commentary from Forbes Dawson

The issue

The question of whether (shareholder) directors of their own companies can ‘furlough’ themselves is still subject to some ambiguity. In simple terms many director shareholders want to know where they stand in relation to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS).

Currently, two schemes have been launched by the government to help businesses and individuals cope financially with the Coronavirus lockdown. These are:

  • Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS)
  • Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)

SEISS is aimed at the unincorporated self-employed and members of partnerships where profits are less than £50,000 per year and the second is aimed at employees.

Although the government has said that directors may qualify for CJRS, there is much speculation that this will generally not be the case and further clarification is needed here.

Considering the detail of CJRS

Under CJRS, employers will be able to use an online portal to claim for 80% of furloughed employees’ usual monthly wage costs, up to £2,500 a month, plus the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on that wage.

Furloughed employees must have been on the PAYE payroll on 28 February 2020, and can be on any type of contract, including:

  • full-time employees
  • part-time employees
  • employees on agency contracts (but not working)
  • employees on flexible or zero-hour contracts

The scheme also covers employees who were made redundant since 28 February 2020, if they are rehired by their employer. Employees hired after 28 February 2020 cannot be furloughed or claimed for in accordance with this scheme.

The catch is that, when on furlough, an employee cannot undertake any work. This includes providing services or generating revenue.

To be eligible for the subsidy, employers should write to their employee confirming that they have been furloughed and keep a record of this communication.

What about directors?

The jury is out about whether directors will qualify. Prima facie if they are on payroll then they should qualify. However, there are practical considerations about whether a shareholder director can realistically be expected to do no work during a furlough period.

Furthermore, in many cases this will largely be an academic question because directors will typically pay themselves a small salary (say £10,000) and then top this up with dividends. It is currently very clear that dividends are not taken into account under CJRS.

Various commentary

On 27 March 2020, Ben Kerry, Head of Labour Markets, HM treasury, stated:

With respect to Directors and owner managers, that does not disqualify them from being furloughed so long as they are on PAYE payroll. I understand that they will have some statutory duties and obligations such as filing their accounts and they will still be allowed to undertake those statutory duties whilst they are being furloughed so that would not count as doing work. So one of the key conditions of the furlough scheme is that the employee is not allowed to work for the employer, but if you are the owner-manager and you do have statutory duties then you can continue to undertake those duties while being on furlough.

This position is not included on HMRC’s website.

Three days after the above statement ICAEW stated:

We are awaiting full details of how the scheme will operate from HMRC, including for directors paid via PAYE but not receiving a consistent, regular monthly salary. We understand the intention of the scheme is to include those on irregular earnings, but full details on how the amount of the grant will be calculated for these individuals have yet to be released.

As with other businesses, such directors would need to have been on the payroll on 28 February 2020 and they cannot work while they are on furlough leave. We do not yet know the extent to which minor directorial duties would be disregarded, or whether the requirement that a furloughed employee should do ‘no work’ would prohibit this.

It is ICAEW’s view that in such times as we find ourselves, a pragmatic view should be taken.

Forbes Dawson view

HMRC guidance is clearly urgently needed here. It would be useful if they could specifically confirm that directors can be furloughed and also what work can be performed without breaching the rules. It is unrealistic to expect shareholders to do nothing to safeguard the future of their businesses during any ‘downtime’. In any event, if we accept that it is extremely unlikely that dividends will be included in any arrangement, then CJRS will be of little help to most directors who tend to take most remuneration in the form of dividends. Currently shareholder directors do seem to be the ‘forgotten victims’ of this crisis. In the Appendix below I include an exchange between a local golf pro and his MP. This kind of correspondence is taking place up and down the country…………………

 

Appendix – Letter from golf pro to MP and response

Letter

From: Golf pro
Sent: 29 March 2020 22:12
To: Office of Graham Brady
Subject: Micro Limited Company

Sir Graham Brady MP

Dear Sir Graham,

Re; micro Limited Company’s CV 19 help

I hope that you’re well.

Are the government seriously not intending to help Micro Limited Company’s with sole Director’s ?

If so this is an outrage and will lead to serious hardship for many families and flies in the face of business halting to prevent the spread of CV 19.

The government should reconsider their position on this and shape policy in line with employed workers and sole traders. Furlough put simply doesn’t work for Limited Companies with sole Directors.

Many accountants have advised their clients to setup as Limited Companies for a whole host of reasons but mainly to facilitate trade which the Tory party should be encouraging.

I’m a golf coach and my work is seasonal. CV 19 has devastated my business this year and leaves me worried about financial commitments and providing for my family.

I can’t operate my coaching business because of the coronavirus and my workplace was forced to close on 23/3/2020and the business has been affected since the start of March with many cancellations. Business is likely to be frustrated until at least Autumn and possibly longer.

To compound this the government really haven’t helped people in my position with micro limited company’s as sole director’s and especially in comparison to sole trader positions.

I understand that the only current option is to Furlough myself at £575.00 pm.

This amount doesn’t get close to my outgoings.

The government must step up and support Limited Company’s and I’d appreciate any leverage that you have and I sincerely hope that you can help in this matter.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Many thanks in anticipation.

Regards,

Golf pro

Response

Dear [Golf pro],

I am sorry to hear about how this is affecting you. I of course sympathise with your points. Several other constituents in the same situation have been in touch about this particular issue.

I have raised the point directly with Treasury and will continue to do so. I know there are many others making the same case.

If I can be of assistance in any other regard, for instance in relation to the other support available, do not hesitate to contact me further.

Yours sincerely,

Sir Graham Brady MP

Regards

Working from home – ensuring employees stay mentally strong

With the Government recommending those that can, work from home, it is important to note that for some people it’s not the perfect set up.

There is the obvious advantage of no commuting and technology means we can have more autonomy over our time but for some people we will need to monitor their mental health. Put simply working from home doesn’t work for everyone.

For some people, working from home can put their mental health at risk, causing feelings of isolation and disconnection and the feedback and encouragement they receive form their fellow workers in the office can be critical to their productivity.

Working remotely may create a pressure “to appear busy” or to be online throughout the working day. This can cause stress.

So, what do the experts recommend?

Working from home is a new phenomenon for many accountants, so issue guidance and be relaxed about the results in the first week or so as people find their way.

Suggested guidance for accountants:

• Guidance will firstly be about technology and then setting the parameters that it’s OK to work in the morning and take a couple of hours out.
• Let people know they should set up a “work zone or space” and not the sofa!
• Encourage “self- care time” for meditation or exercise. One firm we know does a group video meeting with a personal trainer 3 times a week for basic fitness (let’s be honest we are all different shapes and sizes!).
• Hold a team Skype, GoToMeeting, Facebook Messenger call or other group telephone call for 20 minutes each morning at 9.00am. Seeing your co-workers is a boost and just to know “you are all in it together” helps.
• Encourage a down time of between 12 and 2 and no work after 5.
• Recommend no emails before 12 so people can get their heads down and do the processing or preparation of returns and accounts they are hired for.
• If you are not paperless then allocate someone to fetch and carry files to employee’s home addresses.
• Go paperless for all working papers (email 2020 if you need guidance).
• Let people come into the office alone if they need a day away from home.
• Send your people fruit and deliveries of “goodies” from time to time.

COVID-19 Key Government Webites

Below are some key Government websites where you can access the latest information:

Government action plan 

Guidance on social distancing and stay at home

Travel advice

Support for businesses

Tax helpline to support businesses who are concerned about paying their taxes

Guide for employees, employers and businesses

Budget 2020: tax-related documents

NHS Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Available support for businesses during COVID-19

Support for businesses that are paying sick pay to employees:

The Government has announced legislation to allow small and medium-sized to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19. The eligibility criteria for the scheme are:

• this refund will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of COVID-19
• employers with fewer than 250 employees as of 28 February 2020
• employers will be able to reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP as a result of COVID-19
• employers should maintain records of staff absences and payments of SSP, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note

Support for businesses that pay business rates

There will be a business rates retail holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year.

Businesses that received the retail discount in the 2019 to 2020 tax year will be rebilled by their local authority as soon as possible.

A £25,000 grant will be provided to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses operating from smaller premises, with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000.

Any enquiries on eligibility for, or provision of, the reliefs should be directed to the relevant local authority.

Support for businesses that pay little or no business rates

Additional funding for local authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief (SBRR) has been announced by the Government.
This will provide a one-off grant of £10,000 to businesses currently eligible for SBRR or rural rate relief, to help meet their ongoing business costs.

If your business is eligible for SBRR or rural rate relief, you will be contacted by your local authority – you do not need to apply.

Support for businesses through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

A new temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank, will launch to support businesses’ access to bank lending and overdrafts. The government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan (subject to a per-lender cap on claims) to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to SMEs. The government will not charge businesses or banks for this guarantee, and the Scheme will support loans of up to £5 million in value. Businesses can access the first 6 months of that finance interest free, as government will cover the first 6 months of interest payments.

Support for businesses paying tax

All businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time to Pay service. These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities.

To support businesses further, VAT payments have been deferred from 20th March 2020 to 30th June 2020. This is an automatic offer with no applications needed. Any accumulated liabilities will need to be paid by the end of the 2020/21 tax year being 5th April 2021.

For income tax self assessment payments due on 31st July 2020, these have been deferred until 31st January 2021. Again this is an automatic offer with no applications. No penalties or interest will be applied during the deferral period.

If you are concerned about being able to pay your tax due to COVID-19, call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559. We can help you to arrange a Time to Pay agreement.

Different Types of Business Structures

Your business might go through a variety of structures over its lifetime so it’s always helpful to know what different options there are and what implications they can have.

Types of business structure

The most common types you’ll probably know of are sole trader, partnership or company. But there is more than one type of partnership and company to consider.

Sole trader

A sole trader is a single business owner selling a product or service. However, they can still employ people and use subcontractors. This type of structure is the simplest and involves the least amount of administration work.

You must still keep accounting records and meet your legal obligations. Sole traders are personally liable for any debts of the business. Rather than paying corporation tax, sole traders pay tax on the profits of the business and this is reported through self assessment.

Partnerships

Similar to a sole trader but there must be at least two of you. It’s highly recommended that you have a written agreement between all of the partners.

Partners of a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) have a reduced financial liability. This structure is popular with property businesses and professional services.

Limited company

Unlike sole traders or partnerships, limited companies are separate legal entities meaning you’re not personally liable for its debts.

You need to consider which type of company is right for you:

  • Company limited by guarantee
  • Company limited by shares
  • Community interest company
  • Public limited company

To give a brief overview, a company limited by guarantee is the smallest company structure and is usually chosen by not-for-profit organisations. Members are usually the directors and it can be easier to change personnel as one director leaving does not majorly change the shape of the company.

Shareholders of a company limited by shares are liable for the company’s debts up to the amount they each have invested. Unlike a PLC, this type of structure gives the owners more control over who has the shares and thus controls the company.

A community interest company is not set up for private profit so you’re unable to take funds out via shares or dividends. However, it can still pay salaries and reinvest its profits back into the business.

A public limited company has shares which are publicly traded and sold. The business needs to be reasonably successful to go down this route as a minimum of 50,000 in share capital is required.

Notifying authorities & paying taxes

Sole traders and partnerships report to HMRC using tax returns whereas companies must also report to Companies House.

Regardless of the size of the company, annual accounts, corporation tax returns and confirmation statements must all be filed. Corporation tax currently stands at 19% of taxable profits. If you’re an employee as well as a director, you’ll have the usual employment taxes to report as well.

If you sell your shares in the company, you may be liable for capital gains tax. However if conditions are met, you can qualify for entrepreneur’s relief thus reducing any capital gains tax liability.

VAT however is based on the annual taxable turnover rather than the legal structure of the business. So if you’re a sole trader, partnership or company and your turnover surpasses £85,000 the business is legally obligated to register for VAT.

Contact us

If you’d like some advice on business structure personalised to your requirements, call us on 01254 583515 or fill out the form below to arrange a free, no obligation initial appointment.

Low-Risk Ways To Start A Business

Methods To Overcome Uncertainty

So you’ve got a business idea and you think it might be a good one. But just as you’ve geared yourself up, all kinds of worries start to creep in.

Whether you’re starting from scratch or adding a new string to your bow, there are things you can do to set up your new venture whilst reducing some of the risks and stress.

Testing The Water

Have you considered trading temporarily like over a certain season or on a short term deal? It’s easier than ever these days to hire space on a pop-up basis. Speak to your local council or manager of the local shopping mall to see what’s available. Though it might not be your dream premises, 6 months trading in a temporary place could provide well needed word of mouth, brand recognition and positive reviews.

Events, fairs and festivals can offer a large number of potential customers over a short period of time, and give you lots of valued feedback on how your product or service is received.

Depending on your new business plan, and providing you have the space, you may be able to work from home. For client meetings, you can consider renting hotdesking space also.

Collaborate and Communicate

Could you work effectively with another business to minimise risks? Does an existing business have unused office space that they could sublet? As well as cutting costs, this can give you access to valuable business partners and customers.

As long as you’re not competing with your new contacts, there are lots of ways you can work together effectively.

It’s easy and free to use social media and lots of customers like that they can directly contact the business owner. Lots of website providers offer low cost options for business websites, whether you’re selling online or just need an online brochure. But don’t forget the traditional media, there are still plenty of local newspapers and community publications for you to make good use of.

Don’t Forget Your Own Time

It’s really important that you think everything through before you jump in. Work out your start up costs, running costs and how many hours or sales you need to cover those costs. Your time is a cost too so don’t forget to factor this in.

Every new business will take a little while to pay off, but be clear about when this should happen and what’s reasonable for you to sustain.

How Can We Help

Egan Roberts have specialised in acting for start up businesses for over 30 years. We can help and assist you with every aspect from putting together your business plan to making sure your books are kept up to date and filing all necessary returns. Call us on 01254 583515 or complete the contact form below.

Preparing For Self-Assessment

How Can We Help

If you want to take the stress out of completing your return, make sure you meet the deadline and ensure you’ve claimed all the reliefs you’re entitled to; then let us complete your return for you. Call us on 01254 583515 or complete the contact form below.

Don’t leave it until the last minute

With only two months left until the 31 January deadline for online returns, self assessment is very much on our minds!

There’s an added urgency this year due to Brexit. As present, the UK is scheduled to leave the EU on the same date as the self assessment deadline, which could cause some added problems for HMRC.

Exactly 2,616 people filed their returns on 25 December 2018 and according to HMRC a whopping 735,258 returns were submitted on the deadline day 31 January 2019. Don’t spend your Christmas thinking about your tax return, get it out of the way before then.

The Side Hustle

Whether it’s renting property, freelance work, driving a taxi or selling online, lots of British people are now finding ways to boost their income in addition to their day jobs.

To keep things as simple as possible, a £1,000 trading allowance has been introduced for ‘micro-entrepreneurs’ who make a small amount of income through trading. There’s a similar allowance for individuals making less than £1,000 per year from property. However, these allowances are for those who aren’t otherwise engaged in business so there are some restrictions on who can claim.

Deadlines and Penalties

Remember, if you don’t file by midnight on 31 January, you’ll immediately be issued with a £100 fixed penalty. This applies even if the reason you didn’t file your return was because you thought there was no tax to pay.

After 3 months with no return, the penalties increase to £10 for each day after that second deadline up to a maximum of £900. After 6 months, then 12 months, additional charges of 5% of the tax outstanding or £300, whichever is greater, are applied. There are also penalties in place for late payments of tax.

Last year 731,186 tax payers missed the deadline on 31 January 2019. This equates to a scary £73 million in instant fixed penalties.

How Can We Help

If you want to take the stress out of completing your return, make sure you meet the deadline and ensure you’ve claimed all the reliefs you’re entitled to; then let us complete your return for you. Call us on 01254 583515 or complete the contact form below.

2018 Budget – Businesses

Whilst there was no immediate change to the current corporation tax rate of 19% there was confirmation of the intention to reduce the rate to Keith Roberts accountant Lancashire 17% from 1 April 2020. Something to look forward to!

For those businesses with significant investment in plant and machinery planned for the next couple of years, there was welcome news with the increase in the Annual Investment Allowance (AIA) to £1m for the two calendar years 2019 and 2020. It might therefore be worth considering delaying some expenditure to the New Year in order to qualify for AIA where your expenditure in 2018 already exceeds the present £200,000 limit.

Do you remember Industrial Buildings Allowances? These were phased out in the late noughties but it seems they have made a come back in the form of a new Structures & Buildings Allowance (SBA) which is introduced at a WDA rate of 2% on new non-residential buildings. This applies not only industrial buildings but also offices and farm buildings. It starts for all construction contracts entered into on or after budget day and is also available to commercial property landlords.

On the down side From April 2019 the plant and machinery that qualifies for special rate allowances will receive relief at 6% rather than 8% currently. This also applies to integral features of buildings.

Finally, for this blog at least, the £3,000 per year employment allowance will in future only apply to those employers with a NIC bill of less than £100,000 in the previous tax year.

Click here to see our full budget report.

For more detail on the contents of the budget click here.

If you have any questions about how the new budget may affect you and your business, please contact us on 01254 583515 or fill in the contact form below.