Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

100 towns to share 80 million pounds

Tuesday, September 29th, 2020

Over 100 towns in England will be given up to £1 million to kick start regeneration projects and give areas a boost.

This funding, which ranges from £500,000 up to £1 million per town, will be used to support projects that will make a difference to the area, such as new green spaces, the creation of pop-up businesses spaces, pedestrianizing streets to encourage walking or cycling and creating of new community hubs to support those living alone.

Projects such as Burton on Trent’s High Street regeneration, for which the town has been awarded £750,000, will see improvements to make the high street a more pleasant place to visit with new bus access and cycle lanes so the public can more easily visit.

In Newcastle-under-Lyme, the £1 million funding will boost the town’s regeneration plans, helping to demolish unloved buildings to make way for a new chapter in the town’s history.

This investment will give areas in all corners of England the opportunity to drive economic growth and improve prospects for their communities, which will be vital as the country continues to respond to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. These funds are part of the overall £3.6 billion Towns Fund money allocated – with this initial pot shared out now to get some projects off the ground and give local areas the boost they need.

All 101 towns selected to work towards a Town Deal were given a funding allocation with proposals submitted to the MCHLG in August, before being reviewed by officials and a final decision made by ministers.

Town Deals build directly on the government’s commitment to decentralising funding and decisions away from Whitehall and investing in the growth of local economies and devolving powers through ambitious City and Growth Deals, providing more than £9 billion of funding to Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and introducing 8 metro mayors in England.

A list of the towns who will benefit from this funding can be accessed here. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/5d722667e5274a09881c0c58/list-of-100-places.pdf

Contact details or else…

Friday, September 25th, 2020

Hospitality trades are now mandated to collect the contact details of customers. Which logically assumes that if a customer refuses to provide this information they must be turned away?

The contact details required include:

  • name
  • contact number
  • date of visit
  • arrival time
  • departure time, if possible

All collected data must comply with GDPR and will not be kept for longer than necessary.

Data collection should be as straightforward as possible for organisations. Each organisation will have the freedom to collect the data in a way that best suits them, either using an existing system or finding a new solution. This method will vary from sector to sector, and we will continue to engage with organisations to consider what additional support or guidance may be needed.

[See our further post today Are you ready for the COVID-19 app?]

Contact details will only be shared with NHS Test and Trace if it is requested. This will usually be because the venue has been identified as the location of a potential local outbreak of COVID-19. If this is the case, the NHS Test and Trace service will work closely with any affected establishments to take appropriate action.

Businesses should continue to follow the government’s comprehensive workplace guidance with practical steps employers should take to make workplaces COVID-secure and ensure employees feel safe in their place of work.

Venues must also keep a record of all staff working on the premises on a given day and their contact details.

These will be stored for 21 days and shared with NHS Test and Trace, if requested.

The new Winter Economy Plan

Friday, September 25th, 2020

Job Support Scheme

  • A new 6-month scheme starting from 1 November 2020.
  • This scheme has been designed to support viable jobs and employees must work at least one-third of their hours, paid as normal, in order to qualify for the scheme. The government and employer will then each cover one-third of any remaining hours the employee is not working.
  • Employees will therefore forego one-third of their pay for the hours that they have not been working. This means that employees working the minimum one-third of their hours will still receive at least 77% of their pay.
  • The level of the grant will be calculated based on an employee’s usual salary but subject to a cap.
  • The Chancellor said that the scheme will be open to all small and medium-sized businesses, but larger businesses will only qualify when their turnover has fallen as a result of the pandemic.
  • You can still use this scheme even if you have not previously participated in the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
  • The previously announced Job Retention Bonus, allowing qualifying businesses to claim a £1,000 for each CJRS participating employee, will remain. Employers can claim both the Job Retention Bonus and funding through the Job Support Scheme.

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme extension

  • The Chancellor announced additional help for the self-employed based on similar terms and conditions as the new Jobs Support Scheme.
  • The extended scheme will apply for 6 months from 1 November 2020 with an initial taxable grant made available to those who continue to trade and are currently eligible for SEISS.
  • The initial lump sum will cover three months of profits from 1 November 2020 calculated as 20% of average monthly profits, up to a total of £1,875.
  • An additional second grant will be available from 1 February 2021 to 30 April 2021, but the level of this second grant amount is subject to review.

 

 

Loan deadlines extended

  • Businesses that have taken out a Bounce Back Loan will be able to benefit from a new Pay As You Grow flexible repayment system.
  • This will include an extension in the loan term from six to ten years. There will also be new options for interest-only repayments for up to six months as well as payment holidays.
  • The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans will also have their Government guarantee extended to ten years.
  • The deadline for applying for all the Government’s coronavirus loan schemes will be standardised and pushed back until 30 November 2020.
  • A new successor loan guarantee programme is also expected to be introduced early next year.

New VAT Payment Scheme

  • Businesses had the option to defer the payment of any VAT liabilities due between 20 March 2020 and 30 June 2020.
  • The deferred payment was due to be paid in full to HMRC by 31 March 2021.
  • The Chancellor has now confirmed that businesses will instead be able to make 11 smaller interest-free payments during the 2021-22 financial year.

Self-Assessment payment deadlines

  • Taxpayers that were due to make their second payment on account for the 2019-20 tax year had the option to have the payment due date deferred until 31 January 2021.
  • It will now be possible to benefit from a separate additional 12-month extension from HMRC on the “Time to Pay” self-service facility for this payment and also for payments due in January 2021 extending the deadline until January 2022.

VAT reduction for hospitality and tourism sector

  • The VAT reduction that was announced as part of the Summer Economic update was scheduled to end on 12th January 2021.
  • The end date for the VAT cut has now been extended until 31 March 2021 to give the affected sectors more time to adjust to the difficult trading conditions. This means that VAT charged on food, accommodation and attractions (such as eat-in or takeaway food in restaurants, cafes and pubs, cinemas, theme parks and zoos) will see VAT reduced from 20% to 5% until the end of March 2021.

 

The new incentives announced today should be welcomed as the government continues to try and cope with this unprecedented pandemic. Managing the economic ramifications are causing great difficulties for many people and businesses across the country. These steps, at least, give affected businesses and individuals a degree of certainty as to the level of government assistance available to them throughout the coming months.

As more details emerge on the various schemes announced today we will update you further.

Are you ready for NHS COVID-19 app?

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2020

Pubs, restaurants, hairdressers, cinemas and other venues across England and Wales are being urged to download QR codes to prepare for public rollout of new app.

  • The NHS COVID-19 app is currently being trialled and will launch on Thursday 24 September in England and Wales, including QR check-in at venues
  • QR codes will be an important way for NHS Test and Trace in England and NHS Test, Trace, Protect in Wales to contact multiple people if coronavirus outbreaks are identified in venues

 

Businesses across England and Wales like pubs, restaurants, hairdressers and cinemas are being urged to ensure they have NHS QR code posters visible on entry so customers who have downloaded the new NHS COVID-19 app can use their smartphones to easily check-in.

The move comes ahead of a national launch of the NHS COVID-19 app across England and Wales on Thursday 24 September.

The government will be supporting businesses and venues to display the QR codes, which can be downloaded via a website to display as posters in premises.

Following the launch of the new COVID-19 app, customers and visitors in England will be able to check-in on entry with their phone instead of filling out a check-in book or tool specific to a business. This will allow NHS Test and Trace to contact customers with public health advice should there be a COVID-19 outbreak.

In England, using QR codes will help businesses meet the new legal requirement to record the contact details of customers, visitors and staff on their premises.

With coronavirus cases rising in the UK in the last few weeks it is essential businesses capitalise on the benefits QR codes can bring to protect themselves and their customers.

Travel corridors

Thursday, September 17th, 2020

It is almost impossible to keep up with changes to overseas territories that require us to self-isolate when returning to the UK from a holiday or business trip.

The government have coined the phrase “travel corridor” to provide a focus for countries that are considered COVID hot spots – and therefore exempt or removed from the safe travel corridor list.

Up-to-date information on these shifts in guidance can be accessed in detail from the GOV.UK website at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-travel-corridors.

Well worth book-marking this URL if you are travelling abroad and returning to England.

This page only applies to overseas adventurers returning to England, other regions of the UK may have different restrictions in place.

These restrictions apply even if you only made a transit stop in an affected area. A transit stop is defined as:

A stop where passengers can get on or off. It can apply to coaches, ferries, trains or flights. Your ticket should show if a stop is a transit stop.

If your journey involves a transit stop in a country, territory or region not on the travel corridor list, you will need to self-isolate when you arrive in England if:

  • new passengers get on
  • you or other passengers get off the transport you are on and mix with other people, then get on again

You don’t need to self-isolate beyond normal timescales if, during your transit stop in a non-exempt country, territory or region:

  • no new passengers get on
  • no-one on-board gets off and mixes with people outside
  • passengers get off but do not get back on

Travelling abroad in your own car?

One further consideration. You don’t need to self-isolate if you travel through a non-exempt country, territory or region and you don’t stop there. If you do make a stop, you don’t need to self-isolate if:

  • no new people get into the vehicle
  • no-one in the vehicle gets out, mixes with other people, and gets in again

You do need to self-isolate if you make a stop and:

  • new people get into the vehicle, or
  • someone gets out of the vehicle, mixes with other people and gets in again

Obviously, these restrictions rely heavily on the integrity of travellers to be effective…

HMRC put their case

Tuesday, September 15th, 2020

HMRC has been at the forefront of the government’s response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) and the extraordinary challenges being faced by millions of individuals and businesses.

According to HMRC:

The department successfully developed and implemented schemes at unprecedented speed to deliver financial support to more than 12 million employed and self-employed workers via the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme. In addition, it has implemented more than 60 provisional policy changes or easements to help respond to the impact of coronavirus.

The operational priority has been to deliver the government support that aims to protect people’s livelihoods and help businesses get through this difficult time financially. Now the department is seeking to build on what it has learned during the pandemic about large scale delivery and the citizens and businesses it serves as the country emerges from the pandemic. The IT which underpinned the coronavirus support schemes was designed, built and delivered from kitchen tables and spare bedrooms; busy customer service staff answered queries remotely from their own homes for the first time; and 90% of HMRC’s 60,000 workforce were able to immediately work remotely to help stop the spread of the virus when the country went into lockdown.

Now that the initial government support response to coronavirus is coming to an end – for example, the closing down of the furlough and self-employed support schemes – it will be interesting to see what other support schemes HMRC may be required to create.

Much will depend – not only on the ability of HMRC to deliver – but the Treasury’s willingness to endorse the required government funding for such schemes.

In their closing remarks HMRC concluded:

HMRC’s primary purpose is to collect the money that pays for the UK’s vital public services and pay out the correct financial support to those who are entitled to it, and as we emerge from the pandemic, the department will carry out this vital work in a way that is sensitive to customers’ altered needs and the challenges they face.

Hopefully, this can be interpreted as a tread-lightly approach; much of the UK business sector is already walking on eggshells.

Employer obligations to employees working at home

Thursday, September 10th, 2020

It may surprise many smaller employers with staff working from home that they still have health and safety responsibilities. The following notes published by ACAS should be considered:

Employers should:

  • talk to their employees and workers about how they might improve working from home arrangements
  • continue to consider which roles and tasks can be done from home – this might involve doing things differently and not assuming a role cannot be based at home
  • support employees to adjust to remote working
  • consider individual employees' needs, for example anyone with childcare responsibilities, a long-term health condition or a disability
  • write down the arrangements that have been agreed so everyone's clear

Health and Safety concerns

By law, employers are responsible for the health and safety of all employees, including those working from home.

Employer responsibilities:

During the coronavirus pandemic, it's very unlikely that employers can carry out usual health and safety risk assessments at an employee's home. However, an employer should still check that:

  • each employee feels the work they're being asked to do at home can be done safely
  • employees have the right equipment to work safely
  • managers keep in regular contact with their employees, including making sure they do not feel isolated
  • reasonable adjustments are made for an employee who has a disability

If changes are needed, employers are responsible for making sure they happen.

Employee responsibilities:

Employees also have a responsibility to take reasonable care of their own health and safety.

Anyone working from home should keep in regular contact with their manager. They should also tell their manager about:

  • any health and safety risks
  • any homeworking arrangements that need to change

Clearly, there is more to consider than simply agreeing that an employee can work from home. The concerns discussed in this article are focused on health and safety issues. Employers and employees will also need to consider tax, internet security and other resourcing issues. We may well consider these additional matters in further posts to this blog.

Are taxes on the increase?

Wednesday, September 9th, 2020

There has been the usual political speculation that taxes will be increased in the forthcoming budget to pay for COVID grants and support.

Leaving aside the economic arguments for and against, what planning adjustments can we make now assuming that business taxes will increase?

Corporation tax

It has been rumoured that corporation tax (CT) will be increased from the present 19% to 24%. If implemented this will be a significant increase.

An increase in CT is usually effective from the beginning of the next fiscal year, accordingly, any announcement in the Autumn Budget 2020 is unlikely to apply until 1 April 2021, at the earliest.

If an increase is announced, what sensible planning opportunities could we undertake now to mitigate this rise in company taxation?

The following strategies might be considered:

  1. Advance income streams. If you can organise work-flow to advance the billing and completion of billable projects and supplies before 31 March 2021 – assuming CT rates do not increase until 1 April 2021 – then any profits created by these supplies will be taxed at the lower rate.
  2. Defer revenue expenditure. If you can defer expenditure that you would normally treat as a business cost – without prejudicing your overall business plans – then it makes sense to incur these costs after 1 April 2021, if and when CT rates increase.
  3. Defer capital expenditure. As with the previous tactic, if you can defer capital expenditure on new plant, vehicles or other equipment then it makes sense to incur these costs after 1 April 2021, when you can write off up to 100% of allowable costs and reduce CT liabilities at the higher rate.

Income tax

Increasing income tax (IT) rates is less likely and if this turns out to be the case self-employed and employed persons may have to accommodate minor changes to National Insurance and tax allowances, but no significant changes – if at all – in IT rates.

Taxpayers may experience variations across the UK as IT rates are now set on a regional basis.

 

Capital Gains Tax (CGT)

It has been suggested in the national press the Chancellor is considering alignment of CGT rates with income tax rates. If this change did occur it would have a significant impact on the amount of CGT payable.

As with corporation tax changes, there may be an argument to bring forward disposals subject to CGT to anticipate these changes.

 

Planning is imperative

However, basing tax planning decisions on speculative announcements, especially as these may be motivated by political considerations, is clearly unwise unless there are compelling reasons for doing so.

We all have unique business and personal financial circumstances, and these must considered before undertaking any tax saving strategy. We therefore advise readers to seek professional advice before acting on any matters discussed in this article.

Government support for certain self-isolating cases

Thursday, September 3rd, 2020

Government is to implement a new payment for people on low incomes in areas with high rates of COVID-19, who need to self-isolate and can’t work from home. Payments of up to £182 to be made to people who have tested positive for COVID-19 and their contacts.

The scheme will start in Blackburn, Darwen, Pendle, and Oldham.

People on low incomes who need to self-isolate and are unable to work from home in areas with high incidence of COVID-19 will benefit from this scheme from Tuesday, 1 September.

The initial trial in Blackburn, Darwen, Pendle and Oldham will be undertaken to ensure the process works.

Eligible individuals who test positive with the virus will receive £130 for their 10-day period of self-isolation. Other members of their household, who have to self-isolate for 14 days, will be entitled to a payment of £182.

Non-household contacts advised to self-isolate through NHS Test and Trace will also be entitled to a payment of up to £182, tailored to the individual length of their isolation period.

The new benefit is designed to support people who are unable to work from home while self-isolating, either after testing positive, or after being identified by NHS Test and Trace as living in the same household as – or coming into contact with – someone who has tested positive.

It will be available to people currently receiving either Universal Credit or Working Tax Credit.

If the initial approach is successful, the scheme will be applied in other areas of high COVID-19 incidence.

This will not reduce any other benefits claimants receive. Further payment details published confirm:

  • £130 if an individual has tested positive for coronavirus and has to self-isolate for 10 days (from the point they first developed symptoms).
  • £182 if a member of an individual’s household has tested positive for coronavirus and they are asked to self-isolate for 14 days (from the point the member of their household first developed symptoms).
  • £13 per day (up to a maximum of £182) if an individual is identified as a non-household contact of another person who has tested positive for coronavirus and is asked to self-isolate up until 14 days after they were most recently in contact with the person who tested positive.

To be eligible for the funding, individuals must meet the following criteria:

  • Have tested positive for Covid-19 or received a notification from NHS Test and Trace asking them to self-isolate
  • Have agreed to comply with the notification from NHS Test and Trace and provided contact details to the local authority.
  • Be employed or self-employed. Employed people will be asked to show proof of employment. Self-employed will be required to show evidence of trading income and that their business delivers services which the local authority reasonably judges they are unable to carry out without social contact
  • Be unable to work from home (checks will be undertaken on all applicants) and will lose income a result
  • Be currently receiving Universal Credit or Working Tax Credit

E-commerce eases COVID disruption

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2020

Online sales soared by 800% for London-based start-up, OLLY’S, after losing 40% of its monthly revenue overnight due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

The following was reported on the GOV>UK website recently:

Founded in his parents’ kitchen three years ago, a love of olives inspired Olly Hiscocks to create the world’s first unpasteurised olive snack pouch. He quickly went from selling them at Richmond’s Duck Pond Market to supplying major airlines and over 8,000 global stocking points.

Due to growing demand for nutritional snacks, Olly had just decided to expand his company’s portfolio to include nuts and pretzels when the pandemic hit.

Forced to furlough staff in order to stay afloat, OLLY’S sought advice from the Department for International Trade about sourcing new exporting opportunities to compensate for the loss of business. This resulted in the company pivoting its effort towards e-commerce with impressive results.

Government sources also confirmed that in June 2020, the proportion of retail sales made online in Britain reduced slightly to 31.8%, following the record 33.3% seen in May, up considerably from the 20.0% reported in February.

Food for thought for those contemplating an online sales initiative for their business.