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From 5th November, our office will be closed to visitors, however it will be possible to drop off your accounts and paperwork securely in our reception porchway. If you have any queries, please email your usual contact in the first instance. Otherwise call the office on 01603 666132. As always, we are here to support you and your business, please do contact us with any questions.
We will keep this page up to date with the latest news, advice, links and contact details during this challenging time. We are here to support you, please do get in touch to discuss your concerns regarding any of these changes.
There are 10 guides covering 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.
18.1.2021 Small firms in line for business interruption insurance pay out - read more
5.1.2021 Businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors are to receive a one-off grant worth up to £9,000
5.1.2021 The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme rules have been updated
17.12.2020 The Furlough Scheme extended until the end of April 2021. Bounce Bacn Loan Scheme, Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme extended to end March 202.
4.12.2020 CJRS Claims for furlough days in November 2020 must be submitted by 14 December 2020. There is a new section on holiday pay updated with clarity on when employees can be furloughed. You can claim before, during or after you process your payroll as long as your claim is submitted by the deadline.
26.11.2020 To claim SEISS To be able to claim for the third grant, you must either:
You must also: -
You must also meet all other eligibility criteria to make a claim. See below.
05.11.2020 The furlough scheme has been extended until the end of March 2021 - anyone made redundant after 23 September can be rehired and put back on furlough. Support through the SEISS will be increased too. The Job Retention Bonus will no longer be paid in February, as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended until the end of March 2021. Further details about the extension are available.
The Chancellor announced one-off top up grants for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses worth up to £9,000 per property to help businesses through to the Spring. In addition there is a £594 million discretionary fund also made available to support other impacted businesses.
The grants will be provided on a per-property basis to support businesses through the latest restrictions, and is expected to benefit over 600,000 business properties, worth £4 billion in total across all nations of the UK.
A further £594 million is also being made available for Local Authorities and the Devolved Administrations to support other businesses not eligible for the grants, that might be affected by the restrictions. Businesses should apply to their Local Authorities.
The one-off top-ups will be granted to closed businesses as follows:
Business support is a devolved policy and therefore the responsibility of the devolved administrations, which will receive additional funding as a result of these announcements in the usual manner:
We will keep you up to date with further details as and when the Governments release information.
For eligibility visit the HMRC website.
It was announced on the 2 November that the government is increasing its support to the self-employed over the coming months and ensuring people get paid faster than previously planned.
To reflect the recent changes to the furlough scheme, the UK-wide Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will be made more generous – with self-employed individuals receiving 80% of their average trading profits for November, up to a maximum of £7,500.
To ensure those who need support get it as soon as possible, payments will also be made more quickly with the claims window being brought forward from 14 December to 30 November.
There will be two grants:
For 3 months 01/11/20 – 31/01/21 at 80% of averaged profits (this is slightly up from the originally announced 55% level) -
This grant will cover a 3 month period from 1 November 2020 until 31 January 2021. The Government will provide a taxable grant calculated at 80% of 3 months average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment and capped at £7,500 in total. This is an increase from the previously announced amount of 55%.
For 3 months 01/02/21 – 30/04/21 amounts to be announced in due course
The Government has already announced that there will be a fourth grant covering February 2021 to April 2021. The Government will set out further details, including the level, of the fourth grant in due course.
The online claim process will be opened from 30/11/20, and HMRC are expected to contact taxpayers as they did for SEISS #1 & #2.
Both grants will be paid in lump sum instalments and are taxable income and also subject to National Insurance contributions.
To be eligible for the third Grant you must either:
You must also:
You must also meet all other eligibility criteria to make a claim.
HMRC states that it expects SEISS claimants to make an honest assessment about whether they reasonably believe their businesses will have a significant reduction in profits. Visit the HMC website for help.
The third grant for SEISS is now open. To make a claim for the grant, your business must have been impacted by coronavirus on or after 1 November 2020. You can make a claim for the third grant if you are eligible, even if you did not make a claim for the first or second.
You will need your:
You may also need to answer questions about your passport, driving licence or information held on your credit file.
You must make your claim between 30 November 2020 and 29 January 2021 using the government website below.
Please talk to us about making a SEISS claim, we can work through your figures and make an accurate estimate of what you should expect.
There will be two grants:
For 3 months 01/11/20 – 31/01/21 at 55% of averaged profits (this is slightly up from the originally announced 40% level)
For 3 months 01/02/21 – 30/04/21 amounts to be announced in due course
5.1.2021 - In view of the national lockdown the Government has released Information about employees unable to work because they have caring responsibilities.
Claims for furlough days in November 2020 must be submitted by 14 December 2020. This is a tight deadline, so it is important we work together to get any claims submitted promptly.
Following the announcement by the Prime Minister on the 17 December the CJRS has been extended until 30 April 2021.
The Grant will ensure employees receive 80% of their current salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500.
Businesses will have flexibility to bring furloughed employees back to work on a part time basis or furlough them full-time, employers will be asked to cover National Insurance and employer pension contributions.
As with the current CJRS, employers are still able to choose to top up employee wages above the scheme grant at their own expense if they wish.
The Government will confirm shortly when claims can first be made in respect of employee wage costs during November, but there will be no gap in eligibility for support between the previously announced end-date of CJRS and this extension.
The JSS, which was scheduled to come in on Sunday 1st November, has been postponed until the furlough scheme ends.
All employers with a UK bank account and UK PAYE schemes can claim the grant. Neither the employer nor the employee needs to have previously used the CJRS.
The government expects that publicly funded organisations will not use the scheme, as has already been the case for CJRS, but partially publicly funded organisations may be eligible where their private revenues have been disrupted. All other eligibility requirements apply to these employers.
As under the current CJRS rules:
Check if your employees are eligible for the scheme, based on the information above.
Agree working hours with your employees, so they know if they are furloughed fully or part-time during November.
Keep the records that support the amount of CJRS grant you claim, in case HMRC need to check it. You can view, print or download copies of your previously submitted claims by logging onto your CJRS service on GOV.UK.
Mortgage payment holidays will no longer end 31 October. Borrowers who have been impacted by coronavirus and have not yet had a mortgage payment holiday will be entitled to a six month holiday, and those that have already started a mortgage payment holiday will be able to top up to six months without this being recorded on their credit file.
The FCA will announce further information and we will update you when we have seen it.
More businesses will also be able to benefit from government loan schemes which have been extended to the end of March 2021, while firms can ‘top up’ existing Bounce Back Loans should they need additional finance.
Business Interruption Loans will have their government guarantee extended up to ten years, allowing lenders to give people more time to repay, while the deadline for all loan schemes will be pushed back until 31 March 2021.
A new successor loan guarantee programme will also be rolled out in January.
This scheme supports SMEs with access to working capital (including loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance) of up to £5 million in value and for up to 10 years.
The government will pay to cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any lender-levied fees, so smaller businesses will not face any upfront costs and will benefit from lower initial repayments.
If you need help securing the finance to keep your business afloat please talk to us about the Government support available to you.
This scheme is open for applications. To apply, you should talk to your bank or one of the 40 accredited finance providers (not the British Business Bank) as soon as possible, to discuss your business plan. You can find out the latest on the best ways to contact them via their websites.
All major banks are offering this scheme. If you have an existing loan with monthly repayments you may want to ask for a repayment holiday to help with cash flow.
The full rules of the scheme and the list of accredited lenders are available on the British Business Bank website.
The Local Restrictions Support Grant (LRSG (Open)) supports businesses that have been severely impacted due to temporary local restrictions.
Eligible businesses may be entitled to a cash grant from their local council for each 28-day period under local restrictions.
Local councils have the discretion to provide grant funding for businesses under this scheme. They will use their discretion in identifying the right businesses to receive this funding, based on their application process.
Your business may be eligible if it:
Local councils have the freedom to determine the precise eligibility criteria for these grants. However, we expect the funding to be targeted at hospitality, hotel, bed & breakfast and leisure businesses.
The grant will be based on the rateable value of the property on the date of the start of the local restrictions. We anticipate local councils will provide funding under the following tiers unless there is a local need to deviate.
If your business has a property with a rateable value of £15,000 or less, you may be eligible for a cash grant of up to £934 for each 28-day period.
If your business has a property with a rateable value over £15,000 and less than £51,000, you may be eligible for a cash grant of up to £1,400 for each 28-day period.
If your business has a property with a rateable value of £51,000 or above, you may be eligible for a cash grant of up to £2,100 for each 28-day period.
The Local Restrictions Support Grant (LRSG (Closed)) supports businesses that have been required to close due to temporary local restrictions.
Businesses that were open as usual and were then required to close due to local restrictions (local COVID alert level: Very High) may be eligible for LRSG (Closed).
Eligible businesses are entitled to a cash grant from their local council for each 14 day period they are closed.
Your business may be eligible if it:
For example, this could include non-essential retail and personal services that operate primarily as an in-person venue, but which have been forced to close those services and provide a takeaway-only service instead.
Eligible businesses can get one grant for each non-domestic property within the restriction area.
The precise set of businesses eligible for the scheme may vary between each local council area under local restrictions in recognition of the specific conditions in each area.
The grant will be based on the rateable value of the property on the first full day of local restrictions.
If your business has a property with a rateable value of £15,000 or less, you may be eligible for a cash grant of £667 for each 14-day period your business is closed.
If your business has a property with a rateable value over £15,000 and less than £51,000, you may be eligible for a cash grant of £1,000 for each 14-day period your business is closed.
If your business has a property with a rateable value of £51,000 or above, you may be eligible for a cash grant of £1,500 for each 14-day period your business is closed.
The grant will be extended to cover each additional 14-day period of closure. If your business is closed for 28-days, or 2 payment cycles, it will receive £1,334, £2,000 or £3,000, depending on the rateable value of the property.
The Chancellor is introducing 'Pay as You Grow'. Loans can be extended from six to ten years and this will nearly halve the average monthly repayment, he claims.
Struggling firms can choose to make interest-only repayments and anyone can also apply to suspend repayments for up to six months and payment holidays will also be available. No companies taking the scheme up will see their credit ratings affected.
Described as a ‘simple solution for those in need of smaller loans’, the microloans could be in a firm's bank account within a day and no capital or interest repayments will be due for a year.
The scheme will require a two-page, self-certification form to be completed online. Firms applying for the new microloans will only have to prove they were viable in the past before the crisis.
HMRC has issued guidance on paying deferred VAT.
If you deferred VAT between 20 March and 30 June 2020 and still have payments to make, you can:
If you want to opt into the new payment scheme:
You cannot opt in yet. The online opt in process will be available in early 2021. You must opt in yourself. We cannot do this for you.
Instead of paying the full amount by the end of March 2021, you can make up to 11 smaller monthly instalments, interest free. All instalments must be paid by the end of March 2022.
The scheme will allow you to:
To use this scheme you must:
If you opt into the scheme, you can still have a time to pay arrangement for other HMRC debts and outstanding tax.
Get ready to opt into the new payment scheme:
Before opting in you must:
You should also:
Please talk to us about helping you with your options.
For more information see Pay your deferred VAT bill.
Any of the self assessed income taxpayers who need extra help can extend their outstanding tax bill over 12 months from next January. The 'Time to Pay' self service facility means payments deferred from July 2020, and those due in January 2021, will now not need to be paid until January 2022.
Deferring Second Payment?
You had the option to defer your second payment on account if you were:
You can still pay your deferred July 2020 payment on account any time up to 31 January 2021. There will be no interest or penalty as long as you pay in full by that date.
If you’re self-employed, Income Tax payments due in July 2020 under the Self-Assessment system will be deferred to 31 January 2022. Customers who normally pay by direct debit should cancel their direct debit if they are unable to pay, via online banking or contact your bank. Please do so in sufficient time so that HMRC do not attempt to automatically collect on receipt of your VAT return.
This is an automatic offer and will not require an application. Penalties and interest for late payment will not be charged in the deferral period. The deferment is optional and any persons still able to pay their self-assessment payments should still do so.
Self assessment returns should still be filed by their due date and it may be advantageous to file the 2019/20 return as soon as possible after 5 April 2020. This might facilitate planning for the tax payment due in January 2021 and perhaps crystallise any refund due, including as a result of any loss relief available.
Business rates holiday - Business rate holidays have been introduced for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year. You do not need to do anything. If you are eligible, your local council will apply the discount automatically.
Cash grants - The Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund provides businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a cash grant of up to £25,000 per property. For businesses in these sectors with a rateable value of under £15,000, may be eligible to receive a grant of £10,000. For businesses in these sectors with a rateable value of between £15,001 and £51,000, may be eligible to receive a grant of £25,000.
From 15 July until March 2021, the UK government has cut VAT from 20% to 5% for the Hospitality and Tourism sectors. This is applicable to any eat-in or hot takeaway food and drinks from restaurants, cafes and pubs, excluding alcohol. It also applies to all holiday accommodation in hotels, B&Bs, campsites and caravan sites, as well as admission to attractions like cinemas, theme parks and zoos.
New flat rate percentages from 15 July until 31 March 2021 have been announced, which include:
If you supply food and non-alcoholic beverages for consumption on your premises, for example, a restaurant, café or pub, you’re currently required to charge VAT at the standard rate of 20%. However, when you make these supplies between 15 July 2020 and 31 March 2021 you will only need to charge 5%.
You will also be able to charge the reduced rate of VAT on your supplies of hot takeaway food and hot takeaway non-alcoholic drinks.
More information about how these changes apply to your business can be found in Catering, takeaway food (VAT Notice 709/1).
You will also benefit from the temporary reduced rate if you:
More information about how these changes apply to your business can be found in Hotels and holiday accommodation (VAT Notice 709/3).
In England and Northern Ireland – increasing the threshold under which no SDLT is paid on the purchase of a main home from £125,000 to £500,000, with immediate effect until 31 March 2021.
If you have any questions, we are here to help.
Unfortunately, it is inevitable that some companies as a result of Covid-19 may struggle to survive. There are also important knock on effects to be aware of, concerning dividends becoming unlawful payments made by your company and this is an issue that all small company director/shareholders need to be aware of where their company does not have significant cash reserves.
It is normal practice for SME business Director/Shareholders to receive a small salary via PAYE, and the rest of company withdrawals as dividend payments. In normal circumstances where companies are generating regular income and profits this is not an issue. However Covid-19 impacting companies’ capability to continue as going concerns may mean that income and profits dry up and the amount of reserves the company has from which dividends can be legally paid diminishes too.
If there is no company profit or very little left during this pandemic, you should be very cautious regarding making dividends payments unless you know historically from its latest accounts the company has large realised reserves and/or there is a decent amount of funds still in the company’s bank account when the dividend is paid. When considering dividends the legal points are these:-
What you want to avoid is the situation whereby when the next set of accounts are prepared, it turns out there were not sufficient profits after tax or reserves from which dividends could legally be paid. In that situation you will end up with a Director’s loan which has tax consequences for the company and needs to be paid back to the company. The ultimate “worst case scenario” is where a company goes under with an amount owed by the Director to it by way of loan. Any administrator, receiver or liquidator who gets involved at that stage will look to the Director/Shareholders to physically pay the money back to the company before any winding up goes ahead and that can be a painful process.
Please speak to us ahead of paying large dividends in the current environment, or of course if there are cashflow issues in the company at present and long term viability is becoming an issue.
The Financial Secretary to the Treasury has announced that organisations reimbursing staff for equipment purchases enabling them to work from home during the coronavirus pandemic will not have to pay tax. This could include internet access, computer equipment, office furniture etc. Under the normal procedure, employers have to account for tax and NIC on reimbursed expenses of this type via a PAYE settlement agreement.
The government is introducing a year-long exemption that means employers will not have to pay tax or national insurance contributions (NIC) on reimbursement of employees' personal expenditure on home office equipment purchased to enable them to work from home during COVID-19. The Regulations will have effect from 16 March 2020 until 5 April 2021.
To be eligible qualify for the exemption, the expenditure must meet both the following conditions:
With incomes likely to be significantly lower for many in the current tax year, the impact of the High Income Child Benefit tax charge will be reduced proportionately as earnings drop below £60,000. (For every £100 earned above £50,000, 1% of the child benefit received is effectively withdrawn through the charge.) If the higher paid parent's earnings drop below £50,000 full entitlement for the 20/21 tax year equates to £21.05 a week for the 1st child and £13.95 a week per child for all subsequent children under 16.
If you believe that your income is likely to be affected, then you can contact the Child Benefit helpline on 0300 200 3100 (8am-4pm) to ask them to reinstate your claim (Have your National Insurance ready). Alternatively visit https://www.gov.uk/child-benefit-tax-charge/restart-child-benefit. The claim can be backdated for up to 3 months, and so you should act as soon as possible, to avoid missing out for part of the tax year.
Please get in touch with your usual Argents contact if you would like to discuss your entitlement and the tax charge any further.
The Government is to extend planning permission deadlines, saving construction projects’ permissions from expiring and introduce flexible working hours on construction sites to support social distancing, helping people return to work safely.
There are new changes to speed up the pace of the planning appeal process too.
Planning permission usually expires after three years if work has not started onsite. Sites with consent that have an expiry date between the start of lockdown and the end of this year will now see their consent extended to 1 April 2021. This will prevent work that has been temporarily disrupted by the pandemic from stopping altogether.
New measures will also permanently grant the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) the ability to use more than one procedure - written representations, hearings and inquiries - at the same time when dealing with a planning appeal, enabling appeals to happen much faster.
Last year a pilot programme tested this approach and implemented recommendations of the Rosewell Review, which more than halved the time taken for appeal inquiries, from 47 weeks to 23 weeks.
This will also help builders to agree more flexible construction site working hours with their local council for a temporary period. This will make it easier to follow public health guidance onsite and by staggering builders’ arrival times, public transport will be less busy, and the risk of infection will be reduced.
If you are notifying HMRC of a decision to opt to tax land and buildings, you are normally required to notify them within 30 days by either:
Social distancing in response to coronavirus has made these rules challenging to follow. HMRC have temporarily changed the rules to help businesses and agents.
HMRC have temporarily extended the time limit to 90 days from the date the decision to opt was made. This applies to decisions made between 15 February and 31 October 2020.
You can email notifications to firstname.lastname@example.org.
As always, please let us know if you wish to discuss any of the above with us.
This draft guidance sets out further detail on the proposed new route for applicants seeking to extend construction site working hours introduced in the Business and Planning Bill.
The aim of the new temporary fast track deemed consent route under section 74B of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 is to enable urgent changes to construction working hours to support safe construction working in line with the government’s latest social distancing guidance on construction and other outdoor work. For many construction sites, implementation of this guidance will require changes to working practices, including staggered starts and finishes, requiring different hours of operation to those which are currently permitted for the site through planning conditions. For further information click here.