Archive for July, 2020

Employers face difficult choices

Thursday, July 16th, 2020

The furlough scheme has enabled employers to defer decisions about their workforce – who to retain, who to let go – but as from the beginning of August 2020, employers will be obliged to meet the furlough costs on an incremental basis.

Another change this month, July 2020, is that employees can be invited back to work on a part-time basis. Where this is actioned, the costs of the part-time activity will need to be met by the employer and the government will continue to cover the out of work, furloughed costs. 

In his Summer Statement last week, the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, offered another incentive to employers to retain furloughed staff after the formal Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme closes 31 October 2020.

Aptly called the Job Retention Bonus, the new incentive promises to pay employers if they retain employees for the period November 2020 to January 2021. The bonus will amount to £1,000 for each qualifying employee retained in this way.

The bonus will apply to furloughed employees who remain continuously employed through to the end of January 2021. Employees must earn above the National Insurance Lower Earnings Limit (£520 per month) on average between the end of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the end of January 2021. Payments will be made from February 2021. Further detail about the scheme will be announced by the end of July 2020.

Whether the additional enticement to retain staff will delay decisions on head-count remains an unknown, but as large-scale redundancies announced recently demonstrate the outlook for the jobs market is looking bleak, especially for those involved in sectors badly affected by the lock-down process.

Planning is required

What is evident, is that decisions will require careful planning. Government incentives will need to be considered but are incidental to the over-riding need to quantify the likely scale of future sales, costs, profitability, cash-flow and solvency.

Employers will need support to plan and we can help. If you are still undecided about your options as we tentatively emerge for lock-down, please call so that we can help you consider your options. 

Time to dust-off your gym shoes and swimming togs

Tuesday, July 14th, 2020

The government announced further easing of lock-down restrictions last week. Outdoor pools can reopen to the public from 11 July, followed by indoor gyms, pools and leisure centres on 25 July 2020.

In a recent press release they said:

The Government has outlined the measures that will allow outdoor pools to reopen from 11 July and indoor gyms, swimming pools and sports facilities to reopen from 25 July, ensuring millions of people can get back into more sport and fitness activities.

The guidance, published by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, has been compiled with input from the trade body ukactive, the Sport and Recreation Alliance, Sport England and other sports bodies, and in consultation with Public Health England and the Health and Safety Executive.

It includes advice for providers of pool, gym and leisure facilities on cleaning, social distancing, and protection for staff to help venues get back up and running safely.

It also supports the re-opening of sports halls which are vital to the return of play for many sports, including badminton and volleyball. Guidance produced by National Governing Bodies will complement the government guidance and help ensure indoor sports can be played safely from July 25.

Venues must ensure they can enable customers, staff and volunteers to maintain social distancing before, during and after participation.

Measures to ensure the safety of the public and the staff and volunteers who manage these facilities include:

  • Limiting the number of people using the facility at any one time, for example by using a timed booking system;
  • Reducing class sizes and allowing sufficient time between each class to avoid groups waiting outside during changeover;
  • Ensuring an appropriate number of people are in a swimming pool at any one time;
  • Spacing out equipment or taking some out of service to maintain social distancing;
  • Enhanced cleaning and providing hand sanitizer throughout venues;
  • Considering how the way people walk through their venue could be adjusted to reduce contact, with queue management or one-way systems;
  • Ensuring adequate ventilation;
  • Encouraging the use of outdoor spaces for individual, team or group activities, making sure to comply with the latest restrictions on public gatherings;
  • Exercise or dance studios should have temporary floor markings where possible to help people stay distanced during classes;
  • Customers and staff should be encouraged to shower and change at home wherever possible, although changing rooms will be available.

Today’s announcement follows a recent visit by government, Sport England and public health officials, led by Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, to a series of ukactive member sites. This allowed officials to see first-hand how the sector is preparing to reopen safely.

This guidance is for gyms, swimming pools and indoor sports facilities in England. Those in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland should refer to guidance from the devolved administrations.

 

5% VAT from Wednesday – hospitality and leisure

Friday, July 10th, 2020

VAT: reduced rate for hospitality, holiday accommodation and attractions

10th July 2020

Clients should stop to have a look at the new reduced VAT rate from Wednesday 15th July.  Whilst most affected businesses will be aware of this, the HMRC guidance may provide many with some comfort on how to plan for the change over the weekend:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/vat-reduced-rate-for-hospitality-holiday-accommodation-and-attractions

We will be interested to see if this 5% rate sees people reduce their prices or if the primary benefit is to the businesses involved by way of some additional margin, much needed as they recovery from the lockdown period.

Questions on the scheme can be raised with your usual office contact or with our VAT manager, Helen Goodwin.

 

 

Its tax payment time again

Friday, July 10th, 2020

If you submit a self-assessment tax return you may need to consider your options as any second payments on account for 2019-20, are coming due for payment 31 July 2020. In a nut-shell you have three options:

 

Defer payment until 31 January 2021

As part of his support for taxpayers during the present disruption, Rishi Sunak has given you the opportunity to defer payment of the July instalment until 31 January 2021.

This is generous, but readers should be cautious as this is not a cancellation of amounts due. If you do defer your July payment you will need to plan your cash flow carefully, as the total self-assessment tax (and possibly NIC) due 31 January 2021 will include:

  • The deferred July 2020 payment
  • Any balance of tax due for 2019-20, and
  • The first payment on account for 2020-21.

If you do defer, HMRC have confirmed that they will not charge interest or penalties as long as amounts due are paid on or before 31 January 2021.

 

Make the July 2020 payment

The deferment is an option. If you have already reserved funds you may prefer to pay the tax and reduce amounts due January 2021.

Reduce tax due 31 July 2020

A third option you could consider is applying to reduce payments on account for 2019-20 and therefore reduce the amount payable 31 July 2020? You can do this if the following applies.

The payments on account – due 31 January and 31 July 2020 – are for the tax year 2019-20. Until your tax return is filed for 2019-20, these payments on accounts will be based on figures for the previous tax year, 2018-29.

If your profits for 2019-20 are lower than those for 2018-29, then you can elect to reduce payments on account for 2019-20.

Accordingly, if you feel that your business profits or other income assessable during 2019-20 were lower than those for 2018-19, then we should consider this option.

Summer Statement 8 July 2020

Thursday, July 9th, 2020

The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak continued with his campaign to support the business and jobs community today, 8 July 2020, as firms engage with the disruption caused by the coronavirus outbreak and the measures taken to control infection.

The main thrust of his announcements during his Summer Economic update concerned his nominated Plan for Jobs 2020, details are listed below.

He also announced measures to support the hospitality and tourism industry including a novel voucher scheme and a temporary reduction in VAT. Again, details are provided in the following update.

In an attempt to boost the flagging property market Stamp Duty is being temporarily reduced in England and Northern Ireland. Separate announcements on this topic are awaited for Scotland and Wales who have their own Stamp Duty regimes.
Details of these announcements follow:

1. Job Retention Bonus: employers that bring back an employee that was furloughed, and continuously employ them through to January 2021, will be paid a £1,000 government bonus per employee retained. Employees must be seen to be gainfully employed during this period and be paid at least £520 a month, on average, from November 2020 to January 2021. All furloughed employees returned to employment in this way will be available for the £1,000 bonus.

2. Kickstart scheme: this new scheme will cover the wages (plus associated costs) of new jobs created for any 16 to 24-year-old – at risk of long-term unemployment – for six months. These will have to be new jobs, of at least 25 hours a week and paid the National Minimum Wage. Employers will need to offer kickstarters training and support to find a permanent job. Employers can apply to be part of this new scheme from next month – August 2020 with first jobs starting in the autumn. Government has made an initial £2bn available for this scheme, but there is no cap on the number of places made available.

3. Apprenticeships: for the next six months government will pay employers to create new apprenticeships. The amount payable will be £2,000 for each apprentice. A new bonus to take on apprentices aged over 25 has also been announced. This will amount to £1,500 per appointment.

4. Green jobs initiatives: as an incentive to create jobs in the green jobs’ market a number of new grants have been announced. From September 2020, homeowners and landlords in England will be able to apply for a grant to make their home more energy efficient. The £2bn Green Homes grant will cover at least two-thirds of the cost up to £5,000 per household. For low income households these grants will cover all costs up to £10,000. There will also be a further £1bn allocated to make public buildings greener.

5. Boost for the housing market: Presently, in England and Northern Ireland (different amounts apply in the regions) no Stamp Duty Land Tax is payable on residential property purchases below £125,000. From today – for a temporary period to 31 March 2021 – this threshold is increased to £500,000. It is projected that this will reduce the average stamp duty bill by £4,500. Regional variations may apply. Purchasers buying a second residential property will still have to pay the 3% Stamp Duty Land Tax for property purchases up to £500,000.

6. VAT reduction for hospitality and tourism: for the next six months VAT charged on food, accommodation and attractions (such as eat-in or takeaway food in restaurants, cafes, pubs, cinemas, theme parks and zoos) will see VAT reduced from 20% to 5%. This will apply from 15th July 2020 until 12th January 2021.

7. Eat Out to Help Out discount: for the month of August 2020, meals eaten at any participating business Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, will be 50% off up to a maximum discount of £10 per head including children. To access the discount businesses will need to register and can do so through a website to be opened next Monday, 13 July 2020. Businesses will be able to claim the money back weekly with the money in their bank accounts within 5 working days.

As we manage the cautious steps to emerge from lock-down, still wary of COVID-19, the new incentives announced by Rishi Sunak today should be welcomed.
As more details emerge on the various schemes announced today they will be published accordingly.

Switch to our mobile site