Archive for August, 2020

Claiming the Job Retention Bonus

Thursday, August 27th, 2020

As readers will no doubt be aware the present Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is due to cease at the end of October 2020. However, there is a bonus claim that certain employers can make next year if they retain employees beyond the present 31 October 2020 deadline.

The Job Retention Bonus (JRB) is subject to its own set of rules. These are copied in below from the GOV.UK website:

Job Retention Bonus

The Job Retention Bonus allows employers to claim a one-off payment of £1,000 for every employee they have previously received a grant for under CJRS and who remains continuously employed through to the end of January 2021.

To be eligible, the employee must have received earnings in November, December and January and must have been paid an average of at least £520 per month, a total of at least £1,560 across the three months.

Employers will be able to claim the bonus after they have filed PAYE information for January 2021, and the bonus will be paid from February 2021.

More detailed guidance, including how you can claim the bonus online, will be available by the end of September.

What employers need to do now

If employers intend to claim the Job Retention Bonus, they must:

  • ensure all employee records are up to date
  • accurately report employees’ details and wages on the Full Payment Submission (FPS) through the Real Time Information (RTI) reporting system
  • make sure all CJRS claims have been accurately submitted and they have told us about any changes needed (for example if they’ve received too much or too little).

Readers who are still undecided on the position of staff when the present CJRS closes later this year will need to factor the JRB into their calculations.

Planning for staff retention or lay-offs when government support ceases without a doubt exposes employers and employees to stressful choices. Pleas call if you want to discuss your options. We can help.

Windfall for thrifty teenagers

Tuesday, August 25th, 2020

Thrifty teenagers, or rather teenagers with thrifty parents, will soon gain access to their Child Trust Fund (CTFs) savings, and some, may not even know it is there…

 

CTFs were originally set up for children born between 1st September 2002 and 2nd January 2011, with a live Child Benefit claim. Parents and guardians received a voucher to deposit in a Child Trust Fund (CTF) account on behalf of the child.

At 16 years, the child can choose to operate their account or have their parent continue to operate it, but they cannot withdraw the funds. At 18 years of age, the CTF account matures and the child is able to withdraw money from the fund or move it to a different savings account. Over 700,000 accounts will mature each year.

The accounts are not held by HMRC, but by a number of CTF providers who are financial services firms. Anyone can pay into the account, with an annual limit of £9,000, and there’s no tax to pay on the CTF savings interest or profit.

As the earliest accounts were opened 1 September 2002, come 1 September 2020, those celebrating their eighteenth birthday will be able to access their CTF savings.

It is estimated that approximately 55,000 will mature each month – starting September 2020 – and HMRC have created a simple online tool to help young people track down where their CTF is held. Google “Find a child trust fund GOV.UK”. To use the facility, you will need to have a Government Gateway ID and password. If necessary, this can be created when you make the application.

For many eighteen year olds embarking on further education or vocational training this will provide a boost to their funding at this critical time.

Clearing myths on student loans

Thursday, August 20th, 2020

Students grappling with the latest A level results will no doubt be faced with decisions regarding student loans to finance their time at university if they chose that option. There are a number of myths surrounding this source of funding and in a recent news story government attempted to dispel some of these myths. They are:

Myth: If I get a place through Clearing it’s too late to apply for student finance.

 

BUSTED: No, but if you haven’t applied for student finance yet, you need to apply right away. It can take up to six weeks to process your application. You might not get all of your money in time for the start of your course, but Student Finance England (SFE) will try to make sure you have at least some money as close to the start of your course as possible.

 

Myth: If I’ve already applied for student finance and my course changes through Clearing, I don’t have to do anything.

 

BUSTED: If you have already applied for student finance but want to change your course, university or college you need to update your course details to make sure that you receive your student finance at the start of term.

The easiest way to update course details is to log into your online account and choose ‘Change your application’: www.gov.uk/student-finance

 

Myth: I need to send my Passport and a signed terms and conditions to receive my student finance.

 

BUSTED: If you have an in-date UK Passport you can provide your Passport details on your online application form which will be automatically checked with the Government Identity and Passport Service. When your application has been processed you can even accept the terms and conditions using a digital e-Signature.

 

Myth: It takes ages to apply for student finance because my parents or partner need to send paper forms and evidence.

 

BUSTED: If your parents or partner are providing financial information to support your application, they can do this online and we’ll verify their information with HMRC. If you are asked to send some additional paperwork to support your application this can be uploaded from your account using the new digital evidence upload service.

 

Myth: There’s no information available on student finance and Clearing.

 

BUSTED: There’s a range of helpful tools and guidance on SFE’s student finance zone Clearing page

 

You can also access the SFE YouTube Clearing playlist. Don’t forget you can also contact SFE Monday to Friday from 9am-5pm and Saturday from 9am-4pm:

Contractors urged to go green

Tuesday, August 18th, 2020

The government is keen to sell its Green Home Grant policy to the building trade. In a recent press release Business Secretary, Alok Sharma, said:

Tradespeople across England are urged to step forward and sign up to be able to offer services through the government’s new Green Homes Grants scheme – as over 1,000 businesses across the country have already applied to do so far.

The £2 billion Green Homes Grant Scheme will see the government fund up to two-thirds of the cost of home improvements up to £10,000 to make over 600,000 homes across the country more energy efficient, supporting over 100,000 jobs in green construction, cutting carbon emissions and helping people save money on their energy bills.

The scheme will cover green home improvements ranging from insulation of walls, floors and roofs, to the installation double or triple glazing when replacing single glazing, and low-carbon heating like heat pumps or solar thermal – measures that could help families save up to £600 a year on their energy bills.

To take part and offer their services through the scheme, all tradespeople must register with TrustMark. Where tradespeople are installing energy efficiency measures, they must also be certified to installation standards. To install low carbon heat measures, tradespeople must be TrustMark registered and certified through the Microgeneration Certification Scheme for the relevant heating technology.

Anyone wishing to do so can simply register with TrustMark via their website, with accreditation taking as few as 5 working days for those who already have membership of a recognised trade body such as the Federation of Master Builders, the Cavity Insulation Guarantee Agency and Building Engineering Services Association, or who are already certified under the Microgeneration Certification Scheme.

The authorities are not asleep

Tuesday, August 11th, 2020

It is tempting to assume that government departments are drawing back from exercising their powers to challenge taxpayers due to COVID disruption, but it would be unwise to assume this is the case. For example, in a recent legal action undertaken by the Insolvency Service, a construction boss was banned from running companies for nine years after he caused a company to submit false tax returns.

Although the charges related to activity that pre-dated the coronavirus outbreak, this action – and many others reported by HMRC and other government departments – confirms that the powers-that-be are not idle.

In the above case, investigators uncovered that between November 2011 and February 2015, the director knowingly caused the company to submit false tax returns. Invoices had been brought down to zero rated sales to reduce the company’s tax liability. The tax authorities determined that just over £225,000 was owed by the company, which increased to more than £426,000 when interest and penalties were applied for the deliberate concealment and failure to pay.

A voluntary undertaking has the effect that without specific permission of a court, a person with a disqualification cannot:

  • act as a director of a company
  • take part, directly or indirectly, in the promotion, formation or management of a company or limited liability partnership
  • be a receiver of a company’s property

Deliberate attempts to evade tax will always be pursued as and when the authorities discover the wrong-doing.

However, we all make mistakes and HMRC will be sympathetic if you can offer a reasonable excuse for any apparent transgressions. These reasonable excuses might include:

  • your partner or another close relative died shortly before the tax return or payment deadline
  • you had an unexpected stay in hospital that prevented you from dealing with your tax affairs
  • you had a serious or life-threatening illness
  • your computer or software failed just before or while you were preparing your online return
  • service issues with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) online services
  • a fire, flood or theft prevented you from completing your tax return
  • postal delays that you could not have predicted
  • delays related to a disability you have

You could probably add to this published listing disruption created by the COVID outbreak.

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