Archive for September, 2020

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.

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.

Winter Economy Plan – Business Help

Thursday, September 24th, 2020

Mr Sunak has made some initial announcements about the support available for businesses going forward.  No doubt we will get more details soon, but here are some highlights:

  1. The Job Retention Scheme (Furlough) will end on 31st October.  The Job Support Scheme will offer grants of up to £698 per person per month for reduced hours working.  If an employee works 33% of usual hours then if the employer pays one third of the “missing” hours, the government will match it.  So a £2,000 a month employee working 50% hours would be paid £1000 salary plus £333 employer funding and £333 Government funding for the lost hours.  The missing hours are basically “split three ways”.  The scheme will no doubt put pressure on payroll bureau providers if it is popular (another new scheme!) and is in place for six months.  We will provide more details once they are published and work through the opportunity this offers with those clients who are interested in using it.
  2. VAT deferrals – where people deferred their Spring 2020 VAT until 31st March 2021, they will be able to arrange to spread that liability.
  3. Self Assessment – some taxpayers who are self employed were able to leave their July 2020 payment on account aside for January.  A further deferral of that payment, and the January 2021 to January 2022 may be possible for some taxpayers (more to follow).
  4. The Self Employed Income Support Grant Scheme will be extended again for those already eligible with a further grant of up to £1875 covering November to January coming with a further grant thereafter (being reviewed on circumstances) .
  5. The 5% VAT cut (to 15%) for hospitality businesses will be extended to last until 31st March 2021.
  6. The terms of repayment for Bounce Back and CBILS loans are being changed to allow ten year repayments and repayment holidays where needed.  The schemes application deadlines are being extended until the end of November.

We can’t help but observe that for those businesses that are closed, or all but closed, no measures alone seem guaranteed to see them through to the summer of 2021 when, perhaps, a vaccine or immunity, will mean life creeps back to a more normal situation.  However, a cautious welcome is surely in order.

Please contact your usual Milne Craig contact or email donald.parbrook@milnecraig.co.uk if you have any questions.

24th September 2020

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…

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