Archive for August, 2021

More UK businesses join vaccine uptake drive

Thursday, August 26th, 2021

In a recent press release the government announced that more of the country’s leading businesses from a variety of industries have pledged their support for the UK’s world-leading COVID-19 vaccination programme by offering incentives to vaccinated customers.

Asda, lastminute.com, National Express, FREE NOW taxis and Better leisure centres will be offering discounts to people who get a COVID-19 vaccine, joining the national effort to protect the country as it continues its cautious return to normality.

The companies will be joining Uber, Bolt and Deliveroo, which committed last month to backing the vaccination programme by providing exclusive offers to those who have received a jab.

The new businesses and rewards will include:

  • Asda – will offer £10 vouchers for their clothing brand George to 18- to 30-year-olds who spend over £20. These will be offered at the vaccine pop-up clinics located in Old Kent Road in London, Watford & Birmingham;
  • lastminute.com – will offer over-18s £30 gift cards towards holidays abroad to all young people getting vaccinated through their website;
  • Better leisure centres – will offer over 16s a £10 voucher to use on any Better membership and a free three-day pass at any of their 235 leisure facilities across the UK;
  • FREE NOW – will provide up to £1 million in free taxi rides for over-18s attending their vaccine appointment each way from today [Sunday 15 August] until the end of September; and
  • National Express Buses (Midlands) – will offer 1,000 people 5-day unlimited travel saver tickets which can be used within 90 days. Tickets can be claimed by sharing vaccine booking references in the company’s app.

Deliveroo has also revealed further details of their support, which will include thousands of £5 vouchers to those who get the vaccine, distributed in the coming weeks. Bolt will be offering £10 vouchers for 10,000 rides from next week in Birmingham and Leicester, and Uber will be announcing further details shortly around their drive to help students get vaccinated ahead of term time.

Fewest number of people on furlough since the scheme began

Tuesday, August 24th, 2021

Furlough numbers have recently fallen to a record-low since the beginning of the pandemic, government data has confirmed.

When businesses started reopening earlier this year, furlough numbers plunged by three million and have gradually declined ever since.

  1. records show that at the end of June 2021, nearly two million British workers were on furlough, dropping by nine million from the peak of the pandemic in May 2020.

Since June, it is also thought that furlough numbers have plummeted even further to around 1.5 million people, an ONS Business Insights and Conditions Survey reports.

Throughout the pandemic, 28% of employers had staff on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Recruitment worker, Jane told HR magazine that being on furlough was challenging when more people were going back to work and her job was left hanging in the balance.

She said: “It felt like everyone around me was going back to normal.

“However, I've been grateful for the time to take a step back and look at what I like about my role, what I don't like, and kind of developing from there.”

  1. recent visits to Scotland, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak MP recognised the economic power of the union and applauded the Government’s Plan for Jobs, which will continue to help people and businesses once the furlough scheme ends.

He said: “It’s fantastic to see businesses across the UK open, employees returning to work and the numbers of furloughed jobs falling to their lowest levels since the scheme began.

“I’m proud our Plan for Jobs is working, and our support will continue in the months ahead.”

For the first time since furlough began, young people are no longer the biggest demographic signed onto the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

The reopening of hospitality and retail led to more than a million people leaving the scheme, with younger people making up the majority of the workforce in these sectors.

Since April 2021, nearly 600,000 under 25s have come off furlough, double the amount of older people who have left the scheme.

Furlough has been prolonged several times, but it will finally come to an end in September.

Employers currently have to pay 20% of furlough payments until the scheme officially concludes.

According to The Office for Budget Responsibility, the entire furlough scheme will have cost £66 billion by the time it finishes.

To help people moving forward, the Government’s Plan for Jobs project will continue to assist people back into work as the economy starts to bounce back.

Companies closed after abusing COVID loan support

Friday, August 20th, 2021

In what is likely to be the tip of a significant ice-berg, two companies who fraudulently applied for thousands of pounds in grants and loans have been wound up in the courts.

According to a recent government press release the two separate companies submitted false documents to at least 41 local authorities and the Government’s Bounce Back Loan scheme to secure £230,000 worth of grants; grants that were offered to support businesses across the UK during the pandemic.

The Insolvency Service proved that neither company ever traded.

Investigators uncovered that one company had registered their offices in Whitchurch, Shropshire, but had provided false lease documents and utility bills to 14 different local authorities to fraudulently claim they traded out of premises in their respective areas.

The companies fraudulently secured business grants from local authorities, as well as Bounce Back Loans. Investigators uncovered that the premises that the companies falsely claimed to operate from were either unoccupied, up for rent or occupied by a different company.

Small Business Minister Paul Scully said:

“This decisive enforcement action shows that we will not tolerate shameless attempts to defraud the taxpayer and falsely claim public money intended to help businesses through the pandemic.

“We are cracking down on Covid fraud across the board and those who have tried to take support they were not entitled to, which was given in response to the worst crisis of our lifetimes, can expect to face heavy consequences.

“The lengths that fraudsters went to as they tried to falsely claim grants surprised even our most experienced staff, but by using national counter fraud networks, concerns could be raised quickly and trends and patterns were shared with other authorities.

“We are very proud of the way our teams supported so many businesses in extraordinary circumstances, and we are also pleased that they foiled attempts by a small minority to exploit the misery that Covid-19 has brought to so many.”

Could you benefit from additional tax relief?

Tuesday, August 17th, 2021

Couples may be eligible to reduce their Income Tax by up to £252 a year by sharing their Personal Allowances.

HMRC has announced that nearly 1.8 million married couples and those in civil partnership are using Marriage Allowance to save up to £252 a year in Income Tax.

Marriage Allowance allows married couples, or those in civil partnerships, to share their Personal Tax Allowances if one partner earns below £12,570 a year, and the other is a basic rate taxpayer.

Couples can transfer 10% of their tax-free allowance to their partner (£1,260 for 2021 – 2022 tax year), significantly reducing the amount of annual tax they pay. They can also backdate their claims for the past four tax years, potentially receiving up to £1,220.

Angela MacDonald, HMRC’s Deputy Chief Executive and Second Permanent Secretary said: “Marriage Allowance lets eligible couples share their Personal Allowances and reduce their tax by up to £252 a year. Nearly 1.8 million couples are already using the service – it is free, quick and easy to apply.”

If a married couple have experienced a change in their circumstances, it may mean they are now eligible for Marriage Allowance. This includes:

  • A recent marriage or civil partnership
  • One partner has retired and the other remains working
  • A change in employment due to COVID-19
  • A reduction in working hours which means their earnings fall below their Personal Allowance
  • Unpaid leave or a career break
  • One partner is studying or in education and not earning above their Personal Allowance

If a spouse or civil partner has died since April 5th 2017, their partner can still claim by contacting the Income Tax helpline.

While Marriage Allowance claims are usually automatically renewed each year, couples should notify HMRC if their circumstances change.

Help to Grow Scheme

Thursday, August 12th, 2021

It is still possible to register for one of two schemes under the Help to Grow banner.

 

Help to Grow Management

Help to Grow: Management is an Executive Development programme accredited by the Small Business Charter, with 1:1 business mentor support throughout. The 12-week practical curriculum has modules spanning financial management, strategies for growth and innovation, and approaches to digital adoption. You can book your space with a business school near you today.

Designed to be manageable alongside full-time work, this programme will support small business leaders to develop their strategic skills with key modules covering financial management, innovation and digital adoption. By the end of the programme participants will develop a tailored business growth plan to lead their business to its full potential.

30,000 places will be available over 3 years. The programme is 90% subsidised by government – costing only £750.

UK businesses from any sector that have been operating for more than 1 year, with between 5 to 249 employees are eligible.

The participant should be a decision maker or member of the senior management team within the business e.g., Chief Executive, Finance Director etc.

Charities are not eligible.

 

Help to Grow Digital

Help to Grow: Digital is launching this Autumn. It will offer businesses access to free and impartial advice on how technology can help their business. Eligible businesses will also be able to get a discount of up to 50% on the costs of approved software, worth up to £5,000.

The stated aims of both schemes is to support business owners in their efforts to learn new skills, reach more customers and boost profitability.

All businesses will be able to benefit from free online advice on the platform.

The voucher is expected to be available to UK business that:

  • employ between 5 and 249 employees and are registered at Companies House
  • have been trading for more than 12 months
  • are purchasing the discounted software for the first time

Full details on the businesses and software eligible for the voucher will be published this summer.

 

Register your interest online

You can register interest in applying for either grant online at https://helptogrow.campaign.gov.uk/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIwoXI8KSZ8gIVlh6tBh3BKgkvEAAYASAAEgLdnPD_BwE

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