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COVID-19 Update

Advice and Guidance for Businesses and Individuals

 

Below you will find our advice and guidance for businesses, featuring articles and links to the various Government incentives available to help minimise the economic impact of Coronavirus. 

This includes:

We also have a summary of all of the measures introduced here.

We advise that you regularly visit the Business News section of our website for further information or follow us on Twitter or Facebook to keep right up-to-date. 

If you have any questions or issues that you would like to discuss, our team are available to help and advise, so please contact us as soon as possible.

Please keep safe and well.

 

Post COVID-19 Support for Businesses

When Chancellor Rishi Sunak stood in the House of Commons on 8 July, it was in the context of the gradual reopening of the economy, with several lockdown restrictions having been lowered on 4 July.

The update wasn’t an official Budget speech or fiscal statement, and it only lasted around half an hour, but it contained several measures focused on a “three-point plan for jobs”.

Those three points – to protect, support, and create jobs – come as part of a “second phase” of support, aimed at keeping employment levels as high as possible as the country faces the challenges of a deep global recession.

Whether or not the new measures will be enough to get the public out and spending again, at a time when people face continued health concerns as well as uncertainty over their own financial futures, remains to be seen.

But the additional support has been largely welcomed by businesses as other government schemes, such as furlough payments and self-employed income support, are set to close by the end of October.

You can read the rest of our guide for businesses post COVID-19 here.

 

Eat Out to Help Out Scheme

The Eat Out to Help Out Scheme will entitle every diner to a 50% discount of up to £10 per head on their meal, at any participating restaurant, café, pub or other eligible food service establishment.  Read our guide here.

 

Hospitality businesses – VAT reduction

The Chancellor’s Summer Statement on 8 July announced measures intended to support businesses affected by the enforced closures and social distancing measures necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. In order to protect jobs in the hospitality and tourism sectors the government has extended the services to which the 5% reduced rate of VAT can be applied. Guidance has now been published by HMRC on these measures and we set out the main points in our guide.

 

The Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme

This scheme was announced at the Budget as part of a package of support measures for businesses affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The government has now announced that a new online service will be launched on 26 May for employers to recover SSP they have made to their employees.

The scheme will allow employers with fewer than 250 employees to apply to HMRC to recover the costs of paying coronavirus related SSP. The recovery of costs applies to current and past employees that have eligible periods of sickness starting on or after 13 March 2020.

To check if you are eligible to recover the costs, click here

 

Claim A Grant Through the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Self-Employment Income Support Scheme

Self-employed workers who are affected by COVID-19 can apply for a grant to cover a percentage of their average monthly profits over the last three years.

The grant scheme has now been extended with those eligible able to claim a second and final grant capped at £6,570.

Further information can be found on the gov.uk website and our team are on hand to deal with any questions you may have regarding the Scheme.

 

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme - How Does it Work?

The coronavirus job retention scheme was introduced to pay the wages of employees unable to work due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The scheme is due to run until 31 October 2020.

On 29 May 2020 the Chancellor introduced some modifications to the scheme, which see employers gradually increasing their contribution, as well as the introduction of 'flexible' furlough', which will see employees allowed to work part-time and be furloughed part-time.

For details on who qualifies and how to access the scheme, please visit gov.uk for further information, or contact a member of our team.

Click here for a guide to the Furlough scheme.

 

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme - Making a Claim 

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme portal opened on 20 April 2020.

If you are an existing client and would like us to make a claim on your behalf, click here to find out what you need to do. 

To make a claim yourself, please read the information on gov.uk before you begin your application.

Before you start your application, it is important that you have all the relevant information, as outlined in the guide, to hand. You can use the claim calculator available here to work out 80% of your employees' wages.

You will need this to check your claim for most employees who are paid the same amount each pay day period.

Once you have completed your claim, make a note of your claim reference number as confirmation will not be provided by HMRC.

You should also keep a note of all your records, in case HMRC need to contact you for further clarification.

Providing your claim matches the records held by HMRC for your PAYE scheme, funds should be received six working days after the date of your application. To receive funds by 30 April, HMRC will need to have received your completed application by 22 April.

A step-by-step guide for additional help can be found here.

If you use a third party payroll bureau to prepare your payroll, please note that they will not be able to make a claim on your behalf as they are not your registered agent for dealing with HMRC.  They will have to complete a pre-authorisation process before making a claim, which may delay the payment of any funds.  

 

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) - Open for Applications

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) provides financial support to smaller businesses (SMEs) across the UK that are losing revenue, and seeing their cashflow disrupted, as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The scheme is a part of a wider package of government support for UK businesses and employees. Read more at the Government’s Business Support website.

CBILS has been significantly expanded along with changes to the scheme’s features and eligibility criteria. The changes mean even more smaller businesses across the UK impacted by the coronavirus crisis can access the funding they need.

Importantly, access to the scheme has been opened up to those smaller businesses who would have previously met the requirements for a commercial facility but would not have been eligible for CBILS. Insufficient security is no longer a condition to access the scheme.

This significantly increases the number of businesses eligible for the scheme. The expanded scheme will be operational with lenders from Monday 6 April 2020.

For details of the scheme please visit www.britishbusinessbank.co.uk.

 

Bounce Back Loans

Small businesses can access 100% state-sponsored microloans of up to £50,000, or 25% of their turnover.

The scheme was launched following concerns that access to existing coronavirus rescue schemes was taking too long, prompting fears many SMEs could go to the wall without the emergency funds arriving imminently.

The new microloans could be your bank account within a day and that no capital or interest repayments will be due for a year.

Visit gov.uk to find out more and how to apply.

 

Business Grants

The government have announced that grants are available for small businesses and those businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sector.  Click here for guidance.

Although it is suggested that these grants will be distributed automatically by local authorities once they have written to you, we are aware that in some cases an application form then needs to be completed before the grant is made.  We suggest you contact your local council for clarification.

 

Self-Assessment Payments Deferred

Self-assessment payments due on the 31st July 2020 may be deferred until the 31st January 2021.  

This measure has been extended and previously only applied to the self-employed.  Please note that this relaxation only applies to individuals and not companies.  

Please also note that the relaxation is designed to help people in genuine hardship caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.  The tax remains due and will need to be paid in due course (currently 31 January 2021).  If hardship is unlikely to arise then you should pay your tax as normal.

 

VAT Payments Deferred

The government are supporting businesses by deferring Valued Added Tax (VAT) payments for three months The deferral will apply from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020. This is an automatic offer with no applications required. Businesses will not need to make a VAT payment during this period.

Customers who normally pay by Direct Debit should cancel their Direct Debit with their bank if they are unable to pay.  Please do so in sufficient time so that HMRC do not attempt to automatically collect on receipt of your VAT return.

However, VAT returns will still need to be filed by normal deadlines. 

VAT refunds and reclaims will be paid by the government as normal.

 

HMRC Helpline

HMRC have set up a phone helpline to support businesses and self-employed people concerned about not being able to pay their tax due to Coronavirus (COVID-19).  Read more here.

 

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) and Coronavirus

If absence/isolation is directly linked to Covid-19 then SSP will apply to eligible employees from the first day of absence at the usual rate of £94.25 per week (18.85 per day).

The government are bringing forward legislation to allow small and medium sized companies and employers to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay for absence due to Covid-19. Employers with fewer than 250 employees will be eligible.

If you have any cases that are pertinent to the above please ensure that you mark this distinctly so that we can ensure the correct claim for SSP Recovery is made. Please click here for further details

 

Filing Accounts with Companies House

If Coronavirus (COVID-19) has affected your company and you need more time to file your accounts, you should act before your filing deadline.  Read the advice from Companies House here.

 

Accounts Filing Deadline Extensions and Corporation Tax Payments

One of the measures introduced to help businesses cope with the affects of the COVID-19 pandemic was an extension to filing deadline for company accounts.

When the measure was introduced back in March 2020, companies were invited to apply for a deadline extension. However, from 27 June 2020 to 5 April 2021, most businesses will automatically be granted an extension, removing the need to apply.

Although this move is of course welcomed, one unintended consequence is the affect it will have on any Corporation Tax payments, which remain due within nine months and one day after a company’s year end. Without a completed set of accounts, the amount to be paid is unknown. Where businesses find themselves in this situation, we advise that they can either make an estimated tax payment or, alternatively they can choose not to make a payment until their exact tax position is known. However, interest will be charged on any overdue payments at a rate of 2.6%.

If you require any advice on the payment of Corporation Tax or accounts filing deadlines, please do not hesitate to contact us.

If your business is facing cashflow issues, a time to pay arrangement can be requested by contacting HMRC on 0800 015 9559 or 0800 024 1222.

 

Government Provides £330bn Lifeline to Businesses

The Government has pledged £330 billion-worth of state-backed loans to support businesses feeling the effects of the coronavirus epidemic.  Read more here.

 

IR35 Reforms Pushed Back 12 Months

The Government have announced that the IR35 tax reforms are to be pushed back one year.

The changes, which will clamp down on tax avoidance by targeting contractors who are, in practice, providing the same service as employees, were due to come into effect in April.  However, Steve Barclay, Chief Treasury Secretary, has announced that they will now be introduced on 6 April 2021.

The move is part of a range of measures announced by the Treasury to protect the economy from the effects of the coronavirus outbreak.

 

Working From Home - What Can You Claim?

Most office-based workers will see their household bills increase as a result of working from home.  While the self-employed have long been used to deducting certain expenses incurred through working at home from their turnover, the same is not true for employees.

The rules regarding what you can claim are much stricter, although you do have some statutory rights. Read more in our guide.   

 

Advice From The Banks

Bank of Scotland
Barclays
Clydesdale
Handelsbanken
HSBC
Lloyds
NatWest
Royal Bank of Scotland
Santander
The Co-operative Business Bank
TSB
Yorkshire Bank