C19 BUSINESS UPDATE – 24th September 2020

WINTER ECONOMY PLAN

Here are the headlines from the Chancellors statement in Parliament today where a series of measures to help jobs and businesses were announced.  

NEW JOB SUPPORT SCHEME ANNOUNCED

Today Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a new job scheme starting 1 November 2020 to replace the current Job retention (“furlough”) scheme which ends 31 October 2020.

All small and medium-sized businesses are eligible, larger businesses must show their turnover has fallen during the pandemic. Employers can use the new scheme even if they have not previously used the furlough scheme. 

The new Government scheme will last for six months to 30 April 2021 and to be eligible employees will need to be working a minimum of 33% of their hours. For the remaining hours not worked the Government and employer will pay one third. of wages each. This means:

Employers will continue to pay the wages of staff for the hours they work – but for the hours not worked, the government and the employer will each pay one third of their equivalent salary.

Employees who can only go back to work on shorter time will still be paid two thirds of the hours for those hours they can’t work.

The level of grant will be calculated based on employee’s usual salary, capped at £697.92 per month.

By way of an example an employee working 33% of their hours will receive at least 77% of their pay, 22% paid by the Government and 55% paid by their employer (the “worked” 33% plus 22%).

SELF-EMPLOYED INCOME SUPPORT SCHEME

The existing self-employed grant (SEISS) will also be extended on the same basis as the job support scheme.  

An initial taxable grant will be provided to those who are currently eligible for SEISS and are continuing to actively trade but face reduced demand due to coronavirus. The initial lump sum will cover three months’ worth of profits for the period from November to the end of January next year. This is worth 20% of average monthly profits, up to a total of £1,875.

An additional second grant, which may be adjusted to respond to changing circumstances, will be available for self-employed individuals to cover the period from February 2021 to the end of April.

VAT CUT FOR HOSPITALITY SECTOR CONTINUES

The reduction in VAT to 5% for the hospitality and tourism sector will be extended until 31 March 2021.

DEFERRAL OF VAT BILLS

Up to half a million businesses who deferred their VAT bills will be given more breathing space through the New Payment Scheme, which gives them the option to pay back in smaller instalments. Rather than paying a lump sum in full at the end March next year, they will be able to make 11 smaller interest-free payments during the 2021-22 financial year.

SELF-ASSESSMENT TAXPAYERS – TIME TO PAY EXTENSION

Approximately 11 million self-assessment taxpayers will be able to benefit from a separate additional 12-month extension from HMRC on the “Time to Pay” self-service facility, meaning payments deferred from July 2020, and those due in January 2021, will now not need to be paid until January 2022.

BOUNCE BACK LOANS – FLEXIBILITY GIVEN TO PAY BACK AMOUNTS BORROWED

More than a million businesses who took out a Bounce Back Loan will get more repayment time through a new Pay as You Grow flexible repayment system.

This includes extending the length of the loan from six years to ten, which will cut monthly repayments by nearly half. Interest-only periods of up to six months and payment holidays will also be available to businesses.

The Government also intends to give Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme lenders the ability to extend the length of loans from a maximum of six years to ten years if it will help businesses to repay the loan.

The chancellor also announced an extension in applications for the government’s coronavirus loan schemes until the end of November.

Further guidance will be issued in due course.

See: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/chancellor-outlines-winter-economy-plan

CERTAIN PROPERTY BUSINESS OWNERS ARE LIABLE TO CLASS 2 NICs

Class 2 National Insurance Contributions (NICs) are currently paid at the rate of £3.05 per week by self-employed earners. A person who is liable to Income Tax on the profits arising from the receipt of property rental income will only be a self-employed earner for NICs purposes if the level of activities carried out amounts to running a business.

HMRC have recently issued clarification which states that in order for a property owner to be a self-employed earner, their property management activities must extend beyond those generally associated with being a landlord which include, but are not limited to, the following:-

  • undertaking or arranging for external and internal repairs
  • preparing the property between lets
  • advertising for tenants and arranging tenancy agreements
  • generally maintaining common areas in multi-occupancy properties; or
  • collecting rents.

The HMRC guidance suggests that the ownership of multiple properties, actively looking to acquire further properties to let, and the letting of property being the property owner’s main occupation could be pointers towards there being a business for NICs purposes.

A landlord will also be a self-employed earner if any of their activities amount to a trade for Income Tax purposes. This could include, for example, receiving income from other services provided to tenants.

C19 BUSINESS UPDATE – 23rd September 2020

The Government is taking further measures to stem the recent rise in the number of coronavirus cases.

There are several local restrictions because of Covid-19 and the Government has already reduced the number of social gatherings in England down to 6 from the 14 September.

The latest changes announced for England are:

  • People should work from home wherever possible
  • Pubs, bars and restaurants to close at 22:00 BST
  • They will also be restricted to table service only
  • Face masks compulsory for bar staff and non-seated customers, shop workers and waiters
  • Limit on guests at weddings reduced from 30 to 15
  • Plans to allow fans to return to sporting events paused
  • “Rule of six” now applies to indoor team sports
  • Fines for not wearing masks or following rules increased to £200 for first offence

The death rate remains low at 1% of deaths in England and Wales and we all hope this surge has a very different outcome to the last one. Like many businesses we have taken steps to maintain social distancing and protect our employees and clients and think that now it is a good time for all of us to reiterate these and make sure everyone is protected as best they can. 

The key question for many of us is should we work from home or the workplace?

The new guidance to “work from home where possible” is a change from Government advice in July and the campaign last month to encourage people back to the workplace. The best we can do here is keep you informed of any changes in the guidance as they come out. 

In Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced:

  • A ban on meeting inside other people’s homes.
  • A 10pm curfew on pubs and restaurants from Friday 25th.
  • Up to six people from two different households can meet outdoors, including in private gardens.
  • There will be no limit on the number of children under 12 who can meet or play together outdoors.
  • Young people aged 12 to 18 are exempt from the two-household limit and can meet outdoors in groups of up to six.

Ms Sturgeon raised the possibility of a two-week “circuit breaker” with further restrictions for Scotland in October, although she said no decision had been made.

In Wales up to 30 people can meet outdoors and four households can form an “extended household with a maximum of six people aged 11+.

For Northern Ireland six from two households in a private garden and up to 15 in a public place can meet. There are no social visits to private homes but up to 15 people can meet at other venues.

It is expected these rules will change and we will keep you informed of them as and when they happen.

For FAQ’S see:  https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-outbreak-faqs-what-you-can-and-cant-do/coronavirus-outbreak-faqs-what-you-can-and-cant-do

KICKSTART SCHEME LATEST NEWS

The Kickstart Scheme provides funding to employers to create new 6-month job placements for young people who are currently on Universal Credit and at risk of long-term unemployment.

Funding will cover for each job placement:

  • 100% of the relevant National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week
  • The associated employer National Insurance contributions
  • Employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions

There will also be extra funding to support young people to build their experience and help them move into sustained employment after they have completed their Kickstart Scheme funded job.

There have been several updates regarding the Kickstart scheme including a new video which can be found at:  https://youtu.be/Ir8OkmPy9YA

For the latest updates see:

Check if you can apply for a grant through the Kickstart Scheme: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-if-you-can-apply-for-a-grant-through-the-kickstart-scheme

Apply for a grant through the Kickstart Scheme:
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/apply-for-a-grant-through-the-kickstart-scheme

Check if you can apply for a Kickstart Scheme grant on behalf of a group of employers:https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-if-you-can-apply-for-a-grant-as-a-representative-of-a-group-of-employers-through-the-kickstart-scheme


Find someone to apply for a Kickstart Scheme grant on your behalf:
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/find-someone-to-apply-for-a-kickstart-scheme-grant-on-your-behalf

ADDITIONAL FUNDING FOR SERVICE CHARITIES

The Office for Veterans’ Affairs (OVA) and the MOD have announced that 100 UK Armed Forces charities will benefit from nearly £6 million of extra funding to support serving personnel, veterans and their families during the coronavirus pandemic.

For more information see: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/extra-funding-for-service-charities-as-veterans-support-is-stepped-up?utm_source=453acfe1-9b15-410f-892e-2c4ddd5aea50&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=immediate

NEW PACKAGE TO ENFORCE SELF ISOLATION

People will be required by law to self-isolate from 28 September, supported by payment of £500 for those on lower incomes who cannot work from home and have lost income as a result. New fines for those breaching self-isolation rules will start at £1,000 – bringing this in line with the penalty for breaking quarantine after international travel – but could increase to up to £10,000 for repeat offences and for the most egregious breaches, including for those preventing others from self-isolating.

For example, this could include business owners who threaten self-isolating staff with redundancy if they do not come to work, sending a clear message that this will not be tolerated.

A number of steps will be taken to make sure that people are complying with the rules, these include:

  • NHS Test and Trace call handlers making regular contact with those self-isolating, with the ability to escalate any suspicion of non-compliance to Local Authorities and local police;
  • Using police resources to check compliance in highest incidence areas and in high-risk groups, based on local intelligence;
  • Investigating and prosecuting high-profile and egregious cases of non-compliance; and
  • Acting on instances where third parties have identified others who have tested positive but are not self-isolating.

Recognising that self-isolation is one of the most powerful tools for controlling the transmission of Covid-19, this new Test and Trace Support payment of £500 should ensure that those on low incomes are able to self-isolate without worry about their finances.

Just under 4 million people who are in receipt of benefits in England will be eligible for this payment, which will be available to those who are required to self-isolate from 28 September.

Local Authorities will be working to set up these self-isolation support schemes and the Government expects them to be in place by 12 October. Those who start to self-isolate from 28 September will receive backdated payments once the scheme is set up in their Local Authority.

This financial support comes as the government places a legal requirement on people to self-isolate when instructed to by NHS Test and Trace and introduces tougher fines for breaking the rules.

See: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-package-to-support-and-enforce-self-isolation?utm_source=9bbf854f-0ede-4ae1-a21e-4e4b2c859357&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=immediate

NHS TEST AND TRACE SERVICE IN THE WORKPLACE

The NHS Test and Trace service:

  • provides testing for anyone who has symptoms of coronavirus to find out if they have the virus
  • gets in touch with anyone who has had a positive test result to help them share information about any close recent contacts they have had
  • alerts those contacts, where necessary, and notifies them they need to self-isolate to help stop the spread of the virus

This updated guidance explains how employers and businesses can play their part in the NHS Test and Trace service to slow the spread of the virus, protect the health and care system and save lives.

This guidance is for England only.

The law requires that employers take steps to keep workers and visitors safe. The Government states that by following the 5 steps for working safely, along with sector-specific guidance, employers can reduce the risk of co-workers having to self-isolate if a member of staff tests positive for COVID-19.

The NHS Test and Trace service does not change existing guidance that employees should work from home wherever possible.

Employers are required to:

  • make their workplaces as safe as possible (where working from home is not possible)
  • request that workers self-isolate if they have been asked to do so
  • support their workers when in isolation

The NHS Test and Trace service:

  • provides free testing for anyone who has symptoms of coronavirus
  • asks those that test positive and their close contacts to self-isolate to stop the spread of the virus in the workplace

The Government states employers (and the self-employed) must continue to ensure the health, safety and welfare of their employees. They also have similar obligations in respect of other people, for example agency workers, contractors, volunteers, customers, suppliers and other visitors.

For the full guidance see: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/nhs-test-and-trace-workplace-guidance?utm_source=0fd4d0af-b499-43bc-b9e9-f7bddca0bfd3&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=immediate

TRAVEL CORRIDORS – THE LATEST LIST AND GET EMAIL UPDATES

The list of countries, territories and regions from where you can travel to England and may not have to self-isolate is regularly updated and you can now sign up for email alerts on the changes. This is useful if you or your employees have to travel abroad as part of your job.

See:  https://www.gov.uk/email-signup/?topic=/transport/aviation-passenger-experience

HOSPITALITIY, THE TOURISM AND LEISURE INDUSTRY, CLOSE CONTACT SERVICES AND LOCAL AUTHORITY FACILITIES; MAINTAINING RECORDS OF STAFF, CUSTOMERS AND VISITORS TO SUPPORT NHS TEST AND TRACE

Designated venues in certain sectors must have a system in place to request and record contact details of their customers, visitors and staff.

Venues in hospitality, the tourism and leisure industry, close contact services and local authority facilities must:

  • ask at least one member of every party of customers or visitors (up to 6 people) to provide their name and contact details
  • keep a record of all staff working on their premises and shift times on a given day and their contact details
  • keep these records of customers, visitors and staff for 21 days and provide data to NHS Test and Trace if requested
  • display an official NHS QR code poster from 24 September 2020, so that customers and visitors can ‘check in’ using this option as an alternative to providing their contact details
  • adhere to General Data Protection Regulations
  • Hospitality venues must also refuse entry to those who refuse to participate.

Failure to do any of these requirements will result in fixed penalty fines

This guidance provides further instructions on how to fulfil these requirements in a proportionate and effective way. This was recently updated to reflect the new legal requirements for designated venues to collect contact details and display official NHS QR code posters.

See: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/maintaining-records-of-staff-customers-and-visitors-to-support-nhs-test-and-trace?utm_source=26574a86-d87a-46bf-8383-0035631a4235&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=immediate

WORKING SAFELY DURING CORONAVIRUS

The guidance for Restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaway services has been updated with information on penalties for breaching the rules (section 1.1) and updated guidance on Test and Trace data and display of NHS QR codes (section 2.1).

See: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19?utm_source=52a40554-a921-4613-9460-dc44743ace97&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=immediate

BUSINESS EVICTIONS – NEW GUIDANCE

Commercial tenants will be protected from the risk of eviction until the end of 2020.

This move will help those businesses most in need of additional support to remain in their premises without the threat of eviction for the rest of this year, giving them the chance to focus on rebuilding their business over the autumn and Christmas period.

See:  https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-extends-support-to-stop-business-evictions-this-year?utm_source=ef3c3b5a-92e8-4397-b84e-95b3924f40dd&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=immediate

Creating an effective reward strategy

In the current challenging trading environment, many firms are asking more and more of their team. As such, having an effective reward strategy has never been more important.

COVID-19 has tested every business and challenged all of us to come up with new ways of working. Spare bedrooms have become home offices, workers have had to balance childcare and home schooling with their work commitments, and those who live alone have had to deal with loneliness and its effect on their mental health.

Surviving a tough environment has also meant that businesses have had to find new ways to motivate and retain their teams of people.

A huge percentage of the workforce has had to deal with increased stress, anxiety and adapting to a new way of working. Many businesses have asked more of their people, in order to survive the COVID-19 crisis and a high percentage of employees have reportedly been working longer hours as the line between work and home life has become blurred. As such, businesses have had to re-think how they motivate their people and that is where a reward strategy comes in.

A reward strategy should consider the strategic objectives of your firm, what your people want, what is affordable and the structures needed to achieve this.

Develop your people

Providing personal and professional growth opportunities is an essential part of a reward strategy. Good people stay with businesses that provide them with training and development opportunities.

Benefits

Cash is important but so is a good benefits package. Benefits can include generous annual leave entitlements, medical cover and a good pension scheme. Over and above that, more and more employees value flexibility – whether that is the option to work remotely, compress 5 days work into 4 and so on.

COVID-19 has proved that remote working can be just as productive as working from the office. Those firms that continue to offer flexible working arrangements and embrace agile working, post COVID-19, will retain the best people.

Be different

The very best firms offer rewards that are a little bit different. This doesn’t have to be expensive. For example, you could offer charity volunteering opportunities or Friday morning yoga classes for staff. Regardless of the elements you choose to incorporate into your reward strategy, the key is to ensure that the team feel valued by the firm.

MTD FOR VAT TO BE EXTENDED TO ALL VAT REGISTERED BUSINESSES IN 2022

Since 2019, the vast majority of VAT-registered businesses with a taxable turnover above the VAT threshold (£85,000) have been mandated to keep digital VAT records and send returns using Making Tax Digital (MTD)-compatible software.

From April 2022 these requirements will apply to all VAT-registered businesses.

It has also been announced that MTD for Income Tax Self-Assessment (ITSA), which was originally intended to start in 2018, will finally be introduced from April 2023 for unincorporated businesses and landlords with total business or property income above £10,000 per year.

Most businesses will have 2 years to prepare and test the service voluntarily prior to its introduction

C19 BUSINESS NEWS UPDATE – 16th September 2020

The main economic news today is that the UK inflation rate fell to 0.2% as the Eat Out to Help Out scheme reduced restaurant prices. There is also speculation that the Government is looking at a new jobs scheme to replace the coronavirus job retention scheme (CJRS). If there are any announcements we will keep you informed. With Brexit looming the Government has stated that the new freight management system will be ready 1 January.  The “Smart Freight system” ensures that trucks are carrying the correct documentation before they travel to ports. The new system is designed to reduce delays and to better manage traffic into Dover and prevent queues of lorries building up along the M2 and M20 motorways.

There are a number of changes to the CJRS including a new calculation from 14 September.

From 26 August 2020 you can claim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for employees who have been notified by the NHS to self-isolate before surgery. Further HMRC guidance on paying back CJRS grants made in error are given. 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.

It looks like we are in for a lot of changes to how we do things between now and the end of the year and our role is to support you through these and ensure your business takes actions to manage the changes.

Please talk to us about how we can help you plan forward. We are with you all the way! 

CJRS – HMRC MAKES CHANGES TO CALCULATIONS FOR CLAIMS

HMRC has updated its guidance on how to perform usual hours calculations where employees come off furlough or flexible furlough partway through a claim period. The change affects claims made from 14 September.

HMRC has made changes for claims made from 14 September 2020. HMRC has added a new subheading:

“Calculating the number of working and furloughed hours for an employee that comes off furlough or flexible furlough partway through a claim period.”

The guidance states:

“If your employee stops being furloughed or flexibly furloughed partway through a claim period, when calculating the number of furloughed hours you can claim for, make sure you:

•   only calculate the employee’s usual hours up to the last day of furlough, instead of to the end of the claim period

•    do not include any working hours after the last day of furlough.”

HMRC has stated that employers do not need to amend claims made prior to 14 September, but they should use this calculation for any claims from 14 September 2020, for an employee who stops being furloughed or flexibly furloughed partway through a claim period.

If we are making your claims we will make the calculation adjustments for post 14 September claims and if you are doing your own claims please see the web link below.


See: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/calculate-how-much-you-can-claim-using-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme#work-out-80-of-your-employees-usual-wage

STATUTORY SICK PAY (SSP) PAID TO EMPLOYEES DUE TO CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19)

From 26 August 2020 you can claim for employees who have been notified by the NHS to self-isolate before surgery.

This scheme is for employers. You can claim back up to 2 weeks of SSP if:

  • you have already paid your employee’s sick pay (use the SSP calculator to work out how much to pay)
  • you are claiming for an employee who’s eligible for sick pay due to coronavirus
  • you have a PAYE payroll scheme that was created and started on or before 28 February 2020
  • you had fewer than 250 employees on 28 February 2020 across all your PAYE payroll schemes

Employees do not have to give you a doctor’s fit note for you to make a claim. But you can ask them to give you either:

  • an isolation note from NHS 111 – if they are self-isolating and cannot work because of coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • the NHS or GP letter telling them to stay at home for at least 12 weeks because they are at high risk of severe illness from coronavirus

The scheme covers all types of employment contracts, including:

  • full-time employees
  • part-time employees
  • employees on agency contracts
  • employees on flexible or zero-hour contracts
  • fixed term contracts (until the date their contract ends)

We will let you know when the scheme will end.

See: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-back-statutory-sick-pay-paid-to-employees-due-to-coronavirus-covid-19?utm_source=3318f794-f03b-41c0-b9bc-57864faeb0d8&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=immediate#history

PAYING CJRS GRANTS BACK

Find out how to pay all or some of your grant back if you have over claimed, or if you do not need the grant and want to make a voluntary repayment.

If you have claimed too much through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, or you would like to make a voluntary repayment because you do not want or need the grant to pay your employees’ wages, tax and National Insurance and pension contributions, you can either:

  • correct it in your next claim (your new claim will be reduced, and you will need to keep a record of the adjustment for 6 years)
  • get a payment reference number and pay HMRC back within 30 days (only if you are not making another claim)


For more information see: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/pay-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme-grants-back?utm_source=50f01dbe-d6f1-42e9-aab0-5e9602b71e90&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=immediate

TRANSPORT TECH START-UPS TO RECEIVE FUNDING OF OVER £1 MILLION

The Department of Transport (DoT) has announced that Talented transport tech start-ups to receive funding boost of over £1 million.

Innovative transport start-ups with a focus on decarbonisation or COVID-19 recovery can bid for a share of over £1 million (£1,010,000) in Department for Transport funding from 14 September 2020.

Transport-Technology Research and Innovation Grants (T-TRIG), which is now in its 11th round of funding, is open to entrepreneurs and innovators pioneering new ways of creating a better transport system. Over 60% of grants so far have been awarded to SMEs and 30% to universities.

T-TRIG brings together talented start-ups and policymakers at the earliest stages of innovation and by issuing targeted investments of up to £30,000 for each project, the fund aims to help budding entrepreneurs and academics propel their ideas to market quicker.

Also announced at the roundtable a separate £500,000 competition to fund the development of products or services that would improve the ability for disabled people to use the transport network. Bids for the Accessibility-Technology Research Innovation Grant (A-TRIG) will be open until the end of November.


For more information see: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/talented-transport-tech-start-ups-to-receive-funding-boost-of-over-1-million?utm_source=5ac21294-fc0b-47a0-8f92-c1bd64dfb48d&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=immediate

MAINTAINING RECORDS OF STAFF, CUSTOMERS AND VISITORS TO SUPPORT NHS TEST AND TRACE

The Government has updated its requirements to collect details and maintain records of staff, customers and visitors in the following industry sectors:

  • hospitality, including pubs, bars, restaurants and cafés
  • tourism and leisure, including hotels, museums, cinemas, zoos and theme parks
  • close contact services, including hairdressers, barbershops and tailors
  • facilities provided by local authorities, including town halls and civic centres for events, community centres, libraries and children’s centres
  • places of worship, including use for events and other community activities

This guidance applies to any establishment that provides an on-site service and to any events that take place on its premises. It does not apply where services are taken off site immediately, for example, a food or drink outlet which only provides takeaways. If a business offers a mixture of a sit-in and takeaway service, contact information only needs to be collected for customers who are dining in.

This guidance does not apply to drop-off deliveries made by suppliers or contractors.

Information to collect

The following information should be collected by the venue, where possible:

  • staff
  • the names of staff who work at the premises
  • a contact phone number for each member of staff
  • the dates and times that staff are at work
  • customers and visitors
  • the name of the customer or visitor. If there is more than one person, then you can record the name of the ‘lead member’ of the group and the number of people in the group
  • a contact phone number for each customer or visitor, or for the lead member of a group of people
  • date of visit, arrival time and, where possible, departure time
  • if a customer will interact with only one member of staff (e.g. a hairdresser), the name of the assigned staff member should be recorded alongside the name of the customer

No additional data should be collected for this purpose. In England, people who check-in with the official NHS QR poster do not have to provide their contact details as part of the staff, customer and visitor logs.


See: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/maintaining-records-of-staff-customers-and-visitors-to-support-nhs-test-and-trace?utm_source=b720a2bc-d800-44fa-8989-0edf2d09ee3f&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=immediate

BUSINESSES URGED TO PREPARE FOR NHS COVID-19 APP

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.


See: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/businesses-urged-to-prepare-for-nhs-covid-19-app?utm_source=7f150dd4-1732-4286-9945-b676628dcad6&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=immediate

KICKSTART: NEW £300 FUNDING PER EMPLOYEE FOR EMPLOYER REPRESENTATIVES

You can use the Kickstart Scheme to create new 6-month job placements for young people who are currently on Universal Credit and at risk of long-term unemployment. The job placements should support the participants to develop the skills and experience they need to find work after completing the scheme.

Funding is available for 100% of the relevant National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week, plus associated employer National Insurance contributions and employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions. There is also £1,500 per job placement available for setup costs, support and training.

Funding is available following a successful application process. Applications must be for a minimum of 30 job placements. If you are unable to offer this many job placements, you can partner with other organisations to reach the minimum number.

If you are a representative applying on behalf of a group of employers, you can get £300 of funding for each job placement to support with the associated administrative costs of bringing together these employers.

Kickstart is not an apprenticeship, but participants may move on to an apprenticeship at any time during, or after their job placement.

The Kickstart Scheme is available in England, Scotland and Wales.


For more information see: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-if-you-can-apply-for-a-grant-through-the-kickstart-scheme?utm_source=f8ca25cc-870a-432b-afa2-600289c36577&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=immediate


DRIVING TESTS – NEW GUIDANCE ON THE REOPENING OF TESTS

Car driving tests have restarted in England, Wales and Scotland.

There’s separate guidance for Northern Ireland.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) will contact you if your test is affected by a local lockdown.

Guidance includes not arriving more than 5 minutes before the appointment time, wearing a face covering, making sure the inside of the vehicle is cleaned prior to the test.
See: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-driving-tests-and-theory-tests?utm_source=35ac16ed-505a-405d-9d37-b2325abdbf3c&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=immediate

WORKING SAFELY DURING CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19)

This guidance has been updated to include 14 guides to cover a range of different types of work. Many businesses operate more than one type of workplace, such as an office, factory and fleet of vehicles. You may need to use more than one of these guides as you think through what you need to do to keep people safe. Priority actions are outlined at the top of each guide.

See: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19?utm_source=ef44b8b2-39b0-494d-bf05-9b29a2a5d607&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=immediate

PACKAGE OF SUPPORT FOR STUDENTS WHO HAVE TO DEFER THEIR STUDIES

The Government has produced details on a range of opportunities to gain new skills, undertake work placements, additional learning and career development support.

This document is for students who had planned to start higher education this year but who have had to defer until next year.

The package of support provides opportunities to:

  • gain new skills
  • undertake work placements in the public, private and voluntary sectors
  • undertake additional learning
  • get career development support

See: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/package-of-support-for-students-who-have-to-defer-their-studies?utm_source=24f87710-9919-464e-abfa-e30014d86abe&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=immediate

Can soft skills be taught?

A positive attitude, a strong work ethic, an innovative mindset, being a team player – are just as important to employers as practical skills and academic background.

It is important to have teams of people who have the hard skills to do a job – i.e. they’re qualified, have relevant experience, can write code, design a product, etc.

However, if they lack the soft skills required to get along with colleagues, work well with clients, stay motivated and engaged, etc. then they may not turn out to be effective employees.

While it’s true that certain soft skills are difficult for people to learn, they are not impossible to teach. Firms can start by offering well rounded training opportunities to staff.  For example, if staff need to practice their public speaking skills and develop confidence in presenting, you can help them to build their skills by asking them to lead internal team meetings.

The company culture and work environment you establish as a manager can also play a huge role in encouraging (or discouraging) the development of soft skills. If you want employees to work hard and collaborate with each other, you first need to show them how.

If you and your management team show your team how to work together effectively, these positive behaviours will permeate the rest of the team and become part of the culture of the firm.

The best way to learn and develop soft skills is by ‘doing’. Show your people what you want them to do, set the right example and give them the opportunity to practice their soft skills in their day to day jobs. You can also supplement this by hiring people who possess the right soft skills for your business.

By having more people in your firm with good soft skills, there will be more opportunities for your other team members to learn.

C19 BUSINESS NEWS UPDATE – 11th September 2020

BUSINESS RECOVERY GRANTS – UPDATE

In July, the Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government announced £20 million new government grants to help smaller and medium sized businesses recover from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Thousands of smaller businesses in England could benefit from £20 million of government funding to help them recover from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.


The funding will be available from Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and the level of funding per LEP can be seen here:
https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/906229/GH_Funding_Information_and_Allocations_FINAL_UPDATED_030820.pdf

SME’s will have access to grants of between £1,000 – £5,000 to help them access new technology and other equipment as well as professional, legal, financial or other advice to help them get back on track.

To apply and find out more, please locate and contact your local area Growth Hub. You can do this by following the link below and clicking on the LEP in your area – going direct to them.


Details of all Growth Hubs can be found here: https://www.lepnetwork.net/local-growth-hub-contacts/

VENUES REQUIRED BY LAW TO RECORD CONTACT DETAILS

The Governments new requirements for businesses mean that premises and venues across England like pubs, restaurants, hairdressers and cinemas must have a system in place by law to record contact details of their customers, visitors and staff in the latest move to break the latest move to monitor the transmission of coronavirus.

These businesses and organisations had been advised to collect and share data, with many effectively doing so, but following the recent move to ban social gatherings of more than 6 people, the data collection programme will now be formally mandated from 18 September.

Further guidance and, where necessary, regulations will be set out specifying the settings which will be included, but the scope will cover the hospitality industry, such as pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes, as well as close contact services and other tourism and leisure venues.

Additionally, venues could be fined if they fail to ensure their premises remain COVID-secure, such as failing to take specified steps to collect contact information or taking bookings for groups of more than 6. Further details will be set out shortly and we will keep you updated.


See: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/venues-required-by-law-to-record-contact-details?utm_source=0d18dd1e-f396-4187-9bab-b5e35da92a2e&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=immediate

TESTING GUIDANCE FOR EMPLOYERS

The Government has issued guidance for employers and third-party healthcare providers on the regulations and legal obligations of running testing programmes.

Some employers and third-party healthcare providers may want to introduce their own internal testing programmes outside of the NHS Test and Trace service. This guidance will help them ensure that their testing programmes are as reliable and effective as possible. It covers:

  • legislation, regulations and best practice
  • virus and antibody testing
  • how to interpret test results
  • next steps after a positive or negative test

See: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-testing-guidance-for-employers/coronavirus-covid-19-testing-guidance-for-employers-and-third-party-healthcare-providers

COMPANIES HOUSE RESUMES VOLUNTARY STRIKE OFF PROCESS

The process for companies that have applied to be struck off the register resumed 10 September following changes to temporary measures announced in April 2020.

Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, Companies House paused all strike off activity to relieve the burden on businesses and to protect creditors and other interested parties who may have had difficulties in registering an objection.

The measures have been reviewed monthly and the latest change has been implemented after careful consideration and feedback from customers and stakeholders.

This means all companies that applied to be struck off before July 2020 will be struck off the register in a phased approach over the next 4 weeks, starting on 10 September 2020.

For companies that applied to be struck off from July 2020 onwards, the voluntary strike off process will continue as normal after this initial 4-week period.


See: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/companies-house-resumes-voluntary-strike-off-process?utm_source=74550ae1-58e8-40fb-bd92-dc445f102b89&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=immediate

THINKING OF REOPENING YOUR BUSINESS?

If you are now reopening your business should refer to the latest guidance from the Government.

There is risk assessment guidance to help businesses make sensible adjustments to the workplace on the webpage: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus-business-reopening

The guidance on working safely varies between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

COMPANY VANS WERE MOTOR CARS

The Court of Appeal have now ruled on the tax status of certain vehicles provided to employees of Coca Cola. The court has upheld the HMRC view that vans with windows and a second row of seats behind the driver are not goods vehicles but motor cars for benefit in kind purposes.

Consequently, the income tax and national insurance payable by employee and employer is significantly higher than if the vehicles had been classified as goods vehicles.

The income tax legislation defines a “goods vehicle” as “a vehicle of a construction primarily suited for the conveyance of goods or burden of any description…”

At the Tax Tribunal it was decided that modified VW Kombi vans failed this test whereas modified Vauxhall Vivaro vans did fall within the definition of goods vehicles.

It has now been determined that the Vauxhalls should also be taxed as motor cars for P11d benefit in kind purposes. This means that where the vehicle is available for private use the taxable benefit will be based on the original list price multiplied by a percentage based on the vehicle’s CO2 emissions.

The decision means that employers may need to reconsider providing such vehicles. They may also need to rectify the P11d reporting in respect of earlier years and we await further guidance from HMRC.

What is also particularly confusing, and thus difficult for businesses to deal with, is that the benefit in kind rules are not the same as the rules for recovery of input VAT and it would be useful if there was a common definition for tax purposes.

VAT DEFINITION OF “MOTOR CAR”

For VAT purposes the definition of a motor car has been amended several times over the years.

The current definition states:   “Motor car” means any motor vehicle of a kind normally used on public roads which has three or more wheels and either:

  1. a) is constructed or adapted
    solely or mainly for the
    carriage of passengers; or
  2. b) has to the rear of the
    driver’s seat roofed
    accommodation which is fitted with side windows or which is constructed or adapted for the fitting of side windows;

There are a number of exceptions to this rule: notably vehicles constructed to carry a payload of one tonne or more, i.e. double cab pick-ups such as a Toyota Hilux.

C19 BUSINESS NEWS UPDATE – 9th September 2020

WELCOME TO THE LATEST NEWS ON BUSINESS, GOVERNMENT AND THE ECONOMY

COVID19 – IS THE ‘SECOND SPIKE’ COMING?

The Government is taking further measures to stem the recent rise in the number of coronavirus cases, which does not look like a gradual move upwards but a more obvious spike. The rate of positive tests has increased amongst younger people and appears consistent across the country.

There are several local restrictions because of Covid-19 and the Government is now reducing the number of social gatherings in England from 30 to 6 commencing 14 September. The law change will ban larger groups meeting anywhere socially indoors or outdoors although it will not apply to schools, workplaces or Covid-secure weddings, funerals and organised team sports.

The death rate remains low and we all hope this surge has a very different outcome to the last one. Like many businesses we have taken steps to maintain social distancing and protect our employees and clients and think that now it is a good time for all of us to reiterate these and make sure everyone is protected as best they can. 

The Government has produced a series of guides for working safety and these are available for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

England: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19

Scotland: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-returning-to-work/

Wales: https://gov.wales/keep-wales-safe-work

Northern Ireland: https://www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/content/coronavirus-workplace-safety-guidance-and-priority-sector-list-published

BREXIT – WILL THE UK AND THE EU REACH A DEAL?

Brexit is in the news daily and as we watch the negotiations unfold and the political “twists and turns” happening it is important to note the transitional UK EU arrangement ends regardless of a “deal or no deal” on the 31 December.

The Government is set to unveil its post-Brexit trading law on how it intends to police UK trade between different parts of the country today. This has already caused much comment over elements which could allow minsters to modify the UK’s existing exit agreement with the EU.

We are not here to comment on the politics or the negotiations but remind businesses that the key date to note for any new deal is the 15 October by when the UK wants a summit with the EU to agree terms. This would allow time for the deal to be ratified by both parties. This timeline may move!  

What we can say is that over the next few months we will keep all our clients up to date with the latest news and provide practical guidance on what steps to take before and after the 31 December 2020.

The Government has produced a personalised list of actions for you, your family and your business to help prepare for Brexit. See: https://www.gov.uk/transition

THE LATEST INDICATORS FOR THE UK ECONMOY AND SOCIETY

Early experimental data on the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on the UK economy and society show that:

  • Over half (54%) of businesses that had not permanently ceased trading said they were owed outstanding invoice payments as a result of the pandemic.
  • Less than half of all businesses had cash reserves to last six months.
  • On the 23 August 11% of the entire UK workforce were Furloughed.
  • There was a continuing trend of reduced home working according to the latest Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (OPN), with 20% of working adults exclusively working from home.
  • Between 21 and 28 August, total online job adverts remained around 55% of their 2019 average for a fourth consecutive week.
  • In the week commencing 24 August, overall footfall increased to over three-quarters of its value the same day a year ago for the first time since lockdown began.

Note: The Business Impact of COVID-19 Survey (BICS) is voluntary and currently unweighted, so it may only reflect the characteristics of those who responded. Results presented are experimental.

See: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/conditionsanddiseases/bulletins/coronavirustheukeconomyandsocietyfasterindicators/3september2020

Please talk to us about using digital bookkeeping to automate invoicing and collection. We are Cloud Accounting specialists and we can help you move your business into the Digital era – essential in the new working from home environment.

It is very clear from the survey that cash flow planning is absolutely necessary right now and we can help you plan forward and make better business decisions.

We have some great planning tools – just ask!

KICKSTART – CHECK IF YOU CAN APPLY FOR A GRANT AS A REPRESENTATIVE OF A GROUP OF EMPLOYERS THROUGH THE KICKSTART SCHEME AND FIND INFORMATION ABOUT HOW TO JOIN A REPRESENTITIVE GROUP.

If you are considering becoming a representative for a group of employers, check what information you need to provide to apply for a grant through the Kickstart Scheme. If you are looking to join a group of employers see the link below on where to find employer contacts.

A Kickstart Scheme application must be for a minimum of 30 job placements. If a single employer cannot provide this many job placements, they can:

  • join a group of other employers, nominating a representative for the group to submit the application
  • register their interest with existing representatives, such as local authorities, chambers of commerce or trade bodies

Finding a representative:

You can contact your local or national Kickstart Scheme employer contact for help getting a representative, See: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/kickstart-scheme-employer-contacts/kickstart-scheme-employer-contacts

GUIDANCE FOR FOOD BUSINESSES

The Government has issued guidance which is intended for all workplaces involved in the manufacturing, processing, warehousing, picking, packaging, retailing and service of food.

This also includes important information about the risk of community dissemination of coronavirus from circumstances or activities related to the workplace such as transportation and accommodation arrangements.

This guidance is of general nature and is intended to be compatible with the relevant health and safety legislation, please note that if there appears to be a conflict between this guidance and the relevant health and safety legislation, the latter shall prevail.

See:  https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-food-businesses/guidance-for-food-businesses-on-coronavirus-covid-19

WEDDING SERVICES: CANCELLATIONS AND REFUNDS

There is now a statement setting out the Competition and Markets Authority’s views on how the law operates in relation to contracts for wedding services affected by the coronavirus pandemic. 

See:  https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/wedding-services-coronavirus-covid-19-cancellations-and-refunds?utm_source=a01f2644-e26f-40a4-aaf0-53fb977de806&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=immediate

DOWNLOAD A TEMPLATE IF YOU’RE CLAIMING FOR 100 OR MORE EMPLOYEES THROUGH THE CORONAVIRUS JOB RETENTION SCHEME

HMRC has updated its template with the details of the employees you are claiming for and upload this when you claim (for claims on or after 1 July 2020).

See: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/download-a-template-if-youre-claiming-for-100-or-more-employees-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme?utm_source=9145b1ea-507d-4338-953f-f79222ea7e27&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=immediate

If you are claiming for less than 100 employees please talk to us in advance of making any claims.

See our flexible furlough collection spreadsheet:

You may have read recently about statistics on false claims and errors made with up to £3.5billion lost to the Government. We are here to help you minimise any errors with claims and deal with HMRC on your behalf. Please contact us if you have any concerns over past or present claims.

INFORMATION FOR FARMERS, LANDOWNERS AND RURAL BUSINESSES

The Government has updated the latest information for farmers, landowners and rural businesses during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Fund to support dairy farmers: The application deadline for the Dairy Response Fund is extended to midnight on 11 September 2020. This gives eligible farmers more time to apply for a single payment from the fund.

Read this page for regular updates:

See:  https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-farmers-landowners-and-rural-businesses?utm_source=edc33406-6c6b-45f8-911e-a2d0a43c7525&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=immediate

BOUNCE-BACK PLANS LAUNCHED FOR CONSUMER AND RETAIL INDUSTRY

A ‘bounce-back’ plan of trade measures for the consumer and retail industry has been announced by the Department for International Trade (DIT) to help support businesses impacted by Coronavirus. These are:

  • New measures to help boost exports and increase British retail firms’ readiness to sell overseas
  • New plans include creation of a Consumer and Retail Export Academy to help businesses export, via a digital learning syllabus

DIT say “The new measures will offer immediate support to businesses by ensuring specialists provide advice on online retail and international marketplaces. The launch of a new Consumer and Retail Export Academy will provide businesses with the critical knowledge, skills and networks needed to increase exports. The plan will also outline long-term support for the sector as new export opportunities arise from trade deals being negotiated with the US, Japan, New Zealand and Australia.”

Further details are expected, and we will bring you the facts of the support when we receive them.

See: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/bounce-back-plans-launched-for-consumer-and-retail-industry?utm_source=5ed9f0f5-098d-46e5-bdbe-6daf4655d88e&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=immediate