COVID-19

As part of our commitment to you and your business we are doing our utmost to keep you updated on the government's latest announcements and advice for business. Please keep checking this page for information and resources to help you during these difficult times

Please note: This page covers announcements made from 1 September 2020
For June to August click here
For March to May click here

Request a quote

For a free initial meeting to discuss how we can help you contact us online or call us on T: 023 9248 4356T: 023 9248 4356

 

18 January - Claiming the third SEISS grant

A reminder that the deadline for claiming the third Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) is 29 January 2021. It is not usually possible to make a late claim under the scheme.

Note that SEISS grants are taxable in the 2020-21 tax year and so should not be reported in the 2019-20 self assessment tax returns that are due to be filed by 31 January 2021.

12 January - Deferred VAT payments

Businesses that deferred their VAT payments between 20 March and 30 June 2020 can pay the deferred VAT in full on or before 31 March 2021 or opt in to the VAT deferral new payment scheme when it launches in early 2021. If using the new scheme, taxpayers can make up to 11 smaller monthly instalments by Direct Debit which are interest free. All instalments of the outstanding amount must be paid by the end of March 2022. 

Taxpayers must prepare to opt in by:

  • creating their own Government Gateway account if they do not already have one
  • submitting any outstanding VAT returns from the last four years. You will not be able to join the scheme if you have not done so
  • correcting errors on their VAT returns as soon as possible. Corrections received after 31 December 2020 may not show in their deferred VAT balance
  • ensuring they know how much they owe, including the amount they originally deferred and how much they may have already paid

11 January - COVID-19 is a 'reasonable excuse' for missing self assessment deadline, HMRC says

HMRC has confirmed taxpayers who miss the 31 January deadline to fail their self assessment tax return because of difficulties caused by COVID will be able to claim this as a 'reasonable excuse' to overturn a late filing penalty, provided they explain how they were affected in their grounds for appeal and submit the return as soon as they can. The penalty appeal period has been extended to three months, and HMRC has indicated it is looking at ways to make the appeal process quicker and easier for taxpayers.

A reminder also that the automated self-serve Time to Pay online service for taxpayers who have filed a tax return and determined the amount of tax due for 2019/20 and the amounts of any payment on account for 2020/21 will be able to make payments over an extended period, (up to £30,000 and be paid in up to 12 instalments). However, Time to Pay arrangements are only available once the return has been filed.

January - Further financial support for retail, hospitality & leisure businesses

With businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors expected to remain closed until at least February half term, the Chancellor has announced one-off top up grants worth £9,000 per property will be made available. Over 600,000 businesses are expected to benefit.

The one-off top-ups will be granted to closed businesses as follows:
£4,000 for businesses with a rateable value of £15,000 or under
£6,000 for businesses with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
£9,000 for businesses with a rateable value of over £51,000

Also, a £594m discretionary fund has also been made available to support other impacted businesses. The fund is in addition to £1.1bn further discretionary grant for Local Authorities, Local Restrictions Support Grants worth up to £3,000 a month and extension of the furlough scheme.

22 December - HMRC rejects extending self assessment deadline

HMRC has said it will not extend the 31 January self assessment deadline or waive late filing penalties. However, it will accept pandemic-related disruptions and agent delays as a reasonable excuse and will also extend the period to appeal a penalty.

Taxpayers who file late will receive a penalty notice, but HMRC's chief executive Jim Harra said that those affected or their agent can get the late filing penalties 'cancelled easily' by contacting HMRC.

The appeal period will be extended from one to three months to give taxpayers and agents more time.

17 December - Furlough Scheme extended

In a move to support businesses, the Chancellor has announced that the current furlough scheme will be extended by one month to 30 April 2021 It means the government will continue to pay up to 80% of the wages of workers who have been furloughed.

The Chancellor also confirmed he would be extending the government-guaranteed Covid-19 business loan schemes until the end of March 2021.

These changes come in the run-up to the next Budget, which Mr Sunak confirmed would take place on 3 March 2021. Find out more here

9 December - Monthly deadline approaching for furlough claims 

HMRC has reminded employers that there are now monthly deadlines for claims for furloughed staff under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS).
HMRC has stated that claims must be submitted within 14 calendar days after the month they relate to, unless this falls on a weekend, in which case the deadline is the next weekday. This means employers must submit November claims no later than 14 ‌‌December 2020.

7 December - Financial support package for small, limited company directors to be debated by MPs

A consortium of professional bodies has urged the chancellor to consider proposals for a “Directors Income Support Scheme” (DISS), which would mirror the Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS).It is estimated that around 780,000 self-employed company directors have found themselves blindsided by no government Covid-19 financial support. The online petition, calling for the support package, has resulted in a general debate being scheduled among MPs on Wednesday, 9th December.  

26 November - New Eligibility Criteria for Claiming Third SEISS Grant 

Ahead of applications opening for the third grant of the self employment income support scheme (SEISS) on 30 November 2020, HMRC has published guidance which includes new criteria claimants must meet regarding the impact coronavirus is having on their business. See here for more details.

24 November - Government Publishes COVID-19 Winter Plan

The UK Government’s COVID-19 Winter Plan presents a programme for suppressing the virus, protecting the NHS and the vulnerable, keeping education and the economy going and providing a route back to normality. The plan sets out the Government’s approach to ending the national restrictions on 2 December.

10 November - Further Details Announced to Furlough Scheme

The scheme will apply from 1 November 2020 to 31 March 2021 and there is no requirement to have previously furloughed the employee.

Although the extended CJRS is similar to the previous version, there are a few changes. It is a flexible furlough scheme and the eligible furloughed employees include:

  • staff employed at 30 October 2020 and have been included on a payroll submission to HMRC between 20th March 2020 and 30th October 2020;
  • directors and officers of the company;
  • employees on fixed-term contracts;
  • apprentices;

First claims can be made from 11 November 2020.

The final claim for the previous CJRS for periods up to 31 October must be claimed for by 30 November 2020.

5 November - Furlough Scheme Extended & More Support for Self Employed

The Chancellor has confirmed that the furlough scheme will be extended across the UK until the end of March. The scheme will pay up to 80% of a person’s wage, up to £2,500 a month. As part of the revised scheme, anyone made redundant after 23 September can be re-hired and put back on furlough. 

The Chancellor also announced support through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will be increased, with the third grant covering November 2020 to January 2021 calculated at 80% of average trading profits, up to a maximum of £7,500. This is an increase from the 55% announced previously.

2 November - Government Financial Support Schemes (SEISS, BBLS & BBILS) Revised

Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) - The first grant will cover a three-month period from 1 November 2020 until 31 January 2021. The Government will provide a taxable grant covering 55% of average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering 3 months’ worth of profits, and capped at £5,160 in total.

The grant will be increased from the previously announced level of 40% of trading profits to 80% for November 2020. This therefore increases the total level of the grant from 40% to 55% of trading profits for 1 November 2020 to 31 January 2021.

The online service for the next grant will be available from 30 November 2020 (brought forward from the 14 December date previously announced.)

Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) - The scheme is open to applications until 31 January 2021 (ie two months longer than the 30 November deadline previously announced).

If you’ve already received a loan of up to £50,000 under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) or COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility you can transfer it into the Bounce Back Loan scheme. You have until 4 November 2020 to arrange this with your lender.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) - This scheme has also been extended by two months and is open to applications until 31 January 2021.

31 October - Extension to the Coronavirus Job Retention (Furlough) Scheme

With a second lockdown in England planned from Thursday 5 November the government announced the Furlough scheme will remain open until December. Employees will receive 80% of their current salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500. Employers will still be liable for pension and NI contributions. To claim, the employee must have been included in the RTI (Real Time Information) Submission made by 30 October 2020.
 
Under the extended scheme, the cost for employers of retaining workers will be reduced compared to the current scheme which ended on 31 October and means that the extended scheme is more generous for employers than it was in October.

28 October - Confirming trading status and deadline for paying back overpaid SEISS grants 

The government is clamping down on people who should not have received the Self Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grant.

Traders who closed temporarily during the pandemic, but plan on reopening, are eligible for the grant and future grants. Businesses that took the grant without any intention of staying open will be asked to pay it back  When the scheme was announced in March, HMRC only had information from 2018/19 tax returns which meant claimants were able to receive the grant without HMRC knowing if they continued to trade after 5 April 2019.

Businesses that claimed the SEISS grant before 22 July 2020 have until 20 November 2020 to confirm their trading status to HMRC. Those that claimed on or after 22 July 2020 have 90 days from the date they received the grant. HMRC may incur penalties - see SEISS penalty factsheet.

23 October - Details of the twin Job Support Schemes (JSS) published

HMRC has released guidance on the two schemes that both start on 1 November 2020. The schemes provide different levels of support to businesses according to their situation: 

  • Businesses that are legally required to close their promises as a direct result of coronavirus restrictions can get the support they need through JSS Closed
  • Businesses that are operating but facing decreased demand can get support for wages through JSS Open (as announced by the Chancellor on 22 October 2020)

20 October - Chancellor Announces Enhancements to Coronavirus Support Schemes

In response to growing concerns over the disparity of help available to businesses placed under tighter restrictions but not legally required to close, the government is making the following changes to its existing support schemes:

  • Job Support Scheme JSS - From 1 November businesses suffering from the impact of tier 2 restrictions only need to bring their employees back for 20% of their hours and not 33% as previously announced. The government will provide up to two thirds (61.67%) of wages for hours not worked, up to £1541.75 per month  The employer's contribution to wage costs under the JSS for those not working has been cut from 33% to 5% with businesses based in all alert levels eligible.
  • Self Employed Income Support Scheme SEISS - The government is doubling the SEISS grant from 20% of previous earning to 40% to a maximum of £3750. The grant will cover the period from the start of November 2020 until the end of January 2021. A further grant will cover the period from the start of February 2021 until the end of April 2021, the level of this has yet to be announced.
  • New Support Scheme for businesses in Tier 2 areas - Local authorities will receive funding, based on the number of hospitality, hotels, B&B and leisure businesses in their area, to distribute grants to those worst affected. Every business premises will be eligible for up to £2,100 each month they are under Tier 2 restrictions. Local authorities will also receive a 5% top up amount to cover other businesses outside these sectors that might be affected.  

14 October - COVID hotline opens for reporting illegal claims for support

A new hotline has been set up by the government and Crimestoppers for reporting COVID-19 fraudsters who make illegal claims for support.

It is estimated that business defaults and fraud could result in potential losses of £15bn to £26bn from the COVID-19 Bounce Back Loan Scheme alone. Tell tales signs of fraud can include unusual buying activity by companies and individuals, as well as cold calling by those falsely claiming that they are from the government, offering money for schemes.

The hotline will not cover criminal activity related to the furlough, universal credit or 'eat out to help out' scheme.

The COVID hotline is on 0800 587 5030 and is open 24/7, 365 days a year.

12 October - More generous Local Restrictions Support Grants

Cash grants for businesses in England that are required to close in local lockdowns have been increased. The new grants will be linked to rateable values, with up to £3,000 per month payable every two weeks, compared to the up to £1,500 every three weeks which was available previously.

Under the new scheme properties with a rateable value of:

  • £15,000 or under will receive grants of £667 per two weeks of closure (£1,334 per month)
  • Over £15,000 and less than £51,000 will receive grants of £1,000 per two weeks of closure (£2,000 per month)
  • 51,000 or over will receive grants of £1500 per two weeks of closure (£3,000 per month)

9 October - Expansion of Job Support Scheme (JSS)

The expanded JSS will offer grants to support businesses who premises have been legally required to close as a direct result of coronavirus restrictions. 

The government will pay two thirds (67%) of employee’s usual wages, up to a maximum of £2,100 per month. Employers will not be required to contribute towards wages but do need to cover National Insurance contributions and pension contributions..

The scheme will begin on 1 November be available for six months, with a review point in January.

Businesses can apply for the JSS, including the new expansion, even if they haven’t previously used the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Payments will be made in arrears via a HMRC claims service that will be available from early December. 

5 October - Self Assessment 'time to pay' threshold raised

In a further move to reduce financial stress HMRC has made it easier for self assessment taxpayers to pay the tax they owe on a monthly basis. From 1 October, the limit for time to pay, the online payment plan service used to set up instalment arrangements for paying tax liabilities, is increased to £30,000, up from £10,000.

The increase follows the Chancellor's announcement on 24 September that self assessment taxpayers could pay their deferred payment on account bill from July 2020, any outstanding tax owed for 2019/20 and their first payment on account bill for this current tax year in monthly instalments, rather than as two payments in January and July.

Those with self assessment tax payments over £30,000, or who need longer than 12 months to pay in full, may still be able to set up a time to pay arrangement by calling the self assessment payment helpline on 0300 200 3822.

2 October - Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) Third and Fourth Rounds

The Government announced that the Self Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will be extended with a further third and fourth round of grants.

The starting point for qualifying for further SEISS are the same conditions which had to be met for the earlier first and second round of grants. You do not have to have made a claim under either of these earlier rounds to be eligible but two new conditions will have to be met in the relevant qualifying period for the third and fourth grants. These are:

  • Claimants are actively trading and intend to continue to trade
  • The trade is impacted by reduced demand due to the pandemic

The third round of grants will cover the period from the start of November 2020 until the end of January 2021 and be worth:

  • Up to 20% of average month trading profits
  • For a period of three months
  • Capped at an overall maximum of £1,875

The fourth round will cover the period from the start of February 2021 until the end of April 2021. Details of the funding support available have not yet been announced.

24 September - Chancellor's Winter Economy Plan

The Winter Economy Plan contained a number of measures to support businesses as the pandemic continues. They include

  • The Jobs Support Scheme starts on 1 November and will replace the furlough scheme when it ends on 31 October. Under the scheme workers get up to 77% of their normal salaries for six months. Employees will have to be working for at least a third of their normal hours to qualify. The government and the employer will then cover part of their salary for the remaining hours not worked. The government will cover a third of this sum, capped at £697.92 per month, while firms cover a further third. The Jobs Support Scheme will sit alongside the Jobs Retention Bonus. HMRC's factsheet gives more details.
  • An extension to the Self Employment Income Support Scheme Grant (SEISS). A third grant will cover three months' worth of profits for the period from November to the end of January 2021. This will be worth 20% of average monthly profits, up to a total of £1,875.
  • More time will be given to businesses to repay money they have borrowed through the government's coronavirus loan schemes.
  • A VAT cut for hospitality and tourism companies will also be extended until March. The cut from 20% to 5% VAT - which came into force on 15 July - had been due to expire on 12 January next year.

For more information about the announcements, please see our special report.

23 September - Additional Measures Announced

From Wednesday 23 September office workers who are able to work from home should do so and the requirement for customers to wear face coverings will be extended to all users of taxis and private hire vehicles.

From Thursday 24 September measures include the following:

  • pubs, bars and restaurants must operate table-service only, except for takeaways
  • hospitality venues must close at 10pm (which means closing, not last orders). The same will apply to takeaways, although deliveries can continue
  • the requirement to wear face coverings will be extended to include retail staff and staff and customers in indoor hospitality, except when seated at a table to eat or drink
  • covid-secure guidelines will become legal obligations in retail, leisure, tourism and other sectors

These new measures will be enforced by tighter penalties

22 September - Self Isolation Payments for Lower Income Employees

The government has announced a legal requirement, effective from 28 September, for people to self isolate when instructed by NHS Test and Trace. Those on lower incomes who cannot work from home and have lost income as a result will be supported by a payment of £500. The scheme is expected to be in place by 12 October but those who start to self isolate from 28 September will receive backdated payments when the scheme is set up in their local authority.

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. However, the government has said the fines could increase to up to £10,000 for repeat offences and for the most egregious breaches, including for those preventing others from self-isolating such as business owners who threaten self isolating staff with redundancy if they do not come to work. See government press release for more details. 

21 September - Tax Implications of Working From Home During COVID-19

The government is being forced to rethink its call to businesses to return to the office as coronavirus cases start to rise again. Here we summarise the main tax implications of working from home for employers and employees.

For employers - Providing there are arrangements to work from home between the employee and employer and the employee must work at home regularly under those arrangements, employers can make payments exempt from tax for the additional costs of heating and lighting the work area, the metered cost of increased water use, increased charge for internet access, home contents insurance or business telephone calls. 

HMRC will permit payments exempt of tax of: 
- up to £6 per work (or £26 per month) without the employer having to justify the amount paid or
- the actual additional costs incurred by the employee

For employees -The conditions typically apply to arrangements where the employee works from home due to convenience rather than as a requirement of the job. However where an employer requires their employees to work from home due to COVID-19 this may mean that the employee can claim a deduction for appropriate working from home costs. These are: the additional unit costs of gas and electricity consumed while a room is being used for work; - the metered cost of water used in the performance of duties; the unit costs of business telephone calls (including dial up internet access).

Where costs are difficult to quantify, HMRC will instead accept a deduction of £6 per week or £26 per month (excluding the cost of business telephone calls). If the employee wishes to deduct more than this, they must keep records to show how their figure has been calculated. Employees can claim a deduction for these expenses in a self assessment tax return or if claiming for less than £2,500 of expenses in a single tax year online at gov.uk.

HMRC has now changed its systems so that you only need to claim working from home tax relief once, and you automatically get it claimed for ALL of this tax year (2020/21). A tax saving of £62 a year for basic rate taxpayers, £124 a year at the higher rate.

10 September - Grants for Businesses Affected by Local Lockdowns

Businesses in England required to close due to local lockdowns or targeted restrictions will now be able to receive grants worth up to £1,500 per property every three weeks, in addition to any other Covid-19 related government support they may be receiving. As with other Covid business grants, local grants to closed businesses will be treated as taxable income.

  • Businesses occupying premises with a rateable value less than £51,000 or occupying a property or part of a property subject to an annual rent or mortgage payment of less than £51,000, will receive £1000.
  • Businesses occupying premises with a rateable value of exactly £51,000 or above or occupying a property or part of a property subject to an annual rent or mortgage payment of exactly £51,000 or above, will receive £1500.

2 September - £2bn 'Kickstart' Scheme to Address Post-COVID Youth Unemployment

Under the scheme, employers can offer youngsters aged 16-24 who are claiming universal credit a six-month work placement. The government will fully fund each Kickstart job, paying 100% of the age-relevant national minimum wage, National Insurance and statutory automatic enrolment minimum pension contributions for 25 hours a week. Employers will be able to top up this wage, while the government will also pay employers £1500 per job placement to cover support and training and to help pay for uniforms and other set up costs.

Applications must be for a minimum of 30 job placements. Businesses which are only able to offer one or two job placements can partner with other organisations, such as similar employers, local authorities, trade bodies or registered charities, to reach the minimum number. The intermediary applying on behalf of a group of employers is eligible for £300 of funding to support with the associated administrative costs of bringing together these employers. Government information about the scheme can be found here

1 September - Small Business Recovery Grants

Cash grants of between £1,000 and £5,000 will be available to small businesses to help cover the cost of essential services during the post-lockdown recovery period. The money can be used to obtain legal, HR and IT assistance, as well as accountancy services. It can also be used to pay for the installation of new technologies to improve the agility of small firms to enable them to diversify.

Business owners should apply for these grants via their local growth hubs in their respective Local Enterprise Partnership region. For businesses in the Portsmouth and surrounding area we have included the link below to the Solent LEP for you to register your interest in the funding and hear when it becomes available. 
solentlep.org.uk/small-business-recovery-grants

 

For earlier government announcements please see COVID-19 pages:

 

Latest news...

20/01/2021

Business interruption claims backed

The UK's Supreme Court has found in favour of small firms receiving payments from coronavirus (COVID-19) business interruption insurance policies. The test case was brought against insurers by the Financial 

READ MORE

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to keep in touch to receive our latest news and industry updates.

Yes, I would like to receive email updates providing me with the latest finance news, advice guides and details of future events.



REF: MC/NL/1.2