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Government's Winter support package

Additional Government Support Announcement – Further Update

Further Update on Government’s Winter Support Package

As is commonly the case further information has filtered through from the Government’s Winter support package and the two key areas; in additional to those already highlighted are what we are going to cover in this newsletter.

Self-assessment help

Self Assessment customers can now apply online to spread the cost of their tax bill into monthly payments without the need to contact HMRC.

The online self-serve ‘Time to Pay’ service, has been increased to £30,000 for Self Assessment customers, to help ease any potential financial burden they may be experiencing due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Once you’ve completed your tax return for the 2019-20 tax year, you can use the online self-serve ‘Time to Pay’ service through GOV.UK to set up a direct debit and pay any tax that is owed in monthly instalments, up to a 12-month period.

If you wish to set up your own self-serve ‘Time to Pay’, you must meet the following requirements:

  • no outstanding tax returns
  • no other tax debts
  • no other HMRC payments set up
  • your Self Assessment tax bill is between £32 and £30,000
  • it is no more than 60 days since the tax was due for payment.

If you do not meet these requirements, you might still qualify for Time to Pay, but you will need to call HMRC to set this up.

If you set up a ‘Time to Pay’ arrangement, you will have to pay interest on the tax paid late. Interest will be applied to any outstanding balance from 1 February 2021.

Further VAT help

The Chancellor has also now announced that businesses who deferred VAT due from 20 March to 30 June 2020 will now have the option to pay in smaller payments over a longer period.

Instead of paying the full amount by the end of March 2021, you can make smaller payments up to the end of March 2022, interest free.

You will need to opt-in to the scheme, and for those who do, this means that your VAT liabilities due between 20 March and 30 June 2020 do not need to be paid in full until the end of March 2022.

Those that can pay their deferred VAT can still do so by 31 March 2021.

External Virtual Client Events

In addition to our event being held on the 1 October we are delighted to share and invite you all to two further events that are detailed below:

Friday 9 October at 2pm
Is your business your pension?
To book click here

Thursday 8 October at 3pm
Why financial planning is important
To book click here

These are events are kindly being ran by our partners at St James’s Place so please feel free to book on directly or if you have any queries regarding either of these events then please just let us know again using the funding@gtaccountants.com e-mail address.

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Today’s Government Announcement

Today’s Announcement

So whilst we would usually wait until a little more detail is released, we thought we would share what we know already as we appreciate the urgency with which some people need some clarification.

As we find out more we will release a further update so watch out for any further updates in your mailbox.

The highlights are as follows:

  1. The current furlough scheme will be replaced by a new jobs support scheme as of November and will run for 6 months.  Broadly speaking current guidance is suggesting that employees must work at least a third of their normal hours, the Government subsidising a third leaving the remaining third unpaid.  Further guidance will follow around this.
  2. The self-employed grant will be extended but the exact terms of this are yet to be clarified.
  3. The deadline for applying for either a bounce back loan or coronavirus business interruption loans has been extended to 30 November 2020.
  4. Greater flexibility around bounce back loans including the possible opportunity to extend the term over which repayments are made.
  5. For those struggling with bounce back loan repayments there will be the option to potentially take a payment holiday for up to six months and make interest only repayments.  Again we expect more detail to be released around this and restrictions around those who can take advantage.
  6. VAT will remain at 5% for hospitality and tourism until 31 March 2021.

Cash flow support

Whilst we are uncertain as to what additional support there may or may not be from the Government we can realistically expect greater difficulty when it comes to collecting debt.

We have subsequently established a creditors services alongside an independent third party offering to support businesses in need that will not only do some digging around amounts you are concerned about receiving but will also chase these for you.

This initial exercise is absolutely free and from the cases we have seen so far; as this is handled externally to ourselves, a client recently received over £3,000 that they have previously written off and it cost them little more than £200 that was only taken upon successful collection of the debt.

If this is a concern for you, have any queries and/or just wish to discuss this further register your interest by e-mailing us at funding@gtaccountants.com

Group Event (Virtual I’m afraid)

Whilst we did initially hope some time soon we could commence face to face meetings and have this event as being a physical one we have had to think again but we won’t let it hold us back entirely.

In addition to the online community platform that we have established with Futrli Peer and for which you can access for no charge through this link here to chat with other business owners and get some tips, we are also doing more.

We as a firm will be the lead for Enterprise Nation where we bring business owners together through Zoom but this will be a great opportunity to just let off some steam and take away some great content and advice.

There is no charge for attending and the first virtual event is on 1 October from midday for an hour so if this of interest then why not book through the link here.

Going forward we are hoping to make this a monthly event and get some guest speakers along with hopefully some special offers from partners.  We will also keep those who attend aware of funding pots as these are shared with us in addition to sharing these with you by way of our newsletters.

External Virtual Client Events

In addition to our event being held on the 1 October we are delighted to share and invite you all to two further events that are detailed below:

Friday 9 October at 2pm
Is your business your pension?
To book click here

Thursday 8 October at 3pm
Why financial planning is important
To book click here

These are events are kindly being ran by our partners at St James’s Place so please feel free to book on directly or if you have any queries regarding either of these events then please just let us know again using the funding@gtaccountants.com e-mail address.

post july 1

Further Detail Behind Latest Government Announcement

Most of you will have already seen the headlines last week but we wanted to digest this and get a little more detail behind the proposals before we expanded on them and we still await some further details as of today.

In summary though:

  • Incentives to retain staff following the end of furlough
  • Temporary reduction, until 31st March 2021, in stamp duty so that houses under £500k are exempt
  • The Eat Out To Help Out Scheme across August for participating restaurants
  • Temporary VAT reduction
  • Incentives to help young people into the workforce through apprenticeships and traineeships (more information still to follow regarding this so contact us if you wish to discuss further)
  • The COVID-19 Job Retention Scheme or as most of us know it… Furloughing
    The Government is now incentivising companies to bring back their furloughed staff and keep them until at least Jan 2021. For every furloughed member of staff, you bring back to work, continuously employ and pay over an average of £520 a month for Nov/Dec/Jan, the government will give your business £1,000.The money will be granted once you have submitted your payroll RTI submission for January 2021. This could be a very welcome cash bonus for many businesses though in our opinion could have been better spent as we personally aren’t sure jobs would be kept open this long given the size of the grant.  A thankless task; we know and the Government have done a great job but we think this one will not hit the mark.More information is expected regarding this by 31 July and full guidance is going to be published in the Autumn we’re told.

    Stamp duty change
    An increase in the Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) threshold in England and Northern Ireland – increasing the threshold under which no SDLT is paid on the purchase of a main home from £125,000 to £500,000, with immediate effect until 31‌‌‌ ‌March 2021.

    The Eat Out To Help Out Scheme across August for participating restaurants
    during August, diners can get 50% off Monday to Wednesday on meals and non-alcoholic drinks, up to £10 per person, when eating at participating restaurants, bars, cafes and other establishments that have registered

    VAT changes for eat in/takeaway food, hospitality and leisure (just not alcohol)
    Of course, we wholeheartedly applaud the reduction in VAT to 5% for these categories from July 15th to 12th Jan 2021. The accountant in us would have preferred the reduction to take place at the beginning or end of a month, but that’s just life!

    The UK government will cut VAT from 20% to 5% on any eat-in or hot takeaway food and drinks from restaurants, cafes and pubs, excluding alcohol. This VAT reduction also applies to all holiday accommodation in hotels, B&Bs, campsites and caravan sites, as well as attractions like cinemas, theme parks and zoos.

Flexible Furlough Calculations

As you are all aware, we have submitted all furlough claims to date for no charge.

Following the introduction of ‘flexible furlough’ and the complexity of the calculations behind this, there will now be a charge for the calculation element of this if you wish to take advantage because of the additional time involved at our end.

If you wish to make these calculations personally, you too would then need to then make the claim as we professionally cannot make a claim for which we were not responsible for.

All other standard furlough claims will continue to be made for no additional charge.

Free Xero training

Xero are kindly hosting a series of free training sessions to a limited number of people so if this of interest then please get in touch as the topics are changing on a week to week basis.

Webinar

What to expect next (financially and operationally)
This week we are speaking at the North East Expo event which this year is naturally being hosted online so to register for this free event just follow this link here where I will discuss my thoughts and make this as interactive as possible for those attending to help people plot a route forward both financially and operationally.

Last; but by no means least, welcome three new additions

I’ve resisted any pictures but we now welcome Kate, Triveni and Fraser to the team who actually started at various times through lockdown but that is the end of our latest recruitment drive; for now, so we thought it a good time to introduce them and if you see an e-mail in your mailbox from them it is genuine.

resources 26 may

The challenges we can expect next

The Easy Part Has Now Passed. Whilst we won’t deny the fact that the past few weeks and months have been challenging; as we fast approach a further announcement regarding the potential easing of lock down, more troubled times await us in the business world.

I have said on a number of occasions already that the business curve is most definitely behind the health curve and will be very different to it also.

We don’t say this to make people feel uneasy as we want to remain calm, but we don’t want people to grow complacent over the coming weeks and months.  To maintain this calm, we must retain control to the best of our ability and that means not letting up as we strike back against the current challenges that we have faced and those that still await us.

Let’s first start with some fairly obvious issues that lie ahead:

  1. These Government-backed loans will need repaying and whether they are 80% backed or 100% backed, if they are not repaid, it will impact your credit rating as a minimum.
  2. Aside from the loans, the Government has provided significant financial support such as local authority grants, furlough payments, self-employed grants etc.  These will all need to repaid but indirectly; in some shape or form, and we expect this to be via any or all of the following:
    1. Increase in personal tax rates
    2. Increase in company tax rates
    3. Increase in national insurance
    4. Increase in VAT

Some of these may come subtly through the reduction of some allowances and some may just be in terms of a hike in rates such as a jump in company tax from 19% to 30% would not be beyond the realms of possibility.  Whilst it would unreasonable and probably unlikely that these hikes will come immediately; we would be shocked if they don’t come at all, and whilst some industries might benefit from some respite such as hospitality, they may also not benefit at all nor may anybody be given any degree of leniency.

  1. Whether you have accessed any of the financial support or not, we cannot realistically see any way in which you will not be part of the repaying of it!

There are then the operational challenges that may await such as:

  • Suppliers reducing or revoking credit terms
  • Delivery timescales for materials being longer
  • Staff not wanting to return to work
  • Customers delaying orders, cancelling them or wanting extended credit
  • All of the above and more!

You might even think a lot of the above might not apply to you but it will impact you in some way or another as prices just in day to day life with regards to shopping are likely to rise!

Our key message and support

The support you have benefited from to date must continue in some shape or form to help you through the times we have ahead.  We encourage you to engage with us over the coming days and weeks to discuss this support in greater detail as we grow our team and other resources to be able to deliver this on an ongoing basis for you.

We know concerns will remain and cost will be a barrier for some if not many, but we have worked hard to find solutions to this that we can discuss at the same time.

Remember these two messages

  1. With the government support to date and the announcements made and pending, they may have whetted our appetite with regards to more positive times ahead, but it will not go far enough to quench our thirst.
  2. Finally, never forget – calm is the word but not complacency.

Webinars (NOT TO BE MISSED)

With us coming back of the bank holiday we have focused on just the one webinar this week that is ran alongside our software partner that assists with cash flow management.

Cash flow planning beyond COVID-19
Friday 29 May, Midday (book here)

Would you like to have the answers to all of the questions I have raised in the section above?

Join us for this webinar to hear how we as a business have adapted, how other businesses have adapted and how you too could to not just survive but really strike-back!

summary covid19

COVID-19 Summary (28 March 2020)

Wow, it has been quite a week and I appreciate that we have been sending quite a few newsletters with updates so we thought we would summarise where things are here.  In addition, we have provided more detail below this regarding furloughed employees and finally provided an update regarding accessing the government grants.
The Chancellor has set out a package of temporary, timely and targeted measures to support public services, people and businesses through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19.

This includes a package of measures to support businesses including:

  • a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
  • deferring VAT and Income Tax payments
  • a Self-employment Income Support Scheme
  • a Statutory Sick Pay relief package for small and medium sized businesses (SMEs)
  • a 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality, leisure and nursery businesses in England
  • small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief
  • grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
  • the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank
  • a new lending facility from the Bank of England to help support liquidity among larger firms, helping them bridge coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans
  • the HMRC Time To Pay Scheme

More detailed guidance around each of the areas above can be found here

Furloughing Employees Update from HMRC

What is it?

It is a grant for employers to help fund employee wages, where certain conditions are met, that has temporarily been put in place for 3 months initially, but this may be extended.

Note that this is a grant and not a loan, so it will not be repayable.

Which Businesses can claim?

  • It is open to all UK employers who have created and started a PAYE payroll scheme on 28th February 2020
  • Any UK organisation can claim it is not based on profits but business must have a UK bank account
  • Special rules apply to those public sector employers, who are funded primarily from public grant funding, mainly as they are expected to still be delivering a public service.  Please do seek further guidance around this area though if you think it might impact you.

Which employees are eligible?

  • To claim for an employee that you decide to furlough, they must have been on your payroll as at 28 February 2020 and this is includes various types of contract such as full time, part time etc.
  • We understand the furloughing of employees can be done on an individual basis, however, you need to be aware of employment law, particularly around discrimination.
  • The scheme also covers employees who were made redundant after 28 February 2020, as long as they are rehired by their employer.
  • Employees on unpaid leave cannot be furloughed, unless they were placed on unpaid leave after 28 February.
  • Employees on sick leave or self-isolating should get Statutory Sick Pay, but can be furloughed after this, whilst employees who are shielding in line with public health guidance can be placed on furlough.
  • If the employee is on maternity leave and receiving maternity pay, SMP or maternity allowance, this will continue.  However, if you top the statutory payment up this can be claimed back through the furlough scheme as long as both parties agree; this also applies to other statutory payments such as Statutory Adoption Pay

Employee salaries and entitlements

  • During the furlough period the employee’s wages will still be subject to the normal income tax and national insurance deductions etc
  • If your employee reduces their hours, then they are still deemed to be  working for you, so the scheme will not apply.
  • If your employee has more than one employer they can be furloughed for each job. Each job is separate and the cap applies to each employer individually based on current guidance.
  • A furloughed employee can take part in volunteer work or training, as long as it does not provide services to, or generate revenue for, or on behalf of your organisation.
  • Employees that have been furloughed have the same employment rights as they did previously.
  • The government has also announced changes to carrying over annual leave, allowing workers up to 2 years to take unused holiday, for more info click here.

Making a claim

  • Employees will have had to have been furloughed before any claim can be made.
  • The reclaim amount which will be repaid into employers’ bank accounts by BACS, that is likely to be in arrears, can be up to 80% of an employee’s regular wage plus on-costs up to a maximum amount of £2,500.  Therefore a maximum amount that can be claimed is £2,500 salary plus on-costs for employer’s National Insurance and the required minimum pension contributions.  Employers will need to pay 80% of normal, regular salary without bonuses, commission etc. included or £2,500 whichever is lower. We are awaiting further guidance from HMRC on the calculation of the NI and pension contributions on the subsidised wages paid, so expect further updates on this one.
  • There are a couple of calculation methods for those on variable pay, either the same month’s earnings in the previous year, or average monthly earnings for the year (pro rata for less than a year)
  • As a worker will have been furloughed National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage will not be relevant unless training is being undertaken whilst furloughed
  • Once the scheme has been closed by the government, HMRC will continue to process remaining claims before terminating the scheme
  • Payments received by a business under the scheme are made to offset these deductible revenue costs and thus will be taxed as income.
  • Businesses can deduct employment costs as normal when calculating taxable profits for Income Tax and Corporation Tax purposes.
  • There are a number of data items that HMRC will require when making a claim via their portal.  It isn’t yet clear what the portal might look like, or the format required for the data.

If you would like to share guidance with your employees to help them understand this legislation, please ask them to visit: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-if-you-could-be-covered-by-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

 

Some further queries you might have

 

Do employers have to backdate the 80% March payment values in April payroll/tax year 2020/21 or does it all have to be completed on the March payroll tax year 2019/20?

Currently, our understanding is that furloughing applies from the date that you notify your employees that they are being furloughed, not the date that you make the payments. Our suggestion would be to notify your employees now that you intend to furlough, with the amount that you intend to pay. Naturally guidance around this might change and we always recommend you take professional HR advice around this.

If a worker is furloughed, can they be brought back into work early if say work commitments change? 

Yes, we believe you can bring back your employees early but again take HR advice around how this is worded to enable the option to be considered at some point during the period of being furloughed.

For owner/Directors who are on the payroll, will they be treated as employees or self-employed?

Legally, directors of a limited company are employees and should be treated as such.  Like employees, any claim will be based in the same way BUT WILL NOT take account of any dividends.

If it is a single director company, are they eligible for this scheme?

Based on the latest ICAEW interpretation of the HMRC guidance; as HMRC are silent on this matter, they too are eligible and can make a claim provided they meet the same eligibility criteria that other employees need to meet.

Will you guys help us out as a business when this scheme is launched fully?

Of course we will and just watch out for further guidance coming but we will coordinate this all as part of the payroll process.

For those clients that handle payroll themselves internally, we will also help you through the same process if you wish so you’re not alone.

Any further questions that you might have which are are not covered above; and any action taken regardless, we always suggest is taken with the sign off of a qualified HR person with the above to act as a guide as to what can be interpreted from what HMRC has issued.  Use this accordingly to plan ahead, we will keep things right with regards to the declaration and reclaiming of amounts from HMRC then; you alongside an HR expert, can ensure the paperwork and implementation side of things can be handled correctly.

Don’t forget, as clients of ours, you have access to unindemnified advice from the HR team at Avensure or you can contact ACAS whose details are here.

As local authorities start to develop varying strategies around issuing the grant funding being provided by the Government, we suggest all businesses who feel that they meet the eligibility requirements contact their local councils through their websites to lodge a claim.

Grant Update

The links for Newcastle, North Tyneside, South Tyneside and Northumberland Council Councils can be found below:

Newcastle City Council click here
North Tyneside Council click here
South Tyneside Council click here
Northumberland County Council click here

The process seems quite straightforward and we have already lodged our claim but any queries around this please direct these towards your local authority.
Brexit, Vat returns

Brexit. VAT returns.

So we’ve recently heard that Brexit is being pushed back but that hasn’t stopped us so we thought we’d revisit everything we have done in advance of this and the impending making tax digital.

For those who weren’t aware, making tax digital comes in 1 April 2019 and is basically going to mean that if you are VAT-registered and your turnover exceeds the current VAT registration threshold of £85,000, you will no longer be able to submit your VAT returns through the HMRC portal. Instead, you will either need to use some accounting software or equivalent software to submit your VAT return.

Focusing first on making tax digital; we are now helping clients go digital with piece of mind and without fear through the following:

1. We introduced Receipt Bank that helps you maintain your receipts so much more easily and reduces the risk of losing them and subsequently any potential tax or VAT relief thereon where applicable.

2. We’ve partnered up with two of the biggest accounting software providers on the market – Xero and Sage, which subsequently now allows us to offer them both at prices that cannot be matched by going direct. These pieces of software; alongside ourselves, then help you control your finances and cash flow and plan for tax and VAT liabilities before they arise. We’re even offering free training to get to you set up at the minute.

3. We have introduced further partnerships; outside the world of accountancy, to support you in other day to struggles including experts in HR, branding, marketing, financial advisors, solicitors and many more.

All of the above will help make you compliant with making tax digital when it arrives 1 April 2019 with minimum fuss, time or effort and will make your lives easier. There will however be more newsletters focused on this over the coming months.

And there is more to come:

1. We will soon be introducing road maps for clients to better help them achieve those goals that they first set out to achieve i.e. retire at 55.

2. As we enter the crazy tax return season and the build up towards Christmas we will make it easier than ever to get your self-assessment tax return information to us and signed without ever having to set foot outside through Iris OpenSpace which is basically a further add-on to the benefits we already provided through the portal.

3. We will very soon be launching our own branded app which will bring all of these changes listed above under the one app so you can access everything in one place; all at the click of a button.

Now we might not know what changes Brexit will bring or when Brexit will even happen but we do know that we are helping our clients build stronger, sustainable and more resilient businesses in less time than ever to withstand such challenging economic conditions.

So who doesn’t want an easier life with better results?

Receipt Bank – Fetch

Don’t worry this section isn’t about dogs.

Did you know that through Receipt Bank you can have it ‘fetch’ invoices from other online accounts you have?

‘Wow’ I hear you say. All you do is click on add items when you are logged into your account then the fetch option will be on the screen then just follow the instructions.

Another step on the road to becoming digital and the management of paperwork is getting easier again.

Monthly offer – Xero

Xero rang us earlier the month and put two offers in front of us that we simply couldn’t refuse and which in turn we are sharing with you the customer.

If you know you want to use Xero but cost is the barrier then we have two affordable options:

1. If you only need read-only access we have a package that is comparable in price with Sage Business Cloud Accounting but significantly more comprehensive.

2. If you want the full package we have one that will again be comparable with Sage for the first 12 months but it has full functionality. After the first 12 months the price would rise but this is great opportunity to dip your toes in the water.

We only have limited packages with respect to these two offers and only 9 remaining for the second offer so get in touch as soon as possible if you want to take advantage. You are welcome to share these offers with friends and family who are not clients also.

Tax Return Season

As we enter the crazy season of tax returns; if you haven’t got yours in already then get it in as soon as possible to avoid any nasty surprises before or after Christmas when it comes to finding the money to pay any tax owed.