Guiding you through the COVID-19 crisis

The UK Government 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 page will be updated regularly, covering the announcements and crucially, providing direct advice on how to access the support. We will also be providing some useful advice to help you balance working from home, with running a business and continuing to support your employees.

A full list of the current measures announced by the Government can be found here:

You can also use the Government support finder tool to find Coronavirus financial support for your business:


Job Retention and Self-Employment Scheme Updates

The Self-employment income support scheme (SEISS) eligibility checker is now live

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) has now been extended to the end of October 2020.

The payroll qualifying date for the Job Retention Scheme has been moved from 28th Feb to 19th March 2020

The Job Retention Scheme portal is now live and payments are expected to take 6 working days from application

Download our Job Retention Scheme and Furloughing guide below

Self-Employed should use the Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS)

Other Support and Announcements

Small Business Discretionary Grant Payments announced to help businesses that do not qualify for other schemes

Business Bounce Back Loan Scheme launched to support small businesses

Use the Government support finder tool to work out what you may be entitled to claim/apply for

Businesses are able to apply for an additional 3 months to file accounts

£10k and £25k Small Business grant applications are open on Local Authority websites

The ICAEW is urging firms to keep track of any losses resulting from the Covid-19 crisis to ensure they can claim maximum reliefs

VAT and Self-Assessment Payment on Account have both been deferred/delayed

The Business Interruption Loan Scheme is Live. Contact Your Bank Directly

*Full details and relevant links to individual announcements can be found below:


Key points and actions for:

Businesses / Employers:

  • The Job Retention Scheme is now open for applications. Download our guide below or contact us for help with your application
  • Apply for a Business Bounce Back loan of up to £50,000 (loan value of no more than 25% of your turnover) – 100% guaranteed by the treasury and no interest payable in the first year
  • Apply for £10k and £25k Small Business rates linked grants via your rates collecting authority website
  • Speak to your Council about Small Business Discretionary Grant Payments if you do not qualify for other schemes announced
  • VAT payments due for the period to 30th June have been delayed until the end of the tax year 2020-2021 but returns must still be filed
  • PAYE remains payable, but you can apply for time-to-pay
  • Year-end accounts and tax returns must still be filed but businesses can apply for an additional 3 months to file accounts
  • Business interruption loan scheme went live on 23.03.20
  • SSP eligibility changes – New legislation will allow small-and medium-sized businesses and employers to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19.
  • Keep track of any losses resulting from Covid-19 crisis

Employees / Individuals

  • 3-Month Mortgage holidays are available for those most in need but bear in mind it might take 10 days to change a DD. This is not 3 free months and interest will continue to accrue during the holiday period
  • Private landlords are now eligible for a 3 month buy-to-let mortgage holiday if their tenants are experiencing financial difficulties. Individuals should speak to lenders at the earliest opportunity if they think they may be affected.
  • Loans- speak to the lender about capital (& Interest) repayment holiday
  • Credit cards – reduce repayments to the minimum payment period but be aware that interest will continue to accrue on outstanding amounts
  • Most local councils are offering to defer council tax payments for those in financial difficulty, as are most water and energy suppliers. Individuals should speak to their providers as early as possible to set up a deferral plan
  • HMRC confirms that the exceptional circumstances clause can be applied for UK residence tax

The Self-employed

  • Visit the SEISS eligibility checker to begin your application – further details below
  • The Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will provide a grant to self-employed individuals, worth 80% of their profits up to a cap of £2,500 per month for the next 3 months.
  • If you currently make payments on account to HMRC, there is now no requirement for you to make your second payment on account for the 2019/20 tax year (due on 31 July 2020). The due date will instead be deferred to 31 January 2021. You will need to make sure you are setting aside enough tax throughout the year to cover the liability
  • Those with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time To Pay service. Call HMRC on 0800 0159 559

Job Retention Scheme – Applications and Guidance

About the Scheme

On Friday 20th March 2020, The Chancellor announced that UK employers will be able to apply for funding of 80% of PAYE salaries for workers who would otherwise have been laid off due to the virus, up to a cap of £2,500/month per employee.

The scheme was originally open for three months and backdated from the 1 March to the end of May. But on 17 April Rishi Sunak announced that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) would be extended to include the month of June 2020. A further 4 month extension to the scheme was announced on 12 May, taking the scheme up to the end of October.

26.03.20 – HMRC provided further detail and clarification on the Job Retention Scheme. Click here to find out more.

The application portal is now live and payments are being made to applicants.

How to access the scheme

You will need to:

  • designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers,’ and notify your employees of this change – changing the status of employees remains subject to existing employment law and, depending on the employment contract, may be subject to negotiation
  • submit information to HMRC about the employees that have been furloughed and their earnings through the application portal

Employers can claim a grant from HMRC to cover wages for a furloughed employee, equal to the lower of 80% of an employee’s regular salary or £2,500 per month, plus the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on paying those wages.

What information will I need to provide to make a claim?

  1. The bank account number and sort code you’d like HMRC to use when paying your claim.
  2. The name and phone number of the person in your business for HMRC to call with any questions.
  3. Your Self-Assessment UTR (Unique Tax Reference), Company UTR or CRN (Company Registration Number).
  4. The name, employee number and National Insurance number for each of your furloughed employees.
  5. The total amount being claimed for all employees and the total furlough period.

We can help you manage the process of completing the claim. Please contact us if you would like assistance. 


Haggards Crowther Furloughing Guide

In this guide, the business specialists at Haggards Crowther answer the most commonly asked questions about the scheme and the process of ‘furloughing’ employees:


Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS)

The Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will support self-employed individuals (including members of partnerships) whose income has been negatively impacted by COVID-19. The scheme will provide a grant to self-employed individuals, worth 80% of their profits up to a cap of £2,500 per month for the next 3 months.

On Friday 1 May 2020 the Government issued the legislation by way of a Direction to introduce the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme. At the same time HMRC issued more detailed guidance on the operation of the scheme. The SEISS will allow taxpayers to claim a taxable grant of 80% of their average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering 3 months, and capped at £7,500 altogether.

Key points that have changed since the previous version of the guidance:

  1. HMRC guidance sets out information required to make a claim
  2. The taxpayer has to claim and needs to set up Government Gateway account
  3. Agents cannot make claims on their client’s behalf
  4. If taxpayers are unable to claim online an alternative way to claim will be available
  5. Apart from those taxpayers subject to the loan charge their 2018/19 tax return must have been submitted by 23 April 2020 to qualify
  6. Returns submitted between 26 March 2020 and 23 April 2020 will be subject to additional anti-fraud checks
  7. Those taxpayers subject to the loan charge have until 30 September 2020 to submit their 2018/19 tax return
  8. There is additional guidance on partnerships where some partners qualify and others do not – the grant belongs to the partner that qualifies for SEISS
  9. SEISS is State Aid and may not be available if the taxpayer is already above the State Aid limit – watch farming clients as there is a 120,000 euro overall limit
  10. Where the taxpayer is non-resident or taxed on the remittance basis their total income includes overseas income that is not subject to tax in UK.

Who can claim?

Taxpayers can claim if they are self-employed individuals or a members of a partnership and:

  • they carry on a trade which has been adversely affected by coronavirus
  • they traded in the tax year 2018/19 and submitted their Self-Assessment tax return on or before 23 April 2020 for that year
  • they traded in the tax year 2019/20
  • they intend to continue to trade in the tax year 2020/21

Information required to make a claim:

  • Self-Assessment Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) number
  • National Insurance number
  • Government Gateway user ID and password
  • Bank account number and sort code you want us to pay the grant into (only provide bank account details where a BACS payment can be accepted)
  • Taxpayers will have to confirm to HMRC that their business has been adversely affected by coronavirus.

When can you make a claim?

The first stage of the online claim service is now available. You can now check if you are eligible to claim

HMRC has an online eligibility checker which links from their web page: 

SEISS Eligibility Checker

SEISS Page on Gov.uk

If HMRC tell you that you are not eligible to make a claim, you can ask HMRC to review this after you have used the online tool. If you want to do this later, you will be able to use the online tool more than once.

If you are unable to claim online, an alternative way to claim will be available soon.

Once you have completed the eligibility check, and it has been confirmed that you are eligible for the grant, HMRC will ask for your contact details and they will email you between the 13 and 18 May to begin the application. The HMRC portal opens on different days for different taxpayers and so you will be allocated a date from which you can submit your application. 

HMRC will check claims and take appropriate action to withhold or recover payments found to be dishonest or inaccurate.

We cannot make the claim on your behalf, but please contact us if you need any help or support.

Once the claim has been submitted you will be notified straight away if the grant is approved. HMRC will pay the grant into the nominated bank account within 6 working days.


Small Business Focused Schemes:

Small Business Discretionary Grant Payments

The Government has announced a discretionary fund has been set up to accommodate certain small businesses previously outside the scope of the business grant funds scheme.

This is in addition to the funding previously announced for the Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF) and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grants Fund (RHLGF). The Government will confirm week commencing 4 May the exact amount for each local authority.

This additional fund is aimed at small businesses with ongoing fixed property-related costs. The Government are asking local authorities to prioritise businesses in shared spaces, regular market traders, small charity properties that would meet the criteria for Small Business Rates Relief, and bed and breakfasts that pay council tax rather than business rates. But local authorities may choose to make payments to other businesses based on local economic need. The allocation of funding will be at the discretion of local authorities.

To be eligible:

  • businesses must be small
  • under 50 employees
  • and they must also be able to demonstrate that they have seen a significant drop of income due to Coronavirus restriction measures.

There will be three levels of grant payments. The maximum will be £25,000. There will also be grants of £10,000. Local authorities will have discretion to make payments of any amount under £10,000. It will be for councils to adapt this approach to local circumstances.

Further guidance to follow shortly.

Business ‘Bounce Back’ Loans

The Chancellor has launched a new loan scheme for Britain’s smallest firms. The new “Business Bounce Back” loans will be 100% guaranteed by the taxpayer and will provide firms with up to 25% of their turnover up to £50,000 with no interest payable in the first year.

Businesses will be able to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000 with access to the cash within a matter of days.

About the loans:

  • Will be interest free for the first 12 months
  • Will be capped at no more than 25% of turnover
  • Are repayable over periods up to 6 years
  • May not have any repayments due during the first 12 months

The Government is working with accredited lenders to agree a low rate of interest for the remaining period of the loan.

The scheme has been designed to ensure that small firms who need vital cash injections to keep operating can get finance within a “matter of days”.

Applications will be via a straightforward short and standardised online portal. It is anticipated that funds will reach businesses within day of applying – providing immediate support to those that need it as easily as possible.

You can apply for the loan if your business:

  • is based in the UK
  • has been negatively affected by coronavirus
  • was not in financial difficulty as at 31 December 2019

The scheme will launch for applications on Monday 4 May and firms will be able to access these loans through a network of accredited lenders.

Further guidance to follow shortly.


Exceptional circumstances confirmed for UK residence test

An individual’s residence in the UK for tax purposes is determined by a statutory residence test and the number of days spent in the UK is a key factor. The rules for counting days take account of situations where an individual’s presence in the UK is due to exceptional circumstances beyond their control.

**HMRC has confirmed that the exceptional circumstances clause can be applied for any individual case where the pandemic has caused difficulties**

Do bear in mind, the 60 day annual limit will otherwise continue to apply.

Businesses can apply for an additional 3 months to file accounts

A joint initiative between the government and Companies House means that businesses will, from today (25.03.20), be able to apply for an additional 3 months to file accounts. The move is designed to help companies avoid penalties as they deal with the impact of COVID-19. As part of the agreed measures, those citing issues around COVID-19 will be automatically and immediately granted an extension.

The application needs to be completed online via the Companies House online filing system.

However, companies that have already extended their filing deadline, or shortened their accounting reference period, may not be eligible for an extension.

We would strongly recommend that all companies keep reporting on time where possible and we will make every effort to support you in this regard.


VAT Payments Suspended Until June 2020

VAT payments normally due during the next 3 months can be deferred until the end of the 2020/21 tax year. This will apply to liabilities due for the quarters ending 29 February (due 7 April), 31 March (due 7 May) and 30 April (due 7 June).

No application is required. At this stage, returns are still required, it is only the payments which have the deferment. HMRC is simply not chasing any payments for which the above applies and will not be applying any interest or penalties on late VAT payments.

Please note this is available as a deferment of the VAT due ONLY, the liability will still need to be paid eventually. If you can still pay, we would recommend doing so.

Self-Assessment PoA Deferred to 31.01.21

Self-Assessment payment on account due 31 July will be deferred until 31 January 2021. 

No application is required by any individual wishing to take advantage. HMRC is simply not chasing any payments for which the above applies.

Please note this is a deferment ONLY.


Private rental mortgage holiday and pause on new eviction proceedings

Landlords in England and Wales will not be able to start new eviction proceedings for at least the next 3 months, protecting private and social tenants.

Private landlords are also now eligible for a 3 month buy-to-let mortgage payment holiday if their tenants are experiencing financial difficulties. Individuals should speak to lenders at the earliest opportunity if they think they may be affected. For those agreeing a payment holiday, no mortgage payments would be due for the next 3 months and the total amount owed for this period would be spread out across all future payments, so there would be a very small uplift in future payments.


Claiming Small Business Grants

The Chancellor initially announced small business grant funding of £3,000 for all businesses in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief. This was subsequently increased to £10,000 for qualifying businesses.

**Applications are now open and should be made via your business rates collecting authority website**

In order to complete your application, you will need:

  • Your company bank account details
  • Your VAT number
  • Local authority rates account number
  • Property reference number as shown on the most recent rates bill
  • Your company registration details
  • You company name
  • Details of what your business does
  • Exact address of the rateable property

IR35 Private Sector Rollout Postponed

On 17th March Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Steve Barclay, announced that the extension of the more rigorous compliance regime for the IR35 rules to the private sector will now be delayed until 6 April 2021.

This announcement comes less than a week after Chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed in his budget that the new regime would apply to the private sector from 6 April 2020. 


Business Interruption Loan Scheme

The full rules of the Scheme and the list of accredited lenders is available on the British Business Bank website. All the major banks will offer the Scheme once it has launched. There are 40 accredited providers in all.

You should talk to your bank or finance provider (not the British Business Bank) as soon as possible and discuss your business plan with them. This will help your finance provider to act quickly once the Scheme has launched. If you have an existing loan with monthly repayments you may want to ask for a repayment holiday to help with cash flow.

The scheme is now open. Contact your bank directly.


Business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses

There will be a business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year.

Businesses that received the retail discount in the 2019 to 2020 tax year will be rebilled by their local authority as soon as possible.

There is no action for you. This will apply to your next council tax bill in April 2020. However, local authorities may have to reissue your bill automatically to exclude the business rate charge. They will do this as soon as possible.

Check Premises Insurance

Company owners should check premises insurance cover if offices/buildings are left empty for any period.

What are your duties under the policy?

Do you need to ensure regular checks?


HMRC taxpayer inquiries suspended

HMRC’s inquiries into taxpayers and firms under investigation have been suspended as the coronavirus crisis continues, with a Government spokesperson commenting: “It is right that HMRC does everything possible to protect individuals, businesses and the economy during this extremely difficult time.”

Support for Businesses and the Self-employed paying tax

All businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time To Pay service.

These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities.

If you have missed a tax payment or you might miss your next payment due to COVID-19, please call HMRC’s dedicated helpline:

0800 0159 559


Future Relief?

Businesses must keep track of losses resulting from coronavirus to ensure they can claim maximum reliefs and survive the pandemic, says the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW). The faculty is urging firms to keep track of any losses accumulated as a result of COVID-19 and to take action to find out what reliefs are available to them

  • Lost business
  • Sickness payments
  • Lost income – e.g. rents
  • Exceptional payments & costs

Cash grants for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses

A £25,000 grant will be provided to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses operating from smaller premises, with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000.

**Applications are now open and should be made via your business rates collecting authority website**


Free resources for home schooling

Juggling business and children? A number of online providers have removed the payment gateway on educational materials for parents/teachers/children.

www.senecalearning.com

www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize

www.twinkl.co.uk (using code UKTWINKLHELPS)

www.corbettmaths.com

Continue Tax Planning

Even in volatile times like these and with market turmoil, maximising your tax allowances continues to make financial sense. So, with under 3 weeks to go before the end of the tax year, it could be a good idea to make the most of your ISA and SIPP allowances before you miss out.

Here is a reminder of some of the reliefs available in the run up to 5th April:

  • Secure your valuable £20,000 income and capital gains tax-free ISA allowance.
  • Make use of any remaining pension allowance (up to £40,000 for this tax year). You will get a 20% tax relief boost (increasing up to 60% for higher earners) on any contributions you make.
  • Check to see if you could ‘carry forward’ any unused pension annual allowances from the previous three tax years.
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