COVID-19 News and Updates

Please find below all updates and current news regarding the changing circumstances surrouding the COVID-19 outbreak.

03/04/2020

Further to our previous emails on the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), the Chancellor Rishi Sunak has made changes to the scheme to ensure that finance is more readily available to assist businesses struggling with cash flow issues.

The key changes announced are:

  • Lenders will be banned from requested personal guarantees on loans under £250,000.
  • For loans in excess of £250,000, personal guarantees will be limited to 20% of any outstanding amount, after recoveries from business assets.
  • The scheme will be available to all viable small businesses and not just those who are unable to obtain finance on normal commercial terms.
  • There will be operational changes to speed up lending approvals.
  • The government will continue to cover the first 12 months of interest and arrangement fees.

These changes will apply to finance already offered under the scheme to ensure that all businesses receive the same level of government protection.

New alternative finance lenders are also being accredited under the scheme to create more choice and diversity for smaller businesses.

In addition a new scheme has been announced for larger companies. The new scheme is being referred to as the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme. The scheme will provide a government guarantee of 80% to enable banks to make loans of up to £25 million to firms with an annual turnover between £45 million and £500 million. Further details on the scheme are expected later this month.

The Chancellor will be speaking to bank chief executives next week to ensure the schemes are working and finance is readily available.

Please do not hesitate to contact us should you have any questions or require assistance with preparing cash flow/profit projections or forecasts which may be required as part of the application process.

02/04/2020

Further to our previous post in relation to the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), we understand that chancellor Rishi Sunak is currently reviewing the scheme and an overhaul is expected in the coming days.

The scheme has been widely criticised as it has proved too difficult for businesses to obtain the finance that is urgently required.

Under the scheme as it currently stands, a key issue is that the lender is required to evaluate whether the business could obtain finance on normal commercial terms before providing the option of borrowing under the scheme. Of course, borrowing under normal commercial terms is likely to be more costly for a business as a result of arrangement fees and interest charges. Whereas, under the scheme, there are no arrangement fees and the loan is interest free for the first 12 months.

We expect the chancellor to address this issue and it is being reported that the requirement to assess the business for a normal commercial loan will be removed.

We are also aware that a number of lenders are unwilling to provide the loans without the inclusion of a personal guarantee. Again, it is expected that the chancellor will address this within his announcement.

We will provide full details in due course once the announcement takes place.

In the meantime, please do not hesitate to get in touch if we can be of assistance.

02/04/2020

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS):

We understand that chancellor Rishi Sunak is currently reviewing the business interruption loan scheme and an overhaul is expected in the coming days.

The scheme has been widely criticised as it has proved too difficult for businesses to obtain the finance that is urgently required.

Under the scheme as it currently stands, a key issue is that the lender is required to evaluate whether the business could obtain finance on normal commercial terms before providing the option of borrowing under the scheme.

We expect the chancellor to address this issue and it is being reported that this requirement will be removed to make the scheme more accessible.

A further issue is that the majority of lenders are insisting on personal guarantees before providing funds. Given the economic uncertainty, many businesses aren't willing to proceed on these terms, making the scheme ineffective. Again, we expect the chancellor to address this issue within the announcement.

We will provide full details in due course once the announcement takes place.

In the meantime, please do not hesitate to get in touch if we can be of assistance.

02/04/2020

It was originally announced that all self employed taxpayers would be able to defer their July payment on account in order to ease cash flow in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. This deferral has now been extended to all taxpayers.

Therefore any taxpayer with a payment on account due by the end of July may defer the payment until 31 January 2021.

This is an automatic offer and no application is required. If you would prefer to make the payment in the normal manner you can continue to do so. However, for those who choose to defer, no penalties or interest will be charged.

Please note, this is a deferral only and not a reduction in the liability, therefore the amount due at 31 January 2021 will be higher.

We would urge all individuals to submit their 2019/20 self assessment tax returns as early as possible. This won't alter the due date of any payments but will give certainty over the amounts due so that time to pay arrangements can be agreed with HMRC where necessary.

31/03/2020

The government have now released some further guidance for the previously announced job retention scheme.

The key points are as follows:

Scheme Details

  • The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is a temporary scheme open to all UK employers for at least three months starting on 1 March 2020.
  • The scheme is designed to support employers whose operations have been negatively affected by the coronavirus. The primary aim is to keep staff employed and avoid redundancies as far as possible. In order to achieve this aim, staff who are no longer able to work can be 'furloughed' so they are available once the business resumes.
  • HMRC will provide a grant to cover the lower of:
    • 80% of an employee's regular wage or;
    • £2,500 per month
  • In addition, the grant will also cover the associated employer national insurance contribution and the minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contribution. As such, the maximum grant that can be applied for is £2,804 per employee per month (£2,500 salary contribution, £245 employer's national insurance, £59 employer pension auto enrolment contribution). This will apply for employees on a salary of £37,500 or higher, where the employer minimum pension contribution of 3% is being made.
  • As a minimum, employers must pay their employee the lower of 80% of their regular wage or £2,500 per month. An employer can choose to top up an employee's salary beyond this amount but they are not obliged to do so.
  • The scheme is open to all UK employers that had a PAYE scheme in place on or before 28 February 2020. Those employers must also have a UK bank account.
  • In order to claim the grant, employees who are no longer able to work must be 'furloughed' (further details provided below).

Which employees can be included?

  • The furloughed employees must have been on the payroll as at 28 February 2020.
  • Employees can be on any type of contract, including full time, part time, flexible or zero hour contracts and agency contracts. See the information below for company directors.
  • For full time and part time salaried employees, the employee's actual salary before tax, as of 28 February should be used to calculate the 80%. Fees, commission and bonuses should not be included.
  • For employees on variable or zero hour contracts:
    • If the employee has been employed (or engaged by an employment business) for a full twelve months prior to the claim, you can claim for the higher of either:
      • the same month's earning from the previous year
      • average monthly earnings from the 2019-20 tax year
    • If the employee has been employed for less than a year, you can claim for an average of their monthly earnings since they started work.
    • If the employee only started in February 2020, use a pro-rata for their earnings so far to claim.

Other conditions

  • In order to claim, employers will need to designate those particular employees as 'furloughed'. This is subject to employment law and may require some negotiation depending on the particular terms of the employment contract. We would encourage employers to take legal advice where necessary.
  • Employers should write to the relevant employees to confirm they have been furloughed and keep a copy of this letter.
  • Whilst furloughed, an employee cannot undertake work for or on behalf of the organisation.
  • If an employee is working but on reduced hours/pay, they will not be eligible for the scheme.
  • Employees on sick leave or self isolating will be eligible for statutory sick pay but can be furloughed on returning to work.
  • If any employee has more than one job, they can be furloughed for either or both jobs and the cap applies to each employer individually.

How to claim

The grant will be claimed through a new online portal. This is currently being worked on and is expected to be in place by the end of April.

The information that will be required in due course is as follows:

  • your ePAYE reference number
  • the number of employees being furloughed
  • the claim period (start and end date)
  • amount claimed (per the minimum length of furloughing of 3 weeks)
  • your bank account number and sort code
  • your contact name
  • your phone number

Employers (or their agent) will be required to calculate the amount of the grant due. HMRC will then have the right to review any aspect of the claim following submission.

Other Matters

  • Furloughed employees retain the same rights as they did previously. This includes Statutory Sick Pay entitlement, maternity rights, other parental rights, rights against unfair dismissal and to redundancy payments.
  • Wages of furloughed workers continue to be subject to Income Tax and National Insurance in the normal manner.
  • Payments made to a business under the scheme are made to offset revenue costs and therefore will be considered taxable income for the business.

Company Directors

Originally, there was a concern that company directors would be unable to qualify for the scheme due to company law requirements and the need to undertake certain matters on behalf of the company. However, it has now been confirmed that directors will be eligible for the scheme, provided the above conditions are met.

The main issue, is that once furloughed, an employee cannot undertake any work for the company during this time. In terms of a director, it has been confirmed that they can continue to undertake statutory duties but no other work. No doubt, there will be some debate as to what is considered a statutory duty but this should include filing returns (dealing with VAT, PAYE and Company Accounts), maintaining records and attending board meetings.

This certainly excludes any activities undertaken to generate revenue on behalf of the company.

Please note, the amount which can be claimed under the grant is limited to salary only and cannot include dividends.

The measures announced and guidance provided by the government is continually developing, therefore we will provide further updates when information is available.

Please do not hesitate to contact us should you have any queries.

27/03/2020

Yesterday evening, the chancellor announced his eagerly anticipated support package for self-employed individuals. The new scheme has been referred to as the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS).

The scheme will allow qualifying individuals to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for the next 3 months. This timeline may be extended if needed.

This applies to self-employed individuals and members of a partnership where the following conditions have been met:

  • You have submitted your self assessment tax return for the tax year 2018-19.
  • You have traded in the tax year 2019-20.
  • You are trading when you apply for the grant, or would be except for COVID-19.
  • You intend to continue to trade in the tax year 2020-21.
  • You have lost trading/partnership trading profits due to COVID-19.
  • Your self-employed trading profits must be less than £50,000.
  • More than half of your income must come from self-employment.

In order to determine whether your trading profits are less than £50,000/this is more than half your income, either of the following methods can be used:

  • Your trading/partnership profits in 2018-19 are less than £50,000 and these profits constitute more than half of your total taxable income.
  • Your average trading profits in 2016-17, 2017-18, and 2018-19 are less than £50,000 and these profits constitute more than half of your average taxable income in the same period.

For any individuals who started trading between 2016-19, HMRC will only use those years for which you filed a self-assessment tax return. For those who have not submitted their 2018/19 self assessment tax return, this must be submitted by 23 April 2020 in order to qualify.

Unfortunately, it has been confirmed that those who were not trading before 5 April 2019 will be ineligible for the scheme. As things stand, those individuals will need to rely on loans or the welfare system.

For those who qualify, you will receive a taxable grant which will be 80% of the average profits from the following tax years (where applicable):

  • 2016 to 2017
  • 2017 to 2018
  • 2018 to 2019

These figures will be used to calculate a monthly average income, subject to a maximum of £2,500 per month.

The scheme is likely to be in place by the beginning of June, however the government have committed to putting this in place sooner if possible. The grant will be paid in a single instalment and those who are eligible will be contacted by HMRC and invited to complete an application form.

HMRC have requested that those who can apply do not contact them in the meantime as this will delay the work being undertaken to put the scheme in place.

Please note, we are seeing an increase in fraudulent activity/scam emails as a result of COVID-19. We are expecting a vast number to arrive promising this refund. Please exercise caution if you receive any calls, texts or emails claiming to be from HMRC. You will not be emailed with a link to provide your bank details and instead this will be via an online portal with HMRC.

For those who are experiencing cashflow issues and cannot afford to wait for the scheme, loans can be applied for using the business interruption loan scheme, which can then be repaid on receipt of the grant.

Please do not hesitate to get in touch should you require assistance with completion of your 2018/19 tax return (if not submitted already), the business interruption loan scheme or any other matters.

26/03/2020

The chancellor has announced his eagerly anticipated support package for self-employed individuals. The key points from the announcement are as follows:

  • Self-employed individuals are to be provided with a taxable grant to cover lost earnings as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • This will cover 80% of their average monthly profits, calculated over the previous three years (or less for those who have not been trading for this length of time).
  • As with the job retention scheme, this will be capped at £2,500 per month and will only be available for those with trading profits of less than £50,000.
  • This will only apply to those who are already self-employed to prevent abuse of the system.
  • The scheme is expected to be in place by the start of June and HMRC will contact relevant individuals directly.
  • Individuals who haven't submitted their 2019 tax return will be given 4 weeks to get their tax affairs up to date and benefit from the scheme.

Full details will be provided in due course once available.

26/03/2020

HMRC have now issued guidance relating to the VAT deferral for payments arising between 20th March 2020 and 30th June 2020 if there is a direct debit in place. To ensure no payment is made to HMRC, the direct debit with your bank must be cancelled. This should be done as far in advance before the VAT payment is due to be made - otherwise HMRC will automatically collect it.

Once the VAT deferral period has expired, the direct debit must be set up again for future VAT returns and corresponding VAT payments. Agents cannot set up the direct debit payments on behalf of taxpayers.

The VAT liability in this deferral period has to be repaid to HMRC no later than 5th April 2021. Any VAT registered business not affected by Covid 19 can choose to continue making their VAT payments as normal.

All VAT returns are still due to be submitted on time in this deferral period.

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

26/03/2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE

We would like to reassure everybody that we remain very much open to support all our clients, other businesses and individuals through these trying times.

OFFICE ACCESS

Whilst we have closed our offices to protect staff, clients and the wider public in accordance with the Government's guidelines we still have access for staff to collect files, records or post where this is needed. If you need to make a delivery of documents that cannot be sent electronically please contact us.

CONTACT DETAILS

To ensure that you have access to us for any advice and guidance each of our office numbers have been diverted to a member of staff who will arrange for a message to the person best able to deal with your enquiry for them to call you back. All the contact numbers are on our website https://perrysaccountants.co.uk/contact

In addition please feel free to contact any of the partners on:

Craig Harman 07909 690009 harman@perry-company.co.uk

Declan McCusker TBA mccusker@perry-company.co.uk

Donna McCreadie 07923 454328 mccread@perry-company.co.uk

Estelle Hardwick 07789 324687 hardwick@perry-company.co.uk

Simon Hayden 07776 306743 hayden@perry-company.co.uk

Steve Hale 07909 690007 hale@perry-company.co.uk

Stewart Pope 07909 690002 pope@perry-company.co.uk

Victoria Pearson 07749 420405 pearson@perry-company.co.uk

Zoe Gibbons 07900 375387 gibbons@perry-company.co.uk

CLIENT MEETINGS

Most of our client meetings are being undertaken by phone, video calls, Skype etc. Where site visits are a necessity we will work with you to ensure 'social distancing' and correct hygiene procedures are adhered to.

BEING THERE

these unprecedented times our aim is to be there for you whether it is for accounts and tax advice, helping you to navigate through the Government's ongoing support measures, looking at protection in the form of wills/LPA's and business continuity or just for a friendly chat. Please do not hesitate to contact us.

Our very best wishes

The Partners of Perrys

24/03/2020

The previously announced Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) is now live.

This is a new scheme which has been set up to provide loan facilities of up to £5m for smaller UK businesses who are experiencing cashflow difficulties as a result of COVID-19.

A sumary of the key features of the scheme can now be found on the British Business Bank website:

https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/coronavirus-business-interruption-loan-scheme-cbils/

Please note, the scheme is only available to UK businesses meeting the following conditions:

  • UK based business activity with turnover of £45m or less.
  • Have a borrowing proposal which would be considered viable by the lender were it not for the current pandemic and for which the lender believes the provision of finance will enable the business to trade out of any short to medium term difficulty.

If the lender would be willing to offer finance to the business on normal commercial terms, without the use of the scheme, they will do so.

The finance is to be arranged directly through one of the British Business Bank's 40+ accredited lenders, which includes most high street banks.

The advice is for each business to approach their own provider in the first instance. The relevant bank is likely to have information on their website about the application procedure.

Each lender will have their own requirements, however, it is expected that businesses will require a proposal, which could include cashflow/profit forecasts and projections.

Please do not hesitate to get in contact should you have any questions or require assistance with the proposal.

Take care and stay safe.

23/03/2020

On Friday evening the Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced further support measures to combat the financial impact of the COVID-19 outbreak.

New measures are being announced regularly, however in some cases, the finer details as to how and when these schemes will operate are still to be revealed. A summary of the information released to date has been included below and further details will be provided once available.

The measures announced Friday evening are as follows:

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme:

  • HMRC will reimburse 80% of an employee's wage cost for those unable to work due to the outbreak. This is subject to a cap of £2,500 per month.
  • All UK businesses, regardless of size, will be eligible for the scheme.
  • In order to claim, employers will need to designate any affected employees as 'furloughed workers' and notify employees of this change. This change of status remains subject to employment law and the particular terms of the employment contract.
  • The scheme will be backdated to 1 March and can cover the wage costs of employees who have already been released if they are re-employed.
  • The current systems are not currently set up to facilitate repayments to employers, therefore HMRC are urgently working on a new system. As such, we do not have a confirmed start date or any specific details for the procedure. However, it is expected that this will be in place by the end of April and details are likely to be provided through a new online portal.
  • We would urge employers to keep detailed records to ensure claims can be made once the scheme is operational

Deferral of VAT payments:

  • All UK businesses, with a VAT period falling between 20 March 2020 and 30 June 2020 will be able to defer payment of the liability.
  • This is an automatic offer and doesn't need to be applied for. Therefore businesses will need to submit their VAT return as normal but do not need to make the payment to HMRC.
  • Taxpayers will then be given the remainder of the tax year (5 April 2021) to settle the liability.

Deferral of income tax payments (for self-employed individuals):

  • Individuals who are self-employed will be able to defer payment of their July payment on account.
  • Again, this is an automatic offer and doesn't need to be applied for.
  • The full liability will then need to be settled by 31 January 2021.
  • Based on the information provided to date, this deferral does only apply to those who are self employed, therefore individuals with dividend or rental income should expect that their July payment on account is due as normal. This should be confirmed in due course.

For any businesses facing cashflow issues, the business interruption loan scheme should be available this week with further details expected today. It is anticipated that this will provide businesses with adequate resources in the short-term until other measures are up and running (such as the job retention scheme).

Please follow us on social media for more regular updates:

Twitter - https://twitter.com/PerrysAccs

LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/company/perrys

Facebook - https://en-gb.facebook.com/perryscharteredaccountants/

Please do not hesitate to contact us should you have any questions regarding the above measures or any other concerns. We are here to support our clients during these difficult times.

18/03/2020

Support Measures For Individuals and Businesses

Further to the budget last week, yesterday evening the government announced further support measures for individuals and businesses affecting by the COVID-19 pandemic. The new measures increase the value of the rescue package to £330billion in an effort to support the economy. Chancellor Rishi Sunak also stated that if demand is greater than the initial £330billion, he will go further and provide as much capacity as required.

The support measures announced yesterday and within the budget include:

Businesses

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP):

  • The government will support small and medium-sized businesses with the extra costs of paying COVID-19 related Statutory Sick Pay. The refund will be limited to two weeks per employee. Employers should maintain records of staff absences in order to reclaim the refund but should not require employees to provide a GP note.
  • The existing systems are not designed to facilitate such refunds, therefore the government will work with employers over the coming months to set up a repayment mechanism.

Business Rates Relief:

  • The government had already announced the Business Rates retail discount would be increased to 50% in 2020-21. To support small businesses affected by COVID-19 the government is increasing it further to 100% for 2020-21. The relief will also be expanded to the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors for 12 months. Originally only businesses in those sectors with a rateable value below £51,000 would be eligible but this will now apply to those above this threshold.
  • The government has also already announced the introduction of a £1,000 Business Rates discount for pubs with a rateable value below £100,000 in England for one year from 1 April 2020. To support pubs in response to COVID-19 the discount will be increased to £5,000.

Small business grant funding:

  • Many small businesses pay little or no business rates because of Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR). To support those businesses, the government announced during the budget that they will provide £2.2billion of funding for Local Authorities in England. This will provide £3,000 to around 700,000 business currently eligible for SBRR or Rural Rate Relief, to help meet their ongoing business costs. This figure has now been increased to £10,000.

Time to Pay:

  • Businesses and self-employed individuals in financial distress will receive support with outstanding tax liabilities.
  • HMRC have now set up a dedicated helpline to agree payment plans. Late payment penalties and interest may also be cancelled.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme:

  • A business interruption loan scheme will be introduced temporarily to assist businesses with cashflow issues. The government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan to ensure these are more accessible. The scheme will support loans of up to £5million in value (this was initially set at £1.2million in the budget).

IR35 rules:

  • The controversial roll-out of the new private sector IR35 regime will be delayed by a year until April 2021.

Individuals

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP):

  • For individuals who have COVID-19 or have to self isolate in accordance with government guidance, SSP will be paid from the first day of sickness rather than the fourth, which is normally the case.
  • Guidance has been issued to employers advising them to use their discretion not to require medical evidence for COVID-19 related absences.

Support for those ineligible for SSP:

  • Support will be provided for those who are ineligible for Statutory Sick Pay, including individuals who are self-employed.
  • 'New style' Employment and Support Allowance will be payable for people directly affected by COVID-19 or self-isolating according to government advice from the first day of sickness, rather than the eighth day.
  • People will be able to claim Universal Credit and access advance payments where they are directly affected by COVID-19 (or self-isolating), without the current requirement to attend a jobcentre.
  • During the outbreak, the requirements of the minimum income floor in Universal Credit will be temporarily relaxed for those directly affected by COVID-19 or self-isolating according to government advice for the duration of the outbreak, ensuring self-employed claimants will be compensated for losses in income.

Hardship Fund:

  • The government will provide Local Authorities in England with £500million of new grant funding to support economically vulnerable people and households in their local area. The government expects most of this funding to be used to provide more council tax relief, either through existing Local Council Tax Support schemes, or through complementary reliefs.

Mortgage 'Holiday':

  • For individuals who are in financial difficulty due to the coronavirus, mortgage lenders will offer a three-month mortgage 'holiday'.

We expect to receive further announcements in the coming days. Some possible measures include:

  • Support for airlines and airports.
  • Measures to help those who are renting.

We will be providing regular updates across our social media.

Please follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn to ensure you are kept up to date.

Twitter - https://twitter.com/PerrysAccs

LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/company/perrys

If you are not on social media but would like to receive regular updates, please let us know and this can be arranged.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

We will be here to support our clients during these uncertain times.

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