Tuesday 17th March 2020
Emma Stevens Accountancy is up and running as usual at this present time with a couple of changes to protect the health of our staff and our clients.
We are currently working from home following government guidelines. Although we are currently working remotely all our systems and phone lines are portable ensuring a continuity of the high-quality service we provide.
As always, please make sure you have an appointment before you visit the office but additionally, please consider if a phone meeting could be just as productive instead.
Email, post and phone queries are still being handled in the usual way and I will try to forward information (and/or links) on any supporting measures the government announces for businesses in this rapidly changing environment.
We have currently closed our online booking service so please give us a call or email to book an appointment.
I have already sent a summary of initiatives alluded to in the budget but these should be given more detail over the coming weeks by authorities, in particular the small business grant of £3,000 for those who qualify for small business rate relief.
Please see a link here with the current government information for small businesses: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses?fbclid=IwAR34hPHY-0OF548okGZIvBybX8B-SeTVuFOjJ_15He7qW9SScHkAQJ3QixQ
If we can do anything to assist you during this uncertain time, please let me know.
An update following today’s (Tuesday 17th March 2020) daily Coronavirus press conference:
It appears the small business grant, which has now risen from £3,000 to £10,000 will be available sometime in April. The fund will be sent to the local authorities to distribute to eligible businesses.
Wednesday 18th March 2020
An update for self-employed who don’t get small business rate relief
Following announcements in the Budget, the Department for Work and Pensions is making temporary arrangements to support those impacted by coronavirus.
For people already claiming support
Special arrangements will be in place for people in receipt of benefits who cannot attend reassessments or jobcentre appointments because they are required to stay at home or are infected by coronavirus.
The arrangements are:
- disabled and sick claimants who cannot attend a reassessment for Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or Universal Credit will continue to receive their payments while their assessment is rearranged
- people who need to claim ESA or Universal Credit because of coronavirus will not be required to produce a fit note.
- when claimants tell us in good time that they are staying at home or that they have been diagnosed with coronavirus, they will not be sanctioned – we will review their conditionality requirements in their claimant commitment, to ensure they are reasonable
- claimants who are staying at home as a result of coronavirus will have their mandatory work search and work availability requirements removed to account for a period of sickness
For people who need to make a new claim for financial support
We understand people who are required to stay at home or are infected by coronavirus may need financial support, and quickly.
We announce that:
- those affected by coronavirus will be able to apply for Universal Credit and can receive up to a month’s advance up front without physically attending a jobcentre
- the 7 waiting days for ESA for new claimants will not apply if they are suffering from coronavirus or are required to stay at home – so it will be payable from day one
Employees and self-employed people
To make sure people in work can take the necessary time off to stay at home if they are suffering from coronavirus or to prevent its spread, changes have been made to Statutory Sick Pay and how Universal Credit supports self-employed claimants.
- people who cannot work due to coronavirus and are eligible for Statutory Sick Pay will get it from day one, rather than from the fourth day of their illness – we intend to legislate so this measure applies retrospectively from 13 March 2020
- Statutory Sick Pay will be payable to people who are staying at home on government advice, not just those who are infected, from 13 March 2020 after regulations were laid on 12 March 2020 – employers are urged to use their discretion about what evidence if any, they ask for
- if employees need to provide evidence to their employer that they need to stay at home due to coronavirus, they will be able to get it from the NHS 111 Online instead of having to get a fit note from their doctor – this is currently under development and will be made available soon
- self-employed claimants on Universal Credit who are required to stay at home or are ill as a result of coronavirus will not have a Minimum Income Floor (an assumed level of income) applied for a period of time while affected
Businesses – Further information
Support for businesses through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
A new temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank, will launch in a matter of weeks to support businesses to access bank lending and overdrafts. The government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan (subject to a per-lender cap on claims) to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to SMEs. The government will not charge businesses or banks for this guarantee, and the Scheme will support loans of up to £1.2 million in value. This new guarantee will initially support up to £1 billion of lending on top of current support offered through the British Business Bank.
Support for businesses 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 are concerned about being able to pay your tax due to COVID-19, call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559.
Friday 20th March 2020
An update of the latest announcements:
A ‘furloughed worker’ is someone whose employer cannot pay them because of the coronavirus and as a result has been asked to stop working, but not made redundant.
It appears that the government would prefer that businesses do not lay workers off as a result of challenges that they face during this period, and that instead, HMRC will reimburse 80% of an employees’ wage costs, up to a maximum of £2,500 per employee. This can be backdated to the 1st of March, is open to all employers and will initially run for at least three months.
The detail behind this measure has not yet been announced, however, it is expected that it will be operational before the end of April.
A business will not have to make VAT payments due to HMRC for the period of 20th of March to the 30th of June. This measure automatically applies to businesses, however, outstanding amounts will still have to be paid by the end of the 2020/21 tax year.
VAT returns will still need to be submitted as normal and reclaims and repayments will be treated in the usual way.
Business Interruption Loan Scheme
This government loan will now be interest-free for 12 months (instead of six), however, your bank should be able to provide you with more guidance on this area (as they should if you apply for a mortgage holiday).
Income Tax Self-Assessment
If your self-assessment tax payment was over £1,000 and you were due to pay a payment on account by the 31st of July 2020, you will now be automatically eligible to defer this payment until 31st January 2021, without the risk of incurring additional penalties or interest charges.