01915484949 info@1stcloudaccountants.co.uk

COVID-19 Business Help Sheet

COVID-19 (Lockdown 2)

We understand that there is a lot of uncertainty and worry at the moment about continuing impact of the Coronavirus, both on us all personally and our businesses.   We are about to enter a new lockdown period from the 5th November and this guidance has been updated to reflect this.  This guidance was updated on 4th November 2020 at 10am.

Due to the 'non essential venue' ruling applied by the government our offices will again be closed to clients and the public from Thursday 5th November 2020, so please don’t try and attend the office.  Our phone lines, online portal and emails remain open and we are continuing to provide the same high level of service to our clients that we always have.   We are once again operating on reduced staffing numbers in the office, but nearly all of our staff will be working from home or operating a skeleton staff in the office. 

We are still here to help, please just call us first for further instructions on 0191 5484949.   You can still drop off records at any office, however you will be required to call the office in advance and book a time slot and again call again when you arrive. 

1. Tax Return Deadline.

As far as we are aware this deadline remains at the 31st January 2021.   Nothing has changed so you will be required to supply us with your records to enable us to complete the work in time.

However, your tax bill can now be paid over 12 months rather than in one lump some.  This will require a time to pay arrangement with HM Revenue and Customs in due course.

2. Time to pay service with HMRC

HMRC's Time to Pay Service for all businesses in financial distress and with outstanding tax liabilities may be eligible to receive support.   There number is 0800 015 9559

HMRC state that there is no deferment for PAYE payments and these payments should be paid in full and on time.  

VAT which was deferred from 22 March 2020 to 30 June 2020 was due to be paid in March 2021 can be now be paid evenly over 11 months from April 2021 to March 2021.   However this option does require the business to opt-in.   We will be in touch with all clients when opt-in is available to client.

Self assessment taxes due on the 31st July 2020 could have been deferred to 31st January 2021.  HM Revenue and Customs have now confirmed that the tax liability falling due on the 31st January 2021 for the year ended 5th April 2020 can be paid in 12 monthly instalments up to a total liability of £30,000.   A time to pay arrangement can now be set up online without the need to personally contact HM Revenue and Customs.

Generally, corporation tax is payable as normal, however we understand the time to pay helpline will generally allow you to pay this for period up to 12 months.  If you are in arrears already you should call them direct yourself or we can do this on your behalf.

3. Job Retention Scheme (Furlough at 80%)

HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month for November and December 2020. (Previously 70% September and 60% October 2020).  The scheme which was due to replace this scheme has been deferred for two months.

HM Revenue and Customs have stated that an employee must have been employed at 30th October 2020 at 23.59pm and have an RTI submission (payroll processed and accepted by HMRC) to qualify for this.

This scheme will continue as ‘Flexible Furlough’.   So the employee can work part of a week and then can be furloughed for the hours which were not worked that week.  The worked hours will be paid at full normally hourly pay by the employer and the furloughed hours will be based on the 80% of the deemed non worked hours.   We will of course guild you though the process and make the claims for you.

HMRC will NO longer reimburse the cost of the Employers National Insurance and also the minimum pension contribution required by law for auto enrolment.  This will be a cost the employer needs to pay themselves.

4. Small business Grants for business premises closure.

Businesses required to close in England due to local or national restrictions will be eligible for the following:

  • For properties with a rateable value of £15k or under, grants to be £1,334 per month, or £667 per two weeks
  • For properties with a rateable value of between £15k-£51k grants to be £2,000 per month, or £1,000 per two weeks
  • For properties with a rateable value of £51k or over grants to be £3,000 per month, or £1,500 per two weeks.

These will be paid to the rate payer by the local council, however it will have to be applied.   If you are not the ratepayer i.e you only rent part of the premises from the ratepayer their may be discretionary grants available from your local council.

Businesses and venues which must close

  • Non-essential retail, such as clothing and homeware stores, vehicle showrooms (other than for rental), betting shops, tailors, tobacco and vape shops, electronic goods and mobile phone shops, and market stalls selling non-essential goods. These venues can continue to be able to operate click-and-collect (where goods are pre-ordered and collected off the premises) and delivery services
  • Hospitality venues such as cafes, restaurants, pubs, bars and social clubs; with the exception of providing food and drink for takeaway (before 10pm; and not including alcohol), click-and-collect, drive-through or delivery
  • Accommodation such as hotels, hostels, guest houses and campsites. Except for specific circumstances, such as where these act as someone’s main residence, where they cannot return home, for homeless people, or where it is essential to stay there for work purposes
  • Leisure and sports facilities such as leisure centres and gyms, swimming pools, tennis and basketball courts, golf courses, fitness and dance studios, climbing walls, archery, driving, and shooting ranges
  • Entertainment venues such as theatres, concert halls, cinemas, museums and galleries, casinos, amusement arcades, bingo halls, bowling alleys, skating rinks, go-karting venues, soft play centres and areas, circuses, funfairs, zoos and other animal attractions, water parks, theme parks. Indoor attractions at botanical gardens, heritage homes and landmarks must also close, though outdoor grounds of these premises can stay open
  • Personal care facilities such as hair, beauty, tanning and nail salons. Tattoo parlours, spas, massage parlours, body and skin piercing services must also close. It is also prohibited to provide these services in other peoples’ homes
  • Community centres and halls must close except for a limited number of exempt activities as set out below Libraries can also remain open to provide access to IT and digital services - for example for people who do not have it at home - and for click-and-collect
  • Places of worship, apart from for the purposes of independent prayer, and service broadcasting and funerals

These businesses and places will also be permitted to be open for a small number of exempt activities, including:

 

  • education and training (including for schools to use sports and leisure facilities where that it part of their normal provision)
  • childcare purposes and supervised activities for children
  • blood donation and food banks
  • to provide medical treatment
  • for elite sports persons (in indoor and outdoor sports facilities), professional dancers and choreographers (in fitness and dance studios)
  • for training and rehearsal without an audience (in theatres and concert halls)
  • for the purposes of professional film and TV filming
  • Businesses and venues which can remain open
  • Other businesses are permitted to stay open, following COVID-19 Secure guidelines. This includes those providing essential goods or services, including:
  • Essential retail such as food shops, supermarkets, pharmacies, garden centres, hardware stores, building merchants and off-licences.
  • Petrol Stations, car repair and MOT services, bicycle shops, and taxi and vehicle hire businesses.
  • Banks, building societies, post offices, loan providers and money transfer businesses
  • Funeral directors
  • Launderettes and dry cleaners
  • Medical and dental services
  • Vets and pet shops
  • Agricultural supplies shops
  • Storage and distribution facilities
  • Car parks, public toilets and motorway service areas.
  • Outdoor playgrounds

5. Going to work (Employed and Self Employed)

The government have advised the following

  • To help contain the virus, everyone who can work effectively from home must do so. Where people cannot do so - including, but not limited to, people who work in critical national infrastructure, construction, or manufacturing - they should continue to travel to their workplace. This is essential to keeping the country operating and supporting sectors and employers.
  • Public sector employees working in essential services, including childcare or education, should continue to go into work.
  • Where it is necessary to work in other people’s homes - for example, for nannies, cleaners or tradespeople - you can do so.
  • The risk of transmission can be substantially reduced if COVID-19 secure guidelines are followed closely. Extra consideration should be given to those people at higher risk.

6. Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Support & Business Bounce Back Loan Top Up’s

Bounce back Loan applications have been extended to the end of January 2021 to ensure all eligible business can apply for them.   After that date the scheme will be closed to new applicants, however Coronavirus business interruption loans will still be available from your bank.

The repayment term for existing and new bounce back loans can be extended for up to 10 years rather than the original 6 years.  This will nearly half the original repayment commitments for some businesses.   The idea is that the businesses will ‘Repay as they grow’ and the repayment terms are more flexible so you can repay more if you want to.

No interest is charged to these loans for the first 12 months after the loan is drawn down.

It is now being advertised by the government that if you never took the full £50,000 value of the loan of £50,000 this can now take additional advance to take the loan value up to £50,000.  Please contact your original lender for this option.

7. Employees Sick Pay Reclaimable

An eligible employee who would have normally qualified for standard SSP will get 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of COVID-19. Employers with fewer than 250 employees will be eligible - the size of an employer will be determined by the number of people they employed as of 28 February 2020

Employers will be able to reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP (according to the new eligibility criteria) as a result of COVID-19

Employers should maintain records of staff absences and payments of SSP, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note

8. Additional Self Employed Income Grant (SEISS November 20 to April 21)

To be eligible for the Grant Extension self-employed individuals, including members of partnerships, must:

  • have been previously eligible for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme first and second grant (although they do not have to have claimed the previous grants)
  • declare that they intend to continue to trade and either:
    • are currently actively trading but are impacted by reduced demand due to coronavirus
    • were previously trading but are temporarily unable to do so due to coronavirus

The extension will last for six months, from November 2020 to April 2021. Grants will be paid in two lump sum instalments each covering a three-month period.

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 £3,750 in total.

The Government are providing broadly the same level of support for the self-employed as is being provided for employees through the Job Support scheme.

The second grant will cover a three-month period from 1 February 2021 until 30 April 2021. The Government will review the level of the second grant and set this in due course but are currently advertising it at 40%.

The grants are taxable income and also subject to National Insurance contributions and you will make the claim through your personal online portal.

9. Gig Economy workers and Low Earners

Those who are not eligible for SSP or the 80% scheme, for example the self-employed or people earning below the Lower Earnings Limit of £118 per week, those who have just commenced self employment since April 2019 can now more easily make a claim for Universal Credit or Contributory Employment and Support Allowance:

  • for the duration of the outbreak, the requirements of the Universal Credit Minimum Income Floor will be temporarily relaxed for those who have COVID-19 or are self-isolating according to government advice, ensuring self-employed claimants will receive support
  • people will be able to claim Universal Credit and access advance payments upfront without the current requirement to attend a jobcentre if they are advised to self-isolate
  • contributory Employment and Support Allowance will be payable, at a rate of £73.10 a week if you are over 25, for eligible people affected by COVID-19 or self-isolating in line with advice from Day 1 of sickness, rather than Day 8

Information on how to make a universal tax credit clam can be found at https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit/how-to-claim or you can call the helpline on 0800 3285644

10. Mortgage Holidays for businesses & Landlords.

You are now entitled by UK law to take a Mortgage Holiday for up to 6 months per loan at any period without it effecting your credit rating. 

11. Extension of filing deadlines for Limited Companies

Companies House automatically gave a three month extension for filing accounts.  So you will find the filing deadline for this year has been delayed.

Companies House are now also allowing for companies to be struck off the register as this was previously suspended.

12. Our Fees

We have been working with clients to help them reduce our fees by introducing more efficient ways of working meaning we spend less time on their affairs and in turn reduce our fees.

We have once again froze our hourly charge out rate to the clients and can offer a time to pay arrangement for clients require a longer period to pay the fees.   If any of this is of interest to you please do not hesitate to contact us.

13. Carry on

It is vital that the business must at least give the impression that it is carrying on. This may be impossible if the business is a restaurant, bar etc but is feasible for the many others who might have to self isolate and work remotely.

And finally, 14. look ahead

The coronavirus crisis will change the way businesses and society works. When the urgent part of the crisis is over, businesses should consider what this crisis changes for them, what they have learned and plan for any future crisis.

It’s important to look ahead. As Eliot Hoff, the head of APCO Worldwide’s Global Crisis Practice has said about the virus: “There will be an end to this, as there is with every crisis.”