Newsletter – July 2020

Enews – July 2020

In this month’s Enews, we report on Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Summer Economic Update, which unveiled the government’s three-point plan to protect and create jobs as the economy begins to recover from the coronavirus lockdown. There have been plenty of other developments. We look at some of them here and analyse changes to tax policy and the wider economy. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to dominate the news, there are lots of issues to update you on.

Chancellor unveils three-point plan for jobs

On 8 July, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a three-point plan to support jobs in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic when he delivered a Summer Economic Update to Parliament.

Mr Sunak confirmed the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) will end as planned this October. The Chancellor said furloughing had been the right measure to protect jobs through the first phase of the crisis. The second phase will see a three-point plan to create jobs, support people to find jobs and to protect jobs.

The CJRS will be followed by a Job Retention Bonus, which will be introduced to help firms keep furloughed workers in employment. This will see UK employers will receive a one-off payment of £1,000 for each furloughed employee who is still employed as of 31 January 2021. To qualify for the payment, employees must earn above the Lower Earnings Limit (£520 per month) on average between the end of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the end of January 2021.

The Chancellor also launched a £2 billion Kickstart Scheme that will aim to create subsidised six-month work placements for young people aged 16-24 who are claiming Universal Credit. Funding available for each placement will cover 100% of the National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week, plus the associated employer national insurance contributions (NICs) and employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions. Employers will be able to top this wage up.

In order to support the UK’s tourism and hospitality industry, the Chancellor announced a cut in the rate of VAT from 20% to 5% for the sector. This applies to supplies of food and non-alcoholic drinks from restaurants, pubs, bars, cafés and similar premises, as well as supplies of accommodation and admission to attractions, including theme parks and zoos, across the UK.

Additionally, the Eat Out to Help Out scheme will entitle every diner to a 50% discount of up to £10 per head on their meal at any participating, eligible food service establishment from Monday to Wednesday. Participating establishments will be fully reimbursed for the 50% discount.

Mr Sunak said:

‘Our plan has a clear goal: to protect, support and create jobs. It will give businesses the confidence to retain and hire. To create jobs in every part of our country. To give young people a better start. To give people everywhere the opportunity of a fresh start.’

Internet link: GOV.UK publications

Stamp duty temporarily reduced

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a temporary cut in the rate of Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) in order to boost confidence in the flagging housing market in his Summer Economic Update.

Property transactions fell by 50% in May this year and house prices have fallen for the first time in eight years. In response, the government will temporarily increase the nil-rate band of residential SDLT in England and Northern Ireland from £125,000 to £500,000. This will apply to purchases from 8 July 2020 until 31 March 2021.

Additionally, the Chancellor announced a £2 billion Green Homes Grant, providing at least £2 for every £1 homeowners and landlords spend to make their homes more energy efficient, up to £5,000 per household. The scheme aims to upgrade over 600,000 homes across England, helping to reduce energy bills and support the green economy.

Eric Leenders, Managing Director of Personal Finance at UK Finance, said:

‘The Chancellor’s announcement on stamp duty should give a welcome boost to the housing market and in turn have positive knock-on effects for the wider economy.

‘This measure designed to re-boot the housing market builds on the wide package of support put in place by mortgage lenders, working with the regulator and HM Treasury, to help customers through these tough times.

‘The industry has a clear plan to help homeowners whatever their financial situation and is committed to providing ongoing support to those customers who need it.’

Internet link: GOV.UK publications and UK Finance press release.

Flexible furloughing starts on job retention scheme

On 1 July, changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) saw flexible furloughing introduced, so employees will no longer have to be furloughed for a minimum period of three weeks.

Following the change the CJRS has more flexibility to allow claims on a pro rata basis. Employers will be able to permit employees to work some of the week and be furloughed for the rest.

An employee needs to have been furloughed for at least three consecutive weeks between 1 March and 30 June to be eligible for furlough from 1 July. Additionally, after 1 July, employers may be subject to a cap on the number of employees that can be claimed for in a CJRS claim they are able to make.

The CJRS changes have effect from 1 July until the closure of the scheme on 31 October.

Parents returning from statutory maternity leave, paternity leave, adoption leave, shared parental leave and bereavement leave are broadly exempt from the CJRS furlough changes. So parents who are returning to work over the coming months will be eligible for the CJRS despite the scheme closing to new entrants on 30 June.

Additionally, from 1 August, the level of the grant will be reduced each month. From August the employer will need to pay employer national insurance and pension contributions for the time the employee is furloughed. For August, the government will continue to pay 80% of wages up to a maximum of £2,500 proportional to the hours the employee is furloughed. For September, the government will pay 70% of wages up to £2,187.50, and for October, the government will pay 60% of wages up to a maximum of £1,875. During these months employers will have to top up employees’ wages to ensure they receive 80% of their wages up to the £2,500 cap.

Internet link: GOV.UK publications

Government expands aid for start-ups and innovators

The government has expanded its COVID-19 support for start-ups and innovative companies with the launch of a new fund.

On 27 June the government announced the Sustainable Innovation Fund (SIF), which is aimed at helping businesses to keep ‘cutting edge’ projects and ideas alive during the pandemic.

The SIF will make almost £200 million available to UK companies that are developing new technologies in certain areas. These include making homes and offices more energy efficient, creating ground-breaking medical technologies, and reducing the carbon footprint of public transport.

The government is asking research and development-intensive businesses to apply for the funding.

Internet link: Sustainable Innovations Fund

Bank of England increases stimulus package for UK economy

On 18 June, the Bank of England increased the stock of purchases of UK government bonds by an additional £100 billion to help boost the UK economy following the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.The £100 billion in additional quantitative easing funds takes the total to £745 billion.

The MPC also voted to cut the cost of borrowing to a record low of 0.1%. The Committee admitted it is ‘hard to draw conclusions about the UK’s recovery prospects’ and stated that extra stimulus is needed to help boost the UK economy and push inflation.

The MPC said:

‘The unprecedented situation means that the outlook for the UK and global economies is unusually uncertain.

‘It will depend critically on the evolution of the pandemic, measures taken to protect public health, and how governments, households and businesses respond to these factors.

‘Inflation is well below the 2% target and is expected to fall further below it in coming quarters, largely reflecting the weakness of demand.’

Internet links: Bank of England’s Market Notice.

FCA confirms further support for consumer credit customers

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has confirmed further support for users of certain consumer credit products if they are experiencing temporary payment difficulties due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The measures outline the options firms will provide for credit card, revolving credit and personal loan customers who are coming to the end of a payment freeze. They also outline options for customers who have agreed an arranged interest-free overdraft of up to £500.

In addition, customers yet to request a payment freeze or an arranged interest-free overdraft of up to £500 will have until 31 October 2020 to apply for one.

According to UK Finance, its members have offered over 27 million interest-free overdrafts, provided 992,400 payment deferrals on credit cards and 686,500 payment deferrals on personal loans during the pandemic.

Christopher Woolard, Interim Chief Executive at the FCA, said:

‘Since the coronavirus crisis began, we have made support available for those borrowers financially affected by the pandemic.

‘For those who are now in a position to restart payments, it will be in their best interests to do so. But for those who still need it, the package we are confirming today ensures there is help and further support.’

Internet link: FCA press release

Private sector off-payroll reforms given go ahead for April 2021

The introduction of off-payroll rules to the private sector will go ahead as planned next April after an attempt to delay them failed in the House of Commons.

The reforms of the off-payroll rules to the private sector, which are known as IR35 and have applied to the public sector since 2017, was reviewed earlier this year.

They will shift the responsibility for assessing employment status to the organisations employing individuals.

The rules would have applied to contractors working for medium and large organisations in the private sector and were due to come into effect on 6 April this year. Due to the disruption caused by the outbreak of the coronavirus, the decision was taken in March to delay the introduction until 6 April 2021.

An amendment to the Finance Bill, brought by a cross-party group of MPs, was designed to delay the IR35 changes until 2023, but was defeated by 317 votes to 254.

The move to introduce new IR35 rules to the private sector has proved highly controversial, amid claims that the regulations are too complex and that HMRC’s online tool Check Employment Status for Tax (CEST), used to determine whether they apply, is flawed.

Internet link: Parliament website.

Late payment crisis has worsened during coronavirus lockdown

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has found that the UK’s late payment crisis has worsened during the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown.

62% of small businesses have been subject to late or frozen payments during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to research carried out by the FSB. Just 10% of small firms have agreed changes to payment terms with their clients. In addition, 65% of small businesses that supply goods or services to other businesses have experienced being paid late or having payments frozen.

The FSB has called on policymakers to give the Small Business Commissioner additional powers to investigate and fine repeat late payment offenders.

Mike Cherry, National Chairman of the FSB, said:

‘Before the COVID-19 outbreak struck, many small firms were already under immense financial pressure because of late payments.

‘Cash is still very much king for small firms, and withholding it has pushed many to the brink at a time when they’re at their most vulnerable. Our endemic culture of treating small businesses as free credit lines against their will must be brought to an end.’

Internet link: FSB press release.

Newsletter – September 2018

Enews – September 2018

In this month’s Enews we report on HMRC’s reminder to taxpayers regarding declaring offshore assets and available software for MTD for VAT. We also advise on the latest fuel advisory rates for company car drivers and guidance for employers.

With statistics on Stamp Duty Land Tax and a raft of ‘No deal’ Brexit notices there is lots to update you on.

HMRC warning: time to declare offshore assets

HMRC is warning that taxpayers could face penalties if they fail to declare their income on foreign assets before new ‘Requirement to Correct’ legislation comes into force.

HMRC is urging UK taxpayers to come forward and declare any foreign income or profits on offshore assets before 30 September to avoid higher tax penalties.

New legislation called ‘Requirement to Correct’ requires UK taxpayers to notify HMRC about any offshore tax liabilities relating to UK income tax, capital gains tax, or inheritance tax. The most common reasons for declaring offshore tax are in relation to foreign property, investment income and moving money into the UK from abroad. HMRC has stated that over 17,000 people have already been in contact to notify they have tax due from sources of foreign income, such as their holiday homes and overseas properties.

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Mel Stride MP, said:

‘Since 2010 we have secured over £2.8bn for our vital public services by tackling offshore tax evaders, and we will continue to relentlessly crack down on those not playing by the rules.’

‘This new measure will place higher penalties on those who do not contact HMRC and ensure their offshore tax liabilities are correct. I urge anyone affected to get in touch with HMRC now.’

Common Reporting Standard (CRS)

From 1 October more than 100 countries, including the UK, will be able to exchange data on financial accounts under the CRS. It is expected that the CRS data will significantly enhance HMRC’s ability to detect offshore non-compliance and it is in taxpayers’ interests to correct any non-compliance before that data is received.

Taxpayers can correct their tax liabilities by:

  • Using HMRC’s digital disclosure service as part of the Worldwide Disclosure Facility or any other service provided by HMRC as a means of correcting tax non-compliance.
  • Telling an officer of HMRC in the course of an enquiry into your affairs.
  • Or any other method agreed with HMRC.

Once a taxpayer has notified HMRC of their intention to make a declaration, by the deadline of 30 September, they will then have 90 days to make the full disclosure and pay any tax owed. To ensure there is an incentive for taxpayers to correct any offshore tax non-compliance on or before 30 September 2018 there are increased penalties for any failures to correct by that date.

If taxpayers are confident that their tax affairs are in order, then they do not need to worry. However if you are unsure, please contact us.

Internet link: GOV.UK news

Stamp duty cut: 121,500 households save £284 million

According to the latest statistics 121,500 first-time buyers have saved a total of £284,000,000 following the introduction of a relief for first-time buyers under the Stamp Duty Land Tax rules which apply in England and Northern Ireland.

Over the next five years, it is estimated that this relief, part of the UK government’s housing policy will help over 1 million people getting onto the housing ladder.

First-time buyers purchasing homes of £300,000 and under pay no stamp duty at all, and those who bought properties of up to £500,000 will also have benefitted from a stamp duty cut.

Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Mel Stride, said:

‘Once again, we can see that our cut to stamp duty for first-time buyers is helping to make the dream of home ownership a reality for a new generation – exactly as we intended.’

‘In addition, we’re building more homes in the right areas, and have introduced generous schemes such as the Lifetime ISA and Help to Buy.’

Those purchasing properties in Wales (since 1 April 2018) pay Land Transaction Tax and those in Scotland pay Land and Buildings Transaction Tax. First-time buyers in Scotland also benefit from a relief for first-time buyers.

Internet link: GOV.UK news

Software suppliers – Making Tax Digital for VAT

HMRC is working with more than 150 software suppliers who have said they will provide software for Making Tax Digital for VAT (MTDfV) in time for April 2019.

From 1 April 2019, businesses will be mandated to use the MTDfB system to meet their VAT obligations under MTDfV. Only businesses with a taxable turnover above the VAT threshold (currently £85,000) will be required to use MTDfV, however HMRC is piloting the new system, on a small scale, from April 2018.

HMRC has advised that more than 40 suppliers have said they will have software ready during the first phase of the pilot and other software suppliers are expected to follow. HMRC will open up the pilot to allow more businesses and agents to join later in 2018.

HMRC has advised that the list will be updated as more software meets the criteria. HMRC are advising businesses to check with their existing software supplier to find out if they will be supplying suitable software.

Contact us for help with Making Tax Digital for VAT.

Internet link: GOV.UK software suppliers

Advisory fuel rates for company cars

New company car advisory fuel rates have been published which take effect from 1 September 2018. The guidance states: ‘You can use the previous rates for up to one month from the date the new rates apply’. The rates only apply to employees using a company car.

The advisory fuel rates for journeys undertaken on or after 1 September 2018 are:

Engine size Petrol
1400cc or less 12p
1401cc – 2000cc 15p
Over 2000cc 22p
Engine size LPG
1400cc or less 7p
1401cc – 2000cc 9p
Over 2000cc 13p
Engine size Diesel
1600cc or less 10p
1601cc – 2000cc 12p
Over 2000cc 13p

The guidance states that the rates only apply when you either:

  • reimburse employees for business travel in their company cars
  • require employees to repay the cost of fuel used for private travel

You must not use these rates in any other circumstances.

If you would like to discuss your car policy, please contact us.

Internet link: GOV.UK AFR

HMRC latest guidance for employers

HMRC has published the latest edition of the Employer Bulletin. This guidance for employers, and their agents, includes articles on:

  • Reporting your payroll information accurately and on time
  • Irregular payments and completion of Full Payment Submissions
  • Starter Declaration on a Full Payment Submission (FPS)
  • PAYE Settlement Agreements and Scottish Income Tax
  • National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage – are you paying the correct rate?
  • Advisory Electricity Rate for fully electric company cars
  • Welsh Rates of Income Tax
  • Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) webinars
  • Postgraduate Loans
  • Benefits and Expenses: Company cars
  • Tax avoidance loan schemes – settle now
  • Completing an EYU in respect of Employee’s National Insurance Contributions
  • Employment Income: Draft Legislation
  • Deadline for post 16 Child Benefit looms.

For help with payroll matters, please contact us.

Internet link: Employer Bulletin

‘No deal’ Brexit guidance

The government has issued some ‘no deal’ Brexit technical notices, with the aim of helping both businesses and individuals to prepare in the event of a UK-EU agreement not being realised.

The government has published the first 25 notices. Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab was keen to emphasise that reaching a deal remains the ‘overriding priority’. However, until a Withdrawal Agreement is ratified by the UK and European Parliaments, the possibility of the UK leaving the EU without a deal on 29 March 2019 remains.

The 25 documents cover a range of different areas, including VAT and trading, financial services, farming and workplace rights.

Josh Hardie, Deputy Director General at the CBI, said:

‘It’s right and responsible that the government has supplied information to businesses on issues from financial services passporting to food labelling, all of which will help lower the risks of the harshest outcomes from a ‘no deal’ Brexit.’

The government has confirmed further technical notices will be issued in September.

Internet link: GOV.UK no deal brexit collection