COVID-19 LATEST NEWS

We will continue to support our clients by email and online systems, but for the foreseeable future, our office is closed and we are working from home. We are in a fast moving situation and there is very little detail from the government and HMRC re recent announcements of grants and support for business. We still seem to have far more questions than answers. Please be patient as we all expect more detail to be available from them in the forthcoming days.

8/4/20 A template for an agreement to temporarily send home an employee because there’s no work (‘furlough’). Free to download and use from the ACAS website.

8/4/20 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.

4/4/20 HMRC have updated the position of directors who furlough themselves on the gov.uk website – directors are not allowed to “do work of a kind they would carry out in normal circumstances to generate commercial revenue or provides services to or on behalf of their company” so that basically limits to them basic company administration duties etc. Still restricted to 80% of wages paid under PAYE and nothing based on dividends.

4/4/20 If you are not sure whether your business has a rateable value or not, check on here (gov.uk webpage). Then check with your local council to make sure they know you are at that address. Obviously if you know you’ve got a rates bill (or SBRR) you don;t need to. This is for those who are unsure.

3/4/20 The lack of clarity from HMRC is continuing to cause anxiety and stress for small businesses. As an example of how little information is being provided, this is the HMRC compliance handbook section re Covid-19 – “This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000”. How helpful is that??

2/4/20 Advice on Furlough from the Chartered Association of Certified Accountants (ACCA)

2/4/20 Advice from ACAS re CoVid19.

2/4/20 Further advice from The Institute of Chartered Accountants confirming their opinion that directors can furlough themselves

1/4/20 Furloughed Limited Company Directors – It would appear that HMRC are back-tracking on their initial guidance that limited company directors could only furlough to claim 80% of their PAYE wages if they did absolutely nothing for their company, i.e. make it officially dormant. Now, Martin Lewis (financial journalist) is saying he’s had confirmation from HMRC that they will allow company administration work as long as the director isn’t generating income nor providing services to their customers/clients. Whilst obviously this would be welcome news, we still have to wait for official confirmation from HMRC.

31/3/20 Those who feel left behind by the self-employed income protection scheme can send an outline of their situation to selfemployed@fsb.org.uk to help FSB feed in as wide a range of examples to the government as possible.

Are you SELF EMPLOYED, I’ve bashed out a quick briefing on the new Coronavirus Income Support scheme – who qualifies, freelance issues, agency workers, limited companies and more.Now including subtitles… NOTE: I missed one point in the video, if your avg income's over £50,000 you can't get it.Feel free to share with anyone it is relevant for

Posted by Martin Lewis on Friday, 27 March 2020
A good summary of help for self employed from Martin Lewis (Money Saving Expert)

FreeAgent have produced a summary of self employment income support scheme for sole traders and business partners.

Here is a petition requesting that small limited company directors are treated the same as the self employed and the employed.

The ICAEW have also published furlough guidance which explains how the 80% job retention scheme may apply to limited company directors. It is also suggesting that directors will be entitled to 80% of their wages paid via payroll/PAYE scheme as at February 2020, only if they do absolutely no work at all for their company (extending to no administration, marketing etc), and that they’ll get no support based on dividends drawn. Obviously, it’s only current interpretation of the guidance/detail issued so far, and like all things related to Covid19 changes and confirmations are expected in due course.

Gov.uk has now publshed detailed guidance on the Job Retention Scheme. This confirms that eligible employees can not undertake work for or on behalf of the organisation. This includes providing services or generating revenue – this would appear to prevent a director from performing administration work or marketing etc.

The Government’s Self Employment Income Support Scheme has now been announced. This applies only to sole traders and partners in businesses, NOT to those trading through their own limited companies (see the furlough scheme mentioned above). Guidance states that HMRC will contact the self employed in due course who they think are eligible to claim, but it could be June before payments are made.

SCAM WARNING: Looks like the scammers are active at the moment – lots of people reporting receiving emails and texts purporting to be from HMRC or Govt telling people they’re due a refund or grant and asking you to click a link to claim. Please follow long standing advice NOT to click on any links in unexpected emails nor texts, and certainly don’t enter your bank details etc. If you think you’re due a refund or grant, make a claim via the official gov.uk or local authority website.

Business Grants – for those businesses occupying commercial premises who are eligible for small business rates relief, our local council, Lancaster City Council, now have a webpage for you to enter your business bank details in order that your grant can be paid directly when funds start to flow. If you’re not in the Lancaster City Council area, I’m sure other local authorities are doing the same, so please check your own local authority website.

ICPA Covid19 Update – ICPA have put together this update with as many useful links as possible, and those links will refresh every time you use them. We’ve also some articles which we hope you will find useful.

Summary of measures announced to help small businesses from FreeAgent

Further businesses and premises to close Restaurants, cafes, pubs, hair & beauty, car showrooms, hotels, B&Bs are instructed to close. Food shops, pharmacies, petrol stations, home & hardware shops, laundrettes, garages, pet shops, corner shops, newsagents are allowed to stay open for the time being.

A full range of business support measures have been made available to UK businesses and employees.

Article from The Guardian – As it stands on the morning of 23rd March the hoped for intervention by the government on behalf of the millions of Self-employed we all, I believe, hoped for has not happened. That is not to say it won’t but at the moment
it has not and here is the best article that spells out what little is available to them. 

TAX TV YouTube Video – Government Help in relation to CVID-19

GOV.UK Latest – Support for businesses

GOV.UK Latest – Guidance for employers

New HMRC helpline launched to help businesses concerned about paying their tax due to coronavirus (COVID-19).

ACCA Factsheet – Claiming SSP for a SME self-employed director

ACCA Factsheet – Immediate support for SMEs

ACCA Factsheet – What is the priority for employers?

For local clients, Lancaster City Council has allocated £2million in emergency funding to support the district’s most vulnerable people and struggling local businesses. Any small businesses that have not already done so should register with the council’s economic development team by email to econdev@lancaster.gov.uk, for details of the financial support packages that are available to them.

How to ask Companies House to extend your filing deadline if an unplanned event stops you filing your accounts.