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COVID-19 - HK UPDATE 26TH MARCH 2020

This update is written and posted on 26th March 2020 and is likely to quickly become out of date. We will endeavour to update information as it becomes available.

Previous updates and other useful information can be found at our WEBSITE.

Job Retention Scheme Update (also now becoming known as the Furlough Scheme)

Although we have headed this section update, as at the date of posting, there is still no further detailed Government or HMRC guidance on the scheme, other than the snippets we put out yesterday.  However, we have been talking with colleagues, our professional institutes and others, and have put together an update based on what the profession thinks is going to happen, how it will work and where there are a few gaps, which may help.  The summary can be found HERE 

We would stress again that is only a view and not the law or Government guidance, for which we are all waiting.  We thought it might help, as we know it is of interest to nearly everyone. 

Support for the self employed

It is being very much pushed by the Government that measures to support the self-employed will be announced this evening.

Self-assessment payment on accounts

We previously reported following the announcement on Friday evening, that the 31 July 2020 payment on account was being deferred until 31 January 2021, but only for the self-employed, not for all. On the Government guidance being moved to a more user-friendly site, the wording has now changed, such that anyone who has a 31 July payment on account, it is now deferred, per below:

If you are due to pay a self- assessment payment on account on 31 July 2020, then you are eligible for the deferment. The deferment is intended to assist self-assessment taxpayers, including those who are self-employed, who are suffering hardship as a result of the coronavirus.”

Our advice to our clients who are deferring tax, is where possible, save the tax payment money, use it as last resort, as at some stage the payment will need to be made, this goes for VAT and PAYE deferment. (Don’t forget on VAT deferment to cancel you direct debit).

The payment on account deferment is optional, it is an automatic offer with no applications required. No penalties or interest for late payment will be charged if you defer payment of your July 2020 payment on account until January 2021.  More details at HERE

Telephone Lines

It is being reported everywhere, that telephone lines are overloaded, whether it is the HMRC time to pay line, the Department of Work of Pensions for Universal Credit, the banks for the business interruption loan or mortgage holidays. 

One of our clients, has advised they spent three hours waiting to get through to HMRC.

Unfortunately, it is a case of having to deal with the situation, as all the organisation are in the same situations as business and individuals calling, coping with low staff numbers with self-isolation, working from home etc. 

Closures of business

Business which are required to close is continually being updated, in particular the guidance on the closure of all retailers that sell non-essential goods and other non-essential premises, as part of the social distancing measures.  In addition, guidance has also been added on work carried out in people’s homes for example plumbers, domestic equipment repairs.

The updates can be found at HERE  

Miscellaneous

  • The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is looking to rapidly reform insolvency rules so businesses unable to meet debts due to the impact of coronavirus are not automatically forced to file for bankruptcy; 
  • Reports on the business interruption loan scheme, apart from the delays, is that it appears the maximum borrowing is 25% of prior year revenue or 2 x salary cost (whichever is higher) and all subject to the scheme maximum of £5m; 
  • Enterprise Nation launched a partnership with Crowdfunder to enable small businesses to pre-sell services now to help trade through the Coronavirus crisis, as well as pushing a payforward campaign. Details can be found at HERE  Their website also contains lots of help/tips and guidance.

Digby Vollrath of Feast It an event catering business, has pulled together a guide for those in the events industry, which can be found at HERE 

As you know we act for clients all over the UK and in all business sectors, if you have any tips or advice, local to your area or sector, please let us know so that we can share with our clients.