In line with most other businesses who are able to do so, Harbour Key have been working on how to operate in the new “working norm” with social distancing measures, Covid-safe working practices etc., with a small part of the team moving back into our offices. Although the majority of the team continue to work from home, by having a small contingent back in the office, we will be able to deal with post and quickly share compliance information with the business team. The office remains closed for client meetings.
We will also now be reverting back to a monthly newsletter, unless something of urgency or importance is issued, which we will distribute at the earliest opportunity.
The next few weeks will see more businesses start to reopen their doors, some for the first time since lock down in March, in particular shops. More businesses are moving away from concentrating on survival and shifting their focus towards recovery. For some, the first challenge will be re-starting their business in a Covid-safe environment, having to cope with social distancing and possible requirement for PPE, all of which is likely to impact productivity and the bottom line. However, this first challenge is probably easier than the second challenge of moving forward and being profitable.
To aid with the first challenge, as part of the Government’s road map out of the lock down, 8 guides have been produced, which cover a range of different types of workplaces and sectors, regarding what is required for a Covid-safe working environment. These can be found HERE.
Job Retention Scheme No.2
The detailed guidance in respect of the extension to the Job Retention Scheme (also known as the Furlough Scheme) was released on Saturday morning. Although announced as an extension to the current scheme, the second version of the scheme is very different and is more complicated, which would be expected as flexibility (from 1 July) and employer contributions (from 1 August) have been introduced.
Our summary can be found HERE.
HMRC guidance can be found on this link.
In addition to the detail on the new scheme, the Government plans to give businesses a 30-day window of opportunity for confession to furlough fraud, after nearly 2,000 workers have reported their employers for cheating the system. It is also understood that HMRC have started to divert resources to follow up these reports and undertake compliance checks.
Further information can be on our summary HERE
In the weekend press it was reported that some employers are considering repaying their furlough grants, as their businesses have not been impacted as significantly as they had initially thought. It was reported at the weekend that the retailer Games Workshop was repaying their grant, as the switch to digital sales had not resulted in the level of downturn as initially expected. There is no obligation to make the repayment, but some employers are taking a moral position.
Self-Employment Income Support Scheme
We reported in our newsletter of 3 June, that the SEISS has been extended. A second and final grant will be available when the scheme opens again in August 2020. If you are eligible and want to claim the first grant you must make your claim on or before 13 July 2020.
In addition to the guidance issued on Saturday morning for the Job Retention Scheme, additional guidance on the SEISS was also issued. The guidance states that you are eligible for the second and final grant if your business has been adversely affected on or after 14 July 2020, you will be able to make a claim in August 2020. You can claim for the second grant even if you did not make a claim for the first grant.
As part of the guidance there has been detail added regarding how different circumstances can impact the claim and examples provided of the condition, “adversely affected by Covid-19”.
More information can be found on the HMRC website.
Potential Emergency Budget
Press speculation in early June suggests that an emergency Budget will be held in the week commencing 6 July, but as yet there has been no confirmation from The Treasury.
In the Spring Budget on 11 March, the Chancellor indicated that there would be a second Budget in the autumn. However, during the Prime Minister’s appearance in front of the Liaison Committee on 26 May, he mentioned that the government would be bringing forward its economic recovery package in late June / early July. This was followed by reports in the Press that the Treasury will be bringing forward a “mini-budget” in early July, possibly in the week beginning 6 July, in which an economic recovery stimulus package will be unveiled.
HMRC and Covid-19 Scams
HMRC have reported a sharp spike in Covid-19 HMRC-related scams. The number of scam emails purporting to be from HMRC climbed to 42,575 in March - up 74% since January, as criminals seek to exploit financial fears over the pandemic.
HMRC have issued guidance on how to recognise phishing emails HERE.
We also refer you to our May article re protecting your business from Covid-19 scams.
- Plastics Research and Innovation Fund - A £20 million Plastics Research and Innovation Fund (PRIF) has been launched which aims to explore new ideas and innovations that can bring changes in the UK’s plastics manufacturing and consumption patterns to contribute to solving the plastic waste problem. Details can be found at HERE.
- Refunds available for VAT payments - As a further update to the temporary arrangements for the deferral of VAT payments, HMRC has confirmed that where taxpayers wanted to defer VAT payments due between 20 March 2020 and 30 June 2020, but did not manage to cancel their direct debit in time they can claim a refund.
- Construction services domestic reverse charge – The domestic reverse charge for construction services which was due to be introduced on 1 October 2020, after being delayed from 1 October 2019, has been delayed for a further period of five months to 1 March 2021.
- Gloucestershire Start & Grow Enterprise is offering free online support for start-ups across Gloucestershire – Details can be found at HERE.
We know that this is a very difficult time for all businesses and some difficult decisions are having to be made. We have spoken to many of you and for those we have not, we would like you to know that we are here ready to help if you need us to provide advice, deal with queries, or just be a business sounding board.
Our update on both these Government support schemes, together with links to the Government sites where full details can be found (which were updated over the weekend), can be found HERE.