Category: Government Updates (page 1 of 2)

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.'

UK sets out post-Brexit tariff regime

The UK government published its plans for a new import tariff regime following the end of the Brexit transition period.

Following its departure from the EU, the UK has the ability to set its own rules and charges.

The scheme includes the abolition of tariffs on imports worth over £30 billion, although economists say the impact on the cost of living will be small.

Some tariffs will be maintained on imported items such as beef and cars to protect British producers. Other items will have tariffs simplified, and expressed in pounds instead of euros.

Josh Hardie, Deputy Director General at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), said:

‘The new tariff scheme will provide businesses with much-needed clarity on post-Brexit trade. Simplifying the system, scrapping tariffs under 2%, reducing duties on sustainable products are all things firms can work with.

‘Sticking closely to many existing tariff levels will give other countries incentive to agree trade deals with the UK.

‘However, businesses will need time to assess the detail, and ensuring there’s a system in place to address issues as they arise will be critical. Crucially, firms’ number one priority is for the government to strike a deal with the EU and ensuring continuity of existing trade deals.’ Continue reading...

COVID-19: delay to VAT reverse charge on construction services

On 5 June 2020, HMRC announced a five-month delay to the introduction of the domestic VAT reverse charge for construction services, due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the sector.

The change will now apply from 1 March 2021 and will overhaul the way VAT is payable on building and construction invoices as part of moves to reduce fraud in the sector. Under the domestic reverse charge, the customer receiving the service must account for the VAT due on these supplies on their VAT return, instead of paying the VAT to the supplier..

The change was originally scheduled to come into effect from 1 October 2019, but was then deferred for 12 months, after industry bodies highlighted concerns about lack of preparation and the impact on businesses.

Now the start date has been put back from 1 October 2020 to 1 March 2021.

There will also be an amendment to the original legislation. Businesses are excluded from the reverse charge on relevant supplies where they are end users, or intermediary suppliers. If so they must inform their subcontractors, in writing, that they are end users or intermediary suppliers.

HMRC says the additional amendment is designed to make sure both parties are clear whether the supply is excluded from the reverse charge. It reflects recommended advice published in HMRC guidance and brings certainty for subcontractors as to the correct treatment for their supplies. Continue reading...

Chancellor announces changes to Job Retention Scheme

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced changes to the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (JRS), which will be slowly wound down between July and October.

The changes mean businesses will be able to bring furloughed employees back on a part-time basis from 1 July.

Furloughed staff will continue to get 80% of their salary until the scheme finishes at the end of October. However, employers will be expected to gradually contribute more towards furloughed employees’ salaries.

The taxpayer contribution will remain at 80% during August but employers will have to pay national insurance and employer pension contributions.

In September, employers will be asked to start paying 10% towards people’s wages, which will rise to 20% in October.

JRS closes to new entrants from 30 June, but more critically, 10 June is the last date by which an employee can be put on furlough for the first time.

Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, Director-General at the Confederation of British Industry, said:

‘Introducing part-time furloughing as more stores and factories start to open will help employees to return to work gradually and safely. Many more businesses will feel supported during this vital restart phase.

‘Firms understand the scheme must close to new entrants at some point and that those using it in future will need to make a contribution to help manage the costs. Continue reading...

Loan size increased to £200 million under large business interruption scheme

Several changes to the CLBILS scheme have taken effect from 26 May. The government has extended the maximum loan size available through the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) from £50 million to £200 million.

However, companies borrowing more than £50 million through the CLBILS will be subject to restrictions on dividend payments, senior pay and share buy-backs during the period of the loan. This will include a ban on dividend payments and cash bonuses, except where they were previously agreed.

Suren Thiru, Head of Economics at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said:

‘It is good to see the government continue to listen to business concerns and make improvements to existing schemes.

‘These important changes could make a real difference to larger firms in particular, and alongside the other lending support schemes will help ensure that more businesses of all sizes get access to the finance they need to help weather this unprecedented economic storm.’

Future Fund launches to give start-ups coronavirus support

On 20 May 2020, the government launched its Future Fund package, which aims to support start-up businesses not eligible for other COVID-19 rescue measures.

The Future Fund offers government loans of between £125,000 and £5 million to UK-incorporated companies, provided private investors at least match the funding supplied by the state.

The package is aimed at supporting innovative early stage companies not eligible for existing COVID-19 support.

The Future Fund is administered by the government-backed British Business Bank (BBB). The loans can be repaid or converted into shares in the Investee Company in a variety of circumstances, including fundraisings, exit events and upon the maturity of the loans.

The fund is currently due to run until at least the end of September.

Government borrowing could rise to £300 billion

The Centre for Policy Studies (CPS) has suggested that government borrowing may rise to £300 billion in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The think tank has been working to estimate the cost of the COVID-19 crisis to the government’s finances, and has incorporated official data from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR).

The CPS’s COVID-19 counter has put forward an estimated £127 billion in direct bailout costs and £119 million in indirect costs, such as lower tax revenue. The data is based on the OBR’s three-month lockdown scenario, followed by three months of ‘looser restrictions’.

The CPS stated that, when these estimated costs are added to the £55 billion of borrowing already forecast for 2020, a deficit of £301 billion is produced. This represents 15% of GDP.

Robert Colvile, Director of the CPS, said:

‘The government has acted throughout this crisis to save lives and protect livelihoods. But while it is clear to everyone that extraordinary times require extraordinary measures, they also incur extraordinary costs.

‘It is vital to get the most accurate possible picture of the burden the government is taking on in order to assess the full scale of the rebuilding that lies ahead.’

Government launches support finding tool for business

The UK government launched an online platform to help businesses access financial support during the COVID-19 crisis.

The Coronavirus Business Support Finder Tool will guide businesses through the range of loans, tax reliefs and cash grants to combat the adverse economic effects of the COVID-19 lockdown.

The tool asks business owners to fill out a short online questionnaire. It then directs them to a list of financial support for which they may be eligible.

The tool takes the user through various questions about their business, including location, number of employees and turnover.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said:

‘We’ve launched an unprecedented package of support to protect jobs, businesses and incomes during these challenging times. Millions are already benefiting and this new online tool will allow firms and individuals to identify what help they are entitled to in a matter of minutes.’

Want to share this information with multiple clients at once? Utilise AM’s bulk email tool and keep them informed.

HMRC releases guidance for self-employed scheme

HMRC has released guidance on the COVID-19 Self-employment Income Support Scheme.

Under the scheme, self-employed individuals will be able to claim a taxable grant based on an average of their earnings over the past three years. To be eligible, workers must have filed all relevant income tax self assessment returns; have traded in the 2018/19 and 2019/20 tax years, and intend to carry on trading in the 2020/21 tax year. Profits, based on an average of the last three years, must be no more than £50,000, and at least equal to any non-trading income, such as employment income, dividends or rental income.

Directors of their own companies who are paid through Pay as You Earn (PAYE) may be able to get support via the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

HMRC began to contact those eligible in early May and invited them to apply online. Payments are scheduled to start later in May and run for three months, but may be extended if necessary.

Government launches small business micro loan scheme

On 4 May 2020 the government launched a micro loan scheme for small businesses as it continues to try and mitigate the economic damage caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown.

The Bounce Back Loan Scheme allows small businesses adversely affected by COVID-19 to apply for up to £50,000, with the government guaranteeing 100% of the advance.

Businesses can apply for a minimum of £2,000, up to a maximum of £50,000 with the government paying the interest for the first 12 months.

Businesses will be able to access the loans through the existing network of accredited lenders and the government said it expects most applications to be approved within 24 hours.

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, said:

‘I know that some small businesses are still struggling to access credit.

‘They are, in many ways, the most exposed businesses to the impact of the coronavirus, and often find it harder to access credit in the first place.

‘If we want to benefit from their dynamism and entrepreneurial spirit as we recover our economy, they will need extra support to get through the crisis.

‘Some businesses will not want to take on more debt, which is why our focus has been on cash grants, tax cuts and tax deferrals. But for others, loans will be part of the answer.’

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