Tag: coronavirus (page 1 of 2)

HMRC outlines Job Retention Bonus criteria

HMRC has outlined the eligibility requirements for the Job Retention Bonus (JRB) that follows the furlough scheme as part of the government’s measures to support the economy through the COVID-19 lockdown.

The government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme ends on 31 October 2020 and the JRB aims to provide additional support to employers who keep on their furloughed employees in meaningful employment.

The JRB is a one-off payment to employers of £1,000 for every employee who they previously claimed for under the scheme, and who remains continuously employed through to 31 January 2021. Eligible employees must earn at least £520 a month on average between the 1 November 2020 and 31 January 2021. Employers will be able to claim the JRB after they have filed PAYE for January and payments will be made to employers from February 2021.

All employers are eligible for the scheme including recruitment agencies and umbrella companies. They should ensure that they have complied with their obligations to pay and file PAYE accurately and on time under the Real Time Information (RTI) reporting system, maintained enrolment for PAYE online and have a UK bank account.

Employers will be able to claim for employees who were furloughed and had a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme claim submitted for them that meets all relevant eligibility criteria for the scheme. Continue reading...

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.’

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.

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.”

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.”

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.

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.

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.’

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OBR predicts UK economy will shrink by over a third

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has warned that the UK economy could shrink by 35% this quarter due to the COVID-19 crisis.

The OBR said that the outcome was modelled on an assumption that the current lockdown would last for three months. It stated that a three-month lockdown followed by three months of partial restrictions would trigger an economic decline of 35.1% in the quarter to June alone.

The lockdown would push up the UK’s borrowing bill to an estimated £273 billion this financial year, or 14% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

However, the OBR said extra spending by the Treasury to support the economy was crucial to limit economic damage.

The OBR’s estimate followed a global economic forecast published by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which predicted a 3% contraction in global growth.

Rain Newton-Smith, Chief Economist at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), said:

‘This makes for bleak reading and stresses the need for the right policies to support our economy through this crisis. The need for co-ordinated global action to rebuild confidence has rarely been greater.

‘The government will also need to work with businesses and many parts of civil society here at home to create a plan to revive the economy once the lockdown is lifted.’ Continue reading...

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