30/03/2021

COVID-19 Business Update – 31 March 2021

Welcome back to our Weekly Digest. Read on for the latest updates and some ideas to help us all move forward.

UK Plans COVID-19 Vaccine Boosters for People Over 70 Years Old

The UK is planning to administer booster COVID-19 vaccines for those aged over 70 years old from September to protect them from new variants of the virus.

Aside from the elderly, the vaccine boosters will also be given to frontline NHS and social care workers.

UK Business Confidence Hits One-Year High

Business confidence in the UK surged by 13 percentage points to 15%, hitting its highest level since the pandemic started in March 2020. This highlights the progress in the vaccine rollout and clarity provided by the government’s roadmap out of lockdowns.

Business Rates Relief Boosted with New £1.5 Billion Package

Businesses impacted by the pandemic who have been unable to benefit from the existing £16 billion business rates relief for the retail, hospitality, and leisure sectors will get a £1.5 billion discount on their bills.

The £1.5 billion pot will be distributed according to which sectors have suffered most economically, ensuring support is provided to businesses who need it most.

Ban on Commercial Evictions Extended to 30 June

Business owners are being given further support after the government extended the ban on commercial evictions to 30 June. Meanwhile, the bailiff-enforced eviction ban was also extended to 31 May to protect residential tenants.

These extensions should help those badly hit by the pandemic, such as bars and restaurants. Doors are expected to fully reopen for the hospitality industry no earlier than 17 May.

With around 49% of hospitality workers and 36% of retail workers currently renting, the new measures will protect jobs as businesses reopen and many more renters can return to work.

Job Retention Scheme Extended Until End of September

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended until 30 September 2021. It will remain unchanged until the end of June, and a phased reduction in the level of funding will be implemented from 1 July 2021.

Currently, employers can claim grants equal to 80% of a furloughed employee’s reference pay. Grants for each worker are capped at £2,500 per month.

For claims starting 1 July 2021, the grant will be reduced to 70% of the reference salary and capped at £2,187.50 per month. It will be further reduced to 60% of the reference salary with a cap of £1,875 starting 1 August 2021.

You can read more about it here.

Pavement Licences Extended to Help High Streets Recover

Communities Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP announced that he intends to extend pavement licences for a further 12 months to help the hospitality industry recover once lockdown restrictions are lifted.

Hospitality venues will be allowed to serve customers outdoors from no earlier than 12 April. The extension of provisions around pavement licences, which will be subject to parliamentary approval, will make it easier and cheaper for pubs, restaurants and cafes to serve people outside.

Further details can be found here.

Guidance on the Reopening of Businesses

England is still in a national lockdown. However, the government has published the ‘COVID-19 Response – Spring 2021’ which will serve as a roadmap out of the current restrictions. You can check out the step-by-step plan here.

Online VAT Deferral Payment Scheme

Businesses that deferred VAT payments last year can join the new online VAT Deferral Payment Scheme to pay it in smaller monthly instalments.

To take advantage of this new payment scheme, businesses will need to have deferred VAT payments between March and June 2020 under the VAT Payment Deferral Scheme. These businesses will be given the option to pay their deferred VAT in 2 to 11 equal monthly instalments starting in March, April, May, or June 2021, with no interest.

The new scheme will be open until 21 June 2021. Further details can be found here.

Changes to the Construction Industry Scheme Effective April 2021

On November 2020, the government published draft legislation making changed to the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) to ensure that rules apply fairly to everyone who is liable and HMRC can act quickly when rules are being broken.

You can read more about these changes here. You can also get in touch with us if you have any questions.

£20 Million SME Brexit Support Fund Launched

A £20 million SME Brexit Support Fund has been announced to help businesses adjust to new customs, rules of origin, and VAT rules when trading with the EU.

Traders will be able to apply for a grant of up to £2,000 to pay for practical support for importing and exporting. This fund will help businesses prepare for the implementation of import controls that will take effect from April and July.

More details can be found here.

Brexit Checker

Doing business with Europe has changed. You need to follow new rules on exports, imports, tariffs, data and hiring.

The GOV.UK website has detailed guidance on what the new rules mean for your business. You can also use the Brexit checker to get a personalised list of action for you.

Ongoing COVID-19 Business Support From the Government

After almost a year of lockdowns and COVID-19 restrictions, many firms in the UK are still in need of business support to stay afloat. Below is a comprehensive list of government support programmes that are available to your small business.

Business Rates Holiday

Deadline: 6 April 2021

Businesses in the retail, hospitality, and leisure sectors will not have to pay business rates for the 2020-2021 tax year.

More information can be found here.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Deadline: 30 April 2021

  • 80% of employees’ monthly salary covered for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500
  • Employers will have flexibility to use the scheme for employees for any amount of time or shift pattern, furloughing employees on either a full-time or part-time basis
  • No employer contribution for hours not worked, employers only have to cover National Insurance and employer pension contributions

More information can be found here.

New Deadlines for Job Retention Scheme Claims
Use this list of monthly deadlines to help you submit before it’s too late.

14 April 2021– Final date to submit claims for March 2021 by 11:59pm
14 May 2021– Final date to submit claims for April 2021 by 11:59pm

Corporation tax filing extension

Deadline: Apply for the extension before your normal filing deadline

You can apply for a three-month corporation tax extension to the deadline of filing your accounts, as long as your deadline falls between 27 June 2020 to 5 April 2021.

More information can be found here.

Kickstart Scheme grant

Deadline: Not specified

  • Provides funding to create new job placements for 16 to 24-year-olds on Universal Credit
  • Covers 100% of the National Minimum Wage (or the National Living Wage) for 25 hours a week for a total of six months
  • Also covers National Insurance contributions
  • Employers can spread the start date of the job placements until the end of December 2021

More information can be found here.

Self-employed Income Support Scheme

Deadline: Online claims service for the fourth grant will be available from late April 2021 until 31 May 2021.

  • The fourth grant will be calculated at 80% of 3 months’ average trading profits and will be paid out in a single instalment capped at £7,500 in total.
  • The fifth and final grant covering May to September can be claimed from late July. The amount will be determined by how much your turnover has been reduced in the year April 2020 to April 2021.
  • The fifth grant will be worth 80% of 3 months’ average trading profits, capped at £7,500, for those with a turnover reduction of 30% or more.
  • For those with a turnover reduction of less than 30%, the fifth grant will be equivalent to 30% of 3 months’ average trading profits, capped at £2,850.

More information can be found here.

Flick us a message if you need our expert assistance on your applications and so we can help you evaluate your options.

4 Tips to Get Out of Debt

Getting out of debt can be difficult, but there are some strategies that can help you pay it down more easily:

  • Pay more than the minimum payment required– Go through your finances and decide how much extra you can shell out to pay your debt. Paying more than the minimum amount will help you save on interest and pay it completely much faster.
  • Use the debt snowball method– This approach involves paying the minimum amount on all your debts except for the smallest one, which you should pay as much as you can toward. Once you eliminate the smallest one quickly, you’ll move on to the second smallest debt while paying the minimum on the others.
  • Debt refinancing– You’ll save in interest if you refinance your debt to a lower interest rate. Consider refinancing your mortgage, auto loan, or student loan.
  • Commit windfalls to debt– For example, when you get a tax refund or a stimulus check, you can use the money to pay your debt or at least split it 50-50 between debt payment and having fun or saving in your bank account.

Do you want a more personalised debt paydown strategy? Get in touch with us today and let us help you enjoy a debt-free life.

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