MFW Corona Virus Covid-19 Update

Posted by karengray - December 17, 2020 4:19 pm Coronavirus COVID-19 Hub page

This page is regularly updated to bring you the latest help and advice during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Contacting us

Due to the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and following advice from the government most of our staff continue to work remotely from home. Following more recent guidelines some of our offices are opening up for clients who need to drop off books and papers but there are strict arrangements per office to ensure we keep clients and our colleagues as safe as possible during this time and so that we can maintain social distancing. To find out more details about opening times for a particular MFW office please click here.

Rest assured that we are working hard to deliver you the same high service we normally do through these challenging times.  As part of this we have carried out a risk assessment at each of our offices to ensure we safeguard clients, visitors and colleagues during this time.  You can view this below:

Government help

There is a handy questionnaire which has been set-up on the GOV.UK site designed to help businesses and the self-employed to find out all the help and support which available for their own particular circumstances. To access the questionnaire click here.

HMRC has also established a helpline to help speed up Covid-19 enquiries. Opening hours are Monday to Friday 08:00 to 16:00.

The number is: 0800 024 1222

Extension to CJRS and loan scheme

Updated 17 December

Chancellor Rishi Sunak today extended the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) until the end of April.

In addition businesses who have been adversely affected by Covid-19 will now have until the end of March to access government loan schemes.

A Spring Budget has also been announced for 3rd March 2021. We will keep you posted on details of the Budget and how this will affect you so do check our blog area after this date for more information.

Extension to the Annual Investment Allowance (AIA)

(updated 13 November 2020)

Businesses will be able to continue to claim up to £1 million in same-year tax relief through the Annual Investment Allowance (AIA) for capital investments in plant and machinery assets until 1 January 2022. This follows an extension of the temporary £1 million cap originally set to revert to £200,000 on 1 January 2021.

This move is intended to boost confidence as companies look to weather the pandemic and plan for the future.

Financial Secretary to the Treasury Jesse Norman said:

It is vital that we support business through the difficult months ahead.

Extending the Annual Investment Allowance’s £1 million cap will give businesses the confidence they need to invest into next year, helping them to grow whilst benefitting the wider economy too.

Support Grants for businesses in England – an update

(updated 12 November 2020)

The government has today released more information on support grants available for businesses located in England during the pandemic.

For further details of these updates please visit our Coronavirus Business Loans and Finance page.

New announcements by Chancellor

(updated 5 November)

Today, Chancellor Rishi Sunak once again addressed parliament in view of the second lockdown and current economic climate. He has expanded his Covid-19 lockdown measures again to help support businesses who are facing difficulties as a result of the pandemic.

In his announcement Chancellor Sunak has confirmed that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), also know as the ‘furloughing scheme’ will be extended until March with the government paying 80% of workers salaries capped at £2,500. Employers will still be liable for NICs and pension payments.

This will, however, be reviewed in January to assess the financial situation. If the economic situation has improved the government will ask employers to contribute more.

Due to this commitment the Job Retention Bonus Scheme has been scrapped but will be reviewed at the appropriate time. For more details visit our dedicated CJRS blog here.

Self-employment Income Support Scheme

The Chancellor also confirmed that the SEISS for November to January would increase to 80% of average profits for qualifying individuals capped up to £7,500.

There are individuals, however, that do not qualify including:

  • Sole traders with a profit >£50,000
  • Freelancers
  • New self-employed individuals, and;
  • Individuals who pay themselves in dividends.

We will post more details shortly. In the meantime you can find more details about SEISS on our dedicated SEISS page.

Test and Trace Support Payment scheme

Anyone showing symptoms of coronavirus needs to stay at home and self-isolate to help prevent the spread of Coronavirus.  Those who have also tested positive for Covid-19 are also under legal obligation to self-isolate.  Failure to do so may involve a fine.

However, if you are on a low income, unable to work from home and losing income as a result of self-isolating then there is some financial support available and, you may be eligible to claim £500 from your local authority  under the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme.  The scheme is only available in England and currently set to end after 31 January 2021

For more information on the Test and Trace Payment Support Scheme visit our dedicated blog page.

Other support available

This includes:

  • Business Grants – business owners in England who are forced to close their premises due to lockdown restrictions will be eligible for the following:
    • For properties with a rateable value of £15k or under, grants to be £1,334 per month, or £667 per two weeks;
    • For properties with a rateable value of between £15k-£51k grants to be £2,000 per month, or £1,000 per two weeks;
    • For properties with a rateable value of £51k or over grants to be £3,000 per month, or £1,500 per two weeks.
  • An extension to the temporary VAT reduced rate for businesses in the hospitality and tourism sectors.  To help support cash flow and viability of over 150,000 UK businesses in these sectors and to help protect 2.4 million jobs the government is extending the temporary reduced rate of VAT (5%) from 12 January to 31 March 2021. This will continue to apply to supplies of food and non-alcoholic drinks from restaurants, pubs, bars, cafés and similar premises, together with supplies of accommodation and admission to attractions across the UK.
  • Loan schemes: application deadlines extended to January 31 2021: The application deadlines for the Coronavirus Bounce Back LoanCoronavirus Business Interruption LoanCoronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme and Coronavirus Future Fund have been extended  until 31 January 2021.
  • A new Pay as you Grow Scheme to assist businesses which took out government loans.  Under the Pay as you Grow Scheme the government will give all businesses that borrowed under the BBLS the option to repay their loan over a period of up to ten years. This will reduce their average monthly repayments on the loan by almost half.  UK businesses will also have the option to move temporarily to interest-only payments for periods of up to six months (an option which they can use up to three times), or to pause their repayments entirely for up to six months (an option they can use once and only after having made six payments).  The government intends to allow CBILS lenders to extend the term of a loan up to ten years, providing additional flexibility for UK-based SMEs who may otherwise be unable to repay their loans
  • VAT deferral New Payment Scheme.  On 24 September Chancellor Rishi Sunak made an announcement that businesses who deferred VAT due from 20 March to 30 June 2020 would have the option to pay in smaller payments over a longer period. Instead of paying the full amount by the end of March 2021, businesses can make smaller, interest free payments up to the end of March 2022.  For more details visit our dedicated blog page here.
  • Enhanced Time to Pay for Self-Assessment taxpayers.  The government will give self-employed and other taxpayers more time to pay taxes due in January 2021, building on the Self-Assessment deferral provided in July 2020. Taxpayers with up to £30,000 of Self-Assessment liabilities due will be able to use HMRC’s self-service Time to Pay facility to secure a plan to pay over an additional 12 months. This means that Self-Assessment liabilities due in July 2020 will not need to be paid in full until January 2022.  If your SA debts are over £30,000, or you need longer than 12 months to repay your debt in full, you will still be able to use the Time to Pay arrangement.  However, you will need to call HMRC first to agree a payment plan

Furlough Scheme extended and Further Economic Support announced

(Updated 3 November) – please see above for the latest updates.

On Saturday 31 October Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a new second lockdown in England which will come into effect on Thursday 5 November and end on 2 December. This is in a bid to control the Covid-19 pandemic and help protect the NHS as we head towards the busy winter season.

To help businesses and individuals the Prime Minister announced further economic support as follows:

  • The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended for a further month until the end of November. For further details please visit our CJRS page.
  • The Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) has been extended from 1 November with the grant levels increased. For more details please visit our SEISS page.
  • Business Grants – business owners in England who are forced to close their premises due to lockdown restrictions will b eligible for the following:
    • For properties with a rateable value of £15k or under, grants to be £1,334 per month, or £667 per two weeks;
    • For properties with a rateable value of between £15k-£51k grants to be £2,000 per month, or £1,000 per two weeks;
    • For properties with a rateable value of £51k or over grants to be £3,000 per month, or £1,500 per two weeks.
  • Loan schemes: application deadlines extended to January 31 2021: The application deadlines for the Coronavirus Bounce Back Loan, Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan, Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme and Coronavirus Future Fund have been extended  until 31 January 2021.
  • An extension to the temporary VAT reduced rate for businesses in the hospitality and tourism sectors
  • A new Pay as you Grow Scheme to assist businesses which took out government loans
  • VAT deferral New Payment Scheme 
  • Enhanced Time to Pay for Self-Assessment taxpayers

Winter Economy Plan

On 24 September, Chancellor Rishi Sunak addressed the House of Commons with his Winter Economy Plan which sets out further Covid-19 measures as we head towards the winter season. 

Summary of what was announced

  • A new Job Support Scheme which will replace the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) starting in November (this has subsequently been postponed until further notice with the CJRS extended until the end of November).
  • An SEISS Grant Extension from November to April 2021
  • An extension to the temporary VAT reduced rate for businesses in the hospitality and tourism sectors
  • A new Pay as you Grow Scheme to assist businesses which took out government loans
  • VAT deferral New Payment Scheme 
  • Enhanced Time to Pay for Self-Assessment taxpayers

For more details of the Winter Economy Plan please visit our dedicated blog.

New Rule of 6 for hospitality venues

From 18 September, hospitality venues in England are required to enforce the rule of 6. Or, face fines of up to £4,000. Find out more here.

Local Lockdown discretionary grants

The Government has announced new local lockdown schemes providing up to £1,500 every three weeks for English businesses closed due to local lockdowns. Businesses in England, that are required to shut as a result of a local interventions, can now claim up to £1,500 per property every three weeks. For more details read our special blog.

Green Homes Grant Scheme

Announced in the Summer Economic Statement, the Green Homes Grant Scheme will make over 600,000 homes across the country more energy efficient and support over 100,000 jobs in green construction. Click here for more details.

Summer Economic Statement

On 9 July, Chancellor Rishi Sunak addressed the House of Commons in a Mini Summer/Economic Statement. The Summer Statement outlined largely proposals to protect and create jobs to help stimulate the UK economy. This includes the New Job Retention Scheme Bonus where employers, who have furloughed staff due to the pandemic, will receive a £1000 bonus for every employee they bring back from furlough.

The Chancellor introduced an increase to the Stamp Duty Threshold to £500k and other initiatives to help businesses in the pubs, cafes and restaurant sector. Further details can be found in our Summer Statement coverage.

New Kickstart Scheme

The Summer Statement also included the announcement of a new £2 billion Kickstart Scheme, as part of his Plan for Jobs in his Summer Economic Statement is now live.  The Kickstart Scheme offers 6 month placements to young people aged 16-24 who are claiming Universal Credit and at risk of long-term unemployment. This scheme is available in England, Scotland and Wales.

For more details of this scheme please read our blog.

Available help

Help for limited companies

Companies affected by the COVID-19 pandemic have been able, (since 25 March), to apply to Companies House for a three-month extension for filing their annual accounts. However, the Companies House Filing Requirements (Temporary Modifications) Regulations 2020 became law and came into force on 27 June 2020.  This contains additional measures to provide further relief to businesses during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

For more details visit our dedicated page.

Help for businesses and self-employed individuals

Business Loans & COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility

For information about business loans to help you better manage for cash flow during the COVID-19 pandemic click here.

Bounce back Loans

The government has introduced a new 100% government backed loan scheme to help small businesses needing cash injections to keep operating small business during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Under this scheme, businesses will be able to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000 through a network of accredited lenders up to a maximum of 25% of their turnover.  For the first year, the loans will be interest free and no repayments will be due during this initial period. 

How to apply for a Bounce Back Loan

The loans will be easy to apply for through a short, standardised online application. The loan should reach businesses within days- providing immediate support to those that need it as easily as possible.

Comment from the Chancellor

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, said:  “Our smallest businesses are the backbone of our economy and play a vital role in their communities. This new rapid loan scheme will help ensure they get the finance they need quickly to help survive this crisis.  This is in addition to business grants, tax deferrals, and the job retention scheme, which are already helping to support hundreds of thousands of small businesses.

Interest rates after first year

The government has also promised that it will work with lenders to ensure loans will be delivered as quickly as possible and that lenders will agree a low standardised level of interest for the remaining period of the loan.

Business grants/rates update

Business grants and rate support is now available. For more information click here.

HMRC Time to Pay support

HMRC are helping businesses with their Time to Pay initiative. For more details click here.

Deferring VAT and Income Tax Payments

You can defer VAT and Income Tax [payments if you need to as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. For further details click here.

Help if you are unable to file accounts with Companies House on time

Here you can find out more details if you are unable to file your accounts on time at Companies House due to the coronavirus.

Guidance for charities

Guidance to help with running your charity during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Business insurance

It is important to check your policy, those businesses that opted for cover for both pandemics and government-ordered closure should be covered.  However, as insurance policies differ significantly, businesses are encouraged to check the terms and conditions of their specific policy and contact their provider.

Paying suppliers promptly during coronavirus

Our regulatory professional body, the Institute of Accountants in England and Wales (the ICAEW) has posted details of their advice online to help businesses better manage their cash flows at this difficult time. You can read their article on paying suppliers promptly during Coronavirus here.

Help for commercial tenants

The government have issued a press release  promising support for commercial tenants who are unable to make their rent payments due to the coronavirus.

These measures form part of the emergency Coronavirus Bill. The Coronavirus Bill means that no business will be evicted from their premises during this period but businesses will have to pay back this rent after this time.

The government are also looking at how they can also help commercial landlords in this period. 

Payroll issues

There are a number of ways that employers can get support during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS

For more details on the Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) click here.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)

For more details on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) click here.

Off-Payroll working (IR35) reforms delayed

The COVID-19 outbreak has resulted in a delay to the IR35 reforms. For more details click here.

Claiming back Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) during COVID-19

Information you need to read to claim back Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) as a result of COVID-19.

Direct Earnings Allowance (DEAs) update

Advice on Direct Earnings Allowance.

Employment Support Allowance

  • Self-employed workers who are not eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) will be able to claim contributory Employment Support Allowance with benefits expedited from day one and not, as currently, day eight.
  • Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for employees will be provided from day one instead of day four.  SSP will also be available for those people advised to self-isolate, even if the illness has not yet presented.  Sick notes would also shortly be available via NHS 111 rather than through GPs.

Mortgage help

Homeowners and landlords can apply for a three month mortgage holiday from their lenders. The consumer champion Which has issued some helpful advice on how you can apply for a mortgage holiday. You can read some useful information from consumer champion Which here.

Finance Bill News – Taxation of Coronavirus Income Support payments

HMRC has launched a consultation on draft clauses to the Finance Bill 2020.

The legislation will apply to individuals, businesses, individual members of a partnership and employers who receive or apply for a payment from the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), the Small Business Grant Fund (SBGF), the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLGF), the Discretionary Grant Fund (DGF), or their parallel schemes in the devolved administrations, and other payments made to businesses in response to COVID-19.

Key measures set out in the consultation will:

  • confirm that grants within the legislation are subject to tax and will be treated as income where the business is within the scope of either Income Tax or Corporation Tax.
  • provide HMRC with the power to raise Income Tax assessments to recover amounts from the recipient of a SEISS or CJRS payment to which they are not entitled or where a CJRS payment has not been used to pay furloughed employee costs.
  • enable HMRC to charge penalties in cases of deliberate non-compliance/fraudulent claims.

Explanation from our professional body the ICAEW’s Tax Faculty

The ICAEW (The Institute of Accountants in England and Wales)’s Tax Faculty has explained that it is HMRC’s intention is to levy a 100% tax charge (with the regular tax charge being dis-applied) in a manner which is independent of the self assessment tax return (although there will be an opportunity on the tax return to declare liability to the recovery charge) in the case of deliberate non-compliance. 

The Tax Faculty also understands that HMRC is looking for SEISS grants, which were correctly paid to be taxable on receipt in 2020/21, irrespective of the business accounting date and with no allocation of any part of the grant to March 2020.

How will HMRC police compliance?

Whilst this has not yet been outlined it would appear that the focus for the CJRS may be on whether a specific employee was included in an RTI report filed prior to 19 March 2020, rather than, for example, the amount claimed or whether the employee is not working.

For the SEISS it is also likely that HMRC will run reports to pick up cases where the individual did not continue to trade on a self-employed or partnership basis at least throughout 2019/20.

The Finance Bill 2020 is currently making its way through parliament and we will be back in touch once we have further news.

COVID-19 Spamming & Phishing

Please be very mindful that in this stressing times there remain unscrupulous people who think nothing of trying to steal money from others due to phishing, spamming and other bogus activities.

For an update on COVID-19 spamming and phishing click here.

COVID-19 help for employees

The government have also issued help for employees. This information can be accessed here:

SLC Coronavirus (Covid-19) update

SLC issues updated guidance for applicants, current students and those repaying their student loans in response to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.

MFW additional services to help you cope

As time moves forward, many businesses will see an impact on staff absences caused through self-isolation.  We can help with any immediate needs to cover key functions.

Our services include: 

  • Virtual financial staffing cover
  • Virtual FD services
  • Cash flow forecasting
  • Financial forecasts to help you in obtaining business loan funding from banks
  • Advice with loan repayment holidays, overdraft extensions etc.
  • Bookkeeping
  • Payroll & BACS services
  • Credit control and business continuity services
  • Cloud accounting software solutions Alternatively, please contact your local MFW office (link) for further information as to how

If you need any assistance please do not hesitate to contact your local MFW office.

More information

Government launches new Coronavirus Information Service on WhatsApp

This free to use service aims to provide official, trustworthy and timely information and advice about coronavirus (COVID-19) and reduce the burden on NHS services.

Designed to help

  • Correct misinformation about Coronavirus COVID-19
  • Drive home the importance of the self-isolation message to stay home, protect the NHS and save lines

The GOV.UK Coronavirus Information Service WhatsApp is an automated ‘chatbot’ service to allow the British public to get access to answers to the most common question they are fielding about COVID-19.  This includes information on:

  • Coronavirus prevention and symptoms
  • Updates on the latest number of cases in the UK
  • Advice on staying at home
  • Travel advice for essential keyworkers
  • Myth busting

How to set this up

To opt-in for this service add the number 07860 064422 to your phone contacts.  Then message the word ‘hi’ in a WhatsApp message to get started.  You will then be able to select from a user menu so that you receive relevant guidance from GOV.UK as well as links for further information

For further details of support for businesses and employers click here.