Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Have you over-claimed for COVID related support grants?

Thursday, October 8th, 2020

Readers who may have inadvertently over-claimed grants, the furlough scheme for example, should remedy the situation before HMRC start pro-actively investigating claims.

The Finance Act 2020, contains an amnesty for notifying HMRC of any errors or overclaims within 90 days of the later of:

  • any tax charge being payable due to the overclaim and
  • the date of Royal Assent of the Act.

As such, the earliest date this amnesty will expire will be 20 October 2020.

Businesses that have made claims – predominantly the furlough scheme – should check claims made and correct any errors within the time limits of this amnesty For example, issues that may have created over-claims are:

  • not being aware that remote staff are working, e.g. work-related emails being generated or line managers asking furloughed staff to carry out some work,
  • technical or computational issues – innocent errors such as where there is misunderstanding of the methods of certain calculations will not be targeted,
  • delays in making payment to staff for the wages due from the furlough grants,
  • deliberate fraudulent behaviour.

This amnesty will be the only chance employers have to remedy their position without any penalties being charged.

Penalties for those who fail to notify HMRC within the ‘amnesty’ period but knowingly received the CJRS grant or overclaimed the grant even though they were not entitled to claim it due to any changes in their circumstances will be based on ‘deliberate and concealed’ behaviour. This could potentially make the client liable to a penalty of 100%.

HMRC will also expect to see documentary evidence of furlough arrangements made with staff and other justifications for making claims. These would include an outline of why businesses consider their firm was or continues to be adversely affected by the coronavirus disruption.

 

New measures to sort late payers

Tuesday, October 6th, 2020

New proposals have been outlined by government to ensure small businesses in the UK are paid on time. Currently £23.4 billion worth of late invoices are owed to small firms across Britain, impacting on businesses’ cash flow and ultimate survival.

The proposals, as part of a new consultation launched 1 October 2020, look to give new powers to the Small Business Commissioner including:

  • the power to order companies to pay their partners, either as a lump sum or agreed payment plan, when a complaint against them for late payment has been investigated and upheld. Companies which do not do so could face further penalties, including fines. This will give a clear incentive for companies to pay their partners on time.
  • the power to compel companies to share information during an investigation by the SBC. This will ensure cooperation with SBC investigations and provide more information about company payment practices.
  • the power to launch investigations into suspected bad payment practice, without the need to have first received a complaint from a small business.
  • expanding the scope for complaints to the SBC, to allow the Commissioner to investigate complaints about other businesses relating to payment matters in connection with the supply of goods and services.
  • to review and report on wider business practices outside of payment matters, on instruction of the BEIS Secretary of State. This could be a practice unrelated to payment matters specifically impacting small businesses such as supply problems, or broader issues like barriers to the adoption of payment technology.
  • the power to claim investigation costs from an investigated company when there are adverse findings against them.

The consultation opens 1 October 2020 and will run until 24 December 2020. Businesses are invited to share their views.

Additional grant aid for local lockdown businesses

Monday, October 5th, 2020

Last month the Treasury announced further support for businesses adversely affected by lockdown in local areas to control local outbreaks.

Local Authorities will be funded to pay the grants now offered.

Businesses in England required to close

Businesses in England required to close due to local lockdowns or targeted restrictions will now be able to receive grants worth up to £1,500 every three weeks, To be eligible for the grant, a business must have been required to close due to local COVID-19 restrictions. Grants will be paid out every three weeks businesses are required to close. During each three week period:

  • Largest businesses will receive £1,500
  • Smaller businesses will receive £1,000.

H M Treasury also released the following notes:

  • any businesses still closed at a national level (e.g. nightclubs), will not be eligible
  • if a business occupies premises with a rateable value less than £51,000 or occupies a property or part of a property subject to an annual rent or mortgage payment of less than £51,000, it will receive £1000
  • if a business occupies premises with a rateable value of exactly £51,000 or above or occupies a property or part of a property subject to an annual rent or mortgage payment of exactly £51,000 or above, it will receive £1500
  • Local authorities will also receive an additional 5% top up amount of business support funding to enable them to help other businesses affected by closures which may not be on the business rates list. Payments made to businesses from this discretionary fund can be any amount up to £1500 and may be less than £1000 in some cases.
  • Local authorities will be responsible for distributing the grants to businesses in circumstances where they are closed due to local interventions
  • further eligibility criteria may be determined by Local authorities
  • as with other COVID-19 business grants, local grants to closed businesses will be treated as taxable income

Making a claim

Contact your Local authority to see if you are eligible. And please note, the eligibility of businesses not on the business rates list will likely be discretionary so an early call to clarify your position may be beneficial.

Are you recording customers’ contact details?

Monday, October 5th, 2020

In a press release issued 10 September 2020, the Department for Health and Social Care has reminded affected businesses that they have a legal obligation to record the contact details of their customers, visitors and staff.

Affected concerns in England should note:

  • businesses and other public settings where people meet socially including hospitality, close contact and leisure venues must record contact details of customers, visitors and staff on their premises to tackle the spread of coronavirus
  • details must be stored for 21 days and shared with NHS Test and Trace, if requested
  • fixed penalties will apply to organisations that do not comply

Premises and venues across England like pubs, restaurants, hairdressers and cinemas must have a system in place by law to record contact details of their customers, visitors and staff in the latest move to break the chains of transmission of coronavirus.

These businesses and organisations had been advised to collect and share data, with many effectively doing so, but following the recent move to ban social gatherings of more than 6 people, the data collection programme is now formally mandated and has applied since 18 September.

Please note regional variations in these regulations may apply.

Smart Data laws on the way?

Monday, October 5th, 2020

Consumers and small businesses will benefit from better deals and savings through innovative services, thanks to new Smart Data laws proposed by government.

Smart Data enables businesses to provide consumers with more intuitive, easy-to-use services such as better account and bill management, switching services for savings, and targeted support for vulnerable consumers, by allowing businesses to share customer data with authorised third-party providers in an easy and secure way. For example, Smart Data has facilitated services which could alert a vulnerable consumer’s trusted contact (such as a family member or friend) if there is unusual activity on a bank account.

New laws will see more sectors, such as communications like broadband, taking advantage of Smart Data to drive competition and innovation, while providing more choices and lower prices for consumers. The powers would make it possible for government to mandate industry involvement in Smart Data initiatives across the economy where they are not participating already, subject to sector-specific assessment and consultation.

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