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Our approach to COVID-19
COVID-19 is affecting us all. Here on our COVID-19 page, we have two sections. First, we have summarised some of the key support the government is providing to businesses today. Second, we talk more as to how Mayflower is dealing with COVID-19 in engaging with businesses and individuals with as little disruption as possible.
Latest updates on government support
The rate of change when it comes to legislation, grants, furlough, and policy is unprecedented. It’s easy to miss out on and difficult to follow at times. We will look to give you the key messages here, so you don’t lose out. As with anything, there are caveats and exceptions, so do get in touch if you need more assistance with the rules.
Last updated 2nd March 2021 (see bottom for a schedule of changes)
HMRC defer late filing penalties
HMRC announced they are not going to issue late filing penalties provided tax returns arrive by the 28th of February. Interest however is still charged from the 31st of January on outstanding balances.
See our blog for more.
The furlough scheme has been extended until the end of April 2021. The government will pay 80% of the salary, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. Employers are required to contribute towards pensions and Employers National Insurance.
Claims for February 2021 must be made no later than Monday the 15th of March.
Details on how to claim furlough can be found here. Accountants or agents can make claims on their behalf provided they have the appropriate authorisation to do so.
How to furlough staff who do not have a National Insurance number
A question has come up in the past as to how to furlough staff if you do not have a National Insurance number for your staff member, which is a requirement on the online claim portal.
The process is simple. You should first complete your claim online for all staff who do have a National Insurance number. Once you have a reference, call the COVID-19 helpline on 0800 024 1222, pass on your reference and all the necessary details about the staff member you wish to add to the claim.
Recovering Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) and qualifying days
If you have had a staff member unable to attend work because they have had symptoms of COVID-19, tested positive or required to self-isolate, you can claim up to two weeks of SSP back from the government.
Furthermore, the requirement to have three ‘waiting days’ before you need begin to pay SSP has been waived, meaning SSP is payable immediately from day one of sickness or non-attendance.
You can find out more and claim here on the gov.uk website.
SSP or Furlough?
Government guidance is that short-term illness should not define whether you furlough someone or not, however if for business reasons you wish to furlough the employee anyway, then they can receive furlough instead of SSP. You can claim SSP or Furlough, but not both at the same time for an employee.
Difficulty paying your self assessment tax bill
HMRC are offering individuals who may have difficulty paying their self assessment tax bill an opportunity to arrange a payment plan, so you can manage your tax bill over multiple instalments, if you meet the criteria (you owe £30,000 or less, have no existing payment plans, have your tax returns up-to-date and apply less than 60 days).
To make arrangements, call the Self Assessment Payment Helpline on 0300 200 3822, open Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm. Be prepared for some long wait times.
Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS)
A new claim window for SEISS is currently open. You must make your claims.
The claim window is open until Friday the 29th of January 2021.
Accountants or agents cannot make claims on your behalf.
See the gov.uk site for further guidance and begin your claim here.
Self-employment and Universal Credit
You may need universal credit in conjunction with utilising the SEISS. Using the SEISS may however reduce or pause your Universal Credit payments. How much you will receive will be based on your earnings during the assessment period.
One temporary change that has been introduced is the removal of the Minimum Income Floor. This means more self-employed people are eligible for the benefit. Equally, you can apply without having to visit a Work Coach at a job centre. This adjustment is due to change, but we are awaiting news.
VAT reduced rate for hospitality
If you are in the hospitality, hotel and holiday accommodation or charge admissions to certain attractions such as cinemas, exhibitions, or amusement parks, you can benefit from the temporary reduced VAT rate of 5%. This is effective until the 31st of March 2021.
The reduced rate also includes hot takeaway food and hot takeaway non-alcoholic drinks, but there are specific rules and conditions to consider about what should be reduced or standard rate VAT.
Details about the reduced rate for hospitality can be found here on the gov.uk website.
VAT Deferral (20th March to 30th June 2020) payment
If you deferred VAT between the 20th of March and the 30th of June, unless settled already, that VAT will become due on the 31st of March 2021.
If you envisage further difficulty in paying this VAT, HMRC are setting up a new payment scheme which will allow you to spread your VAT bill over 11 monthly instalments without interest. The scheme currently is not open yet and has to be applied for by the business owner; agents or accountants cannot do this on your behalf.
For more information, visit here on the gov.uk website.
Business rates relief for nurseries, hospitality, and leisure businesses
Depending on your eligibility, you may be entitled to business rates relief and will not have to pay business rates for the 2020 – 2021 tax year. You do not need to apply. Your local council will automatically apply the discount.
Both the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) and Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CIBLS) are active. Eligibility criteria applies for both, principally in that your trade has been adversely affected by COVID-19.
BBLS are typically for smaller businesses and are based on loaning between £2,000 and 25% of your turnover, up to a maximum of £50,000. Applications are open until the 31st of March 2020.
CIBLS offer much larger funding and as such has much more stringent requirements, such as providing previous accounts, cash flow forecasts or management accounts. We can support you with those if required. Again, applications are open until the 31st of March 2020.
If you are in charge of an innovative company at pre-revenue or pre-profit phase, you could apply to the coronavirus Future Fund. You can receive from £125,000 to £5 million in the form of convertible loans from the government. You will need to have raised at least £250,000 of equity investment over the last five years from third party investors, amongst other criteria before applying.
We have implemented a few changes in how we work to ensure we can continue to work safely and within government guidelines. We are also offering support for businesses affected by COVID-19, please see below for more details.
Face to face meetings
Whilst we always enjoy meeting our clients in person and feel nothing can compare, we will always adhere to government guidelines when it comes to meeting face-to-face or not. At present, we are currently not meeting clients face-to-face, but would instead encourage a video call or phone call. We cannot wait to meet you all for coffee sometime soon.
Provision of records
If you need to provide records to us, we would first and foremost encourage you send these digitally, by scanning / taking pictures of documents. If you have an excessive number of files, we can either provision a shared drive to deposit records or would suggest you zip (compress) files before emailing.
You can alternatively post records to our address. We advise you use a recorded, signed-for delivery service.
Where we can, we will support clients who are experiencing difficulty with applying on their behalf for certain COVID-19 support schemes, such as CJRS. We do not intend to charge for this, but refer to our fair usage policy if you need more complex assistance. We have a zero tolerance approach with any fraudulent use of these schemes.
We are mindful businesses are affected by COVID-19. Whilst we do not formally offer any payment plans, or deferrals, if you are adversely affected by COVID-19, do let us know and we can consider options on a case-by-case basis.
|2nd March 2021||
Updated for February claim deadlines on furlough (CJRS)
|25th January 2021||
Added guidance on SSP and furlough
Updated for announcement on no late filing penalties until the 28th of February
Taxpayers today, six days from the deadline, were given a month grace by HMRC with no late filing penalties to be issued until the 28th of February.
It’s hard to tell if we’re still in the thick of COVID-19 or on the way out. Either way, it’s important for businesses to stay on top of what support is available from the Government now and for the next few months.
Ready to get going?
Get in touch today and so we can learn more about your business and work out what Mayflower can do to help you achieve your goals.