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Business Advice During Covid-19

The Business Rates Holiday
*        Applicable to the 2020-21 tax year – if you have already received your bill but are eligible this will be corrected.
*        You will be eligible if you are based in England and is in the retail, hospitality or leisure sector.
This scheme has also been extended to nursery businesses where they are;
*        Occupied by providers on Ofsted’s Early years Register
*        Wholly or mainly used for the provision of the Early Years Foundation Stage
*        This should be issued or corrected automatically by your local authority
*        Again, grey areas will apply so please contact them directly if necessary.


The £10k Grant

*        One off payment rumoured to be made early April – it will not need to be repaid
*        You do not need to apply, the local authority will be contacting those eligible
*        You will be eligible if your business is eligible for Small Business Rates Relief or Rural Rate Relief
*        If you are unsure then please check your Council Rates bill, and if you are still unsure then contact us the council directly
*        If you do not pay rates then because of the nature of your premises then this either needs to be queried (why aren’t you?) or hold tight, further Government support must be coming for those small businesses that are missing out, for example those that work from home.
*        Local councils have started issuing letters and emails for these and we are getting reports of payments being confirmed
The £25k Grant
*        One off payment rumoured to be made early April – it will not need to be repaid
*        You do not need to apply, the local authority will be contacting those eligible
*        You will be eligible if you operate a retail, hospitality or leisure businesses operating from smaller premises with a rateable value of between £15,000 and £51,000
*        Obviously this includes some grey areas re the type of business you are so please contact your local authority to try and gain clarity, and argue with them if they disagree with you.

The Payroll Support – Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

All UK businesses are eligible.
However, you must have a PAYE scheme on or before 28th February 2020, along with a UK bank account – so businesses that are setting up schemes now and hope to take advantage will not be able to.
Further, furloughed employees must have been on your PAYE payroll on 28th February 2020 – this includes rehires for staff made redundant since that date, but new employees since that date are currently not included.
HMRC will reimburse you for up to 80% (capped at £2,500) of your staff costs, plus the associated Employer NI and minimum auto enrollment employer pension contributions.
The grant is to cover the employees regular wage – so please note that fees, commissions, and bonuses should not be included.
For employees whose pay varies – if the employee has been employed for a full 12 months prior to the claim, you can claim for the higher of either:
*        The same months earnings from the previous year
*        Average monthly earnings from the 2019/20 year

If the employee has been employed for less than a year, you can claim for an average of their monthly earnings since they started work.  If the employee only started in February 2020, use a pro-rata for their earnings so far to claim.
HMRC are expecting the scheme to be up and running by the end of April, so please be prepared to have to fund payroll costs until at least then out of your own cashflow
While furloughed, staff cannot undertake any work for the employer, including services or generating revenue.  However, they can take part in volunteer work or training if you require, though this means that they fall under National Minimum Wage rules and so if the 80% takes them under this then you will be required to top up their pay.
It appears to be a contractual agreement needed regarding whether you ‘top up’ the additional 20% or not.  i.e, you need your employees agreement to only pay 80%.  However, the guidance given suggested that if the alternative was being made redundant, then employees are likely to accept the 80% of pay rather than become unemployed.
Regardless of whether you top up or not, it is important to gain agreement to the scheme from the employee and keep a record of all communication.
While furloughed, salaries paid are still subject to income tax and other usual deduction.
While furloughed, employees have the same rights that they did previously, including SSP, SMP, redundancy, etc.
You will need to declare all furloughed staff to HMRC through a new portal that is still being created.
In the meantime, please start identifying those staff that are affected so that we can apply as soon as the facility becomes available.
The scheme appears to cover Company Directors as well, however generally they would not be expected to ‘stand down’ and so may come under extra scrutiny unless there are multiple Directors in the same company.

VAT Payment Deferral

The next quarter VAT payment that you are due to make will be deferred for 3 months.
This is due for payments to be made between 20 March to 20 June
This is automatic and there is no need to apply.
However, guidance has not mentioned DDs yet so if you have one setup but want to take advantage it is suggested that you consider cancelling it to be on the safe side.

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