Category Archives: Blog

Chancellor expands Job Support Scheme and grants to businesses facing new COVID-19 restrictions

The Chancellor has announced that the Government will expand the new Job Support Scheme (JSS) to assist jobs and businesses required to close their doors as a result of tougher Coronavirus restrictions.

The announcement was made ahead of new plans to introduce a tier-based system for lockdowns across the country, which could force some businesses to close their doors once again.

The expanded Job Support Scheme

Under the expanded JSS, firms whose premises are legally required to shut for some period over winter as part of local or national restrictions will receive grants to pay the wages of staff who cannot work.

These grants will cover around two-thirds of each employees’ salary (67 per cent), up to a maximum of £2,100 a month.

Employers will not be required to contribute towards wages and will only be asked to pay National Insurance contributions (NICs) and auto-enrolment pension contributions.

The Government has estimated that around half of potential claims are not likely to incur employer NICs or pension contributions at all.

Businesses can only claim a grant where they are subject to a restriction that prevents them from opening and employees must not work for a minimum of seven consecutive days to be eligible.

The new scheme will open on 1 November alongside the other JSS measures announced last month in the Winter Economy Plan. It will be available for up to six months for businesses affected, with a review point in January.

All grant payments will be made in arrears through a dedicated HM Revenue & Customs service, which will be available from early December.

Lockdown grants

As well as expanding the JSS, the Government will also increase the value of cash grants offered to businesses in England forced into lockdown to support them with fixed costs.

Linked to the rateable value of business premises, the increased grants will see payments of up to £3,000 per month, payable every two weeks, instead of up to £1,500 every three weeks.

Under this reformed grant scheme:

  • Small businesses with a rateable value of or below £15,000 can now claim £1,300 per month;
  • medium-sized businesses with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000 can claim £2,000 per month; and
  • larger businesses can claim £3,000.

The Government is also extending this scheme to include businesses that are forced to close on a national basis, such as nightclubs.

Here to help 

Much of these new measures will rely on the Government’s new tiered system for restrictions and may vary over time from one region to the next.

With this being the case, it is important to consider how this affects your business and seek advice at the earliest opportunity. To find out how we can assist you, please contact us.

A quarter of dads may be missing out on paternity pay, according to a new report

The TUC has launched a new campaign calling on the Government to extend paternity pay to more workers, after discovering that a quarter of fathers may be missing out.

It found that of the 620,000 new working dads last year, more than 140,000 did not qualify for paternity pay, which provides up to two weeks’ paid time off.

This figure, it has said, is the result of two factors, either self-employment or because the individual hadn’t been with their employer for long enough.

The current rules regarding paternity pay give working dads the opportunity to claim up to two weeks’ paid leave if they are expecting a child, or adopting, including through a surrogacy arrangement – as long as they have at least six months’ service with their current employer by the 15th week before the baby is due.

During this time and while on leave, a father’s employment rights, including any pay rises and paid holiday time must be protected.

Unfortunately, the current regulations do not cover self-employed workers or freelancers, unlike self-employed mums, some of whom are eligible for a maternity allowance.

The TUC said that to address this inequality in the pay arrangements for men, all new and working dads should be given the same rights.

It is also calling on the Government to address statutory paternity pay, which is just £145.18 a week – less than half what a person working 40-hours a week would earn on the National Living Wage (£313.12). The TUC argues that paternity pay should at least meet the National Living Wage of £7.83 an hour.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “It’s so important for dads to be able to spend time at home with their families when they have a new baby.

“But tens of thousands of fathers are missing out on this special time because they don’t qualify for paid leave – or because they can’t afford to use their leave.

“We need a radical overhaul of family pay. The current system is too complicated, pays too little, and excludes too many workers.”

Link: 1 in 4 new dads missed out on paternity pay over last 12 months, says TUC

‘Bank of Mum and Dad’ feels the squeeze

The average amount contributed by parents towards home purchases has fallen by 17 per cent over the last year, according to Legal & General (L&G).

While buyers who received assistance from their parents in 2017 enjoyed an average contribution of £21,600, those receiving assistance this year can expect an average contribution of £18,000. This equates to a fall in overall lending from £6.5 billion last year to £5.7 billion this year.

In contrast, the firm says that it expects 27 per cent of home buyers to receive assistance this year, a rise of two percentage points on last year’s figure.

This means that around 317,000 housing transactions in 2018 will receive input of some sort from the parents of the buyers.

Nigel Wilson, Chief Executive of L&G, said: “People are feeling a bit of a pinch around the economy and therefore we’re seeing pretty much a national trend outside of London for less to be given.

“The volume of transactions depending on Bank of Mum and Dad funding keeps on growing, even as parents find it harder to provide as much money for the deposit”.

Link: Bank of Mum and Dad ‘feels the pinch’

Government Brexit redeployments to delay Making Tax Digital for Individuals

A number of key projects at HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) have been placed on hold to make staff available for Brexit issues, including Making Tax Digital for Individuals.

The simple assessment rollout and real-time tax code changes, both part of MTD for Individuals, will not be introduced as planned according to an HMRC stakeholders email due to a “change in priorities” in the department as it focuses on creating sophisticated digital trade systems.

The email stated that while its transformation programme was on schedule it had not necessarily been “smooth sailing”.

It states: “We were overly ambitious about the number of customers who would stop contacting us by phone and post after we introduced digital channels. Demand is falling, but not by the amount assumed in 2015.”

Despite changes to MTD for Individuals, HMRC has insisted that the Making Tax Digital (MTD) for VAT programme, due to come into effect in April 2019, will remain on track. However, it is yet to comment on MTD for other taxes, which is expected in April 2020 at the earliest under the current implementation timetable.

“The MTD for Individuals programme has made significant progress here, so we’ve laid foundations that will enable us to return to this in the future,” the email said.

“We will pause work to digitise services that impact fewer numbers of customers, such as those paying Inheritance Tax, or applying for Tax-Advantaged Venture Capital Schemes and PAYE settlement agreements.”

Among the casualties of the delays will be simple assessment, which was intended to take two million people out of self-assessment and ease the Revenue’s workload.

However, HMRC has previously revealed that it has encountered issues for taxpayers and problems for their tax agents, with taxpayers only being given 60 days to correct errors.

Yvette Nunn, Co-Chair of ATT’s technical steering group, welcomed the pause to these projects, but called on the Revenue to “use the extra time given to iron-out the known problems with simple assessment and dynamic coding before they hit play on them again.”

Link: HMRC scaling back digital projects to ‘release project capability to EU Exit work’