UK Regulations on Accountancy during Coronavirus
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
This scheme is available to those UK employers who had a PAYE scheme created and started on or before February 28, 2020. Employers can furlough employees they would have overwise laid off, due to coronavirus’ impact, and will receive a grant from HMRC worth 80 percent of an employee’s usual wages, up to £2,500 per month.
HMRC will also provide the Employer National Insurance contributions and the minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on their wages. Employers must have a UK bank account to benefit from the scheme.
The scheme is backdated to March 1, 2020, and will be open for an initial period of three months, but the Government will extend this time period if necessary. To qualify, employers must notify their employees that they have been furloughed and share their information through the HMRC portal, once it is live.
Currently, HMRC is expecting the system to be set up by April and recommends any businesses who cannot foot the initial furlough bill to apply for the CBILS.
Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)
Available through the British Business Bank, this 12-month interest-free scheme is available to SMEs. Over 40 commercial lenders have joined the Government-backed scheme to offer UK-based SMEs loans, overdrafts, invoice and asset finance up to £5m, for up to six years.
To qualify, businesses must have a turnover under £45m per year, and meet the British Business Bank’s lending qualifications. Businesses are encouraged to apply through their lender’s website, and CBILS applications are now open.
Support for the Self-Employed
Under the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS), self-employed individuals can apply for a grant worth 80 percent of their typical trading profits, capped at £2,500 per month. However, the self-employed can continue to work alongside this assistance.
SEISS is only available to those earning under £50k and will be available for three months. Additionally, self-employed individuals—or members of a partnership—need to have submitted their 2018-19 Income Tax Self Assessment tax return and traded in the 2019-20 tax year.
Applicants must also be trading when they apply, or would have been if coronavirus had not impacted their business, and intend to continue trading in the 2020-21 tax year. Those who have lost trading or partnership profits due to coronavirus are also eligible for SEISS.
The scheme will be available for three months, and any applicable payments will be deposited by HMRC in a lump-sum format in June. This will be subject to declaration on January 2022 tax returns.
Company owners who pay themselves out of the business will not be covered by SEISS. HMRC will be using “existing information to check potential eligibility,” and will send out direct invitations to the scheme—self-employed workers are urged not to contact HMRC directly.
All UK-based businesses’ VAT payments are automatically deferred from March, 20, 2020 through 30 June, 2020. Businesses do not need to apply for this scheme, and taxpayers have until the end of the 2020-21 tax year to pay any VAT debt that has accrued.
Anyone who normally pays via direct debit, but is having financial troubles, should cancel this debt with their bank in advance of HMRC attempting to collect.
HMRC “Time to Pay” Scheme
Both businesses and self-employed individuals with outstanding tax debt can defer these tax payments through HMRC’s “Time to Pay” scheme. However, HMRC operates on a case-by-case basis for this opportunity.
Those businesses who already pay taxes to the UK Government, and who have outstanding tax debt, are potentially eligible for the scheme. To access this support, contact HMRC directly, or call its advice helpline at 0800 024 1222.
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
UK-based SMEs can reclaim any Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid due to staff sickness absences due to coronavirus, covering up to two weeks per eligible employee. To benefit from the scheme, these SMEs must employ fewer than 250 employees as of 28 February, 2020.
This scheme is still being developed by the Government, and a rebate portal has not yet been established. To mitigate this, the Government will work with businesses throughout the next few months to process repayment.
Some individuals under this scheme will also be eligible for Universal Credit.
Statutory Annual Leave
The Government is set to amend annual leave regulations, now allowing coronavirus-impacted workers to carry their annual leave entitlement into the next two leave years.
Up to four weeks of unused leave can be pushed into 2021 and 2022, allowing pandemic-affected workers to capitalise on their 28 days of holiday without penalisation. The Working Time Regulations will be amended to reflect this ruling.
Support for Housing
Under UK Government advice, mortgage lenders must allow financially insecure householders to suspend mortgage payments for three months under a “repayment holiday.”
This scheme will also support Buy to Let mortgages, shielding landlords from footing the bill, but the holiday must be discussed with each individual’s financial lender.
Filing with Companies House
To mitigate the pandemic’s impact, businesses can now defer their Self-Assessment payments from July 31, 2020 until January 2021. Anyone who makes a Self-Assessment payment is eligible and will be entered into the offer automatically, but the deferment is optional.