OUR VISION

"To be the best provider of solutions for business in Coventry & Warwickshire"

Friday, 8 April 2022

Newsletter 166

 

Newsletter 166

In this month’s Enews we consider the major announcements from the Chancellor’s Spring Statement. We also update you with the latest economic growth forecasts and the Bank of England’s latest decision on interest rates. With guidance on student loans and ground rents for leaseholders, there is a lot to update you on.


NON DOMICILES IN THE NEWS

The media have again brought into focus, the tax status of the Chancellor’s wife Akshata Murthy pictured below left.

She is a UK resident for tax purposes but as a “Non Dom” she pays tax separately in India on any income or gains derived there. She has Non Dom status because this is a Domicile of Origin gained from her father. This is a complex area of tax law which Ms Murthy can use legitimately as part of her tax planning. Her husband who was born in Southampton cannot benefit from Non Dom status.


Chancellor cuts fuel duty in Spring Statement

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a 5p per litre cut in fuel duty for petrol and diesel in the 2022 Spring Statement.

The government says it is the largest ever cut on all fuel duty rates, which applies from 6pm on 23 March 2022.

The Chancellor also announced that the starting thresholds for national insurance contributions (NICs) will rise to £12,570.

From 6 July 2022 employees earning between £242 (£190 from 6 April to 5 July 2022) and £967 per week will pay NICs at 13.25%. Earnings over £967 will attract a 3.25% charge. Employers will pay 15.05% on their employees’ earnings over £175 per week.

Although employees’ NICs only become payable once earnings exceed £242 per week, any earnings between £123 and £242 per week protect an entitlement to basic state retirement benefits without incurring a liability to NICs.

For the self-employed, where their profits exceed £11,908 per annum, they will pay 10.25% on the profits up to £50,270 and 3.25% on profits over that upper profits limit.

However, from April 2022, there will be a temporary increase in the rates of NICs payable for employees, employers and the self-employed as a transitional provision in readiness for the introduction of the Health and Social Care Levy from April 2023.

Mr Sunak also pledged that the basic rate of income tax will be cut by 1p in the pound in April 2024. By then the Chancellor said that the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) expects inflation to be back under control, with debt falling sustainably.

From April 2022, a £1,000 increase to the Employment Allowance will benefit SMEs, while there will be no business rates due on a range of green technology used to decarbonise buildings.

In addition, the Chancellor announced 50% business rates relief for eligible retail, hospitality, and leisure properties.

In his Spring Statement speech, the Chancellor said:

‘This statement puts billions back into the pockets of people across the UK and delivers the biggest net cut to personal taxes in over a quarter of a century.

‘Cutting taxes means people have immediate help with the rising cost of living, businesses have better conditions to invest and grow tomorrow, and people keep more of what they earn for years to come.’

Internet links: GOV.UK

 

The UK’s business groups gave a mixed response to Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Spring Statement speech.

Shevaun Haviland, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said:

‘The Spring Statement falls short of the action businesses needed to see. While there are some positive announcements that firms will welcome, it did not fundamentally address the huge cost pressures they are facing.’

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) warned that the measures announced by the Chancellor ‘don’t do enough to tackle the current challenges facing firms’.

Tony Danker, Director General of the CBI, said:

‘The Chancellor is right that the government can’t solve every challenge. However, the only enduring response to inflation, energy prices and cost of living challenges is a relentless campaign for economic growth.’

Meanwhile, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said that it was pleased to see the Chancellor adopt its recommendation of uprating the Employment Allowance to help small employers with national insurance costs.

Martin McTague, National Chair of the FSB, said:

‘We originally put forward the Employment Allowance as a targeted measure to help small firms, and it has now been expanded three times since its creation.

‘Together with a cut to fuel duty, these measures will provide crucial breathing space for our embattled small employers.’ 

Internet links: BCC website CBI website FSB website

 

OBR updates economic picture

In his Spring Statement speech, Chancellor Rishi Sunak responded to the latest forecasts as published by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR).

The OBR forecasts UK economic growth to be 3.8% in 2022, a significant cut from its previous prediction of 6.0%. The OBR then predicts the economy to grow by 1.8% in 2023 and 2.1% in 2024.

Meanwhile, borrowing is set to more than halve from its post-World War II high of £322 billion (15.0% of GDP) in 2020/21 to £128 billion (5.4% of GDP) in 2021/22.

Borrowing is then predicted to be £16 billion higher in 2022/23 than previously forecast in October.

In its latest forecast, the OBR said that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has had ‘major repercussions for the global economy’, which has already been severely impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and rising inflation.

The significant rise in gas and oil prices since the start of the conflict will ‘weigh heavily on a UK economy that has only just recovered its pre-pandemic level’, the OBR said.

In regard to rising levels of inflation, the public body said that real living standards are set to fall by 2.2% in 2022/23 and not recover to their pre-pandemic level until 2024/25.

Internet link: OBR website

 

Estimates show that up to £195 million in extra tax revenue has been collected via Making Tax Digital for VAT (MTD for VAT), according to research from HMRC.

The research, conducted by HMRC and peer reviewed by independent academics, showed that in 2019/20 the estimated additional tax revenue was between £185 million to £195 million, compared to a previous estimate of £115 million.

The tax authority stated that the additional revenue was due to the reduction in error on tax returns.

The research revealed that, for businesses below the £85,000 turnover threshold, the estimated additional tax revenue that is collected is £19 per business per quarter, which is a 2.2% increase from the average liability estimates for businesses not signed up to MTD.

For businesses above the threshold, the estimate of the average additional tax revenue is £57 per business per quarter and is a 0.9% increase.

Internet link: GOV.UK


The Bank of England has raised interest rates for the third consecutive time.

The Bank also warned that the Ukraine conflict could see under-pressure households hit with double-digit inflation later this year.

Members of the Bank's Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) voted eight to one to increase rates from 0.5% to 0.75%. The move takes rates back to where they were before the pandemic struck.

Alpesh Paleja, Lead Economist at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), said:

'With ongoing conflict in Ukraine pushing global commodity prices higher and exacerbating supply chain disruption, the MPC are clearly making moves to counter growing inflation.

'But they will be walking a tightrope in the months ahead, having to both keep price pressures in-check and manage the impact of tighter monetary policy on economic growth – particularly against a background of rising living costs.'

Internet link: Bank of England website

 

UK economic growth is expected to halve this year amid soaring inflation, major tax rises, and global shocks including Russia's invasion of Ukraine, warns the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC).

The BCC has downgraded its expectations for UK GDP growth in 2022 to 3.6% from 4.2% in its previous forecast in December 2021. This would be less than half the growth of 7.5% recorded last year.

It says business investment is forecast to grow at 3.5% in 2022, down from the previous forecast of 5.1%.

The BCC says that rising raw material costs, the increase in the energy price cap, the reversal of the hospitality VAT cut and upward pressure on energy and commodity prices from the impact of Russia's invasion of Ukraine will lift inflation.

The business group forecasts inflation reaching a peak of 8% in Q2 2022, the highest rate since July 1991. The BCC also projects that UK interest rates will double over the course of this year, from 0.5% to 1%.

Suren Thiru, Head of Economics at the BCC, said:

'Our latest outlook suggests a legacy of COVID and Brexit is an increasingly unbalanced economy with a growing reliance on household spending to drive growth. Such economic imbalances leave the UK more exposed to economic shocks and reduces our productive potential.'

Internet link: BCC website

 

The level at which students begin to pay back their loans will be lowered from £27,295 to £25,000 for new borrowers.

From September 2023, the interest rate on student loans will also be set to RPI+0%. Additionally, the length of time that students have to pay their loans back until they can be written off has been extended from 30 to 40 years.

University tuition fees have been capped at £9,250 for the next two years and will not rise with inflation.

Michelle Donelan, Higher and Further Education Minister, said:

'We are delivering a fairer system for students, graduates, and taxpayers as well as future-proofing the student finance system. We are freezing tuition fees and slashing interest rates for new student loan borrowers, making sure that under these terms no one will pay back more than they have borrowed in real terms.'

Internet link: GOV.UK

 

CMA frees leaseholders from rising ground rents

Intervention by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has freed more leaseholders from increasing ground rent terms that saw them trapped in homes they struggled to sell or mortgage.

Businesses which had bought freeh­olds from housing developer Countryside have now given formal commitments to the CMA to remove terms that cause ground rents to double in price.

These terms, which kick in every ten or 15 years, mean people often struggle to sell or obtain a mortgage on their leasehold home.

Their property rights can also be at risk if they fall behind on their ground rent. The move comes after the CMA secured undertakings from Countryside in September 2021 to strike out terms that doubled ground rent every ten to 15 years.

Andrea Coscelli, Chief Executive of the CMA, said:

'Thousands more leaseholders can now rest easy knowing they will not be forced to pay costly doubling ground rents. We believe these terms are unjust and unwarranted and can result in people trapped in homes they are unable to sell or mortgage – a major cause of anxiety and stress for so many.

'We welcome the commitment from these businesses to do what is right by their leaseholders by removing these terms, and we will hold them to it.'

Internet link: GOV.UK

 

AND FINALLY……………

After twenty years at Walker Thompson, Margaret our receptionist has decided to retire. We know that many of our clients have become used to being welcomed to the office by Margaret and we wish her & her family well in her retirement.

Going forward we warmly welcome Jess Wilmer as our new secretary / receptionist. Jess comes originally from Bedfordshire and has previously worked front of house for a national hotel group.


Thursday, 24 March 2022

SPRING STATEMENT 2022

Highlights for business in the Chancellors Statement and commentary by Walker Thompson.

1) Fuel Duty reduced by 5p per litre – with fuel at its highest ever prices no changes are made to the tax free mileage rates which have been at 25p and 45p for a long time

2) National Insurance lower limit is to rise in July to £12,570 – Directors on minimal salary + dividend packages may need to revise their salary to ensure continued benefits

3) VAT on tourism and hospitality to return to full rate from April

4) Changes to Research & Development to allow previously exempt costs – the SME scheme will be barely touched whereas large companies will benefit

5) Employment Allowance which gives relief against payroll costs has been increased to £5,000 from
April 2022 – this is classed as State Aid and could impinge on certain other grant type claims

Wednesday, 16 March 2022

Newsletter 165

 

The Chancellor must act at the Spring Statement or risk the UK economy drifting backwards to low growth, warns the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

The Spring Statement will take place on 23 March 2022. The CBI has set out a range of policies it says are aimed at sparking growth via business investment.

These include a permanent investment incentive to replace the super-deduction. The business group says this will boost business investment by £40 billion a year by 2026.

It also wants to see the Apprenticeship Levy turned into a Skills Challenge Fund. In addition, the government should tackle high energy prices by improving home energy efficiency through new grants for decarbonised heating systems.

CBI Director General Tony Danker said:

'Business backs the Chancellor's desire to foster a renewed culture of enterprise and deliver a more ambitious growth rate. His vision set out only last week to leverage the tax and regulatory system to promote business investment, upskill Britain's workforce and stimulate innovation is the right recipe for future success.

'Faced with a record tax burden, a cost-of-living crisis, wage pressures and the end of the super-deduction, firms will be looking to the Spring Statement for a clear signal that the government's ambition will be matched by action.

'That is the time to act if we want to push the economy onto a higher growth trajectory. It takes time for policies to kick in and deliver results, so there's no point in waiting until an Autumn Budget.'

Internet links: CBI website  GOV.UK

Coronavirus SSP Rebate Scheme set to close on
17 March

The Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme (SSPRS) will close on
17‌‌‌ ‌March‌‌‌ ‌2022.

The SSPRS was reintroduced by the government on
21 December 2021 for employers with fewer than 250 employees.

The maximum claim per employee is two weeks at the statutory sick pay (SSP) rate of £96.35 per week (£192.70 in total), which is the rate for 2021/22 (£99.35 2022/23). The employer's claim is also capped at the number of employees in its PAYE scheme on 30 November 2021.

In a statement, the government said:

‘You have until 24‌‌‌ ‌March‌‌‌ ‌2022 to submit any new claims for absence periods up to 17‌‌‌ ‌March‌‌‌ ‌2022, or to amend claims you have already submitted.

‘You will no longer be able to claim back SSP for your employees’ coronavirus-related absences or self-isolation that occur after‌‌‌ ‌
17‌‌‌ ‌March‌‌‌ ‌2022.  

‘From 25 March we will return to the normal SSP rules, which means you can revert to paying SSP from the fourth qualifying day your employee is off work regardless of the reason for their sickness absence.’ 

Internet link: GOV.UK 

Businesses urged to apply for remaining COVID-19 support grants

Businesses are being encouraged to apply for remaining coronavirus (COVID-19) grant funding from local authorities.

Hospitality, leisure and accommodation businesses can still apply for one-off cash grants of up to £6,000 through the Omicron Hospitality and Leisure Grant scheme.

The funding is made up of £556 million available through the Omicron Hospitality and Leisure Grant (OHLG) scheme and a further £294 million through the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) scheme.

The OHLG scheme provides businesses in the hospitality, leisure and accommodation sectors with one-off grants of up to £6,000 per premise.

To provide further support to other businesses, the ARG scheme provides councils with funding they can allocate at their discretion to businesses most in need, such as personal care businesses and supply firms.

Paul Scully, the Minister for Small Business, said:

'We're working to get our economy running on all cylinders again so we can focus on making the UK the best place in the world to work and do business, creating jobs along the way.

'Eligible businesses should apply as soon as possible for the grants available to help them put the pandemic behind them and get on a sounder footing.'

Internet link: GOV.UK 

Two freeports planned for Scotland

A partnership agreement to establish two green freeports in Scotland has been reached between the Scottish and UK governments.

The locations for the freeports have not yet been decided and there will be an application process with a view to setting up the freeports in 2023. Applicants in Scotland will be required to contribute towards a just transition to net-zero emissions by 2045, delivering net-zero benefits and creating new green jobs.

The UK government is expected to provide up to £52 million in seed funding to help establish green freeports in Scotland, which is in line with funding offered to the eight freeports already designated in England.

Freeports are specified geographical areas that allow certain benefits to businesses operating within them. These include a range of tax and other incentives, including a suspension from customs duties for imported goods and less burdensome customs procedures.

Scottish government Secretary for Finance and the Economy, Kate Forbes, said:

'The Scottish government will have an equal say on all bids and will expect bidders to adhere to fair work practices, including payment of the Real Living Wage.

'We can only seize Scotland's economic potential if we create secure, sustainable and satisfying jobs that also help build a fairer, more prosperous economy for everyone. That is my absolute priority and establishing green freeports will be integral to achieving this.'

Internet link: GOV.UK 

HMRC raises late payment interest rate to 3%

Following the decision by the Bank of England to increase the base rate, HMRC has confirmed that the late payment interest rate rose a quarter of a percent.

The increase applies from 14 February 2022 for quarterly instalment payments and from 21 February 2022 for non-quarterly instalment payments.

On 2 February 2022, the Bank's Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) increased the base rate to 0.5%.

As HMRC interest rates are linked to the Bank of England base rate, the increase in the base rate from 0.25% to 0.5% triggered an increase in rates for late payments.

On 4 February 2022, HMRC announced that the current late payment interest rate applied to the main taxes and duties would rise to 3% from 2.75%, effective from 21 February 2022.

The 3% rate is applied to late payments for income tax, national insurance contributions (NICs), capital gains tax (CGT), stamp duty land tax (SDLT), stamp duty and stamp duty reserve tax.

The corporation tax pay and file rate will also rise to 3% for late payments, while the repayment rate remains at 0.5%.

The rate for corporation tax self assessment, if unpaid from normal due date, will also be charged at 3%. The interest charged on underpaid quarterly instalment payments rises to 1.5% from 1.25%.

This is the second rate rise in just over a month following two consecutive rises in the Bank of England base rate. In line with the December 2021 announcement, interest paid on overpaid quarterly instalment payments and on early payments of corporation tax not due by instalments remains at 0.5%, which is unchanged since March 2009.

Internet link: GOV.UK 

MPs call for road pricing to replace motoring taxes

The government must overhaul motoring taxes as it phases out new diesel and petrol vehicles, according to MPs.

MPs on the Transport Committee say the government must come up with new policy options by the end of the year. A ban on the sale of new diesel and petrol vehicles will be introduced by 2030, which means £35 billion will be lost in tax revenue.

In a report entitled Road Pricing, the Committee favoured a road charging system based on technology which measures road use.

Any scheme would include the drivers of electric vehicles, who would be required to pay for road usage. It would also cover vans and HGV vehicles, as well as overseas vehicle drivers.

Huw Merriman MP, Chair of the Transport Committee, said: 

‘We need to talk about road pricing. Innovative technology could deliver a national road-pricing scheme which prices up a journey based on the amount of road, and type of vehicle, used. Just like our current motoring taxes but, by using price as a lever, we can offer better prices at less congested times and have technology compare these directly to public transport alternatives.

‘By offering choice, we can deliver for the driver and for the environment. Road pricing should not cost motorists more, overall, or undermine progress on active travel. Work should begin without delay. The situation is urgent. New taxes, which rely on new technology, take years to introduce.

‘A national scheme would avoid a confusing and potentially unfair and contradictory patchwork of local schemes but would be impossible to deliver if this patchwork becomes too vast. The countdown to net zero has begun. Net zero emissions should not mean zero tax revenue.’

Internet link: Parliament website 

Over a million take advantage of extra time to file self assessment returns

HMRC has revealed that more than one million taxpayers filed their late tax returns in February – taking advantage of the extra time to complete their self assessment without facing a penalty.

About 12.2 million taxpayers were expected to file a return for the 2020/21 tax year and more than 11.3 million submitted their returns by 28 February.

The deadline for submitting tax returns was 31 January but, this year, HMRC gave customers an extra month to complete it. If customers filed their returns in February, they would avoid a late filing penalty.

HMRC has given customers until 1 April to pay their outstanding tax bill or set up a Time to Pay arrangement to avoid receiving a late payment penalty. Interest has been applied to all outstanding balances since
1 February.

Lucy Frazer, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, said:

‘[The] stats show how vital the extra month was in supporting the cash flows of more than a million self-employed people and businesses across the UK, helping to ensure their survival as we recover from the pandemic.’

Internet link: HMRC press release 

Advisory fuel rates for company cars

New company car advisory fuel rates have been published and took effect from 1 March 2022.

The guidance states: ‘you can use the previous rates for up to one month from the date the new rates apply’. The rates only apply to employees using a company car.

The advisory fuel rates for journeys undertaken on or after
1 March 2022 are:

 

Engine size

Petrol

1400cc or less

13p

1401cc - 2000cc

15p

Over 2000cc

22p

 

Engine size

LPG

1400cc or less

8p

1401cc - 2000cc

10p

Over 2000cc

15p

 

Engine size

Diesel

1600cc or less

11p

1601cc - 2000cc

13p

Over 2000cc

16p

HMRC guidance states that the rates only apply when you either:HM

         reimburse employees for business travel in their company cars

         require employees to repay the cost of fuel used for private travel.

You must not use these rates in any other circumstances.

The Advisory Electricity Rate for fully electric cars is 5p per mile. Electricity is not a fuel for car fuel benefit purposes.

If you would like to discuss your company car policy, please contact us.

Internet link: GOV.UK AFR

 

Wednesday, 9 February 2022

Newsletter 164

 

COVID-19 support grants paid to companies must be included on company tax returns

HMRC has warned that businesses must declare any coronavirus (COVID-19) support grants or payments on their company tax returns and stated that the grants and payments are taxable.

The deadline for filing company tax returns is 12 months after the end of the accounting period.

The deadline to pay corporation tax will depend on any taxable profits and when the end of the accounting period occurs. It is generally nine months after the end of the accounting period unless profits exceed £1.5 million.

Grants to be included as taxable income include:

         Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate

         Coronavirus Business Support Grants (also known as local authority grants or business rate grants)

         Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) grant

         Eat Out to Help Out payment.

If a company received any of these payments, they will need to do both of the following on their CT600 tax return:

         include it as income when calculating their taxable profits in line with the relevant accounting standards

         report it separately on their company tax return using the CJRS and Eat Out to Help Out boxes.

Myrtle Lloyd, HMRC's Director General for Customer Services, said:

'We want to make sure companies are getting their tax returns right, first time, including any COVID-19 support payment declarations. Support and guidance is available on GOV.UK.'

Internet links: HMRC press release  GOV.UK

Government scheme gives discounts of up to £5,000 on accounting software

The government's Help to Grow: Digital scheme – designed to support smaller businesses in adopting digital technologies – is now open for applications.

Under the scheme, eligible businesses can now receive discounts of up to £5,000 off the retail price of approved digital accounting and CRM software from leading technology suppliers.

Businesses can also access practical, specialised support and advice on how to choose the right digital technologies to boost their growth and productivity.

Currently three accounting software providers are signed up to the scheme – Sage, Intuit and E-crunch. The next phase of the programme will see the scheme extended to e-commerce software.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said:

'I want UK businesses to be primed and ready to seize all the opportunities on the horizon as we build back better from the pandemic.

'Adopting technology means higher performance, and the Help to Grow: Digital scheme is future-proofing our small businesses and putting the UK at the forefront of the worldwide digital revolution.'

Internet link: Help to Grow website

Claims portal reopens for Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme

HMRC has reopened a claims portal for small employers to again claim refunds for coronavirus (COVID-19)-related sick pay.

The reopening follows the announcement of the reintroduction of the Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme (SSPRS) from 21 December 2021 for employers with fewer than 250 employees by the government.

The maximum claim per employee is two weeks at the statutory sick pay (SSP) rate of £96.35 per week (£192.70 in total). The employer's claim is also capped at the number of employees in its PAYE scheme on 30 November 2021.

The claims portal reopened on 19 January 2022 and employers can check the eligibility of their claims on GOV.UK.

HM Treasury and HMRC have not announced an end date for the SSPRS. However, the legislation states that a claim may not be made after the end of 24 March 2022.

The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) said: 

'There is an inevitable time lag between absence periods and having the information to make a claim (particularly when claims are made by agents). Therefore, there will hopefully be a realistic window between the end date for the SSPRS and the date that the claims portal will close.'

Internet link: GOV.UK

Consumer group urges taxpayers to avoid using refund firms to claim tax rebates

Consumer group Which? has urged taxpayers to avoid using so-called 'refund firms' to claim tax rebates.

Which? stated that people are losing hundreds of pounds by using third-party companies to claim tax rebates rather than going directly to HMRC.

Research carried out by the group found that one in five people had been either contacted directly by a tax refund company via email, phone, letter or text message or found one online.

Two in five of those contacted by a tax refund company said they used it in order to claim a tax rebate. Such companies often charge fees anywhere between 25% to 48% of the rebate an individual receives. Extra admin fees and VAT are often added on top, according to Which?.

HMRC told Which?:

 ‘We don’t accredit or in any way approve agents and take firm action against any not complying with the law. We encourage customers to come to us to make their marriage allowance claim.

‘It takes only a few minutes to complete the online application and eligible claims receive 100% of their entitlement. It is important that people thinking of using a tax agent are clear in advance about fees and are satisfied they’ll get the service they sign up for.’

Internet link: Which? website

National insurance rise 'set to squeeze budgets', warns CBI

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has warned the government that the planned rise in national insurance will squeeze budgets and affect economic growth.

The rise will see employers, employees and the self-employed pay 1.25p more in the pound from April 2022. From April 2023, the extra tax will be collected as part of the new Health and Social Care Levy.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak recently confirmed the rise, stating that it 'must go ahead'.

The CBI said that the rise risks 'curtailing growth at a critical moment in the recovery' from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

A spokesperson for the CBI said:

 'If the government goes ahead as planned, then it is incumbent on them to use the March Budget to bring forward more ambitious plans to raise the longer-term growth potential of the economy.'

Internet link: BBC News website

No 'convincing case' for digital UK currency, says House of Lords committee

Creating an official digital currency in the UK could pose significant risks to the financial stability of banks, a House of Lords committee has warned.

The Lords Economic Affairs Committee said introducing a Central Banking Digital Currency (CBDC) 'would have far-reaching consequences for households, businesses and the monetary system'.

The committee made its conclusions after hearing testimony from witnesses, including the Bank of England's Governor, Andrew Bailey; his deputy Sir John Cunliffe; Economic Secretary to the Treasury, John Glen; and senior Treasury official Charles Roxburgh.

Lord Forsyth of Drumlean, Chair of the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee, said:

'These risks include state surveillance of people's spending choices, financial instability as people convert bank deposits to CBDC during periods of economic stress, an increase in central bank power without sufficient scrutiny, and the creation of a centralised point of failure that would be a target for hostile nation-state or criminal actors.'

Internet link: Parliament website

Scam HMRC call reports drop by 97%

Reports of scam HMRC phone calls have fallen by 97% over the last 12 months, according to the latest figures from the tax authority.

According to HMRC, reports of scammers impersonating HMRC in phone calls peaked at 79,477 in March 2021 and fell to just 2,491 in December 2021.

The fall in scam call reports to HMRC has also been seen elsewhere with a 92% drop in phishing email reports and a 97% drop in scam text reports over the last year.

This signals that the public is more aware of cyber criminals and the methods they use to trick people.

Mike Fell, HMRC's Head of Cyber Security Operations, said:

'We work incredibly hard to protect the public from these criminals who ruin lives by stealing from people. It's great news that fewer people are receiving and reporting these attempted frauds, but it is still important they continue to report suspicious contact to us.

'We will continue to do everything we can to protect the public from these cynical attempts to impersonate HMRC to steal from people.'

Internet link: HMRC press release

BCC calls for 'urgent action' to improve UK-EU trade

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has called for urgent action to help improve trade with the EU.

A survey carried out by the BCC revealed that 60% of UK exporters reported difficulties trading with the EU. The business group said the number of lorries waiting to get into the port of Dover 'also offers a vivid illustration of the problems continuing to impact the operation of the trade deal between the UK and the EU'.

The BCC has outlined a series of recommendations designed to help improve trade between the UK and the EU. The recommendations include supplementary deals to reduce complexity around food exports, exempting smallest firms from having to have multiple country VAT registration for online selling and a more pragmatic approach to be taken to the enforcement of import customs declarations.

William Bain, Head of Trade Policy at the BCC, said:

'No-one is expecting goods to flow as freely across the channel now as they did prior to Brexit. But the way the trade agreement is being interpreted in 27 different EU countries is a major headache for UK business – especially smaller firms without the cash reserves to set up new EU-based arrangements.'

Internet link: BCC press release

 

Wednesday, 19 January 2022

Newsletter 163

Chancellor announces £1 billion fund for businesses

On 21 December 2021, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, unveiled a £1 billion COVID-19 fund, including cash grants of up to £6,000 per premises for each eligible firm.

Mr Sunak said the government would also help certain firms with the cost of sick pay for COVID-related absences.

The Chancellor also announced an extra £30 million to help support organisations such as theatres, orchestras and museums.

To support other businesses impacted by the Omicron wave – such as those who supply the hospitality and leisure sectors – the government is also giving a more than £100 million boost to the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) fund for local authorities in England.

The Chancellor said:

‘We recognise that the spread of the Omicron variant means businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors are facing huge uncertainty, at a crucial time.

‘So, we’re stepping in with £1 billion of support, including a new grant scheme, the reintroduction of the Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme and further funding released through the Culture Recovery Fund.

‘Ultimately the best thing we can do to support businesses is to get the virus under control, so I urge everyone to Get Boosted Now.’

Internet link: GOV.UK

Self assessment taxpayers must declare COVID grants on tax returns

HMRC has reminded self assessment taxpayers to declare any COVID-19 grant payments on their 2020/21 tax return.

According to HMRC, more than 2.7 million customers claimed at least one Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) payment up to 5 April 2021.

The tax authority says these grants are taxable and customers should declare them on their 2020/21 tax return before the deadline on
31 January 2022.

Myrtle Lloyd, HMRC's Director General for Customer Services, said:

'We want to help customers get their tax returns right, first time. We have videos, guidance and helpsheets available online to support you with your self assessment.'

The SEISS is not the only COVID-19 support scheme that customers should declare on their tax return. Information on which support payments need to be reported to HMRC and any that do not is available on GOV.UK.

Internet link: GOV.UK

HMRC waives self assessment penalties for one month to ease COVID-19 pressures

HMRC is waiving late filing and late payment penalties for self assessment taxpayers for one month.

The measure will give those taxpayers affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) extra time, if they need it, to complete their 2020/21 tax return and pay any tax due.

HMRC is still encouraging taxpayers to file and pay on time if they can. The tax authority also revealed of the 12.2 million taxpayers who need to submit their tax return by 31 January 2022, almost 6.5 million have already done so.

The deadline to file and pay remains 31 January 2022. The penalty waivers will mean that:

           anyone who cannot file their return by the 31 January deadline will not receive a late filing penalty
if they file online by 28 February; and

           anyone who cannot pay their self assessment tax by the
31 January deadline will not receive a late payment penalty if they pay their tax in full, or set up a Time to Pay arrangement, by 1 April.

However, interest will be payable from 1 February.

Angela MacDonald, HMRC's Deputy Chief Executive and Second Permanent Secretary, said: 'We know the pressures individuals and businesses are again facing this year, due to the impacts of COVID-19. Our decision to waive penalties for one month for self assessment taxpayers will give them extra time to meet their obligations without worrying about receiving a penalty.'

Internet link: HMRC press release

Scottish Budget 2022

Finance Secretary Kate Forbes delivered the 2022/23 Scottish Budget on 9 December 2021, setting out the Scottish Government’s financial and tax plans.

The Budget outlined the government’s spending plans, income tax and Land and Buildings Transaction Tax.

Announced in the Budget was almost £2 billion of low-carbon capital investment in infrastructure. This includes the first £20m of the 10-year Just Transition Fund to help the northeast and Moray transition from carbon-based industries.

The Scottish Budget announced the phased return of non-domestic rate liabilities, which had been subject to 100% relief due to the pandemic. Non-domestic rates will be 49.8p in the pound, however, rate relief for the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors will continue at 50% for the first three months of 2022/23, capped at £27,500 per ratepayer.

Small businesses with a rateable value of less than £15,000 on Scottish high streets will continue to pay no rates for all of next year, irrespective of which sector they are in, through the Small Business Bonus Scheme. Additionally, new builds will pay no rates for the first 12 months after occupation through the Business Growth Accelerator.

The Scottish Budget also announced that the Starter and Basic Rate bands of income tax (other than those for savings and dividend income) which apply to Scottish resident taxpayers will increase by inflation. The Higher and Top Rate thresholds will remain frozen.  

Ms Forbes said:

‘The Scottish Budget will provide taxpayers with stability and support, set out clearly how we will accelerate our Covid recovery, and crucially, how our spending plans will set Scotland on a new ambitious path.’

Internet links: GOV.SCOT Budget statement GOV.UK news release

Welsh government delivers Budget

On 20 December 2021, the Welsh government outlined a Budget to 'build a stronger, fairer and greener Wales'.

The Welsh government unveiled a £116 million package of funding to aid with the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. This will be combined with existing permanent relief schemes that see over 85,000 properties continue to receive support. The scheme will be capped at £110,000 per business.

Many firms had been receiving 100% off their rates, which helps to pay for services provided by local government, but previous COVID-19 business rate schemes have come to an end.

A further £35 million has been set aside to freeze the non-domestic rates multiplier for 2022/23, so there will be no increase in the amount of rates businesses are paying.

Meanwhile, an additional £1.3 billion in funding will be supplied to the NHS in Wales to help provide effective, high quality and sustainable healthcare following the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Budget also tackles inequality and invests in future generations through an additional £320 million to continue a long-term programme of learning and education reform.

Welsh government Finance Minister, Rebecca Evans, said:

'The UK government's Spending Review did not deliver for Wales and this Budget is delivered in that context. While there are tough choices ahead, we have been able to provide funding that will allow Wales to rise to the challenges we face, grounded in the distinctively Welsh values of environmental, social and economic justice.'

Internet link: GOV.WALES

FCA to introduce new consumer duty

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is set to introduce a new consumer duty to better protect users of financial services.

The new rules will help tackle harmful practices such as providers of financial services presenting information in a way that exploits consumers' behavioural biases; selling products or services that are not fit for purpose; or providing poor customer support.

The FCA says it wants to 'drive a fundamental shift in industry mindset' by raising standards and helping firms to get products and services right in the first place.

The new rules will mean firms will have to place emphasis on supporting and empowering their clients to make good financial decisions and avoid foreseeable harm throughout the customer relationship.

Firms will be required to provide customers with information they can understand; offer products and services that are fit for purpose; and provide helpful customer service.

A consultation will be open until 15 February 2022 and the FCA expects to confirm any final rules by the end of July 2022.

Sheldon Mills, Executive Director of Consumers and Competition at the FCA, said:

'Making good financial decisions is vital to financial well-being and trust, but too often consumers are not given the information they need to make good decisions and are sold products or services that do not offer the benefits they might expect. We want to change that.

'We've been working to set a higher standard for firms, to put more of the onus on them to act in their customers' interests and get their products and services right.'

Internet link: FCA website

HMRC has published the latest edition of the Employer Bulletin. This guidance for employers, and their agents, includes articles on:

         reporting PAYE information in real time when payments are made early at Christmas

         preventing and correcting payroll errors

         Health and Social Care - National Insurance contribution increase

         UK-Swiss Convention on Social Security Coordination

         COVID-19 - summary of guidance published by HMRC

         VAT Reverse Charge on construction and building sites

         reporting benefits and expenses in real time

         notifying HMRC when you stop employing people.

Please contact us for help with employment matters.

Internet link: Employer Bulletin

Over 440,000 small firms at risk due to late payment crisis

More than 440,000 small firms could be forced out of business by the late payment crisis, according to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

An FSB study of more than 1,200 business owners found that close to one in three has seen late payment of invoices increase over the last three months, with a further 8% experiencing other forms of poor payment practice.

As a result, 8% of small businesses say late payments are now threatening the viability of their business. This equates to 440,000 of the estimated 5.5 million small businesses in the UK.

FSB National Chairman, Mike Cherry, said:

‘After another frustrating festive season, small firms are facing flashpoint after flashpoint. Today, it’s a fresh wave of admin for importers and exporters – in three months’ time it will be a hike to the jobs tax that is national insurance contributions, a rise in dividend taxation, business rates bills and an increase in the national living wage.

‘On top of that, operating costs are surging – many will soon be trying to strike energy deals without the clout of big corporates, or the protections afforded to consumers.’

Internet link: FSB press release