We detail below further guidance that has been received on a number of matters since our last Briefing, including the Charity provisions announced by the Chancellor last night. As a Practice we don’t act for Charities per se but I know many of you hold Trustee roles as private individuals so we thought this summary might be helpful.
Loan and credit card payments set to be frozen
- The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has launched an emergency four-day consultation on plans for temporary measures to help consumers manage their credit in the face of the financial impact of the coronavirus epidemic
- People struggling with loan repayments and overdraft fees amid the coronavirus pandemic will be granted temporary relief under new proposals. The FCA is asking banks to freeze payments on loans and credit cards for up to three months for those facing difficulties. The City watchdog also wants interest on the first £500 of existing overdrafts to be frozen for a period. Firms could consider other measures, such as reductions in monthly payments, if appropriate. In addition, customer cards would not be suspended during this period.
- The FCA is asking banks to respond to the proposed as soon as possible and then for these new measures to come in to force as a matter of urgency.
- Other measures it has proposed include:
- A three-month payment freeze on loans
- A temporary freeze on credit card debt up to three months
- Zero interest on up to £500 for customers affected by coronavirus using an arranged overdraft
- The FCA also said that consumers using any of these measures should not see their credit rating affected.
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
- Our most pressing challenge is to determine how we claim back the money your businesses are due under the Furlough Scheme. Government guidance, as of today is that:-
– Online service for claims are due to go live week commencing 20 April 2020 and we propose to sort this for you, where we undertake your payroll, if the Portal allows this.
– Details of furloughing (agreements and pay records) must be kept for 5 years
-If you do your own payroll, when submitting the claim, you enter the amount to claim – the Portal won’t calculate it for you.
THE GOVERNMENT HAVE GIVEN NO INDICATION ON WHEN YOU SHOULD EXPECT YOUR FURLOUGH REFUNDS
- IR35 contractors working for public sector organisations through personal service companies who are unable to carry on working due to the covid-19 pandemic will now be eligible for the 80% furlough scheme if their contracts are ongoing. There are still no signs that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will be extended to private sector off-payroll workers.
Small Business Grants Fund and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund
Practical Point….. VERY IMPORTANT
There is an anomaly for businesses in East Dorset (and also North Dorset) that pay their rates to Dorset County Council. Your rates are actually administered now by Bournemouth, Christchurch & Poole Council (BCP). They were halfway through some kind of systems merger.
Therefore, businesses in East Dorset & North Dorset MUST claim the rates grant from BCP not Dorset County Council. Anyone that has claimed via the paper form should be OK as they were issued by the relevant council, but anyone that has made a claim through an online portal might want to double check they’ve used the correct one as claims made through the wrong site will be rejected.
The oddity is that the claim page on the BCP website only gives the option to tick an area of ‘Bournemouth’ or ‘Christchurch or Poole’ and not option for ‘East Dorset’ or ‘North Dorset’. The helpline team at the Council suggest that ticking ‘Christchurch or Poole’ would be more relevant as East Dorset / North Dorset staff that were retained ended up largely at the Christchurch office. But this is not critical to get right as the system would recognise the location by the rates reference. Link to claim on BCP is here:
Construction Industry Advice
- The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) are offering support and guidance to the British Construction Industry via the link below:
- • CITB is funding the training of mental health first aid instructors for many in the industry. Instructors have come from employers, federations and clients. This is a charity dedicated to the health and wellbeing of construction workers and their families, and the helpline app can be downloaded on their site.
- In an effort to help the NHS, The Construction Leadership Council are asking industry employers to provide resources, wherever possible, including:
• PPE such as masks, gowns, and sanitiser
• Transport and logistics for moving goods or people
• Manufacturing equipment
• Warehouse or office space for medical use or storage
• Expert advice or consultancy in IT, manufacturing, construction, project management, procurement, or engineering.
- If you work in the construction industry and would like to find out if or how you can help the NHS, please follow the below link and see also the National Business Response Network:
Claim back Statutory Sick Pay paid to employees due to coronavirus
- The Chancellor previously announced details about a new COVID-19 Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme, designed to allow small and medium sized employers (fewer than 250 employees) to apply to HMRC to recover the costs of paying Statutory Sick Pay to their employees. HMRC has now published new guidance which includes information about who can use the scheme and the records employers must keep. However, the online service you’ll use to reclaim SSP is not available yet. HMRC will announce when the service is available
- To recap, the scheme will repay employers the current rate of SSP paid to employees for up to 2 weeks, starting on day 1 rather than 4, on or after 13 March 2020 and to employees who either have or are self-isolating due to Coronavirus.
- The scheme can be used by employers if they:
- Are claiming for an employee who’s eligible for sick pay due to coronavirus
- Had a PAYE payroll scheme that was created and started on or before 28 February 2020
- Had fewer than 250 employees on 28 February 2020
- You must keep records of all the statutory sick payments that you want to claim from HMRC, including:
- The reason why an employee could not work
- Details of each period when an employee could not work, including start and end dates
- Details of the SSP qualifying days when an employee could not work
- National Insurance numbers of all employees who you have paid SSP to
- Find more information at the link https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-back-statutory-sick-pay-paid-to-employees-due-to-coronavirus-covid-19
Covid Business Interruption Loan Scheme
- In response to feedback received since the schemes launch, the Chancellor is taking further action by extending the scheme so that all viable small businesses affected by Covid-19, and not just those unable to secure regular commercial financing, will now be eligible. This change is designed to enable all long-term viable businesses experiencing difficulties as a result of the coronavirus outbreak to access finance.
- The government is also stopping lenders from requesting personal guarantees for loans under £250,000 and making operational changes to speed up lending approvals. The government will continue to cover the first twelve months of interest and fees.
The Chancellor has announced that charities across the UK will receive a £750 million package of support to ensure they can continue their vital work during the Coronavirus outbreak. This will include:
- £360 million direct from government departments. This will include:
- hospices to help increase capacity and give stability to the sector
- St John Ambulance to support the NHS
- victims charities, including domestic abuse, to help with potential increase in demand for charities providing these services
- vulnerable children charities, so they can continue delivering services on behalf of local authorities
- Citizens Advice to increase the number of staff providing advice during this difficult time
- £370 million for smaller charities, including through a grant to the National Lottery Community Fund.
- A commitment from the Government to match donations to the National Emergencies Trust as part of the BBC’s Big Night In fundraiser later this month – pledging a minimum of £20 million
However, as yet, what we don’t know is :- How charities determine if they will eligible for financial support. How much funding they will be entitled to claim and over what period? And most importantly how long it will be before this vital funding reaches their bank account?