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Covid-19 Useful Information

1. Laying off employees – any person employed at 28 February, who can no longer do their job due to Covid-19, either due to the business having to close or scale back its workforce, can be furloughed, and 80% of wages: up to £2500 a month, can be reclaimed from HMRC. This will be done by means of an online portal which will be operational at some time in April.

The scheme will pay for at least 3 months, and can be backdated to 1 March.

The employees have to be formally notified that they have been furloughed. This is not the same as being laid off.

Where employers receive public funding for staff costs, and that funding is continuing, the government expects employers to use that money to continue to pay staff in the usual fashion – and correspondingly not furlough them. This also applies to non-public sector employers who receive public funding for staff costs.

In due course we hope to be able to deal with this for all payroll clients, and any others if we can, but we will need evidence of the furlough. (probably a copy of the letter, although we will confirm this at a later date)

We will advise clients of what we need once the system is operational.

Update:

The government has announced that it is committed to doing whatever it takes to support businesses and individuals through the Coronavirus pandemic.

On 20 March as part of these efforts the Chancellor announced the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

This funding will be open to all employers with a PAYE payroll scheme that was created and started on or before 28 February 2020, including charities.

Employers can apply for grants of 80% of furloughed employees’ (employees on a leave of absence) monthly wage costs, up to £2,500 a month, plus the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on that wage, provided they keep the worker employed.

The scheme will cover the cost of wages backdated to 1 March 2020, if applicable.

HMRC have been working to develop this scheme, and we can now confirm that there are further details of the scheme on GOV‌.UK. The government are aiming to have the scheme up and running by the end of April 2020.

More detailed guidance will be published in due course and please be assured we will advise you as soon as we are made aware of when the scheme is open.

Guidance for employers is available on GOV.UK. You may also find the guidance for employees helpful.

We recommend you view the guidance, which will be updated as the scheme is further developed, and in line with any further government announcements.

In the meantime, we will continue to keep you informed by updating this website on a daily basis, to ensure that you have access to the assistance you need.

2. VAT – from 20 March to 30 June 2020, no VAT needs to be paid. There is no need to apply as this will be directly applied. 

Refunds will still be made.

All VAT that is deferred, needs to be paid by 31 March 2021.

Returns still need to be submitted on time.

3. Self Assessment Tax – the payments on account due on 31 July will be deferred. There is no need to apply, as this will be done automatically. All taxes due for the 2019/20 year need to be paid in full by 31 January 2021.

4. Mortgages and Rent – Mortgage borrowers can apply for a three-month payment holiday from their lender. Both residential and buy-to-let mortgages are eligible for the holiday. It is important to remember that borrowers still owe the amounts that they don’t pay as a result of the payment holiday. Interest will continue to be charged on the amount that they owe.

Tenants can apply for a three-month payment holiday from their landlord. No one can be evicted from their home or have their home repossessed over the next three months.

5. Business Rates – The rules in Scotland are being worked out and will be published in April. Claims can be made up to March 2021. These will be administered by local councils, but uniform rules are being put in place.

All non-domestic properties in Scotland will get a 1.6% Rate relief. This relief effectively reverses the change in poundage for 2020-21.

You do not need to apply for this relief and it will be applied to your bill by your local council.

Retail, hospitality and leisure businesses

Retail, hospitality and leisure businesses will get 100% Rate relief. However, to benefit from this relief, a property has to be occupied.

Retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with a rateable value between £18,000 and up to, and including £51,000, will be able to apply for a one-off grant of £25,000.

A one-off grant of £10,000 will also be available to small businesses who get:

·         Small Business Bonus Scheme relief

·         Rural Relief

6. Insurance claims– Businesses that have cover for both pandemics and government-ordered closure, should be covered. The government and the insurance industry confirmed on 17 March 2020 that advice to avoid pubs, theatres, etc., is sufficient to make a claim, as long as all other terms and conditions are met. Insurance policies differ significantly, so individual businesses should check the terms and conditions of their specific policy and contact their providers.

NB PLEASE SEE OUR NEWS UPDATE OF 25 MARCH, TITLED: COVID-19: the impact of material changes to your business insurance

Useful links: (please note that Walker Harris does not necessarily endorse third party sources)

https://findbusinesssupport.gov.scot/coronavirus-advice

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION REGARDING THE COVID-19 OUTBREAK, REGARDING GUIDANCE AND SUPPORT FOR SCOTTISH BUSINESSES, GUIDLINES AND ADVICE FROM THE GOVERNMENT TO THE PUBLIC, AND NHS ADVICE, PLEASE CLICK ON THE “NOTICE” LINK UNDER “USEFUL LINKS” AT THE BOTTOM RIGHT HAND CORNER OF THE HOME PAGE.