Coronavirus/COVID-19: Update 24 March 2020

GWA Office Closures
In light of the Prime Ministers announcement last night, we have made the decision to close all of our offices until further notice.  These are unprecedented times with news updates changing rapidly.  We will be providing further information as to how clients may contact us and in the meantime, we appreciate your patience and ask you to bear with us. 

If you do need to contact us in the short-term, please email the partner who looks after your personal or business affairs via their usual email address.

We do urge everyone to follow the latest government advice and please take care and keep safe.

Information relating to government advice in connection with staying at home and away from others can be found here on the GOV.UK website.    

Guidance outlining the definition of a ‘Key Worker’ in relation to the provision of school education can be found on the Department of Education’s webpage.

There have been no new financial measures announced by either the UK or the Scottish Government. Further details have been released regarding a number of measures already publicised which are outlined below.

For a summary of ‘easier’ to digest information in relation to business support measures, you may find this GOV.UK webpage helpful.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – UK & Scotland
HMRC are urgently working to set up a system to manage the planned reimbursement of the wages costs for ‘furloughed’ employees. The existing systems are currently not capable of facilitating these payments to employers.

Details are not yet available as to exactly which employees this scheme covers eg. if it covers zero-hour contract workers or how the calculations will be determined eg. if it includes pension contributions.  We will let you know of any updates when they become available.

If your business needs short term cash flow to cover wages, you may be eligible for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan (more details below).

VAT and Income Tax Payment Deferral – UK & Scotland
There will be an automatic deferral of VAT payments due in the period from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020.  The deferral is available to all VAT registered UK businesses.  The deferral will be automatic – you do not need to apply for it.  The following applies:

  • VAT returns must still be submitted as normal
  • VAT repayments and refunds will be made as normal
  • the VAT deferred must be paid by the end of the 20/21 tax year, which will be 31 March 2021, 30 April 2021, or 31 May 2021 depending on the VAT periods used by your business.

IMPORTANT NOTE: if you pay your VAT by Direct Debit you must contact your bank to cancel that Direct Debit to avoid the payments being taken. This needs to be done before the Direct Debit is due to be collected..

COVID-19 Government Statutory Sick Pay – UK & Scotland
There are no further updates in relation to this measure other than HMRC are working on a rebate method to manage this.

Details in relation to COVID-19 Government Statutory Sick Pay can be found in our previous update.

Support for the Self-employed
Whilst no new measures have been announced, a spokesman has signaled that self-employed people would be getting more help.  The government remains under pressure to provide a package of measures and as soon as we are made aware of this, we will update you.

Business Rates Holidays and Cash Grants: Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Businesses – UK & Scotland

Again, there have been no further announcements in relation to this support.  The guidance remains that you should have no action to take and your local authority will apply this to your next council tax bill in April 2020 or will write to you should you be eligible for a grant.

More details can be found in our previous business update.

Business Rates Holidays: Nurseries – England only
The guidance remains that you should not need to take any action, and this will be reflected in your next council tax bill in April 2020.  Your local authority may have to reissue your bill to exclude the business rate charge and we understand this will be actioned as soon as possible.

Grants for Businesses Receiving Small Business Rate Relief or Rural Rate – UK & Scotland

The guidance remains that your local authority will write to you if you are eligible for this grant.

1.6% Non-Domestic rates relief – Scotland

From 1 April 2020, a 1.6% non-domestic rates relief will apply for all properties across Scotland (this effectively reverses the planned inflationary increase for the year). Again, this will automatically be applied on your council tax bill.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) – UK & Scotland
More details in relation to CBILS can be found in our previous update.

If you are considering applying to the scheme, you should talk to your bank or one of the 40 accredited finance providers as soon as possible. It is likely they will still require, accounts, cashflow forecasts and sometimes a business plan, which we are happy to help you with if required.

COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility – UK & Scotland
Aimed at larger companies, the Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF), co-ordinated by HM Treasury and Bank of England, may provide funding to all UK businesses that make a material contribution to the UK economy. The latest update was published on the Bank of England website on 18 March 2020.

HMRC and Scottish Government Helplines
If you have missed a tax payment or you may a future payment due to COVID-19, we would encourage you to contact HMRC’s or Scottish Enterprise’s helplines. 

HMRC helpline number: 0800 0159 559.
Opening hours are Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm, and Saturday 8am to 4pm.
The helpline will not be available on Bank Holidays.

Scottish Enterprise helpline number: 0300 303 0660.
Opening hours are Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5.30pm.

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