Please find below the latest Smarter news on the Coronavirus business support currently available:

  • Self Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) – The new claim system seems to be working well. The claim itself, once the Government Gateway ID has been set up, is very easy. The grant payments have been made within days and certainly within the 6 working day target set by HMRC. We have seen some instances where clients have had problems with making a claim or setting up their ID and the HMRC Coronavirus Helpline (0800 024 1222) seems to have been very useful, but be prepared for a wait to get through.
  • Furlough Scheme
    • As per last week’s update, the Chancellor has announced that the scheme will be extended to October.
    • We understand that the Chancellor is looking at ‘sharing the cost of furlough’ with employers and looking to enable employees to return to work part-time i.e. be part furloughed. Details of the proposals have not yet been released and we will bring you details once we receive them.
    • We are currently working on May payrolls and making furlough claims for the month of May. We are seeing some employees returning to work, but still many furloughed employees.
    • Holiday Pay for Furloughed Staff
      • The guidance around holiday pay for furloughed employees was unclear in the early guidance. Last week the Government published updated guidance on holidays during coronavirus. This guidance requires your consideration.
      • Employees continue to accrue holiday entitlement, even if furloughed.
      • It is possible for employees to take holiday during furlough using normal rules for requesting leave.
      • Depending on working hours and individual circumstances, including contract, bank holidays are possibly holiday days.
      • Employers could request their employees to take leave whilst furloughed and i.e. avoid big holiday balances on return to work. Be aware of a few points:
        • It is best to arrange by agreement with all staff
        • Notice must be given of double the amount of leave being taken i.e. if you are asking an employee to take a weeks’ holiday, you must give them at least 2 weeks’ prior notice
        • Should you not want employees to take leave during furlough then special government rules have been brought in so that excess leave balances can be carried forward to the next leave year i.e. the leave can be spread
      • Where holiday is taken the employee can still be furloughed and the furlough sum of 80% can still be claimed. However, the employer is required to pay the current full rate of pay for that holiday i.e. will be required to make up the difference to the employees’ full rate of pay. Beware in some circumstances this difference could be more than the extra 20%.
      • As with all these things, the employees’ contract and HR advice should be fully considered before making decision. Talking to employees and coming to an agreement that everyone is happy with is always best.
      • At Smarter Accounting we will be review the payrolls over the next couple of months to make sure that the right sums have been processed in payroll. If you are unsure then please contact us.
    • Coronavirus Discretionary Business Rates Grant Funding – We mentioned this a couple of weeks ago, it was a new initiative announced by the Chancellor and we have been awaiting more details as follows:
      • The Government sent out more detailed guidance last week
        • This guidance didn’t include a great deal extra information than we already knew, except that those businesses that have received a grant under the Self Employment Income Support Scheme will not be eligible for this grant. There are a few other, more uncommon, grants that also effect eligibility.
      • Local Authorities in the area are considering the Government guidance and will shortly be releasing details. At present we can report the following:
        • Devon District Councils (Teignbridge, Mid Devon, etc) are in discussions to ensure consistency and we expect the details to be announced tomorrow, 22 May 2020
        • Torbay – Applications opened up this morning from this website > https://www.torbay.gov.uk/business/business-rates/business-rate-reductions/coronavirus-discretionary-grants/. Torbay is looking for applications from the following types of business and we would expect Devon to be similar:
          • Small businesses in shared offices or other flexible workspaces. Examples could include units in industrial parks, science parks and incubators which do not have their own business rates assessment.
          • Regular market traders with fixed building costs, such as rent, who do not have their own business rates assessment.
          • Bed and Breakfasts which pay Council Tax instead of business rates
          • Charity properties in receipt of charitable business rates relief which would otherwise have been eligible for Small Business Rates Relief or Rural Rate Relief.
          • Businesses operating in the visitor economy (i.e. tourism and hospitality) and the supply chain of this industry that did not qualify for the previous grant schemes that have a rateable value under £100,000.

At Smarter Accounting, although the Offices are closed, we remain open for business and are fully operational. If you want to discuss any issues, or have queries, please don’t hesitate to call, or email us.

We provide more regular updates via Facebook and so if you want the latest news then like and follow our Facebook page.

Best wishes and stay safe!