Update 27 March 2020
As you may have seen on the news yesterday evening, the Chancellor has now announced his proposals on how the Government will be supporting self-employed individuals – the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme.
Detailed proposals have not yet been released; however, a summary of the scheme has been published on the Government’s website, the key points of which are as follows:
- Eligible self-employed individuals will be entitled to receive a taxable grant of 80% of their profits up to £2,500 per month;
- The scheme will cover the three months up to the end of May. Grants will be paid in a single lump sum instalment covering all 3 months and will start to be paid at the beginning of June;
- The scheme will be open to those with a trading profit of less than £50,000 in 2018-19 or an average trading profit of less than £50,000 from 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19. This includes members of partnerships.
- To qualify, more than half of the self-employed individual’s income in these periods must come from self-employment;
- The size of the grant will be based on the average profits of 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19;
Only those who are already in self-employment and meet the above conditions will be eligible to apply. The guidance released suggests that only those individuals who have submitted tax returns for the year ended 5 April 2019 will be eligible. The scheme would therefore appear to exclude individuals who commenced trading (or joined partnerships) after that date.
This rule has the potential to exclude a large number of individuals, and we therefore hope that enough pressure is brought to bear to ensure that these people are also assisted in some way.
HMRC have stated that they will identify eligible taxpayers and contact them directly with guidance on how to apply to the scheme once it becomes operational. They have advised that we should not contact them at this stage.
The Government have also pointed out the various other forms of assistance which have already been made available to self-employed individuals: VAT deferral, time to pay, business rates reliefs, Business Interruption Loan Scheme etc.
Those of you who pay yourselves a salary and dividends through your own company are not covered by this scheme but will be covered for your salary by the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme if you are operating PAYE.
Job Retention Scheme
Further detail has now been released by HMRC. They expect the scheme to be up and running by the end of April. It will not be possible to submit a claim before this point.
- Employment costs of furloughed workers can be recovered, backdated to 1 March.
- The employer can claim a grant from HMRC to cover the lower of 80% of an employee’s regular salary or £2,500 per month, plus the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and minimum auto enrolment pension contributions.
- Fees, commission and bonuses should not be included.
- Only employees on the business payroll as of 28 February 2020 will qualify
- It covers employees who have been made redundant since 28 February 2020 but have since been rehired
- Employees must be furloughed for a minimum period of three weeks
- To qualify for furlough status, the position needs to be confirmed in writing to the employee
- Employees on sick leave or self-isolating should get Statutory Sick Pay but can be furloughed after this.
- Employees who are shielding in line with public health guidance can be placed on furlough.
- To be eligible for the subsidy, employees cannot undertake any work for or on behalf of the organisation. This includes providing services or generating revenue. If an employee is working to reduced hours, or on reduced pay, they will not be eligible for the scheme.
- Employees can carry out volunteer work whilst on furlough as long as this does not result in services being provided or revenue generated for the organisation.
- Companies with employees on zero-hours contracts may use the monthly pay in February as a benchmark for each person’s pay when furloughed.
- For employees whose pay varies, the amount claimed is based on the following:
- If an employee has been employed for a full
twelve months prior to the claim, businesses can claim for the higher of
- The same month’s earnings from the previous year
- Average monthly earnings from the 2019-20 tax year
- If the employee has been employed for less than a year, businesses can claim for an average of their monthly earnings since they started work
- If the employee only started in February 2020, use a pro-rata for their earnings so far to claim
- It has been reported that companies with staff who have to stay at home to look after young children are likely to be able to claim compensation if they furlough these workers because the government prefers this solution to those workers being made redundant.
- If employees have more than one job they can be furloughed for each job. Each job is separate, and the cap applies to each employer individually.
To be ready to make a claim, the following information will be needed:
- The ePAYE reference number
- The number of employees being furloughed
- The claim period (start and end date)
- Amount claimed (per the minimum length of furloughing of 3 weeks)
- Bank account number and sort code
- Contact name
- Contact phone number
- Businesses will need to calculate the amount being claimed. HMRC will retain the right to retrospectively audit all aspects of the claim.
- Businesses can only submit one claim at least every 3 weeks, which is the minimum length an employee can be furloughed for. Claims can be backdated until the 1 March if applicable.
- Once HMRC have received the claim and the business is eligible for the grant, they will pay it via BACS payment to a UK bank account.
- Claims should be made in accordance with actual payroll amounts at the point at which the payroll is processed or in advance of an imminent payroll.
- Employees must be paid all the grant received for their gross pay, no fees can be charged from the money that is granted. Employers can choose to top up the employee’s salary, but do not have to.
As we mentioned on our last update, HMRC are not requiring any payments of VAT until at least the end of June. These payment deferrals will automatically be applied and do not have to be applied for.
VAT returns still have to be submitted on time to avoid a late-filing surcharge.
Client with Direct Debits set up, and who wish to take advantage of this deferral should ensure that the direct debit has been cancelled.
The VAT being deferred needs to be paid by 5 April 2021.
The second payment on account for 2020/21 that was due for payment by the end of July does not need to be paid until 31 January 2021. No interest will be charged by HMRC.
PAYE and corporation tax payments
Businesses can obtain a time to pay arrangement with HMRC to delay payment of these taxes. Call HMRC on 0800 024 1222.
Coronavirus Business Interruption Scheme (CBILS)
Banks have now broadly made these facilities available to businesses and further details are now available on bank websites. Banks only appear to be accepting applications from existing customers.
Whilst eligibility for these facilities are broadly similar, the application process may differ depending on the bank.
Banks may require financial projections to support applications. Please get in touch if you need assistance.
Eligibility for the scheme is broadly as follows:
- The business is UK based and is impacted by Covid-19
- The business has a borrowing proposal which, were it not for the Covid-19 pandemic, would be considered viable and for which the provision of finance will enable trading out of any short-to-medium term difficulty
- The business operates in the UK
- The business has a group turnover of no more than £45 million
- The business can afford to repay the borrowing over a period up to 6 years
Please note that if the bank can offer finance on normal commercial terms then it is obliged to do so.
Businesses taking part in this scheme are responsible for 100% of the debt, not just the 20% outside of the Government’s scheme. Should any defaults occur, the banks will follow normal recovery procedures (including the realisation of security) before claiming against the guarantee for any shortfall.
The Government has set up a web page to bring together all the support available in one place. Please visit the following website for further information:
Please be extra vigilant at this time as it is possible that fraudsters may take advantage of individuals being distracted with other matters. Be especially careful of emails or texts purporting to be from HMRC or banks; or existing contacts changing bank details.
With our very best wishes
John Goulding & Co and R P Smith & Co
01257 263015/260366 for the Chorley office
01925 633137 for Warrington
01204 534421 for Bolton