Monthly Archives: March 2020

Drummond Laurie’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response

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Given the developing coronavirus situation we are putting practical measures in place to respond in a practical and proportionate manner.  These measures put people’s (both our own team and our clients) health and wellbeing first, whilst also ensuring business continuity for our clients.

We are following the Government’s latest advice, and will continue to do so, and are giving our teams regular updates, support and guidance.  We now want to share with you how we will continue to support you in this fast-changing situation in the coming days and weeks.

Our established business continuity plan guides how we respond.  We anticipate that our teams will increasingly work and communicate with you remotely.  We are confident that we can continue to offer the same high levels of service and support that you have come to expect from us.  We would note the following in particular;

  • The vast majority of our team have access to the necessary software and systems to allow them to work remotely.  Many of them already do this on a regular basis.
  • You will be able to contact most of your key contacts by telephone using the usual numbers in the event of an office closure (which we are not anticipating at present).
  • We are already a “paperless” business and so are used to working without access to hard copy records.
  • Our payroll team are all capable of working remotely and this will be a priority service for us to continue unaffected for obvious reasons.
  • We have the ability to manage Bacs payments remotely and again this will help ensure that our client’s staff and key suppliers continue to be paid at the appropriate times.

We would also note that we have telephone and video conferencing facilities in place and these can easily be used temporarily in place of face to face meetings.

We appreciate your understanding and can assure you of our commitment to continuing to support you and your businesses through these unprecedented times.  Please do not hesitate to get in touch with your usual Drummond Laurie contacts should you have any questions on the above.

David Wheeler, Ian Bilsland & Mary Jack, Partners

COVID-19 Update for Businesses

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Please find below updates from the government websites as of today, Monday 16th March 2020.  We’ll update as and when new information becomes available.

New measures to limit the impact of COVID-19 on the business community in Scotland have been announced and the following steps will be put in place to support businesses during the 2020-21 financial year:

  • 75% rates relief for retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a rateable value of less than £69,000 from 1 April 2020
  • £80 million fund to provide grants of at least £3,000 to small businesses in sectors facing the worst economic impact of COVID-19
  • 6% rates relief for all properties across Scotland, effectively reversing the planned below inflation uplift in the poundage from 1 April 2020
  • a fixed rates relief of up to £5,000 for all pubs with a rateable value of less than £100,000 from 1 April 2020

The Finance Secretary is also expected to contact all local authorities urging them to respond positively to requests from rate payers for payment deferrals for a fixed period.

In addition, the U.K. government has brought forward legislation to allow small and medium sized businesses and employers reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19. The eligibility criteria for the scheme will be as follows:

  • this refund will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of COVID-19
  • employers with fewer than 250 employees will be eligible – the size of an employer will be determined by the number of people they employed as of 28 February 2020
  • employers will be able to reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP (according to the new eligibility criteria) as a result of COVID-19
  • employers should maintain records of staff absences, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note
  • eligible period for the scheme will commence the day after the regulations on the extension of Statutory Sick Pay to self-isolators comes into force
  • the government will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism for employers as soon as possible. Existing systems are not designed to facilitate employer refunds for SSP

All businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time to Pay service. These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities. These businesses can contact HMRC’s new dedicated COVID-19 helpline for advice and support. To ensure ongoing support, HMRC have made a further 2,000 experienced call handlers available to support firms and individuals when needed. If you are concerned about being able to pay your tax due to COVID-19, call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559.

The Scottish Government business helpline number is 0300 303 0660. The helpline will be open Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5.30pm.  Callers should select option one to speak to the COVID-19 team.

As always, we are on hand, please get in touch with your usual Drummond Laurie contact in the first instance.

 

Budget 2020

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Following the UK’s departure from the EU, Chancellor Rishi Sunak presented the 2020 Budget against a backdrop of economic uncertainty.

Our Budget Summary provides an overview of the key announcements arising from the Chancellor’s speech. However, it also looks beyond the headlines and offers details on the less-publicised changes that are most likely to have an impact upon your business and your personal finances.

Additionally, throughout the Summary you will find informative comments to help you assess the effect that the proposed changes may have on your business and you personally.

I would specifically draw your attention to the following;

  1. The maximum Employment Allowance is increasing from £3,000 to £4,000 for eligible employers.  From 2020/21 this allowance requires to be claimed.  I can confirm that if Drummond Laurie run your payroll then this claim will be made by us and no action is required by our client.
  2. The National Insurance threshold will increase to £9,500, effectively giving the vast majority of employees an increase in their take-home pay of £2 per week.  Again, this will be automatically applied through the payroll operation and no action is required by our clients.
  3. The increase in the National Minimum Wage rates has been confirmed for 2020/21.  This confirms a significant increase of 6.2% with the NMW for workers over 25 years old rising to £8.72 per hour.  Again, for those clients where Drummond Laurie run your payroll, these increases will be made as a matter of course and no action is required by you.
  4. Finally, the Chancellor has announced significant change to the operation of Statutory Sick Pay [SSP].  SSP is normally payable only after the first 3 days of sickness.  It will now be payable from day 1 of sickness.  Further, SSP is normally an “Employer Cost”, i.e. it is funded by the Employer.  As announced yesterday, the Government will fully refund employers (with less than 250 employees) for SSP paid for up to 2 weeks per employee where the absence is as a result of COVID-19.  We understand that this will operate on a “Claim Back” basis.  As such, Employers should maintain a record of staff absences and SSP paid to allow this reclaim to take place in due course.

Drummond Laurie Chartered Accountants

The Drummond Laurie summary of the Chancellor’s 2020 Budget is now available via this link on our website Budget Statement – Read Now

If you would like more detailed, one-to-one advice on any of the issues raised in the Chancellor’s Budget speech, please do get in touch with your normal Drummond Laurie adviser.

David Wheeler, Partner

One year of MTD!

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Drummond Laurie Chartered Accountants1st April 2020 signals the first anniversary of MTD for VAT.   At Drummond Laurie we successfully guided our clients through the process and offered them the support they needed during HMRC’s new digital initiative for VAT.

SO WHAT’S NEXT?

Changes as of 1st April 2020:

During the first 12 months there has been a ‘soft landing period’ to allow businesses the time to get their systems 100% digitally linked.  During this period any data being transmitted from one system to another did not need to be moved via a digital link and instead a cut and paste option was acceptable.  This relaxation will come to an end for most businesses on 1st April 2020 and anyone caught not complying could be at risk of penalties.

If you are concerned about your accounting systems and the transfer of data to prepare your VAT return each quarter please speak to your usual Drummond Laurie contact or Julie McVicar on 01324 441256 or email julie.mcvicar@drummondlaurie.co.uk

 

 

IR35: Last minute adjustments prior to 6th April deadline

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Drummond Laurie Chartered AccountantsHMRC has now confirmed there will be a year long soft landing period for engagers.  Penalties for inaccuracies relating to off – payroll working will not be imposed on engagers, unless there is evidence of deliberate non-compliance.

Some commentators, however, are disappointed with this, given it would appear to only apply to the penalty aspect, and not necessarily to the additional tax liability owed as a result of inaccurate employment status determinations.

The roll-out of the off-payroll rules to the private sector will still take place on 6th April, however, HMRC has committed to commissioning external research into the impacts of this reform, including how the status determinations are being made, six months after implementation.

In their latest report, HMRC have again reiterated that they will not use information from the implementation of the new rules to open up IR35 enquiries into contractors for earlier tax years, unless there is reason to suspect fraud or criminal behaviour.

For further information contact Gillian Wayne gillian.wayne@drummondlaurie.co.uk or call on 01324 441258.

 

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