COVID-19: Government support tracker - Updated: 20 October 2021

This tracker covers measures announced by the government to support individuals and businesses, as we get through COVID-19.

Measures are being announced and this tracker is updated on a daily basis.

This tracker includes changes in Budget and Finance Act 2021.

The Coronavirus Bill gives the government emergency powers to deal with the crisis in any way it needs. The bill includes some Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) measures. Further tax legislation enabling the other measures is being announced as the government devises it.

At a glance: new measures

Employers & Employees

  • Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) from 1 November 2020 to 30 September 2021 -  updated 3/3/21
  • Job Support Scheme (JSS)
    • On hold, guidance was withdrawn 1/11/2020.
  • Job Retention Bonus
    • Policy intent falls away following the extension of CJRS - updated 5/11/2020
  • Guidance for employee/directors
  • Homeworking: Special tax exemption for reimbursed employee equipment
  • Statutory Sick Pay (SSP): employees
  • Off-Payroll Working & SSP
  • Private Sector Off-Payroll changes postponed
  • Employment-related securities returns
  • Kickstart Scheme
  • Apprenticeship and training payments
  • No BIK's on employer-provided PPE and Covid tests
  • No BIK's on employer-reimbursed Covid tests - added 16/12/2020
  • Virtual parties - included within annual function exemption for BIKs.
  • Cycle to Work Scheme easement - added 21/12/2020
  • Test & Trace /Self-Isolation £500 payments - added 01/09/2020

 

Self-employed

  • Self Employed Income Support scheme - updated 2/8/21, ended 30 September 2021.
  • Scottish taxpayers: Newly Self-Employed Hardship Fund
  • Self-employed & sick pay, changes to Universal Credit
  • Appeals against Self Assessment late filing penalties as a result of COVID-19 will be allowed - updated 19/1/2021

 

Tax payments & compliance

  • Deferring Income Tax payments
  • Business taxes: Time to Pay
  • The threshold for arrangements is extended to £30,000 for Self Assessment customers - added 1/10/2020.
  • Corporation tax: early repayment of tax due to losses - added 18/6
  • Companies House: automatic three-month filing extension until 2021 - added 2/7
  • Coronavirus listed as a reasonable excuse for appeals - added 14/5
  • Appeal time limits extended to three months - added 14/5
  • Appeal time limits for 2019/20 self assessment penalty appeals extended by three months - added 19/1/20. Ended 30 September 2021.
  • HMRC late payment interest rate cut
  • CGT: soft landing on penalties under new 30-day reporting regime - added 16/4
  • Access to Heritage Assets: Conditional Exemption Tax Incentive Scheme - added 2/6
  • Digital signatures and hold-over relief - added 25/11
  • Corporate Interest Restriction: tax return deferral is reasonable excuse - added 9/12

 

VAT

  • Deferring VAT & VAT deferral scheme links: repaying HMRC by instalments - updated 3/3
  • Postponement of MTD VAT Digital links
  • Temporary zero-rating of PPE from 1 May 2020 to 31 July 2020 - updated 6/7
  • Deadline for notifying option to tax for VAT extended to 90 days (now ended) - updated 2/8/21
  • Construction Industry Domestic Reverse Charge VAT postponed until March 2021 - added 5/6
  • Temporary VAT cut for hospitality sector - updated 24/9
  • Overseas VAT refund scheme deadline extension - updated 1/7/21

 

Business rates

  • Small business rates scheme
  • Business Rates: Expanded Retail Discount
  • Support for nursery businesses that pay business rates

 

Cash funds

  • How to tax COVID grant funding - added 15/11
  • COVID-19: Grant Funding for business: links to different regional & local funds
  • Test & Trace payments/Self-Isolation £500 payments - updated 18/05/21
  • Restart Grant Scheme: The Restart Grant Scheme supports businesses in reopening safely as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. Grants are available from 1 April 2021 for a one-off cash grant of up to £18,000 from their local council.

 

Loan funding

  • Recovery Loan Scheme: From 6 April 2021 companies can apply for loans to support their businesses.

The following loan funds have been announced during the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. They are open until 31 March 2021, announced 17/12/20

  • Microbusiness 'Bounce back' loans.
  • Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.
  • Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme

Other loans include:

  • COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility: closed on 23 March 2021
  • Future Fund convertible loan scheme: open until 31 January 2021

See COVID-19: Loan funding

Overseas

  • Statutory Residence Test (SRT) - updated 9/4

Land & property

  • Landlords & Tenants - updated 4/6
  • Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) temporary cut - added 4/6

 

Hospitality

  • Eat Out to Help Out voucher scheme (August 2020 only)
  • See Summer Economic Update

 

Individuals

  • Universal credit: Self-employed and low earners
  • Hardship Fund: Social housing and homeless

 

Pensions

  • Temporary changes to pension tax for recently retired returning public sector workers - added 5/5

 

Savings

  • Reduction in withdrawal charge for lifetime ISA's - added 18/5 (now ended)

Insurance schemes

  • A government-backed insurance scheme for the events industry - added 12/8/21
  • The scheme will see the government act as a ‘reinsurer’ – stepping in with a guarantee to make sure insurers can offer the products events companies need.

 

Overview

Employers and employees

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)

Employers may claim a grant of up to 80% of past salaries of employees who would have been laid off during this crisis. This is subject to a cap of £2,500 per month.

There are different variations of the scheme, which ended on 30 September 2021:

March to October 2020

  • March to June 2020: employees were furloughed and not allowed to work.
  • July to August 2020: flexible furlough allows employees to work part-time whilst furloughed. From August the scheme is subject to taper rules which mean that employers gradually start to contribute to furlough pay, ERs NICs and pensions and the cap is reduced.
  • This version of the scheme closed to new entrants from 30 June 2020, with final claims and adjustments to claims must be made by 30 November 2020.
  • See Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to 31 October 2020

 

November to June 2021

  • Flexible furlough with the level of grant mirroring levels available under the CJRS in August 2020.
    • The government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500.
    •  

See Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) from 1 November 2020

July to September 2021

 

  • Flexible furlough with contributions required from the employer of:
    • 10% in July 2021 (up to £312.50).
    • 20% in August 2021 (up to £625).
    • 20% in September 2021 (up to £625).
  • Employees will still be paid 80% of their wages for hours not worked, to a cap of £2,500.

 

Job Support Scheme

  • In September 2020 as part of his Winter Economic plan the Chancellor announced a new Job Support Scheme (JSS) to replace the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS).
  • Start date is to be confirmed.
  • See COVID-19: Job Support Scheme

 

Job Retention Bonus

  • On 5 November 2020, the government announced an extension to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) to 31 March 2021. Due to this, the policy intent of the JRB falls away.
  • The JRB will not be payable.
  • See Job Retention Bonus

 

COVID-19: Issues for directors and shareholders

  • Furloughing does not need not cover the director's statutory duties.
  • Company law wrongful trading provisions are suspended.
  • Salary for furloughing is based on past salary payments made via the payroll.
  • From 1 July 2020 a furloughed director was able to commence part-time work for their employer.

See COVID-19: Company Directors & Shareholders

 

COVID-19 Homeworking guidance

  • A temporary tax exemption and National Insurance disregard to ensure that the expense of the purchase home office equipment as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak will not attract tax and NICs liabilities where reimbursed by the employer. Certain conditions apply. Extended to April 2022 at Budget 2021.

 

See COVID-19: Working from home

 

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)

HMRC's new claim portal went live on 26 May 2020.

  • SSP is paid to eligible employees by their employers.
  • SSP is not available to those earning below the Lower Earnings Limit of £120 per week (£118 per week to 5 April 2020), see Sick Pay (below).

 

During the pandemic small and medium-sized businesses and employers have been able to reclaim SSP paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19. The eligibility criteria for the scheme is as follows:

  • SSP will be payable from day one instead of day four for affected individuals.
  • SMEs may reclaim up to two weeks’ SSP expenditure per eligible employee who has been off work because of COVID-19.
  • The rate of SSP, for working a five-day week is £96.35 from 6 April 2021 (£95.85 per week from 6 April 2020 and £94.25 to 5 April 2020).

Draft legislation was laid before parliament on 9 September 2021 to end this scheme on 30 September 2021. Employers will have until 31 December 2021 to make claims under the scheme.

Key essentials for employers

  • An SME is an employer with fewer than 250 employees, The size of an employer will be determined by the number of people they employed as of 28 February 2020.
  • Employers should maintain records of staff absences and payments of SSP.
  • Employees will not need to provide a GP fit note.
    • People who are advised to self-isolate for COVID-19 can obtain an alternative to the fit note to cover this by contacting NHS 111, or online at Get an isolation note - NHS.
    • This can be used by employees where their employers require evidence.
    • Alternatively, employers can ask employees to provide them with a ‘shielding note’ or a letter from their doctor or health authority advising them to shield because they are at high risk of severe illness from Coronavirus.
  • The eligible period for the scheme commenced on 13 March 2020 and will now end on 30 September 2021.
  • Anyone self-isolating before that date was only be eligible for SSP from day four.
  • For individuals who shielded after receiving a letter from the NHS or their GP, SSP started from the first qualifying day on or after 16 April 2020.
  • For individuals who are self-isolating because they have been notified by the NHS or public health bodies that they have come into contact with someone with Coronavirus SSP starts from the first qualifying day on or after 28 May 2020.
  • For individuals who have been notified by the NHS to self-isolate before surgery, Coronavirus SSP starts from the first qualifying day on or after 26 August 2020.

 

The online system for making an SSP reclaim is available through PAYE online. Where employers use an agent who is authorised to do PAYE online for them, the agent can make a claim on their behalf.

See HMRC Claim back Statutory Sick Pay paid to employees due to Coronavirus (COVID-19)

 

Off-Payroll Working & SSP

  • Following the government's announcement to postpone the introduction of the Off-Payroll Working rules to the private sector, all workers providing their labour via their own Personal Service Companies (PSCs) to private sector end clients, were entitled up until 5 April 2021, above to claim SSP, via their own PSC.
  • The extension of the Off-Payroll Working rules was deferred to 6 April 2021.

 

See COVID-19: IR35 & Off-Payroll Working

IR35 & private sector Off-Payroll Working

  • The extension of the Off-Payroll Working rules was due to commence on 6 April 2020; this was deferred to 6 April 2021.

 

See COVID-19: IR35 & Off-Payroll Working

Employment-Related Securities: Deadlines for registration of new schemes and filing of returns

  • HMRC recognise that some employers and agents may struggle to meet Employment-Related Securities (ERS) tax obligations due to the pandemic and will consider Coronavirus as a reasonable excuse for missing obligations such as registering new schemes and filing annual ERS returns.
  • You should meet these obligations as soon as you can and explain how you were affected by Coronavirus when you make your appeal.

See Employment-Related Securities: What’s New? June 2020

Kickstart Scheme

  • A scheme to provide six-month work placements for the unemployed who are:
    • Between the ages of 16 and 24, on Universal Credit and at risk of long term unemployment.
  • 100% funding at NMW for 25 hours a week, plus employer NICs and auto-enrolment pension contributions.

 

See Kickstart Scheme

Apprenticeship and training payments

  • English employers who provide trainees with work experience will receive £1,000 per trainee.
  • Employers hiring new apprentices in England between 1st August 2020 to 31st March 2021 will receive:
    • £2,000 for each apprentice between the ages of 16 and 24.
    • £1,500 for each apprentice aged 25 and over.

 

See A Plan for Jobs 2020: Helping the unemployed

Employer-provided PPE and virus testing

  • HMRC have advised that if an employer provides employees working in COVID-19 high-risk environments with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and coronavirus tests it will not be a taxable Benefit In Kind.
    • Where employers provide testing kits to employees outside of the national scheme there will also be no BIK.
    • HMRC discretion will be replaced with SI 2020/1293 from 8 December 2020 until the end of tax year 2020-2021, which has been extended to 2021-22.
    • This applies only to antigen tests (testing for current virus infection) and not antibody tests (testing for previous infection).
  • Where employees work in an environment where the risk of virus transmission is very high and the employer risk assessment shows PPE is required, the employer must provide it and this will be non-taxable.
  • Where an employee requires PPE to carry out their job and the employer cannot provide it, the employer must reimburse the cost to the employee. This is non-taxable.

See COVID-19: Employer-provided PPE and testing

Employer-reimbursed virus testing

  • HMRC have confirmed that where an employer reimburses an employee for the cost of a Coronavirus swab test, that reimbursement will be exempt from Income Tax and National Insurance.
  • For this purpose, a Coronavirus swab test means a test which detects the presence of a viral antigen or viral ribonucleic acid (RNA) specific to severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).
  • HMRC have indicated that the Coronavirus test must be accessed for business reasons, for example where an employee needs a negative test result in order to travel abroad for business.
  • A disregard will apply between 25 January 2020 and 5 April 2020 with HMRC exercising its collection and management powers to not collect Income Tax or National Insurance from 6 April 2020.
  • Under Finance Act 2021 an exemption is retrospectively introduced for employer-reimbursed COVID-19 antigen tests for 2020-21. The exemption is also extended to 2021-22.

 

Cycle to Work Scheme

  • The Financial Secretary to the Treasury made a written statement on 17 December 2020 introducing a temporary easement on Cycle to Work schemes.
  • As a result of Coronavirus restrictions and working from home, the qualifying condition under the Cycle to Work Scheme that the cycling equipment should be used mainly for qualifying journeys may not be met.
  • A time-limited easement will disapply this condition.
    • This easement will apply to employees who have joined a scheme and have been provided with a cycle or cycling equipment on or before 20 December 2020. The easement will be in place until 5 April 2022.
    • The easement will not apply to employees joining a scheme on or after 21 December 2020.

See Cycle to Work

Self-employed

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) (now ended)

First and second grants paid to 13 July 2020 and from 14 July 2020:

  • A taxable grant of 80% of average monthly taxable profits over the three years to 5 April 2019 for the first three months to 31 May 2020, dropping to 70% for the next three months.
  • Capped at £7,500 for the first three months, dropping to £6,570.
  • Taxpayers have 90 days to report and repay overclaims or face penalties.

Extension of the scheme from 1 November 2020 to 30 September 2021:

  • Three additional taxable grants to cover the three months to 31 January 2021 (the third grant), the next three to 30 April 2021 (the fourth grant) and the period May to September 2021 (the fifth grant).
    • The third grant is based on 80% of average monthly trading profits, capped at £7,500 in total.
    • The fourth grant will be paid based on 80% of three months’ average trading profits, capped at £7,500 in total.
      • Individuals must have submitted a 2019-20 tax return by 3 March 2021 to be eligible.
      • Claims could be made from Late April 2021 until 1 June 2021.
    • The fifth grant is available from June 2021 covering May to September 2021.
      • The grant value will be determined based on a turnover test in the year April 2020 to April 2021.
      • Traders whose turnover has decreased by 30% or more will receive the full grant worth 80% of three months’ average trading profits, capped at £7,500 in total.
      • Traders whose turnover has decreased by less than 30% will receive a 30% grant, capped at £2,850.
      • Claims could be made from late July 2021.

 

See Self-Employment Income Support Scheme

Scotland: Newly Self-Employed Hardship Fund

A one-off grant of £2,000 if you became self-employed on or after 6 April 2019 and are unable to claim under the SEISS.

To be eligible you must:

  • Have become self-employed on or after 6 April 2019
  • Have lost revenue due to the Coronavirus pandemic
  • Have not been able to access support through other COVID-19 business support schemes.

See COVID-19: Scotland

Self-employed and low earners

Sick Pay

  • Self-employed individuals and people earning below the Lower Earnings Limit of £120 per week (£118 to 5 April 2020) are not eligible for SSP.
  • These individuals can make a claim for Universal Credit or Contributory Employment and Support Allowance
  • Special measures apply for the duration of the virus outbreak.
    • The requirements of the Universal Credit Minimum Income Floor will be temporarily relaxed for those who have COVID-19 or are self-isolating according to government advice. This is to ensure self-employed claimants will receive support.
    • People will be able to claim Universal Credit and access advance payments upfront without the current requirement to attend a jobcentre if they are advised to self-isolate.
    • A contributory Employment and Support Allowance will be payable, at a rate of £74.70 (£74.35 a week for 2020-21) if you are over 25. This may be claimed by eligible people affected by COVID-19 or self-isolating in line with advice from day one of sickness, rather than Day eight.
  • More details are expected from the government on eligibility criteria. We assume that you may self-certify perhaps after receiving advice by ringing NHS 111.

 

VAT

VAT payments due between 20 March 2020 to 30 June 2020 could be deferred until 31 March 2021.

This was a deferral of tax and not an exemption: effectively, this is a fast way to provide business with emergency funding.

  • An automatic offer with no applications required.
  • VAT refunds and reclaims were paid by the government as normal.
  • Direct debits needed to be cancelled to take advantage of the deferral. Alternatively a refund could be claimed if direct debits were not cancelled in time.
  • Any deferred VAT liability needed to be settled by 31 March 2021 unless the payment scheme was used.
    • Under the payment scheme, the balance could be paid by up to eleven interest-free instalments by the end of March 2022.
  • Penalties will be charged where the payment scheme has not been joined or alternative arrangements made to pay the deferred VAT by 30 June 2021.

 

See COVID-19 VAT deferred payments

 

VAT: Making Tax Digital (MTD) Digital links

  • HMRC deferred the start date for the introduction of digital links into MTD for VAT functional compatible software.
  • Digital links are now not required until your first VAT return period starting on or after 1 April 2021.

 

 

 VAT: Temporary zero-rating of PPE from 1 May 2020 to 31 October 2020

  • Sales of personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect against COVID-19 were zero-rated for VAT from 1 May 2020 until 31 October 2020 (extended from 31 July 2020).

See COVID-19: Temporary zero-rating for PPE

 

VAT: Option to tax deadline extended (now ended)

HMRC temporarily extended the deadline for notifying them about an option to tax on land and buildings to 90 days due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The extension applied to decisions to exercise the option made between 15 February 2020 and 31 July 2021

See COVID-19: Option to tax deadline extended

VAT: CIS Domestic Reverse Charge

  • The introduction of the domestic reverse charge for construction services was delayed until 1 March 2021 due to the impact of the Coronavirus on the construction sector.
  • Additionally, the the exclusion requirements of end-users and intermediaries have been changed.

 

See COVID-19: CIS Reverse Charge VAT

Temporary VAT cuts for hospitality and tourism

In his Summer economic update, the Chancellor announced a temporary cut to the rate of VAT on food, accommodation and entry fees to attractions from 20% to 5% until 12 January 2021, which was extended in his Winter Economic Plan to 31 March 2021. Budget 2021 extended this again until 30 September 2021 with a new 12.5% rate being introduced between 1 October 2021 and 31 March 2022.

VAT on food and non-alcoholic drinks

From 15 July 2020 to 30 September 2021 (previously 31 March 2021, prior to that 12 January), to support businesses and jobs in the hospitality sector:

  • A 5% rate of VAT applies to supplies of:
    • food and non-alcoholic beverages sold for on-premises consumption, for example, in restaurants, cafes and pubs
    • hot takeaway food and hot takeaway non-alcoholic beverages.
  • Alcoholic drinks remain subject to the standard 20% rate.

 

Between 1 October 2021 and 31 March 2022 the 5% increases to 12.5% with a proposed return to the 20% rate from 1 April 2022.

 

VAT on accommodation and attractions

From 15 July 2020 to 30 September 2021 (previously 31 March 2021, prior to that 12 January):

  • A 5% rate of VAT applies to supplies of:
    • sleeping accommodation in hotels and other holiday accommodation including pitch fees for caravans and tents, and associated facilities
    • admissions to attractions that are not already eligible for the cultural VAT exemption including:
      • theatres and concerts
      • amusement parks
      • museums
      • zoos
      • cinemas
  •  It does not apply to sporting events.

 

Between 1 October 2021 and 31 March 2022 the 5% increases to 12.5% with a proposed return to the 20% rate from 1 April 2022.

See COVID-19: Reduced rate VAT

 

Overseas VAT refund scheme

For the prescribed period 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020:

  • The deadline to submit a certificate of status to HMRC is extended to 31 December 2021. This follows a previous extension to 30 June 2021, from 31 December 2020.

Deferring Income Tax payments

Income Tax

Income Tax payments on account due by 31 July 2020 for the 2019/20 tax year under the Self Assessment system could be deferred.

  • Payment was deferred until 31 January 2021. It was announced on 24/9/2020 that the payment could be paid over 12 months under the time to pay arrangements. This applies to all payments due under self-assessment by 31 January 2021 up to £30,000, deferred or otherwise.
  • The deferral of the July payment was an automatic offer with no applications required and no penalties or interest for late payment in the deferral period of 1 August 2020 to 31 January 2021.
  • Interest charges are due from 1 February 2021 under the 12 month time to pay option.
  • The deferral applied to all taxpayers due to make Self Assessment payments on 31 July 2020 and not just the self-employed.

 

See COVID 19: Deferring Income Tax payments

 

Business taxes: Time to Pay

  • HMRC has increased the threshold for paying tax liabilities to £30,000 for Self Assessment customers, and their claims can not be made online.
  • 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.
  • It is essential to contact HMRC and make a Time To Pay agreement before the tax debt becomes due.

 

See Time to Pay agreement

 

Corporation Tax: claims for early repayment and loss relief

  • In June 2020 HMRC updated its Corporation Tax guidance covering situations where a company seeks repayment of tax before a return has been filed, as may be the case where a business knows that it has suffered large losses due to the Coronavirus.
  • It was announced at Budget 2021 that there will be a temporary extension to the period in which a Company loss can be carried back.
    • Companies will be able to carry back trade losses up to three years.
      • This applies for up to a maximum of £2 million of tax losses.
      • The £2 million limit applies to losses incurred in each of the following years: 2020/2021 and 2021/2022. For accounting periods ending between 1 April and 31 March 2021 and 2022.
  • See COVID-19: early Corporation Tax repayment and Losses: Trading and other losses.

 

Companies House

A three-month filing extension was announced in respect of accounts from 25 March 2020. This now applies automatically until 5 April 2021.

  • A late filing extension also applies to certain other statutory filings, the amount of time given is dictated by the type of filing.
  • Companies House temporarily paused the voluntary and compulsory strike-off processes for one month from 21 January until 21 February 2021.

See COVID-19: Companies House filing extensions

 

Appeals: Reasonable excuse

  • HMRC have issued updated guidance on when taxpayers have a reasonable excuse for the late filing of returns or late payment of tax to specifically include being affected by Coronavirus.

See Coronavirus is a reasonable excuse

Appeals: Reasonable excuse (Corporate Interest Restriction: CIR)

  • HMRC confirmed on 8 December 2020 that where the majority of companies within a CIR group gave obtained a deferral to late filing penalties for their company tax returns, if the Interest Restriction Return (IRR)  is filed by the same agreed date, there is a reasonable excuse for the late filing.

See Corporate interest restriction

Appeals: Deadline extended (now ended)

  • HMRC has announced that they will extend the deadlines for appealing tax penalties and decisions from 30 days to up to 3 months where the taxpayer or their business has been affected by COVID-19.
  • This extension ended on 30 September 2021.

See COVID-19: Tax appeal deadlines extended

 

HMRC late payment interest rate cut

HMRC interest rates for late payments will be revised after the Bank of England interest rate reduction to 0.1%.

These changes will come into effect on:

  • 30 March 2020 for quarterly instalment payments.
  • 7 April 2020 for non-quarterly instalments payments.

Repayment interest rates remain unchanged. Added 20/3/2020

The rate for underpayments of quarterly instalments is reduced to 1.25% from 23 March 2020. Added 24/03/2020.

See COVID-19: HMRC reduce late payment interest rate

 

CGT: Soft landing on penalties under new 30-day reporting regime

  • HMRC announced that they will not charge any penalties where UK residents fail to report Capital Gains on UK residential property within the new 30-day deadline until after July 2020.

See Change to new CGT reporting

 

Access to Heritage Assets: Conditional Exemption Tax Incentive Scheme

  • HMRC acknowledges that access by the public to certain Heritage Assets may necessarily restricted during the Coronavirus crisis.
  • See Heritage Assets: CGT and IHT relief

 

Business Rates

Small business rates scheme

  • The existing small business rate relief continues to apply, this provides full relief for any type of businesses using a single property with a rateable value of £12,000 or less.

Business Rates: Expanded Retail Discount

  • 100% discount on business rates.
  • To apply to occupied retail, leisure and hospitality properties in the year 2020-21 and the first 3 months of 2021-22.
  • For the remainder of the financial year, these properties will receive a 66% discount with a cap of £2 million per business for those that were required to close as at 5 January 2021 and a cap of £105,000 per business for those that were not required to close.
  • There is no rateable value limit on the relief.

See COVID-19 Business Rates

Support for nursery businesses that pay business rates

  • There will be a business rates holiday for nurseries in England for the 2020-21 tax year and the first 3 months of 2021-22. For the remainder of the financial year, these properties will receive a 66% discount with a cap of £105,000 per business.

You are eligible for the business rates holiday if:

  • Your business is based in England.
  • Your property is:
    • occupied by providers on Ofsted’s Early Years Register and
    • wholly or mainly used for the provision of the Early Years Foundation Stage.
  • There is no action required, it will apply to your next council tax bill in April 2020.
  • You can estimate the business rate charge you will no longer have to pay this year using the business rates calculator.

 

Grant funding

Cash grants are available to support businesses during the COVID-19 crisis.

  • New Restart grants from 1 April 2021 for non essential retailers to assist in reopening after restrictions are lifted.
  • New Lockdown grants announced as of 5 January 2021, for all businesses legally forced to close and unable to operate remotely. Based on rateable value of property with grants from £4,000 - £9,000.
  • As of 5 January 2021, additional discretionary fund of £594 million for grants to businesses not eligible for the rates-based grants.
  • Local Lockdown Grants: £1,000-£1,500 payable to business in England who are required to close due to local lockdowns or targeted restrictions will now be able to receive grants every three weeks.
  • The Small Business Grant Fund (SBGF) provides grant funding for businesses eligible for Small Business Rates Relief (SBRR) and Rural Rates Relief (RRR).
  • The Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant (RHLG) is provided to businesses in England in receipt of the rates Expanded Retail Discount with a rateable value of less than £51,000.
  • A Discretionary Grant Fund of £25,000, £10,000 or any amount under £10,000 for small and micro-businesses that are not eligible for other grant schemes.
  • Fisheries Response Fund
  • Zoos Hardship Fund
  • Dairy Hardship Fund

 

See COVID-19 Grant Funding for Business.

 

SME business support grants

A £20m fund for grants of £1,000 to £5,000 to help SME's rebuild.

  • To be managed by Local Enterprise Partnerships.
  • Grants may be used for technology and equipment and specialist financial and legal advice.
  • No financial contribution required from the business.

 

See £20m in new grants for SME’s

 

Arts Council funding

Cash grants are available: there is a tight deadline for applications.

  • £90 million for National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs).
  • £50 million for organisations outside of the National Portfolio.
  • £20 million for creative practitioners and cultural workers.

 

See COVID-19: Arts Council Funding

Insurance

  • Standard business interruption policies are unlikely to cover a pandemic.
  • New policies will definitely exclude it.

Check your policy wording and contact your insurer.

Hardship Fund: Social housing and homeless

  • The government announced a new £500 million Hardship Fund so Local Authorities can support economically vulnerable people and households.
  • The government expects most of this funding to be used to provide more council tax relief, either through existing Local Council Tax Support schemes or through similar measures.
  • The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government will set out more detail on this funding, including allocations, shortly.

 

Other immediate changes applicable for direct and indirect taxes

Statutory Residence Test (SRT)

 

  • For the purposes of day counting for SRT. If you:
  • are quarantined or advised by a health professional to self-isolate in the UK as a result of the virus,
  • find yourself in a ‘lockdown’ situation as a result of the virus,
  • are unable to leave the UK due to the closure of international borders,
  • are asked by your employer to return to the UK temporarily as a result of the virus.

HMRC consider that the circumstances are 'exceptional'.

  • On 9 April 2020 the Chancellor confirmed that time spent by individuals in the UK between 1 March 2020 and 1 June 2020 working on COVID-19 related activities would not count towards the residence test and this was included in Finance Bill 2020.

See COVID-19: Statutory Residence Test

 

Landlords & Tenants

Private or social accommodation.

  • Since 29 August 2020 landlords have had to provide tenants with a six months notice period before they can start eviction proceedings other than in certain specific circumstances.
  • Landlords whose tenants are experiencing financial difficulties due to Coronavirus will receive a six-month mortgage payment holiday (extended from 3 months on 5 June 2020).
  • At the end of this period, landlords and tenants are expected to work together to establish an affordable repayment plan, taking into account tenants’ individual circumstances.

 

Commercial tenants

  • Coronavirus Bill provides that no business could be forced out of their premises if they missed a payment, until after 31 March 2021.
  • All commercial tenants in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are eligible.

 

See COVID-19: Landlords & tenants

 

Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT)

A reduced rate of SDLT applies on the purchase of residential property from 8 July 2020 to 30 June 2021, this exempts properties costing £500,000 or less from a charge. The exemption decreases to £250,000 from 1 July 2021 to 30 October 2021 before returning back to pre-pandemic rates of £125,000 from 1 November 2021.

HMRC has updated its guidance on exceptional circumstances that allow refunds following a sale outside of the normal three-year limit to specifically include the impact of COVID-19 preventing the sale.

You may still be able to apply for a refund, if you purchased your new home on or after 1 January 2017 and were unable to sell your previous home within 3 years. To be able to get the refund, the delay in selling must be because of exceptional circumstances. These may be, but are not limited to:

  • The impact of government imposed restrictions preventing the sale.
  • An action taken by a public authority preventing the sale.

 

See SDLT Residential Porperty Higher Rate

Land and Buildings Transaction tax, see COVID-19 Scotland

 

Pensions

Temporary changes to pension tax for recently retired returning public sector workers

  • The government temporarily relaxed the pension unauthorised payment charge rules for recently retired public sector workers between the ages of 50 and 55 who are returning to work because of COVID-19.
  • This relaxation applied to re-employment between 1 March and 1 November 2020.

 

See COVID 19: Pension tax changes for retired public sector staff returning to work

 

Savings

Reduction in lifetime ISA withdrawal charge

  • From 6 March 2020 to 5 April 2021, the charge for making a withdrawal from a lifetime ISA (LISA) is reduced from 25% to 20%.
  • LISA managers who have already deducted 25% can correct this by making a repayment back to the LISA if it is still open or directly to the investor if it is not.

 

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