Welcome to our round up of the latest business and Covid-19 news for our clients. Please contact us if you want to talk about how these updates affect your business. We are here to support you!
NI Vaccine Certificates Update
Northern Ireland vaccine certificates are now available for those travelling abroad up to and including August 31. The certificates provide NI citizens with official confirmation that they have received both their COVID-19 vaccinations in Northern Ireland.
They are available in digital format – via an app for your phone or a pdf file for printing.
If you cannot apply online, you can request a paper version by phone – this process will take longer than the digital process and it may take up to 10 working days for the printed paper version to arrive.
Accounting for Import VAT on your VAT Return
HMRC have recently updated their guidance on accounting for VAT on goods imported from outside the UK which, since Brexit, includes the European Union.
Businesses registered for VAT in the UK can account for import VAT on their VAT Return for goods imported into:
- Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) from anywhere outside the UK
- Northern Ireland from outside the UK and EU
Businesses can also account for import VAT for goods moved between Great Britain and Northern Ireland that are declared into a customs special procedure when they are removed from that special procedure.
You do not need HMRC approval to account for import VAT on your VAT Return.
Accounting for import VAT on your VAT Return has significant cash flow benefits as you declare and recover import VAT on the same VAT Return, rather than having to pay it upfront when the goods are imported and recover it later.
Further Active Travel Enhancements for A6 Foreglen Road and £1.6 Million for Active Travel in Causeway Coast and Glens
Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon has welcomed the completion of an active travel scheme on the A6 Foreglen Road that will enhance provision for pedestrians and cyclists.
The latest scheme, funded with an allocation of £125,000 from the Minister’s Blue Green Fund, involved the construction of 640 metres of shared footway and cycleway along the hard shoulder of the existing A6, just east of Foreglen village between Dungiven and Claudy. With the completion of earlier phases on the A6 Foreglen Road, active travel facilities on this stretch of the road network have been extended for approximately 3km.
See: Mallon delivers further active travel enhancements for A6 Foreglen Road and commits £1.6million for active travel in Causeway Coast and Glens | Department for Infrastructure (infrastructure-ni.gov.uk)
£450,000 Improvement Scheme for Woodtown Road and Sand Road, Ballymena
A £450,000 improvement scheme at the junction of the Woodtown Road and Sand Road near Ballymena will commence on Thursday 12 August 2021.
The scheme involves the realignment and reconfiguration of the existing junction to give priority to traffic using the Woodtown Road to and from Galgorm.
Mournes Wildfire Recovery
Environment Minister Edwin Poots MLA has announced total funding of £522k to the National Trust, under DAERA’s Environmental Challenge Fund, to continue with work on erosion control on the Mournes and provision of a Ranger service. £332,000 of the total funding will be allocated to the wildfire recovery project.
Commercial Rent Debts: Policy Statement
The government will legislate to ringfence rent debt accrued during the pandemic by businesses affected by enforced closures and set out a process of binding arbitration to be undertaken between landlords and tenants.
This is to be used as a last resort, after bilateral negotiations have been undertaken and only where landlords and tenants cannot otherwise come to a resolution. Ahead of the system being put in place, the government will publish the principles which they will seek to put into legislation in a revised Code of Practice, to allow landlords and tenants time to negotiate on that basis.
Section 82 (England and Wales) and Section 83 (Northern Ireland) of the Coronavirus Act 2020, which prevents landlords of commercial properties from being able to evict tenants for the non-payment of rent, will continue until 25 March 2022, unless legislation is passed ahead of this, to provide sufficient time for this new process to be put in place.
Government is clear that those tenants who have not been affected by closures and who have the means to pay, should pay. Additionally, government expects commercial tenants to begin paying rent as per their lease from the point of restrictions being lifted for their sector.
As soon as legislation is passed, the commercial tenant protection measures will only apply to ringfenced arrears. This includes rent debt accrued from March 2020 by commercial tenants affected by COVID-19 business closures until restrictions for their sector are removed.
This means that landlords will be able to evict tenants for the non-payment of rent prior to March 2020 and after the end of restrictions for their sector and who have not been affected by business closures during this period.
For the full policy statement see: Supporting businesses with commercial rent debts: policy statement – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Going electric: building talent for the future
UK registered organisations can apply for a share of up to £250,000 for innovative skills, talent, and training projects, that quickly fill immediate gaps in skills, talent and training for the power electronics, machines, and drives (PEMD) industry.
This competition is open to single applicants and collaborations.
To lead a project or work alone your organisation must be the UK registered and a business of any size, charity, public sector organisation or research organisation
- 9 August 2021 9.30 am – opening date
- 10 August 2021 10 am – online briefing date
- 15 September 2021 11 am – closing date
See: Competition overview – Driving the electric revolution – building talent for the future – Innovation Funding Service (apply-for-innovation-funding.service.gov.uk)
Customs Declaration Service to Become UK’s Single Customs Platform
HMRC will be closing its Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system on 31 March 2023. From this date, all businesses will need to declare goods through the Customs Declaration Service (CDS). CDS is currently used for Northern Ireland and Rest of World declarations.
Ahead of the 31 March 2023 complete closure, services on CHIEF will be withdrawn in two stages:
- 30 September 2022: import declarations close on CHIEF
- 31 March 2023: export declarations close on CHIEF / National Exports System (NES)
Funding scheme to reduce plastic packaging’s environmental impact
UK Research and Innovation’s Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging (SSPP) challenge has announced a new £7 million fund. This competition is open to projects solving the sustainability of plastic packaging. SSPP is looking for ambitious research and development projects that focus on solving the well-known issues with the sustainability of plastic packaging. Aligning with SSPP’s remit, the aim is to drive a true shift from a linear to a circular economy solution for plastic packaging.
The competition closes at 11am Wednesday 8 September 2021.
See: Competition overview – ISCF smart sustainable plastic packaging: business-led R&D – Innovation Funding Service (apply-for-innovation-funding.service.gov.uk)
Visa-free Short-term Touring for UK Musicians and Performers
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport has confirmed that visa-free short-term touring is allowed for UK artists in 19 European Union member countries.
These countries are Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Sweden. Talks are ongoing with the remaining nations that do not allow visa and permit free visits for short-term tours.
Automotive Transformation Fund Expression of Interest: Round 13
Registered businesses can apply for a share of up to £1 billion for capital centric investment projects that help industrialise the electrified automotive supply chain at scale in the UK.
- Competition opened: Friday 30 July 2021
- Competition closes: Wednesday 18 August 2021 11:00am
The programme focuses on companies involved in batteries, including cells, electric machines and drives, power electronics, fuel cells, upstream supply chain for any of the above, recycling any aspect of the above.
Round 13 of this funding is currently open for expressions of interest (EoI).
To be considered, your project should be looking to transform the automotive industry through significant business or production expansion, centred on a product, process or technology that you have already demonstrated and have confirmed as technically and economically feasible.
You can apply for capital investment only or capital and associated R&D activity.
Your proposal must prioritise the scale-up in areas mentioned in the Automotive Transformation Strategy for an electrified supply chain.
This is an EoI competition, which is the first stage in a two-stage process. Before you submit your EoI, you can first check the project’s eligibility for funding through the ATF funding tool.
The ATF team will contact eligible projects to provide guidance on how to submit a formal EOI application. If your application is successful, you will be invited to progress to a full application for the ATF competition.
See: Competition overview – Automotive Transformation Fund Expression of Interest: Round 13 – Innovation Funding Service (apply-for-innovation-funding.service.gov.uk)
COVID-19 Government Support News
Below is our weekly roundup of changes to government support information generally and for businesses, employers and the self-employed.
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) – Update
The guidance has been updated with the CJRS end date and information on when claims for September must be submitted.
The CJRS has been extended until 30 September 2021. From 1 August 2021, the government will pay 60% of wages up to a maximum cap of £1,875 for the hours the employee is on furlough.
Claims for September must be submitted by 14 October 2021 and any amendments must be made by 28 October 2021. Find out more about how the scheme is changing.
Claims for furlough days in July 2021 must be made by 16 August 2021.
Guidance for Companies House customers
Payment breaks for late filing penalties have now ended.
Private Providers of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Testing
The lists of and information about private providers who have self-declared that they meet the government’s minimum standards for the type of commercial COVID-19 testing service they offer has been updated.
How to Do a Coronavirus (COVID-19) Rapid Lateral Flow Test at Home
Find out how to do a rapid lateral flow test for COVID-19 and report the results. Rapid tests are only for people who do not have symptoms of COVID-19.
Retail Recovery Programme
The six Further Education Colleges in Northern Ireland, working in partnership with Retail NI, are offering a tailored programme fully funded by the Department for the Economy. The Retail Recovery Programme will include a webinar series, technical masterclasses and skills-based training to support the recovery of the retail sector.
The programme will give local retail businesses the opportunity to develop their marketing, branding, digital and entrepreneurial skills whilst gaining sector desirable qualifications from level 2 through to level 5.
Awning Scheme for Antrim and Newtownabbey Businesses
In response to the challenges that have been brought about by COVID-19, Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council, in conjunction with the Department for Communities and the Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, are offering businesses the opportunity to apply for financial assistance towards the installation of an awning at commercial premises across the borough.
The funding is targeted at existing businesses operating in commercial premises, who have not previously received support from the Awning Scheme.
The maximum grant award is £2,000 per business, at a grant rate of up to 100 per cent towards the purchase and installation of an awning.
This call for applications closes at 16:00 on Friday 20 August 2021, however as funding will be allocated on a first come first served basis, the programme will be closed when the budget has been exhausted.