BUSINESS NEWS NORTHERN IRELAND 28 June 2021

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!

 

Covid-19 Update

Northern Ireland’s COVID-19 vaccination centres are now offering first dose appointments to everyone aged 18 and over, as part of the drive to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible.

Now anyone aged 18 plus can book a vaccine appointment at the vaccination centres. These centres are using the Pfizer vaccine for first doses. Last week’s announcement was made possible due to a scheduled increase in supplies of the Pfizer vaccine.

To book online go to: https://covid-19.hscni.net/get-vaccinated/

New additions have been made to the international travel green list for Northern Ireland to include Malta, Madeira and the Balearics. The easing follows the latest review of the ‘traffic light’ risk warning system for international travel which came into effect on 17 May. Other additions to an expanded green travel list include Antigua, Barbados, and Bermuda. A number of destinations – including Tunisia and Uganda – have been added to the red list which requires managed isolation for 10 days on return. The latest changes come into effect at 4am on 30 June. See: Coronavirus (COVID-19): travelling from a green list country | nidirect

 

Forests for Our Future – Woodland Grant Schemes Reopen

The next stage of the ‘Forests for Our Future’ programme has seen the opening the Forest Expansion Scheme & Small Woodland Grant Schemes to encourage and help landowners plant their own woodlands.

The schemes can support all types of sustainable woodland with the Small Woodland Grant Scheme being designed as a simple online scheme for new native woodlands of 0.2 hectares and larger, while the Forest Expansion Scheme supports native woodland, mixed woodland or commercial conifer woodland that can best meet land owners business needs whilst contributing to a living, working, active landscape. Successful applicants to the schemes will receive up to 100% of eligible establishment costs and annual premia for a 10-year period.

See: DAERA forestry grants | Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (daera-ni.gov.uk)

 

EU Exit: Claiming an EU filing date on UK trademarks and design cases

Customers with EU trade marks and design applications that were pending on 1 January 2021 can file for a UK right and claim the earlier filing date – this service is only available until 30 September 2021.

The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) is encouraging holders of such rights to file these applications with them as soon as possible. An early application will help with early examination and allow time for refiling if necessary, as the deadline approaches.

See: EU Exit: Claiming an EU filing date on UK trademarks and design cases (nibusinessinfo.co.uk)

 

Right to work checks

As a result of the government’s announcement to extend the date for the easing of lockdown restrictions and social distancing measures, the temporary COVID-19 adjusted right to work checks will now end on 31 August 2021. From 1 September 2021, employers will revert to face-to-face and physical document checks as set out in legislation and guidance. This will ensure employers have sufficient notice to put measures in place to enable face-to-face document checks.

The following temporary changes were made on 30 March 2020 and remain in place until 31 August 2021 (inclusive):

  • checks can currently be carried out over video calls
  • job applicants and existing workers can send scanned documents or a photo of documents for checks using email or a mobile app, rather than sending originals
  • employers should use the Employer Checking Service if a prospective or existing employee cannot provide any of the accepted documents

Checks continue to be necessary and you must continue to check the prescribed documents set out in right to work checks: an employer’s guide or use the online right to work checking service. It remains an offence to knowingly employ anyone who does not have the right to work in the UK.

 

Three year carry back of company losses

An extended loss carry back was announced at Budget 2021 which enables companies (and individuals) to make claims to carry back losses for a further 2 years than previous rules allowed. This temporary extension applies for losses arising in company accounting periods ending between 1 April 2020 and 31 March 2022.

An HMRC guidance note setting out further information on extended loss carry back for businesses is available.

Claims Process

Where the loss relief claim is no more than £200,000, HMRC are prepared to accept the loss claim in advance of submitting the CT600 company tax return and finalised accounts provided there is sufficient evidence to support the loss claim. HMRC will shortly provide an update on the preferred method for claim submission, which will look to get these claims processed as quickly and efficiently as possible and result in a refund of tax paid in earlier years.

Claims that exceed the de minimis of £200,000 must be made in a company tax return. Box 45 (claim or relief affecting an earlier period) on the CT600 should be completed and details of the carry back claims included in the computations that accompany the CT600 and accounts.

There is no need to submit amended returns for the earlier periods to which the extended relief applies as the claims will be treated as amendments to those returns. Amended returns for these periods will be rejected for online submission as, in most cases, they will be out of time for amendment.

Note that there is a £2 million limit on the losses qualifying for this extended loss relief and that limit applies to all companies within a 75% group. Such groups are required to nominate how the £2 million is allocated among group members.

 

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.

 

VAT deferred due to coronavirus (COVID-19)

Information about paying deferred VAT in full or making an arrangement to pay by 30 June 2021 has been added to the webpage below. If you have not arranged a time to pay plan or have not repaid any VAT deferred then you should contact coronavirus (COVID-19) helpline to discuss your situation.

You may be charged a 5% penalty or interest if you do not pay in full or make an arrangement to pay by 30 June 2021.

See: Pay VAT deferred due to coronavirus (COVID-19) – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

 

The Furlough Scheme and Employee Travel – “Temporary Workplaces” and COVID-19

Several professional bodies have requested clarification from HMRC concerning their interpretation of the “temporary workplace” rules where employees have had their posting extended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

HMRC has confirmed that its approach remains unchanged. Under the 24-month rule employees who are seconded to a temporary workplace for no more than 24 months of “continuous work” are entitled to tax relief on their travel expenses. However, if it becomes apparent that the placement at the temporary workplace will go on for longer than 24 months then the travel (and subsistence) to that workplace will not qualify for relief.

This means that employees working at a temporary workplace and then furloughed will no longer be entitled to claim tax relief on their remaining time at the temporary workplace if the furloughed time takes them over 24 months of “continuous work”.

Example

An employee was due to work at a temporary workplace for 21 months but say three months after the secondment started they were placed on furlough for five months.

When they return to the temporary workplace for 18 months to complete the 21 months of work, they are no longer entitled to claim relief for business travel and, where reimbursed by the employer, the amounts would be taxable emoluments. This is because it was known that the initial three months of work, the five months of furlough and the 19 months of work would together be greater than 24 months.

HMRC have confirmed that: “The government’s position remains that any period of furlough or working from home, whilst attending a temporary workplace, will be considered a period of continuous work.”

Please talk to us if you need anything clarifying, we are here to help.

 

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme templates

The templates to use when claiming for 16 or more employees have been updated. The guidance for uploading these templates has also been updated.

If you are claiming on or after 1 July 2020 for 16 or more employees, you will need to upload a file containing the following information for each employee:

  • full name
  • National Insurance number (or payroll reference number if you do not have this)
  • payroll reference number (sometimes called a pay identify or staff number)
  • furlough start and end date (using the format DD/MM/YYYY)
  • full amount claimed (pounds and pence)
  • normal hours (using decimals, for example 7.5)
  • actual hours worked (using decimals)
  • furloughed hours (using decimals)
  • if they have returned from statutory leave and you then put them on furlough

You must upload the template in .xlsx or .csv format when you claim. If you already have the claim forms saved in a different format (such as .xls or .ods), you must save them again as .xlsx or .csv files. The other formats are no longer accepted.

Your template may be rejected if you do not give the information in the right format. If your template is rejected, you will see a message on the screen and your claim will not be processed.

You’ll need to make sure you:

  • provide only the employee information requested here – you might be asked again, or your template may be rejected
  • submit one line per employee for the whole period
  • do not break up the calculation into multiple periods within the claim
  • do not split data by contract type (for example, those paid weekly and monthly should be claimed for together)
  • do not provide more or less columns than needed
  • upload your file as a .xlsx or .csv (or you can save existing .xls or .ods file types as .xlsx or .csv before uploading them)

If we are submitting your claims we will of course upload your information in the new format.

See: Download a template if you’re claiming for 16 or more employees through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

 

VisitBritain: Business Events Domestic Support Fund launched

A new fund supporting the events industry recovery will provide financial support to not-for-profit organisations hosting domestic business events from 21 June to 17 December 2021.

The new Domestic Support Fund is designed to offer financial support to kick start the return of business events and to showcase that the UK is ready to meet again and has adapted to new ways of meeting in a COVID-19 secure environment.

Financial support is based on number of delegates attending a live event, or the live component of a hybrid event. The event organisation can apply for £30 per delegate (cash incl. VAT) attending an event. Approved applications will receive financial support, after the event has taken place, and submission of evidence to support total number of attendees.

Offered as a ‘Small Amount of Financial Assistance’ grant scheme, this support is available for events from 100 to 500 people to a maximum value of £15,000 support.

All activities need to take place within the dates 21 June to 17 December 2021 and evidence provided by 1 March 2022.

More information can be found at Visit Britain.

 

NI Domestic Aviation Kickstart Scheme

The financial support scheme for airlines to rebuild from COVID-19 and to maintain and enhance Northern Ireland’s air connectivity with Great Britain has been launched.

The key objectives of the scheme are to support inbound tourism and business travel (both from and to GB) and to encourage inward investment into the Northern Ireland economy.

The scheme has the following complementary aims:

  1. Support basic route frequency to be maintained throughout the scheme period.
  2. To incentivise enhancements of frequency above the basic route frequency.
  3. To support initiatives to develop new routes.

To be able to apply to the scheme a passenger airline operator must have a licence to operate UK domestic air routes. The scheme is administered by Invest NI on behalf of DfE.

The Department for the Economy (DfE) has developed the NI Domestic Aviation Kickstart Scheme (NIDAKS) to support airlines as they rebuild from COVID-19. The scheme will also help kickstart NI’s economic recovery by maintaining and enhancing NI’s domestic air connectivity with Great Britain (GB).

See: Coronavirus: NI Domestic Aviation Kickstart Scheme (nibusinessinfo.co.uk)

 

DASA launches the Space to Innovate Campaign

The Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) Space Programme have launched the Space to Innovate Campaign.

The campaign seeks proposals for developing future space technologies, including satellites and space-based services, which will enhance and protect space military and civil potential. It is open to innovators from both the existing space sector and those who have not traditionally worked in this domain.

The campaign will involve space-related challenges that will be released in ‘drops’ throughout 2021 and 2022. The first drop – the ‘Alpha challenge drop’ – is now open for proposals.

Space to Innovate Campaign – Alpha challenge drop
This challenge drop focuses on two challenges:

  • Challenge 1: Visualisation tools to enable space operators to exploit information gathered from multiple data sources
  • Challenge 2: Novel methods for characterising objects in space and their intent

See: Space to Innovate Campaign – Alpha Drop: Competition Document – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

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