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!
Mobile vaccination clinics are continuing to deliver first doses. Vaccination is also available by appointment for the Moderna vaccine at around 50 participating community pharmacies. More pharmacies will be joining the programme. Further details on pharmacy bookings are available on the Health and Care NI website.
Northern Ireland’s Covid Certification Service is now open for those planning to travel within the next three months. 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.
Information on how to apply is available on the NI Direct website
More countries – including Canada and the Azores – have been added to the green ‘traffic light’ list for international travel. Other countries turning green include Denmark, Finland, Liechtenstein, Lithuania and Switzerland. Additions to the red list include Montenegro and Thailand. Fully vaccinated people returning amber and green list countries are not required to isolate on return. The changes came into effect from 4am on Monday 30.
The Vision for Future FarmingPolicy in NI
The future direction of farming support in Northern Ireland was outlined last week as Agriculture Minister, Edwin Poots MLA, published a Future Agricultural Policy Framework Portfolio for Northern Ireland. The Future Agricultural Policy Framework Portfolio sets out an agricultural policy framework for Northern Ireland, taking into account the views of key food, farming and environmental stakeholders from an engagement exercise undertaken in 2018. That exercise focussed on a vision for future agriculture in Northern Ireland defined around four desired outcomes: increased productivity, improved resilience, environmental sustainability and a responsive supply chain.
A public consultation on policy proposals will commence in autumn 2021.
Reimbursing Fuel for Company Cars from 1 September 2021
As the result of recent increases in petrol and diesel prices HMRC have increased the advisory fuel rates that apply for the reimbursement of employees’ private fuel for their company cars. The same rates apply when the employer reimburses employees for fuel used for business journeys in their company car. Curiously the LPG reimbursement rates have reduced, which appears to be an anomaly.
The new rates apply from 1 September 2021, but you can continue to use the previous rates for up to 1 month from the date the new rates apply.
Where there has been a change the previous rate is shown in brackets: –
|1400cc or less||12p
|1600cc or less||10p
|1401cc to 2000cc||14p
|1601 to 2000cc||12p
For hybrid cars you must use the petrol or diesel rate which may differ significantly from the actual fuel costs. The advisory electricity rate for fully electric cars is 4 pence per mile.
Employees should carefully consider whether it is advantageous having private fuel provided for their company car. Remember that the P11d benefit for having private fuel provided for a company car in 2021/22 is £24,600 multiplied by the CO2 emissions percentage for that vehicle.
For example, a director driving a Mercedes Benz E200 saloon company car (CO2 emissions 169g per km) would be assessed on 37% = £9,102 for 2020/21. If they are a higher rate taxpayer that would mean £3,641 tax. That is an awful lot of private fuel!
Upcycling Protective Plastics from Offshore Wind Farms
KTN-iX™ (KTN-innovation eXchange) is a cross sector program supporting innovation transfer by matching industry challenges to innovative companies from other sectors. It does this through putting large businesses with technical needs in contact with companies who have the right innovative solutions, for faster development of novel solutions.
Ørsted is a renewable energy company that takes tangible action to create a world that runs entirely on green energy.
The iX challenge competition, delivered by KTN, is supporting Ørsted to identify innovative approaches for dealing with a significant and immediate challenge arising from a waste stream.
The challenge is looking for designers and innovators who would use this material for creative ideas such as materials for fashion, accessories, jewellery, footwear, coats, bags and others.
If you can turn the PVC into another product or craft such as covers, marquee/tent/outdoor product covers, or a charity that wants to make sustainable products from PVC then this challenge may be of interest.
The business(es) with the most promising solution(s), as selected by the challenge owner, may be given a commercial opportunity to deliver their solution and receive support from KTN and the wider Innovate UK network.
See: Challenge | Upcycling Protective Plastics from Offshore Wind Farms | KTN-iX™ (ktninnovationexchange.co.uk)
Views Sought on Dispute Resolution
A call for evidence has been launched by the UK Government seeking views on the best ways to settle business, individual, family and other civil disputes without the stress and cost of a court case.
Responses will shape future reforms to civil, family and administrative justice and will examine whether new technologies, as well as services such as mediation and conciliation, could provide smarter and less adversarial routes for finding resolutions.
Litigation will always remain as an option open to everyone, and some cases will inevitably require people to go to court. The consultation closes on 30 September 2021.
Call for Research Engagement from Micro & SME Designers & Manufacturers
Future Fashion Factory is looking for fashion and textiles designers (and particularly those outside of London) to participate in research on the different types of support that micro and small businesses need.
For further information see: Call for Research Engagement from Micro & SME Designers & Manufacturers (google.com)
Business Growth Scheme Open to Next Group of Space Entrepreneurs
The Leo Programme is a bespoke, one to one accelerator for high-growth and high potential entrepreneurs. Twenty businesses will be supported on the next phase of the Leo Programme, a free six-month accelerator run by the UK Space Agency and powered by Entrepreneurial Spark, where they will get access to tailored, specialist online and in-person support from space industry and business growth experts. The programme is open to businesses already in the space sector and those already exploring the possibilities presented by the industry. Firms working in a linked industry looking for a route into the space sector can also apply. The closing date to apply is 10 September 2021.
Trader Support Service
Changes have been made to the way goods move in and out of Northern Ireland since the Northern Ireland Protocol was introduced on 1 January 2021.
The Trader Support Service is free to use and:
- offers education, training and advice about the changes to the way your goods move under the Northern Ireland Protocol
- can complete customs and safety and security declarations on your behalf, where these are required for movements between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, so you do not have to access HMRC systems directly
The TSS upload API automates the uploading of information that is required to update and submit several customs declarations at the same time, saving traders time by replacing the need to manually key data into the system.
The system allows you to automate the process of creating and submitting Entry Safety & Security (ENS) declarations, and the associated simplified frontier (SFD) and supplementary declarations (SD).
Businesses that need to create larger volumes of declarations at any given time can use the TSS upload API to ensure they can complete these declarations in a compliant and cost-effective way.
If you are an importer with many supplementary declarations waiting to be closed, then the TSS upload API could help you get these closed faster and more reliably.
The API can benefit users by providing a cost-effective way to create and clear a large volume of declarations, ensuring that the declarations are compliant and completed efficiently.
Free HM Revenue & Customs Webinars this September and October to help Employers with Payrolling Expenses and Benefits
If you do your own payroll then the following webinars may be of interest:
- Payrolling – tax employees’ benefits through your payroll
- Employer filing obligations
- Getting payroll information right
- Company directors – payroll and you
See: HMRC payroll webinars – September and October 2021 (nibusinessinfo.co.uk)
Design Bites: E-commerce Design Essentials
Invest Northern Ireland (Invest NI) is inviting businesses to join them on Tuesday 21 September 2021 for the next in their series of lively webinar sessions, Design Bites. This webinar will show different ways to drive different types of traffic to your website, how to engage your audience effectively and some of the different tactics to convert them to paying and returning customers. The second of a duo of webinars on the theme of web design and e-commerce.
Belfast Retail and Hospitality Virtual Job Fair
The virtual job fair is a great recruitment opportunity for employers in the hospitality and retail sectors. The Department for Communities is hosting a Retail and Hospitality Virtual Job Fair for the Belfast area on Thursday 23 September 2021. If your organisation operates in the hospitality or retail sectors and will be recruiting at this time, the virtual job fair is an opportunity to help with your recruitment. This event is free to attend, gives you access to a large number of people looking for work, allows you to chat directly to and engage with applicants on a virtual platform to recruit the right people for your business.
To register your interest in attending, email [email protected] by Tuesday 7 September 2021.
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) – August claims
Claims under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) are now open for pay periods in August 2021. You must submit your claim for August 2021 by 14 September 2021.
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will be ending on 30 September 2021. Claims for September must be submitted by 14 October 2021 and any amendments must be made by 28 October 2021.
For further information please see: Claim for wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) – How to Work out your Turnover so you can Claim the Fifth SEISS Grant
For the fifth grant you will need to tell HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) about your turnover if you traded in 2019 to 2020 as well as any of the following tax years:
- 2018 to 2019
- 2017 to 2018
- 2016 to 2017
Turnover includes the takings, fees, sales or money earned or received by your business.
Before you claim you must:
- Work out your April 2020 to April 2021 turnover.
- Find your turnover from either 2019 to 2020 or 2018 to 2019 to use as a reference year.
You will need to have both figures ready when you make your claim.
How to Work out your April 2020 to April 2021 Turnover
You need to work out your turnover for a 12-month period, starting on any date from 1 to 6 April 2020.
You can use one of the following periods:
- 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021
- 2 April 2020 to 1 April 2021
- 3 April 2020 to 2 April 2021
- 4 April 2020 to 3 April 2021
- 5 April 2020 to 4 April 2021
- 6 April 2020 to 5 April 2021
You should check that your figure is accurate. HMRC will be able to check your figures after you submit your tax return for this period. Your figure must include the turnover from all of your businesses. Please contact us if you need assistance in making the claim.
New Support Programme for the Local Tourism Sector
Tourism Northern Ireland has launched the Experience Development Programme 2021-23.
The programme is designed to provide financial assistance to tourism organisations to support them in creating new experiences to stimulate demand for Northern Ireland tourism to the benefit of the wider economy. It will support the Northern Ireland Tourism industry to develop visitor experiences which will entice people to explore what Northern Ireland has to offer, in what will be an increasingly competitive marketplace. There are two stages to the application process:
Stage 1: Expression of Interest Form
Applicants are encouraged to submit their Expression of Interest as soon as possible to ensure that where eligible they can proceed quickly to the full application stage.
The closing date for completed expression of interest forms is 15:00 on Monday 6 September 2021.
Stage 2: Full Application Form
The closing date for completed applications is 15:00 on Monday 4 October 2021, applications cannot be submitted after this time.
Please note, if you are not deemed eligible after Stage 1 of the process you will not be provided with a full application form to complete Stage 2.
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.
Read further information here on the Retail Recovery Programme
Guidance for Companies House (CH) Customers
The cut off time for using a same day service to electronically file a change of company name or incorporate a company (software filing only) has changed from 11am to 3pm.
CXH has developed a service to Upload a document to Companies House instead of sending a paper document by post.
It also includes features such as acknowledgments and online payment using GOV.UK Pay. CH say they are continually working to improve this service and include more document types.
Companies House Webinars
Companies House webinars offer useful guidance covering a range of topics including:
- starting a limited company and your responsibilities to Companies House and HMRC
- how intellectual property such as patents, trademarks and copyrights can affect your business
- guidance on starting a community interest company (CIC)
- how to register company mortgages and other charges at Companies House
- how to restore a company to the register
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.
Open Letter to PCR Providers on Compliance with Consumer Law
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has published an open letter to providers of PCR tests on how they should comply with consumer law. This letter has also been sent to all providers listed on GOV.UK.
Right to Work Checks
The end date for the temporary adjusted checks has now been deferred to 5 April 2022 (inclusive). The government has made the decision to defer the date following the feedback they received about the ability to conduct checks remotely. The government initiated a review of the availability of specialist technology to support a system of digital right to work checks in the future. The intention is to introduce a new digital solution to include many who are unable to use the Home Office online checking service, including UK and Irish citizens. This will enable checks to continue to be conducted remotely but with enhanced security.