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!
More than two million doses of the Covid-19 vaccination have been given out in Northern Ireland for first and second doses, with more than 80% of the adult population having received their first jab, and more than 60% have been fully vaccinated.
The figures for the UK as a whole show that more than 45 million people in the UK have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine – the biggest inoculation programme ever undertaken in the UK.
EU Commission announces the approval of the UK’s data adequacy
The EU Commission announced last week that adequacy decisions for the UK have been approved.
This means the EU has determined the UK’s data protection laws to be robust enough to ensure data can safely flow to the UK from the EU (and EEA). Businesses can continue to receive data from the EU without having to make any changes to their data protection practices.
New mentor scheme launched to boost UK food exporters
A new mentorship programme to help UK farmers and food producers boost their exports has been launched by the Department for International Trade (DIT).
The scheme is part of DIT’s new strategy to boost agriculture exports into new markets, as 97% of the food and drink sector are SMEs but only 1 in 5 of food and drink businesses export. Their latest research estimates that 6.5m jobs were supported by exports in 2016, and they consider that exporting businesses are typically more productive.
The programme, run in partnership with Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), and the National Farmers Union (NFU), will match experienced exporters with businesses who are looking to export for the first time.
Pocket Guide to a Cyber Secure Business
The NI Cyber Security Centre has launched a new guide for small and medium sized businesses to help them safeguard their businesses against cyber threats. The Pocket Guide to a Cyber Secure Business maps out a diagram of key weaknesses that you as a business owner should focus on.
It also provides tips and advice on how you can protect your business from the most common cyber threats. The guide should be used with the online National Cyber Security Centre Cyber Aware Action Plan to help small businesses identify potential IT security weaknesses.
You can access the pocket guide via the Eniplus app created by Enterprise NI or by visiting the NI Cyber Security Centre business hub
Horizon Europe funding for Innovators
Applications are now open for UK businesses, innovators and researchers to access funding through the EU’s Horizon Europe programme. UKRI (UK Research and Innovation) is urging businesses, innovators and researchers to apply for access to new markets, capabilities and technologies as well as billions of pounds of funding through the Horizon Europe scheme. Horizon Europe is the EU’s key funding programme for research and innovation with a budget of €95.5 billion.
Prospective UK funding recipients are eligible to participate in the first calls for proposals for Horizon Europe and can learn more about Horizon Europe by visiting UKRI’s Horizon Europe information page.
HMRC expenses and benefits webinars for employers
With working from home, the office or factory or a hybrid of places to work for many employees this means that where they work from has changed because of the Pandemic. Wherever your employees are based, find out more about paying expenses including mobile phones, internet and workplaces.
Webinar: Expenses and benefits for employers – trivial benefits
Using examples, HMRC will look at what counts as a small or trivial benefit, whether it needs to be reported and what your responsibilities are.
Webinar: Expenses and benefits for employers – if your employees have more than one workplace
This webinar looks at various workplaces, including permanent and temporary, depots, business journeys and homeworking.
Webinar: Expenses and benefits for employers – phones, internet and homeworking
HMRC will show you how to deal with tax and National Insurance when you provide an employee with a mobile phone, internet connection or homeworking expenses.
Expenses and benefits toolkit
You can also access HMRC’s Expenses and Benefits from Employment Toolkit – useful for both agents and employers dealing with employee expenses and benefits in kind.
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.
Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS)
The grants to self-employed individuals whose businesses have been impacted by coronavirus has been extended to cover periods February 2021 to April 2021 (fourth grant – now closed) and May 2021 to September 2021 (fifth grant).
The online claims service for the fifth grant will be available from late July 2021. Find out more about the fifth grant.
Check if you need to change your Self-Assessment return for SEISS
You need to check your Self-Assessment return if you have:
- already submitted your 2020 to 2021 Self-Assessment tax return online
- claimed a Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grant during 2020 or 2021
HMRC may have made an adjustment to your return if:
- the amount of the SEISS payments put in the SEISS box does not match their records
- there was no SEISS amount entered
- you did not submit a Self-Employment or partnership page (SA103 or SA104) and received SEISS payments
The adjustment (and how to check it) depends on your circumstances and how you submitted your return. If we submit your return we will ensure the SEISS grants have been declared in the correct boxes. If you need help in submitting your return please contact us.
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) June 2021 pay period
Claims under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) are now open for pay periods in June 2021.
You must submit your claim for June 2021 by 14 July 2021.
Here’s a future claim dates reminder:
- for furlough days in July 2021 submit claim by 16 August 2021
- for furlough days in August 2021 submit claim by 14 September 2021
- for furlough days in September 2021 submit claim by 14 October 2021
VAT deferred due to coronavirus (COVID-19)
The VAT deferral new payment scheme has now closed.
Any deferred VAT outstanding after 30 June 2021 will be treated as debt and may be subject to a penalty. Find out what to do to pay your VAT bill
Commercial tenants protected from eviction if they are unable to pay rent
Commercial tenants who cannot pay their rent because of coronavirus will be protected from eviction. Landlords and tenants are having conversations and reaching voluntary arrangements about rental payments that are due, but the government recognises businesses struggling with their cashflow due to coronavirus remain worried about eviction.
Commercial tenants who cannot pay their rent because of COVID-19 will be protected from eviction. These measures mean no business will automatically forfeit their lease and be forced out of their premises if they miss a payment. The special provision in the Coronavirus Act 2020 which protects businesses unable to pay rent due to the COVID-19 pandemic until 30 September 2021. This is not a rental holiday. All commercial tenants will still be liable for the rent. Commercial tenants are protected from eviction if they are unable to pay rent. All commercial tenants in Northern Ireland are eligible.
Retail, Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure Top-Up Scheme
This grant will cover a wide range of businesses across retail, hospitality, tourism, leisure and manufacturing. The business must have been open and trading on 1 March 2021 to be eligible for a top-up payment. This is a reminder that applications close on Wednesday 28 July, 2021.
COVID-19 Energy Efficiency Capital Grant – second call
Invest Northern Ireland is running a second call for applications to the COVID-19 Energy Efficiency Capital Grant (EECG). EECG helps businesses recover from COVID-19 and build resilience through green efficiency. It provides grant support for the installation of energy efficient equipment that offers greater efficiency in the use of energy, providing cost savings and carbon savings.
EECG is open to existing Invest NI customers and businesses eligible to become an Invest NI customer. EECG will be issued to eligible businesses on a first-come first-served basis. The grant will close to applications, either:
- when the available budget is fully allocated; or
- on the closing date of 5pm Monday 13 September 2021, whichever comes first.
Urban Tourism Experience programme for Derry and Strabane
Derry City and Strabane District Council have launched the Urban Tourism Experience programme. The purpose of the programme, which will run from July to October 2021, is to help urban based tourism businesses create new high-quality experiences or adapt their offering to reinvent themselves for future and long term sustainable growth.
The tailored package includes expert mentoring support to develop new experiences, the opportunity to apply for financial assistance, and the chance to be included in an Ireland wide marketing campaign.
The programme is free to participants and is open to urban based businesses who are:
- committed to participating in all elements of the programme
- located in Derry City & Strabane District Council area
- committed to participate in the programme evaluation
Deadline for applications is 17:00 on Friday 16 July 2021.
See: Derry City & Strabane – Council announces plans to support urban tourism sector (derrystrabane.com)
Private providers of coronavirus (COVID-19) testing
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.
There is added information on private providers of day 2 and day 8 tests for international arrivals, including a link to the list on GOV.UK. Added further details on the UKAS accreditation process for private providers. Updated the general list of providers.