Welcome to our round up of the latest business 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!
UK Government Sets out a New Timetable for Introducing Border Controls
The UK Government has set out a new timetable for introducing full import controls for goods being imported from the EU to the UK.
Full customs declarations and controls will be introduced on 1 January 2022 as previously announced, although safety and security declarations will now not be required until 1 July 2022. Under the revised timetable:
- The requirements for pre-notification of Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) goods, which were due to be introduced on 1 October 2021, will now be introduced on 1 January 2022.
- The new requirements for Export Health Certificates, which were due to be introduced on 1 October 2021, will now be introduced on 1 July 2022.
- Phytosanitary Certificates and physical checks on SPS goods at Border Control Posts, due to be introduced on 1 January 2022, will now be introduced on 1 July 2022.
- Safety and Security declarations on imports will be required as of 1 July 2022 as opposed to 1 January 2022.
Business and Industry Challenges in Filling Vacancies
The government has published an analysis of UK businesses’ ability to fill job vacancies across different industries, and reasons for any recruitment challenges. The data covers Summer 2021, primarily after coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions were eased.
Hospitality businesses are more than twice as likely as other industries to be experiencing challenges in filling vacancies compared with normal expectations for this time of year. Between 23 August and 5 September 2021, 30% of hospitality businesses said that vacancies were more difficult to fill than normal. This compares with 13% across all industries (up from 9% in early August).
Vacancy challenges are more common for larger businesses. Excluding those with fewer than 10 employees, 41% of businesses across all industries were struggling to fill vacancies in late August, up from 32% earlier in the month.
These difficulties coincide with a very busy time for recruitment, according to the latest labour market data, with hospitality among several industries posting record numbers of vacancies in June to August 2021. Aside from hospitality (30%), the water (27%) and health (23%) industries were most likely to be finding it more difficult than normal to recruit staff in late August.
Live Events Reinsurance Scheme
The scheme rules for the Live Events Reinsurance Scheme have been published by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
On 5 August 2021, the government announced that it is partnering with insurers to offer a cost indemnification insurance scheme which will make cover available against the cancellation, postponement, relocation or abandonment of events due to new UK Civil Authority restrictions in response to COVID-19.
The Live Events Reinsurance Scheme will support live events across the country — such as music festivals, conferences and business events — that are at risk of being halted or delayed due to an inability to obtain COVID-19 cancellation insurance. Cover will be available to purchase alongside standard commercial events insurance for an additional premium.
The scheme will not cover loss of revenue prompted by lower demand for tickets or venue capacity, and the scheme does not cover self-isolation of staff or performers. The scheme will cover a limited series, or run, of linked events, provided that the event organiser specifies which event dates from that limited series or run, require cover and how much cover they are purchasing for each.
The Scheme will run to 30 September 2022 with a review point in Spring 2022. Cover will be available to purchase through participating insurers. A number of prominent insurers in the Lloyd’s market, including Arch, Beazley, Dale, Ark and Munich Re, are supporting the scheme. Event organisers can now start approaching these insurers to discuss their cover.
The full scheme rules, as published by DCMS, can be found on this page: UK Live Events Resinsurance Scheme (publishing.service.gov.uk)
Are you Planning to use a Freeport to Import or Export your Goods?
In the Spring 2021 Budget the Chancellor announced a number of areas to be designated as Freeports. Those areas would have a number of direct and indirect tax advantages for businesses located there.
Among those advantages is relief from customs duty and the ability to make simplified declarations. HMRC have now published guidance for businesses planning to take advantage of the new procedures.
Freeport customs sites (also known as a ‘free zone’) are secure customs zones where you can import or export goods inside the UK’s land border, but where special import or export rules apply.
If you choose to use a customs site to import or export goods, you may be able to:
- get relief from duties and import taxes
- use simplified declarations processes to reduce administrative burdens
- choose which rate of Customs Duty you use if processing the goods changes their classification
If your goods are purchased in the UK, you will continue to pay duties and import taxes using the normal UK rates.
If you are a business who wants to move goods into or out of a Freeport customs site, you will need to apply to use the Freeport customs special procedure (a single authorisation combined with easier declaration requirements) to import goods that are not controlled.
For more details see: Get your business ready to use a Freeport customs site – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Government Postpone Making Tax Digital for Income Tax to 2024/25
Having listened to stakeholder feedback from businesses and the accounting profession, the government have announced that they will introduce Making Tax Digital (MTD) for Income Tax Self-Assessment (ITSA) a year later than planned, in the tax year beginning in April 2024.
This will give the self-employed and buy to let landlords an extra year to prepare for the digitalisation of Income Tax and also allow HMRC more time for customer testing of the pilot system.
The start date for partnerships to join MTD for ITSA has been put back still further to the tax year beginning in April 2025.
There has been no change to the £10,000 per annum gross income threshold which means that most self-employed traders and buy to let landlords will be mandated to comply with MTD for income tax from April 2024.
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 recently been updated.
Tell HMRC about an Option to Tax Land and Buildings
Form VAT1614A has been updated.
HMRC is creating new versions of their forms that do not depend on Adobe Reader. Whilst this work is in progress the following methods can be used to make sure the form will download or open in Adobe Reader:
- Whatever browser you use, review your settings to make Adobe Reader the default program for opening PDF documents
- Windows users should right click on the form link then select ‘Save target as’ or ‘Save link as’
- Mac users should right click on the form link then select ‘Save linked file as’
- Save the form – the recommended place is in the documents folder
- Using Adobe Reader you can open the form
Date Set for 2022-23 Scottish Budget
Finance Secretary Kate Forbes will publish the 2022-23 Scottish Budget and the Medium Term Financial Strategy on Thursday 9 December 2021, following agreement of the date with the Scottish Parliament’s Finance Committee.
The agreed timetable will ensure sufficient time to scrutinise the Scottish Government’s spending plans for the next financial year.
The 2022-23 Scottish Budget will focus on delivering the new Programme for Government, reflecting the challenges facing households, communities and businesses as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
International Travel Restrictions Relaxed and Simplified
The international travel traffic light system of restrictions put in place to protect public health is to be substantially revised to make it simpler for travellers.
Green and amber classifications will merge, but the red list will be retained for those countries deemed to have high COVID19 case rates or variants of concern.
Among other countries, Turkey, Egypt and the Maldives were removed from the red list on Wednesday 22 September.
The current amber-level restrictions will become the default for travellers from non-red countries, with eligible fully vaccinated travellers able to benefit from quarantine-free travel.
The number of countries recognised in the eligible vaccinated traveller policy (currently only UK, EU/EFTA and USA), is being expanded to recognise countries where vaccine certification meets appropriate standards. These include Canada, Australia, Israel, and New Zealand – with these opening up from 4 October – the date the current traffic light system formally ends.
The Scottish Government recently relaxed rules, allowing people travelling from non-red list countries to choose from a variety of private test providers.
Aerospace Innovation Centre Opens in Prestwick
A new research and development centre for the manufacture of lighter aircraft components was opened by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in Prestwick.
Spirit AeroSystems’ Aerospace Innovation Centre (AIC) will explore new, more efficient approaches to the design and manufacture of aerostructures such as wings, using lightweight composite material technology to reduce flight emissions and lower costs.
The 90,000 square foot facility combines the technology and expertise required by Spirit and its partners creating the capability for future composite aerostructures manufacturing and the expansion of supply chain opportunities in Scotland.
The centre will also be open to companies in other sectors undertaking similar research into composite solutions, such as those in the automotive or renewable energy sectors.
The £28 million facilities was supported with a £4.8m research and development infrastructure grant from Scottish Enterprise.
Inbound Operator Collaborative Marketing Fund
This fund will support destination management companies (DMCs) and tour operators who offer overnight visits. It will help them recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in a sustainable way through the programming and marketing of responsible tourism products. Applications opened on 23 September 2021.
This fund focuses on COVID-19 pandemic recovery for destination management companies (DMCs) and tour operators who offer overnight visits and are based in Scotland. It will allow eligible companies to harness the latest consumer insights to:
- develop and market responsible tourism to and around Scotland to international visitors
- encourage international tour operators to add responsible travel to their programmes
- support the recovery of the tourism sector in line with the Tourism 2030 strategy and Scotland’s ambition to be a responsible tourism destination
Successful applicants will be expected to develop and deliver appropriate itineraries that reflect responsible tourism and an associated marketing plan that meets the assessment criteria.
See: Inbound Operator Collaborative Marketing Fund (findbusinesssupport.gov.scot)
Sustainable Mobility Cluster Builder
The Sustainable Mobility Cluster Builder is a new programme that helps SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) in Scotland make the most of new opportunities in sustainable transport. This also supports the Scottish Government’s targets to decarbonise transport.
The cluster builder programme includes:
- awareness raising and networking events
- one-to-one support sessions with expert advisors
- opportunities to connect with other businesses in Scotland and beyond
- signposting to further opportunities, funding and business support
The programme is delivered by Urban Foresight, funded by Scottish Enterprise and in partnership with Transport Scotland. The project is 50% ERDF funded through the Scottish Programme for Research Innovation and Technology Ecosystem (known as SPRITE).
The programme runs until 30 November 2022.
Touring Fund for Theatre and Dance
This round of the Touring Fund is to support the touring theatre and dance sector and help them reconnect with audiences in 2022.
This fund aims to change the way publicly funded theatre and dance work is toured. Projects should provide greater access to a variety of experiences for a diverse audience, as well as broader opportunities for a more diverse range of artists and producers.
The fund will encourage this change by:
- supporting high-quality work to tour in a way that changes the relationship between venues and producers, be they individual artists, companies or producers of touring theatre and dance
- funding work that attracts more diverse audiences across Scotland, especially those who live outside the main cities of the central belt
- funding work that increases the diversity of artists, producers and companies who tour theatre and dance across Scotland
- creating conditions where artists are recognised for their work and can retain a proportion of the income their work creates to sustain their ongoing practice
- creating conditions that help venues to be more sustainable and give them the ability to invest more in developing audiences
- supporting the programming of work in venues or locations that would not otherwise present it, so it has more opportunities to be seen
The fund criteria may be changed and refined as more evidence is gathered.
There are 2 strands:
- Strand 1 is open to applications from performing artists, companies and producers to tour live work
- Strand 2 is open to applications from venues and touring networks to help them to programme live work in venues as part of their COVID-19 recovery plans
The Touring Fund will support activities that take place from summer 2022 on.
Applications close on the 4 October 2021 at midday.
See: Touring Fund for Theatre and Dance (findbusinesssupport.gov.scot)
COVID-19 Marine and Outdoor Tourism Restart Fund Round 2
Round 2 of the COVID-19 Marine and Outdoor Tourism Restart Fund specifically supports Scottish-based businesses in the marine and outdoor tourism sector which have faced hardship due to the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The fund aims to help keep them in business as they restart operations.
Round 1 of the fund was open for applications between 2 February and 9 February 2021. It targeted operators in Scotland whose turnover in 2019/20 from tourism activity was more than 75% of their total turnover.
Following feedback from the industry and the recognition of a funding gap for marine and outdoor operators, Round 2 has been created to support marine and outdoor tourism operators in Scotland who meet the eligibility criteria.
Due to the complexity and variety of businesses within the sector, a 2-strand approach to funding is necessary to meet its needs. Businesses may only apply to one strand.
The 2 strands are:
- Marine and boating tourism operators
- Outdoor wildlife, adventure and activity sector tourism businesses
What are the key changes for Round 2 of the fund?
- a minimum of 40% of an applicant’s annual turnover must be related to tourism activity
- these activities must occur in Scotland
- airborne activities are now included
This £800,000 fund is being delivered by VisitScotland on behalf of the Scottish Government, with development input from Sail Scotland and Wild Scotland. VisitScotland is the awarding body for the fund. This money is part of the £104.3 million Scottish Government package – no new money has been provided for funding.
The deadline to apply is 5pm on 29 September 2021.
See: COVID-19 Marine and Outdoor Tourism Restart Fund Round 2 (findbusinesssupport.gov.scot)