With a roadmap in place, lockdown beginning to ease, and daily good news on the vaccine rollout, there is a renewed sense of positivity in the air. In the business world, this has translated to a rise in confidence across all sectors, with the hopes of SMEs bolstered by the promise of fewer restrictions on the horizon.
The Chancellor’s budget announcement revealed plans to support people and businesses through the current crisis, fix public finances and rebuild the economy. A rise in Corporation Tax is key to this plan, but this was announced alongside a further wave of financial assistance for those hit hard by the pandemic. This includes support for the self-employed, those in the worst affected sectors – retail, hospitality, and leisure, those on furlough, and recovery loans for businesses in every industry.
With our eyes set on navigating both the short- and long-term future, we have been working closely with a specialist Brexit consultant, focussed particularly on the administration and form filling that our clients are facing, or are likely to face. Brexit is starting to bite, with exporting and importing delays taking hold and a hike in freight costs. Available on Gov.uk is a wealth of information, but our team is ready and able to help, too.
Many businesses will need to act on VAT payments this month. Payment of VAT due between 20 March 2020 and 30 June 2020, but deferred due to COVID, is due on the last day of the month. There is, however, the option to join the new deferral scheme or arrange extra help with HMRC, with more information is available at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/deferral-of-vat-payments-due-to-coronavirus-covid-19.
Meanwhile, the VAT Reverse Charge is now in play, impacting those in building and construction. It’s important to understand this change and how it applies to your business. Our advisors are on hand to provide support and advice.
As planning for the future begins to feel more tangible, many business owners may consider taking advantage of the Government’s Kickstart Scheme, which provides funding to employers that take on staff aged 16-to-24 on Universal Credit. The scheme provides a living wage for a young person, for 25 hours per week, for six months. It’s a fantastic opportunity to boost your own business at no cost, while supporting a young person into the world of work.
Finally, a word of warning. We’ve seen a spike in email scams recently, and I urge you to be vigilant against fraudsters seeking to take advantage of the crisis while so many people are working from home. Opportunists have been posing as ‘Directors’, sending phishing emails that request the recipient makes a payment, which ultimately lines scammers’ pockets. If in doubt, report it. You can find more information about scams at https://www.gov.uk/report-suspicious-emails-websites-phishing
This is still a challenging time for many, but help is available, and an end is hopefully in sight. We encourage anyone struggling to make sense of their options, or see a path to financial stability, to get in touch and proactively plan. We are still working hard to navigate the unique challenges our clients are facing and plot the best routes forward as Spring sets in and lockdown eases further.