Budget, DMS Posts, Other

Covid-19: IR35 changes delayed and other financial measures

As part of a wide package of financial measures designed to support the UK economy through this turbulent period, Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled a £350bn support package on Tuesday night.

IR35 reforms in the private sector delayed

In an unexpected U-turn, the government has announced that its planned reforms to IR35 legislation will be delayed for a year. The reforms, which will affect contractors who work in the private sector, were due to be implemented on 6th April this year but will now come into effect in April 2021. The delay should come as welcome news to accountants, bookkeepers and their contractor clients who work in the private sector.

Changes for pubs and restaurants

Pubs and restaurants will be granted fast-track planning permission to serve takeaway hot food and drinks. This measure is intended to help these businesses survive at a time when customers have been advised to stay at home.

Retail, hospitality and leisure industry business rates

Clients in the retail, hospitality and leisure industries that pay business rates will not have to pay these rates in the 2020/21 tax year and will potentially be eligible for a £25,000 grant. It’s not yet clear how clients will be able to access this grant but we’ll provide information as soon as it becomes available.

Small business rate relief

Clients with smaller businesses that operate from properties with a rateable value of £15,000 or less (making them eligible for small business rate relief) will be entitled to a grant of up to £10,000 each. This is an increase from the £3,000 grant announced in last week’s Budget. The grant will also be available to businesses that qualify for rural rate relief. Businesses do not need to apply for these grants; their local authorities will contact them directly.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, announced last week in the Budget, has now been extended to offer loans of up to £5 million, with no interest due for the first six months. At the moment, we aren’t privy to a huge amount of information about what the scheme will entail. However, the government’s website currently refers to it as a scheme to “support long-term viable businesses who may need to respond to cash-flow pressures by seeking additional finance”. The temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme will be delivered by the state-owned British Business Bank and according to the bank’s website, the loans should be available from 23rd March.

Support for the self-employed

Sadly, no specific support has been announced for the self-employed, who cannot access the Statutory Sick Pay reclaim announced in the Budget. We’re monitoring developments we’ll let you know if the situation changes.

Budget, DMS Posts, Tax

Summary of Budget 2020: Key points at-a-glance

Here is a summary of the main points.

Coronavirus and public services

  • £5bn emergency response fund to support the NHS and other public services in England
  • All those advised to self-isolate will be entitled to statutory sick pay, even if they have not presented with symptoms
  • Self-employed workers who are not eligible will be able to claim contributory Employment Support Allowance
  • The ESA benefit will be available from day one, not after a week as now
  • £500m hardship fund for councils in England to help the most vulnerable in their areas
  • Firms with fewer than 250 staff will be refunded for sick pay payments for two weeks
  • Small firms will be able to access “business interruption” loans of up to £1.2m
  • Business rates in England will be abolished for firms in the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors with a rateable value below £51,000
  • £6bn in extra NHS funding over five years to pay for staff recruitment and start of hospital upgrades

Personal taxation, wages and pensions

Pay slip
  • The tax threshold for National Insurance Contributions will rise from £8,632 to £9,500
  • The move, first announced in November, will take 500,000 employees out of the tax altogether
  • Those earning more than £9,500 will be, on average, £85 a year better off
  • 5% VAT on women’s sanitary products, known as the tampon tax, to be scrapped
  • No other new announcements on income tax, national insurance or VAT
  • Tax paid on the pensions of high earners, including NHS consultants, to be recalculated to address staffing issues

Alcohol, tobacco and fuel

Man paying for a pin of beer
  • Fuel duty to be frozen for the 10th consecutive year
  • Duties on spirits, beer, cider and wine to be frozen
  • Tobacco taxes will continue to rise by 2% above the rate of retail price inflation
  • This will add 27 pence to a pack of 20 cigarettes and 14 pence to a packet of cigars
  • Business rate discounts for pubs to rise from £1,000 to £5,000 this year
Men and a woman with laptops
  • System of High Street business rates to be reviewed later this year
  • Firms eligible for small business rates relief will get £3,000 cash grant
  • Entrepreneurs’ Relief will be retained, but lifetime allowance will be reduced from £10m to £1m
  • £5bn to be spent on getting gigabit-capable broadband into the hardest-to-reach places
  • Science Institute in Weybridge, Surrey to get a £1.4bn funding boost
  • An extra £900m for research into nuclear fusion, space and electric vehicles
  • VAT on digital publications, including newspapers, e-books and academic journals to be scrapped from December

Environment and energy

Plastic bottles
  • Plastic packaging tax to come into force from April 2022
  • Manufacturers and importers whose products have less than 30% recyclable material will be charged £200 per tonne
  • Subsidies for fuel used in off-road vehicles – known as red diesel – will be scrapped “for most sectors” in two years’ time
  • Red diesel subsidies will remain for farmers and rail operators
  • £120m in emergency relief for English communities affected by this winter’s flooding and £200m for flood resilience
  • Total investment in flood defences in England to be doubled to £5.2bn over next five years
  • £640m “nature for climate fund” to protect natural habitats in England, including 30,000 hectares of new trees

Transport, infrastructure and housing

Traffic on the A303 near Stonehenge
  • More than £600bn is set to be spent on roads, rail, broadband and housing by the middle of 2025
  • There will be £27bn for motorways and other arterial roads, including new tunnel for the A303 near Stonehenge
  • £2.5bn will be available to fix potholes and resurface roads in England over five years
  • Further education colleges will get £1.5bn to upgrade their buildings
  • £650m package to tackle homelessness, providing an extra 6,000 places for rough sleepers
  • Stamp duty surcharge for foreign buyers of properties in England and Northern Ireland to be levied at 2% from April 2021
  • New £1bn fund to remove all unsafe combustible cladding from all public and private housing higher than 18 metres