DMS Posts, Other

Chancellor’s Summer Statement

Sunak’s opening remarks

The chancellor says people are anxious about losing their job and unemployment rising. “We’re not just going to accept this,” he adds.

Sunak says he is announcing a “plan for jobs” to protect, create and support employment.

He says at the start of the crisis the government provided £160bn to cushion the economic fallout from the Covid-19 crisis and lockdown.

Britain is entering the second phase of the government’s economic response, he says. The job responding to the crisis has “only just begun”, he adds.

The chancellor says the government will put the public finances back on a “sustainable footing”, but he suggests this should be in future as Britain rebuilds.

Furlough scheme

The furlough scheme will wind down flexibly and gradually until the end of October, Sunak confirms.

“Leaving the furlough scheme open forever gives people false hope that it will always be possible to return to the jobs they had before,” says the chancellor.

A jobs retention bonus will help to wind down the scheme: businesses will be paid £1,000 to retain furloughed staff. This would cost the Treasury more than £9bn if every job furloughed is protected, Sunak says.

Kickstart scheme

Sunak announces the “kickstart” job creation scheme for young people. The government will pay the wages of new young employees for six months.

There will be an initial £2bn to fund hundreds of thousands of jobs. Sunak says there will be no cap on the number of places available.

Training and jobs

Jobcentre work coach numbers will be doubled, the chancellor says.

Apprenticeships will be supported by bonuses for companies. Firms will get a payment of £2,000 for each apprentice they take on. Companies taking on apprentices aged over 25 will be given £1,500.

Green investment

Sunak says the government wants a “green recovery with concern for our environment at its heart”.

As previously announced, the government will provide £3bn for decarbonising housing and public buildings.

Vouchers worth £5,000 and up to £10,000 for poorer families will be made available out of a £2bn pot to retrofit homes with insulation, helping to cut carbon emissions.

£1bn will be allocated to make public buildings greener.

Stamp duty

The chancellor announces he will cut stamp duty to reinvigorate the housing market.

The threshold for stamp duty will increase from £125,000 to £500,000. The cut will be temporary, running until 31 March 2021, and will take effect immediately.

VAT cut for hospitality

Sunak says 2 million people work in the hospitality sector and that it has been one of the hardest hit by Covid-19, warranting further support from the government.

VAT will be cut from the current rate of 20% to 5% for the next six months on food, accommodation and attractions. The cut lasts from Wednesday 8 July until 12 January 2021.

Sunak says the move is a £4bn catalyst, benefiting more than 150,000 businesses and consumers.

Discounts on eating out

The chancellor announces an “eat out to help out discount” to encourage consumers to spend at restaurants and cafes.

Meals eaten at any participating businesses, from Mondays to Wednesdays in August, will be 50% off up to a maximum discount of £10 per head for everyone, including children.

Businesses will be able to register through a website launching on Monday. Firms can claim money back to have money in their bank accounts within five working days.

Sunak says 1.8 million people work in the industry, whose jobs can be supported. “We can all eat out to help out,” he adds.

DMS Posts, Other

Beware ‘HMRC’ phone scams – surge in calls telling victims they owe taxman £1,000s

Fraudsters are increasingly carrying out sophisticated phone scams which can involve them threatening victims with immediate arrest if they don’t pay £1,000s on the spot – and bogus calls in some cases appear to come from HMRC’s telephone number. If you receive an urgent demand to pay tax over the phone, beware.

HM Revenue & Customs revealed earlier this month that it received more than 60,000 reports of scam calls in the six months leading up to January 2019 – an increase of 360% compared to the previous six months.

And one particularly alarming scam sees fraudsters ring and tell the victim that they will be arrested for tax fraud, unless they instantly hand over payment details and pay a fee – sometimes in excess of £4,000.

Those who’ve been contacted by scammers have described the calls as “very convincing”.  MoneySavingExpert.com founder Martin Lewis tweeted about the issue after a distressed victim told him they’d lost £4,000:


Martin Lewis@MartinSLewis

IMPORTANT WARNING PLS SHARE! Beware a spate of SCAM HMRC calls eg “there’s warrant for ur arrest,” “you’re being done for fraud!” so “we need money today!” They can spoof it so it comes from HMRC’s actual number. Never pay. Call HMRC from ANOTHER phone if u want to check

.8:19 AM · Mar 14, 20193.2K4.6K people are Tweeting about this

But HMRC says it will never call you up out of the blue and tell you that you owe money, and will only ever call asking for payment on a debt that you are already aware of.

How does the ‘HMRC’ phone scam work?

This isn’t a new issue – we’ve long warned about this kind of scam call, and fraudsters pretending to be from HMRC use many different tactics to extort money from innocent people. But HMRC says it’s seen a sharp rise in bogus calls over the past six months, and one scam that’s being widely reported at the moment involves scammers ringing you and telling you that you’re suspected of tax fraud and are about to be arrested.

MoneySavers have told us that the fraudster will then ask their victim to confirm details, such as their name and postcode, before telling them how much they ‘owe’. If challenged, fraudsters then begin to give elaborate threats, for example claiming that they are dispatching police officers to arrest you within minutes, or that they will freeze your passport – neither of which, of course, they can do.

Victims are then pressured into giving their card details, which enable the scammers to take money from their account.

To make matters worse, calls often come from a number which appears similar to an HMRC one, and in some cases victims have said scammers have ‘cloned’ an HMRC number so that HMRC’s actual number appears on the screen. This is known as ‘number spoofing’ and is something Action Fraud – the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud – has previously warned about.

How to protect yourself from scam calls

HMRC has issued the following guidance to people to stop them getting caught out:

1. Recognise the signs. Genuine organisations like banks and HMRC will never contact you out of the blue to ask for your PIN, password or bank details.

2. Stay safe. Don’t give out private information, reply to text messages, download attachments or click on links in emails you weren’t expecting.

3. Take action. Forward suspicious emails and details of calls claiming to be from HMRC to phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk and texts to 60599, or contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 if you suffer financial loss.

If you think you’ve received a bogus HMRC call, email or text, you can check it against the examples shown in this HMRC guide. The Gov.uk website also has more info on how to avoid and report scams and recognise genuine HMRC contact, and we’ve more help in our 30+ Ways to Stop Scams guide.

If you do lose money to one of these scams, it may be possible to get money back from your bank. New rules mean that when someone has been tricked into making a payment themselves, they may be able to get cash back.

What does HMRC say?

A HMRC spokesperson said: “We will only ever call you asking for payment on a debt that you are already aware of, either having received a letter about it, or after you’ve told us you owe some tax, for example through a self-assessment return.

“We work relentlessly to close scams down and make people aware of them. HMRC has a trusted brand which can be abused by fraudsters to trick people trying to fulfil their legal obligations. We have invested heavily in protecting taxpayers against scams and anyone who suffers financial loss as a result of one should inform Action Fraud.”

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.