Coronavirus News Roundup 3 April

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Daniel McAllister | 3rd April 2020

Coronavirus News Roundup 3 April

After last week's barrage of emails on new support schemes being setup by the government on a daily basis, this week has been more about clarifications. We thought it would be useful to summarise these for you.

Grant claims
Businesses are now able to apply for grants from local authorities via their websites. You will need details from your rates bill to do this. Full details of the scheme can be found here. Direct links for those local authorities close to us are KirkleesCalderdale, and Barnsley.
 
Furloughing
Directors - It has been confirmed that directors of a company can be furloughed under the Job Retention Scheme providing that they are not working. Fulfilment of statutory duties such as filing returns etc is still allowed. It is only the salary element (paid via PAYE) that can be claimed for a director and not any dividends paid.
Ex-employees - It has also been confirmed that companies can rehire employees that had left at 29 February and furlough them to avoid them falling through the net. However there is no obligation to do this!
Holidays - We are receiving a number of queries around the interaction of furlough leave with annual leave and bank holidays. The first clarification from government came to allow any unused annual leave to be carried forward for up to two years so as to avoid everyone using this on return to work. What has not been clarified is what happens to annual leave already booked for dates falling in the furlough period, and for bank holidays in the furlough period. Please don't call us about this as we still do not have any clarification but as soon as we know we will send information out.
 
Self-employment support
Following the announcement of the support scheme last week, the advice is to wait. HMRC will contact you if you are entitled to claim for this support. Those with average TAXABLE profits of under £50,000 over the last three years are eligible.
 
VAT Deferral
VAT returns will still need to be submitted every quarter, but payments can be deferred to a later as yet unspecified date. If you usually pay by direct debit  you will need to cancel this.
 
Overdrafts, loans, credit cards, mortgages
You now can apply for a mortgage payment holiday online with major lenders, with others you will need to call and speak to apply for this.
The FCA are also consulting on a 3 month loan and credit card payment freeze. 
Banks should also ensure that for customers who have been hit financially by the coronavirus and already have an arranged overdraft on their main personal current account, up to £500 will be charged at zero interest for up to three months.
 
Rent
The government is encouraging tenants affected by the Coronavirus to ask their landlords for a rent payment deferral. Please not this is only a deferral and the rent will be payable at a later date. There is no requirement for the landlord to agree to this but they would be prevented from taking any action to evict tenants. 
 
Credit card sales
The contactless limit has been increased from £30 t​o £45 to encourage usage. Also for those business still operating and using card services, it is worth speaking to your provider to see if they can reduce your monthly fees and minimum spend limits.

Scams
Digital scammers are using coronavirus support measures to target individuals with bogus emails and texts claiming to be from HMRC. HMRC has updated its list of phishing emails and bogus contact to include a number of coronavirus-related scams.

Accounts disclosures and filing
The outbreak of Coronavirus should be considered by directors when assessing the going concern of a company's accounts and whether it requires disclosing as a post balance sheet event. Also if accounts are due to be filed at Companies House and you will have difficulty filing them, companies house will grant a three month extension BUT it must be applied for before they are due to be filed.
 
We are here to help and support you so please get in touch if we can be of assistance.