Not surprisingly, as a paid-up member of CAMRA since 1974, I took advantage of the odd hostelry being open last weekend. It’s quite interesting to see how people have done things and there’s been a lot more compartmentalisation which no doubt some people like and other people will not. One of the things that came up which I didn’t really realise was that, because hospitality venues cannot necessarily keep people at the Covid-safe 2 metre distance, they are keeping a record of people so that in the event of somebody who has been to that venue testing positive test and trace can get in touch with them. There seems to be a great variety in the detail of this, from places where they are noting down your exact time of entrance and exact time of leaving, to one venue I went to where they’ve clearly been told, ‘I’ve got to keep things for three weeks’, so they’re just asking people to put their name and telephone number on a piece of paper and put it in a bucket and then keeping that for three weeks. All records I’ve come across do seem to be on paper which does at least get rid of the problem of whether you’ll ever be deleted from the computer system - no doubt this has been advised to comply with GDPR.
This obviously adds a further challenge to our lives in that, whilst I’m sure none of us object to the concept of self-isolation in the event of having been in contact with someone who had symptoms and tested positive, we probably are all going to mind if we get caught up in this just because we’ve been somewhere where somebody tested positive three weeks after we’ve been there. So a practical suggestion, for those of you who feel it will be worth expending the time, is that you actually keep a note of where you have been, where you had to give your details, and what time you left. My very organised, (and slightly OCD), husband has a spreadsheet for this - personally I think I’m probably just going to have a pile of receipts! Whichever way you do it it would be a shame to have an argument with Test and Trace about self-isolation where it wasn’t necessary.
Of course all of us are probably going to go out more, after Rishi Sunak’s ‘Plan for Jobs’ statement on Wednesday, with the announcement of a £10 a head discount, (including children), on eat-in meals and non-alcoholic drinks with the ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ initiative. This will operate at participating venues on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays throughout August. It can be used unlimited times. The venues will get that discount back from the government on a weekly basis and within 5 working days. In fact the statement itself is all about economic boost grants:
Read Rishi’s full speech here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/a-plan-for-jobs-documents/a-plan-for-jobs-2020. I’ll keep you updated on the details of all these initiatives as we get to know how they will work in practice.
The VAT deferral period finished on 30 June and all VAT payments that become due now have to be paid on time. This means that the more accommodating approach that HMRC have adopted for other taxes such as corporation tax and PAYE has also ended. You can still call HMRC to arrange a payment plan, just as you could before, but HMRC will want to know that you have exhausted every other route rather than HMRC being the first port of call in delaying payment. HMRC are also likely to ask to see budgets etc on how you plan to pay the tax. However, I understand that HMRC are still being flexible. This also applies to other taxes that are payable after 30 June 2020.
Self-employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grant – part 1
You can claim for the grant if the business has been adversely affected by Coronavirus on or before 13 July 2020. This is contrary to the initial guidance from HMRC when the scheme was first launched when it was thought that you had to be adversely affected in March, April or May. So if you meet the other eligibility criteria you need to apply by Monday! You can check if you are eligible based on earnings through HMRC’s eligibility checker, which will also allow you to make a claim if appropriate. The link is below.
A list of how you could be adversely affected is on the following HMRC web page, under the sub heading “Who can claim”. There is also a link taking you to some examples.
SEISS grant – part 2
More details have been released on how the second SEISS grant will work. The eligibility criteria using earnings figures will be the same for part 2 as they were for part 1. Your business must also have been adversely affected on or after 14 July 2020. The second grant is based on 70% of your average trading profits over the three tax years 16/17, 17/18 and 18/19, for a three month period. So it is similar to the first grant, except that the second grant uses 70% instead of 80%. The claims portal will open on 17 August 2020 and is currently expected to close on 19 October 2020. You do not have to have claimed the first grant, in order to claim the second. We will be contacting all clients affected shortly with more details.
We'll have to wait until the Autumn to find out how we're going to pay for all this. The aim of this spending is meant to counter the 25% drop in GDP under lockdown. It’s very similar to the situation after WW2 where a New Deal was created based on Keynesian economics. The down side of Keynes is inflation - we'll have to see if they can get the balance right.
I have to confess to rather enjoying being the first person into several places at the weekend and did find everywhere really remarkably quiet - I guess people are being cautious. It might, however, have something to do with the fact that I’ve always been an early bird, and we are often the first people in anyway, so it might be a different matter at 9 o’clock in the evening.
Enjoy your government discounts whatever treats you choose and, given the very low prevalence of COVID-19 in society, with due caution I think we all need to get out and about. In addition to being able to have our hair cut - if you can get an appointment - we can also go to beauty salons as of Monday 13th. Further detailed information, updated on 9th July, on what we can and can’t do now can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-outbreak-faqs-what-you-can-and-cant-do/coronavirus-outbreak-faqs-what-you-can-and-cant-do
Let’s all keep safe but also get out and HELP THE ECONOMY!
Cheers (a double entendre this time)