Poor London is going to have to be in Tier 3 hey-ho. An awful lot of the north of England has been in Tier 3 for a very long time and nobody seemed to make any fuss about that. Maybe I’ve lived here so long that I now definitely feel the existence of the North-South divide! Rant over and apologies if you’re a southerner!
Herefordshire is our lodestone. The city of Hereford takes me back to my youth being only about 20 miles away from where I was born and brought up - it's fantastic to think that somewhere so close to the Welsh borders, where things are going disastrously wrong, can actually have got things massively right. Well done Herefordshire!
Other good news: two of our team's relatives, who are in their 90s, have already had their first jabs which means there is hope! The vaccine really is with the NHS – it’s not just another optimistic idea!
My thoughts this week include an anonymous thank you:
Late on Saturday afternoon an APC chap turned up at the door, in the pouring rain, struggling with what looked like a very ALIVE soggy cardboard box. Ignoring all my own advice about leaving things for 72 hours, my husband and I grappled it into the utility part of the house where exploding beer, (as it turned out that’s what it was), would do the least damage and spent about an hour and a half effectively trying to disarm the thing. This involved riffling around in the cardboard box in order to find the tap which was obviously supposed to be somewhere easy to get at but, because of the expanding polythene bag, had moved itself.
After very carefully cutting another hole in the soggy cardboard box, without puncturing the bag of beer, we did manage to open the tap and let the pressure off, (those of you who bake bread will understand that yeast is a very powerful thing and very much alive), and then we went and very carefully sanitised ourselves and left the beer to sit for 72 hours - not just because of Covid but to enable the thing to calm down a bit. It has now done that and is, in actual fact, delicious.
We have looked it up and it comes from the Llangollen Brewery, and it’s called Llangollen Bitter, but we have still failed to find, in the now dried off remains of the cardboard box, any evidence as to who sent this to us. The beer is very good but it’s probably quite lucky that it didn’t blow up inside the APC man’s van. Perhaps trying to manoeuvre 20 litres (that’s approximately 5 gallons) of beer in a white van should come with a health warning? Delicious though the beer is the HIGHLIGHT of the gift memory will be the struggle with the VERY ALIVE present - what better entertainment could you want on a Saturday night when the pubs aren’t open?!
So, please let us know if you are the person who sent that very generous present.
Well, I hope that’s provided some ‘refreshment’ for the end of this last full week of work?
Yesterday the Chancellor made an announcement about the extension of the furlough scheme and Covid support loans.
The Coronavirus Support Scheme (CJRS), or furlough, will be extended from 31st March 2021 to 30th April 2021. It was also confirmed that the Government would continue to contribute 80% towards wages, (up to a cap of £2,500), to the end of April – previously this was to be reviewed in January with a possibility that the percentage may decrease from February. This will give businesses and jobs far more certainty as we struggle to contain the pandemic. Employers will continue to pay the employer national insurance and pension contributions, as they currently are.
In addition the Chancellor confirmed the extension of the Covid-19 business loan schemes to 31st March 2021 – previously 31st January 2021. These schemes are the Bounce Back Loan Scheme, the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, and the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme.
The budget was also confirmed as being on 3rd March 2021, when the Chancellor will deliver the next phase of the plan to tackle the virus and protect jobs.
Apart from the inevitable worry about the impact of growing covid infection numbers, and Christmas, I guess the biggest concern we should all have is what is actually happening with Brexit.
It does really look like we’re going to have to do the hard Brexit thing - it might be the only way at the moment that actually gets the EU to cut us a reasonable deal - but it is going to be difficult for those businesses who physically trade with Europe and, if you’re one of those, there is a lot of advice on the Government website, (but I expect you’ve already been there months ago): https://www.gov.uk/transition
After 31st December 2020, all supplies of digital services to consumers in EU member states become liable for VAT in the consumer’s member state, and the threshold of £8,818 no longer applies. Therefore, if you are registered for VAT, any sale of digital services to EU member states must be reported. The Mini-One-Stop-Shop (MOSS) scheme can still be used so that you only need to report all your EU sales to MOSS rather than to every individual state. However, you need to register for MOSS in an EU member state – so not the UK. You have until the 10th of the month following your first EU sale after the UK leaves the EU in order to do this – so if you make your first sale in January you need to register for MOSS by 10th February 2021. UK businesses will only be able to register after 31st December 2020, when you will be automatically de-registered from the UK MOSS system.
It will also impact upon your ability to use the EU health care systems as you do at the moment and so one of the things everybody is going to need to do is look very hard at how your holiday insurance is going to work after the 31st December 2020.
From an academic point of view I suppose it’s going to be interesting to see whether we still get strawberries in January et cetera, or whether we need to revert to a more northern European vegetable and fruit supply.
The one area that hasn’t really hit the financial press with regard to leaving with a no deal is the freedom of movement issue. This is going to impact on everybody who has a property in the EU and broadly is going to mean that they’re not going to be able to be in any EU country for more than 90 days in 180. It’s important that people take professional advice about this.
There are a few Government links that may help, here are two of them:
Living in France: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/living-in-france
Living in Spain: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/living-in-spain
As if 2020 wasn’t complicated enough already!
My final observation on the national coronavirus landscape is something I heard on Radio 4’s ‘World at One’ on Thursday. Susan Michie, who is professor of health psychology at University College London, was exhorting the Government to actually come up with some ‘carrot’ to get us all to comply better with the restrictions that are in place.
She suggested that what we actually really needed was to have two additional public holidays next summer so that everybody could look forward to meeting up with their families for a long period then. By that time a lot of us should have been vaccinated and, in any event, the weather and the time of year will mean that the virus is less virulent. I thought ‘what a good idea’ - we could add the days to the Whitsun (late spring) bank holiday, which coincides with half term, and all celebrate Christmas in the summer like they do in Australia!
Listen up please Mr Johnson!
We are very pleased to announce the following fundraising totals raised so far:
The Salvation Army figure has reached over £1,300 and The MS Trust amount £3,571 at the time this article was posted! However, there is still time to donate please either by cash or cheque, or through JustGiving via the following links:
Salvation Army: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/patricia-j-arnold-co-ltd1
Christmas holiday arrangements
Also just a reminder that the office will close earlier than usual this year, at 5pm on Tuesday 22nd December, to allow staff to take advantage of the Christmas Covid arrangements. We will re-open at 9am on Monday 4th January.
Unless something astonishing happens, this is likely to be the last one of these ‘Thoughts’ before Christmas so I would like to wish everybody a Covid free Christmas and a peaceful and healthy New Year.
Our family has ‘furloughed’ our Christmas to Mothering Sunday so, in the New Year, I’ll let you know what a self-isolating Christmas felt like.
See you in 2021!