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Thoughts Friday 27th November 2020

Hi folks,

I’m told this is the 50th of these ‘Thoughts’ that I have actually done - doesn’t time fly when you’re enjoying yourself?!

In the process of composing them, I’ve read an enormous amount of Government advice over the period since the spring. This week we have the issue of the plans for Christmas to include the Christmas bubble. I do think that this needs to be read in the context of the Government’s winter plan and below is an extract from that. It was issued on Tuesday:

‘The Government recognises that Christmas is an important time of year for many people, all across the UK. Regardless of faith, the Christmas period is a time often spent with family and friends, with schools and offices closing and people travelling over the bank holidays. The fact that this has been a difficult year for everyone means that time with loved ones will be even more important. For this reason the Government is considering carefully how to balance the increased risk of transmission while allowing some increased social contact for everyone, supported by guidance on how to celebrate safely, over the Christmas period.'

The plan then talks about a general approach and concludes:

‘It will be particularly important to be cautious early in the new year. Christmas will likely lead to an increase in transmission and, historically, the period after Christmas is when the NHS sees the greatest pressure on services such as Accident & Emergency and the highest rates of bed occupancy. During the busiest week of winter, hospital bed occupancy often goes above 95% in many Trusts. Hospitals take steps to manage this demand by opening surge capacity, and if necessary, postponing planned surgery. This year, the NHS is dealing with COVID-19 in addition to these usual winter pressures. The Government urges caution before, during and after Christmas - particularly for those travelling.’

 I think this plan contains a huge amount of wisdom in the context of the Christmas bubble and I do feel that probably the politicians could do no less than this relaxation to keep the nation on side, so it does give us all some significant food for thought in terms of our own individual responsibility.
 
So my (very personal) thoughts on Christmas in the context of all this - Tricia’s 10 rules for a Covid free Christmas:

Don’t send Christmas cards - you might be sending coronavirus.
Don’t hang Christmas decorations - you can’t sanitise them.
Don’t send presents wrapped by yourself - you might be sending coronavirus.

These next three are said with a very heavy heart:

Don’t go and see your family - you might be giving them coronavirus.
Don’t have your family to stay - they might be giving you coronavirus.
Don’t go to church - you could be spreading coronavirus.

Do stay at home and enjoy the fact that this is the only time of year when you’re not going to have to answer those work emails.
Do go for a country walk - Covid doesn’t like the fresh air and open spaces.
Do think if there’s something you can do by not sending cards and presents and perhaps use your Christmas budget to help someone for whom Covid creates an even greater problem than it does for the rest of us.
Do be thankful that you’re still here this Christmas and pray for a Covid free Christmas next year.
 
With those rules in mind I will not be making my usual sixty Christmas puddings – I can’t quite work out how to sanitise them without completely spoiling them.

I won’t be seeing my family at all over Christmas sadly and the babies will be very much different next Christmas.

I will be trying to finish walking something called Isaac’s Tea Trail which is so remote that I’m unlikely to bump into anyone and risk the transmission of Coronavirus - someone’s got to be around to get those tax returns sorted in January!
 
Also about this time of year, you’d normally be expecting to receive a Christmas card from me. I’ve always prided myself on being the first one to hit the mat. Sadly this web posting is the nearest you will get to a card from me this year.

If your reaction to this has been anything more positive than ‘bah humbug’ then perhaps you would like to join us in our Christmas appeal?
 
Patricia J Arnold and Co have always had a significant relationship with charities and over the last few years we’ve had a charity of the year. This year it is The MS Trust and we were all planning to do ‘miles for MS’ in May and throw the office open with a view to raising over £5,000 for Multiple Sclerosis. As it was that wasn’t able to happen and our usual charity Christmas wrap night won’t happen either. In fact, the money that we have already raised for MS so far, just over £1,500, has mostly come from our wonderful staff member Helen’s alternative Great North Run! So, I’m going to make a significant donation and to have your help to reach our £5,000 target would be great.
 
MS is not a particularly Covid related cause though of course people who are living with it are high-up there with the most vulnerable. If you feel you would like to do something more specifically practical, we also have a Christmas appeal to the Salvation Army. I can’t imagine the prospect of sleeping on the streets. My children’s school did do a collective night sleeping rough but I suspect that despite the trauma of being cold and rather damp it’s not the same as not having a home to go back to. And how much worse this must be with the threat of Covid out there .... it must be very frightening. 
 
So here are links to the two JustGiving pages:

MS Trust: http://www.justgiving.com/owner-email/pleasesponsor/Patricia-J-Arnold-Co-Ltd

Salvation Army: http://www.justgiving.com/owner-email/pleasesponsor/Patricia-J-Arnold-Co-Ltd1

and thank you in advance for any support that you feel you can give to our causes. We can also accept cheques in our Charity Account if you’d prefer, just ask us for details.


 
And now on to the technical stuff:

Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS)

The 3rd SEISS grant is available to claim from Monday 30th November.  To claim this 3rd grant you must have had new or continuing impact from Coronavirus between 1st November 2020 and 29th January 2021.  The final date for claims is 29th January 2021.  The grant is 3 months of 80% of your average trading profits, and capped at £7,500 in total.  The eligibility criteria are the same as previous SEISS grants, based on profits and income in the three tax years 16/17, 17/18 and 18/19.  If you were eligible for the last grants, then you are eligible for this one.
 
In addition to the historic financial eligibility criteria, you must also be able to answer “yes” to the following criteria:

- You have traded in 2018/19
- You have traded in 2019/20, or would have traded if it were not for the Coronavirus
- You have been impacted by reduced demand as a result of the Coronavirus and reasonably believe that there will be a significant reduction in your trading profits.
 
The final criteria has tightened from the 1st and 2nd grants.  Previously you only had to be adversely affected by the Coronavirus to make a claim – this could have been a decrease in sales and/or an increase in costs.  Now you need to have reduced demand (i.e. sales) and a significant reduction in your trading profits.  The profit test is believed to apply to 2020/21 profits and therefore some forecasting of profits will be required.  You must also keep evidence that supports this.  There is more information from HMRC on these criteria, including some examples, on the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/how-your-trading-conditions-affect-your-eligibility-for-the-self-employment-income-support-scheme#impactedbyrd

Access or a link to the online claiming portal is not yet available, as claims can’t be made until Monday 30th November. However the following link has some general information about SEISS and what information you will need when you make your claim.  I expect that on Monday a link will be added to this web page to take you to the online portal.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the-self-employment-income-support-scheme#whatyoullneed

We have contacted our eligible clients to let them know the amount they can expect to receive, and how to claim if they meet the additional criteria.



And finally, we are in tier 3 – heigh-ho.
 
I wish you all a safe and Covid free Christmas whether you bubble or not.
 
Kind regards
Tricia

PS just to prove that I’m not actually Scrooge incarnate, the office will be closing at 5pm on Tuesday 22nd of December until 9am on Monday 4th January in order to enable the staff to take advantage of the Christmas bubble opportunities if they wish to.

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