22ndOct
News article

IoD outlines reforms to Prompt Payment Code

The Institute of Directors (IoD) has outlined reforms to the Prompt Payment Code.

Click or touch to read the full article..

The Institute of Directors (IoD) has outlined reforms to the Prompt Payment Code.

The IoD recently submitted its views to the government on how best to strengthen the Code. These include establishing a transparent process for dealing with Code suspensions, removals and reinstatements, and implementing a traffic light system to make it easier for business leaders to identify companies with poor payment records.

According to the business group, the major issue in regard to late payments relates to culture and the leverage big businesses have over small suppliers. The IoD stated that small business owners are often reluctant to report a client that pays late as they would not want to damage the business relationship and risk losing future custom.

Administrators of the Prompt Payment Code should be able to approach signatories on the basis of an anonymous complaint by a third party to discuss payment practices, the Institute argued.

It has called for the government to bring forward reforms to the Code and create 'a more responsible payment culture'.

21stOct
News article

HMRC urges businesses to ensure they are ready for new customs and tax rules

HMRC has urged businesses to make sure they are prepared for new customs and tax rules so that they can continue to trade with the EU from 1 January 2021.

Click or touch to read the full article..

HMRC has urged businesses to make sure they are prepared for new customs and tax rules so that they can continue to trade with the EU from 1 January 2021.

In a letter to VAT-registered businesses, HMRC stated that it is 'really important' that firms act now. Businesses will not be able to trade with the EU from 1 January 2021 if they do not have the correct processes, contracts and agreements in place.

Businesses will need to make import and export declarations to move goods between the UK and the EU. From 1 January 2021, if firms send goods from the UK to customers in the EU, they will be responsible for completing export declarations for those goods. If businesses import goods from the EU that are on the controlled goods list (such as animal products, alcohol or tobacco or firearms), they will have to make declarations from 1 January 2021.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: 'Businesses must act now to ensure they are ready for the UK's new start as an independent trading nation once more.

'There will be no extension to the transition period, so there is no time to waste.'

The letter can be viewed in full here.

20thOct
News article

PAC calls on government to give 'honest picture' of UK tax gap

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has urged the government to give a 'more honest' picture of the likely levels of the UK tax gap.

Click or touch to read the full article..

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has urged the government to give a 'more honest' picture of the likely levels of the UK tax gap.

The tax gap is the gap between the tax that should be paid on the UK's economic activity and the tax that HMRC actually collects. According to the PAC, the gap has a wide range of causes, including deliberate tax evasion and accidental taxpayer error.

HMRC's most recent estimate of the tax gap was £31 billion in 2018/19. The PAC stated that there is a wide range of estimates that render this figure 'less than useful'. The Committee said that HMRC should not be using this number without explaining its limitations.

Additionally, the PAC has accused HMRC of failing to entirely set out the relative size of the tax gap for different sectors of the UK economy.

Commenting on the matter, Meg Hillier, Chair of the PAC, said: 'Best estimates really won't do when you're talking about multi-billions of pounds that could be being collected to support public services.

'We expect HMRC to be doing more to collect the tax owed, whether from individuals or companies. With families and businesses straining every sinew to stay afloat it is just as critical that the government collects tax effectively and efficiently as it is that the government spends money wisely.'

19thOct
News article

Government outlines plans to protect future of cash

The government has outlined plans to protect the UK's cash system and ensure people have easy access to cash.

Click or touch to read the full article..

The government has outlined plans to protect the UK's cash system and ensure people have easy access to cash.

The Treasury stated that although cash use is declining, with people increasingly choosing cards, mobiles and e-wallets to make payments, it remains crucial for groups across the UK, including the elderly and the vulnerable. 

As part of the proposals, cashback would be offered at shops without consumers having to make a purchase. Additionally, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) would be given overall responsibility for the UK's retail cash system to protect consumers and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Commenting on the issue, John Glen, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, said: 'We know that cash is still really important for consumers and businesses – that's why we promised to legislate to protect access for everyone who needs it.

'We want to harness the same creative thinking that has driven innovation in digital payments to maintain the UK's cash system and make sure people can easily access cash in their local area.'

The Treasury is seeking views on the plans from consumer organisations, businesses, financial institutions, providers of ATM and payment services and others through a call for evidence. This can be found here.

16thOct
News article

Government launches new coronavirus fraud hotline

The government has launched a new coronavirus (COVID-19) fraud hotline in conjunction with independent charity Crimestoppers.

Click or touch to read the full article..

The government has launched a new coronavirus (COVID-19) fraud hotline in conjunction with independent charity Crimestoppers.

Members of the public can now call the new fraud hotline anonymously and free of charge to report suspected fraudulent activity in regard to COVID-19 loans and grants.

The government stated that a minority of individuals have been abusing COVID-19 support schemes by claiming illegally. It has urged the public to look out for the 'tell tale signs' of fraud, including unusual buying activity by companies and individuals and cold calling by individuals falsely claiming they are from the government.

Mark Hallas, Chief Executive of Crimestoppers, said: 'Fraud against the public purse denies access to vital funds that benefit us all.

'The COVID Fraud Hotline is open 24/7, 365 days a year on 0800 587 5030 or fill in the simple and secure anonymous form at covidfraudhotline.org. You'll be doing the right thing to help ensure the public purse is protected from fraudsters.'

15thOct
News article

Over 54,000 workers claim home working tax relief using online portal

HMRC has received over 54,800 claims from customers using a new online portal that allows employees to claim tax relief for working at home.

Click or touch to read the full article..

HMRC has received over 54,800 claims from customers using a new online portal that allows employees to claim tax relief for working at home.

The portal, which was launched on 1 October, has been set up to process tax relief on additional expenses for employed workers who have been told to work from home by their employer during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

From 6 April 2020, employers have been able to pay employees up to £6 a week tax-free to cover additional costs if they have had to work from home.

Employees who have not received the working from home expenses payment direct from their employer can apply to receive the tax relief from HMRC.

HMRC has also confirmed that the £6 per week is available in full, even if an employee splits their time between home and the office.

Commenting on the portal, HMRC's Interim Director General of Customer Services, Karl Khan, said: 'We want everyone to get the money that they are entitled to, so we've made the online service as easy to use as we can – it takes just a few minutes to make a claim.'

The portal can be found at www.gov.uk/tax-relief-for-employees/working-at-home.

14thOct
News article

Tax rises 'inevitable', says IFS

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has suggested that the UK will require tax rises of £40 billion or more per year during the middle years of this decade to stop debt spiralling upwards as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Click or touch to read the full article..

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has suggested that the UK will require tax rises of £40 billion or more per yearduring the middle years of this decade to stop debt spiralling upwards as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

According to new research from the IFS, government borrowing this year will reach a level never before seen in the UK outside of the two world wars of the 20th century.

Under a central scenario, in four years' time the UK economy would be 5% smaller than was anticipated in March. This would mean a £100 billion hit to public finances from lower tax revenues, even before any extra spending.

The Institute's figures do not take into account increased spending pressures on the NHS, social care and the COVID-19 track and trace system.

'This government has chosen to pump an additional £200 billion into the economy to support jobs, businesses and incomes this year,' said Paul Johnson, Director of the IFS.

'Unfortunately, none of this will be enough fully to protect the economy into the medium run. We are heading for a significantly smaller economy than expected pre-COVID, and probably higher spending too. Without action, debt – already at its highest level in more than half a century – would carry on rising. Tax rises, and big ones, look all but inevitable, though likely not until the middle years of this decade.'

13thOct
News article

Resolution Foundation warns of a 'lost COVID generation'

Think tank the Resolution Foundation has suggested that the coronavirus (COVID-19) has created a 'U-shaped crisis', with young adults and pensioners most likely to have stopped working during the pandemic.

Click or touch to read the full article..

Think tank the Resolution Foundation has suggested that the coronavirus (COVID-19) has created a 'U-shaped crisis', with young adults and pensioners most likely to have stopped working during the pandemic.

A report by the Foundation revealed that over half of those aged between 18 and 24 and 65 and over who were employed before the COVID-19 pandemic have since stopped working, either by being furloughed or by losing their jobs altogether, compared to fewer than a third of those aged 30 to 50.

The report also showed that the impact of the pandemic on people's living conditions has 'fallen most heavily on young people'.

Commenting on the matter, David Willetts, President of the Resolution Foundation, said: 'The pandemic has already cost tens of thousands of lives, millions of people their livelihoods and upended everyone's daily lives.

'For younger generations, this crisis has created wider problems. The growth of the high-cost, low-security private rental sector has led to missed housing payments and cramped living spaces during lockdown.

'With infections rising again, the COVID crisis is sadly far from over. That means the risk of losing a COVID generation to long-term youth unemployment is real. But there is plenty that policy makers can do to prevent it – from extra training provision to a greater focus on creating new jobs to support people out of this crisis.'

12thOct
News article

Job Support Scheme expanded for local lockdowns

The government's Job Support Scheme (JSS) will be expanded to protect jobs and support businesses required to close their doors due to local lockdowns as the number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases continues to rise in some areas.

Click or touch to read the full article..

The government's Job Support Scheme (JSS) will be expanded to protect jobs and support businesses required to close their doors due to local lockdowns as the number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases continues to rise in some areas.

Under the JSS extension the government will pay two thirds of employees' salaries to protect jobs over the coming months.

Cash grants for businesses required to close as a result of local lockdowns are being increased to up to £3,000 per month. Under the expansion, firms whose premises are legally required to shut for some period over winter as part of a local or national lockdown will receive grants to pay the wages of employees who cannot work.

The government will support eligible businesses by paying two thirds of each employee's salary, up to a maximum of £2,100 a month.

In response to the expansion, Carolyn Fairbairn, Director General of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), said: 'The steep rise in infections in some areas means new restrictions to curb numbers feel unavoidable.

'The Chancellor's more generous job support for those under strict restrictions should cushion the blow for the most affected and keep more people in work.

'But many firms, including pubs and restaurants, will still be hugely disappointed if they have to close their doors again after doing so much to keep customers and staff safe.'

9thOct
News article

Government to proceed with plans to create freeports across UK

The government has confirmed that it will create new freeports across the UK in 2021.

Click or touch to read the full article..

The government has confirmed that it will create new freeports across the UK in 2021.

The Treasury has outlined the next steps for the creation of freeports, which it hopes will drive investment and create jobs after the end of the Brexit transition period.

Sea, air and rail ports in England will be invited to bid for freeport status before the end of 2020, the Treasury said. Freeports will benefit from streamlined planning processes to aid brownfield redevelopment; a package of tax reliefs to help drive jobs, growth and innovation; and simplified customs procedures and duty suspensions on goods.

The government is working with the devolved administrations to seek to establish at least one freeport in each nation of the UK.

'Our new freeports will create national hubs for trade, innovation and commerce, regenerating communities across the UK and supporting jobs,' said Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

'They will attract investment from around the world as we embrace new opportunities following our departure from the EU and will be key drivers for economic recovery as we build back better post-coronavirus.'

The first freeports are set to be open by the end of 2021.