4thSep
News article

Tax hike for freelancers would be unjust, claims IPSE

Chancellor Rishi Sunak's plan to raise the national insurance contributions (NICs) paid by self-employed workers would be unjust, the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) has claimed.

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Chancellor Rishi Sunak's plan to raise the national insurance contributions (NICs) paid by self-employed workers would be unjust, the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) has claimed.

According to reports, the Chancellor is considering bringing the 9% Class 4 NICs rate paid by the self-employed into line with the 12% rate for employees. It is one of the ways the Treasury is reported to be looking at raising revenue after spending billions on its coronavirus (COVID-19) support packages.

When Mr Sunak announced the Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) in March, he warned: 'If we all want to benefit from state support, we must all pay equally in the future.'

IPSE has argued that making the 1.5 million self-employed pay for support they did not get would be unfair. It also said that given the slump in the number of self-employed individuals it would also be uneconomical to squeeze these workers further.

Andy Chamberlain, Director of Policy at IPSE, said: 'The last few months have financially hammered the self-employed, with over two-thirds seeing a drop in demand for their work. Government support was some help – to a proportion of the self-employed.

'More noticeable, though, was the 1.5 million who fell through the gaps, leaving many financially devastated. The idea that this 1.5 million should now suffer a drastic tax hike to pay for support they never got is unjust, uneconomical – and unbelievable. If the government is really considering this, it must stop now.'

3rdSep
News article

Research reveals 800,000 workers being 'under-enrolled' in pension schemes

Research carried out by the Resolution Foundation has revealed that 800,000 workers are being 'under-enrolled' in company pension schemes and are not receiving their legal employer pension contributions.

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Research carried out by the Resolution Foundation has revealed that 800,000 workers are being 'under-enrolled' in company pension schemes and are not receiving their legal employer pension contributions.

The latest report from the Resolution Foundation's ongoing investigation into labour market enforcement considers the extent of non-compliance with the pensions automatic enrolment scheme, and whether there are 'under-enrolment' hotspots that 'require closer scrutiny'.

The think tank found that the pensions auto-enrolment scheme has been a success overall, with more than ten million workers joining company schemes since 2012.

However, 'under-enrolment' is particularly acute among agency and minimum wage workers, according to the Resolution Foundation.

Hannah Slaughter, Economist at the Resolution Foundation, said: 'Around 800,000 workers across the economy are currently 'under-enrolled', and the problem is particularly acute among agency workers and those on the minimum wage, where around one in ten workers are not getting the pensions they deserve.

'Now is the time for The Pensions Regulator to step up its enforcement – supported by greater resources – as part of a wider agenda for the government to make Britain's post-COVID labour market a better environment for workers, and a far tougher one for the small minority of firms that break the law.'

2ndSep
News article

Kickstart Scheme opens for applications

The government's £2 billion Kickstart Scheme is now open for employer applications.

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The government's £2 billion Kickstart Scheme is now open for employer applications.

The scheme is part of the Plan for Jobs announced during Chancellor Rishi Sunak's July Summer Economic Update.

The Kickstart Scheme aims to create work placements for young people who are at risk of becoming unemployed for the long-term. Businesses can join the scheme, with the government paying employers £1,500 to help set up support and training.

Selected out-of-work young people will be offered six-month work placements for at least 25 hours a week to help them gain experience, skills and confidence. The scheme is designed to be a steppingstone to further employment.

Employers will receive funding for 100% of the relevant National Minimum Wage (NMW) for 25 hours a week, plus associated employer national insurance contributions (NICs) and employer minimum auto-enrolment pension contributions.

The Chancellor said: 'This isn't just about kickstarting our country's economy – it is an opportunity to kickstart the careers of thousands of young people who could otherwise be left behind as a result of the pandemic.

'The scheme will open the door to a brighter future for a new generation and ensure the UK bounces back stronger as a country.'

More information on the scheme can be found here.

1stSep
News article

UK plastic bag tax charge to be doubled and extended to all retailers

The fee for plastic shopping bags in England will be doubled to 10p and extended to all shops from April 2021.

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The fee for plastic shopping bags in England will be doubled to 10p and extended to all shops from April 2021.

Small retailers - those employing 250 people or fewer - will no longer be exempt, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said.

According to Defra, since the charge was first introduced in 2015 it has successfully prevented billions of plastic bags being sold and ending up in the ocean and environment.

Government data shows the current levy, which stands at 5p and applies to any retailer employing 250 or more people, has led to a 95% cut in plastic bag sales in major supermarkets since 2015.

Commenting on the announcement, Environment Secretary George Eustice, said: 'We have all seen the devastating impact plastic bags have on the oceans and on precious marine wildlife, which is why we are taking bold and ambitious action to tackle this issue head on.

'The UK is already a world-leader in this global effort, and our carrier bag charge has been hugely successful in taking billions of harmful plastic bags out of circulation. But we want to go further by extending this to all retailers so we can continue to cut unnecessary waste and build back greener.'

28thAug
News article

ICAEW warns R&D credit cap may impact genuine claims

The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) has warned that genuine research and development (R&D) businesses could be impacted by government proposals to combat tax relief abuse.

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The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) has warned that genuine research and development (R&D) businesses could be impacted by government proposals to combat tax relief abuse.

In its consultation 'preventing abuse of the R&D tax relief for SMEs', the government stated that it aims to reduce the number of fraudulent claims for R&D relief and specifically target individuals exploiting the tax repayment available.

The proposed measures will limit claims for a payable R&D credit by reference to a claimant's Pay as You Earn (PAYE) liabilities.

The ICAEW stated that it is concerned that some of the proposed measures may increase the administrative burdens on businesses that comply, and potentially preclude genuine claims.

The ICAEW said it welcomes HMRC's proposal that claims under £20,000 will not be affected by the R&D credit cap. According to the ICAEW, this will help to 'mitigate the impact of the proposals significantly'.

However, the ICAEW stressed that it is unclear how this measure will prevent larger volumes of lower value fraudulent claims.

HMRC's consultation on the scope of R&D expenditure closes on 13 October.

27thAug
News article

More than £30 million lost to pension scams

Over £30 million has been lost to pension scams since 2017, according to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and The Pensions Regulator (TPR).

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Over £30 million has been lost to pension scams since 2017, according to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and The Pensions Regulator (TPR).

£30,857,329 in pension savings has been lost to scammers since 2017, data published by the FCA and the TPR revealed. Reported losses ranged from under £1,000 to as much as £500,000. The average victim was a man in his 50s, the FCA and the TPR found.

65% of pension savers said they felt confident they could spot a scam. However, four in ten would put themselves at risk unknowingly by engaging with a common scam tactic such as being told it's a time-sensitive offer.

The FCA and the TPR have advised savers not to be pressured into making any decisions about their pensions, and to reject unexpected pension offers, whether these are made online, via social media or over the phone.

'During these uncertain times, it is more important than ever to defend your lifetime savings from scammers,' said Mark Steward, Executive Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight at the FCA.

'Fraudsters will seek out every opportunity to exploit innocent people, no matter how much or how little you have saved.'

26thAug
News article

Small businesses call on government to extend Eat Out to Help Out scheme

Small firms have urged the government to extend its Eat Out to Help Out scheme in order to continue helping thousands of small food and drink businesses across the UK.

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Small firms have urged the government to extend its Eat Out to Help Out scheme in order to continue helping thousands of small food and drink businesses across the UK.

The scheme was announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak in the Summer Economic Update, and started at the beginning of August. It is currently set to come to an end on 31 August.

Eat Out to Help Out provides a 50% reduction for sit-down meals in participating cafes, restaurants and pubs across the UK from Monday to Wednesday. So far, more than 64 million meals have been claimed since the launch of the scheme.

Commenting on the issue, Mike Cherry, National Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said: 'The Eat Out to Help Out scheme has been an overwhelming success in getting people back on their high streets and in their town centres. We now need to see it extended to continue the critical support that it is providing for small firms as we enter a period of economic make or break.

'A nationwide one-month extension would go some way to helping many firms which are still only just about managing in this time of crisis.'

25thAug
News article

Government provides £20 million in funding to boost recovery of small firms

Small businesses in England are set to benefit from an additional £20 million in funding to help them recover from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

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Small businesses in England are set to benefit from an additional £20 million in funding to help them recover from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The government recently announced that small and medium-sized businesses will have access to grants of between £1,000 and £5,000 to help them recover from the effects of the pandemic.

The funding will allow businesses to access new technology as well as professional, financial and legal advice to help them get back on track.

The grants will be fully funded by the government, and there will be no obligation for businesses to contribute financially.

Commenting on the funding, Simon Clarke, Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government, said: 'We have always said that we would stand behind our businesses and communities as we rebuild following the COVID-19 pandemic. This new funding does exactly that.

'Businesses will be able to use these new grants to pay for the expertise, equipment and technology they need to adapt, recover and build.'

24thAug
News article

HMRC blocks thousands of furlough applications

HMRC has blocked thousands of applications for the government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) due to fears they are fraudulent.

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HMRC has blocked thousands of applications for the government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) due to fears they are fraudulent.

More than 30,000 CJRS applications have been rejected by HMRC, according to reports. At the end of June, 1,526 CJRS claims were rejected because the companies applying had ceased trading.

An additional 23,899 applications were rejected because businesses didn't have any employees on their payroll for the 2019/20 tax year.

HMRC reportedly believes many applications are fraudulent, and has taken steps to block claims.

The CJRS has provided £35.4 billion in support for 9.6 million jobs. It is being gradually wound down and will end in October, to be replaced by a Job Retention Bonus. This will see UK employers receive a one-off payment of £1,000 for each furloughed employee who is still employed as of 31 January 2021.

To qualify for the payment, the employee must be paid at least £520 on average in each month from November to January. Payments will be made from February 2021.

21stAug
News article

Treasury outlines plans for carbon emissions tax

The Treasury has published plans for a carbon emissions tax, which could be introduced if the UK fails to secure a Brexit deal with the EU.

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The Treasury has published plans for a carbon emissions tax, which could be introduced if the UK fails to secure a Brexit deal with the EU.

A consultation published by the Treasury sets out how the Carbon Emissions Tax would operate if it was introduced from 1 January 2021. The consultation also outlines how the tax might be developed.

Under the new Carbon Emissions Tax, installations currently in the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) whose emissions exceed their annual tax emission allowance would be liable to pay the tax on their emissions from 1 January 2021.

The consultation states that, as outlined in the UK's Approach to Negotiations Brexit document, the UK would be 'open to considering a link between any future UK ETS and the EU ETS'. If a link cannot be established, the UK will implement either an unlinked UK ETS or the Carbon Emissions Tax from 1 January.

The consultation is open to individuals and organisations, and closes on 29 September 2020.