18thNov
News article

Three-day wait for Statutory Sick Pay to return next year

The standard three-day waiting time for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) will be reinstated for coronavirus (COVID-19)-related claims from 25 March 2022, unless the government intervenes.

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The standard three-day waiting time for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) will be reinstated for coronavirus (COVID-19)-related claims from 25 March 2022, unless the government intervenes.

Under standard rules in the UK, employers do not have to pay SSP to an employee until the fourth qualifying day in the Period of Incapacity for Work (PIW). The PIW is a period of sickness lasting four or more consecutive calendar days.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the government suspended the three-day wait for COVID-related SSP, meaning that employers must pay it from the first qualifying day.

The amendment to the SSP rules was made in the Coronavirus Act 2020 which is due to expire after two years. This means that, unless there is an intervention to continue the measure, COVID-related SSP waiting time will automatically revert to three days on 25 March 2022.

Frank Haskew, Head of the Tax Faculty at the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), said: 'The SSP rules were not really designed with a highly infectious global pandemic in mind, which is why the current easements have been welcome.

'While some employees who are ill from coronavirus or required to self-isolate may be unable to afford not to go to work unless they are paid SSP for the first three days, there are also small businesses where the unreimbursed cost of paying three days' coronavirus-related SSP to employees is a real burden.' 

17thNov
News article

HMRC issues warning on self assessment scams

HMRC has warned taxpayers completing their 2020/21 tax returns to 'be on their guard' and stay vigilant in regard to tax-related scams.

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HMRC has warned taxpayers completing their 2020/21 tax returns to 'be on their guard' and stay vigilant in regard to tax-related scams.

Nearly 800,000 tax scams were reported in the last year, HMRC revealed. It said that fraudsters use self assessment to attempt to steal money or personal information from taxpayers.

In the last year, HMRC received almost 360,000 bogus tax rebate referrals. HMRC will send more than four million emails and SMS messages this week to self assessment taxpayers, prompting them to think about how they intend to pay their tax bill.

It is warning taxpayers 'not to be taken in' by malicious emails, phone calls or texts, and to not mistake them for genuine HMRC communications.

Commenting on the issue, Myrtle Lloyd, Director General for Customer Services at HMRC, said: 'Scams come in many forms. Some threaten immediate arrest for tax evasion, others offer a tax rebate. Contacts like these should set alarm bells ringing, so if you are in any doubt whether the email, phone call or text is genuine, you can check the 'HMRC scams' advice on GOV.UK and find out how to report them to us.'

The self assessment deadline is 31 January 2022. 

16thNov
News article

Real Living Wage increases as cost of living rises

Over 300,000 people working for almost 9,000 Real Living Wage employers throughout the UK are set for a pay boost as the Living Wage rates.

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Over 300,000 people working for almost 9,000 Real Living Wage employers throughout the UK are set for a pay boost as the Living Wage rates.

From 15 November the Real Living Wage increased to £9.90 across the UK and £11.05 in London. This is higher than the compulsory National Living Wage (NLW), which is currently £8.91 an hour for anyone over the age of 23.

The wage rates are calculated by the Living Wage Foundation based on what people need to live on. The rates are paid by employers who have voluntarily signed up to the Real Living Wage.

Almost 9,000 employers throughout the country have signed up to pay the wage – 3,000 of them during the pandemic.

Katherine Chapman, Living Wage Foundation Director, said: 'With living costs rising so rapidly . . . the new Living Wage rates will provide hundreds of thousands of workers and their families with greater security and stability.

'There are still millions trapped in working poverty, struggling to keep their heads above water – and these are people working in jobs that kept society going during the pandemic, like social care workers and cleaners. We know that the Living Wage is good for businesses as well as workers, and as we rebuild our economy post pandemic, the Real Living Wage must be at its heart.' 

15thNov
News article

Only a third of businesses taking action to cut emissions

Only one third of businesses plan on cutting their greenhouse gas emissions over the next year despite the UK's recent net-zero efforts, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

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Only one third of businesses plan on cutting their greenhouse gas emissions over the next year despite the UK's recent net-zero efforts, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

According to the ONS's report, 11% of businesses are not taking action to reduce their emissions, with 13% stating that they were 'unsure of how to even begin measuring their emissions'. The report uses data from the Business Insights and Conditions Survey, which featured the answers from around 39,000 businesses from June 2021.

The survey found that 38% of businesses reported that they are taking at least one action to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, while 24% reported that they are intending to act in the next 12 months.

46% of businesses that have already decided to tackle their emissions output are more likely to start to take action in the coming year.

The ONS report also found that many businesses believe that implementing change for net-zero would be 'costly', with 20% of businesses stating that this was their main barrier. 

12thNov
News article

UK economic recovery slowed by supply problems

UK economic growth slowed between July and September as supply chain problems hindered the recovery from the pandemic, according to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

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UK economic growth slowed between July and September as supply chain problems hindered the recovery from the pandemic, according to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Gross domestic product (GDP) expanded by a slightly weaker than expected 1.3%, down from 5.5% in the second quarter, according to the ONS. That leaves the economy 2.1% smaller than in the final three months of 2019, before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic hit.

The ONS said that consumer spending increased as Britain continued to emerge from lockdown, although that was offset by falls in other areas of the economy.

Overall household spending grew by 2% but was still 4.4% lower than at the end of 2019. Goods exports fell by 5.8% as trade continued to be hampered by Brexit issues.

Suren Thiru, Head of Economics at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said: 'The UK economy is only likely to return to its pre-pandemic level next year, behind many of our international competitors.

'With the headwinds facing the UK economy growing, we would caution the Bank of England against raising interest rates in the near term to avoid destabilising an already brittle recovery.' 

11thNov
News article

Time running out for HMRC customers with Post Office card accounts

HMRC has warned customers with Post Office card accounts that their payments could be paused if they don't update their payment details by the end of November.

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HMRC has warned customers with Post Office card accounts that their payments could be paused if they don't update their payment details by the end of November.

From 1 December 2021, HMRC will stop making tax credits, Child Benefit and Guardian's Allowance payments to Post Office card accounts. HMRC is urging account holders to contact them to update their bank account details to continue receiving payments without disruption.

Customers can choose to receive their benefits and credits payments to a bank, building society or credit union account. If they already have an alternative account, they can contact HMRC now to update their details.

Child Benefit and Guardian's Allowance customers can use their Personal Tax Account (PTA) to provide revised account details, change their bank account details via GOV.UK or contact the Child Benefit helpline on 0300 200 3100.

Tax credits customers can change their bank account details by contacting the tax credits helpline on 0345 300 3900.

Myrtle Lloyd, HMRC's Director General for Customer Services, said: 'Time is running out for customers who have been using a Post Office card account to get payments from us. They need to give us their new account details now to avoid their payments being suspended.'

If a customer misses the 30 November deadline, their payments will be paused until the customer notifies HMRC of their new account details.

10thNov
News article

Cryptocurrency tax gap triples

The amount of tax potentially underpaid by cryptocurrency investors tripled between 2020 and 2021, according to data from HMRC.

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The amount of tax potentially underpaid by cryptocurrency investors tripled between 2020 and 2021, according to data from HMRC.

The tax authority identified £428,000 in 'tax under consideration' on cryptocurrency investments in the year to March 31, according to a report published by HMRC.

This is in comparison with the £142,000 it identified in 2020.

Tax under consideration is the taxman's initial estimate of how much tax may be at stake, not the final tax bill for any tax unpaid. 

HMRC said: 'We continue to develop our capabilities to better identify cryptoassets tax risks - and that work continues to improve through staff upskilling and better categorisation of related tax risks.

'Tax under consideration is not tax owed or unpaid. It is an estimate of the amount at stake in an enquiry and is used by HMRC to manage the deployment of resources based on risks to revenues.'

Last month HMRC confirmed it will begin to send 'nudge' letters to holders of cryptoassets to remind them to pay the correct income and capital gains tax. 

9thNov
News article

New law introduced to help protect pension savers from scammers

New rules to help protect pension savers from scammers have become law.

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New rules to help protect pension savers from scammers have become law.

Under the regulations, pension trustees and scheme managers will be given the power to stop suspicious transfers before cash gets into the hands of fraudsters.

Fraudsters frequently offer 'too good to be true' incentives to pension savers, such as free pension reviews, early access to pension cash and other time-limited offers. Lured in by these bogus offers, individuals are then tricked into transferring their savings into a scam scheme and defrauded out of their money.

Between January and May 2021, pension scam losses totalling over £2.2 million were reported to Action Fraud.

The new regulations will take force on 30 November. From this date, trustees and scheme managers will be able to prevent transfer requests if suspicious activity is suspected by giving it a 'red flag'. If a red flag is present, the transfer cannot go ahead.

Where fraud is suspected, trustees and scheme managers will be able to pause transfer requests by giving it an 'amber flag'. In this scenario, the pension saver will need to prove they have taken scam specific guidance from the free Money and Pensions Service before the transfer can go ahead. This is the only way a transfer can then proceed. 

8thNov
News article

HMRC's tax take falls by billions due to pandemic

HMRC saw a drop of almost £30 billion in tax revenues in the latest financial year because of the pandemic, according to its annual accounts.

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HMRC saw a drop of almost £30 billion in tax revenues in the latest financial year because of the pandemic, according to its annual accounts.

In its 2020/21 annual report, HMRC reported that it had collected £608.8 billion in tax revenues, which is down from £636.7 billion collected in 2019/20.

HMRC said the drop was due to by the 'unprecedented economic circumstances caused by COVID-19, and because pandemic restrictions meant HMRC had to reduce its compliance activity'.

The reduction in compliance activity resulted in a drop of 18% in the additional tax generated by HMRC's work tackling avoidance, evasion, and other non-compliance. This fell from £36.9 billion to £30.4 billion.

The tax authority has estimated that the tax gap has increased to 5.3% up from 4.7% last year.

HMRC reported that it delivered £60.7 billion in grants through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). HMRC's current estimate of error and fraud in the COVID-19 support scheme payments is £5.8 billion, of which £5.3 billion relates to the CJRS scheme. 

5thNov
News article

Bank of England hints interest rates could rise in coming months

The Bank of England has hinted that it may raise interest rates in the coming months.

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The Bank of England has hinted that it may raise interest rates in the coming months.

Interest rates may have to escalate in response to increasing levels of inflation. Policymakers at the Bank recently voted to hold interest rates at the record low rate of 0.1%.

The Bank's Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) stated that it would wait to see how the jobs market copes with the end of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) before making decisions on interest rates.

Commenting on the issue, Alpesh Paleja, Lead Economist at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), said: 'On balance, the decision to keep interest rates unchanged is the right one. The upcoming rise in inflation will likely prove transitory, and there is as yet only patchy evidence of rising prices becoming embedded in both wage-setting and households' inflation expectations.

'The next few months will be something of a balancing act for the MPC. They will need to navigate monetary policy to both curb any signs of price pressures becoming more entrenched, and support the economic recovery from the pandemic.'