The Steps (HMRC) Is Taking To Help Support The UK Economy During The Coronavirus Outbreak

This Stakeholder Digest provides a round-up of both the steps HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is taking to help support the UK economy during the Coronavirus outbreak and an update on other HMRC business. We’d be grateful if you could share these messages with your clients, customers or members.

The government has set up a dedicated support page where businesses can find the right support, advice and information to help with the impact of Coronavirus.

  • Second Self Employment Income Support Scheme Grant
  • Job Retention Bonus
  • Reminder of changes to CJRS
  • Claims portal now open for Eat Out to Help Out scheme
  • Major £650 million investment for Northern Ireland
  • Support for working families affected by coronavirus given an extra boost
  • Child Trust Funds: find your provider
  • Open consultation: HMRC Charter
  • Interim Director General appointments

Second Self Employment Income Support Scheme Grant

The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) opens again for claims from 17 August, when eligible self-employed customers can claim their second, and final, taxable SEISS grant.

We will contact customers (by letter, SMS and/or email) to invite them to claim from a specified date, if they meet the eligibility criteria. The eligibility criteria for the second grant is the same as for the first grant – so as long as their business is still being adversely affected by coronavirus, customers eligible for the first grant will be able to apply again. Applicants will be asked to confirm that their business has been adversely affected by coronavirus at any time since 14 July, and that they intend to continue trading this tax year.

If people don’t hear from HMRC, but think they are eligible, they can use the online claim process to check whether they can claim.

If someone’s responsibilities as a new parent meant they did not submit a tax return for 2018/2019, or their trading profits in 2018/19 were less than their other income (and they were therefore ineligible for SEISS), they may now be able to claim.

Eligibility includes:

  • Caring for a child within 12 months of birth, or adoption placement
  • Pregnancy or childbirth, within 26 weeks of the date of giving birth
  • A stillbirth after more than 24 weeks of pregnancy

For new parents, their 2017-18 or both 2016-17 and 2017-18 self-assessment returns can now be used to assess eligibility and grant calculation. If these changes mean someone could now be eligible, they need to confirm to HMRC that being a new parent affected their trading profits or total income in the tax year 2018 to 2019. These changes mean new parents may now be able to claim for the first SEISS grant, the second SEISS grant, or both (depending on when their businesses may have been adversely affected by the coronavirus pandemic) when applications open for the second grant.

Job Retention Bonus

We have recently published additional information on the Job Retention Bonus, including details on how to check which employers and employees are eligible and what employers need to do now to get ready to claim.

Employers will be able to claim a one-off payment of £1,000 for every employee they have previously received a grant for under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and who remains continuously employed through to the end of January 2021.

To be eligible, the employee must have received earnings in November, December and January, and must have been paid an average of at least £520 per month, and a total of at least £1560 across the three months.

Employers will be able to claim the bonus after they have filed PAYE information for January 2021, and the bonus will be paid from February 2021. More detailed guidance, including how employers can claim the bonus online will be available by the end of September.

What employers need to do now

If employers intend to claim the Job Retention Bonus, they must:

  • ensure all employee records are up to date
  • accurately report employees’ details and wages on the Full Payment Submission (FPS) through the Real Time Information (RTI) reporting system
  • make sure all of their CJRS claims have been accurately submitted and they have told us about any changes needed (for example if they’ve received too much or too little).

Reminder of changes to CJRS

From 1 August 2020, CJRS continue to provide grants for furloughed employees, but no longer funds employers’ National Insurance (NI) and pensions contributions. Our guidance has been updated to reflect these changes.

Guidance is also available if employers have claimed too much or not enough from the scheme.

Further guidance and live webinars offering more support on changes to the scheme and how they impact you are available to book online.

Claims portal now open for Eat Out to Help Out scheme

The UK Government’s Eat Out to Help Out Scheme allows restaurants, bars, cafes and other eligible establishments to provide 50% off food and non-alcoholic drinks, up to £10 per person, all day Monday to Wednesday throughout August.

Registered eligible businesses can now claim any discounts offered on the scheme, using the new online claims portal. Guidance on how to claim is available on GOV.UK. We have also published a video explaining the claims process on HMRC’s YouTube channel.

Major £650 million investment for Northern Ireland

The Cabinet Office has published more information about the application of the Northern Ireland Protocol. It follows the announcement of a major £650m package of investment in Northern Ireland.

At the centre of this package is a new, free-to-use Trader Support Service (TSS) – an end-to-end support service to deal with import and safety and security declarations on behalf of traders.

The new service will be available to businesses bringing in goods from Great Britain or the rest of the world, providing guidance as well as dealing with their requirements for moving goods into Northern Ireland.

A procurement exercise for the service has now been launched. We have committed £50m of funding for the establishment and first phase of the service, with the full contract to be worth up to £200m. Businesses in Northern Ireland, Great Britain or outside of the UK who wish to use the service, can sign up for further information before it becomes operational in September.

Support for working families affected by coronavirus given an extra boost

HMRC has announced that working parents or carers who are eligible for Tax-Free Childcare or 30 hours free childcare, but have temporarily fallen below the minimum income requirement as a result of the pandemic, will continue to receive financial support until 31 October 2020.

This financial support will help many working parents respond to the challenges they are facing during the coronavirus pandemic, by giving them the flexibility to return to work when they are able to.

For parents whose finances have changed or who have not applied for help with childcare before, there are a range of government schemes available and information about these can be found on the Childcare Choices website.

Critical workers who may exceed the income threshold for the 2020 to 2021 tax year as a result of working more to play a vital role in tackling the coronavirus pandemic will continue to receive support this tax year.

HMRC has continued to help Working Tax Credit claimants with the cost of childcare throughout the pandemic. Parents and carers in receipt of the childcare element of Working Tax Credits who have continued to pay childcare fees, despite their children being unable to access childcare because of coronavirus, must notify HMRC if they expect this to continue beyond 7 September. After this date HMRC will no longer pay the childcare element for those in this position.

Claimants should update HMRC as soon as possible if their childcare stops or if the costs for their childcare decrease or end.

Child Trust Funds: Find your provider

Child Trust Funds (CTFs) were originally set up for children born between 1st September 2002 and 2nd January 2011, with a live Child Benefit claim in the UK, providing them with a pot of money at 18 years old to encourage a savings habit. Approximately 6 million CTF accounts were opened during this time.

People can access their CTFs when they turn 18, and the earliest recipients of the funds will be turning 18 from September 2020. However, HMRC know lots of people don’t realise they have them. HMRC is launching a campaign in August 2020 to reconnect CTF accounts with their owners.

Open consultation: HMRC Charter

With less than a week to go, this is a reminder we are currently seeking views on our draft revisions to the HMRC Charter, which sets out the standards of behaviour and values HMRC aspires to when dealing with customers.

How we work with our customers is vitally important and the Charter outlines what you can expect from us and what we can expect from you. We’d like views from our people, customers and stakeholders on the new draft Charter, if you haven’t responded yet there is still time to have your say. As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, we extended the consultation until 15 August 2020.

Interim Director General appointments

We are pleased to announce three new Director General appointments have been confirmed today by HMRC’s Chief Executive and Permanent Secretary Jim Harra.

The changes follow the temporary departure of Melissa Tatton from her role as Chief Executive of the VOA, and more recently Director General for the COVID-19 Response Unit (CRU), and the appointment of Angela MacDonald to Second Permanent Secretary.

Karl Khan will become Director General of Customer Services on a temporary basis, while the process for a permanent appointment begins. He moves from his current role as CSG’s Director of Finance, Planning and Performance.

Jo Rowland will take up the CRU Director General role on a temporary basis for six months, moving from her role as Director of HMRC’s COVID-19 Response Unit – a role she took up in March.

Jonathan Russell will continue as interim Chief Executive of the VOA for the next 13 months. He takes up the post after moving from being Chief People Officer to interim Chief Executive in March when Melissa Tatton took on the COVID-19 Response Unit role.

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