Welcome to the September 2021 'Need to Know' update. You'll find the latest key information on SEISS grant applications, GDPR, Welsh eviction regulations, and business rates concern for England and Wales.
HMRC issues new SEISS update for self-employed claiming fifth and final grant
Claims for the final Self-Employment Income Support Scheme grant worth up to £7,500 must be made by September 30, 2021.
HMRC states that you should claim the fifth grant if you think that your business profit will be impacted by coronavirus between May 1, 2021 and September 30, 2021.
HMRC should have contacted you by now if you’re eligible for the grant based on your tax returns. To be eligible for the final grant, you will need to meet all the criteria listed in stages 1, 2 and 3 below.
Stage 1: Your trading status and when you must have traded
You must be a self-employed individual or a member of a partnership. You must also have traded in both tax years:
2019 to 2020
2020 to 2021
You cannot claim the grant if you trade through a limited company or a trust.
Stage 2: Tax returns and trading profits
You must have:
submitted your 2019 to 2020 tax return on or before 2 March 2021
trading profits of no more than £50,000
trading profits at least equal to your non-trading income
Stage 3: Deciding if you can claim
When you make your claim you must tell HMRC that you:
intend to keep trading in 2021 to 2022
reasonably believe there will be a significant reduction in your trading profits due to the impact of Covid-19 between May 1, 2021 and September 30, 2021
The fifth grant is different from previous grants. In most cases, when making your claim you will need to tell HMRC about your business turnover so they can work out your grant amount.
sales or money earned or received by your business
To make your claim, you will need to have two different turnover figures.
You will need to work out your turnover for:
a 12-month period starting between 1 April 2020 and 6 April 2020
either 2019 to 2020 or 2018 to 2019
HMRC will compare these figures to work out how much grant you will receive.
Find out how to work out your turnover so you can claim the grant on GOV.UK here.
There are two levels of the fifth SEISS grant.
HMRC will work out your grant amount based on how much your turnover is down by after they have compared your two turnover figures.
If your turnover is down by 30% or more you will get 80% of 3 months’ average trading profits, capped at £7,500.
If your turnover is down by less than 30% you will get 30% of 3 months’ average trading profits, capped at £2,850.
If you do not need turnover figures to claim you will get 80% of 3 months’ average trading profits, capped at £7,500.
To find out more about the fifth SEISS grant or other financial support available, visit GOV.UK here.
UK Government to end GDPR data laws
Britain will attempt to move away from European data protection regulations as it overhauls its privacy rules after Brexit, the government has announced.
The freedom to chart its own course could lead to an end to irritating cookie popups and consent requests online, said the culture secretary, Oliver Dowden, as he called for rules based on “common sense, not box-ticking”.
But any changes will be constrained by the need to offer a new regime that the EU deems adequate, otherwise data transfers between the UK and EU could be frozen.
A new information commissioner will be put in charge of overseeing the transformation. John Edwards, currently the privacy commissioner of New Zealand, has been named as the government’s preferred candidate to replace Elizabeth Denham, whose term in office will end on 31 October after a three-month extension.
Dowden said: “Now that we have left the EU I’m determined to seize the opportunity by developing a world-leading data policy that will deliver a Brexit dividend for individuals and businesses across the UK.
“It means reforming our own data laws so that they’re based on common sense, not box-ticking. And it means having the leadership in place at the Information Commissioner’s Office to pursue a new era of data-driven growth and innovation. John Edwards’ vast experience makes him the ideal candidate to ensure data is used responsibly to achieve those goals.”
For more information click here.
Welsh Government further extends measures to protect businesses from eviction
Businesses affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic will now be protected from eviction until 25 March, 2022, Wales's Economy Minister Vaughan Gething has announced.
The moratorium against forfeiture for the non-payment of rent was originally due to end on 30 September, 2021.
This measure will ensure that landlords of relevant commercial premises are prevented from forfeiting the leases of such premises for non-payment of rent until 25 March 2022, but tenant’s should continue to pay rent wherever possible, and it is in the interests of both landlords and tenants to reach negotiated agreements on any arrears.
The move will help a range of sectors at what continues to be a challenging trading period.
In addition, Welsh Ministers have ensured the 100% rates relief scheme for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses will run for the full 12 months of this financial year. This measure is backed by £380 million to help provide breathing space for around 70,000 businesses this year.
Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething said: “This further extension of measures to prevent forfeiture for the non-payment of rent, which will protect businesses from eviction, will help secure jobs and livelihoods across Wales.
“It will also give the same levels of protection in this respect for Welsh businesses as those in England, and will assist with the recovery of Welsh businesses as the economy improves.”
The UK Government recently announced its intention to introduce legislation to ring-fence commercial rent arrears accrued during the pandemic.
The Welsh Government continues to consider what, if any, further measures in relation to commercial rent arrears accrued during the pandemic in Wales need to be put in place once the moratorium comes to an end. It is expected that this will include working with the UK Government in the further consideration and development of their proposals.
Read more here.
Water market needs to start delivering benefits for all businesses
The Consumer Council for Water (CCW) is calling for improvements to make life easier for customers already facing the immense challenge of running a business during Covid-19.
New figures released by CCW show that written complaints from business customers to their supplier rose by five per cent during 2020-21. And despite a fall in the number of disputes escalated by customers to CCW, the watchdog still handled over three times more complaints than before the retail water market opened in England in 2017.1
Castle Water and Water Plus were cited by CCW as having “continued to cause customers and CCW the most difficulties with complaints. The two largest retailers accounted for 7 out of 10 written complaints across England and Wales and dominated about 74 per cent of the disputes escalated to CCW, the group said.
Concerns over inaccurate bills and charging accounted for three-quarters of complaints to the watchdog. Business customer disputes also resulted in 50 per cent more formal investigations from CCW into the most serious complaint-handling failures when compared to households.
This goes some way to explaining why only 69 per cent of business customers told CCW they were satisfied with their retail water services. Satisfaction levels were far higher among business customers when it came to their water supply or sewerage service.
Emma Clancy, Chief Executive of the Consumer Council for Water (CCW), said: “The retail water market promised to deliver better service standards for businesses but four years on and that is still not the experience for all customers.”
“About a third of business customers have told us they have been severely impacted by the pandemic and what they need are retailers and water companies that are actively seeking to help them – not making life even more difficult through inaccurate bills or unresponsive customer service.”
The year began with most businesses in lockdown due to Covid-19 and CCW said it worked closely with retailers to make sure they reached out to business customers to inform them of the help and support available to them. CCW also pressed for strong protection from heavy-handed debt recovery and the kind of poor service that can lead to inaccurate estimated bills.
Read the latest CCW report here.
Business rates system an indefensible disincentive to invest, FSB tells ministers
Small firms in England and Wales should not be penalised with a higher business rates bill for greening their premises or improving staff wellbeing with new amenities, while childcare providers should be granted rates relief, FSB said in a letter to Government.
FSB highlighted steps that should be taken to protect small businesses, spur economic recovery, and secure green investment as part of a business rates review that is set to move forward in the autumn.
In a letter to ministers, FSB National Chair Mike Cherry describes the tax as “regressive and outdated”, and encourages policymakers to:
- Stop penalising investments aimed at improving sustainability and working conditions for employees, such as solar panels, insulation, ventilation, recycling facilities and bike sheds – such additions typically cause a property’s value, and by extension its rates bill, to increase.
- Exempt all childcare providers from business rates to bring support across England in line with that provided in Wales and Scotland.
- Aid high street recovery by accelerating reforms that have seen some of the smallest businesses removed from the rates system by increasing the threshold for 100% small business rates relief to £25,000.
- Remove a quirk in the system that causes a firm operating across two premises to be charged rates even if its total valuation should see it qualify for relief.
- Ensure that efforts, welcomed by the small business community, to conduct more frequent revaluations for business rates purposes are light-touch and transparent, and do not prevent valid appeals.
Mike Cherry said: “The Government is absolutely right to overhaul a business rates system which often lets online retailers operating from remote warehouses off the hook whilst punishing small businesses that serve as community hubs.
“This is a levy that hurts small firms trying to do the right thing: if you put solar panels on the roof to aid your transition to net zero, or install ventilation to support the wellbeing of your staff, the Valuation Office Agency will advise your local authority that you should be paying more in business rates.”
Read more here.