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Financial help for debt advisers

The government has announced that an extra £37.8 million will be made available to support debt advice providers during 2020-21. The distribution of the money will be overseen by the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS). MaPS will set out the process for allocating funds in the coming weeks to charities for debt advice and to other money guidance services.

The funding consists of £20.6 million from the government and £14.2 million raised through a one-off increase to the Financial Services Levy. In addition, MaPS will also be contributing a further £3 million from their existing budget.

Caroline Siarkiewicz, Chief Executive of MaPS, said:

'The impact the Coronavirus pandemic will have on people’s financial wellbeing is significant and will continue for some time. We know there will be increased demand for free, expert debt advice services over the coming months and this extra funding will help to ensure that more people can access help more quickly. Our MaPS services are here to provide support for people when they need it and to help them navigate the tricky months ahead'.

The money will help providers to deliver advice to 1 million additional people in England over the next 12-28 months, especially those who may be experiencing financial problems due to the Coronavirus disruption. The government also confirmed that the additional funding will be matched for the devolved administrations, resulting in an extra combined £5.9 million for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Source: HM Treasury Wed, 01 Jul 2020 05:00:00 +0100

Vehicle MOT dates

The government has announced that mandatory MOT tests for car, motorcycle and van owners in England, Scotland and Wales are to be reintroduced from 1 August 2020. This means that all drivers whose vehicle is due for an MOT test from 1 August will be required to get a test certificate to continue driving their vehicle. The government is reintroducing this requirement to keep roads safe. Testing capacity has already reached 70% of normal levels and is steadily increasing.

Vehicle owners with an MOT expiry date between 30 March 2020 and 31 July 2020 will continue to receive a 6 month extension. This includes vehicles that are due their first MOT test. The MOT expiry date will be automatically extended about 7 days before it is due to expire. For example, if your vehicle's MOT was due to expire on 3 May 2020, this will automatically be extended to 3 November 2020. It is important to remember that vehicles must be kept roadworthy even if the MOT date has been extended.

If you are not using your car, you can register your vehicle as off the road by obtaining a statutory off road notification (SORN). This will result in any remaining full months of vehicle tax refunded. You could also take advice to see if your car insurance could be cancelled.

Source: HM Government Wed, 01 Jul 2020 05:00:00 +0100

No extension to Brexit Withdrawal Agreement

The UK has confirmed that it will neither accept nor seek any extension to the Brexit transition period which expires on 31 December 2020. The EU has formally accepted this position. With just over six months to go before the end of the transition period there remains a lot of work to be done if agreement is to be reached. This move could result in the possibility of a no-deal Brexit.

From 1 January 2021, the UK will have autonomy to introduce its own approach to goods imported to GB from the EU. Recognising the impact of Coronavirus on businesses’ ability to prepare, and following the announcement in February that the UK would implement full border controls on imports coming into GB from the EU, the UK has taken the decision to introduce the new border controls in three stages ending 1 July 2021. This flexible and pragmatic approach will give industry extra time to make necessary arrangements.

The stages are:

  • From January 2021: Traders importing standard goods, covering everything from clothes to electronics, will need to prepare for basic customs requirements, such as keeping sufficient records of imported goods, and will have up to six months to complete customs declarations. While tariffs will need to be paid on all imports, payments can be deferred until the customs declaration has been made. There will be checks on controlled goods like alcohol and tobacco. Businesses will need to consider how they account for VAT on imported goods. There will also be physical checks at the point of destination or other approved premises on all high risk live animals and plants.
  • From April 2021: All products of animal origin (POAO) – for example meat, pet food, honey, milk or egg products – and all regulated plants and plant products will also require pre-notification and the relevant health documentation.
  • From July 2021: Traders moving all goods will have to make declarations at the point of importation and pay relevant tariffs. Full Safety and Security declarations will be required, while for SPS commodities there will be an increase in physical checks and the taking of samples: checks for animals, plants and their products will now take place at GB Border Control Posts.
Source: HM Government Wed, 17 Jun 2020 05:00:00 +0100

Agent update June 2020

HMRC has released the latest bi-monthly issue of the 'Agent Update' publication which includes summaries of recent changes and updates that have been announced. The document which is aimed at taxation and accountancy practitioners includes links to more detailed information on each of the topics covered.

The topics covered in the latest edition include the following:

  • COVID-19. A reminder that the GOV.UK portal includes details of all the various financial support and other measures available to employers, businesses and employees.
  • HMRC’s Basic PAYE Tools (BPT). The BPT has been updated to version 20.2 to include further guidance on Statutory Payments in the ‘Calculators’ section.
  • Tax rules on waiving your income or donating to charity. Employers, directors and employees have several options to support a business or employer and / or to make donations to charity.
  • Lifetime ISA rules change. A temporary reduction in the Lifetime ISA withdrawal charge to 20% is available from 6 March 2020 until 5 April 2021. This means account holders will only have to pay back any government bonus they have received but will not pay the additional withdrawal charge.
  • Agreed tax postponements automatically extended until the end of June 2020. HMRC has written to taxpayers whose tax payments had already been postponed due to COVID-19 issues, informing them that that the postponement has been extended to 30 June 2020.
  • End of year reporting. The deadline for reporting any Class 1A National Insurance contributions and submitting P11D and P11FD(b) forms to HMRC for the tax year ending 5 April 2020 is 6 July 2020.
  • Links to new Revenue & Customs Briefs.
Source: HM Revenue & Customs Wed, 17 Jun 2020 05:00:00 +0100

Additional funding for charities and social enterprise

The government's dormant assets scheme allows money in accounts that have been dormant for at least 15 years to be made available for certain qualifying charitable and community causes.

The Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden has announced that £150 million from dormant bank and building society accounts is to be unlocked to help charities, social enterprises and vulnerable individuals during the Coronavirus outbreak.

The £150 million charity injection is made up of the accelerated release of £71 million of new funds from dormant accounts alongside £79 million already unlocked that will be repurposed to help charities’ Coronavirus response and recovery.

The money will be used to support urgent work to tackle youth unemployment, expand access to emergency loans for civil society organisations and help improve the availability of fair, affordable credit to people in vulnerable circumstances.

Since the scheme was launched in 2011 over £600 million has been distributed to good causes. However, it is important to note that the original account holder retains the rights to repayment of any monies within the scheme after providing satisfactory proof that the money is theirs.

Source: HM Treasury Wed, 27 May 2020 05:00:00 +0100

Upcoming bank holiday dates

We thought it would be useful to remind our readers of the upcoming bank holiday dates across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Whilst many people are still under lockdown, there are still some extra days off to look forward to for the rest of the year.

2020 bank holidays in England and Wales

Monday 25 May – Spring bank holiday
Monday 31 August – Summer bank holiday
Friday 25 December – Christmas Day
Monday 28 December – Boxing Day (substitute day)

2020 bank holidays in Scotland

Monday 25 May – Spring bank holiday
Monday 3 August – Summer bank holiday
Monday 30 November – St Andrew’s Day
Friday 25 December – Christmas Day
Monday 28 December – Boxing Day (substitute day)

2020 bank holidays in Northern Ireland

Monday 25 May – Spring bank holiday
Monday 13 July – Battle of the Boyne (Orangemen’s Day) (substitute day)
Monday 31 August – Summer bank holiday
Friday 25 December – Christmas Day
Monday 28 December – Boxing Day (substitute day)

If a bank holiday is on a weekend, a 'substitute' weekday becomes a bank holiday, normally the following Monday.

Source: HM Government Wed, 20 May 2020 05:00:00 +0100

Extension of vehicle MOT dates

A reminder that MOT expiry dates are being extended by 6 months for all MOTs due on or after 30 March 2020. This includes vehicles that are due their first ever MOT test and applies to cars, motorcycles, light vans and other light vehicles.

The MOT expiry date will be automatically extended approximately 7 days before it’s due to expire. Your vehicle tax remains due as normal. You cannot renew your vehicle tax until your MOT expiry date has been extended. This means you might need to wait until later in the month to tax your vehicle after your MOT has been extended.

It is very important to remember that vehicles must be kept roadworthy even if an MOT date has been extended. Unsafe vehicles should be taken to an open garage for repair. There are different rules for those with MOT expiry dates on or before 29 March 2020 as the law only changed on 30 March 2020.

The Department for Transport is working with insurers and the police to make sure people are not unfairly penalised for not being able to organise an MOT. If you are not using your car, you can also register your vehicle as off the road by obtaining a statutory off-road notification (SORN). This will see any remaining full months of tax refunded and you could also look into cancelling your car insurance (with a SORN).

Source: HM Government Wed, 20 May 2020 05:00:00 +0100

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