We must all adjust to the lockdown imposed by the government to curb the increase in the number of COVID-19 cases. It is clear now, if it wasn’t before that it is essential we heed government advice so that we can protect our physical health.
But what about our livelihoods and personal finances? Which for most of us will increase the worry and stress during this lockdown period and beyond.
The UK government has been swift in announcing the measures they have put in place to protect businesses and individuals affected by the fall out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The following is a summary of these measures including links to further details and the advice line where business owners may speak to specialist advisers.
The government will defer the self-assessment income tax payment due by individuals who make payments on account on 31 July 2020 until 31 January 2021. This applies to the self-employed and to individuals who make payments on account due to other income sources.
For more information: https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/deferral-of-self-assessment-payment/
Self-employed individuals who find their income ceases because of the current situation are able to claim Universal Credit, providing they meet the usual criteria. The following changes related to COVID-19 have been made to Universal Credit:
• From 19 March 2020, all requirements to attend the Job Centre in person are suspended
• From 6 April 2020 the standard allowance will be increased by £20 per week
• The requirements of the Minimum Income Floor will be temporarily relaxed.
By way of an example, from 6 April 2020, a single Universal Credit claimant aged 25 or over will be entitled to a standard allowance of £409.89 per month.
Support for rent costs is paid through Universal Credit and from April, the government are increasing Local Housing Allowance rates to the 30th percentile of market rents.
On 4 March the government announced that the requirements for the 3 waiting days before being entitled to SSP is to be temporarily suspended allowing SSP to be paid from the first day of the absence as an emergency measure following the outbreak of COVID-19.
A range of measures will be included in the forthcoming COVID-19 Bill which will provide additional support to employees and employers and meet the demands of more employees likely to be either sick or self-isolating. Employees will be entitled to SSP sooner and the process will be quicker. The temporary reintroduction of reimbursement of SSP to employers will support them in meeting the surge in employee sickness.
The introduction of the new private sector rules confirmed in the Budget 2020 is to be deferred for one year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, the new rules will not be expected to apply until 6 April 2021.
The COVID-19 pandemic may restrict the ability for individuals to travel freely and restrictions in the UK may mean an individual cannot return home. This may mean that UK residence status is inadvertently met because the number of UK days allowed is exceeded. The link below confirms that the current national emergency will be considered exceptional and days spent in the UK as a result of COVID-19 pandemic may be disregarded when establishing UK residence status.
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) have updated their guidance and examples of HMRC related Phishing emails and bogus contact which includes details of an email phishing scam related to COVID-19. Click on the link below for further details.