Will There Be A Fourth Self-employment Support Scheme Grant?

Covid-19 has wreaked havoc throughout the world. With the third lockdown now upon us, many self-employed workers are suffering from enormous losses to their income. The good news is help is available. The government’s new scheme, known as the Self-employment Income Support Scheme, was designed to help workers through the coronavirus crisis. 

The SEISS arrangement was first brought in last year in 2020, to provide grants to those whose income has been negatively impacted by the pandemic. From May 2020 self-employed workers were able to apply for the grant. However, applications for the first grant closed in July 2020. The second grant shortly followed, lasting between August-October and was worth up to £6,570. And finally, a third grant was brought into play to assist through the winter months. 

But is there going to be a fourth grant? 

The simple answer is yes, an economic update from the house of commons confirmed the scheme will be extended through February to March. 

A whopping three million people have already applied since the first grant release and over 20 billion pounds already handed out. 

So far the government has not given any indications to how much support you can get under the fourth grant but rest assured more information is due to be published shortly. 

Who can claim?

As the fourth grant covers February to April, it is time to get your applications in. Unfortunately, eligibility conditions have not changed. So if you were not eligible for the first three grants, you wouldn’t qualify for this grant either.

Here is what you need to know to apply:

  • You must show you are currently trading but have been impacted by reduced demand. 
  • You must declare you have been trading but are currently unable to do so due to the pandemic. 
  • You must show the impact put on your business at the time of the current grant.
  • If you filed a tax return for 2018/19 on or before April 2020, and provide proof, you were trading through that tax year. 
  • You must declare you intend to continue trading. 
  • Finally, you must declare you reasonably believe there will be a significant reduction to your trading profits at the time of your grant. 

Be wary, as there a few things that can affect your application, these being:

  • If your tax return was late, amended or under enquiry. 
  • You are a member of a partnership.
  • You have had a new child. 
  • You claim averaging relief. 
  • You have state aid. 
  • You are a military reservist. 
  • You have loans covered by the loan charge.
  • You are a non-resident or chose the remittance basis. 

To apply for the grant schemes, you must visit the Gov website before the end of April. Remember to make sure you have with you your unique taxpayer reference, national insurance number, government gateway user ID and password and your UK bank details. You will need these to begin your application process. 

How Has COVID-19 Affected Louth Businesses?

Louth is the home to approximately 17,000 residents and is now the largest market town in East Lindsey District Council. Louth brings in many visitors due to its assortment of markets held within the town centre. A regular weekly market is held as well as monthly farmers markets and Christmas and Victorian Sunday market which are commonly a colossal hit with residents, businesses and visitors. 

Disastrously, the impact of COVID-19 has damaged countless businesses globally, hitting smaller companies worse than larger ones. A large number of the businesses in Louth are SME’s and family-run. The government’s new tier system puts Louth in tier 3 and on the highest COVID alert, meaning a lot of these businesses have had to close their doors once again. 

Louth town was once thriving and full of life, market days especially captivating consumers both residents of Louth or from surrounding areas.

If the market were to no longer exist an approximate of 20% of Louths businesses could fail

Christmas Market 

Louth Christmas market provides stalls for people young and old to enjoy; however, this iconic event was cancelled six months in advance due to the global outbreak, as the beloved event brought in people from all over Lincolnshire and social distancing and safety measures could not be guaranteed. Over 80 paying stallholders are unfortunately out of pocket at one of their busiest times of the year.

The market did provide not only stalls but also entertainment such as:

  • Live music 
  • Food and drink 
  • Arts and crafts 
  • Meeting and greeting Santa Clause

However, not all hope is lost. Many of the independent makers and small business owners you can find at Louth Christmas Market have moved their stalls online. Take a look at your favourites on Twitter and Facebook where you may still be able to purchase some Christmas goodies from them.

Restrictions on businesses

As we are in an area experiencing an increasing number of infections, stricter regulations have been put in place to reduce the number of cases and keep everybody safe. 

For example, in tier 3:

  • Hospitality settings such as restaurants, pubs, cafes must close and are encouraged to continue formulating money by offering a take-away service or click and collect. 
  • Indoor entertainment centres must close, including cinemas, theatres, casinos and bingo halls. 
  • Indoor attractions must close, including zoos, theme parks and fairgrounds. 
  • Weddings and funerals are allowed; however, this is with a limited amount of people attending. 

These are just a select few restrictions causing businesses to make massive changes to how they operate, in some cases preventing them from operating altogether. 

Due to Louth being a market town and relying heavily on people travelling from the surrounding areas to visit our popular attractions, being unable to do so has significantly reduced the revenue generated by businesses. On account of this, smaller companies are struggling to not only make a profit but more so breakeven. If you’re struggling and need assistance with your accounts or understanding the government help available, contact me today.

Accountants Considered ‘Key Workers’ According To Firms Due To The Pandemic

According to a study by Xero, the importance of accountancy has been emphasised due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many small to medium-sized enterprises are now considering them as key workers in the UK’s economic recovery.

Xero recorded that 43% of small business owners said that their company’s accountant was an essential part of the company’s survival during the pandemic, with an impressive 63% saying their accountant delivered an unquestionable high standard of service. A further 37% of business owners suggested that their accountant enabled them to retain their members of staff during the most tumultuous time of lockdown.

In addition to this, a lot of small to medium-sized enterprises also highlighted how vital technology has been for their company’s financial development during the pandemic. It has been a driving force in keeping the businesses thriving during the worst part of the epidemic in particular. Almost half of the business owners questioned in Xero’s survey said that the cloud and its technology had been large support that has enabled staff to work from home with the company’s accountant, safely and remotely.

Saving data to the cloud has been one of the changes accountants have been making to their way of working due to the Coronavirus pandemic, as well as businesses alone. 

Many business owners went to government websites in order to seek resources at the beginning of the pandemic. Here, they were advised about cloud-based software to survive as a business. Without this ground-breaking technology, many companies would have risked a huge financial loss. Now, 45% of companies have said that their accountant is more important than it has ever been. 14% had contacted their accountant for the very first time due to the pandemic and 38% have said that they have a better relationship with their accountant than before the pandemic even began. 

Accountants have been particularly useful in providing help and support in areas such as VAT, tax returns and payrolls.

The fast-growing cloud software has been an invaluable source for small businesses surviving financially during the pandemic. It is now shaping the accounting landscape and how companies manage their finances with accountants remotely.

Accountants play an essential role in transforming small firms, and in relation to the pandemic, saving them from financial chaos. 

Remote Working Continues For Accountants Seven Months Into The Pandemic

The shared experience of working in the office vanished when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the UK. The feeling of company and teamwork in a space disappeared along with this and challenges soon arose for businesses trying to keep things running smoothly and remotely.

Some businesses coped better than others. Ones which were more used to removing sensitive financial data from the office were better equipped at working remotely. These organisations have been laying the groundwork for years of being able to balance the books from the comfort of their homes, so the pandemic was a good opportunity to put this into practice.

These businesses had worked to gain a continuous accounting process. This automates routine accounting tasks that require complicated calculations such as depreciation and amortisation. Therefore, these processes become continuous because of how automated they are. This automates the generation of financial statements, transfers with eliminations and reconciliation tools including AP sub-ledgers and the general ledger. Technology is an efficient way to process transactions for accountants and counteracts the complexities that come with working remotely.

The goal is for these automated processes to happen continuously. The pandemic has focussed on a need for automatic technologies and has also highlighted the importance of the cloud in doing so. The cloud allows sensitive financial information to be stored securely. This could involve data privacy as well as internal permissions when accountants are outside of the office.

Cloud-based technologies are updated regularly in line with the newest standards and regulations which often change. The cloud is kept modern and running smoothly. This maintains compliance for organisations.

With automated systems, there is increased accuracy. There is no need to rekey information from system to system manually. This reduces the chance of human data entry errors, so saves time that can be dedicated to other internal operations within the businesses. It also increases the quality of work-life for employees when functions are automated and left to the end of the month. The most tedious work has become more automated.

In conclusion, although remote working continues for accountants seven months into the pandemic, there have been advantages that have come with it. These advantages mentioned above have sped up the work of accountants by saving them time and removing more tedious aspects to complete. Accuracy has increased and the overall move to automation couldn’t have come at a better time for accountants.

If you need any help with your accounting needs, get in contact today.

Five Changes Accountants Are Making To Their Way Of Working

The COVID-19 pandemic has shaped the way accountants are re-inventing themselves. More specifically, it has led to the acceleration in the way that accountants are altering their way of working. Here are the main five changes that accountants are making to their style of working this year in response to the pandemic.

Saving it all to the cloud

With the pandemic changing accountants’ way of working to the work-from-home method, it has been more critical than ever to save, share and locate vital documents all in one place. Using shared digital resources has made accounting more accessible than ever before.

The cloud has been vital for scanning applications where all hard copy forms can be loaded onto a screen, making transactions much faster as well as suppressing the risk of transmission of the virus on paper sheets sent via post.

This not only saves time but money as well and brings with it the ability to operate documents anywhere at any time. Furthermore, any worries of a data disaster or losing vital hard copies becomes obsolete as the cloud continuously backs itself up. Accountants needn’t be concerned with losing anything as the cloud has been proven to hold data forever firmly.

Develop data analysis skills

Accountants are expected nowadays to produce data analysis that will allow their clients to make strong financial decisions. Information is vital and detailed analysis is more critical than ever. 

Analysing information will allow businesses, as well as individuals, to see if they are spending too much money or whether they have too many or too little employees working for them. As a result, brushing up on data analysis skills will enable accountants to become more productive and efficient, as well as more helpful to their clients.

Improving their social media presence and usage

Accountants used to rely on their services based on recommendations and word of mouth. This was their free and easy advertising method. However, now we are living in the age of social media, which is the new word of mouth, especially during the pandemic where many of us are staying at home a lot more and not socialising face to face with our peers.

When a business is looking for an accountant service, they will look online. Reviews and recommendations on social media platforms are what they will use to gauge what sort of accountancy firm you are. Implementing a healthy social media plan can get you that business and recommendations. Imagine all the other accountancy firms in your city having Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook and your firm having none of those. You will not be recognised or stand out at all. You will lose out on important business. As a result, accountants are embracing social media and strengthening their social media and online presence to cover all bases.

Outsources for specific needs

Many accountants are outsourcing accountants from specific departments that can take care of a business’s specific financial requirements as opposed to general accountants who do not have full knowledge of some particular financial subjects. This is to cover all bases and make clients more trusting and feel more valued when dealing with accountants who have been tailored to their client’s specific needs. This also means that services are consistent as well as scalable with experienced and qualified accountants. Furthermore, other businesses can focus on other aspects such as the core of their business and leave the accounting to more experienced professionals.

Mobile accountants

Everything is now done electronically, with paper invoices long gone and digital receipts the new norm. Mobile accountants have access to software which now allows them to work remotely from their home. This gives them more time to service more customers and in more depth.  

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme Re-opened

The self-employment scheme has been re-opened by the UK Government. Sole traders are now able to claim up to £6,570 for their lost income since 14th July 2020. An earlier scheme offered £7.8 billion to 2.7 million people in the months of May and June 2020.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said that this scheme will ensure “people’s livelihoods across the county will remain protected as we continue our economic recovery – helping them get back on their feet as we return to normal.”

HMRC will be contacting potential eligible individuals and advise them that they are able to claim for a second grant. They have until 19th October 2020 when the scheme closes.

The UK Government is under immense pressure to extend worker support packages due to the rising unemployment levels across the country. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), almost 750,000 jobs have been lost since lockdown commenced in March.

If applying for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), you must prove that your business has been affected by the pandemic adversely. This could be if supply chains have been disrupted or individuals have had to self-isolate.

The grant will allow applicants to gain 70% of their average monthly profit. It covers three months and will be stopped at £6,570.

In order to qualify for the scheme, applicants need to earn at least half of their general income through their self-employment. Their trading profits each year can be no more than £50,000 too.

However, according to the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE), only half of the five million people self-employed in the UK are eligible for the grant.

The chief economist at the Bank of England predicts that the UK economy will grow by around a fifth in the second half of 2020. This would be the fastest rate since the monitoring of quarterly GDP began.

The chief economist at the Bank of England (Andy Haldane) wrote in the Daily Mail that the economy has been rising by 1% each week over the past three months. According to Mr Haldane, the UK has also recovered half of its losses since the pandemic began.

The Bank of England has forecast a 20% increase in GDP in the second half of 2020, however, unemployment levels could be 7.5% and 2.5m could be out of work by the end of 2020.