25th March – (15.30hrs) – New regulations ref.cattlemarkets

Please find latest guidance, courtesy of Henry H Bletsoe,

Update – 24.03.20[13117]



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25th March -12.50 – A note from Edward Nichols


I’m not sure what you are planning on putting in the Covid 19 H&C letter but I just wanted to highlight and VAT an income tax support available to clients

VAT – VAT payments due between 20/03/2020 and 30/06/2020 have been deferred until 05/04/2021 for that period. It doesn’t give any guidance on VAT return submissions. It looks like they need to be filed online at present.

July 2020 self-assessment payment – These have been deferred until 31st Jan 2021

See guidance:

If you need anything during this period please give me a call.

Many thanks


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25th March 2020 – As yet no further information to impart.

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Some good news………..!

Amongst all the quite justified doom and gloom at present there is perhaps a little ray of sunlight. According to my telephone it hasn’t rained for nearly a week and there’s not a single drop forecast for the next 10 days either. Let’s hope that the drilling can now begin in earnest and who knows some cattle may even be let out soon too. Fingers crossed.

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Coronavirus – benefit assessements suspended – 23.3.2020.

Please see an announcement concerning the suspension of ongoing benefit assessments.



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Coranvirus – The PM’s speeech – 23.03.20 – (20.30hrs)

Whether this will eventually rank alongside Neville Chamberlain’s speech of 3rd September 1939 remains to be seen………


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Coronavirus – Student finances – 24.3.2020 – (10.00am)

A statement dated 24th March 2020 concerning the implications to students of the virus.



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23rd March 2020 (12.18pm) – Update as to 80% wage relief

At the Prime Minister’s daily press briefing on 20th March, the Government announced a new scheme to help businesses retain their staff, which has been called the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

This will be in the form of grants to businesses through HMRC. At the time of writing, there is limited information on how this will operate in practice, including for example the information which needs to be supplied to HMRC.

However, what we have been told* is that, under the Scheme, all employers in the United Kingdom will be able to access support to continue paying part of employees’ salaries, where the employees would otherwise have been laid off during this current crisis.


Under other support schemes which the Government has recently introduced to help businesses, there are a considerable number of criteria in place as regard eligibility.

However, under this Scheme, all UK businesses are eligible.

The Chancellor announced that “Any employer in the country, small or large, charitable or non-profit, will be eligible for the Scheme.”

How much will the Government pay?

Guidance we have says that HMRC will reimburse:

  • 80% of a “furloughed” worker’s wage costs.
  • Up to a cap of £2,500 per month. We believe this is the gross sum.

HMRC we understand are working urgently to set up a system for reimbursement, as existing systems are not yet set up to facilitate payments to employers.

It is however anticipated that payments will start to be made by the end of April.

Will the employer be obliged to top up the wages to 100%?

No. The employer can choose to fund the differences between this payment and the employee’s pay, but does not have to.

What does “furloughed” mean?

There are many definitions and it is not a term used in UK employment law, but in essence a furlough is a temporary lay-off from work.

A furloughed worker, therefore, is someone who has been temporary laid-off from their job.

Under employment practice, the term “lay-off” is used to cover a variety of different situations, ranging from being dismissed for redundancy to having working days reduced.

However, “lay-off” under employment law is, strictly, where an employee is provided with no work or pay for a week, but they remain an employee.

We are still waiting for guidance, but the thinking is that the Scheme will apply where employees are laid-off in this latter, strict legal sense, i.e. where they have no work or pay for a week, or multiples of weeks.

If this is the case, this would then not apply where an employee is on short-time working (used in its broadest sense), where an employee does work during each week, but for less hours and/or days and is paid accordingly.

This view is reinforced by Government’s (albeit very limited and general) guidance available to employees on this subject, which says as follows:

To qualify for this scheme, you should not undertake work for them while you are furloughed. This will allow your employer to claim a grant of up to 80% of your wage for all employment costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month.”**


We believe that the individual needs to have been “on the books” for PAYE purposes as at 28th February 2020.

We would stress, however, that Guidance is awaited from the Government.

What about employees on “zero hours” contracts?

When asked if the Scheme will cover zero-hour contracts, the Chancellor replied, “It covers everybody who is on the PAYE system through a company.”

He went on to say:

“It may well be you are on a PAYE scheme and have a set of regular earnings and it will be covered depending on your particular circumstances.”

“I can’t generalise for every single person’s employment status, but in general our desire here is to cover as broad a range of people as possible.”

If that is indeed the case, then as zero hours employees would usually be on the employer’s PAYE payroll system, the Scheme would apply to them. As for their pay (which often varies under such contracts), the likelihood is that the employer will need to give details to HMRC of the employees’ average earnings for HMRC to decide how much to pay.

How long will the Scheme last for?

The Scheme will be backdated to 1st March 2020 and open initially for “at least” three months.

It is anticipated that payments will start to be made by the end of April 2020.

How to access the scheme

The Scheme comes in the shape of a grant and will be provided through HMRC.

From the information made available to date, employers will need to do the following:

  • Designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers,’ and notify their employees of this change.
  • Submit information to HMRC about the employees that have been “furloughed” and their earnings through a new online portal.

We are told that HMRC will set out further details on the information required.

The limited guidance available makes the point that businesses cannot simply change an employee’s status to be a furloughed worker, as doing so is still subject to employment law principles.

Unless there are specific and clear terms in the employees’ contracts of employment, to lay-off an employee (i.e., to provide them with no work and no pay) requires the employee’s consent.

This means that the employer will need to consult with those employees it wishes to designate as furloughed workers and obtain their agreement to this.

It will be very important to ensure that the agreement reached with the employees makes clear that, by being designated as a furloughed worker, it is agreed that until, say, further notice, the employer will not provide the employee with any work, and that the only pay which the employee will receive will be the sums which the employer itself receives for that employee through this Scheme – unless of course the employer wishes to top up the payment.

Businesses who wish to take advantage of this Scheme are advised strongly to keep an eye out for publication of the Guidance which the Government has promised will follow.

As information to be fed into HMRC’s portal will require details of earnings, it is anticipated that businesses’ payroll providers will be a very important part of this process for those businesses.

Information as at 21st March 2020

*Main source throughout: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses


For more information on the items raised in this article please contact our employment team by clicking here.

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Update – 23.03.2020 (9.45am)

Please find the link to the latest HMRC update.



Any further queries please contact us as usual.

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Latest Coronavirus reliefs – 20th March 2020

Dear all

I am afraid that whilst the headlines are with us (330 billion, 15% of GDP, grants for certain businesses etc) there is as yet little detail backing up said headlines. To date we have ascertained the following:

  • Banking. The high street bank websites transfers the enquiry to the British business banking website. There will be the prospect of government guaranteed loans. https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk
  • Companies House. Deadlines can be extended, but there are hoops to jump through.https://www.icaew.com/insights/viewpoints-on-the-news/2020/mar-2020/companies-house-to-allow-coronavirus-related-filing-extensions
  • Small business and Business Rates relief. This will be administered by the local authorities.
  • HMRC – (VAT and PAYE) in the first instance follow the ‘Time to Pay’ instructions on the HMRC website.
  • Your suppliers – to be dealt with on an individual basis.

This is obviously a fluid situation and we will update the website when more is known……..

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