The national rollout of the new £100 spending limit for contactless card payments begins from 15 October 2021, although it will take time for retailers to update their terminals
The decision to raise the contactless limit from £45 to £100 was made by the Treasury and the Financial Conduct Authority following a public consultation and in discussion with both the retail and banking sectors. It follows on from the increase in the limit from £30 to £45 in April 2020 at the height of the covid pandemic.
From 15 October 2021, consumers will start to see retailers accepting contactless payments up to the new £100 limit, which will give customers more flexibility when shopping in store, UK Finance said.
Given the number of terminals which will need to be updated to accept the new limit, it will take some time to be introduced across all retailers. To check if a retailer has updated to the new limit, customers should either ask in store or follow the prompts on the card payment machine when paying.
For consumers spending more than £100 there are many ways to pay, for example through Chip & PIN, cash and alternatives such as mobile payments like Apple Pay or Google Pay which do not have an upper limit when authenticated through biometric technologies like fingerprint or facial recognition.
David Postings, chief executive of UK Finance, said: ‘Contactless payment has proved very popular with consumers and an increasing number of transactions are being made using contactless technology.
‘The increase in the limit to £100 will allow people to pay for higher value transactions like their weekly shop or filling up their car with fuel. The payments industry has worked hard to put in place the infrastructure to enable retailers to update their payments systems so they can start to offer their customers this new higher limit.’
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: ‘Increasing the contactless limit will make it easier than ever to pay safely and securely – whether that’s at the local shops, or your favourite pub and restaurant. Millions of payments will made be simpler, providing a welcome boost for retailers and shoppers.’
Changes to the licensing rules for taxi drivers will add a requirement to check their tax compliance before issuing new licenses in a bid to tackle tax evasion from 2022
HMRC has issued guidance on how the tax checks, known as conditionality, will work from April 2022 for licence applications initially in England and Wales. There are plans to extend the rules to Scotland and Northern Ireland from 2023.
HMRC believes that taxi drivers and scrap metal dealers are often part of the hidden economy, operating outside the tax regime, and has indicated that the scheme is likely to be extended in the future to cover more sectors.
In the technical brief outlining the original policy, HMRC stated: ‘The hidden economy consists of individuals and businesses with sources of taxable income that are entirely hidden from HMRC. This deprives the government of funding for vital public services. The hidden economy tax gap (the difference between the amount of tax that should, in theory, be paid, and what is actually paid) is estimated to be £2.6bn for 2018 to 2019.’
The new tax checks are projected to raise £30m in taxes in the first year of operation in 2022-23 with Treasury estimates indicating that this will rise to £55m by 2024-25.
The rules are changing for individuals, companies or any type of partnership applying for a licence for a taxi driver, private hire driver, private hire vehicle operator, scrap metal site and scrap metal collector.
Any individuals that make an application from 4 April 2022 will need to complete a tax check if they are renewing a licence; applying for the same type of licence previously held, that ceased being valid less than a year ago; and applying for the same type of licence already held with another licensing authority
The key element of the new system is a tax check which must be carried out by the individual applicant and cannot be conducted by an accountant or tax agent.
There will be a number of questions to identify whether the individual complies with tax rules and how they pay any tax that may be due on income earned from the licensed trade before a licence will be issued.
Once the tax check is completed and verifed by HMRC, a nine-character tax check code will be issued. This must then be included with the application to the licensing authority, so they can confirm a tax check has been completed.
This will add extra administrative work for licensing authorities but there will be not costs for the HMRC checks.
Double-jabbed workers no longer need to isolate after coming into contact with someone with Covid-19. And while that’s great for business, it means staff could be more likely to bring the virus into work. Which increases your risk of a big outbreak and costly closures.
So, how do organisations stay safe, compliant, and open for business?
1. Keep up with and communicate self-isolation rules
Staff need to know when to self-isolate. And to avoid unnecessary staff shortages and closures, they also need to know when they don’t need to. Make sure everyone is aware of the current rules.
Double-vaccinated staff no longer need to isolate when:
- returning from countries not on the red list
- they’ve been in contact with someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus
- they live with someone who has Covid-19.
However, your non-vaccinated staff will still need to self-isolate in these situations.
Note that, even if not fully vaccinated, the fully vaccinated rules apply to:
- under-18s resident in the UK
- those taking part in an approved Covid-19 vaccine trial in the UK or USA
- those resident in England and medically exempt from taking the vaccine.
Regardless of vaccination status, all staff still need to isolate when they:
- have Covid-19 symptoms
- are waiting for PCR test results
- test positive for Covid-19
- return from a country on the red list (the self-isolation must take place in a managed hotel).
2. Stick to preventive measures
Organisations are no longer legally required to follow Covid-secure guidance.
However, your Covid control measures should still be based on your risk assessment. Vaccinated people can still carry coronavirus and pass it onto others so it makes sense to continue certain preventive measures to stop the virus spreading.
To reduce the risk of transmission, the Government is still asking employers to:
- make sure there’s fresh air running through the workplace
- keep up with regular and thorough cleaning
- turn staff and customers with Covid-19 symptoms away
- keep staff and customers up to date with any safety measures
- complete a risk assessment which outlines the organisation’s safety measures.
3. Encourage vaccine uptake
Self-isolation rules have relaxed for your double-jabbed staff. If the majority of your workforce have now taken the vaccine, you’re less likely to deal with inconvenient staff shortages.
But if your staff are unprotected, they still need to isolate if they get pinged by the NHS app. To avoid big gaps in the rota, it’s important to improve vaccine uptake in your staff.
If there’s a high level of hesitancy in your organisation, here are some basic steps to boost uptake:
- allow paid time off for vaccine appointments or side effects
- share vaccine information from reliable sources
- outline the benefits of taking the vaccine
- invite an external healthcare expert to answer any questions.
You could even provide an incentive for vaccinated staff, like an extra day of leave. (However, you will need to consider medically exempt staff or those with religious objections, etc otherwise this could be seen as discriminatory.)
4. Use lateral flow testing
One way of picking up asymptomatic Covid spreaders is through the use of lateral flow tests (LFTs).
LFTs can be distributed to staff (or are available for staff to pick up free from pharmacies). Many organisations require staff to test twice a week and report their results through the GOV.UK website. You could request any visitors to complete an LFT 24 hours before their visit.
If an LFT comes back positive, the individual should take a PCR test and self-isolate while they wait for the results.
5. Track who’s been vaccinated
Before the recent change to self-isolation rules, the same rules applied for all employees but now your non-vaccinated workers face a higher chance of self-isolation. And to keep these staff both safe and in work, you may need to do more to protect them. To do that, you’ll need to know who hasn’t received the jab.
HMRC is reminding taxpayers to check that they have the correct information in order to complete their paper self assessment tax returns by the month end deadline
The deadline for 2020/21 paper tax returns is 31 October 2021 for those completed on paper forms and 31 January 2022 for online returns.
While the end of January is more than three months away, HMRC has already seen thousands of people filing their returns – more than 63,500 customers filed their tax return on 6 April, the first day of the tax year. Taxpayers can file before the January deadline but still have until 31 January to pay.
Any customer who is new to self assessment must register via gov.uk to receive their Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR). Self-employed individuals must also register for Class 2 National Insurance.
HMRC is encouraging taxpayers to register early so that they can access guidance and be aware of what they need to do. This includes record keeping, knowing when the filing and payment deadlines are, and the potential for a first tax payment to include a payment on account.
This year, taxpayers will also have to declare if they received any grants or payments from Covid-19 support schemes up to 5 April 2021 as these are taxable, including:
• Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS);
• Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS); and
• other Covid-19 grants and support payments such as self-isolation payments, local authority grants and those for the Eat Out to Help Out scheme.
If you are employed and received CJRS (furlough) payments during the 2020-21 tax year, you will need to enter your earnings and income tax as stated on your P60. Your P60 will include any furlough payments you received up to 5 April 2021, so you do not need to include furlough payments on your tax return.
If you are self-employed or in a partnership and received any coronavirus financial support, you will need to declare it on your self assessment.
If you are self-employed, you should use:
- form SA103S – short if your tax affairs are simple and your turnover was below the VAT threshold (£85,000) for the tax year; or
- form SA103F – full if your annual turnover was above the VAT threshold for the tax year.
If you’re in a partnership, you should use:
- form SA104S – short if you’re only declaring partnership trading income; or
- form SA104F – full to record all the possible types of partnership income you might receive
HMRC recognises that some taxpayers may be worrying about paying their tax bill. They can access support to help pay any tax owed, and may be able to set up their own monthly payment plan online by using HMRC’s self-serve Time to Pay facility. Taxpayers should contact HMRC for help if they have concerns about paying their bill.
HMRC’s Myrtle Lloyd, director general for customer services, said: ‘We want to help people get their tax returns right by making sure they are prepared and have everything they need before they start their self assessment. If anyone is worried about paying their tax bill, support is available – search ‘time to pay’ on gov.uk.’
The fastest way to complete a tax return is online via a taxpayer’s Personal Tax Account. They will need their UTR to access their tax return, as well as details of their income or earnings and other financial records.
HMRC urges everyone to be alert if they are contacted out of the blue by someone asking for money or personal information. HMRC sees high numbers of fraudsters emailing, calling or texting people claiming to be from the department. If in doubt, HMRC advises not to reply directly to anything suspicious, but to contact them straight away and to search gov.uk for ‘HMRC scams’.
The demand for finance and accounting talent in businesses now exceeds pre-pandemic levels reveals a new report by specialist recruiter Robert Half
According to the 2022 Salary Guide from Robert Half, finance managers, financial analysts, and management accountants are the most sought-after roles due to the effects of Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic.
The guide, which is an annual report for projected salary ranges, benefits, and hiring trends across several sectors, revealed that candidates with a strong understanding of Microsoft Excel, finance management, and tax are particularly attractive for employers at this moment.
The report states that the ‘biggest strategic priority’ for chief financial officers (CFO) and finance departments over the next 12 months is rolling out digital transformation and automation initiatives to ‘streamline workflow, increase productivity and reduce costs’.
As well as transforming internal processes, the report states that big data will be ‘key to providing the growth insights’ that businesses need to bolster their recovery efforts with the accounting and finance teams expected to adapt in order to meet these needs.
Leo Hewett, associate director, Robert Half, said: ‘Competition for candidates in finance and accounting is fierce – especially those with the tech skills to support on digital transformation projects. New hires can command significant salary increases, making existing staff more likely to jump ship, so those concerned about retaining talent should be prepared to put up a fight.’
The report also found that 56% of CFOs believe that it will be more challenging to find skilled candidates in 2022 with employee retention at the front of CFO’s minds. The report found that 93% of CFOs are ‘somewhat to very’ concerned about their ability to keep top talent in their ranks.
The rise of environmental social governance (ESG) initiatives and regulatory shifts has also raised the demand for risk and compliance roles with UK businesses launching new responsible and sustainable strategies that require candidates who can help broaden related compliance policies.
In this area senior roles are some of the most sought-after roles that businesses are after are head of compliance and compliance managers.
Chris Henson, senior manager, Robert Half said: ‘There has been high demand for digitally skilled workers in the financial services sector as the link between finance and technology becomes ever-closer.
‘Additionally, the new regulatory landscape and heightened focus on ESG strategies is creating demand for risk and compliance specialists who can help companies create, develop, and adhere to policies and frameworks in relation to this.’
The Government has confirmed its intention to introduce carer’s leave as a new statutory employment right. This will allow employees with caring responsibilities to take time off from work to focus on the person (or people) they care for.
Carer’s leave entitlement will be just as important as all other time off employees currently get. For example, maternity leave, shared parental leave, annual leave and time off for dependants.
Carer’s leave will be a day-one right for all employees, meaning there is no minimum amount of service needed before staff can request it. Eligible employees will be able to take up to one week (five working days) of leave per year. The leave can be taken flexibly, either in individual days or half-days, up to a block of one week.
What pay should employees on carer’s leave get?
There is no obligation for employers to pay those who are on carer’s leave; the statutory entitlement is unpaid for eligible employees. However, organisations can choose to offer contractual pay if they want to. Details of this should be outlined in the handbook and communicated with the workforce. It’s important that any enhanced payments are offered consistently, to ensure all staff are treated fairly and equally. Doing so minimises any potential risks of constructive dismissal or discrimination claims.
Does everyone get carer’s leave?
At the moment, it is expected the right will only apply to people with employee status, so workers or self-employed individuals will not be included. These employees must be unpaid carers; such as, people who are looking after a family member or friend on a voluntary caring basis outside their normal job. The person they provide care to must be someone with a long-term care need. For example, a person with a long-term illness or injury covered as a disability under the Equality Act, or issues relating to old age and terminal illness.
The relationship between the employee and this person will follow what is already in place for the right to time off for dependants. Namely, a spouse or civil partner; child; parent; person who lives in the same household (but is not a tenant, lodger or boarder); or, a person who relies on them for care (ie an elderly neighbour).
There is no set date for when this will come into effect. However, the Government’s consultation response document outlines that legislation will be introduced to make carer’s leave a statutory right as soon as parliamentary time allows.
What does this mean for organisations?
While this new legislation is very similar to what is already in place for time off for dependants, carer’s leave is a brand-new entitlement that employers need to factor in as an additional type of leave and know how it should be managed. Organisations should consider providing additional training to their managers and HR teams; be prepared to update policies and procedures, then communicate these changes with the workforce; assess how requests for carer’s leave will be submitted and approved; review staffing levels to make sure there are enough people in place to cover those who go off on carer’s leave; and implement systems to track and manage carer’s leave. A new Statutory Code of Practice will be released to give more detailed information on how carer’s leave will be accepted and managed.
Managers who are already aware of any employees with caring responsibilities should keep in mind that they may request unpaid carer’s leave, so be prepared to accommodate it. It’s expected that employers will have limited scope for refusing requests and that any concerns over unreasonable requests should be objectively justified.
Can organisations refuse carer’s leave?
Refusing carer’s leave or failing to comply with the new statutory entitlement could lead to timely and costly tribunal claims for organisations. As well as breaching employees’ statutory rights, there could be the risk of discrimination (including associative discrimination) claims if the employee is placed at a detriment for needing to take carer’s leave. Associative disability discrimination claims can be made when an employee is treated unfavourably due to their relationship with someone who has a disability. There might also be an increased risk of constructive dismissal claims if the employee feels that they can’t work there anymore due to their employer refusing the leave.
Carer’s leave shouldn’t be included in absence triggers for disciplinary action. Doing so could further increase the risk of aforementioned tribunal claims. But, it is important that employers keep track of how much carer’s leave an employee takes, to make sure they don’t go above their entitlement of one week per year. Managers who have grounds to believe that their employee is unreasonably requesting or taking carer’s leave can speak with them to explain their concerns. Following this initial investigation, they can then decide what action would be most appropriate. Placing someone at a detriment, including giving them a warning or dismissing, can lead to unfair dismissal and discrimination claims. However, if a full process has been completed and it is clear that there are unsatisfactory explanations for utilising statutory carer’s leave, employers can follow their usual disciplinary policies to determine the best outcome.
In situations where statutory carer’s leave is not appropriate to use — for example, if the person only has a short-term care need, or does not meet the definition of a dependant — organisations should not automatically rule out other types of leave. Time off for dependants can be used in emergency situations, or compassionate leave can be used to allow employees to be with those who are seriously ill or injured, without having a wider involvement in providing their care. If the need for the leave does not fall into any formal categories, employers should be reasonable in authorising unpaid leave to support their staff. Doing so helps reduce the risk of unplanned and long-term absences and contributes towards increased retention, motivation and productivity.
The Treasury announced yesterday that it was to support hundreds of thousands of people as part of a £500m expansion to the government’s Plan for Jobs scheme
As part of his speech at the Conservative party conference in Manchester, Rishi Sunak ramped up his message that he is ‘ready to double-down’ on his promise to ‘do whatever it takes’ to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Sunak announced that the Plan for Jobs extension will specifically target workers leaving the furlough scheme and those who are unemployed over the age of 50.
The new package aims to ensure that older workers will receive ‘better information and guidance’ on later life planning which aims to help people make informed choices that will allow them to plan their career and remain in work.
The Government is also prioritising support for those coming off furlough through the job finding support (JFS) scheme as well as extending the job entry targeted support scheme (JETS) to September 2022.
This scheme provides online ‘intensive and tailored support’, one-to-one support for people unemployed for less than 3 months, including recruitment advice from a skilled adviser, support with CVs, and mock interviews.
Starting in April 2022, the Government also announced that it will enhance its support for those on universal credit by offering coaching support and advice to aid career progression as well as providing more Job Centre Plus specialists who will work with local employers to identify local opportunities for people to progress in work.
Measures included in the new package will include a four-month extension of the £3,000 incentive for employers to take on apprentices, there will also be an extension to the kickstart scheme which provides funding to create jobs for 16 to 24-year-olds at risk of long-term unemployment – until the end of March.
The government is also extending its Youth Offer to 2025 and expanding eligibility to include 16- and 17-year olds in addition to 18-24-year-olds.
Commenting on the announcement Ed Hussey, director of people solutions at Menzies LLP said:‘This support package is welcome news for the many thousands of UK workers finding themselves out of work and without the support of the furlough scheme. The only question is, will it be enough to help them to find jobs, so they can, at last, get on with their lives?
‘Businesses can play their part in helping people back to work, at the same time as strengthening their skills base, by taking advantage of the Government’s decision to extend the Kickstart Scheme until March next year. This scheme is designed to benefit young people on Universal Credit and has been proving popular with both employers and workers.
‘The decision to extend the £3,000 incentive for businesses taking on a new apprentice to the end of January 2021 could also help to fill skills gaps. Employers can maximise their subsidies and support by using the KickStart Scheme as a trial period for new employees, the best of whom can then become an apprentice, and there is lots of free support available for companies to navigate the process and maximise their benefits.
‘The decision to extend the period of support is significant as it is clear that the pandemic is continuing to cause disruption for many sectors, at a time when households are being affected by rising costs. The measures announced are just for the short-term, however, and there is a risk that the economic cliff-edge facing many households has just been pushed a bit further away.’
The Chancellor will confirm the specific funding for each measure of the scheme at the spending review before the government department releases its Autumn Budget on 27 October 2021.
The shadow work and pensions secretary, Jonathan Reynolds, said: ‘The government’s struggling plan for jobs has failed to hit its original targets; it is not creating the number of jobs needed and has failed to address the supply chain crisis Britain is experiencing.
‘Giving himself an extended deadline will do nothing to compensate for the Chancellor’s tax rises, cost of living crisis, and cuts to Universal Credit which are set to hammer millions of working families.’
In our handy guide to tax filing deadlines, we provide an at-a-glance guide to key dates from the deadline for notifying chargeability for income tax and capital gains tax to final claims for coronavirus job retention scheme
Corporation tax payment for companies with 31 December 2020 year end (where payments not required by quarterly instalments)
Notify chargeability for income tax/capital gains tax for 2020/21 if not registered for self-assessment
Corporation tax second quarterly instalment payment for accounting periods ending 31 December 2021
Deadline to claim for Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) for September 2021 claims
PAYE cheque payments for the month ended 5 October should reach HMRC by this date (22 October for electronic payments)
File online Construction industry scheme return for the month ended 5 October
Paper submission of personal tax returns for 2020/21 if HMRC is to calculate liability (unless notice issued by HMRC after 31 July 2021, in which case deadline is three months after date of issue of notice)
Forms P46(Car) for quarter ended 5 October (where benefits not payrolled) to reach HMRC by this date
Employment intermediary’s quarterly report (6 July to 5 October) of agency workers paid gross (end user organisation can be classed as the employment intermediary in some circumstances)
PAYE cheque payments for the month ended 5 November should reach HMRC by this date (22 November for electronic payments)
File online Construction industry scheme return for the month ended 5 November
Corporation tax third quarterly instalment payment for very large companies with annual taxable profits exceeding £20m (reduced if company is a member of one or more 51% groups) with an accounting period beginning on 1 April 2021
PAYE cheque payments for the month ended 5 December should reach HMRC by this date (22 December for electronic payments)
File online Construction industry scheme return for the month ended 5 December
Deadline for online submission of personal tax returns for 2020/21 where the taxpayer wishes to settle outstanding underpayments of tax of less than £3,000 as deductions through the PAYE system
Deadline for filing corporation tax returns for accounting periods ended 31 December 2020
HMRC is urging working tax credit claimants to check if they need to update their working hours if these have reduced as a result of coronavirus as relaxed reporting rules end
During the pandemic, working tax credit customers have not needed to tell HMRC about temporary short-term reductions in their working hours as a result of coronavirus – for example if they were working fewer hours or were furloughed. It is one of several measures HMRC introduced to help those facing uncertainty around their hours.
If a working tax credit employee’s hours temporarily fell because of coronavirus, they have been treated as if they were working their normal hours.
Customers do not need to tell HMRC if they re-establish their normal working hours before 25 November 2021, but from then, they must do within the usual one-month window if they are not back to working their normal hours shown in their working tax credit claim.
Myrtle Lloyd, HMRC’s director general for customer services, said: ‘We introduced this measure last year to help support working families. It is vital that working tax credit claimants who have benefitted from it update HMRC with their working hours if they have reduced, and they won’t return to their normal level before 25 November.
‘Anyone who is no longer eligible for working tax credit due to a change in their circumstances may be able to apply for other UK government support, including Universal Credit.’
It is important to inform HMRC about any permanent changes to working circumstances within one month – for example, in the case of redundancy, job loss or permanent changes to hours.
Any changes can be reported online on Gov.uk, where it is possible to check current working tax credit claim details.
If there are mistakes on claims, such as overpayment, the recipient must inform HMRC within one money and repay the money, otherwise penalties will be charged.
HMRC is also reminding claimants that Post Office card accounts are closing. From 30 November 2021 HMRC will stop making payments of child benefit, guardians allowance and tax credits into Post Office card accounts.
Child benefit and tax credits customers who use Post Office card accounts to receive their payments will need to notify HMRC of their new bank, building society or credit union account details. HMRC is encouraging customers to act now so they do not miss any payments once their Post Office account closes. They can contact HMRC’s helplines (0345 300 3900 for tax credits or 0300 200 3100 for child benefit) or use their Personal Tax Account.