There have been a couple of developments and government communications over recent weeks that we thought worthy of an update.
Whilst announcements relating to COVID-19 business support measures have reduced and are less regular, as always, we continue to be committed to communicating information as it emerges from government.
Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS)
As we mentioned in our last update a fortnight ago (here), applications for the 2nd and final grant under the SEISS opened on 17 August 2020.
Those who are self-employed should have received correspondence from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) in this regard.
By way of a reminder, the claim for this grant must be made by 19 October 2020.
Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Kickstart Grant Scheme
It has been announced that the new Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Kickstart Scheme opened for applications at 10am this morning.
Under the scheme, grants of up to £5,000 are available. We understand that it is anticipated that the average grant size will be £3,000.
There are two grants, one specifically aimed at tourism-related businesses, and one open to any small or medium sized business impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The relevant pages of the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Growth Hub website (see here) states that “100% of the money will come from government with no obligation for businesses to contribute financially, and activities funded through the grant can include:
- specialist professional advice e.g. human resources, accountants, legal, financial, IT / digital
- Purchase of minor equipment that support the adoption or adaption of new technology / business processes in order to continue to deliver or diversify business activity in response to COVID 19”
It is important to note that as part of the application process, the business has to confirm that:
- The activity you are applying for is to assist with my COVID-19 recovery plans and is not “business as usual” or related to personal protective equipment (PPE), social distancing or other regulatory activity;
- You would not be able to progress the activity without grant support; and
- Your project has not already started and will be completed by 31st January 2021.
You will also need to answer the following questions:
- How has your business been affected by COVID-19?
- What do you want the grant to fund?
- How will the grant funded activity help your business recover from the impact of COVID-19?
- Why you are unable to cover the costs from other/your own sources?
We suggest visiting the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Growth Hub website for more information.
Business interruption insurance – Test case
The FCA test case regarding regarding whether or not certain business interruption insurance policies provide coverage for businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic concluded in early August.
The judgement is expected later this month. We will update when the judgement has been released.
Furnished Holiday Letting (FHL) – Historic payment of Council Tax instead of Business Rates
For many FHL owners, as part of attempting to claim the COVID-19 grant support schemes that they had incorrectly been paying Council Tax and had not been registered for Business Rates. Given the likely availability of the Business Rates ‘small business rate relief’, this meant that FHL owners were in the unfortunate position of:
- Having paid Council Tax (in some cases for many years) when they didn’t need to; and
- Not being eligible for the COVID-19 grant support schemes.
One client who found themselves in this position has advised that this prompted them to correspond with Cornwall Council who have refunded Council Tax paid from April 2017 to the present day.
Unbeknown to us, the client has been incorrectly paying Council Tax for a number of years previous to April 2017, and has also corresponded with the Valuation Office Agency in order to seek a refund for the period prior to April 2017 (apparently they can go back to 1993 for these purposes).
We would suggest all FHL owners in this position investigate this in order to seek repayments of Council Tax.
Rumoured Tax Hikes
There were a number of reports in the press over Bank Holiday weekend about rumoured tax hikes. We will be sending an email commentating on these rumours that hopefully will be an interesting read. Watch this space!
If we can help and advise you in any way, please get in touch with your usual RRL contact, we continue to largely work remotely. We will respond to emails as usual. We are conducting meetings virtually (using Microsoft Teams) albeit face-to-face meetings can be arranged by pre-appointment conditional upon our meeting policies being agreed and adhered to.
We will provide further updates, as and when further announcements are made and detail/guidance released.