The Kickstart Scheme: how does it work?

Funding for employers and new jobs for young people

 

The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) has launched the £2 billion Kickstart Scheme, designed to create fully subsidised new job placements lasting 6 months for young people across the country who are currently on Universal Credit and at risk of long-term unemployment.

The placements are open to those aged 16-24. They will be available across a range of different sectors in England, Scotland and Wales. The first placements are likely to be available from November.

Employers will receive funding for 100% of the relevant National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week, plus associated employer National Insurance contributions and employer minimum auto-enrolment pension contributions.

There will also be extra funding to support young people to build their experience and help them move into sustained employment after they have completed their Kickstart funded job.

How to apply:

If you are an employer looking to create jobs placements for young people, you can apply here for funding as part of the scheme.

You can submit your application online. If you are applying for 30 or more job placements, you can apply directly.

If you are applying for less than 30 job placements, you must apply through a representative of a group of employers. They can submit an application on your behalf, using other employers to create 30 or more job placements in one application.

Application requirements:

  • Your Companies House reference number or Charity Commission number
  • Organisation address and contact details
  • Details of the job placements and their location
  • Supporting information to show that the job placements are new jobs and meet the Kickstart Scheme criteria
  • Information about the support the organisation can give to develop employability skills of young people

 What happens next:

Once your application has been submitted, it will be reviewed to check it meets the requirements of the Kickstart Scheme. It will then go to a panel for consideration. This is not a competitive process, but Kickstart will only provide funding when the job placements meet the criteria.

DWP aims to respond to applications within one month.

What happens if your application is accepted:

If your application meets the requirements of the scheme, you will receive a letter with a grant agreement. This agreement will include what your company has agreed to provide, and how much funding you will receive from the Kickstart Scheme.

 Contact us

Please get in touch with Adam Parton, Partner if you need support, or alternatively contact us here.

This update originally appeared on the website of our colleagues at MHA Carpenter Box

Online sales tax – would it work?

Recent reports suggest that Chancellor Rishi Sunak is considering introducing an online sales tax as a ‘sustainable and meaningful revenue source’, amid mounting concern about the collapse of the high street, as Britain recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Treasury has highlighted concerns from retailers that business rates place an unreasonable burden on the high street, as they effectively penalise businesses with physical premises because online rivals do not need to rent “high-value” properties. The Treasury has stated that the Covid crisis “has had a significant impact on how business is done” and that the government must act to make sure that “the tax system raises sufficient revenue” to help bricks and mortar retailers to compete.

There could be two models that the Govt is looking at: 1) a straightforward levy of around 2% on sales of online goods, which would raise around £2bn a year or 2) a mandatory charge on consumer deliveries which would form part of a campaign to cut congestion and toxic emissions.

Is the ‘high street’ model broken?

The online sales tax in the UK has largely been discussed in the context of ‘levelling the playing field’ between physical shops and online retailers, particularly with regards to business rates. However, within the Retail sector, it is not widely viewed as a viable solution as it is unlikely to directly benefit or impact on the costs borne by smaller and bricks and mortar retailers.  Business rates have, of course, been suspended in the short term and this has been widely welcomed but a longer-term solution to the issue still needs to be found.

If the sales tax is passed on to consumers, it remains questionable whether it has been set at a level which would override the benefits of shopping online, particularly the convenience aspect. The recent lock down has, through necessity, introduced online shopping to traditional high street shoppers and it is likely that many of these will continue to shop online in future, even if only to a limited degree.

If a key driver behind introducing an online sales tax is to persuade consumers to return to the high street, then conducting some form of analysis to confirm the effectiveness of such a tax would be required before going further.

Other factors to consider

If the EU’s proposed directive requiring online platforms to report the level of online sales (i.e. DAC 7) gets approval, the tax authorities will have more information on online sales, which could be an underlying driver for the tax, as there are likely to be online sales in territory  that are not currently taxed notwithstanding any  obligation to register for VAT.

There is a strong indication that the VAT registration threshold will be reduced in the years ahead which would bring the UK in line with most other countries. The Government has consulted with interested bodies to try to find a solution to the issues surrounding business rates, but no viable solution has been agreed. One alternative could be a 1% rise in the rate of VAT, the revenue from which could be directed towards a reduction in business rates.

It is also rumoured that the Government could be considering a capital values tax to replace business rates, based on the value of the land and buildings, and paid by the property owner. Were a capital values tax to be introduced, it seems likely that landlords would ultimately try to pass it on to the lessee either by increased rents or other charges.

Ultimately, the demise of the high street cannot be wholly blamed on the rise of online shopping. Consumer expectations of the ‘shopping experience’ have also changed and bricks and mortar retailers must be versatile and adaptable to ensure that they are able to move in line with consumer expectations.

Contact us

Please get in touch with David Hackett, Tax Director, if you need support, or alternatively contact us here.

This update originally appeared on the website of our colleagues at MHA MacIntyre Hudson

Cash flow management once furlough ends

The furlough scheme has been supporting the salaries of approximately 7.5m (at an estimated cost c£80bn) workers during the Covid-19 pandemic, and has played a key role in preventing what could have been a catastrophic spike in unemployment levels. The scheme will continue to the end of October, however from August the support provided was reduced, and measures have been introduced to allow the scheme to be used more flexibly.

A gradual removal in lockdown restrictions has allowed many businesses to reopen, although often with a significantly lower capacity and therefore a lower turnover than prior to the pandemic. Many businesses will continue to operate at a significantly reduced level of profitability and therefore cash flow.  

The above factors combined with the furlough scheme coming to an end means that many businesses, particularly those in sectors subject to full or partial lockdown measures, will need to carefully manage their short and medium term cash flow. It is therefore vital that management decisions are informed by both short and medium term profitability and cash flow projections.

Management teams will need to quickly understand the extent to which cash flow can be sufficiently improved through tighter control on working capital – for example reducing payment terms with customers, extending credit terms with suppliers, and securing payment holidays on loan agreements.

Where improvements in working capital will not be sufficient, management teams will need to seek external finance. For many businesses, the most accessible funding has been the widely publicised CBILS and Bounce Back Loan Schemes. These schemes have provided low cost and often unsecured funding to thousands of SME’s.

It is important to note that the deadline for the submission of applications is 30 September (the deadline for funds to be approved has been extended to 30 November) and therefore businesses requiring funding will need to move quickly to obtain this funding.  

Businesses should consider other sources of funding, for example those businesses with an unencumbered sales ledger, or plant and machinery should consider asset based lending. Where the business has access to equity funding either through existing equity investors or business angel networks these options should also be considered.

The above are just some of the areas which should be considered as part of a short and medium term funding strategy. If you would like to discuss further, please contact Ian Waddingham, Corporate Finance Senior Manager or a member of the Corporate Finance team on 0161 5195050.

Important changes in the Basic Payment Scheme Greening Rules for 2021

A short announcement from DEFRA on 27th July marked important changes in the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) for the next few years and may also give a clue to how the transition from direct payments to Environmental Land Management Schemes (ELMS) may be eased.

Government to cut red tape for farmers as they plan for 2021

The paper released on 27th July was headed “Government to cut red tape for farmers as they plan for 2021”, and it gave details of a major simplifying initiative. With effect from the 2021 year, the greening requirements under BPS will be removed on the grounds that they produce little environmental benefit but are an administrative headache for farmers. In practical terms this will mean that it will no longer be necessary to provide an “ecological focus area” of hedges, tree lines, buffer strips etc., nor will it be necessary to grow two or three different crops (depending on the size of the farm). In practical terms one can see that the EFA changes will have little environmental impact since many farms already have the relevant features in place – they simply will no longer need to list them annually. The 30% greening payment will be added to the BPS payment.

The change in the cropping diversity may have benefits, in that where a small farm is cultivated using contractors, it will be far easier to “block crop” the land, since the contractors will no longer need to make multiple visits. Larger farms with simple cropping rotations and large fields may also find the new rules more practical. This rule had already been temporarily relaxed for 2020, but clearly the change will now be permanent.

These changes to the greening requirements are also likely to make completion of the annual BPS claim form much easier, since the level of detail in the greening section is far greater than anything else on the form. From an accounting perspective, the change will remove an area of technical uncertainty which could arise where greening requirements went beyond BPS reference period.

Looking ahead to the future, this announcement may give a clue to how the ELMS schemes may work in practice. At present some management practices are eligible for Countryside Stewardship payments and can alternatively be used as part of the greening EFA. If they are no longer needed for greening, they will presumably become available for Stewardship so there will be a positive financial encouragement for more farms to move into the stewardship regime without necessarily reducing their productive acreage. If, as expected, the basic ELMS schemes look very similar to stewardship, one can see that aspects of the transition might proceed quite seamlessly.

Commenting on the change, Head of Agriculture, Partner at MHA Macintyre Hudson, Sarah Dodds said;

“We very much welcome this announcement. Many farming businesses have always provided the environmental benefits which greening required but had to spend a lot of effort ensuring that they didn’t trip over the rulebook. It is hard to see anyone mourning the loss of red tape, and we would hope that this “light touch” will follow through to the ELMS rules in future.”

Contact us

Please get in touch with Yvonne Coulston, Corporate Services Senior Manager, if you need support, or alternatively contact us here.

This update originally appeared on the website of our colleagues at MHA MacIntyre Hudson

5 simple tips to protect your business against fraud

In these uncertain times, businesses are combatting an increased amount of fraud.

The Financial Cost of Fraud 2019 report published by the Centre for Counter Fraud Studies at the University of Portsmouth suggested that fraud costs UK businesses £130 billion each year.

Throughout recent months, there have been widespread reports of an uptick in fraudulent websites, charity scams and fake emails purporting to be from banks. This increase in fraudulent activity is being driven by opportunists who are attempting to take advantage of the confusion and change of circumstances resulting from the current global pandemic.

Here we’ve provided some tips to protect your business against the costly effects of fraud.

1.Risk assessment

In order to protect against fraud, businesses should carry out a risk assessment. This should include an assessment of any IT risk that could arise through remote working. Cyber security measures should be put in place including firewalls, anti-malware and anti-virus software. This software should be kept up to date.

2.Staff training

All staff should be trained on how to spot fraudulent emails and should be provided with clear guidelines on what to do if they spot a fraudulent email. For example, check email addresses to see if they look suspicious, report the suspicious email to the IT manager or delete the email.

3.Regular audits

On the financial side, regular internal and external audits should be undertaken. Two signatures or authorisations should be required to sign off on payments from the business.

Access to the firm’s bank accounts, online banking facilities and payment systems should be restricted to a limited number of people. An authorisation or approval process should be put in place for all payments over a certain amount.

4.Password protect devices

Computers, company mobiles, phones and devices should all be password protected. All staff should be trained on how to create a secure password and a process should be put in place which means that all passwords are updated on a regular basis.

5.Insurance policies

Even if you implement these measures, your business could still be the victim of fraud or cyber crime. Make sure that you have appropriate insurance policies in place so that your business is protected against any losses incurred from crimes such as fraud.

Contact us

Please get in touch with Karen Hain, Partner if you need support, or alternatively contact us here.

This update originally appeared on the website of our colleagues at MHA Carpenter Box.

Returning to the workplace in a safe environment

In May 2020, the government set out its “roadmap” to ease the current Covid-19 restrictions, set out in a document entitled Our Plan to Rebuild.

The governments approach involves various steps designed to gradually enable people to return to the workplace in a safe working environment. Some of the measures that have been implemented over the past months, include the reopening of non-essential shops and restaurants, bars and hotels. Now the emphasis is on businesses, if not already, making plans to get their staff back to work.

Alongside the plan, the government published eight separate guides containing information for businesses and workers, aimed at assisting them to safely manage the process of returning to the workplace. These have since been updated.

All employers have obligations to ensure the health and safety of both their employees and visitors to their premises. Implementing a carefully considered return to work plan and updating it in line with ongoing government guidance will be critical to your business.

Key Elements:

  1. Devise a ‘Back to Work’ plan using government guidance and local knowledge of your workspaces and working requirements. If required, please consult with Public Health England (PHE)
  2. Consult and include your staff and unions if required in the planning.
  3. Look at the sustainability of the plan both physically and financially (staff hours, cleaning routines, cost of PPE, cleaning products etc.)
  4. Incident Plan – What if you have an outbreak or there becomes a local lockdown.

Make sure everything you do is supported by risk assessments and if required advice from Public Health England (PHE) or other suitable subject matter experts.

Other things you should take into account is your businesses ability to continue to have home working on a more permanent standing.

  1. Have you got a suitable IT infrastructure to support prolonged home working, especially in areas of security and resilience.
  2. Have the staff been provided with the right equipment to work from home? Have you taken into account the security of their home Wi-Fi?
  3. Welfare – How are you looking after your staff’s welfare? You used to be able to have a face to face meeting, see how they are etc. This may not be as easy now. Arrange ‘safe’ face to face meetings.
  4. How are you monitoring their productivity?
  5. Do you now need your current office space?

There are many questions that need to be asked but this could be an ideal opportunity to review the way your business operates, how it looks now and what it needs to look like in the future. Although I have no doubt that there will be pain, the outcome could be a more streamlined and effective business with happier employees as well as clients.

Take this opportunity to look at new ways of working, better ways of working and do not be frightened to ask other businesses how they have coped and adapted to the new world we live in.

This article was written Nick Holden MSyI  M.ISRM, Managing Director at NexusProtect. 

If you would like further information about the content within this update then please contact them on protect@nexus-global.co.uk.

Is your glass half full or half empty?

“My life has been full of terrible misfortunes –  most of which never happened….”

A strange sub-title for a blog on how we are moving into the post lockdown recovery and rebuilding phase – but bear with me, for it’s perhaps not as unusual as you might initially think.

When the lockdown was first announced in early March it quickly felt like the world that we all knew and understood had been totally upended and all the pieces thrown into the air.  Not only this but pretty quickly as the impact upon businesses and the economy began to be discussed and debated a fear started to quickly build that this would be something far worse than a dip, recession or depression.  It could be something we didn’t even yet have a word for but there were real, honestly held fears that it might lay waste huge swathes of the economy and the jobs which it supported, and more importantly, the families who depended on them.

But now, some 6 months on, when we look over our shoulders perhaps it doesn’t feel like that.  Yes there are reams of economic data which make clear the extent of the economic hit we have incurred in terms of GDP dips; and yes the national debt has increased to unheard of levels but these are only telling part of the story. And perhaps, if we may be bold, there are more important, relevant and uplifting parts of the story to be told?

Dr Pangloss from the French writer Voltaire’s 18th century satirical novel Candide was a deluded soul who saw in life the ‘best of all possible worlds’ irrespective of how things were turning out.  We don’t want to be like him.  But many of our clients are saying to us that things over the last 6 months have been difficult, bad even –  but perhaps not as bad as they had feared in the dark days of March and early April (dark in a metaphorical sense as the weather was unseasonally kind to us).

There is a bit of a French theme here because the sub-title of this blog is a quote attributed to the mid 16th century French man of letters, Michel de Montaigne.  And I think it sums up how a lot of us thought about Coronavirus and the lockdown and perhaps how we think about it now.  Let’s be clear, there have been and there continue to be individual experiences of pain, suffering and loss – and a significant proportion of it final and irrecoverable.  But if the experience of our clients is anything to go by, in a business sense, Montaigne has perhaps hit the nail on the head;  what we imagined has been worse than what we experienced and are experiencing.

If that is the case what does that mean for what happens next?  Well, if there is one trait that most successful business owners share it is optimism.  You might think sometimes it is misplaced and overleaps itself;  but thank goodness for that because it is that sense of optimism which drives business owners to focus upon the future; understand what the art of the possible might be and take some (hopefully calculated ) risks in order to achieve that future.

What next essentially boils down to trying to understand 3 things:

  • What is the position of the business now?
  • Where does it want to be in 3 or 6 months time?
  • And, understanding those things, how is it going to get there?

We have been using the now – where – how methodology with a  number of our clients for several years and all of them have found it incredibly helpful in enabling them to see through the noise ( I know we hear noise, and don’t see it, but hopefully you get what I mean) and understand what they must focus upon and what their priorities must be in order to achieve that goal.

Once we know where we are and where we are aiming for, the obstacles and challenges often become very clear.

Understanding what we need to do in order to diminish, avoid or remove these obstacles  entirely from our path can initially appear  an insurmountable challenge in itself; but when we have guided clients through this process using a ‘force field’ analysis the fog has always lifted.  We will cover this approach to problem solving in more detail in another blog.

We might wish that our current situation was very different, but as a former colleague of mine used to say “We are where we are…”; and perhaps where we are is a bit better than where we might have hoped we would be just 6 months ago.

Contact us

Please get in touch with Stephen Gregson, Corporate Finance Director if you need support, or alternatively contact us here.

Six months that brought the importance of Management Information to the fore.

Management information can cover a myriad of different reports and documents and can be varied depending upon your business activities and how sophisticated your records and software are. At the very least, and under normal business conditions, I think every business needs an information pack to include a profit and loss account and a cashflow review as a minimum requirement.  As the world reeled from the impact of Covid-19, business owners have become more reliant on the quality of their management information to enable them to make better, more informed decisions.  I advise my clients to include within their management packs a balance sheet and a detailed review of aged debtors and creditor balances as well as a review of trading performance vs budget. On the back of the information produced, businesses should then look to update a rolling cashflow forecast.

We are working with many businesses to produce 12-week cashflow forecasts. These are then reviewed against management information so that business owners can ensure they are on top of their cash in these challenging times. It has now been 6 months since the initial lock down with most businesses back up and running (if indeed they did close). One thing that almost all businesses have in common is a squeeze on working capital brought about by challenges such as  business customers wanting longer to pay, and suppliers wanting to be paid even quicker!

The best way to manage this squeeze on working capital is to have all relevant information to hand on a timely basis. If you have all the cash facts to hand – who do I owe, who owes me, what orders do I have in, when will they be paid, how much cash is available now etc etc, you can make much better, more informed decisions. Cashflow information is key for business owners as it reflects the here, now and immediate future.

Cashflow forecasts can identify where / when you are going to run out of cash. If you cannot move payment dates around you may need to look for short term funding from your bank. Any lender needs historic management information as well as projected outturns so they can determine the level of finance available to you. Having regular management information gives banks and other lenders comfort that you are in control of your business and the finances of that business.  A lack of management information can make a business look unprofessional or a potentially risky investment.

So how do we speed up the process of creating this management information?

For micro and smaller businesses, this can be made very easy using cloud accounting software. The software is accessible anywhere, anytime and is accessible by anyone you deem necessary to view it. This means you can work seamlessly with your accountant to get up to date real time information. The management reports built into the software can be combined into professional looking reports, and all this can be done with just a few clicks. Getting data in can be digitalised so that you can speed up the bookkeeping process.

For businesses using desktop accounting software such as Sage 50c, you can now very cleverly use technology to get supplier invoices and expenses into your system without typing anything.  It also means you can go paperless. It is a great way to speed up the preparation of your management information. It will give you more time to then review the management information and therefore make more timely decisions. We can also write management reports for businesses which extract data out of Sage 50c so that you can quickly report on key areas. We can even create dashboards to pull out key information as and when you need it.

Contact us

For more information on what management information you should be preparing, how you can prepare it and the costs involved please contact Judith Dugdale, Corporate Services Director and Head of Digital Solutions or contact the Digital Solutions team.

Financial resilience – what are the key questions business owners should be asking themselves?

It has been nearly six months since the World Health Organisation declared Covid-19 a global pandemic.  Over those turbulent months, businesses and business owners have faced a multitude of challenges and have had to adapt quickly to changes in the way their business operates.

Here, we take a short look at a number of the key issues facing businesses over the coming months.

The end of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)

The second iteration of the CJRS came into effect from on 1 July 2020 and there are some key dates coming up. 

From 1 September employers will only be able to claim 70% of salary costs up to a maximum of £2,187.50 per month (down from 80% and £2,500 respectively).  Furthermore, the CJRS will no longer include employers’ NIC and employers’ pension contributions. 

From 1 October the amount employers can claim falls further to 60% of salary costs up to a maximum of £1,875.

As things stand, from November the CJRS will come to an end and employers will no longer be able to claim support towards employment costs.  It is therefore vital that business have factored this into their cashflow forecasts.

Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS)

Claims for the second and final grant for the self-employed and members of a partnership are now open.  As with the CJRS, the value of the grants have reduced to 70% and capped at £6,570.  The deadline for claims is 19 October. Individuals that are self-employer or run their business as a partnership should check if they’re eligible for the grant.

Repayment of deferred liabilities or Government support

 Back in March, HMRC announced that VAT payments due between 20 March and 30 June could be deferred and a significant number of business took advantage of this deferral.  Those liabilities are due to be paid in full by 31 March 2021.  Businesses should be including this in their cashflow forecasts and considering whether there is merit in paying the balance in instalments over the coming months rather than having to find the full amount in March 2021.

Some businesses may have also taken advantage of deferring other tax liabilities such and PAYE/NIC and corporation tax or may have received a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan.  Consideration should be taken as to when these liabilities are due for repayment.

How has Covid-19 affected working capital?

Even in a “pre-Coronavirus” world, management of a business’ cashflow and working capital was of paramount importance but during the pandemic it has now become critical.  Businesses have been forced to review the components of their working capital to make sure each element is working as efficiently as possible to ease the burden on the business and some businesses have looked to implement new methods of managing working capital.  Some considerations are:

  • Stock – is the business holding too much stock to meet reduced demand as a result of a downturn in activity due to Covid-19.  Have minimum stock levels been reviewed and amended?
  • Debtors – are up to date credit checks taking place and does the business need to approach customers about receiving part/full payment in advance or negotiating a formal payment plan?

A key factor to consider later in 2020 and in the first quarter of 2021 is what impact the above will have on the business’ customers.  Will the end of the CJRS, payment of deferred VAT and commencement of repayment of CBILS loans detrimentally affect their customers’ business?  Businesses need to assess the risk of their customers experiencing cashflow problems before providing goods/services on credit to avoid costly bad debts down the line.

Deal or no-deal?

31 January 2020, the date the UK formally left the EU, may seem like an eternity ago.  The transition period is due to end on 31 December 2020 and it is still uncertain as to whether a deal with the EU will be obtained.  Therefore, in the very near future businesses and business owners that import and/or export will not only need to prepare for our new trading relationship with the EU but also the impact it will have on their business.  Consideration should be given to both regulatory matters (duty, customs), the availability of goods and the movement of goods in to and out of the UK.

Contact us

Please get in touch with Paul Williams, Partner if you need support, or alternatively contact us here.