Covid-19 Government supports news

Below is a weekly roundup of Government supports for businesses and individuals in the UK.

Please talk to us if you need help in applying for Government support.

Pay VAT deferred due to coronavirus (COVID-19)

The guidance on how to pay VAT payments deferred between 20 March and 30 June 2020 has been updated with an added section on ‘Correcting errors on your VAT returns relating to the VAT payments deferral scheme’, including information on how to defer any extra payments resulting error corrections and HMRC VAT assessments.

If you deferred VAT between 20 March and 30 June 2020 and still have payments to make, you can:

  • pay the deferred VAT in full on or before 31 March 2021.
  • opt into the VAT deferral new payment scheme when it launches in 2021.
  • contact HMRC if you need more help to pay.

The online opt in process will be available in early 2021 and you must do this yourself.

Instead of paying the full amount by the end of March 2021, you can make up to 11 smaller monthly instalments, interest free. All instalments must be paid by the end of March 2022.

The scheme will allow you to:

  • pay your deferred VAT in instalments without adding interest.
  • select the number of instalments from 2 to 11 equal monthly payments.

To use this scheme you must:

  • still have deferred VAT to pay.
  • be up to date with your VAT returns.
  • opt in before the end of March 2021.
  • pay the first instalment when you opt in

If you opt into the scheme, you can still have a time to pay arrangement for other HMRC debts and outstanding tax.


How to treat certain expenses and benefits provided to employees during coronavirus (COVID-19)

The guidance on taxable expenses and benefits when they are paid to employees because of coronavirus and how to report them to HMRC has been updated to confirm that if an employer is providing antigen testing kits to employees, outside of the government’s national testing scheme, either directly or by purchasing tests that are carried out by a third party, no Income Tax or Class 1A National Insurance contributions will be due. Similarly, employers and their employees will not be liable to any Income Tax or National Insurance contributions, where an employee receives money from their employer for obtaining a test.


Private providers of coronavirus testing

The lists of and information about approved suppliers of private testing kits for coronavirus (COVID-19) has been updated.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) is aware of these private sector (non-NHS) providers who may be able to conduct tests for the presence of coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2).

Providers are listed in alphabetical order. They have declared that they meet the government’s minimum standards for providers of Test to Release for international travel or minimum standards for private sector providers of general COVID-19 testing (the Declaration).

Both lists are continually updated by DHSC as providers declare that they meet the required standards and are reviewed by UKAS.


Haulier advice site locations

The list of sites where drivers and crew of HGVs, LGVs, coaches and vans can get free COVID-19 tests and border readiness checks before transporting goods to the EU has been updated.


More employers sign up to rapid testing to protect workforce

Businesses and public sector organisations are joining a government scheme to test workers without symptoms who cannot work from home.

The expansion of such testing should find more positive cases, keeping workers from unknowingly passing on the virus and protecting important services.

Rapid testing in the workplace, using lateral flow tests, aims to help protect those at highest risk and provide vital information to help inform further rollout of the rapid testing technology in future. Organisations signed up to workplace testing already include: Royal Mail, Tate & Lyle Sugars, Primula, Moy Park, Octopus Energy, Apetito, and DVLA.

In addition to scaling up employer-led testing, targeted community testing is now being rolled out across all local authorities in England, with local authorities being encouraged to target testing to people who are unable to work from home. There are now 156 local authorities rolling out community testing programmes, with more than 7 million test kits delivered to participating local authorities.

Local authorities will have the decision on how to use the tests, prioritising those who cannot work from home during the national lockdown. For example these could include using them for council workers, bin collectors or shop workers.


Apply for the Zoo Animals Fund – England

The application deadline has been updated to the 26 February 2021.

Zoos or aquariums can apply for an animal welfare grant of up to £730,000 if affected by coronavirus (COVID-19).

You can apply to the Zoo Animals Fund if your zoo or aquarium is based in England and either:

  • holds a licence (full or dispensation) under the Zoo Licensing Act 1981
  • has been granted an exemption under the Zoo Licensing Act 1981 and holds a licence under the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) Regulations 2018

Before you apply for a grant, you must take all reasonable steps to:

  • reduce costs.
  • generate income in other ways, including applying for COVID-19 business support schemes and commercial and philanthropic funding.

You will have to submit evidence of this when you apply.

You cannot apply if you are an individual zoo that is part of a group of zoos and/or have a parent company. You can apply on behalf of the group, or your parent company may make an application on behalf of the zoos within the group.

You can apply if you have already applied for funding under the Zoos Support Fund between May and July 2020.

You are not eligible if you have already received direct grants of more than €800,000 under the COVID-19 temporary framework once this grant is awarded.


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