Apprenticeships on hold

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Some two-thirds of UK companies have not invested in new apprentices over the past 12 months, according to the latest survey from In-Comm, a training and apprenticeship provider.

It discovered the pandemic is (not surprisingly) having a dramatic impact on vocational training. Apprenticeship starts dropped by nearly a fifth in 2020, and there is a growing fear that there is a risk of this exacerbating Britain’s skills gap.

The survey also found that half of companies have cut their training budgets and more than half of firms (53%) dropped plans to take on young workers as they adapt to the challenges presented by the virus.

Highlights from the survey of 109 employers include nearly nine-tenths of companies retaining their existing apprentices, while the government’s furlough scheme has allowed 72% of management teams to continue to offer training.

Bekki Phillips, Chief Operating Officer of In-Comm Training, said: “The appetite to invest in the future workforce is still there, but companies are under so much financial pressure from the pandemic that they have to make some tough decisions and it appears that this is already having an impact on the number of apprentices being recruited.

“We really need government to take note of this and look at how it could explore more targeted short-term financial support to help bridge the rest of the pandemic.

“Employers require support now and in a way that takes some of the financial burden away, maybe through a simplified grant scheme or maybe even shared apprenticeships, where a number of companies could invest in the one individual.”

Pay VAT deferred due to coronavirus

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The government has updated its advice for those businesses that deferred VAT payments due between 20 March and 30 June 2020 and still have payments to make.

They can:

  • pay the deferred VAT in full, on or before 31 March 2021.
  • join the VAT deferral new payment scheme – the online service is open between 23 February and 21 June 2021.
  • contact HMRC on 0800 024 1222 by 30 June if they need extra help to pay.

But HMRC is warning that companies may be charged interest or a penalty if they do not:

  • pay the deferred VAT in full by 31 March 2021.
  • opt into the new payment scheme by 21 June 2021.
  • agree extra help to pay with HMRC by 30 June 2021.

The VAT deferral new payment scheme will be open from 23 February up to and including 21 June 2021.

Companies on the VAT Annual Accounting Scheme or the VAT Payment on Account Scheme will be invited by HMRC to join the new payment scheme in March 2021.

The new scheme allows them to pay deferred VAT in equal instalments interest free, and choose the number of instalments (from two to 11, depending on when they join).

Companies can still join the scheme even if they have a Time to Pay arrangement for other HMRC debts and outstanding tax.

For full details go to https://tinyurl.com/5jgw1adk

Government sets up ‘Pay as You Grow’ flexible loan repayment

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Businesses that took out government-backed Bounce Back Loans to get through Covid-19 will now have greater flexibility to repay their loans.

The Treasury’s Pay as You Grow repayment flexibilities enable borrowers to tailor their repayment schedule, with the option to extend the length of their loans from six to ten years (reducing monthly repayments by almost half), make interest-only payments for six months or pause repayments for up to six months.

The Chancellor has now extended the flexibility of the third option, which will now be available to all from their first repayment (rather than after six repayments have been made). This will mean that businesses can choose to make no payments on their loans until 18 months after they originally took them out.

These Pay as You Grow options will be available to more than 1.4 million businesses which took out a total of nearly £45 billion through the Bounce Back Loan Scheme.

This is in addition to the government covering the costs of interest for the first year of the loan.

80% of small business owners ‘experiencing poor mental health’

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Four in five small business owners report experiencing symptoms of poor mental health at least a few times a year, according to a new study by Mental Health UK and the small business lender iwoca.

The research also found that the Covid-19 crisis has made this more acute, with people reporting panic attacks and experiencing symptoms of depression more frequently since the pandemic began.

Some 86% of female business owners reported experiencing poor mental health, compared with 77% of males. Despite this, 44% of small business owners have never accessed mental health support.

An inability to focus (66%) was most commonly reported by small business owners, followed by the anxiety (64%) and disrupted sleep (63%). Almost a quarter (24%) have panic attacks and 37% experience symptoms of depression.

More than a fifth or respondents (22%) stated that they often shut off and disengage from others when experiencing mental health issues, with just one in four (25%) having accessed professional help. When pressed on why they hadn’t sought help, just under a third (31%) of owners said they didn’t know where to go for help or were unaware support existed.

  • For more information and to find details of where to get help and advice go to https://mentalhealth-uk.org/

Back to Basics videos: the trial balance

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PQ magazine – the UK’s leading publication for accountancy and bookkeeping trainees – has joined forces with Training Link’s Michele Butler to help students get to grips with the trial balance.

In just six short minutes she explains how to create the trial balance and why you are doing it. Michele will let you know whether a balance is a credit or debit, and help you get to grips with ‘DEAD CLIC’.

Check out the latest in the series at: https://vimeo.com/500074449. Students can also use the same link to access a Back to Basics video explaining double entry bookkeeping.

Friday Roundup Podcast 12th February 2021

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The news from the week ending 12th February 2021

Janet Jack – CEO
Sarah Palmer
 – COO
Simon Jordan – Marketing

Below are the notes from the podcast

On this week’s Friday Roundup we have…

Simon

  • Talks about our guest on this week’s coffee morning and a huge turnout!
  • Hannah from Xero

Janet

  • The continuing success of the roll-out of the National Ambassador Program so get involved
  • Mind the Gap – upcoming webinar 2nd March
  • Podcast with George Batts MBE

Sarah

  • While we wait for the Budget…
  • Support for company directors
  • Deferred Vat Payments
  • Reverse charge vat – CIS
  • BBL repayments extended

 

Simon

  • Further details about how to become an IAB Ambassador or group member – we now have 6 Ambassadors
  • How to access the AML Webinar – Mind the Gap  on Tuesday 2nd March 10 am www.IAB.org.uk/AMLWebinar available after the recording
  • Charity event – www.IAB.org.uk/Normandy-memorial
  • Our IAB Awards event – www.IAB.org.uk/Awards
    5 Categories available
    • Bookkeeper of the Year
    • Accountant of the Year
    • Payroll Professional of the Year
    • Student of the Year
    • Tutor of the Year

Learn more about the Covid sick pay scheme

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HMRC is running monthly webinars on the Coronavirus (Covid-19) Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme. The webinars cover the latest information on:

  • who can claim.
  • who you can claim for.
  • how to make a claim.
  • what you may be entitled to.

You can register online at https://tinyurl.com/y4n4z63a

HMRC said: “During these interactive webinars you can ask questions using the on-screen text box and download handouts giving detailed examples and links to more information.

“Afterwards, we’ll also send you a link to a video recording of the webinars, in case you’d like to see any of it again.”

Scottish government leaves income tax unchanged

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Income tax rates and bands will be unaltered for the coming year, said the Scottish government today. Meanwhile, the thresholds for all but the top rate will rise in line with CPI inflation (0.5%).

Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Kate Forbes, said “Exceptional circumstances require an exceptional response”. She revealed that local authorities will also be given monies to help them hold down council tax. The government is making an additional £90 million available to compensate councils that choose to freeze their council tax at 2020-21 levels.

Business pandemic tax reliefs are also being extended and the poundage rate of non-domestic rates will be cut to 49p.

Proposed Scottish income tax rates – 2021-22

Starter rate: Over £12,570 – £14,667 (19%)

Basic rate: Over £14,667 – £25,296 (20%)

Middle rate: Over £25,296 – £43,662 (21%)

Higher rate: Over £43,662 – £150,000 (41%)

Top rate: Over £150,000 (46%)

Record £23.8m fine for breach of money laundering regs

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Money transfer company MT Global Limited has been handed the largest-ever fine issued by HMRC, £23.8 million, for significant breaches of the money laundering regulations.

HMRC said the company fell down on its risk assessments, record-keeping, controls and procedures and fundamental customer due diligence measures. Nick Sharp, of HMRC’s economic crime unit, said: “Money laundering is not a victimless crime. Criminals use laundered cash to fund serious organised crime, from drug importation to child sexual exploitation, human trafficking and even terrorism.”

The D-Day Landings – Inspiring interview with veteran George Batts MBE

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In this special interview, I’m speaking to George Batts MBE veteran of the D-Day Landings about his experience on Gold Beach during the conflict and why we’ve chosen the Normandy Memorial Trust as the IAB charity of the year.

Here are some of the questions I asked George

You were 18 when you landed on Golden Beach in Normandy, tell me about the lead up to this?

What were your initial feelings when you arrived?

What was the biggest thing you learnt from the whole experience?

How many of your friends did you lose?

What really imprinted in your memory?

With your planned education centre, what do you want others to learn?

To Donate to the charity click here