Outdoor measures to be made permanent

Temporary measures that have given a huge boost to high streets and hospitality during the pandemic could be made permanent following a public consultation launched in September 2021.

From marquees being put up in pub grounds, to street markets operating all year round, permitted development rights that have allowed people to enjoy al fresco dining and visit town centres and tourist attractions as the nation reopened from the pandemic.

These planning reforms also gave businesses and councils a lifeline to operate alongside the right to regenerate and new licensing arrangements.

The government is aiming to make a number of these permanent so that people can continue to enjoy outdoor hospitality and local attractions, and businesses can innovate, as we build back better from the pandemic. The public will now be able to give their views on the proposed reforms, so they can continue to benefit everyone in the future.

These changes will be welcomed by the hospitality trades badly affected by COVID restrictions.

Now we just need good weather in the coming winter months so that these relaxations can be fully exploited by affected traders. 

Capped social care costs from October 2023

The government has announced new plans to cap social care costs in England from October 2023. This change is expected to see the introduction of a new £86,000 cap on care costs across an individual’s lifetime.

There will also be the following measures of financial assistance for those without substantial assets:

  • Anyone with less than £20,000 of assets will not have to pay anything towards their care from their savings or the value of their home.
  • People with between £20,000 and £100,000 of assets will be eligible for some means-tested financial support on a sliding scale. 
  • The new upper capital limit of £100,000 is more than four times the current limit of £23,250. This means more people will be eligible for some means-tested Local Authority support.

If someone’s assets are over £100,000 then full fees must be paid. However, the maximum that a person will have to pay over their lifetime towards personal care costs will be £86,000 as a result of the new cap. If the payment of these fees means that their remaining assets fall below £100,000 then some further financial support should be available. Once the £86,000 cap is reached, Local Authorities will pay for all eligible personal care costs.

Individuals may choose to “top up” their care costs by paying the difference towards a more expensive service, but this will not count towards the cap. There is also an important exception for ‘living costs’ which could amount to additional significant costs. There will be a lot more detail on these changes to come and of course the old limits will continue for the next 2 years, and any monies paid will not be part of the new cap. 

Class 1 NIC changes extend to Class 1A contributions

It is important to bear in mind that the 1.25% increase in National Insurance contributions (NICs) for 2022-23 will apply to National Insurance Class 1 and Class 4 contributions from April 2022. This means that the increase will apply to Class 1 (employee and employer), Class 1A and 1B and Class 4 (self-employed) NICs. Those above State Pension Age are not impacted by the April 2022 changes although see closing comments on the new Levy from April 2023.

Smaller employers who benefit from the NIC employment allowance may not be affected by the increase in employer secondary Class 1 contributions if their NI bill is covered by the allowance. The employment allowance currently allows eligible employers to reduce their National Insurance liability by up to £4,000 per year. The allowance is only available to employers that have employer NIC liabilities of under £100,000 in the previous tax year.

The employment allowance cannot be used against Class 1A or Class 1B NICs liabilities and accordingly, the 1.25% increase will represent a real cost even for small employers whose Class 1 NIC bill is covered by the employment allowance.

From April 2023, these increases will be incorporated into a new ringfenced Health and Social Care Levy of 1.25%. The levy will apply to those who pay Class 1 (employee and employer), Class 1A and 1B and Class 4 (self-employed) NICs and will also be extended to those over State Pension age who are in work. The NIC rates will revert to their current level, but the increase will of course remain by way of the new levy.

Do tax-payers need to register for Self-Assessment

There are a number of reasons why a taxpayer needs to complete a Self-Assessment return. This includes if they are self-employed, a company director, have an annual income over £100,000 and / or have income from savings, investment or property.

Taxpayers that need to complete a Self-Assessment return for the first time should inform HMRC as soon as possible. The latest date that HMRC should be notified is by 5 October following the end of the tax year for which a Self-Assessment return needs to be filed.

In certain circumstances, HMRC also asks taxpayers to complete tax returns. HMRC has an online tool that can help taxpayers ascertain whether they are required to submit a Self-Assessment return.

The list of taxpayers that are likely to be required to submit a Self-Assessment return includes:

  • The self-employed;
  • Taxpayers who had £2,500 or more in untaxed income;
  • Those with savings or investment income of £10,000 or more before tax;
  • Taxpayers who made profits from selling things like shares, a second home or other chargeable assets and need to pay Capital Gains Tax;
  • Company directors – unless it was for a non-profit organisation (such as a charity) and you didn’t get any pay or benefits, like a company car;
  • Taxpayers whose income (or that of their partner’s) was over £50,000 and one spouse/partner claimed Child Benefit;
  • Taxpayers who had income from abroad that they needed to pay tax on;
  • Taxpayers who lived abroad and had a UK income;
  • Income over £100,000.

Gender pay gap reporting to commence from 5 October

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) confirmed in February 2021 that enforcement action against employers for failing to report their gender pay gap data for the last reporting year (2020/21) would be suspended for six months and so would not begin until 5 October 2021.

This additional six-month period is almost at an end and so, if they have not already done so, private sector employers with 250 or more staff must now submit their 2020/21 gender pay gap reports, using the snapshot date of 5 April 2020, by no later than 5 October 2021. Employees who were furloughed on reduced pay under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme as at 5 April 2020 should not be included when calculating the hourly pay figures; where this gives a misleading impression, employers may want to explain this in a voluntary supporting narrative accompanying their report.  
 

Budget date announced

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak has confirmed that the next UK Budget will take place on Wednesday, 27 October 2021. This will be the Chancellor’s third Budget and the first one to revert back to the Autumn Budget schedule that was interrupted first by Brexit related issues and then by the coronavirus pandemic. It means that this year, 2021, will see 2 Budget’s the first that took place in March and the second that has been scheduled for October.  

Details of all the Budget announcements will be made on a special section of the GOV.UK website which will be updated following completion of the Chancellor’s speech in October.

The Budget will be published alongside the latest forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR). The OBR has executive responsibility for producing the official UK economic and fiscal forecasts, evaluating the government’s performance against its fiscal targets, assessing the sustainability of and risks to the public finances and scrutinising government tax and welfare spending.

The Chancellor also confirmed that the 27 October 2021 will also see the government spending plans set out under the Spending Review 2021. The three-year review will set UK government departments’ resource and capital budgets for 2022-23 to 2024-25 and the devolved administrations’ block grants for the same period.

Dental Associates tax status update

HMRC has, for many years, accepted that associate dentists are generally treated as self-employed. These agreements have been approved by the British Dental Association (BDA) and the Dental Practitioners Association (DPA) and are quoted in HMRC’s manuals.

HMRC’s manuals state that ‘these agreements relate to dentists practising as associates in premises run by another dentist. Where these agreements are used and the terms are followed, the income of the associate dentist is assessable under trading income rules and not as employment income. In these circumstances the dentist is liable for Class 2/4 NICs and not Class 1 NICs.’

It has now been confirmed that this specific guidance for Associate Dentists will be withdrawn with effect from 6 April 2023, and after this date the status of new and ongoing Associate Dentist engagements should be considered in line with standard employment status checks. 

This change should not impact the self-employed status of the majority of associate dentists but is in line with HMRC’s goal to stop making reference to third party advice in their own guidance. HMRC has also confirmed that they will not be using the withdrawal of the guidance as a reason to open retrospective enquiries into periods prior to 6 April 2023.

Pension triple-lock abandoned for one year

The government has confirmed that its triple-lock guarantee on pensions is to be abandoned for one year. The guarantee was first introduced in 2010 and has remained in place until now. This guarantee has seen the full yearly State Pension increase by over £2,050 in this period.

The triple-lock is the mechanism used to calculate increases to the state pension each year. Under the triple-lock guarantees the basic state pension rises by whichever is the highest out of average earnings growth, inflation or 2.5%.

The government is concerned that the growth in earnings will be between 8% and 8.5% and has decided that setting aside for one year the use of average earnings growth figures for State Pensions would be prudent. This large growth figure has been caused by the unprecedented fluctuations to earnings caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The other two elements of the triple-lock will remain in place, meaning that the State Pension will be uprated by the higher of inflation or 2.5%.

The government has argued that this pause in the triple-lock is the fairest approach for both pensioners and younger taxpayers. However, this decision will leave many of those in receipt of the State Pension deeply disappointed with this decision and worried that this is the start of further broken promises.

It had been rumoured for quite some time that HM Treasury was exploring ways to suspend the triple-lock as it became apparent that the earnings growth figure would appear to be artificially high.

Claiming a tax refund

If you think that you have paid too much tax to HMRC you can usually claim back any overpaid tax. The exact method for making a claim depends on a number of factors including whether or not you complete a Self-Assessment return and the length of time that has passed since the tax was overpaid.

Claims can usually be backdated for up to four years after the end of the relevant tax year. This means that claims can still be made for tax refunds dating back as far as the 2017-18 tax year (which ended on 5 April 2018). The deadline for making claims for the 2017-18 tax year is 5 April 2022.

According to HMRC you may be able to claim a refund if you have paid too much tax on:

  • pay from your current or previous job
  • pension payments
  • income from a life or pension annuity
  • a redundancy payment
  • a Self-Assessment tax return
  • interest from savings or PPI
  • foreign income
  • UK income if you live abroad
  • fuel costs or work clothing for your job.

HMRC is currently undertaking the annual reconciliation of PAYE for the tax year 2020-21. HMRC use salary and pension information to calculate if the correct amount of tax has been paid. Where the incorrect amount of tax has been paid, HMRC use the P800 form to inform taxpayers. HMRC expects to send all P800 forms by the end of November 2021. The P800 will notify you if you have overpaid or underpaid tax.

If you need any assistance in understanding and checking a P800 form or making a claim for overpaid tax, we are here to help.

Child benefit when child turns 16

Taxpayers entitled to the child benefit should be aware that HMRC usually stop paying child benefit on the 31 August on or after a child’s 16th Birthday. Under qualifying circumstances, the child benefit can continue until a child reaches their 20th birthday. A qualifying young person is someone aged 16,17, 18 or 19 in full time non-advanced education or in approved training.

Some examples of full-time non-advanced education are:

  • A levels and other general academic qualifications of a similar standard, for example, Pre-U and the International Baccalaureate
  • T levels
  • Scottish Highers
  • NVQs and other vocational qualifications up to level 3
  • home education – if it started before your child turned 16 or after 16 if they have special needs
  • traineeships in England

A child would not qualify if entering advanced education such as a university degree or BTEC Higher National Certificate.

Approved training should be unpaid and can include:

  • Foundation Apprenticeships or Traineeships in Wales
  • Employability Fund programmes in Scotland
  • PEACE IV Children and Young People 2.1, Training for Success, or Skills for Life and Work in Northern Ireland

Any parents with children that remain in approved education or training should contact the child benefit office to ensure they continue receiving the child benefit payments to which they are entitled. No child benefit is payable after a young person reaches the age of 20 years.

The weekly rates of child benefit for the only or eldest child in a family is currently £21.05 and the weekly rate for all other children is £13.95.