The government has announced their intention to fundamentally reform the private rented sector marking the biggest shake-up of the private rented sector in 30 years.
These measures are set to include a ban on section 21 ‘no-fault’ evictions and placing a legislative duty for landlords in the private sector to meet the Decent Homes Standard to the private sector by 2030.
Other measures announced to help tenants include:
– Helping the most vulnerable by outlawing blanket bans on renting to families with children or those in receipt of benefits. – For the first time, ending the use of arbitrary rent review clauses, restricting tribunals from unduly increasing rent and enabling tenants to be repaid rent for non-decent homes. This will make sure tenants can take their landlord to court to seek repayment of rent if their homes are of an unacceptable standard. – Making it easier for tenants to have much-loved pets in their homes by giving all tenants the right to request a pet in their house, which the landlord must consider and cannot unreasonably refuse. – All tenants are to be moved onto a single system of periodic tenancies, meaning they can leave inferior quality housing without remaining liable for the rent or move more easily when their circumstances change. A tenancy will only end if a tenant ends or a landlord has a valid reason, as defined in law. – Doubling notice periods for rent increases and giving tenants stronger powers to challenge them if they are unjustified. – Giving councils stronger powers to tackle the worst offenders, backed by enforcement pilots, and increasing fines for serious offences. There will also be changes designed to benefit landlords including the introduction of a new Private Renters’ Ombudsman to enable disputes between private renters and landlords to be settled quickly, at low cost, and without going to court. There will also be measures to help tackle anti-social tenants and a new property portal to help landlords to understand and comply with their responsibilities.
It is hoped that these reforms will help to ease the cost-of-living pressures renters are facing, saving families from unnecessarily moving from one privately rented home to another and thereby saving hundreds of pounds in moving costs.
Financing a new Start-Up business is one of the most crucial aspects of helping a new venture to succeed. Obtaining finance for a new business can be an arduous process. For example, borrowing money from a mainstream bank may not be an option or only possible with security conditions such as a personal guarantee.
There is a government-backed scheme known as the Start-Up Loan scheme that may be able to help. This scheme offers personal loans to individuals looking to start or grow a business in the UK. Applicants that are accepted are also paired with a business mentor for 12 months. This loan is unsecured, meaning there is no need to provide any personal assets or guarantors to support an application.
Business owners or partners in a business can individually apply to borrow from £500 – £25,000 each, with a maximum of £100,000 available per business. The average loan amount using this scheme is in the region of £7,200. There is a fixed interest rate of 6% per annum with the option of a 1-to-5-year loan repayment term. There is no application fee and no early repayment fee.
To apply for the loan all of the following must apply:
– you live in the UK – you are 18 or over – you have (or plan to start) a UK-based business that has been fully trading for less than 36 months.
The Customs Declaration Service (CDS) is a new customs IT platform that has been designed to modernise the process for completing customs declarations for businesses that import or export goods from the UK. A phased launch of the service started in August 2018. The CDS is used for making import and export declarations when moving goods into and out of the UK.
When the CDS is fully operational, the old Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) service will be closed. The CHIEF system is over 25 years old and has struggled to cope with complex reporting requirements that could not easily or cost-effectively be accommodated within the existing service.
HMRC has confirmed that ahead of the 31 March 2023 complete closure, services on CHIEF will be withdrawn in two stages:
– 30 September 2022: import declarations close on CHIEF – 31 March 2023: export declarations close on CHIEF / National Exports System (NES)
The decision to introduce the CDS was system driven to provide a more secure and stable platform and predated Britain’s vote to leave the EU. Importers and exporters should by now be well aware of the CDS system, and they or their agents should be preparing for the further rollout and eventual replacement of the CHIEF system. As the deadline approaches, HMRC urges businesses to move to the CDS as soon as possible.
A reminder that the super-deduction, offering 130% first-year tax relief, is available to companies until March 2023. The super-deduction is designed to help companies finance expansion in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and drive growth.
The super-deduction tax break was introduced on 1 April 2021 and allowed businesses to deduct 130% of the cost of any purchase of most new plant and equipment that ordinarily qualify for 18% main rate writing down allowances. This means that for every £1 incorporated businesses invest they can reduce their tax bill by up to 25p. The temporary tax relief applies to qualifying capital asset investments until 31 March 2023.
In addition, an enhanced first-year allowance of 50% on qualifying special rate assets also applies to expenditure within the same period. This includes the newest plant and machinery investments that would ordinarily qualify for a 6% special rate writing down allowances.
The super-deduction is only for companies, which means that self-employed traders are unable to benefit. However, they could benefit from the temporary increase in the Annual Investment Allowance (AIA) cap to £1 million. The AIA allows for a 100% tax deduction on qualifying expenditures on plants and machinery. The temporary limit of £1 million will also remain in place until 31 March 2023 before reverting to the usual £200,000 limit.
In the Autumn Budget 2018, the government announced that they would launch a call for evidence to learn more about the nature and scale of till fraud. This specifically looked at businesses that deliberately undertake electronic sales suppression (ESS). ESS occurs when a business deliberately manipulates its electronic sales records in order to hide or reduce the value of individual transactions.
This type of fraud is hard to spot as it aims to reduce the recorded turnover of the business and the corresponding tax liabilities while providing what appears to be a credible and compliant audit trail.
In Spring Budget 2021, the government announced that new powers would be introduced to tackle ESS. These new powers were included in the Finance Act (2022) introduced in February this year.
HMRC officers have now started targeting businesses across the country suspected of being involved in making, supplying or promoting ESS systems. These businesses now face fines of up to £50,000 and criminal investigations. HMRC is also actively targeting users of these systems who will also face having to pay back tax evaded, financial penalties and possible criminal convictions.
On 18 May 2022, 30 businesses were visited across nine counties, including shops, takeaways and restaurants. In addition, two men and a woman were arrested in Nottinghamshire as part of a criminal investigation into the alleged supply of ESS software.
The Bounce Back Loans scheme was launched in May 2020 to provide financial support to businesses across the UK that were losing revenue and cash flow due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The scheme allowed qualifying small businesses to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000 with no fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months. In most cases business receive the cash within 24 hours of approval. The scheme closed to new applications and top-up applications on 31 March 2021.
A director of a small consultancy business applied for a £30,000 Bounce Back Loan on behalf of his company in May 2020, despite the company accounts showing annual turnover of £50,000. The maximum the company was eligible to claim under the scheme was just under £13,000. Part of the loan was spent on personal expenditure in clear breach of the rules.
The business was placed in voluntary liquidation in March 2021 before the liquidator passed on concerns regarding the director’s conduct to the Insolvency Service for further investigation.
The director admitted applying for a larger Bounce Back Loan than the company was entitled to and using some of the money for personal expenditure. This has resulted in the director being banned from acting as a director for 8 years.
The Chief Investigator at The Insolvency Service said:
‘We will not hesitate to take action against directors who have abused Covid-19 financial support, and ultimately the taxpayer.’
Businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs by applying to HMRC’s Time To Pay service.
These arrangements are agreed upon on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities. Agreements reached with HMRC allow businesses and individuals to pay off their debt by instalments over a period of time.
HMRC will usually offer taxpayers the option of extra time to pay if they think they genuinely cannot pay in full but will be able to pay in the future. If HMRC does not think that more time will help, then they can require immediate payment and start enforcement action if payment is not forthcoming.
An online payment plan for Self-Assessment tax bills can be used to set up instalment arrangements for paying tax liabilities up to £30,000. Taxpayers that qualify for a Time to Pay arrangement using the self-serve Time to Pay facility online, can do so without speaking to an HMRC adviser.
Taxpayers that want to use the online option must also have filed their latest tax return, be within 60 days of the payment deadline and intend to pay their debt off within the next 12 months or less.
Taxpayers with Self-Assessment tax payments that do not meet the above requirements and businesses need to contact HMRC to request a Time To Pay arrangement.