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Government announces winter COVID plan

Prime Minister, Boris Johnson has set out the government’s autumn and winter plan for managing Covid.

The government is aiming to sustain the progress made and prepare the country for future challenges while ensuring the National Health Service (NHS) does not come under unsustainable pressure.

The government plans to achieve this by:

  • Building our defences through pharmaceutical interventions: vaccines, antivirals and disease-modifying therapeutics.
  • Identifying and isolating positive cases to limit transmission: Test, Trace and Isolate.
  • Supporting the NHS and social care: managing pressures and recovering services.
  • Advising people on how to protect themselves and others: clear guidance and communications.
  • Pursuing an international approach: helping to vaccinate the world and managing risks at the border.
    This is known as Plan A. There are of course a number of variables that could change the expected outlook including the outbreak of new variants and other seasonal respiratory diseases such as the flu.

    If the data suggests the NHS is likely to come under unsustainable pressure, the government has prepared a Plan B for England. It is hoped that this plan will not be required but the plan contains certain measures which can help control transmission of the virus while seeking to minimise economic and social impacts.

    This includes:
  • Communicating clearly and urgently to the public that the level of risk has increased and with it the need to behave more cautiously.
  • Introducing mandatory vaccine-only COVID-status certification in certain settings.
  • Legally mandating face coverings in certain settings.
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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 interrupted 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 in a special section of the GOV.UK website, which will update following the 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 27 October 2021 will 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.

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Construction services and reverse charge

New VAT rules for building contractors and sub-contractors came into effect on 1 March 2021. The new rules make the supply of most construction services between construction or building businesses subject to the domestic reverse charge. However, the reverse charge only applies to supplies of specified construction services to other businesses in the construction sector.

HMRC’s guidance states that you must use the reverse charge for the following services:

– constructing, altering, repairing, extending, demolishing or dismantling buildings or structures (whether permanent or not), including offshore installation services
– constructing, altering, repairing, extending, demolishing of any works forming, or planned to form, part of the land, including (in particular) walls, roadworks, power lines, electronic communications equipment, aircraft runways, railways, inland waterways, docks and harbours, pipelines, reservoirs, water mains, wells, sewers, industrial plant and installations for purposes of land drainage, coast protection or defence
– installing heating, lighting, air-conditioning, ventilation, power supply, drainage, sanitation, water supply or fire protection systems in any building or structure
– internal cleaning of buildings and structures, so far as carried out in the course of their construction, alteration, repair, extension or restoration
– painting or decorating the inside or the external surfaces of any building or structure
– services which form an integral part of, or are part of the preparation or completion of the services described above – including site clearance, earth-moving, excavation, tunnelling and boring, laying of foundations, erection of scaffolding, – site restoration, landscaping and the provision of roadways and other access works
This means that for these specified supplies, sub-contractors no longer add VAT to their supplies to most building customers; instead, the contractors are obliged to pay the deemed output VAT on behalf of their registered sub-contractor suppliers. This is known as the Domestic Reverse Charge. On the same VAT return, contractors can claim back the deemed input tax on the supply subject to the usual rules.

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