Welcome to our round up of the latest business news for clients. Please contact us if you want to talk about how these updates affect your business. We are here to support you!

COP26 – UN Climate change conference 

The UK is hosting the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow until the 12 November 2021.

Climate change is probably the world’s most pressing problem. It is widely accepted governments must take more cuts in warming gases if we are to prevent higher global temperature rises. The summit in Glasgow is where change may happen. We need to look at the promises made by the world’s larger economies and whether poorer countries get help to make changes.  

Decisions made at the COP26 conference will impact all of our lives in the future and most importantly, the future of our planet. 

The COP26 summit brings parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The Cop26 website is:  HOME – UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) at the SEC – Glasgow 2021 (ukcop26.org)

The COP26 Green Zone is open to the public at the Glasgow Science Centre. There are a wide range of events, including workshops, art exhibitions and installations, as well as presentations, demonstrations of technology and musical performances.

Youth groups, civil society, academia, artists, and businesses from across the UK and all over the world are taking part. With over 100 exhibitors, 200 events and 11 sponsors taking over the space, there are opportunities to listen, learn and celebrate climate action.

COP26 Green Zone events with a business focus are listed on the website listed below.

See: Green Zone Programme of Events – UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) at the SEC – Glasgow 2021 (ukcop26.org)

UK Autumn budget highlights

Before last week’s Budget we already knew that corporation tax would increase in 2023 and that there will be a 1.25% rise in National Insurance Contributions (NICs) from April 2022 paid by employers, employees, self-employed and for those with share dividend income.  Personal allowances are frozen until 2026 and we are told these rises are to pay for Covid-19 measures and reform of the social care system. The tax burden as a percentage of UK Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is now at its highest level since the 1950’s according to the Office for Budget Responsibility.   

The “scarring assumption” of the pandemic, as the Treasury called it last week, hasn’t been as bad as forecasts imagined so Chancellor Rishi Sunak, buoyed by a recent OBR economic report which has lifted its prediction for economic growth in 2021 to 6.5%, chose to increase government spending by £150 billion rather than reverse some of the previously announced tax increases. He did state at the end of his speech that the government would look at lowering the tax burden before the end of this parliament.

Some of the key spending measures include:

  • Funding will increase by an average of £4.6bn for Scottish Government, £2.5bn for Welsh Government, and £1.6bn for Northern Ireland Executive
  • £6bn of funding to help tackle NHS backlogs
  • £7bn for transport projects in areas including Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and South Yorkshire
  • Levelling Up Fund of £1.7bn invested in local areas across the UK
  • Extra funding to clear the courts backlog
  • Tax relief for museums and galleries will be extended for two years
  • Core science funding to rise to £5.9bn a year by 2024-25
  • Universal Credit taper rate will be cut by 8% no later than 1 December, bringing it down to 55% 

Despite speculation before the budget, there were no changes to pension tax relief or ISA limits, CGT rates have remained the same and the first £1 million is still taxed at 10% when you sell your business.

Some welcome measures that were announced are the 50% cut in business rates for hospitality for one year and a change in the business rates multiplier, which will lower business rates. The chancellor also announced a cut in beer duty sold on premises and wider reforms that will see alcohol taxed by alcoholic strength rather than by product category. The planned rise in fuel duty was cancelled.

The national living wage (NLW) rate for those aged 23 or over has been increased to £9.50 an hour. For an employee working a 35-hour week that would mean £17,290 a year. With the 1.25% increase in employers NIC to 15.05% on earnings over £9,100 a year would mean £1,233 on top increasing the cost to the employer of £18,523 a year before pension costs.

For the details of the Autumn budget and spending review see: Budget and Spending Review – October 2021: What you need to know – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Christmas 2021 – Latest Recommended Posting Dates

Allow plenty of time for posting and post items and gifts for Christmas early, particularly for International deliveries: 

  • Friday 17 December 2021  – Royal Mail Bulk Mail Economy
  • Saturday 18 December 2021 – 2nd Class, 2nd Class Signed For, Royal Mail 48
  • Tuesday 21 December 2021 – 1st Class, 1st Class Signed For, Royal Mail 24, Royal Mail Tracked 48
  • Wednesday 22 December 2021 – Royal Mail Tracked 24
  • Thursday 23 December 2021 – Special Delivery Guaranteed

See: Get ready for Christmas 2021 | Royal Mail Group Ltd

UK Seafood Innovation Fund third call open

The Seafood Innovation Fund (SIF) is now accepting third call applications. The SIF programme focuses on delivering longer term, cutting-edge innovation across the seafood sector, and helping to take innovative ideas from early-stage research to commercial viability.

The programme includes:

  • primary producers
  • onshore supply chains
  • marine and diadromous fisheries
  • marine and land-based aquaculture

The programme excludes:

  • freshwater fishing
  • recreational fishing

This call is open for feasibility studies only. The maximum funding available is £50,000 for projects with a duration of up to five months. Successful third call feasibility studies will be eligible to apply for larger R&D funding following completion of their projects.

See:  How to Apply FAQs – Seafood Innovation Fund

Make a late Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme claim

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme ended on 30 September 2021. 14 October 2021 was the last date to make a claim for September.

For claim periods from 1 November 2020, HMRC may accept late claims or amendments if you have:

  1. Taken reasonable care to try and claim on time.
  2. A reasonable excuse.
  3. Claimed as soon as your reasonable excuse no longer applies.

A reasonable excuse could include:

  • your partner or another close relative died shortly before the claim deadline
  • you had an unexpected stay in hospital that prevented you from dealing with your claim
  • you had a serious or life-threatening illness, including coronavirus (COVID-19) related illnesses, which prevented you from making your claim (and no one else could claim for you)
  • a period of self-isolation prevented you from making your claim (and no one else could make the claim for you)
  • your computer or software failed just before or while you were preparing your online claim
  • service issues with HMRC online services prevented you from making your claim
  • a fire, flood or theft prevented you them from making your claim
  • postal delays that you could not have predicted prevented you from making your claim
  • delays related to a disability you have prevented you from making your claim
  • an HMRC error prevented you from making your claim

As soon as you are ready to make a late claim or amendment, you need to:

  1. Check if you have a reasonable excuse.
  2. Make sure you have all the information you need to process your claim.
  3. Contact HMRC using the helpline to check with an advisor if you can claim.

If your reasonable excuse is accepted, the advisor will process your claim over the phone.

See: Make a late Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme claim – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Global Entrepreneurship Week 2021

Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW)  is a collection of tens of thousands of events, activities and competitions each November that inspire millions to explore their potential as an entrepreneur while fostering connections with investors, researchers, policymakers and other start-up champions.

This year’s takes place from 8 November to 14 November 2021.

See: UK | Global Entrepreneurship Network (genglobal.org)

Digital security by design: software ecosystem development

UK registered organisations can apply for a share of up to £8 million for projects to work on the development of the digital security by design (DSbD) software ecosystem. This funding is from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. 

The aim of this competition is to fund a range of projects that work to enrich and expand the Digital Security by Design (DSbD) software ecosystem prior to the availability of commercial hardware. Projects will leverage the DSbD Technology Hardware Prototype (also known as Morello Board) to work on a focused area within a selected and specified software stack or Operating System (OS) or developer toolchain used by a digital system.

Closing date for entries is 11am on 8 December 2021.

See: Competition overview – ISCF digital security by design – software ecosystem development – Innovation Funding Service (apply-for-innovation-funding.service.gov.uk)

Travel update: all countries removed from the UK’s red list

From 4.00am on 1 Nov, the remaining 7 destinations on the red list; Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Panama, Peru and Venezuela have been removed.

Passengers returning to England from these destinations are no longer required to enter hotel quarantine. The red list and quarantine hotel policy remains in place and will continue to act as a crucial line of defence against the importation of variants of concern. The government will review the red list every 3 weeks and will impose restrictions should there be a need to do so to protect public health.

Delta is now the dominant variant in most countries around the world. This means the risk of known variants entering the UK has reduced and the government has removed these 7 destinations from the red list, with decisions informed by UK Health Security Agency’s (UKHSA) assessment. The data for all countries and territories will be kept under review, including the emergence of new variants, and the government will not hesitate to take action where the epidemiological picture changes.

Eligible travellers with appropriate proof of vaccination from over 30 further countries and territories, including Argentina, Tanzania and Cambodia, will also qualify under the fully vaccinated rules for travel to the UK. This brings the total number of countries and territories covered by the inbound vaccination policy to over 135.

See: Travel update: all countries removed from the UK’s red list – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Approved COVID-19 vaccines and countries with approved COVID-19 proof of vaccination

What you need to do when you travel to England depends on whether you qualify as fully vaccinated or not. To qualify under the fully vaccinated rules for travel to England, you must have been fully vaccinated with a full course of an approved vaccine under:

  • the UK or UK overseas vaccination programme
  • the United Nations vaccine programme for staff and volunteers
  • an approved programme in one of the countries or territories listed on the website listed on the website below.  

You can still travel to England if you do not qualify as fully vaccinated but you must follow different rules. There are also different rules if you have been in a red list country or territory in the last 10 days and you may not be allowed to enter England.

See:  Approved COVID-19 vaccines and countries with approved COVID-19 proof of vaccination – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)


Free face coverings to transport operators scheme

The provision of free face coverings for all transport operators between 21 April 2021 and 31 December 2021, to be used as a contingency supply for passengers and workers.

To protect public health and facilitate passenger compliance with face coverings guidance, the government is providing free face coverings to transport operators, which are to be used as a contingency supply by passengers and transport workers. The purpose of this scheme is to limit the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). The scheme has been extended to 31 December 2021.

See: Free face coverings to transport operators scheme – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)