Welcome to our round up of the latest business and Covid-19 news for clients. Please contact us if you want to talk about how these updates affect your business. We are here to support you!

Changes to self-isolation for fully-vaccinated adults

All adults who have been fully-vaccinated no longer have to self-isolate if they are identified as close contacts of someone with coronavirus from 7 August 2021.

The changes to the NHS Wales Test Trace Protect (TTP) service for fully-vaccinated adults came into effect from 7 August 2021 – the same day as Wales moved to alert level zero. 

Children and young people under 18 will also be exempt from the need to self-isolate if they are also identified as close contacts of a positive case. Everyone who tests positive for coronavirus or has symptoms must continue to isolate for 10 days, whether they have been vaccinated or not.

See: Changes to self-isolation for fully-vaccinated adults | Business Wales (gov.wales)

Cyber security training package for charities and small businesses

Charities and small businesses have access to a free e-learning package that will boost their ability to defend against threats posed by cyber criminals. The training, Cyber Security for Small Organisations and Charities, guides businesses through the actions they should take in order to dramatically reduce the risk of the most common cyber-attacks, such as ransomware and phishing.

The advice, which is also suitable for sole traders and the voluntary sector, empowers small organisations to identify any possible weaknesses in their online infrastructure and act to strengthen them, focusing on five areas:

  • Backing up an organisation’s data correctly.
  • Protecting an organisation against malware.
  • Keeping the devices used by employees secure.
  • The importance of creating strong passwords.
  • Defending an organisation against phishing.

For further information visit: New Top Tips for staff – charities small business – NCSC.GOV.UK

Top 30 common cyber vulnerabilities listed in a joint advisory document

Cyber security agencies from the UK, US and Australia have released a joint advisory detailing the most commonly exploited vulnerabilities in 2020 and 2021. According to the advisory, hackers continue to exploit publicly known – and often years old – vulnerabilities in a range of devices and software. Four of the most targeted vulnerabilities in the last year affected:

  • remote work
  • virtual private networks (VPNs)
  • cloud-based technologies

In particular, many VPN gateway devices remained unpatched during 2020, with the growth of remote work options challenging the ability of public and private sector organisations to conduct rigorous patch management. In 2021, malicious cyber actors continue to target vulnerabilities in perimeter-type devices. This document lists suppliers, products, and common vulnerabilities and exposures that need urgent patching and outlines detection methods and provides recommended mitigations

Read the guidance on the top 30 routinely exploited vulnerabilities

Brexit – International bus or coach services and tours: vehicle documents

This guidance in the ‘Vehicle insurance and green cards’ section has been updated, as green cards are no longer needed to drive in the EU (including Ireland), Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Serbia or Switzerland.

See: International bus or coach services and tours: vehicle documents – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

National Insurance for workers from the UK working in the EEA or Switzerland 

Individuals who are employees or self-employed, pay social security contributions depending on their personal circumstances and the country they are going to work in. 

The liability of the employer to pay social security contributions will follow the liability of their employees.

If you go to work in:

  • the EU, you’ll only have to pay into one country’s social security scheme at a time
  • Iceland, Norway or Switzerland, you may only have to pay into one country’s social security scheme at a time

This will usually be in the country where the work is being done.

In the UK, social security contributions are called National Insurance contributions.

Individuals continue to pay National Insurance contributions only in the UK if HMRC has issued you with the relevant certificate as evidence that this is the case.

You, or your employer, should apply for a certificate if you’re:

  • going to work temporarily in the EU for up to 2 years
  • a worker working in the UK and one or more EU countries
  • a civil servant working for the UK government
  • working onboard a vessel at sea, with a UK flag
  • working as a flight or cabin crew member, where your home base is in the UK

For more details see the recently updated HMRC guidance:

See: National Insurance for workers from the UK working in the EEA or Switzerland – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Notify Option to Tax Land and Buildings within 30 days of decision

Supplies of land and buildings, such as freehold sales, leasing or renting out the property, are normally exempt from VAT. This means that no VAT is payable, but the person making the supply cannot normally recover any of the VAT incurred on property expenses.

However it is possible to waive the exemption, or “opt to tax” the land. For the purposes of VAT, the term ‘land’ includes any buildings or structures permanently affixed to it. You do not need to own the land in order to opt to tax. Once you have opted to tax all the supplies you make of your interest in the land or buildings will normally be standard-rated, and you will normally be able to recover any VAT you incur in making those supplies. See updated HMRC Notice 742a for details:

See: Opting to tax land and buildings (VAT Notice 742A) – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

If you are notifying HMRC of a decision to opt to tax land and buildings, you are normally required to notify HMRC within 30 days by either:

  • printing and sending us the notification, signed by an authorised person within the business
  • emailing a scanned copy of the signed notification

The 30 day deadline was temporarily extended to 90 days to help businesses and agents during the pandemic. That temporary extension has now ended so for decisions made from 1 August 2021 onwards, you must notify HMRC within 30 days.

See: Changes to notifying an option to tax land and buildings during coronavirus (COVID-19) – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise

The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise recognise and encourage the outstanding achievements of UK businesses in the fields of:

  • innovation
  • international trade
  • sustainable development
  • promoting opportunity (through social mobility)

Businesses of all sizes and from all sectors can apply. The awards are free to enter, and you can apply for more than one award. The deadline for applications is midday on 8 September 2021.

Find out how to apply for The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise

Women in Innovation Awards 2021/22

Women with exciting, innovative ideas who will inspire others can apply for a £50,000 grant and bespoke business support. The competition opens Monday 23 August 2021.

Innovate UK, as part of UK Research and Innovation, is offering at least 20 Women in Innovation Awards to female entrepreneurs across the UK. The winners will receive a £50,000 grant and a bespoke package of mentoring, coaching and business support.

The aim of this competition is to find women with exciting, innovative ideas and ambitious plans that will inspire others. The awards are for female founders, co-founders or senior decision makers working in businesses that have been operating for at least one year.

Applicants must be confident, with the support of an award, that they can make a significant contribution to a pressing societal, environmental or economic challenge through their innovative project.

The competition is split into 2 phases. In phase 1 the application will be assessed by independent experts. In phase 2 the shortlisted applicants will be interviewed by a panel of experts.

See: Competition overview – Women in Innovation Awards 2021/22 – Innovation Funding Service (apply-for-innovation-funding.service.gov.uk)

£250 million towards 20,000 low carbon homes for rent

The plans will address a rising demand for housing and the climate crisis, providing good quality and affordable green homes to those who need them. All homes will be built to bold new quality and environmental standards with the aim for some of the stock to go beyond net zero and produce more energy than they use. A further announcement on this is expected before the end of this month.

See: £250 million towards 20,000 low carbon homes for rent | GOV.WALES

Covid 19 Government Support News

Below is our weekly roundup of changes to government support information generally and for businesses, employers and the self-employed.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) – free HMRC webinar

The latest HMRC webinar provides an overview of the CJRS extension, how employers are affected, flexible furloughing, key dates and support available.

This free webinar covers:

  • the extension of the scheme
  • how employers will be affected
  • flexible furloughing
  • key dates
  • support available

This live webinar is offered several times – select the date and time that works best for you.

Access a recording of this webinar.

If you have missed any of HMRC’s other recent webinars, or have been unable to join, you can now view a recording on HMRC’s YouTube channel

New toolkit to help employers encourage employees to get COVID-19 vaccine

A new toolkit has been launched to support businesses to help their employers get the COVID-19 vaccine. The Welsh Government is encouraging employers to do all they can to support their workforce to get vaccinated.

It encourages them to:

  • Be as flexible as possible when it’s time for staff to have a vaccine, this could include giving employees paid time off work to attend their appointments for both vaccine doses.
  • Use the campaign resources provided by the Welsh Government to run an awareness campaign in their organisation and provide employees with access to reliable and accurate information about the vaccine.
  • Share the Q&A document and expert advice videos to explain the vaccine and answer common questions employees may have.
  • Urge staff to be cautious about misinformation and encourage them to use trusted sources like phw.nhs.wales if they are searching for information or answers to questions about the vaccine.
  • Create employee vaccine champions by encouraging staff to discuss their experiences and share information with colleagues, family and friends.

For further information visit GOV.Wales.

Short-term options for health, welfare and financial decisions

The guidance on the way people can make certain decisions for you or do certain things on your behalf has been amended so the Welsh text reflects changes to government guidelines on 19 July.

See: Short-term options for health, welfare and financial decisions – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

COVID-19 Vaccination – JCVI announcement on vaccinating Children & Young People

The UK government has published an updated statement from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) on COVID-19 vaccination of children and young people aged 12 to 17 years.

In line with the other nations of the UK, the Welsh Government welcomes the latest JCVI advice and thank them for their expertise and considered judgement on such important issues. The Welsh government are now working with the NHS on the arrangements needed to offer the vaccination to all 16 and 17 year olds in line with the JCVI advice.

See: Written Statement: COVID-19 Vaccination – JCVI announcement on vaccinating Children & Young People (4 August 2021) | GOV.WALES

Protect – support for self-isolation

To ensure that those on lower incomes do not suffer financially as a result of self-isolation, the Welsh government increased the self-isolation support payment amount from £500 to £750 from 7 August when the new regulations came into force.  This new amount will be reviewed after three months to assess effectiveness and to ensure best use of this critical financial support.  The increased amount will also compensate anyone earning up to the personal income threshold of £500 per week with their loss of earnings over the ten day isolation period.  Any applicant who is asked to self-isolate on or after 7 August will be eligible for the £750 payment.

See: Written Statement: Protect – support for self-isolation (5 August 2021) | GOV.WALES