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!


Covid-19 update

Last week we learnt that under-18s are now invited to get their first COVID-19 vaccine in Wales. Following advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) young adults aged from 17 years and 9 months will either be invited to a booked appointment, or they can attend a walk-in vaccination clinic where available in their local health board. 

It is hoped take-up among this group, who are on the verge of entering the workplace or are about to start university in the autumn, will be high.

The JCVI also advised that children and young people aged 12 years and over with specific underlying health conditions that put them at risk of serious COVID-19, should be offered COVID-19 vaccination.

Health Boards are working to identify and issue invitations for vaccination to children covered by the JCVI advice. Children and young people aged 12-17 who live with someone – either an adult or child – who are immunosuppressed, will also be offered a vaccine to help protect those they live with.  They will be offered the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in the coming weeks.

Almost 80% of adults in Wales have been fully vaccinated – the best rates in the UK and some of the best in the world.

Managing your business’s risk of cyber attack

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) Early Warning System helps organisations investigate cyber-attacks on their network by notifying them of malicious activity that has been detected in information feeds. This is a free NCSC service designed to inform your organisation of potential cyber-attacks on your network, as soon as possible. The service uses a variety of information feeds from the NCSC, trusted public, commercial and closed sources, which includes several privileged feeds which are not available elsewhere.

The system filters millions of events that the NCSC receives every day and, using the IP and domain names you provide, correlates those which are relevant to your organisation into daily notifications for your nominated contacts via an early warning portal.

Organisations will receive the following high level types of alerts:

  • Incident Notifications – This is activity that suggests an active compromise of your system.
    For example: A host on your network has most likely been infected with a strain of malware.
  • Network Abuse Events – This may be indicators that your assets have been associated with malicious or undesirable activity.
    For example: A client on your network has been detected scanning the internet.
  • Vulnerability and Open Port Alerts – These are indications of vulnerable services running on your network, or potentially undesired applications are exposed to the internet.
    For example: You have a vulnerable application, or you have an exposed Elasticsearch service.

Early Warning does not conduct any active scanning of your networks itself, however some of the feeds may use scan derived data, for example from commercial feeds and is available for all UK organisations who hold a static IP address or domain name.

See: Early Warning – NCSC.GOV.UK

The impacts of EU exit and coronavirus (COVID-19) on UK trade in services: July 2021

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) have produced a report recently showing a noticeable change in UK trade, much of which is likely to be due to the fall in world trade and disruption to global supply chains as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and global recession. 

There may also be some impact from EU exit and related uncertainty, although it should be noted that these are only initial post-transition period estimates; it is too early for any conclusions to be reached about longer term trends or impacts. We will need to wait for further analysis as the Pandemic unfolds. Key points highlighted are:   

  • UK service exports and imports have declined since Quarter 1 (January to March) 2019, with trade with EU countries falling more than trade with non-EU countries.
  • The share of total service imports from EU countries fell by around 9 percentage points to 37.9% in the two years to Quarter 1 2021, while the share of total service exports fell by around 1.3 percentage points to 36.5% over the same period.
  • The proportion of businesses citing coronavirus (COVID-19) as a challenge increased in mid-2021 compared to the beginning of 2021, while the proportion citing EU exit fell over the same period; this is also reflected in the results of the International Trade in Services Survey, which suggests coronavirus had a bigger impact on falling trade in services.
  • Service types that are reliant on the movement of people, such as travel, transportation, manufacturing, maintenance and repair, and construction were impacted most by the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Exports of legal, accounting and management services to non-EU countries increased in Quarter 1 2021 when compared with Quarter 1 2019, driven by trade with the United States, while exports to the EU fell over the same period.
  • EU imports of financial services fell to 25.3% of world total financial services in Quarter 1 2021 compared with Quarter 1 2019, while the composition of exports remained stable.

See: The impacts of EU exit and coronavirus (COVID-19) on UK trade in services – Office for National Statistics (ons.gov.uk)

Can you be a climate leader?

The UK Government has announced the first ‘One Step Greener’ Climate Ambassadors and launched a nationwide search for climate leaders.

People from across the country will have the chance to showcase their stories at the major climate summit COP26 in Glasgow, as the search for everyday climate leaders gets underway.

In the lead up to COP26, the UK Government is calling on people from all walks of life to join the ‘One Step Greener’ movement on social media by sharing how they are doing their bit for the environment, championing climate leaders in their communities, and inspiring others to follow their lead. Whether big or small, one or many, green steps around the country can culminate in a large collective impact in helping make the UK a more sustainable and greener place.

See: Nationwide search for climate leaders launched – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Fostering Hydrogen Collaborations in South Korea

South Korea is leading the way in the global hydrogen market and with a free trade deal now in place, opportunities for UK SMEs to contribute technical expertise and gain market access are available.

South Korea’s hydrogen market is set to almost double in size from £9.1bn in 2020 to £17.3bn by 2030. Ulsan alone is projected to attract $4.8 billion in hydrogen investments by 2030, as it aims to become the largest Hydrogen Hub in Northeast Asia.

Innovate UK is bringing together UK SMEs and Korean hydrogen experts from across government, academia and business, to foster pioneering collaborative ventures in a series of events commencing Autumn 2021.

See: Fostering Hydrogen Collaborations in South Korea Webinar Tickets, Tue 14 Sep 2021 at 08:00 | Eventbrite

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) are publishing new resources to support food businesses preparing for upcoming changes to allergen labelling

From 1 October 2021, the requirements for labelling on prepacked for direct sale (PPDS) foods will change in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The new labelling requirements will help protect consumers by providing potentially allergen information on the packaging.

Any business that produces PPDS food will be required to label it to show the name of the food and the ingredients list. This includes emphasising within the ingredients list any of the 14 allergens used in the product, as required by food law.

FSA are providing a webinar which will give background to the new allergen labelling changes, also known as Natasha’s Law. They will help small and micro food businesses to better understand what PPDS is, how it affects food businesses and how you can ensure you are compliant with the new regulations from1 October 2021.

See: FSA explains PPDS changes for businesses | FSA explains PPDS changes for businesses (fsaevents.co.uk)

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 – Update

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended until 30 September 2021. From 1 August 2021, the government will pay 60% of wages up to a maximum cap of £1,875 for the hours the employee is on furlough.

Claims for furlough days in July 2021 must be made by 16 August 2021.

How to report grant payments in Real Time Information

Find out how to report Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme grant payments on Real Time Information submissions.

Tax Treatment of the Coronavirus Job Retention Grant

Payments you have received under the scheme are to offset the deductible revenue costs of your employees. You must include them as income when you calculate your taxable profits for Income Tax and Corporation Tax purposes.

Businesses can deduct employment costs as normal when calculating taxable profits for Income Tax and Corporation Tax purposes.

Individuals with employees that are not employed as part of a business (such as nannies or other domestic staff) are not taxable on grants received under the scheme. Domestic staff are subject to Income Tax and National Insurance contributions on their wages as normal.

See more here: Claim for wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme update

The online service for the fifth grant is now available. 

You can claim the fifth grant if you think that your business profit will be impacted by coronavirus (COVID-19) between 1 May 2021 and 30 September 2021. You will need to confirm that you meet other eligibility criteria when you make your claim. You should make your claim on or after the personal claim date HMRC has given you.

See: Check if you can claim a grant through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) 

VAT deferred due to coronavirus

Businesses that deferred VAT payments due between 20 March 2020 and 30 June 2020 were able to either:

  • pay in full by 31 March 2021
  • join the online VAT deferral new payment scheme by 21 June 2021 to spread payments of deferred VAT over smaller, interest free instalments
  • contact HMRC to make an arrangement to pay by 30 June 2021

Information about the VAT deferral penalty has been added. Businesses could be charged a 5% penalty or interest if they did not pay in full or make an arrangement to pay HMRC by 30 June 2021.

Any deferred VAT outstanding after 30 June 2021 will be treated as debt and may be subject to a penalty. If you are unable to pay and need more time, find out what to doif you cannot pay your tax bill on time. If you have made an arrangement to pay and need to discuss this with HMRC, call the Coronavirus (COVID-19) helpline.

See: VAT deferred due to coronavirus (COVID-19) – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Green Cymru Challenge Fund

The Green Cymru Challenge Fund is a partnership between Ffilm Cymru Wales and Clwstwr, which will look at innovative and creative ways to cultivate a sustainable screen sector for Wales to research and develop new ways of working in the film and TV industry, with the aim of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. 

The new multidisciplinary innovation fund will look to find solutions to key environmental challenges within the film industry in Wales.

See: Green Cymru Challenge Fund | Business Wales (gov.wales)

International travel changes from 2 August 2021

The UK Government has decided to permit travellers from the EU and US who have been fully vaccinated to visit the UK without having to self-isolate on arrival.

There remain public health risks posed by re-opening international travel and removing quarantine restrictions to US and EU fully vaccinated amber arrivals at this time. Without self-isolation requirements upon arrival there is a higher risk of importing cases and variants of concern (VoCs) from abroad. Vaccines will reduce this risk, but only if they are effective against VoCs. This is why the Welsh Government continue to caution against international travel for non-essential reasons this summer.

See: Written statement: International travel changes from 2 August 2021 (28 July 2021) | GOV.WALES

Covid testing to help manage the risk to your business

COVID-19 testing is an important part of helping manage risks as businesses learn to work alongside the virus. Planning ahead can help to keep your staff, your customers and your business safe. 

Businesses with 10 or more employees who can’t work from home can get free rapid COVID-19 tests by joining the Welsh Government’s workplace testing programme.

What workplace testing programme offers:

  • Regular asymptomatic testing capacity at work that offers both supervised testing sites and self-test kits.
  • Regular testing of employees to find and isolate positive cases quickly and prevent further transmission, this usually includes the workforce being tested once or twice a week. 
  • Provides reassurance to the workforce who are unable to work from home.

For more information about the workplace testing programme on the Welsh Government website: www.gov.wales/covid-19-workplace-testing-framework or you can email the team: Covid19.WorkplaceTesting@gov.wales