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!

Covid-19 update

Last week the Welsh government announced there will be no significant changes to Covid rules in this 21-day regulations cycle since Wales moved to Alert Level Zero. This removed legal restrictions on meeting others and enabled all businesses to open, while also keeping key legal protections in place. Face coverings are mandatory in most public settings, everyone must continue to isolate if they have Covid symptoms or a positive test result, and businesses must take reasonable measures to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus.

Back to school – Remind employees about HMRC support with childcare costs!

With children starting to go back to schools and nurseries in September and more employees going back to work full time due to the withdrawal of CJRS support, they may need to start thinking about childcare. HMRC have issued a reminder that there is support available for families towards their childcare costs. If they haven’t already done so they should set up a “Tax-Free” Childcare Account to help pay towards the cost of childminders, breakfast and after school clubs, nursery fees and approved play schemes. For every £8 an eligible family pay into the special account the government adds £2, up to £2,000 a year, or up to £4,000 a year if a child is disabled. 

The scheme is available to parents or carers who have children aged up to 11, or 17 if their child is disabled. Parents can get Tax-Free Childcare in addition to 30 hours free childcare if they are eligible for both. If the employee or their partner have an expected ‘adjusted net income’ over £100,000 in the current tax year they will not be eligible. This includes any bonuses they expect to get.

For more details see: HMRC can help with childcare costs as children head back to school – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Intellectual Property renewal service goes digital

A new digital renewals service that reduces bulk renewal time for IP rights from 5 days to 5 minutes has now been opened up to all customers by the Intellectual Property Office (IPO).

Customers who need to renew a registered design can do so online. Customers can also renew up to 1,500 IP rights – including combinations of patents, trademarks and designs – in a single digital transaction. The IPO say that they will bring forward these design principles to their One IPO Transformation Programme, which will provide a single, integrated system for all registered IP rights.

See: Renew a patent, trade mark or registered design – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Businesses given more time to apply new product safety marking 

The UKCA marking replaces the product safety labelling the UK previously used while a member of the EU, such as the CE mark.

Businesses will have an additional year to apply new product safety markings for most products placed on the market in England, Scotland and Wales. The UK Conformity Assessed (UKCA) marking allows the UK to have control over its goods regulations, maintaining the high product safety standards expected in the UK. 

Recognising the impact of the pandemic on businesses, the UK Government will extend this deadline to 1 January 2023 to apply UKCA marks for certain products to demonstrate compliance with product safety regulations, rather than 1 January 2022.

See: Businesses given more time to apply new product safety marking – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Digital Leaders 100 Awards

These awards celebrate the individuals and organisations from the public, private and non-profit sectors who are demonstrating a pioneering and sustainable approach to digital transformation in the UK.

The categories are:

  • Digital Leader 
  • Young Digital
  • Digital SME 
  • AI Innovation 
  • Digital Skills or Talent Initiative 
  • Big Data Innovation 
  • Digital Public Service Innovation 
  • Geospatial Innovation 
  • 5G Innovation 
  • HealthTech Innovation 

You can nominate yourself or your organisation in any relevant category, entries and nominations close at midday on Friday 10 September 2021.

See: Digital Leaders 100 (digileaders100.com)

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

From 28 September 2021, you will need a UK sticker instead of a GB sticker on your vehicle to drive abroad. 

For HGV see:  International road haulage: HGV and trailer documents – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

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

Brexit – New rules for international road haulage in 2022

Prepare for new rules for transporting goods to or through Europe using cars and trailers, vans and HGVs from 2022. The rules are part of the UK’s deal with the EU (The Trade and Cooperation Agreement).

The new rules will affect you if you transport goods using:

  • cars and trailers
  • vans or other light goods vehicles (for example, if you run a European courier service)
  • heavy goods vehicles (HGVs)

The new rules mean that you might need:

  • to register some journeys within Europe on an online service from 2 February 2022
  • a vehicle operator licence if you use vans or car and trailers to transport goods to or through Europe from 21 May 2022

Check which types of journeys you will need to register online if you transport goods within Europe using a car and trailer, van or HGV from 2 February 2022.

See: New rules for international road haulage in 2022 – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Managing drug and alcohol misuse at work

Employers have a legal duty to protect employees’ health, safety and welfare. Understanding the signs of drug and alcohol misuse (or abuse) will help you manage health and safety risk in your workplace. The Health and Safety Executive website has step-by-step guidance to help you manage drug and alcohol misuse at work. This includes advice on how to develop a drugs and alcohol policy and what you can do to support your employees

See: Managing drug and alcohol misuse at work – Overview – HSE

ICO consultation on data transferred outside of the UK

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is seeking responses on their draft international data transfer agreement (IDTA) and guidance, which replace Standard Contractual Clauses (SCCs).

The ICO’s IDTA and associated documents form part of a wider UK package to assist international transfers, including supporting the government’s approach to new adequacy assessments of third countries.

The consultation is split into three sections:

  • proposal and plans for updates to guidance on international transfers
  • transfer risk assessments
  • the international data transfer agreement

The ICO is also asking for views on any relevant privacy rights, legal, economic or policy considerations and implications. Your responses will help them understand the practical impact of their proposed approaches on your organisations.

See: ICO consults on how organisations can continue to protect people’s personal data when it’s transferred outside of the UK | ICO

Support for EU citizens continues in Wales

EU citizens in Wales will still be able to access free and confidential support for their EU Settlement Scheme applications until 31 December 2021, the Welsh Government have confirmed.

The Home Office’s EU Settlement Scheme, known as EUSS, offered EU, non-EU EEA and Swiss citizens, and their eligible family members, the opportunity to protect their residency since the UK left the European Union. The scheme closed at the end of June 2021, however late applications with reasonable grounds are still being accepted by the Home Office.

The announcement confirms access for EU citizens to free support from specialist law firm Newfields Law will continue until the end of 2021. 

See: Support for EU citizens until end of 2021 | Business Wales (gov.wales)

St David Awards 2022

The St David Awards are the national awards of Wales and recognise and celebrate the exceptional achievements of people from all walks of life in Wales and abroad.

There are 10 St David Awards, the first 9 of which are nominated for by the public:

  • Business
  • Bravery
  • Community Spirit
  • Critical Worker (Key Worker)
  • Culture
  • Environment Champion
  • Innovation, Science and Technology
  • Sport
  • Young Person
  • First Minister’s Special Award

The deadline for submitting nominations is 21 October 2021. 

See: About the awards | GOV.WALES

Donate your redundant IT equipment

North Wales Digital Drive are a not-for-profit social enterprise (also termed a Community Interest Company) and the only treatment centre of this kind in North Wales, offering secure and professional recycling, re-use and disposal services for all IT equipment.

The social enterprise has provided equipment to organisations across North Wales and needs more businesses and public sector bodies to help them out so they can keep up with the demand.

After the secure removal of any data, 20% of working equipment received from organisations are refurbished for reuse and donated to local charities and community groups.

The remainder are sold to fund the Community Interest Company, with significantly reduced costs to groups in the community unable to afford the IT they need, such as low-income families, long-term unemployed and start-up businesses.

See: Contact — North Wales Recycle I.T. CIC (walesrecycleit.com)

Toyota Lean Clusters Programme

The Welsh Government and the Toyota Lean Management Centre, Deeside, have collaborated to offer businesses in Wales an opportunity to achieve sustainable improvements in competitiveness.

The programme aims to bring measurable improvements in productivity, through the sharing and coaching of lean management principles. 

Delivered by experienced Toyota practitioners, participants will receive a mixture of: 

  • Classroom theory 
  • Immersive shop floor observation
  • Examples of practical application all delivered at Toyota’s Deeside engine facility, plus 
  • Worksite coaching at participant company sites to support productivity improvements 

See: Toyota Lean Clusters Programme | Business Wales (gov.wales)

Welsh Government further extends measures to protect businesses from eviction

The moratorium against forfeiture for the non-payment of rent will now be further extended. It was originally due to end on 30 September 2021.

This measure will ensure that landlords of relevant commercial premises are prevented from forfeiting the leases of such premises for non-payment of rent until 25 March 2022, but tenant’s should continue to pay rent wherever possible, and it is in the interests of both landlords and tenants to reach negotiated agreements on any arrears.

The Welsh Government continues to consider what, if any, further measures in relation to commercial rent arrears accrued during the pandemic in Wales need to be put in place once the moratorium comes to an end. 

See: Welsh Government further extends measures to protect businesses from eviction | GOV.WALES

Helping employers with the Kickstart Scheme (Kickstart gateway)

There is now a link to the online application for adding more jobs or employers to your grant agreement (grant variation).

The Kickstart Scheme employer prospectus has also been updated and can be found here: Kickstart Scheme – A guide for employers (publishing.service.gov.uk)

The Kickstart Scheme provides funding to create new jobs for 16 to 24 year olds on Universal Credit who are at risk of long term unemployment. Employers of all sizes can apply for funding which covers:

Employers can spread the job start dates up until 31 December 2021. They’ll get funding until 30 June 2022 if a young person starts their job on 31 December 2021.

See: Help employers with the Kickstart Scheme (Kickstart gateway) – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Private providers of coronavirus (COVID-19) testing

The general list of providers has been updated in the lists of and information about private providers who have self-declared that they meet the government’s minimum standards for the type of commercial COVID-19 testing service they offer.

See: Private providers of coronavirus (COVID-19) testing – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Understanding the possession action process: guidance for landlords and tenants

The guidance has been updated to reflect the end of the fee waiver for applications to extend warrants of possession which expired due to the pandemic.

See: Understanding the possession action process: guidance for landlords and tenants – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)