COVID-19 Self-employment Survey

The new Coronavirus, officially name COVID-19, was first declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation on 11TH March 2020, when the number of affected countries and individuals drastically increased.

As confirmed by Chancellor Rishi Sunak, this has caused the biggest peacetime economic shock the UK has ever faced.

Because of this, the government has introduced a number of financial measures to support individuals during the pandemic, but most of the initial measures announced were aimed at businesses and individual employees.

However, after many campaigned for support to be introduced for those individuals who are self-employed, on 26 March he announced that a new package would be available in June 2020, which he suggested will offer financial support to around 95% of the self-employed population.

Whilst this is great news for some, our main concerns are that June 2020 is over 3 months away, which is a long time for self-employed individuals who are used to earning a significant living to go without income. Plus, this leaves 5% of the population unable to seek financial support other than the weekly £94.25 Universal Credit.

Furthermore, those who became self-employed after April 2019 do not appear to qualify for self-employed help due to HMRC using 2018/19 tax returns to calculate the payments.

At Shenward, we are committed to supporting our clients, and the wider business community, acting as their voice and campaigning for change.

In order for us to do this, we’re asking for your views and opinions via this survey around the measures announced, and an insight into your eligibility for the current support packages.

We appreciate that some of the information may be sensitive, and so we have made the survey completely anonymous for peace of mind. We will not ask your name, address, email or business name, so please do not enclose these.

Please only complete the survey once and answer only those questions which you feel comfortable answering. If at any point you feel uncomfortable, please exit the survey.

All of the data collected throughout this survey will be used in a collective manner to campaign for change, raising awareness across social media and in the press.

We would like to thank you in advance for your consent to use the answers by taking part and wish you well during this unprecedented time.

Remember; stay home, save lives.

Information about the latest government support can be viewed here:
Direct access to the survey can be obtained via this link

COVID-19: Support for the self-employed


The new coronavirus, officially name COVID-19, was first declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation on 11TH March 2020, when the number of affected countries and individuals drastically increased.
Given how much the virus has spread across the UK, the stimulus package announced during the 2020 Budget is no longer sufficient to deal with the crisis, and so further measures have been put in place to protect businesses across the UK.
Whilst Chancellor Rishi Sunak has focused on employees and businesses up to press, last night he announced a new package designed to support the self-employed.
We look at what this means and who is eligible.

Self-employment criteria
The first and main point to note is that directors/shareholders are not eligible for the new self-employment package as they are not classified as self-employed. Self-employed individuals are classed as those who are sole traders, partners in unincorporated partnerships and partners in LLPs.
If directors/shareholders are on a PAYE scheme, then they may be eligible to claim under the Job Retention Scheme. Further guidance on the scheme was announced on 26 March 2020 and can be found here.

Support package explained
The long-awaited support package for the self-employed was outlined by The Chancellor during last night’s press conference, and whilst further information is due to be rolled out with regards to the process, here’s what we know so far.
Those who have a profit of up to £50,000 according to either their 2018/19 tax return or as an average over the last 3 years, will be able to claim 80% of their monthly salary up to a maximum of £2,500. If they missed the deadline for the 2018/19 submission, individuals have a further four weeks to submit this.
Sadly, it appears those who have become self-employed since 6 April 2019 will not be covered by the scheme and would therefore need to rely on the benefits system for support.
For those who are eligible, lump cash sums will be paid out in June 2020. Whilst this is a generous offering, it’s worth noting that this will be a TAXABLE grant, although how this will be deducted has yet to be revealed.

How to apply
Self-employed individuals do not need to make an official application as those eligible will be contacted directly by HMRC with further instructions.

Our thoughts
The government response for employees, businesses and the self-employed has been staggering, well considered and most importantly unprecedented. However, during such difficult times, it will take a while to roll out the support available which may have a negative effect.
Our main concerns are that June 2020 is over 3 months away, which is a long time for self-employed individuals who are used to earning a significant living to go without income. One potential option could be the Interruption Loan Scheme which could help those struggling to draw down loans quickly.
In addition, the profit threshold of £50,000 raises concern. Self-employed individuals don’t necessarily fund personal living costs based on profits as they want to support future growth or simply because the business does not have the funds. We all know that profit does not mean cash.
But, for those businesses with profits in excess of £50,000 and drawings are below profits, then perhaps one option would be to revisit their remuneration strategy and forgo profit retention in the short term.
If you would like to discuss any concerns or seek further guidance, please email to speak with one of our team.

On Friday 3rd April at 3pm we will be running a webinar to provide online support, guidance and advice to those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
To register your interest, please text 07583094867 and we will send further information.


COVID 19 Business Support: The Latest Updates

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to escalate, the government is continuously introducing measures to support businesses across the country in a bid to protect the UK economy.

With information circulating the internet, it can be difficult for businesses to follow exactly what is available to them. So, following on from our recent blog, we look at the support that was announced on Friday 20th March 2020.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

    • All UK employers will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis.
    • HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month.

Deferring VAT and Income Tax payments

    • VAT deferral apply from 20 March 2020 to 30 June 2020
    • Automatic offer with no applications required. Businesses will not need to make a VAT payment during this period. Taxpayers will be given until the end of the 2020 to 2021 tax year to pay any liabilities that have accumulated during the deferral period. VAT refunds and reclaims will be paid by the government as normal.
    • Income tax payments due on 31 July 2020 will be deferred to 31 January 2021

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

The interest free period announced prior to the 20th March has been extended to 12 months rather than 6 months.

Universal credit

There has been an increase in the Universal Credit standard allowance, for the next 12 months, by £1,000 a year. 

Working Tax Credit

There has been an increase of the Working Tax Credit basic element by the same amount as Universal Credit.

Suspension of the minimum income floor for Universal Credit 

Self-employed people can now access, in full, Universal Credit at a rate equivalent to Statutory Sick Pay for employees.

We strongly recommend that you watch the daily government announcements in order to stay ahead of the support available, and visit to find out how to apply.

Of course, you can email your Shenward account manager or

IR35: What’s changed?

Over the last six months, many businesses who use contractors/freelancers, as well as the individuals themselves, have been under increased pressure to review their current off-payroll working agreements due to the introduction of new IR35 laws.

However, Chief Treasury Secretary Steve Barclay announced 16TH March that the IR35 tax reforms would now be pushed back by one year to April 2021, which has raised concern for those who have already implemented changes.

Whilst many state that it is too late, the government has announced that the move is part of a broad package of measures the Treasury has announced to protect the economy from the coronavirus outbreak.

So, what does this mean?

Due to the new rules now being postponed, businesses who were significantly impacted by IR35 can delay considerations required to comply with the new rules. This will provide them with breathing space to deal with COVID-19, which is significantly escalating. 

Furthermore, contractors who would have been affected by IR35 laws would have likely seen a significant reduction in take home pay, assuming day rates were the same. However, these workers will now possible be able to continue to work under the existing regime without the undue uncertainty, especially when contractors and their families may be impacted by the virus. 

Why is this a positive move?

Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, many freelancers and contractors have found themselves in a position where workloads have been ended or significantly reduced. 

The recent announcements now mean they are able to accept one-off contracts for work both during the pandemic if required, and most certainly after pandemic when businesses are urgently looking to rebuild following sever disruption.

If you would like clarification on any of the points we’ve just mentioned, please feel free to contact us here

Posted in Tax

Government support during COVID-19 pandemic: Your questions answered

The new coronavirus, officially name COVID-19, was first declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation on 11TH March 2020, when the number of affected countries and individuals drastically increased.

Given how much the virus has spread across the UK, the stimulus package announced during the 2020 Budget last week is no longer sufficient to deal with the crisis, and so further measures have been put in place to protect businesses across the UK.

The Chancellor confirmed this is the biggest peacetime economic shock the UK has ever faced, and here at Shenward we recognise the disruption many of our clients, associates and the wider business community will be experiencing. 

Here we answer some of your most pressing questions in an easily digestible way.

I’m self-employed and can’t claim sick pay, what help can I get?

In the 2020 budget, The Chancellor announced that Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or Universal Credit would be made available to all those who don’t qualify for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) from day one should they be unable to work due to self-isolation, with or without symptoms of COVID-19.

The official document states: “For the duration of the outbreak, the requirements of the Universal Credit Minimum Income Floor will be temporarily relaxed for those who have COVID-19 or are self-isolating according to government advice, ensuring self-employed claimants will receive support.

“People will be able to claim Universal Credit and access advance payments upfront without the current requirement to attend a jobcentre if they are advised to self-isolate.”

The current maximum allowance of ESA that can be claimed is £73.10 per week and claims can be made here

HMRC has also set up a dedicated helpline for all those who are concerned about paying their upcoming tax bills due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

If I have to self-isolate, am I entitled to Statutory Sick Pay?

During the 2020 Budget, The Chancellor advised that all those who are advised to self-isolate, with or without symptoms will be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay from their employers from day one if they are employed.

The current rate of SSP is £94.25 per week and will be paid to you via your usual payment method in line with your usual payment terms.

I’m an employer, can I claim back the SSP I have had to pay out to those self-isolating?

During the budget, The Chancellor announced that firms with under 250 employees will be able to claim back SSP paid due to COVID-19, for up to 14 days per employee.

Whilst employees aren’t required to provide a GP sick note, employers who wish to reclaim the SSP should make a note of all COVID-19 related absences including date and length of time.

HMRC has advised that they will work with employers over the coming months to allow them to reclaim these funds.

I’m a small firm experiencing financial disruption due to COVID-19. What financial support is available for just small firms?

Last week during the budget, it was announced that small firms would be able to access business interruption loans throughout the pandemic.

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme is to support long-term viable businesses who may need to respond to cash-flow pressures by seeking additional finance. This will be made available via the British Business Bank. 

Official advice states: “The government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan (subject to a per-lender cap on claims) to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to SMEs. The government will not charge businesses or banks for this guarantee, and the Scheme will support loans of up to £5 million in value. Businesses can access the first 6 months of that finance interest free, as government will cover the first 6 months of interest payments.”

The Budget announced last week also said that £3,000 grants would be made available to the 700,000 of our smallest businesses. To support their cash flow, grants have now increased to £10,000.

What other financial support was announced in the COVID-19 press conference on 17th March?

The Chancellor has confirmed that any business who needs access to cash will be able to access a government-backed loan, on attractive terms. Whilst he has set aside a huge £330bn, if demand is greater than the initial £330bn, the government will provide as much capacity as required.

In the Budget announced last week, it was suggested that businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors, with a rateable value of less than £51,000, will pay no business rates this year. Due to recent non-essential contact advice, those businesses are now also entitled to an additional cash grant of up to £25,000 per business. Also, every single business in the retail, hospitality or leisure sector will pay no business rates whatsoever for 12 months.

Lastly, for those in difficulty due to coronavirus, mortgage lenders will now offer a three-month mortgage holiday meaning that people will not have to pay a penny towards their mortgage until they get back on their feet.

The government has left the ‘door open’ and it appears that further announcements may be made if required. The total stimulus package is over £300bn which equates to 15% of GDP. We’re used to see percentage points of measures introduced, so 15% is huge. 

Here at Shenward, we welcome the government’s intention to show intent, but feel there are some questions unanswered.

How are renters to be protected?

Will businesses be able to access grants and loans as set out above in time before they have to temporarily or permanently close. Liquidity in the SME sector is already running on reserve and they cannot last for much longer. 

Looking at how the grants can be accessed; it looks like it will take 6-8 weeks for businesses to get hold of it. The grants are to be redistributed through the Local Authority and it’s not clear when.

Further information about any of the above can be accessed via:


The 2020 Budget – Predictions and Potential Changes

Every year, the government reveals its plans on how to spend public money and collect tax for the next financial year beginning 5 April, and usually does so around the beginning of March. However, this year, rumours emerged that the resignation of Chancellor Sajld Javid may cause a slight delay to the ‘big reveal’.

The recently appointed replacement Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak has however advised he WILL meet the deadline set by former Chancellor SajId Javid and reveal the government’s new budget on Wednesday 11 March. Not only is this Chancellor Sunak’s first budget since his appointment, it is also the first major financial event since Britain left the EU on 31 January, so it is predicted that we will see some major changes.

In order to help your businesses prepare for the potential changes, we have outlined specific issues that industry experts predict will be acknowledged in the new budget.

Increases to the National Minimum Wage

Every year the National Living Wage and the National Minimum Wage changes in April.

In December 2019, the government announced that it was planning to increase the National Living Wage for over 25’s by 6.2%, which could mean a pay rise of almost £1000 for some workers.

The government has recently confirmed that it is also planning to increase the National Minimum Wage, which since April 2019 stands at:

  • Apprentice – £3.90
  • Under 18 – £4.35
  • 18-20 – £6.15
  • 21-24 – £7.70

From April 2020, the National Minimum Wage per hour will increase:

  • Apprentice – £4.15
  • Under 18 – £4.55
  • 18-20 – £6.45
  • 21-24 £8.20

Raising the threshold on NICs (National Insurance Contributions)

One of the conservative’s main financial pledges in its election manifesto was to cut tax which could help 30 million workers save about £100 a year.

The government has planned to achieve this by raising the threshold on NICs (National Insurance Contributions) meaning that businesses will need to adjust this accordingly for employee payroll.

Currently, employees pay 12% NICs on anything they earn over a threshold of £8,632. At the start of the next tax year in April, this threshold will increase to £9,500 with the intention of raising it to £12,500 over a number of years.

Possible changes to Entrepreneurs’ Relief

Former Chancellor Sajid Javid was expected to recalibrate entrepreneurs’ relief after proposing to cut the tax amidst criticism. Entrepreneurs’ relief is a tax break that allows company owners to pay less capital gains tax when selling their businesses.

It is now uncertain whether Chancellor Sunak will continue with these proposed plans, but they should be acknowledged in the budget.

Triple tax lock and corporation tax to stay the same

It is unlikely that the government will increase rates on income tax, VAT and national insurance, as promised by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in his election campaign.

It has also cancelled plans to decrease corporation tax to 17% meaning that it will remain at 19% for at least the next financial year.

More details about off-payroll working rules for the private sector

The government has already announced that tax legislation, known as IR35, will be applied to the private sector as a way of tightening the rules around off-payroll workers and preventing tax avoidance.

Although the government has already announced this policy, it is most likely that this will be confirmed in the budget in greater detail. This means that businesses can be more confident about making decisions when it comes to employment status and paying off-payroll workers.

Pension Tax Relief changes for higher earners

The Financial Times has reported that reforms to pension tax relief are also being considered and so could feature in the budget.

The reforms would affect higher earners who pay a higher rate of tax and receive a tax relief rate of 40%. The potential new plan would see a flat pension tax relief rate of 20%, which would affect higher earners’ pensions.

A new timeline for the pensions dashboard

The pensions dashboard project was announced in the 2016 Budget. It was intended to be an easy-to-use digital interface that would allow users to see all of their lifetime pensions in one place.

The government had originally pledged to deliver this project in 2019 but considering that the deadline has passed it is expected that the new chancellor will announce a new timeline for the project. According to pensions commentator Steve Webb, as reported in The Financial Times, it is unlikely that this project will go live in 2020.

Our specialist team is always at the other end of the phone if you are ever unsure or need some reassurance from an approachable accounting partner. 

Or, you can arrange an office consultation with one of our friendly experts here at Shenward LLP Chartered Accountants and Business Advisors. 

Why not call either our Bradford office on 01274 722 666 or our Leeds office on 0113 246 1006. Or, if you prefer, you can simply email and we’ll get back to you within 24 hours.