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What Do Level 2 Covid Restrictions Mean?

You can meet socially in groups of up to:

6 people from 3 households in your home or theirs – and can stay overnight.

6 people from 3 households in an indoor public place like a café, pub or restaurant

8 people from 8 households outdoors

Under 12s do not count towards the total number of people or households meeting outside but do count towards household numbers indoors

You do not need to physically distance from family and friends in a private home.

You can travel anywhere in Scotland in Levels 0, 1 or 2 but must not enter a Level 3 or 4 area unless you have a permitted reason like going to work or caring for a vulnerable person.

You can travel to England, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands – before you travel you must check the travel rules in those countries.

you can provide informal childcare, for example to look after a grandchild.

Up to 50 people can attend weddings and funerals.

Tradespeople can carry out any work in your home such as painting, decorating or repairing.

You should work from home where possible.

Places and business that can open at Level 2 include:

  • cafés, pubs and restaurants
  • all shops and stores
  • all close contact services including hairdressers, barbers and beauty salons.
  • gyms, leisure centres and swimming pools
  • tourist accommodation
  • visitor attractions
  • public buildings like libraries and community centres, cinemas, theatres, concert halls, amusement arcades, casinos, bingo halls, bowling alleys and snooker/pool halls

Can Veterinary Supplies be Zero Rated?

Most veterinary supplies will be standard rated but when supplying services or medicines to charities, you may be able to zero rate your supplies.

For example, in the case of supplies to an animal charity, then it may be correct that they are able to receive medicines zero rated.  The legislation zero rates:

“The supply to a charity, providing care or medical or surgical treatment for human beings or animals, or engaging in medical or veterinary research, of a medicinal product where the supply is solely for use by the charity in such care, treatment or research.”

The relevant conditions here are that:

  • The charity provides care or medical or surgical treatment for animals, and
  • The supply is solely for use by the charity in such care or treatment.

If a vet administers medicine as part of the treatment, this will be part of the standard rated supply of veterinary treatment.  However, where medicine is provided for the charity to administer to the animals in its care, this would be zero rated.

The charity would need to provide an eligibility declaration for the vet to retain as his evidence to support zero rating,

Long Covid

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has estimated that over one million people have reported experiencing long Covid, and so the conciliation and mediation service, ACAS, has issued an advice note that you may find useful.

Firstly, the advice highlights that the symptoms of long Covid are varied and can include:

  • extreme tiredness
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain or tightness
  • problems with memory and concentration (also known as a ‘brain fog’)
  • difficulty sleeping
  • heart palpitations
  • dizziness
  • pins and needles
  • joint pain.

Other patients have reported depression and anxiety; tinnitus; earaches; feeling sick; diarrhoea; stomach aches; loss of appetite; a high temperature; headaches; sore throat; changes to sense of smell or taste; and rashes.

The advice note also offers practical tips on how employers can manage the various effects of the condition in a sensitive way, as well a range of options that can help staff get back to work safely. It suggests that employers should:

  • apply the usual rules on sickness absence and sick pay where necessary.
  • arrange and offer occupational health assessments.
  • look into reasonable adjustments, which can vary from changed hours, to adapted physical workspaces, and
  • discuss flexible working as an option as well as phased returns, which may mean coming back part-time initially to build back up to working usual hours.

ACAS is hesitant to state whether Long Covid will be considered a disability. However, what is clear is that it may lead to conditions that do fall into this category and you should be mindful of this, alongside the danger of discrimination.

The guidance therefore advises employers not to focus on whether long Covid should/can be considered a disability, but instead to prioritise the ways they can help staff to combat the symptoms and return to work safely. To this end, it also cautions against capability procedures until all other options have been considered.

Finally, although disability discrimination may not be a clear result of neglecting to take action, the guidance states that certain groups of people in particular are suffering most from long Covid – including those who are older, from ethnic minority backgrounds, or women – and poor treatment of them in this regard could lead to claims of constructive unfair dismissal.

950,000 2021 tax return filed already.

Almost 950,000 online Self-Assessment returns have been files already this tax year, and HMRC is urging others to do the same and file their tax returns early.

There were around 1.1m 2019/20 self-assessment tax returns outstanding at the beginning of March 2021. This represents nearly one in 10 of all expected tax returns. 

There are many advantages to completing your self-assessment tax return sooner rather than later, not least that if you’re due tax refund you’ll get the money within a few days.

HMRC has also issued a warning to taxpayers to be aware of copycat HMRC websites and phishing scams. You should search ‘self-assessment’ on gov.uk to get the correct link for their self-assessment tax return online securely and free of charge. You also need to be alert if someone calls, emails or texts claiming to be from HMRC, asking for bank or other personal details, threatening arrest or demanding a money transfer. It might be a scam.

Anyone who is unsure can use the checklist on gov.uk to help them decide if the contact they received is a scam.

Raising Standards of Tax Advice

In the Spring Budget 2020, the Government published a call for evidence to look at ways to raise standards in the tax advice market. They have concluded that there is a minority of incompetent, unprofessional and malicious advisers whose activities harm their clients, reduce public revenue, and undermine the functioning of the tax advice market.

In the summary of responses and next steps published on 12 November 2020, the government set out the steps it intends to take in order to raise standards in the tax advice market, to improve trust in the market by reducing poor adviser behaviour and enabling taxpayers to have redress when things go wrong.

Those next steps were:

  • to consult on a requirement for all tax advisers to hold professional indemnity insurance, and a definition of tax advice;
  • take action to raise awareness of HMRC’s the standard for agents with target audiences;
  • conduct and publish the results of an internal review of the powers currently available to HMRC that help enforce that standard;
  • work in partnership with adviser professional bodies to understand the role they play in supervising and supporting their members and raising standards in the profession;
  • review options to tackle the costs to taxpayers of advisers who are claiming tax refunds on their behalf. HMRC has issued a consultation document containing the government’s proposal to introduce a requirement:
  • for tax advisers to hold professional indemnity insurance, including minimum levels of cover and how the policy could be enforced and implemented;
  • a definition of tax advice.

The consultation is running until 15 June 2021. The Government seeks views on making professional indemnity insurance compulsory for all tax advisers, which they believe will help to create better market incentives for poor performing advisers to improve standards. It would also protect consumers by giving them greater access to recourse against the providers of bad tax advice.

It also asks for views on further steps or alternative courses of action.

The document:

  • sets out the detail of what cover may be needed, including who should be insured, minimum levels of cover, excesses, exclusions and run-off cover;
  • introduces the Government’s proposed definition of tax advice, which is widely drawn, in order to ensure that the right activities are included. It discusses areas which may need to be exempted or excluded;
  • provides details of how the government intends to enforce this requirement.

Questions?

If you have any questions about any of these, you know where to find us. If you prefer, just give me a ring on 07770 738770 or email me at alan.long@thelongpartnership.co.uk.

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