2021 Budget

The Chancellor announced a range of measures in his 2021 Budget on 3 March 2021 with upcoming changes to corporation tax a key feature.

The Chancellor has pledged to do ‘whatever it takes’ during the pandemic to support business and key announcements in the 2021 Budget, delivered on 3 March 2021, were as follows:

An extension to the furlough scheme until the end of September 2021;

An extension to the SEISS scheme to support the self-employed;

The reduced 5% VAT rate for the hospitality sector will remain in place until September 2021 with a transition rate of 12.5% from then until March 2022;

Corporation Tax rates will rise to 25% from April 2023, though a Small Profits Rate of 19% will be retained for companies reporting smaller profits;

A super-deduction, available from 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2023, for tax purposes of 130% on qualifying capital expenditure;

The Personal Allowance threshold will be frozen for five years once it increases in April 2021.

For further details, please click below to read our 2021 Budget Summary:

2021 Budget Summary

Covid Restrictions highlight benefits of Cloud Accounting

Restrictions on movement in 2020 and reliance on digital world has drawn more businesses to the Cloud

At Alexander Sloan we have long championed the benefits of using cloud accounting and this will become even more relevant as business owners and organisations react to the easing of lockdown restrictions and begin focusing on the future. However, as the uncertainty of future lockdowns continues, we would encourage you to make the move to cloud accounting software now and ensure you are taking the necessary steps to look after your business financially.

Your sole objective may be to recover and rebuild your business and in doing so you should consider the advantages of implementing cloud accounting to monitor your business finances. It is no secret that many businesses struggled with accessing government support during the summer of 2020. This was primarily due to the lack of up to date accounting information and restricted access to their accounting records due to remote working, which led to increased stress and business uncertainty.

As we now look towards the ‘new normal’, naturally we will try to hold on to the processes and procedures that we are well acquainted with. However, in doing so, are we missing the chance to make positive changes to our businesses by not ensuring we are well prepared for the risk of further lockdowns?

Why is this important?

For many years we have encouraged a move to cloud accounting to comply with HMRC’s Making Tax Digital requirements, or simply to embrace new technologies. However, this year, our message has been shaped by the business effects due to COVID-19.

We want to ensure you have complete visibility of your business finances by being able to access this anytime and anywhere, in real-time. As the pandemic led to offices being closed and a move to home working, many businesses had paperwork such as bank statements, invoices, and bills in their offices which were not accessible to finance teams. By implementing cloud accounting, the need for paperwork and desktop applications would be eliminated with the use of bank feeds and automatic invoicing.

COVID-19 is forcing businesses of all types to change the way they operate due to social distancing. Inefficiencies with the use of legacy processes that were once ignored have now been extremely exposed. These legacy processes also relate to manual accounting procedures which were paper focused but are now being adapted to ensure a more ‘access anytime, anywhere’ approach.

As the uncertainty of how long the pandemic will go on for increases to rise, we would encourage taking steps now to ensure you have complete access to your financials in the event of further lockdowns. By making a move to cloud-based accounting software now, you would be taking the necessary steps to ensure your business finances are fully accessible and eliminate the risk of key financial information being left behind in offices if further restrictions are imposed. As businesses continue to work from home, you will have peace of mind in knowing exactly where your business is financially and allow you to have real-time reporting accessible to you at any time.

Transitioning to remote working, the new norm?

The COVID-19 outbreak forced millions to embrace working from home and to undertake flexible working to a heightened level. This led to different means of working and forced the business into alternative methods of communicating with and managing their employees. This may have been through the implementation of Zoom or Microsoft Teams, however, if we think of your finance function – this would work in the same way. Cloud accounting has paved the way for remote working and ensuring complete visibility and access to your business finances.

Whilst your finance team is working from home, they can be accessing your accounting software remotely and able to ensure your accounting records are kept up to date. Not only does this ensure your staff can continue working, but it also ensures you have complete real-time information and can make better-informed business decisions.

Moving your accounting processes to the cloud will allow you to save everything you require online so that it can be accessed from anywhere, at any time. This will also make it easy for your teams to collaborate regardless of where they are working. Cloud accounting will allow you to save documents online rather than filing paperwork in offices. This will drastically reduce the amount of paperwork, printing costs, and manual input, whilst also speeding up the invoice payment process, leading to an overall more efficient way of working.

How can we help

Please contact us to find out more about cloud accounting, and how we can help your business. We offer services such as a complete migration to cloud software as well as training and consultancy services, to ensure you are ready for any eventuality. We continue to encourage the use of cloud accounting and would urge you to speak with us if you have any concerns regarding your current finance function and what to do next. We want to ensure you have complete visibility and real-time access to your accounting records as the uncertainly of further lockdowns again poses risks in you not being able to access your business finances when you most require them.

Furlough Scheme extended to March 2020, SEISS support increased

Government agrees to extend furlough to March

Key Points from the surprise announcement today:

  • The Job Retention Scheme has been extended to 31 March 2021
  • Employees made redundant after 23 September 2020 can be re-employed and furloughed.
  • Usual Wage calculated by reference to salary at 30 October 2020 but only for newly employed employees.
  • The Job Support Scheme is postponed.
  • The Job Retention Bonus (due to be paid in February 2021) has been cancelled.
  • Self Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) 3rd grant increased to 80% of trading profits for 3 months.

The furlough scheme (or Job Retention Scheme) has now been extended to the end of March 2021, it was announced at lunchtime today (5 November), and will apply throughout the UK.    The scheme will pay up to 80% of an employee’s wages up to a cap of £2,500 a month.  The extension of the scheme into November was confirmed last Friday,  but this extends the scheme for a further four months and at the same rates and conditions.  The Government will issue full guidance on 10 November.


As noted when the extension into November was confirmed last week, the furlough scheme will operate in a similar way to the JRS in August 2020 (ie, employer can claim for 80% of usual wages for hours not worked but must contribute fully towards employer’s national insurance and employer’s pension contributions).

The Government has also confirmed that anyone made  redundant after 23 September 2020 (when the replacement Job Support Scheme was first announced) could be re-hired, at the employer’s discretion, and be furloughed.  This was a similar situation to what happened when the JRS was originally announced back in March.

The guidance states that the basis of the claim (the ‘usual wages’) for employees that were employed on or before 19 March 2020 remains their pay at that date.   For new employees hired between 20 March and 30 October , the calculations of their furlough rate will be based on thei pay period immediately prior to 30 October or, for staff on variable hours, average earnings from start of employment to start date of furlough.

The government has also confirmed that the Job Support Scheme has been further postponed and that the Job Retention Bonus (JRB) will now not be paid in February 2021 and has been cancelled.

The Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will also be increased and the claim for November 2020 to January 2021 will now cover 80% of prior average trading profits.  This level of support is similar to the first grant claim that was claimable in June 2020.  This had been increased last Friday to cover the equivalent of 55% of three months trading profits but, in line with the extension of the furlough scheme, this has now increased to a full 80%.   This is expected to be claimable from early December.



Alexander Sloan



Job Support Scheme – Expansion

The government’s replacement for furlough – Job Support Scheme – has been expanded

The Government announced today (9 October 2020) an expansion to the Job Support Scheme, which was itself only announced two weeks ago.

UPDATE – the Job Support Scheme has been postponed and is NOT available until at least April 2021

The Job Support Scheme, which will commence on 1 November, is open to employers who will be able to claim a grant from HMRC in respect of their employees who are working reduced hours, though a key condition is that the employee works at least 33% of their usual hours.   Following recent announcements in Scotland and parts of England and in anticipation of more businesses being forced to close due to government restrictions, the Chancellor today announced an expansion of the Job Support Scheme specifically for these businesses.   According to the initial information, this Expansion applies only to businesses legally required to close as a result of coronavirus restrictions.

The JSS Expansion will also start from 1 November and run for six months, though a review will take place in January.  This means that those businesses temporarily shutting from this evening will remain eligible only for the Job Retention Scheme (the ‘furlough’ scheme), and of course be bound by the rules specific to that scheme.  Namely, that eligible employees will have to be have been furloughed previously and that the employee had to have been on the payroll on or before 19 March 2020.

With the new JSS and JSS Expansion, eligibility will be based on the employee being on the payroll as at 23 September 2020 and that employee need not have been previously furlioughed.

Under the JSS Expansion – so for those businesses legally forced to close due to coronavirus restrictions –  employees may receive up to 2/3rd of their usual wages up to a maximum of £2,100 per month.    Employers are responsible for paying the employees but can then reclaim this via a grant from HMRC from early December.    There is no obligation on employers to make additional top-up payments, though all employer’s national insurance contributions and employer’s pension contributions must be covered by the employer and will not be reimbursed by HMRC.

There is currently no official Government web page giving specific details of the Expansion but this will be forthcoming in the next few days, but a search for ‘Job Support Scheme’ on HMRC’s website will show updates when they appear.

Winter Economy Plan Support for Jobs and Businesses

Chancellor announces support for businesses during winter

The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced his Winter Economy Plan to support businesses and jobs on 24 September 2020.


Job Support Scheme

The new Job Support Scheme will begin on 1 November and replace the “furlough” scheme.  To be eligible for the scheme employees must work a minimum of 33% of their hours. The government and the employer will then each pay a 1/3rd of the hours not worked. So an employee working 33% of their hours would receive 77% of their pay with the government contributing 22% of their pay and their employer the remaining 55%.

It should be noted that 22% is the maximum amount that the government will pay and the percentage will depend on the percentage of an employees hours that are worked.  For example if the employee works 50% of their hours then the level of government support is reduced to only 17%.  The level of Government contribution is capped at £697.92 a month.

It should also be noted that the Government contribution will also not cover class 1 employer’s national insurance or employer’s pension contribution but these amounts will continue to be payable by the employer.

Employees will be able to “cycle on and off” the scheme and they do not need to work the same pattern each month. Any short time working arrangement, however, must cover a period of at least 7 days.

The new scheme will run for 6 months but the government have said that they will review in 3 months time the threshold of 33% of hours. The grants like the “furlough” grants will be paid in arrears.

There are a number of criteria to the scheme. To be eligible for the scheme, employers must have a UK bank account and operate a UK PAYE scheme. Larger businesses will also need to meet a financial assessment test. The scheme is designed for viable jobs and therefore employees can not be made redundant or put on redundancy notice during the period within which the employer is claiming the grant for that employee.

Similar to the furlough scheme, employers using this scheme should agree short-time working arrangements with staff, make any contract changes by agreement and notify the employee in writing. HMRC have said that they will carry out checks on claims and agreements with staff will require to be available to HMRC on request.


Self Employed

To assist the self employed, the Self Employment Income Support Scheme Grant (SEISS) will also be extended for 6 months. A grant will be payable, in arrears, for the period 1 November 2020 to 31 January 2021 for those currently eligible for SEISS and who are continuing to trade but face reduced demand due to Covid-19.

This grant will cover 20% of the average monthly profits of the individual but will be capped at £1,875. There will be a second grant for the period February to April but the level of this grant still has to be announced. As with the previous scheme, the grants will be subject to tax and national insurance.

Self assessed taxpayers will also be given more time to pay, with deferred payments from July 2020 and those due in January 2021, not now being due until January 2022.


The Chancellor announced that he will be extending applications for the Government’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan scheme, the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan scheme, the Bounce Back Loan scheme and the Future Fund.

Sunak also announced a “pay as you grow” scheme for business which will allow them to extend their bounce back loans from 6 to 10 years. The extension should significantly cut loan repayments and help cashflow. There will also be interest only periods of up to 6 months and payment holiday measures available for these loans.

The Government guarantee on Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans will also be extended to 10 years. There will also be a new successor loan guarantee programme to be announced in January 2021.


The temporary cut in VAT to 5% for the tourism and hospitality sectors will now remain in place until 31 March 2021. There will also be  a new scheme to allow businesses who deferred their VAT bills until March 2021 to make 11 smaller interest free payments during 2021/22 instead of having to make the full payment in March.

Further Information

More details can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/news/chancellor-outlines-winter-economy-plan but it should be noted that there are still further details to be announced.

Summary of Financial Assistance – June 2020

As Scotland enters Phase 1 of easing of lockdown restrictions, we recap on support for business

As we start a new month, a few days into Phase 1 of the easing of lockdown restrictions in Scotland, and with further clarity on the Job Retention Scheme and Self-Employed Income Support Scheme by the UK Chancellor at the end of last week,  it’s worth recapping on some of the key measures that have been put in place by the UK Government, Scottish Government, and local authorities since March to assist businesses, employers, and individuals and consider what support is still available in the coming weeks.

Job Retention Scheme

Many organisations will be very familiar with much of the detail of the first stage of this scheme in the past 10 weeks and  have already received grants from HMRC.  The premise of the scheme is for employees to continue to receive at least part of their normal wages during this period of uncertainty and for employers to receive a taxable grant from HMRC effectively reimbursing 80% of the normal wages and some employment costs of employees it had placed on furlough.    This scheme will remain unchanged until 30 June.

The UK Chancellor announced an update to the Job Retention Scheme on Friday 29 May but a further announcement is expected on 12 June with more precise details on how the next stage of the scheme will work.

As of 29 May, the Job Retention Scheme will continue to remain open until 31 October.   Employees enrolled into the scheme will still be entitled to 80% of their usual wages for time they are furloughed until 31 October.  The main changes announced on 29 May are:

  • The scheme will be closed to new entrants from 10 June (the earliest date that makes them eligible for a claim as at 30 June), which means that an employee must be placed on furlough for the first time by this date for an employer to make a claim in respect of that employee.  Note that an employee previously furloughed, and since un-furloughed, can still be re-furloughed at a later date.
  • From 1 July, an employee can work part-time and be paid normal wages for doing so but still be paid 80% for the hours/days they are furloughed.  As an example, an employee contracted to a 40-hour week could be brought back to work 3 days a week for full pay and receive 80% of wages for the two other days.   The current rules are ‘all or nothing’ and do not allow furloughed employees to carry out any work so this new measure gives flexibility to employers who want to operate more in line with the needs of their business.   Details on how this might be calculated for employees on variable hours will be announced by 12 June.
  • From 1 August, there will be a phasing down of the Government’s commitment to furloughed employees.   From August, the employer will not be able to claim back employer’s pension or NI contributions.   From September,  the employer will have to contribute to 10% of usual wages, with the Government’s contribution reducing to 70% up to a maximum of £2,190 per month.    From October, the employer will have to contribute to 20% of usual wages, with the Government’s contribution reducing to 60% up to a maximum of £1,875 per month.


Coronavirus Business Support Fund

There are two main grants available for businesses from local government:

  • Small Business Grant Fund – a £10,000 grant to businesses that are eligible for Small Business Bonus Scheme or Rural Relief.   Some organisations with Charitable Rates Relief and Nursery Relief are also now eligible.  This scheme is for organisations where non-domestic rates would be due but the organisation is eligible for Relief as the rateable value of their business property is under £18,000 for instance.
  • Retail, Hospitality & Leisure Grant Fund – a £25,000 grant to businesses in the Retail, Hospitality, and Leisure sector where property has a rateable value between £18,001 and £50,999.

For businesses with two or more premises, there’s a subcategory to this Fund, the Coronavirus Multiple Properties Fund.

This scheme allows additional grants to the value of 75% of the initial grant for a single non-domestic property.  So, if your business ran out of four small properties each of which were eligible for the Small Business Bonus Scheme, your business could apply for £32,500 in grants (£10,000 + £7,500 + £7,500 + £7,500).

Applications can be done through your business’s local Council’s website.

The closing dates for applications to the Coronavirus Business Support Fund is 31 March 2021.

Relevant page from the Scottish Government website:


Relevant pages from City of Edinburgh Council and Glasgow City Council website:



Non-Domestic Rates relief

This should be an automatic relief and should have been applied in your annual bill issued by your local council.  For those in the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure sector there is a 100% rates relief for the year from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021.  For other businesses, the relief is 1.6%;  effectively freezing the rates at 2019/20 levels.



The main measure offered by the Government in respect of VAT was allowing businesses to defer until 31 March 2021 any VAT payments that fell due between 20 March and 30 June 2020.    For those businesses filing monthly and quarterly VAT returns then this covers VAT returns up to 30 April 2020 (as the 31 May 2020 return is due for payment by 7 July 2020).   For any businesses that opted for this it is essential that these VAT deferrals are held as a liability in the bookkeeping records so as not to risk spending these funds which will need to be paid by spring 2021.


Another amendment concerning VAT is the temporary zero-rating of Personal Protective Equipment from 1 May to 31 July and will include the supplies of disposable gloves, aprons, and masks, which many businesses are now purchasing in order to protect their staff and premises.


Income Tax

For any individual due to make a Payment on Account to HMRC by 31 July 2020 this can be deferred with payment instead due by 31 January 2021.   No application need be made and no interest will be charged on such deferrals.   Typically, this will primarily affect self-employed individuals but anyone due to have made a payment, including landlords for instance, can defer income tax until January 2021.

Time to Pay

HMRC have a dedicated helpline on 0800 024 1222 for businesses and self-employed individuals struggling to pay HMRC bills, including outstanding tax liabilities.  The scheme existed prior to the COVID-19 pandemic but HMRC has drawn more attention to the availability of this service.

Self-Employed Income Support Scheme

This  scheme was set up to act as an equivalent to the Job Retention Scheme and originally covered the 3 month period March to May.   The scheme is up and running and individuals that are self-employed or in partnership have been able to apply to the scheme since 13 May.   Applications for the first phase of the scheme remain open until 13 July (not a typo, the deadline is the thirteenth of July which is two months after it opened).

The UK Chancellor announced on 29 May that a second grant will be available to cover the 3 month period June to August.   From August, applications will be open for the second grant.


To be eligible, a taxpayer must have at least filed their 2018/19 Tax Return and have taxable profits of £50,000 or less on average.   HMRC intended to contact everyone who was eligible but may not have done so if an email address was not registered with them, for instance.  In which case, it is possible to check your eligibility for the Scheme through the following link (you will need your UTR and National Insurance number):


HMRC will have calculated your total self-employed taxable profits from the tax years 2016/17, 2017/18, 2018/19 to produce an annual average (the total divided by tax return periods).  From this they pro-rate 3 months and award a taxable grant of 80% of that figure, capped at £7,500.   The second grant, available from August, will award a taxable grant for the equivalent of 70% of 3 months earnings, capped at £6,570.

The Government’s webpage for the SEISS is on:


Coronavirus Newly Self-Employed Hardship Fund

The Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (see above) is eligible only for those self-employed individuals who started prior to 5 April 2019 and have filed at least one tax return with HMRC.  For those individuals newly self-employed, the Scottish Government has made available a one-off £2,000 grant.  You can apply online through the local authority where you are resident.

Relevant pages from City of Edinburgh Council and Glasgow City Council website:



Business Loans

There are four main business loans established by the UK Government in its response to the pandemic:

  • Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS)

For companies with a turnover of over £45,000,000 with loans available up to £200,000,000.  The maximum term of the loan is three years.


  • Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)

For companies with turnover up to £45milllion, a loan of up to £5,000,000 is available.   Personal guarantees may be requested by the banks – over 50 of which are involved are in the scheme – for loans over £250,000.  The maximum term of the loan is six years and is interest-free in the first year.


  • Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS)

The scheme went live in early May with around 20 banks signing up to the scheme.  A business can apply for the Bounce Back Loan Scheme  for a loan of between £2,000 and the lower of 25% of the business’s annual turnover and £50,000.  There are no repayments in the first 12 months, with interest are set at 2.5%.  The loan is 100% guaranteed by UK Government with no personal guarantees required.  The maximum term of the loan is six years and early repayments can be made without any penalty.   This scheme is useful for any business with short-term cashflow concerns where a small cash injection for items such as computer equipment and investing in home-working may help the business get up and running.


  • Future Fund

This scheme was introduced to provide match-funding to support start-up or innovative companies where investors would apply to the Future Fund and the company receive 100% match funding from £125,000 to £5,000,000 in the form of a convertible loan.  There is strict eligibility criteria and conditions attached to the funding which has a term period of 36 months and no early repayment provision.  Applications are available only until 30 September 2020.



Some of the support for business offered by the UK and Scottish Government is also available to charities and many have already applied for such reliefs and grants.  There has been additional support from funds made available by the Scottish Government which has been through three main Funds:

  • The Third Sector Resilience Fund –  this is a Fund set up for those third sector organisations that require help to stabilise and manage cash flows during this period.   Costs are intended to cover overheads and essential staff and the award can be in the form of a grant, a loan, or a mix.


  • The Wellbeing Fund – this Fund was for those charities working with at-risk groups and providing support on areas such as mental health, personal finances, housing.   This fund has now closed.
  • Supporting Communities Fund – this is a Fund to support community ‘anchor’ organisations that support local responses to the current crisis and will be community-based charities.


A number of grant-funding bodies have continued to be highly supportive of charities they fund but these Scottish Government-backed Funds are available to offer some charities additional support if required.

The following page on the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) website is a useful summary of the support available for charities:



The introduction of the Off-Payroll Working rules to the private sector was due to take place on 1 April 2020 but these have been postponed until 1 April 2021.


Companies House have extended the deadline for filing company accounts by three months for companies that are able to cite COVID-19 as a reason for requiring the extension.  To avoid a late filing penalty, an application must be made to Companies House before the end of the existing reporting deadline.   The application need not be done through the normal WebFiling service on Companies House website but can be done through the following webpage:


This is not an exhaustive list of all the measures adopted by the Government to keep the economy moving but covers the support available for a majority of organisations during this uncertain period.   As can be seen above, a number of the measures are still ‘live’, but some are being wound up or have a set time limit for organisations to apply for a grant, loan or deferral.


Alexander Sloan


Data Security Threats during Lockdown

Lockdown is creating opportunities for fraudsters – make sure you are alert to such threats

At the current time everyone is struggling to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic.  There are limited goods, greater anxiety, restrictions on movement and an increase in home working.  Unfortunately, these conditions also present opportunities to criminals and there has been an increase in cyber attacks and frauds.

Cyber Attacks

Many organisations have had to move to home working very quickly and that means there will be instances where usual security protocols may not have been followed. In addition, with more remote working, there are opportunities for more phishing attacks. Common schemes include receiving bogus emails claiming to include important links to more information on Coronavirus. The National Cyber Security Centre has reported an increase in the number of websites registered relating to the Coronavirus suggesting that criminals are likely to be taking advantage of the pandemic.

There are a number of resources available which are worth considering to help against cyber attacks which include:

The National Cyber Security Centre guide to home working can be found by clicking here

The Centre for Protection of National Infrastructure has produced high level guidance on security practices during pandemics which can be found by clicking here.

The National Cyber Security Centre have a guide on spotting and dealing with phishing emails which can be found by clicking here.


There are a large number of frauds taking place which are taking advantage of the current schemes. One example is that Europol are currently investigating a €6.6 million transfer to a company in Singapore in order to purchase alcohol gels and face masks where the goods were never received. There have been a number of cases where criminals have been impersonating government officials, police or medical/health professionals to gain access to properties.

Unfortunately, it is even more important to stay vigilant in an already testing time.

Stay safe

Alexander Sloan