Coronavirus Update 30 March: Minimum wage increases, new HMRC helpline number
Good morning. We hope you had a good weekend, despite the lockdown.
A few things have happened since Friday that will be of help or interest to clients and their businesses.
Before we get onto minimum wage increases and our daily roundup, though, these are some of our key posts from last week. You may want to bookmark these pages for future reference:
- Employer guidance for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Our FAQs cover most of the questions you may have about claiming 80% of ‘furloughed’ employees’ wages.
- Details on the new Self-employed Income Support Scheme. Vital information on how the self-employed can claim 80% of average monthly profits.
- Self-employed SOS. This was written before the Self-employed Income Support Scheme was announced, but contains useful information on claiming Universal Credit (and the housing benefit portion of it).
- A full list of businesses allowed to stay open. This guide tells you which businesses can continue trading, and which ones must close.
Moving on to the latest news, the deputy chief medical officer has suggested that the lockdown could last for six months before things return to normal. It’s going to be a tough time economically, with The Guardian also reporting that the UK’s economic output is forecast to drop 15% in the second quarter of this year.
Also in the news:
- HMRC’s coronavirus helpline has a new number. The helpline for businesses and the self-employed can now be reached at 0800 024 1222. Open from 8am to 4pm, Monday to Friday, the new number now has extra capacity. You can use it for discussing instalment arrangements, asking to suspend debt collection proceedings, or asking to cancel penalties and interest if you are having administrative difficulties that mean you can’t pay HMRC on time.
- Minimum wage increases due on 1 April. The National Living wage for over 25s goes up 6.2% from £8.21 to £8.72 per hour. The National Minimum Wage for younger workers is also going up between 4.6% and 6.5%, depending on their age. The Mirror has more details here, while official government guidance can be found here.
- We’ve already reported that MOTs for cars, vans and motorcycles will be extended by six months. However, Metro has a timely reminder that you must still pay vehicle excise duty (‘car tax’ or ‘road tax’) unless you declare your vehicle(s) as SORN. So be sure to keep personal and fleet vehicles taxed if you need them.
In positive news, a key government medical advisor, Prof Neil Ferguson, says the spread of Coronavirus is showing signs of slowing – suggesting social distancing measures are beginning to work. So be sure to keep following guidelines to stay home, protect the NHS and save lives.
About Ben Locker
Ben Locker is a copywriter who specialises in business-to-business marketing, writing about everything from software and accountancy to construction and power tools. He co-founded the Professional Copywriters’ Network, the UK’s association for commercial writers, and is named in Direct Marketing Association research as ‘one of the copywriters who copywriters rate’.