Childcare funding for under 9-month-olds

In a recent press release the Department for Education confirmed that parents of children from 9 months old can now apply to access government-funded childcare from September 2024, as England’s largest ever childcare expansion continues.

From 12 May 2024, eligible working parents of children who will be 9 months old by 31 August can apply to access 15 hours of funded childcare a week – set to benefit hundreds of thousands of families across the country.

This is the second step in the government’s long-term plan to support hard-working parents to balance their family and career. As the successful launch of the offer in April demonstrates, this plan is working.

Since the launch of the offer, 211,027 two-year-olds are already benefitting from government-funded places, providing parents with financial support to return to work or increase their hours and kick-starting the government’s commitment to grow the economy through affordable access to quality childcare.

Working parents whose children will be aged between 9-months and 23-months old on 31 August 2024 can apply for their government-funded childcare code via the childcare service, which they then take to their chosen childcare provider to validate. 

In this next stage, the historic rollout will deliver direct government support with childcare costs from the term after their child turns 9 months old, until they start school. By September 2025, support will increase to 30 government-funded hours a week, saving families an average of £6,900 per year.

Universal Credit changes

Universal Credit claimants working less than half of a full-time week will have to look to increase their hours but will be able to benefit from extra work coach support. These changes will see 400,000 Universal Credit claimants receive more help to progress in work.

The changes come as the PM announces once in a generation welfare reforms to help people find work, boost their earnings, and grow the economy.

Before 2022, someone could work only nine hours a week and remain on benefits without being expected to look for more work.

The latest rise in the Administrative Earnings Threshold (AET) means someone working less than 18 hours – half of a full-time week – will have to look for more work.

These Universal Credit claimants will move into the ‘Intensive Work Search group’, meeting with their work coaches more regularly to plan their job progression, boost their earnings and advance the journey off welfare altogether.

Combined with previous increases, 400,000 claimants are now subject to more intensive Jobcentre support – and with that the expectation that those who can work must engage with the support available or face losing their benefits.

The move comes as last month the Prime Minister announced a once in a generation package of welfare reforms to help thousands more people benefit from employment, building on the Government’s £2.5 billion Back to Work Plan providing extra help to over a million people to break down barriers to work.

Employing staff for the first time?

There are a number of rules and regulations that you must be aware of when you employ staff for the first time.

HMRC’s guidance sets out some important issues to be aware of when becoming an employer.

  1. Decide how much to pay someone – you must pay your employee at least the National Minimum Wage.
  2. Check if someone has the legal right to work in the UK. You may have to do other employment checks as well.
  3. Check if you need to apply for a DBS check (formerly known as a CRB check) if you work in a field that requires one, e.g. with vulnerable people or security.
  4. Take out employment insurance – you will need employers’ liability insurance as soon as you become an employer.
  5. Send details of the job (including terms and conditions) in writing to your employee. You need to give your employee a written statement of employment if you are employing someone for more than 1 month.
  6. Ensure that you register as an employer with HMRC. You can do this up to 4 weeks before you pay your new staff. This process must also be completed by directors of a limited company who employ themselves to work in the company.
  7. Check if you need to automatically enrol your staff into a workplace pension scheme.

When it comes to paying staff, you can use a payroll provider or process your payroll in-house. If you decide to run your own payroll you must choose suitable payroll software. Setting up payroll for the first time can be an onerous and complex task.

We can help you complete this set-up process and look after the payroll for you. Call if you need more information.

Register an overseas company

An overseas company must register with Companies House if they want to set up a place of business in the UK. This would mean that the overseas company has a physical presence in the UK through which it carries on business.

If an overseas company does not have a physical presence in the UK, they are not usually required to register with Companies House. For example, an independent agent who conducts business on behalf of an overseas company is not seen as the overseas company having a physical presence in the UK, neither is an occasional location such as a hotel where a director of an overseas company may conduct business during periodic visits to the UK.

If the overseas company is required to register, they must submit a completed OS IN01 form and pay a registration fee of £71 to Companies House. If the company is registering its first UK establishment, it must also send Companies House a certified copy of the company’s constitutional documents and a copy of the company’s latest set of accounts (with a certified translation in English if prepared in another language).

The overseas company can be registered using its corporate name (its name under the law of the country of incorporation), or an alternative name under which it proposes to carry on business in the UK.

Deferring National Insurance payments

Employees with more than one job may be able to defer or delay paying Class 1 National Insurance in certain circumstances.

This deferment can be considered when any of the following apply:

  • You pay Class 1 National Insurance with more than one employer.
  • You earn £967 or more per week from one job over the tax year.
  • You earn £1,209 or more per week from 2 jobs over the tax year.

This deferral could result in NIC deductions at a reduced rate of 2% on your weekly earnings between £242 and £967 in one of your jobs, instead of the standard rate of 8%.

HMRC will check if you have paid enough National Insurance at the end of the tax year and will write to you if you have underpaid contributions.

Most self-employed people are also required to pay Class 4 NICs. It used to be possible to defer these contributions, but that is no longer the case. You may be able to claim a refund for previous tax years.

Beneficial tax-exempt loans

An employee can obtain a benefit when provided with an employment-related cheap or interest-free loan. The benefit is the difference between the interest the employee pays, if any, and the commercial rate the employee would have to pay on a loan obtained elsewhere. These types of loans are referred to as beneficial loans.

There are a number of scenarios where beneficial loans are exempt, and employers might not have to report a benefit to HMRC or pay tax and National Insurance. The most common exemption relates to small loans with a combined outstanding value to an employee of less than £10,000 throughout the whole tax year.

This list also includes loans provided:

  • in the normal course of a domestic or family relationship as an individual (not as a company you control, even if you are the sole owner and employee);
  • to an employee for a fixed and invariable period, and at a fixed and invariable rate that was equal to or higher than HMRC’s official interest rate when the loan was taken out;
  • under identical terms and conditions to those offered to the general public (this mostly applies to commercial lenders);
  • that are ‘qualifying loans’, meaning all of the interest qualifies for tax relief; or
  • using a director’s loan account as long as it is not overdrawn at any time during the tax year.

Check a VAT number

The Check a UK VAT number service is available at: www.gov.uk/check-uk-vat-number.

This service allows users to check:

  • if a UK VAT registration number is valid; and
  • the name and address of the registered business.

The service also allows UK taxpayers to obtain a certificate to prove that they checked that a VAT registration number was valid at a given time and date. This is especially important when you take on new suppliers. If the VAT number is invalid, HMRC could withdraw your ability to reclaim the input VAT you have paid. The certificate will also provide valuable evidence proving a taxpayer acted in good faith – should HMRC challenge input tax recovery or seek payment of lost VAT.

The European Commission website also includes an on-line service which allows taxpayers to check if a quoted VAT number from anywhere in the EU or Northern Ireland is valid. The on-line service is available at: https://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/vies/#/vat-validation

Closing a limited company

There are a number of reasons why you may need to close your limited company. This could be because the company structure no longer suits your needs, your business is no longer active, or the company is insolvent. You will usually need the agreement of all the company’s directors and shareholders to close down a company.

The method for closing down a limited company depends on whether it is solvent or insolvent. If the company is solvent, you can apply to get the company struck off the Register of Companies or start a members’ voluntary liquidation. The former method is usually the cheapest.

It is the responsibility of the company directors to ensure that all of a company’s assets and liabilities are dealt with before it is dissolved. For example, you have settled any outstanding bills and collected all debts owed to the business. Any assets or rights (but not liabilities) remaining in the company at the date of dissolution can pass to the Crown as ownerless property.

Where a company is insolvent, the creditors’ voluntary liquidation process must be used. There are also special rules where the company has no director, for example, if the sole director has died.

A company can also elect to become dormant. A company can stay dormant indefinitely, however there are costs associated with this option. This might be done if for example a company is restructuring its operations or wants to keep a company name, brand or trademark. The costs of restarting a dormant company are typically less than forming a new company.

Customs declaration deadline

A reminder that businesses must submit all export declarations through the Customs Declaration Service (CDS) by 4 June.

Businesses exporting goods have less than one month left to move across to the CDS, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) announced today.

Export declarations must be submitted through CDS from 4 June this year, when it replaces the Customs Handling Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system for all trade declarations.

CDS provides businesses with a more user-friendly, streamlined system with greater functionality. It has been running since 2018 for import declarations and more than 117 million customs declarations have already been submitted through CDS.

HMRC is working closely with the border industry and directly contacting all declarants and traders to urge them to access the available support now and transfer over to CDS.

Businesses with customs agents should ensure their agent is ready to use CDS. Those without a customs agent must prepare to make their own declarations using software that works with the system.

Further information is available on GOV.UK, including the CDS toolkit and checklists, which break down the individual steps traders need to take. Traders can also subscribe to CDS alerts and access the free Trader Dress Rehearsal to practice submitting declarations.

Company names – new regulations

A recent post by Companies House confirmed that they are now using new powers to challenge the registration of certain company names.

Extracts from their recent blog post is reproduced below:

New powers to challenge company names  

These new measures build on existing controls on company names. Names cannot be the same as or too similar to an existing name, and certain terms are restricted, such as terms implying a connection to the UK government or using a sensitive word or expression.

Under the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act, we can now also reject an application to register a name where we have reason to believe:

  • the name is intended to facilitate fraud
  • the name is comprised of or contains a computer code
  • the name is likely to give the false impression the company is connected to a foreign government or an international organisation whose members include two or more countries or territories (or their governments)

We can also direct companies to change their name in more circumstances, for example, where the name has been used, or is intended to be used, by the company to facilitate fraudulent activity.

If a company fails to change its name within 28 days, we can now determine a new name for the company, for example, changing the company name to its registered company number.

We also have the power to suppress a name from the register while a company responds to a direction to change its name.

Failure to comply is an offence

If a company does not respond to a direction to change their company name within 28 days, an offence is committed.

It’s also an offence to continue using a company name which we have directed to change.

Company Names Tribunal

The Company Names Tribunal continues to be responsible for considering objections to the use of a name which is:

  • the same as an existing name in which another person has goodwill
  • sufficiently similar to that name that it is likely to mislead

We're confident that, over time, these new powers will make a difference to the accuracy and integrity of the information on the register and will help to make sure the UK remains a great place to do business.”