Homeworking & a Scam Warning from the HMRC


As UK businesses recover from COVID-19 and adapt to the ‘new normal’ – business owners now need to consider the impact of continued homeworking. Plus there is a new Government campaign to arrange loan finance for UK ‘business start-ups’. In addition to this, we highlight HMRC’s recent warnings of ever-increasing scams as we approach the Tax Credit renewals deadline.

Financial Support for UK Business Start-Ups

On 18 May 2021, the British Business Bank (BBB) (not a bank as such, but a business finance raising support organisation owned by the UK Government) launched a new campaign to encourage start-up UK businesses and those UK businesses that have only been trading for up to two years to apply for financial support under the BBB’s ‘Start-Up Loans scheme’.

Working with a national network of delivery partners, the BBB Start Up Loans provides government-backed, unsecured 1 to 5 years personal loans from £500 to £25,000 at a fixed interest rate of 6% per annum to provide loan finance to start or grow a new UK business.

In addition to loan funding, the BBB Start-Up Loans also provides 12 months of free mentoring to successful loan recipients, as well as exclusive discounts on many business products.

During the application process, applicants obtain free support and guidance in writing a business plan and creating a cash flow forecast.

So if you require finance for a newly started business or for a start-up business proposal, even if you are currently unemployed, go to the BBB website for more information as to how to apply for the BBB Start-Up Loan.

What has the COVID-19 pandemic shown to UK businesses going forward?

For those UK businesses that have been fortunate enough to remain in business throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been several required changes to their business practices. Perhaps one of the main changes is dealing with the necessary increase in ‘homeworking’ which in the last year has been taken up primarily by professionals but not exclusively.

Homeworking was seen in the pre-COVID-19 days as an occasional perk and in some employer’s eyes additional paid holiday for their employee. However, the homeworking necessity following the impact of COVID-19 has shown that homeworking provided the employee with a safe working environment and resulted in maintaining or increasing the homeworker’s productivity.

Now that the successful NHS vaccination programme and the Test and Trace system looks like enabling a return to, or close to, the pre COVID-19 normal what is to happen to homeworking?

It seems clear that particularly for employees working within the UK professions homeworking will remain as a matter of choice but perhaps not full-time homeworking.

Recent research has shown that 80% of workers want to retain some or all their working time to be completed at home.

The plus of homeworking is avoiding stressful and costly commuting, providing flexibility and an improved work to life balance. Also, that homeworking provides a better environment for uninterrupted concentration on work-related projects. The necessary investment in technology is important to ensure good communications between the homeworkers and their team workers and facilitating the necessary reporting lines between the homeworker and his or her manager.

The plus of working in the employer’s office is that it still provides the best way of ensuring the face-to-face dissemination of information and encouraging working as a team which in some creative industry is a must.

It seems the way forward for UK businesses having to operate while living with COVID-19 will be a mixed bag and depend on the type of business. Some professionals will be able to see the benefit of retaining a high degree of homeworking whereas other UK businesses such as in the creative industries will favour the return to the office. Obviously, some business, such as in the hospitality industry, can only operate from a central base and so their decision can only be for their staff to go back to the workplace.

One major change for all UK businesses that want to encourage their workers to return to the central workplaces is that such workplaces will need to be Covid-19 safe with its inherent additional cost requirement.

As a firm of Chartered Accountants and Chartered Tax Advisers, we at HaesCooper are professionally qualified to support and advise all businesses be they small, medium or large in particular to deal with their fiscal and financial business management requirements at competitive fee rates. HaesCooper is also able to provide to the small to medium businesses a Virtual Finance Director service. To learn more, or discuss your needs in more detail, contact us.

HMRC Issue Scam Warnings as the Tax Credit Renewal Deadline Approaches

As we approach the deadline date for the annual renewal application to HMRC for Tax Credits (claimants need to notify HMRC of changes to their circumstances by 31 July 2021 either online or use the HMRC App) HMRC have reminded all Tax Credit claimants of the high level of scams currently in the public domain.

The statistics reported by HMRC are scary. For the year to 30 April 2021 just over 1.1m suspicious contact referrals were made to HMRC along with the removal of 3,000 malicious telephone numbers by telecoms companies following action by HMRC. Also, HMRC had 15,700 malicious web pages taken down and HMRC responded to 443,033 reports of telephone scams-up by 135% from the previous year.

The massive increase in telephone and internet scams in the UK using the HMRC as the cover story is not just for the Tax Credits annual renewal as the scam statistics, as reported above, include scams in respect of UK taxation and National Insurance.

So you have been warned even if the telephone number calling you checks out on the internet as being from HMRC you still need to be very cautious as official telephone numbers can be ‘spoofed’ by the scammers! If in doubt hang up and report it to HMRC.

Contact HMRC if you have a suspicious call or email – the HMRC reporting link is: https://www.gov.uk/report-suspicious-emails-websites-phishing/report-hmrc-phishing-emails-texts-and-phone-call-scams

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