March 31 coronavirus update for businesses

International trade body calls for government support for importers

The Institute of Export & International Trade has asked the government to include import taxes in its deferral of VAT, duty and excise payments that businesses are required to make. The delay on payments for the next quarter excludes the payment of import VAT, duty and excise, which are currently due at the time of import.

When goods are imported into the European Union (including the UK), import VAT is charged as a percentage of the value of the imported goods. Even though VAT can be claimed back by businesses, there can be a delay from the time of import until the date of refund - this can place a cash flow strain on the importer.

Marco Forgione, director general of the IOE&IT (pictured), said: "At this time businesses importing goods need all the help available to keep operating. These firms are essential in keeping the UK economy functioning.

"Deferring VAT payments will help with cash-flow and ensure that businesses, many of which are small-to-medium sized, will be able to continue operating. Such firms are already having to cope with declining demand, problems sourcing products and significant increases in transport costs. Deferment of import VAT will be an essential lifeline."

Rotherham Taylor warns self-employed of future tax hikes

Preston accountancy firm Rotherham Taylor Limited has welcomed the government’s new Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS), but fears that the chancellor may seek redress through the tax system in future.

Rebecca Bradshaw said: "The chancellor’s speech concluded with a rather ominous message, which seems to suggest that the government is now looking to remove or reduce any tax advantage from being self-employed.

“Although we don’t have details of this yet, it is important that self-employed individuals monitor the situation to ensure they are not disadvantaged in future.”

Cookeze calls in administrators

Cookeze, the event catering company based in Buckshaw Village, has appointed administrators due to cashflow problems. The firm serves clients including Manchester United and Liverpool FC, but the cancellation of sporting events due to coronavirus has deeply affected the its fortunes. On ceasing trading, 72 were made redundant.

Dean Watson, partner at administrators Begbies Traynor, said: “COVID-19 has seen the sports-related events where the company excelled cancelled. The immediate cashflow challenge this presented, as well as recent significant investment in a high specification modern office complex and commercial kitchen equipment, has taken its toll.

“We are in the process of updating staff and providing information on how to claim for their entitlements and advising creditors of the position."

UCLan postpones summer 2020 graduation ceremonies

The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has today announced the postponement of its July 2020 graduation ceremonies due to the continuing spread and impact of coronavirus. The ceremonies have been rescheduled for December 2020 when winter graduation will be extended into a two-week celebration.

Additional high profile and popular community events, including the graduate fashion show and the Lancashire Science Festival, have been deferred for a year. 

UCLan's Graham Baldwin said: “These large-scale events represent the culmination of everything our students have achieved and in the case of the Lancashire Science Festival we also welcome many thousands of visitors from across our local community.

“Therefore, postponing these events was not an easy decision nor was it taken lightly. Any disappointment is entirely understandable, but we have done it to protect the safety and wellbeing of our graduates, guests, staff and indeed the whole of our stakeholder community."


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