Archive: 2020

  1. Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)

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    The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) provides financial support to smaller businesses (SMEs) across the UK that are losing revenue, and seeing their cashflow disrupted, as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

    CBILS has been significantly expanded along with changes to the scheme’s features and eligibility criteria. The changes mean even more smaller businesses across the UK impacted by the coronavirus crisis can access the funding they need.

    Importantly, access to the scheme has been opened up to those smaller businesses who would have previously met the requirements for a commercial facility but would not have been eligible for CBILS. Insufficient security is no longer a condition to access the scheme.

    This significantly increases the number of businesses eligible for the scheme. The expanded scheme will be operational with lenders from Monday 6 April 2020.

    How to access the scheme

    The scheme is now open for applications.

    To apply, you should talk to your bank or one of the 40 accredited finance providers (not the British Business Bank) as soon as possible, to discuss your business plan. You can find out the latest on the best ways to contact them via their websites. Please note that branches may currently be shut down to enable social distancing.

    Summary of the scheme

    • To support SMEs with access to loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance.
    • The scheme is delivered through 40 accredited lenders, including all the major banks and backed by the government-owned British Business Bank.
    • Up to £5m facility: Can borrow up to £5 million. Finance terms are up to six years for loans and asset finance and three years for overdrafts and invoice finance facilities.
    • 80% Guarantee: The government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% against the outstanding facility balance (subject to an overall cap per lender) to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to SMEs.
    • No guarantee fee for SMEs to access the scheme: No fee for smaller businesses. Lenders will pay a fee to access the scheme.
    • Interest and fees paid by the Government for 12 months: The government will make a Business Interruption Payment (BIP) to cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any lender levied fees (incl. security fees), so smaller businesses will benefit from no upfront costs and lower initial repayments.
    • Interest rates: Lenders can set their own interest parameters.
    • Interest rate options: Variable or fixed for the term of the loan.
    • Repayment holiday: Some lenders will accept requests for a capital repayment holiday at the start or during the loan, up to 6mths as standard and in some circumstances up to 12 months.
    • Finance terms: Finance terms are up to six years for term loans and asset finance facilities. For overdrafts and invoice finance facilities, terms will be up to three years.
    • Security: At the discretion of the lender, the scheme may be used for unsecured lending for facilities of £250,000 and under. For facilities above £250,000, the lender must establish a lack or absence of security prior to businesses using CBILS. If the lender can offer finance on normal commercial terms without the need to make use of the scheme, they will do so.
    • The borrower always remains 100% liable for the debt.

    Eligibility

    You are eligible for the scheme if:

    • Your business is UK based, with turnover of no more than £45 million per year.
    • Loans are limited to a maximum of 25% of 2019 turnover or double the annual wage bill, whichever is greater. If your turnover is sub £100k in the 12 months to December 31st 2019 you will not qualify.
    • Your business must generate more than 50% of its turnover from trading activity.
    • The facility must be used to support primarily trading in the UK.
    • You have a borrowing proposal, which, were it not for the current pandemic, would be considered viable by the lender, and for which the lender believes the provision of finance will enable the business to trade out of any short-to-medium term difficulty.
    • Smaller businesses from any sector can apply for the full amount of the facility.

    The following trades and organisations are not eligible to apply:

    • Banks, Building Societies, Insurers and Reinsurers (but not insurance brokers).
    • The public sector including state-funded primary and secondary schools; employers, professional, religious or political membership organisation or trade unions.

    Accredited Lenders and the type of finance they offer

    Click here for a list of Accredited Lenders

    Points to note

    • The scheme is to protect lenders, not borrowers. It is to encourage banks to lend in difficult circumstances. Therefore, you need to be very clear that the 80% only applies to any shortfall AFTER the bank has taken every possible step to get the money back.
    • They will therefore have to appoint a receiver/liquidator, call on any security including a guarantee, which could mean bankrupting the guarantor, and only then can they go to the government.
    • Following earlier discussions with the banking industry, some lenders indicated that they would not charge arrangement fees or early repayment charges to SMEs borrowing under the scheme. However, if you take a fixed interest rate then there are likely to be early repayment charges.
    • Fishery, aquaculture and agriculture businesses may not qualify for the full interest and fee payment.
    • Not every lender can provide every type of finance or the maximum amount
    • Lenders should not be taking a charge over peoples homes as part of the security – however if they have security in place already they can rely upon it
    • Any request for refinancing an existing Enterprise Finance Guarantee facility will be at each individual Lender’s discretion, be subject to certain limits, and you meeting the CBILS eligibility criteria.
    • The Enterprise Finance Guarantee scheme is temporarily suspended at this point in time.
    • CBILS will initially run for 6 months
    • Consider the urgency of your need – it is possible that some businesses may be looking for regular longer-term finance rather than ‘emergency’ finance, and there may other businesses with a more urgent need to speak with a lender
    • Whilst the above point is correct for small loans, anything of any size will need help to present a strong case to their bank. They must show in their borrowing proposal that were it not for the COVID-19 pandemic, their business would be considered viable by the lender, and for which the lender believes the provision of finance will enable the business to trade out of any short-to-medium term difficulty.
  2. Coronavirus: Universal Credit

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    An article in the Times on 30 March provided a reminder that individuals whose livelihood has been impacted because of the coronavirus, such as employees who have been made redundant and self-employed individuals whose turnover has stopped, will be expected to use their savings before they are eligible for Universal Credit.

    This is because to be eligible for Universal Credit, the individual needs to be:

    • on a low income or out of work;
    • 18 or over (there are some exceptions for 16 and 17-year-olds);
    • under State Pension age (or their partner is);

    and

    • have £16,000 or less in savings between themselves and their partner; and
    • live in the UK.

    Savings (capital) is something that could be a source of income. This includes:

    • savings, such as those in a bank or building society;
    • investments such as Bonds or ISAs;
    • property that the individual may own or part-own (other than the house they live in).

    When an individual claims Universal Credit they will need to declare all of their capital. If their capital is worth more than £16,000, they will not be entitled to claim Universal Credit. If they are in a couple but have to make a claim as a single person, their partner’s capital/savings will still be taken into account.

    Here’s how the amount of capital an individual has will affect their Universal Credit claim:

    • Any capital/savings the individual has under £6,000 is ignored.
    • Any capital/savings the individual has worth between £6,000 and £16,000 is treated as if it gives them a monthly income of £4.35 for each £250, or part of £250, regardless of whether it does or not. So, for example, if they have £6,300 in a savings account, £6,000 of it will be ignored and the other £300 will be treated as giving them a monthly income of £8.70.
    • If an individual has capital/savings worth more than £16,000 they will not be entitled to Universal Credit. This is the same if they are a single claimant or are making a claim as a couple.

    Other money coming into a household can also affect the amount of Universal Credit an individual can receive. This includes:

    • Retirement pension income.
    • Maintenance payments.
    • Student income.
    • Any other income which is taxable.

    And if other benefits are received at the same time, for every £1 the individual receives from them, their Universal Credit payment will be reduced by £1. These include:

    • Carer’s Allowance.
    • Incapacity Benefit.
    • Maternity Allowance.
    • New style Employment and Support Allowance.
    • New style Jobseeker’s Allowance.

    However, there are some other benefits that aren’t taken into account. These include:

    • Child Benefit;
    • Disability Living Allowance;
    • Personal Independence Payment; and
    • war pensions.

    From 6 April the Government is increasing the standard allowance in Universal Credit for one year by £20 per week on top of planned annual uprating. This will apply to all new and existing Universal Credit claimants, and means that for a single Universal Credit claimant (aged 25 or over), the standard allowance will increase from £317.82 to £409.89 per month.

    It may still be possible to receive Universal Credit payments when an individual starts work or increases their earnings. Their Universal Credit payments will adjust automatically if their earnings change, meaning they have the flexibility to take on part-time or short-term work.

    As their earnings increase, their Universal Credit amount will go down, depending on their circumstances. For more information see Universal Credit and work.

    If they are part of a couple and have a joint award, then both their earnings will be used to calculate their Universal Credit payment.

    For those that are self-employed and claiming Universal Credit, and are required to stay at home or are ill as a result of coronavirus, the Minimum Income Floor (see below) will not be applied for the period of time whilst they are affected.

    The minimum income floor is usually what someone of the same age would earn if they worked at the National Minimum Wage for the number of hours that the self-employed individual is expected to work or look for work. Normally, if the self-employed individual earns less than the minimum income floor, Universal Credit will not make up the difference.

    From 6 April the requirements of the Minimum Income Floor will be temporarily relaxed. This change will apply to all Universal Credit claimants and will last for the duration of the outbreak. New claimants will not need to attend the jobcentre to demonstrate gainful self-employment.

    More information is available here.

  3. Navigation The Coronavirus – Part 3: Health & Wellbeing

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    How are you keeping at these unusual times? How have your first two weeks of lockdown been? What have you been up to?

    I wanted to share a few things with you that we have been doing in our household, which may provide some light entertainment for you and your family during this tricky time.

    Keeping physically and emotionally fit is essential at these times of social distancing and this will be even more important the longer the lockdown continues. It’s also important to keep everyone entertained.


    Staying Healthy


    Keeping Energised

    I really enjoy Yoga, I didn’t think I would, but I do, I only do it occasionally, but a regular morning class in front of the TV is a great way to start the day. Yoga with Adriene offers lots of variety with many perfect for beginners and those looking for a slow and mindful back to basics class.


    Active workouts

    Maybe not for the light-hearted, Richard East offers more high-intensity workouts which will definitely get your heart racing!  He has several free videos and is building an online subscription side, check in to his morning Facebook lives too.


    Mind Workout

    In my opinion, mental health is just as important as physical health.  Being away from the things that are important to us, can initiate conversations with ourselves that are not always beneficial.  We can often talk to ourselves too much!

    I have meditated now for over 30 years, at a young age I trained in martial arts and mediation was a natural progression.  There is no right way to meditate, some people prefer a guided meditation where you are guided through a process, or listen to music, doing this occupies the conscious mind and thus blocks out the internal dialogue, so if this is you, this may help.

    For beginners, I like Headspace who offer a free 7-day trial.


    Keeping Inspired & Entertained


    Podcasts

    One of Nicky’s favourite podcasts is called Happy Place with Ferne Cotton. She interviews an inspirational guest every week from Tom Kerridge to Joe Wicks they are definitely worth a listen and will add some positivity to your day.

    It would be rude if we didn’t include Desert Island Discs. This podcast saved us from ourselves during a massive road trip to France one year. We have loved it ever since, and even Olly and Bella have enjoyed listening to their favourite people like Miranda & Ed Sheeran. There are hundreds of episodes to listen to, search for your favourite or just learn about someone new.


    Reading

    I read a lot, I admit my genre is not everyone’s cup of tea, I limit most of my reading to investment/finance or personal development/psychology books.  But here are a couple of books that I have enjoyed over the years that Nicky said are passable as the closest thing I have to mainstream!

    The Snowball by Alice Schroeder
    The Snowball is the first and will be the only biography of the world’s richest man, Warren Buffett, written with his full cooperation and collaboration.

    It’s a beast of a book, but I must say it’s excellent!

    The Number by Lee Eisenberg
    Do you know your Number? What happens if you don’t make it to your Number? Do you have a plan? The Number is no ordinary finance book–it offers an intriguing and entertaining tour of wealth gurus, life coaches, and financial advisers, and our hopes and fears for the future. The result is a provocative field guide to your psyche and finances and an urgently useful book for anyone over thirty.

    I found this book very interesting because it’s written by a New York Times journalist, based around conversations he had at dinner parties on ‘how much is enough?’

    Outliers – Malcolm Gladwell
    From the bestselling author of Blink and The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers: The Story of Success overturns conventional wisdom about genius to show us what makes an ordinary person an extreme overachiever.

    Why do some people achieve so much more than others? Can they lie so far out of the ordinary? I really could not put this down, I really enjoyed this easy read of seeing things in a different way.

    The Last Lecture: Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams  by Randy Pausch
    A lot of professors give talks titled ‘The Last Lecture’. Professors are asked to consider their demise and to ruminate on what matters most to them: What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance? If we had to vanish tomorrow, what would we want as our legacy?

    I have read this book a few times, most recently this summer in Holland.  It’s a book that makes you stop and think about life and our decisions before it’s over.


    Puzzle Time

    A puzzle is a great family activity, which includes everyone.  The Shute’s have already started with ‘I Love Gardening’ 1000 piece puzzle and I am sure the way Nicky and Bella are completing it, we’ll be onto puzzle number two before the weekend is over.


    Films

    The Banker
    The Banker Is based in 1954 on true facts and is the storey of Joe Morris (Samuel L. Jackson) and Bernard Garrett (Anthony Mackie) and how they built a property empire and eventually went on to be the first black people to buy a bank in Texas. Nicky and I really enjoyed this film.

    The Current War
    The film inspired by the 19th-century competition between Thomas Edison (Benedict Cumberbatch) and George Westinghouse (Michael Shannon) over which electrical power delivery system would be used in the United States. What an excellent film, we really enjoyed this too.


    Learn New Skills

    Google offer over 100 free online courses in a variety of areas, you can find out more here.


    Taking Photos

    We have started taking photos of things we have done during the lockdown from starting a jigsaw, walking the dog, cooking together and Bella planting vegetable seeds for her new vegetable garden. We will make a collage when it is over, it is unlikely that we will ever experience anything like this again, hopefully, and sometimes it is good to reflect and look back at everything you achieved and share the story with our next generation.


    So there you go, some of my ideas to make the most of this difficult period.

    If you have any tips or ideas, or if you are offering any local services to help people through these uncertain times, please send them in and we might be able to include them in a future update, we’d love to see what you are up to, send us any photos you’re happy to share.

    Stay healthy, happy and sane. But most importantly, #StayAtHome

  4. Navigating the Coronavirus – Part 2

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    This week the Dow Jones Industrial Average (The Dow), which is the oldest U.S. stock market index, posted its biggest single-day percentage gain since 1933, up over 11% in one day!

    Volatility both ways (up and down) remains off the charts with all of the year’s best and worst days happening in March.

    So what is happening?

    Central banks and governments globally are pulling out all the stops to stimulate the economy, to slow or minimise the financial effects of COVID-19.

    Boris Johnson announced a significant series of measures to financially support employees, self-employed, companies, mortgage holders and renters – I have written a number of posts separately on the details of these on www.LexingtonWealth.co.uk/coronavirus

    The stimulus packages have not been limited to the U.K., in the U.S. the Federal Reserve, Congress and President Trump all agree on one thing, that they will do whatever it takes (almost!) to keep the economy going.

    You see, it’s easier for them to keep the economy ticking over than it is to allow it to collapse, and then face the fall out from this and then ‘try’ to stimulate it again, that is what happened in the 1930’s.

    The U.S. support for this is different than it was in the 2007/8 financial crisis, they reacted slower then and allowed companies to fail e.g. Lehman Brothers and AIG.

    They have stated that they “learned from the past” and are willing to intervene earlier and in a far bigger way. This week they did just this by aggressively supporting the bond markets, cash system and banks.

    This week President Trump publicly stated that he wants everyone back to work within weeks, “not months” – I’m not sure he’s going to get his way on this unless it’s several weeks!

    Congress just passed a $2 Trillion Coronavirus spending bill unanimously 96-0!  I don’t think that’s ever happened!  They are calling this a survivor bill.

    As a comparison, the U.K.’s Coronavirus package is close to £65.5 Billion, including the £9 billion support for the self-employed announced yesterday.

    Because of the significant drop in credit/money supply in the economy, these massive stimulus packages are needed and will be swallowed up by the economy, and inflation is unlikely to move.

    We follow the U.S. markets, at least as much as the U.K., because the U.S. is 52% of the overall world stock market and as the old saying goes, when America sneezes the rest of the world catches a cold, it’s not quite that, but when the S&P and Dow jump in value on the back of a stimulus package, so do your investments.

    But, please know this is not over.

    Every bear market has at its core an issue that must be resolved to move forward. With the 911 pullback, the bear market could not recover until people felt safe again. That took time, and only then did the economic incentives work to pull the economy and the markets into recovery.

    With the 2007/8 financial crisis, the bear market couldn’t recover until there was a certainty that the banking system would survive and continue to function. After the banks were stabilised, the economy and the markets began to respond to incentives.

    What we have today is no different, at the centre of this is a health crisis. COVID-19 continues to spread, and numbers continue to rise, this week America became the country with the most recorded cases of inflection, and I believe this will continue.

    The markets are fearful and hence volatile until we remove that fear, we will continue to see market volatility.

    To see a sustainable market recovery, we expect first to see an indication that the coronavirus is under control. Note that it doesn’t actually have to be under control, the economy and markets just have to believe that it will be under control in the near future.  The markets are always forward pricing in the available information.

    Many things can initiate that feeling, from potential treatments, a vaccine (according to the World Health Organisation, there are over 20 vaccines in development) or a plateau or deceleration of the infection rate.

    But I expect much larger number first from America, before this occurs, the U.S. is not following procedures like China and South Korea to achieve success, i.e. total lockdowns and massive testing and tracking.

    So, cutting through all the noise, where are we?

    The bottom line, the problem COVID-19 is still here, highly contagious and at the current infection rate may overwhelm many health care systems globally.  Given that almost everyone knows this, why is the market reacting positively to the financial support packages?

    Before COVID-19, the U.S. economy was exceptionally strong. Unemployment was very low and the earnings were very high.  As with all bear markets, this will pass.

    Economies weaken during bear markets when there is widespread fear, everyone reduces their spending and economies slow. This makes some bear markets scarier than others because everyone goes from worrying about the root cause (safety after 911, lending after 2008, or COVID-19 now) to worrying about whether the system will even survive.  The Governments and central banks globally are doing what they can to take that fear off the table. They are aware we are all in a transition period and the stimulus packages provide us certainty.

    How long will all this last?  The answer to that can be answered only by resolving our core issue, the campaign against the coronavirus.  That reality has not changed. Until it does, there is no time for celebrating.  While we know it will pass, the reality is the crisis is not over yet.

    The Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty has said the peak may be in June, but more recent reports suggest this may be as soon as Easter.  Once the virus is under control, market normality will resume.

  5. Corona Virus Act on help for the self-employed

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    On 25 March the Coronavirus Act 2020 received Royal Assent. It is a bumper piece of legislation, running to 348 pages and covering a wide range of areas (many excluding Scotland because of its devolved powers), including:

    • Food supply;
    • Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) modifications, such as the funding of the employer’s liabilities;
    • Suspension of the rules that abate or suspend NHS pensions on an individual’s return to work;
    • Postponements of elections (and referendums…);
    • Up-rating of working tax credit;
    • Protection to 30 September from eviction for residential tenancies; and
    • Protection to 30 June from forfeiture for commercial tenancies.

    The explanatory notes for the original Bill (introduced on 19 March ) are here.

    On 26 March, Rishi Sunak made his third post-Budget statement about Covid-19 support. The focus was a scheme directed at the self-employed (including members of partnerships) which had reportedly been delayed by the complexity of design and delivery. The main elements of the scheme, called the Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), are:

    • There will be a taxable cash grant based on 80% of average profits over the last three tax years, the last being 2018/19 (or shorter periods, e.g. one year, 2018/19, if three years are not available), subject to a maximum of £2,500 per month. A briefing note from the IFS suggests that the £2,500 figure (which also applies to the Job Retention Scheme) is the maximum payment, i.e. coverage is 80% of up to £37,500 of profits ([£37,500 x 80%] /12 = £2,500). While there is no example given, this conclusion (the maximum payment being £2,500) can also be implied from the words of the Government webpage.
    • The grant will initially be paid for a three month period but can be extended.
    • Those claiming the grant can continue to do business, which appears to mean that some could see their total income increase.
    • The scheme will only apply to those people:
      • For whom self-employment provides the majority of their income. It is unclear whether ‘income’ means earnings or total income;
      • Whose trading profits did not exceed £50,000 in 2018/19 or who had an average trading profit of less than £50,000 over the three tax years from 2016/17. Based on the words of the statement, the £50,000 maximum profit limit seems to be a “hard” one. In effect a “cliff-edge”. The scheme will, it seems, cover 95% of the self-employed; and
      • Who have submitted a 2019 tax return (covering 2018/19). However, anyone who missed the 31 January 2020 filing date will have four weeks (to 23 April) to submit a return if they wish to be included in the scheme.
    • The expected start date of payments (to be made directly by HMRC) is the beginning of June. The initial sum will be three months’ cumulative payments. In the interim the self-employed can claim Universal Credit, which, according to the Chancellor, could give a self-employed person with a non-working partner and two children, living in the social rented sector, support of up to £1,800 per month.
    • HMRC will use existing information to check potential eligibility and invite applications via “a simple online form” once the scheme is operational. While there is a gov.uk webpage headed “Claim a grant through the coronavirus (COVID-19) Self-employment Income Support Scheme”, this states “You cannot apply for this scheme yet. HMRC will contact you if you are eligible for the scheme and invite you to apply online”. What the Government is trying to avoid is HMRC being swamped with queries and suffering the same fate as the DWP’s Universal Credit system (where some callers were told they were at position 90,000 in the queue). In other words “don’t call us…we’ll call you”.
    • Individuals who started self-employment after 5 April 2019 and therefore did not file a 2019 return detailing self-employed earnings will not benefit from the scheme and will have to rely on Universal Credit.
    • Similarly, individuals who are sometimes labelled self-employed by the media but who operate through personal service companies of which they are directors are not covered by the scheme. The Treasury press release spells out this point, which was not mentioned by the Chancellor. It says such individuals “will be covered for their salary [our emphasis] by the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme if they are operating PAYE schemes”. No dividends then…

    One interesting side comment made by the Chancellor was that “…in devising this scheme … it is now much harder to justify the inconsistent contributions between people of different employment statuses”. The implication is that National Insurance contributions will have to rise for the self-employed, an idea Mr Sunak did not deny in press questioning after his statement.

    Updated government Covid-19 guidance on business support is here and for employees is here.

    Note:

    This package is better than many had been expected, but the delayed starting date for payments will still leave many of the self-employed having to claim Universal Credit in the short term.

    As with all relatively short statements of this nature, it is likely (inevitable) that there will be some questions and a need for greater detail. That will hopefully be forthcoming ahead of June.

  6. Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

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    On 20 March, the Chancellor announced the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (JRS). The Government has now published fresh guidance on the scheme, providing further information. The main points to note are:

    • The scheme is open to all UK employers (including charities, recruitment agencies, and public authorities) that:
      • had created and started a PAYE payroll scheme on 28 February 2020; and
      • have a UK bank account.

    Employers can use the scheme anytime during a period starting from 1 March 2020 and ending no earlier than 1 June 2020.

    • Employers can claim for 80% of furloughed employees’ (employees on a leave of absence) usual monthly wage costs, up to £2,500 a month. The employer can choose whether to make a top-up to this amount. “Fees, commission, and bonuses” will not count as wages.
    • In addition, employers can claim for the associated employer National Insurance contributions (NICs) and minimum (3%) automatic enrolment employer pension contributions.
    • Claims can be made for furloughed employees on the employer’s PAYE payroll on 28 February 2020, including:
      • full-time employees;
      • part-time employees;
      • employees on agency contracts; and
      • employees on flexible or zero-hour contracts.
    • Employees hired after 28 February 2020 cannot be furloughed or claimed for. Similarly, employees on unpaid leave cannot be furloughed, unless they were placed on unpaid leave after 28 February.
    • The minimum period of furlough is three weeks.
    • The scheme covers employees who were made redundant since 28 February 2020, if they are rehired by their employer.
    • An eligible employee on furlough “cannot undertake work for or on behalf of the organisation. This includes providing services or generating revenue”.
    • A furloughed employee can take part in volunteer work or training, provided it does not supply services to or generate revenue for, or on behalf of, their employer. If workers are required, for example, to complete online training courses while they are furloughed, then they must be paid at least the NLW/NMW for that time spent training, even if this is more than the 80% of their wage that will be subsidised.
    • If an employee is working, but on reduced hours, or for reduced pay, they will not be eligible for the JRS and the employer will have to continue paying the employee through their payroll and pay their salary subject to the terms of their employment contract. Thus, the JRS favours employers that divide their workforce into normal hours employees and those on furlough, rather than spreading work around.
    • Employees who have more than one employer can be furloughed for each job, with the £2,500 cap applying to each employer individually.
    • All payments to employees are taxable (and NICable) for them as earnings in the normal way.
    • For the employer, the grant is income for tax purposes, but in practice, it should be fully offset by the payments made.
    • The procedures for registering a claim are here.

    Note

    It is unclear how the JRS will apply in practice for a one-person company or any owner /managed business where almost inevitably the employee/director(s) will have to undertake some services to keep the company going.

  7. COVID-19 Financial Support

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    The event of the last few weeks has been unprecedented and worrying for many, especially those who fear for their jobs, or their businesses.

    The government is making announcements all the time, the most recent being the support fo the self-employed, which is unique.

    At present, there are still many questions that remain unassured, and the infrastructure and means of getting some of the support are not in place, so I hope to keep you updated as matters develop.

    The matrix that follows is my attempt to summarise the main announcements and who they may benefit, the links will provide information that is currently available.  If I have missed anything that you’d like to know more about, either leave a comment below or message me and I will look into this, as it’s likely to be a question for others too.

    Click here to download the ‘Whatever It Takes Matrix’

  8. Lexington Wealth’s business continuity during the Coronavirus pandemic

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    During this unprecedented time, we would like to reassure you that we are doing all we can to provide a consistently high level of service to you whilst ensuring the well-being of our team.

    Contacting Lexington
    Our office remains open, Nicky and I are working a normal day, with the rest of our team set up to work remotely.  We are all checking emails and answering calls.  We are paying close attention to updates from the government and we will follow their advice on such matters. If you need to contact us urgently during this time please email us on theteam@lexingtonwealth.co.uk or call us on 07467 289674 or 07585 917553.

    Upcoming Meetings
    We adapted a remote meeting service a couple of weeks ago, and we have systems in place to carry our remote meetings as this is a normal part of the Lexington service, we have UK clients who regularly travel all over the world.

    We will aim to communicate with you by telephone or electronically unless a ‘wet’ signature is required. If a ‘wet’ signature is required we will contact you separately to discuss how to proceed.

    Staying safe
    Unfortunately, during this time there has been an increase in fraudulent activity. If you are concerned that you have been a victim of fraud, please contact us and we can provide some additional support.

    If you have any concerns, we encourage you to get in touch with us, after all, we are here to help.

    Keep up to date
    If you are a client of Lexington and would like to be kept informed of further notices or alerts during the coronavirus pandemic please sign up to our special list below. You can opt-out at any time and we will only send you important announcements.

     

  9. Navigating the Coronavirus

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    What a difference a fortnight can make!  I last wrote a couple of weeks ago and over that time we have seen the global effects of the Coronavirus, so I thought I would write again to keep you updated.

    I am sure you are well aware there is a global pandemic with over 183,000 cases globally, which we know of and 7,175 deaths.  According to the Chief Medical Officer, we are still several weeks away from the peak, on 12 March Chris Witty said the UK is likely to peak in 12-14 weeks, which would take us to early June.

    We have found the BBC and https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/ to be two good sources of information about this.

    Last Thursday, the S&P 500 fell by 10%, marking its worst day since the 1987 crash. This was immediately followed on Friday with a market gain of 9.4%, the largest single day gain since 2009.  We use the S&P 500 as a bellwether of the global markets.

    What in the world is going on?

    The markets like certainty and at present they have uncertainty in bucketloads.  They work on a supply and demand basis and when this is distrusted, they react very negatively.

    Because the US markets are 52% of the overall world markets by capitalisation, what happens in the US generally effects the rest of the world. The saying ‘when America sneezes, the rest of the world catches a cold’ is true, albeit possibly not the most appropriate analogy for today.

    After the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the markets plummeted into well below today’s levels because of a disruption in demand, in the weeks and months that followed, shops and business were open, so supply was available, but the demand dried up slowing the economy because an economy needs people to spend money.

    Americans particularly were worried and many stayed home in the following months, they were shocked and did not feel safe.  However, over time life resumed and they started spending money again. The markets recovered from their lows in March 2003 and moved on to new highs.

    The 2008/9 financial crisis was the opposite. Back then the big banks were reckless and the whole financial system froze and there was a lack of supply.  No one could get a mortgage, many could not maintain the mortgage payments due to business risks. Without a supply of funds, businesses began to fail, reducing the supply of many things. Consumers felt less wealthy and were consumed by fear so did not spend and banks were not lending, so the flow of money significantly reduced. The flow of money is essential for a strong economy.

    The markets “bottomed” in March 2009 down just over 50% from their high.  Central Banks around the world stepped in with a variety of fiscal stimulus, which eventually gave consumers the confidence to go out and buy again and the economy and the markets returned to normal.

    The financial stimulus stabilised the system and incentivised individuals to spend money (taking care of the demand side).  Over time, people did start to return to normality and the markets fully recovered and once again moving on to new highs.

    Today’s market conditions are a combination of both a supply and demand.

    Like 9/11, there is a fear related to personal safety and the wellbeing of our loved ones.  Normal fiscal controls are unlikely to work until confidence is restored, that’s why we didn’t see much of a boost in the stock market after the Fed or BoE cut interest rates.

    We still have uncertainty, so demand will remain low during this period (unless you make loo rolls or hand sanitiser).  The Chief Medical Office has told us that things will get worse before they get better, peaking around June.  This is a health care crisis with serious financial side effects.

    Potential Scenarios

    From a financial perspective, the markets will continue to be volatile until certainty can be brought back to the market, more specifically, the markets will need to believe the coronavirus is contained and that there is a path to defeating it.

    There are a few options which can support this;

    • A vaccine is found
    • A cure is announced
    • Treatment is available to reduce the spread.
    • We find out millions of people have it, I feel that this would be incredibly reassuring because it would mean that far more people were infected than first realised. This, in turn, could mean many that are infected don’t get sick, which obviously means a far smaller percentage of those that are infected are dying. If we find the mortality rate is 0.2, for example, the markets could react very positively.
    • The virus runs its course quicker than expected, or that it’s seasonal or others which you may think about.

    All these scenarios provide an element of certainty and that’s what the markets are looking for, then fiscal support will have effects, but until then the markets won’t know if the fiscal stimulation is enough.

    When leaders announce plans to curb the virus i.e. tackling the health care crisis, they are more likely to react favourably because this provides the markets with certainty.

    Once we can see the health care is no longer a crisis, the markets will react very positively to any fiscal stimulus and a global pandemic like this would mean a coherent global response would be welcomed.

    Crisis’s are defeated and this crisis will be no different, but we don’t know when for certain.

    As with every crisis, there are things we can control and things we cannot, we want to focus our attention on the things we can control.

    We don’t know when the markets will go down, or when they will recover.  We don’t know for certain when the pandemic will peak and normality return.  The day to day swings we experience in the markets are a reflection of that.

    This will end, life will continue, and the markets have experienced crisis before and continued.

    So what is our position?

    We do not expect this to get better soon, or that the worst case scenarios will play out.  We expect the markets to continue to be volatile and we are sure that it will pass someday and when it does pass, the markets will recover.

    We are offering clients four scenarios which will reflect their feelings.  Remember, it’s important you are happy and comfortable and what’s right for one person may not be right for another.

    Remain invested

    • For the majority of you, you will choose to remain in your current portfolios and invested during this time, appreciating that you do not need access to your investments in the foreseeable future and that this will pass.
    • I would urge you to capitalise on this downtrend if you are a longer-term investor by rebalancing i.e. selling some of your more stable investments and buying the world equities, whilst they are cheap, to bring the allocation back into line.

    Reduce your equity exposure

    • You may feel that with the prospect of further market reductions, this would worry you and although you appreciate you cannot time the market, reducing your allocation in equities will allow you to rest better.
    • Therefore, we can rebalance your portfolio selling some of your equities and increasing your bond holding.

    Change your investment allocation

    • We do offer a portfolio which has a far higher allocation to bonds, both long and shorter.
    • This portfolio tends to perform better in market uncertainty like this, although it tends to underperform during growth periods.
    • Some clients may want to still obtain a return, but feel a smoother ride would be better, this allocation is far different from your current allocation and includes a small allocation to Gold.

    Switch to cash

    • The final option would be that you really feel uneasy and although you appreciate it would be against my advice, you would want to switch to cash.

    Summary

    During periods of crisis, we have encouraged clients to rebalance their portfolios, taking advantage of buying more equities as the markets fall, this time will pass and if you have no plans to access the portfolio, it’s a great opportunity to buy.

    Our clients who did this in 2000 and in 2007/8 came out not only with their portfolios in one piece, but all that followed our advice saw their portfolio move on to new highs, with each of our recommended investments fully recovering.

    There is an opportunity here for the patient and the disciplined, but we appreciate it’s not for everyone.

    This is a difficult time for all of us, some will be affected medically and others will have work and business worries.  With good faith and kindness, we will all see this through, our thoughts and best wishes at Lexington are with you all, keep safe.

  10. The 2020 Budget in a nutshell

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    On Wednesday, Rishi Sunak delivered his first Budget in this Government. For those that watched, the emphasis was very much on ‘Getting it done’ in relation to the Tory manifesto promises.

    Aside from the global and economic challenges, we provide a brief overview of what we believe will be of most importance and relevance to financial planners:

    • The main rates of income tax, capital gains tax and inheritance tax remain unchanged for 2020/21.
    • The personal allowances (aside from a slight increase in the married couples’ allowance) for income tax remain unchanged. This means that those with ‘adjusted net income’ below £100,000 will have a personal allowance of £12,500 from 6 April 2020. (The personal allowance reduces by £1 for every £2 for those with adjusted net income in excess of £100,000. This means that, as now, there will be no personal allowance available once adjusted net income exceeds £125,000 in 2020/21.)
    • For those who can benefit from top-slicing relief, where they incur a chargeable event gain on or after 11 March 2020, it will be the ‘slice’ that will be added to their other income to determine whether their adjusted net income is above £100,000 to determine the loss of any personal allowance (for the purposes of top-slicing relief).
    • The starting rate band for savings income remains at £5,000.
    • The personal savings allowance remains at £1,000 for basic rate taxpayers and £500 for higher rate taxpayers.
    • The dividend allowance remains at £2,000 for all individual taxpayers.
    • The threshold for National Insurance will increase from £8,632 to £9,500 for 2020/21. Those earning over £9,500 will be around £85 better-off per annum.
    • Child benefit for the eldest child will increase from £20.70 to £21.05 per week, which is an increase of 1.7%.
    • The capital gains tax annual exemption rises from £12,000 to £12,300 from 6 April 2020.
    • The lifetime limit for entrepreneurs’ capital gains tax relief will reduce from £10 million to £1 million for qualifying disposals made on or after 11 March 2020 – a slash of 90% and back to the original limit when it was first introduced in 2008. The new lifetime limit can also apply to pre-11 March disposals, made in anticipation of this change, which had not completed before Budget day. Also, note that the new lifetime limit will have to be used when taking into account the value of entrepreneurs’ relief claimed in respect of qualifying gains in the past.
    • The inheritance tax nil-rate band remains at £325,000 and the residence nil rate band increases to £175,000 for 2020/2021 for those with estates below £2 million.
    • The corporation tax rate remains at 19%, despite an earlier announcement that it would reduce to 17%.
    • The employment allowance for National Insurance will increase from £3,000 to £4,000 from 6 April 2020.
    • The annual subscription limit for Child Trust Funds and Junior ISAs will increase from £4,638 to £9,000 for the 2020/2021 tax year.
    • The adult ISA subscription limit remains at £20,000.
    • The pension lifetime allowance increases from £1,055,000 to £1,073,100 from 6 April 2020.
    • The Threshold Income level for the tapered annual allowance will be increasing by £90,000 in 2020/21, to £200,000, and the Adjusted Income level will be set at £240,000. The minimum the taper can take the annual allowance down to will be £4,000 from 2020/21, a reduction from the current £10,000. The minimum will be reached when Adjusted Income is £312,000 or more. Proposals to offer greater pay in lieu of pension contributions for senior clinicians in the NHS Pension Scheme will not be taken forward. This may impact plans already in place for some senior clinicians for the next tax year.
    • As always there was an emphasis on more tax avoidance measures.

    Click here to download the full overview