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Brand Ambassador George Clarke joins us in saying a fond farewell to Nick Ross

Brand Ambassador George Clarke

Alongside HICS Brand Ambassador George Clarke, after 12 years representing HICS and the DGCOS and HIES schemes, Nick Ross has decided to retire this July and I’m sure you’ll join us in wishing him a fond farewell and best wishes for the future.

Our founder, Tony Pickup, first approached Nick back in 2008 because he was a leading consumer advocate and supporter of consumer protection. Nick joined the schemes because he believed that our complete protection was not only necessary for consumers, members and the wider industry but also a reflection of what he himself has always championed.

“Nick Ross, back in 2008 put his name and reputation on the line to support DGCOS and subsequently HIES and HICS. He didn’t do this lightly and without significant due diligence. He always wants to be sure we are doing the right things to advance consumer protection in the home improvement sector and actually look after people that need help. Since then our group has protected over 900,000 consumer contracts and Nick’s unwavering support will never be forgotten. Thank you so much Nick.”

Tony Pickup, Founder

Nick wanted to update members personally and also share a message of support.

“In my opinion DGCOS, HIES & HICS are the gold standard in consumer protection for home improvements. I’m proud that in the 12 years I’ve worked with them they have protected hundreds of thousands of customers. In all that time I’ve had fewer than two dozen complaints, and all but one of those was happily resolved.

Any industry would be proud of such a record. I’m leaving on the best of terms and only do so because my link with consumer journalism is now too far in the past to have real relevance. I wish you, the members, and the schemes, well for the future.”

Nick Ross

Brand Ambassador George Clarke – A Passionate Advocate Of HICS

George Clarke, architect, TV presenter and home improvement champion, continues to be a passionate consumer advocate and Brand Ambassador of HICS.

Widely known for his recent work on George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces, Amazing Spaces Shed of the Year and Old House New Home, George joined the schemes in 2019 as an ardent supporter of consumer protection and high standards in the home improvement industry, including promoting the use of accredited installers and tradespeople.

George has made a huge impact appearing at shows and events (pre-COVID) with the team to meet members and installers, including, among others, the FIT show in 2019.

“It has been a pleasure working alongside Nick and I wish him well in his retirement. As the Brand Ambassador for HICS, I truly believe it offers the ‘real deal’ in providing robust consumer protection but, even better, they provide the same level of protection and support for the installer.

I know that HICS is serious about raising standards and ensuring that everybody is treated fairly. HICS offers free protection to consumers meaning they can confidently choose a reputable installer knowing they have the right protection in place.

This is also a major asset in the installer’s tool kit. By offering this complete protection, the schemes have seen installers’ cancellation rates fall meaning it’s a win-win for everyone.”

George Clarke, Brand Ambassador

Up to £5,000 available in the new Green Homes Grants Scheme

green homes grants

What is the Green Homes Grants Scheme?

As part of investment in a ‘green recovery’, homeowners and landlords in England will be able to apply for vouchers from a £2 billion Green Homes Grant scheme to make their homes more energy-efficient and create local jobs.

Installing energy saving measures will help homeowners with lower energy bills whilst also helping the environment.

How much can I get?

  • The grant will cover up to two-thirds of the cost for energy efficient measures up to £5k.
  • For low income households, the vouchers will cover the full cost up to £10k.

For example, a homeowner of a semi-detached or end-of-terrace house could install cavity wall and floor insulation for about £4,000 – the homeowner would pay £1,320 while the government would contribute £2,680.

How will it work?

The scheme will launch in September, with online applications for recommended energy efficiency measures, along with details of accredited local suppliers.

Once one of these suppliers has provided a quote and the work is approved, the voucher is issued.

When will the Green Homes Grants Scheme start?

The government has confirmed that the scheme will open in September 2020 for online applications.

What will the grant cover?

Full details have not yet been released but the grants are for improvements to make homes more energy efficient, so, for example, they should cover home improvements such as boilers, insulation and double glazing.

We are expecting the Government to provide a complete list of which energy saving measures are included, and to clarify whether the grant can cover upgrades to existing energy saving measures.

 

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HICS welcomes Chancellor’s announcement supporting the Construction Talent Retention Scheme

Construction Talent Retention

HICS welcomes today’s announcement from the Chancellor confirming support for the Construction Talent Retention Scheme. 

Formally launching later this month, the Construction Talent Retention Scheme is a partnership between industry and Government to secure essential talent in the UK’s construction sector. 

Announced by the Chancellor in today’s statement, the scheme is run by the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) which is made up of trade and business associations from across the supply chain.

The online portal supports redeployment of staff at risk of redundancy from across the sector, while also enabling temporary employee loans between businesses. It also gives displaced workers from other sectors a route to find new employment in construction, while offering businesses a platform to find the skills they need.  

The not-for-profit programme has funding secured until the end of April 2021, providing a free online platform for any business or organisation looking to hire, while ensuring that candidates’ skills and experience are given a prominent platform within the wider industry. 

The CTR Scheme:

  • Retains talent
  • Retains skills
  • Supports families
  • Supports businesses

Businesses and employers interested in finding out more are encouraged to register their interest at:  www.trs-system.co.uk/construction

Home Improvement & Trade Counter Round-Up

To help our network and installers across the industry, we’ve put together an ‘operational trading’ update on the main retailers and trade counters in home improvement showing availability and details around ordering and deliveries for emergency and key supplies. We’ll be keeping this up to date regularly as things change day to day.

Retailer

Store Online Delivery Click & Collect

Further information

B&Q x x Limited products only
Boilerparts.co.uk n/a x
CCL
Edmundson
Greentech X x
Homebase X x
Jewson x x Essentials only
Plumbworld n/a x
Screwfix x x Essentials only
Tradepoint x
Travis Perkins x x x Emergency repair and maintenance only
Waxman Energy x x
Wickes x Queuing system of 15-20 minutes on website to place orders
Wolseley (Plumbcentre) x x Collection from safest point on site only
YESSS Electrical x x

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

The Self-Employed Income Support Scheme

The new Self-Employed Income Support Scheme is designed to support the self-employed who have been adversely affected by the Coronavirus, whereby the government will pay a taxable grant worth 80% of their average monthly profits over the last 3 years, up to a maximum of £2,500 a month.

The details:

  • The Self-Employed Income Support Scheme is open to any self-employed with income up to £50,000 who have lost trading/partnership trading profits due to COVID-19.
  • It will be available to people who genuinely earn more than half of their income through self-employment.
  • It will be available to those who are already in self-employment and who have submitted their Self Assessment tax return for the tax year 2018-19. The government has allowed anyone who missed the filing deadline in January, 4 weeks to submit their tax return i.e. before 23 April 2020.
  • You must be trading when you apply and intend to continue to trade in the tax year 2020-2021.
  • HMRC is working on the scheme and they expect people to be able to access the scheme no later than the beginning of June.
  • If you are eligible, HMRC will contact you directly and ask you to fill out a simple online form.
  • HMRC will pay the grant directly into your bank account, in one instalment.
  • The Self-Employed Income Support Scheme will be open for 3 months. The government may extend this if necessary.

What about now?

For anyone who is struggling right now, the government points to the following measures:

  • Self-employed people can access the Business Interruption Loans (more detail on this on page 3).
  • Self-assessment income tax payments, that were due in July, can be deferred to the end of January 2021.
  • Self-employed people who have no income will be able to claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and/or Universal Credit (dependant on eligibility).

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QASSS Coronavirus Business Round-Up

We are in extraordinary times and we want to support you and your business as much as possible during this period. We’ve put together a business round-up with advice and updates on a number of key areas to help you navigate the confusion.

We cover:

  • Business Finance
    – VAT & Income Tax Payments Deferral
    – Business Interruption Loans
    – Job Retention Scheme
    – Statutory Sick Pay
    – Self-Employed Income Support Scheme
  • Business Interruption Insurance
  • Cyber Security
  • Support Services

Click here to view the bulletin.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Support for businesses who are paying sick pay to employees

Legislation will be introduced to allow small and medium sized businesses and employers to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19. The eligibility criteria for the scheme will be as follows:

  • The refund will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of COVID-19.
  • The government will refund £94.25 per week, maximum £188.50, to your company for the 2019/20 tax year. The figures for the 2020/21 tax year will be £95.85 and £191.70 respectively.
  • This SSP will be paid from the first day of absence for anyone self-isolating due to coronavirus from 13 March 2020.
  • Employers with fewer than 250 employees will be eligible – the size of an employer will be determined by the number of people they employed as of 28 February 2020. If you’re a director of a limited company with less than 250 employees, you can pay yourself two weeks of SSP if you need to self-isolate subject to meeting the minimum payroll requirement for SSP.
  • Employers will be able to reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP (according to the new eligibility criteria) as a result of COVID-19.
  • Employers should maintain records of staff absences and payments of SSP, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note. If evidence is required by an employer, those with symptoms of coronavirus can get an isolation note from NHS 111 online and those who live with someone that has symptoms can get a note from the NHS website.

The government will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism for employers.

How to access the scheme

A rebate scheme is being developed. Further details will be provided in due course.

Understand that you will not reclaim this SSP through your real-time information (RTI) submissions when processing payroll. The government will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism for employers as soon as possible.

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Support for businesses through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, all UK employers will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salaries for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis.

What it means:

  • HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month.
  • HMRC is working urgently to set up a system for reimbursement. Existing systems are not set up to facilitate payments to employers.
  • The scheme, lasting for an initial period of three months, will be extended “if necessary”.
  • The employer can choose whether to top-up the remaining 20% of employees’ pay.
  • The wage subsidy will apply to workers who have already been laid off since 1st March, due to the pandemic, provided the employer brings them back onto the payroll.
  • The scheme is to help employers keep their staff on the books, rather than lay them off. It isn’t targeted at the self-employed.

You will need to:

  1.  Designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers,’ and notify your employees of this change. To ‘furlough a worker’ means that you have laid them off due to no work, but you have not yet made them redundant. Changing the status of employees remains subject to existing employment law and, depending on the employment contract, may be subject to negotiation.
  1. Submit information to HMRC about the employees that have been furloughed and their earnings through a new online portal (HMRC will set out further details on the information required).

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VAT and Income Tax Payments

VAT

  • Businesses will be supported by deferring VAT payments for 3 months.
  • The deferral will apply from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020.
  • All UK businesses are eligible.
  • This is an automatic offer with no applications required.
  • Businesses will not need to make a VAT payment during this period.
  • Taxpayers will be given until the end of the 2020/2021 tax year to pay any liabilities that have accumulated during the period.
  • VAT refunds and reclaims will be paid by the government as normal.

Income Tax

  • If you’re self-employed, Income Tax payments due on 31 July 2020 under the Self-Assessment system will be deferred until 31 January 2021.
  • If you are self-employed you are eligible.
  • This is an automatic offer with no applications required.
  • No penalties or interest for late payment will be charged in the deferral period.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Business Interruption Loans

Support for businesses through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)

The new Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme supports SMEs with access to working capital (including loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance) of up to £5 million in value and for up to 6 years.

The government will pay to cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any lender-levied fees, so smaller businesses will not face any upfront costs and will benefit from lower initial repayments.

The government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan (subject to a per-lender cap on claims) to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to SMEs.

This scheme is being delivered through commercial lenders, backed by the British Business Bank.

Eligibility

You are eligible for the scheme if:

  • your business is UK based, with turnover of no more than £45 million per year, and;
  • your business meets the other British Business Bank eligibility criteria.

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.

All major banks are offering this scheme. If you have an existing loan with monthly repayments you may want to ask for a repayment holiday to help with cash flow.

The full rules of the scheme and the list of accredited lenders are available on the British Business Bank website.

The loan scheme provides the bank with a Government-backed guarantee which will enable your business manager to approve it, whereas, without that guarantee, your request for a loan may have been declined.

Please note: It’s important that you are aware that you, the borrower, will always remain 100% liable for the debt. The CIBLS guarantee is to the lender, not you, the SME.

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