UK government secures COVID-19 antivirals

In view of criticism about the slow roll out of booster jabs and rising numbers of infections and deaths, the UK government has secured COVID-19 antivirals to be rolled out through a clinical study from winter. The deals made by the Antivirals Taskforce are a step in its ambition to secure at least two new effective treatments by the end of the year for those who have either tested positive for COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone with the virus.

Should the treatments be approved by the UK’s medicines regulator, thousands of NHS patients will be able to access the treatments to prevent the infection from spreading and speed up recovery time. The two new antivirals are expected to be given to those most at risk from the virus, helping reduce the severity of symptoms and ease pressure on the NHS over winter.

See: UK government secures groundbreaking COVID-19 antivirals

Tax reporting rules for digital platforms

The UK Government is consulting on the implementation of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Model Reporting Rules for Digital Platforms, which require digital platforms to report details of the income of sellers on their platform to the tax authority and also to the sellers.

From January 2023, these rules will require platforms to report information about the income of sellers providing goods and services to help sellers get their tax right and to enable HMRC to detect and tackle non-compliance.

The UK Government invites comments from digital platforms that facilitate the provision of services, such as taxi and private hire services, food delivery services, freelance work and letting of accommodation, as well as those that facilitate the sale of goods and transport rental. They also welcome views from organisations or bodies that represent platforms or businesses in the sharing or gig economy.

This consultation will also be of interest to individuals and companies who provide such services using digital platforms. The consultation closes on 22 October 2021.

See: Reporting rules for digital platforms

Funding for development of Service Robotics facilities

Apply for a share of up to £500,000 to develop your vision for the UK’s next generation Service Robotics facilities.

Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), is funding a Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) competition to support the development of the UK’s National Robotics Proving Ground facilities. The facilities would aim to accelerate the development and adoption of a new generation of service robotics. There are a wide variety of ways in which such facilities could be delivered across different locations in the UK.

This competition gives organisations an opportunity to develop and share their visions for how such a facility could be realised, and what its technical capabilities would need to be.

The aim of the competition is to develop:

  • Initial operating concepts
  • System architectures
  • Specifications
  • Visualisations
  • Supporting systems and equipment
  • Challenge prize competitions
  • Other novel ideas

The outputs from this short competition will inform UKRI what type of facilities can be developed with capital infrastructure funding and the scale of the funding required.

To be eligible, your proposal must be for a project that delivers a short technical feasibility study working towards one or more of this competition’s specific themes. All deliverables must be completed by 31 March 2022. The competition is open and closes for applications 10 November 2021.

See: Competition overview – SBRI UK National Robotics Proving Ground

Are you planning to use a Freeport to import or export your goods?

In the Spring 2021 Budget the Chancellor announced a number of areas to be designated as Freeports.

Those areas would have a number of direct and indirect tax advantages for businesses located there. Among those advantages is relief from customs duty and the ability to make simplified declarations. HMRC have now published guidance for businesses planning to take advantage of the new procedures.

Freeport customs sites (also known as a ‘free zone’) are secure customs zones where you can import or export goods inside the UK’s land border, but where special import or export rules apply.

If you choose to use a customs site to import or export goods, you may be able to:

  • Get relief from duties and import taxes
  • Use simplified declarations processes to reduce administrative burdens
  • Choose which rate of Customs Duty you use if processing the goods changes their classification

If your goods are purchased in the UK, you will continue to pay duties and import taxes using the normal UK rates. If you are a business who wants to move goods into or out of a Freeport customs site, you will need to apply to use the Freeport customs special procedure (a single authorisation combined with easier declaration requirements) to import goods that are not controlled.

For more details see: Get your business ready to use a Freeport customs site 

Government Postpone Making Tax Digital for Income Tax to 2024/25

Having listened to stakeholder feedback from businesses and the accounting profession, the government have announced that they will introduce Making Tax Digital (MTD) for Income Tax Self-Assessment (ITSA) a year later than planned, in the tax year beginning in April 2024.

This will give the self-employed and buy to let landlords an extra year to prepare for the digitalisation of Income Tax and also allow HMRC more time for customer testing of the pilot system.

The start date for partnerships to join MTD for ITSA has been put back still further to the tax year beginning in April 2025. There has been no change to the £10,000 per annum gross income threshold which means that most self-employed traders and buy to let landlords will be mandated to comply with MTD for income tax from April 2024.

See: Businesses get more time to prepare for digital tax changes

Tell HMRC about an option to tax land and buildings

To help businesses during COVID-19 HMRC made a temporary change to the time limit for notifying an option. The change applied to decisions made between 15 February 2020 and 31 July 2021. This temporary change ended on 31 July 2021.

HMRC also allowed options to be signed electronically subject to providing supplementary evidence. This change has now been made permanent.

Check the changes to the time limit and how you notify an option to tax land and buildings.

Form VAT1614A has now been updated. You should only complete this form to notify HMRC of your decision to opt to tax land and or buildings.

See: Tell HMRC about an option to tax land and buildings

Coronavirus: Film and TV Production Restart Scheme

The Film and TV Production Restart Scheme makes direct compensation available to eligible pre-existing and new productions that incur costs caused by coronavirus-related losses, such as abandonment or filming delays from illnesses amongst the cast and crew.

Eligible productions will receive compensation for costs caused by coronavirus delays up to a value of 20 per cent of the production budget, with the abandonment of productions due to coronavirus to be covered up to 70 per cent of the production budget. There will be a total cap of £5 million on claims per production.

The funding is available to all productions made by companies where at least half of the production budget is spent in the UK.

You must make an application via the appointed third party administrator, Marsh Commercial. You can download the claim form from their website. Once complete, email your form along with all supporting documentation to

Future claims made under the scheme can be backdated to 28 July 2020.

The registration deadline for this scheme is 23:59 GMT on 30 April 2022, and claims will be able to be submitted up to 23:59 GMT on 30 September 2022 for losses incurred up until 23:59 GMT on 30 June 2022.

See: Film & TV Production Restart Scheme – Scheme Rules

Circular economy for SMEs – innovating with the NICER programme

Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, is investing up to £1 million in circular economy innovation projects. This funding forms part of the UKRI National Interdisciplinary Circular Economy Research programme (NICER), enabling SMEs to engage with and benefit from access to expertise at five research centres via collaborative research and development (CR&D) activities.

The aim of this competition is to support feasibility studies, industrial research and experimental development that address the challenges of transitioning to a circular economy. This competition closes at 11am on 8 December 2021. Your proposal must demonstrate how you will create a step-change in the adoption of circular economy approaches.

The project must:

  • Have total eligible costs between £50,000 and £100,000
  • Start no earlier than 1 April 2022
  • End by 31 March 2023
  • Last between 9 and 12 months
  • Carry out all of its project work in the UK
  • Intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

See: Competition overview – Innovation Funding Service

Private providers of coronavirus (COVID-19) testing

The lists of and information about private providers who have self-declared that they meet the government’s minimum standards for the type of commercial COVID-19 testing service they offer has been updated.

See: Private providers of coronavirus (COVID-19) testing

DVLA Coronavirus (COVID-19) update

DVLA online services are working as normal and without delay. This is the quickest, easiest, and often cheapest way to deal with them. They recommend that you use the online services where possible. If you apply online, you should receive your driving licence or vehicle registration certificate (V5C) within 5 days.

If you have posted your paper application to them, here are the dates of applications they are currently processing.

Find out the date of applications DVLA are processing and how to access their online services below.

See: DVLA Coronavirus (COVID-19) update

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