Omicron Business Support Available

James Rigato - Restaurant

13th January, 2022, Melanie Harriss

In response to restrictions imposed, the government have announced Omicron Business Support available to firms in the UK.

Omicron Business Support: Local Authority Grants

The first in a package of Omicron business support is for firms in the hospitality, leisure and accommodation sectors, many of which have seen a decline in footfall and increased cancellations due to the Omicron variant. These businesses are able to apply for one-off grants of up to £6,000 per premises depending on rateable value, via their local authority.

Further funds are also being given to local councils to support other businesses impacted by Omicron, such as those that supply the hospitality and leisure sectors as well as personal care services, these will be administered as Additional Restrictions Grants by local authorities.

Businesses eligible for Local Authority Grants are those that offer in-person services, where the main service and activity takes place in a fixed rate-paying premises, in the hospitality, leisure and accommodation sectors.

This includes businesses whose main function is providing a venue for the consumption and sale of food and drink, those that provide facilities linked to recreation and entertainment, as well as businesses whose main premise is used for holiday accommodation.

In the areas that our offices cover, these can be applied for with , , and

Omicron Business Support: Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme

Further Omicron business support comes with the reintroduction of the for coronavirus-related absences for small and medium-sized employers.

Businesses could be eligible for support if they employed fewer than 250 employees on 30 November 2021, and have paid Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) to employees for coronavirus-related sickness absences.

Up to two weeks SSP can be claimed, if employees have been paid at the relevant standard weekly rate of £96.35, for any eligible periods of coronavirus-related sickness from 21 December 2021. This is a new claims period.

Businesses could claim to cover the costs for up to two weeks of SSP for an employee who takes time off because of coronavirus, regardless of whether they have claimed for that employee under the previous scheme.

Omicron Business Support: Culture Recovery Fund

Additional Omicron business support is a further £30 million of funding being made available through the Culture Recovery Fund. These grants support cultural organisations that have been affected by the Covid-19 crisis to stay afloat, providing them with support to ensure that they can survive and stay open.

The funding is accessed via .

Omicron Business Support: Time to Pay

HMRC still has its arrangement in place. This can be accessed if you are facing difficulty in making a tax payment; you can make an arrangement to pay what you owe in affordable instalments.

In order to access this support you need to contact HMRC, as arrangements are made on a case-by-case basis.

Related articles:

Why employers should consider an apprenticeship scheme

Bethany Little: Part of Stephenson Smart Apprenticeship Scheme

6th January, 2022, Melanie Harriss

If your business is struggling to recruit, offering an apprenticeship or traineeship scheme might be the answer and could make someone’s New Year!

Part of the government’s to help the UK economy recover from the covid pandemic includes support for employers to take on trainees.

There are different schemes available:

Kickstart Scheme

The , which has recently been extended to March 2022, aims to create 6-month job placements for young people who are currently on Universal Credit and at risk of long-term unemployment. The job placements are aimed at supporting the participants to develop the skills and experience they need to find permanent work after completing the scheme.

For each Kickstart job, the government will cover the cost of 25 hours a week at the relevant National Minimum Wage in addition to pension and National Insurance contributions for a period of 6 month. Employers will also receive £1,500 per placement to cover set-up costs and provide wraparound support for the young person.

Traineeship scheme

Traineeships are skills development programme for people of all ages that includes a work experience placement and gets people ready for employment or an apprenticeship.

Traineeships can last from 6 weeks up to 1 year and may include individual support in various methods of securing employment.

Employers who provide opportunities through a registered traineeship can use the scheme to recruit new talent into the business or help develop the skills of exiting employees. A business can also benefit from an employer incentive of £1,000 when a work experience placement of over 70 hours has been completed. This incentive can be claimed for up to 10 learners per region and employers can decide how to use the money.

Apprenticeship scheme

Apprenticeships employ people to do a real job while studying for a formal qualification – usually for one day a week either at a college or training centre. By the end of an apprenticeship, most people have gained the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in their chosen career.

There are two ways of accessing government funding to support an apprenticeship.

If an organisation’s wage bill is £3 million per annum or more, the organisation will pay a levy of 0.5% of the wage bill. Levy paying employers get a £15,000 allowance per annum to offset against the amount they have to pay.

If an organisation’s wage bill is under £3 million, you don’t have to pay the levy. Instead, the employer agrees a payment schedule with a registered training provider and pays 5% towards the cost of the apprenticeship training to them directly. The government will pay the remaining 95%.

At Stephenson Smart we believe in nurturing talent within our organisation and have an active apprenticeship scheme. We currently have 24 trainees working across our six offices.

One of our youngest trainees is Bethany Little, who is based at our office.

Bethany came to Stephenson Smart straight from high school to embark on her accountancy career.

“I came for a week’s work experience while I was at school and really enjoyed it. I am now studying for a joint ACA/CTA qualification which will mean that I will not only be a chartered accountant but also a chartered tax advisor at the end of it.”

One of our newest trainees is Deborah Robinson, who is based at our office.

Deborah, who grew up in Stevenage, moved over to train in accounting after a successful career in the equestrian industry running a riding school. Deborah said:

“I came to a bit of a crossroads and thought it would be good to try something else and after spending so long working outside an office with a roof over my head seemed quite appealing! I’m really enjoying it and everyone has been lovely and supportive, so I’m looking forward to learning and progressing.”

After successfully completing her AAT qualification, Deborah has now started the next stage of her study, ACA qualifications through the apprenticeship route.

, partner at Stephenson Smart’s March and Wisbech offices, commented:

“We have always had a strong apprenticeship scheme at Stephenson Smart and find great rewards in hiring new talent and nurturing them to become accounting professionals.”

“If your business, like many others, is struggling to recruit, offering a traineeship or apprenticeship scheme might be the answer.”



Business Start Up Advice

Business Start Up

25th February, 2019, Stephenson Smart

If you are looking to start your own business in Norfolk or Cambridgeshire, let Stephenson Smart give you a hand.

Starting your own business can be challenging and daunting and often the level of support is based on limited knowledge of what is needed and affordability.

We can take away that burden. We are Chartered Accountants and Business Advisors, specialising in business start up advice. We have many clients whose unique, small businesses have grown significantly, and we have supported them through it. With our tailored and personal approach, advice and support is provided in a cost-effective way.

A significant task for a new business owner is ensuring that the business complies with the extensive tax, legislation and insurance requirements that are imposed by various authorities. To avoid problems, penalties and – in some cases – legal action, it is important to understand your obligations.

Small business start ups are an extremely important part of the economy. At Stephenson Smart we recognise both this and the role we can play in nurturing ambitious enterprises. Stephenson Smart’s dedicated business start up advice team provide accounting, tax and business start up advice.

At Stephenson Smart, we can offer business start up advice and support you by:

  • Keeping your books in order
  • Minimising your tax payments
  • Providing practical advice on starting and running a small business
  • A pre-agreed competitive fixed fee
  • Offering a personal approach


We have in King’s Lynn, Great Yarmouth, Fakenham, Wisbech, March and Downham Market and qualified, professional teams on hand to offer you great business start up advice.

Business Recovery

Business Recovery

25th February, 2019, Stephenson Smart

If the worst happens, you need advice you can trust and Stephenson Smart can do just that.

On occasion you may encounter financial or operational difficulties and need support with business recovery.

Our advisers will act quickly and effectively to provide you with objective and professional assistance when it matters the most.

We will act on your behalf together with our network of professional advisers, to help you improve your business performance, guide you through restructuring, or assist in giving your business a new start.

If you are looking to re-bank or are struggling to raise funds from traditional sources, we can also provide a range of re-financing or fund raising solutions.

Using our knowledge, expertise and objectivity we can deal with your situation positively and professionally.

National Insurance Contributions

National Insurance Contributions`

25th February, 2019, Stephenson Smart

National Insurance can be a complicated area if you’re not sure of the rules and regulations. In return for paying National Insurance Contributions you qualify for the following state benefits:

  • Basic state pension; Additional state pension
  • New state pension
  • Contribution based job seekers allowance
  • Contribution based employment and support allowance
  • Maternity allowance and bereavement benefits

Types of National Insurance

There are different types of National Insurance that are paid by either an individual or employer, listed below:

  • Class 1 Primary – paid by an employee on employment income, collected under the PAYE system*
  • Class 1 Secondary – paid by an employer on income paid to employees, collected under the PAYE system*
  • Class 2 – paid by the self-employed at a defined weekly rate if earnings from self-employment are greater than a set limit
  • Class 3 voluntary contributions – paid by made by those seeking to retain entitlement to state benefits who are not making sufficient Class 1,2 or 4 contributions
  • Class 4 – Paid by the self-employed on earnings between a set limit
  • Class 1A – Paid by an employer on the value of benefits in kind provided to employees
  • Class 1B – Paid by an employer on PAYE settlement agreements at the same rate as Class 1A*

National Insurance number

A UK individual will be given a National Insurance number shortly before their 16th birthday, or earlier if child benefit is paid for the child. Workers coming from overseas need to apply for a National Insurance number before they can apply for benefits, but a National Insurance number is not a pre-requisite for working in the UK.

An individual must pay National Insurance in the following circumstances:

  • Aged between 16 and the State Pension age
  • An employee earning above the primary threshold
  • Self-employed and making a profit above the lower profits limit (unless you possess an exception)

Individuals who do not fall into the qualifying criteria for making National Insurance contributions may still make voluntary contributions in order to guarantee entitlement to state benefits, such as the State pension, and fill any gaps in their national Insurance contribution record.

Self Employment National Insurance

An individual who is both employed and self-employed will be liable to Class 1 National Insurance on employment income, as well as Class 2 and Class 4 National Insurance on self-employed income. The overall National Insurance contributions will depend on the combined income from all types of employment. We can calculate the correct National Insurance Contributions that are owed, known as the annual maxima, and in some cases, defer paying your National Insurance to avoid overpayment. If you have overpaid National Insurance contributions, we can claim a repayment on your behalf.

An employer must pay National Insurance contributions in the following circumstances:

  • For employees aged 16 and over
  • For employees earning above the primary threshold
  • On the provision of benefits in kind received by employees
  • On the establishment of PAYE settlement agreements (PSA)

Benefits in kind provided to employees and expenses paid on behalf of employees are liable to Class 1A National Insurance, so long as the company does not hold a dispensation or they have not been provided under a PSA. In which case, the total value of taxable benefits and expenses must be reported to HM Revenue & Customs on form P11D (b) on an annual basis.

There are rules that are unique for company directors on the calculation of National Insurance Contributions due. We can discuss this with you and ensure that National Insurance liabilities are minimised wherever possible.

In relation to National Insurance, we at Stephenson Smart can offer the following assistance:

  • Application for a small earnings exception for Class 2 National Insurance
  • Applications for deferment of Class 4 National Insurance
  • Calculation and submission of form P11D (b) for Class 1A National Insurance
  • Calculation of maximum National Insurance Contributions due for the year and assistance in claiming a refund of overpaid contributions
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