by David Watkinson www.watkinsonblack.co.uk
It frequently seems that we only ever write about things that are of interest to people in business. So we are pleased this month to speak about a number of things that are of much wider interest.
These are a grant of up to £5,000 that be received by homeowners, changes to when people can draw out their tax-free pension pot, and a new youth=employment scheme.
The Green Homes Grant Scheme
From the end of September, many people will be eligible to apply for a Green Homes Grant worth up to £5,000. The grant will be in the form of a voucher that can be used to help cover up to two-thirds of the cost of making energy-efficient improvements to your home.
In order to qualify for the grant the following conditions must be met:
-The property involved must be in England
-You must be a home-owner. This includes park-homes, shared-ownership homes, and long leases. It also includes private or social landlords.
-The property must not be a pre=build property that has not previously been occupied
-You must not have received a grant from your local authority under the Local Authority Delivery Scheme.
The voucher must be used to install one or more of various green improvements “primary measures” in your home. The qualifying improvements include the installation of most forms of insulation or low-carbon heating. Certain other “secondary measures”, such as draught-proofing or triple glazing, can be included as part of the primary scheme.
The improvements must be completed by approved installers. The voucher must be redeemed, and the improvements completed, by 31st March 2021.
Full details of the qualifying measures, and a list of the approved installers, can be found on the “Simple Energy Advice Website” which is located at https://www.simpleenergyadvice.org.uk/pages/green-homes-grant
Private pension withdrawal age to be increased
One change in legislation that may have escaped notice in these uncertain times is that the minimum age at which savers can make withdrawals from their personal pension pot.
Currently, savers can take some or all of the cash held in private pension pots at age 55, including taking 25% of their savings tax-free. This will be raised to 57 from 2028. Therefore, anyone currently aged 46 and below will face having to rethink their plans if, for instance, they are intending to use their pension savings to clear a mortgage or take early retirement.
When George Osborne was Chancellor and ushered in the pension freedoms which meant private savers could access their savings pots before state pension retirement age, he indicated the minimum age limit was intended to be 10 years below the state pension age, which is currently 65 but rising to 66 this October and to 67 between 2026 and 2028.
Despite this, there have been no provisions in legislation since for an increase to be implemented, leading some to believe the proposal had been dropped. However, this has proven to be a false hope. At least those affected have been given a reasonable amount of notice of this change.
“Kickstart” scheme launched to tackle youth unemployment
The Treasury has launched a £2bn ‘Kickstart’ scheme designed to address post-Covid youth unemployment by creating government-subsidised jobs across the UK
Under the scheme, employers can offer youngsters aged 16-24 who are claiming universal credit a six-month work placement. The government will fully fund each Kickstart job, paying 100% of the age-relevant national minimum wage, National Insurance and statutory automatic enrolment minimum pension contributions for 25 hours a week. Employers will be able to top up this wage.
The government will also pay employers £1,500 per job placement to cover support and training and to help pay for uniforms and other set up costs.
The aim is to give young people – who are more likely to have been furloughed, with many working in sectors disproportionately hit by the pandemic – the opportunity to build their skills in the workplace and to gain experience to improve their chances of finding long-term work.
One very important provision is that applications must be for a minimum of 30 job placements. However, businesses that are only able to offer one or two job placements can partner with other organisations, such as similar employers, local authorities, trade bodies or registered charities, to reach the minimum number. The intermediary applying on behalf of a group of employers will be eligible for £300 of funding to help with the associated administrative costs of bringing together these employers.
WatkinsonBlack have considerable experience in all areas of taxation and businesss services, including providing a very cost-effective payroll bureau service. If you want to arrange a no-obligation initial meeting on any taxation or accounting matter then please contact us. Please note that these ideas are intended to inform rather than advise and you should always obtain professional advice before taking any action.