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COVID-19 UPDATE #44 – 24th DECEMBER 2020

As we close our practice doors for the festive break and reflect on the most challenging of years for the Scottish Dental Profession I wanted to send you one last digest before signing off.
It’s hard to imagine that we would end the year returning to a strict National lockdown, but with the news of more virulent strains emerging and the vaccination process in its infancy that is unfortunately the reality.
However, as the leaders of your profession and your practices it is important to maintain a positive outlook. Your colleagues depend on your leadership to shape how they will cope with the ongoing challenges being faced. You have had a stressful year, it’s now time to ‘switch off’ and focus on a ‘recharge’ of your energy reserves with a well earned festive break. Despite the restrictions I would like to personally, and on behalf of the full Dental Accountants Scotland Team, wish you and your loved ones a safe and enjoyable Christmas break and every health and happiness in 2021. We look forward to continuing to support you in 2021.
In an effort to reduce the carbon footprint we elected not to send Christmas cards this year. Instead we have chosen to donate our time and funds to a number of causes this month in addition to our ongoing community contributions.

Some statistics for our reflection at the end of the year include:

  • We have donated 48,000 days of clean drinking water to the third world
  • We have donated 100 meals this month to Edinburgh’s homeless community via the amazing work undertaken by Steps to Hope SCIO
  • Our Director – Victoria Forbes Stand Up Paddle-boarded the width of the country and raised £2.8k to support the provision of free mindfulness courses to all ages via Peer 2 Peer Mindfulness
  • 100% of our clients have been supported with free advice and assistance through the crisis free of charge
  • We have collectively worked 12 hours+, 7 days a week for the majority of the year since early March to support the sector with free advice
  • We have undertaken more than 500 furlough claims free of charge claiming in excess of £3.5M funding support for our payroll clients at no additional cost to them
  • We have advised and assisted with CBILS, BBL, Business Support Grants and Pivotal Resilience Grants free of charge and in the process helped claim in excess of £8.5M funding support
  • We have read and digested 303 different documents from HMRC, PSD, HIS, NHS, SDCEP et al and attempted to translate to practical advice for the Scottish Dental sector as far as possible
  • We have monitored and deciphered the rapidly changing government schemes on your behalf and relayed updates where required
  • We have produced 44 digests with relevant content and personally delivered to 800+ contacts each time
  • We have worked our way through 35kg of coffee beans!…… 


I hope that you have found our support of value and I look forward to continuing to ‘be there’ for you next year. Our team are now spending some well deserved time with their own loved ones but look forward to picking up where we leave off on your behalf.
I am now sharing my 44th Covid-19 digest in relation to the Scottish Dental Sector. I hope you find this digest of value. As always – if you have any specific concerns or questions we will be delighted to hear from you.

POLITICAL UPDATE

The political focus presented a united front this month with a 4 nation consensus on the relaxation of the lockdown rules for the festive break. As we are all aware the landscape has subsequently changed significantly and we now face a minimum 3 week lockdown arising from the one day relaxation on Christmas day. 
The First Minister’s breaching of the facemasks rules at a funeral this week is a regrettable event as up until that point she had been attempting to provide strong leadership on the requirements. It is clear that vigilance is required from us all for the continuing future until the virus can be controlled fully. 

CLINICAL UPDATE

As the country prepares itself to move in to Tier 4 on boxing day the CDO has confirmed that, unlike the initial lockdowns, dentistry may continue. His letter is shared below for your information.
CDO letter 23 December – Tier 4 Restrictions

We have also seen a letter from Adrian Grisewood this week regarding the removal of easement of PPE standards. After allowing the usage of non CE marked PPE during the height of the supply chain crisis it is now prohibited to purchase from 31st December onwards. Any practices with stock of these items however, are allowed to use them up before their expiry dates. The letter can be found shared below for your information.
Non CE marked PPE 17 December 2020

We continue to see high demand for all dental services, and while the nation is insulated a little via furlough support there is additional disposable income being spent on cosmetic and high value private dentistry. Anecdotally the fact that the population has spent the last 9 months looking at their own smile on Zoom virtual calls has prompted many to invest in their smile!
Finally we are seeing many dental teams managing to gain access to the vaccine 1st dose which is positive, but are aware that with the shutdown and high demand many have not yet managed to access an appointment until early 2021. The Health Secretary confirmed in his briefing that the Oxford vaccine has now been submitted for full clearance and will hopefully be delivered in the short term future. It was interesting to note the release of an advisory calculator this week which aims to estimate when the user will receive their vaccine. The calculator can be found here and provides interesting feedback. 

FINANCIAL UPDATE

A few minor tweaks to some existing schemes to share at this time as follows.

NHS Funding
We still await the confirmation of how activity levels will be measured once the transitional Covid support period expires in February. Consultation and modelling continues and we will update once clarification emerges.
In the meantime we continue to lobby PSD to provide clarity on a number of important practice recruitment and movement queries in relation to Associate changes in Scottish Practices. As a response to the multiple queries they are facing they have updated the FAQ document (now to version 12.0) and I have pleasure in sharing this for your information below;
PSD FAQ’s Vs 12.0 18 Dec 2020

In line with previous updates PSD have made tracking easier by adding the notation * against any new points in this document. I would specifically draw your attention to section 7 onwards which covers a number of common areas we are seeing practices facing. It doesn’t give 100% clarity on all matters but at least provides guidance on a number of the points required.

NHS Rent Reimbursement
We were seeking clarity on whether NHS would require the normal filing of practice GP234 forms this year and have now received guidance. You can read more in the letter I share below.
CDO – Rent Reimbursement

As you will note from the letter, the process is a little different this year. It is not mandatory to have your form verified by an accountant if you wish to ‘self declare’ no change. The newly revised form is shared below and a PCA is expected in early 2021 with full guidance. We would still be happy to assist with the filing and if self declaring it would be recommended to share the completed form with us for our records. Any practice revaluations due next year are at present unlikely to occur, but where capital investment has been made special review may be possible on demand. 
GP234 – 2021

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)
CJRS (furlough) has now been extended further until 30th April 2021, and has been confirmed will remain at the 80% recovery level until then.
Please remember as I have previously highlighted that the new tighter timeline limits for claims are now in place. All claims must be submitted by the 14th of the month following. 
We are now seeing that HMRC are starting compliance reviews on furlough claims and you should ensure you keep your furlough records in good order on the assumption that you may face a review at some point in the next 5 years.

Loans
The chancellor confirmed a further extension to the bounceback (BBL) and CBILs loans this week too. They will now be accessible until the end of March 2021. I still advise that a protective approach would be to apply for the BBL as contingency funding at this time and simply repay if not required after 12 months. 

Budget/Tax
A date for the UK budget has been set as the 3rd of March 2021. We also know that the Scottish Budget will pre-date this on the 28th January. We anticipate that we may face some significant tax rises in due course in an effort to recoup some of the debt created with the support schemes. We will watch with interest how the respective governments set their fiscal policies on these dates. Unfortunately Benjamin Franklin’s famous quote “in this world, nothing is certain except death and taxes” is likely to be true going forward as we suspect it will take decades to repair the countries finances and we anticipate sharing the burden going forward.
HMRC have this week confirmed that they will not extend the self assessment filing deadline of 31st January and that all returns must be filed on time. They have however expressed that Covid-19 will be a ‘reasonable excuse’ for late filing and likely to be accepted as a justified appeal for late filing penalties. 
I remind you that your January self assessment payments, where less than £30k, can be paid in 12 equal instalments if desired. To take advantage of that you must call HMRC on 0300 200 3822 to set a payment plan in place. You must call them prior to 31st January to avoid interest and penalties arising.

Electric Vehicles
While for many a new car could not be further from their minds right now, it would be remis of me not to highlight a very powerful tax opportunity for anyone running their practice via a limited company. As a result of incentives on fully electric vehicles a dental body corporate could effectively purchase an electric vehicle for around 50% of the list price after tax breaks. I have drafted a short guide for information and if relevant to your car choice in the future it is certainly worth consideration
Electric Cars Guide

And Finally…. Have an amazing Christmas!

2020 has been a challenging year for the whole Scottish Dental Profession. We have been with you every step of the way and will continue to do so next year.
I wish you and your loved ones a happy and healthy festive period and look forward to speaking to you in 2021.
Love and best wishes to you at this time from myself and the full Dental Accountants Scotland team. I hope you manage to stay safe and well.
As a recurring reminder – our full team continue to work remotely after the festive break but are ready and willing to continue to do all we can to support you in any way possible.
Please feel free to continue to call my mobile 07375 700468 (day or night) or book a zoom online consultation here and I will be glad to support you in anyway. Our no fee advice is available to you at this time and we will do all we can as part of your team.
I invite you to keep up to date with information on our blog and to like our Facebook page to stay in touch.

Stay safe and look after yourself and all around you at this difficult time.

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