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COVID-19 UPDATE #45 – 8th JANUARY 2021

As we nudge in to the New Year it is hard to believe we find ourselves in another lockdown, but here we are. With the new virulent strain gaining a foothold and the R rate rising steeply we are facing a minimum 3 week period of restrictions with all commentators expressing opinion that an extension is highly probable. 
Thankfully with the the two vaccines now in full flow and the military behind the delivery and logistics program there is at least some light at the end of the dark tunnel we have faced together since this time last year. I hope the program is accelerated and we can return to a degree of normal in 2021. I wish you, your colleagues, and your loved ones all the best for the year ahead.
We are now sharing our 45th Covid-19 digest in relation to the Scottish Dental Sector and 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

Yesterday’s press briefing was, at least prima facie, somewhat reassuring with a number of positive announcements about the vaccine roll out. Despite the PM, in his usual loquacious manner, talking of the rollout ahead being subject to “lumpiness and bumpiness”, he provided a pledge to deliver the following;

  • Vaccination offers to the 13M ‘top 4’ priority groups by 15th February at latest
  • A vaccination centre within 10 miles of everyone’s home 
  • A large number of GP centres, hospital sites, seven ‘giant centres’, community pharmacy centres and military deployment to deliver a program of a the scale required to cover the population safely in as short a time possible

When the statistics are reviewed around 88% of the deaths to date have involved people from the 4 top priority groups. So, if achieved, the 15th February date is likely to provide those most vulnerable with some protection and provide a natural ‘tipping point’ for the population it would be projected. Let’s hope the delivery is able to match the ambition.

CLINICAL UPDATE

As the country has now entered a new lock-down we were pleased to note that despite the restrictions on travel, the CDO has confirmed that dental treatment may continue, with the exception of facial aesthetics. He issued a guidance document on the 5th of January which I share below. 
CDO Update – 5th January 2021

Within the guidance I draw your attention to a very important financial point covered. The CDO has confirmed that the transitional period of ‘non measurement’ will now be extended for at least another 3 months. This means that Scottish Practices will not be required to exceed the 20% activity level required to maintain 85% Covid support from NHS. This pushes out the measurement date now to at the very earliest 1st June 2021. I suspect there may be further changes in that period, but it does remove one pressure from the practice management for the time being.

SCOTTISH DENTAL SECTOR WAGES SURVEY 2020/21

I would like to thank the 200+ respondents to our dental wages survey at the end of last year. I spent the festive break collating and statistically analysing the responses and have produced a summary report of the key findings. All respondents have already received a bespoke advanced copy of the report earlier this week. I now have great pleasure in sharing a copy of the report for your interest tonight. I hope you find it of value.
Scottish Dental Wages Survey Report

FINANCIAL UPDATE

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

NHS Funding
As per the CDO’s letter above we now have a degree of certainty that the existing NHS Covid support will continue for the next 6 months at the current levels, subject to the ongoing commitment. This is helpful for planning purposes.
The ongoing review of the long term future of the SDR is likely to continue in the meantime and we expect further consultation to follow.

NHS Rent Reimbursement 
As previously covered, all practices are still required to file a GP234 form this year despite the pandemic, however PSD have amended the process to allow an option to self certify that there is no change to the NHS % split. We have written to all our NHS Practices this week to offer assistance and advice and look forward to helping in the normal way. Please do not overlook the submission deadline where relevant and lose out on the 1st quarter reimbursement. As a reminder the forms must be filed no later than 28th February. The current form can be located at this link. Do let us know if you have any queries arising, we would be delighted to assist.

£500 Bonus
The £500 NHS and care bonus intended to be paid pre Christmas was delayed and remains outstanding. It has now been clarified in terms of how it will be rolled out to NHS committed practice team members.
Each practice will be requested in due course to complete a submission to confirm the hours worked by each team member which will be used for pro-rating the level of bonus payable. It is likely to be paid at some point before 5th April 2021. The government guide can be read in full at this link. 
The key section within the report is pasted below for your ease of access, which I hope you find helpful.

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Budget/Tax
The UK budget on the 3rd of March and Scottish Budget on the 28th January are likely to be impacted by the ongoing lock-downs, and the anticipated tax rises may be deferred as a result. We will watch with interest and report in due course on the key announcements.
HMRC have confirmed that they will not extend the self assessment filing deadline of 31st January despite the pressures placed on the accounting sector this year. As previously stated though, 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. 

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. I wish you and your loved ones a happy and healthy festive period and look forward to speaking to you in 2021. 
As a recurring reminder – our full team continue to work remotely 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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