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COVID-19 UPDATE #47 – 4th March 2021

We are now sharing our 47th Covid-19 digest in relation to the Scottish Dental Sector. We 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

For the politically minded, yesterday could potentially have been described as a blockbuster billing, with not just one but two major political events taking place both North and South of the Border.
In Scotland we were treated to a marathon session held by parliamentary committee and we saw our First Minister ‘grilled’ about her handling of the Alex Salmond affair. Given her legal qualification we were not surprised to see that she managed to handle the questions in a reasonably relaxed manner, but she did face some real probing about her memory of key events. Quite how this will be reacted to in a political sense remains to be seen but with the proximity of the forthcoming elections it seems likely that the First Minister would have preferred to have avoided the process at this stage.
Meanwhile, South of the Border we were treated to the Chancellor’s second budget, and one which was awaited with some trepidation as to the tax rises we may see, particularly in the much trailed Capital Gains Tax capacity. However, the budget had, with some corporate exception, the tone of a support and recovery budget to help the economy bounce back from Covid-19. I have listed the highlights of the announcements within the financial section below in more detail.
Continuing on a political theme, this week we saw the advertising of two posts for the position of Deputy Chief Dental Officer(s). For anyone with a political leaning and interested in applying the details of the role can be found in the document below.
Deputy CDO posts (x2)

Although targeting registered dentists for the role the salary is not disclosed and the arrangements imply that a secondment or service level agreement (SLA) would be implemented with the successful applicant’s ’employer’. Given that those engaged as independent contractors for the NHS are not technically employed in the majority of cases I can only assume this to be a potentially mis-leading phrasing. Any general practitioner interested in the role would be advised to seek clarity as part of the application process.

CLINICAL UPDATE

We continue to see a high demand for dentistry and in particular a significant increase in the uptake of private dentistry. The nervousness of the general public to travel during lockdown does however result in a counter balance of reluctant patients.With the rapid roll out of the vaccine program continuing the confidence in the population is forecasted to improve in the weeks ahead and it feels like some genuine optimism about a return to a form of normal is in sight.
The enforced spreading out of appointments due to fallow time has made a number of NHS practitioners question if they are willing/able to return to the high volume dentistry of old in the future and the ongoing consultation of the SDR re-write will be fundamental to the future shape of NHS dentistry in Scotland. We have already seen a number of our clients take the early decision to move away from the NHS at this time and work under the HIS regulation as a fully private practice going forward.
I would draw your attention to a potentially important presentation hosted by the SDA on 16th March 12-2.30pm. The event, entitled ‘SDA Summit – The Future of the NHS GDS’, will include the following speakers;
– Tom Ferris, CDO Scotland- Professor Philip Taylor, Dean of Dental Surgery RCS Edinburgh- Professor Cynthia Pine CBE, Emerita Professor Dental Public Health QMUL
I would encourage everyone to sign up to participate in the Summit and you can find more details with the link to book your place at this link. It also includes. 2.5 hours of CPD. 
We were pleased to see common sense prevail with the announcement that Aberdeen University Dental students will be provided with additional bursary for their extended timeline. We do however await the impact of the lack of graduates and the impact of Brexit on the availability of dental practitioners in Scotland in the year ahead. 
For any practice experiencing quality issues with Board supplied PPE they are now directed towards a contact list at the following webpage who can escalate to national procurement on your behalf. 
The FAQ’s issued by PSD in respect of the Covid support payments have been updated this week and version 13 is now in force. I share this below. There are only two changes to prior versions at points 1.1 & 7.3. These points confirm that the delayed measurement of activity is not yet designed and how an Associate changing role will be impacted in terms of Covid support.
PSD Covid FAQ Vs 13.0

FINANCIAL UPDATE

The budget was a relatively supportive approach and for the Scottish Dental Practices looking to exit we were pleased to see no major reform of the capital gains tax regime announced at this stage.
The ‘devil is in the detail’ and we still need to pour over the full report and finance act in due course, but in terms of the elements relevant to the Scottish Dental Sector the ‘highlights’ to share at this time are as follows.

CJRS/Furlough
The flexible furlough scheme will continue in its present form now until 30th September. Employees will continue to be entitled to 80% of their normal wage for hours not worked until the scheme ends. Practices will be required to contribute 10% in July and 20% in August and September towards their payment. Importantly all employees on the payroll at the 2nd March will be eligible for the scheme to its conclusion. Take care however as this means they must have been included in a RTI submission prior to 20th March to qualify. Any new starts in March will therefore require careful consideration.

SEISS
Self-employed support continues with a fourth and fifth grant taking us to 30 September. SEISS is also opened to those who became self-employed for the first time in 2019-20 on the assumption their self assessment return was filed no later than midnight on the 2nd March 2021. 
The 4th grant will be paid at 80% of average profits once more and will be open for applications from April onwards. For the 5th grant there will be a ‘means test’ whereby only those who can evidence turnover has fallen by 30% or more will be eligible for the full grant. The remaining eligible applicants who can prove turnover has fallen by up to 30% will only be entitled to claim a grant of 30% of average profits. This 5th grant will open for applications from late July.
The full claim conditions are yet to be released but we anticipate similar criteria to the prior grants and only those with incomes less than £50k and the majority of their income from self employment are likely to qualify. It does however potentially open up claims to VDP’s who completed their contracts in July 2019 who were previously excluded. If eligible you should be invited to make a claim in April and no action is required at this stage.

Mortgage guarantee scheme 
The government will introduce a new mortgage guarantee scheme in April 2021. This scheme will provide a guarantee to lenders across the UK who offer mortgages to people with a deposit of just 5% on homes with a value of up to £600,000. Under the scheme all buyers will have the opportunity to fix their initial mortgage rate for at least five years should they wish to. The scheme, which will be available for new mortgages up to 31 December 2022, will increase the availability of mortgages on new or existing properties for those with small deposits. 

Recovery Loan Scheme 
From 6 April 2021 the Recovery Loan Scheme will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on eligible loans between 25,000 and £10 million to give them confidence in continuing to provide finance to UK businesses. The scheme will be open to all businesses, including those who have already received support under the existing COVID-19 guaranteed loan schemes.

Contactless payment card limit 
The government has approved an increase to the legal contactless payment limits previously set by the European Commission. This will allow banks to support single contactless payments up to £100, and cumulative contactless payments up to £300, without the need for customers to input their chip and pin. This is potentially helpful to Scottish Dental Practices as they continue to attempt to have their patients attend in a relatively contactless manner where possible. The implementation date is yet to be announced however. 

Corporation Tax Rates
In what was the key adverse announcement, but perhaps a sign of other tax rises to follow to repay the support packages, we saw the corporation tax rate for companies generating profits in excess of £250k per annum raised from 19% to 25%. All profits under £50k will continue to be taxed at the 19% rate and a ‘tapering’ impact will be felt between £50 + £250k. Despite these rises the country will remain one of the lowest tax payers within the G7 so it is hoped that the medium to large businesses will not be tempted to migrate away from the UK. For the majority of Scottish Dental Practices operating in the a corporate structure this will not negate the tax advantages they enjoy too severely. Careful adjustment of remuneration strategies may be required for the practices enjoying profits in excess of £250k and we will, of course, be reviewing those in that position as part of our normal proactive tax planning processes.

Super-deduction (Capital Allowances)
From 1 April 2021 until 31 March 2023, companies investing in qualifying new plant and machinery assets will benefit from a 130% first-year capital allowance.
This upfront ‘super-deduction’ will allow companies to cut their tax bill by up to 25p for every £1 they invest, a 6p enhancement over the current rates. For those corporate Scottish Dental practices considering investing in new equipment this would be worth consideration and you may wish to defer the delivery of any new equipment until 1st April. The allowances are not available to sole traders or partnerships.

Other Announcements
There were no increases in Income Tax or National Insurance rates, and the allowances already announced to increase next year will still do so. However many allowances were frozen for five years which can be considered a ‘tax increase by stealth’ from the 2022/23 tax year onwards. 
In summary, the budget was relatively supportive/benign to the Scottish Dental sector and until we edge out of the Covid challenges we don’t anticipate any major tax increases. The capital gains tax reforms are likely to re-emerge at a later stage and may be changed out with the traditional budget timing on a standalone basis to implement the recommendations from the review I covered in an earlier digest.

Love and best wishes to you at this time from the Dental Accountants Scotland team. I hope you manage to stay safe and well.
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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