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Written Question
Accountancy and Taxation: Professional Organisations
29 Apr 2021

Questioner: Lord Mendelsohn (LAB - Life peer)

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the recommendation made by the Association of Accounting Technicians in its response, published on 6 August 2020, to the HM Revenue and Customs call for evidence on raising standards in the tax advice market, that anyone offering paid-for tax and accountancy services should be required by law to be a member of a relevant professional body.

Answered by Lord Agnew of Oulton

The Government published a call for evidence on raising standards in the tax advice market in March 2020. This explored a range of options to raise standards, including requiring all tax advisers to belong to a professional body. Responses to the call for evidence, including the response from the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT), were carefully considered. A summary of responses and the Government’s proposed next steps were published in November 2020.

Many respondents to the call for evidence suggested requiring tax advisers to hold professional indemnity insurance (PII) could provide a baseline level of taxpayer protection. The Government is now consulting on the merits of requiring tax advisers to hold PII, including assessing the impacts of this requirement. The consultation closes on 15 June 2021.

Any decisions resulting from the consultation will be announced at a future fiscal event.


Written Question
Accountancy and Taxation: Professional Organisations
29 Apr 2021

Questioner: Lord Mendelsohn (LAB - Life peer)

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of their recent proposals to require unregulated tax advisers and accountants to hold professional indemnity insurance on the insurance premiums for those who already hold such insurance by virtue of their membership of a relevant professional body.

Answered by Lord Agnew of Oulton

The Government published a call for evidence on raising standards in the tax advice market in March 2020. This explored a range of options to raise standards, including requiring all tax advisers to belong to a professional body. Responses to the call for evidence, including the response from the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT), were carefully considered. A summary of responses and the Government’s proposed next steps were published in November 2020.

Many respondents to the call for evidence suggested requiring tax advisers to hold professional indemnity insurance (PII) could provide a baseline level of taxpayer protection. The Government is now consulting on the merits of requiring tax advisers to hold PII, including assessing the impacts of this requirement. The consultation closes on 15 June 2021.

Any decisions resulting from the consultation will be announced at a future fiscal event.


Written Question
UK Trade with EU: Customs
29 Apr 2021

Questioner: Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick (Non-affiliated - Life peer)

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact on small businesses of the requirement to complete customs paperwork for export to the EU.

Answered by Lord Agnew of Oulton

The Government has put in place a number of measures to facilitate trade with the EU, including publishing comprehensive guidance on the new arrangements.

HMRC continue to work closely with industry to ensure they are engaging with the new requirements for trade with the EU and can take the necessary steps to prepare, including through step by step guides, public information campaigns, cross-Government industry steering groups, webinars and events.

The Government has also provided a £20 million Brexit Support Fund to support small and medium sized businesses who are new to importing and exporting processes in adjusting to new customs procedures, rules of origin, and VAT rules when trading with the EU. In addition, small and medium sized businesses can use the grant to seek professional advice and/or training in these areas.


Written Question
Greensill: Administration
29 Apr 2021

Questioner: Lord Sikka (LAB - Life peer)

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the financial impact of the administration of (1) Greensill Capital (UK) Limited, and (2) Greensill Capital Management Company (UK) Limited, upon entities regulated and authorised by the (a) Financial Conduct Authority, and (b) Prudential Regulation Authority.

Answered by Lord Agnew of Oulton

It has not proved possible to respond to this question in the time available before Prorogation. The Minister will write directly to the Member with a response shortly.


Written Question
Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (Amendment) (High Risk Countries) Regulations 2021
29 Apr 2021

Questioner: Lord Robathan (CON - Life peer)

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are reviewing the decision not to include Russia in Schedule 3ZA of High-Risk Third Countries in the Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (Amendment) (High Risk Countries) Regulations 2021; and if not, why not.

Answered by Lord Agnew of Oulton

It has not proved possible to respond to this question in the time available before Prorogation. The Minister will write directly to the Member with a response shortly.


Written Question
Archegos Capital Management
29 Apr 2021

Questioner: Lord Sikka (LAB - Life peer)

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the financial impact of the collapse of Archegos Capital Management upon entities (1) regulated, and (2) authorised, by the (a) Financial Conduct Authority, and (b) Prudential Regulation Authority.

Answered by Lord Agnew of Oulton

It has not proved possible to respond to this question in the time available before Prorogation. The Minister will write directly to the Member with a response shortly.


Written Question
Government Assistance: Coronavirus
29 Apr 2021

Questioner: Lord Browne of Belmont (DUP - Life peer)

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to provide support to those who have been ineligible for COVID-19 related financial support packages during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Answered by Lord Agnew of Oulton

Throughout the pandemic, the government has sought to protect people’s jobs and livelihoods while also supporting businesses and public services across the UK. To do this, the government has put in place an economic package of support which will provide businesses and individuals with certainty over the coming months, even as measures to prevent further spread of the virus change. The cumulative cost to the Government of this support since the start of the pandemic is £352 billion.

This support includes a new Restart Grant of up to £18,000 to over 680,000 business premises, giving them the cash certainty they need to plan ahead and safely relaunch trading over the coming months. Local authorities will also receive an additional £425 million of discretionary business grant funding under the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG), on top of the £1.6 billion already allocated to allow them to support their local businesses. This means local authorities will have received over £2.1 billion of discretionary grant funding to support businesses which are not eligible for Restart Grants, but which are nonetheless experiencing a severe impact on their business due to public health restrictions.

In order to support businesses to retain their employees and protect the UK economy, the Chancellor has extended both the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) until September 2021. In Northern Ireland, the CJRS has supported more than 280,000 jobs since the scheme’s inception, and as of 31 January, the SEISS provided £570 million of support to self-employed individuals in Northern Ireland. The fourth and fifth SEISS grants are an estimated £13.5 billion of additional support, taking total support for the self-employed to over £33 billion. The Government has also announced a major improvement in access to the self-employed scheme. As the deadline for 2019-20 tax returns has now passed, HMRC will use these tax returns for the fourth and fifth grants, provided they were submitted by 2 March. This means more than 600,000 people, many of whom became self-employed in 2019-20, may now be able to claim the fourth and fifth grants, bringing the total number of people who could be eligible to 3.7 million.

Businesses have also received billions in loans, tax deferrals, Business Rate reliefs, and general and sector-specific grants. And individuals and families have benefited from increased welfare payments, enhanced statutory sick pay, a stay on repossession proceedings and mortgage holidays. But we must recognise that it will not be possible to preserve every job or business indefinitely, nor stand in the way of the economy adapting and people finding new jobs or starting new businesses. As measures to control the virus change, it is right that government support should also evolve. Because of this, we continue to take a flexible approach and keep all impacts and policies under review.


Written Question
Small Businesses: Coronavirus
29 Apr 2021

Questioner: Lord Taylor of Warwick (Non-affiliated - Life peer)

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to support small businesses who have encountered payroll processing issues as a result of changes to COVID-19 support programmes.

Answered by Lord Agnew of Oulton

HMRC recognise that some employers will have complex and varied payroll runs, perhaps needing to claim for some staff who are paid weekly and some who are paid monthly.

Employers are required to take reasonable care to make an accurate claim within the deadline (which extends to 14 days after the month for which claims are being made) and should make their claims on time with the most accurate information available on the circumstances of their employees. HMRC expect employers to take all reasonable steps to amend their processes to be able to claim on time.

Employers can claim before, during or after they process their payroll as long as the claim is submitted by the relevant claim deadline.  Claims cannot be submitted more than 14 days before the claim period end date.

Employers can submit an initial claim and amend it later provided the initial claim is made on time and any amendments are made within 28 days after the end of the month. If the 28th day in a particular month falls on a non-working day, the deadline will be the next working day.

However, if they are still unable to meet the deadline, they should contact HMRC as soon as they are ready to claim, and HMRC may consider their reasonable excuse for missing the deadline. HMRC have published examples of reasonable excuses but in principle these are circumstances that stopped someone from fulfilling an obligation that they took reasonable care to meet.

Employers will not be able to submit a claim after the 14-day deadline has passed unless they have a reasonable excuse, taken reasonable care to try to claim on time and claimed without delay as soon as they were able to. Further information can be found at the COVID-19 coronavirus job retention scheme pages on GOV.UK.

Employers can also sign up to receive regular email updates from HMRC on their COVID-19 schemes, and thousands of people have joined live HMRC webinars which offer more support on changes to the CJRS and how they affect employers.


Written Question
Business: Coronavirus
29 Apr 2021

Questioner: Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick (Non-affiliated - Life peer)

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure the equitable distribution of schemes designed to support businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Answered by Lord Agnew of Oulton

The Government has provided £25 billion in cash grants for businesses. The Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy has been working closely with local authorities to ensure that these grants are delivered as swiftly as possible and directed towards the businesses that have been most impacted by the pandemic.

This includes the £5 billion of funding allocated at the March Budget for Restart Grants and the discretionary Additional Restrictions Grant fund.

Local authorities received their allocation for the new Restart Grants on 6th April, and we encourage local authorities to pay eligible businesses as soon as possible.

To access the Additional Restrictions Grant top-up, local authorities will have to spend their existing allocation by the end of June. Those which have already done so will receive their top-up payment in the coming weeks.


Written Question
Interest Rates
29 Apr 2021

Questioner: Lord Myners (CB - Life peer)

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government which department or agency is responsible for managing the sensitivity of (1) public accounts, and (2) expenditure, to interest rate movements.

Answered by Lord Agnew of Oulton

As the government’s economic and finance ministry, HM Treasury is responsible for maintaining control over public spending, including debt interest expenditure. The Office for Budget Responsibility publish estimates of the sensitivity of debt interest spending to changes in interest rates in their Economic and Fiscal Outlook. We have strong independent economic institutions and a well-established macroeconomic framework that ensures we are well placed to deal with risks to our public finances.


Written Question
Taxation: Fraud
29 Apr 2021

Questioner: Kevan Jones (LAB - North Durham)

Question

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how many investigations his Department has conducted into tax fraud in the last five years.

Answered by Kemi Badenoch

HMRC’s statutory duty of taxpayer confidentiality prevents it from commenting on the specifics of any case. HMRC do not break costs down by individual investigations. They are funded by Government to investigate serious tax fraud and deploy resources to achieve value for money overall. HMRC closely collaborates with the Environment Agency, relevant local authorities and the Crown Prosecution Service during the course of investigations into landfill tax fraud. To date there has been no prosecution into landfill tax fraud, but over the last five years, HMRC’s civil compliance activity has prevented more than £1billion in incorrect landfill tax repayment claims and it has stepped in to protect £125m of tax that would otherwise have gone unpaid. Since it was set up in 2016, HMRC’s Fraud Investigation Service has secured and protected more than £25bn for our vital public services and has launched over 76,000 civil cases and more than 4,000 criminal investigations, securing 3,700 criminal convictions.


Written Question
Money Laundering
29 Apr 2021

Questioner: Lord Mendelsohn (LAB - Life peer)

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the desirability of requiring those who provide tax and accountancy services in the UK (1) to be appropriately qualified, (2) to undertake Continuing Professional Development, (3) to be subject to robust complaints and disciplinary processes, and (4) to be regulated by an Office for Professional Body Anti-Money Laundering Supervision-supervised professional body in relation to Anti-Money laundering activity; and whether they have any plans to implement any such requirements.

Answered by Lord Agnew of Oulton

The Government published a call for evidence on raising standards in the tax advice market in March 2020. This explored a range of options to raise standards, including requiring all tax advisers to belong to a professional body. Responses to the call for evidence, including the response from the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT), were carefully considered. A summary of responses and the Government’s proposed next steps were published in November 2020.

Many respondents to the call for evidence suggested requiring tax advisers to hold professional indemnity insurance (PII) could provide a baseline level of taxpayer protection. The Government is now consulting on the merits of requiring tax advisers to hold PII, including assessing the impacts of this requirement. The consultation closes on 15 June 2021.

Any decisions resulting from the consultation will be announced at a future fiscal event.


Written Question
Self-employed: Coronavirus
29 Apr 2021

Questioner: Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick (Non-affiliated - Life peer)

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to support the self-employed during the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions.

Answered by Lord Agnew of Oulton

The Government announced at Budget 2021 that the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will continue until September, with a fourth and a final fifth grant. This provides certainty to business as the economy reopens and means the SEISS will continue to be one of the most generous schemes for the self-employed in the world, and one of the few where support is committed until September.

The fourth and fifth SEISS grants are an estimated £13.5bn of additional support, taking total support for the self-employed to over £33 billion since the start of the pandemic.

Self-employed people may also have access to other elements of support available, including Restart Grants, the Recovery Loan scheme, business rates relief, and other business support schemes.


Written Question
Mortgages: Self-employed
29 Apr 2021

Questioner: Lord Taylor of Warwick (Non-affiliated - Life peer)

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that self-employed workers are not excluded from the 95 per cent mortgage scheme announced on 19 April.

Answered by Lord Agnew of Oulton

The new mortgage guarantee scheme is designed to increase the availability of 95% Loan to Value lending products. Participating lenders must offer all of their 95% mortgages, for both first time buyers and home movers, through the scheme. These would include any products that they offered at 95% for the self-employed.

The pricing and availability of mortgage loans, including the assessment of mortgage applications, remains a commercial decision for lenders and the Government does not seek to intervene.


Written Question
Treasury: Pay
29 Apr 2021

Questioner: Anneliese Dodds (LAB - Oxford East)

Question

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether any officials in his Department receive remuneration for paid work for organisations or companies outside of government.

Answered by Kemi Badenoch

On 23 April, the Cabinet Secretary wrote to the Chair of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee on the management of outside interests in the Civil Service.

The Committee published this letter on 26 April. It can be found here:

https://committees.parliament.uk/publications/5623/documents/55584/default/

The Cabinet Secretary’s letter sets out a series of steps to improve processes. This programme of work will also take account of any recommendations that emerge from

Nigel Boardman’s review.

The Civil Service Management Code sets out, at paragraph 4.3.4, the requirement that civil servants must seek permission before accepting any outside employment which might affect their work either directly or indirectly. The applicable principles are those set out in the Business Appointment Rules. The Civil Service Management Code is published here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/civil-servants-terms-and-conditions .

Where the civil servant is a member of the departmental board, any outside employment, as well as other relevant interests will be published as part of the Annual Report and Accounts or other transparency publication.