Net zero carbon start-up grants
These grants offer financial support to budding Welsh social businesses to get trading or investment ready, plus technical support to embed climate-friendly practices.
The Net zero carbon start-up grant is a pilot scheme which aims to help get social business ‘start-ups’ off the ground, while at the same time embedding climate-friendly practices.
Round 2 of the scheme is now open to any up-and-coming social business or trading voluntary organisation in Wales. You don’t need to be an environmental or climate change focused group to apply.
This is a pilot project with an initial grant pot of £150,000 to support 12 social enterprises, and it will be subject to competitive selection.
The deadline for Expressions of Interest in this round is 21 September 2022.
St David Awards 2023
The St David Awards are the national awards of Wales that recognise and celebrate the exceptional achievements of people from all walks of life in Wales and abroad.
There are 10 St David Awards, the first 9 of which are nominated for by the public:
- Community Spirit
- Critical Worker (Key Worker)
- Environment Champion
- Innovation, Science and Technology
- Young Person
- First Minister’s Special Award
The deadline for submitting nominations is 20 October 2022.
See: Nominate | GOV.WALES
CEIC Autumn Conference
The Circular Economy Innovation Communities (CEIC) Autumn Conference is an open invitation for environmental champions from throughout South Wales and beyond to discuss how well-designed, incremental efforts can have a substantial impact. It takes place on 27 September 2022
The CEIC programme enables colleagues from across the public and third sectors to collaborate and create communities of practice to develop innovative solutions to probably the biggest challenge of our generation.
The conference will showcase the amazing work that is going on across South Wales public services to tackle the climate emergency. It will create opportunities to meet existing participants, learn about what they have been doing and speak to the CEIC team about getting involved.
Nature Networks Fund – Round Two
As a key element to the delivery of the Nature Networks Programme, the aim of the Nature Networks Fund is to improve the condition and resilience of Wales’ network of protected land and marine sites.
Improving the condition of these protected and connected sites will enable them to function better as nature networks. Nature networks are vital, resilient areas where habitats and species can thrive and expand. Restoring connectivity in these networks will:
- Prevent further declines in species and habitat conditions.
- Support nature recovery.
- Enhance capacity to adapt to the climate crisis.
This fund will also support the active involvement of communities in and around protected sites. Strengthening engagement with nature has direct health and well-being benefits for people, as well as improving the resilience of the sites themselves.
The protection of sites is reliant on strong organisations and good governance. Therefore, round two of the Nature Networks Fund will additionally support capacity building, including financial resilience, community engagement, training and apprenticeship programmes and inclusion work.
Are you an individual or organisation working with natural heritage in Wales?
Do you need funding for a nature-based project which is ready to start?
Does your project focus on improving wildlife and biodiversity in Wales?
Do you require a grant between £30,000 and £1 million?
If you answered yes to these questions, then the Nature Networks Fund (round two) could be for you.
Keep calm and focus on what’s really important
With the constant news surrounding the energy crisis, soaring interest rates and rising inflation, it’s difficult not to worry and lose sight of what’s really important – the health and welfare of you and your loved ones.
The crisis we all face is a potent mix of inflation, recession, high debts, and the core reason for it all, a wartime energy shock. It is worth remembering that this is the point. It is not the market driving the crisis, it is geopolitics, diplomacy and conflict. On an individual level, this situation is not within our control. So what can we do to keep rational whilst this crisis unfolds?
It is worth recalling a quote from the singer Celine Dion: “Life imposes things on you that you can’t control, but you still have the choice of how you’re going to live through this”.
Firstly, know that you can only control your life and those close to you. Everything else going on is typically uncontrollable. So take time to set some long-term goals to give you a sense of control. Next, list the things that make you happy and safe. By doing this, you can focus on the good things and not the other stuff. Thirdly, take time out of your busy schedule to do things you enjoy. Doing something you are good at reinforces a sense of self-worth and purpose.
If you own a business, then:
- Take time to review your personal objectives – the business is there to provide you with what you want from life, not the other way around!
- Look at where the business is now – its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, and understand its position in the marketplace, the competition, the systems, the way things are done and the improvements that could be made.
- Focus on what the business will look like when it is “complete” or running profitably and successfully. Then you can determine priorities – the big issues that need to be focussed on.
It is also a good idea to look at where you are now and plan for a range of scenarios (good and bad) so that you can be flexible about the direction you should take.
Ask us about our One Page Analyst, a “what if” scenario planner which takes your projected 2022 figures and allows you to work out the effect on profit of reducing expenses, increasing sales, and increasing or decreasing prices.
If you need help during the next few months, please call us – we are here to support you!
Companies House to introduce a new WebFiling account
Companies House will soon be introducing a new WebFiling account that will have more functionality with improved security features. It is the first step in creating a single sign-in across all Companies House services.
The benefits of the new WebFiling account include:
- Multi-factor authentication.
- The ability to link your company to your WebFiling account to give you more control over your filings.
- The ability to digitally authorise people to file on your behalf on WebFiling, and to remove authorisation.
- The ability to easily see who is digitally authorised to file for your company.
- An option to sign up for emails to help you with the running of your company.
Once you’ve linked your company to your account, you will no longer need to enter an authentication code every time you file online.
If you own or file on behalf of more than one company, you will be able to manage all your companies from one account.
Once the new account is introduced, you will also be able to digitally authorise yourself and other directors to file for your new company as part of the online incorporation process.
Businesses advised to plan around the expected Royal Mail strike
If you use Royal Mail to deliver your goods, you should be aware of the planned industrial action that is due to take place on:
- Thursday 8 September
- Friday 9 September
Royal Mail’s services will be affected by delays to mail posted the day before, during, or in the days after any strike action.
Royal Mail has contingency plans, but they cannot fully replace the daily efforts of its frontline workforce. They say that they will be doing what they can to keep services running, but customers should expect significant disruption.
On days when strike action is taking place, they say they will:
- Deliver as many Special Delivery and Tracked24 parcels as possible.
- Prioritise the delivery of COVID test kits and medical prescriptions, wherever possible.
- Not be delivering letters (with the exception of Special Delivery).
To avoid disruption to your business, it is advised to:
- Post your items as early as possible in advance of the strike dates.
- Continue to post your items at postboxes or post offices, however, collections will be less frequent on days when strike action is taking place.
Plastic packaging tax update
Businesses of any size and type must register for Plastic Packaging Tax if they expect to manufacture or import 10 or more tonnes of plastic packaging in the next 30 days, or if they have manufactured or imported 10 or more tonnes of plastic packaging since 1 April 2022.
HMRC have developed some useful resources to help businesses understand their requirements for Plastic Packaging Tax.
The latest guidance from HMRC on Plastic Packaging Tax includes:
- Help for manufacturers and importers to decide if they need to register for Plastic Packaging Tax.
- Details on what to include when completing a Plastic Packaging Tax return.
- Examples of packaging in and out of scope of PPT.
You can watch recordings of past HMRC Plastic Packaging Tax webinars. Timestamps will help you navigate to your area of interest within each of the webinar recordings.
For a reminder of the steps to take and all return and payment dates for Plastic Packaging Tax in 2022-23, you can read the HMRC Plastic Packaging Tax flyer: Get ready to submit your Plastic Packaging Tax return
HMRC issues warning to contractors about the use of umbrella companies
“Umbrella” companies are often set up by employment agencies to supply workers to end user clients. Many of these are compliant with the tax rules, but some use contrived arrangements that claim to allow agency workers and contractors to pay less tax on their earnings. HMRC have successfully challenged many of these arrangements.
HMRC view these arrangements as tax avoidance schemes that use disguised remuneration arrangements to pay the workers. The umbrella company might claim that a payment is non-taxable to try to avoid paying National Insurance contributions (NICs) – currently 15.05% for employers. The arrangements also purport to avoid employee NICs – currently 13.25% between £12,570 and £50,270 a year.
Using these non-compliant umbrella companies could leave the workers at risk of being involved in a tax avoidance scheme and owing HMRC the tax and NICs that should have been deducted.
Under PAYE regulations, employers have an obligation to deduct tax and NICs from employment income on workers’ behalf. However, where this does not happen, HMRC may recover the tax directly from the worker.
For updated HMRC guidance see: Warning for agency workers and contractors employed by umbrella companies (Spotlight 60) – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
New trading scheme to cut tariffs on everyday products
The Developing Countries Trading Scheme (DCTS) has been introduced to help UK businesses access products from around the globe at lower prices, with the aim of reducing costs for UK consumers.
The UK Government launched the DCTS in addition to the products that developing countries can already export to the UK duty-free, and could now mean that 99% of goods imported from Africa under the scheme will enter the UK duty-free.
The scheme means that a wide variety of products – from clothes and shoes to foods that aren’t widely produced in the UK, like olive oil and tomatoes – will benefit from lower or zero tariffs.
The UK Government says that the DCTS will ensure that British businesses can benefit from more than £750 million per year of reduced import costs, leading to more choice and lower costs for UK consumers.
Sustainable Fashion Week 2022
Sustainable Fashion Week (SFW) is a week of community activity, gathering people together to inspire, upskill and empower the community to make sustainable fashion choices.
The Charity Retail Association (CRA) is sponsoring Sustainable Fashion Week, held from the 16th to the 25th of September 2022, with community events happening from the 19th to the 25th. You can host your event at any time during this period.
The four themes of the week’s activities are:
Each theme has calls to action that support a turn towards sustainability and away from “fast fashion”.
UK charity shops divert 339,000 tonnes of textiles from landfills or incineration and encourage reuse at the heart of communities on our high streets. A rise in sustainable fashion influencers, ethical consumers and savvy charity shop chains has raised the profile of the sector and helped it to be stronger than ever – despite Covid and lockdowns. This makes for the perfect pairing for raising fashion sustainability awareness further, encouraging the public to think about who makes their clothes and how they are made, and how they can be mended or repurposed instead of discarded.
SFW involves a packed programme of skills workshops and creative events. SFW want CRA members to be part of this community movement by hosting their own event. Small or large, SFW invites you to collaborate with them and empower the community around you.
Museums and galleries are urged to sign up for a VAT refund to support free entry to the public
Museums and galleries are being urged to apply for VAT refunds to support opening free of charge as part of plans to boost visitor numbers and give more people access to arts and culture.
Any museum and gallery open to the public free of charge for 30 hours a week can apply. It will help organisations boost their finances and open up their collections more regularly.
The VAT Refund Scheme, which has been running since 2001, was last open to new applicants in 2018/19 and is estimated to have refunded up to £1 billion to museums and galleries so far.