Home  →  COCO- VAT, Customs and International Trade Support


If you have any questions, please get in touch with our COVID-19 Task Force here

Customs Grant Scheme – Upskilling your team

Customs intermediaries, businesses with AEO status (who have had a UK base for less than 12 months) as well as traders who complete their own declarations, are among those who can now apply for grant funding to support with recruitment, training and IT to handle customs declarations post the Brexit transition period.   The grant can cover salary costs for new or redeployed staff, up to a limit of £12,000 per person and £3,000 for recruitment costs for new employees. The grant scheme will also offer financial support for training costs to upskill staff and for IT systems/software in some cases that will allow greater efficiency.

For more information on the scheme and how to apply, please click here.


Stamp Tax rates are being temporarily cut until 31 March 2021 across the UK in a bid to boost the ailing housing market.

Steady on though… are you considering a purchase of a second home? Pause…there are different rules for people buying second homes. Also, don’t forget that the four corners of the UK all have slightly different versions of stamp tax regimes in place (SDLT in England and NI, LBTT in Scotland, and LTT in Wales). Be careful to check which regime you come under, which set of rates and thresholds apply and when the changes come into force.

Please click HERE to read our further thoughts on this subject, and if you want to discuss this further, please contact Damian Shirley or Helen Channer


The chancellor has announced an extension to the cut in VAT from 20% to 5% on catering, accommodation and admission to attractions which will now apply between 15 July 2020 and 31 March 2021. The aim of this extension is to help a sector that has been severely impacted by the pandemic and adapt to the new trading environment. As a reminder, the reduced rate applies to:

  • Eat-in food and non-alcoholic drinks
  • Hot takeaway food and hot takeaway non-alcoholic drinks from restaurants, cafes, bars, pubs and similar premises;
  • Sleeping accommodation in hotels and B&Bs, holiday accommodation and pitch fees on campsites and caravan sites; and
  • Entrance fees (plus incidental supplies) to attractions such as theatres, cinemas, theme parks, museums and zoos. Unfortunately, sporting events are not included. However, where entrance fees are already covered by the existing exemption, this will continue to take precedence.

If you want to discuss this further then please contact Damian Shirley.


The VAT deferral period has now ended and VAT return payments owing on or after 1 July 2020 are now due as normal.


If you think you may struggle to pay your next VAT payment, HMRC may consider on a case by case basis other measures to support your business, for example time to pay arrangements, a temporary suspension of the monthly payment on account regime or seasonal adjustment of VAT return stagger periods. Get in touch if you would like to talk this through with Damian Shirley.

If you have had discussions with HMRC we would love to hear your feedback covid19@cooperparry.com

VAT cash flow optimisation

VAT is an important part of your working capital.  It is therefore worth thinking about what opportunities are available to optimise your VAT cashflow beyond the current VAT deferral period. Get some insight here from our VAT partner Damian Shirley.

How to repay the VAT deferred between 21 March – 30 June 2020

If you have chosen to defer your VAT payment(s) as a result of coronavirus, it is possible under a ‘New Payment Scheme’ to opt to pay the amount deferred up to 11 smaller interest free payments during the 2021-22 financial year or alternatively, the VAT must be paid on or before 31 March 2021. To take advantage of the VAT Deferral New Payment Scheme, you will need to: 

  1. Opt in (available early doors in 2021)  
  2. Need to have deferred VAT to still pay 
  3. Need to be up to date with all your VAT returns 
  4. Have corrected any errors on your VAT returns so the deferred VAT balance is accurate. 
  5. Be able to pay the deferred VAT by direct debit. 
  6. Choose the number of instalments (between 2 and 11) 
  7. The authorised bank account holder must set up a Direct Debit  

We are awaiting further details of the New Payment Scheme and will update this page as soon as they are released.

Alternatively, you can pay or make payments towards your deferred VAT now or at any time up to 31 March 2021.

How? Transfer a payment to HMRC’s bank account by Faster Payments, CHAPS or Bacs.

Use your VAT registration number as reference (no gaps).

Sort code Account number Account name
08 32 00 11963155 HMRC VAT
Wider Covid-19 VAT reliefs

Domestic Reverse Charge VAT for construction services – delayed until 1 March 2021

HMRC has announced that the domestic reverse charge VAT for construction services will be delayed until 1 March 2021. This was previously planned for 1 October 2020 so businesses have another 5 months to plan for its implementation. Spring 2021 is shaping up to be a busy period for indirect tax compliance…Brexit, MTD and now domestic reverse charge for construction services. If we can help plan for this busy period in any way, please contact Damian Shirley.

Import relief on certain medical supplies, equipment and protective garments

HMRC has announced that, for certain products, a business can apply for special authorisation so that no customs duty or import VAT is payable on the imported products until 31 December 2020. The goods must be imported by or on behalf of a UK state organisation or charity and donated or sold (directly or indirectly) to that state organisation or charity. If you need to discuss this relief or how to make a claim, please contact Damian Shirley

Notification period for options to tax

Typically, a business is required to notify HMRC of an option to tax over a commercial property within 30 days of the decision being made.  HMRC have announced that, for decisions made between 15 February 2020 and 31 December 2020, the notification period will be extended from 30 days to 90 days.   Our own view however is that the decision should be notified as soon as possible to HMRC, it can often drop off the radar leaving greater difficulty further down the line.  We can help clients with any notification process if it is causing difficulty. If you need to discuss this in more detail, please contact Damian Shirley

Making Tax Digital – digital links requirement extended until April 2021

Businesses have got enough on their plates at the moment, so HMRC have announced that the soft landing period for Making Tax Digital for VAT is going to be extended until April 2021.

This means that all VAT registered businesses will have more time to put in place digital links between all parts of their functional compatible software. HMRC have updated their original MTD guidance to reflect the extension of the soft landing period– you can view this here.

Please see more details of how businesses should prepare for MTD here. Whilst things are naturally quieter through the Covid period, this deferral offers valuable time at this stage to ensure your digital links are ready and you are compliant in the wider sense for MTD. Get in touch if you would like to talk this through with Damian Shirley.

Are you paying trade credit insurance?

Trade credit insurance insures your suppliers against you defaulting on the payment for the goods that they have supplied.  However, many businesses are experiencing cover being withdrawn by insurers or their premiums increasing to unaffordable levels.

To try and prevent this, the government has announced that it will temporarily (provisionally until the end of the year) guarantee business to business transactions that are currently supported by Trade Credit Insurance.

Further details can be found here.

Further Support for Businesses Trading Internationally

In addition to the abovementioned specific reliefs, the Government has announced specific DIT and UK Export Finance support for UK businesses that export or deliver goods and services abroad.

DIT Support

DIT will be able to provide assistance with Customs authorities to ensure smooth clearance of products into third countries, along with wider business continuity support whilst disruption is faced.  For assistance, DIT’s business support team can be contacted here, or you can give them a call on 0300 456 3565.

If your international supply chain has been affected, then the DIT has also helpfully confirmed that it has relationships with a global network of businesses across the world and will support businesses in trying to keep the supply chains moving.

If your business is actually operating and delivering projects in other countries, it is important that you follow local guidance and speak to your nearest UK embassy or consulate. The Government also refers businesses to its general advice on overseas business risk in a number of overseas territories. A link to the Government’s extensive country-by-country guidance can be found here.

UKEF Financial support

UK Export Finance (UKEF) will be working with banks and insurance brokers to support businesses in fulfilling their export contracts. It will facilitate guarantees, loans and insurance on behalf of the Government that will protect the export supply chain.  Specific examples cited include:

  • Assisting with cash flow through a government back working capital scheme;
  • Insurance policies to support aborted contracts outside of your control; and
  • Support the facilitation of finance for overseas buyers so they can continue to buy your goods and services.

Should you need to discuss matters further with UKEF, then they can be contacted here.