Budget 2021: Highlights

On 3 March 2021 Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer, delivered the Spring Budget setting out his plans as the United Kingdom starts to ease the lockdown and revealing the goals that he is looking to achieve after the pandemic.

Presenting the government’s spending plans for the year ahead, the Chancellor announced the new measures with the intention of helping businesses and jobs through these difficult times.

The measures are aimed at supporting the country’s long-term economic recovery as well as rebalancing the public finances with the help of tax rising.

Below is a summary of the key announcements for the private client world.

Property
  • The stamp duty holiday has been extended and will now end on 30 June instead of 31 March.
  • The nil rate band will be £250,000 until the end of September. The government will return to the usual level of £125,000 from 1 October.
Tax
  •  The income personal allowance will increase to £12,570 from £12,500 for the 2021/22 tax year. The basic rate threshold will increase to £37,700 from £37,500.
  • The income tax personal allowance and higher rate threshold are then to be frozen until April 2026.
  • The starting rate limit for savings will remain at £5,000 for the 2021/22 tax year. This band of savings income is subject to the 0% starting rate.
  • The Capital Gains Tax (CGT) annual exemption will remain at £12,300 for individuals and personal representatives until April 2026.
  • The lifetime allowance on pension contributions has been frozen at its current 2020/21 level of £1,073,100.
  • The annual ISA adult subscription limit will remain at £20,000, and the annual subscription limit for Junior ISAs will remain at £9,000.
 Charities
  •  The government will continue supporting the country’s social enterprises that are looking for growth investment by extending the SITR scheme to 6 April 2023.
  •  The government will provide armed forces charities with up to £475,000 in the 2021/22 tax year to support the development of a digital and data strategy.
  • The Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust will receive additional £10 million in 2021/22 tax year for charitable projects and initiatives that support veterans with mental health needs across the country.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact James Cohen directly on jcohen@gscsolicitors.com or 0207 822 2257.

© 2021 GSC Solicitors LLP. All rights reserved.  GSC grants permission for the browsing of this material and for the printing of one copy per person for personal reference. GSC’s written permission must be obtained for any other use of this material. This publication has been prepared only as a guide to provide readers with general information on recent legal developments. It is not formal legal advice and should not be relied on for any purpose. You should not act or refrain from acting based on the information contained in this document without obtaining specific formal advice from suitably qualified advisors.

Budget 2021: Stamp duty holiday extended until 30 June

Delivering his Budget statement, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced today that the stamp duty land tax holiday will be extended.

Sunak has confirmed that the current stamp duty holiday (nil rate band of £500,000) has been extended and will now end on 30 June instead of 31 March.

The stamp duty holiday was initially introduced to boost the property market hit by the lockdowns due to Covid-19 and help buyers who might have suffered financially from Covid-19 and its consequences.

According to Sunak, the policy is to assist people to buy their own homes: ‘As the prime minister has said, we want to turn generation rent into generation buy.’

In order to ‘smooth the transition back to normal’, the nil rate band will be £250,000 – ‘double its standard level’ – until the end of September. The government will return to the usual level of £125,000 from 1 October.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact James Cohen directly on jcohen@gscsolicitors.com or 0207 822 2257.

© 2021 GSC Solicitors LLP. All rights reserved.  GSC grants permission for the browsing of this material and for the printing of one copy per person for personal reference. GSC’s written permission must be obtained for any other use of this material. This publication has been prepared only as a guide to provide readers with general information on recent legal developments. It is not formal legal advice and should not be relied on for any purpose. You should not act or refrain from acting based on the information contained in this document without obtaining specific formal advice from suitably qualified advisors.

 

Furlough extended until September

It was announced by the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, on 3 March, that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (commonly known as furlough) is to be extended once again. This time it is to be extended from 30 April 2021 to 30 September 2021.

An employee on furlough will still receive 80% of their wages (up to a maximum of £2,500 per month) for hours not worked.

However, from 1 July 2021, the government will only contribute 70% of the employee’s wages for hours not worked (the other 10% to be made up by the employer) and from 1 August 2021 the government will only contribute 60% of the employee’s wages for hours not worked (the other 20% to be made up by the employer).

Although nothing is certain, with the positive effects of lockdown and the vaccination programme in dealing with Coronavirus, the government probably see this as the last time they will need to extend furlough.

The law in this article is current as of 4 March 2021.

If you have any employment law queries, please do not hesitate to contact David Nathan at dnathan@gscsolicitors.com or on 020 7822 2247.

© 2021 GSC Solicitors LLP. All rights reserved. GSC grants permission for the browsing of this material and for the printing of one copy per person for personal reference. GSC’s written permission must be obtained for any other use of this material. This publication has been prepared only as a guide to provide readers with general information on recent legal developments. It is not formal legal advice and should not be relied on for any purpose. You should not act or refrain from acting based on the information contained in this document without obtaining specific formal advice from suitably qualified advisors.

 

Clive Halperin discussing the data protection & security post Brexit on the American Bar Association Podcast

Under the series of The New Frontier Podcast, The American Bar Association interviewed GSC’s Head of Corporate Commercial Clive Halperin, on the impact of BREXIT on data protection, technology, and cross-border data flows.

A very interesting podcast interview where Clive provides insight into the economic, political, and cultural influences that will dictate the future of data privacy within the UK, and its relations with the EU and GDPR.

The podcast can be found here: bit.ly/2ZNBHLd

© 2021 GSC Solicitors LLP. All rights reserved. GSC grants permission for the browsing of this material and for the printing of one copy per person for personal reference. GSC’s written permission must be obtained for any other use of this material. This publication has been prepared only as a guide to provide readers with general information on recent legal developments. It is not formal legal advice and should not be relied on for any purpose. You should not act or refrain from acting based on the information contained in this document without obtaining specific formal advice from suitably qualified advisors.

 

What is Islamic Finance?

Islamic finance is a financial system that keeps within the moral and ethical principles of Islamic law (known as Sharia) and is therefore Sharia compliant.

Islamic financial principles have been around since the advent of Islam in the 7th century CE. However, the formal establishment of a fully-fledged system was introduced in the 1960s in Egypt, with Islamic finance entering the UK markets in the 1980s.

Whilst Islamic financial institutions are able to offer many similar products to those offered by other finance institutions, the main difference lies within the practices and principles that are used. Most banks offer lending and borrowing based on interest, whereas Islamic financial institutes are not lending institutes, instead they work as trading/investment houses.

Islamic law aims to promote social justice in the economy through a number of prohibitions and requirements. The main prohibitions in Islamic finance include a ban on interest, prohibiting investments in forbidden (haram) items/activities, prohibiting speculation (maisir) and uncertainty and risk (gharar). Islam requires all Muslims to pay a mandatory almsgiving (zakat) which is a compulsory donation to charity once an individual meets the minimum threshold for payment.

Islamic law prohibits interest (riba) as in Islam, money itself has no intrinsic value and instead is seen as a measure of value, and not valuable in itself. It is a medium of exchange or a unit of measurement, but not an asset. Each unit is equal in value to another unit in the same denomination and it is therefore not permissible for a profit to be made by exchanging these units (money) with another person/entity.

Instead of promoting transactions that favour one party over the other, Islam encourages partnership. This means that, where possible, both profit and risk are shared between the parties.

There are many forms of partnership agreements, including mudarabah which is a profit and loss sharing partnership offered by most Islamic financial institutions. This form of partnership is one where one partner provides all the capital (silent partner/financer) and the other partner (working partner) provides expertise and is responsible for the management and investment of the capital. The profits are then shared between the parties according to a pre-agreed ratio. The losses (if any) unless caused by negligence or breach of contract are borne by the financer/Islamic bank.

Islamic finance products and services are available to all and not just Muslims.

If you wish to discuss Islamic finance products and the options available to you, please contact Leila Mustafa on lmustafa@gscsolicitors.com or 020 7822 2243.

© 2021 GSC Solicitors LLP. All rights reserved. GSC grants permission for the browsing of this material and for the printing of one copy per person for personal reference. GSC’s written permission must be obtained for any other use of this material. This publication has been prepared only as a guide to provide readers with general information on recent legal developments. It is not formal legal advice and should not be relied on for any purpose. You should not act or refrain from acting based on the information contained in this document without obtaining specific formal advice from suitably qualified advisors.

 

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme extended

It was announced on 26 January that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (commonly known as furlough) is to be extended once again. This time it is to be extended from 31 March 2021 to 30 April 2021.

The amount that an employer can claim under the scheme will remain the same (being 80% of an employee’s salary, capped at £2,500 per month, in respect of hours not worked), it is just the length of the scheme that has changed.

Given that the UK economy is still in lockdown, the extending of the scheme is to be welcomed. However, the reality may be that, for some employees, all the extension is doing is kicking the harsh can of redundancy further down the line.

The law in this article is current as of 1 February 2021.

If you have any employment law queries, please do not hesitate to contact David Nathan at dnathan@gscsolicitors.com or on 020 7822 2247.

© 2021 GSC Solicitors LLP. All rights reserved. GSC grants permission for the browsing of this material and for the printing of one copy per person for personal reference. GSC’s written permission must be obtained for any other use of this material. This publication has been prepared only as a guide to provide readers with general information on recent legal developments. It is not formal legal advice and should not be relied on for any purpose. You should not act or refrain from acting based on the information contained in this document without obtaining specific formal advice from suitably qualified advisors.

Saleem Sheikh in Jersey Finance Africa Round-Up Series

GSC’s Senior Partner Saleem Sheikh gave an interview to The Jersey Finance for 2020 Africa Roundup Interview Series.

Chatting with the Director of Middle East & Africa of Jersey Finance, Fazal Bhana Saleem reflected on the challenging 2020 for the African continent summarising specific good and bad highlights of how much the Africa has gone through in the face of the pandemic.

He also provided an interesting insight in the context of international investment and specifically inward investment into Africa and what have been the trends and challenges that characterised 2020 for the continent.

Furthermore, Saleem shared his opinion of the opportunities for family businesses and large corporates with regional and pan-African ambitions, as well as what incentives are to invest in the African market.

It is an interesting and insightful interview that is worth to watch whether you are already operating in the continent or simply interested in Africa as a potential investment destination: https://bit.ly/36gureg

© 2021 GSC Solicitors LLP. All rights reserved.  GSC grants permission for the browsing of this material and for the printing of one copy per person for personal reference. GSC’s written permission must be obtained for any other use of this material. This publication has been prepared only as a guide to provide readers with general information on recent legal developments. It is not formal legal advice and should not be relied on for any purpose. You should not act or refrain from acting based on the information contained in this document without obtaining specific formal advice from suitably qualified advisors.

 

 

 

Digital Assets & Wills

In our modern world which increasingly relies on technology, digital assets are something that people who use a computer, tablet or smartphone certainly have. While digital assets may not necessarily have a monetary value, they definitely have sentimental value. For example, photographs and videos create memories which makes them irreplaceable and priceless. This is why it is so important for people to understand what will happen to their digital assets and include them in their wills.

While social media accounts, emails and online account details may be treasured even more than physical possessions, very few people understand the importance of access to such information, and digital assets are very often overlooked in wills. The most obvious examples of digital assets are:

  • Social Media – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.
  • Share Trading Accounts
  • Email Accounts
  • Bank Accounts including PayPal
  • Online Gambling Sites
  • Virtual Currency
  • Cloud Storage
  • Content Holders – eBooks, Spotify, iTunes, etc.
  • Online Auction Sites – eBay, Gumtree, etc.
  • Domain Names.

According to the Law Society, the number of people making or updating their wills has skyrocketed during the pandemic. However, in spite of all these efforts, the majority of people still do not have their affairs in order.

The research conducted by the Law Society has found that 93% of those who have a will in place have not included any digital assets in it, and three quarters of people do not know what will happen to their digital assets at all.

Considering your digital assets when making a Will is more important than ever and in the event of death you need to consider putting in place a Will that makes provisions for the management of digital assets and to maintain a log of the digital assets you have.

At GSC Solicitors LLP we are able to advise people on the best way to include both their physical and digital assets in their wills. This is crucial to ensure that people’s estates will be inherited according to their wishes, and their family members will not face any unnecessary difficulties that will cause additional stress to their already grieving families.

To have a quick chat with about adding digital assets to your existing will or even if you do not have one in place, please do not hesitate to contact James Cohen directly on jcohen@gscsolicitors.com or 0207 822 2257.

© 2021 GSC Solicitors LLP. All rights reserved.  GSC grants permission for the browsing of this material and for the printing of one copy per person for personal reference. GSC’s written permission must be obtained for any other use of this material. This publication has been prepared only as a guide to provide readers with general information on recent legal developments. It is not formal legal advice and should not be relied on for any purpose. You should not act or refrain from acting based on the information contained in this document without obtaining specific formal advice from suitably qualified advisors.

 

Hong Kong BN(O) visa policy

Hong Kong BN(O) visa policy

The Secretary of State for the Home Department has announced that the UK will create a bespoke immigration route for British Nationals (Overseas) from Hong Kong (“BN(O)”).  This new Hong Kong BN(O) visa policy is a very generous one without imposing skills tests or minimum income requirements, economic needs tests or caps on numbers and will allow BN(O) holders to reside and work or study in the UK, with a pathway to settlement and then citizenship.

The visa will be valid for up to 5 years, and thereafter, provided that the visa holders have stayed free of criminality, have supported themselves financially and otherwise complied with the terms of the visa, they will be able to apply for settled status; and they may apply for UK citizenship after a further year of stay.

Private Client – Pre-Migration Planning

If you are considering coming to the UK under the new Hong Kong BN(O) visa, it is important that you understand the personal tax and legal implications that apply prior to, on and after your arrival in the UK.

Our Private Client team is adept at advising on the full suite of private client services (including tax planning) and when combined with our firm’s well-established corporate and property departments, we are able to provide you with holistic, tailored advice to make sure that you have the best strategy to relocate to the UK. Our advice may include, for example:

  • How best to structure purchase of UK real estate
  • Setting up onshore and offshore trusts for wealth preservation
  • Succession planning to help ensure assets in various jurisdictions are dealt with in the most efficient way
  • Residence and remittance planning for Income tax and Capital Gain tax purpose
  • How to structure investments into the UK
  • Multiple jurisdictional Wills and Powers of Attorney
Property investment in the UK – commercial or residential

The UK is a long-established favourite for property investors all over the world. Whether you are thinking of purchasing UK properties for yourself or for investment purpose, our Real Estate lawyers will be able to assist you. We are a firm that takes a modern and commercial approach to property law but retains traditional values.  We ensure that your matter will always be dealt with in a cost-effective way by a fee earner at the most appropriate level with appropriate seniority to make sure you receive the service you deserve.

Commercial Property

Our clients range from leading property owners and institutional and private investors to developers and builders, banks and financial institutions, hoteliers, private landlords, entrepreneurs, franchisees, blue chip tenants with complex occupational leases, leisure and healthcare property owners, start-up businesses, established business occupiers and high net-worth individuals, UK-based or off-shore.

Each of them values our significant market reputation and experience in dealing with all types of real estate transaction.

We provide advice on property matters at all levels and have acted on some of the most high profile and cutting edge landlord and tenant cases of the last 10 years including the ground-breaking decision of Daejan Investments Limited v Benson and others and, possibly the most important landlord and tenant case in front of the courts in recent years, EMI Group Ltd v O & H Q1 Ltd.

Talk to GSC’s Real Estate team about:

Residential Property

GSC’s residential property lawyers deal with high value conveyancing throughout England and Wales, including Crown property and other historical estates.  We understand the complex issues that can arise when dealing with such properties and we know that your best interests are only best served when your conveyancing is managed in a way that fits seamlessly with your tax, family and private wealth management.

That is why residential conveyancing with GSC is never carried out in isolation.  Talk to us and you will find your property lawyers working alongside our Private Client team to ensure all your interests are carefully considered and protected.

Our property lawyers can assist in all aspects of residential property law including the disposal or acquisition of freeholds and leaseholds, lease extensions, enfranchisement and rights of first refusal.

Carey Xu, Associate Solicitor

Carey is an Associate Solicitor in the Private Wealth Team.

She has an extensive experience in dealing with High Net Worth individuals with complex immigration and wealth planning matters. She also acted for start-ups and corporate businesses for business immigration and employment issues. Carey has 100% success rate of all the immigration applications represented to date.

She is also the Head of China Desk looking after Chinese speaking clients on a range of immigration, private client, company commercial, property and intellectual property matters.  She is fluent in Chinese and English.

If you and/or your business is thinking to relocate to the U.K., please ensure to make Carey as your first port of call.

GSC Solicitors LLP

T: +44(020) 7822 222

E: cxu@gscsolicitors.com

© 2021 GSC Solicitors LLP. All rights reserved. GSC grants permission for the browsing of this material and for the printing of one copy per person for personal reference. GSC’s written permission must be obtained for any other use of this material. This publication has been prepared only as a guide to provide readers with general information on recent legal developments. It is not formal legal advice and should not be relied on for any purpose. You should not act or refrain from acting based on the information contained in this document without obtaining specific formal advice from suitably qualified advisors.

 

Senior Partner Saleem Sheikh welcomes UKPBC’s inaugural issue of The UK Pakistan Business Times Magazine

GSC’s Senior Partner Saleem Sheikh who was elected to be the President of the UK Pakistan Business Council (UKPBC) last year, issued a Welcome Word to readers of the very first issue of UKPBC’s publication, The UK Pakistan Business Times Magazine.

The objective of the publication is to create a vast international business network though which businesses can share knowledge and forge trading relationships.

UKPBC is a unique organisation based in the UK, with chapters in both Pakistan and the UAE. Their mission statement is “to serve and connect businesses for prosperity, resources and success”.