Accountancy Blog

Construction industry scheme – VAT and charges

Few sectors have such an impact in the UK as the construction industry. It not only provides the fabric of our nation – the places where we live and work – but also underpins our entire economy.

In 2017, construction contributed £113 billion to the UK economy, while construction output increased by 14% in 18 months to the end of September 2018.

Despite the looming prospect of leaving the EU without a deal on or before Halloween, demand for domestic construction projects remains high.

The Government aspires to build up to 300,000 new homes each year, and major infrastructure projects like the HS2 railway line, Crossrail in London, and Hinkley Point nuclear power station in Somerset continue to tick along.

The construction industry provides high-skilled jobs – many of which are also well paid – for more than 2.4 million people, according to the Office for National Statistics. More…

Pensions – have you got enough to retire?

Are you on track for a comfortable retirement?

All of us dream of the day we can retire, saying goodbye to the alarm clock and commute, filling our days with sun-soaked beach holidays, leisurely rounds of golf, or cruising the world.

As delightful as that sounds, the days when people can retire at a certain date set by their employer or by the state are long gone for most people.

That is a bitter pill to swallow for some baby boomers, many of whom face remaining in some form of employment until well into their 60s and 70s.

Almost half a million people over the age of 70 were in full or part-time work at the end of March 2019, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

This represents a rising year-on-year trend, and a 135% increase on the number of septuagenarians who remained in employment back in 2009. More…

The buy-to-let saga

The Government is being urged to stop its crackdown on the buy-to-let market, following evidence showing the negative effects of a string of tax changes.

The Intermediary Mortgage Lenders’ Association (IMLA) said recent changes are forcing some landlords out of the private rented sector.

It found that landlords with one buy-to-let property made up just 21% of the private rented sector in 2018, down from 40% in 2010.

Over the same eight-year period, landlords with five or more properties in the private rented sector had increased by 10% – from 38% to 48%.

Landlords were left reeling after November 2015 when the Treasury announced a 3% stamp duty land tax (SDLT) surcharge on the purchase of additional properties.

That surcharge sits on top of the various existing SDLT rates that apply to the purchase of homes in England worth more than £125,000.  More…

Are you using your Gift allowances?

Fewer people should have to pay tax on gifts made to loved ones in the years before their death, according to the Office for Tax Simplification (OTS).

Under the current rules, inheritance tax of up to 40% is paid when someone dies within seven years of making a gift.

The OTS called on the Treasury to reduce the period at which tax is due on gifts from seven to five years.

The five-year period was chosen to ease the administrative burden for executors of wills, who said it can be difficult to obtain records going back seven years.

The record-keeping problem is reportedly worse for individuals who have made gifts into trust, where the relevant period can be up to 14 years.

In addition to reducing the seven-year period to five years, it recommends abolishing the taper relief, so gifts given within the five years would be taxed at 40%.

Anyone can give away up to £3,000 a year without the gifts being added to the value of their estate.  More…

Childcare scheme – are you eligible ?

Employers are being advised to assist employees with covering the costs of childcare, with the school holidays in full swing.

Parents who earn more than £131 a week and less than £100,000 a year are eligible for tax-free childcare.

The scheme offers up to £2,000 a year towards a child under the age of 12, or £4,000 a year for a disabled child under 17.

Eligible parents need to open an online account, and the Government will add £2 for every £8 saved up to the thresholds.

The scheme can be used to pay more than 58,000 childcare providers in the UK, including childminders, nurseries, and sports camps running this summer.

The Government has urged businesses to help employees sign up for the scheme, which may mean fewer members of staff need time off between July and September. More…

Demand for digital skills on the up and up

Businesses could be set to face an increasing talent gap in the coming years as demand for digital skills continues to rise.

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said 67% of UK firms currently have unfilled digital vacancies.

Its Delivering Skills for the New Economy report also expected 95% of UK businesses to see demand for digital skills grow.

While most firms are taking action to address this shortage, they are also focusing on the same pool of digital talent.

As a result, only 31% of the business community believe they will be able to secure these skills in the next three to five years.

Among smaller businesses, 69% say their digital skills needs are likely to peak over the next year or two.

To tackle this, the CBI said the Government should set a target for the entire UK workforce to have basic digital skills by 2025. More…