Info Article

Risk assessment and contingency planning

How to minimise disruption in your business.

It has been a challenging and eventful three years for UK businesses with a series of high-profile incidents highlighting how situations can change suddenly and often without warning.

From the continued pressure of uncertainty relating to Brexit, terrorism, fire, extreme weather and cyber-attacks, how would your business cope if it was affected by something similar?

Would your staff know what to do? Would the business be able to keep trading? And what about smaller events, like your biggest customer suddenly switching to a competitor or multiple staff experiencing sickness issues?

If you do not already know the answer to these questions, then it’s time to start building a contingency plan for your business. More…

Accounting for charities

An overview of accountancy issues in the third sector.

If you’re in charge of running a charity, you will know how it differs from operating a business and how its motives and goals vary.

Non-profit organisations are treated very differently under the law, and managing a charity’s accounts can offer some unique challenges as a result.

The stakes are high, too. The work charities undertake can literally be a matter of life and death, for the beneficiaries of charity work, whether it’s in the UK or abroad.

In recent years, charities have felt under pressure, a combination of reduced investment from central government combined with economic uncertainty – more people are looking for help from charities, while at the same time fewer people feel able to give. More…

Landlords feeling the pinch as tax measures begin to bite

Most buy-to-let landlords saw their tax bills increase in 2017/18, suggesting the effects of changes to mortgage interest relief were beginning to be felt one year after they were introduced.

In a survey by Paragon, 58% of landlords said their tax bill for 2017/18 was higher than a year before, with an average annual increase of £3,039.

The report said this was a result of changes to mortgage interest tax relief, which is being phased out over a four-year period and replaced with a basic-rate tax credit by April 2020. More…

Delay to increase in probate fees

Changes to probate fees – due to take effect last month – have been delayed as Parliament wrangles to resolve the Brexit stalemate.

Bereaved families currently pay a flat fee of up to £215 to obtain the grant of probate needed in England and Wales to administer estates worth more than £5,000.

That system was due to be replaced on 1 April 2019 by a new regime, which would set fees on a sliding scale based on the value of an estate.

The changes will eventually abolish probate fees for estates worth less than £50,000 in England and Wales, although estates worth more than this face paying increased fees of up to £6,000. More…

MPs call for break-up of Big Four’s accountancy services

The UK’s largest accountancy firms should be split into audit and non-audit businesses, according to recommendations from a Government committee.

The Big Four accountancy giants conduct 97% of large companies’ audits, while also supplying those companies with other accountancy services.

The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee published a report highlighting a potential conflict of interest between the audit and consultancy services offered.

It endorsed a previous proposal from the Competition and Markets Authority that an operational division between audit and non-audit services should be put in place. More…

Thousands face huge tax avoidance bills

Contractors whose employers paid them through loans from offshore trusts are being urged to speak to HMRC as soon as possible or risk receiving massive tax bills.

Up to 50,000 contractors in the UK are believed to have benefitted from the lower income tax rates applied under loan advances, instead of being paid salaries.

Those yet to have settled outstanding loans dating back to when the schemes first arose in 1999 could be facing a hefty tax bill.

Anyone who is affected by these loan arrangements will need to pay a loan charge to the Revenue on the outstanding balance by 5 April 2019. More…

Auto-enrolment fines rise 146%

Fines issued to employers that fail to comply with their auto-enrolment responsibilities have more than doubled over the last two years, a report from the Pensions Regulator shows.

In 2017/18, there were 36,137 fines issued to employers for not complying with the requirements of auto-enrolment – up from 14,707 such penalties in 2016/17.

The Pensions Regulator said this rise has been in line with an increased number of employers with auto-enrolment responsibilities, and does not indicate a widespread issue of non-compliance.

Employers are legally obliged to automatically enrol workers into a workplace pension scheme if they are aged between 22 and state pension age, and earning more than £10,000 a year. More…

R&D investment grows

Businesses in the UK spent £23.7 billion on research and development (R&D) in 2017, according to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The ONS found that year-on-year expenditure on R&D increased by £1.1bn – or 4.9% – compared to statistics for 2016.

Firms in the pharmaceutical sector continued to have the highest level of R&D spending of all product groups at £4.3bn.

Software development businesses increased expenditure on R&D by 34.7% – to £1.4bn and a 6% share of all R&D spending by UK businesses in 2017. More…

Small retailers business rates lowered

Small retail businesses in England will see a reduction to their business rates, as announced in Budget 2018.

Business rates will be reduced by a third for many retail properties with a rateable value below £51,000 for two years from April 2019, subject to state aid limits.

The Chancellor said this will mean “an annual saving of £8,000 for up to 90% of all independent shops, pubs, restaurants and cafes”.

This was part of a series of measures announced to support high streets in the UK under the pressures of high costs and growing competition from online retailers.

While industry bodies have welcomed the boost, some have argued that the system needs wider reform. More…

Government announces apprenticeship levy reforms

Chancellor Philip Hammond has announced a package of new measures to reform the under-fire apprenticeship levy.

Under the revised rules, employers who pay the apprenticeship levy will be able to transfer a quarter of their funds to organisations in their supply chain, including smaller employers.

Levy-paying businesses have been able to transfer up to 10% of their training funds to other employers in their supply chain since April 2018, but the new measures will increase this to 25%.

The reforms also include £5 million of extra funding for the Institute for Apprenticeships, to improve training standards and update existing ones. More…

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