Category Archives: Professional News

Ban on passing credit card fees on to consumers hits small businesses

A ban on passing on intercharge fees from credit card providers to consumers, which came into effect at the start of the year, is having a negative effect on the profitability of small businesses.

Business owners have had to make tough choices; faced with the option of either increasing prices for all customers to cover the charges or absorbing the costs themselves.

Before the ban came into force, the Government had argued that “rip-off card charges” were “unfair for millions of people across the country.”

Estimates from the Treasury showed that such charges cost UK consumers a total of £166million in 2015.

In a bid to protect their bottom line, an increasing number of small businesses are either imposing a minimum spend on credit cards or refusing card payments.

According to recent research by the Association of Convenience Stores, 33 per cent demand a minimum spend while 8 per cent refuse card payments. 

However, it is not just SMEs who have taken action following the ban on the passing on of credit card charges. The rule changes have even led to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) taking the decision to stop accepting payments made in this way.

It is hoped that in the long-term, the new rules, which are in effect across Europe, will encourage investment and innovation in peer-to-peer payment apps, such as Barclays Pingit.

At Moore Thompson, we offer expert advice to SMEs and can provide practical help and support to ensure their business remains profitable in both the short and long term. If you have clients who might benefit from our assistance, please contact us.

Encourage your clients to prepare for MTD – free cloud accounting workshops

Are your clients ready for Making Tax Digital, the Government’s all-new online reporting system?

From April 2019, all VAT-registered businesses in the UK (with a turnover above £85,000) will need to switch to a digital tax system for submitting VAT returns using MTD compliant accounting software. Cloud accounting is the ideal answer to this change.

If your clients aren’t familiar with cloud accounting, now is the time to help them get acquainted.

At Moore Thompson we have developed an innovative solution – MT Cloud combines professional cloud accounting software options with practical accountancy help and support.

To help explain both MTD and cloud accounting we are organising a series of free workshops. Our first workshop, which was held at South Holland Centre, Spalding on 15 March was extremely popular, so please encourage your clients to book as soon as possible to avoid disappointment:

VENUE: The Boathouse Business Centre, 1 Harbour Square, Wisbech PE13 3BH

DATE: 26 April 2018

TIME: 3:00pm – 6:00pm

VENUE: Eventus, Sunderland Road, Northfield Industrial Estate, Market Deeping, Peterborough PE6 8FD

DATE: 31 May 2018

TIME: 3:00pm – 6:00pm

All our workshops include complimentary tea, coffee and refreshments and there will be demonstrations of a number of cloud software packages.

Places are available on a first come first served basis, by contacting Louise Bacon at louise@mooret.co.uk

Retirement incomes hit highest level since financial crash

A recent study has found that retirement income levels in the UK have hit their highest peak since the financial crisis.

A new study by insurance and pension provider, Prudential, has found that those planning to retire in 2018 are predicted to live on an average annual income of £19,900, compared to an income of just £15,300 in 2013.

This means that someone retiring today could be looking at a retirement income that is 10 per cent higher than someone who left work 12 months before.

This is the first time that retirement income has exceeded the £18,700 recorded in 2008, prior to the financial crisis.

During its research, the firm found that while incomes were increasing, nearly half of people retiring (46 per cent) did not feel financially prepared for their retirement and more than a quarter (27 per cent) said that they did not believe that they had enough money to last through their retirement.

The new record high for expected retirement incomes is good news for people planning to retire this year highlighting how saving for the future is paying off.

The 10 per cent rise from last year is even more impressive given the economic and political uncertainty that savers have faced.

The message remains the same for anyone looking to make their retirement financially comfortable – try to save as much as possible as early as you can during your working life.

At Moore Thompson we are able to offer auto enrolment and reenrolment services for businesses, whilst our sister company, MT Financial Management is able to assist company directors, partners and other individuals with pensions and all aspects of financial planning.

To find out how we can help you or your clients, please contact us.

Spalding Business Club Meeting – could you be a future speaker?

The popular Spalding Business Club, which hosts a series of breakfast meetings each month, is on the lookout for new speakers to address their audience of decision makers and local business owners.

The club was created to help businesses develop new contacts and to pass information between those contacts and their clients.

An interesting an eclectic mix of speakers have already been lined up but organisers are keen to hear from local business people who have an interesting business-related topic they would like to share.

The programme for 2018, so far includes:

  • May 2018 – Ready for your holiday? Planning business travel? – Vicky Langton             
  • June 2018 – Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce – Rachel Garner
  • July 2018 – Fancy swimming around a shipwreck in your business attire? – Virtual Reality System experience – Geoff Taylor
  • August 2018 – Sustainability and Design – creating sustainable solutions in your business marketing – Daniel Speed – Orchard House Media
  • September 2018 – Peter Windatt / Chris Murphy – Insolvency Double Feature – A Whistle Stop Tour and – Tales from the Crypt

Spalding Business Club also actively welcomes new members.  Meetings take place at Riverview Café at Hills Department Store, 18-19 Broad Street, Spalding PE11 1TB, with a fee of £8 per attendee.

The club is run on a not-for-profit basis and provides a relaxed and informal atmosphere in which to make contacts and, hopefully, refer business locally. You are welcome to bring any literature about your business, along with a friend or colleague who may be interested in meeting new contacts.

There is no annual or joining fee. £7.50 of the attendance fee covers the cost of the excellent breakfast provided, with the remaining 50p going into the Spalding Business Club pot to pay for future speakers’ breakfasts.

If you or your clients wish to attend a future meeting please register your details here. If you wish to be a future speaker, please contact Ken Maggs on 01775 711333.

For more information, please follow our Twitter profile @SpaldingBusClub  or join our LinkedIn group www.linkedin.com/groups/4783254

GDPR deadline is almost here – but majority of businesses are still not ready

Despite the fact that there are less than 60 days before the introduction of the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), latest research suggests that a staggering 90 per cent of small businesses are still not ready.

The Federation of Small Businesses has discovered that just eight per cent of SME businesses had completed their preparations.

Of those surveyed, 35 per cent said they were still in the early stages, whilst 33 per cent admitted that they had not even started to plan for the GDPR changes.

Although there has been a great deal of media coverage on the subject in recent weeks, almost 20 per cent of small businesses were completely unaware that new rules will soon dramatically affect the way they store data and are able to communicate with potential and existing customers.

The new GDPR legislation, which is designed to improve the safety and security of all personal data held by organisations across Europe will still be binding in the UK after Brexit.

Any organisation which ignores the new rules could be ordered to pay fines of up to 4 per cent of its turnover.

From 25 May 2018, the new GDPR legislation will mean:

  • Businesses need to obtain explicit consent for data to be held – i.e. ‘opt-in’ rather than ‘opt out’
  • Records need to be kept up to date, must not contain personal information that is not strictly necessary and must not be stored for longer than is required for the specified purpose
  • Data must be more securely processed to protect against cyber-attacks
  • Customers now have a ‘right to be forgotten’ – meaning that businesses must remove their data permanently on request
  • Any breaches must be reported promptly and without delay

The clock is ticking, so if you would like to share the importance of preparing for GDPR with your clients, we have produced a free guide which is available to download.

Our guide incudes essential facts and must-knows, including:

  • What you should be doing right now to prepare for GDPR
  • The ICO checklist for consent
  • The penalties, in depth
  • How to report a data breach
  • GDPR DOs and DON’Ts

We have also produced a quiz which will separate fact from fiction and help explain the ramifications of the new regulations.

Auto-enrolment changes could place additional burden on small businesses

Proposed changes to auto-enrolment pensions will cause additional financial worries for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), according to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

Their concerns comes after the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) indicated its intention to extend auto-enrolment to younger workers, whom it says deserve “the same opportunities” to a build a “secure retirement” as their older counterparts.

It is thought that the proposed change, which will be officially put forward as part of an upcoming Government review, will require SMEs to automatically enrol any workers aged between 18 and 21 who are earning £10,000 or more into a workplace pension scheme.

Mike Cherry, Chairman of the FSB, has warned that the change will not come cheap. He commented that employers are already seeing the cost of employment rising significantly and, by 2019, employer contributions for pensions will triple to three per cent.

Changes to ‘banded earnings’ and extending the minimum qualifying age will burden small firms with yet more costs, prompting calls from the FSB for the Government to keep this in mind as it looks to review the system over the coming years.

Cherry warned that requiring employers to contribute from the first pound of earnings would eventually cost hundreds of thousands of small employers approximately £180 more per employee per year.

For employers in certain sectors, such as care and hospitality, where margins are tight, this increase could prove to be significant.

At Moore Thompson, our Payroll department is able to provide help and advice on all aspects of auto enrolment, along with re-enrolment compliance. We provide a comprehensive service to SMEs so that they can rest assured that they are fully compliant and will not face penalties for breaching pension rules. To find more please contact us.

Stamp duty – property purchasers face wait for refunds

Homebuyers who have been caught out by the second home Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) surcharge when purchasing a new permanent residence before they have managed to sell their previous one are allegedly facing significant delays in receiving SDLT refunds.

Last year, former Chancellor George Osborne introduced the three per cent SDLT surcharge in a bid to clamp down on buy-to-let investment and to free up more homes for first-time buyers.

However, many home-movers who experience delays selling their old home before moving into a new one have also been caught out by the extra charge.

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) have been issuing SDLT refunds to homeowners who have been unfairly penalised but concerns have been raised that there are significant delays in repaying the money to those affected.

According to a report in The Telegraph, many home-movers have been forced to wait several months for their SDLT refunds to be processed.

This is despite the fact that HMRC’s own guidance suggests that refunds will be paid within 15 working days or less – assuming they manage to sell their former home within three years of purchasing their new one.

The newspaper cites the case of Ms Glenna Thorpe from Sheffield, who purchased a new home in January 2017.

Ms Thorpe had to pay an additional £10,000 in SDLT, as she had failed to sell her previous home before purchasing her new one.

She applied to HMRC for an SDLT refund in August – and is reportedly still waiting to receive the money she is owed.

HMRC has reportedly been unable to track her case or inform her of when she might receive her refund.

Despite this, HMRC’s latest data suggests that in most cases, refunds have been regular and successful.

According to official figures, 15,000 homebuyers caught in situations such as Ms Thorpe’s have received SDLT refunds since the surcharge was first introduced, totalling some £185 million.

The UK has some of the highest property taxes in the Western world. Figures show that property taxes – such as Stamp Duty and Capital Gains Tax (CGT) – account for well over 12 per cent of the total UK tax burden.

At Moore Thompson, our property tax experts are able to guide your clients and advise them on property tax issues to avoid any unnecessary surprises. To find out more about our services, including help and advice on SDLT, please contact us.

Getting ready for MTD – free cloud accounting workshops

Are your clients ready for Making Tax Digital, the Government’s all-new online reporting system?

From April 2019, all VAT-registered businesses in the UK (with a turnover above £85,000) will need to switch to a digital tax system for submitting VAT returns using MTD compliant accounting software. Cloud accounting is the ideal answer to this change.

If your clients aren’t familiar with cloud accounting, now is the time to help them get acquainted.

At Moore Thompson we have developed an innovative solution – MT Cloud combines professional cloud accounting software options with practical accountancy help and support.

To help explain both MTD and cloud accounting we are organising a series of free workshops which will be held at various venues on multiple dates including:

Venue: South Holland Centre, 23 Market Place, Spalding, Lincolnshire, PE11 1S
Date: 15 March 2018
TIME: 3:00pm – 6:00pm

VENUE: Moore Thompson, Monica House, St Augustine’s Road, Wisbech, PE13 3AD
DATE: 26 April 2018
TIME: 3:00pm – 6:00pm

VENUE: Moore Thompson, Bank Chambers, 27A Market Place, Market Deeping, PE6 8EA
DATE: 24 May 2018
TIME: 3:00pm – 6:00pm

All our workshops include complimentary tea, coffee and refreshments and there will be demonstrations of a number of cloud software packages.

We expect all three events to be popular and places are available on a first come first served basis, so please encourage your clients to reserve their place early by contacting Louise Bacon at louise@mooret.co.uk

book-now

Make sure you don’t lose out on unused allowances

We are rapidly approaching the end of the 2017-18 tax year, which finishes on 5 April 2018.

This means that there are only a few weeks remaining to ensure you and your clients have taken advantage of all the allowances and reliefs to which you are entitled. If you do not, you could pay thousands of pounds more tax than you are required to.

Amongst the most significant allowances and reliefs are those applied to pension contributions in the form of the Pension Annual Allowance. This currently enables you to make up to £40,000 in pension contributions tax-free each year.

If your earnings, including any employer pension contributions, have exceeded £150,000 this year and your income excluding pension contributions (unless paid as a salary sacrifice by your employer) is more than £110,000, your Annual Allowance will be reduced by £1 for every £2 you earn over £150,000, up to a maximum of £30,000. This means that your Annual Allowance will be as little as £10,000 if you earned more than £210,000 this year.

However, you may be able to offset this reduced Annual Allowance by using rules that allow you to carry forward any unused allowance from the last three years. Your pension statements will show whether you used your full allowances or not.

If you have taken money from any of your pension pots using flexible access rules for the over-55s in a previous tax year, your Annual Allowance this year will be £4,000. This is known as the Money Purchase Annual Allowance (MPAA). The MPAA cannot be topped up with any unused allowances from previous years and cannot be carried forward.

If you or your clients would like to make sure that all tax allowances have been fully utilised before the April deadline, get in touch with our experts now.

Time is ticking away … GDPR is fast approaching

With less than four months before the new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) come into force, researchers have found that the majority of small businesses (SMEs) are still not fully prepared for the changes which will affect them.

A quarterly survey conducted as part of the Close Brothers Business Barometer, found that many of the 900 owners and senior managers questioned had concerns about GDPR compliance.

Less than a third of respondents (31 per cent) of SMEs answered with a clear yes when asked: “are you clear what ‘personal data’ means in a business context?” By comparison, 50 per cent replied less confidently saying “sort of” whilst the remaining 19 per cent admitted that they had no idea.

On a more positive note, 73 per cent of SMEs categorically stated that they do not share customers’ personal data with third parties, although 8 per cent openly admitted that they shared customers’ details and a further 18 per cent were unsure whether or not they did so.

Less than half (48 per cent) of those surveyed claimed to fully understand the new and extended rights that customers will have once GDPR comes into force on 25 May 2018.

The new regulations, which are designed to improve the safety and security of all personal data held by organisations across Europe will still be binding in the UK after Brexit. Any organisation which breaches the new rules could be ordered to pay fines of up to 4 per cent of its turnover.

In a nutshell, GDPR will mean:

  • You need to obtain explicit consent for data to be held – i.e. ‘opt-in’ rather than ‘opt out’
  • Records need to be kept up to date, must not contain personal information that is not strictly necessary and must not be stored for longer than is required for the specified purpose
  • Data must be more securely processed to protect against cyber-attacks
  • Customers now have a ‘right to be forgotten’ – meaning that you must remove their data permanently on request
  • Any breaches must be reported promptly and without delay

The clock is ticking and many small businesses and professional practices alike are still not getting to grips with the imminent changes to data protection which will significantly affect them.

A potential breach could not only lead to a huge fine but also cause reputational damage to a business. It is important, therefore, to ensure that you and your clients are fully up to speed with the full implications of GDPR, well in advance of May 2018.

If you would like to share the importance of preparing for GDPR with your clients, we have produced a free guide which is available to download.

Our guide incudes essential facts and must-knows, including:

  • What you should be doing right now to prepare for GDPR
  • The ICO checklist for consent
  • The penalties, in depth
  • How to report a data breach
  • GDPR DOs and DON’Ts

We have also produced a myth-busting quiz which will separate fact from fiction and help explain the ramifications of the new regulations.