Our new app – Tax Ready – is now available to download!

Our brand new smartphone app – Tax Ready – is now available to download on Apple, Android and Windows devices!

Created with business owners and managers in mind, Tax Ready provides key tax rates and convenient access to a range of useful tax tools, news and tips in one app.

The app comes with tools such as mileage and expense trackers – which make it easy to keep a track of your claims whilst on the move.

To find the app, search ‘Tax Ready’ in your app store. It’s completely free to download and use.

We hope you find it a useful and informative resource.

Business groups respond to Brexit customs papers

Some of the UK’s leading business groups, including the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and the Institute of Directors (IoD) have responded to the publication of Brexit customs position papers by the Department for Exiting the European Union.

The government states that it is seeking to secure a new customs arrangement which ‘facilitates the freest and most frictionless trade possible’ between the UK and the EU. Its newly published paper outlines two customs approaches: a ‘highly streamlined’ customs arrangement between the UK and the EU, and a new customs partnership with the EU.

The ‘streamlined’ approach would seek to continue some of the existing customs arrangements between the UK and the EU, as well as reducing or removing barriers to trade by establishing new arrangements. Meanwhile, the new customs partnership would ‘remove the need for a UK-EU customs border’.

Responding to the publication of the papers, Josh Hardie, CBI Deputy Director General, said: ‘Companies will welcome the progress government has made . . . in publishing these papers. Over the past year, businesses have been providing policymakers with the evidence, ideas and solutions to make a success of Brexit.’

Dr Adam Marshall, Director General of the BCC, called for clarity on future customs arrangements, stating: ‘Business needs to see the government’s resources focused on the conclusion of a successful customs deal with the EU. At this stage, it is critically important to keep a number of different options open in order to achieve this goal.’

Meanwhile, the IoD welcomed the government’s ‘first concerted push on trade after Brexit’. The Institute’s Allie Renison said: ‘This is a hugely positive step from government in putting pen to paper to spell out its objectives for customs arrangements with the EU after Brexit. The paper outlines options for a transitional period and for the longer term, proving that both are crucial to achieving a smooth and orderly exit.’

A second Brexit customs paper has outlined proposals to ensure that existing trade in goods and services can continue after the UK leaves the EU in 2019. It calls for goods already on the market to be allowed to remain on sale in both the UK and the EU, ‘without restrictions’.

FSB urges Low Pay Commission to delay National Living Wage rise

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has called on the Low Pay Commission (LPC) to consider whether forthcoming rises in the National Living Wage (NLW) rate may need to be put on hold if the economy cannot bear the pace of change.

The NLW rose in April 2017, and presently stands at £7.50. The government has pledged to bring the NLW to £9 per hour by 2020. However, the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has estimated that this will ‘fall short’, and may only reach £8.75 an hour by this time. The FSB has stated that any risk to the UK economy should be ‘built into the next NLW increase’, which is scheduled for April 2018 – suggesting that the NLW should rise to no higher than £7.85 next year.

The FSB is concerned that the NLW does not currently take into account the state of the UK economy and inflationary issues, and has highlighted a ‘string of recent poor economic statistics and continued uncertainty’ as reasons for the LPC to consider delaying the planned rises.

The call followed the FSB’s publication of new research, which revealed that 64% of small firms affected by the NLW have recorded lower profits in order to meet the April 2017 rise, while 39% have had to put up prices to meet the demands of the NLW.

Commenting on the issue, Mike Cherry, FSB National Chairman, said: ‘Small employers have demonstrated their resilience in meeting the challenges set by the NLW, with many cutting their margins or even paying themselves less to pay their staff more.

‘In sectors where margins are tight, small firms are resorting to more drastic measures to cope with the NLW.

‘It’s vital that the NLW is set at a level that the economy can afford, without job losses or harming job creation. Cost pressures on small businesses are building, and with most recent economic indicators underperforming, we are now facing the reality that the NLW target may need to be delayed beyond 2020.’

The LPC is set to make its NLW recommendations to the government in the Autumn.

Business Groups React to Taylor Review of Employment

Business groups have reacted to the recommendations of the Taylor Review into modern-day employment practices, which sets out the key principles for providing ‘fair and decent work for all’.

The review suggests that a national strategy is needed to help provide security in such areas as wages, quality of employment, education and training, working conditions, work-life balance and the ability to progress at work.

Recommendations for the government include implementing strategies to ensure that workers don’t get ‘stuck at the living wage minimum’, initiating a review focusing on providing employees with ‘good work’, and avoiding an increase in the non-wage costs involved in employing an individual, such as the Apprenticeship Levy.

The review also highlights the so-called ‘gig’ economy, recommending the creation of new ‘right to request’ guaranteed hours, and the introduction of the term ‘dependent contractor’ to replace the term ‘worker’, with the aim of capturing those who are currently classed as self-employed, but who work for firms which have a ‘controlling and supervisory’ relationship with their workers.

Business groups have given mixed reactions to the report’s findings, with many welcoming the focus on labour market flexibility, but also warning that some areas, including the plans to rewrite employment status tests, are a cause for concern.

Commenting on the report, Dr Adam Marshall, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said: ‘The world of work is changing, and it is only right that employment law and practice change with it. Matthew Taylor has rightly recognised that the UK’s flexible labour market is a great source of strength and competitive advantage, but has also recommended some common-sense changes where grey areas have emerged in recent years.’

However, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) warned that the review ‘is not the game-changer needed to end insecurity and exploitation at work’.

The new General Data Protection Regulation

Businesses have been urged to prepare for the introduction of the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which will impose new requirements on all organisations that collect, store and process individuals’ personal information, with significant financial penalties for non-compliance.

The new GDPR places an increased emphasis on accountability and transparency, and businesses should ensure that they have up-to-date records relating to the personal data that they hold, including where the data came from and who it has been shared with.

Businesses are also advised to review any privacy notices they have in place and, where necessary, make sure that these are amended in time for the implementation of the new GDPR, which comes into effect in May 2018.

Organisations must also identify their ‘lawful basis’ for processing activity within the GDPR, record this and update their privacy notices accordingly. The GDPR will modify some individuals’ rights, depending on the lawful basis. If you use consent as your lawful basis for processing, clients will have a greater right to have their data deleted, if they so wish.

Businesses must also ensure that adequate security systems are in place to protect data, and to detect, report and investigate any data breaches.

Commenting on the new GDPR, David Riches from the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said: ‘Businesses need to be proactive about ensuring they are ready for the new data protection regulations when they come into force [in May 2018] and not leave preparations until the eleventh hour’.

For more information on the GDPR and how your business can prepare for its introduction, please visit the Hot Topics section of our website.

Free 2015 Business Seminar Announced

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The 2014 Business Seminar & Budget Response.

We are delighted to announce that on Thursday 23rd April 2015 we will be hosting our fifth local Business Seminar & Budget Response. This popular annual event is free to attend, and both existing Shepherd Partnership clients and non-clients are very welcome to attend.

Continue reading Free 2015 Business Seminar Announced

Young Talent Shines at Shepherds

The Shepherd Partnership celebrates its newest Accountant as Sophie Renou, 26, qualifies and becomes an affiliated member of Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA).

As the youngest member of the team, Sophie is showing all the signs for a long and fruitful career.  The Shepherd Partnership has keenly supported Sophie with her career development from day-1, when she joined them in a support role.

Sophie with her official qualification certificate
Sophie with her official qualification certificate

Director Adam Dutton comments:

“Sophie joined the firm in 2006 as something of a’ Girl Friday’, helping with admin and reception duties. Before long we enrolled her on the AAT qualification, and then on to the ACCA. She’s achieved good grades across the board and is showing great potential. We’re proud to have such young talent at Shepherd Partnership”.

As well as the ACCA and MAAT (Member of the Association of Accounting Technicians) qualifications, Sophie also has an Advanced Diploma in Accounting and Business.

She may have an impressive track record already, but her training won’t end here. Sophie intends to start a BSc (Hons) degree in Applied Accounting later this year.