Saturday, 27 February 2016

Remove The ‘Time Vampires’ & Multiply Productivity

I’ll admit it’s something I have struggled in the past to manage on an ongoing basis, but as the business owner it’s important to take complete control over the use of your time.
Much has been written on the effective use of time and how it affects productivity, but what I want to do is give you a few tips that have helped me and my team (and especially me, over the last year or so), so you too can apply them to your working day.
I believe I have at least doubled my productivity in the last year and most of this gain has been achieved by eliminating ‘Time Vampires’ from my daily routine.

There are a number of Time Vampires, ranging from staff, family, friends, your mobile phone, travel and your office phone. But by far the worst is EMAIL. For many people, EMAIL is the biggest, most destructive Time Vampire. It rules their day and massively reduces productivity.
Obviously email is a great business tool but for many it’s got out of hand. Think about it…
What do you do first thing in the morning, and last thing at night?
If you’re like most people, you turn your email on first thing and look at it last thing.
If that’s close to what you do with your email, then unfortunately EMAIL IS RULING YOU—NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND.
It’s not easy to change a habit like this, but if you want to take back control of your working day (and weekends) you have to figuratively speaking drive a stake through the heart of your email and make it your slave.
Here’s how to do it…
You want to get your day off to the best possible start and in the most productive way. Therefore, you MUST NOT turn your email on first thing in the morning.
Instead, wait at least 2 to 3 hours.
This gives you quality time to work on the business in the best frame of mind. You don’t want to be reading and replying to emails. Worse still, a bad email can derail your entire day.
You should only open your email two or three times a day. Once you’ve done what you need to do with the emails, then CLOSE your email programme down.
DO NOT leave it on, even in the background. Emails popping in is a massive distraction and interrupts your work.
The temptation before going to bed is to look at your emails. Get out of this habit. Everything can be sorted the following day (remember, not first thing: do it 2 or 3 hours later!).
This takes real discipline and you can quickly revert back to old habits, but work on it and you’ll see a massive difference in your productivity!
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Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Proposal to restrict tax relief for travel expenses for IR35 workers!

One of the controversial measures included in the draft Finance Bill 2016 was the proposed restriction of the deduction for travel and subsistence expenses incurred by certain workers caught by the IR35 rules. This proposed change was consulted on during summer 2015 and, if enacted, will significantly restrict the tax relief available for those affected.

The original proposals have been toned down to a certain extent and will only apply if the IR35 rules apply to the engagement and there is supervision, direction and control (SDC) over the worker. This now seems to be the key test to determine whether the new rules will apply and ignores the other employment status factors. The examples in the consultation document seem to suggest that if there is no expertise within the end user organisation then there is likely to be limited SDC and the worker will be entitled to relief for travelling to the client’s premises.

Any tax debt arising from the deliberate misapplication of the rules is to be transferred ‘jointly and severally’ from the ‘intermediary company’ to its director(s). It would appear that the ‘engager’ will not now be liable, which was one of the proposals in the consultation. It is intended that these rules will be implemented where it can be shown that the ‘intermediary’ had knowingly failed to apply the rules correctly.

Please get in touch with us if these new rules are likely to have an impact on your business.
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Saturday, 20 February 2016

Implementing a BYOD Policy

Bring your own device or “BYOD” 

A relatively recent trend that allows employees and employers to access company data and email through personal devices such as mobile phones, laptops and tablets. BYOD is frequently used by businesses as a way to increase work efficiency and reduce business cost and for enterprise mobility. However, if you want to utilise BYOD in your business you should have an appropriate policy in place.

What Happens without a BYOD Policy?

Without a BYOD policy, employees will have the freedom to access company data in whichever way they like, especially if needed after office hours. This means the use of personal devices to send and retrieve emails, download company's files and edit documents. Such practice could expose a company's confidential data and could be detrimental to the business.  Every device has its own security settings and configurations. As such, your business needs to set out its minimum data security requirements in order to manage business risks.

Creating a BYOD Policy

You should consider what is expected of your employees, the data they can access and develop appropriate training to ensure staff fully understand how BYOD works in the firm. Your BYOD policy should address the points outlined below.

Acceptable Use

This section of your BYOD policy should set out what can and cannot be used when utilising company online access points as well as outlining restrictions and limitations.

Devices and Support

The device models that are permitted and have been checked by the IT department should be set out in the BYOD policy. Ideally, your IT manager should have the capability to remotely wipe a device in case it is lost or stolen.


The full or percentage of cost (if any) that the company will reimburse employees for purchasing a new device.


The environment in which the device can be used, which includes strong passwords, and non-usage of rooted or “jail broken” devices. In many instances it makes sense to install an app or software programme on employees’ devices in order to allow them to securely access company data.

Risks and Liabilities

The BYOD policy should clearly communicate that using personal devices for work comes with risk that the employee must accept and assume full responsibility, in line with company requirements.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

How to Train your Team to be More Resilient?

Why do some people bounce back from difficult situations more easily than others? How is it that they are more resilient? Training can help. Managers can help their teams to become more resilient and confident. Training your people to handle difficult situations helps them to respond appropriately.

Letting people fail

Allowing people to fail builds resiliency. People need to try, to risk, and then try some more. This comes from failing a few times along the way. Resilient people are not people who have never failed. They are people who have learned from trying, failing, and trying again. Richard Branson for example, has failed several times along the way to becoming a billionaire business leader. Steve Jobs failed - he was pushed out of Apple in 1985 even though he was one of the founders of the company. He returned to the firm in 1997 and it is now the worlds largest company by revenue. One of the issues today is that people are afraid to allow for mistakes, and they want to protect others from failure. However, every good manager knows that if we never fall over, we won’t learn how to get back up again.

Teaching your team to solve problems

Solving problems doesn’t mean solving them all yourself. The most difficult task a manager has is to resist doing something themselves even though they may be able to solve the problem more quickly. Instead, managers need to step back and ask their people: "What is the next step?" or "What do you think you should do?" It is really hard watching people make mistakes without stepping in, but your team will never learn if someone else is doing their job for them. It will pay off in the long term as your team becomes more capable and confident.

Focus on the big picture

It is easy for your team to get discouraged if they only see the failures. Teach them to consider the big picture. They should be encouraged to see every step of the learning process as being a step towards success, even if that attempt doesn’t result in a solution to whatever problem they are facing. Getting it wrong along the way should be ok in the grand scheme of things. Equally when they get it right, encourage them to see how this has contributed to the overall success of the business.


Making allowances for people to fail does not mean that people shouldn’t be held accountable. Failure without a lesson is failure in its worst form. By contrast, failure with a lesson is a learning process. Encourage your teams to consider what went right and what went wrong, and to note what lessons have been learned from the process. Your team should take note of the failures and figure out a way to avoid failing in the future. They should be encouraged to accept responsibility for the problem and move to create a better outcome.

A problem versus an inconvenience

Problems are serious issues that are a real threat to the business. Inconveniences are when you get stuck in traffic on the way to the office, for example. You and your team should focus on letting the inconveniences go and focus on solving the real problems.

Contact us for all your Business Building needs!
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Wednesday, 17 February 2016

6 Easy Tips to go Paperless at your Business!

Many businesses recognise that going paperless is the future. Converting physical into digital files and storing them in an organised system has multiple benefits, not least protecting the environment. A firm can also benefit from reduced operational costs, increased working efficiency and protection against data loss as electronic files can be backed up quite easily.

1. Don’t go paperless too early

Going paperless is a big change for any business. Don’t make the mistake of rushing to buy a scanning solution and rolling it out across the business without preparation time. Take time, plan out filing systems and map processes with your management team. A working group should be established and tasked with understanding how best to implement a paperless solution that works for the business.

2. Include management and employees in your decision

The working group should present its plan to the business and ask for feedback. The employees who will be working with the paperless solution should be involved in the planning process and management needs to champion it. Explaining the time and money-saving benefits to staff across the whole firm will go a long way in ensuring the project is adopted.

3. Map out a process for new paper and electronic documents

The working group should create suitable plans for the paper that is currently in the office or stored off-site. The group should also create processes that cover new paper and electronic documents that come into the office after the document management system has been put in place.

4. Rolling out the solution in a phased manner

Attempting to go paperless in all departments or locations at the same time can be problematic. Most businesses find they gain additional experience and knowledge as they fine-tune their programme during initial setup and use. The working group should outline, as part of its plan, how the rollout will come into effect. The group should regularly ask managers and teams for feedback so that systems and processes can be continuously improved upon and refined as the rollout progresses.

5. Use the right scanning solution

For most document imaging applications, scanner speed is going to be an important driver of efficiency.  Ideally, the working group should speak with a knowledgeable consultant before purchasing any scanning hardware. If your business has an IT department or an IT manager, they should be fully involved in this conversation.

6. Consider legal and regulatory compliance matters

Before signing off on your paperless plan, you should consider any legal or compliance obligations that your business must adhere to. Most businesses are regulated in some way or another and you should consider seeking legal advice to ensure that you comply with regulations relating to customers records, filing, financial data management and data protection laws. It is important to be proactive in this regard as non-compliance can prove to be an expensive mistake for any business.

Is your business paperless? Let us know your experience, thoughts and comments below.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Marketing Messages - How to make them stand out?

Regardless of the type of business that you run, your customers will have one thing in common.  As a result of technology, they are bombarded by marketing messages. Customers are more time-poor than ever before so if you want your marketing communications to stand out, you should consider cutting down the length of your messages and getting to the point.

Identify the message that matters most and make sure it's memorable.  Marketers have known for decades that there's value in identifying and driving home the most important point or benefit. It goes all the way back to when the best businesses began to identify their unique selling proposition (USP) for every client.

The difference today is the way that viewers and readers consume media. Today's reader or viewer is overwhelmed with an astounding number of media choices and channels. In fact, consumers are exposed to so many messages that they notice fewer of them.  Here are a few tips to help you get your point across.

1. Focus on what is most relevant to your customers 

Focus on what your target audience see first and outline what is most important and relevant to them. Avoid the temptation to use that first impression to deliver what you or the management team finds most interesting, unless you're also the target audience.

2. Write active rather than passive sentences

Active sentences are more vigorous and put more life into the message. Here's an example: "We deliver shipping services to clients nationally." This is much punchier than saying "Shipping services are delivered by us to clients nationally."

3. Avoid jargon

Try to avoid formal, overly corporate language. Where possible avoid using big words with several syllables. The business world is now very much a global market and English may not be your customer’s first language.

4. Make it about them

Use the words "you" and "your" much more than "I" and "we." If you catch yourself saying "I" and "we" a lot, then you're talking about yourself too much. Get back to being focused on your reader and their needs and concerns.

5. Be concise

If you can say something in 10 words don’t use 120 words instead. Cut out the fluff and keep your message concise. Remember, your potential customer is time-poor so you need to keep the message relevant.

Monday, 8 February 2016

RTI Changes to note for 2016!

RTI Concessions for Small Employers to end from 6 April 2016

The Government announced at Autumn Statement 2015 that the current two year temporary reporting relaxation will end as planned on 5 April 2016.
The relaxation permitted employers who at 5 April 2014 employed no more than 9 employees, to report their PAYE information for the tax month ‘on or before’ the last payday in the tax month instead of ‘on or before’ each payday.
This will align the reporting obligations for micro employers with all other employers who are currently required to report payments ‘on or before’ each payday.
As a consequence ‘Late reporting reason code E’ will not be valid from 6 April 2016.

End Of Year PAYE Return Reminder

Under RTI the end of year form P35 was replaced by the Final Full Payment (FPS) submission.
Send your final FPS on or before your employees’ last payday of the tax year (5 April) instead of the old 19 April deadline.
Remember to put ‘Yes’ in the ‘Final submission for year’ field in your payroll software.

Contact us for all your Tax & Accounting needs!
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Saturday, 6 February 2016

Tax Charge On Annuity Sales!

The Government has confirmed that from 6 April 2017, tax restrictions for people looking to sell annuities will be removed, giving those with existing annuity, and anyone who purchases an annuity in the future, the freedom to sell their right to future income streams for an upfront cash sum.

Currently, people wishing to sell their annuity income face a 55% tax charge, or up to 70% in some cases. This charge is to be removed, so that people will only be taxed at their marginal rate.

Under the new changes, retirees will be able to take the annuity as a lump sum, or access the new flexible draw down products introduced in April 2015.

The Government is working with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to develop appropriate steps to regulate the market. The FCA will consult in 2016 on proposed rules for the secondary annuities market.

To know on how the new secondary annuity market will work, requirement to seek financial advice, & Further information at HMRC Announcements

Friday, 5 February 2016

Does your Company Operate in an Enterprise Zone?

If your company is located in one of the 30 or so enterprise zones, there are significant Government incentives to encourage investment. 

100% first-year allowances for companies investing in new plant or machinery will be extended for a further 3 years to 31 March 2020.

The government has announced 18 new Enterprise Zones and extended 8 zones late last year.

HMRC have added maps to their online guidance, showing sites within enterprise zones that offer 100% first-year allowances for companies. This 100% allowance is in an addition to the normal £200,000 Annual Investment Allowance.

New maps for Tees Valley, Wirral, Black Country, Wilton, and Southbank enterprise zones have been added to the website.
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Thursday, 4 February 2016

Changes on contracted-out NICs & how you report to HMRC!

Contracting Out of Additional State Pension
From 6 April 2016, employees of contracted-out defined benefit (DB) schemes will automatically be brought back into the State Pension scheme and will no longer be able to use a contracted-out salary related (COSR) occupational pension scheme to contract out of the State Scheme. Employees will, depending on their level of earnings, start to accrue entitlement to the new State Pension instead.

National Insurance Contributions
Eligibility for the contracted-out National Insurance Contributions (NICs) rebate of 3.4% for employers and 1.4% for employees will also cease from this date.

This will bring with it some changes in what and how you report to HMRC:

from 6 April 2016: You will not be able to use your Contracted-out Salary Related (COSR) occupational pension scheme to contract employees out of the new State Pension scheme

there will no longer be a requirement to report the Employers Contracting-out Number (ECON) and Scheme Contracted-out Number (SCON) details on Full Payment Submission (FPS) for tax years commencing 6 April 2016 and onwards

there will no longer be a requirement to separate the National Insurance (NI) earnings between the Primary Threshold (PT) and Upper Accrual Point (UAP) & UAP to Upper Earnings Limit (UEL)

there will be a requirement to report NI earnings between the PT to UEL as there was prior to 2009

there will be one less column to complete on forms P11 and P60. These forms will be updated in due course and available on the Basic PAYE Tools or can be ordered from the Employer order-line.

All HMRC systems will be amended to reflect these changes and the UAP data field will be removed from the FPS and Earlier Year Update (EYU).

All payroll software will need to be amended.

National Insurance Categories from 6 April 2016
Contracted-out National Insurance tables/ categories D, E, I, K, L, N, O and V will be replaced by Standard National Insurance tables/categories A, B, J, M, P, Q, R, T, Y and Z

Contact us if you have any further questions!☎ 020 89310165 ☏ 07900537459 

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Tax Diary Of Main Events - February & March 2016!

UK Tax Deadlines for February & March 2016

What’s Due
1 February
Corporation tax for year to 30/4/15
19 February
PAYE & NIC deductions, and CIS return and tax, for month to 5/2/16 (due 22 February if you pay electronically)
28 February
Surcharge of 5% on 2014/15 self -assessment tax still unpaid.
1 March
Corporation tax for year to 31/5/15
19 March
PAYE & NIC deductions, and CIS return and tax, for month to 5/3/16 (due 22 March if you pay electronically)

Contact us for all your Tax needs!
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Stamp Duty Land Tax Changes from April 2016!

Consultation on 3% SDLT Supplement on Second Homes from April 2016!

You should be knowing that you must pay Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) if you buy a property or land over a certain price in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The current SDLT threshold is £125,000 for residential properties and £150,000 for non-residential land and properties.

HMRC are consulting on the details of the higher rates of stamp duty land tax (SDLT) on purchases of additional residential properties announced in the 2015 Autumn Statement.

The Government will include detailed rules in the Budget on 16 March 2016.
The higher rates will not apply if at the end of the day of the transaction an individual owns only one residential property, irrespective of the intended use of the property.

In line with the CGT rules there will be an 18 month period between sale of a previous main residence and purchase of a new main residence for the purpose of determining whether the higher rates apply.

To know more about Stamp Duty Land Tax, Exemptions and more, go to

Contact us for all your Tax & Accounting needs!
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Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Single Director Companies Excluded From £3,000 Nic Employment Allowance!

From 6 April 2016 the Employment Allowance increases from £2,000 to £3,000, but if you’re the only employee in a company, and also the director, your company will no longer be eligible for the NICs Employment Allowance.

HMRC is currently consulting on the draft legislation for this change which will mean that the £3,000 allowance will not be available to offset against the employers’ NIC liability of such companies. 

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