Archive for February, 2019

What was all the fuss about?

Tuesday, February 12th, 2019

Last year, the 23 May 2018 to be precise, the UK adapted the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). The deadline created a rush of publicity and activity as businesses across the UK pored over their data processing systems, making changes to accommodate the new rules.

After the deadline, its as if the curtain came down on GDPR and we moved on to consider other pressing issues, Brexit for example.

ICO has not been idle

But the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) have not been idle. The ICO have created an “Action we’ve taken” page on their website. Using their new powers, the ICO have been quick to up their audits and investigations since May 2018. Political motivated organisations, regional police groups and other data processors have come in for closer scrutiny and where necessary fines and winding up notices have been issued.

For example, an organisation received a penalty of £200,000 and an Enforcement Notice for breaching ICO regulations by sending out nearly fifteen million unlawful SMS marketing messages to subscribers.

By the end of last year, the ICO had 79 cases under investigation, and on 17 December 2018, new powers were adopted through amendments to the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003. The ICO says:

The new law allows the ICO to serve monetary penalties, of up to £500,000, on directors and senior officers of companies held responsible for making nuisance calls or sending nuisance messages or emails.

The new data protection regulations are here to stay

GDPR, and its enforcement by the ICO, is here to stay. In the coming months we will probably see an increasing number of cases bought by the ICO as their initial enquiries turn into litigation and the issue of penalty notices. Readers should also be advised that the GDPR has now been absorbed into UK law by the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA). Even if we leave the EU and abandon its legislation the DPA will still apply. Data regulation and enforcement, it would seem, is here to stay.

Happy days

Thursday, February 7th, 2019

In what amounts to a single-issue mini-budget the Treasury posted a welcome announcement for the manufacturers and consumers of alcoholic products last week. They said:

The Chancellor announces that alcohol duties are frozen

From today, (1 February 2019) taxes on beer, cider and spirits are frozen for another year, keeping costs down for industry and consumers alike.

  • alcohol duty cuts and freezes over the last six years have provided £4.4 billion of support to pubs and drinks industry,
  • a typical pint of beer is 14 pence cheaper than if taxes had risen in line with inflation.

Beer lovers, brewers, and landlords alike can raise a toast today as Dry January comes to an end and alcohol duties are frozen for another year.

The Chancellor, Philip Hammond, during a visit to an independent brewery in Liverpool, praised the contributions made by the British beer and drinks industry to the economy and communities, including local pubs.

Previously announced in the 2018 Budget, the freeze will keep costs down for beer, cider and spirits, and builds on the numerous cuts and freezes to duty by the government since 2013. The move has saved the public an average of 14 pence on every pint of beer, 4 pence on a pint of cider and £1.50 on a bottle of Scotch whisky.

As well as the duty freeze, the Treasury also announced at Budget that it will be looking at the Small Brewers Relief to make sure the scheme continues to support the country’s smallest beer makers, helping them to grow and expand into new markets. A survey asking small brewers for their views on the relief was launched this week.

In addition to pubs, the duty freeze on cider will support the economies of British rural communities and help fuel investment and innovation in whisky and gin producers.

Cynics may infer that any increase in alcohol production is designed to help us cope with other government interventions in the coming months? They are probably right.

Happy days…

How to cope with recession

Tuesday, February 5th, 2019

Recession literally means “the act of going back, of receding…”

Economic pundits have hijacked the word to mean “a period of temporary economic decline during which trade and industrial activity are reduced…”. It is usually heralded by a fall in Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

According to many commentators on the state of the UK economy we are about to revisit recession.

The cause this time around is not the failure of the banking system, but our imminent withdrawal from the EU. Most informed sources on either side of the remain-leave debate are resolved that our exit from the EU will slow-down economic activity in the UK in at least the short term, and there is a possibility that we will experience a “temporary period of economic decline”.

If so, how do we cope with recession?

On a personal level, we generally cope best with physical stress if we are fit and healthy. Our suggestion for weathering economic stress is roughly the same: we need to get financially fit. For example, we would suggest that businesses large and small should be considering:

  • Selling any assets that are no longer used in your business – convert redundant assets into cash and free up space.
  • If you have spare floor space, what are the opportunities for sub-letting? Convert unproductive real estate into an income stream.
  • How much credit do you allow customers? Could you reduce your average days credit allowed and shift your money from your customers’ bank accounts into yours?
  • Do you have a three to five year business plan? Has it been tweaked to reflect the effects of a Brexit slowdown?
  • Have you undertaken a risk assessment of the impact of disruptions to your supply lines?

This is by no means a comprehensive list of to-dos. Every business will likely experience their own unique challenges in the weeks ahead, what is clear is that we should be getting match fit to face these challenges.

And as we have said before, this getting-prepared activity will not be wasted whatever the politicians finally decide is the best course for our EU exit. There are no downsides to being financially fit, it will always allow you to hit the ground running.

  1. we haven’t spoken to you about the challenges that your business may be facing in the coming months, call now so we can start to create your business fitness training program. If recession becomes a reality, we would suggest running at the front of the pack is the best place to be.

Tax Diary February/March 2019

Monday, February 4th, 2019

1 February 2019 – Due date for Corporation Tax payable for the year ended 30 April 2018.

19 February 2019 – PAYE and NIC deductions due for month ended 5 February 2019. (If you pay your tax electronically the due date is 22 February 2019)

19 February 2019 – Filing deadline for the CIS300 monthly return for the month ended 5 February 2019.

19 February 2019 – CIS tax deducted for the month ended 5 February 2019 is payable by today.

1 March 2019 – Due date for Corporation Tax due for the year ended 31 May 2018.

2 March 2019 – Self assessment tax for 2017/18 paid after this date will incur a 5% surcharge.

19 March 2019 – PAYE and NIC deductions due for month ended 5 March 2019. (If you pay your tax electronically the due date is 22 March 2019)

19 March 2019 – Filing deadline for the CIS300 monthly return for the month ended 5 March 2019.

19 March 2019 – CIS tax deducted for the month ended 5 March 2019 is payable by today.

What can you give away before the end of the tax year?

Monday, February 4th, 2019

You can give away £3,000 worth of gifts each tax year (6 April to 5 April) without them being added to the value of your estate. This is known as your ‘annual exemption’.

You can carry any unused annual exemption forward to the next year – but only for one year.

Each tax year, you can also give away:

  • wedding or civil ceremony gifts of up to £1,000 per person (£2,500 for a grandchild or great-grandchild, £5,000 for a child)
  • normal gifts out of your income, for example Christmas or birthday presents – you must be able to maintain your standard of living after making the gift
  • payments to help with another person’s living costs, such as an elderly relative or a child under 18
  • gifts to charities and political parties

You can use more than one of these exemptions on the same person – for example, you could give your grandchild gifts for her birthday and wedding in the same tax year.

Small gifts up to £250

You can give as many gifts of up to £250 per person as you want during the tax year as long as you have not used another exemption on the same person.

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