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Mitigating IHT when you move abroad

If you’ve decided to pack up and move abroad, you might be surprised to find out that your estate remains liable to UK IHT for another three years. What steps can you take to minimise this liability?

IHT and domicile

When a person breaks most of their ties with the UK and leaves for good they will usually cease to be taxed on income and gains as a resident of this country from the day they depart. However, IHT is different. Generally, all your assets, wherever in the world they are located, are subject to IHT if you are domiciled in the UK.

What’s your domicile?

Domicile is not decided by tax rules, it’s a matter of general law. Your domicile, which is usually your country of origin, is difficult to change. It’s not enough just to go abroad, you need to move your ties, personal and economic, from the UK. Essentially, it means that you make your home in another country for the remainder of your life.

Trap. If you emigrate your domicile is likely to change; however, special tax rules mean that for IHT purposes this won’t happen for three years after you leave. If you survive beyond that you’re in the clear. Naturally, there’s a greater risk of IHT hitting the older you are, say, for example where you are retiring abroad.

Example. Your parents leave the UK in 2017/18 for sunnier climes with the intention of spending the rest of their lives abroad. Their estates will remain within the scope of IHT until 6 April 2021.

Standard IHT planning

A good IHT planning option is to move investments to assets that qualify for IHT business property relief (BPR); for example, shares in unlisted trading companies. Where BPR applies to assets the IHT is reduced to nil on their value. A possible drawback to this plan is that unlisted shares can be a risky investment. You could instead go for shares quoted on the alternative investment market; these are less risky but qualify for BPR.

Trap. The one hitch with BPR is that you must own the assets for two years before it kicks in. So if the worst happens within two years of leaving the UK, IHT will still apply. What’s needed is a safe investment that will qualify for IHT relief from the date of purchase. The good news is that there’s an investment which does just that.

Tip. Since April 1998 all UK government securities, also known as gilts, e.g. Treasury stock, are issued free of tax to residents abroad. HMRC refers to these as FOTRA securities. Of course, because they are government backed they are virtually risk free.


Regardless of where in the world the owner of the securities is domiciled, as long as they aren’t resident in the UK for tax purposes their estate won’t be liable to IHT on the value of FOTRA securities.

Tax-free interest. The interest paid on the gilts is also exempt from UK tax, although tax will probably be payable on the interest in accordance with the rules of the country the recipient is living in.

Do you always have to issue a VAT invoice?

A retail customer is demanding that you issue him with a VAT invoice instead of a simple receipt. He says the law requires you to do so. Is he just being awkward or does he have a point?


Paperwork is a necessary evil for all businesses. It’s no coincidence that businesses that keep poor records are more likely to fail. Oddly, there’s no statute that sets a general requirement for keeping records, although there is (in some cases) an obligation to produce accounts which is nigh on impossible without records. Tax rules, especially those for VAT, impose paperwork obligations and failing to meet them could land you with a fine.

Are invoices essential?

Contrary to what you might expect, there’s only one situation where you’re required by law to issue an invoice, that is where you and your customer are both VAT registered.

If you have a retail business and your system is only set up to issue receipts, it can be a nuisance to have to produce a VAT invoice if a customer asks for one.

Note. A receipt is not an invoice, it’s an acknowledgment of payment. While much of the information might be the same, an invoice must show the word “invoice” and include certain information that a receipt typically doesn’t.

Tip. You can refuse to provide an invoice unless you’re VAT registered and the customer can show they are making the purchase for a VAT-registered business or other organisation. If you issue an invoice voluntarily or because you’re required to, keep things simple by sticking to the same format even though less information is needed where the customer isn’t VAT registered.

Three types of invoice

The minimum data required on VAT invoices can vary slightly depending on the value of the transaction and the nature of your business. There are three types of valid VAT invoice:

  • a full invoice
  • a simplified invoice; and
  • a modified invoice.

What must go on the invoice?

There’s a long list of information which must appear on a full invoice. However, as a retail business you can issue a simplified invoice for sales of up to £250 (ex VAT), which need only show:

  • your name, address and VAT registration number
  • the tax point (usually the date of sale)
  • a means of identifying the goods/services
  • the VAT-inclusive amount payable for each VAT rate applied and the VAT rate.

A modified invoice is mainly the same as a full one, but can be used by retailers for sales in excess of £250 (ex VAT) and only has to show the VAT- inclusive value of sales.

Tip. Receipts and credit card slips can be modified to meet the requirements of VAT invoices. Most electronic tills etc. can be set up to produce VAT invoices. It’s probably worth the effort to do this in order to preserve goodwill with customers and save having to produce a separate VAT invoice each time you’re asked.

No escape from illegal worker fine for Coventry clothing company director

Ajay Dewitt, the director of Mystique Coventry Ltd, has been disqualified from acting as a company director for six years.

Mr Dewitt gave a disqualification undertaking to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy for six years which is effective from 27 November 2017.

Mr Dewitt was the director of Mystique Coventry Ltd, a company trading as a clothing wholesaler, and on 15 November 2016 Home Office Immigration Enforcement Officers discovered that they were employing seven workers who were not eligible to work in the UK.

The company went into liquidation on 16 March 2017 owing £74,394 to creditors, including the £70,000 penalty imposed by the Home Office Immigration and Enforcement for employing illegal workers.

Martin Gitner, Deputy Head of Investigations with the Insolvency Service said:

"Illegal workers are not protected under employment law, and as well as cheating legitimate job seekers out of employment opportunities these employers defraud the tax payer and undercut honest competitors."

"The Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006, makes employers responsible for preventing illegal workers in the UK. To comply with the law, a company must check and be able to prove documents have been checked prior to recruitment that show a person is entitled to work."

"The public has a right to expect that those who break the law will face the consequences and this should serve as a warning to other directors tempted to take on illegal staff." Full story 

Need information on right to work checks, there's an employer's guide.

When does a van become a car?

In September 2017 the First-tier Tribunal ruled on whether modifications made to three vans, which were available to employees for private use, resulted in them becoming cars for tax purposes. What was the outcome?

Different tax and NI charges

Whether a company vehicle that’s made available to an employee for private use is a car or a van can make a huge difference to the tax and employers’ NI payable. The charges for cars are usually much higher, which is why three employees and their employer appealed against HMRC’s decision that vans the workers drove were actually cars.

What’s a car?

The legislation says that a van is a “goods vehicle” which has a design weight of no more than 3,500kg and isn’t a motorcycle. It also says that goods vehicles are “primarily suited for the conveyance of goods” . That sounds obvious, but the precise wording of this definition was key to part of the First-tier Tribunal’s judgment. A car, according to tax legislation, is a vehicle which isn’t used as a goods vehicle or motorcycle (there are other factors, but they aren’t relevant in this case).

The vehicles

The vehicles at the centre of the dispute were a Vauxhall Vivaro and two different models of the VW Transporter Kombi. At first sight each looks like a van and HMRC would usually accept that they are. However, they were modified and so a dispute arose over whether or not the changes resulted in the vehicles no longer being “primarily suited for the conveyance of goods”, and therefore counting as cars for tax purposes.


Both types of vehicle could carry passengers beside and behind the driver as part of their basic design, but that alone isn’t enough to make them cars. Many modifications were made to all three vehicles. These enhanced the quality of both the seating areas for passengers (the addition of a side window on one vehicle) and the areas for carrying goods. The taxpayers were maintenance engineers and used the vans mainly for work, which required them to carry tools and machine parts.

The ruling

In the end it was a fairly close call. The judge ruled that despite the improvements that were clearly designed to make the Vivaro more suitable for passengers behind the driver, this didn’t prevent some cargo being loaded in that area. The Vivaro therefore remained a vehicle primarily suited for the conveyance of goods, i.e. a van.

While the modifications to the VW Kombis were not much different to those for the Vivaro, when the removable seats behind the driver were in place it prevented reasonable use of the area for transporting goods, and when the seats weren’t in place the area wasn’t suitable for passengers. The judge concluded that the VWs were equally suitable for carrying passengers and goods. The trouble is the legislation says for a vehicle to count as a van, it must be “primarily” suited to carrying goods. As they no longer were, they were cars for tax purposes.

Tip. If you modify a van to make it more suitable and comfortable for passengers, make sure you don’t cause the goods area to be equal to or smaller than the passenger area. You can improve the seating area as much as you like without causing a recategorisation, but to be safe don’t overdo it.

It was a split decision; one vehicle stayed a van, while the other two were cars despite starting life as, and continuing to look like, vans. The key factor was that the modifications meant that they were equally suited for carrying passengers and goods. To be a van a vehicle must be “primarily” for carrying goods.

Broadband boost for businesses

Businesses to benefit from grants of up to £3000 to get gigabit broadband installed as part of a £2 million trial taking place in four areas around the UK

Suppliers will be offering vouchers worth between £500 and £3000 each to local businesses which can then be used to pay for the installation of gigabit speed connections. The aim of the pilots is to encourage the market to extend full fibre infrastructure in the UK by increasing demand and reducing the cost to customers.

The many benefits of a full fibre gigabit connection include:

  • allowing businesses to upload and download massive files in a matter of seconds
  • enabling widespread use of videoconferencing throughout an organisation
  • providing an unprecedented level of reliability whilst greatly enhancing resilience
  • future proofing - making sure that businesses have the technology in place to deal with the ever increasing demands for internet speed and connectivity
  • allowing businesses in remote communities to compete on a technologically level playing field with those companies based in major cities who may already have full fibre connectivity

Minister for Digital Matt Hancock said:

A world-class digital communications network is essential to ensure the UK’s future competitiveness in the global market and its ability to attract investment. Faster and more reliable connections are transforming the way we live and work, and better broadband supports businesses to grow and become more productive.

These voucher pilots, alongside a range of other actions, are testament to Government’s ambition for full fibre infrastructure across the UK to underpin our digital economy.

Four areas across the UK have been carefully selected to test the market conditions and infrastructure conditions we aim to help to create through the wider Local Full Fibre Network programme. The areas are:

  • Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire
  • Bristol, with Bath and North East Somerset
  • Coventry and Warwickshire
  • West Yorkshire Combined Authority (Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds, Wakefield and York) Full story

Abolition of Class 2 NI delayed for twelve months - is it all bad news?

The government has announced that the scrapping of Class 2 NI is to be delayed by a year to 6 April 2019. How will this affect self-employed individuals?

Class 2 NI. Currently, a self-employed person is required to pay Class 2 NI of £2.85 per week if their profits are more than the small profits limit which is currently £6,025 per year. This qualifies them for the state pension and certain other state benefits such as maternity allowance. Class 2 NI was due to be axed in April 2018 but the Treasury has announced that it will now not be scrapped until April 2019.

Profits over £6,025. So if a person has profits of more than £6,025 per year, this delay until April 2019 will cost them an extra £148.20 (£2.85 x 52).

Profits of £6,025 or less. If you make very little profit, then you can currently opt to pay Class 2 NI voluntarily to qualify for the state pension and other benefits. However, when Class 2 NI is axed, you will have to pay the higher voluntary Class 3 NI which is currently £14.25 per week (£741 per year) to protect their entitlement to the state pension. So the one-year delay in abolishing Class 2 NI is good news for persons with small profits as it will save you £592.80.

What happens after Class 2 is axed? Once Class 2 NI is scrapped, the government will need a new contributory benefit test for the self-employed and it’s proposed that this would be based on the Class 4 NI profits threshold. It’s also proposed that there would be a system of NI credits provided for no payment for self-employed individuals who have profits between the small profits limit and the higher Class 4 NI threshold.

This is bad news for clients with profits over £6,025 per year as they’ll pay an extra year’s Class 2 NI of £148. However, clients with profits under this level will save £593 by paying Class 2 NI rather than Class 3 NI to maintain entitlement to the state pension. 

Cashback deals - are you taxable?

These days cashback deals aren’t limited to mortgages. All sorts of finance companies and even manufacturers offer to reward you in hard cash to buy their products. But will you have to declare it to HMRC?

A brief history of cashbacks

Cashback deals first became popular with home mortgages and could be worth thousands. Inevitably, HMRC became interested. More recently banks etc. have been offering cashbacks on credit cards as well as loans. Some are taxable and some aren’t, but which is which?

What’s your status?

A key factor in deciding whether or not a cashback is taxable is the status of the recipient; are they a business or an individual and, if the latter, is the cashback linked to their employment?


The position for individuals is the most straightforward. Cashbacks for loans or credit cards aren’t taxable, unless they’re received in connection with an individual’s job, in which case they are, with one exception.

How employees are taxed

Cashbacks given to an employee or director by their employers must be added to their salary. PAYE tax and NI contributions are deducted by the employer. But where a cashback comes from elsewhere but is linked to the individual’s employment, it counts as a benefit in kind.

Loans etc. to business

Cashbacks paid to a business (including a property rental business) are taxable as trading income. This is the case whether the business is run by a company, partnership or sole trader.

Loans to individuals for a business

Some loans have a business purpose, but aren’t actually loans to a business. For example, where they are used to purchase shares in a close company or partnership, provide it with working capital or to buy an asset it needs to trade, e.g. machinery. These types of loan aren’t borrowings of the business, they’re personal loans to the business owner, so a cashback received in respect of these isn’t taxable. Tip. Even though loans of the type mentioned above are personal, the interest you pay is tax deductible but any cashback you receive is not.

Business or personal?

It can be tricky to decide whether a loan is a business or personal one, especially in the case of a sole trader because the loan will be in their name even if it’s for their business. As a rule of thumb, if borrowings won’t show as a debt of your business, i.e. they won’t appear in the balance sheet of your accounts as a creditor, then any cashback you receive in respect of it won’t be taxable.

Trap. The bad news is that unless the loan etc. is used for one of the reasons referred to above, neither you nor your business can claim a tax deduction for the interest payable.

Tip. If a cashback on a loan etc. is the deciding factor for choosing that particular product, make sure you take account of the tax position before you sign up.

Student Loans

Student Loan Plan 1 and Plan 2 threshold increase applying from 6 April 2018

The thresholds for Student Loans are increasing from April 2018. The current thresholds for the tax year ending 5 April 2018 are

• Plan 1 – £17,775 and

• Plan 2 – £21,000.

The Department for Education have confirmed that from 6 April 2018 the threshold for

• Plan 1 loans will rise to £18,330 and

• Plan 2 loans will rise to £25,000.

This will apply to all current and future borrowers when employers make student loan deductions.

Operating the correct student loan plan type threshold

Student loan start notices (SL1s) will show the correct plan type for your employee, this will either be plan 1 or plan 2. You should always use the correct threshold for the plan type your employee is on to make all student loan deductions. If there are any changes in your employee’s plan type you will not be sent a student loan stop notice (SL2) but you will receive a new SL1 showing the new plan type.

Paying HMRC at the Post Office

Transcash facility for paying HMRC to be withdrawn

If you currently use the Transcash service at the Post Office to pay HMRC you need to be aware this service is being withdrawn from December 2017 and you will need to find a different way of submitting payments to us. Could you change over to an electronic payment method? We are encouraging all customers to pay using the following methods: • Direct Debit • Online or telephone banking, which includes Faster Payments, Bacs and CHAPS • Debit card online or by telephone Benefits of paying this way are: • it is more secure • it will save you time and expense of going to the Post Office or bank Read Dealing with HMRC: Paying HMRC

Car hire sites investigated over hidden charges

The CMA has today launched enforcement cases against 2 car hire price comparison sites.

The sites are being investigated due to concerns they are breaking consumer law by hitting customers with hidden charges and unexpected fees, such as for fuel, or late night pick-ups and drop-offs.

Over the last year the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has been working with car hire comparison sites to ensure their customers get clear and accurate prices.

As a result of this, there has been a significant improvement in the accuracy and clarity of information on car rental price comparison websites and, today, standards are much higher across much of the sector. For example, most comparison websites now clearly flag young driver surcharges and one-way fees in the prices they quote.

However, a small number of businesses have been identified which may have still not made adequate improvements.

This has resulted in the launch of 2 enforcement cases and prompted the CMA to publish advice to the sector on how to comply with consumer law, issuing letters to 40 companies, asking them to maintain standards and, where necessary, make improvements to comply with the law.

The advice makes clear the CMA’s expectations, such as:

  • including all extra charges in the price they first give their customers;
  • clearly setting out fuel pricing policies to customers; and
  • warning them about high excess or deposits amounts.

Today’s announcement builds on the CMA’s work with the European Commission into ‘the big 5’ car rental firms in 2015, which resulted in savings of an estimated £100 million for UK customers. Full story

Melksham Metals boss to pay £1.99 million or be jailed for 8 years

Five-year probe into illegal waste disposal in Wiltshire ends with large confiscation order for trader Lee Hazel.

The owner of a Wiltshire scrapyard and recycling company has been ordered to pay almost £2 million he made from running an illegal waste site in Melksham.

In July, Lee Hazel appeared before Swindon Crown Court where he was warned he’d face an 8-year prison sentence if he failed to pay the full amount owed under a confiscation order made under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

The ruling marked the culmination of a 5-year investigation into Lee Hazel and Melksham Metals Recycling Ltd by the Environment Agency and Wiltshire Police. Wiltshire Police conducted the financial aspects of the investigation

The original confiscation order was for £2.74 million, but this figure was reduced at Swindon Crown Court following an application to amend the earlier judgement under a legal clause known as the ‘Slip Rule.’

Hazel’s lawyers successfully argued it had been wrong to include a figure for VAT when calculating how much their client had benefited from crime. They also alleged that, in preparing its prosecution, the Environment Agency had mistakenly included invoices for ferrous metals.

After hearing evidence for the defence, Judge Tim Mousley QC, reduced the confiscation order to £1.99 million from the original figure of £2.74 million.

Hazel was warned on several occasions about unlawful waste activities including the illegal disposal of waste on farmland and depositing and processing waste without an environmental permit. He is both the owner and sole director of the company. Full story

Bankrupt director banned for supplying illegal workers

The bankrupt owner of a recruitment company that supplied illegal workers in the Midlands has been banned for 10 years

Shane Zeb Khattak has been disqualified from acting as a director for 10 years, following an investigation by the Insolvency Service. The Secretary of State for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy accepted a disqualification undertaking from Khattak which commenced on 2 October 2017.

Khattak was acting as a director for Recruitment Base (UK) Limited which provided payroll and recruitment services in the Midlands. He failed to ensure that Recruitment Base complied with obligations around immigration checks, resulting in the employment of 11 illegal workers.

Additionally, from 13 March 2015 until its liquidation he was acting as a director whilst being undischarged bankrupt, without leave of the Court.

On four separate occasions between 30 April 2014 and 8 June 2015, Home Office Immigration Officers investigated businesses in the Midlands, finding illegal workers that were employed by Recruitment Base. The Home Office fined Recruitment Base a total of £140,000, none of which was paid.

Khattak claimed that a fire at the trading premises had destroyed employee records, resulting in an inability to provide documentation on the workers. However, the claimed date of the fire was before the start of employment of 10 of the men found to be working illegally, and the other breach pre-dated the fire by seven months, during which no documents had been provided.

On 15 September 2014, The Law Society petitioned for Khattak’s bankruptcy. A bankruptcy order was made against him on 13 March 2015 in the Birmingham County Court. Full story

Unpaid internships are damaging to social mobility

New poll reveals that the majority of the UK public support a legal ban on unpaid internships and unpaid work experience lasting more than 4 weeks.I

An overwhelming majority of the UK public support the introduction of a legal ban on unpaid internships lasting 4 weeks or more.

New polling data released by the Social Mobility Commission, found that 72% of the public back a change in the law - with 42% ‘strongly supporting’ a ban.

The survey also reveals that 80% of people want companies to be required to openly advertise internships and work experience opportunities, rather than organise them informally.

YouGov polling of nearly 5,000 people has been released ahead of the second reading of Lord Holmes of Richmond’s Private Members’ Bill in the House of Lords on Friday 27 October, which proposes a ban on unpaid work experience or internships lasting more 4 weeks.

The Social Mobility Commission, an independent public body which monitors progress towards improving social mobility, has repeatedly called for a ban in its successive State of the Nation reports to Parliament.

Many interns fall under the definition of ‘worker’ under the National Minimum Wage Act 1998 and are already legally entitled to be paid the national minimum/living wage. But the law, as it stands, is not being enforced effectively. A lack of clarity means many companies exploit the loophole or are unaware of the legal requirements to pay interns. Full story


Drivers’ hours: changes to fines for commercial drivers

Rules will be changed so lorry, bus and coach drivers who drive tired will be fined for every time they've done it in the last 28 days.

If you drive a lorry, bus or coach, you must follow rules on how many hours you can drive and the breaks you need to take.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) can fine drivers up to £300 if they’re caught breaking the rules. They can also be prosecuted or have their vehicle immobilised.

At the moment, DVSA can only fine drivers for:

  • offences committed that day
  • ongoing offences, like manipulating tachograph records, which record drivers’ hours

Drivers will be fined for older offences

DVSA traffic examiners will be given new powers to issue on-the-spot fines for any drivers’ hours offences committed in the last 28 days.

In a single roadside checkDVSA traffic examiners will be able to issue fines for up to 5 drivers’ hours offences. It means you could be fined up to £1,500 in a single check if you’ve consistently broken the rules.

It won’t matter if the offences took place in Great Britain or elsewhere.

The rules will also apply to drivers who don’t live in Great Britain. However, they’ll need to pay any fines immediately, before being allowed to continue their journey. DVSA will immobilise their vehicle until they pay.

When the rules will change

The exact date the rules will change be confirmed nearer the time.

The change will be well-publicised so drivers and vehicle operators are fully aware of the penalties.

Guidance about drivers’ hours rules will also be updated. Full story

From 1 November 2017 all UK mobile phone usage will be subject to UK VAT - even if it takes place outside the EU.

HMRC has published a policy paper explaining a change to the VAT treatment of mobile phone usage. What do you need to know from November 2017?

Current. VAT is charged when you use your mobile phone within the EU, but not when you use it outside. This is due to the “use and enjoyment” rule. Outside the EU, usage is treated as taking place where the service is consumed, not where the customer lives (as is the case for EU usage).

Example. Sian lives in Basingstoke. She goes on holiday to Brisbane, Australia. As the service is consumed in Australia, i.e. outside the EU, VAT is not charged.

Inconsistent. This approach was adopted before the EU decided to follow the current place of supply rules for telecommunication services. These apply VAT in the country where the user of the phone lives. There is therefore a discrepancy between UK and EU treatment.

Change. The UK will adopt the EU approach from 1 November 2017 when it will be irrelevant where the user is physically located - UK tax will be charged on all mobile phone usage. The reason HMRC gives for the change is that the current rules are capable of being exploited to avoid tax on UK usage by some businesses.

Impact. The obvious impact is increased costs for outside-EU usage. If you pay for mobile phones for business use by employees who travel internationally, you are likely to notice this. The good news is that if you are a VAT-registered business, the rules currently allow you to reclaim all input tax suffered - even if there is private use of the phone.

Tip. If you recharge your employees for private calls, you can still recover the VAT in full, but remember to account for the output tax on the amount you charge them.

Highlights of the latest initial plans, approved plans, tender invitations & granted contracts on mainland UK.
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Highlights of the latest initial plans, approved plans, tender invitations & granted contracts on mainland UK.
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SMEs gear up to supply to government through new £3bn tech deal

One hundred SMEs have signed up for the chance to secure a share of an estimated £3bn of IT investment over the next four years - giving them the chance to grow their businesses by helping the government to deliver more efficient, effective public services.

Crown Commercial Service (CCS) has today awarded its new Technology Services 2 framework, with small and medium-sized enterprises representing more than 60% of the total number of suppliers signed up.

CCS is estimating that the framework will help public bodies to save more than £180 million over four years - money that can be spent on delivering frontline services.

Niall Quinn, Director, Technology Strategic Category for CCS says:

"This framework delivers significant commercial benefits and gives more SMEs than ever the chance to deliver specialist technology support to the UK public sector."

Up to £3bn is expected to be spent through the agreement, which links public sector bodies with suppliers that can provide specialist IT services - from the management of a small desktop computer estate to the replacement of critical government systems. Full story

Webinar - 25 Sept - Selling to the Ministry of Defence

Join this 30 minute webinar to hear from John Kite, SME Champion for Ministry of Defence, on the type of products and services purchased by MoD, frameworks used, and top tips on how SMEs can identify and respond to procurements.

Click here to register.

Career break returner programmes launched to help people back to work

New programmes will help people back to work after a career break, boost skills, and close the gender pay gap.

New initiatives to help people return to work after career breaks have been launched today by the Minister of State for Apprenticeships, Skills and Women Anne Milton.

The returner programmes – part of the £5 million fund announced in this year’s Budget – are formal schemes offered by employers to provide training and support to people who have taken time out of the workplace. The Government Equalities Office will be establishing four new returner schemes across the public sector. They will be open to women and men, with the aim of giving people who have taken career breaks the opportunity to refresh their skills and build professional networks. According to research by PwC, addressing the career break penalty could provide a £1.7 billion boost to our annual economic output. For female professionals, that could increase the annual earnings of that group by an average of £4,000 per woman.

Later this year, returners will be able to apply to programmes for social workers, allied health professionals, and civil servants. It is part of the government’s work to support parents and carers returning to work, build home-grown skills, and close the gender pay gap.

Minister of State for Apprenticeships, Skills and Women Anne Milton said:

"We want to help people who are looking to get into work, which is why we are going to do more to help people get back into work after a career break. Millions of us need to take time out from our careers, but it can be really hard to return. This is bad for the people affected, and the businesses who miss out on their talents. Women in particular find the routes back into employment closed off after taking time out to start a family. These returner programmes will make it routine for women to go back to the workplace and get on with their careers. It ultimately should also help us to tackle the gender pay gap. I think it’s important that the public sector leads by example and introduces programmes to support people returning to the workplace." Full story & programme details.

Firm sentenced after boy suffered life-changing injuries on farm

HSE is calling on farmers to do more to protect their loved ones after an eight year old boy who fell from a vehicle on his parent’s farm in Kirkbean ended up with an amputated leg.

The company which operates the farm has been prosecuted after the incident on 14 October 2015. Dumfries Sherriff Court heard the boy fell from a sit-astride all-terrain vehicle (ATV) on Airdie farm. After carrying out the day to day tasks on the farm, one of the workers was asked to cut the grass on the farm’s hen range. The boy was sitting on the back of the vehicle while the grass was being cut. The employee had been cutting the grass for about 20 minutes when he stopped and noticed the boy was no longer sitting behind him. He found him on the grass with injuries to his lower right leg and called for help. The eight-year-old’s parents were nearby and an ambulance was called.

He was taken to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Glasgow and on arrival underwent an eight-hour operation. His lower right leg could not be saved and a below-the-knee amputation was carried out. He has since been fitted with a prosthetic limb.

HSE found that the driver of the vehicle had not been trained to use the ATV and the company had allowed the boy to accompany the worker on previous occasions. A notification of contravention letter was sent to the company and an improvement notice was issued which the company complied with.

J Kelly and Sons of Airdrie Farm, Kirkbean, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 3(1) (b) of the Prevention of Accidents to Children in Agricultural Regulations 1998. The company has been fined £10,000. Full story

Licence stripped from holiday sickness firm

A firm responsible for pressuring people into making holiday-sickness claims has had it's licence stripped by the Claims Management Regulator.

Intelligence gathered by the Claims Management Regulator (CMR) officers revealed that Lancashire based Allsure Ltd had encouraged holiday-goers to fabricate or embellish symptoms of gastric illness to get compensation. Further evidence showed the firm had used deceptive sales scripts – exaggerating expected pay-outs to entice consumers.

This conduct has led to the firm’s licence being cancelled. This means that it can no longer offer regulated claims management services to new or existing clients. Kevin Rousell, Head of the Claims Management Regulator said: We will take firm action against claims businesses which engage in serious misconduct. Seeking to encourage false claims will not be tolerated.

CMR, based at the Ministry of Justice, regulates companies that offer to help people claim compensation for issues such as personal injury and mis-sold financial products. The action taken against Allsure Ltd is the latest in a series of moves by government to crackdown on fake sickness claims, following concerns from the travel industry of a surge in insurance claims for gastric illnesses like food poisoning being brought by British holidaymakers.

In July ministers stepped in to reduce cash incentives in bringing spurious claims against package holiday tour operators. Under these proposals tour operators would pay a prescribed sum depending on the value of the claim, making the cost of defending a claim predictable. 


  • during an audit, CMR identified potential systematic failings in Allsure Ltd’s sales scripts and call recordings
  • following an investigation which commenced in February, Allsure Ltd was found to have breached the conduct rules when making marketing calls to consumer for holiday sickness claims by:
    • making false or unsubstantiated claims and misleading statements about the amounts due to consumers
    • trying to coach consumers in providing the answers needed to meet the criteria for making a claim
  • Allsure Ltd is based in Preston, Lancashire and has been operating in the personal injury claims sector since 22 April 2014.
  • information on the cancellation is available on the Justice website
  • the business can appeal the cancellation of their authorisation, and they have 28 days to make their representations to the First-Tier Tribunal.
  • in July ministers announced a crackdown on fake holiday sickness claims
  • further information on the action CMR is taking to tackle misconduct in holiday sickness claims can be found in the CMR quarterly enforcement update

The government and other public sector organisations have spent £1.2b with SMEs on cloud and digital services since 2012, new figures reveal.

This means that almost half of digital spend, or £1.39 in every £3, is going to small and medium sized enterprises - giving a major boost to the technology SME sector.

Since 2012, public sector spend has continued to rise for services such as cloud storage and IT support - reaching a total of £2.6 billion spent with businesses of all sizes.

This spend, from public bodies including local authorities, the NHS and central government departments, has been via the government’s Digital Marketplace, driving down costs and helping them to get the best possible value for money.

The Digital Marketplace was jointly developed by the government Digital Service (GDS) and the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) to make government procurement easier and more transparent. In 2016/17 it helped CCS to deliver £725 million in savings for taxpayers.

Derby City Council saved thousands of pounds by switching their suppliers from a large multinational company to Stafford based SME. This enabled the council to invest this money back into their frontline services. The amount saved was equivalent to being able to repair 150 road potholes, or increasing the number of times they can mow parks and sports pitches.

Caroline Nokes, Minister for Government Resilience and Efficiency says:

Small businesses have an important role to play in helping Government to spend taxpayers’ money wisely.That is why we continue to find ways of improving how the public sector, schools and hospitals, for example, puts money back into services for those they look after.The money saved in Derby is a good example of how smart procurement can make a real difference to people’s lives.

Warren Smith, Director of the Digital Marketplace says: 

We are continually focused on breaking down the barriers to entry for SMEs to do business with government, for example, by simplifying the application process.

We are also breaking down the traditionally large contracts into smaller ones, which favour a more diverse range of suppliers and help Government to buy services more efficiently.

Niall Quinn, Director, Technology Strategic Category for CCS says:

We’re making it as easy as possible for small business to supply to government. They in turn will help us to deliver efficient public services that meet the needs of citizens.

One SME, Nominet, provides secure domains for public services - and demonstrates how this has helped them grow.

Russell Haworth, CEO of G-Cloud provider Nominet says:

Being part of the Digital Marketplace has allowed Nominet, a medium sized technology company in Oxford and London, to bid for a significant government contract. Our success through this process has meant that we have grown our business over the last year. The process was transparent and allowed companies of all sizes compete effectively.

To find out more, visit the Digital Marketplace here

One million Help to Buy: ISAs opened

More than one million Help to Buy: ISAs have now been opened, helping first-time buyers across the UK save towards their first home. First-time buyers have saved over £1.8 billion in their ISAs.

Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Stephen Barclay, said: "Reaching the landmark of one million Help to Buy: ISAs shows the product’s success in helping first-time buyers save towards a home. Our Help to Buy schemes continue to prove hugely popular across the country, as we support people to get on in life and achieve their dream of climbing the housing ladder."

The government’s Help to Buy: ISA scheme was launched on 1 December 2015 to provide first-time buyers the opportunity to save up to £200 a month with the government topping up their contributions by 25%, up to a maximum of £3,000.

First-time house buyers across the UK can open an ISA, which is available for home purchases up to £250,000 (£450,000 in London). If you plan to buy a home with someone who also qualifies, you are each able to separately claim the bonuses on your savings and put both towards the home you are buying.

The scheme has proven to be hugely popular, with the equivalent of 1,500 Help to Buy: ISAs being opened every day since its introduction. The number of providers of the scheme, which includes banks, building societies and credit unions, has doubled since its launch to 28, with the Nottingham Building Society being the most recent to sign up.

Savings in a Help to Buy: ISA are tax-free and are also quick and easy to open. Savers can receive on average 2.4% interest rate on their savings which is typically higher than an instant access savings account.

First-time buyers will be able to open a Help to buy: ISA until 30 November 2019. Existing account holders can continue to save in their ISA account until 30 November 2029 when accounts will close to additional contributions. Bonuses can be claimed until 1 December 2030.

!Warning-Breaching Competition Rules!

In June 17 the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) fined The National Lighting Compamy Ltd (NLC) £2.7 million for breaching anti-competition laws. Could you fall foul of these regulations?

The Fine. NLC is a supplier of light fittings to a various retailers who re- sell them on. The CMA found that NLC had imposed a minimum resale price on the retailers it worked with, otherwise known as resale price maintenance (RPM) - making it impossible to shop around for the best deal.

The problem? This arrangement breaches strict anti-competition laws which state that suppliers cannot specify the retail price at which their products are sold, either online or through other sales channels; resellers are entitled to set the price at which their products are sold. If you are involved in RPM, both you and the supplier can be found guilty of breaching competition laws.

Penalties. Consequences include fines of up to 10% of the business’s worldwide turnover and director disqualifications. If you ignore a formal warning letter from the CMA - NLC did - a surcharge of 25% can be added to the fine.

Tip. If you need to know more about RPM and general competition laws, the CMA has  a range of information videos.  If a supplier tries to impose or suggest a RPM arrangement report it to the CMA on 020 3738 6000.

Cash is no longer King

Cash no longer accounts for the majority of consumer and business transactions, spending in notes and coins amounted to £15.4 billion last year, down 11% from £17.2 billion in 2015. Figures from UK Finance show cash represented 44% of all payments made by consumers in 2016.

The average cash payments value has increased over the last 10 years as a result of card payments accounting for more and more low-value payments.

61% of cash payments were for either £5 or less and 26% for £1 or less. 10% of adults aged 25 to 34 relied predominantly on card payments, using cash once or less each month. Around 5% of the adult population relied solely on notes and coins to make their day-to-day payments last year. 

The total number of cash payments is expected to drop to 25% (£8.7 billion) over the next 10 years as contacless technplogy takes over.

Adrian Buckle, chief economist at UK Finance, said:

“Over the past few years we have witnessed a significant shift away from cash use in this country with contactless cards causing a decrease in the use of notes and coins. 

“People will always want to choose the payment methods that best suit them and, for the foreseeable future, that will continue to be cash.”

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Update on RTI failures & HMRC

HMRC has updated its notes on it's response to payroll information that's not submitted within deadlines.. As an employer what does it mean for you?

RTI problems. The payroll real time information (RTI) regime has been running for 4 years and there is still confusion amongst. Eg. HMRCs response to the late filing of RTI reports. Consequently HMRC has issued an update to it's guidance .

Specific charges. Failure to submit a full payment submission (FPS) showing payroll figures or an employer payment summary (EPS) telling HMRC that you haven’t paid any employees during a tax month, HMRC issue a specified charge (estimate). The way you remove such a specified charge is to submit a late FPS/ EPS for the relevant period. If your online PAYE tax account doesn't balance then a specified charge/s might be the cause.

Penalty appeals. Late submissions can result in a HMRC penalty notices (normally issued quarterly), the guide gives advice on how to lodge an appeal against a penalty if you think it’s not valid or unjust., 

New employers. HMRC also reminds new employers who didn’t register (as an employer) online, that they must enrol for “PAYE Online” services or they won’t be able to submit RTI reports or use other online employer services 

SME performance highest for 7 years

Performance among small and medium-sized manufacturers grew at it's fastest rate for 7 years driven by export demand according to figures for Q2 2017.

A poll of 364 SMEs reveals that, 38% reported an increase in total new orders in the qtr to 31 July 2017.

36% reported order volumes grew at a strong pace, with exports growing at the highest rate since April 2011.

28%  engaged additional staff in Q2 2017 and expect this trend to continue in Q3. 

Overall, 19% of firms were optimistic about the general business situation compared to 3 months ago and 22% are more confident on their export prospects for the next 12 months.

Alpesh Paleja, principle economist at the Confederation of British Industry, said:

“Firms are clearly in an exporting sweet spot, able to exploit the competitiveness gains from a low exchange rate and a firm global backdrop.

“But the boost from a lower exchange rate will fade over time, so maintaining frictionless and tariff-free trade routes with the EU will be critical for future exporting success.”

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Pension withdrawls reach record levels

The value of funds withdrawn under the new pension fredoms reach a record £1.86m in Q2 17, with 200,000 people taking advantage.oney people withdrew from their retirement savings under pension freedoms hit a record high in Q2 2017.

According to figures from HMRC, 200,000 people took out flexible payments worth £1.86 million in the 3 months to 30 June 2017.of this option. A Scottish Widows, poll reveals 62% of relevant individuals were aged between 55 and 60. Respondees stated the following resons for withdrawls:-:

  • 25% just wanted the money
  • 11% intended to pay off existing debt
  • 9% were planning on a sizeable purchase ie. a holiday
  • 8% planned to settle their mortgage

Catherine Stewart, retirement planning expert at Scottish Widows, said:

“Whilst it’s good more people are evidently becoming engaged with their pension at a younger age, it’s essential everyone is able to access help and information to make informed choices which are right for their retirement plans.”

NHS trust fined £1m following 53-year-old man’s death in Lincolnshire

United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust has been fined following the death of 53-year-old John Biggadike at Pilgrim Hospital in Boston.

Mr Biggadike, who was a patient at the hospital, died on 10 April 2012 from internal injuries after falling onto an exposed metal post on the standing aid hoist that staff were using to support him. The kneepad on the standing aid hoist had been incorrectly removed leaving the exposed metal post that caused the fatal injuries when he collapsed after standing up.

An HSE investigation found the Trust did not have systems for training and monitoring how staff used the standing aid hoist and unsafe practices had developed.

United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust, of Trust Headquarters, Lincoln County Hospital, Greetwell Road, Lincoln, was found guilty of breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. It was fined £1 million and ordered to repay £160,000 in costs. Full story

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Haulage firm fined after worker crushed

A haulage firm has been fined after a load from the top of a double-decked trailer fell onto a worker.

A Maxi Haulage Limited employee was injured at a site in Cape Road Warwick, when a piece of metal ducting, six metres long and weighing 28kg, fell from the top deck of the trailer, hitting him on his head. The blow caused serious, life changing injuries, including a fractured skull.

HSE found that this site had not implemented systems and procedures for unloading of trailers at depots, produced by Maxi Haulage. . It was also found employees were not properly informed about pedestrian and vehicle segregation rules, and little was done about the work not being followed.

Maxi Haulage Limited, of Elliott House, Kilwinning Road, Irvine, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and have been fined £100,000 and ordered to pay costs of £53,401. Full story

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HMRC has announced significant changes to the roll-out of its Making Tax Digital scheme

Following feedback and concerns about the broad scope and short timescales from parliamentary bodies, businesses, the accounting profession and software companies. HMRC has announced significant changes to the roll-out of its Making Tax Digital scheme, which was due to go live from April 2018.

The scope and timetable have now been pared back to a more realistic and workable scheme.

  • Only businesses with a turnover above the VAT threshold will have to keep digital records and only for VAT purposes. They will only need to do so from 2019.
  • Businesses will not be asked to keep digital records or update HMRC quarterly for other taxes until at least 2020, instead of 2018 as originally proposed.
  • Small businesses will be able to file digitally on a voluntary basis for other taxes.

A simple clause in your will could save thousands in tax

The terms of your will can significantly affect the tax payable by your estate, especially in the unlikely, but possible, event that you and your spouse die at the same time. How should you word your will to minimise inheritance tax?

Are wills necessary?

While the general wisdom is that we should all have a will, the absence of one often won’t adversely affect how your estate is distributed (because for smaller estates the intestacy rules might tie in with your wishes) or result in a higher inheritance tax (IHT) bill. What’s more, where you have a will, the tax implications of even seemingly minor clauses need to be considered carefully.

Who died first?

In England and Wales the law says that where two people die, say a married couple, but it isn’t known who died first (for example where they are involved in a fatal accident), the eldest is treated as having died first. This is often referred to as the “commorientes rule”.

IHT rules differ

The commorientes rule doesn’t apply for IHT purposes. Instead, tax rules say that where the actual date and time of death of two persons can’t be determined they are assumed to have died at exactly the same time (see The next step ). Where there’s a will this can have an big impact on the amount of IHT payable.

Example 1. Bill is older than his wife Jean. Each of their estates are worth £500,000. Their wills include a typical clause for a couple which means the estate of the first to die passes to the survivor. Note that transfers between spouses are exempt from IHT. Bill dies in January 2018 and his estate is inherited by Jean. She dies two months later leaving a total estate of £1 million to her and Bill’s children. After deducting the nil rate band and that transferred from Bill’s estate (for simplicity we’ve assumed that the residence nil rate band doesn’t apply) which total £650,000, IHT is payable on £350,000, i.e. £140,000.

Example 2. The circumstances are the same as in example 1, except Bill and Jean die in an accident in January 2018 and it isn’t known who passed away first. Estate law says that Jean is treated as surviving Bill and so his estate therefore passes to her. This transfer is exempt from IHT. But tax rules say that for IHT purposes they are treated as dying simultaneously. This means Jean’s estate doesn’t include Bill’s when calculating IHT. Thus, Bill’s estate (£500,000) is exempt because it passed to Jean (his spouse), and Jean’s estate (£500,000) is covered by her nil rate band and that transferred from Bill. In other words, both estates escape IHT.

Survivorship clause

If, as is common, Bill and Jean’s wills include a survivorship clause, e.g. if the other spouse doesn’t survive the first spouse’s death by, say a month or more, the estate of the first to die goes to different beneficiaries, the tax loophole described in Example 2 wouldn’t apply. This is because on Bill’s death his estate would pass to his children and so the spouse exemption wouldn’t apply.

Tip. If your will includes a survivorship clause ask a solicitor to add a caveat that it won’t apply in the event you and your spouse’s death occur together meaning that IHT rules deem them simultaneous.

Warburtons fined £1.9m after injury to agency worker

Warburtons Ltd has been fined after a worker was injured when his arm got trapped against a running conveyor belt.

On 4 August 2015 the agency worker was cleaning parts of the bread line when his arm got trapped leaving him with friction burns which required skin grafts. HSE inspectors found the machine could have been fitted with localised guarding to prevent access between the conveyors.

Warburtons Ltd of Mushroom Farm Eastwood, Nottingham, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 11 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. The company has been fined £1.9 million and ordered to pay full costs of £21,459.71. See full story

Potential trap for Scottish taxpayers

Warning. The Association of Taxation Technicians has issued a press release warning that Scottish taxpayers currently living abroad could face inaccurate tax assessments.

Problem. The issue arises because HMRC’s regulations are such that if a Scottish person is non-UK resident for a particular tax year, they lose the Scottish taxpayer status and should instead be regarded as a general UK taxpayer. The problem is that HMRC allocates the status based on the address it has on its database for your client. If your client is in temporary accommodation overseas, i.e. no fixed overseas address, they may not update HMRC as there is no permanence or certainty.

Tax issue. For example a taxpayer who lives in Scotland but goes overseas for a period that makes them non-resident for 2017/18. They have rental income that takes them into the higher rate. As a Scottish taxpayer, their higher rate threshold would be just £43,000; however if they used the (correct) UK taxpayer status, they would be able to use the higher £45,000 threshold - saving them up to £400.

Solution. To resolve the issue contact HMRC and inform them of your current overseas address, but ask them to retain the Scottish address for correspondence only.

Crowdfunding  - a 2017 update

Crowdfunding is becoming an increasingly common method for SMEs and start-ups to obtain funding. Here's a look at the sector

What SMEs need to know about crowdfunding. Business Insider (http://read.bi/2smlTvW), reports that UK crowdfunding  has ackieved an 11% increase in successful campaigns vs QTR 1 2016. The European Commission has an great Guide to Crowdfunding for SMEs (https://ec.europa.eu/growth/tools-databases/crowdfunding-guide_en). explaining the sources, benefits, risks &how to for SMEs to raise funds by this method. Startups (http://startups.co.uk/crowdfunding-explained) looks at regulation and and the latest trends.

Equity crowdfunding.  Equity crowdfunding - you give up a share of your business in return for incoming investment. Seedrs (https://www.seedrs.com) this equity funding platform has plans for a secondary market for investors to acquire shares from each other. Crowdcube (https://www.crowdcube.com) this platform boasts almost 0.5 million members.

Peer-to-peer crowdfunding. borrow money from the “crowd” at an agreed rate of interest. Here's 2 of the more high profile platforms - RateSetter(https://www.ratesetter.com) and Zopa(https://www.zopa.com).

Rewards-based crowdfunding. You borrow from investors and they receive a non-financial reward in return. eg Crowdfunder (http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk) with 350,000 members.

A directory of crowdfunding platforms. The CrowdingIndatabase (http://crowdingin.com/platforms/all/all) provides a directory of current crowdfunding platforms with filters to soeed up  your search.

The FCA. Here you see what the authority is saying about Crowdfunding (https://www.fca.org.uk

Important update to the 2016/17 tax calculation notes

Tax calculation notes. HMRC’s tax calculation summary notes provide guidance and a working sheet to help accountants & tax agents check the tax calculations for clients, which could be particularly useful this year as there are number of situations when even HMRC’s software is not calculating the tax bill correctly.

Update. The notes were originally released on 6 April 2017 but were updated on 16 June 2017 as the previous version didn’t make it clear that, in accordance with s.25(2) Income Tax Act 2007, the personal allowance should be used “in the way which will result in the greatest reduction in the taxpayers’ liability to income tax”. The update now acknowledges that for some clients the greatest reduction in their tax bill will be achieved by having the dividend income allocated against their personal allowance in preference to savings or other income 

National Insurance Update

Queen’s Speech - National Insurance Bill measures

A National Insurance Bill was was included amongst mesures announced in the Queen’s Speech. Does this mean that the self-employed will now pay more NI?


The U-turn on Class 4 Nic is confirmed. In the Queen’s Speech, the government confirmed increase Class 4 NI rates for self-employed people originally announced in Budget 2017. So what is happening? The  government will legislate for the “National Insurance contribution (NICs changes announced in the 2016 Budget and the 2016 Autumn Statement”. In the 2016 Budget the gvernment announced that Class 2 NI (currently £2.85 per week on profits over £6,025) would be scrapped for the self-employed from April 2018. After April 2018 Class 4 NI will be reformed so that self-employed people can continue to build entitlement to the state pension and other contributory benefits.


"The NI bill will not include the controversial measure to increase NI rates for self-employed people but will include the scrapping of Class 2 NI."

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Client Successes

Client 1

NEW CLIENT- TAX INVESTIGATION ASSIGNMENT - Our senior consultant was engaged by this client to defend an HMRC investigation into a previous end of year return involving serious breaches of statutory requirements. The sums involved were in excess of £500,000 with penalties of between a minmum 15% and a maximum 30%, the higher end being more likely. We were able to have the penalties reduced from a probable 30% down to 15.14% saving the client in the region of £85,000. In addition the final penalty levied has now been suspended, subject to agreed arrangements, following further consultations with HMRC. Had we not dealt with this issue, the client's entire profit for the last year would have been wiped out.

Client 2

BUSINESS START-UP CLIENT - Our team have provided this client with accountancy, advisory and mentoring services since inception and we are delighted that our involvement has helped this client to achieve profitability in it's first full year of trading. No mean achievement given the current economic climate and we wish them every success for the coming year and will continue to help them grow.

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