Monthly Archives: July 2011

PM+M awarded ‘Silver Status’ by Investors in People

We are delighted to announce that PM+M has been awarded the coveted Investors in People (IIP) Silver Status Award. We received a Certification of Recognition confirming PM+M’s Silver Status in July.

PM+M has been a proud IIP accredited firm for many years but our new Silver Status is a further mark of excellence and follows an intensive reassessment process involving interviews with our staff.

IIP Silver Status is awarded to organisations that demonstrate a forward-thinking and progressive approach to business improvement through people.

Receiving IIP Silver Status positions PM+M in the top 2% of IIP accredited companies in the UK. Just 80 organisations in the North West have received this accolade, only 11 of which are in Lancashire. We look forward to building on this success.

Delay in tax statements as HMRC fails to order enough paper

Statements about self assessment balancing payments will be delayed this year for some 500,000 people after HMRC failed to order enough special paper.

Those in the self assessment system who pay taxes ‘on account’ – mainly sole traders, the self-employed, and partners in businesses or LLPs – make payments in January and July 2011 based on the tax they paid for the tax year 2009-10. A balancing payment, or refund, will paid in January 2012 to rectify any differences between the estimate and the actual amount.

However, this year HMRC underestimated the number of forms – similar to credit card statements – required by taxpayers and failed to order enough of the necessary paper for printing them.

The late statements will now go out in August and, so long as payments are made within 30 days, no interest will be charged. It will also still be possible for taxpayers to check their statements online and pay via the internet or by telephone.

A spokesman for the Revenue said: “The volumes on this occasion have risen out of all proportion to previous patterns. HMRC will now ensure that they understand the reasons for this and will be fully prepared for any future rises…This in no way prevents the accurate payment of tax and no one will be out of pocket as a result.”

Cost of red tape compliance on the rise

Businesses are spending more time and money on complying with regulations than ever before, latest research has shown.

According to a new survey by the Forum of Private Business (FPB), small firms spent a total of £16.8 billion on legal compliance last year, equating to an average of £14,200 per firm.

Of the 4,800 business owners polled, more than eight in 10 (84%) said they were spending more time on legislation than in 2009, while 67% revealed that they were spending more money on contracting external consultants to help minimise the burden.

The FPB argues that Government measures aimed at reducing the regulatory burden, such as the scrapping of £350 million of business regulations and a three-year moratorium on new regulations for firms with fewer than 10 staff, have yet to have an impact.

“Despite several government initiatives – some more effective than others – it is clear that we are heading in the wrong direction as far as reducing regulation for small business owners is concerned,” said the Forum’s Head of Campaigns Jane Bennett.

“We simply want these measures to work properly and for the voices of the UK’s business owners to be clearly heard.”

Low interest rates ‘deter young savers’, study suggests

Low interest rates on children’s savings accounts are deterring many parents from investing in their future, a new study suggests.

According to a survey by consumer group Which?, the average instant access account for children provides a 1.1% return on money invested, while some even offer rates as low as 0.05%.

Those offering some of the lowest interest rates include child savings accounts affiliated with major football clubs.

Which? also said it expects interest rates on child trust fund accounts to fall sharply when the new junior ISA is introduced later this year.

“It’s really important that children are encouraged to save, but it’s a real disincentive when there are such poor rates on offer,” commented James Daley, Editor of Which? Money.

“We think the situation may get worse unless the Government allows transfers from child trust funds [CTFs] to junior ISAs as we foresee that rates for CTFs will decline as providers concentrate their efforts on the new market for junior ISAs.”

VAT rule-breakers given final chance to come forward

HMRC has launched a new campaign to tackle businesses trading above the VAT threshold who have not registered for VAT.

Individuals and businesses have until 30 September to tell HMRC that they want to take part in the campaign. Those that make a full disclosure may face a reduced penalty rate of 10% on VAT that has been paid late.

More than 40,000 letters are being sent out over the next few weeks to inform businesses how to register to pay what they owe.

Businesses must register for VAT if their taxable turnover for the previous 12 months is more than £73,000 or they believe it will exceed this threshold in the next 30 days.

Commenting, Mike Wells, HMRC’s director of risk and intelligence, said: “The aim is to make it easy for individuals and businesses to contact us, make a full disclosure of their income and face a reduced penalty on any tax owed.

“I urge people who have not registered their businesses for VAT to get in touch with HMRC and get their tax affairs in order simply and on the best available terms.”

The clampdown is the latest in a series of HMRC campaigns to recoup unpaid tax.

Last month the Revenue published details of a campaign to target traders who use e-marketplace sites to buy and sell goods as a trade or business.

It also intends to scrutinise the tax affairs of private tutors and coaches who are able to earn either a main or secondary income from their expertise.

Rise in SME loan approvals but ‘small firms still struggling’

A significant number of SMEs have successfully secured bank credit in the last 12 months, according to an independent survey conducted by the British Bankers’ Association (BBA) Taskforce.

Some 72% of SMEs that applied for an overdraft had their request approved, while 59% of loan applicants were successful.

However, business groups have argued that the very smallest firms are still struggling to gain access to affordable finance, with many firms choosing not to apply. Of the 5,000 SMEs surveyed, just 15% had actually applied for new credit.

The BBA Taskforce, which is made up of the major banks, business organisations and trade bodies, found that businesses with up to nine members of staff are most likely to be initially refused finance.

John Walker, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said: “These figures tell us what we already knew: the very smallest businesses are the ones bearing the brunt of a contraction in bank lending.

“Small firms have been telling us for the past few years that they are fearful of approaching the banks for new finance, or to extend an overdraft, because they know they are likely to be turned down, or be offered a deal on terms that just aren’t favourable for them.”

Yet the British Bankers’ Association was more optimistic.

“The results from the SME finance monitor are encouraging and show that most business are able to get the credit they need and that customers with a good track record and sound credit history find the process straightforward,” it said.

Inflation shows surprise dip in June

New data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) reveals an unexpected drop in the rate of inflation in June.

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) dropped from 4.5% to 4.2%, and the Retail Price Index (RPI) was down slightly as well from 5.2% to 5%. Both rates had been expected to remain unchanged.

There was also a sharp fall in core inflation, which dropped to 2.8%, the lowest figure since November 2010.

This comes as good news for the Bank of England, which has insisted that there is little sign of an inflationary spiral and has resisted pressure to raise interest rates in order to control rising prices. However, despite the fall, it is the 19th month in a row that inflation has exceeded the Bank of England’s target of 2%.

The ONS has said a sharp fall in prices of games, computer consoles, and electrical products outweighed a rise in food and alcohol prices, which were 0.9% higher over the month.

The Bank of England forecasts inflation to peak at 5% by the end of the year.

Accountants take a stroll for charity

Three of our trainee chartered accountants, Danielle Vollentine, Claire Furnival and Lucy O’Gorman took part in a charity midnight walk on Saturday 2nd July to raise cash for Pendleside Hospice.

Joining more than 2000 other women taking part, all three completed the eight-mile route covering Burnley and the Pendle area, raising over £300 for Pendleside Hospice. Well done team!

FSB hails rise in apprenticeships

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has welcomed news of a large increase in the number of apprenticeships in UK businesses, particularly in sectors including advanced manufacturing and IT.

The Government has delivered an extra 103,000 apprenticeships over the last year, twice as many as expected, according the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has said.

But John Walker, chairman of the FSB, warned: “Now is not the time to get complacent as a raft of new school leavers will be entering the jobs market soon.”

He added that only one in 10 respondents to a recent FSB survey said they took on an apprentice in the last year, showing that more needs to be done to help the smallest firms to take on an apprentice to further rebalance the economy.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “We’re determined to do more to…break down barriers between academic and vocational learning. Our planned investment will deliver some 360,000 apprenticeships this year alone, and we’ll continue to work with the business community to make it easier for more employers of all sizes to take on an apprentice and reap the benefits they bring.”

HMRC admits millions have not paid correct amount of tax

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has said that up to 4.7 million taxpayers will be sent letters later this year telling them they paid either too much or too little income tax in 2010/11.

Every year HMRC conducts a reconciliation exercise to check that people have paid the right tax via the PAYE system. Last September, HMRC faced severe criticism when it emerged that 5.7 million people had not paid the correct tax via PAYE for the years 2008/09 and 2009/10, which led to about 1.4 million people having to pay an extra £1,428 each on average, while about 900,000 taxpayers had their debts of up to £300 written off. The explanation given by the Revenue was that a new, more effective computer system had revealed previous calculation errors.

This year the reconciliation exercise for 2010/11 will take place in late July, and HMRC estimates that between 1.7 and 3.5 million people will be repaid an average of £340 each, while 1.2 million will owe £500-£600 each.

Cheques for people previously overtaxed are due to be sent out in August and September, and calculations for underpayments will be sent in batches after that, with the last going out in December.

Those presented with a bill will have time to challenge the calculations if they think they are wrong. If the challenge is unsuccessful then the money will be taken from their earnings each month via a change to their PAYE tax code for 2012/13.

Up to £3,000 per individual will be collected this time via PAYE, more than the previous limit of £2,000.

“We expect that hardly anyone will be faced with a bill larger than £3,000, but if they want to pay us in one go by cheque they can,” said an HMRC spokesman.