Please accept our apologies for only having a single newsletter for both February and March this year. February was an especially busy time for us and the month ran out before the preparation was complete! We hope you will find this edition useful, and as usual we welcome comments and suggestions for topics we could cover in future.
Bath Life Awards Winner
Innovation 4 Growth bid end date imminent
Flexible working implementation delayed
Changes to Consumer Credit rules
Closing the deal
Employee Share Scheme changes
Business Rates Review
LLP Tax changes
Phishing warning (again!)
Latest HMRC information for employers
Congratulations to Vanessa Sayce at The Marmalade House
The Marmalade House has been awarded Creative Business of the Year at the Bath Life Awards 2014. Well done to Vanessa and her team!
Vanessa was nominated in 2013 and made the short list, but perseverance pays off, and she triumphed this year. Marmalade House were featured in our October 2012 newsletter not long after Vanessa opened her shop on the Belvedere in Bath.
Innovation 4 Growth Invites Applications from South West of England Businesses
Financed by the Government's Regional Growth Fund, Innovation 4 Growth (I4G) offers South West of England businesses support for developing innovative products, processes and services.
Initiatives are supported by the I4G programme with a view to safeguarding existing, or creating additional, jobs for the South West region.
A total fund of £4 million is available. Grants of between £25,000 and £150,000 will be provided from this fund, with I4G contributing up to a maximum of 35% of total project costs.
SMEs and larger businesses with plans for research and development, or developing an innovative project, are eligible to access funding support.
Professor Martin Boddy, pro-vice chancellor of research and business engagement at the University of the West of England, said:
"We are delighted to offer support to promising enterprises across the South West. Not only in the Bristol area, but right across the region – from Truro to Tewkesbury, Bideford to Bournemouth – the fund will enable us to help businesses innovate and grow."
The deadline for applications to the first funding round is 10 March 2014, so there is not much time!
See the Innovation 4 Growth website for more information
Extension of flexible working to all employees delayed
The introduction of the right to request flexible working for all employees, which was due to come into force on 6th April 2014, has been held up, due to a delay in the progression of the Children and Families Bill through Parliament. The House of Commons has agreed a new target date of 21st March 2014 for Royal Assent of the Bill, but the Department for Business (BIS) has yet to confirm a new implementation date for flexible working requests. Currently, only employees with children aged 16 or under (17 or under if the child is disabled) or those who are carers have the right to request flexible working arrangements. It is also expected that the current statutory procedure for dealing with flexible working requests will be abolished. Sarah Anderson, Employment Law Editor at XpertHR, urged employers to continue preparing for the forthcoming changes by reviewing their current flexible working policies.
Read more about the delay at: http://www.personneltoday.com/hr/new-right-employees-request-flexible-working-delayed/
Health and safety offenders facing tougher penalties
Employers who breach health and safety laws have faced harsher penalties since the Health and Safety Offences Act 2008 (the Act) was introduced in January 2009, according to a review by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The Act raised the maximum penalties that courts could impose, and enabled lower courts such as Magistrates' and Sheriffs' courts to try more cases. In addition, the Act provided that custodial sentences could be imposed for the majority of offences. The review found that after the Act came into force, 86% of cases were heard in the lower courts compared with 70% previously. The average fine for breaching health and safety regulations also rose by 60% from around £4,500 to over £7,300.
Read more about the review at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/unscrupulous-employers-facing-tougher-health-and-safety-penalties
FCA confirms forthcoming consumer credit rules
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has confirmed the rules it will apply to consumer credit firms from 1st April 2014, when it takes over consumer credit regulation from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT). Around 50,000 firms are expected to be affected by the change in regulator, from 'low-risk' firms such as those selling goods or services on interest-free credit, to 'high-risk' firms such as payday lenders, pawnbrokers and firms selling goods under hire-purchase agreements. While low-risk firms will be eligible to trade with 'limited permission', high-risk firms will require 'full authorisation' and be subject to robust rules covering their conduct.
The FCA press release is available at: http://www.fca.org.uk/news/fca-confirms-tough-new-rules-for-200bn-consumer-credit-market
The policy statement detailing the FCA rules is available at: http://www.fca.org.uk/static/documents/policy-statements/ps14-03.pdf
Closing the deal
Every prospect eventually buys because of the salesperson.
The secret to successful selling is not telling the customer what you have to offer, but finding out what they need (not necessarily what they think they want!).
1. Find out what the potential buyer thinks they need.
2. Probe whether this is the real issue and ...
3. Uncover their pain.
If your product cannot address their pain (and never will), save everyone time and money and walk away. Your potential client will respect you more and could well come back when they need what you do have! If you can relieve their pain, talk about how your product or service will help their business (the benefits) before entering into a dialogue on what it does (the features).
By listening to the answers to good questions you will learn a lot about what the potential customer wants. By analysing those answers you can discover what the customer needs.
Having determined the solution you are proposing, ensure you and the customer are clear on the next steps - who is going to make the next move (you!) and what are the expected outcomes. Clarify this with the customer and get their agreement.
If the customer is hesitant, make sure they are a genuine opportunity before spending more of your time and theirs on a process that is going nowhere.
Changes to Employee Share incentive schemes
HRMC are changing the regulations concerning the registration of employee share schemes, including CSOP, SAYE and other schemes. From 6th April 2014 HMRC will no longer be approving schemes as compliant, companies with staff share incentive schemes must self-certify on the HMRC website. Currently approved schemes must register by April 2015 to remain approved. For more information see https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/264592/employment-securities.pdf, or talk to us and we will help you find the right advice for you.
Review of business rates administration announced
A review of the administration of business rates from 2017 has been announced by the Treasury and the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG). The review will look at the application of rates relief and exemptions, improving communication with ratepayers, changes to the valuation process and the frequency of valuations, but will not review the link between business rates and rental property values. James Lowman, Chief Executive of the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS), said: "This review will provide retailers with a great opportunity to communicate the impact of business rates and how the system can be improved."
There is more about the review at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/business-rates-administration-review-terms-of-reference
New rules to cut down on tax avoidance by LLP members
Members of a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) face being treated as employees for income tax purposes from 6th April 2014 if provisions included in the draft Finance Bill 2014 are approved. Currently, members of an LLP are treated as self employed for income tax purposes. Under the new provisions, an LLP member will be defined as an employee if they meet the following statutory criteria: they receive a 'disguised salary'; they do not have a significant influence over the affairs of the partnership; and their contribution to the LLP is less than 25% of their disguised salary. Commenting on the proposals, George Bull, National Chairman of Baker Tilly's Professional Practices Group, said: "HMRC have ignored profession-wide requests not to apply such a 'broad brush' approach, which has, as predicted, caught so many genuine partnership businesses using the structures to accumulate profits for internal investment. This now gives the partnership model a very real disadvantage in comparison to the traditional corporate model."
Read more about the proposed changes at: http://www.lawgazette.co.uk/law/partners-to-be-hit-by-llp-tax-changes/5039188.article
HMRC urges taxpayers not to be fooled by phishing scams
HMRC has warned taxpayers to avoid being caught out by e-mail phishing scams that claim to offer tax rebates in return for bank account details. In the three months to the 31st January 2014 tax return deadline, a total of 23,247 phishing e-mails were reported to HMRC, a 47% increase on the same period in 2013. HMRC has confirmed that it never contacts taxpayers via e-mail regarding a refund, and advised anyone who receives an e-mail claiming to be from HMRC not to click on any links or attachments, forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org and then delete it permanently. HMRC has published advice and examples of typical fake e-mails at www.hmrc.gov.uk/security/index.htm.
There is more about the warning at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/taxman-warns-against-rebate-phishing-scams
DWP responds to automatic enrolment consultation
Following a consultation on employers' automatic enrolment duties, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has agreed that there is a 'strong case' for exempting the following types of employee from automatic enrolment: employees who have tax-protected status for existing pension savings; who are about to leave employment; who have given notice of imminent retirement; or who have recently cancelled membership of a pension scheme after being contractually enrolled. In its response to the consultation, the DWP identified the 'next step' as developing workable exceptions that benefit employees and employers, and promised to 'bring forward final proposals, with a draft statutory instrument for consultation in due course.'
Read more about the consultation at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/279225/automatic-enrolment-exceptions-to-employer-duties-government-response.pdf
HMRC have published important information for employers on their website, which includes:
- Reporting PAYE in real time for 2013-14
- Employer Bulletin (February 2014, issue 46), with three essential articles to read on the introduction of Employment Allowance, the latest real time information and the Chancellor’s Autumn statement
- Starting your payroll for 2014-15 by using our form P9X (2014) Tax codes to use from 6 April 2014, at www.hmrc.gov.uk/helpsheets/p9x.pdf
To find out more, read the important information for employers page on the HMRC website.