Archive for August, 2023

Harnessing the benefits and potential of AI in business

Thursday, August 31st, 2023

The steady march of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has reshaped the way we work, penetrating almost every aspect of modern business.

This seismic shift to AI has offered a plethora of benefits across industries ranging from retail and healthcare to banking and financial services.

On the flipside, drawbacks and potential dangers of using this new technology remain a valid threat and successful integration of AI requires careful consideration of ethical concerns and potential security risks.

Enhanced efficiency and productivity

AI often augments human capabilities and can increase productivity while reducing operational costs.

It can handle repetitive, mundane tasks with the ability to analyse vast amounts of data, freeing up employees for higher value work and decision-making.

Customer service

AI powered chatbots and virtual assistants provide round-the-clock customer support, addressing enquiries promptly.

There are downsides to the technology, however. An AI-powered chatbot can sometimes fail to understand human emotions and give a robotic reply to a query, resulting in a dissatisfied and frustrated customer.

Safety and security

AI can assist in predictive maintenance, preventing equipment failures and ensuring workplace safety.

Businesses should be aware, however, that a cybercriminal can restrict the capabilities of a business’s AI systems to penetrate them and access sensitive information.

Broadly speaking, AI can support firms through automating business processes, gaining insight through data analysis and engaging with customers.

Those who fail to take advantage of AI risk falling behind competitors who can operate far more efficiently. Many still believe that more regulation is necessary to negate any potential risks.

Insolvencies slow down but businesses are not out of the woods

Wednesday, August 30th, 2023

Company insolvencies across England and Wales fell in July and are six per cent lower than the same month last year, official figures show.

The headline reduction in insolvencies to 1,727 is down 20 per cent compared to June’s registered total of 2,163.

The level of Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidations (CVLs), mainly seen among smaller companies, is also starting to drop. The total for July was 1,336 – 17 per cent lower than in the same month last year.

By contrast, the total number of administrations and Company Voluntary Arrangements (CVAs) – rescue procedures which tend to be used by larger companies – was four times higher than in July 2022.

Conditions remain challenging, and the latest figures shared by the Insolvency Service are still well above the pre-COVID-19 historic average. Compared to July 2021, corporate insolvencies have increased by more than 57 per cent and almost 20 per cent compared to July 2019.

Economic issues continue to bite

Despite some positive trajectories, experts are warning businesses to acknowledge and address persisting challenges.

Nicky Fisher, the President of R3, the UK’s insolvency and restricting trade body, said: “Costs are rising at a time when people are cutting spending back, leaving businesses facing the challenge of squeezed margins and shrinking revenues and having to work out whether to absorb their cost increases or pass them on to their customers.

“Alongside these, requests for wage increases, and higher energy bills are also hitting businesses hard as the costs of cooling premises in the summer are just as challenging as keeping them warm in the winter.

“These are making firms more cautious about investment or recruitment – especially as the increased cost of borrowing will make raising funds for investment more challenging.”

Seek advice

Businesses are being advised to continue vigilance, seek guidance and consider long-term financial management strategies that prioritise financial stability.

Need advice on this issue? We can help.

Do you need to complete a self-assessment tax return this year?

Thursday, August 24th, 2023

A change in a taxpayer’s circumstances could mean they need to complete their first ever self-assessment tax return.

Tax is usually deducted automatically from wages and pensions; however, people and businesses with other income must report it in a tax return.

HMRC must be informed by October 5 by those who need to complete a tax return and have not sent one before.

Who needs to check?

A free online checking tool is available on GOV.UK to help those unsure if they need to complete an assessment. It can also be used by people who may no longer need to do self-assessment, including if they:

  • Gave up work or retired
  • Are no longer self-employed
  • Earn below the minimum income thresholds

If taxpayers no longer think they need to complete a self-assessment tax return for the 2022 to 2023 tax year, they should tell HMRC before the deadline on January 31, 2024.

Avoiding penalties

Myrtle Lloyd, HMRC’s Director General for Customer Services, said: “It is important that taxpayers check if they need to complete a self-assessment tax return so they can pay the right amount of tax owed and avoid penalties for not filing a return.

“It is quick and easy to check by using the interactive tool on GOV.UK – there is no need to ring us.”

Who needs to compete a tax return?

Taxpayers may need to complete a tax return if they:

  • Are newly self-employed and have earned more than £1,000
  • Have multiple sources of income
  • Have received any untaxed income, for example earning money for creating online content
  • Earn more than £100,000 a year
  • Earn income from property that they own and rent out
  • Are a new partner in a business partnership
  • Are claiming Child Benefit and they or their partner have an income above £50,000
  • Receive interest from banks and building societies of more than £10,000
  • Receive dividends in excess of £10,000
  • Need to pay Capital Gains Tax
  • Are self-employed and earn less than £1,000 but wish to pay Class 2 NICs voluntarily to protect their entitlement to State Pension and certain benefits

Taxpayers can register for self-assessment on GOV.UK. Once registered, they will receive their Unique Taxpayer Reference, which they will need when completing their tax return.

Need advice or support with self-assessment tax returns? We can help.

Shop opens its doors to help businesses go green and cut energy bills

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2023

Small and medium-sized businesses can now access support to reduce energy bills and carbon emissions through a new advice site.

The UK Business Climate Hub offers help for Britain’s 5.5 million SMEs, providing advice on everything from paying less for electric vehicles to generating green energy and selling it back to the grid to make money.

It also features a free carbon calculator and a suite of new tools to help businesses measure, track and report on emissions.

An array of options

The hub features guidance on various options including:

  • Switching employee modes of transport and paying less for company EVs
  • Getting business grants, green loans and financing for a retrofit
  • Buying an air source heat pump
  • Generating green energy with a wind turbine and selling it back to the grid
  • Reducing emissions from farming and land use
  • Buying credible carbon offsets
  • Getting low-carbon product labels and certifications
  • Reducing waste and recycling more

Drive towards net zero

Business and industry accounts for around 25 per cent of emissions in the UK. While research suggests 90 per cent of SMEs are keen to reduce their carbon footprint, many find it difficult to know how or where to start.

Minister of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, Graham Stuart, said: “More and more businesses are recognising the business benefits of reaching net zero and we’re determined to empower them to do so.

“Whether it’s fitting a low-carbon heat pump, generating energy with solar panels, or reducing the emissions from shipping goods, the new support will ensure businesses can drive towards net zero.”

The new site is endorsed by business leaders and ministers on the new Net Zero Council who are calling on business representative organisations across the country to take concerted action to plan to reduce their members’ emissions.

In 2020, the UK was estimated to already have more than 400,000 jobs in low carbon businesses and their supply chains across the country, with turnover at £41.6 billion.

More than 80,000 green jobs are currently being supported or are in the pipeline because of new Government policies since 2020, with that expected to increase to as many as nearly half a million by 2030.

For further information visit

Plugging the accountancy skills gap

Thursday, August 17th, 2023

Accountancy, like many other industries, has long struggled with a dire skills vacuum within the sector.

The pool of qualified accountants continues to shrink, with the over-50s and those aged 18 to 24 leaving the workforce in the greatest numbers. Figures suggest many older accountants chose to retire early during the pandemic, while younger individuals are choosing to travel or study for longer.

The war for talent may seem momentous, but companies who use honed talent acquisitions strategies and welcome new methods and technologies will be better placed to win the battle.

Embrace technology as an essential tool and leverage AI

As accountancy undergoes rapid technological advancements and evolving practices, teams who fail to adapt may find themselves at a disadvantage when it comes to attracting talent and retaining existing staff.

Training in data analytics, automation and accounting software can enhance efficiency and decision-making capabilities. Leveraging artificial intelligence to handle routine tasks, meanwhile, can free up accountants to focus on strategic analysis and decision-making.

It helps to forge strong partnerships between accounting and IT departments – collaborative efforts can facilitate the integration of technology into accounting processes.

Foster a culture of continuous learning

By investing in reskilling and upskilling initiatives and encouraging professionals to pursue certifications and staying updated on industry trends, businesses can bridge the skills gap without the need for recruitment.

Cross-training and mentoring programmes can facilitate knowledge transfer between experienced accountants and those new to the game.

Diversify hiring criteria

An open-minded approach in recruitment can uncover candidates with the potential to thrive.

Consider candidates who demonstrate so-called soft skills such as a willingness to learn, communication and critical thinking, even if they don’t possess the full spectrum of qualifications or experience.

Embrace remote working

According to research by Hays Recruitment Agency, a top priority for jobseekers is work-life balance, with 41 per cent rating it second only to salary in importance.

Providing remote or hybrid working can provide access to a larger talent pool and is known to increase productivity.

In addition, being more open to the possibility of hiring overseas candidates can help firms struggling to fill positions with local workers.

HMRC hikes interest rates again on late payments

Tuesday, August 15th, 2023

HMRC interest rates for late payments will increase again this month to their highest level since 2001.

Late payment interest is payable on tax bills covering income tax, National Insurance contributions, capital gains tax, corporation tax pay and file, stamp duty land tax, stamp duty and stamp duty reserve tax.

The latest rise was triggered by the increase in the Bank of England base rate to 5.25 per cent and set in legislation.

What are the increases?

The interest rates will increase as follows:

  • The rate of interest for the overdue payment of tax bills is calculated as base rate plus 2.5, so will increase to 7.75 per cent.
  • The rate of interest on unpaid instalments of corporation tax liabilities is calculated as base rate plus one. It will increase to 6.25 per cent.
  • The rate of interest paid by HMRC on the overpayment of tax is calculated as base rate minus one. It will increase to 4.25 per cent.

What does the Government say about late payment and repayment interest?

The Government said the rate of late payment interest “encourages prompt payment” and ensures fairness for those who pay their tax on time.

Meanwhile, the rate of repayment interest fairly compensates taxpayers for loss of use of their money when they overpay. It also said the differential between overdue payment interest and repayment interest is “in line” with the policy of other tax authorities worldwide. And it compares “favourably” with commercial practice for interest charged on loans or overdrafts and interest paid on deposits,

The Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee announced an increase to the Bank of England base rate from 5.00 per cent to 5.25 per cent on August 3.

The UK’s central bank continues to respond to persistent high inflation, bringing interest rates to their highest level since prior to the 2008 financial crisis.

Taxpayers can find more detailed information on the current interest rates for payments on the official Government website.

Need support or advice with tax repayments? We can help.

Banks with lowest savings rates to face robust action

Thursday, August 10th, 2023

The UK’s financial watchdog has warned it will crack down on lenders that fail to justify low savings rates.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said providers who fail to show how their rates represent fair value to customers could face “robust action by the end of 2023”. This could include fines.

It is part of a 14-point plan by the FCA following a month-long review into the savings market. It found many banks are not passing on interest rate rises to savers.

Smaller firms offering higher rates

The UK’s largest financial establishments, including Lloyds, NatWest, HSBC, Santander UK and Nationwide Building Society, had passed on just over a quarter of rising interest rates to the most popular easy access accounts. As for fixed savings accounts, banks passed on about 51 per cent of rate increases.

There has also been significant variance between firms, with smaller firms offering higher interest rates on average than their larger competitors.

Given soaring interest rates on mortgages, credit cards and loans, low savings rates are seen by many as unfair, given booming bank profits. The regulator has said it will “conduct further analysis” into how cash savings are contributing to these profits.

Named and shamed

The FCA has already met with some of the country’s biggest lenders telling them to speed up. The regulator expects lenders to pass benefits to savers within “weeks” of a central bank interest rate rise.

Its 14-point plan will monitor how quickly banks pass on savings rates to customers and name and shame those which fail.

‘Better deals for savers’

Sheldon Mills, Executive Director of Consumers and Competition at the FCA, said: “We want a competitive cash savings market that delivers better deals for savers, where interest rates are reviewed quickly following base rate changes and firms prompt savers to switch to accounts paying higher rates.

“We welcome the progress that has been made so far but this needs to speed up. We will be using the Consumer Duty to ensure this is the case – with firms required to prove to us that they are offering their customers fair value.

“We continue to urge savers to shop around to take advantage of the increasing number of better saving deals available.”

Working overseas? Be aware of the tax implications

Tuesday, August 8th, 2023

The pandemic triggered a seismic shift in working practices with remote and hybrid working become the norm at many UK businesses.

Even when a return to the traditional workplace became possible, it was evident many workers preferred a more flexible arrangement. Well-reported difficulties in recruitment and talent acquisition led many employers to accept flexible working requests.

It also became more commonplace for employers to allow workers to live and work overseas.

Whether these arrangements are temporary or long term, there are tax and legal implications for the employer and the employee working away from HQ.

The rules are extensive and it would be wise to seek advice before making the move.

Income tax

As well as paying UK tax, earnings can also be subject to income tax in the country where the employee physically works. Employers may therefore have obligations to report and collect tax for the overseas country.

Typically speaking:

  • If the employee works for six months or less, income duties may not be taxable overseas. However, the employer may have reporting obligations in the country overseas
  • Medium-term working abroad would see the income taxed in the UK – usually with a foreign tax credit – as well as being taxed by the overseas country
  • In the case of long-term working overseas – usually at least one UK tax year – the income would only be taxable in the overseas country

In some countries, a double taxation treaty exists that can override the local rules.

Social security

Social security contributions may also have local reporting requirements with employee and employer required to pay rates that can be much higher than in the UK.

There are some reciprocal social security agreements in place so advice should be taken to prevent issues in this area.

Corporation tax



Employers will also have to be wary of whether having an employee working abroad will create a “permanent establishment” in that country.

This would make a taxable presence that could render the employer subject to corporation tax in that country.

However, if the work location is not a fixed place of business, working from a home for example, and the overseas working arrangement is temporary, the risk of creating a “permanent establishment” would be low.

Need support or advice on this issue? We can help.

Support for customers needing extra tax help

Thursday, August 3rd, 2023

Voluntary and community organisations will benefit from a £5.5m pot awarded by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to support customers who may need extra help with their tax affairs.

HMRC is inviting eligible organisations to bid for the funding, worth £1.8 million a year from 2024 until 2027, through HMRC’s Voluntary and Community Sector Grant Funding programme. Bids can be submitted until 21 August 2023 with successful organisations being announced in October ready for the new funding to start from 1 April 2024.

This is the 12th round of funding HMRC is awarding as part of its commitment to help everyone get their tax right. The programme builds on more than a decade of partnership funding, worth in excess of £20 million.

HMRC’s commitment

Angela MacDonald, HMRC’s Deputy Chief Executive and Second Permanent Secretary, said: “We know that customers really value the trusted tax advice they receive from our voluntary and community sector partners. The funding programme is an important part in our commitment to support our hardest to reach customers and builds on the current support HMRC offers to those who may need extra help with their tax affairs.”

David Newbold, director of Sight Loss Advice Service, from RNIB, one of 12 organisations previously awarded under the grant programme said: “RNIB is extremely grateful to HMRC for its generous support, ensuring blind and partially sighted people can access the advice, information and practical help they need to deal with their tax affairs and HMRC.

“We’re proud to have HMRC as a partner, its contribution is vital to continue our important work in supporting vulnerable individuals.”

39,000 customers helped

In the past year alone, funded organisations have supported 39,000 customers over the phone, with face-to-face meetings and via email.

Successful organisations will receive funding to provide free advice and support to customers who:

  • may face barriers in understanding their tax obligations and claiming their entitlements.
  • are digitally excluded from accessing HMRC services.
  • have any other difficulty in interacting directly with HMRC.

As well as providing support to customers who may need extra help, organisations will provide valuable insight to improve HMRC’s understanding of customers in vulnerable circumstances. This will allow HMRC to reduce barriers and improve the customer experience when dealing with the department.

HMRC’s Voluntary and Community Sector Grant Funding programme complements the work of HMRC’s Extra Support Team, who are on hand to help customers whose health conditions or personal circumstances make contacting HMRC difficult.

More information on eligibility and how to apply can be found online at GOV.UK.

Tax Diary August/September 2023

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2023

1 August 2023 – Due date for corporation tax due for the year ended 31 October 2022.

19 August 2023 – PAYE and NIC deductions due for month ended 5 August 2023. (If you pay your tax electronically the due date is 22 August 2023)

19 August 2023 – Filing deadline for the CIS300 monthly return for the month ended 5 August 2023.

19 August 2023 – CIS tax deducted for the month ended 5 August 2023 is payable by today.

1 September 2023 – Due date for corporation tax due for the year ended 30 November 2022.

19 September 2023 – PAYE and NIC deductions due for month ended 5 September 2023. (If you pay your tax electronically the due date is 22 September 2023)

19 September 2023 – Filing deadline for the CIS300 monthly return for the month ended 5 September 2023.

19 September 2023 – CIS tax deducted for the month ended 5 September 2023 is payable by today.