Leonherman Blog

Healthier people = More productive people

Fruit Bowl

For a number of years, businesses have invested more and more in health and well being initiatives. Large international businesses tend to have the resources to put such initiatives in place, but smaller firms can also introduce positive measures without spending a fortune.

Most businesses recognise that sitting in front of a computer all day doesn’t offer much opportunity for movement. In addition, office environments don’t typically lend themselves to healthy eating as team members often bring unhealthy snacks into the office. Time poor employees tend to grab a quick lunch which can be unhealthy if it is fast food or similar.

The above can have a negative impact on the productivity of your team. Sickness absence tends to be higher among unhealthy people and this puts pressure on those people who have to pick up the extra workload.

What can you do to address this?

Start with activity. You could offer a contribution towards gym memberships for your staff. Most gym chains offer discounts for business staff and this could be funded through a salary sacrifice scheme or as an employee benefit. Another option may be to organise lunchtime running sessions or form a company sports team.

From a nutritional perspective, you could encourage healthy eating by offering healthy snacks such as fruit bowls in the office. If you have a vending machine in the office building, you could request that the supplier swaps it for a healthy snacks / drinks machine.

Other options to consider rolling out in your business might include offering standing desks for staff. This encourages movement and can be better for people who suffer with back problems. If a lot of your staff are smokers, you can offer “quit smoking” classes at lunchtimes.

Encouraging people to become healthier can help turn your business into a more attractive place to work. Introducing a few small lifestyle changes such as those outlined above doesn’t have to cost a fortune but may contribute towards creating a healthier, happier and more productive team.

If you would like to know how any of these employee benefits can also offer tax savings for the business as well as a benefit to your employees. Contact our Tax team on 0161 249 5040.

Posted in News

Is your business due more credit than you realise?

research-and-development

R&D tax credits are a valuable government relief which HM Revenue & Customs (‘HMRC’) is actively encouraging companies to claim across all business sectors and they can deliver substantial reductions in corporation tax payments or give a cash injection for loss-making companies.

If your company is involved in innovating, developing, refining or adding value to a process, product, device, material or services then it can qualify for R&D tax credits.

An R&D claim takes into account the time invested, including the obstacles you encounter, as you strive in the pursuit of business goals – even if you do not achieve them.

A claim can be triggered from the moment you or your staff have an idea.  So from the second you have that ‘Eureka moment’, you should start recording the time you spend on its development.

If you can answer ‘Yes’ to any of the following questions, you may be eligible for R&D tax relief:

  1. Have you developed your own software?
  2. Have you improved a process or product?
  3. Have you made any advances in science and/or technology?
  4. Have you filed any patent applications?

R&D Tax Relief Facts

  • R&D tax relief covers companies in virtually every sector including their support functions. Here are just some…
    construction; advertising; telecoms; financial services; gambling; manufacturing; energy; defence; life sciences; software; internet/communications/website/databases; professional services
  • To claim you must be a limited company
  • The tax relief is open to both SMEs and large companies
  • Even if an R&D project does not produce a positive outcome you can still claim
  • You can backdate a claim up to two years after the R&D has taken place

R&D Tax Relief Myths

  • Claiming is risky and may lead to broader tax investigations
  • HMRC does not want you to succeed so makes it hard to qualify
  • You need to own the intellectual property rights to make an R&D claim
  • “My company is too small to make a claim”
  • “We are just sub-contractors so we cannot claim”
  • “We do not work in a lab wearing white coats!”

Eligible costs

The following costs should be apportioned to the R&D project:

  • Staffing
  • Materials, water, fuel, power
  • Software directly used in the R&D project
  • Subcontracted-out R&D activities

Case Studies

It’s a misconception that only technical innovations and new product development qualifies for R&D tax relief. The following real-life case studies of less obvious R&D claims:

  • Company A was asked to install an energy-efficient commercial power generator in a residential setting. When this proved too noisy, R&D commenced to develop the generator to ‘fit’ the setting.
  • Company B working in the construction sector created a software tool to manage site reports to help track requirements under Health & Safety legislation.
  • Company C from the renewable energy sector was investigating using different chemicals to create biofuel. Whilst its attempts proved unsuccessful, it still had a claim for R&D relief.
  • Company D, a firm of architects, had developed software to improve internal processes which qualified for R&D.

R&D activities are often not obvious, but we can assist if you have any doubt as to whether you have an R&D claim, and we can confirm whether this is the case.

Assuming there is a claim we will commence a technical appraisal to support this, and establish the costs incurred in the R&D project(s). We will then submit the claim to HMRC and liaise with them until it is agreed and completed.

To get expert advice on your R&D claim, call Leonherman on 0161 249 5040, or email partners@leonherman.co.uk 

 

Posted in Ask the Expert, News

GDPR – What is it and how will it affect you?

GDPR

What is GDPR?

On May 25, 2018, a new European privacy regulation called The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into effect replacing the current Data Protection Act 1998.

This regulation will apply to all companies selling to and storing personal information about citizens in Europe, including companies on other continents. It provides citizens of the EU with greater control over their personal data and assurances that their information is being securely protected across Europe.

According to the GDPR directive, personal data is any information related to a person such as a name, a photo, an email address, bank details and updates on social networking websites, location details, medical information, or a computer IP address.

How GDPR will affect your business?

There is a lot of scaremongering about the impact of GDPR, focusing on how much data control is required and how hefty the fines can be. However, the reality is lots of businesses are already complying with GDPR and working with service providers who have experience of delivering GDPR compliant services.

This new data protection regulation puts the consumer in the driver’s seat and the task of complying with this regulation falls upon businesses and organisations.

Customers are within their right to request a copy of whatever data is held on them by a business, and how it is used, as well as to have that data erased once the business has completed any previously agreed data processing. If your company holds personal data on someone, you should be prepared for the possibility of that data being requested or removed.

What do you need to do?

All organisations and companies that work with personal data should appoint a data protection officer or data controller who is in charge of GDPR compliance.

There are tough penalties for those companies and organisations who don’t comply with GDPR fines of up to 4% of annual global revenue or 20 million Euros, whichever is greater.

The conditions for obtaining consent are stricter under GDPR requirements as the individual must have the right to withdraw consent at any time. This means you have to be able to prove that the individual agreed to a certain action, to receive a newsletter for instance. Businesses are not allowed to assume or add a disclaimer, and providing an opt-out option is not enough.

If you purchase marketing lists, you are still responsible for getting the proper consent information, even if a vendor or outsourced partner was responsible for gathering the data.

Currently if you meet potential customers at a trade show and exchange business cards, when you come back to the office you are likely to add the contacts to the company’s mailing list. In 2018, this will not be possible anymore. Companies will have to look at new ways of collecting customer information.

It is clear to see that GDPR will create challenges and pain for us as businesses, but it also creates opportunity.

Companies who show they value an individual’s privacy (beyond mere legal compliance), who are transparent about how the data is used, who design and implement new and improved ways of managing customer data throughout its life cycle build deeper trust and retain more loyal customers.

As with any new regulation we are getting more and more information all the time and we will keep you updated as and when this new information is published.

In the meantime if you are concerned with regards to how GDPR will affect you, get in touch on 0161 249 5040

Posted in News

New government childcare schemes

childcare

Working parents can start applying for two new Government childcare schemes launching this year – Tax-Free Childcare which begins immediately and 30 hours free childcare which started this September.

This means that working parents of children, aged under 4 on 31 August 2017, can now apply through the new digital childcare service for Tax-Free Childcare and receive a Government top-up of £2 for every £8 that they pay into their Tax-Free Childcare account.  This will apply to children under 12 years old but parents of disabled children under 17 will also be able to apply for Tax-Free Childcare.

This new scheme is designed for working families, including the self-employed, in the UK. For every £8 you pay in, the government will add an extra £2, up to £2,000 per child, or £4,000 per year for disabled children under 17 years old. The special account is then used to pay for childcare with an OFSTED registered nursery or childminder.

In addition, parents of 2-3 year olds, who will be eligible for a 30 hours free childcare place in September 2017, can apply through the childcare service and start arranging a place with their childcare provider.

Your local council will have all the information you need to apply for your free 30 hours and Tax Free childcare account.

If you want to know more about you can benefit from these new schemes, get in touch with our Tax team on 0161 249 5040.

Posted in News

HMRC to withdraw paper copies for mortgage applications

To Let Signs

HMRC is to stop issuing paper copies of clients’ tax calculations and tax year overviews for mortgage applications for the self-employed. You can read the full article in CCH Daily.

HMRC has been in discussion with UK Finance (formerly the Council of Mortgage Lenders) and their members to understand lenders’ requirements and make the necessary changes so that they will accept self-served copies of the tax calculation from the HMRC online account or the commercial software used to file the self-assessment return.

The majority of lenders have now agreed to accept self-serve copies and HMRC has produced a list of these lenders on its website click here to view the full list. It is understood that the majority of major lenders are now on the HMRC list, although some smaller finance firms may decide not to go down this route as the volume of self-employed mortgages is so low.

This means that all agents who have filed a self-assessment return online will be able to print a copy of the tax calculation and/or the Tax Year Overview when it suits them rather than calling HMRC and waiting up to two weeks to receive a copy.

If you are concerned with regards to how this will effect you, get in touch on 0161 249 5040

* Article courtesy of CCH Daily

Posted in Ask the Expert

Strategy – It is all about the implementation

Information Overload

The best business strategy is of no use to a business if it is not implemented properly.

The execution of a strategy can go wrong for a variety of reasons, one of the most basic mistakes may be failing to allow the strategy to evolve over time. The business world doesn’t stand still and is constantly changing. As such, your strategy should be allowed to evolve too. That’s not to say that it should be re-written every week, but there should be scope to tweak things and to respond to new opportunities when they arise in order to keep the business moving towards its overall objective.

Good strategy execution requires a good business plan. The business plan should facilitate coordination of objectives across the business, while mitigating risk and minimising bottlenecks. Your plan should enable your whole team to set priorities and realistic deadlines. This allows the whole business to have a joined up approach. You don’t want to end up in a situation where one department is moving in a different direction to the rest of the business.

Roles, responsibilities and expectations need to be clear from the start. If people don’t understand what is expected of them, or what part they play in the execution of the strategy and plan it can be very difficult to get things done. Communication is key and managers should ensure that their team members have a clear understanding of their individual objectives, deadlines, etc. The directors of the business need to make themselves available to their team so that there is ongoing communication around management of objectives, deliverables, etc.

Executing a strategy often involves change. You cannot expect people to change the way they work overnight many will have developed habits that will take time and encouragement to change. However, you can start by communicating what it is you need them to do differently and why you need them to do this. If your team understand the strategy of the business and the part that they can play in helping the business to succeed, they are more likely to implement the changes.

You should celebrate the successes as you achieve each milestone of your business strategy. If your team feel that they are part of a business that is “winning”, they are more likely to buy into the vision and strategy of the business.

Leonherman has many years of experience working with entrepreneurs and owner-managed businesses; we work with you to ensure you stay on track and have clear goals in place get in touch or call 0161 249 5040

Posted in News

Making Tax Digital put on hold until 2019

going-digital

It was announced on the 13th July that Making Tax Digital for Business has been delayed to April 2019 and then only to meet their VAT obligations. This will apply to businesses who have a turnover above the VAT threshold – the smallest businesses will not be required to use the system, although they can choose to do so voluntarily. Ensuring businesses have plenty of time to adapt to the changes.

Making Tax Digital is a key part of the government’s plans to make it easier for individuals and businesses to get their tax right and keep on top of their affairs – meaning the end of the annual tax return for millions.

Every individual and business now has access to their own personalised digital tax account and these are being regularly expanded and improved. HMRC’s ambition is to become one of the most digitally advanced tax administrations in the world, modernising the tax system to make it more effective, more efficient and easier for customers to comply.

Under the new timetable:

  • Only businesses with a turnover above the VAT threshold (currently £85,000) 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 to update HMRC quarterly, for other taxes until at least 2020

This means that businesses and landlords with a turnover below the VAT threshold will be able to choose when to move to the new digital system.

As VAT already requires quarterly returns, no business will need to provide information to HMRC more regularly during this initial phase than they do now.

These changes will be legislated for as part of the Finance Bill 2017.

If you want to know more about Making Tax Digital and how it will affect you, get in touch with our Tax team on 0161 249 5040.

Posted in Ask the Expert, Benefits

Off to the races…..

The Leonherman team had a trip to Haydock races on Friday and got to meet Martin Harley the jockey who won on the Queens horse Merlin…..

Haydock races - Jockey

 

Posted in Office News

Raising awareness & funds for CMT UK

Rough Runner

Leonherman staff will be partaking in the madness of Rough Runner to raise awareness and funds for CMT UK  on Sunday 22 October 2017.

CMT (Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease) is a rare, progressive neurological muscle wasting disease which limits the ability to do everyday tasks such as walking unassisted or tying shoelaces. CMT causes weak legs, weak ankles, poor balance, poor strength, lack of co-ordination, and little or no sensory feeling in feet and lower legs so it’s very easy to sustain injury without realising.

The CMT UK charity is close to one of Leonherman’s clients Karin Rodgers, who is a sufferer and has supported the charity for 15 years, assisting with the provision of activity weekends for youngsters with CMT.

Because CMT is a rare disease, youngsters who have the condition may have no-one to talk to about their concerns and fears for the future. Often, the only role models they are older more disabled relatives.

CMT UK runs activity weekends for youngsters with CMT and provides a supported environment for young people to engage in activities such as climbing, abseiling, canoeing with excellent instructors. The youngsters also get plenty of opportunity to talk to others with CMT, to learn how to deal with the way CMT affects them at school, how to deal with surgery, bullying and wearing orthotics.

Rough Runner is an obstacle course challenge, combining distance running with a variety of obstacles along the way, each inspired by game shows such as Total Wipeout, Takeshi’s Castle, Gladiators, and Fun House. Expect a punching wall, giant pigeon battles, sweeper arms, big balls and yes, The Travelator!

If you would like to support the team and make a donation to CMT UK, you can do so through our Just Giving page – https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/cmt-uk 

Posted in Office News

Acquisition of local solicitors for MLP Law

MLP Acquisition

Last week it was announced that one of our clients MLP Law had completed the acquisition of local law firm William H Lill.

With over 85 years’ experience, William H Lill brings a team of 15 to MLP to create a total of 46 employees, consisting of 27 lawyers and 19 support staff.

Leonherman worked with Stephen Attree, Managing Partner of MLP supporting him and his team through the acquisition.

Stephen has said; “Darren and the Leonherman team supported our due diligence and negotiation on the terms of the transaction.  I appreciate their commercial and common sense approach that enabled the transaction to reach a conclusion that was of benefit for all.”

Darren Swann Managing Partner at Leonherman has said; “We have had a working relationship with MLP Law for the past 15 years. They officially became a client in April 2016. My role was to support Stephen through the acquisition, giving guidance and advice, enabling him to put the right structure in place that was of benefit for all those involved.”

You can read the full press release here

Posted in News