Archive for October, 2023

Meeting the challenges of a high-interest environment

Tuesday, October 31st, 2023

Navigating the challenges of a high-interest rate environment can be tough for businesses, but it's not impossible.

While rising interest rates can pose hurdles to financing and operational costs, there are strategies companies can employ to secure the capital they need and maintain financial stability.

Review existing debt

Start by evaluating your current debt structure. Refinancing existing loans at lower rates or consolidating high-interest debt can significantly reduce your interest expenses. This will free up cash flow that can be reinvested in the business or used to service other debt.

Improve creditworthiness

Maintaining a strong credit profile is essential when interest rates are high. Pay bills on time, reduce outstanding debt, and demonstrate a responsible financial history. This will make your business more attractive to lenders and result in more favourable borrowing terms.

Explore alternative lenders

Traditional banks may tighten their lending criteria during high-interest rate periods, but alternative lenders like online platforms, peer-to-peer lending, or community banks might be more willing to work with your business. Be sure to compare interest rates and terms to find the most cost-effective option.

Consider equity financing

Instead of taking on more debt, consider selling equity in your company to raise funds. This can be done through venture capital, private equity, or even an initial public offering (IPO). While this dilutes ownership, it can be a strategic move to access funds without incurring interest charges.

Cut costs and increase efficiency

In a high-interest rate environment, reducing expenses is crucial. Identify areas where you can trim fat and streamline operations. This will not only improve profitability but also make your business more attractive to lenders and investors.

Diversify revenue streams

Relying on a single source of income can be risky in volatile economic conditions. Diversify your revenue streams to create a more stable financial foundation. This could involve entering new markets, launching new products, or expanding your customer base.


Negotiate with suppliers and customers

Open a dialogue with your suppliers and customers. Negotiating better payment terms with suppliers and offering incentives to customers who pay early can help ease cash flow issues and reduce the reliance on debt.

Build a strong business plan

Lenders and investors want to see that your business has a clear and executable plan. Your business plan should outline how you intend to use the funds and how you'll ensure repayment, even in a high-interest rate environment.

Hedge against interest rate risk

Consider using financial derivatives to hedge against interest rate fluctuations. While this strategy can be complex and carries risks, it can help protect your business from unexpected interest rate hikes.

Stay informed

Keep a close eye on economic indicators and interest rate trends. Staying informed about changes in the financial landscape can help you make timely and informed decisions regarding your financing strategies.

Raising finance in a high-interest rate environment can be challenging, but it's not insurmountable. By carefully managing your existing debt, exploring alternative financing options, improving your financial position and adopting cost-saving measures, your business can weather the storm of rising interest rates and continue to thrive.


Remember, adaptability and strategic financial planning are key to navigating these challenging economic conditions.

Registering for VAT? Time to go online

Thursday, October 26th, 2023

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has revamped its VAT registration process, prioritising digital applications for businesses and agents. Starting from November 13, this change aims to streamline the registration procedure, making it quicker, easier and more secure.

HMRC is urging businesses and agents to embrace the digital approach for VAT registration. Unless they fall under the category of digital exclusion or face difficulties with the online service, all applicants must now register for VAT online. The traditional paper-based VAT1 form is being phased out, with HMRC citing that over 95 per cent of businesses and agents already prefer the online VAT registration process.

Benefits of going digital

The move towards digital registration is justified by the HMRC for several reasons. The tax authority aims to offer a “quicker, easier, and more secure” registration service, which is expected to benefit the majority of customers. Going digital allows businesses and agents to access information at their convenience, making the process more flexible.

However, not all businesses and applicants can smoothly transition to the online system. Certain categories of businesses, such as those applying for registration exceptions, agricultural flat rate schemes and online partnerships, will need to follow a different process.

Additionally, digitally excluded taxpayers and businesses unable to use the online service will need to contact the VAT helpline and request a VAT1 form. HMRC may require an explanation for opting for the paper route.

UTR requirement

One challenge that has emerged with this transition is the necessity for a Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR). Applicants are unable to use the online VAT registration service without a UTR, which has raised concerns for various entities, including charities, FE colleges, academies, LLPs, JVs, and overseas companies. The absence of a UTR can disrupt the online application process, potentially leading to delays.

This transition aligns with HMRC's broader ambition to provide greater digital options and modernise its tax services. It is part of the Making Tax Digital initiative, which seeks to increase the use of digital channels. Although there have been challenges along the way, including the abrupt closure of the VAT registration helpline, HMRC remains committed to this digital transformation.

The move towards digital VAT registration is aimed at making the process more efficient and user-friendly. While it may pose challenges for certain businesses without a UTR, HMRC's focus on enhancing the digital experience aligns with the broader trend of making tax services more accessible and convenient for everyone.

Accountants and businesses should be prepared for this transition, which is set to take effect next month, and ensure they meet the new registration requirements.

If you need any help with this, get in touch.

Change of heart over new company reporting proposals

Tuesday, October 24th, 2023

The Government has withdrawn draft regulations for company reporting after consultation with businesses raised concerns about imposing additional requirements.

Instead, the Government will pursue options to reduce the burden of red tape to ensure the UK is one of the best places in the world to do business.

Draft regulations published in July would have added certain additional corporate and company reporting requirements to large UK listed and private companies, including an annual resilience statement, distributable profits figure, material fraud statement and triennial audit and assurance policy statement.

This would have incurred additional costs for companies by requiring them to include additional layers of corporate information in their annual reports.

Since July, the Government has completed a call for evidence on existing non-financial reporting requirements, which has identified a strong appetite from businesses and investors for reform, including to simplify and streamline existing reporting.

Reporting simplification

The Business Secretary has now decided to withdraw these regulations, and will be setting out options to reform the wider framework shortly to reduce the burden of red tape on businesses.

Business Minister Kevin Hollinrake said: “Since the Government first published these draft regulations in July, discussions with businesses and stakeholders have highlighted a strong appetite for existing reporting requirements to be simplified.

“The Government has decided not to implement the draft regulations at this time, while we continue at pace with our plans to reform the wider non-financial reporting framework.

“This will deliver a more targeted, simpler and effective framework for both business and investors, reinforcing that the UK is one of the best places in the world for firms to list and to do business.”

The Government remains committed to wider audit and corporate governance reform, including establishing a new Audit, Reporting and Governance Authority to replace the existing Financial Reporting Council.

‘A welcome step’

This move will form part of a wider package of reform from the Government to streamline and simplify regulation for businesses.

It also builds on the 12-week call for evidence launched earlier this month to carry out an in-depth review of all regulators across the UK, in a campaign to bring about smarter regulation and make companies’ lives easier.

Julia Hoggett, CEO, London Stock Exchange plc, said: “This is a welcome step and will boost the competitiveness of the UK. Good corporate governance should be an enabler for companies to grow and reach their full potential in the interests of all stakeholders.

“However, founders, company boards and, increasingly, shareholders have highlighted that the UK’s approach of ever-increasing corporate governance processes has, however well-intentioned, impacted the effectiveness of listed companies and the standing of the UK over other capital markets.”

Question of the day -Why does tax year start on April 6?

Thursday, October 19th, 2023

If you have ever stopped to ask yourself, why does the tax year start on April 6, you are definitely not alone.

The idea that the tax year doesn’t begin until we are a quarter of the way into the year is a somewhat perplexing concept for many. Accountants and taxpayers alike often wonder why this seemingly arbitrary date was chosen as the starting point for the fiscal year.

Prepare to be enlightened.

The origins of the April 6 tax year date back to the 18th century. Prior to 1752, the British Empire used the Julian calendar, which was 11 days behind the Gregorian calendar used in Europe. In 1752, the British Empire adopted the Gregorian calendar, necessitating an adjustment to the fiscal year.

No plans to change

To do this, 11 days were added to the calendar, moving the official start of the tax year from March 25 to April 6, taking into account leap years. This change aimed to align the tax year with the new calendar, ensuring a smoother transition for tax collection and administration.

You might then ask, why was it originally in March? Good question. Starting a new year on January 1 is relatively new and the early Romans had March as the first month of the year – which explains why September, October, November and December are so named, bearing in mind that the Latin for seven to 10 is septem, octo, novem and decem.

Over the centuries, the April 6 tax year has become deeply ingrained in the UK's financial and administrative systems. Changing the date would be a complex and costly process, with significant implications for businesses, individuals and the Government. As a result, it has been retained to maintain continuity and stability in the tax system.

Sticking with tradition

From an accounting perspective, the April 6 tax year provides a logical break between financial periods. It allows accountants and businesses to close their books at the end of March and start fresh in April, making it easier to analyse financial performance and prepare for the new fiscal year. This consistency aids in tax planning and compliance, providing accountants with a structured framework for their work.

While April 6 may seem a peculiar date, its historical and practical underpinnings justify its continued use. For accountants, understanding the origins of this date can shed light on the nuances of the UK's tax system and how it influences financial planning and reporting. It also highlights the importance of adapting to historical conventions and traditions, which continue to shape the modern financial landscape.

FSCS provides confidence when headlines are negative

Tuesday, October 17th, 2023

When a bank hits the headlines, it isn’t usually for good reasons. Such is the case for Metro Bank which has found itself the talk of the town.

Share prices took a massive dip amid concerns for its future, although the news has improved with a £925m investment package preventing it from collapsing.

But, while the talk in the media is all very high level with discussions around debt refinancing and capital raise, what does it mean if you’re a customer of a bank whose future looks at risk?

The primary concerns for customers in such situations include:

  • Loss of deposits: The most immediate concern is the potential loss of deposits. If a bank were to collapse, customers fear they could lose the money they have in their accounts, including savings and current accounts.
  • Disruption of banking services: A bank’s collapse can lead to a disruption in banking services that can affect routine transactions, such as payments, withdrawals and even accessing account information.
  • Uncertainty and stress: Customers may experience considerable stress and uncertainty regarding the safety of their money. This can have a ripple effect on their financial stability and overall well-being.

The Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) plays a vital role in mitigating these concerns:

  • Deposit protection: The FSCS provides protection for deposits held in UK banks and building societies. It ensures that customers will receive compensation up to a certain limit (currently £85,000 per person, per authorised firm) if their bank fails. This reassures customers that their money is safeguarded.
  • Rapid access to funds: In the event of a bank's collapse, the FSCS strives to compensate eligible depositors promptly, helping them regain access to their funds without prolonged financial disruption.
  • Stability and confidence: The FSCS helps maintain stability in the financial system by restoring confidence in the banking sector. This, in turn, ensures that customers continue to trust and use the banking services.

A bank's risk of collapse can have profound implications for its customers, potentially resulting in financial losses and disruptions. The FSCS acts as a safety net by providing deposit protection and compensation, assuaging customer concerns and contributing to the overall stability of the financial system.

Tougher measures to support small businesses in battle against late payments

Thursday, October 12th, 2023

Tougher measures to address late payments to small businesses have been announced by the Government.

In 2022, SMEs were owed, on average, an estimated £22,000 in late payments. This can slow down growth with many companies spending disproportionate time chasing payments that can lead to cash flow problems.

Small Business Minister Kevin Hollinrake said: “Small businesses form a crucial part of large companies’ supply chains. Without them, they couldn’t do business.

“It’s only right that they should be paid promptly for their services.”

The new measures are being proposed as part of the Government’s upcoming Prompt Payment and Cash Flow Review, a scrutiny of current payment practices.

The potential changes include:

  • Extending payment reporting obligations with new metrics including a disputed invoices metric
  • Providing greater advice to SMEs on negotiating payment terms that better suit them and managing their cash flow
  • Expanding the powers of the Small Business Commissioner to undertake investigations and publish reports on the basis of anonymous information and intelligence
  • A strengthening of the Prompt Payment Code so that business signatories must reaffirm their commitment every two years to stay on it

‘Measures will help SMES grow and prosper’

Announcing the plans, the Government said they will improve payment culture in the UK to support smaller businesses, many of whom do not have the resources to accommodate long or late payments from their business customers.


Paying small businesses on time could boost the economy by £2.5 billion a year, it is claimed.

Secretary of State for Business and Trade, Kemi Badenoch, said: SMEs make up 99 per cent of firms in the UK and are the lifeblood of our economy. I know that late payments are a massive barrier to growth and I am determined to fix that.

“The measures we’re announcing will take a big step towards making sure SMEs get their payments on time, helping firms to grow and prosper.”

Major increase to National Living Wage and its impacts

Tuesday, October 10th, 2023

Two million people will receive a pay rise next year when the National Living Wage increases to at least £11 an hour.

It means the annual earnings of a full-time worker on the National Living Wage – currently set at £10.42 an hour ­– will rise by more than £1,000.

It will be welcome news for the lowest paid, but some commentators have pointed out the burden of the rise will land on businesses, many of which are already struggling with rising costs.

The Government has already set a target for the National Living Wage to reach two-thirds of median hourly pay by next October.

The rate is decided each year, based on the advice of independent advisory group, the Low Pay Commission, which said it should be between £10.90 and £11.43 to meet the Government’s target.

Wages for lowest paid are £9,000 higher than in 2010

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, committed to accept the commission’s recommendations at the Conservative Party Conference speech in Manchester.

He said: “We promised in our manifesto to raise the National Living Wage to two-thirds of median income – ending low pay in this country.

“At the moment it is £10.42 an hour and we are waiting for the Low Pay Commission to confirm its recommendation for next year. But I confirm today, whatever that recommendation, we will increase it next year to at least £11 an hour.

“The wages of the lowest paid are over £9,000 a year higher than they were in 2010 – because if you work hard, a Conservative government will always have your back.”

‘Slap in the face’ for many businesses

The National Living Wage is the lowest amount workers aged 23 and over can be paid per hour by law and is currently £10.42 an hour. Younger workers have lower rates.

Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), is reported as saying the news was a “slap in the face” for many struggling businesses.

“The night-time economy has been battered by the pandemic, with our venues facing closures, restrictions, and crippling financial losses,” he said.

“Now, just as we're trying to get back on our feet, the Chancellor decides to unload the burden of a wage increase squarely on to the shoulders of operators.

“While we support fair wages, the timing couldn't be worse. It's a cynical attempt to score political points at our expense.”

Almost 430k young adults urged to claim their cash

Thursday, October 5th, 2023

Hundreds of thousands of young adults have an average of £2,000 sitting unclaimed in Child Trust Funds.

The long-term, tax-free savings accounts were set up for every child born between September 2002 and January 2011, with the Government contributing an initial deposit of at least £250.

Funds can be withdrawn once the account matures when the child turns 18; however, almost 430,000 young people aged 18 to 21 are yet to claim their cash.

Online tool to track down cash

Angela MacDonald, HMRC’s Second Permanent Secretary and Deputy Chief Executive, said: “Many 18 to 21-year-olds are starting out in first jobs or apprenticeships, starting university or moving into their first home and their Child Trust Fund is a pot of money with their name on.

“I would encourage young people to use the online tool to track it down or, for parents of teenagers, to speak to them to ensure they’re aware of their Child Trust Fund. It could make a real difference to their future plans.”

There are currently 5.3 million open Child Trust Fund accounts. Families can continue to pay up to £9,000 a year tax-free into a Child Trust Fund until the account matures.

The money stays in the account until the child withdraws or reinvests it into another account once they turn 18.

‘Disproportionate’ amount of funds goes unclaimed by disadvantaged

A UCAS survey revealed that 74 per cent of respondents were aware of Child Trust Funds. Of the people who had not yet claimed their Child Trust Fund, 76 per cent were likely to take steps to learn more about the withdrawal process.

Sharon Davies, CEO of Young Enterprise, said: “We would encourage all young people to investigate if they have money which is unclaimed in a Child Trust Fund and to use it wisely.

“A disproportionate amount of the money is unclaimed by young people from disadvantaged backgrounds who are the very people who would benefit most from these funds. The investment could be placed into an adult ISA or put towards driving lessons, education or starting a business.

“The money in a Child Trust Fund has the potential to be life changing and the lack of knowledge about them shows the importance of financial education and financial planning from a young age.”

Visit to learn more.

Winter Fuel and Cost of Living payments

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2023

A raft of money changes comes into play this month which could affect your finances, and as we are approaching the winter season – dark nights and lower temperatures – these support payments to help with energy costs will be gratefully received.

These include adjustments to the Ofgem energy price caps, while the latest Cost of Living payment will land for those claiming certain DWP benefits.

On the subject of benefits, the Office for National Statistics will release the inflation rate for the 12 months to September, on October 18. This inflation rate usually dictates how much benefits will rise in April.

Winter Fuel Payments

Depending on living arrangements and circumstances, this payment can be worth up to £600. It includes a top-up pensioner Cost of Living payment from the Government.

Most people on state pension will automatically receive the payment; however, some will need to physically apply. From October 4, claims can be made over the phone.

£300 Cost of Living payment

The next Cost of Living payment – worth £300 – lands between October 31 and November 19 for those claiming certain benefits in the qualifying period.

HMRC Tax Credit claimants will be paid between November 10 and November 19.

Warm Home Discount scheme

The £150 discount scheme is due to reopen on October 16. It is a one-off discount on an electricity bill, although some may be able to claim the discount on their gas bill if the supplier provides both gas and electricity. You can check the website to see if you are eligible.

Tax Diary October/November 2023

Monday, October 2nd, 2023

1 October 2023 – Due date for Corporation Tax due for the year ended 31 December 2022.

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

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

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

31 October 2023 – Latest date you can file a paper version of your 2022-23 self-assessment tax return.

1 November 2023 – Due date for Corporation Tax due for the year ended 31 January 2023.

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

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

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