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Acuity Enterprise - Autumn 2020

business growthCommercial, finance and tax insights and planning opportunities for SMEs, social enterprises and charities.

We do hope you enjoy reading the articles in this edition.

A brief synopsis of the articles can be found below. Click on the read more links to read the full articles.

If you would like to discuss any of the issues in this edition, please get in touch with your usual Martin Aitken adviser, or complete our short contact form and we will get back to you.

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Acuity Enterprise - Autumn 2020 edition.

Published: September 2020.

News + Coronavirus business supportCovid 19 maco1

CJRS Update - the scheme changed again on 1 September >read more

Notify HMRC of over claimed CJRS “furlough” grants within 90 days >read more

Numerous fraudulent CJRS claims identified >read more

Reminder: SEISS – Self-employed individuals can benefit from a second stage grant >read more

Kickstart scheme launches across the UK >read more

The Eat Out to Help Out scheme ended on 31 August: making claims >read more

Sending forms to Companies House during the coronavirus outbreak >read more

Contract cancellations and refunds due to Coronavirus >read more

Coronavirus Business Interruption and Bounce Back loan schemes due to end in November >read more

Findbusinesssupport – sign up for alerts >read more

 

 

Business + Financeforecasting

Managing cash and payments - with the impacts of Covid-19 these tips are even more important >read more

Looking for a business grant or external finance to help fund your expansion? >read more

Support for businesses looking to expand and/or raise growth finance >read more

Improving your sales and business development strategy - tips on how you can reach new customers and markets >read more

Delivering customer value - honing in on what your customers really value will help you to market your products and services more effectively >read more

Live streaming as a marketing tool - lessons from lockdown >read more

Cultivating creativity in your business - creative businesses tend to be successful, so how do you cultivate creativity in your business? >read more

Returning from furlough - as more people return to work, managers will need to consider the practical and emotional aspects of returning to "normal" >read more 

Business Women Scotland Awards 2020 - Martin Aitken is delighted to be supporting this years BWS Awards. The awards will take place virtually on 6 November and nominations are now open >read more

 

Business and personal tax compliance

A new season, a new Budget - what can we expect from Chancellor's statement later in the Autumn >read more

Reporting property gains within 30 days - the new rules kicked in on 1 April 2020 >read more

Some property business owners are liable to Class 2 NICs >read more

MTD for VAT to be extended to all VAT registered businesses in 2022 and MTD for Income Tax Self-Assessment from April 2023 for unincorporated businesses and landlords >read more

Company vans were motor cars - do you have vans with side windows and a second row of seats in your fleet? If so, this ruling could impact you >read more

Thinking of selling or passing on the business? - the current pandemic as highlighted the need to have a buttoned down succession plan in place >read more

10 ways to reduce your tax bill >read more

Tax Planning for Life 2020-21 >read more

Have you recently made a breakthrough? Innovation in lockdown - could you qualify for R&D Tax Credit? >read more

 

Wealth managementAssurance

Inheritance tax planning - what should be on your agenda? >read more

Keep your retirement plans on track >read more

Spreading risk has always made sense >read more

Focus on the horizon - Investors will understandably be pondering their portfolios as economic challenges endure >read more

Fraud goes viral – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. A timely warning from the FCA >read more

 

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News + Coronavirus business support

 

CJRS Update19796 MACO FINANCIAL ACUITY NEWSLETTER WEB FILES 10

The CJRS grant claim changed again from 1 September. Please talk to us if you would like us to help calculate your claim.

From 1 September CJRS will pay 70% of usual wages up to a cap of £2,187.50 per month for the hours furloughed employees do not work.

You will still need to pay your furloughed employees at least 80% of their usual wages for the hours they do not work, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. You will need to fund the difference between this and the CJRS grant yourself.

The caps are proportional to the hours not worked. For example, if your employee is furloughed for half their usual hours in September, you are entitled to claim 70% of their usual wages for the hours they do not work up to £1,093.75 (50% of the £2,187.50 cap).

You will continue to have to pay furloughed employees’ National Insurance (NI) and pension contributions from your own funds.

From October, the government will pay 60% of wages up to a cap of £1,875 for the hours the employee is on furlough. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions and top up employees’ wages to ensure they receive 80% of their wages up to a cap of £2,500, for time they are furloughed.

Making sure your data is right

It is important that you provide all the data HMRC need to process your claim. Payment of your grant may be at risk or delayed if you submit a claim that is incomplete or incorrect, so we want to help you get this right. We have an accurate claim calculator so please talk to us if you need any help.

Notify HMRC of overclaimed CJRS “furlough” grants within 90 days

The calculation of Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme grants has proven to be complex, particularly as HMRC frequently changed the rules and the method of computation.
Consequently, many errors have arisen and need to be corrected.

The latest Finance Act requires employers to notify HMRC within 90 days that they were not entitled to receive the furlough grants. There is a penalty for failure to notify them.

HMRC has said that it will be lenient in relation to genuine mistakes, and that penalties will be charged only in cases of deliberate non-compliance.

Numerous Fraudulent CJRS claims identified

HMRC’s CJRS fraud reporting portal had received over 2,000 reports of wrongful claims. Examples of such wrongful claims include;

• Claiming furlough payments for staff who are continuing to work
• Furloughing staff but asking them to work “voluntarily” on an unpaid basis.
• Claiming furlough payments for “ghost” employees, and those who left employment before 19 March 2020.
• Not passing on the full amount of furlough pay to staff.
• Failing to account for PAYE tax and NIC in relation to furlough payments

HMRC also have the power to transfer CJRS penalties to the directors of an insolvent company if their company does not pay them. We therefore suggest that employers check the accuracy and validity of their CRJS claims as a matter of priority, and ensure that any inaccuracies or errors are disclosed to HMRC as quickly as possible. We can of course assist you in checking claims.

Get in touch with Jacqueline May, Head of Payroll Operations if you have any queries relating to CJRS.

Find further detailed guidance on the CJRS can be found on gov.uk >read more

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Reminder: SEISS – Self-employed individuals can benefit from a second stage grant19796 MACO FINANCIAL ACUITY NEWSLETTER WEB FILES 23

Self-employed people whose livelihoods have been affected by coronavirus have been able to claim a second payment of up to £6,570 from 17 August last month. The SEISS will remain open for second stage grant applications until 19 October 2020.

Those eligible are now entitled to receive a second and final grant worth up to a maximum of 70% of their average monthly trading profits, with the money set to land in their bank accounts within six working days of making a claim.

Anyone whose self-employed business has been adversely affected by coronavirus since 14 July is eligible for the scheme. To find out more and apply >read more

You can find out how HMRC will work out your trading profits and non-trading income if you are self-employed or a member of a partnership and have been adversely affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) on gov.uk >read more

If you are self-employed or member of a partnership find out how your circumstances can affect your eligibility for the scheme. You can >read more here

Defining ‘adversely affected’ for the self-employed

Many self-employed workers will have already claimed their second, and final, Self-Employment Income Support Scheme grant, but otherwise have until 19 October to do so. A key condition is that the business must have been ‘adversely affected’ by Covid-19 on or after 14 July 2020, and HMRC has provided guidance as to what this means.

Timing
Since applications will close on 19 October, the adverse effect must occur before then. However, if a business subsequently recovers, eligibility will not be affected.

Amount
There is no minimum threshold over which income or costs need to have changed, so just a small drop in income or an increase in costs will meet the ‘adversely affected’ requirement. Of course, the change must be Covid-19 related.

There are several ways in which Covid-19 could impact on income and costs. For example:

• Not being able to work due to shielding, self-isolation, sickness or having caring responsibilities;
• Having to scale down or stop trading due to supply chain interruptions, fewer customers or clients, staff being unable to work or having contracts cancelled; and
• Additional costs incurred to buy protective equipment to meet social distancing rules.

A business is still classed as ‘adversely effected’ should contracts lost prior to 19 October be subsequently revived.

Records
You need to have records of how and when the business has been adversely affected. This should be fairly straightforward and will often just be a case of noting relevant dates when you were unable to work or trade or saving invoices for additional costs. 

As regards income, retain any correspondence for cancelled work. A comparison to the same period for previous years may be needed if a business is open but has fewer customers.

The ‘adversely effected’ requirement will not be met if income has risen compared to last year, even if income would have been even higher if not for the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Kickstart scheme launches across the UKMACO TPL business icon with bag

The £2 billion Kickstart Scheme is designed to create hundreds of thousands of new, fully subsidised jobs for young people across the UK.

The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) has launched the Kickstart Scheme, designed to create new 6-month job placements for young people who are currently on Universal Credit and at risk of long-term unemployment.

The 6-month placements are open to those aged 16-24 who are claiming Universal Credit and at risk of long-term unemployment. They will be available across a range of different sectors in England, Scotland and Wales.

The first placements are likely to be available from November.

Employers will receive funding for 100% of the relevant National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week, plus associated employer National Insurance contributions and employer minimum auto-enrolment pension contributions.

There will also be extra funding to support young people to build their experience and help them move into sustained employment after they have completed their Kickstart funded job.

If you are an employer looking to create jobs placements for young people, you can apply for funding as part of the scheme.

  • Who can apply
  • Check if you can apply for grant through the Kickstart scheme on gov.uk >check eligibility
  • You can submit your application online.
  • If you are applying for 30 or more job placements, you can apply directly.
  • If you are applying for less than 30 job placements then you can join a group of other employers, nominating a representative for the group to submit the application. Or you can register with existing representatives, such as local authorities, chamber of commerce or trade bodies. The representative will check that your job placements are eligible for the Kickstart scheme and will submit the application on your behalf. To find a representative you can contact your local or national Kickstart Scheme employer contact. Further details can be obtained from here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/kickstart-scheme-employer-contacts

What you need to provide during the application

  • your Companies House reference number or Registered Charity number.
  • your organisation's address and contact details.
  • details of the job placements and their location(s).
  • supporting information to show that the job placements are new jobs and meet the Kickstart Scheme criteria.
  • information about the support the organisation can give to develop employability skills of young people.

 

After you have applied19796 MACO FINANCIAL ACUITY NEWSLETTER WEB FILES 01

Your application will be reviewed to check it meets the requirements of the Kickstart Scheme. It will then go to a panel for consideration.

This is not a competitive process, but Kickstart will only provide funding when the job placements meet the criteria. DWP aims to respond to applications within 1 month.

If your application is successful

If your application meets the requirements of the scheme, you will receive a letter with a grant agreement.
This agreement will include what your company or organisation has agreed to provide, and how much funding you will receive from the Kickstart Scheme.

Kickstart employers guide

DWP has published a useful guide to the scheme for employers. You can download a pdf copy from gov.uk >Kickstart employers guide

If you need further information or have any queries on the application process, please get in touch with Jacqueline May, Head of Payroll Operations.

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The Eat Out to Help Out scheme which gave diners up to 50% off their bill ended on 31 August

More than 83,000 business took part serving 64 million meals. That’s a staggering average of 771 meals per participating restaurant!

Details on how to make a claim can be found here >read more

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Sending forms to Companies House during the coronavirus outbreak19942 MACO Tax Planning 27

Companies House have developed a service to upload certain forms digitally, instead of sending them on paper. This new service will not be available for Companies House documents you can already send online.

You must use their existing online services to:
• file accounts
• file confirmation statements
• make changes to a company
• close a company

The new service allows an upload of insolvency, changes of constitution, Scottish limited and qualifying partnerships.

You must complete the document in advance. Save it to the device you are using in a PDF format so that it is ready to upload >read more 

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Contract cancellations and refunds due to Coronavirus

There are a wide range of contracts that have been affected due to the pandemic.

The statement outlined below replaces what was published by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) on 30 April 2020. The CMA’s view remains that a consumer will generally be entitled to a refund when they have paid money in advance for services or goods that cannot be provided because of the coronavirus pandemic.

As the circumstances and public health measures relating to the pandemic have developed over time, CMA have updated the statement to cover additional issues. This now covers contracts that cannot go ahead due to lockdown laws, limited exceptions to full refunds, ongoing contracts, non-refundable payments and fees, credits and rebooking and payments for future services. 

It also outlines contracts that are partially affected by lockdown laws, changing terms in existing contracts during the pandemic, terms in new contracts which relate to the coronavirus and cancellation relating to Government guidance and cancellation under the standard terms and conditions of a contract. 

This does sound a heavy read, but it is important you are aware the guidance exists and the relationship between businesses and customers. If you have any issues with contracts entered into and need expert advice please talk to us and we can recommend a local solicitor to help. >CMA guidance on contract and policy cancellations during the Covid-19 pandemic

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CBILS AND BBL UPDATE19942 MACO Tax Planning 31

Coronavirus Business Interruption loan

The government has given banks extra time to grant state-backed loans to medium-sized and larger businesses in an extension of Covid-19 support packages until 30 November.
The original deadline for CBILS was put at September 30, while the cut-off for the larger scheme was October 20.

The British Business Bank wrote to lenders last week to say that applications for the coronavirus business interruption loan scheme, or CBILS, aimed at medium-sized businesses with turnover of up to £45 million had to be in by midnight on September 30, but that they had two more months to consider the cases.

That pushes the final approvals date to November 30. The deadline for approving larger CBILS has been set for December 31.

The bank said yesterday that it had given “an update clarifying the closing of applications”. Some lenders interpreted this as an extension of the loans, which may be the first step in a move to keep the schemes open into next year.

Bounce Back Loans

The bounce back loan scheme, is aimed at smaller businesses and is due to end on November 4. No extra time has been given for approvals of bounce back loans as they were designed to be agreed by banks speedily, with minimal affordability checks.

Almost £52 billion has been lent under the schemes, including £35 billion in bounce back, £13.4 billion in CBILS and £3.4 billion in larger CBILS.

Please contact Euan Ferries, Corporate Finance if you need help in applying for a loan.

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Findbusinesssupport.gov.scot – sign up for alerts19796 MACO FINANCIAL ACUITY NEWSLETTER WEB FILES 04

We will continue to provide you with Coronavirus support updates on these pages, however, we would also advise that if you sign up for the regular email alerts and check the findbusinesssupport.gov.scot website as the range of support packages and measures are continually being updated. 

Scotland’s enterprise and skills agencies are working in partnership to help you find the support you need if your business has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. 

Find guidance, advice and tools for all sectors across Scotland >read more and sign up for alerts

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Business + Finance

 

Managing cash and payments19796 MACO FINANCIAL ACUITY NEWSLETTER WEB FILES 17

Management of cash is fundamental to successfully running a business at the best of times but now with the impacts of Covid-19 it is even more important.
Here are some quick reminders on what you can do to improve how you manage your cash. 

If you have never prepared management accounts and produced a cash flow forecast, now is the time to do it. This will help you look at your business bank account history and see what funds have historically left the account.

Are they automatic monthly items such as wages or are they variable payments such as suppliers? Work out when you need to make payments and put them in your cash flow.
Work out payments that are critical to your ongoing business in the short term and those payments that, if you didn’t make them, would mean that your business couldn’t survive.

For example, if you have employees who you need to pay to keep the business running, they must be paid on time. If you have payments which can be delayed, then identify those payments. 

HMRC has provided support to businesses by delaying VAT/tax payments, recognising that businesses will need time to pay where income has dropped.

Use this opportunity, where possible, to delay tax payments and preserve cash for those critical payments that keep your business going over the next few months. Remember though that HMRC are only deferring tax payments and it still needs to be paid at some point. 

Preserve cash even if you have reserves. Don’t think that because you have the money now, you can afford to make payments which do not fall as critical. The landscape may change so plan for the worst-case scenario.

Customers are often reluctant to part with their money, even if it's to pay for your goods or services. As such, it can take a while for them to pay their invoices. Here are a few tips to help you to reduce your debtor’s days.19942 MACO Tax Planning 39

When creating an invoice, think about your messaging. Is the due date easy to see on the page, does your invoice state exactly how much payment is required and have you clearly outlined the various payment options that you accept (such as bank transfers, cash, cheque, etc.)?

Options such as “pay now”, “pay by instalments” or “pay on the due date” should be clearly set out.

Sometimes offering a small discount can motivate your clients to pay on time. Setting this type of incentive out at the beginning of a client relationship can go down well as clients can see the early payment discount as a “value add”. 

Incentivise customers to pay you on time by charging a fee for late payments. 

If you communicate the terms and conditions around late payments clearly, clients will not be surprised if they are charged for late payment. If you are going to charge clients for late payment, it is usually effective to give some sort of warning. 

There are a vast array of systems, and add-on applications for your cloud accounting software, available to help businesses to track invoices, monitor payments and manage clients who have missed payment deadlines. 

With an automated accounts receivable system, you can keep track of the status of each invoice, who has paid and what is outstanding. You can set up automatic reminders at crucial moments in the payment cycle and significantly reduce your administration time. 

If you are thinking about upgrading your accounting software or looking for advice on the best applications to work alongside your cloud software, then get in touch with Kim Matheson, Cloud Accounting Manager to arrange a demo.

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Looking for a business grant or external finance to help fund your expansion? 19942 MACO Tax Planning 40

Applying for grants can be viewed as a drain on time and resources in the business, and a distraction from running the business and achieving the targets set out in the business plan.

However, many who have been through the process will tell you that they owe their growth to not only the funding they secured, but also the rigour of the funding process.

The application process can be time consuming. However, going through the process can be good for the business.

By analysing what you do, what you want to do and where you want to take the business (i.e. convincing funders that your proposals are economically viable and will lead to sustainable growth for you and a decent return for them) will help you to sharpen your propositions and it can be the catalyst for the development and innovation required to turn your vision and ideas into reality.

How can we help? 

  • Assess your investment plans and the purpose of funding.
  • Review the potential for grant funding - we'll also give you an early assessment on the likelihood of securing a grant.
  • Quantify the case for assistance, taking into account any historic grant offers and conditions attached.
  • Recommend suitable grants from both public and private sector providers.
  • Apply for the grant - we will help you through the whole process.

 

We have significant experience of helping our clients apply for grants that are available from Governments, both Scottish and UK, EU sources, Big Lottery grants and employment grants.

Upon identification of the most appropriate potential grants and incentives our team will work with you to prepare the application. By using our experience of the application processes and requirements we will ensure that your application meets the range of complex grant qualification criteria.

The need for external finance can be triggered by a number of factors:

  • New product development.
  • Start-up funding.
  • Building up operations to meet demand.
  • Hiring more people to produce, sell, service and manage.
  • Buying or leasing new premises.
  • Exporting to overseas markets

There are also grants available in specific industries. Get in touch with us and we'll run through what's potentially available to you.MACO TPL Business property relief image

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Support for businesses looking to expand and/or raise growth finance

Martin Aitken & Co work with Business Gateways (BG) in Glasgow, North and South Lanarkshire, West Lothian and North Ayrshire. 

Through our work with BG, we provide SMEs with business growth and scale-up advice covering: business planning, financial systems and procedures, raising funding (equity, debt and grants) and achieving growth through mergers, acquisitions, sales, MBOs/MBIs and business succession events.

BG is actively seeking SMEs and social enterprises with expansion, growth, M&A and business investment projects. 

Looking at the Glasgow area specifically, Glasgow City Council/BG have a team of business consultants in place, covering a range of areas including: strategy, finance, legal, human resources, IT, digital and marketing to help your business grow and to achieve your scale-up objectives. 

If you have a business investment project, or if you are looking for advice to take your business to the next level, then get in touch with Mark McRae, Director, as there may well be business support and funding available to you.

It’s worth an ask as it may help you to fund the professional fees involved in the project, and indeed it may even make the difference between the project going ahead or stuck to the drawing board.

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Improving your sales and business development strategyMACO TPL business finance chart

In today’s challenging trading environment, as well as good cash flow management, a good business development and marketing strategy is essential.

Here are some tips on how you can give your sales an uplift.

Talk to existing customers

Seems straightforward but you would be surprised how little time businesses spend talking to their current customers and getting feedback and valuable insights into why they buy from them and not the business next door. 

Your current customers are one of your best sources of information. Your existing customer base can provide you with valuable feedback about what worked and didn’t work for them during the sales and after sales process. And more importantly, they can tell you what aspects they value and those that leave them nonplussed.

This type of insight can help you to hone in on the elements that your customers really value in your product or service and this will help you to craft your next sales pitch and promotions accordingly. 

Not many of us can take on board and remember more than three or four points about the benefits a particular product or service could provide. So what three points are you going to focus on in your next marketing campaign? The answer: those that your customers value.

Similarly, current customers are an excellent source of additional revenue, especially if you offer complimentary or add-on services to the core product.

Drawing up a simple matrix of your customers and products purchased across your range can help you to identify the gaps and potential cross-selling opportunities.

You’ve already converted them once. It’s easier to cross sell to an existing customer than it is a new one as you have already won their trust.

Seek feedback from customers who went elsewhere

Take the time to ask those who went elsewhere for feedback. Ask them why they chose to go with another product or service provider and what you could have done better to keep their custom.

Any feedback they provide can help you to improve and refine your current sales process. In some cases, speaking to ex-customers may give you a second chance to pitch to them for their next purchase.

It can be difficult to ask customers who have decided to go elsewhere for their views and sometimes it can be a rather unpleasant listen; we can all take things too personally sometimes. But it is better to know where the holes and the gaps are in your offering so that you can fill them - and avoid any of your other customers falling into them. 19796 MACO FINANCIAL ACUITY NEWSLETTER WEB FILES 09

Take time to actively listen to your clients 

Before trying to sell to a client take the time to listen to them, to understand their needs, then offer them a solution. Train your sales team to actively listen and encourage them to ask the right questions in order to get more information from potential buyers. 

The best sales teams are solution oriented – they focus on why a customer needs to buy a product or service and then they help them to choose the right solution for their needs. 

No one really wants to buy an unbranded, off the shelf solution. Most people want to buy a bespoke solution, or at least to feel that the offering has been tailored to their particular circumstances and needs before they will sign up as a new customer. 

Understand the competition

Take the time to understand your competitors, their offerings and their sales strategies. Ensure that your sales team know what sets your product or service apart so that they can handle objections from potential clients. Perhaps the products are similar but your firm offers better service, better back-up or more flexibility.

You can get the direct evidence you need to work this into your pitch by having regular conversations with clients, conducting feedback surveys and by simply observing how your customers use your product and/or what they are saying about it on the social channels – are they your advocates or are they spreading fake news?

Referrals

Encourage your sales team to ask existing clients for referrals. Your current clients are a great asset as they can provide you with referral opportunities. 

If you know that a particular client is happy with your product or service, ask them if they know anyone else who may be interested in your current offerings. If a customer sends you a referral, make sure to get in touch to say thank you.

If you successfully win a new piece of business, then go the extra mile and send a thank you card to your client for the referral. Not only will they think your firm is great, they will probably tell some of their friends too.

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Delivering customer value19796 MACO FINANCIAL ACUITY NEWSLETTER WEB FILES 11

Understanding what your customers really value can help you to market your products and services more effectively.
Customer value is the perception of what a product or service is worth to the customer. Customers don’t buy features - they buy benefits. 

Your customers will buy your product or service because of the benefits that they get. If you take the time to understand what your customers’ value and what they are willing to pay for, you will be able to market your business more effectively. You may also be able to win new customers from your competitors. 

Most businesses make the mistake of thinking about value purely in terms of money. 

They create special offers to promote their products and services, but all they are doing is cutting their profit margin in a race to the bottom. 

Sure, there is a place in most markets for a lowest priced competitor but this doesn’t work for everyone. Take the airline industry - there isn’t room for more than a handful of low cost airlines and that is why many of them are in financial difficulty - their costs have gone up, but there is downward pressure on pricing.

Value is about much more than just money. 

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes - your customers think of value in terms of goals, benefits and results. They are seeking an outcome and this is what drives their purchasing decision. 

For example, an accountant might save a customer £6,000 on their tax bill and charges the customer £2,000 for doing the tax work. The monetary value to the customer is therefore £4,000. But what if this is only the beginning? 

What if the customer wants to grow their business over the next 5 years. The accountant could add value by providing advisory services to the customer over the next 5 years, to help them to achieve that goal. The customer would be willing to pay for that additional service because it helps them to achieve their goal.

The overall perception of value is, from a customer’s perspective, also influenced by experience. 

If the accountant in our example is difficult to deal with and the customer has to regularly drive to their offices to sign paperwork, have face to face meetings, etc. the customer will not think that the service is great and may question whether it is worth the money. 

Conversely, if the accountant offers meetings over Skype, at a time convenient for the customer and provides documents by email with e-signature capability, the customer may value the convenience and efficient service to the extent that they may even be willing to pay more for that service.

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Live streaming as a marketing tool19796 MACO FINANCIAL ACUITY NEWSLETTER WEB FILES 06

Live Streaming is a great way to market to your target audience, in real time.

During lockdown, many businesses have turned to webinars and online talks as a way to market themselves. Livestreaming is a development of this - but delivery is in real time.

Live streaming is transmitting live video footage over the internet to an active target audience. In the past, livestreaming was typically done on a dedicated platform such as YouTube or Vimeo. Today, social media has expanded the reach of livestreaming to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Video is an engaging medium that grabs the audience's attention and allows businesses to engage in brand-building efforts as well as selling products. It’s now cheaper and simpler than ever to deploy high quality video and businesses can deliver compelling and emotionally engaging content to consumers and forge a strong brand connection.

The latest smartphones and tablet devices allow users to shoot high quality video that can be used to live stream updates, tutorials and new product launches to customers over Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other popular social media sites. 

The biggest advantage with livestreaming is that it creates real-time engagement with potential customers. It also gives your firm the opportunity to interact with the audience, answer questions and gather feedback in real time. 

Live streaming also gives businesses an opportunity to build trust with potential customers. Modern customers tend to be quite sceptical of pre-drafted adverts and marketing collateral. Brands that engage with audiences in real time are seen to be more authentic. When audiences have the opportunity to see a brand without carefully scripted production, they can see that brand as being more transparent and more trustworthy. 

People buy from people. If you create a brand that embraces live interaction with your target audience, you can create more effective engagements with potential customers. In the current business environment, live streaming gives your customers an opportunity to engage with people in real time. In an environment where face to face contact is not always possible, live streaming can add a human touch that brings interactions with your firm to life.

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Cultivating creativity19796 MACO FINANCIAL ACUITY NEWSLETTER WEB FILES 05

Creative businesses tend to be successful – just look at Google, Netflix or Amazon. So how do you cultivate creativity in your business?

You can’t force creativity, but the right environment will enable your team to work in new and innovative ways in order to generate imaginative solutions. 

Business is all about people. Hiring talented people is the first step in cultivating an innovative and creative business. Look for team members who understand your vision and align with your culture. 

Having a team that shares one vision and works together will help the firm run smoothly. This doesn’t mean only hiring people who always agree with you - encourage different perspectives as this could generate creative new ideas.

Businesses are becoming more focused on diversity and this can really help to drive creativity. People from different backgrounds may have experience that allows them to come up with new and innovative solutions. 

The most creative businesses know this, and put together teams of people with different capabilities, backgrounds and interests in order to encourage different approaches to problem solving. In order to become more creative, your business should celebrate new ideas, encourage different approaches and try thinking outside the box. 

Creative businesses tend to have a more flexible approach to work. Some of the most successful businesses have moved away from the traditional 9-5 working day and allow employees to work whenever suits them best. After all, some people are night owls and others are early risers. 

Allowing staff to choose to work when they are well rested and performing at their best can only be a good thing. If you show your team that you trust them to work flexibly, they are more likely to feel empowered and this tends to drive employees to perform at a higher level.

Finally, make sure you encourage your people to take regular time off. Nobody can work at 100% all the time. Worn down workaholics don’t produce high quality, creative ideas. Communicate with your people and convey how important it is to get some rest and have time off throughout the year. Make it non-negotiable. 

Giving your people time to switch off completely will help them to be more creative when they return. After all, some of the best ideas are generated away from work, when thinking about something else entirely.

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Returning from furlough19796 MACO FINANCIAL ACUITY NEWSLETTER WEB FILES 15

As furloughed employees begin to return to work, business owners and managers need to consider both the practical and emotional aspects of returning to “normal”.

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has been unprecedented.

After several weeks of lockdown and social distancing, some employees may be fearful of commuting or sharing an office space with other people. Others may be living with a vulnerable or high-risk individual.

Managers need to talk to their team members before they return to work to understand their personal situation and to allay any concerns. The key to successfully returning furloughed employees to work is listening to them and communicating with them. 

Action plans should be put in place before furloughed employees return to work. Employees should be engaged and the management team should involve them in creating plans to get everyone back up and running in the new normal. 

Return to work plans should include practical aspects such as how social distancing can continue to be observed as well as logistical and operational requirements.

Employers should also check any agreements they have with trade unions or employee representatives, to see if they need to enter into any formal consultation. 

In some cases, employees may not want to return to work because they are worried about catching Coronavirus or perhaps they have issues around childcare etc.
If this happens, take the time to listen to the concerns of the particular employee(s) and take reasonable steps such as offering flexible working arrangements or agreeing some temporary leave if the individual(s) are unable to work for a period of time. 

If the employee(s) still do not want to go back to work, they may be able to take some time off as holiday or unpaid leave, although the employer doesn’t have to agree to this. Guidance on how to manage this type of situation is freely available on www.acas.org.uk 

Returning to work after furlough is going to be a sensitive time for everyone involved. Employees are likely to be nervous but if managers take the right steps and communicate regularly with their teams, things should go smoothly.

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Business Women Scotland Awards 202019796 MACO FINANCIAL ACUITY NEWSLETTER WEB FILES 18

Do you know a woman in business who has seen exceptional growth, shown true resilience or made a positive social impact?

Or maybe she’s a rising star, a sole trader or a new start-up? 

With the effect coronavirus has had on the world and the economy, it has never been more important to celebrate success as entries open for this year’s Business Women Scotland Business Awards.

Martin Aitken is delighted to support this year’s BWS awards. Tricia Halliday and Euan Ferries will be hosting a growth finance workshop for women owner-managers, as well as taking part in this year’s judging process for the awards. 

Back for a sixth year, the awards that mark the achievements of the growing number of women-led businesses and recognise the entrepreneurial talents of women across Scotland. 

Importantly, the awards also help to create more business role models to inspire the next generation of leaders. This year awards will go to women running their own business and those in larger organisations.

For the first time this year the Business Women Scotland Business Awards will be a virtual event on 6 November, hosted by television presenter Rachel McTavish.

Ticket-holders will be able join the BWS Awards from their office or living room. The awards start at 11:15am with the presenter Rachel McTavish getting things underway. During the first 30 minutes guests will also have the opportunity for virtual networking with the other guests. 

The closing date for entries is Monday 14th September at 5pm. Find out more, book your ticket and nominate on BWS website >https://awards.bwsltd.co.uk/

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BWS 2020

Business and Personal Tax

MACO business

A new season, a new Budget

As autumn arrives, attention is turning to possible measures in the next Budget.

Yet another extraordinary turn for 2020, normally seen only in an election year, will be upon us soon: the second Budget of the calendar year. 

The last Budget, on 11 March, now belongs to a different (pre-pandemic) era. Back then the Chancellor announced £12bn of “temporary, timely and targeted measures to provide security and stability for people and businesses” in response to Covid-19.

To put it mildly, matters have moved on since then. The latest estimate from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) is that the direct effect of government decisions, in terms of increased spending and tax reductions, will amount to £192.3bn in 2020/21.

That is not the end of the story because the other side of the government balance sheet has been hit by lower tax receipts due to the recession. 

So far, the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has won plaudits for his do-whatever-it-takes approach to support the economy, but the next Budget could be less well received as he begins to address the financial consequences of his actions. 

The current state of the UK economy, which shrunk by 20.4% in the second quarter of the year, makes it highly unlikely that Mr Sunak will reveal any significant direct tax increases in his Autumn Budget. However, he may well start the long process of book-balancing by reducing some tax reliefs and exemptions. As Parliament resumed in September, the Chancellor was already trying to quell backbench unease while simultaneously talking about “short term challenges” and a plan “to correct our public finances”. 

There are several obvious revenue-raising candidates where the government is already in the midst of consultation: inheritance tax (IHT), tax relief on pension contributions, capital gains tax (CGT) and yet another review of business rates. Lurking in the background is the possibility of some form of wealth tax, although this might just be cover for the alternative of raising more revenue from IHT and CGT.

It has been suggested that the current £12,300 CGT annual exemption will be reduced and the rates aligned with the rates of income tax. It has also been suggested that the capital gains uplift on death may be abolished following recommendations by the Office of Tax Simplification and the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee.
The Chancellor has also hinted that there may be radical changes to the way that the self-employed and directors of family companies may be taxed in future.

The date for the Budget had not been announced at the time of writing, although the present expectation is that it will be in November. We’ll have full coverage of the Chancellor’s Budget Statement 2020 on our website.

Obviously we don’t know what will be in the Statement, but if you are considering making any property disposals or investments this year, it would be a good idea to discuss your thoughts with us and we can advise you on the current, and the potential future options available to you and how we can help you to ensure your current and future tax liabilities are minimised.

Get in touch with Tricia Halliday, Tax Director to arrange an appointment.

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Reporting property gains within 30 days

Since 6 April 2020 where UK residential property is disposed of, the resulting capital gain needs to be reported and the capital gains tax paid within 30 days of completion of the disposal.

There have been a number of teething problems with the new online reporting system and HMRC stated that there would be no penalties imposed for late returns, provided the returns were submitted by 31 July 2020. 

Taxpayers need to obtain a Government Gateway account and apply for a CGT or property reference number to report disposals, although they can authorise their accountant to report the disposals on their behalf. 

Currently only the first disposal may be reported using the online reporting system with any subsequent disposals being reported using a paper return. We have been told that the new system will be fully functional soon.

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Who pays capital gains tax?

HMRC has published some interesting research into capital gains tax (CGT). Here are three CGT questions for you to ponder:19942 MACO Tax Planning 44

1. How many individuals made enough capital gains in 2018/19 to face a CGT bill? 

The answer is just 256,000, according to the latest provisional figures from HMRC – 9,000 fewer than in the previous tax year. Viewed another way that is less than 1% of all income taxpayers. However, over the 10 years since 2008/09 the number of CGT payers has nearly doubled.

Now you know that individual CGT payers numbered only about a quarter of a million, try the next question…

2. How much tax did they have to pay in total?

The answer is £8,805m, which is over £3,400m more than was collected in inheritance tax (IHT) in 2018/19. IHT and CGT are both capital taxes, often levied on the same asset, albeit usually at different times. Yet CGT attracts much less criticism than IHT, which has been rated as the UK’s most-hated tax. 

With the information on how many taxpayers and how much tax was collected, the third question might look easy…

3. What proportion of that £8,805m was paid by the top 5,000 CGT payers? 

The top 5,000 – about 2% of all CGT payers – contributed 54.4% (£4,789m) of all CGT paid. They all had gains of at least £2,000,000. Expand the band a little and 18,000 individuals, with gains of at least £500,000, accounted for just under three quarters of the CGT paid. 

The answers to these three questions highlight two points which give pause for thought, one to the Chancellor and the other for investors:

• As with some other personal taxes, the amount raised from a small number of the wealthiest individuals is a significant proportion of the total. This means that the results of increasing the tax rate(s) will heavily depend upon how those individuals react. If some of them decide not to realise their gains, the overall tax take could fall rather than rise. 

• The annual CGT exemption is £12,300 in 2020/21. Investment returns that are received as capital gains are usually taxed more lightly than those received as income. The relatively small number of taxpayers is a reminder of the current generosity of the exemption.

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Some property business owners are liable to Class 2 NICs

Class 2 National Insurance Contributions (NICs) are currently paid at the rate of £3.05 per week by self-employed earners. A person who is liable to Income Tax on the profits arising from the receipt of property rental income will only be a self-employed earner for NICs purposes if the level of activities carried out amounts to running a business.

HMRC have recently issued clarification which states that in order for a property owner to be a self-employed earner, their property management activities must extend beyond those generally associated with being a landlord which include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • undertaking or arranging for external and internal repairs
  • preparing the property between lets
  • advertising for tenants and arranging tenancy agreements
  • generally maintaining common areas in multi-occupancy properties; or
  • collecting rents.

The HMRC guidance suggests that the ownership of multiple properties, actively looking to acquire further properties to let, and the letting of property being the property owner’s main occupation could be pointers towards there being a business for NICs purposes. 

A landlord will also be a self-employed earner if any of their activities amount to a trade for Income Tax purposes. This could include, for example, receiving income from other services provided to tenants.

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MTD for VAT to be extended to all VAT registered businesses in 2022

Since 2019, the vast majority of VAT-registered businesses with a taxable turnover above the VAT threshold (£85,000) have been mandated to keep digital VAT records and sendMACO TPL devides mtd returns using Making Tax Digital (MTD)-compatible software.

From April 2022 these requirements will apply to all VAT-registered businesses.

If this applies to you and you are not set up for MTD and to send your VAT returns digitally to HMRC, please get in touch with Kim Matheson, Cloud Accounting Manager and she will arrange a demonstration of the options that are available to you to keep you records digitally.

There are also some useful preparing for MTD videos in our video library >Preparing for MTD

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MTD for Income Tax Self-Assessment

It has also been announced that MTD for Income Tax Self-Assessment (ITSA), which was originally intended to start in 2018, will finally be introduced from April 2023 for unincorporated businesses and landlords with total business or property income above £10,000 per year. 

Most businesses will have 2 years to prepare and test the service voluntarily prior to its introduction.

It is best to prepare early and get the necessary software installed and ready to use well ahead of the deadline. Although the MTD timetable has been much delayed and may well get put back again, the direction of travel towards digital record keeping and sending returns to HMRC digitally is without question.

We also know from experience of migrating many of our clients from spreadsheets and desktop accounting systems onto cloud accounting software in preparation for MTD for VAT, that the process has been relatively painless and straightforward. And we are also delighted to report that we’ve not had any clients make the return trip back to their spreadsheets! 

The journey to the cloud has been revelatory for some and for many others it has made the whole record keeping experience much improved – and quicker. With the built in auto-reminders and easy to use add on apps for recording fiddly things like expense receipts e.g. via the Receipt Bank app, it is has reduced the day to day financial admin burden for many of our clients.

To arrange a demonstration and to find out more about the cloud accounting software that will be suitable for your needs, get in touch with Kim Matheson, Cloud Accounting Manager.

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Company vans were motor cars

The Court of Appeal have now ruled on the tax status of certain vehicles provided to employees of Coca Cola. The court has upheld the HMRC view that vans with windows and a second row of seats behind the driver are not goods vehicles but motor cars for benefit in kind purposes. 19942 MACO Tax Planning 35

Consequently, the income tax and national insurance payable by employee and employer is significantly higher than if the vehicles had been classified as goods vehicles.
The income tax legislation defines a “goods vehicle” as “a vehicle of a construction primarily suited for the conveyance of goods or burden of any description…”

At the Tax Tribunal it was decided that modified VW Kombi vans failed this test whereas modified Vauxhall Vivaro vans did fall within the definition of goods vehicles.
It has now been determined that the Vauxhalls should also be taxed as motor cars for P11d benefit in kind purposes. 

This means that where the vehicle is available for private use the taxable benefit will be based on the original list price multiplied by a percentage based on the vehicle’s CO2 emissions.

The decision means that employers may need to reconsider providing such vehicles. They may also need to rectify the P11d reporting in respect of earlier years and we await further guidance from HMRC. 

What is also particularly confusing, and thus difficult for businesses to deal with, is that the benefit in kind rules are not the same as the rules for recovery of input VAT and it would be useful if there was a common definition for tax purposes.

VAT DEFINITION OF “MOTOR CAR”

For VAT purposes the definition of a motor car has been amended several times over the years. 

The current definition states: “Motor car” means any motor vehicle of a kind normally used on public roads which has three or more wheels and either:

i) is constructed or adapted solely or mainly for the carriage of passengers; or
ii) has to the rear of the driver’s seat roofed accommodation which is fitted with side windows or which is constructed or adapted for the fitting of side windows;

There are a number of exceptions to this rule: notably vehicles constructed to carry a payload of one tonne or more, i.e. double cab pick-ups such as a Toyota Hilux.

If you have any VAT queries please do get in touch with your usual adviser at Martin Aiken or Iain Johnston, VAT and indirect taxation specialist.

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Thinking of selling or passing on the business?

The current Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of succession planning as a good approach to managing the risks the business is facing and ensuring continuity in an uncertain trading environment. 

It is also an efficient way of preserving your personal wealth and assets, and ensuring that the value in the business is protected as the reigns are passed to those you have identified to takeover within the family or the business, or if you are looking to maximise the selling price in the event of a sale. 

Succession planning is a must for all business owners as sooner or later everyone wants or needs to retire.

If you are planning to retire, or realise the value from your business, there are a number of options to considered, including:

• Sale to another shareholder
• Company buy-back
• Ownership transfer within the family
• Employee buyout
• Management buyout
• Trade sale
• Flotation
• Close the business

There are many tax, commercial and emotional intricacies and implications that will arise from each of these routes. 

We can provide you with our assessment on the viable options to ensure that your tax exposure is minimised and a good outcome is achieved – for you, the business and the family.

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Inheritance tax - what should be on your agenda? 

During our discussion with you about the options for the business, we’ll also look at how you will finance the next stage of your life.

1. What will be your income, capital and lifestyle needs and requirements in retirement?
2. What asset protection strategies will you and your partner/spouse need to preserve your investments?
3. What strategies will you need to minimise any potential Capital Gains Tax liabilities?
4. Considering the use of trusts to reduce your tax liabilities.
5. Maximising the usage of the tax allowances, reliefs and incentives available to you and your partner/spouse.
6. Creating your estate plan and beneficiary mapping – what will they receive, who will receive and when will they receive, and any conditions you may wish to include.
7. Giving them the right start: financial planning meetings for your family members and your other beneficiaries.

If you are thinking about selling the business or passing it on to the next generation, or if you want to discuss creating a plan to minimise your potential future IHT liabilities, get in touch with Derek Hanlan, Associate Tax Director. 

There's more on our 5 Step succession and IHT planning approach in the short guide >download a pdf version and take a look at the next piece: 10 ways to reduce your tax bill and our annual Tax Planning for Life 2020-21 guide which contains a range of tax planning strategies and ideas for all facets of life: work, business, property, personal and family.

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10 ways to reduce your tax bill

New Business Women Scotland member, Tricia Halliday, Director, Martin Aitken & Co provides a few timely reminders on the best ways to organise your personal financial affairs to minimise your tax liability. 

She also highlights a potential opportunity to reduce your tax bill if you are conducting R&D, and the support and potential funding that could be available to you to help get your business investment, or scale-up project off the drawing board and into play. 

1. Reorganise your income producing assets to use up the lower tax band of your spouse, partner and/or family members. 19796 MACO FINANCIAL ACUITY NEWSLETTER WEB FILES 16

2. Rearrange your investments and savings and consider changing your assets from income producing to capital growth. 

3. Contributing to a pension is a potential opportunity for high earners to reduce their tax liability. 

4. Married couples and civil partners who are both basic rate tax payers and have not fully utilised their personal allowance can transfer 10% of the basic personal allowance to their other half. 

5. Assets can be passed between couples without any Capital Gains Tax (CGT) liabilities. Transferring assets to joint names can also ensure that both spouses’ annual CGT exemptions are fully utilised in a sale. 

6. In the case of inheritance tax (IHT) any unused portion of the £325,000 Nil Rate Band (NRB) can be passed to the surviving partner on the death of the first spouse/civil partner.

7. Like the NRB, the unused percentage of the Residence Nil Rate Band (RNRB) can also be transferred between spouses and civil partners. The RNRB works on top of the NRB allowing people to pass on a qualifying residential property to their direct descendants. The maximum RNRB is £150,000 this year and next year a couple will be able to combine their NRB and RNRB allowances to a pass on property worth £1 million free of IHT.

8. If you rent a room in your own home you can earn an extra £7,500 tax-free – the allowance however can’t be used for homes converted into separate flats.

9. This year’s ISA allowance remains at £20,000 which means you can save up to this amount tax-free.

10. The Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS), Venture Capital Trusts (VCT) and the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) which invest in smaller, often higher risk new business ventures, are worth a thought as they offer tax relief for investors. EIS investments also offer CGT deferral and investments held for at least two years usually quality for relief from IHT.

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Tax Planning for Life 2020-21

Our annual Tax Planning For Life guide navigates you through a wide range of tax planning opportunities and wealth planning strategies for all stages and facets of life.

What's in this year’s guide? >read more

  • Strategies, tactics and formation to reduce your tax bills
  • Working life: dividends, research and development, selling assets, business asset disposal relief.
  • Thinking of selling or passing on the business? Read our succession planning tips and 5 point plan.
  • Capital Gains tax - changes from 6 April 2020 for UK property.
  • Savings and investments: tips, suggestions and recommendations for the key moments in your financial life.
  • UK Business and Personal Tax Rates 2020-21 (July 2020 update) >download a pdf copy

 

TPL email banner 2020 21

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Have you recently made a breakthrough? Innovation in lockdown


In response to the lockdown measures and trading restrictions many businesses have changed or altered their products and/or services, business processes, ways of working or elements of their offering in order to get their products to market. 19942 MACO Tax Planning 43

Does this apply to your business? Have you made changes to your products/services or how you produce them, make them or deliver them to your customers? If so, you may well have undertaken R&D in order to make the changes and implement them to keep your customers satisfied. 

If you have been undertaking R&D to develop new products, processes or services during lockdown and incurred costs you may be able to make a R&D Tax Credits claim.

Many companies often think that the R&D Tax Relief Scheme will not apply in their situation or they are sceptical about the potential benefits available to them and view the application process to HMRC as not worth the effort.

The reality is often very different.

Working with our R&D specialists, we have a proven track record of successfully obtaining R&D Tax Relief for UK incorporated companies from a wide range of industries.

What can you claim?

There are a number of conditions to be satisfied but generally speaking: the salary and related costs for those employees within the company who are carrying out the R&D; the materials used during the R&D process; the cost of power, water, fuels and software used during the R&D; and a % of the R&D sub-contracted expenditure are all expenses which form part of the R&D claim.

How much could you receive?

Up to £25 for every £100 of R&D spend can be claimed by SMEs and received as a reduction in your Corporation Tax bill. The average pay out in the UK is just under £50,000.
Want to get started or find out more?

Get in touch with Tricia Halliday, Tax Director and she will give you an indication as to the potential of the claim and an overview of what's involved in the claim process and how we will support you throughout.

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Wealth Management

MACO TPL dancing couple 

Keep your retirement plans on track

The COVID-19 pandemic is having a widespread impact on all aspects of our finances, including retirement planning.

However, while recent stock market volatility undoubtedly poses a challenge, particularly for those close to retirement, it is important not to allow the outbreak to derail your plans.

A resilient retirement plan

One thing the pandemic has vividly highlighted is the importance of developing a resilient retirement plan. Although market turbulence will impact all pension holders, those with a clearly defined, carefully considered plan will inevitably be in much better shape to weather market volatility.

For instance, as they approach retirement, an increasing proportion of their pension fund will be ‘lifestyled’, meaning it shifts to ‘safer’ havens such as cash, gilts or bonds, thereby limiting their overall level of investment risk.

Stay the course

At times like these, it is also vitally important to remember pension savings are designed for the long term. This means that, particularly in the case of younger investors, there should be plenty of time for markets to recover and pension pots to achieve growth aspirations before retirement income is required.

In addition, making decisions based on short-term economic upheaval can be extremely risky, with the potential to lock in losses following declines in investment values. Historically the best strategy is therefore generally to be patient, resist the urge to sell and stick to a long-term investing philosophy.

For those closer to retirement, now is a good time to take stock of your full complement of retirement resources before making any decisions, this will involve reviewing your pensions, and any other savings and investments. We can review your level of income and whether this has been adversely impacted by, for example, reduced savings rates or cut dividends.

Making your pension last

Another factor that could impact pension holders’ response to the pandemic relates to staggered retirement. As a result of increased longevity, a greater proportion of the population now withdraw more gradually from work, as retirees find an optimum work-life balance that accommodates their specific needs. This trend clearly provides for greater flexibility with part-time work enabling many pensioners to preserve retirement funds into later life – an increasingly popular choice for many.

Advice increasingly essential

Perhaps unsurprisingly given the heightened economic uncertainty, the past few months have seen a sharp rise in demand for professional financial advice. Indeed, it has never been more important for people to obtain sound advice in order to ensure their retirement plans remain firmly on track.

We’re here to help

So, if you are concerned about the impact of coronavirus on your plans, talk to us. We will help you see the bigger picture, weigh up all your options and make a balanced assessment of risks tailored specifically to your individual needs.

The value of investments can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount you invested.

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Spreading risk has always made sense19942 MACO Tax Planning 42

Almost exactly 50 years ago, a company few people had previously heard of was hitting the headlines as the price of its shares went stratospheric.

A few months later it came back to earth with a crash. Fortunes were made and lost after mining company Poseidon announced the discovery of new nickel ore reserves in Western Australia just as world nickel prices hit a new high.

Poseidon misadventure

Poseidon shares had been trading at A$0.80 in the second half of 1969 when they took off. The price climbed relentlessly for weeks as investors claimed their piece of the action. One day in February 1970, the shares touched A$280.00.

Then the profit-taking began and the share price crashed. Nickel prices later dropped back and the Poseidon nickel ore was low quality; receivership ensued in 1974.

Fast-forward 20 years and a new ‘rising star’ of the stock market burned out. A minor fashion house called Polly Peck had been acquired by new owners in 1980 and used as a vehicle for ventures in Northern Cyprus. A series of deals in the 1980s brought such growth that the company’s shares entered the FTSE 100. In September 1990, Polly Peck shares were suspended amid fraud allegations.

The loss suffered by many investors in Poseidon or Polly Peck was a painful lesson about impossible returns and concentration of risk. There had been plenty of previous warnings, right back to the South Sea Bubble in 1720, about blindly following the herd in a FOMO frenzy. Speculative investment has always had particular risk attached and that is all the greater if it is not diversified.

The value of diversifying your portfolio with collective investments

As a general principle, any investment in shares needs to be spread around, so that if one share price slumps badly it only affects a proportion of your overall portfolio. For many investors, a sound way to achieve a spread of risk is through collective investment schemes with risk profiles aligned to suit their needs.

We can advise on the investment strategies and products most appropriate for your objectives and needs.

The value of investments can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount you invested.

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Focus on the horizon19796 MACO FINANCIAL ACUITY NEWSLETTER WEB FILES 22

Investors will understandably be pondering their portfolios as economic challenges endure. You may have heard the age-old investment dictum – time in the market, not timing the market.

If so, recent research has explored the concept, with some very compelling results.

In March 2000, during the height of the dot-com boom, if an investor made an investment of £1,000 in the average investment company and reinvested the dividends, the original investment would have been worth £3,665 as at 6 April 2020, a return of 267%, (here ‘investment company’ includes investment trusts and other closed-ended investment companies but excludes venture capital trusts and 3i Group plc.)

This 20-year period includes the dot-com crash, the global financial crisis and the more recent COVID-19 related market falls.

Commenting on the findings, Annabel Brodie-Smith of the Association of Investment Companies said:

“The bursting of the tech bubble and the global financial crisis saw huge falls in markets... However, investors who were able to stay invested or even invest during the downturn would have been richly rewarded over the long term.

No one has a crystal ball, but these returns show the power of long-term investment and why it can often pay to have one eye on your portfolio and the other on the horizon.”

The value of investments can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount you invested.

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Fraud goes viral – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is19796 MACO FINANCIAL ACUITY NEWSLETTER WEB FILES 20

UK fraud prevention groups are warning individuals to be extra vigilant following a huge increase in the number of scams seeking to exploit the pandemic; as these scams increase in sophistication, we are all vulnerable.

Your best tactic is to equip yourself to stay ScamSmart; you can do this through checking the FCA website www.fca.org.uk/scamsmart. Action Fraud5 revealed there was a massive 400% increase in reporting of scams in March.

As scams continue to increase in sophistication it is harder than ever to distinguish them from the real thing.

Remember:

• Reject offers that come out of the blue
• Do not click on links from senders you do not know
• Be wary of deals that sound too good to be true
• Never give out personal details
• Take the time to make checks and seek financial guidance.

We are here to help

If you are unsure about any financial opportunities you have received - please do get in touch with your usual IFA at Martin Aitken Financial Services for advice, or complete our short contact form and we will get back to you >Contact MAFS

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If you would like to discuss any of the issues in this edition, please get in touch with your usual Martin Aitken adviser, or complete our short contact form and we will get back to you.

>Get in touch: Martin Aitken & Co

>Get in touch: Martin Aitken Financial Services

Business Women Scotland Awards 2020
Kickstart scheme launches across the UK