Martin Aitken & Co Ltd News & Developments

Martin Aitken & Co: news and comment

Martin Aitken & Co Ltd is one of Scotland’s leading independent firms of chartered accountants and business advisers.

The state of retirement in 2022

An annual survey from major investment manager Abrdn has provided a snapshot of people who have or plan to retire in 2022.

When do you plan to stop working? Whatever answer you give, the recent survey of 2,000 people who were either due to retire in the next 12 months or have retired in the past 12 months suggests the odds are that your plans may not reach fruition.

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2022: An unexpected first quarter

Despite the numerous shocks that occurred in the first quarter of 2022, the world’s share markets held up surprisingly well.

Cast your mind back to the start of the year. The world was coming to terms with the latest Omicron variant of Covid, which was supposedly proving less serious than its predecessors. The latest available UK inflation figure (for November 2021) was 5.1% and the Bank of England had delivered an early Christmas present of a 0.15% rise in interest rates to 0.25%. Across the Atlantic, US inflation was higher at 6.8%, but the US central bank, the Federal Reserve, had delayed its first increase in interest rates. Investment markets had enjoyed a generally good 2021, particularly in the US, and while interest rate rises were expected in 2022, the post-pandemic investment outlook was reasonably sunny.

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The price of surging inflation

As inflation hits a 30 year high in the UK, double-digit price increases could be on the horizon.

At the start of 2021, inflation measured by the CPI yardstick was running at a benign 0.7%, having been driven down by the impact of the pandemic. A year later, the rate had jumped to 5.5%, close to triple the Bank of England’s official target of 2%. Unfortunately, it won’t stop there:

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Tax cut worth up to £1,000 for over 500,000 small businesses begins today

However, millions more individuals will be stung by changes to National Insurance Contributions.

Nearly 500,000 UK businesses should receive a tax cut worth up to £1,000 from this morning.

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UK Tax Tables 2022-2023

Your updated 2022/23 tax tables and digital booklets.

These tax tables are up-to-date with everything announced in the Winter Economy Plan 2021, Autumn Budget 2021, the Scottish and Welsh Budgets 2021 and the Spring Statement 2022, giving you all the key numbers in one place.

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Whatever happened to the wealth tax?

A new wealth tax to counter the cost of the pandemic was the talk of the financial pages not so long ago. Now it’s disappeared…or has it?

By the end of 2020, as the huge cost of the Covid-19 pandemic became clear, there was much discussion about the introduction of a wealth tax. It was given added impetus by the publication of a 126-page report from the Wealth Tax Commission, an independent think-tank launched in 2020.

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Not quite ‘as safe as houses’. The rising cost of bricks and mortar

House prices rose by around 10% in 2021 – their fastest pace in 15 years – but that is no guarantee of what may come in 2022. Relying on bricks and mortar to boost your finances may no longer be as attractive as it once was.

Just as inflation enjoyed an unexpected leap in 2021, so too did house prices. According to Nationwide, the average UK home rose in value by 10.4%, while Halifax put the increase at 9.8%. This has been the sharpest rise in house prices since 2004 although, as ever, the UK average figure hid significant regional differences. At the bottom rung of the property ladder, Halifax says that London prices rose by 4.2% - below inflation – while at the top, Wales saw prices rise by 15.8%. Nevertheless, the average London home still costs more than two and a half times its Welsh counterpart!

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The patchwork effect of rising inflation

2021 ended with inflation sitting at 5.4% but it may not have felt like that to you.

You may have caught the food campaigner Jack Monroe on TV and radio interviews recently highlighting how the uneven effects of inflation on the most basic foodstuffs can have a disproportionate effect on lower-income groups. Her intervention has prompted the ONS to look beyond the average in more detail at ‘individual inflation rates’.

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Happy New (Tax) Year?

We’re now in the year of the Tiger, which symbolises resilience and strength. Both of which may be required after Wednesday 6th April ushers in the new 2022/23 tax year.

New years are normally a cause – or excuse – for celebration, even if the pandemic has changed that in recent times. From a personal financial standpoint, this upcoming tax year may well offer more concern than celebration.

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Uncertainties removed on two key personal taxes

The future of two important personal taxes – inheritance and capital gains – has finally been clarified, simplifying aspects of year-end planning.

The extended wait highlights the difficulty of changing useful revenue-raising measures in uncertain times.

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Crypto – Investment or Gamble?

Cryptocurrencies are regularly in the headlines and growing in popularity, but are they really investments?

Cryptocurrencies, of which Bitcoin is the most famous (or notorious, depending on your viewpoint), are not currencies in a practical sense of the word. Think of the pound in your pocket:

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2021: Investment wrap-up

The world’s share markets generally produced solid returns in 2021, but UK stocks and fixed-interest investments suffered. Maintaining an international outlook in your portfolio can help underpin its value.

2021 was a good year for most investors in share-based funds, particularly those who had holdings linked to the US market.

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Focus on tax year-end planning

With Christmas and New Year behind us, tax year-end planning should now be on your radar.


The 2021/22 tax year will end on Tuesday 5th April. This year there is no Spring Budget and Easter arrives on 15th April, so no obstacles stand in the way of year-end tax planning. Nevertheless, the sooner you start the better, as some decisions cannot be made quickly. Among the areas to consider on this occasion are:

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Lessons from rising inflation & interest rates

As 2021 drew to a close, inflation finally forced the Bank of England’s hand. What will higher rates mean for you?

The November inflation figures, released in mid-December, once again exceeded the Bank of England’s expectations. At the start of November, the BoE had said that CPI inflation was “expected to peak at around 5% in April 2022”. Six weeks later, and the tune has changed: “Bank staff expect inflation to remain around 5% through the majority of the winter period, and to peak at around 6% in April 2022”.

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The global dividend recovery

Research shows that in Q3 2021, dividend payments increased sharply in all major markets and are expected to return to pre-pandemic levels before the year’s end.

In 2020, global dividends fell by 11.9% yoy in USD terms according to an index calculated by the investment manager Janus Henderson. In the UK, dividends suffered a much greater drop, with a decline of 42.9% recorded by Link Group, a leading corporate services provider. The UK’s significant underperformance had much to do with the Bank of England forcing UK banks to suspend dividend payments.

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Government sets out changes to R&D relief

The Chancellor has announced the expansion of the R&D tax relief to include cloud and data costs, which have been in demand from companies for a while.

Following consultation on research and development (R&D) relief, the Treasury has set out several changes, some of which Chancellor Rishi Sunak first introduced in his Autumn Budget speech back in October.

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Autumn Budget 2021 - Key Points

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has unveiled the contents of his Budget in the House of Commons.

With the government's tax and spending plans set out for the year ahead, here is a quick summary of the key points:

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Are young adults missing out on their Child Trust Fund?

HMRC says many teenagers are missing out on their Child Trust Funds (CTFs), urging parents to check for hidden cash and forgotten accounts.

The first CTFs matured just over a year ago, at the start of September 2020. CTFs will continue to mature until January 2029 as their owners reach the magic age of 18. At present, about 55,000 CTFs mature each month.

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IHT receipts reach £6 billion record

The amount of inheritance tax (IHT) collected by HMRC over the past year reached a record £6 billion, some £1 billion more than the previous 12 months.

This increase comes as no surprise given booming property values and frozen nil rate tax bands. It seems the tax is no longer the preserve of the super-rich.

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New Tipping Rules Come Into Force Within Months

Five years after carrying out a consultation, the government is going to make it illegal for employers to withhold tips from workers.

The change to legislation, due to take effect over the next 12 months, is not just for staff in restaurants, hotels and bars, but also anyone employed in industries such as hairdressing, casinos and private car hire.

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