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As 2016 draws to a close Knight Accountants Service Charge Division continues to grow at a rapid pace. The value of the properties we financially report on now exceeds £3 billion and there no signs of this growth slowing up.

We have seen the department grow rapidly throughout the year with agents switching to us from London, Bristol and Manchester to name a few. There is a steady increase in self-managed blocks and we have benefitted from Managing Agents reviewing the service they are currently provided. Based on the many conversations we have had with Managing Agents, Freeholders and Leaseholders we have identified the three main reasons below why firms are switching to Knight Accountants.

Compliance

We have seen many changes in the property management industry in the last decade and it is essential that we keep on top of guidance and legislation as many of our clients are ARMA and/or RICS regulated. Our client mix is around 50% service charge so we have to keep on top of latest legislation and the team regularly attend IRPM and ARMA courses with a focus on service charge accounting. Bespoke internal training days are also arranged from accounting to interpretation leases. The block management industry has become a legal minefield and the financial element is a pivotal factor when it comes to recovering service charges.

Timescales

One of the most common reasons for firms to change to us is the turnaround times that accounts are processed. In a fast moving industry, landlords questionnaires arrive daily, balancing adjustments need accounting for and applied ensuring the necessary cash flow for the block. Our aim is to complete accounts within 2-4 weeks and will give plenty of notice if we feel we cannot fall within this timescale. Why do we want accounts sitting around the office? If our lead times increase it is time to grow the Knight Accountants family.

Family run business

More and more people are looking at appointing smaller firms for that personal service in our experience. During uncertain times that we are currently in people are looking for value for money and seem to prefer supporting families rather than investors and shareholders. At Knight Accountants we look after all of our clients irrespective of size. Our primary objective is to help people manage their businesses and homes and this is reflected in our responsive day-to-day service. In 2016 Knight Accountants has invested a substantial percentage of profits to local community projects which clients give us really good feedback about.

To benefit from Knight Accountants specialist department feel free to contact Graham Knight for an informal chat on 01424 869169 or graham@knightaccountants.co.uk

Alternatively you can visit http://knightaccountants.co.uk/service-charge/

A recent European Court of Justice ruling in connection with the Working Time Directive (WTD) says that where you have an employee with no fixed or habitual workplace, for example they travel from place to place to carry out their job, the journey to their first job and home from their last job should be counted as working time.

Some of the most obviously include sales reps, home carers and travelling trades such as plumbers, carpenters and electricians.

The UK’s opt out from the WTD only covers the 48 hour working week, so it seems that this is another working time ruling that will affect UK businesses.

How to respond? Our advice would be to assess a) which and how many roles you think this will affect in your business, b) what kind of distances you are talking about when it comes to your employee’s travelling, c) whether your current contract or handbook says anything about how these hours are treated or, in the absence of any rules, how that time is actually treated now, and d) what the impact would be of including these as working hours and whether it would reduce the amount of work done on a day to day basis dramatically.

The potential impact of including these journeys as working hours is that fewer jobs would be completed within the working day. Alternatively, it will mean that the extra hours need to be paid for in addition to the standard working week. In this case however you need to be careful that you don’t exceed the 48 hour week rule – unless of course your employees have signed an opt out!!

Each businesses’ circumstances will dictate the most practical response, but you may need to see if you can minimise the impact by reorganising journey plans or the size of territories to shorten travelling distances and improve productivity to offset the additional costs of hours added onto the working day.

If you are looking for professional advice on any of the issues raised above, then give us a call on 01424 425113. We provide tailored service that is unique to you. First of all you can come in for a FREE consultant where one of our members of staff will speak with you about how exactly we can help you.

We are an award winning family run firm, specialising in small business and service charge accounts. We are based in Hastings, East Sussex offering affordable fixed fees to all.

A range of measures to ensure that businesses comply with their wage obligations have been announced by the Business Secretary.

The national minimum wage is due to increase form £6.50 to £6.70 for people 21 and over from 1 October 2015. This will be followed by the introduction of the mandatory national living wage for people 25 and above, initially set at £7.20, in April 2016.

The measures announced include:

  • doubling penalties for non-payment
  • a new team to handle criminal prosecutions will be set up at HMRC
  • ensuring that those found guilty will be considered for disqualification from being a company director for anything up to 15 years.
  • increasing the enforcement budget
  • The increased penalties will be applied to companies who fail to pay their staff at least the minimum wage, will now be 200% of arrears. The penalty will be halved if the company pays the penalty within 14 days, and the maximum penalty for individual workers will remain at £20,000.

The new HMRC team of compliance officers will have a number of powers at their disposal to investigate and prosecute cases of non-compliance.

John Allan, national chairman for the Federation of Small Businesses, said:

“As well as focusing on enforcement, the government must clearly and proactively communicate the charge to employers – ensuring businesses fully understand what they need to do and when.

“This support and guidance is necessary so small businesses avoid inadvertently falling foul of the changes to the law. In addition, ministers should review the Employment Allowance, which must be set at the right level to help businesses meet the new requirements.”

If you are looking for professional advice on any of the issues raised above, then give us a call on 01424 425113. We provide tailored service that is unique to you. First of all you can come in for a FREE consultant where one of our members of staff will speak with you about how exactly we can help you to get your company set up.

We are an award winning family run firm, specialising in small business and service charge accounts. We are based in Hastings, East Sussex offering affordable fixed fees to all.

You do actually get plenty of time between when your financial year comes to a close and when the tax is due, If you are self-employed you get 10 months and for all limited companies you get 9 months – if you don’t think this is enough, This is almost triple the amount of time compared to other EU countries and the US, who get 3 months and a half.

This means that you want to be projecting the estimated amount of tax you may be paying every month. But it also means that you can confirm the tax amounts if you get your accounts info to your accountant early. Then the accountant can complete your accounts and confirm what the tax amount actually is, making the job a lot smoother for you and us.

At Knight Accountants, we ask clients to get their information to us within 3 months of the financial year end. It is bad enough having a conversation with a client when the tax bill is surprisingly high six months before the tax due but it is ten times worse having the same conversation a few days before it has to be paid.

Don’t let this happen to you, start estimating your tax and have an idea of what tax you may have to pay as you go along and then get your estimate confirmed by your accountant way before the tax deadline.

With the Christmas Parties just around the corner, we thought it is a good time to clarify the rules on tax free staff entertaining.

What is counted as tax free staff entertaining and things to be aware of?

Your Staff Christmas Party is a Deductible Expense

The good news is that your staff Christmas party is an allowable expense for the purposes of reducing your corporation tax bill. This is because entertainment for the benefit of employees.

Benefit in Kind

There is an exemption of £150 per person, per annum for staff entertaining. This means that provided your Christmas party and any other staff function cost less than this, your employees will not have to pay tax and you will not have to pay Employer National Insurance Contributions on the cost. There are rules that apply to multiple events of which you should seek the necessary advice.

Treatment of VAT

Did you know that you can claim input VAT on staff entertaining? If all the attendees are staff, all the input VAT can be recovered. If guests or partners are invited the input VAT must be apportioned based on the number of people. For example, if each member of staff is allowed to bring one guest, 50% of the VAT can be recovered. This is not just for the Christmas party and can apply to events throughout the year.

If you are looking for professional advice on any of the issues raised above, then give us a call on 01424 425113. We provide tailored service that is unique to you. First of all you can come in for a FREE consultant where one of our members of staff will speak with you about how exactly we can help you.

We are an award winning family run firm, specialising in small business and service charge accounts. We are based in Hastings, East Sussex offering affordable fixed fees to all.