Monday, 23 January 2012

New Business in Lichfield?

Lichfield is known as one of the most creative counties as described by Visit Lichfield.  Apart from all the thrill of Drayton Manor and the peacefulness of the National Memorial Arboretum, Lichfield is home to many businesses. Peter Hearne Associates, accountants based in Lichfield give some advice to local businesses in the following article.

Networking is one of the most effective ways to grow your business. Word of mouth is the cheapest way of advertising so businesses must explore this opportunity. Another option is to talk to your local accountants as they have the experience and expertise of working with other local businesses. If you are planning to start a business or have already got a business then there is no harm in contacting Peter Hearne Associates, local accountants in Lichfield. They can offer you advice on various accountancy and business matters.

It is important that you keep in touch with your local accountant or at least keep an eye on their websites.  Accountants tend to publish latest accountancy and business related news on their websites. If you want to keep up to date with the latest accountancy news in Lichfield then visit the news section on Peter Hearne’s  website.

Tax, payroll, and VAT matters can be really complicated so it’s better that you make yourself comfortable with various accountancy-based jargon. Accountants in Lichfield, Peter Hearne Associates have a resource centre that can help you understand various accountancy terms and if you fancy doing some calculations then take a look at the Tax calculators section of the website.  If you are still unsure of any thing then give your Lichfield based accountancy firm a call.

Accountants are usually referred as business partners as they handle all your financial matters and any dealings with the tax man. So while choosing your accountant make sure you get your business partner right.  If you need any help in choosing an accountant then read our “How to choose an accountant in Lichfield” Squidoo Lens or bookmark this blog. The most important thing is to choose an accountant that is local to your area and if you are looking for an accountant in Lichfield then why not contact Peter Hearne Associates, accountancy firm based in Lichfield.

In the coming days we will be updating our blog and Squidoo Lenses with business start-up tips and advice so make sure you keep an eye on Peter Hearne Associates’, accountants based in Lichfield website. 

Thursday, 19 January 2012

How to choose and accountant in Lichfield?

This is a question that every firm must have asked it self while incorporating a business. Accountants come in all types, shapes and sizes, some are good and some are bad. So what is the best way to choose an accountant? Peter Hearn from Peter Hearne Associates, accountants based in Lichfield investigate of how to choose an accountant especially if you are a business based in Lichfield.

Tips for choosing an accountant in Lichfield.

Explore your options and make sure that the accountant you choose is properly qualified. Best option is to look at their website or any other promotional material. This will help you identify their qualifications and the services they offer.

Ask yourself a question is your accountant accessible? This is one of the most significant things to consider especially if you are a small to medium size business. It is important to choose a local accountant. For example Peter Hearne Associates, are based in Lichfield and most of their clients are local. This helps in better communication. It is important that you have a good trust based relationship with your accountant as they will be handling all your finances, expenses etc.

When it comes to choosing an accountant, if you’re looking for people who’ll take the time to build a long-term, productive working relationship with you, you’ll find it’s worth taking a look at Peter Hearne Associates, accountants based in Lichfield.

What if you already have an accountant?

If you’re not getting everything you expect from your accountant, it might be time to think about making a change.

It’s natural to have reservations about changing your accountant, particularly if you have been with them for some time. It always makes sense to be sure you’re getting the best value for money from your accountants. Does your accountant keeps in touch with you or the only time you hear from them is at the end of the year.  A decent accountancy firm always keeps in touch with their clients and provide useful resources to their clients. For example if you look at Peter Hearne Associates’ website you will find that the website is kept up to date with the latest accountancy news so their clients can keep up to date with the recent developments.

If you are looking to change you accountants than it is advisable to consider Peter Hearne Associates that are based in Lichfield but also cover Burntwood, Tamworth, Sutton Coldfield and the surrounding areas.


Time running out for tobacco displays

Time is ticking away for the first retailers to be affected by a ban on tobacco displays to ensure their premises are compliant with the law.
From 6 April 2012, large shops – those with a floor area of more than 280 square metres – will no longer be able to display tobacco products to the public except, for example, when staff are serving customers or when they are carrying out stock control or cleaning. The ban will be extended to all other shops from April 2015.

Customers will still be able to buy cigarettes in the usual way but the government is ending tobacco displays with the aim of supporting adults who are trying to stop smoking and protecting young people from becoming smokers. It is estimated that more than 300,000 children under the age of 16 try smoking every year.

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) said that retailers should not fear the impact of the new rules, adding: “The evidence from Ireland when the legislation was implemented there was that committed smokers still knew where to buy cigarettes and didn't need to see the displays to decide what they wanted to buy."

If you want more information then please contact accountants in Lichfield.

Acas chief warns of social media challenge

Social media is likely to be one of the biggest workplace issues in 2012, the head of employment relations service Acas has warned.
Highlighting key challenges for employers in the coming year, Acas chairman Ed Sweeney said: “The rise of social media in recent years has been truly phenomenal. Facebook has more than 500 million users sharing more than 30 billion pieces of content each month.

“Social media throws up a number of issues for employees and employers in relatively uncharted territory for many.

“For instance should employers limit workforce access to social media sites at work? Can they regulate employee’s behaviour on sites outside of work if postings are work-related? And what types of behaviour should result in disciplinary action?

“Social media was the most popular new guidance we launched this year – employers know that it’s an area they need to tackle.”

He said employers needed to learn how to make the best use of social media websites as a marketing tool while effectively managing any misuse which can damage a business’s reputation.

In August 2010, a study by, a network of more than 300 jobsites across the UK, estimated that misuse of the internet and social media by employees cost the UK economy up to £14 billion a year. The same study found that more than 55 per cent of employees questioned admitted to accessing social networking sites such as Facebook at work.

Mr Sweeney said another key challenge for employers in 2012 was likely to be maintaining workforce morale and commitment when their organisation and Britain’s economy were struggling.

He also highlighted the likelihood that bosses and staff would want to resolve disagreements quickly and the impact of older workers retiring later as significant workplace issues in the coming year.

If you want more information then please contact accountants in Lichfield.

Website owners 'need to get to work' on cookies law

Website owners must try harder to comply with the new cookies law, according to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
The comments came as the ICO published an update on progress on website compliance with the new rules on 13 December, along with updated guidance.

The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations, which came into force in the UK on 26 May 2011, means that UK businesses and organisations running websites in the UK must gain consent from visitors to their sites to store cookies on users’ computers.

A cookie is a small file that a website puts on a user’s computer so that it can remember something, for example the user’s preferences, at a later time. The majority of businesses and organisations in the UK currently use cookies for a wide variety of reasons – from analysing consumer browsing habits to remembering a user’s payment details when buying products online.

Information Commissioner Christopher Graham said: “Many people running websites will still be thinking that implementing the law is an impossible task. But they now need to get to work.

“Over the last few months we’ve been speaking to and working with businesses and organisations that are getting on with it and setting the standard. My message to others is – if they can do it, why can’t you?”

He added that businesses that were not compliant but were “trying to get there” would not face “a wave of knee-jerk formal enforcement actions” when a 12-month grace period ended on 26 May 2012.

If you want more information then please contact accountants in Lichfield.

Link: ICO guidance

'Excessive' payment surcharges to be outlawed

Businesses will be banned from levying “excessively high” surcharges on all forms of payment before the end of this year, under government plans.

Firms will be able to add a small charge to cover their actual costs for using any particular form of payment but following Office of Fair Trading (OFT) recommendations, the government announced on 23 December that it plans to:
  • ban excessive surcharges on all forms of payment
  • extend the ban across most retail sectors
  • consult on implementing the EU Consumer Rights Directive, with the goal of banning above-cost surcharges on any form of payment (e.g. surcharges that exceed the costs the business incurs on a card payment) before the end of 2012, rather than mid-2014 as would be required under the European rules.
The government will publish a consultation in the new year setting out its next steps. 

Consumer Minister Edward Davey said:  "We want to make sure that consumers paying by card do not have to pay the excessively high surcharges being imposed on them by some airlines and other businesses. That is why we will consult on early implementation of the Consumer Rights Directive provision to protect consumers from excessively high credit and debit card charges." 

The government move came after consumer rights group Which? made a super-complaint to the OFT in March 2011 about payment card surcharges in the passenger transport sector. 

In its response, published in June 2011, the OFT found considerable evidence of companies using “drip pricing” practices for surcharges online – adding payment charges to the total price only after consumers have filled in a number of web pages during their purchase. 

It concluded that surcharging for using a credit or debit card was potentially misleading to consumers when it came as a surprise and called for the government to ban surcharges on debit cards.

If you want more information then please contact accountants in Lichfield.

Employment tribunal fees plan unveiled

The government has outlined its plans for charging fees to take cases to employment tribunals, designed to cut a multi-million pound bill for the taxpayer and ease pressure on businesses.

Justice Minister Jonathan Djanogly launched a consultation on 14 December on two sets of proposals to ensure that people contribute financially for using the employment tribunal system, which is currently entirely publicly funded.There were 218,100 claims to tribunals in 2010-11, costing the taxpayer £84 million.

The proposals are also designed to help businesses by discouraging unmerited and unnecessary claims and encouraging early settlement of claims.

Mr Djanogly said: “Our proposed fees will encourage businesses and workers to settle problems earlier, through non-tribunal routes like conciliation or mediation and we want to give businesses – particularly small businesses – the confidence to create new jobs without fear of being dragged into unnecessary actions.”

He added: “We believe that people should pay a fair amount towards the cost of their case. Fee waivers will be available for people on low incomes to protect access to justice.”

The government will also continue to fund the cost of employment rights service Acas, which helps people in employment disputes to reach agreement without the need for legal proceedings and is free to users.

The two options put forward in the consultation are:
  • an initial fee of between £150-£250 for a claimant to begin a claim, with an additional fee of between £250-£1,250 if the claim goes to a hearing, with no limit to the maximum award; or

  • a single fee of between £200-£600, with a £30,000 limit on the maximum award and the option of an additional fee of £1,750 for those who seek awards above this amount.
In both options the tribunal would be given the power to order the unsuccessful party to reimburse fees paid by the successful party.
The consultation will close in March 2012, with a view to introduce the fees not before 2013-14.

If you want more information then please contact accountants in Lichfield.

Taxman to review record checks project

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is to carry out a review of its Business Record Checks project, designed to tackle poor record-keeping by small and medium-sized enterprises.

In September 2011, HMRC said it planned to complete up to 12,000 checks by the end of the current financial year with 20,000 provisionally planned for 2012-13. Following pilot schemes in eight areas earlier in the year, HMRC found that 44 per cent of businesses visited had issues with record-keeping and around 12 per cent had seriously inadequate records. 

But on 22 December, the Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) reported that HMRC had started a detailed review of the Business Records Check (BRC) project, in which the CIOT, along with other professional and representative bodies, has been invited to take part.
An HMRC statement said: “The purpose of the review is to consider the overall aims of BRCs, examine whether the current approach is the best way of achieving the policy objectives and identify what changes are needed to ensure that the objectives are achieved. 
“In the meantime HMRC will continue with a limited number of BRC pilots and the results of them will be evaluated as part of the review. HMRC expect to report initial findings in early 2012. 

“Given the concerns over possible penalties, HMRC would like to take this opportunity to reassure taxpayers and agents that HMRC will not (except in extreme cases such as where a taxpayer has no records or has destroyed them) be seeking to use the record-keeping penalty provision during the pilots. No such cases have been identified so far.”

HMRC had previously said that in the longer term it planned to issue penalties of up to £3,000 for serous inadequacies in record-keeping. It launched the BRC project over concerns that poor record-keeping made it more difficult for businesses to pay the right amount of tax at the right time, as well to keep track of their trading position and profitability and to make key decisions.

If you need more information then please contact accountants in Lichfield.