Accounting news Archives - Applied

Government Gateway decommission: The clock is ticking

With the current Government Gateway being switched off on 13 February, we would like to remind our all our Opera II and Opera 3 clients that they MUST upgrade to Online Filing Manager (4.00) before this date.

These upgrades are vital for you to be able to continue your online submissions to HMRC beyond 13 February using the new Government Gateway Multi Digital Tax Platform (MDTP).

HMRC recommend that all users start to use the MDTP sooner rather than later, to ensure that any issues are ironed out before the deadline.

It’s quick and simple to upgrade and we can do this for you. Please contact us if you haven’t received our email notification

Applied Business Solutions partners with the Techsol Group

We are pleased to announce that, late last year, the Techsol Group acquired Applied Business Solutions. Our company began in 1997 and has grown into a leading supplier of accountancy and business software throughout the South West.

Chris Parkinson, Director of Applied Business Solutions, said:

“With the shape and nature of technology moving fast, we decided to look at how we could partner with another like-minded business in order to deliver the next evolution in technology. We wanted a partner that would further strengthen our product portfolio and services that we are able to offer our clients.

The Techsol Group shares the same values we do and their aim is to ensure clients make effective use of the latest advancements in technology to increase business efficiency and performance”

Gavin Morgan, Managing Director of Techsol Group said:

“The acquisition of Applied is a great opportunity for the Techsol Group to increase its range and depth of services to give our customers a full choice of solutions across the technology spectrum. We look forward to investing in the team and business to push forward and work with the rest of the Group to give customers a high quality of service across all technology aspects.

Applied also gives us a fantastic geographic location in association with our offices in Cardiff and Cornwall to ensure we can provide an effective local service to our customers in South Wales and across the whole of the South West. We look forward to developing the Applied brand further across the coming years.”

We look forward to providing a full range of technology products and services to help SME’s throughout the South West manage their businesses more efficiently and grow. To find out how we could benefit your company, please contact us.

The Techsol Group consists of five specialist technology consultancies Micross Logic, Micross Apps, Applied Business Solutions (UK), Amitech IT and Bit Systems; through which we deliver a wide range of business solutions.

From full blown ERP systems, ePOS solutions, stock control software, to IT services and bespoke software. We also offer a range of deployment models, from cloud to on-premise, or if you require a more specialised approach, we can use a hybrid solution and mix and match as required.

Each company has individual specialist knowledge, accreditation’s and expertise, enabling implementation of optimum technical solutions and outstanding service and advice for businesses.

Techsol Group companies work closely together and can integrate together to provide you with a powerful seamless complete business solution to enhance your business performance through the effective use of technology.

Autumn Statement 2016: Flat rate VAT changes explained

Chancellor Philip Hammond has announced significant changes to the amount of VAT SMEs will have to pay. This article from www.smallbusiness.co.uk explores the matter further.

Major changes have been announced for the amount of VAT that many small businesses will have to pay in Philip Hammond’s Autumn Statement.

This will affect businesses that use the VAT Flat Rate Scheme but which spend very little on raw materials – such as firms providing services. The VAT Flat Rate Scheme simplifies businesses’ record keeping, and makes it easy to work out the VAT they have to pay.

The proposed changes are the most important element of the Autumn Statement for this type of business.

How does it work?

Normally a business deducts the VAT on what they buy from the VAT charged on what they sell. Under the Flat Rate Scheme, that two stage process is simplified to one step.

For example, the flat rate percentage for a clothes shop is 7.5 per cent – selling an item for £120 including VAT of £20 will pay a flat rate of £9 (£120 x 7.5 per cent) to HMRC.

However, because it is an approximation, some businesses will pay more, and some less. The government is concerned that some businesses are using the Flat Rate Scheme to pay less VAT than is appropriate

What is changing?

In the Autumn Statement, Chancellor Philip Hammond announced changes which affect businesses that have a very low cost base. These businesses are now called limited cost traders. They can still use the Flat Rate Scheme, but their percentage will be 16.5 per cent. So if they sell £120 of work, including £20 of VAT, the flat rate amount is £19.80 (£120 x 16.5 per cent).

A limited cost trader is defined as one that spends less than 2 per cent of its sales on goods (not services) in an accounting period.

When working out the amount spent on goods, it cannot include purchases of:
capital goods (such as new equipment used in a business) food and drink (such as lunches for staff) vehicles or parts for vehicles (unless running a vehicle hiring business).

A firm will also be a limited cost trader if it spends less than £1,000 a year, even if this is more than than 2 per cent of the firm’s turnover on goods.

Who will this affect?

It will increase the VAT paid by labour-intensive businesses where very little is spent on goods. For example, this may affect IT contractors, consultants, hairdressers and accountancy firms.

It will also affect construction workers who supply their labour, but where the raw materials are provided by the main contractor.

Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, agrees that many small businesses rely on the optional VAT flat rate scheme to simplify the management of their tax affairs.

Cherry adds, ‘We welcome the government’s attempts to clamp down on any misuse of this scheme by a small minority of businesses that use it. However we would be concerned if any small businesses who play by the rules now end up having to pay more to remain within the scheme.

‘Following these reforms, it is important HMRC now produces clear guidance so that small firms understand whether or not to join the scheme.’

When does this start?

The new rules start on 1 April 2017, but may also affect invoices issued, and goods bought, from now on.

There is more about these ‘anti-forestalling’ rules at sections 8.2 and 9.7 of the newly updated HMRC leaflet on the Flat Rate Scheme.

The scheme can be more complicated than expected, and this note is only an overview, so be sure to read the guidance carefully.

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Smaller importers hit hardest by weak pound, study finds

An article on www.smallbusiness.co.uk states that the impact of the weak Pound is being felt unevenly across British business, with smaller firms bearing the brunt of higher import prices.

UK businesses that import either raw materials or finished goods have seen the prices they pay their foreign suppliers rise since the Brexit referendum on June 23rd, and the subsequent weak pound.

But small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have been hit hardest, with many having to curtail their imports in response to the spike in prices, according to figures compiled by foreign exchange specialist FEXCO Corporate Payments.

The study finds that in July, the total number of foreign currency purchases made by SMEs was a relatively modest 7 per cent down on the same time last year. However the average transaction size was 29 per cent less than in July 2015 as companies sought to rein in spending.

In August the picture had recovered a little, with the number of foreign currency purchases made just 5 per cent lower than it was in August 2015, with the average transaction size 11 per cent lower.

However, two successive months of reduced import spending suggests that SMEs are growing increasingly wary of importing.

By contrast the number of foreign currency transactions made in July by large corporates actually rose by 7 per cent on the same time last year, while public sector organisations made 6 per cent more transactions than in July 2015.

Weak pound causing SMEs pain

David Lamb, head of dealing at FEXCO Corporate Payments says that, three months on from Britain’s vote for Brexit, the pound is still worth 10 per cent less against the euro and 12 per cent less against the dollar than it was on the eve of the poll.

‘Such sustained Sterling weakness has driven up prices for all importers, but the behaviour of small and medium-sized businesses suggests they are feeling more pain than most.’

Lamb says that the research indicates that large companies and public sector organisations are much more likely to use hedging strategies when buying from overseas, and products like forward contracts allow them to lock into a favourable exchange rate and protect themselves against adverse currency movements.

‘However small firms that don’t hedge against this risk leave themselves open to costly dips in the pound’s value,’ he adds. ‘Our data shows they are trying to mitigate the risk by making smaller import purchases than they did at this time last year – but this bodes ill for their ability to grow.’

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How safe is your data?

Is your data more secure in a cloud environment than on premise?

From Pegasus Software
As more and more businesses move to a cloud solution, one of the major concerns SMEs have is over
the security of their data in a cloud deployment. It’s easy to see why: stories of data breaches appear in
the media on a regular basis. KPMG reported that 30% of global senior executives had concerns
relating to data loss and 26% had concerns over general security risks.*
But with increasing cloud adoption, it’s hard to deny that cloud computing has many benefits: no
upfront software licence and hardware costs, no hardware constraints, the ability to run an agile
business as long as you have an internet connection, the ease of adding new users as needed, and
24/7 access.
But even with major advantages in terms of cost and flexibility, the question of security is one that
needs to be addressed: in reality, is your data actually safer on premise than it is in the cloud?
This guide will help you make an informed choice and decide if it’s right for your business.

Our on-premise solution is safer because it’s in our building

We have complete control over our in house system with our IT team managing the physical
servers and cooling fans and maintaining the data. We can even stop data from leaving our
server room.
Believe it or not, most security breaches originate within the organisation. A cloud
solution can offer you greater protection.
Unauthorised access to a hosted data centre is extremely rare, and the majority of
breaches from in-house systems are within their own firewalls. Cloud hosting providers
protect their customers and alert them to any issues. In addition, hosting servers are
kept in multiple locations, offering an extra layer of security compared to the risks
associated with storing data in a single location.
Having our servers physically accessible means better protection from viruses
Security threats are not a major concern as software updates and patches are under the
control of our IT staff who keep it up to date.
The providers of a hosted environment deploy anti-virus protection rapidly to hundreds
of customers without the intervention of internal IT staff. They undertake the time-
consuming tasks of ensuring they are up to date with emerging threats and the latest
protection and applying security patches, leaving your internal IT staff to focus on other
tasks within the business.
Our on-premise server is more reliable because we can fix any issues ourselves
Because we manage our own servers in our building, we can ensure uptime and maintain
them ourselves if required.
Cloud solutions actually guarantee uptimes as they experience fewer disruptions to
service and have 24/7/365 monitoring.
Due to their scale and size, hosting partners tend to have fewer service disruptions and
faster recovery times which leads to reduced downtimes and therefore greater cost
benefits to the business through continuity of service.
Conclusion
Cloud vendors typically offer a much higher level of data centre and virtual system
security than most organisations can build and maintain themselves. The leading cloud
providers have made huge investments in their security tools and procedures to benefit
and protect their customers, allowing them to get on with running their businesses.
Further assistance
Make sure your data is hosted in UK data centres that hold ISO 27001certification.
Be honest about your IT team’s expertise and capacity to manage data risk.
Devolving that responsibility to full-time specialists at your hosting provider means
you can avoid the cost and distraction associated with the risk.
Choose a cloud vendor that supports the right login credentials, authentication and
data encryption using TSL and SSL so as not to undermine the integrity and security
of your system.
For more information, please contact us.

Bank charges on international payments hampering small businesses

An article on smallbusiness.co.uk shows how UK businesses have been paying well over the odds for international payments, hampering their abilities to expand in a post-Brexit world, according to a study.

Traditional banks have a stranglehold of 95 per cent of the business payments market, according to a study by Covercy.

One company making 20 transactions of £30,000 could overpay an average of £4,400 monthly or £52,800 a year in completely unnecessary fees, the survey finds.

For a company making 20 transactions of £10,000 this equates to £2,120 a month or £25,440 a year, and for a firm conducting 20 transactions of £1,000 this will total £1,100 a month or £13,200 a year.

Meanwhile, importers have also been hit with unprecedented slides in the value of sterling due to Brexit (16 per cent year on year against the dollar; £1/$1.31 and 18 per cent year on year against the euro; £1/€1.18), while also facing these needless cross-border fees.

With more than two thirds (69 per cent) of the UK’s 53,000 SME exporters making at least 20 transactions a month, paying over the odds for these transactions can really add up, according to Covercy CEO Doron Cohen.

 

He says that Brexit has brought huge uncertainty to UK SMEs, with 96 per cent of exporters selling to the European Union. And now, with the threat of being locked out of the single market, these exporters potentially face new, costly taxes which could make them much less competitive than their EU rivals.

‘Meanwhile, SME importers have already suffered a critical 18 per cent rise in their costs in less than a year due to the fluctuation in sterling’s value.

‘This means the UK’s SME exporters and importers have to look for savings wherever they can find them. Unfortunately for years, banks have held SMEs hostage with over-the-top and unnecessary transaction fees for cross-border transactions.’

Making international payments easier with a currency broker

David Buskell, director of World Domination Music has a business which involves making royalty payments overseas, and the company also receives foreign income from its associates abroad when music is used in their territory.

 

In the beginning the company used the services of its bank to process both outgoing and incoming payments but found that the charges were high and the service not always as speedy as hoped for.

In 2011, a mutual contact within the music industry asked the company about foreign currency payments. ‘His own company has a significant range of both incoming and outgoing payments and so we were interested,’ says Buskell. ‘On speaking with him, we found that he routed all his overseas income through a currency broker thus removing the need for US dollar, Euro, Australian dollar etc bank accounts.’

The currency broker makes its money by being able to trade larger amounts on the currency market and getting better rates, Buskell says. ‘We investigated further and as a result signed up with the currency broker that our contact had recommended to us.

Sterling is transferred into our account either immediately or on our request and a full audit trail is produced. ‘The service is efficient and the rate we get for our currency is a significant improvement on what was offered by the banks,’ Buskell says.

 

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Data on staff at 280 UK firms may be at risk after Sage breach

From The Guardian : Accounting, payroll and payments software company says internal login was used to gain unauthorised access.

Sage, which provides accounting, payroll and payments software for businesses, has released a statement saying that an internal login had been used to gain unauthorised access to the data of some of its British customers.

The personal details of the employees of about 280 British companies were potentially exposed in the breach, a company source said. “We are investigating unauthorised access to customer information using an internal login,” the company said in a statement.

“We cannot comment further whilst we work with the authorities to investigate but our customers remain our first priority and we are speaking directly with those affected,” it added.

Sage, one of Britain’s largest technology companies, said it has more than 6m small and medium-sized businesses using its software worldwide. It operates in 23 countries but this incident is said to have only had a possible impact on customers in the UK.

The company said last month it was confident its revenue would increase by at least 6% in the current year ending next month, continuing a pace set in the six months to the end of March, when revenue rose 6% to £747m.

The Information Commissioner’s Office, which enforces the Data Protection Act, has been informed and the incident reported to the City of London police.

Last year almost 157,000 TalkTalk customers had their personal details hacked in a cyber-attack on the telecoms company. The hacking attack took place on 21 October and the company later admitted it had lost 101,000 customers and suffered costs of £60m as a result.

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