Technical and Insight
New guidance on auto enrolment
Guidance for companies with no staff and a new online guide from The Pensions Regulator.

Guidance for companies with no staff and a new online guide from The Pensions Regulator. 

The Pensions Regulator has highlighted the following in short briefings:  

  • Automatic enrolment: Companies with no staff – what action to take? 
    It states that companies with no staff other than directors may not have any automatic enrolment duties. This includes what sole directors can do if they believe  automatic enrolment duties do not apply to them, as well as further information to help husband and wife companies and family businesses
  • Automatic enrolment: What business advisers need to know about payroll.
    This guidance contains a useful summary on the steps for getting a payroll system ready and testing whether a business will be ready. It is reproduced below. 


Automatic enrolment: What business advisers need to know about payroll
The law on workplace pensions has changed. Every employer with at least one member of staff will have new pensions duties. This means they must automatically enrol eligible staff into a workplace pension scheme and make contributions towards it. Research by The Pensions Regulator indicates that business advisers may not be aware of the impact that automatic enrolment has on payroll, particularly in relation to data/software compatibility. 

Those advisers who do not currently run payroll on behalf of their clients may not be aware of the payroll issues which their clients may experience when complying with their automatic enrolment duties. The content below provides some useful information to pass on to clients to help them ensure that their payroll software works as smoothly as possible to facilitate a simpler automated management of automatic enrolment tasks. 

Advisers who plan to act on behalf of their clients in terms of payroll requirements need to check that the software they use is designed to carry out all the automatic enrolment tasks that will help them comply with their ongoing employer duties, including being able to send enrolment and contribution data to the pension provider in the right format. 

Payroll software suitable for automatic enrolment will:

  • hold information required for automatic enrolment, including staff name, address, date of birth and earnings, so employers pay the right amount of pension contributions for the right person at the right time
  • generate the correct worker contribution and data in the format that pension providers require
  • assess staff to see who needs to be automatically enrolled in each pay cycle
  • calculate contributions for both the employer and staff, and then deduct the staff contributions from their pay, and
  • if possible, produce worker communications like letters to inform workers of their rights.


Steps for getting your clients’ payroll system ready
One important point to raise is the need for business advisers to ensure that clients understand the various steps that need to be taken to comply and to be clear on just who is responsible for handling each of them. It’s all too easy for a task to fall into the gaps if no-one has double checked just who is doing what. 

You and your client will need to be ready to follow the following steps on their staging date and potentially every pay cycle after staging (where required): 

  • assess staff to find out who to automatically enrol
  • calculate staff and employer pension contributions and deduct the staff contributions from their pay
  • send the pension scheme provider the information they require
  • tell staff about automatic enrolment by letter or email
  • pay over pension contributions to the pension scheme by the deadlines they have specified
  • allow staff to opt in or join a pension scheme
  • manage opt-outs within the opt-out period and promptly refund contributions
  • complete a declaration of compliance with The Pensions Regulator
  • keep records
  • automatically re-enrol all eligible staff every three years.


Testing whether your client will be ready
The following table covers the main areas that your client’s payroll system, and the way in which it interacts with their chosen pension scheme, should be tested ahead of their staging date. 

Ownership

 - who will be responsible for handling each of the tasks listed in the above ‘steps for getting your clients’ payroll system ready’?

- if a task is being carried out by a third party, such as a payroll bureau or accountant, are both they and the employer clear on what they’re expected to do and by when?

Staff information

- are the details (full name, address, email, date of birth, NI number) for all staff correct and up to date?

Pay reference period

- which type of pay reference period is supported by the employer’s payroll system – calendar-based or tax period based – and is this accepted by the chosen pension provider?

Data format

- can the employer’s payroll system generate data files that are compatible with the pension provider’s system?

- has the employer processed a dummy run ahead of their staging date and sent test data to their pension provider and have they reported any errors?

Assessing staff

- is the payroll system set up to identify and flag which pay elements are qualifying earnings?

Contributions

- will the pensionable pay elements have been identified and flagged? NB:  This may not be the same as qualifying earnings unless the pension scheme defines pensionable pay as qualifying earnings.

- is the payroll system set up to deduct the correct levels of contributions?

Tax relief

- how does the pensions scheme apply tax relief?

- does it use tax relief at source or a net pay arrangement?

- is a salary sacrifice scheme in place?

Telling staff

- has there been a test run of different types of letters that will need to be sent to the different types of staff (The Pensions Regulator has template letters)?

Timing

- will the data be sent to the pension provider at the right time?

- what day does the provider need to receive the information?

- will payroll need to run earlier in its cycle to allow time and letters to staff?


Keep up to date with the latest news and information
There are a number of additional tools and resources available to you to tap into for additional help and information on workplace pensions: 

  • News by email: Spotlight on Automatic enrolment – The Pensions Regulator’s monthly e-newsletter includes a combination of news stories, educational features and current updates on new products, tools, and guidance. Click here to subscribe. 
  • LinkedIn group. Join The Pensions Regulator’s LinkedIn group for a forum where you can share tips and news on automatic enrolment with your fellow business advisers who are part of the group. The Regulator also hosts live Q&As, where automatic enrolment experts are online and ready to answer your queries. Click here to join.  


Useful links

  • Find more information and resources to help your clients get ready for automatic enrolment
Understanding the latest pension changes
We examine changes to pensions from April 2015 through to April 2016.

We examine changes to pensions from April 2015 through to April 2016. 

From 6 April 2015
People with defined contribution schemes who are at least 55 years old can make withdrawals up to the value of the funds invested in the scheme. The first 25% will be tax free and the person can choose whether to have the 25% tax free element applied to each withdrawal or to allocate it to one withdrawal. The remainder should then be moved within six months into one or more funds that allow income to be withdrawn (e.g. monthly, quarterly, yearly or irregular withdrawals). 

If the rest of the funds are not moved within six months, tax will be due on the lump sum (normally at the rate of 55%). Income taken after the tax free-lump sum will be taxable at the individual’s marginal rate. 

If income withdrawals are made from a pension scheme after 6 April 2015 then that individual will be restricted to making future pension contributions of no more than £10,000. However, after buying an annuity you can in most cases continue to get tax relief on pension savings of up to the annual allowance of £40,000 (2015-16); if you buy a flexible annuity the maximum future pension contributions you can make which qualify for tax relief is reduced to £10,000. 

Funds left in a defined contribution pension scheme when the individual dies would from 6 April 2015 usually pass to the heirs tax free. If death occurs before age 75, the heirs can make withdrawals as and when they choose free of tax, provided they take it within two years. If they take it after two years it will be subject to tax at the beneficiary’s marginal rate. If death occurs after age 75, withdrawals will be treated as taxable income of the heirs and will be taxed at their marginal rates or if all the funds are withdrawn as a single lump sum between 6 April 2015 and 5 April 2016 this would be taxed at 45%. 

From 6 April 2015, beneficiaries of individuals who die under the age of 75 with a joint life or guaranteed term annuity will be able to receive any future payments from such policies tax free where no payments have been made to the beneficiary before 6 April 2015. The tax rules will also be changed to allow joint life annuities to be paid to any beneficiary. Where the individual was over 75, the beneficiary will pay the marginal rate of Income Tax (Finance Bill 2015). 

Practitioners, unless authorised by FCA directly, should refer clients to an IFA and/or the free guidance that is available. Free guidance on the options available has been promised by the government’s new Pension Wise service. This can be via face to face meetings hosted at Citizens Advice Bureaux and guidance over the telephone provided by The Pensions Advisory Service. 

From 6 April 2016
Pensioners who have previously purchased an annuity using their pension funds will be able to sell that annuity and receive the cash. This will then be taxed at the individual’s marginal rate. 

The government will legislate from April 2016 to allow people who are already receiving income from an annuity to agree with their annuity provider to assign their annuity income to a third party in exchange for a lump sum or an alternative retirement product. 

The government will reduce the lifetime allowance for pension contributions from £1.25 million to £1 million from 6 April 2016. Transitional protection for pension rights already over £1m will be introduced alongside this reduction to ensure the change is not retrospective. The lifetime allowance will be indexed annually in line with CPI from 6 April 2018.

Guidance from the Money Advice Service
The Money Advice Service working in consultation with Pension Wise has published guidance to help people with a defined contribution pension scheme decide what to do with that pension pot(s).

 

 

Mortgage references and self assessment
HMRC has improved self assessment documentation in relation to mortgages.

HMRC has improved self assessment documentation in relation to mortgages. 

HMRC has stated that it has ‘been working with the Council of Mortgage Lenders on improving some self assessment (SA) online documentation, so that it can be considered as evidence of income declared to HMRC and to meet the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) challenge over the robustness of the tax calculation’. 

It states that the ‘online documents that have been improved are: 

  • the “tax calculation” which shows the breakdown of the income returned on the customers tax return, including commercial versions and
  • the “tax year overview” which confirms the tax due from the return submitted to HMRC and shows any payments made, cross referencing the tax calculation with HMRC records.’


It has also agreed the following new process: 

  • lenders will ask customers to provide both these documents
  • practitioners or taxpayers will need to be registered for HMRC’s online service
  • documents will be available from the SA online account but if a practitioner uses commercial software they will need to print the tax calculation.


You can find the full HMRC message notification on ACCA’s technical advisory website.  

Practitioners may also wish to continue to use an appropriate disclaimer on information supplied to mortgage lenders. Please contact Technical Advisory for suggested wording that you can tailor to a specific request from a lender or client.

Company cars – benefit in kind
Company car benefits can throw up a number of anomalies and confusion amongst employees. We consider the current benefits calculation that employers need to consider.

Company car benefits can throw up a number of anomalies and confusion amongst employees. We consider the current benefits calculation that employers need to consider. 

When employees are provided with company cars and fuel that are available for private use, they are usually taxed on these benefits under special income tax rules contained in sections 114, 120 and 149 of ITEPA 2003. An employer is liable to pay Class 1A NICs for:
 

  • cars provided by reason of an employee’s employment to  directors and employees who are paid at a rate of £8,500 or more a year (the £8,500 limit will cease next year), if the car is available for private use by the director or employee, or by members of their family or household, and the benefit is chargeable on the director or employee
  • fuel provided for private use in those cars.


Exemption
There is one statutory exception to this (section 117) where the employer is an individual and it can be shown that the car was provided in the normal course of ordinary domestic, family or personal relationships. 

In addition to the statutory exemption, a director or employee earning at a rate of £8,500 or more a year is not taxed on the benefit of a car (or fuel for that car) where it is made available for private use to a member of their family or household if the person to whom the car was made available is chargeable on the benefit in their own right. 

Calculation of car benefit (ITEPA 2003 Section 121(1)): 

  1.  Find the price of the car
  2.  Add the price of any accessories which fail to be taken into account
  3.  Make any required deduction for capital contributions by the employee
  4.  Find the appropriate percentage for the car
  5.  Multiply the figure at Step 3 by the appropriate percentage at Step 4
  6.  Make any required deduction for periods when the car was unavailable
  7.  Make any required adjustment for a shared car
  8.  Make any required deduction for payments by the employee for private use of the car.


This calculation is modified in the case of: 

  • cars that run on road fuel gas
  • classic cars (those 15 years of age or more).

There are special rules for disabled drivers affecting Step 2 and Step 4. 

Finally, the benefit calculated may be reduced where the car is shared. 

Cars which run on ‘road fuel gas’
Up to 2010 to 2011 there are different rules for the three types of car under this heading: 

  • cars manufactured to run on road fuel gas which were first registered in
    2000 or later and which have approved CO2 emissions figures for gas and another fuel: adjustment at Step 4 for P11D for type B cars (gas only cars or bi-fuel cars which were type approved as bi-fuel cars and were first registered on or after 1 January 2000. These cars have two approved CO2 emissions figures, one each for petrol and gas)
  • all other cars manufactured to run on road fuel gas: adjustments at Step 1
    and Step 4 for P11D for type C cars (bi-fuel cars not in type B)
  • cars converted to run on road fuel gas: adjustments at Step 2
  • and Step 4 for P11D type for C cars.


Road fuel gas means any substance which is gaseous at a temperature of 15°C and under a pressure of 1,013.25 millibars, and which is for use as fuel in road vehicles. 

The two types of road fuel gas currently in use are compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquid petroleum gas (LPG). From 2011 to 2012 these cars are categorised as Type A and there are no adjustments to the percentage used in Step 4. 

The price of a car means its: 

  • list price, if it has one
  • notional price, if it has no list price. 


The list price is the inclusive price published by the manufacturer, importer or distributor of the car if sold singly in a retail sale in the open market in the UK on the day before the date of the car’s first registration. It includes standard accessories, any relevant taxes (value added tax, car tax (where appropriate), any customs or excise duty, any tax chargeable as if it were a customs duty) and delivery charges, but this excludes the new car registration fee because it is an administration fee, not a tax. The list price is not the dealer’s advertised price for the car, nor the price paid for the car, which may incorporate discounts or cashbacks from the list price. 

The notional price of a car is the price which might reasonably have been expected to be its list price if its manufacturer, importer or distributor had published a price as the inclusive price appropriate for a sale of a car of the same kind sold singly in a retail sale in the open market in the UK on the day before the date of the car’s first registration. The notional price includes all accessories equivalent to the qualifying accessories available with the relevant car at the time when it was first made available to the employee and any relevant taxes.

Second-hand cars are dealt with in the same way as new cars. The list price is the price on the day before it was first registered, that is when it was new. 

Capital contribution by the employee
This and fuel reimbursement can often cause confusion for employees. ITEPA 2003 section 132 sets out the rules. The effect of Step 3 is to reduce the amount carried forward from Step 2 where the employee has contributed a capital sum, or capital sums, to expenditure on the provision of:  

  • the car (Step 1)
  • any qualifying accessory (so long as it is taken into account at Step 2).


The amount to be deducted is the lesser of: 

  • the total of the capital sums contributed by the employee in that and any earlier years to expenditure on the provision of the car or any qualifying accessory taken into account at Step 2
  • £5,000 capital contributions are payments towards the cost of the car or qualifying accessories.


Classic cars 
A classic car is 15 years old or more at the end of the year of assessment, and: 

  • with a market value for the year of £15,000 or more
  • that market value exceeds the amount carried forward from Step 3 above.


When all the above conditions are met, substitute the market value of the classic car for the year less any capital contribution for the amount otherwise carried forward from Step 3 above. 

The market value of a classic car is the price that it might reasonably have been expected to fetch at a sale in the open market on the last day in the tax year when it was available to the employee, on the assumption that any qualifying accessories available with the car on that day are included in the sale. Market values of classic cars may be found in specialist publications, contemporaneous sale documents or insurance details for the car concerned. If a classic car is bought in a poor state of repair and is restored during the year, then it is the market value of the restored vehicle on the last day in the tax year when it was available to the employee which is used, not the cost of the earlier purchase. 

Until 2010 to 2011 the figure at Step 3 was restricted to an upper limit of £80,000. This applied to all cars, classic or otherwise. From 2011 to 2012 this price cap does not apply. 

The appropriate percentage
For car benefit purposes, the appropriate percentage depends on the CO2 emissions figure that applies at the date of first registration of the car. Information on CO2 emissions for both new (unregistered) and used (registered) cars is available, as is more information on vehicles and CO2 emissions

Qualifying low emissions cars
The definitions: 

  • from 2008 to 2009 up to 2011 to 2012, there are special rules for ‘qualifying low emissions cars’ (also known as QUALEC)
  • from 2008 to 2009 up to 2009 to 2010, these are cars (other than type E cars - zero-emission cars) with CO2 emissions figures not exceeding exactly 120g/km; the normal rounding rules are not applied, so a car with CO2 emissions of 121g/km is not a qualifying low emission car. These cars have an appropriate percentage of 10%
  • from 2010 to 2011 up to 2011 to 2012 a qualifying low emission car has CO2 emissions between 1 and 75g/km and the appropriate percentage is 5%. QUALECS are subject to an adjustment for diesel cars
  • from 2012 to 2013 up to 2014 to 2015 and onwards there are no longer special rules for qualifying low emission cars, cars with emissions between 1 and 75g/km have an appropriate percentage of 5% (diesel cars are subject to an adjustment)
  • from 2015 to 2016 there are two new appropriate percentage bands:
    • 0 - 50 g/km
    • 51 - 75 g/km
  • the ready reckoner gives the appropriate percentages for a petrol-powered car for 2014 to 2015 onwards. The exact CO2 figure is rounded down to the next 5g/km for this purpose (that is, for 188 use 185) except where the car is a QUALEC.


Reduction for periods when the car is unavailable
When the car is unavailable for any part of the year, the figure carried forward from Step 6 is reduced in proportion to the number of days of unavailability. A car is treated as being unavailable on any day if the day falls: 

  • before the first day on which the car is available to the employee, or
  • after the last day on which the car is available to the employee, or
  • within a period of 30 consecutive days or more throughout which the car is not available to the employee.


If the normal car is not available for a period of less than 30 days, there is no reduction because the car is not unavailable. If during that period the employee is provided with a replacement car, it is not also charged as a benefit if: 

  • it is not materially better than the normal car, or
  • it is not provided as part of an arrangement whose purpose was to provide the employee with a materially better car than the normal car.


Adjustment for shared car
A shared car is one:

  • which is available to more than one employee concurrently
  • made available by the same employer
  • available concurrently for each employee’s private use
  • for which two or more of those employees are chargeable to tax for that year. 


Where these conditions are fulfilled the benefit of the car to each employee is: 

  • calculated separately
  • then reduced on a just and reasonable basis.


However, only availability to those chargeable on the benefit of the car is to be taken into account in making this reduction. Any availability to employees not so chargeable (either because their earnings are insufficient or because they are prohibited from using the car privately and do not do so) is to be disregarded. The total amount chargeable in respect of the car is therefore the same as if the car had been available to only one employee for private use and there had been no sharing.

Reduction for payments for private use
Payments that an employee makes for the private use of the car are deducted from the figure carried forward from Step 7 and can reduce the benefit charge to nil. 

To qualify as a deduction: 

  • there must be a requirement in the year to make payments as a condition of the car being available for private use  
  • from 2014 to 2015 the wording of this section changed to ensure that any payment for private use must be paid within the relevant tax year
  • the payments must be specifically for that private use.


Payments for supplies or services, such as petrol or insurance, do not count. Any payments which the employee makes specifically for the private use of a replacement car, are allowed as though they were payments for the private use of the normal car in that period. 

Pooled car
There is no tax charge on the benefit of a car if it is a pooled car, used only by employees. Similarly, there is no liability to pay Class 1A NICs for that car or for fuel supplied for that car. There may, however, be a liability for Class 1 NICs if a lump sum or mileage allowance is paid. 

A car only qualifies as a pooled car if all of these conditions are satisfied: 

  • it is made available to, and actually used by, more than one employee
  • it is made available, in the case of each of those employees, by reason of their employment
  • it is not ordinarily used by one of them to the exclusion of the others and any private use by any employee is merely incidental to their business use of it
  • it is not normally kept overnight on or near the residence of any of the employees unless it is kept on premises occupied by the provider of the car.


The reference to employees above means any employee irrespective of the level of earnings. If a car fails any of the conditions for being a pooled car, it may be regarded as a shared car. 

Calculating the car fuel benefit charge 
The car fuel benefit charge is calculated by multiplying two figures:  

  • a fixed sum £22,100 from 2015 to 2016; £21,700 from 2014 to 2015 and £21,100 for 2013 to 2014
  • the appropriate percentage used to calculate the car benefit (read section 40 onwards).


There is never any need to calculate a new appropriate percentage for car fuel benefit. In every case, whether or not the car has an approved CO2 emissions figure, the appropriate percentage used to calculate the car benefit charge is used to calculate the car fuel benefit charge. 

The car fuel benefit charge is reduced proportionately for periods for which the car is unavailable. The proportion by which the charge is reduced is the same for both car benefit and car fuel benefit. 

The car fuel benefit charge is reduced if free fuel ceases to be provided to an employee during the tax year. However, if free fuel is received again later in the same tax year the car fuel benefit is not reduced. 

If the employee reimburses the full cost of any fuel provided for private use, the fuel benefit charge is reduced to nil. Partial reimbursement by the employee of the cost of fuel provided for private use does not reduce the fuel benefit charge.

Prompt Payment Code strengthened
Phased changes will help strengthen the Prompt Payment Code.

Phased changes will help strengthen the Prompt Payment Code. 

The Prompt Payment Code, which is regarded as the best practice for payment of suppliers, has been further strengthened, with signatories to the code being asked to:  

  • pay invoices within a maximum of 60 days, and seek to pay within 30 days as the norm
  • avoid practices that are grossly unfair and adversely affect your suppliers
  • report annually (for small and medium sized signatories) on payment performance, on a comply or explain basis, and half-yearly (for large signatories) in line with the new statutory reporting requirement; and
  • provide five references (up from two) to validate membership.


The timeline for the changes is: 

Now:

  • signatories asked to comply with 30 and 60 day payment terms
  • signatories asked to avoid practices that are grossly unfair and adversely affect suppliers
  • requirement for five references introduced for new signatories
  • new Code website goes live
  • new Code Compliance Board comes into being.


Summer 2015:

  • large company signatories within the scope of the new statutory reporting requirement asked to start half-yearly reporting on their payment performance
  • all signatories required to submit additional information and references
  • all other signatories, including small and medium sized companies outside the scope of the new reporting requirement, asked to start annual reporting on their payment performance on a comply or explain basis.


April 2016

  • all signatories required to start reporting on their payment practices
  • maximum payment terms will come into force – signatories to seek to pay within 30 days, and required to pay 95% of invoices within 60 days, unless exceptional circumstances apply.


You can see a list of the signatories and how to apply to join

 

Pitfalls of making introductions to tax schemes
Valuable advice for anyone considering introducing a client to a tax scheme.

Valuable advice for anyone considering introducing a client to a tax scheme. 
As brokers, we regularly hear clients say that they will never be held liable for claims in connection with tax schemes as they are ‘just the introducer’. However, we’ve seen examples of how exactly that can and does happen. 

Essentially, some claimant solicitors can look for the easiest target – ie whoever has the funds (or the insurance) to pay the claim and a structure which will enable them to actually get to the money. Solicitors will be aware that all ACCA members must have insurance and that many have a relatively simple UK company structure. 

On the other hand, there is no guarantee that promoters will have insurance. They can be experts at structuring themselves in complex group arrangements, often with a non-UK domicile, which may make it appear that they have limited assets that would be a challenge to get at. Therefore, even if solicitors choose to pursue a promoter and secure a judgement, enforcing it might be very difficult. 

These reasons can make promoters undesirable to claim against. Ultimately, solicitors want results and potentially they can draw anyone and everyone who has any involvement in the matter into a claim. Each party that is named must then extricate themselves from it, however ludicrous it may appear to them. 

However, is it possible for an accountant to look to pass all liability to a promoter? Many clients believe that this is a simple answer to the problem, but in order to do this, the accountant would need to establish that the promoter had been negligent. 

There are four elements of a negligence claim, namely:
 

  1. the promoter owed the accountant a duty of care
  2. the promoter breached that duty of care
  3. the breach of that duty caused the loss
  4. the loss was not too remote to be connected to the breach (not too important for our purposes here.)


Firstly, let’s look at whether the promoter would owe the accountant a duty of care. 

The accountant’s likely argument would be that they just introduced the claimant to the promoter – they had no intention to advise on the schemes and indeed gave no advice. 

In order to demonstrate that a duty of care existed between the promoter and the accountant, they would need to prove that the accountant placed some reliance on what the promoter had said and acted on said reliance.   

However, if the accountant states that they did not intend to give any advice, the promoter would have no reason to believe that they were being relied upon. 

Alternatively, if the accountant is present as a tax adviser, the promoter would have reason to believe that they were being relied on. A tax adviser obviously seeks to advise their client and this advice would be informed by what the promoter had said. This may then give rise to a duty of care.  

However, even this might not work to protect the accountant. A judge would be unlikely to allow a duty of care in this scenario, as to do so would absolve the accountant of their own duty to act with the reasonable level of skill and care. 

Therefore, we can see that it is very difficult to argue that a promoter owes the accountant a duty of care. 

Duty of care
On a point of interest though, let’s say that we have managed to find a duty of care. The next step is then to determine whether the duty has been breached. 

The duty of the promoter is to give honest and open warnings and advice about their scheme and its suitability for a particular client. Let’s take the following into account:

  • most promoters have strong and repetitive warnings in their literature about the risks involved in their scheme. Many also say that they are not giving tax advice and direct clients to their own tax advisers
  • if the promoter offers a counsel opinion on the benefits of the scheme, this helps the accountant by giving their confidence in the scheme some justification. Alternatively, the lesser the third party verification of the scheme, the greater burden is placed on the accountant to offer reasons behind their introduction and to ensure that their client’s interests are being protected
  • if the scheme has characteristics which the accountant should know will set off alarm bells with HMRC. The accountant should notice things like double-dipping and overseas investments
  • changes in legislation or attitudes. Whatever commentary promoters or other stakeholders make in a changing environment must be taken with a pinch of salt. No one can foresee the results of APNs on individual schemes, or even GAAR at this stage, so it is difficult to breach one’s duty of care when commenting, provided the comments are not unreasonable. For example, if the promoter is vague or unrealistic in their commentary, this triggers the accountant’s duty to scrutinise the situation. At the same time, if the promoter is honest about the uncertainty and the risks, the accountant must take this into consideration when introducing their client.


Therefore, provided that the promoter is honest and open about the risks of the scheme, in the context of that particular environment, then they may be unlikely to breach a duty of care, whether to the client or to another professional. 

Now we turn finally to whether the promoter truly causes the loss. The crux of the matter is promoters are there to sell a particular scheme and use their expertise to put it in place with the client’s own assets. The responsibility of a promoter is to honestly depict the strengths, weaknesses, and primarily risks of their scheme, exercising the reasonable level of skill and care expected of a professional. Provided they do so, especially if in writing, they are likely to fulfil their obligations. They will not be liable purely by reason of being the promoter – they have to cause the loss, they have to be negligent

When you place the accountant in between the promoter and the client, you introduce another link in the chain. A client will have no trouble in establishing a duty of care against the accountant as it is clearly anticipated by the very nature of their relationship. For example, if:
 

  1. The accountant fails to set out the limitations of their role explicitly at the start of their relationship with the client, ie their letter of engagement was not sufficiently detailed.
  2. The accountant fails to carry out their own independent due diligence on the schemes.
  3. The accountant’s lack of expertise on the schemes means they cannot adequately advise on the scheme’s suitability.


The accountant will be expected to exercise the same level of reasonable skill and care as warranted from the promoter. If these failings occur, the client’s loss is likely to be more attributable to these than to the promoter’s existence. 

To summarise:

  • if a promoter is included in the claim by a solicitor, and they haven’t openly presented the risks of their scheme, they are likely to take either all or some of the responsibility for the loss
  • however, if an accountant is also named, even just an introducer, and they have breached their duty of care to their client, they may either share in the promoter’s liability or possibly bear the full loss, dependent on the extent of their breach.


It can be very difficult to pass the liability from an accountant to a promoter because:

  • if the accountant doesn’t show reliance on the promoter’s advice, ie they state that they were just introducing, there is likely to be no duty of care between them
  • if the accountant is present in an active way, the need for them to carry out their own due diligence or exercise their own professional skill and care will likely result in the liability resting with them.  


Consequently, unless we are dealing with a promoter who… 

  • the claimant solicitor decides to claim against
  • has assets and/ or insurance, which are accessible in terms of where they are based or how they are structured
  • has failed to advise the claimant of the risks of their scheme

 
…an accountant who is also named in the claim is unlikely to escape even if they are only making the introduction.

Amy Newton – account manager, Profin Specialities, Lockton Companies LLP 
amy.newton@uk.lockton.com 

Note: The above article is not to be regarded as advice (whether legal or otherwise) given by Lockton Companies LLP or the writer and cannot be relied upon by any reader of this article. By reading the article you agree that Lockton has no liability to you or any other party in relation to the same. If you have any concerns or queries about the subject matter of this article then please seek your own independent legal advice on the same.  

Lockton Companies LLP is ACCA’s recommended broker for Professional Indemnity insurance. For information, please contact Lockton on 0117 906 5057.

 

Charities audit and examination limits
The latest changes to audit requirements for charities in England, Scotland and Wales.

The latest changes to audit requirements for charities in England, Scotland and Wales. 

Changes to the audit requirement for charities in England and Wales have been introduced. The government highlighted that the ‘proposals became “live” to 31 March 2015, meaning that charities who fall below the thresholds and whose accounting years end on or after 31 March can benefit immediately.’ 

The requirement for an audit for a charity is now where the charity has: 

  • an income of more than £1m; or
  • assets worth more than £3.26m and an income of more than £250,000.


You can find the SI and further details on ACCA’s technical advisory website. 

Below the limits highlighted above, and assuming they do not opt for an audit report, charities are required to have an independent examination. The exceptions are in England and Wales where income does not exceed £25,000. If this is the case they are not required to have an independent examination. 

Charities in operating in Scotland must register with OSCR. This includes bodies that are established and/or registered as charities in other legal jurisdictions, such as England and Wales. 

The audit requirements of the Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005 and The Charities Accounts (Scotland) Regulations 2006 apply to Scottish registered charities. The limits are:  

  • gross income over £500,000
  • where the gross assets are over £2,800,000.
Small company limits
Details of new threshold limits for small companies.

Details of new threshold limits for small companies. 

Statutory Instrument 2015 no. 98 The Companies, Partnerships and Group (accounts and reports) Regulations 2015 sets out the new threshold limits. 

The thresholds for a small company are: 

Turnover

 £

Balance sheet total

£

Number of employees

10.2m

5.1m

50


The thresholds apply for reporting requirements and are not audit thresholds. The audit thresholds are unchanged. The new thresholds will apply for financial years beginning on or after 1 January 2016; however, companies meeting the thresholds will have the option of accessing the small company accounting regime ahead of that date for periods beginning 1 January 2015. 

See ACCA’s technical advisory website for further information.

Transfers from DB to DC pension schemes
Guidance from the Pensions Regulator on transfers from Defined Benefit (DB) to Defined Contribution (DC) pension schemes.

Guidance from the Pensions Regulator on transfers from Defined Benefit (DB) to Defined Contribution (DC) pension schemes. 

In April 2015 The Pensions Regulator published guidance aimed at helping trustees of DB schemes manage requests from members of the scheme who wish to transfer to a DC arrangement. 

The changes made from 6 April 2015 to DC schemes make these schemes more attractive than they were previously and it was anticipated that more people would choose to transfer from DB schemes to DC schemes. 

The guidance covers the following main points for trustees: 

  1. Trustees should ensure they have processes in place to implement transfer requests in a timely manner, record all requests received and transfers that have been made.
  2. Where the member’s cash equivalent value of safeguarded benefits in the scheme is £30,000 or less, the member is not required to obtain advice for the purpose of making a transfer. However, trustees must remind the member about the information on transfers available from The Pensions Regulator, The Pensions Advisory Service and the FCA. Trustees must also recommend that the member take advice before deciding whether to transfer, although the member has no obligation to take such advice.
  3. If the exemption in point 2 above is not available (ie the sum exceeds £30,000) then the trustees must check that a member has obtained the appropriate independent advice before transferring the member’s safeguarded benefits to a DC scheme (or a DC section of the same scheme).
  4. Trustees should retain a copy of the adviser’s written confirmation of advice to the member. As the advice is likely to be confidential to the member, trustees should not request a copy of the advice. Similarly they should not prevent the member from making decisions which the trustees might consider to be inappropriate.
  5. Trustees must check that the adviser has the correct permission (as detailed on the Financial Services Register maintained by the FCA) to carry on the regulated activity. If, after carrying out certain checks, the trustees have concerns about the adviser, these should be reported to the FCA.
  6. Trustees should keep a record of the checks undertaken and retain them for at least six years although The Pensions Regulator recommends that they are retained for a longer period.
New FREDs and UK GAAP
New standards launched for small entities under £10.2m, with practitioners urged to respond to a related FRC consultation.

New standards launched for small entities under £10.2m, with practitioners urged to respond to a related FRC consultation. 

The FRC has launched a consultation on three Financial Reporting Exposure Drafts (FREDs) that make amendments to UK GAAP and bases them on the FRS 102 framework:  

(a) FRED 58 Draft FRS 105 The Financial Reporting Standard applicable to the micro-entities regime

(b) FRED 59 Draft amendments to FRS 102 The Financial Reporting Standard applicable in the UK and Republic of Ireland – Small entities and other minor amendments

(c) FRED 60 Draft amendments to FRS 100 Application of Financial Reporting Requirements and FRS 101 Reduced Disclosure Framework.


The key changes proposed in the three FREDs include: 

  • the withdrawal of the FRSSE for accounting periods beginning on or after 1 January 2016
  • a new accounting standard for micro-entities (FRS 105) based on FRS 102
  • new recognition and measurement requirements for other small entities, outlined in a new section of FRS 102, but with reduced presentation and disclosure requirements compared to the full standard
  • greater flexibility in relation to the format of the profit and loss account and balance sheet in FRS 101, allowing the use of IFRS-based presentation requirements similar to those used for group accounts.


The proposals are intended to be effective for accounting periods beginning on or after 1 January 2016, with early application permitted for accounting periods beginning on or after 1 January 2015. 

Companies qualifying as small under the increased Companies Act thresholds (turnover £10.2m, balance sheet total £5.1m, employees 50) will therefore be able to apply FRS 102 for small entities from 1 January 2015 rather than apply full FRS 102. 

Consultation questions
Each FRED includes a number of consultation questions relating to specific issues on which the FRC is particularly interested in receiving comments from stakeholders. 

Some of the most significant questions are: 

  • should the small entities section of FRS 102 include different recognition and measurement criteria from those applicable to larger entities?
  • should FRS 105 for micro-entities use the same language and terminology as FRS 102?
  • is the level of simplification in FRS 105 compared to FRS 102 appropriate?
  • is it appropriate to mandate the expensing of borrowing and development costs in FRS 105?


The consultation on the three FREDs runs up to 30 April 2015 and ACCA invites you to send your comments to the FRC and to also share them with us via email at supportingpractitioners@accaglobal.com 

 

You can find the consultations on the FRC website

 

Government spends £11.4bn with SMEs
Over a quarter of total procurement now with SMEs with further reforms to increase spend.

Over a quarter of total procurement now with SMEs with further reforms to increase spend. 

Central government spent an unprecedented £11.4bn with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in 2013-14, the Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, recently announced, as he revealed new figures showing that a record 26.1% of government spend went to SMEs. 

The new data shows that central government spent 10.3% directly with SMEs, and 15.8% indirectly – meeting the aspiration it set in 2010 for 25% of procurement spend to be with SMEs by the end of this Parliament. 

Acknowledging that there was still further work to do, the government launched a refresh of its contracts finder website, offering a much improved search including by location. The site covers current and future public sector contracts – above £10,000 in central government and £25,000 in the wider public sector. It’s free to use, including from smart phones and tablets. It lists all opportunities, allows a one-off registration, has built-in alerts, allows for more specific business-type searches and notifications and standardises public sector contracts, making them accessible and understandable. Complicated forms such as the Pre-Qualification Questionnaires for low value public sector contracts have also been abolished.

New legislation also ensures that:  

  • 30 day payment terms will be mandated down the supply chain - to suppliers and sub-contractors
  • public bodies will have to publish an annual late payment report to sharpen accountability
  • the bidding process will be simplified across the wider public sector with complex forms, such as pre-qualification questionnaires, abolished for low value contracts
  • the procurement process for public sector contracts will be accelerated. 

 

 

 

NEWS
Feeling under pressure in the workplace?
New survey examines instances when accountants have been put under pressure in their workplace.

There has been much talk about the societal role of accountants and auditors and whether they find themselves being pressured to act in a certain way. 

The European Federation of Accountants and Auditors for SMEs (EFAA) wishes to assess the extent to which accountants and those in the accounting profession are subject to pressure. 

The survey allows you to share your experience of instances when you have been put under pressure in the workplace and also your perceptions of how often accountants, auditors and others in the accounting profession are placed under pressure. EFAA also wishes to identify any trends or patterns associated with the incidence of pressure.  

The research will inform the debate on the societal role of the accountant and it is intended that the findings will be shared with ethical standard setters, legislators and professional bodies as they develop ethical codes and support their members. 

The results of the survey will be presented as statistical data only. Your individual responses will not be released. All data collected is confidential.  

Complete the survey now

Enterprise Nation Marketplace
How accountants can benefit from the expanding Enterprise Nation Marketplace.

How accountants can benefit from the expanding Enterprise Nation Marketplace. 

The government’s growth vouchers programme is slowly winding down with applications having closed on 31 March, and the final vouchers currently being claimed. 

Looking to the future, the Enterprise Nation Marketplace is ramping up, with some exciting new plans and developments are about to come into effect. 

The Marketplace is now home to over 12,500 business advisers, professionals, coaches and mentors, with over 1000 advisers added in the last month. The vision is for the Enterprise Nation Marketplace to be the destination for small businesses to find talent and expertise across all sectors. 

Here, we take a look at some current developments and future opportunities. 

Enterprise vouchers
Enterprise Nation has proposed a new scheme to fill the gap that Growth Vouchers will leave for small businesses looking to access strategic advice. The campaign calls for closed account energy cash to fund Enterprise Vouchers for small firms. 

Attracting site visitors
Whilst continuing to signpost the Enterprise Nation Community of over 70,000 small businesses to the Marketplace to find advice, Enterprise Nation is working with complimentary communities such as the StartUp Loans Company with a community of over 26,000 small businesses – directing them to find advisers, coaches and professionals on the Marketplace. 

We will continue to create alliances and partnerships to drive potential clients and small businesses to the Marketplace – and therefore to accountants and advisers just like you. 

Regional opportunities 
Working with local councils to deliver business support in the regions, a first project in Barnsley sees Enterprise Nation delivering an opportunity for local advisers to work with ecommerce entrepreneurs. 

Further projects are set to follow and represent an opportunity for advisers on the Marketplace to secure work in training and/or advising. All regional and local opportunities will be promoted in the weekly Enterprise Nation Marketplace Newsletter.

Marketplace functionality
There will be improvements made and new technical functionalities added to the Marketplace this summer. New categories will be added to the Marketplace to offer site visitors the ability to find an adviser across all business sectors. Advisers will also be able to feature in more than one category to ensure that you are listed in exactly the right places for potential clients to find you (expected in late summer). 

A jobs board will be added for site visitors to upload new contracts and jobs. Advisers will have the ability to direct message potential clients to discuss and/or bid for the job.

Find out more – and sign up to the regular e-newsletter – about Enterprise Nation now

CPD
CPD events for practitioners
Book your next ACCA Professional Courses event now.

Keep up to date with latest developments within the accountancy profession and ensure that you are equipped with right set of skills and knowledge to best support your practice.


SATURDAY CPD CONFERENCES

Conference Two

Conference Three

 

SUMMER UPDATE CONFERENCES

Business Advice Conference

Accounting Conference

Taxation Conference 

 

RESIDENTIAL CONFERENCES

Residential Conference for Practitioners

 

PRACTICE MANAGEMENT

Guide to Practical Audit Compliance for Partners and Managers

Practical Guide to ISQC 1 for Partners and Managers

Money Laundering Workshop

 

Online learning from ACCA
The latest online learning courses, including details of how to keep your IFRS knowledge up-to-date.

If you want to keep your IFRS knowledge up-to-date this Spring then we have some great learning opportunities for you:            

Accountingcpd.net are offering the following four courses for the price of three*:            

  1. FRS 102 Choosing between the alternatives
    Have you decided which new accounting framework to follow?
  2. FRS 102 How will the numbers change?
    Do you know what your numbers look like under new UK GAAP?
  3. FRS 102 Reacting to reduced regulation
    Will your interpretation of the new regulations stand up to scrutiny?
  4. FRS 102 Impact on systems and data
    Have you thought through how the new reporting framework will affect your systems and data?            

Please use promotional code: ACCA197 to redeem this offer 

(*Offer expires on 17 May. Courses are 75 GBP each for four hours.)


 -----------------------------------------------

 W.Consulting are offering their IFRS Fundamentals e-learning system for just 70GBP* (usually 99GBP) 

  • over 47 online modules to choose from
  • one year’s access
  • online tracking system to help verify your CPD 

(*Offer expires 17 May)

------------------------------------------------            


If you missed any of Kaplan’s 2014 IFRS technical webinars then you can purchase any of their post-recordings and get another one of your choice completely free*.            

Please use discount code:  A241 to redeem this offer 

(*offer is only applicable to recorded sessions from 2014. Only the cheapest webinar is free. Offer must be taken at time of booking with the correct discount code; both webinars must be booked together. Offer expires 16 June)          

Disclaimer: All bookings, promotional offers and discounts are subject to the relevant course providers' terms and conditions. Please see individual supplier pages for full terms and conditions. 


---------------------------------------------------------------------

 We have lots of corporate reporting online courses and articles here

 
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Here is some useful documentation to guide you through your CPD requirements: 

QUICK GUIDE TO CPD

 

Alternative & Receivables Finance
Second annual summit will focus on exploiting new developments in SME finance.
Second annual summit will focus on exploiting new developments in SME finance.

Monday 11 May
Clifford Chance, Canary Wharf, London, UK
Introducers (practitioners) and SMEs attend free*
Other ACCA members eligible for a discounted rate of £495. 


Glenn Collins, head of technical advisory at ACCA, will be one of many top speakers at the second annual BCR conference exploring the future of financing for growing businesses in the UK and beyond. 24 speakers have already confirmed, including: 

  • Adam TavenerHeadALTERNATIVE BUSINESS FUNDING
  • Andrew van der Lem, Managing Director Strategy & Markets, BRITISH BUSINESS BANK
  • John Bevan, Managing Director Commercial Finance, SECURE TRUST BANK
  • Philip King, Chief Executive, CHARTERED INSTITUTE OF CREDIT MANAGEMENT
  • Greg McDonald, Managing Director, GOODFISH LTD
  • Ayan Mitra, Chief Executive, CROWDBNK
  • Brian Bartaby, Founder & CEO, PROPLEND
  • Darren Westlake, CEO, CROWDCUBE
  • Tom Britton, CTO andCo-founder, SYNDICATE ROOM
  • Chris SkinnerAuthor of ‘Digital Bank’, ChairThe Financial Services Club, UK


Key themes 
Cash-flow finance; debt models; innovations in receivables and supply chain financing; new technologies; client relationship management; credit risk and control 

Speakers/audience
A mix of traditional invoice financiers (bank-owned and independent), challenger banks, auction/platform solutions, technology providers with a broader interest in supply chain finance, SMEs, introducers and accountants; investors and advisers. 

Download advance programme or visit the conference website

*To claim your free pass or discounted ACCA rate of £495 please contact Julie Hawkins 
jh@bcrpub.com or call the booking hotline 020 8466 6987 


Trade Receivables Securitisation Summit
The inaugural Trade Receivables Securitisation Summit is a unique opportunity to gain an understanding of the new deal sizes and structures, collateral valuation and cash flow under a trade receivables securitisation, as well pinpointing where the new emerging opportunities lie. This event is running parallel with the Alternative and Receivables Finance Conference, taking place at the same venue on Tuesday 12 May.

ACCA members working in corporate treasurer roles are eligible to attend for free. Other ACCA members can attend for £495 or attend both events for £890. To book your place, contact Julie Hawkins (as above).


For more information about getting involved in either event please contact: 

Malou Lindholm – director, BCR Publishing
T: 020 8466 69867
E: ml@bcrpub.com

Microsoft Office Specialist – Excel 2010 and 2013
Online video training and official certification in Microsoft Excel.

Online video training and official certification in Microsoft Excel in partnership with Prodigy Learning. 

Do you want to increase your employability and differentiate yourself in today's competitive job market? Or maybe you are looking for a productive and flexible approach to meeting your annual CPD requirements? 

The 15 hours of online video training offers 100’s of tips and techniques allowing you to increase efficiency and productivity in your day-to-day Excel use, plus there is the exciting opportunity to gain the official MOS – Excel certification for your CV – all at a discounted ACCA member rate! 

For further information and details on how to book this exciting offer, please visit the dedicated pages on our website:

Microsoft Office Specialist – Excel 2010

Microsoft Office Specialist – Excel 2013

CAREERS
Managing your biggest challenges
The ‘secret accountant’ reflects on three of the biggest challenges facing practitioners today.

The ‘secret accountant’ reflects on three of the biggest challenges facing practitioners today. 

This month the ‘secret accountant’ seeks to strike a chord with practitioners across the country with their reflections on the challenges of dealing with HMRC and clients’ self-employed bookkeepers, as well as listing some of the random challenges presented by clients in the past 12 months.

HMRC
Have you ever found yourself literally banging your head on your desk through the sheer frustration of dealing with HMRC? I have, on several occasions: once with an investigation into a church minister’s affairs when the HMRC officer assured me that it was a luxury to have a computer and therefore not tax allowable, even though he had another one for personal use – surely he could write his sermons with pen and paper (or was that quill and parchment?)

And how many times does one still have to argue when they say there is no 64-8 in place although you have been acting for the client for years and received much correspondence from HMRC regarding him?

And what about when you wish to discuss several clients in one phone call to save time, but have to give your name, rank and serial number each time you move from one client to the next?

Best advice – don’t forget to use the existing agent dedicated line, which can ease life and do join the campaign to have one for PAYE.

Clients’ self-employed bookkeepers
The majority are very good but not all. Some may be incompetent and very protective of their position and because they make the clients’ lives so much easier, how do you tell the client that there are mistakes, especially where VAT is concerned - eg VAT claimed on stamps, bank charges and insurance? 

And ‘everything is done for you – you only have to prepare the final accounts’ – but hang on a minute, that so-called reconciled bank account is £500 out and on further investigation you discover £500 sitting in a suspense account entitled ‘bank difference’.

Best advice – book onto a training course on the art of tact and diplomacy.

Clients’ random challenges
What do you say to the clients who:

  • cannot get their records to you because they are dog-sitting?
  • have met a man down the pub who has told them he never pays tax so why are they having to – should we not be doing more to eradicate their tax bill (but that man is also a client and we know that he does pay tax)?
  • you prepare payroll for – and when everything has been run, payslips prepared, FPS authorised and you are just about to press the button to submit the RTI you receive an e-mail saying ‘sorry, I forgot to tell you about a new member of staff – he is eighteen, definitely doesn’t have an NI number and by the way, he is my son’?
  • run sole trades and partnerships and take out ‘wages’ each week, believing that this will reduce their overall tax bill?
  • pay their class II national insurance and just cannot understand that they have to pay class IV as well?
  • have been badly advised by their previous accountant, without ‘calling’ our peers?
  • have solicitors who have incorrectly calculated inheritance tax on an estate they are involved in?


Best advice – stay calm, use ACCA’s technical advisory helpline and keep a sense of humour.

The secret accountant is an ACCA practitioner somewhere in the heart of England

ACCA’s Technical Advisory Service
Our Technical Advisory Service is a popular resource amongst practitioners.

Our Technical Advisory Service is a popular resource amongst practitioners. We have recently been receiving extremely high call volumes. 

To help manage queries, the telephone helpline will be operating - on a temporary basis - between the hours of 10.30-16.30.

If you are unable to get through at first, please consider either of the following:

  • email your query to advisory@uk.accaglobal.com (we aim to respond as quickly as possible and within 48 hours). Please include as much detail as possible.
  • visit our website at www.accaglobal.com/advisory and either use the search box (top right) or browse through the main sections: 1) tax 2) audit & assurance 3) practice management 4) financial reporting 5) law and regulation. 


We are currently recruiting additional technical advisers to work within the team. If you are interested, please email supportingpractitioners@accaglobal.com and we will send you further information.

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