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The right public liability cover can be a crucial line of defence for construction firms

The world of construction can be fraught with risks, many of which posed to members of the public. This can be especially problematic in a financial sense – as, if your working practices lead a member of this group to pick up an illness or injury, they could respond by suing your construction firm.

For this reason, it’s crucial not to underestimate the worth of taking out public liability insurance. The right policy can help you to ensure that your company is covered in the right places.

How might construction firms inconvenience the public?

There are various ways in which a blunder on the part of you or your workers can give rise to an injury or illness prompting legal action. Where you carry out construction work could already be a very public place, such as on scaffolding above a stretch of readily accessible pavement.

Should you drop a tool that falls off this scaffolding and hits someone to injurious effect, you could be quickly faced with a compensation claim. Similarly, you would be liable if the scaffolding itself falls onto a passer-by with the same result, or your company’s building materials are haphazardly scattered around where they lead someone to trip and consequently suffer a major injury.

You could also find yourself in legal trouble if your company’s work causes damage to a property or car owned by a member of the public. Imagine if that dropped tool hit and so dented a car rather than injured a person. Meanwhile, a property could be in jeopardy if it neighbours your construction site and you aren’t sufficiently careful to prevent that nearby building becoming damaged.

In any of these cases, you could soon have legal costs and expenses to pay in defending a claim, as the Federation of Small Businesses acknowledges. Furthermore, if you lose the case, you would need to make a compensation payout. Fortunately, public liability insurance can cover all of these costs.

Practice diligence in your search for public liability cover

When looking for public liability insurance, remember that not all policies are created equal. The Planning Portal site says that most insurers offer such cover in the region of £1 million to £5 million. Where exactly within this region you should buy might depend on whether your contracts stipulate a specific level of cover, so check those contracts closely.

You should particularly keep in mind that, as a construction worker, the level of risk that your firm daily undertakes could be higher than that of a firm in a trade other than construction. For example, if your daily job could – if it went wrong – seriously injure passers-by, the risk would be high.

You might find it helpful to utilise services of insurance specialists capable of assessing your particular risk profile before presenting an insurance quote to suit. In the UK, Tradesman Saver is a good source of construction public liability insurance tailored to particular needs. Tradesman Saver also includes products liability cover with all of its policies.

Exploring Bridging Finance for Short-Term High-Value Loans

Bridge loans are commonly used by businesses and individual entities to provide short-term financing. With bridge financing, businesses may receive the capital they need for immediate use while arranging long-term financing.

These loans are often available in amounts up to 25 million pounds and typically carry short terms. In fact, most bridge loans have a length of two years or less.

The bridge financing sector continues to grow at a rapid pace. Less than a decade ago, this sector in the UK was valued at around 750 million pounds. It is currently valued at over 4 billion.

For those looking for a short-term financing solution, it may help to learn more about bridging finance.

What is Bridge Financing?

Bridge financing refers to a method for bridging the gap when your business needs to cover major expenses. Businesses may use a bridge loan to gain more capital for short-term expansion and other business plans.

As these loans are often high-value loans, they need to be secured with collateral. Typically, real estate properties or other business assets are used to secure the loan. The collateral also helps businesses receive a generally low-interest rate. In fact, most bridging finance loans carry an interest rate between 0.6 and 2.0 percent.

Due to the demand for bridging finance, there are close to 40 major UK lenders that offer bridging finance. There are also several thousand brokers available to help businesses with their financing options.

The lenders are divided into two groups. There are non-regulated and regulated lenders. While both groups need to comply with the FCA guidelines, lenders that are not regulated are not required to complete a credit score check.

Businesses and entities with lower credit scores may seek financing through a non-regulated lender. However, these lenders are also more likely to offer a higher interest rate.

There is an important note about using a non-regulated lender. When applying for a loan, you cannot use your primary residence as collateral to secure the loan.

New Businesses May Benefit from Bridging Finance

Bridge loans are typically used by businesses when they do not have the capital to complete a specific project, such as opening a new office or upgrading their facilities. However, start-ups may also benefit from bridging finance.

When you are first trying to get your business up and running, it is easy to burn through your available start-up capital quickly. With a bridge loan, start-ups can receive the financing that they need to speed up their business growth. Using these funds, businesses can buy new equipment or hire new workers.

Bridge Loans are Also Available for Homeowners

Besides businesses, homeowners can also apply for a bridging loan. For example, when purchasing a new home, you may require funds from the sale of your existing home to cover the mortgage for the new home. A bridge loan can cover this gap.

Using bridge financing, a homeowner has the option to move forward with the purchase of a new property. When the existing home is sold, the sale of the home is used to pay off the bridge loan.

In the end, bridging finance is a convenient option for short-term loans when your current funds do not cover your financial needs. Most often, the loans are used to cover a temporary lack of funds to prevent any reduction in business operations. If this applies to your situation, consider getting a bridge loan to cover your costs.

Three essential top tips for traders

There’s a lot to think about when you’re a trader. From working out where and how you can start to managing risk once you’ve built up enough practice, there’s a lot to do. For these reasons, any way that you can simplify the process is a smart move. Here are some top tips on how to manage the uncertainties involved in a trading career and prevent yourself from running into difficulties.

Opt for CFDs

Trading stocks and shares has its benefits, but there are many other ways to trade. One of them is by going for contracts for difference (CFDs), which are essentially derivative products that track market performance without actually offering the trader any share ownership. They’re easier to access, but they also require an understanding of complexities such as leverage. Tips for CFD trading worldwide, then, are essential, and you should do your research before plunging into the CFD world – or, indeed, the worlds of any other instruments.

Start small and build up

Whether you’re starting out in your trading career or you’re an experienced trader who is looking to trade a new financial instrument, it’s always worth starting small when you’re in a new realm that you haven’t encountered before. This is because there is a range of problems that you might encounter. You could, for example, quickly find that the new instrument works on a time-frame that doesn’t suit you: this is something that often happens with foreign exchange day trading, as the economic calendars and important announcements of other countries frequently don’t match the time zones of the trader’s own.

If you’ve already sunk a large deposit into an instrument that you later discover doesn’t suit you, then you’ll be stuck. Instead, it’s wise to start small: by making just a small deposit at first and then adding more once you’ve worked out how it all operates, you’ll be able to scale upwards in a sustainable and – hopefully – profitable fashion.

Practice restraint

The most successful traders tend to be those who take a rational approach to trading rather than an emotional one. Rational traders work out their maximum acceptable losses and a good strategy well in advance, and then stick to it during the course of a trade knowing that they did all they could to ensure success. Emotional traders, by contrast, monitor their trades all the time and make anxious, in-the-moment decisions that deviate from the agreed plan but can end up backfiring. The rational trader, then, is much more likely to succeed in the long term.

Becoming a trader – or moving into a new trading realm if you’re already an investing professional – is a tough job. From working out a strategy to staying calm in the face of problems, there’s a lot to think about.  However, by following these three top tips, you can boost your chances of profiting and ensure that you have a sustainable, reason-based approach to trading sorted out.

The benefits of holding a corporate event for your company

There can be little doubt about the monumental scale of today’s corporate event industry; the UK events sector alone is worth more than £40 billion, according to Eventbrite. Meanwhile, the worldwide business-to-business (B2B) events industry generated revenue of $30.3 billion in 2016, as stated by the EventMB blog.

But why should your own organisation look to host corporate events? Isn’t digital marketing alone now an adequate way of reaching new customers and selling products and services?

Here are just a few of the real advantages of organising a corporate event.

Greater brand awareness

When your prospective customers, clients or partners have the opportunity to experience your brand ‘in the flesh’ instead of simply on the pages of a website or in the slightly distant text of a press release, they are likely to feel more engaged and associate your brand with the event.

The more memorable – in a positive sense – your corporate event is, the more warmly attendees, or even just those who picked up on the hype associated with the event second-hand, will reflect on your company and what it stands for.

Flaunting your venue – or taste in venues

If your business is a restaurant, hotel, bar or similar entity that has a venue open to the public and is dependent on generating awareness of this, a corporate event such as a product launch, fashion show or networking event could be ideal for immersing people in the wonders of your setting.

Alternatively, if your firm is office-based or simply lacks premises suitable for hosting a corporate event, organising such an event could be an invaluable opportunity to showcase your fine taste in venues. In so doing, you will also be associating your brand with the finest quality experiences.

Our very own Château Bouffémont, for instance, is a renowned chateau for corporate event days, offering a range of sophisticated function rooms with refined interior decor, in impressive surroundings of manicured French gardens.

Maximised face-to-face connections

This is closely tied to the ‘brand awareness’ point above. The reality is that while you can build a formidable online presence for your company with compelling written and video content, nothing surpasses face-to-face contact for heightening engagement among your target audience.

If you depend solely on the virtual world for reaching out to potential clients and contacts, these people may rarely or never see your face. The personal touch remains crucial for cultivating meaningful and long-lasting business relationships, as corporate events can help to foster.

Revenue generation

You are unlikely to be convinced of the merit of holding a corporate event at all unless there is a clear potential benefit to your firm’s bottom line. Thankfully, there are many ways in which such an event can enable you to make money.

One of those options is, of course, charging admission to your event. However, by holding a product launch or fashion show as part of your event, you may also secure lucrative orders for your products or services on the day itself. The heightened awareness of your brand that the event enables could also be instrumental in your company’s ongoing efforts to maximise profits.

While holding a corporate event is not a ‘catch-all’ solution any more than any other form of marketing such as writing press releases or producing corporate videos, it is a strategy that can nonetheless play a key role in your organisation’s continued growth.

Time For A Change On Landlord Tax Laws?

The private rental sector has been under intense scrutiny in recent years, and landlords have been dealt a number of blows, which is why they now seem to be fighting back.

The rental market has been booming for some time, but bringing in increased stamp duty and tougher mortgage availability coupled with the phasing out of the mortgage tax relief has meant many landlords are now questioning whether buy-to-let investment is really worth it. With a vast number now seeing their profits being eaten away, and others deciding entering the rental market now has too many barriers, it is no wonder that many are calling for change.

The Private Rental Market

The rental market grew at a rapid rate because those who could afford to invest in property ended up supplying homes to those who could not. Stricter mortgage rules have meant that it is now harder and harder for many people to get onto the property ladder, driving them into rental property either to allow them to save up for their own home or to enjoy a better lifestyle than those saving for hefty deposits.

Recent studies estimate that there could be a net loss of 133,000 homes for rent across the UK over the next 12 months. With landlords feeling squeezed out of the sector there could be fewer homes for rent in a property market that first time buyers still struggle to enter. The Government has been trying to boost the supply of homes to rent by corporate investors, but small businesses and individual landlords are not feeling the benefit.

Potential Tax Changes

This loss of rental property comes at a time when 84% of landlords are reporting an 84% increase or stability in demand. This leaves a massive gap between supply and demand, which has led to the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) to demand that the Government ends its tax on new homes where landlords are investing in the property.

The RLA feel that converted offices and shops, the transformation of large homes into several smaller units or the return to use of empty dwellings should also fall under this umbrella. They feel that corporate investors, who are estimated to only make up 2% of private rented homes, are failing to provide the properties that are needed, both in terms of volume and speed.

With private landlords providing affordable housing on a long-term scale, they are seen to be supporting local economies and should therefore be encouraged rather than put off by ever-increasing taxation.

Whether the Government listens to these concerns remains to be seen, as they seem to be intent on encouraging the corporate side of the market more and more. However, it is clear that there is still a place for the private landlord, but many will have a lot of sums to do to decide whether it is worth continuing.

For more information on property investment in the UK in the buy-to-let or student property investment markets, please contact Hopwood House.

How to boost your employability

Whether you’re in the midst of your search, preparing for a change, or just keeping your options open, here are some of the best things that you can do to boost your employability.

Widen your search

Want to enhance your career prospects? How open are you to relocating? Brexit is making it less seamless to work on the continent, but it is creating openings across the UK. If you’re finding that the opportunities are lacking in your current location, then consider expanding your sights to an area in greater need of your skillset.

Pick the right sector

Have you considered a change in career lately? Some positions and whole industries don’t have a particularly bright future, and getting out sooner rather than later may be your best bet. Study forecasts and see if there’s a match between your skills and interests and a growing industry. Even a slight tweak might be a smart move – traditional pubs are down, but bars are up at the moment, and airlines are weak, but travel tech is hot.

Pad out your resume

You want to make a competitive showing against other candidates, and there are a few things that employers look at. Job history, including titles, notable achievements and duration, is one. Education is another. If your educational credentials are lagging behind what other candidates can offer for the same position, or are quite out of date, then consider refreshing them. LSBF on Facebook showcases some of the most relevant qualifications, and part-time or online studies make it accessible to upgrade for midstream professionals.

Spread the word

If you want to enhance your career prospects, then get your network working for you. Talk to those around you about your aspirations. Ask if they know of opportunities, and get out and mingle to make new contacts. You can also use online networks to extend the search, but be cautious of posting anything that may unsettle current employers, and avoid linking your professional identity with any channel that might have less-than-professional content.

Document your wins

Start compiling data, records and proofs of your experience and notable achievements. You’ll use this in your job search to demonstrate the value you can bring to a new employer. Think in terms of data and stories. Data is great because you can point to measurable results and come across as effective instead of a braggart. Weave the data into a narrative about how you solved a problem for your employer, particularly a problem that you think your prospective employer might want you to solve for them. You may have improved output by 20% in your last job, or increased customer retention by an extra percentage point, etc.

You can enhance your career prospects and boost your employability by following these steps. Start by identifying your goals and considering a change in location, role or sector to see if you’re being limited by where you’re at. Bring your skills and education up to standard to be a more competitive and impressive applicant, get your network working for you, and be sure to have a series of meaningful achievements on hand to impress in your cover letters and interviews.

Is it time you moved your business telecoms to the cloud?

You might often hear reports about ISDN technology being phased out in the business telecoms market and more modern networks receiving fresh software updates and features. With news like this swirling around your head, you could understandably be nervous.

You may particularly be wondering whether now is the time to transfer your firm’s telecoms network to the cloud. Here are examples of signs that you should consider proceeding in this way.

BT says: out with the old, in with the new

If your company currently routinely uses an ISDN or PSTN circuit, BT has sent out a clear message that you are relying on what is increasingly a legacy network. As recently reported by Elite Business Magazine, BT has announced that it intends to stop selling ISDN or PSTN circuits by 2020.

ISDN – Integrated Services Digital Network – and PSTN, which stands for Public Switched Telephone Technology, are both examples of traditional phone lines on which most of us rely for phone communication. However, BT is also planning to switch off these networks by 2025 and so force businesses into moving to VoIP telephone systems, which are cloud-based.

Look at your business. Is it ready to move to VoIP?

If you do seriously consider transitioning your business to the cloud, you will be in good company. Bytestart.co.uk reports many businesses mulling over a cloud transition for all of their corporate applications. However, you might want to think carefully before putting a cloud move into action.

There remain many years before the cut-off year of 2025 – and, in that time, the UK will need to see fibre completely rolled out to bolster national connectivity. Furthermore, if your firm’s Internet connection is spotty, it might be best to delay a cloud transition for now.

This is because using a VoIP system would require you to make and receive business calls online. Hiccups in your Internet connectivity’s speed could see business-critical calls dropping. This would hardly be convenient for your corporate image or productivity.

Reasons to consider going full steam ahead with VoIP

You should also look closely at your current office phone system to see if it supports VoIP. If you bought that system recently, it very plausibly could include this support. If it does, contract terms might hint that, by switching to the cloud early, your business could save money.

If your company’s Internet connection would not be conducive to effective use of a VoIP system just yet, rest assured that this could soon change. The Government has revealed its plan that, by 2020, everyone in the country will have access to broadband Internet of at least 10Mbps.

Even this target could be considered less than ambitious, given that the EU Digital Agenda goals include a plan to have broadband of 30Mbps or more widely implemented by that date. Therefore, the omens look good for many UK firms to set up a VoIP phone service like that available from the telecoms company Planet Numbers, which can be reached by phone on 0333 370 7333.

Festival tips for taking care of yourself

Group of young adult friends are taking a group selfie on a smartphone while they are at a festival.

As summer comes around, so do music festivals. While Glastonbury may be taking a ‘fallow year’ in 2018, hundreds of thousands will still flock to Leeds, Creamfields, Bestival and more. More often than not, the essentials are forgotten when packing for a festival. Paracetamol, wet wipes and other considerations will ensure your festival season gets off to a flying start. Medtree, leading suppliers for medical equipment and first aid kits, are sharing their ultimate festival survival guide.

Cleanliness

Cleanliness is a huge challenge for those attending a festival. In 2017, over 200,000 festival goers made the journey to Somerset, for the world-famous Glastonbury festival. The clean-up for that year involved 1,000 volunteers, some £785,000 and six weeks. Likewise, there are only a certain number of toilets for those 200,000, and it’s best to pack wisely.

Several days of not washing properly can lead to a build-up of bad bacteria on your skin, possibly causing infections and illnesses. You will become more at risk of spots when visiting a festival. Similarly, there have also been cases of people changing contact lenses without proper sterilisation, which can affect vision in the short-term. To avoid incidents such as the above, we recommend packing:

  • Wet wipes
  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrush
  • Mouthwash
  • Antibacterial hand wash
  • Dry shampoo
  • Deodorant
  • Disposable toilet seat covers (due to the reasons mentioned above)
  • Bin bags

Current medication

For those attending a festival and, currently, taking prescribed medication – you must take them. The likes of Glastonbury and other larger festivals, generally, have a ‘prescribed medication policy’, advising guests on what to do if they forget their medication. Similarly, they may even have an on-site pharmacy for any essentials during the weekend.

For those taking medication, be aware that you will likely be searched upon entering the grounds. All medicine should be kept in their original container, and you must never attempt to enter the festival with medication prescribed to another individual.

Of course, we are not forgetting the necessity for Paracetamol and Nurofen. Hay fever tablets are also recommended, as they may cost more purchasing at the festival. If the pollen count is high, the symptoms can seriously hinder your enjoyment of the weekend. Unfortunately, alcohol also triggers hay fever symptoms, containing histamines. We suggest taking:

  • Antihistamine tablets
  • Nasal drops
  • Eye drops
  • Nasal spray

First aid

While we do recommend you pack light when attending a festival, a first aid kit can make all the difference should an incident occur. Of course, there are paramedics on site for more urgent matters, but a small first aid kit can help with warding of infections should you receive a cut. You can buy relatively small first aid kits that should include:

  • Plasters
  • Gloves
  • Various types of dressing
  • Sterile gauze swabs
  • Wound wash solution
  • Safety pins – both medical and fashion benefits
  • Sports tape
  • Eye pads
  • Insect repellant

Hydration

Most festivals are held in the peak of summer, meaning dehydration is a worry. Simply, drink enough bottled water to survive a nuclear holocaust and you should be just fine. Keep drinking water to reduce the risk of headaches, dry mouth and muscle cramps – particularly when waiting for artists to take to the stage.

Sun protection

It’s likely that it’s going to be sunny when you attend your festival, so you must look after your skin. Not only can a sunburn stop you from gaining the tan you’ve been looking for, but it can also severely affect your health and mood. Your best option for sun cream is one boasting an SPF 30, and aim to apply every 2-3 hour. Look for the window of opportunity when waiting between sets.

A large floppy hat will also prove effective when it comes to sun protection. Shield your skin from the crowd and keep cool. Likewise, check the UV protection of certain sunglasses before buying.

Rain protection

While you may pack your wellies, a rainy festival can also affect your health. If you get stuck in a downpour, you’ll be colder and, subsequently, your body temperature will lower, leaving you more susceptible to viruses. Likewise, you are even more at risk when packed into a festival with hundreds of thousands of other attendees. Look out for areas that seem slippy, as you could also fall and injure yourself or others. With that in mind, we suggest you pack:

  • Ponchos – generally, you can purchase plastic ponchos on site
  • Raincoats
  • Fleece/jumper
  • Wellies with good grip
  • Several pairs of dry socks

We recommend packing more pairs of socks than you need, as numbness, nerve damage and tingling can appear in only 24 hours if you have cold feet.

Alcohol poisoning

Recently, a woman posted a video of her and a friend dancing at a festival. In that video, she inadvertently caught a man dropping a pill into her drink, highlighting the need to stay safe and protect your drinks. If you do believe you or a friend has had their drink spiked, you must seek immediate, medical attention. Watch out for symptoms such as these, also suggesting alcohol poisoning:

  • Strong smell of alcohol
  • Slurred speech
  • Confusion
  • Vomiting
  • Red face
  • Deep, noisy breathing
  • Fast pulse
  • Unresponsiveness

If you do notice someone with these symptoms, there are several measures you can do yourself while waiting for medical assistance.

  • Keep the patient warm
  • Check their breathing
  • Ensure there aren’t any obstructions in their airway
  • Do not make them vomit as doing so could obstruct their airways

Drug poisoning

Drug poisoning and drug related deaths are a large problem in the UK. Unfortunately, two young students recent lost their lives at Mutiny Festival, highlighting the urgency of putting in place provisions. An initiative has recently been rolled out across the country – including the Secret Garden Party and, likely, Leeds Festival – to allow attendees to test their illegal drugs for any harmful substances, before taking them. However, there are several symptoms to be aware of that indicate drug poisoning, including:

  • Stomach pains
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sleepiness
  • Alternatively, hyperactive behaviour
  • Sweating
  • Shaking
  • Hallucinations
  • Unusually slow or fast pulse

If you believe someone is suffering from drug poisoning, take these steps before medical assistance arrives:

  • Call 999
  • Look for any packages that can identify what drugs have been taken
  • Check their breathing and pulse
  • Open their airway if unresponsive
  • Don’t force them to vomit
  • If they do vomit, pass them a bag and keep it. Doing so could help medical professionals identify the source of the drug

You should be aware of all of the above to ensure you have a great, fresh and healthy festival season. Likewise, don’t forget to sleep. Rest may not be a priority, but a comfy airbed and a camping pillow will certainly help with any minor issues as you make your way back to the tent.

The story of hidden bank fees in Britain

Close up of female accountant or banker making calculations. Savings, finances and economy concept

In theory, banking should be a simple operation: as a customer you deposit money, and as the bank they lend it out to other customers in order to create returns. But most financial institutions these days are operated as cut-throat businesses, and this means that many banks are seeking to extract profits from their customers at every possible opportunity. And over recent years, there have been a number of scandals in Britain after customers of some of the major banks discovered that they’d regularly been charged in a way that they considered clandestine or unfair. With that in mind, this article will explore two of the main hidden fees which have been levied on British banking customers in recent years.

Payment protection insurance

Most people are now familiar with the basics of the payment protection insurance scandal thanks to a public information campaign fronted by Arnold Schwarzenegger – but fewer people know exactly what this scandal entailed. In essence, payment protection insurance was an added product which was commonly sold to people when they took out a debt-based financial service of some kind, such as a car loan or a credit card.

And although the intentions of the insurance were good (it would cover you in the event you became unwell and could no longer work to repay the loan, for example) it was very commonly mis-sold – and few of the people who eventually took it out actually needed it. Luckily, however, there’s now a way to claim compensation if you were a victim of this hidden charge. Start a PPI claim today with the assistance of experts, such as ppi-claim.co, and see if you can make back what you’re owed.

Exchange rate fees

When you go on holiday or travel abroad, it’s common to go to the bureau de change or other currency broker in order to take some ready cash out before you fly. And while there’s sometimes a clear cost to the user in terms of the exchange rate, banks and bureau de change companies also often charge consumers in a way that’s not so transparent.

Despite the fact that in 2009 it was made illegal for currency conversion providers in the European Union to not be upfront with their customers about prices, many people have still suffered from hidden charges – like transaction fees – on their holiday spending money transactions. For that reason, it’s always best to ask at the counter before you make a transaction – and ensure that you find out the details of any extra fees in full.

As profit-making institutions, it can sometimes seem like banks are always out to take your money. But as a savvy consumer, it’s important that you stay on top of these fees and ensure that you always ask for a full explanation of anything you don’t understand. That way, you can ensure that you don’t shell out any unnecessary cash – and encourage the banks to think twice before trying to sneak in an added fee here and there.

Business tax legislation to watch out for in 2018

An editorial stock photo of the UK Inland Revenue Tax forms with the new 2017 One Pound Coins.

As the famous saying goes, ‘in this world nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes’. And while sorting out tax returns and handing over a portion of your income can seem like a headache, it’s true that it’s an inevitable part of modern business life. For that reason, it makes sense to stay as on top of the latest tax news as possible in order to prepare yourself and your business’ finances for the obligations you’ll need to meet in the coming months. With that in mind, here are some of the top tax laws you’ll need to know about this year.

IR35 is changing

IR35 is the set of regulations that control how some businesses interact with and employ contractors, freelancers and other non-permanent workers without standard employment contracts. It’s common, for example, for some contractors to set themselves up as a limited company, appoint themselves as a director and then receive their earnings through the company for tax reasons. But changes to the law mean that there will soon be penalties in place if it can be shown that the worker would be a normal employee if they weren’t using another legal structure within which to work and earn, and it could be that your freelancers are now seen as “disguised employees” as a result. For that reason, it’s wise to get help with IR35 from experts so that you’re not caught out by the changes.

The “staircase tax”

A number of businesses which previously operated out of a single room in shared premises accessed by a joint lift or stairwell may have noticed that they recently had to start paying higher business rates. That was because of a Supreme Court decision, but proposed legislation is set to overrule that. If the law is approved, businesses will soon be able to ask the tax authorities for a recalculation – meaning those affected will be able to claim back the cash they had to pay out in the unfair higher rates.

Self-employed tax changes

Those who operate as sole traders may also see changes to their tax bills this year. The personal allowance, for example, is going up to £11,850, which means sole traders earning above that amount will be able to keep more of their income. Those self-employed people who work through a limited company, however, may be impacted by changes to the dividend allowance, which is going down from £5,000 to £2,000. If that might affect you, it’s worth scheduling an appointment with an accountant to discuss the changes.

2018 is shaping up to be a busy year for the business tax world, and there’s plenty to keep on top of. From changes to the rules around contracting to proposals to shift the way businesses in shared spaces are taxed, there are all sorts of things to think about. By staying abreast of the changes and seeking professional advice where necessary, it’s easy to make sure you don’t lose out through the shifts in legislation.

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