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The Let’s Do Business Group (LDBG) has been recognised as a leading social business, winning the prestigious Growth Champion title in the national 2016 NatWest SE100 Awards.

The LDBG team, the leading provider of business advice, training and finance in the South East, was presented with the accolade at an awards evening on January 19 at the NatWest/RBS conference centre in London.

Growth Champion is awarded to the social venture which has experienced financial growth over continuous years. In particular, showing growth across a range of turnover categories, and a sustainable business model with diverse income streams.

Graham Marley, LDBG Chief Executive, said: “It is always great to be recognised for an award, particularly at a national level. I am very proud of the team and the work they do helping hundreds of businesses each year to start up and grow. This award is a testament to their hard work and commitment.”

The NatWest SE100 Awards recognises social enterprises which have demonstrated some of the best business practice within the sector and celebrates their growth, impact, ambition and resilience in the UK. They were chosen from almost 1,500 social ventures on the NatWest SE100 Index – which tracks the progress and impact of social enterprises across the UK.

The awards were hosted by Simon Jacobs, Chief Administrative Officer Commercial & Private Banking at RBS, and Chair of NatWest Social & Community Capital.

Julie Baker, Head of Enterprise at NatWest RBS, praised the winners for their ‘determination not just to make money but to make a difference’. She told them: “We value what you do, both for the economy and for our communities. We want you to shout loud about your achievements because we want to demonstrate that social businesses are also good businesses. That’s the whole philosophy behind the NatWest SE100.”

What have McPhersons ever done for us? was filmed as a trailer for the 2016 Sunset Screenings at the De La Warr Pavilion. This is the second year McPhersons have been the main sponsor for the screenings and directors and staff enjoyed filming this trailer based on the Monty Python Romans Scene ‘What did the Romans ever do for us?’

Check out the video here

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UK manufacturing activity contracted for the first time in three years in April due to concerns about the strength of the global economy.

The Markit/CIPS manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index fell from 49.2 in April from 50.7 in March, which is the first time that activity in the manufacturing section has dropped since March 2013. Anything under the 50 mark indicates falling output.

Firms have said that a fall in new business from overseas and uncertainty due to the EU referendum are to blame. As the oil and gas industry is currently slowed, it is hitting production as this is a major company for UK businesses.

Matching February’s three-year low, the index for new orders fell to 50.4 in April, which is lower than 51.9 the previous month.

Official figures revealed last week that UK economic growth slowed to 0.4% in the first quarter of the year from 0.6% later in 2015.

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Video company Smokescreen Visuals and children’s charity Chestnut Tree House are amongst the latest occupiers to take offices in Pacific House on Eastbourne’s Sovereign Harbour Innovation Park.

Other new tenants include computer specialists Southern IT networks, hospital transport firm Coperforma and business intelligence company Match2Lists – while further offices remain available to let.

Open Week: An Open Week is being held between Monday 16 and Friday 20 May, 9am – 5pm, when anyone is free to drop in and look around without an appointment.image003

Smokescreen Visuals is an award-winning video production company with clients including the NHS, Activision, Craft Guild of Chefs and The London Mint Office. The company was founded by Matt Derbyshire in 2004 after returning to his home town of Eastbourne following a London career making TV and cinema trailers.

The company has fit out its new offices (photos available) to a high standard including three hi-tech video editing suites. Its new base has enabled it to more than double its number of employees and it plans to continue expanding.

MD Matt Derbyshire explains: “We were on the outskirts of Eastbourne and had been looking for new premises for five years – but couldn’t find anything with the right feel until now. Pacific House is like nothing we’ve ever seen before in the area. A building of cutting-edge design and facilities, plenty of parking and good security – it’s what we’ve been waiting for all this time. It’s the ideal environment to enable us to keep on growing.”

Chestnut Tree House provides hospice care for children and young people with life-shortening conditions.

It has taken two offices for its East Sussex team of nurses, fundraisers and volunteers to enable it to expand – with desks for 20 staff in the building. Its new base is intended to help it to reach more families, raise awareness of its work and attract new supporters.

Tracey Luker, Head of East Sussex Fundraising, said: “We’re caring for around 55 children and young people in East Sussex but there are many more who need our specialist help. Our move to Pacific House gives us more room to accommodate our growing service, better access to major transport routes and a pleasant working environment in a modern, well-equipped building.”

The charity is keen to recruit more volunteers, whether on the basis of a regular commitment or a few occasional hours. Anyone interested should contact 01903 871800 or enquiries@chestnut-tree-house.org.uk.

Southern IT Networks provides small businesses with computer services and support and has taken a ground floor office within Pacific House. The company’s services span managed IT, cloud computing, connectivity, business continuity and telecoms solutions.

Coperforma specialises in hospital transport and has moved into a nearly 2,000 sq ft office within the building. The company is a primary provider of transport services to the NHS and arranges more than 1,500 patient journeys each working day.

Match2Lists is a business intelligence company which has taken a first floor office. The company provides software tools which enable firms to match, merge and de-duplicate data lists for marketing and customer management purposes.

About Pacific House: Developed by Sea Change Sussex, the building is a contemporary, three-floor business centre. With offices available from 627 sq ft upwards, it is suitable for small, medium and large companies.

There are small suites available on the ground floor, medium-sized offices on the first floor and two large offices on the second floor.

The building incorporates a light-filled atrium, break-out areas for informal meetings and a conference room. It is designed to be a low-energy building and has parking spaces for 130 cars.

In addition to Pacific House, the Sovereign Harbour Innovation Park has development sites which can accommodate further business premises up to 80,000 sq ft. Companies can commission Sea Change to develop bespoke freehold or leasehold properties for them or buy serviced sites to create their own.

The Innovation Park is designed to provide an economic boost to the area by providing high-quality premises and sites on previously disused land. It is three miles from Eastbourne town centre and five minutes’ walk to the cafes, restaurants and boutiques of Sovereign Harbour’s marina and retail park.

Business seminar:  A free seminar – How to move your business to the next level – is being held in Pacific House on Wednesday 25th May, 9.30am to 12.30pm. Interested parties can register here.

Anyone interested in offices in Pacific House or sites on the Sovereign Harbour Innovation Park should contact one of Sea Change’s agents:

They can also visit www.sovereigninnovationpark.co.uk to see more information and download a brochure.

 

The Hastings Independent Press (HIP) is a free, not-for-profit, fortnightly newspaper run mainly by volunteers – and they’ve just published their 50th issue. Having run for two years on a shoestring, they’re now raising the bar – to the tune of £15,000. This would finance a professional office space and a distribution service, allowing the paper to build on its success.

About the Hastings Independent

For two years, HIP’s team of volunteers have worked tirelessly to provide quality news, back local causes, support community cohesion, promote local arts, and provide training and work experience to local people.

This kind of positive, community-focused organisation is vital to the town, which suffers low average incomes, high unemployment, and more than its fair share of substance abuse and mental health problems. According to the Department for Communities and Local Government, Hastings is the most deprived town on the south coast, and the 13th most deprived local authority in England.

“It’s a community paper, for and of the community,” says reader Jane Grimshaw, who has also appeared in the paper for her work with Hastings Supports Refugees. “It’s lead and inspired by members of the community with an inclusive approach to reporting what is happening in our area.”

Providing training to the community

Very few of HIP’s volunteers have formal training in journalism, so the team run free weekly peer-to-peer sessions on Monday evenings at a local careers centre. Recent sessions have included news writing (run by the news ed, an ex sub-editor), law for journalists (run by the sports ed, a retired solicitor), photojournalism (run by the picture ed, a professional photographer) and media sales (run by the advertising manager). Volunteers also make use of free training resources, such as the online course in community journalism by Cardiff University.

“I came to HIP to learn new skills, become more confident in my writing and gain new experiences,” says volunteer Leanne Cannon, who is also studying English with the Open University. “Working with HIP I feel that I can reach those goals.”

With recent news that the University of Brighton will be withdrawing its Hastings campus in five years (along with its journalism course), HIP has become even more vital as a training resource.

Recent coverage

HIP is primarily paper-first, feeling that a free, paper-based news source is important to the community. But it has also recently refurbished its website, to broaden its reach and allow volunteers to link to their stories when applying for jobs. Here are a few recent articles:

Achievements to date:

  • Pagination has increased from an initial 16 pages to a current 24.
  • Regular volunteers have grown from an initial 4 to a team of 37, including 12 section editors, 4 sub editors, 4 photographers and over 20 writers.
  • We also have more than 100 occasional contributors.
  • Advertising covers most running costs, with preferential rates for small local businesses and community organisations.

What past volunteers are doing now

Several volunteers have used their experience with HIP to gain new employment. A few examples are: gallery assistant at Express Newspapers, social data journalist at Brandwatch, freelance writer for Novara and the Guardian, communications manager for the local borough council.

Crowdfunding campaign

Having confirmed the local appetite for an independent news source over the past two years – and the HIP team’s ability to provide it – they are celebrating their 50th issue by launching a crowdfunding campaign to raise £15,000.

This will allow the paper to build on its success to date, by financing for one year:

  1. A distribution co-ordinator to do newspaper deliveries.
  2. Improvements to the office, which was kindly donated but needs some work.
  3. Occasional shortfalls in running costs such as printing and design (usually financed by advertising).

hastings-independent-logoAny help with raising the profile of the crowdfunder, or the paper in general, would be much appreciated.

In the fourth quarter of 2015 the UK economy grew 0.6%, which is higher than the previous estimate of 0.5%.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the economy grew by 2.3% for the whole of 2015. This is higher than the 2.2% previously thought. Analysts forecast that the figure would remain unchanged.

The figures for the UK’s current account deficit were at a record high in the final quarter of last year. In the three months to December it was £32.7 billion, which is the equivalent of 7% of GDP.

Considering the whole of 2015, the deficit was £96.2 billion or 5.2% of GDP. Since records began in 1948, both figures were the highest since. As a result, the deficit means that the UK imported more goods and services than it exported.

The Bank of England’s Financial Policy Committee stated that uncertainty over the UK’s membership of the EU could put financial stability at risk. This includes the current account deficit.

The UK inflation rate stayed at 0.3% in February, the same as January.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said that the rising food prices, in particular vegetables, helped to keep the Consumer Prices Index unchanged.

Last year inflation reached zero and the annual inflation has continued to be below the Bank of England’s 2% target for the past two years. The Bank expected inflation to stay below 1% this year.

Under the separate Retail Prices Index (RPI) measure, inflation was 1.3% in February, which also showed no change from the previous month. The measure includes housing costs.

The ONS reported that government borrowing fell less than expected in February at £7.1 billion. Chancellor George Osborne is close to missing his target for cutting the budget deficit in the 2015-16 financial year. The total deficit now stands at £70.7 billion for the 11 months of the year. The chancellor’s full-year target is £72.2 billion.

What springs to mind when you think of year end? Tax of course and how to minimise the amount HMRC will take from your business! However, it is not just about the previous year, it is an ideal time to start planning for the next year. Here are some simple steps to assist you.

Get your books in order

Whether you manage your own books or use an accountant or bookkeeper, this is the first step in the preparation. There are three main reasons to keep good records; to meet tax requirements, to keep your accountancy fees down and to manage and control your business effectively. Some key transactions you need to record are:

  • Sales
  • Purchases
  • VAT input and output (if VAT registered)
  • PAYE/Payroll records
  • Establishment costs (if you have a business establishment)
  • Bank and cash accounts (many transactions are now paperless e.g. bank transfers)
  • Administration costs such as telephone, stationery, advertising, motor, computer
  • Capital expenditure on equipement, Fixed Assets & Depreciation
  • Stock/Work in progress
  • Petty Cash

How good bookkeeping will help you manage and control your business?

Accurate bookkeeping will help you identify:

  • Your cashflow position in order to help you plan ahead and meet your obligations
  • Whether your expenses are in proportion to your income
  • Which products/clients are most/least profitable
  • Whether your business is growing or shrinking

What different methods are there to keep books?

At McPhersons, we spend time with our clients to set up a robust system. This free service makes our work more efficient and gives our clients peace of mind.

  • Manual bookeeping – This is the way many small businesses start.  It is cheap and generally easy to maintain.  With a little help, you can save time and keep excellent manual records.
  • Spreadsheets –   We can show you how to set up and manage your records using a spreedsheet.  This way, data can be extracted and we can set up some key reports to allow you to keep a close eye on your business.
  • Accountancy software such as Sage, Xero or Quickbooks – Your accountant can advise which program is best for you.
  • Outsource it – An accountant or freelance bookeeper can do it for you.  Make sure you choose carefully and are getting a good value, prompt, efficient service.

What can you do to cut down on the work your accountant  does in preparation for the year end?  It is obvious that the less time it takes your accountant to decipher your books, the less your accountancy fees will be.  General housekeeping tips are:

  • Rather than hand your accountant a carrier bag full of receipts, keep your receipts and purchases in date order.
  • Reconcile the bank balance to the bank statements – If you can ensure your recorded bank balance ties up with what is actually in the back after adjustments, this saves significant time.
  • If you hold stock, have a professional stock-taker record the value of stock at year end. This may be food, drink, packaging etc and can be quite significant if you operate a licensed premises.
  • Make sure your accountant has everything including paying in books, cheque books, bank statements, credit card statements, PAYE/Payroll records, VAT records and copy returns if VAT registered, stock records.

Determine your Position

You are finally ready to determine the position of your business. Your accountant will prepare the following documents for you that will assist you in making decisions:

  • Profit and Loss Account – in simple terms, this lists all your income and expenses and tells you at year end whether your business is making a profit or a loss. This is a useful tool to analyse your expenses compared to last year. Are your wages higher? Have your utility bills increased? Both things that have an impact on your bottom line. Is your gross margin less than last year? If so, you need to evaluate your cost of sales and review your suppliers.
  • Balance Sheet – this shows what your business is worth at year end. It shows your business’s assets, liabilities and equity/capital of your business.
  •  Cash Flow Statement – this complements the balance sheet and Profit and Loss. It is only necessary for companies that meet the criteria of a medium sized company. As an analytical tool, it determines the short term viability of the company, particularly its ability to pay bills.

So, how will you use these documents to help improve your business next year?

  • Compare your results against your business plan. If you had a business plan and set goals, compare these to what was actually achieved and determine what worked and what didn’t.  This will assist with your planning for the following year.
  • Consider ways to not only increase your revenue but also to increase your profitability. This could be reviewing your suppliers and buying better or investing in marketing.
  • Evaluate your tax strategies – for example, could you have maximised your capital allowance claim? Would you benefit from changing the structure of your business? Your accountant/tax advisor can help you identify all the areas where you can minimise your tax liabilities.

We hope you have found this article interesting. Tax can be a complex issue and we are here to help. Simply email Ainsley Gill info@mcphersons.co.uk or call our Head Office on 01424 730000 for a free consultation at McPhersons’ Hastings, Bexhill or London offices.

Chancellor George Osborne announced that corporation tax will be reduced by 17% by April 2020 and hopes this will lure more companies to Britain.

The tax was already cut from 28% to 20% previously and Osborne believes the extra cuts will provide a boost to local firms. This should save British firms around £15 billion a year by 2020.

A reduction in corporation tax would make Britain the country with the lowest rate in the G20, which will encourage more people to start, run and grow businesses in the UK.

The deficit will also be eliminated over the next 4 years and the government will be running a surplus. There will be a further £3.5 billion of savings from departmental spending in 2019-2020 to help achieve this.

Osborne announced in the Budget that there will be a longer school day for 25% of secondary schools and every school will become an academy by 2022.

The new Lifetime ISA will allow people to save for retirement or to buy a first home as from April 2017, any adult under 40 will be able to open one. Each year up to £4,000 can be saved and savers will receive a 25% bonus from the government.

The current Personal Allowance rate stands at £10,600 before workers start paying tax, but this will change from £11,000 in 2016 to £11,500 in April 2017.

 

 

On Wednesday 16th March Chancellor George Osborne will deliver the Budget plans to members of Parliament in the House of Commons.

Although the Autumn Statement happened back in November 2015, it was another update on the Chancellor’s economic forecasts. The Budget this week will contain more detail and will happen at 12:30pm and last approximately an hour.

Pension changes were not covered in the Autumn Statement, so some expect changes to this in the Budget on Wednesday. Some have said Osborne may reduce the amount that people can save into their pension.

Although nobody knows what George Osborne will deliver in the Budget, many think that it could be possible for him to introduce a new flat rate on tax relief on contributions of between 25% and 33%.

The Chancellor has admitted that he may have to impose further austerity measures. This could mean more reductions in the budgets of non-protected government departments. He also warned that more savings will be needed due to the worsening of the economic backdrop.chancellor