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With fears still looming over the cyber-attacks that started on Friday it would appear that they are slowing with few reports of new attacks in Asia and Europe.

Many firms have employed experts over the weekend in attempt to prevent new infections however Microsoft have warned that these attacks should serve as a wake-up call.

A total of 200,000 computers in more than 150 countries were affected, with the attacks preventing access to a computer or its data. The WannaCry ransomware has demanded money to release the data and if no payment is made within seven days it threatens to delete the files.

It also demands £230 ($300) to restore access to the data however, the ransomware warning said that the price will double after three days but organisations are being advised to not pay any ransoms.

It has been said that the US delivery company FedEx has been affected along with 61 of the UK’s NHS organisations. Renault had to halt production in France had to be halted and Russia’s interior ministry also reported 1,000 of its computers infected, according to the BBC.

So What Really is WannaCry?

It is the programme used in the global cyber attacked, known now as WannaCry, ransomware or Wanna Decryptor. It was spread through phishing emails and on systems without up-to-date security patches.

The attack could infect more systems, according to experts from the National Cyber Security Centre. However, the National Crime Agency (NCA) along with investigators from around the globe are trying to find those responsible for the attacks.

Top Tips for Avoiding Infections

  1. Make sure that you keep your software up to date to ensure any bug fixes are made to your computer.
  2. Be wary of emails with attachments where you are unsure of the original source.
  3. Avoid dodgy websites and downloads so that your computer is at lower risk of infection.
  4. Back up any of your important files so that you always have a spare copy.

HMRC tax investigations are on the increase.

£34 billion – the estimated tax gap between what HMRC should collect and what it does collect.

£26 Billion – the additional amount of annual tax income that HMRC are targeting to achieve through compliance activity.

£80 Million – spent to develop strategic risk database that automatically generates tax enquiries.

HMRC are proactively targeting individuals and businesses using sophisticated software that has been specifically developed to search trends, indicators and behaviours and analyse in minutes. Data that doesn’t cross match can automatically initiate an enquiry. This software combined with wider powers and increased targets means that your chances of being investigated are rising. 

What does this mean to you? 

Tax investigations are time consuming, stressful and costly. Investigations can last for many months. During this time you could find yourself incurring accountancy fees as well as having to deal with costly business disruption and probing questions. Even if you’re found to owe nothing you will still have to pay your professional representation fees.

What can you do to remove the risk? 

For a modest annual fee you can safeguard yourself from the cost of the professional fees associated with a tax investigation.

How does a fee protection service work? 

In the unfortunate event that you are selected for investigation you can relax safe in the knowledge that there will be no professional fees to pay.

The service covers up to the equivalent of £100,000 towards accountant/tax advisors’ professional fees resulting from an HMRC Enquiry.

At McPhersons, we encourage all clients to take up our fee protection service. For a modest, interest free, monthly fee, they benefit from professional representation on all

matters relating to the investigation, ensuring that the enquiry runs as smoothly as possible and providing them with peace of mind. We also deal with the insurers on their behalf. Benefits include:

  • McPhersons have the expertise and experience in dealing with HMRC
  • Peace of mind that the experts are dealing with HMRC on your behalf
  • Dealing with HMRC on your own could make matters worse
  • Early intervention can lead to early resolution
  • Additional tax due can be avoided or mitigated

Anyone can be selected for investigation, a business, director and individual tax payer. Contact us on 01424 730000 or info@mcphersons.co.uk for more information.

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.”

The popular Let’s Do Business exhibition returns to the Brighton Racecourse on Thursday 11th May 2017 for its 7th year!

Doors will open 10am-4pm at the Brighton Racecourse, Freshfield Road, BN2 9YX.

  • Over 100 businesses together in place for 1 day only
  • Priority booking for last years exhibitors opens  mid-Jan, details will be sent shortly
  • All stand bookings released 24th Jan
  • New sponsorship opportunities this year from £300+Vat
  • Free to visitors – register soon
  • seminars to take place throughout the day

To find out more on what’s happening or to book your stand for the day, then visit the Let’s do Business website.

If you’re thinking about setting up or moving your business to St. Leonards on Sea, Hastings or Eastbourne and are looking for the minimum of hassle in set up and want ongoing management then check out this video to see why having your business in these locations will not only provide a prime location it will also provide you with a great work/life balance.

If you want to know more then visit their site here.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer gave his Autumn Statement earlier this month. Check out the Mcphersons article for a recap on what was announced.

We have a look at how local businesses have reacted to the statement.

Graham Marley, Chief Executive at the Let’s Do Business Group, said he was ‘lukewarm’ about the Chancellor’s first Autumn Statement. He said: “It was a measured approach which lacked the bombshell moment often delivered by George Osborne, but is probably more appropriate for the economy at this time.

“The highlights for businesses are the extra funding to support export finance and £400m fund to support tech firms through Venture Capital.

Philip Johnson, Director of Locate East Sussex, was ‘concerned’ by Mr Hammond’s speech. He said: “We welcome the Chancellor’s investment into transport and housing and very much hope East Sussex is a beneficiary of this additional funding. However, more support is urgently needed to help job creation within the new communities that are being developed.

“It is important the investment to support 5G and broadband provision goes towards  improving coverage and reducing ‘not spots’ in rural areas, as well as making networks faster. The increase in Rural Rate Relief to 100% is good news for a rural communities although it is not clear yet whether this will be extended to all types of businesses or just villages with only one shop such as a convenience store or a pub.”

For weeks now, senior figures from the world of business have been at pains to point out just how important this year’s Autumn Statement will be.

The new Chancellor, Philip Hammond, stepped up to the despatch box to give his most significant speech since he took charge of the Treasury during the summer.

If his predecessor George Osborne, now watching from the backbenches, had come to be defined by his ongoing battle to balance the books in the wake of a financial crisis, the start of Mr Hammond’s tenure was always going to be overshadowed by one word. Brexit.

Businesses across the UK – and indeed overseas – were watching closely to see how the Government intends to steady the economy ahead of the UK beginning the formal process of leaving the European Union.

In his opening remarks, Mr Hammond laid out his stall.

“We will maintain our commitment to fiscal discipline, while recognising the need for investment to drive productivity,” he said.

Economic overview

The Chancellor will have been acutely aware, as he rose to address the Commons, that many headlines tomorrow would be dominated by the economic outlook and in particular the fall in growth forecasts.

He sought to extenuate the positives, pointing out that employment levels were at a record high, the deficit was falling as a share of GDP and that the economy had shown resilience in the wake of the summer’s referendum.

But he also acknowledged that the Brexit vote meant it was more imperative than ever to tackle any frailties in the nation’s finances, adding that the Government was committed to tackling these challenges head-on.

Growth is expected to be 2.4 per cent lower over the forecast period as a result of the uncertainty arising from the referendum result.

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has calculated that growth will be 2.1 per cent this year, falling to 1.4 per cent in 2017.

“That is lower than we would like, but still higher than many of our European neighbours,” said Mr Hammond.

Borrowing, meanwhile, will be 3.5 per cent this year, dropping to 0.7 per cent by 2021-22.

While acknowledging that the Government no longer expected to balance the books by the end of the decade, the Chancellor announced three new fiscal rules: to achieve a surplus in the next Parliament and reduce borrowing to two per cent by the end of this one, to get net debt falling by 2020 and to ensure welfare spending is kept within a cap set by the Government.

Business and enterprise

The Chancellor was unequivocal that he wanted the UK to retain its reputation as a top destination for businesses.

He reiterated his predecessor’s commitment to reduce Corporation Tax to 17 per cent, although speculation that he may announce a further reduction (perhaps to 15 per cent) proved to be wide of the mark.

There was news of a two per cent reduction in the transitional relief cap, which will be overseen by the Communities Secretary, and Rural Rate Relief will increase to 100 per cent. This will be worth up to £2,900 for eligible firms.

Conversely, employers will have to make preparations for another increase in the National Living Wage next year. The statutory wage floor will increase from £7.20 an hour to £7.50 as of April 2017.

As part of efforts to make the UK a “world leader” in 5G broadband, ministers will also be offering 100 per cent business rates relief on new fibre infrastructure from April next year.

Finally £400million will be pumped into venture capital funds, via the British Business Bank, to help unlock £1billion in finance for expanding businesses.

Transport and infrastructure

Mr Hammond said that the Government was committed to high-value investment in the nation’s infrastructure and that all of the UK would feel the benefit, acknowledging that too much onus had been placed on London in the past.

At the core of proposals are plans for a new national productivity investment fund, a £23billion pot which will be used to fund innovation and infrastructure.

There was also a commitment that investment in research and development will increase by £2billion annually by 2020, a £1billion digital infrastructure fund (with an emphasis on improved broadband) and the promise of a £1.1billion in additional spending on England’s transport network.

Property

As had been widely trailed before the speech, Mr Hammond confirmed that he would be banning fees charged by letting agents to tenants.

The move, which had actually been Labour policy at the last General Election, was designed to address the fact that fees were continuing to spiral upwards despite the efforts to regulate them. It had nonetheless attracted criticism in some quarters as another “assault” on landlords.

Mr Hammond admitted that a large section of the population continued to struggle to get a foot on the property ladder and said that the Government would shortly be publishing a new white paper to address some of the pressing issues relating to housing.

The Chancellor also confirmed plans for a £2.3billion Housing Infrastructure Fund, which will lay the ground for the construction of 100,000 new homes. In addition, there will be a £1.4billion investment to deliver 40,000 additional affordable homes.

As part of ongoing efforts to increase home ownership, there will be a “large-scale regional pilot” of Right to Buy for housing association tenants.

Personal tax

There was welcome news for many taxpayers in the form of an increase to the personal allowance. This will rise from its current level of £11,000 to £11,500 from April 2017. And Mr Hammond said that the Government remained committed to raising it still further (to £12,500) by the end of this Parliament.

Meanwhile, the 40p rate will increase to £50,000 over the course of the same period.

As regards National Insurance (NI), from next April the employee and employer thresholds will be aligned at £157 a week.

There was good news for the nation’s motorists, with the announcement that the Treasury would be cancelling the proposed rise in fuel duty for the seventh year running. On average this is calculated to save car drivers £130 a year and van drivers £350.

However, insurance premium tax will rise to 12 per cent (up from 10 per cent) which some have suggested is likely to wipe out any savings arising from the crackdown on fraudulent whiplash claims.

Tax savings relating to salary sacrifice and benefits in kind are also to come to an end, although exceptions will be made for pensions, childcare, cycling and ultra-low emission vehicles.

Pensions and savings

There were comparatively few announcements on pensions, although Mr Hammond did confirm that the Government would usher in a ban on pension cold-calling.

The Chancellor said that the Government was also committed to helping the nation’s savers and set out plans for a three-year investment bond, offering a 2.2 per cent interest rate on deposits of up to £3,000.

Tax evasion, avoidance and aggressive tax planning

Mr Hammond said the Government had a proud record of tackling tax avoidance and evasion and that the tax gap was one of the lowest in the world.

As part of the ongoing drive to ensure that businesses pay their fair share, he outlined plans for a new penalty for those who enable tax avoidance, which HMRC later challenges and defeats.

Overall it is calculated that the various anti-tax avoidance measures will raise in the region of £2billion over the forecast period.

End of the Autumn Statement

One of the biggest surprises was the news that this year’s Autumn Statement would be the last.

Next year will be the last time that the Budget takes place in the spring. After that it will be moved to the autumn, and while there will be a Spring Statement, this will be used principally to respond to OBR forecasts rather than as a platform for any major announcements.

Mr Hammond said that having just one financial announcement each year would bring the UK in line with the IMF’s best practice.

Summary

Ahead of today’s speech, the Chancellor seemed to play down the prospect of any dramatic new policy announcements, instead placing emphasis on a tax and spending plan which would prioritise prudence and stability.

Certainly this wasn’t a delivery sprinkled with giveaways and perhaps the biggest surprise – given that the media had been briefed in advance about many of the headline announcements – was that Mr Hammond’s first Autumn Statement would also be his last.

The decision to condense all the major tax and spending plans into one annual summary is partly designed to give businesses greater stability and this may well be welcomed in the current climate.

Mr Hammond is unlikely to get away from the fact that uncertainty surrounding Britain’s departure from the EU is calculated to have created a £122billion black hole in the national finances.

 

Hastings Borough Council in its aims to support local businesses and increase jobs in the town has invested in the build of a new factory unit at Castleham Industrial Estate, Hastings.

Built by Westridge Construction Ltd the new unit due for completion at the end of this year will provide much needed extra space for a local business already operating from other units in the area, BD Foods.

Hastings Borough Council’s leader, Cllr Peter Chowney recently attended the ‘topping out’ ceremony; the age old tradition of bestowing luck and thanks to builders when a structure reaches its topmost point. He commented: “This unit is a great addition to the offer at Castleham and we are very pleased that BD Foods will be the new tenants. They currently occupy eight units at Castleham and this one will enable them to expand their food production, creating 50 new jobs in the process.”

BD Foods plan to start working from the unit in the New Year.

Hastings has been awarded a second European Union funded grant to help improve housing conditions in the town, this time in St Leonards. The first project, ‘Climate Active Neighbourhood’, was approved earlier this year for the Ore Valley area.

In Hastings, partners include Hastings Borough Council, Amicus Horizon, and Energise Sussex Coast.

SHINE (Sustainable Houses in Inclusive Neighbourhoods) includes 15 partners from France, Belgium, the Netherlands as well as the UK, with Brighton & Hove City Council also participating. The funding is from the Interreg 2 Seas Programme.

The total value to Hastings, at current exchange rates, is around £1.77m.

Cllr Kim Forward lead member for housing at Hastings Borough Council, said:

“This is excellent news for the town. It will benefit particularly disadvantaged parts of St Leonards by tackling fuel poverty through introducing carbon dioxide reduction and low carbon technologies. The project will target residential areas where housing quality is poor and less energy efficient, particularly in the private rented sector but also include those who own their homes as well as local residents in social housing.

“The project includes energy efficient improvements to 200 homes, an energy advice ‘pop-up’ service, campaigns to improve energy efficiency, provide energy advice, and energy kits or smart meters to 600 homes.

“Local residents and tenants will see real benefits from the project because of lower energy bills, while everybody will benefit in the long term through a reduction in our carbon footprint. This really is a win win scheme, and I am delighted that we were successful in winning this funding. I look forward to seeing the promised improvements.”

 

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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