Welcome to the March 2008 Newsletter from Connolly Accountants Ltd

This month saw the publication of a White Paper outlining measures to improve Britain’s enterprise culture. Released alongside Alistair Darling’s debut Budget statement, the consultation document proposes several reforms of significance to small firms. Leading business groups have welcomed the move, describing the suggested modifications as ‘encouraging for entrepreneurs.’

Meanwhile, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is renewing its efforts to target individuals who have failed to disclose details of their offshore bank accounts. Final warning letters have been sent to those yet to inform HMRC of their tax liabilities following the launch of a Government campaign last year.


Government launches Enterprise White Paper

As part of his debut Budget, Alistair Darling emphasised his commitment to developing UK enterprise and innovation, with the publication of a White Paper that proposes an increase in funding for eligible business owners.

The ten year strategy, which purports to ‘unlock the nation’s talents’ and enhance enterprise skills and knowledge, includes measures intended to ease the red tape burden for small firms and help existing businesses secure funding to expand.

‘We want more new and growing businesses in the UK and more companies and people acting on their enterprising ideas,’ said Business and Enterprise Secretary John Hutton.

‘The UK’s long term prosperity lies in unlocking the talent of enterprise for people from all sections of society and in our small businesses, helping them to grow.’

Proposed changes include allocating a 20% increase to the Small Firms Loan Guarantee Scheme, extending eligibility to growing businesses that are over five years old and increasing the funding available to female entrepreneurs.

The document also includes a proposed consultation on the introduction of regulatory budgets, which would cap the new annually recurring cost of regulation for business, including whether to pilot this approach on SME’s or a particular sector.

Leading business groups have applauded the move, describing the reforms as ‘encouraging’ for entrepreneurs. Sally Low, Director of Policy and External Affairs at the British Chambers of Commerce, said:

‘The Government has made some strong commitments: to introduce regulatory budgets; to hasten regulatory culture change by firmly embedding the ‘think small first’ principle into Government policy and to increase investment to boost access to finance, which could help growing, ambitious firms to become bigger and better.’

However, the Trades Union Congress has argued that much of the White Paper is ‘based on business prejudice about regulation [and] not solid analysis.’

To view the full document, entitled ‘Enterprise: unlocking the UK’s talent,’ visit www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/media/E/3/bud08_enterprise_524.pdf.


HMRC issues final warning over offshore bank accounts

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is contacting thousands of offshore bank account holders who failed to disclose details of their savings and investment income during a ‘tax amnesty’ last year.

Around 5,000 people are expected to receive a final warning letter from HMRC this week as part of a Government clampdown on unpaid tax.

Those contacted will now be liable to pay a minimum of 30% of the tax owing as opposed to the reduced 10% penalty that was charged during the amnesty last year.

HMRC generated £400 million through its campaign to tax money held abroad after 45,000 people declared details of their offshore accounts before the 26 November 2007 deadline.

Whilst the Revenue claimed it was ‘very pleased’ with the response, initial predictions indicated that the scheme could net the Government up to £1.75 billion.

The move comes as the taxman prepares to target those earning income from buy-to-let property investments, both in the UK and overseas.

If you would like help and advice with any tax issues, please contact us.


ESSENTIAL TAX DATES AND DEADLINES

Click here for key tax deadlines for the coming month.


QUOTE OF THE MONTH

‘The tax regime still needs to be simplified and made more business-friendly. The new enterprise agenda is taking us in the right direction, but as ever, everything depends on delivery.’
Miles Templeman, Director General of the Institute of Directors


WEBSITE OF THE MONTH

www.berr.gov.uk/employment/pay/national-minimum-wage
Visit this site regularly to ensure you are aware of the latest national minimum wage rates.


ON OUR WEBSITE

Business advice at your fingertips
For a range of information on key issues affecting your business, visit our business guides.

The latest tax rates and information
And for the latest tax information, including up-to-date rates and our 2008 Budget Report summary, visit our tax guides.

Darling defends economic growth forecasts
Chancellor Alistair Darling has maintained that the economic growth forecasts set out in his debut Budget remain 'realistic'.
Click here for the full story

UK credit card losses pushed up by overseas fraud
The volume of money stolen from UK banking cards has increased by 25% due to a surge in overseas fraud, new research has revealed.
Click here for the full story

Businesses should 'do more' to reduce employee absence
Employers are being urged to take action to reduce staff sickness levels following the publication of a Government report.
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Minimum Wage set to rise in October
The adult National Minimum Wage will rise from £5.52 to £5.73 in October, Prime Minister Gordon Brown has announced.
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Innovation on the increase for British businesses
There has been a significant increase in the growth and innovatory ambitions of small and medium-sized businesses, according to the 2006/07 Annual Small Business Survey.
Click here for the full story