Welcome to the December 2008 Newsletter from Connolly Accountants Ltd

With cash flow difficulties placing small businesses under increasing strain, the issue of late payment has been brought to the forefront of public consciousness in recent weeks. This month the Government took steps to address the problem, launching a 'Prompt Payment Code' to encourage large organisations to pay small firms on time.

Just to say … we would like to wish all of our clients Season's Greetings – our next newswire will be in January 2009.

Self assessment reminder …

Don't forget, 31 January 2009 is the last day for filing your 2007/08 tax return online. Remember, returns filed after 31 January may attract a penalty, so please collate all the relevant documentation as soon as possible to ensure you meet the deadline.

Prompt payment code is launched

The Government has launched a new code of practice aimed at increasing the speed of payments to small businesses.

Business Secretary Lord Mandelson introduced the code at a prompt payment summit attended by some of the UK's top companies, including Asda, British Gas and the John Lewis Partnership.

The Code of Conduct, which was developed in partnership with the Institute of Credit Management, focuses on three main areas: a commitment to pay suppliers on time; to give clear guidance to suppliers; and to encourage good practice.

Lord Mandelson urged businesses to sign up to the code, stating it would be essential in helping 'smaller firms maintain cash flow in the months ahead.'

The summit follows a commitment by the Government to pay its suppliers within 10 days.

Meanwhile business groups have hailed the launch of the new code. Alexander Ehmann, Head of Parliamentary and Regulatory Affairs at the Institute of Directors said: 'The Institute genuinely applauds the Government's actions on late payment and strongly supports the new Prompt Payment Code.'

'Businesses now need to pick up the baton and ensure that the principles of fairness, timeliness and clarity are applied to their own contractual relationships with smaller suppliers.'

The Federation of Small Businesses, which had expressed concerns over the impact of late payment on small and medium-sized enterprises, described the initiative as 'a step in the right direction.'

Is late payment a problem for your firm? If so, contact us today to arrange a business planning review.


Guiding you through the credit crunch …

Sound planning is always important, but in a recession it is more critical than ever to stay on top of your business and personal finances. As 2008 draws to a close, now is the ideal time to step back from the minutiae and review your position.

As your accountants, there are many ways in which we can help minimise your personal tax burden, and also assist your business to remain profitable and successful. But you should take action now to ensure that you are making the most of the opportunities available to you.

We can help you to protect your personal wealth…

We can help you to minimise your tax bill, and consider such things as the needs of your family; your retirement strategy; savings and investments and your estate plans.

We can help you to:

  • make the most of personal allowances
  • extract profit from your business
  • save money tax-efficiently
  • review your pension arrangements
  • reduce the inheritance tax on your estate.

…and your business's bottom line

We can also help with your business finances and process, including:

  • minimising your business taxes
  • making the most of capital allowances
  • reducing company car costs
  • improving your financial position by accelerating expenditure into the current year, or deferring income into the next.

We can help guide you through these difficult times – for further information please contact us.


ESSENTIAL TAX DATES AND DEADLINES

Click here for key tax deadlines for the coming month.


QUOTE OF THE MONTH

'With the economic downturn driving more people to the web to seek the best deals, opportunities for cyber-criminals to attack are on the rise as people are more easily drawn in.'
Security firm McAfee explains the recent increase in online fraud


WEBSITE OF THE MONTH

www.banksafeonline.org.uk
Advice on how to protect yourself against online fraud


ON OUR WEBSITE

What’s new in the world of tax and business?
Visit our Hot Topics section – here you will find a guide to the recent VAT changes and the implications for businesses.

The latest tax rates and information
And for the latest tax information, including up-to-date tax saving strategies, visit our tax guides.

Pension fund deficit worsens
The total UK pension deficit climbed to £136 billion at the end of November, according to the Pension Protection Fund.
Click here for the full story

Costly parking 'driving shoppers away from the high street'
Steep parking charges and limited waiting times are deterring Christmas shoppers from visiting their local high street this winter, a leading business organisation has warned.
Click here for the full story

Bank of England cuts interest rates to 2%
The Bank of England has slashed interest rates by one percentage point - the third cut in as many months. The decision takes the base rate to just 2%, its lowest level since 1951.
Click here for the full story

Banking Bill welcomed by business
The business community has welcomed proposed changes to the banking system, as announced in the Queen’s speech earlier this month.
Click here for the full story

Small firms 'confused' by Data Protection Act
Small and medium-sized enterprises are still confused by the Data Protection Act – nearly ten years after it first came into force – a new survey has revealed.
Click here for the full story