Welcome to the April 2009 Newsletter from Connolly Accountants Ltd

In what was billed as the most important Budget in decades, Chancellor Alistair Darling pledged to help businesses through the global recession. However, a new study by the Forum of Private Business suggests that the Chancellor's belated statement has failed to quash the growing concerns amongst the UK's small and medium-sized enterprises.

Meanwhile, thousands of people with offshore bank accounts are being targeted by the Government as part of a new campaign to clamp down on tax evasion. Confirmed in the 2009 Budget, the Revenue's second grab for offshore cash forms part of a package of measures designed to eliminate loopholes in the tax system.


Budget 'fails to boost' business confidence

Measures announced in this month's Budget have failed to bolster small business confidence, according to a new online survey.

A study conducted by the Forum of Private Business (FPB), following last week's statement, reveals that 97% of firms believe the Budget did not contain measures to ease the burden of costs they currently face.

94% claimed Darling's eagerly-awaited speech failed to address the issues that threaten the survival of their firm, while less than 10% said that initiatives unveiled in the Budget would actually help businesses grow and diversify.

'The 2009 Budget has received a big thumbs-down from the FPB's members,' commented Jane Bennett, the FPB's Campaigns Coordinator. 'The results of our survey highlight the Government's missed opportunity to support employers and prevent job losses.'

The group's findings echo the wider dissatisfaction expressed by the business community in the wake of Darling's second Budget.

The Federation of Small Businesses said it was 'disappointed' that small firms had 'largely been ignored', while the Institute of Directors claimed the above-inflation fuel duty rise would 'make life harder' for the thousands of businesses struggling in the recession.

However, the Government's pledge to inject £5 billion of extra credit insurance to help protect firms against the risk of non-payment was viewed more favourably.

'This targeted 'top up' scheme will provide welcome relief for some companies facing short-term working capital constraints and help restore confidence in supply chains,' said Richard Lambert, Director General of the Confederation of British Industry.

The credit insurance scheme will grant cover to businesses operating in the UK for six months if their private insurers reduce their cover. It will be available to the 14,000 businesses that already use credit insurance.

To view our guide to the 2009 Budget, click here. Alternatively, please contact us to discuss how the announcements may affect your business and your personal finances.


HMRC in new trawl for offshore cash

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has embarked on a new campaign to collect millions of pounds in tax from offshore bank accounts.

Alistair Darling used this year's Budget to launch the new 'offshore disclosure opportunity', which will run until March 2010.

The campaign will see tax inspectors pursue account holders with money in building societies and any of the 300 UK-based banks that have offshore operations. The Revenue will then write to individuals directly asking them to pay tax on any undeclared income.

HMRC's first campaign in 2007 raised £450 million from 45,000 people. Account holders with undisclosed liabilities were offered the incentive of a cap of 10% on the penalty for not disclosing their tax debts to HMRC.

However, some reports suggest that the Revenue's latest clampdown could hit offshore account holders even harder, with tougher fines expected.

Delivering the Budget, Darling told MPs that the closure of several tax loopholes would net the Treasury £1 billion of extra revenue over the next three years.

He also announced that legislation will be introduced in the 2009 Finance Bill that will enable HMRC to publish the names and details of individuals and companies who are penalised for deliberate defaults leading to a loss of tax of more than £25,000.

Please talk to us if you have any queries regarding this issue.


ESSENTIAL TAX DATES AND DEADLINES

Click here for key tax deadlines for the coming month.


QUOTE OF THE MONTH

'We warmly welcome the new Equality Bill.  […] It will help unblock some of the systemic problems that get in the way of equality and achievement for everyone in Britain.'
Trevor Phillips, Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, applauds the publication of legislation to tackle workplace discrimination.


WEBSITE OF THE MONTH

www.vcacarfueldata.org.uk
The official UK source for Car Fuel Consumption and Exhaust Emissions Figures.


ON OUR WEBSITE

Essential business advice
For advice and information on all aspects of running a business, visit the 'Your Business' section of our website.

The latest tax rates
View the 2009/10 tax rates and allowances here.

New law to expose gender pay gap
Firms will soon be forced to reveal the 'gender pay gap' between male and female employees, under new legislation published this month.
Click here for the full story

VAT cut has 'boosted sales'
The Government's VAT cut has led to a 'remarkable' rise in consumer spending, a leading think-tank has claimed.
Click here for the full story

New rules on home packs come into force
Homeowners must now comply with tougher rules on home information packs (Hips) when selling their property.
Click here for the full story

New tax rates come into force
A plethora of changes to tax legislation and benefits have now come into effect, marking the beginning of the new tax year.
Click here for the full story

Darling delays full business rates hike
The Government has scrapped plans to increase business rates by 5% from 1 April.
Click here for the full story