Welcome to the July 2015 Newsletter from Connolly Accountants Ltd

Pension exit fees could be capped under new plans announced by the Chancellor George Osborne. It follows complaints over the 'excessive fees' charged by some pension providers, which can be up to 20% in some cases. The announcement comes just days ahead of the Chancellor's Second Budget speech, which is set to take place on 8 July. We will be providing a summary of the main Budget announcements so please visit our website for the latest news and information. 

Meanwhile, business leaders have been giving their reactions to the recent Queen's Speech, which sets out the legislative programme for the coming years. The Speech contained plans for a five-year ban on increases in income tax rates, VAT and national insurance, along with the much-anticipated EU referendum Bill, which will pave the way for an in/out referendum on Britain's membership of the EU.


Pension exit charges set to be reviewed

Chancellor George Osborne has said that the Government will consider imposing a cap on early exit penalties for people wishing to withdraw money from their pension savings, following complaints about providers charging 'excessive' fees. Mr Osborne revealed that the Treasury would investigate fees as part of a consultation starting next month.

New pension rules introduced in April allow people over 55 to withdraw cash from their pension savings, but since not all pension companies are allowing partial cash withdrawals a significant number of savers have been looking to switch providers.

According to the Treasury, 60,000 people have accessed their pension savings since the reforms came into effect, transferring more than £1 billion out of their pension pots.

A consultation will now examine the costs, speed and ease of transferring to a new pension company.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Osborne said: 'There are clearly concerns that some companies are not doing their part to make [pension] freedoms available. We are investigating how to remove barriers and we are considering now a cap on charges'.

However, the Association of British Insurers (ABI), speaking on behalf of the pension provider industry, claimed that nearly 90% of customers eligible for withdrawing cash from their pension pot would not face early exit fees, and that the fees that were being charged reflected expenses already paid by the provider in setting up the policy.

Responding to the Chancellor's comments, Huw Evans, director general of the ABI said: 'We agree that further clarity is needed and have been calling for it for some time. But we reject any suggestions that the industry is putting up unnecessary obstacles to hinder customers exercising their pension options'.

Meanwhile, Labour's shadow pensions minister, Keith Bradley, criticised the Chancellor for not considering a cap sooner. 'Osborne's dithering over a cap on rip-off fees and charges has meant savers who want to access their retirement income have risked losing thousands of pounds,' he said.


Business leaders react to Queen's Speech

Business leaders have largely welcomed the Conservative's so-called 'one-nation' legislative programme outlined in the Queen's Speech.

Katja Hall, Deputy Director-General of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), described it as a 'jam-packed Queen's Speech, with a strong focus on stepping up a gear on the economic recovery - locking in growth, creating jobs and boosting investment right across the country'.

She added: 'Pruning unnecessary red tape from Westminster and Brussels will give firms bursting with potential - especially small and medium-sized ones - the space to grow and thrive'.

Some 26 Bills were announced by the Queen, including the new National Insurance Contributions and Finance Bill, which will enact a pledge not to raise income tax rates, VAT or national insurance before 2020, along with plans to increase the threshold before which people pay income tax to £12,500.

Responding to the plans, Simon Walker, Director General of the Institute of Directors (IoD), said: 'While IoD members are opposed to increases in the rates of VAT, income tax and national insurance, we consider it imperative that the Government's commitments do not prevent bold tax reforms to both simplify taxation and reduce the burden upon businesses and individuals.

'Ensuring that the UK tax system remains responsive to tax reforms introduced by our European and global competitors must be a government priority.'

The Speech also outlined details of a new Enterprise Bill, which aims to cut red tape for business by at least £10 billion over the next five years. Other key announcements include: the Childcare Bill, intended to increase the provision of free childcare to 30 hours per week in England for three- and four-year-olds; the Housing Bill which will extend the right-buy scheme; and the much-anticipated EU Referendum Bill, which will allow for a national referendum on Britain's continued membership of the European Union, with a vote intended to take place by 2017 at the latest.

A full transcript of the Queen's Speech can be found on the Government's website.


ESSENTIAL TAX DATES FOR JULY

6 July
Deadline for submission of Form 42 (transactions in shares and securities).
Deadline for submission of EMI40 (EMI Annual Return).
File Taxed Award Scheme Returns, file P11Ds, P11D(b)s and P9Ds. Issue copies of P11Ds or P9Ds to employees.
Deadline for entering into a PAYE Settlement Agreement for 2014/15.

14 July
Due date for income tax for the CT61 period to 30 June 2015.

17/22 July
Quarter 1 2015/16 PAYE remittance due.
Final date for payment of 2014/15 Class 1A NICs.

31 July
Second payment due date for 2014/15 Class 2 NICs.
Second self assessment payment on account for 2014/15.
Annual adjustment for VAT partial exemption calculations (April VAT year end).
Liability to 5% penalty on any tax unpaid for 2013/14.
Deadline for tax credit Annual Declaration (if estimated, final figures required by 31/01/16).       


QUOTE OF THE MONTH

'The good news is that real wages are now - finally - growing at a respectable rate by historical standards. The bad news is that this only appears to be happening because of inflation falling to unprecedented levels.'

Matthew Whittaker, Chief Economist at the Resolution Foundation, comments on the news that the UK returned to positive inflation after just one month


WEBSITE OF THE MONTH

www.investopedia.com/dictionary/

An online dictionary providing simple explanations for complex financial terms.


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'Fiscal settlement' rule announced for future governments
Chancellor George Osborne recently outlined a new rule intended to commit future governments to running at a budget surplus.
Click here for the full story

Business group cuts economic growth forecast
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has reduced its predictions for 2015 UK economic growth from 2.7% to 2.4%.
Click here for the full story

Plans to extend free childcare are brought forward
The Government has brought forward its plans to double free childcare for working parents, with the scheme due to begin rolling out to parts of the country in September 2016, a year earlier than originally planned.
Click here for the full story

Pensions auto-enrolment: Regulator warns that even those who only employ one person must comply
The Pensions Regulator has warned that even those who only employ a single person such as a carer or nanny must comply with the auto-enrolment regulations and possibly pay pension contributions, or face a possible fine of £400.
Click here for the full story

HMRC waives fee for late tax returns
Up to 890,000 people may not have to pay the £100 late filing fee normally imposed by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) on individuals who fail to submit their tax returns on time.
Click here for the full story