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A new scheme to prompt banks and other lenders to make more money available to homeowners and businesses has come into operation.
Under the Funding for Lending initiative, the Bank of England will lend money at below-market rates to the financial institutions.
The Bank will then monitor their progress in lending the cash out.
Some mortgage lenders have already cut the cost of their long-term, fixed-rate deals.
But the lower borrowing costs being introduced by mortgage lenders are so far only being offered to people with large deposits.

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Higher rate taxpayers who have failed to submit tax returns are being offered the opportunity to come forward and pay up under a time limited HMRC campaign. The Tax Return Initiative is aimed specifically at people liable to pay higher rate tax that have been told to submit a self assessment tax return for 2009/10 or earlier, but have failed to do so. The Tax Return Initiative is also open to any individual who has tax returns to submit to HMRC for these years.
Individuals have until 2 October 2012 to:
• let HMRC know that they want to take part,
• submit completed returns, and
• pay the tax and National Insurance Contributions (NICs) that they owe.
By coming forward voluntarily through the initiative, taxpayers will receive better terms and any penalty they pay will be lower than if HMRC comes to them first.
Where taxpayers fail to take advantage of the initiative, HMRC will use its powers to pursue outstanding returns and any unpaid tax and NIC together with significant penalties of up to 100% of tax due.
For help and advice with completing your self assessment return call us at Haxton Chartered Accountants

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Chancellor George Osborne’s autumn statement heralded a big shake up of tax incentives for investors bank rolling small businesses.
Enterprise Investment Schemes and Venture Capital Trusts are all due for a revamp in the next tax year – and April 6, 2012, will also see their little cousin, the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) being launched.
For investors keen to see what a SEIS has to offer, here are some of the important points to consider:
• SEIS investors can input £100,000 in a single tax year which can be spread over a number of companies. Any one company can raise no more than £150,000 in total via SEIS investment.
• Investors cannot control the company receiving their capital and have more than a 30% stake in the company in which they invest
• Investors can receive up to 50% tax relief in the tax year the investment is made, regardless of their marginal rate
• The business company must be a UK company and have a permanent establishment in the UK
• In the 2012-13 tax year, tax payers can roll a chargeable gain on the disposal of assets in the tax year in to shares qualifying for SEIS income tax relief, with a full capital gains tax exemption.
• The company must have fewer than 25 employees. If the company is the parent company of a group, that figure applies to the whole group.
• The company’s trade must be no more than two years old.
• The company must have assets of less than £200,000
• The company has to trade in an approved sector – generally not in finance or investment, for example, a property company raise capital as a SEIS.
The aim behind a SEIS, say the Chancellor, is to stimulate entrepreneurship and kick start the economy.

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The government drive aims to:
• Help people find a business mentor
• Increase the number of mentors available, and
• Improve information about mentoring to help UK businesses to grow.
Work began in July last year when the Department for Business and the British Bankers’ Association (BBA) launched mentorsme.co.uk, the national mentoring portal. Since then, the number of mentoring organisations on the portal has risen from 42 to over 100. Through them, there is now access to around 11,000 mentors. The site is proving popular: the BBA’s statistics show there were over 100,000 visits to the site in the last year.
Over 12,000 people have now volunteered as business mentors, signing up to the Small Firms Enterprise Development Initiative’s (SFEDI) Get Mentoring scheme. Over 7,000 people have been trained. They are now being encouraged to become part of mentoring organisations on the mentorsme portal and start mentoring through their own networks

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Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has highlighted government proposals to scrap restrictions that put off start-up businesses from temporarily using empty high street shops that can help attract shoppers back to more family friendly town centres
Temporary or ‘pop-up’ shops often utilise vacant high street premises until a permanent tenant can be found. One of the barriers to start-up firms can be planning rules that control what type of business a shop can and can’t be used for.
The proposals would scale back the red tape that causes shop owners costly delays securing planning permission, over £1200 on average, before a disused shop can be used for a different purpose. Landlords would instead be free to temporarily change the use of an empty shop for two years, something currently not automatically permitted.

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The government launched a Red Tape Challenge in 2011, with a particular spot light on employment law. The aim of this was to simplify and improve the system by reforming employment law to assist businesses and boost economic recovery.

The changes have been far reaching looking at workplace disputes, the employment tribunal and extending flexible working. Some changes are being considered and some future proposals are being consulted on.

Employment Tribunal

The majority of businesses will face the employment tribunal at some stage and the government has implemented some changes to overhaul the employment tribunal system and further proposals are in the pipeline. Some of the current changes are as follows:-

Unfair Dismissal

Currently employees with one year’s continuous employment may bring a claim for unfair dismissal in the employment tribunal. However, for those whose employment starts on or after 6th April 2012 they will have to wait two years before being able to bring a claim for unfair dismissal.

Deposit Orders

Deposit orders can be the secret weapon of any employer in defending a claim in the employment tribunal and the maximum deposit order has been increased if a claimant has little prospect of success, from £500 to £1,000. This is for cases presented on or after 6th April 2012.

Cost Awards

As all businesses will be aware, one of the potential headaches of pursuing the matter all the way to the employment tribunal is that, in the majority of cases, each party bears its own legal fees. However, this is set to change for all cases presented on or after 6th April. The maximum amount of costs an employment tribunal can award has now been increased from £10,000 to £20,000.

We will report and further updates in this important area of law as and when they happen.

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From 1 April 2012 employees will not be able to claim unfair dismissal until they have been on the payroll for two years, rather than one year previously. The change is part of a package of employment law reforms designed to give firms more confidence to hire staff – by making it easier to dismiss staff if the appointment does not work for any reason.
As part of the reforms, from April 2013 employees will have to pay a fee to bring a case to a tribunal to try and deter weak or malicious claims. The fees are likely to be between £150 and £1500 depending on the size of the claim. If the employee wins, the fees would be refunded.
Before taking any action it is always worth checking with an employment lawyer to ensure you have followed the correct procedures

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If you are thinking of winding up your company and qualify for Entrepreneurs’ Relief then you have until 28 February 2012 to act to obtain the 10% CGT tax break under ESC 16
This is only viable if you have retained reserves over £25,000 as the new rules allow this sum to be classified as capital
Please contact Haxton, Chartered Accountants for a review as soon as possible

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Some 500,000 taxpayers will not receive reminders to pay their second instalment of tax under Self Assessment in time for the 31 July 2011 deadline.
HMRC says “Sorry” and admits that it has run out of paper. Blaming its “forecasting arrangements… the volumes on this occasion have risen out of all proportion to previous patterns.”
This is slightly curious, because one might think that having sent out reminders for the first payment on account in January 2011 HMRC would know exact numbers for the second payment.
What to do now?
• If your Unique Taxpayer Reference (your ten digit reference number) ends with digits from 70 to 99 then you may be affected.
• HMRC will send your statement as soon as possible.
• If you receive your statement in August, you should still pay the tax due as soon as you can.
• You’ll only be asked to pay interest on the tax due on the second payment on account if you still haven’t paid it more than 30 days after you receive your statement.
• Taxpayers can go online to view their statements instead

If you still need help please contact us at haxton@haxton.co.uk

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Banks have adopted a ‘take it or leave it’ approach to small business loans with outright rejection rates rocketing sevenfold since before the financial crisis, a key survey shows.
The bank-funded Business Monitor – which is being used by the Business Department to benchbank the treatment of small businesses by the banks – found that 28pc of firms were turned down when applying for a loan last year.
A similar proportion failed to secure a loan at the end of the lending process, even after some revised their applications.
In contrast, just 4pc of firms said they were met with a flat rejection when applying for a loan or mortgage in 2007.
The independent survey of 5,000 small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) also found that confidence in the banks is weakening, with just 40pc of the SMEs planning to secure new or to renew existing finance in the next 12 months saying they were confident of succeeding compared with 70pc of those who had applied in the last year.
If you are having issues with your bank in raising funds please contact Haxton Chartered Accountants who may be able to assist

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