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Claiming Tax Relief

Claiming A Years Worth Of Tax Relief Working From Home

Since the UK was placed into lockdown at the beginning of March, we’ve seen restrictions come and go. With the country now leaving its second national lockdown, areas across the land are preparing to enter a new tiering system with further restrictions to be announced. This news means there’ll be more of us working from home yet again. Government guidelines still state, for those who don’t work in healthcare, hospitality or non essential retail, then you should be working from home if you can.

Over the summer months, we saw lots of people coming up with inventive ways in which they’d been working from home. We’ve seen people completely revamp their spare room and create a zen working space, to nifty contraptions that allowed workers to enjoy a spot of sunbathing whilst working at the same time. Hats off to that person.

But now with Winter ahead of us, working from home maybe different for a lot of us. Most crucially, the change in weather. There’s only so many layers we can put on before we start to look like the Michelin man.

That being said, working from home has helped people in many ways. They’ve got to spend more time with family and friends, they can make actual tasty home made lunches, you can put whatever radio station you like on and you can even work in your underpants. The list is endless. However, whilst some of us may have been easily saving money, we could have been forking out costs in other areas.

What Does The Claim Cover?

We’re talking water bills, heating, electricity, internet, phone bills and continents insurance. So to combat these extra costs, you can apply for tax relief. Before you go any further, you might want to check if you’re eligible first. You can do so here.

If you’ve been working from home on a regular basis for all or part of the week then you can apply. Even if it’s just been a singular day, you can still apply and get one whole years tax relief. Bear in mind that you can only claim tax relief if your employer has enforced these rules, if you’ve chosen to work from home, you won’t be able to claim.

How Much Can I Claim?

You can claim £6 a week, here are the two ways in which you can:

Employers can pay you £6 a week extra tax-free. Employers can give you an allowance up to this amount and what they give you is free from tax. But with businesses struggling, this might not be the best option.

Instead you can claim tax relief on £6 a week. If your employer won’t pay expenses for your extra costs but you have them, then you can ask for the amount to be deducted from your taxable income. HMRC says that claims in line with the employers’ payment will not need to justify that figure so you won’t need to prove it.

If your expenses exceed £6, then you’ll have to prove it with receipts.

How Can I Claim?

To get your claim in, HMRC has launched a microservice that anyone can access who has an internet connection. When you make your application, this service will automatically apply the whole 2020/21 tax year’s relief via your tax code.

You’ll need to have your Government Gateway ID at the ready so make sure you have an account, if not, you’ll need to create one.
However, unlike usual tax rebates, you won’t get a cheque for this money. Essentially your tax code is changed, so you’ll pay less tax for the rest of the year.

So there we have it. There’s no need to wait to put in your claim, do it today. It’s straightforward and super easy. If you have any questions about your tax obligations or want to know more about tax relief, call us on 0333 987 4672. Alternatively, fill in the form on our contact us page and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Furlough Scheme Extended Till March 2021

Furlough Scheme Extended Till March 2021

As we’re sure you will have seen or heard on your news feeds, the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak has confirmed that the furlough scheme has been extended and will remain open until 31 March 2021.

The news comes as it was announced the UK was to be plunged into a one month lockdown affecting businesses up and down the country. Employees are eligible for 80% of their current salary for hours not worked, similar benefits also apply to the self-employed, with  an income support grant due to be increased from 55% to 80%. This already fragile and volatile situation has hopefully given businesses some peace of mind for the winter months, as the government aims to protect millions of jobs and keep unemployment down. 

The Economic Effects Of The Global Pandemic

From shutting down businesses to the country entering another recession, one we haven’t seen on such a scale ever before. It’s fair to say the pandemic has effected the country’s economy hard. With coronavirus cases on the up and with the closure of businesses impacting us once again, the government predicts that GDP will fall again by the end of November. 

Policies such as the furlough scheme are designed to keep businesses afloat and keep people employed. If cases of the virus continue to surge, then it’s likely that the economy could take years to recover.

If the government continues to spend more than it’s earning, this will leave the country in more debt than it’s currently in, which could be considered as a worse case scenario. The government has chosen to stand by supporting workers and businesses but that has come at a cost. It’s likely that these measures are going to cost over £200 billion this year. 

On the 25th November The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) will present its latest outlook for the economy, this will be presented alongside the government spending review. 

How To Get Furlough Support

To find out if you’re eligible for government support, please visit the government website where you can find out how much you can claim to cover wages for employees on temporary leave. Keep in mind that claims for furlough days in November must be submitted by the 14th December.

So that’s the all important day that you must put in your diary. We also recommend using the business support finder to see what support is available for you and your business, you can do so here.  Please follow this link and answer the questions as directly and thoroughly as you can. 

With this ever changing situation, things are likely to be on the move again. It’s expected that the policy will be reviewed again in January, so we would strongly suggest keeping a close eye on the situation.

Who Can Claim Furlough

For an individual to be placed on furlough, they mustn’t be able to do their job because either the workplace is closed or there isn’t enough work for them. Similar situations could be that someone in their household has to shield. Anybody who is a full-time, part-time, agency, flexible or zero-hour contract employee can be furloughed.

What Does It Mean If I’m Placed On Furlough

If you’re put on furlough by your employer then it’s very similar to gardening leave. You will still receive your pay check from your employer and you will still contribute taxes but you won’t be working for your employer during your furloughed period. So to put it simply, you will be getting paid not to work. However there is a catch. If you earn over £2,500 a month ,then you will not qualify for 80 per cent of your salary. Should this apply to you, your employer could choose to make their own direct contributions to your salary, or alternatively you can gain support through other systems such as Universal Credit.

How Can Ampios Future Market Service Help You

But if this is all proving to be far too stressful this is where we can help. We can help you see a clear picture of your future market and where you and your customer stand. Together we can help you understand the changing trading landscape and the uncertainty that comes with the pandemic. Us businesses are in this together. We can help you identify future market shifts, review product streams, and deliver you a more secure future and a larger and more valuable business. By talking to us we can decipher what you’d like to achieve.

If you need help and want to Find Out More about Ampios Future-Market Service or have questions directly relating to furlough, please get in touch, we are happy to talk this through with you in more detail.

Alternative Finance Solutions for Businesses

If you have found your business in financial difficulty, without the necessary cash flow, you may have also found that your bank is no longer providing support. But don’t worry, there are alternative finance options out there to help you. 


Alternative Finance 

The growth of alternative finance in the last few years has provided businesses with the option to obtain finance from many other sources, not just the traditional banks. 

While there is a wide range of alternative finance providers available to businesses, navigating this marketplace isn’t easy. A middleman who knows the market can be a useful ally to have – they know the ‘sweet spots’ of the different lenders and can match lenders with the financial needs of your business. 


What is the Solution?

Alternative finance solutions vary depending on your need. Some are very short-term, others are longer. The aim of using one is to fix the funding problem – you need to try to avoid just deferring it for a while. 

Possible solutions include:

  • Cash flow loans to cover VAT, Company Tax and Professional Indemnity fee payments.
    These loans provide cash to cover those quarterly or annual outflows of cash from your business that are lumpy and could otherwise cause a cashflow problem. 
  • Commercial loans to provide your business with financial headroom.
    This could simply convert your current, short-term debt into medium-term debt to give you some headroom in your cash flow; or provide additional debt to boost your working capital. 
  • Sale and leaseback.
    This would inject cash into your business from assets you already own. This is especially useful if the assets have previously been purchased for cash. 


In summary

A range of solutions are out there and can rescue your business from financial difficulty. Remember, not all alternative finance solutions or providers will be appropriate for your business or cash flow problem, so it is important to find the right one for you. 


What should you do next?

Having somebody alongside you who has experience and expertise in the alternative finance market would be invaluable. If you need help or advice with your funding problem, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Ampios. 


Alan Wilson – Specialist in Banking Relationships & Borrowing Arrangements 

How To Move Your Business Online During COVID-19

Why It’s Time To Move Your Business Online

The internet as we know it has been around for about 25 years, so we’re no stranger to the digital world. With the declining high street facing higher rental costs and lack of footfall, could it be time to move your business online? 

Well, it looks that way. Over the past few years, we’ve seen more and more businesses leave their physical premises behind and establish themselves online. 

Some might be a little sceptical, and that’s to be expected. But since the coronavirus pandemic, perhaps the internet should be more of a friend than foe. It’s where we do a large portion of our communicating, if not all of our communicating. Thanks to tools such as Zoom, Skype and Microsoft Teams we can all stay connected at the touch of a button. 

If you didn’t think having an online presence pre 2020 was necessary, then you might want to think again. According to data from Statista, here in the UK, we have the most advanced e-commerce marketplace in all of Europe. Looking more closely at individual sectors, manufacturing and wholesale were the two key players that generated the highest e-commerce sales for the whole of 2018. We think that’s something worth talking about. 

If this is a short-term fix, or perhaps a better way of doing business long term, it’s still a step worth taking. 

From March to July, the coronavirus pandemic made it impossible for businesses to trade and operate in a physical setting, so we did what we had to do and that was to adapt. Whilst we may have had some freedom over summer, the winter is creeping up on us and with a second nationwide lockdown upon us, it’s time to act now.

If like many other business owners, you don’t have a plan in place to become digitized, then maybe we can help.

How To Move Your Business Online

If you’re in the retail sector, this might seem like an obvious call to action, a website can be the most crucial thing you can do. There are plenty of benefits, however, we understand that not everybody owns a shop that can easily replicate their business on an ecommerce platform.

Now if you’ve been following the news as of late, then you’ll have seen the many ways that other business owners have gotten creative and kept their customers engaged online. 

First things first, think about your products and offerings. What services do you offer and what do your customers want from you? We believe almost any business can transfer to the online realm. If you’re a lawyer, personal trainer or therapist, businesses have the capacity to share documents and data from clients to holding meetings online, all thanks to technology.

Operating An Online Business

So, What Do You Need To Do? 

The first step you should take is to create a digital presence, if you haven’t done so already. You must create a website. This will act as a virtual business card. This is the first point of call, as this is the very first thing potential customers see when viewing your business for the first time. So if your office is shut and there’s no sign of you online, it’s more than likely people will look elsewhere and even go with your competitors! So, create a website. If you don’t have the budget to pay for a developer there are plenty of free DIY website builders that you can utilise. We would recommend WordPress, SquareSpace, or Wix

Creating A Website

Wix and Squarespace are both drag-and-drop website builders. There’s plenty of different design themes to choose from and they’re very easy to use. Whereas WordPress gives you the WordPress website building software plus web hosting in one product. It’s simply down to how user friendly you find each platform, so get testing! You want your website to be accessible for both you and your customers. It needs to be easy to navigate. Keep your website fresh and updated with new, exciting and relevant content. You want each website visitor to know exactly who you are and what you offer. 

Social Media Platforms

Next, take a look at your social media. As well as creating a website, social media posts can ensure a maximum reach and an even easier way to interact with customers. Particularly as more and more people get in touch with a business via a social media platform rather than picking up the phone. We would recommend finding out who your customer is. By identifying your customers age, gender and location, this can help to identify who your target audience is. This will then give you a better understanding on what platforms your customers use and how you can implement them. If you’re a B2B or B2C company, it’s best to do your research. You may find that only one social media platform works for you. It might even be worth taking a look at your competitors and seeing how they use social media, this can help point you in the right direction. 

So What’s Next? 

So get your thinking caps on, this is the time to be interactive with your customers, hold events online via webinars or online summits to even creating your first podcast. 

With so many of us home working from home, now is the time to take the plunge and move your business online. If you have any questions our skilled team of experts at Ampios can lend a helping hand. Get in touch here

How Will The US Election Affect The UK

If you’ve been following the news as of late, then you’ll know all about the US election. Our friends across the pond maybe over 4000 miles away but the result could affect us more than we know.

People might be quick to dismiss this momentous political event, however with Brexit looming over our heads and with no deals in place as of yet, perhaps the UK needs to pay a little closer attention to our American neighbours.

As it stands, the US and UK are currently in the midst of negotiating a trade deal in the hope that it will make it easier and cheaper to buy and sell goods. It’s been reported that a UK-US trade deal would aim to lower taxes paid on imported goods. But what would this mean for us? To put it simply, this should hopefully keep prices down in the UK and make it easier to sell things to the US.

What Does The US Think About Brexit

If we rewind to 2016, during the referendum campaign, one of the major selling points of Brexit was that the UK and US would form a trade deal. It’s evidently clear that Donald Trump has many opinions on Brexit. In a tweet the now 45th president of the United States sent out to his 164.6K Followers, he stated the following “They soon will be calling me mr brexit.” Now interpret that as you wish. He’s already made it blatantly clear that he favoured a no deal Brexit, should the UK government be left unsatisfied by the terms laid out by the EU. 

Fast forward one year to and we’re now in 2017. Mr Trump outlined that he would ensure a quick trade deal between the two countries. However three years later and we’re no closer to said deal. Whereas, if we compare this view to his predecessors views, we know that Obama had a contrasting view. He famously said that the UK would be at the “back of the queue” for any trade deal with the US if voters in the UK decided to leave the EU and we all know how that played out. 

What Would A US-UK FTA Agreement Mean For the UK? 

Based on this information it’s clear to see that not every world leader holds the same views when it comes to negotiating trade deals. With this in mind, should Joe Biden take over the reigns and become the next president of the United States, this could be subject to change even further. The presidential term doesn’t start until next year, meaning a deal isn’t likely to be agreed until after this has passed. 

We already know that Biden has specifically outlined that the UK must honour the Good Friday Agreement or there will be no trade deal with the US. That being said, there is no telling what will happen, other than another long wait.

What we do know is this. The UK has claimed that a Free Trade Agreement with the US will represent significant opportunities throughout the economy from agriculture, to professional services. We could see benefits such as higher wages, better jobs and more choice and lowers prices for regions in the UK.

It’s been predicted that a UK US Free Trade Agreement could increase trade between both countries by £15.3 billion and increase UK workers wages by £1.8 billion. There could be a particular benefit for Small and Medium sized businesses across the UK. Similarly,  professional services, food processing and car manufacturing are said to be the sectors that could also reap huge benefits. 

How Can Ampios Help You Prepare For A New Trade Deal?

A change in the White House could mean a complete re-evaluation of the discussions that have already taken place. Like many, we’ll be keeping a close eye on the presidential election to see what the result may bring.

If this all seems very overwhelming, don’t worry you’re not alone. Here at Ampios, we offer a Brexit-Planning Review and Brexit-Planning Service. Talk to us and explain what you’d like to achieve. We can then conduct a review and hold an informed conversation and agree what needs to be done. If you need help preparing for Brexit, you can find out more here

Are Family Businesses The New Way Forward For The UKs Economy?

In the UK, family businesses account for over 75% of all business and employ over 50% of all workers. As such, family businesses have a significant role to play in the UK’s economy. In a report undertaken by the IFB Research Foundation (Institute For Family Business), this revealed that 1 in 5 of the largest businesses in the UK are family owned. Of the 1,551 largest companies in the UK, 19.8% are family-owned and most of these are owned by UK families.

Based on these statistics, it goes to show that now more than ever, the UK should be supporting and growing this sector due to the country’s uncertain economic climate.

What Makes A Family Business?

Family businesses come in all shapes and sizes, they run in different sectors and have even been operating for generations. For those lucky ones who have stood the test of time, it can sometimes seem overwhelming for future generations to take note and follow in their footsteps. Whatever their business model, common values are at the core of most families. For a business family, these values often reflect into the workplace. Studies have shown that these foundational values are often the key to their success. If you share the same beliefs and goals, this will make business a lot easier.

Positive Attributes Of A Family Business

Likewise with many businesses, there are positive and also negative characteristics of working in such an environment. To ensure long term success, family businesses should be nurtured by those who support and advise them.

Commitment is key. When it comes to family businesses, there is a larger presence in terms of commitment and accountability . Due to this bond, tied by blood or marriage, this cements a level of commitment often near impossible to replicate in a non-family organisation. Due to the time, effort and money invested in a family business, it would be much more harrowing for family businesses to fail due to their personal and emotional ties.

Stability is also another key factor when it comes to the success of a family business. Whatever the hierarchy, age and maturity are often factors that determine who takes ownership and responsibility when it comes to making vital decisions. Whoever is ‘Head of The Family’ usually leads the business. Dependent on the individual, their ‘reign’ can impact the longevity of the business and overall stability. Reasons for departure are often illness, death and retirement. Unlike hiring externally, another family member will usually take to their birth right and stay in the position for a number of years just like older generations have done.

Family businesses are also very flexible. Unlike in non family firms, families have a tendency to muck in and get involved in a multitude of areas outside of their job role to ensure success for the company. By involving yourself in various different aspects of the business, this allows tasks to be completed in sufficient time, employees can add to their skill set and gain a thorough understanding of the industry they work in.

Another difference that sets family business apart, is having a long term outlook. Family businesses like to plan ahead, sometimes years into the future. Having these long term goals allows businesses to adopt a strategy that works. Knowing that you’re creating an empire for future generations to grow, can give business owners all the encouragement they need.

Finally, family businesses are known to have contributed their own money to ensure long‐term success. This could mean contributing capital, or taking a pay cut. This often comes in handy during challenging times, such as an economic downturn.

Issues for Family Businesses in the UK

Conflict is probably the main reason for the failure of a family business. The main reason conflict arises is due to an overlap of job roles, miscommunication and personal disputes. The fear of outside investment, as well as the Chairman and Chief Executive roles being held by the same individual, can hold negative connotations for family businesses. This can develop into inappropriate behaviour in the workplace and lack of productivity.

More ambitious family businesses understand that external equity or quasi-equity funding can help to achieve their growth aims, so this fear should alleviate over time.

It’s also common knowledge that many family businesses fail to prepare a succession plan. If the owner doesn’t determine who will take over leadership of the company when they step away from the role, this can lead to some difficulties. In order to prevent this, a well defined plan needs to be put in place.

Unfortunately, nepotism often plays a major role within family businesses. Some family businesses are hesitant to let outsiders into their organisations and make powerful decisions. This can often result in family members being given jobs in which they are under qualified.

How to Solve these Problems

The key considerations families must take, are to develop and implement a management succession plan. This should be on the agenda of every family business. It should be properly planned and succession should take place through a staged handover.

Family businesses should not forget that meritocracy is more important than birth right. If a family member is not fully committed to the business or doesn’t have the required attributes, they should not be put in charge.

Non-Executive Directors (NEDs) may be seen as an unnecessary cost to the family business. However, a NED can help to keep emotion out of the Boardroom. This is an important consideration when discussing the future direction of any family business.

How Ampios Can Help

You may need help getting there, but that help can be easily found. At Ampios we have years of experience in a range of different businesses and sectors. Whether you’re looking for an Adviser or a Non-Executive Director for your family business, we will be able to help you. Don’t hesitate to get in touch. 

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