Our March 2014 Newsletter

March 3, 2014

As spring approaches, it seems that positivity is in the air – tempered by warnings from some financial heads – with many businesses looking forward to a successful year ahead.

Despite a drop in unemployment, it has been confirmed that interest rates will not be rising from their current low, as the Bank of England awaits more investment from business. The news comes as recent studies report increased optimism amongst the UK’s top retailers and small businesses, with suggestions that confident company bosses are planning for growth.

And as new figures suggest that the UK recovery is finally taking hold, the Government has outlined its intention to reform business rates to ensure that the tax paid is ‘in line with the state of the economy.’

With the 2014 Budget looming close, SMEs and individuals alike are now waiting expectantly to find out the specifics of previously announced measures, and what else the Chancellor has in store. We will be updating our website following the Chancellor’s speech, so please visit regularly for the latest news and announcements.

Businesses optimistic as Bank of England rules out interest rate rise

Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, has asserted that there will be no change to interest rates in the near future, despite previous expectations.

The guidance policy set out for interest rates indicated that an increase could be considered if unemployment rates fell to 7%. This level has very nearly been reached, despite predictions that it would not happen until 2016, prompting Mr Carney to speak out.

Historically the Bank has not commented on the direction of interest rates. Another numerical target has not been set; instead it has issued ‘soft guidance’ on how and when future changes may take place. Mr Carney has said in past statements that the policy needed to ‘evolve’ to include a broader range of factors on which to base potential changes.

As a result, the current Bank of England interest rate is likely to remain at 0.5% for the foreseeable future. ‘It’s part of the reason why we’re trying to provide as much clarity to business,’ Mr Carney said. ‘The path of monetary policy is going to be calibrated very carefully to ensure that only when we see sustainable growth in jobs, in incomes and in spending, will we make adjustments’.

Martin Weale, a policy maker for the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee, recently commented that ‘the most likely path’ would be an interest rate rise in the spring of 2015.

Meanwhile, numerous sources have shown there is increased faith in the economy, with business groups and think tanks all displaying higher levels of confidence and more determination to succeed.

In a survey of retail chairmen carried out by Headhunting organisation Korn Ferry, 73% of those questioned said they are optimistic about the UK’s economic outlook. The survey of 39 high street retail bosses included Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer. This reaction is notably different from the same survey last year, in which only 15% of those questioned were optimistic.

Similarly, the Forum of Private Business (FPB) found that 85% of its members were positive about 2014 and intended to develop their businesses in the coming year. Alexander Jackman, Head of Policy at the FPB, said, ‘GDP figures are positive, employment is up and confidence among our members has lifted accordingly. Small businesses are showing a positive, though restrained, outlook.’

The main challenges facing small businesses were cited as time, expertise and money – despite better access to finance. The cost of doing business remains a key concern, with 46% of members claiming that business rates continue to be a difficulty, coupled with the rising cost of utilities.

The findings came as the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) announced that it expects the UK economy to grow by 2.5% in 2014, adding that the economic recovery was now ‘entrenched’.

We can help ensure your business succeeds in the coming year – please contact us for advice.

Business rates reform on the horizon

Business rates could be reassessed on a more frequent basis to ensure that the tax paid is ‘in line with the state of the economy.’

Chancellor George Osborne spoke of Government plans to review and reform business rates in the Autumn Statement last year and offered the equivalent of £1.1bn in measures to reduce the burden on businesses. This includes capping rates at 2% in 2014/15, allowing businesses to pay in 12 monthly instalments and a £1,000 discount for retailers.

The Government recently published its ‘terms of reference’ for the review, which will include changes to both the frequency and methods of valuation, as well as a reassessment of the organisations that are eligible for exemptions or relief.

Business Secretary Vince Cable commented that he was ‘particularly pleased that the review will look at the frequency of valuations, as it is out of date property valuations that are a real problem, especially for businesses in deprived areas where rents have fallen’.

Meanwhile, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) has said there should be a new system for shops, based on factors including energy use and job creation. Director General of the BRC, Helen Dickinson, commented: ‘We have a once-in-a-generation chance to fundamentally change the business rates system and the time is right to think creatively and in the best long-term economic interests of the UK.’

Many business groups have also called for reform, insisting that the current system discourages investment. Another suggestion includes offering a discount based on the level of corporation tax the business pays.

RMT Brings in Andreasen as Director

RMT Accountants & Business Advisors have strengthened their senior management team with the promotion of Anthony Andreasen to a new director of corporate tax role.

Andreasen, who has worked for RMT for the last decade, joins the Gosforth-based firm’s existing five-strong team of directors, and will now take a wider role within the practice’s operation and business development.

After graduating with a degree in Accountancy with Law from the University of East Anglia, Anthony did his initial training in the Jersey office of ‘Big Four’ accountancy firm PWC, before returning to his native North East in 2004 to take up a position with RMT.

He qualified as a chartered tax advisor in 2006, and has worked his way up in the firm, operating predominantly as an advisor to RMT’s growing portfolio of owner-managed businesses.

Anthony acted as the firm’s head of tax before taking up his new position, and will now lead the delivery of tax advisory services for corporate clients alongside fellow director John Richards

RMT provides the full range of financial and business advisory services through its Corporate Finance, Recovery & Insolvency, Medical and Specialist Tax divisions.

Anthony Andreasen says: “Working closely with owner-managed businesses who all face a range of different opportunities and financial challenges has enabled me to develop a wide range of commercial knowledge during my career.

“Helping clients achieve both their commercial and personal goals is one of the aspects of working at RMT that I’ve most enjoyed and I’m looking forward to having a greater involvement in developing our services with both new and existing clients.

“RMT is continuing to successfully develop ideas and services that respond to the evolving needs of the regional business community, and being part of the senior team that is driving that development provides a very exciting opportunity for me.”

Mike Pott, managing director at RMT, adds: “Anthony has made a very significant contribution to RMT’s success over the last decade and to the success of the businesses with which he works so closely.He fully deserves the recognition that comes with his new position.

“Providing opportunities for our staff to develop their knowledge and their careers with us has always been central to RMT’s way of working and Anthony’s progression is a great example of what can be achieved here.”

Are you using Microsoft Small Business Server 2003 or Windows XP?

Since Microsoft announced withdrawal of support for its very successful Small Business Server 2003 and Windows XP operating systems from this April, many Companies will now have to review their options, and it’s not easy!

Many Companies are actually proving quite loyal to XP, with ComputerWorld predicting that by the end of 2014 between 22 and 25% of PCs will still be powered by the XP operating system. Microsoft will provide the final public patches for known vulnerabilities in XP and SBS 2003 on April 8 and this has led some industry analysts to comment that many more Companies than first thought will be vulnerable to cyber criminals.

Whether this view is reflected by small businesses today depends to a large extent on their own attitude to risk. Whether it’s part of a cynical exercise by Microsoft to sell more Windows 8 licences remains to be seen, but that said, what are the implications for the small and medium sized business today?

To replace Small Business Server 2003 means considering a very different set of replacement server applications to the ones available 10 years ago. This is particularly the case for email where the default offering now is the cloud based Office 365 rather than on-premise Exchange included previously with Small Business Server.

For file sharing requirements, small businesses are now re-thinking whether they need a server at all, and are instead considering smaller storage appliances such as NAS storage drives which can be installed and configured at much less cost with Office 365 than conventional on-premise server replacements. With Microsoft’s own SkyDrive file sharing solution bundled in with Office 365, a small business might take this as an opportunity to move more of its productivity in to the cloud.

Where a business relies on bespoke applications, or those powered by Microsoft SQL Server for example, the decision to move to the cloud is much more complex. Integration with other business applications aswell as the Office suite mean you need to engage with a professional used to handling these kinds of complexities. Application testing and telecommunications infrastructure need to be proven to guarantee performance.

Our business consultants can help you through these issues, and many more. For more details please contact Martin Lea on 0191 256 9550 or martin.lea@r-m-t.co.uk


2 March
Last day to pay any balance of 2012/13 tax and Class 4 NICs to avoid an automatic 5% late payment penalty.

31 March
End of Corporation Tax financial year.
End of CT61 quarterly period.
Filing date for Company Tax Return Form CT600 for the period ended 31 March 2013.


‘They’ve stuck to their knitting and it seems to be working’.

Debenhams’ chairman Nigel Northridge, speaking of the Government’s economic success.



The UK’s largest peer-to-peer website. Learn how to lend, which can help savers make a profit on their savings, without going through a regular bank.


Tax Information
For comprehensive advice on many aspects of business tax, be sure to visit our Tax Information page.

Managing your Money 
For personal tax planning tips to advice on managing your wealth, visit the Your Money section of our website.

In the News

Business group calls for fair treatment for flood-stricken firms
The British Chambers of Commerce has called for businesses affected by the adverse weather to receive fair treatment from the industry as they begin the recovery process.

Insufficient pension concerns as auto-enrolment continues
Employees are being urged to make greater contributions to their pension funds, as the Pensions Regulator reveals the latest auto-enrolment figures.

HMRC issues tax rebate scam warning
Taxpayers have been urged by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to be aware of emails promising tax refunds, following January’s self assessment deadline.

Think tank warns tax system ‘punishing success’
The Institute for Fiscal Studies has warned that reliance on tax from higher earners is a financial risk for the nation.

Changes to the TUPE regulations now in effect
Changes to the legislation governing the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations – known as TUPE – have now come into effect.


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