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Future-proofing your business with Kirkwood Wilson

Future-proofing your business with Kirkwood Wilson

Here at Kirkwood Wilson, we’re a ‘glass half-full’ bunch. We focus on the positives, regardless of what life might throw at us or our clients, we always search for every positive where we can. However, since the outbreak of Covid-19, there’s no denying that we’re living in unprecedented times. Factor in Britain’s departure from the EU and the future for many UK businesses is looking a little scary.

The importance of planning

Now, more than ever, it’s imperative to plan for the future of your business. We’re not suggesting that we get out a crystal ball – no one can know exactly what’s around the corner – but what we can do is plan for most eventualities.

There are 2 main considerations for this:

  • Business continuation
  • Cash flow.

By now, with the nudge-along from Covid-19, a lot of businesses have taken a large part of their operations into the cloud, which we’re very proud to say we’ve helped many clients get stuck into the digital world. This means that for a lot of businesses, say hypothetically if a total lockdown were imposed again, some of these businesses could continue as normal (or as much as possible) throughout this next period. Apps and digital accounting software have enabled so many people to be unleashed from the power of paper – hurrah!

The importance of cash flow management

The other important consideration is cash flow. It’s one of the things that we, as accountants, live for (and go on and on about – a lot).

Think of cash flow as a lovely plant. Get it right and your business will flourish. Get it wrong and your once lovely plant will wither and die – how dramatic! Your business grows, you grow. You’re happy, we’re happy!

In the most basic sense, you need to make sure that you have more money coming in that you have going out. This is the crucial point of cash flow management. Understanding how your cash flow is doing can help prevent issues like buying in too much stock, general overspends, and long payment terms. By getting on top of your outgoings means you will naturally have more money available should the worst happen.

Here are some of the positives of staying on top of your cash flow:

  • You will be able to make informed decisions about your business
  • There will be funds available if you encounter any unexpected glitches (like say, a pandemic!)
  • You will naturally feel more in control of your finances, which in turn will make you happier and more positive
  • You will be able to spot any issues in cash flow, i.e. when you might have cash in abundance or when cash might be a bit tight.

Good cash flow management will help you future-proof your business, making it crucial for helping you to nurture your business.

How WE can help YOU

At Kirkwood Wilson, we help our clients take back control of their business. We don’t just work for you, we work with you and help you thrive. We are providing cash flow forecasts more and more, enabling business owners to put the right plans in place for them (taking away all guessing and not just what they can afford today).

We want to help businesses better manage their cash flow – do you need help? We want to help people grow, raise their ambitions and realise their potential. It’s what we do, it’s what we’re good at, and it’s what we’re passionate about.

Don’t look at where you’ve been, look at where you’re going, and we’ll help you every step of the way. Get in touch with us today to learn more about how we can help you.

Pressing the pause button on life

Pressing the pause button on life

Since the outbreak of Covid-19, business owners have worked harder on their businesses than ever before. Whether that involves hard work to keep up with demand, or hard work trying to keep afloat, everyone has definitely worked to their limit. Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, we have all been thrown into unprecedented circumstances, meaning that we have had to adjust our processes and business procedures like never before.

The new normal

And now that ‘normality’ is slowly returning, here at Kirkwood Wilson, we are speaking to more and more people who are feeling burnt out with the stress of the last few months. We have been advising people to slow down and take stock.

As we have all been through very unusual circumstances in recent months, it is important to slow down our thought processes, limit our stress levels, and pause for a moment. As many of us know, some of our best ‘light bulb’ moments often happen when on a walk or in the shower, usually when you are away from your desk or laptop and having a moment of rest.

Whether you’ve been busier than ever before or your business has been so quiet that you may have thought about closing down, now is the time to hit pause and take a look at everything that has happened, what could happen again, and ways in which we, your accountants, can help.

Kirkwood Wilson are here to help

We are proud to say that we have helped so many clients to get their business fully set up in the cloud, with Xero, ReceiptBank for bookkeeping, stock systems, appointment software, invoice chasing software, virtual meeting software – you name it, we’ve done.

We recommend to our customers that by building up your bank of business apps, the easier it is to stay on top of all your accounting requirements. All of these types of apps and software help with the day to day running of your business online, sometimes eliminating the need for any extra staff, sometimes even eliminating the need for a business premises. What a saving that would be!

The biggest addition to our own ‘app stack’ is Futrli, which helps to manage cash flow which in turn helps you to better manage your business and do what you love.

In these new ‘different’ times, automation of so many simple tasks is one of the main priorities for many business owners. Without doubt, these are difficult times, for many different reasons. We recognise this, and we are here to help.

If you would like help putting together your own digital support please just get in touch with us today. We can help and advise on the best software and apps available. Call the team today on 01704 546000.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme update

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) Update

Many of our clients await the details of the furlough extension and on Friday we received an update from the Chancellor. Please find below the government updates, it is important to note that from August onward the government scheme will slowly be tapered.

June and July

  • The government will continue to pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500, plus the employer National Insurance and the minimum pension contributions. This is very similar to the scheme since it commenced, however from 1 July the scheme has enhanced flexibility
  • The flexibility of the scheme from 1 July onward allows employers to bring previously furloughed employees back to work part-time, with the government continuing to pay 80% of wages for any of their normal hours they do not work up until the end of August. This flexibility has come in one month earlier than planned as it aims to get people back into work.
  • You can decide the hours and shift patterns that your employees will work on their return and you will be responsible for paying their wages in full while working. This means that employees can work as much or as little as your business needs, with no minimum time that you can furlough staff for.
  • Any working hours arrangement that you agree with your employee must cover at least one week and be confirmed to the employee in writing. We will need you to keep a track of these hours and arrangement as this information is needed for the furlough claim
  • Do not worry if your employees cannot return to work or you have no work for them as you can continue to claim as you have in prior months.

August

  • The government will continue to pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500.
  • But, employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions – for the average claim, this represents 5% of the gross employment costs that they would have incurred if the employee had not been furloughed.

September

  • The government will pay 70% of wages up to a cap of £2,187.50 for the hours the employee does not work
  • Employers will pay ER NICs, pension contributions and 10% of wages to make up 80% of the total up to a cap of £2,500.

October

  • The government will pay 60% of wages up to a cap of £1,875 for the hours the employee does not work
  • Employers will pay ER NICs, pension contributions and 20% of wages to make up 80% of the total up to a cap of £2,500.

 

It is also important to note the cap on the furlough grant will be proportional to the hours not worked.

We will continue to support you during this crisis, and we will calculate all of the claims for you over the period of time. Whether this means your employees remain fully or partially furloughed we will handle this for you. We just wanted you to be aware of the scheme changes over the coming months as the employers contribution towards wages commences in August and increases gradually until the scheme is expected to cease in October 2020.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – Improved flexibility

Late last week we were informed that the government are making changes to the furlough scheme one month earlier than originally planned.

From 1 July, employers can bring back to work employees that have previously been furloughed for any amount of time and any shift pattern, while still being able to claim the furlough grant for their normal hours not worked.

We feel this new flexibility of the scheme can significantly benefit our clients as we have had many clients furlough employees and some that have been reluctant to do so as their business cannot run without them employees.

Are you one of those businesses that have struggled to pay your staffs wages but have not yet furloughed any of your employees because of the strict criteria that ‘your employee cannot conduct ANY work if on furlough’? If so, please do get in touch!

The scheme flexibility from 1 July, allows your staff members to work per your agreed shift pattern and the remaining hours not worked would be subsidised via the furlough scheme. This means that you would only pay out the hours you can afford for your staff to work, rather than running your business into the ground.

The government have launched this flexible scheme to support businesses and to protect the UK economy and we therefore advise where possible to use this scheme if your operations have been severely affected by the coronavirus crisis.

There are key dates to be aware of as the scheme closes to new entrants from 30 June. This means the latest date your employee can first become furloughed is 10 June.

Our clients that have previously made a claim through the furlough scheme will remain entitled to the reclaim from HMRC. This information is only crucial to the employers that have not yet furloughed any employees but do expect this crisis to continue to negatively impact the business operations.

We will be creating a separate blog based on the changes to the scheme as from August to October 2020, but for now please do get in touch if you feel the above applies to you and your business.

Here at Kirkwood Wilson, we do not want any clients to suffer financially any more than they already have, and this scheme could just be that extra support you need to get through these challenging months ahead.

Digital accounting with Kirkwood Wilson

Digital bookkeeping made easy with Xero accounting

Choosing an accountant that uses Xero will open your business up to countless bookkeeping opportunities, from allowing you to access valuable pieces of information within a click of a few buttons to enabling employees to preview performance measures. Read on to find out more about Xero Accounting.

How to use Xero Accounting

Finding an accountant who uses Xero doesn’t have to be difficult. If you require an accountant with experience of using Xero accounting systems in your industry, then look no further than Kirkwood Wilson Accountants. We’ve got Xero gold partner status, are highly skilled in Xero accounting, and all things digital accounting related.

So how will Xero accounting work for your business? Here at Kirkwood Wilson, we’ve compiled the following list of examples for how to use a Xero accounting system:

  • Log into Xero to view real-time information on cash flow.
  • Make informed decisions on improving the efficiency of your business
  • Xero accounting will help you get one step ahead with Making Tax Digital (MTD).
  • Say goodbye to missing sheets of paper, with Xero accounting system you can store information in one simple place.
  • Add in customisable quotes for each task or transaction so you can easily identify transactions.
  • Effectively manage clients, including invoicing, reporting and keeping contact details.

Benefits of choosing an accountants with Xero bookkeeping

If you’re a small business owner, you might be thinking that a good way to save money is by completing your own accounting yourself. This can include late nights invoicing and getting to grips with tax returns. In some situations, rookie errors can occur.

Choosing an accountant with a strong knowledge of Xero is the surest path to effectively integrating
a Xero digital accounting system into your business. They can explain the necessary steps needed to streamline your bookkeeping.

Here are just some of the benefits of choosing a Xero gold partner, like Kirkwood Wilson:

  • Limit the chances of any ‘rookie’ errors, Xero accounting system helps digitise your accounts and invoice digitally.
  • Your accountants will help you to set up your Xero accounting system and talk you through the necessary processes.
  • Your accountants will help you to ensure you never miss a tax return deadline.
  • Your accountants will provide you with useful information about how to streamline your invoicing payments, helping with cash flow.

Get a Xero accounting system from Kirkwood Wilson Accountants

At Kirkwood Wilson Accountants, we’re dedicated to helping businesses streamline their accounts and a Xero accounting system is perfect for the job. With a click of a few buttons, businesses can access their digital bookkeeping activities and gain valuable insights on cash flow quickly and easily.

Whether on the way to a business meeting or out of the office on leave, employees can access the Xero accounting system from anywhere with an internet connection.

So if you’re on the lookout for a digital bookkeeping system and an accountant who can advise on a Xero accounting, Kirkwood Wilson Accountants can show you how Xero accounting can work for your business!

Why not speak to one of our expert Xero accounting system accountants today by calling us on 01704 546 000?

Working from home during Covid-19

It’s work, but not as we know it

I sit at my desk as I write this blog, my computer on one side of me, my printer on the other side. The window slightly ajar, I can hear the song of the birds in the trees. My phone buzzes and yep, it’s a client getting in touch as they do each quarter to find out the dreaded VAT bill.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that this was a normal day for me. I guess to some degree it is. I mean, the content of the day in many ways remains the same as it did 8 weeks ago. I still speak with Caroline more than I do the majority of my family members, the staff still groan when I make a cheesy joke mid-conversation, and I still use Xero like it’s going out of fashion.

The difference is I do it all from home.

COVID-19 has arrived in the country like some sort of bullet train and we’ve all had to adjust to this ‘new normal’ whether we like it or not.

At Kirkwood Wilson, we actually began working from home before the lockdown was announced. Dan and I spent time ensuring that we had enough WiFi dongles that everyone could get set up at home. We even had a trial day where we each tested the systems we’d be using at home so we could be certain it would be very much business as usual.

And that’s exactly what it is for us: business as usual. Yes, the scenery is different but we work as efficiently as we ever have.

Questions about Benefits-in-Kind have now been replaced with queries about the various Coronavirus help schemes introduce by HMRC. VAT returns are in the majority filed and our focus is very much on completing the furlough claims for March and April for our clients. Year-end accounts have, for the last week or so at the very least, taken a sensible back seat whilst we concentrate on transferring payroll schemes from our old systems to the new Xero Payroll software.

We have never been busier nor needed more by our clients, but I truly believe we’ve excelled in challenging circumstances. The staff have pulled together in ways I don’t think any of us could have imagined. We have an incredible team at KW and each one brings something unique to our incredibly cohesive unit. Twice weekly meetings on Zoom now start our Monday and Thursday mornings in the best way possible.

Microsoft Teams has meant that we can still keep our juniors’ knowledge expanding on a daily basis and allows us to connect with our clients to get year-end meetings boxed off and accounts out of the door. Clients remain informed of tax liabilities well in advance of their deadlines.

Clients will be missing the sound of Ash or Jo’s friendly voices as they would usually pick up the phone and pass you over to one of the staff should you have a query for us. We’re now contactable by mobile phone and I for one can vouch that my phone’s been taking a beating with phone calls the last few weeks.

What that’s meant though is for the client, everything appears seamlessly integrated with our former methods of working. The client experience, in our opinion remains as high, if not higher than ever and we really do believe this period is laying the foundations for the practise to move forward in the best shape possible.

The ‘new normal’? More than likely not forever. I for one think this will usher in a new way of working for everyone, and one in which adaptability becomes the new buzzword.

Working from home

Kirkwood Wilson logo

Update on Kirkwood Wilson and our responses to the Coronavirus pandemic

First of all, and most importantly, we sincerely hope that you are keeping in good health and managing to cope day to day with the restrictions currently in place. This pandemic certainly brings home the fact that health is the most important factor in our lives!

I thought that it would be useful to update everyone on how we at KW are coping with the crisis.

I am truly grateful that we made the important decision to move all of our operations onto ‘the cloud’ some time ago. As a result of this, we were simply able to leave the office and work from home with a very minimal amount of disruption.

We are managing to keep everyone working and have not had to furlough any of our team and, as long as our clients keep the work flowing in, then we will be able to continue with this approach. We have regular Zoom meetings with the entire team so we all know exactly where we are up to and what’s happening with you, our clients.

Here’s an update on each team:

Accounts

All of the accounts team are managing to keep on top of all of their bookkeeping, VAT and year end workload. Fortunately, 90% of our accounts clients use cloud-based software so we can carry on as normal. In other cases, there is always an innovative solution to retrieving data electronically!

All of the team are accessible on their mobiles and we have spent the last two weeks reassuring our clients, helping them plan their cashflow and advising regarding the various grants and schemes available.

Whilst we appreciate that, for many clients , the monthly bookkeeping load will reduce, we still have to prepare and submit VAT returns and year end accounts.

We intend to press on with this work so that we keep as many clients as possible up to date with the statutory duties.

Payroll

Payroll has undoubtedly been our busiest department and we would like to thank our clients for being patient whilst we have been answering the hundreds of emails requiring specific advice.

We are currently completing the payroll year ends and then we will be starting the April month ends and coping with the two short weeks for the Easter break!

Please let us have your payroll information as soon as you possibly can (this might be relatively easy if all of your team are furloughed!).

Tax

We have just started the new tax year and Ange, Julie and Kirsty are raring to go! Please let us have your tax return information as soon as possible so that we can look at your payments on account and help you with the self employed grant claim, where appropriate.

For some clients, the thought of having to pay for the tax work might deter them from providing the information. We are always happy to accommodate a payment plan to suit your needs and please talk to us about this if it is a concern.

Ad hoc work

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you simply need some advice or someone to talk to about your finances. We are here to help and we definitely won’t be raising any extra fee notes where clients need to chat.

We are all in this together and the more clients that we can help to survive this crisis, the better we will feel in the long run.

Updates are going up on our Facebook page, so please ‘like’ and follow us to keep up to date.

Finally, we would like to wish you a happy Easter and all of our best wishes in these difficult times.

Take care

Caroline and Dan

Small Business Grant Funding

The Small Business Grant Funding can now be claimed for online, please use your local councils website to access the relevant portal.

The below link will help you find which local authority you come under if you are unsure:-

Find your local authority

The details required to make the claim are as follows:

  • Company Name
  • Company Number
  • Address of Premises
  • Business Rates Account Number *
  • Property Reference Number *
  • Property Description *

*Can be found on your rates demand letter

Business Bank Account Details

You will also need to know the rateable value of the property, if you do not have a rates demand letter available, please use the link below to obtain this information:-

Find your businesses rateable value

The small business rates grant is £10,000 for businesses with little or no business rates.

The Retail and Hospitality Grant Scheme is also now open for applications which provides business in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a cash grant up to £25,000 per property.

Businesses in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value of up to £15,000 may be eligible for a grant of £10,000.

Businesses in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value of over £15,000 and less than £51,000 may be eligible for a grant of £25,000.

Please ensure you are claiming for the correct grant.

We have received feedback from clients who have made their claim that the processing time for these claims are 7 days. Once the claim has been approved the amount will be within the business bank account within 7 days of your local authority approving the claim.

We are unaware whether these timings will alter due to the level of applicants, therefore we advise you to apply ASAP. This should help you obtain the business grant within the next week or two to support your cashflow needs.

What is Furlough and how can I implement it for my Payroll?

An employee furlough refers to a temporary leave or modification of normal working hours for a specific amount of time. It’s a leave of absence given to an employee with the promise that they will still have their job once the leave is over.

There are numerous reasons why employers implement a furlough employee policy, such as plant shutdowns, seasonal work, company reorganisations and reduced demand due to COVID-19.

Don’t rush into implementing an employee furlough policy without talking to your lawyer or HR specialist first.

If you decide that putting employees on furlough is the best option for you and your employees, then you need to prepare a notification letter. Your furlough notice letter should contain the following:

  • Address – This is a formal letter, a furlough notice should clearly state the date, employee’s name, and their address
  • Purpose – State the purpose of the letter. Get straight to the point. Include the employee’s position, department, reason for the furlough, and information about any changes to employee benefits. It is advisable to tell the employee that this action does not reflect dissatisfaction in job performance
  • Detail – Explain what a furlough is, determine the length of the furlough, and communicate employee benefits during this period to employees
  • Future communication – Offer a way for the employee to keep in touch. End the letter on a positive note.

An example of a furlough letter to your employee

Here is an example of the kind of letter you might send to your employees (feel free to copy this);

(Send to employee’s address or email. Note you should discuss and record employee agreement to be Furloughed before you send this letter)

Dear [Employee name],

NI NUMBER AND / OR PAYROLL NUMBER

The purpose of this letter is to formally notify you that your position as [INSERT] on the [XXX DEPARTMENT] is being closed temporarily due to the downturn in business as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Your last official day of work will be [INSERT DAY]. Your salary and benefits will continue at their current level during the Furlough period. Please understand this action in no way reflects dissatisfaction with your job performance.

The length of this furlough is [insert future date or unknown currently].

We will provide regular information as the current Pandemic unfolds and when we return to normal working routines.

A Furlough is a short-term paid temporary leave of absence at 80% [AS APPLICABLE] of current salary. The furlough period and provisions may be changed or terminated at the sole discretion of the Company, and does not create any employment contract, express or implied.

During the furlough period, your pension and other benefits will continue [IF APPLICABLE].

Thank you for your contributions to the business and if I can help in any way, please contact me.

Yours Sincerely,

[insert signature]

PLEASE NOTE: THIS IS AN EXAMPLE ONLY AND SHOULD NOT BE RELIED UPON UNTIL YOU HAVE CONFIRMED CONTENTS WITH YOUR LAWYERS AND / OR HR SPECIALISTS. WE RECOMMEND SEEKING HR ADVICE WITH ALL EMPLOYMENT MATTERS

Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS)

This blog is for people who have income from self employment whether that be as a sole trader or partnership.

On Thursday, the Chancellor announced a further support package for the Self-Employed, the Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS). We have tried to summarise the information provided as much as possible, and we understand that there will still be many questions from clients.

We believe that the main reason for the delay in this information being delivered is because it has been so difficult to devise a scheme that is fair to all, and a solution that could be implemented quickly and as efficiently as possible.

Firstly, we must clarify that being a Limited Company director does NOT mean that you are self-employed. Self-employed is defined as follows (taken from the HMRC website);

“A person is self-employed if they run their business for themselves and take responsibility for its success or failure.

Self-employed workers aren’t paid through PAYE, and they don’t have the employment rights and responsibilities of employees.”

Here are the main points of the scheme:

  • You must be self-employed or a member of a partnership to qualify, and STILL be trading now
  • Your loss in trading profits MUST be because of the Covid-19 pandemic
  • Your trading profits MUST be under £50,000 for 18/19 OR the average (under £50,000) over years 16/17, 17/18 and 18/19 (they are the only 2 options, you cannot pick and choose years)
  • This grant is available for 3 months and maybe extended
  • The maximum payment per month is £2,500
  • Self-employment needs to be the majority of your overall income to qualify.

Individuals who have registered as self-employed from 6th April 19 will NOT qualify

Access to the scheme will be available no later than the beginning of June and HMRC will contact those that qualify directly, guidance specifies that you should NOT contact HMRC to check eligibility. A form will be completed, and the payments will be paid directly into your bank account. 3 months payments (for March, April and May) will be made in June. The scheme may be extended.

Some of the questions that we have had so far:

What if I haven’t filed my 18/19 tax return? – You have until 26th March 20 to file it – without penalty.

Will I have to pay tax on the money I receive? – Yes, the amount MUST be disclosed on your 20/21 tax return.

I haven’t made a profit in the last 3 years, what can I claim? – You will not be able to claim anything under this scheme.

How can I prove that I’ve lost income because of the Coronavirus?

Unfortunately, this is not something with a defined answer. People are being advised to take a “responsible approach”, and when your tax return for 20/21 is filed, checks will be made to find that you did make a reasonable loss. No information has been released on whether there will be penalties for any ‘inaccurate’ information submitted.

If you need help with your business in the interim, the Business Interruption Loans are available. These will need to be paid back, however they are interest free for 12 months.

We will of course help all our clients through this process however please bear with us as the details of how this will work are yet to be released. Please keep checking our Facebook page for updates.