Welcome to our round up of the latest business news for our clients. Please contact us if you want to talk about how these updates affect your business. We are here to support you!
2023 – A Year for Resilience?
Firstly, we wish all our clients a healthy and prosperous New Year!
In 2022, despite the troubles with the economy, we have been amazed at the resilience of our clients and how they have energetically moved their businesses into new areas, products and services. Many of our clients have redesigned delivery and payment systems, moved their entire processes digital, accepted remote working and adopted to new technologies to survive and indeed prosper.
You have demonstrated to us how we can all readily adapt to a change in circumstances and have given us inspiration and optimism for the future. We hope that by this time next year we will be back to where we want to be, and the economy will return to some kind of normality again.
For January we are encouraging all clients to take time to prepare a 2023 Strategic plan and set up your targets for success!
“A sailor without a destination will never get a favourable wind”
It is easier to get to your destination with a plan. We all know this simple truth. If you are driving from A to B it helps to know where B is and the direction you need to take.
If you have a vision of what you want your business to look like when it is “complete” then you are able to drive your business towards the vision and you can monitor how you are doing as you go along.
If you do not have a strategic plan, you could get blown around like flotsam in the sea, “this way and that way”, without any control.
If you agree it is hard to accomplish anything without a plan, let’s start thinking about putting one in place. A plan looks at all the things a business could do and narrows it down to the things it is actually good at doing. A strategic plan also helps you determine where to spend time, resources and money.
How do you do a strategic plan?
- Take time to review your own personal objectives – the business is there to provide you with what you want from life; do not forget this.
- Look at where you are now: your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, so you have a clear understanding of your position in the marketplace, the competition, your systems, the way you do things, what you are good at, and what you are not.
- Focus on where you want to be (say) in 2 years: what you want your business to look like when it is running profitably and successfully. Then you can determine your priorities – the big issues that you need to focus on. This is the strategic plan!
- Write down your vision and define what you must achieve and the actions you need to take. Monitor how you are doing each month, noting which actions have been completed and what needs to be done to keep you moving forward.
- Allocate responsibility for taking the actions.
- Review and adjust your regular activities to keep you on track.
We have useful tools and checklists to help you analyse where you are now, set a strategy, agree actions, and monitor them. Please talk to us about how we can help you achieve your goals – we have helped many other businesses grow and succeed!
More Time to Prepare for Making Tax Digital for Income Tax Self-Assessment
The mandatory use of software for Making Tax Digital for Income Tax Self-Assessment is being phased in from April 2026.
Making Tax Digital (MTD) for Income Tax Self-Assessment (ITSA) was due to be phased in from April 2024. However, the government, recognising the current economic environment and the significant change that a transition to Making Tax Digital represents, has pushed this back to April 2026. In addition, the previously announced £10,000 threshold for self-employment and property income has been raised, as detailed below.
Under MTD for ITSA, businesses, self-employed individuals, and landlords will keep digital records, and send a quarterly summary of their business income and expenses to HMRC using MTD-compatible software. In response, they will receive an estimated tax calculation based on the information provided to help them budget for their tax. At the end of the year, they can add any non-business information and finalise their tax affairs. This will replace the need for a Self-Assessment tax return.
Making Tax Digital from April 2026
From April 2026, self-employed individuals and landlords with an income of more than £50,000 will be required to keep digital records and provide quarterly updates on their income and expenditure to HMRC through MTD-compatible software.
Making Tax Digital from April 2027
Those with an income of between £30,000 and £50,000 will need to do this from April 2027. Most customers will be able to join voluntarily beforehand, meaning they can eliminate common errors and save time managing their tax affairs.
Income below the £30,000 threshold
The government has also announced a review into the needs of smaller businesses, particularly those under the £30,000 income threshold. The review will consider how MTD for ITSA can be shaped to meet the needs of these smaller businesses and the best way for them to fulfil their Income Tax obligations. It will also inform the approach for any further rollout of MTD for ITSA after April 2027.
Mandating of MTD for ITSA will not be extended to general partnerships in 2025 as previously announced.
Safety Net for Horizon Europe Applicants Extended
The UK government has extended the Horizon Europe guarantee to provide a financial safety net for successful Horizon Europe applicants. The guarantee will be in place to cover all Horizon Europe calls that close on or before 31 March 2023.
The extension will ensure that eligible Horizon Europe awardees will continue to be guaranteed funding, supporting them to continue their important work in research and innovation.
Eligible, successful Horizon Europe UK applicants will receive the full value of their funding at their UK host institution for the lifetime of the grant. Awardees will be able to remain in the UK to receive this funding, which will provide reassurance for future collaborations, and support UK researchers whether UK association to Horizon Europe is confirmed, or otherwise.
Government Extends Mortgage Guarantee Scheme
The Mortgage Guarantee Scheme will be extended by a year to the end of December 2023, helping people with 5% deposits on to the property ladder.
Under the scheme the government offers lenders the financial guarantees they need to provide mortgages that cover the other 95%, subject to the usual affordability checks, on a house worth up to £600,000.
Launched in April 2021, the scheme has already helped over 24,000 households. It was originally planned to close at the end of 2022 but will now be extended until the end of 2023.
Know Where Your Old Stamps Are?
Royal Mail are adding barcodes to their regular stamps. After 31 January 2023, regular stamps without a barcode will no longer be valid. You can either use up these stamps before this deadline or swap them for the new barcoded ones.
The stamps that are changing are the stamps (pictured below) that will be familiar to you. They feature the profile of Her Late Majesty The Queen on a plain coloured background.
Consultation on R&D Tax Reliefs Draft Guidance
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has published draft guidance ahead of the implementation of reforms to the Research and Development (R&D) tax reliefs on 1 April 2023
To ensure the guidance is as helpful as possible, HMRC is inviting comments from any individuals or organisations who make use of or provide tax agent services for R&D tax reliefs.
The guidance clarifies technical aspects of how the reforms will work in practice and includes a list of the additional information that will be required for claims.
Customs Declaration Service Exporter Deadline Extended
Following consultation with the border industry, exporters will now have until 30 November 2023 to move across to the Customs Declaration Service (CDS), 8 months later than previously announced.
After 30 November 2023, businesses will need to use CDS to make export declarations for goods they send out of the UK, as they already do for import declarations.
CDS has been running since 2018 and is already being used for making import declarations when moving goods into the UK.
The service will replace the Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) service, representing a significant upgrade by providing businesses with a more user-friendly, streamlined system that offers greater functionality.
HMRC will provide further information about the timeline for CDS exports by the end of January.
Changes to Flexible Working Requests
Employees in Britain will be able to request flexible working from day one of their employment, under new government plans to make flexible working the default.
Flexible working doesn’t just mean a combination of working from home and in the office – it can mean employees making use of job-sharing, flexitime, and working compressed, annualised, or staggered hours.
Workers on contracts with a guaranteed weekly income on or below the Lower Earnings Limit will also be protected from enforced exclusivity clauses, which restrict workers from having multiple employers.
The new legislation, backed in the government’s response to the Making flexible working the default consultation, will also remove the requirement for employees to set out the effects of their flexible working requests to employers.
Visas for Seasonal Workers
45,000 visas for seasonal workers will be available for businesses this year, the UK Government confirmed, providing a lift for the UK’s horticulture industry.
The allocation will allow businesses to recruit foreign workers to come to the UK for up to six months through the Seasonal Worker visa route – an uplift of 15,000 compared to what was available to businesses at the start of 2022.
Businesses to be Given UK Product Marking Flexibility
Businesses will be given an additional 2 years to apply new product safety marking.
The UK Conformity Assessed (UKCA) marking has been introduced as part of the UK’s own robust regulatory framework. It shows that products comply with product safety regulations which are designed to protect consumers.
However, given the difficult economic conditions the UK Government does not want to burden business with the requirement to meet the original 31 December 2022 deadline.
The UK Government will continue to recognise the CE marking for 2 years, therefore allowing businesses until 31 December 2024 to prepare for the UKCA marking. Businesses can also use the UKCA marking, giving them flexibility to choose which marking to apply.
Help to Grow: Digital Scheme
Help to Grow: Digital is a UK-wide scheme to help small and medium-sized businesses adopt digital technologies proven to increase productivity.
The scheme offers:
- free, impartial advice and guidance about what digital technology is best suited to your business and how it can boost your business’ performance; and
- targeted financial support, if your business is eligible, worth up to £5,000 towards the costs of buying approved digital technologies.
Help to Grow: Digital will close to new business applications for discounts on 2 February 2023. Discounts issued for eligible software must be redeemed within 30 days from issue date.
Funding for Novel, Low-Emission Food Production Systems
Part of Innovate UK’s Plan for Action, this competition aims to support the development of novel production systems that create new sources of resource efficient, low-emission foods, particularly proteins, while delivering healthy and sustainable diets.
To be eligible, projects must progress emerging novel food production systems towards commercial viability and ability to supply mainstream consumer markets.
Projects must have the potential to significantly shift the current state of the art in one or more of the following six priority areas:
- plant based products or production systems;
- acellular food production, for example, algal, bacterial or fungal fermentation systems;
- cellular food production, for example, cell culture systems for meat production;
- novel aquaculture systems, for example, fin-fish and shell-fish;
- new food production systems, for example, insect farming, seaweed cultivation and other alternatives to traditional animal production systems; or
- Total Controlled Environment Agriculture (TCEA) systems.
The competition opens on 18 January and closes on 19 April 2023.
Inverclyde Council Business Support Schemes
Inverclyde Council has a number of business support schemes:
- Boost Area Start-Up Grant – a start-up grant of £1,000 for businesses that are starting to trade in the area, for applicants who reside in the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) postcode areas 1 or 2. The grant can be used for capital expenditure or as a contribution towards the start-up costs of the business, including working capital.
- The property Assistance Scheme offers a grant of up to £10,000 for businesses that trade from commercial properties in the area. The grant can be used for signage, security and improvements to business properties.
- A marketing grant to cover up to 50% of eligible costs, to a maximum of £500, for businesses that trade in the area.
- Financial assistance to help businesses in the area achieve specific business growth objectives. The fund can cover up to 50% of eligible capital expenditure costs, with a maximum contribution of £5,000.
- A grant for tourism businesses that trade in the area. The fund can cover up to 50% of capital expenditure costs, to a maximum of £5,000.
- New Business Start-Up Grant – a grant to cover up to 50% of eligible costs, to a maximum of £500, for businesses that are starting to trade in the area.
- Business Training Grant – a training grant to cover up to 50% of eligible costs for businesses that trade in the area, to a maximum of £2,000. To be eligible, the training should be aimed at management and key workers who have a competency level around Vocational Qualification Level 3.
- Special Intervention Loan Fund – interest-free loans of between £5,000 and £25,000, repayable over 5 years, to businesses that trade in the area. The loans can be used to promote the sustainability, development or growth of the business.
East Lothian – Interest-Free Business Loans
Interest-free loans are available to businesses in East Lothian through East Lothian Investments Ltd (ELI), an arms-length company of East Lothian Council governed by a board of directors. The ELI loan fund is open to all sectors and businesses at all stages (including startups) that are based in East Lothian.
You can apply for a loan of up to a maximum of £25,000, with a normal repayment term of 60 months. Payments will be collected by direct debit on the first day of the month. An initial repayment holiday may be available if required and agreed to at the application stage.
Deadline dates for new applications are set every 6 to 8 weeks. To apply, you should complete an application form and personal statement, then you will be contacted by the fund manager to discuss these in more detail. The completed application and any supporting information will then be presented to the board of directors to decide whether to award or decline the loan.
If your application is approved, there is a 5% arrangement fee that you’ll need to pay before you receive the funds.
Techscaler is a Scottish Government programme that connects tech startups in Scotland with experts who will help them grow and scale their businesses.
Techscaler membership provides tailored support for founders and leaders of tech startups. Benefits of becoming a member include:
- educational courses,
- resources and playbooks,
- one-to-one mentoring,
- a dedicated founder community,
- access to a network of experts,
- flexible workspace options, and
- invitations to events and meetups.
If you’re still at the idea stage, you can also join the Techscaler Community to access open community discussions and events, introductory courses, and video interviews with tech founders.
The programme is operated by Codebase, in partnership with organisations such as Barclays Eagle Labs and Reforge.
Renfrewshire Coronavirus Business Support Fund
The Renfrewshire Coronavirus Business Support Fund is a £1.3 million Renfrewshire Council package of interest-free loans and grants that provide immediate help to businesses affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. It has been developed following detailed discussion with 500 local businesses and is designed to make the biggest difference in the short term to businesses and self-employed people, with all applicants receiving tailored guidance from in-house Business Gateway advisers.
The fund comprises:
- Business Restart Loan – The Business Restart Loan offers small and start-up businesses and self-employed people with interest-free loans between £1,000 and £5,000, repayable up to 3 years, to assist with short-term cashflow. Eligible businesses will have been adversely affected by coronavirus and not be in receipt of any other coronavirus loan fund. The loans are provided in partnership with Right Way Credit Union.
- Business Resilience Grant – The Business Resilience Grant is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund. It provides a 50% match-funded grant ranging from £1,000 up to £10,000 to support small and medium-sized businesses, including the self-employed, to meet changed objectives and plans for growth. This includes the purchase of new equipment, property expansion or improvements and the costs to exhibit or develop new products and processes. To qualify for support, the business must operate from a commercial premise in Renfrewshire.
The Business Restart Loan is repayable over up to 3 years. The Business Resilience Grant is a match-funded grant. It is free to apply.
Climate Action for Business Programme
Business in the Community (BITC) and Be the Business are hosting a series of free workshops that offer climate action advice and training for small and medium-sized business owners in Scotland. You will learn how to develop a climate action plan for your business, measure your carbon footprint and reduce your emissions.
Designed specifically for business leaders, the programme includes:
- 4 x 2-hour long interactive workshops in January and February 2023,
- support from peers and mentors, and
- information and resources.
The workshops will take place on:
- 26 January 2023,
- 2 February 2023,
- 9 February 2023, and
- 23 February 2023.
See: Overview ⋮ Climate Action for Business ⋮ Blackthorn ⋮ Events
This is a 10-month programme aimed at leaders from small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the manufacturing industry.
The programme addresses 4 interdependent priority areas for Scottish manufacturing:
- collaboration and networks,
- supply chains and competitiveness,
- adaption and transformation, and
- skills and workforce.
The programme offers a series of 5 in-person workshops focused on improving core capabilities including leadership, strategy, operational, digital and innovation. These one-to-many workshops are delivered by Scottish Enterprise’s specialist teams and will take place in Edinburgh.
The programme starts in early February 2023 and lasts for 10 months. Participants are expected to engage with the cohort throughout the programme.
See: Manufacturing Excellence (findbusinesssupport.gov.scot)