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Who cares what you think?

Are testimonials worth anything?

Many websites include “testimonials” from “customers”, but do they have any worth?  If you want to attract new business it is good to be able to publish positive feedback, which helps demonstrate the value that other customers find in your service.  The problem is that if reviews are obviously edited and self-selected they are not obviously representative of the views of your customers.  Single line reviews taken out of context can be particularly misleading!
Top Rated certificate for accountant Tim Alter of Alterledger Ltd, Glasgow

Use external review sites

One of the best-known review sites is tripadvisor.  The greatest strength of these reviews is that hotels and restaurants etc have no control over the reviews.  They have the opportunity to respond to criticism, but can’t cherry-pick the best reviews to give a false impression.  The Pensions Regulator website is keen to point out that “private sector organisations we link to are not endorsed by Government and are provided for information only”; however it is worth noting that they include a link to VouchedFor on their advice page for individuals and in their guide to finding an advisor for Pension Auto Enrolment.

VouchedFor

If you are looking for a hotel you would probably prefer to check tripadvisor rather than lot of different websites for reviews.  VouchedFor works along similar lines to tripadvisor, but for Accountants, Financial Advisors and Solicitors.  Professionals who have a listing on the site must confirm that they recognise the name / email address of any reviewer before the review is posted online.  Just like tripadvisor the professionals can’t read the review until is online so they can’t edit out any negative feedback and poor scores.

Tim Alter appeared in the guide in The Sunday Telegraph on March 29th. You can also read all his great client reviews on his VouchedFor profile!

Auto Enrolment

Many small businesses will need professional advice to help them set up a pension scheme to comply with Auto Enrolment regulations.  If you are an employer and still need to prepare for your staging date, you can use an Accountant or Financial Adviser to guide you through the process.  For help with setting up your payroll and preparing for your staging date, please contact Alterledger.

Letters for under 21s

Changes for employees under 21

From 6th April 2015 employer national insurance contributions will be abolished for under 21s.  If you employ anyone over 16 and under 21 years old you will need to use one of the new letters for under 21s in the national insurance category setting of your payroll software.

English: British National Insurance stamp.

English: British National Insurance stamp. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Secondary contribution rates

This table shows how much employers pay towards employees’ National Insurance for tax year 2014 to 2015.  The contribution rate calculated by your payroll software is set by the category letter.

Category letter £111 to £153

a week

£153.01 to £770

a week

£770.01 to £805

a week

From £805.01

a week

A 0% 13.8% 13.8% 13.8%
B 0% 13.8% 13.8% 13.8%
C 0% 13.8% 13.8% 13.8%
D 3.4% rebate 10.4% 13.8% 13.8%
E 3.4% rebate 10.4% 13.8% 13.8%
J 0% 13.8% 13.8% 13.8%
L 3.4% rebate 10.4% 13.8% 13.8%

National insurance categories

Most employees will have a category letter of A or D depending on whether or not they are in a contracted-out workplace pension scheme.  There are categories for mariners and deep-sea fisherman; the more common categories are shown below:

Employees in a contracted-out workplace pension scheme

Category letter Employee group
D All employees apart from those in groups E, C and L in this table
E Married women and widows entitled to pay reduced National Insurance
C Employees over the State Pension age
L Employees who can defer National Insurance because they’re already paying it in another job

Employees not in contracted-out pension schemes

Category letter Employee group
A All employees apart from those in groups B, C and J in this table
B Married women and widows entitled to pay reduced National Insurance
C Employees over the State Pension age
J Employees who can defer National Insurance because they’re already paying it in another job

Employees in a money-purchase contracted-out scheme

This kind of scheme ended in April 2012 but some employees might still be part of one.

Category letter Employee group
F Tax years before 2012 to 2013 only: all employees apart from the ones in groups G, C and S in this table
G Tax years before 2012 to 2013 only: married women and widows entitled to pay reduced National Insurance
C Employees over the State Pension age
S Tax years before 2012 to 2013 only: employees who can defer National Insurance because they’re already paying it in another job

How to claim zero rate of employer contributions

You should already have proof of age for all your employees.  A copy of a passport, driving licence or birth certificate will be required to show that your employee qualifies for the new zero rate of employer’s contribution.  The seven new categories are valid from 6th April and must be applied from the first salary payment after 5th April 2015 to benefit from the new zero contribution rate for employers.

What does this have to do with Auto Enrolment?

You need to have proof of age for all your employees aged under 21 to claim the zero contribution rate for employer’s National Insurance.  By the time of your staging date you must assess all your workers, based on their earnings and age.  To help you prepare for Pension Auto Enrolment you can make sure that all your employee records are up to date and that your payroll software has the full details for all workers including their date of birth.  This is a good opportunity to clean up all your employee data.

Alterledger can help

For more information on saving employer’s national insurance and preparing for Pension Auto Enrolment, contact Alterledger or visit the website alterledger.com.

 

Pension annual allowance

Carrying forward unused pension annual allowance

Money that you pay into a UK registered pension scheme or qualifying pension scheme receives tax relief.  Personal pension contributions are paid from your earnings after tax and the pension provider reclaims the 20% tax suffered.  All employers will soon be required to offer pension schemes to employees, so now is a good time to think about what you can contribute to your pension scheme.

Anyone can make (gross) contributions each year of £3,600, but above this threshold the maximum you can put into the fund is 100% of Net Relevant Earnings (NRE).  Tax relief on contributions is only available up to the Annual Allowance (including any Annual Allowance carried forward).

Tax Year 2011/12
£
2012/13
£
2013/14
£
2014/15
£
Annual Allowance 50,000 50,000 50,000 40,000

Carry-forward relief

Any unused annual allowance can be carried forward provided you were a member of a registered pension scheme, or qualifying overseas pension scheme during the year.  The carry-forward relief can be used for any unused allowance from the previous 3 tax years.  Assuming you were a member of  a pension scheme, but didn’t have any contributions (personal or employer’s) in the tax years from 2011-12 up to 2013-/14, it would be possible to have total contributions of £190,000 in 2014/15.

 Net Relevant Earnings

  • Earnings from employment
  • Benefits in kind
  • Self-employed profits as a sole trader
  • Share of profits from a partnership
  • Any profit from furnished holidaylettings
    • Less allowable business expenses

Alterledger can help

Alterledger can explain the tax implication of pension contributions for employers and individuals.  Contact Alterledger or visit the website alterledger.com for more information.
 

Employers and their staging date

Staging Date

A process started in 2012 which means eventually, all UK employers will be obliged to enrol all their eligible employees into a contributory pension scheme, known as Auto Enrolment.  This obligation is already being phased in, starting with the biggest employers.  The commencement date for an employer’s obligation to provide a contributory pension scheme is known as the staging date.

The government has said that no small employers (those with fewer than 50 employees) will be affected before the end of the current Parliament.  The general election will be on 7th May so we are nearly there.  Employers will be able to meet this obligation in any way they choose, but one way will be through a government-sponsored National Employment Savings Trust ( NEST ), a simple, low-cost scheme with very limited fund choice, and initial restrictions on transfers and contribution levels.  NESTs will be operated by the NEST Corporation, a not-for-profit trustee body, and will be regulated by the Pensions Regulator.

Alterledger can help

Alterledger can help you prepare for your staging and manage your auto enrolment process along with your payroll once everything is up and running.  Contact Alterledger or visit the website alterledger.com for more information.
 

Common Auto Enrolment mistakes..

https://stevejbicknell.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/14975526361_d496e12032_m.jpg

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has recently highlight the following problem areas:

  1. Employer forgeting to do the declaration of compliance within 5 months of staging, many employers wrongly assumed that registering on the Government Gateway was enough.
  2. Confusion caused by running multiple payrolls for the same employer for example weekly and monthly
  3. Completing the declaration of compliance but without choosing a pension provider
  4. Omitting self employed workers who have a contract to provide work personally

steve@bicknells.net

Automatic enrolment: large employers are all in

ae-logo-255x60

The Pension Regulator’s latest post…..

Our report on the impact of automatic enrolment reveals that 99% of all the UK’s largest employers met their legal duties without the need for us to use our statutory powers.

This is encouraging news as thousands of medium employers are currently reaching their staging dates. We will continue to work over the months ahead to ensure that medium and small employers understand their obligations, comply with their legal duties and continue to view non-compliance by other employers as unacceptable
Are you ready for Auto Enrolment?

steve@bicknells.net

 

How does Auto Enrolment Postponement work?

Procrastination - do it now or tomorrow sticky note

You can choose to postpone automatic enrolment for up to three months for some or all of your staff. You must write to your staff to tell them you’re postponing automatic enrolment for them. One of the times you can postpone is from your staging date.

Key points

  • You can postpone automatic enrolment for up to three months from certain dates.
  • If you postpone from your staging date, your staging date does not change.
  • If you choose to postpone from your staging date, you must write to tell the staff who will be postponed within six weeks of your staging date.

Why Postpone?

  • Its unlikely that your payroll processing period will match your staging date, most staging dates are the 1st of the month but many payrolls are weekly, it makes sense to start auto enrolment on a pay processing date
  • If you have short term staff or you are a temp agency you will probably postpone in order to avoid unnecessarily assessing staff who will leave within the postponement period
  • You may also postpone to reduce auto enrolment pension payments and admin
  • You can choose any business reason

When can you postpone?

You can only postpone automatic enrolment from:

  • your staging date
  • a staff member’s first day of employment
  • the date a staff member first becomes eligible for automatic enrolment.

If you postpone from your staging date, it doesn’t change your staging date.

Staff whose automatic enrolment you’ve postponed can choose to opt in to your pension scheme during the postponement period.

The Pension Regulator has further details

Don’t mess this up, if you don’t get postponement right…..

  1. You will get a Warning
  2. Followed by a penalty of £400
  3. Followed by fines of £500 to £2,500 per day (depending on the number of employees)

Even the smallest business will get fines of £50 per day!

steve@bicknells.net

You will initially be given a warning, which will be followed by a fixed penalty of £400. Not too severe so far, but then the penalties shoot up for those companies who still fail to comply.

If you employ between 50 and 249 employees the fine for on-going non-compliance is a whopping £2,500 per day. For businesses with fewer employees, between five and 49 the penalty is still £500 per day and even the smallest of businesses will be fined £50 per day.

– See more at: http://www.investmentsense.co.uk/automatic-enrolment-6-reasons-why-auto-enrolment-shouldnt-be-treated-like-your-tax-return/#sthash.KVkekovC.dpuf

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