HB&O Headlines - July 2018

20th July 2018

Auditing in the spotlight - why quality and independence has never been more important
The quality of audits has been in the spotlight recently, particularly following the collapse of Carillion. The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) has announced it will now inspect a quarter of KPMG’s audits, following its Big Four Audit Quality Review, which highlighted the need for audit quality to improve at the big four firms.

This is an important reminder to us all of the need to maintain high standards and it’s something we don’t take for granted in our team. We’ve just completed our annual independent review of our audit service and we’re pleased with the inspector’s interim findings. This external inspection is something we have chosen to do as a firm, rather than simply relying on internal peer review which is an option for firms of our size. Audits must be comprehensive, and they must be robust – our external review ensures we are held to account and that we provide a consistently high quality of service across both offices.

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Planning for an uncertain future

planning for an uncertain future
Anyone following the news at the moment can see that these are uncertain times – not least in politics. Despite some progress this week, there’s no immediate sign of the Brexit negotiations becoming any more settled, and with an international trade war on the cards, businesses can expect continued economic uncertainty in the coming months. 
Consequently, it would be easy for the UK to talk itself into a recession, but while the latest quarterly figures released by the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce indicate a dip in confidence, the region is still showing strong performance.
In such uncertain times, it’s important to be aware of potential changes in the market and plan accordingly, but focus on what is tangible and achievable at the current time. In other words, continue doing what you do well, with a healthy dose of risk management incorporated to survive in a challenging business landscape.
Read more for a summary of some of the tools and techniques businesses can employ to minimise risk and deliver sustainable growth.
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HB&O dispels R&D Tax Credits myths at TechCentral Seminar

In partnership with TechCentral, HB&O recently invited local businesses to an informative seminar designed to increase awareness and uptake of R&D Tax Credits, amid news that only 1% of eligible small businesses are currently taking advantage of the relief.
Neil Allcroft, Senior Tax Manager and R&D specialist at HB&O, began by busting the myths related to R&D claims and making it clear that this is not a relief dedicated to ‘white coat research’. Neil provided clear guidance on the breadth of activities that could be considered for a claim, and answered questions about the impact of funding, failure and profits on a potential claim.
Neil Allcroft said: “Businesses often think that they can’t claim if they’ve been paid to do the work, or if they’ve failed to achieve what they were seeking to achieve. That’s simply not the case. And companies don’t have to be profitable to claim either – but they must be a going concern.”
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Are you confident you could spot a cyber crime?

With cyber crime becoming ever more advanced, HB&O is pleased to invite you to a free seminar - incorporating a live hack - to help protect you and your business from a cyber attack.

Run in conjunction with OmniCyber Security, the seminar will offer an insight into the types of data traded on the dark web, and ways to ensure your information doesn't end up there.

Sarah Wilson, Leamington Director, HB&O said: "Having recently attended an insightful training session run by OmniCyber Security, we are keen to share this important information with our clients. Our seminar will demonstrate how educated hackers target individuals and companies and how to reduce your vulnerability."

The seminar will be led by Louie Augarde, senior security consultant at OmniCyber Security, who has eight years in the cyber security field and a background in ethical hacking. As well as explaining the various techniques used by cyber criminals, risks will be brought to life in a 'live hack', to show in real time how hackers can compromise systems and data. 

We will be running two free seminars, one in Leamington and one in Coventry.

The Leamington Seminar will be held at Mallory Court, Harbury Lane, Royal Leamington Spa, Warwickshire CV33 9QB on Monday 24th September.

The Coventry Seminar will be held at Coombe Abbey, Brinklow Rd, Binley, Coventry CV3 2AB on Tuesday 2nd October.

Register for the event here

HMRC approves 18 MTD software suppliers

HMRC has released a list of approved Making Tax Digital (MTD) software developers for VAT-registered businesses to use from next year.

More than 35 suppliers had software available for testing in the first phase of HMRC's pilot scheme.

Out of those 35 suppliers, 18 have been approved, including those that we work with as an Approved Partner, which is Xero, as well as a number of other well known providers such as Sage and Intuit.

Businesses with annual taxable turnover of more than £85,000 will be required to maintain digital records for VAT and submit quarterly returns from 1 April 2019. Firms with taxable turnover below the VAT-registration threshold will not have to operate MTD, although they can do so voluntarily.
The pilot will be reopened later this year up to allow more businesses and agents to test the software and MTD processes. The Revenue previously confirmed businesses will be allowed to continue using spreadsheets for record-keeping, but they will need to ensure the spreadsheet can submit MTD updates. This is likely to be done through use of an application programming interface (API), which will enable commercial software to share data with HMRC's servers.

If you would like to talk through your options, please get in touch with your usual Harrison Beale and Owen contact who will be able to advise you accordingly.

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Three top tips to improve your cyber security

Cyber security is never far from the headlines, with TicketMaster and Dixons Carphone being among those affected by cyber-attacks in the last few weeks. 
The new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has shone a spotlight on the importance of security to avoid loss of data – and the implications of a serious security breach can be costly, both in fines and downtime.
Encouragingly, a study by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) found that 93% of SMEs have some form of cyber security measures in place; ranging from security software to a crisis plan and cyber insurance policies. But while these measures are important, prevention is better than cure, and the more we can do to minimise the risk of attack, the better.
With remote working increasingly becoming the norm, and more organisations relying on cloud services, it’s important to stay on top of the latest tools and techniques available to help ensure you and your team are doing all you can to reduce the risk of a hack.
Read more for three top tips from our IT expert, Ryan Butler, to help reduce your risk of attack.
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HB&O Financial Services team expands in response to growing demand for mortgage services

HB&O’s Financial Services team has appointed Julie Bird as a Mortgage and Compliance Administrator to assist Ian Chetwynd in managing our independent mortgage broking service. Julie brings many years’ experience in a previous mortgage role, and her support is already enabling our team to respond to growing demand as our mortgage service moves into its third year.

Mortgage applications and completions have increased year on year since HB&O Financial Services launched the mortgage broking offering in 2016. 

The team is now working on product transfers and remortgages for existing clients as their original deals are coming to an end, as well as handling new enquiries.
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HB&O takes part in #LiftLeamington to celebrate 30 years of Motionhouse


Photos by Motionhouse

Motionhouse, the international dance company based in Leamington, visited both the Leamington and Coventry HB&O offices on Wednesday 11th July, as HB&O took part in their #LiftLeamington campaign to celebrate their 30th anniversary.

As a charity, the company rely on support and donations to continue their fantastic work both locally, nationally and globally.
Their £30 For 30 Years fundraising campaign has sparked a range of community events and HB&O is proud to be a part of the celebrations.


The pros and cons of letting furnished holiday accommodation

When furnished holiday property is let on a commercial basis for short periods, the owner can benefit from tax reliefs which wouldn’t otherwise be available to residential landlords, providing certain conditions are met. However, there are also several disadvantages associated with letting property as holiday accommodation, whether or not the furnished holiday letting conditions are met.
HMRC regards furnished holiday lettings as a trade, which can therefore qualify for tax reliefs that don’t apply to other types of lettings. These can include increased pension contributions, capital allowances or reduced capital gains, although these are subject to certain conditions. These potential benefits need to be considered alongside certain disadvantages that come from letting furnished holiday accommodation, such as being subject to business rates rather than council tax when the accommodation is let for more than 140 days in England, plus a variety of planning restrictions.
For more information, take a look at our furnished holiday lettings update.
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