Get ready for mandatory carbon reporting
In 2013, large businesses will be hit hard by new mandatory greenhouse gas emission reporting regulations. But smaller businesses will bear some of the impact too. Why is this, and what should you be worried about?
Energy management standards
Yet another standard for reducing your environmental impact has been introduced. ISO 50001 is designed to cut your energy use. So how might it help your business, and is it worth adhering to?
Should you use recycled printer cartridges?
Recent research has identified that there are financial and green benefits associated with using recycled, rather than brand new, printer cartridges. So is this a practical option that you should consider?
Environmental performance report
The Environment Agency (EA) has published its annual Sustainable Business Report, which identifies the number of environmental incidents, prosecutions and more. What can be learned from it?
Low carbon tyres
If you’re in the market for new car tyres, thanks to new European legislation it’s now easier to identify those which can lead to improved fuel efficiency. What should you look for and is it worth going for the greener options?
Compare the waste Meerkat
In recent months a number of comparison websites that help you to find a good waste disposal deal have appeared. Are they worth a look?
The Green Deal won’t work for all
The view of the Federation of Small Businesses is that high interest rates and long payback times may scupper the government’s Green Deal for small and medium-sized businesses. So should you avoid it?
Selling a VATable property can cost you dear
It’s time to move premises and you’ve found a buyer for your old one. But your accountant says if you sell to them you’ll have to repay some of the VAT you reclaimed when you bought the property. Why? And can you get around this trap?
IHT planning with home equity release
Despite the Taxman’s efforts, it’s still possible to use your home for Inheritance Tax planning. One option is to use an equity release scheme. This can be in the form of a loan or a sale and lease back. What are the pros and cons of each?
Taxman loses battle over NI on car allowances
A court recently ruled that the Taxman was wrong to charge NI on round sum car allowances. But as he’s unlikely to volunteer a refund where you’ve overpaid, what steps do you need to take to get your money back?
Can a stock-take save you tax?
If your company’s financial year-end is approaching, you’ll probably already be thinking about the dreaded stock-take. How can you turn this annual chore into an opportunity to save Corporation Tax?
Useful online VAT services
Until now, the Taxman’s online VAT services have been basic, but he’s recently added some genuinely useful tools. What’s to know?
How to beat the lower pension recycling limit
Recycling (reinvesting) your pension lump sum is a simple way to boost the value of your retirement nest egg, but it’s subject to limits which were reduced in April. So how do you now maximise the recycling tax break?
When can a new company pay dividends?
As a general rule, dividends are the most tax efficient way to get income out of your company. But these can only be paid where you’re making a profit. So what will the Taxman say if you pay dividends from a loss-making company?
Employers’ Liability insurance for sub-contractors?
The law demands that, subject to a few exclusions, companies employing staff must have adequate Employers’ Liability insurance (ELI). But what’s the position if you only use self-employed sub-contractors to carry out work?
Dormant companies can be valuable
A company that isn’t active is known as “dormant” and providing certain conditions are met it’s allowed to stay that way indefinitely. But how easy is it to keep the company “alive but sleeping” and why should you bother?
Does your managing director have special powers?
In a recent case, a managing director (MD) claimed that he had extensive powers over and above other members of the board simply by virtue of his position. What did the Court of Appeal think about his claim?
Spreading the cost of Christmas tax efficiently
You’ve used your company credit card to buy some Christmas gifts and stock up on booze for the festive season. There will be tax and NI to pay if you don’t pay your company back. But how long can you put off doing this?
Restrictive covenants: (un)enforcable from the start
Let’s suppose that a company places an unenforceable restrictive covenant in an employee’s contract of employment. Later on, that individual is promoted and becomes a director. Does that event now make it enforceable?
Make your favourite applications “portable”
The Internet offers dozens of “portable” applications which you can run directly from a USB stick. But what do you do if there’s no portable version of your favourite tool? Create one yourself!
Tabs on your Facebook page
We previously explained how you can use branded Facebook pages for showcasing your products and services. You can make this information more manageable by offering “page tabs”. Here’s how.
Stress at work?
The main cause of absenteeism in 2012 has been mental health problems. On the Internet, you can find lots of useful information about dealing with stress, besides online tools testing for stress or other health risks.
Saving webpages for later
Suppose you come across an interesting webpage but don’t have time to read it now. Wouldn’t it be good if you could save the page offline so that you can read it at your leisure on your computer, tablet or smartphone? It’s possible!
Remove viruses without Windows
If your computer has been infected with a virus, it’s best not to launch Windows itself, as this may worsen the problem. Certain virus scanners can operate “without” Windows. How does this work?
Windows 8: what you should know in advance
Windows 8 may look like the simple successor to Windows 7, but actually it’s a brand new kind of Windows. What makes this version different from all the previous ones?
Make Gmail even more efficient
Gmail is an excellent webmail service offering loads of useful features and options. Here are some new features from the “Google Labs” which will help you to use Gmail even more efficiently.
Organise a webinar with Adobe Connect
There are dozens of online videoconferencing services, but perhaps you’re looking for a good tool which allows you to organise online training or webinars? Adobe Connect for Webinars offers the solution. We put it to the test.
Christmas is coming
Christmas isn’t far away and the top-rated toys may soon be flying off the shelves. We check out the popular toys and where to find them.
Health and safety toolbox
The HSE has launched a new website which it claims will help those starting up or running a small to medium-sized business to manage health and safety. Is it any good and something that you should consider using?
Employers no longer to be held strictly liable
A Bill making its way through Parliament could result in an amendment to the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. What’s proposed and what impact could the changes have on employers?
Inspecting air compressors and receivers
You’ve heard that not all air compressor systems have to be subjected to a thorough examination by a competent person. Is this really the case and, if so, what systems are exempt?
Beware of sub-contracting
You may find that despite your best efforts to choose an established firm of contractors, and one that can do the job safely, once they’re on site you don’t get what you paid for. What can be learned from a recent case?
Do you have a gritting plan?
Over the years the insurance industry and others have developed a better understanding of what’s needed to limit claims due to icy car parks and pavements. What should you take into account?
Revised standard for fire risk assessment
The British Standards Institute has updated its recommended method for conducting fire risk assessments. What’s the significance, and is following it a legal requirement?
First aid training in 2013 and beyond
The HSE has identified what the future of first aid training will look like when its role in authorising trainers and courses ends. What’s to know?
Demotion as a disciplinary sanction
In addition to written warnings and dismissal, it’s possible to impose a demotion on an employee by way of disciplinary sanction. However, employers have no right to do this automatically. So what must you always have in place first?
Can I work from home (on Fridays) please?
An employee has asked if they can work from home on the same day each week. You’ve no objection to this kind of arrangement in principle, but how can you ensure they don’t use it as an opportunity to skive?
Could Secret Santa present you with a problem?
For many employers, Secret Santa is a workplace tradition. However, without wishing to sound like Scrooge, this activity may cause some problems. So what can you do to ensure that you don’t have any festive dramas?
Grievance handling: don’t jump the gun!
You’ve just received a written grievance. At this early stage, you believe the employee’s complaint may be “unfounded” or perhaps even “vexatious”. But why shouldn’t you dismiss it immediately on either of these grounds?
A reduction in hours = a redundancy situation
In a recent case, the employer had suffered a severe drop in work but still required the same number of staff to carry it out. One employee claimed that this was a redundancy situation. Did the Employment Appeal Tribunal agree?
Equal pay: a new six-year claim limit?
It’s been reported that the Supreme Court has handed employees a “substantial new right” by extending the time limit they have to launch equal pay claims. Is this really true?
Are you prepared for RTI?
In April 2013, HMRC will start rolling out its PAYE “Real Time Information” (RTI) programme. By October it will be mandatory for all employers. What can you do now to prepare for this change?
Reclaiming VAT on sponsorship - when is it allowed?
You’ve kitted out your son’s football team for the season. In return they are sporting your company’s name and logo on their shirts, but what other steps should you take to increase your chances of a VAT deduction?
Capital losses - tax planning for married couples
Capital losses brought forward from earlier years must be set against the next taxable gain you make. But where this is chargeable at a lower Capital Gains Tax rate this might not be tax efficient. What can you do to improve this situation?
New enquiries scheme extended
The Taxman recently announced that he’s extending his trial of the Single Compliance Process (SCP) for tax enquiries. How do these differ from a normal enquiry and how should you respond if he picks your company?
Can your business claim more than one AIA?
The maximum annual investment allowance (AIA) is now just £25,000. And if you own one or more related businesses they might have to share this. How can you turn the tables on the Taxman and claim more?
Reducing your self-assessment payments
You’re seeking an investment which offers a tax break and gives you the best cash flow advantage by lowering your self-assessment tax bill for next year. What’s the most effective option?
A new way to track tax claims?
HMRC’s new online tool will tell you when you can expect a response to your claim or enquiry. How can you make best use of it?
Are you paying too much NI?
One of your workers claims you’ve deducted too much NI from her salary. She says you have the “earnings period” wrong. As this was calculated by your payroll software you’re sure it’s right. What’s the problem?
Double up on capital allowances
You’re replacing some of your office furniture and equipment, it’s in good nick and would be ideal for your office at home. But if the company gives it to you you’ll be hit with a tax bill. Can you reduce or avoid this altogether?
Tax efficient stop-gap company pensions
It’s time to let go of the company reigns and enjoy retirement. But now is not a good time to cash in your pension fund and your state pension won’t kick in for a few years. The company can help out, but how can it do this tax efficiently?
Avoiding accidental guarantees via e-mail
It’s quite possible for a contract to arise via an exchange of e-mails. However, following a recent ruling, it’s clear that they might create a binding director’s guarantee too. So what can you do to avoid this happening accidentally?
How to use LinkedIn as a “free marketing” tool
Most small companies can’t afford expensive marketing campaigns. However, with a few free, simple, tweaks to the directors’ LinkedIn accounts you could generate more business. What are they?
Charging telephone cold callers for your time
Like most directors, you probably routinely receive cold calls on your mobile and landline numbers. One ingenious businessman has just hit back by charging these telephone “pests” £10 per minute for his time. Can you do the same?
EU to set female director quotas?
The European Commission has been asked to set a mandatory legal quota in relation to the number of women on company boards. “No less than 40%” is the suggested amount. How likely is this to happen?
Tablet or e-reader?
You can read e-books on both a tablet and a dedicated e-reader. Both devices have advantages and disadvantages. What are they and how do you choose?
Live Mesh: cloudless syncing
To sync files between computers, a cloud service such as Dropbox or SkyDrive is ideal. But you can also sync files between computers without a cloud service, for instance via Live Mesh.
Which smartphone to choose?
If you need a new smartphone, you can choose from a wealth of devices equipped with iOS, Android or Windows Phone. Which mobile operating system offers most value for money, and how about the hardware?
Exit Google Maps? Use an alternative!
Google Maps has been replaced by Apple Maps in iOS 6, the latest version of the operating system for the iPhone and iPad. YouTube has gone as well. What are the alternatives?
Help, Internet connection down…
You have a problem: a website or hyperlink no longer works all of a sudden. This can point to a problem with your Internet connection. What can you do to try and fix it yourself?
Keeping computer sounds under control
Computer sounds don’t always come at a convenient time: the beep of an error message while you’re giving a presentation, a loud video on a webpage which starts playing automatically, etc. How do you avoid these “noises”?
Organising your webmail
Most webmail users stick to the default look (colours, panes, page layout, etc.) of their favourite webmail application. Why not adapt it to your personal preferences and working methods?
Are you looking for a good invoicing tool? Why not try out a tool which works completely online? We compared Invoicefu and Blinksale, plus we also put Zoho Invoice to the test.
Translating via Google or Bing?
You’re probably familiar with Google Translate, but the Bing search engine also has a translation module. Which is best now that Bing has taken over the well-known Babel Fish?
Tips for your professional Facebook pages
More and more businesses are using branded Facebook pages to showcase their products and services. That’s a good idea, but you should bear a number of things in mind.
Watching your money
The Money Dashboard has been relaunched, so we’ve taken the opportunity to look at sites and apps that help you manage your financial situation.
Controlling silica dust when cutting roof tiles
The roofing industry has taken a radical step to control the emission of dust on sites. What’s being required of roofing contractors and should the changes be regarded as a legal requirement?
Manual handling in an office environment
Although working in an office doesn’t usually require staff to complete strenuous manual handling tasks, there could be some, for example moving boxes of paper, water cooler bottles, etc. How should you manage them?
Make the statement “no asbestos here”
If you have proof that there are no asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) in your premises, you need to record this fact. You can do this using our new asbestos statement document. What’s covered?
Cowboy “tree surgeon” prosecuted
Due to the signifcant risks associated with tree work, those completing it must be well trained and competent in their duties. What can be learned from a recent case?
More sign sales tactics
Never likely to miss a trick, some sign companies are latching on to forthcoming changes in the standards for safety signs. But is there any truth in the rumour that it’s going to have “huge implications for businesses”?
Incident reporting in the health and social care sector
The HSE has recently updated its guidance that identifies what needs to be reported and when, in line with the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR). What’s been changed and why?
Where’s the money going?
It appears that the HSE won’t receive a large proportion of the fees recovered under the Fee for Intervention (FFI) scheme. How might this affect you?
Tidy journal entries
With computerised accounting systems, creating journal entries seems so easy and happens at the click of a button. How do you ensure journal entries include sufficient information to avoid creating confusion and extra work at the year-end?