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2013 - December


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SOFTWARE - WINDOWS - 19.12.2013

Revamped apps in Windows 8.1

In Windows 8 Microsoft had introduced a number of apps. In the updated Windows 8.1 some of them have been revamped. What do these built-in Microsoft apps have to offer?

SOFTWARE - APPS - 19.12.2013

Try Android apps for free!

BUSINESS - JOBS - 19.12.2013

Job sites - we look at the best

As usual at this time of year we look at the best job sites for employers, employees and job seekers, and places to get sound career advice.


Another way of sharing files

In smaller businesses, files are often still exchanged via e-mail. Yet there are lots of web services which enable you to easily share them with others. We put some of them to the test.

E-MAIL - WEBMAIL - 19.12.2013

Special webmail services

Everyone knows Gmail, Hotmail (or and Yahoo! Mail. However, there are other webmail services which are a bit different. What are the special features of Fastmail, Hushmail, Squadmail and Zoho Mail?


Set up a webshop on Facebook

Did you know that you can integrate a fully-fledged webshop into the Facebook page of your business? The Beetailer cloud tool assists you, and it can even integrate your existing webshop into your Facebook page.


Keep track of time, free of charge

Time is money, and tracking the time spent on a task or customer is therefore essential in business. The Nutcache web service offers a free solution. Is it a useful service?


A router on the road

You probably have a router for Internet access at home or at work. However, a small “travel router” can also come in handy. What is it, and what is the best choice?


What if your social network account is hacked?

The following situation may sound familiar: you suddenly start receiving strange messages from a Twitter follower or, worse, your own Twitter account starts acting oddly. What can you do if one of your social network accounts is hacked?


Project management via whiteboards and post-its

When collaborating on a project the co-ordination of tasks is crucial. The project planning tool Kanban Tool assists you via virtual whiteboards and coloured post-its.

COMPUTER - HARDWARE - 19.12.2013

How do you recognise a failing hard disk?

The average life of modern hard disks is five years, and with portable computers or external hard drives this is even shorter. How can you tell in time that your hard disk is failing?


Host your photos on the Internet

You can easily upload photos thanks to online services such as Picasa, Flickr or Facebook. However, if you’d like to host photos in your own web space, there are also various possibilities. How do you get started?


The sums are wrong

WEEE - 19.12.2013

Changes to the WEEE Regulations

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills is making changes to how producers, compliance schemes and councils collect and treat electrical waste. What’s happening and how might you be affected?


#theBIGshift campaign

Forum for the Future has launched a new campaign to encourage businesses to become more sustainable. Is this something that you should consider?

WORKPLACE - 19.12.2013

Is your site ready for winter?

From drainage management to hazardous substances storage, there are many considerations when it comes to the smooth running of your business over the winter months. Are you prepared?


Is the Green Deal a good option?

The government’s flagship finance scheme the “Green Deal”, which is designed to fund investments in low-energy equipment, has fallen flat. Why, and is it worth considering if you’re looking to finance an investment?


Arrangements for environmental management

It’s all very well having specific policies but if your staff are unaware of their existence your efforts will be wasted. So why not use our new environmental arrangements document to make your policies clear?


Options for enforcement officers

The Environment Agency (EA) has published guidance that sets out which legislation it enforces and how breaches of the law will be dealt with. Is it a useful document?

FUEL - 19.12.2013

Green benefits of fuel cards

Allowing your staff to use fuel cards could help you manage your fleet costs and emissions more effectively. How do they work and what are the potential benefits?


Q&A - can we issue a verbal warning?


Sickness absence: what’s wrong with them?

When an employee goes off sick their colleagues will often ask what the matter is. Give the wrong response and it could land you in a difficult situation, so how do you tackle this kind of question?


Mirrors reduce workplace theft


Employees to get four weeks’ bereavement leave?

Employees have no statutory right to leave, paid or otherwise, if they suffer a family bereavement. However, according to some media reports they may soon be given the right to four weeks’ paid bereavement leave. True or false?

RESIGNATIONS - 13.12.2013

Asking an employee to think about their resignation

Out of the blue, an employee has tendered their resignation. You don’t want to lose them, so you asked that they “think about things for a few days”. If they end up sticking by their initial decision, when will their resignation take effect?


Who owns business-generated LinkedIn contacts?

LinkedIn is the social networking site for professionals and many employers actively encourage its use. But who owns the contacts generated through your business activities when an employee leaves - you or them?

PARENTAL LEAVE - 13.12.2013

Flexible shared parental leave

A new system of flexible shared parental leave (SPL) is to be introduced in 2015. It has been described as an “utter nightmare” for employers, but what’s the less talked about catch for employees?

ANNUAL LEAVE - 13.12.2013

Competing popular annual leave requests

At the start of a new annual leave year employers are often inundated with requests for popular dates, for example during school holidays. Where a number of employees want the same time off, could you pick names out of a hat?


Associative discrimination and reasonable adjustments

If an employee is closely associated with a disabled person, e.g. a child, spouse, relative or friend, you must not discriminate against them because of it. OK, but are you required to make reasonable adjustments for your employee?

LEGIONELLA - 13.12.2013

Legionella ACoP updated

The HSE has revised the Legionnaires’ disease Approved Code of Practice (ACoP) (L8) to make clear which actions are legal requirements and which parts are just guidance. What’s different?

RIDDOR - 13.12.2013

Changes to reporting major injuries

The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 changed the categories for reportable major injuries. What do you need to know about the amendments?


Taking a short cut through your premises

In a recent case, an employee sought damages from his employer for a broken leg sustained in an accident at work. How did it happen and how can you avoid something similar occuring on your property?

LIABILITY - 13.12.2013

Fewer civil claims in the future

The government has amended the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 to protect employers from civil claims. What do you need to know?

CONTRACTOR - 13.12.2013

Should you join a contractor scheme?

As a contractor are you finding that some clients are asking for accreditation to CHAS, SAFEcontractor etc.? With changes to the law on the horizon, is it worth bothering with, and if so what’s involved?

VIBRATION - 13.12.2013

Are anti-vibration devices worth considering?

The HSE has published research which examines the efficacy of anti-vibration products. Are manufacturers’ claims realistic and, if so, are there any products you should think about purchasing?

ASBESTOS - 13.12.2013

Asbestos risks must be managed

A Birmingham academy and a glass company have both been prosecuted for failing to manage the risks associated with asbestos. How could this have been avoided?


Income shifting - transferring shares to your spouse

Your business started a year ago and is now doing well so you want to transfer shares in the company to your spouse. You’ve heard this must be done a certain way or it won’t be effective for tax. What are the traps to look out for?


Tax-free cashback on Christmas gifts

You’re over the moon because your Christmas wish is granted in the form of a top of the range Apple Mac. But how can you use a simple tax break to make a great gift even better?

CAPITAL GAINS TAX - 10.12.2013

New tax traps when selling your company

You sold your company a year ago, but a warranty clause in the contract means you have to repay some of the sale proceeds to the buyer. How will this affect the capital gains tax (CGT) you paid on the deal?

COMPANY TAX - 10.12.2013

IR35 - major changes on the way

A House of Lords enquiry will recommend changes to the tax rules for certain businesses that supply services. When might these apply and who will be affected?

INHERITANCE TAX - 10.12.2013

Business property relief - giving away your business

You intend to retire soon and want to transfer some shares in your company to your adult children to give them extra income. Can you do this inheritance tax efficiently and in a way that will minimise adverse effects on your business?

PAYE - 10.12.2013

RTI obligations of paying employees early

Your company’s usual payroll date is the last day of the calendar month, but this month you need to pay some of your staff early. What’s the simplest way to handle the extra pay day under RTI?

VAT - 10.12.2013

Reclaiming VAT on company cars

A friend told you that HMRC allowed him to reclaim VAT on his new car because it’s used wholly for business travel. Your company owns a car that’s used almost entirely for work; does this mean you can reclaim most of the VAT?

RETURNS - 10.12.2013

SA deadline cut short by HMRC

CAPITAL GAINS TAX - 10.12.2013

Maximising the 10% tax rate on property gains

If you make a gain from the sale of a personally-owned building that was once used by your company in its trade, it won’t qualify for the special 10% capital gains tax rate. What steps can you take to ensure that it does?


How to identify and protect your intellectual property

Every company owns some form of intellectual property (IP), for example, designs, trademarks, databases and copyright. How can you quickly identify and protect all the IP rights that belong to your business?

ADVERTISING - 10.12.2013

Should you advertise on Twitter?

The social network, Twitter, recently opened up its paid-for advertising to small companies, allowing them to purchase “Promoted Ads” for the first time. Is there any way to “try before you buy”?


When can cash deals land you in trouble?

One of our subscribers is often paid in cash by customers and is sometimes asked to pay suppliers the same way. Naturally, the money goes through the books, but is this enough to meet the Money Laundering Regulations (MLR)?

CARS - 10.12.2013

How to accelerate tax relief on company cars

Your company now has to wait decades to receive full tax relief on the purchase of a car. However, there’s one exception to this rule. What is it and how can it be used to obtain a tax deduction in a fraction of the time?

COMPANY LAW - 10.12.2013

Divorce: can the company’s assets be touched?

It’s estimated that one in every three marriages ends in divorce. When this happens, the couple’s assets must be divided up fairly. However, if one spouse is a director, do the company’s assets come into play?


Setting up an online shop

Are you planning to set up shop on the web? There are lots of webtools which enable you to run your own webshop. We put a newcomer to the test: Tictail.


Wi-Fi curfew


Spotlight on comparison sites

Price comparison websites are to be reviewed by the financial regulator. We take the opportunity to see where you can get good advice.


Office, free in the cloud

In addition to the familiar Office software on your computer, there are webtools which let you create text, spreadsheets and presentations in the cloud. Both the Microsoft Office Web Apps and Apple iWork have something new to offer.

SOFTWARE - WINDOWS - 06.12.2013

Test yourself: Windows keyboard shortcuts

Do you use the mouse for every action in Windows? Keyboard shortcuts enable you to work faster within Windows. Which are the shortcuts you should really learn to use?


Constant power supply for your computer

It’s very important that during an unexpected power interruption you don’t lose your work, especially in a professional context. You should also protect your computer against power surges or lightning strokes. How?

LEISURE - MUSIC - 06.12.2013

Your music in the cloud with Style Jukebox

If you want to listen to music in the cloud, you don’t necessarily need to rely on services that charge. Style Jukebox lets you place your own music online so that you can play it anywhere.


Messages from your computer

COMPUTER - TABLET - 06.12.2013

The new iPads: something for you?

Apple launched the iPad Air and the new iPad mini in quick succession. Is this the umpteenth “minor” upgrade from Apple, or are these devices really innovative? Which of them is the best choice?


Parental controls on your smartphone or tablet

Your child will undoubtedly have discovered how user-friendly and exciting your tablet or smartphone can be. What should you do when you want to give your children access to the device but prevent them from doing something wrong?


How to “degoogle” yourself

Do annoying or embarrassing messages about you or your business keep cropping up in the Google search results? We look at ways of having this kind of information removed.

LEISURE - SPORTS - 06.12.2013

Efficient fitness apps

You can use various mobile apps for tracking your sporting achievements. Thanks to the new coprocessor in some smartphones, these apps consume less energy. Here’s the lowdown.


E-cards for all occasions

Perhaps you would like to surprise your family or friends with an e-card for their birthday or for Christmas? Where can you find interesting e-cards?


Reconciling the balance sheet

The company’s auditors have commented that apart from the bank account, the balance sheet accounts have not been reconciled during the year. Your boss has asked you to take care of this. What do you do next?


Fully depreciated assets

In preparation for the year end, you’re reviewing the company’s fixed asset register and have identified a number of assets that have been fully depreciated. Is it time to remove them from the books?

BENEFITS IN KIND - 05.12.2013

Christmas gifts from grateful customers and suppliers

With Christmas almost upon us, you and other members of staff may have started receiving various party invites and thank you gifts from grateful customers and suppliers. But are there any tax and NI implications of accepting these?

BANKING - 05.12.2013

Time to check those direct debits

Apparently, £100 million is wasted every year with unwanted or unused subscriptions. So is it time you checked your direct debits to see how much you could save?

RESOURCES - 05.12.2013

To do list saves cash

Recent research has suggested that SMEs are having to cut costs in order to pay for expensive raw materials and energy. Some are even moving premises. Could a simple to do list help you become more resource efficient?

IT - 05.12.2013

Let’s meet in the cloud

In a busy company the directors often struggle to meet frequently. And, when they do, it’s costly in terms of travel and time. Could “cloud” meetings be a way to cut costs?

FRAUD - 05.12.2013

Counting the cost of fraud

Employee fraud in large companies is falling while smaller companies are suffering greater losses. Why is this the case, how much could you be losing and how can you stem the tide?

PAYROLL - 05.12.2013

Taking the hard work out of auto-enrolment

The Department for Work & Pensions recently surveyed larger employers to get their feedback on the pensions auto-enrolment (AE) process. What were the findings and what can you learn from them?


Costs rise well above inflation

According to a recent survey, business costs have increased well ahead of inflation in 2013. What’s caused this and what can you do about it?

COMPANIES HOUSE - 05.12.2013

Free accounts data now available

SPREADSHEETS - 05.12.2013

Using Sparklines to show data trends

Data presented in a row or column is useful, but patterns can be hard to spot at a glance, particularly if you have a very large spreadsheet. However, Excel 2010’s Sparklines tool could make it much easier to see trends. How does it work?

PERSONNEL - 05.12.2013

Personal development plans

As financial controller, it’s important that you should be considering your own personal development as well as that of your accounts team. How do you set up a process to capture and discuss career development?

WORKPLACE - 04.12.2013

Low-risk businesses are still in the spotlight

A nightclub owner has been found guilty of 23 breaches of his licence conditions. What did inspectors find wrong and could steps have been taken to avoid the trip to court?


Dealing with festive risks

It’s the time of year when staff climb on desks and chairs, block corridors with plastic trees and turn up for work with raging hangovers. Our new risk assessment identifies how you should deal with these festive safety issues.

DRIVING - 04.12.2013

Cyclists at risk

Following a spate of fatalities in London you may be wondering where you would stand if one of your vehicles was involved in a collision with a bicycle. What, if anything, should you be doing to avoid such an accident?

PPE - 04.12.2013

Dodgy helmets

H&S MANAGEMENT - 04.12.2013

Ticking the right boxes

You’re thinking of using checklists to deal with routine inspections, testing and maintenance tasks, but you’ve heard dismissive comments in the past about “tick box safety”. So are they a good idea or not?

SEASONAL ISSUES - 04.12.2013

An oncoming storm?

Strong winds, heavy rain, flooding - in recent months the UK has seen it all. Should you factor such weather conditions into your health and safety arrangements?


Brush cutters safety alert

H&S MANAGEMENT - 04.12.2013

Site manager in the dock

The outcome of a recent case proves that those with management responsibilities need to take the role seriously. What happened and why did the manager in question receive a huge personal penalty?

GAS - 04.12.2013

Gas supplier not liable for explosion

In May 2004 an explosion at a Glasgow factory killed nine people and injured many more. In a recent test case, it was found that the LPG supplier was not liable. Why, and what should you be doing if you have a similar system?

REGISTRATION - 04.12.2013

Claim back the VAT post-deregistration

You’ve decided to deregister one of your businesses from VAT. However, it still has costs relating to the time it was registered. Is it possible to claim back that VAT after deregistration?


What’s really covered by an option to tax?

As a property owner/investor you’ve heard a great deal about the so-called option to tax. If you do opt to tax a property it can have a significant effect on your VAT position. What does an option cover and how long does it last?

PLACE OF SUPPLY - 04.12.2013

Fixing foreign cars - the VAT implications

Let’s say a customer has brought in his car for repair. No problem there except that he is based overseas. Does this have any VAT implications and, if so, what formalities will you need to complete?

HMRC - 04.12.2013

Adjudicator slams VATman

The Adjudicator has published a report that’s highly critical of the VATman and his procedures. How can you benefit?

INPUT VAT - 04.12.2013

The dos and don’ts of claiming input VAT

Just having an invoice isn’t always enough to guarantee that your input VAT claim will be successful. So what else do you need to prove your claim to the VATman’s satisfaction?


Partial exemption - the basics

When a business initially becomes partly exempt, the input tax it incurs and can recover in its first year does not always reflect its future use. If you’re in this boat, what can you do about it?

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