Rising employment statistics

The Office for National Statistics has published the latest employment statistics which reveal:

  • Estimates from the Labour Force Survey show that, between October to December 2016 and January to March 2017, the number of people in work increased, the number of unemployed people fell, and the number of people aged from 16 to 64 not working and not seeking or available to work (economically inactive) also fell.
  • There were 31.95 million people in work, 122,000 more than for October to December 2016 and 381,000 more than for a year earlier.
  • The employment rate (the proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 who were in work) was 74.8%, the highest since comparable records began in 1971.
  • There were 1.54 million unemployed people (people not in work but seeking and available to work), 53,000 fewer than for October to December 2016 and 152,000 fewer than for a year earlier.
  • The unemployment rate (the proportion of those in work plus those unemployed, that were unemployed) was 4.6%, down from 5.1% for a year earlier and the lowest since 1975.
  • There were 8.83 million people aged from 16 to 64 who were economically inactive (not working and not seeking or available to work), 40,000 fewer than for October to December 2016 and 82,000 fewer than for a year earlier.
  • The inactivity rate (the proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 who were economically inactive) was 21.5%, down from 21.8% for a year earlier and the joint lowest since comparable records began in 1971.
  • Latest estimates show that average weekly earnings for employees in Great Britain in nominal terms (that is, not adjusted for price inflation) increased by 2.4% including bonuses, and by 2.1% excluding bonuses, compared with a year earlier.
  • Latest estimates show that average weekly earnings for employees in Great Britain in real terms (that is, adjusted for price inflation) increased by 0.1% including bonuses, but fell by 0.2% excluding bonuses, compared with a year earlier.’

Responding to the latest data, Alpesh Paleja, CBI Principal Economist, said:

‘Rising employment continues to reinforce the importance of the UK’s flexible labour market.’

‘However, weakening productivity and slower pay growth, coupled with rising inflation, will continue to squeeze real household earnings.’

‘Therefore maintaining the UK’s reputation as a great place to do business, for example by increasing R&D spend to 3% of GDP by 2025, will help boost the UK’s productivity. This is the only sustainable route to higher wages, and better living standards.’

Internet links: ONS statistics CBI news

TPR name and shame those who fail to comply

The latest Compliance and Enforcement Bulletin from the Pensions Regulator (TPR)  makes interesting reading as it sets out cases and the powers TPR have used relating to automatic enrolment and associated employer duties.

TPR are warning employers that ignoring TPR penalties could seriously damage a business’ reputation.

TPR are maintaining a tough approach towards those employers who try to get away with not giving their staff the pension that they are due. The latest development is to publish details of those who have paid their Escalating Penalty Notice (EPN) but remain non-compliant. We will also publish the details of those who failed to pay their EPN, and as a result have been made subject to a court order.

The details published will include the employer’s name, the penalty amount, and the first part of their postcode.

Internet links: TPR Bulletin EPN employer details

Guidance protects against ‘ransomware’ attacks

The National Cyber Security Council (NCSC) has published guidance for small businesses about how they can prevent, detect and respond to ransomware attacks following the widespread ‘WannaCry’ ransomware attack in early May.

Further guidance has been produced by the Charity Commission for England and Wales for charity trustees on this issue.

Internet links: https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/guidance/ransomware-latest-ncsc-guidance

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/ransomware-threat-keep-your-charity-safe

Small Business Taskforce outlines priorities ahead of the General Election

The Small Business Taskforce has outlined its priorities ahead of the General Election.

The Taskforce which is made up of 14 organisations, including the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), Enterprise Nation and the Entrepreneurs Network, has set out six key recommendations in its election manifesto to help ‘build a positive and progressive business case for Britain’.

The Taskforce is recommending the next government should provide an environment which ‘champions the role of small businesses’ and creates a tax system that supports businesses of all sizes.

They also call for the next government to provide an advantageous pensions and benefits system, supply procurement opportunities that are beneficial to all and create a workforce that is equipped for enterprise.

Clive Lewis, Head of Enterprise at the ICAEW, commented:

‘Whatever the outcome on 8 June, the incoming government must provide a solid platform for small businesses to flourish and grow.’

‘Currently businesses are cautious about the future and are holding back on investment, therefore it’s vital that, in the run-up to the General Election, all political parties spell out how they plan to encourage businesses to invest in long-term growth.’

To read more of the Small Business Taskforce’s manifesto visit the following link.

Internet links: economia news Manifesto

Providing services to a public sector – off payroll working

In the latest Employer Bulletin HMRC advise those providing services to a public sector client through their own limited company to ensure they are ready for the new rules which take effect from 6 April 2017.

The new rules for off payroll working, commonly referred to as IR35 or the Intermediaries legislation, take effect from 6 April 2017.

These changes mean individuals working through their intermediary in the public sector will no longer be responsible for deciding whether the intermediaries’ legislation applies and then paying the appropriate tax and National Insurance contributions (NICs). This responsibility will instead move to the public authority client, agency, or third party that pays the worker’s intermediary, and they will also now become responsible for making sure that, where the rules apply, the relevant income tax and NICs are deducted and reported through PAYE in real time.

The public authority client is required to tell any agency or third party its view as to whether the rules apply. HMRC have been consulting on these new rules and the legislation has yet to be finalised.

HMRC confirm that ‘work is continuing on the development of the new Employment Status Service, and the online tool should be available for use in March. We have launched an off-payroll working in the public sector page on GOV.UK where you can find guidance for fee-payers, PSCs and public authorities to use, and links to material such as the technical note’.

If you have concerns in this area please contact us.

Internet links: Employer Bulletin Technical note

Over £9.2 billion released by pension freedoms

Hundreds of thousands of savers have cashed in £9.2 billion from their pension pots since pension freedoms were introduced in April 2015.

In April 2015, the government introduced significant pension reforms giving people the ability to access their pensions savings how and when they want. Over 1.5 million payments have been made using pension freedoms, with 162,000 people accessing £1.56 billion flexibly from their pension pots over the last three months, according to HMRC figures.

The Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Simon Kirby, said:

‘Giving people freedom over what they do with their hard-earned savings, whether it’s buying an annuity or taking a cash lump sum, is the right thing to do. These figures show that people continue to take advantage of the choices on offer: choices ‎only made available since the government’s landmark pension freedoms were introduced in April 2015.

We are working with our partners, including Pension Wise, the regulators and pension firms, so that savers have the support they need to understand the options available to them.

The statistics show that in the first year of these new rules being available, more than 232,000 people have accessed £4.3 billion flexibly from their pension pots.’

Internet links: GOV.UK news Statistics

Year end tax planning

With the end of the tax year looming there is still time to save tax for 2016/17. We have set out some points you may want to consider.

  • Make full use of your ISA allowance – ISAs can offer a useful tax free way to save, whether this is for your children’s future, a first home or another purpose. Individuals may invest  up to a limit of £15,240 for the 2016/17 tax year. A saver may only pay into a maximum of one Cash ISA, one Stocks and Shares ISA and one Innovative Finance ISA per year. Savers have until 5 April 2017 to make their 2016/17 ISA investment.
  • Take advantage of capital allowances – By making the most of capital allowances, businesses may be able to write off the costs of capital assets against taxable profits. The Annual Investment Allowance allows businesses to claim a deduction of up to £200,000 of the year’s investment in plant and machinery (excluding cars). Businesses of any size and most business structures can make use of the AIA. However, there are provisions to prevent multiple claims.
  • Build a tax efficient retirement plan – Pension contributions must be paid on or before 5 April 2017 for them to be relieved against 2016/17 income. Annual contributions are limited to the greater of £3,600 (gross) or the amount of your UK relevant earnings may be eligible for tax relief. However, these will be subject to the annual allowance, which is generally £40,000. This is further reduced for those with net income over £110,000 and adjusted annual income (their income, plus both their own and their employer’s pension contributions) over £150,000. For every £2 of adjusted income over this figure, a person’s annual allowance is reduced by £1 (down to a minimum of £10,000).

This is only a selection of options that you may wish to consider as part of your tax planning strategy. For more information, and for advice on how we can help you to minimise your tax bill, please contact us.

Please contact us to discuss your personal situation.