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OFFICE STATUS update Wednesday 21 June 2017

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 Sorry if you are trying to contact anyone at the office this afternoon.  The local area has suffered from a loss of water due to a broken water mains.  We stayed open as long as we could, but unfortunately this means we have closed the office early at 3pm … as the loos have stopped flushing and nobody can get a drink of water (or Jonathan a cup of tea!). 
It goes without saying that we are really sorry if you have been trying to ring us and got the answer machine instead and we will get back to you tomorrow.

Planning for Start-up and Growth

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Thinking of starting a business or started and want to grow successfully?  Then this seminar is for you!

Learn invaluable legal and accounting steps essential to the success of any growing or start up business with Heald Solicitors and Jonathan Vowles Chartered Accountants.

This unmissable event, held in conjunction with Velocity, will explore each aspect of planning your start-up and growth.  The event will be held at Artemis House between 4.30pm and 7pm on Thursday March 23rd.  Event registration starts at 4.30pm with the first presentation at 5pm.  The presentations will last no more than 1 hour, with plenty of time for questions and networking.

This joint seminar is being held at Heald solicitors, Artemis House, 4 Bramley Road, Milton Keynes, MK1 1LZ

Thursday March 23 4.30pm – 7pm

Free tickets can be booked here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/heald-law-academy-live-practical-legal-accounting-steps-to-assure-start-up-success-tickets-30160967265

Whilst there are many risks associated with launching a start-up, the rewards can be great. This workshop is a must for those who are thinking about or have recently embarked on the journey to create a new company.

Learn about legal and accounting frameworks that are designed to control business risk but allow you to expand. In addition, a well-structured business can make it easier to raise initial finance. Heald and JVCA want to help your business become strong, sustainable and profitable – and this is your chance to get free advice to start you on your path.

Lifetime Financial Responsibility

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Are you responsible … financially responsible?

The answer to this question will fundamentally affect how happy you and your family are for the rest of your lives. Over recent years the landscape of personal finances has changed. Fundamentally. Forever. For the worse. For everyone… including you, your family and your loved ones.

Let’s start with the brutal truths…

Over recent years the landscape of personal finances has changed. Fundamentally. Forever. For the worse. For everyone… including you, your family and your loved ones.

The evidence is overwhelming. And it is all around us…

  • Austerity means the state will provide less help than ever before
  • We are already being forced to contribute more for the help we do get
  • Parents are being forced to act as “The Bank of Mum and Dad”
  • The young are burdened with student debts of £27,000 for university tuition fees
  • Parents must often contribute towards university living costs of £20-£30,000
  • Getting on the housing ladder is tougher than ever before
  • New affordability rules mean it is harder than ever to get a mortgage
  • Average first-time buyers must find £30,000 – with 78% needing  help from their parents
  • Interest rates must rise – making buying a home even more expensive
  • The elderly are having their savings decimated by care fees of £30,000 a year
  • The country’s national debt – £1 trillion and rising – will have to be paid for
  • The total amount of tax society pays will keep increasing – probably dramatically
  • And all of this is against a backdrop where real wages have fallen
  • The cost of living is more expensive than ever before
  • An average wedding costs £24,000
  • The lifetime cost of having a child – ignoring university – is typically £218,000
  • Private education from 5-18 can easily cost £140,000
  • For the average family with two children, many of these costs are doubled
  • People are living longer – so retirement is going to cost more
  • State pensions are certainly not generous – and are getting worse
  • Many company pensions are not paying what they “promised”
  • Personal pensions are a minefield
  • Low pension annuity rates mean that even the best pensions pay less
  • Pension reforms make it possible to catastrophically mess up previously watertight plans
  • Low interest rates have decimated interest income from savings
  • Increases in house prices can no longer be relied on to bail you out
  • And there won’t be a nanny state to bail you out either

“The irrefutable fact of family life”

This evidence is overwhelming and life can be brutal!   The irrefutable fact of family life is that every single one of us must tackle these issues head on. Because if you don’t, no-one else will. Indeed, no one else can. In other words, you owe it to everyone you love – and that means taking ‘Lifetime Financial Responsibility’.

If you fail to act, if you kid yourself that these issues and other like them don’t apply to you. Or that you can wait and deal with them later – well then you are operating on luck. But if luck isn’t on your side, then think of all the regret because things could have been different had you done more and sooner. Of the pain because your finances aren’t sufficient and you have failed to give yourself and your loved ones the happiness and life you wanted. And the real hardship this will result for you and your loved ones.

What is Lifetime Financial Responsibility?

You must take Lifetime Financial Responsibility because otherwise you won’t be able to prevent all of that pain, regret, hardship and shame.     What does that mean – well specifically that means:

  • Understanding your current situation
  • Understanding your future situation
  • Managing your income
  • Managing your spending
  • Managing your saving
  • Managing your assets
  • Managing your liabilities
  • Managing your risk

What can you do to take Lifetime Financial Responsibility?

I know that this sounds daunting. But actually it’s much easier than it seems – which is good! Because if you care about your family and your future, you must take action to do these things. After all, no one else can or will do it for you.

If you would like to create an action plan, then we have a 14 step checklist that breaks this process down into bite size chunks. Using this checklist, you can identify how to not just take responsibility but take action to fulfil that responsibility.

And, as you might expect, we also have the tools and strategies to help you deal with each step on that checklist. So get in touch and ask for your copy of our checklist or book a meeting to start taking action!

Why the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement is irrelevant!

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There has been loads of fuss surrounding the 2016 Autumn Statement and I am sure there will be lots more over the coming days.…however, the Statement and the Budget announcements are essentially irrelevant if you run a business.

Sure there are little changes to the rules, but in the main these make little nibbly differences.   For example:

  • The Chancellor has reduced the threshold at which businesses start paying employers national insurance.  This will cost each employer £7.20 per employee per year.  Individually it makes little difference but for the government this will raise around £145m each year.
  • The personal allowance has increased £500 to £11,500 for 2017 which will save £100 pa for most taxpayers.
  • Fuel duty has been frozen again, to help keep the cost of petrol and diesel down.

I don’t think that an employer paying an extra £7 in national insurance or an individual saving £100 in tax is really going to shake your world!

Which is why I think the Autumn Statement is irrelevant – and honestly the same can be said for pretty nearly every budgetary announcement in recent years. What is important is the business is allowed to flourish and develop …and that depends on the individual business far more than on the economic climate or the tax rules.

So, I say again the Budget and the Autumn Statement are irrelevant if you run a business – why do I say this? Because what is important, is that your business is a success!   That you, as the business owner, get a nice life and your business employs more people or pays those people more as a consequence of your business success.

What is important?

What I think should have been feted, more than it was, as part of the budget is that the UK is by and large an economic success.   There is always more to achieve, but as a nation we are succeeding!

  • Employment is at the highest rate for over 10 years
  • Economic growth as recorded by GDP is one of the highest of the G7 countries and grew by 2.3% in the year to September 2016.
  • In the year to September 2016 around 562,000 new companies were started
  • The UK has around 5.5 million active businesses – an increase of nearly 1.6m or 40% since 2005

However, in business you can’t stand still and rest on your laurels – pretty nearly every business could make more profit or employ more people or pay their employees more.   This is the real message that I think should go out and be made a fuss of.

This is also why I want to help make a difference to our clients and why I am offering a free profit improvement review to any business that wants one.   To claim your free profit improvement review, just ring 01234 752566 or email to info@vowles.co.uk

The UK economy improves when small businesses succeed

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The economy is all those businesses that employ people who then pay tax. The government might spend lots of money, but the only reason they have it is because of the tax that is paid …

The UK has around 5.4 million businesses. Of this number, only around 54,000 are classed as ‘big’ businesses. The vast majority of businesses, 99.3%, have less than 50 employees. Another 0.6% employ between 50 and 250 employees.

“In fact 60% of all UK employment comes from these SMEs!”

We need those small businesses and actually we need them to be successful, to make a profit, grow and expand … and then employ more people and pay more tax.

The UK has a bit of snobbery about financially successful people. I think that as a nation we need to stop thinking of how to penalise or put down people in this way. Instead, we should be looking for ways to encourage and celebrate those business owners that make it to the big time.

I know plenty of business people who have built a company and created employment for others and financial security for themselves and their family. More importantly, creating jobs generates both tax and increased spending.

“Spending supports business and thus creates more employment and so the nation becomes better off!”

So spend more with your local small businesses rather than those giant corporations, after all, they provide over half of all employment in the United Kingdom.

And that, dear reader, is what will encourage job creation and lead to more taxes being paid, and to a better world for both us and our children.

Pimm’s O’Clock 2016

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Yes, it is that time of year … Come along to our office for a bite to eat and a chat with the team at our relaxed (late summer) networking event. 
– Buffet Lunch
– Pimms
– Networking opportunities 
– BrainsTrust Charity Raffle
– Cloud accounting demonstrations
– Meet the team and local businesses
Please RSVP either by email or saying you are going to attend via Facebook’s events link.

Friday September 9, 2016 12pm – 3pm

How much tax do the rich pay anyway?

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I came across this quote while reading this weekend, ”The top 1% makes half the nation’s wealth. That means they should be paying half the nation’s taxes. That’s not punishing the wealthy, it’s maths” …

http://blog.jvca.co.uk/how-much-tax-do-the-rich-pay-anyway

So this week, I thought I would look at UK government statistics to see what they actually paid and how relevant this quote is to real life.

According to the government’s own figures, Income tax brings in around 26% of the government’s income. National insurance around 17%, VAT around 17% and corporation tax 6%. ie Some 2/3rds of all taxation from these four taxes. 

There are then a whole host of other taxes and rents and other income from state owned property that contribute to the remaining third.

Of the UK adult population of around 52.4 million, there are 29.9 million income tax payers. Around 4.6 million of these will pay tax at the higher rate, providing 38.5% of total income tax revenue and 343,000 taxpayers (1.1% of taxpayers) will pay tax at the additional rate, providing 28.9% of total income tax revenue.

Or to put it more simply, the richest 1.1% pay 28.9% of income tax. The next 15.4 % of richest taxpayers pay 38.5%. And yes it is math, as tax is a percentage, so the rich pay much more than the average person.

“This means that the ordinary taxpayer, 83.5% of the tax paying population, pay just 33.3% of income tax!

Or to rephrase it yet again, the rich do indeed pay the vast majority of income tax and the rich actually already pay two-thirds of all income tax! Of course, this lumps all higher rate taxpayers in the ‘rich’ category and you might say that only the top earners who pay 45% tax should be classified as ‘rich’.

It also means that if 34,000 of the richest people in the UK were to leave and go somewhere nicer/warmer/less-tax-expensive (take your pick of reasons), then, on average, we as a nation would lose some 3% of all the income tax paid in the UK. What would that mean for closing hospitals or reducing the number of firemen?

And, of course, the richest 1.1% in the UK are the ones for whom changing countries is simple. They probably already own houses in other parts of the world.

The Labour government of 1974-1979 tried putting taxes up for the richest 1% and there are plenty of examples of people who either left the UK for another country or simply reduced the amount they paid themselves from their businesses so that that they ended up paying less tax.

Statistics show that the number of higher rate taxpayers fell by 25% in 1977! Not all of this loss would have all been rich people leaving the United Kingdom or paying themselves less, as economically the UK was in trouble, but I have no doubt a significant proportion was lost to these two reasons.

What we do know is that wealthy people spend more. A lot more! They have bigger houses, refurbish them more often and pay the top band of council tax. They have expensive cars/planes/boats and pay for them to be maintained, they buy the best food, clothing and other finery and pay VAT on all of this expenditure. They’ll employ housekeepers, gardeners, drivers and a team of people to support them in their lifestyle.

“In other words, they contribute to the economy in lots of ways beyond the amount of income tax they pay!”

So next time you hear someone bleating about their socialist roots, how unfair taxation is, and that the rich don’t contribute their fair share, remember these statistics. Because we, quite simply, need the rich, successful people to live here!

What drives people to start a business?

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People choose to start a business for a variety of reasons. For some people, it’s about making more money, for others, it’s frustration in their current role or a lack of job opportunities …

Maybe a person has had a fantastic idea, wants or control of their own destiny, wants to leave a legacy or build something for their own community.

“There are so many compelling reasons to start a business!”

There are great stories of Mumpreneurs who have started something on their kitchen table and gone on to be successful or people who have escaped the corporate lifestyle for something entirely different, seeking freedom or a different work/life balance.

Those who thought their boss was an idiot and they had the passion to work for themselves, or those who were made redundant and seized an entrepreneurial opportunity.

“And, guess what? Anytime is a great time for people to be thinking about making a change and breaking that mould!”

As you would expect somebody has done research into this, and according to a poll taken by Hiscox insurance, the majority of responses said they went into business to be their own boss!

If you are feeling the need to take the plunge and start a business, then what is important is that you consider the disadvantages as much as you do the advantages.

Undoubtedly you will know, or know of, someone who has successfully started their own business. But the statistics show that it’s not all roses around the door and lots of time for yourself – statistically 30% of business starts ups don’t last two years and 50% don’t last 5 years.

“What makes the difference between a great start up and a flop?”

I think it is firstly, having a clear idea and doing enough planning and, secondly, the advice and help and support you get; most importantly getting a Mentor.

At JVCA, we deal with quite a lot of start-ups and it is clear that having a mentor makes a big difference, so much so that some lenders insist that you have a mentor as part of their loan conditions.


If you’ve got an idea and want to start a business, then it may be a good idea to call me!

Businesses really are running the world!

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Well, perhaps this is an argumentative statement, but just think about this for a moment. As Bill Clinton said ”it’s the economy stupid!” The economy isn’t one big thing, it is actually lots of businesses, big and small, and the people they employ …

Who makes the decisions within the economy is actually all of the individual business owners and managers. Sure, the government makes lots of important decisions around the regulatory framework, but all the government can do is affect the decision making that those business owners take.

So it is actually the decisions made by those business owners that change the economy, and thus businesses really are running the world!

Let’s start with something really basic. If you don’t have businesses, then you don’t have jobs. If you don’t have jobs then you don’t have money.

If there are no businesses, then the government doesn’t have the tax that businesses pay or the tax they take off people with jobs. In turn, this means that the government doesn’t have money to pay for hospitals, doctors, schools or teachers or to put into social security or pensions.

Without businesses, the capitalist system doesn’t work, and indeed every time there is a recession, we can see that made real and dramatic. It’s the impact on people who are made redundant, which spreads out to their families and the community beyond.

“Do you feel the underlying truth behind these statements?”

Or do you feel that it is so much bunkum? It is interesting though, isn’t it? Saying that businesses rule the world can perhaps be taken too far; they aren’t going to supplant governments anytime soon, but they really do have influence over how we live our lives.

What does this really mean for you? I think that there are two important points:

  1. Firstly, if business is so important then social enterprises are a more effective way to change the world than charities. If you didn’t already know, social enterprises are businesses that are run for altruistic rather than purely commercial purposes. However, every business, whether they are a social enterprise or not, has to run at a profit or they will eventually fold up and disappear. Profit is vitally important and is a way of measuring the health of a business.

    Want to change something in your community? Maybe creating a social enterprise is the way to make that change? There are examples up and down the UK of vital resources like the local shop or pub being taken over by a social enterprise to prevent them from being shut down. Similarly, there are lots of examples in the developing world of people being helped to help themselves by helping them to start a business.

  2. Secondly, as individuals and as communities, we need to support our local businesses to improve our nations’ economy. This could be as simple as buying local or as complex as bigger businesses sourcing goods from UK suppliers. Buying local and supporting local businesses can be very positive for individual communities.

    Research has shown that house prices are higher in places with thriving high streets, but also, logic suggests that a buzzing local high street will be a nicer place to go shopping or to a café than one that isn’t.

Most large businesses acknowledge their influence and role in shaping our world by having a ‘corporate social responsibility’, but that’s a blog post all in itself!

If you bring this all down to basics, everyone needs money. Money is the tool or means by which we swap value from one person to another. Value is a consequence of work. Work is a consequence of business.

“So every community needs businesses that are functioning well and making profits!”

However, you can have commercial businesses that are just there for profit or a social business that is there to make enough money to still be around next year and meanwhile is trying to change the world.

If you want to change the world by setting up a business or a social enterprise then get in touch with me

The Right Information is The Key to Your Success

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Your own data and financial records can highlight very important information which, when used effectively, can help to drive your business forwards and be the key to your success …

The challenge for most businesses is how to gain a competitive advantage. This is particularly important because of what it leads to, which is sustainability, larger profits and scope for future growth.

“JVCA can help you to identify and exploit this competitive advantage!”

So why do most people run a business? Well, there are many different reasons, including self-fulfilment by achieving your goals and reaping the rewards of your hard work. And this is why gaining a competitive advantage is important, because having the business you want means that you can create the lifestyle or legacy you want.

Bill Gates said it best, “The most meaningful way to differentiate your company from your competitors, the best way to put distance between you and the crowd is to do an outstanding job with information. How you gather, manage and use information will determine whether you win or lose.

There are a number of factors that can help you to achieve a competitive advantage, such as; good products, great customer service, excellent relationships with you customers and most importantly, the quality of your own information.

There are a myriad of insights that can be taken from your information. Often getting the right and insightful information is the key.

So how can JVCA help you? Well, we can benchmark your data against other companies in your industry or sector to compare costs and prices to see how you differ.

We can work with you to identify and monitor key performance indicators. These KPIs can include financial and non-financial data which are specific to your business, examples are:

  • Quote conversions

  • Customer complaints

  • Number and source of referrals

  • New customers vs customers leaving

  • Sales revenue

  • Profit margin %

Key Performance Indicators can help you to understand your business better, allowing you to work smarter instead of just harder. In addition, we can track them for you and then work to improve different product/service profit margins. This information can also be used to influence marketing strategies and future product/service development.

JVCA can verify your data and after consultation with you, produce bespoke reporting containing information that is useful and important to you. Once your key indicators are identified, this gives your company key objectives to focus on to increase profitability and improve your competitive advantage.

“Does having regularly updated KPIs and key objectives sound like a good idea for your business?”

I’d love to talk to you about it on 01234 752566 or you can send me an initial email enquiry and I’ll answer any questions you may have.

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Jonathan Vowles
Chartered Accountants
114 High Street
Cranfield
MK43 0DG

Tel: 01234 752 566
Fax: 01234 752 577
info@vowles.co.uk

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114 High Street
Cranfield
MK43 0DG

Tel: 01234 752 566
Fax: 01234 752 577
info@vowles.co.uk

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