We’re proud to share that our software partner FreeAgent won the coveted SME Accounts/Bookkeeping award at AccountingWeb’s 2017 Software Excellence Awards.

Users cast over 3,600 votes – an all-time record for any of the Software Excellence user-voted awards – in the SME Accounts/Bookkeeping category, with FreeAgent named the winner at a ceremony held in London on October 2017.

Already trusted by over 50,000 businesses, Carnegie Knox has developed a strong partnership with FreeAgent so that our clients benefit from the ease and simplicity of using online, cloud based accounting software but at the same time have the additional comfort and support from a professional accounting team.  This means we can deliver a truly stress free accounting experience for our clients.

For more information on using the FreeAgent accounting software please get in touch.

 

Scotch Whisky sales have slumped following a hike in tax duty. Official HMRC figures showed 36.7 million bottles were sold in the first 6 months of this year compared to the same period in 2016. The Scotch Whisky Association said the fall in sales could be attributed to a near 4% increase in duty on spirits that was imposed by the chancellor in his March budget. The Association’s CEO Karen Betts has urged the chancellor to use his November budget to drop the dram duty and “boost a great British success story”. Betts said, “The damaging duty hike has hit UK demand for Scotch and seen less money going to the Treasury.” She added, “Cutting tax would send a strong signal that the Government believes in a world-famous UK manufacturing industry which supports 40,000 jobs and plays a key role in Scotland’s economy, accounting for more than £4billion in exports”

Industry figures show that an average bottle sold at £12.77 will generate more than £10 in tax revenue for the Treasury. But the tax increase doesn’t appear to be working according to the industry trade body citing a decline in tax revenues from spirits of more than 7% to £697million from £751million in the first 3 months of the financial year.

The industry has come under intense competition from distillers in East Asia and the US, diminishing export markets and affected overseas sales. Past growth for Scotch whisky has been driven by the success of single malts appealing to luxury and prestige markets. New entrants have included small independent businesses who have been able to raise the necessary funds to set up operations. Investment payback is slow and many small businesses have had to diversify into gin making to maintain cash flow.

Wind projects based in the more remote Scottish Islands will be eligible to compete in the next competitive auction for less established renewable technologies (Contracts for Difference), it has been announced. The UK government has also announced £557million of support to be available for future Contracts for Difference auctions.

The announcements were made ahead of the launch of the UK government’s Clean Growth Strategy and highlights Scotland’s importance in the renewable energy sector. The UK’s Energy Minister Richard Harrington indicated that Scotland already has a strong record in exploiting the potential of clean growth with more than half of Scottish electricity consumption derived from renewable sources. There is a clear intention to create Scottish jobs and attract billions of pounds of inward investment that will benefit the island communities directly.  A 2013 report for the UK and Scottish governments concluded that wind projects on the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland could supply around 3% of the UK’s total electricity demand.

Responding to the announcement Scottish Secretary David Mundell said, “Wind projects on the remote islands of Scotland have the potential to generate substantial amounts of electricity for the whole of the UK and I am delighted they will have the opportunity to compete in the next round of Contracts for Difference. This UK government investment is vital in realising the potential of less established renewable technologies, as well as providing Scottish jobs in the projects supported. Clean Growth is at the heart of the Industrial Strategy, and the UK government is determined to unlock opportunities across the UK, while cutting carbon emissions as the world moves towards a low carbon future.”

The next competitive auction will be held in Spring 2019. The last competitive auction ended in September. It brought forward commitments for enough electricity generation to power 3.6million homes and secured 3.2 GW of electricity from offshore wind projects including the Moray East offshore wind farm that provides 95-00MW of capacity, which is capable of powering over 950,000 homes.

Owners of SMEs have indicated their satisfaction with the performance of their businesses according to a recent survey. A survey carried out by Banking group Aldemore with 1003 SME owners found that 85% viewed their business as a success. Results of the survey indicated that 92% of owners whose firms launched in the early 200s reported that their business is thriving and numbers fell slightly to 86% for businesses formed between 2010 and 2011. Owners of recent business startups reported more challenges with 59% reporting that their business was flourishing. The survey also found that 88% of owners believe Spring is the best time to start a business.

Carnegie Knox can assist new business start ups with a range of services and advice.

According to a survey conducted by Banking group Close Brothers, 66% of owner managed businesses are feeling the effect of clients who delay paying their bills. The survey drew responses from 900 small business owners and found that they suffered through damage to their business reputation, credit rating and securing further access to funding. For a growing business with limited resources these affects can be lethal. 74% of the respondents didn’t feel that there is suitable legislation in place to counteract slow payment with 1 in 4 firms forced to seek legal advice and suffer further costs. The study highlighted transport (78%), manufacturing (74%) and printing (73%) were the worst affected by late payments.

The first Small Business Commissioner has been appointment by the Government. The new role will provide invaluable support to small businesses in resolving late payment disputes with larger businesses by providing an in-house complaints handling function. Mr Paul Uppal, a father of three from Birmingham, will take up the position and will lead an independent office that will drive a culture change in payment practices. With over 20 years’ experience as a small business owner in the property sector, it is hoped that he will be able to oversee the cultural change of late payments by customers. Small businesses will be provided with general advice and information on matters such as resolving disputes including signposting to existing support services.

 

Commenting on the new appointment, Secretary of State for Business Greg Clark said, “Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, providing jobs and opportunities across the country. I am delighted to announce Paul Uppal as the first Small Business Commissioner. His extensive experience as a small business owner makes him perfectly suited to champion the interests of small business and bring about a change in culture that will create a level playing field for everyone.”

 

The role of the Small Business Commissioner was established by the Enterprise Act 2016 and will be primarily concerned with the handling of complaints from small businesses who are experiencing payment issues in connection with the supply of goods or services to a larger business. Under the Act, a small business is defined as a business with a headcount of less than 50 employees. Complaints should be made within 12 months of the date of the incident complained of. Once the complaint has been decided upon, The Small Business Commissioner will have the discretion to publish a report on it that may detail recommendations about how similar disputes could be resolved in the future. They may also choose to name the respondent in the published report.

 

The office of the Small Business Commissioner is expected to be operational by the end of 2017.