The FreeAgent Blog

Autumn Budget 2017: what you need to know about the second Budget of the year

Posted on 15 November 2017 by Emily Coltman - Jump to comments

Hang onto your hats: the Budget is just around the corner! Got a case of déjà vu? Thanks to a change announced last year, 2017 has transpired to be a bumper year for Budgets. We had the final Spring Budget back in March and now the first Autumn Budget is due on Wednesday 22nd November. Confused? Don’t worry - here’s what you need to know about the change.

2017: a tale of two Budgets

Traditionally, the government has issued two sets of big changes to financial legislation each year: once in the Spring Budget and once in the Autumn Statement. This has made the UK the only major advanced economy in the world to make two major changes a year to its tax system.

In response to calls from bodies such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) to address the uncertainty created by this system, the Chancellor announced in 2016 that the UK would move to a single fiscal event a year - a Budget held in the autumn - starting from 2018.

In order to make the transition, both the final Spring Budget of the new system and the first Autumn Budget of the new system are being held in 2017, resulting in the very unusual situation of the UK having two Budgets in one year!

2018: enter the Spring Statement

From 2018 onwards, the Budget will be held in the autumn - but there will still be an event in the spring: the Spring Statement. Unlike the Autumn Statement of previous years, this should simply be a response to the bi-annual forecast from the Office for Budget Responsibility and shouldn’t include any major changes to tax legislation. However, it’s worth noting that the government has said it will “retain the option to make changes to fiscal policy at the Spring Statement if the economic circumstances require it”.

What does all this mean for small business owners?

The Budget will continue to include updates to tax legislation that may affect small business owners and contractors. While the Spring Statement from 2018 onwards may prove less significant, it could still serve up news that has an impact on the self-employment sector. Here at FreeAgent, we'll continue to report on any legislative changes that affect small business owners and contractors and will be publishing our response to next Wednesday's Budget announcement here on our blog.

Autumn Statement to Autumn Budget - a timeline

Date Event
8 March 2017 Final Spring Budget was announced
22nd November 2017 First Autumn Budget will be announced
Spring 2018 First Spring Statement will be announced
Autumn 2018 Second Autumn Budget will be announced

Do workers dream of electric bosses? 31% say they would be happy to work for a 'robo-boss'

Posted on 13 November 2017 by Jessica Farmer - Jump to comments

Would you work for a robot? With the Bank Of England projecting that up to 15 million jobs could be at risk of being automated, the prospect of people and machines working side by side is no longer restricted to the world of Blade Runner: it could become a reality. We surveyed 1,000 people working in the UK* to find out how they felt about the notion of working for a boss who is “more human than human”.

The results revealed that nearly a third of working people in the UK (31%) would be happy to work for a robot boss, with 11% of respondents even predicting that a ‘robo-boss’ would be more efficient than a person. Meanwhile, one in 10 said they thought working for a robot boss would be “just the same” as answering to a person, and four out of ten (42%) also said that they would be “comfortable” taking orders from a robot.

We spoke to our CEO and co-founder, Ed, about the results of the survey and what the rise of the ‘robo-boss’ could mean for the self-employment sector:

“Although it might be many years before we see physical robots taking over the workforce, many workers are already anticipating the changes that automation will bring in the years ahead.

“The shifting landscape of AI and new technology will have a major impact on people in employment, but I don’t think that this is a gloomy outlook for the workforce. Previous research we’ve carried out has suggested that many employed people are keen to quit their jobs and start their own businesses. So as automation takes a more prominent role in the workforce, it’s likely we could see a self-employment boom in the future.

“In this scenario, automation will actually be a major benefit for these new businesses, as technological advances will make business admin and data management much easier to manage than ever before.”

*The survey was carried out by 3Gem in August 2017.

Digital detox: the freelancer's guide to switching off

Posted on 9 November 2017 by Fiona Hendrie - Jump to comments

In a world where people look at their iPhones on average 80 times per day, it’s safe to say that technology is pretty inextricably woven into our lives. Running a business is no exception to this; tech is essential for everything from promoting your services and staying in touch with clients, to managing your business finances.

There’s no doubt that this multitude of technology is incredibly useful - especially when it comes to running a small business. However, even if you’re an avid user of the UK’s greatest accounting software, a predilection for too much tech has the potential to be problematic. Overuse of laptops, smartphones, tablets and other gadgets can lead to physical problems such as poor posture and fatigue, as well as mental health issues like anxiety and depression.

So whether you’d like to cut back on screen time in your day-to-day life, or you fancy more of an extended break from being online, here’s our quick guide to disconnecting - without abandoning your business.

Choose which devices to cut out ✅

It might be tough to fully cut out a laptop, or even a phone, if your work depends on one, but tablets and smartwatches can almost definitely stand to take some time out. If you can’t fully commit to taking time off from a particular device, then consider setting yourself some daily usage limits. When it comes to keeping your books in order, FreeAgent can automate a variety of tasks for you while you’re offline; everything from invoices to late payment reminders. Just make sure you have everything set up before you switch off.

Make your targets achievable ✅

Accept that some time online might be unavoidable, and be kind to yourself in your estimates. If you’re aiming to cut back on your phone usage, for example, why not start off with a limit of 30 minutes per day? For some extra “encouragement” you could even download an app like Moment that will boot you off your phone if you exceed these limits! If you do slip up,don’t beat yourself up too much - just have another think about what’s realistic and set a new target.

Keep your clients in the loop ✅

Before you cut yourself off from the digital realm, make sure you have a solid plan for keeping in touch with your clients. You might want to reacquaint them with your landline, or perhaps just set aside some dedicated time every day to check and respond to emails. You could also consider setting up an auto-responder with a clear timescale of when clients can expect a reply from you.

Keep a journal ✅

Last but not least, consider keeping a paper journal to record your progress. Even if it’s just a couple of lines per day or week, keeping a note of how you’re feeling could prove really useful. You might be able to spot weak points in your plan, as well as see some really positive changes coming through. Taking the time to power down might not only give you a break from the physical and mental strain of using technology, it could also give you fresh ideas and a renewed passion for why you started your business in the first place.

FreeAgent wins at the Software Excellence Awards

Posted on 20 October 2017 by Ed Molyneux - Jump to comments

We’re all grinning from ear to ear after a very successful evening yesterday at the AccountingWeb Software Excellence Awards!

Held at The Brewery in London, the Software Excellence Awards recognise the best technology for the accounting profession. With top software companies from across the UK represented, we were shortlisted in the SME Accounts/Bookkeeping category alongside Clear Books, QuickBooks Online, Sage 50 Accounts and Xero.

Tough competition but I’m delighted to announce that FreeAgent scooped the top prize! 🏆

Software Excellence Award

Users cast over 3,600 votes in the SME Accounts/Bookkeeping category, which is an all-time record for any category of these awards. It means so much to us to know that our friends in the accounting profession think so highly of the software and the hard work we all put into it.

Software Excellence Award team photo

We’re proud to be making the lives of small business owners and their accountants easier and we promise to keep improving and evolving to make your FreeAgent experience even better. Thank you and keep an eye out for more product improvements coming in the near future!

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