The FreeAgent Blog
Today the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, unveiled the government’s first ever Spring Statement. Here’s the lowdown on this brand new event in the economic calendar.
What is the Spring Statement?
Unlike the complex and comprehensive Budget announcement that we’d normally expect at this time of year, the Spring Statement is simply the government’s response to the updated Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) forecast.
Why was the Spring Statement introduced?
Back in November 2016 the Chancellor announced the government’s plan to change the Budget timetable in order to “provide more stability and certainty for business owners”.
This included replacing the two “major fiscal events” that were being held each year - the Spring Budget and the Autumn Statement - with a single major Budget event in the autumn for announcing major tax and spending changes. The Spring Statement, by contrast, is designed to be a summary of the state of the economy - although the government has said it will retain the option to announce changes to fiscal policy at the Spring Statement “if the economic circumstances require it”.
What did this year’s Spring Statement cover?
While today’s announcement didn’t include any major tax changes or spending changes, the Chancellor did make some interesting points relating to small businesses. These included:
- More will be done to reduce late payments for small business owners. This could be a boon to anyone who is struggling to collect payments from customers.
- The government is consulting on potential changes to the VAT registration threshold mechanism, including allowing businesses a longer period after their turnover crosses the threshold before they have to register, and/or allowing simplified VAT accounting for a certain level above the threshold.
- The government is also seeking views from the public on whether there could be more tax relief available on self-funded work-related training for the self-employed and employees.
Now that the move to a single major fiscal event each year has been completed, we’ll be keeping an even closer eye on the Budget when it’s announced in the autumn! We’ll be reporting on the event here on our blog as usual, highlighting any major tax or spending changes and explaining what they mean for freelancers and small businesses.
Posted on 25 January 2018 by Victoria Shepherd - Jump to comments
From blissful denial to grim-jawed resolve, where are you at on the Self Assessment stress scale?
Ages to go until 31 January Self Assessment deadline. Aaaaaages.
If you at least make a start on your tax return, you can justifiably wind down with at least three hours of Netflix... right? 😱
The receipts. WHERE ARE ALL THE RECEIPTS.
You don’t normally envy your office-dwelling, tax-return-free friends, but just look at them with their ‘weekends’ and ‘free time’. Grrr.
It’s time. Getting your Self Assessment tax return done might not be fun but a stiff upper lip is the only way to go. If you’re in need a helping hand, check out our handy Self Assessment SOS section. Now, go smash that tax return!
Posted on 4 January 2018 by Victoria Shepherd - Jump to comments
Back in 2017 (remember then?) we spread some seasonal cheer by holding a virtual Christmas party on Facebook for the ‘elf-employed’ and loads of small business owners and freelancers joined us for a day of online festive fun and frolics.
In between exchanging photos of our Xmas knitwear, we asked the partygoers what their small business resolutions for 2018 were. Here’s a few of the excellent responses we received and some tips for how to turn best intentions into reality.
"Do tax returns on time!"
If you’re currently eyeing the 31st January Self Assessment deadline with a creeping sense of dread, a great place to start is our Self Assessment checklist - everything you need to take you through the Self Assessment process step by step, right through to filing.
Going forward, a basic but effective way to get organised is by putting your tax return paperwork somewhere safe as soon as it arrives. Buy a box file and use it to keep important documents for each tax year, such as interest certificates from your bank, dividend vouchers showing money received on shares, and so forth.
Make sure you’re also keeping on top of your day-to-day business accounts and your expenses too, as this will help save you time and hassle when it comes to filling your Self Assessment tax return next year. With the right system in place, you can keep your records up to date and accurate in just an hour a week, so why not block off this time in your diary starting from January?
"Pay for a flu jab. Done it every year since becoming self employed. Guess what happened when I didn’t this year?"
The absence of sick pay has traditionally been one of the downsides of being self employed - a survey showed that a huge 82% of micro-business owners have worked through an illness because they felt they couldn’t afford to take time off*.
Making sure you build a decent buffer into your rate to cover yourself is so important. You can set aside this extra money as your own personal insurance policy, whether it be for illness, maternity/paternity cover or even just downtime between jobs.
Insurance products like an income protection policy could also offer you some cover. Usually income protection insurance covers a wide range of illnesses and situations and has the potential to pay out for many years. As with any insurance, getting the right policy for you and your specific circumstances is key – so it’s worth seeing an independent financial adviser or broker for advice.
"Take a holiday for the first time in years!"
Being cooped up with the relatives, watching terrible TV, ferreting through the Quality Street tin to avoid the fruit creams - the Christmas holidays aren’t always as enjoyable as they could be. You need a proper holiday to look forward to!
Unfortunately when you run your own business it’s not always easy to feel you can step away to enjoy some well deserved downtime, but there are some straightforward ways to make sure things keep ticking over while you’re away. Automated responses to messages, either through an automatic out-of-office email responder or a social media automation tool like Hootsuite, can really pick up some of the slack. If you want your clients and suppliers to receive a more personal response, you could even consider outsourcing some of these tasks.
When it comes to staying on top of your cash flow, FreeAgent’s automatic email reminders will chase outstanding invoices for you. You’ll enjoy that piña colada even more knowing that late payers aren’t being let off the hook.
"To actively go client hunting"
If you’re on the prowl for new clients, you could ask the existing clients who you enjoy working with to refer you to their friends. You might even want to consider setting up a dedicated referral scheme, so that your existing clients receive a reward for every customer that they successfully introduce to your business.
You could also consider introducing a special offer or discount for new clients. Offering them a percentage discount on their first purchase from you or a multi-buy discount may seem like you’re taking a hit to your bottom line, but it could be worth it - especially if it encourages them to use your business again in the future. As a bonus, you could extend the discount for a normally quiet period, hopefully boosting your cash flow.
If you’re ready to revolutionise the way you manage your small business accounts this year, give FreeAgent a try today for free. From expenses, payroll, and time tracking to estimates and invoices, FreeAgent helps you take care of business day-to-day. You can get on with enjoying an awesome 2018!
*Survey of FreeAgent customers conducted in January 2017 with 366 total respondents.
The tree is up🎄, the decorations are out 🎊 and Santa’s visit is only a few sleeps away🎅!
Here at FreeAgent Towers we celebrated by dusting off our favourite festive knitwear to mark Christmas Jumper Day and raise money for Save the Children.
Here’s to a very merry Christmas and a fantastic 2018!
Page 1 of 37
- Introducing the Spring Statement
- Share the self-employment love this Valentine’s Day!
- Introducing the Customer Sales Report
- Five stages of Self Assessment stress
- Know how long it will take your Self Assessment payment to reach HMRC