Charity Commission – Look out, there’s a New Register about![1]

The revamped register, which is expected to appear after Easter, will look different and will display information from the newly updated annual return form.

The Charity Commission is about to launch an updated version of its online register of charities, including redesigned graphics and extra information on charities, such as whether they are members of the Fundraising Standards Board.

The regulator has not given an exact date for the planned launch, although it’s unlikely to be before Easter. The new register, which it’s said will look and feel quite different, will be launched in beta form, meaning that changes can be made based on user feedback.

Alongside the new visual elements, the register will display some of the information newly included in the annual return form, which was updated last week. Registered charities with incomes of more than £10,000 must complete annual returns within 10 months of their financial year-end.

The new details to be included are:

  • whether charities are members of the Fundraising Standards Board;
  • whether they have written policies on selected issues including investments and conflicts of interest; and
  • whether they are registered with any of four other regulators: the Care Quality Commission, the Homes and Communities Agency, the Financial Conduct Authority and Ofsted.

The revamped register will also display whether a charity receives Gift Aid, something that was added in the 2013 update of the annual return.

The inclusion of FRSB membership on the commission’s register has frequently been suggested by politicians and others, and has been compared to the red border around the name of charities that file their annual documents late. The latter move was initially opposed by some charities, but has also been praised by regulation experts.

Sam Younger, chief executive of the commission, said: “The carefully considered changes mean that the extra information collected and displayed will be valuable in both promoting the compliance of the sector and in helping the public to make informed decisions about charities.”

A total of six million individual checks of charity details were made on the register last year, according to the commission.

For more information on this please contact our Head of Not for Profit Simon Brown on 0191 285 0321 or email

Auto Enrolment charge cap set at 0.75%


Pensions Minister Steve Webb recently confirmed the planned charge cap on auto enrolment pension schemes will be set at 0.75%. Over the next 10 years this cap will allegedly take £200m from the profits of the pensions industry into the pockets of savers. While the cap will not include transaction charges, this is something which will be reviewed as part of the DWP and FCA consultation.

This charges cap, originally planned to be introduced this month, was delayed until at least 2015 after protest from pension providers.

Webb said that the government was working to improve the transparency of charges, and get an “iron grip” on pension charges, adding that “it’s time to put the saver first”.

It was also announced that from April 2016 auto enrolment schemes will not be able to pay sales commission using money from people’s pension schemes, and that they will have to stop offering active member discounts, also starting in 2016.


For more information on Auto Enrolment, or to discuss other aspects of payroll and employee pensions, call us on 0191 285 0321, or email


Tait Walker Wealth Management is a trading style of Tait Walker Financial Services Ltd which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Export Week – What tax incentives would make exporting more effective for North East companies?


I was presenting recently at our national MHA Manufacturing and Engineering roundtable event which was held at IMechE’s headquarters in London, on the subject of ‘what further tax incentives would encourage growth in the manufacturing sector’.

As part of the discussions, a North East manufacturing company asked the question “why is it not possible to encourage ‘import displacement’ measures, which would drive UK manufacturers to be able to produce goods locally at a lower overall cost than those which we currently import?”  The point they were making was based on statistical research they had carried out which showed that many products we import could actually be made at a lower cost in the UK (and in particular once transport costs are taken into account) but the industries died out some years ago and so we import rather than export those goods.

Exporting is an obvious ‘key area’ of potential growth for UK companies and as part of the research I carried out prior to presenting at IMechE I aimed to understand what is “possible” in terms of creation of a UK tax regime which will encourage export activities.

The starting point is that under global trade agreements, including those set by the World Trade Organisation and also the EU, as a developed economic nation trading on a global stage, the UK can’t offer “export subsidies” which would damage the interests of businesses in other nations, as this would be deemed to distort trade (it would make the cost of those exports artificially low).

By way of a comparison, there are nations who can offer direct export subsidies but the countries are limited to a prescribed list of developing nations (typically in Africa, the Middle East and Asia). Typically the incentives they offer are tax incentives for marketing and promotion of exports from those countries.

The UK is therefore limited to offering tax incentives which apply equally to all companies based in the UK, whether they trade wholly internally within the UK, trade wholly with export markets or trade with both internal and export markets.

Over the last few years the UK has deliberately created a series of highly tax efficient measures for companies who are producing goods and services in the UK, whether they trade internally or externally, including a 20% corporation tax rate, R&D tax reliefs, Patent Box reliefs, Creative Sector tax reliefs and NIC exemptions for employment of under 21’s.   The UK also has a well-developed set of tax treaties with the majority of major nations which seek to minimise the tax administration burden on cross border transactions wherever possible.

The message from the Government is clear; the UK is a highly tax competitive nation to do business “in and from”, but you will be treated equally whether you are an exporter or trade wholly internally within the UK.


Author: Alastair Wilson, Tait Walker


Thinking of doing business abroad? Check out one of our 24 ‘doing business guides’ here

Before you start processing the new tax year…

The start of this week kicked off the new tax year, so we’ve got a checklist for you of all the things you need to make sure you’ve done before you start processing the new year using your Sage Payroll software.

  • Process and update your final pay period for 2013/2014 and send your final FPS and, if applicable, EPS.
  • Check that you’ve installed your new tax year update so you’ve got the correct legislation to process. Go to Help > About, and your version should be v20.01, v19.04, v18.05, v17.08 or v16.11. If it’s not, open Help > Check For Updates.
  • Update your employees’ tax codes. From 6 April, all L suffix tax codes increased by 56 (for example 944L will now be 1000L) and you should remove all week 1/month 1 flags.
  • Check your small employer’s relief status. If you’re classed as a small employer, make sure you’ve got the check box selected so that you can reclaim the correct amount of any statutory maternity, paternity or adoption pay. Your company will normally qualify for small employers’ relief if your liability for national insurance (NI) contributions was £45,000 or less in the last complete tax year prior to the employee’s qualifying week, or in the case of adoption, the matching week.
  • If you’re eligible, select the new employment allowance check box to claim up to £2000 off your employer NI liability.
  • If applicable you should also advance your holiday year and calculate any Class 1A NI.


For more detail on the year-end process please contact Claire Brown or Claire Richardson on 0191 285 0321 or via email at or

We are currently offering 10% off RRP on all Sage products until the end of April, so please get in touch to discuss how our Sage specialists can help you.

Sage Platinum Partner

Do you pay business rates? Improve your cashflow and act now to spread the cost over 12 months instead of 10

If you pay business rates, the Government has recently announced an opportunity for businesses to make a formal request that their business rates are paid to their local council over twelve months (opposed to the normal 10 month payment cycle currently used by most councils) from the 2014/15 year onwards.

This gives a formal opportunity for businesses to improve cashflow by spreading business rate payments over a longer cycle.

Once requested by a business, this 12 month payment cycle will remain in place until the business requests otherwise (so there is no need to renew the request on an annual basis).

To request to move to the 12 month payment cycle, the business rate payer simply has to contact the council, but in some instances this has to be carried out before 15th April 2014 to benefit from the full 12 month payment cycle for the 2014/15 financial year – so time may be of the essence! If the request is received by the council after 15 April they can instead spread payment over the number of months left in the 2014/15 year.

We have set out below the contact details for the departments where the requests can be made at some of the major North East councils, along with the guidance notes from those councils.


Newcastle City Council   0191 278 7878


Northumberland County Council 0845 600 6400


South Tyneside Council 0191 424 4298/99


North Tyneside Council 0191 643 2365


Durham County Council 03000 268 997


Middlesbrough Council 01642 726007


Stockton Council 01642 397108

Export Week – What’s going on in the North East


It’s Export Week and UK Trade & Investment is running a series of regional events throughout this week. This follows on from the success of previous Export Weeks – in total so far over 8000 companies have attended events across the country.

This week activities will include seminars, trade workshops, targeted market days, intellectual property and marketing workshops. In addition, regions will be holding various events letting you access UKTI trade experts’ knowledge and experience, alongside that of regional partners.

Whatever the size of your business there’s bound to be something for you. Look below at all the events in your region and get involved. And if you’ve been inspired by Export Weeks past or present, click here to arrange a face-to-face meeting with a UKTI adviser today.


Click here to find out more about the events going on in the North East – it’s not too late to register for the events below:

April 9th Tailor Made Support for Medium Sized Businesses

April 10th Regional Networks – Your Gateway to the World

April 11thGrowing your Business in the Tees Valley and how Government funded programmes can help

Stressed by debt? Take action now, before it’s out of control!


R3’s latest personal debt snapshot for the North East, Yorkshire and Humberside shows a higher level of concern at personal debt levels compared to the national average and previous years.

Historically, reliance has been placed on house price increases allowing people to re-mortgage to maintain day-to-day living costs, however since the recession this hasn’t been a widely available option. With savings depleted and the ability of support networks of family and friends no longer able to cope, there is now a growing cost of living crisis. With a reliance on credit cards to meet both emergency expenses and day to day living costs, and where credit cards are no longer available, there appears to be increased usage of “pay day loans” to meet this expenditure.

A blessing for many has been the Bank of England’s insistence on holding down interest rates allowing many families to get by. Unfortunately for them 2015 is likely to bring about a potential rate rise, and 2015 isn’t that far away!

My belief is that as interest rates rise, panic may set in. Families are unlikely to cope with an increase in their mortgage payments; first time buyers benefiting from low repayments with no experience of high interest rates may have failed to budget for the higher rates and could struggle.

While house prices have increased across the country and the picture overall is said to be improving, the North East is seeing unexceptional house price growth (0.6%), however once banks and loan companies see equity within the housing market they will become more likely to consider options to recover debt. The real likelihood is that we will start to see more people needing formal debt solutions and are likely to see creditors being more pro-active in recovery action taken.

Ideally individuals need to start budgeting for rises now, but typically there is no spare cash to take up the strain. Therefore even those sensible enough to know there are issues around the corner may be unable to do much to improve their situation.

Based upon my experience of over 24 years dealing with personal debt and insolvency, I have listed some pointers below to help reduce monthly costs:

  • Compare and switch – follow general internet guidance and switch providers of household services (e.g. gas & electric) to those with a lower tariff. Alternatively, consider a fixed tariff: ideally one with minimal penalties should a decision be made to change later.
  • Plastic power – consider switching credit cards to those with 0% balance transfers and review the time period you are likely to repay over.
  • Review mortgage providers – can the mortgage be switched to an alternate provider? What are the penalties? Can this – or indeed should this be fixed?
  • Back to basics – switch supermarkets, swap brands to the supermarkets own.

Most importantly, if you feel your debt is or may get out of control, seek early advice and ensure the best route for your circumstance is taken as informal plans often are not the right answer.


Author: Lynn Marshall, Tait Walker Turnaround & Insolvency

0191 285 0321

Do your customers love your social media efforts?

How to understand engagement levels and give your customers the content they desire

OPR - Social Love

Using social media to nurture your customers’ affections is an easy and effective way to grow an online community. But, how do you know you’re actually getting through? To help you evaluate how far your social media efforts are reaching, here’s some useful tips on giving your customers the content they desire.

Don’t play the field

Your online customers are spending significant amounts of time on social networks, with many spending multiple hours each week networking, therefore knowing the right place and time to engage is key.

You don’t need to ‘play the field’ in social media terms – the demographics of your customers will determine what platforms you should employ. Only utilise the channels you know your customers are using to ensure your attention is focused on those who matter the most.

Attract those significant others

The phrase ‘quality over quantity’ is definitely true when it comes to assessing how loved your customers feel on social media. While it’s great to have a huge following and masses of content available on their channels, it’s much better to have an audience of top quality influencers to engage with.

Make friends

What better way to turn customers into friends and brand advocates than by listening and replying with personalised content? Research your customers’ habits inside out, from their interests to influences, the hashtags they react to and keywords they use.

As with any budding relationship, people do business with people they know and trust so make your customers feel like they are talking to a real person, not a robot.

In business one unhappy customer tells 10 to 15 people on average, whilst one happy customer tells only five. This is taken to the extreme through social media with numbers easily reaching hundreds, even thousands.

Be true

Whether they are on social media or not, customers love being part of a business’ decision process and this is one great way to engage with your clientele whilst crowdsourcing ways to improve your customer service strategy.

Don’t lie, overpromise or hide negative comments, and never delete bad reviews or criticism. Instead, answer honestly and openly, showing the world you are there to help and that your customer always comes first.

A great way to gain your customers’ attention and reward them for their loyalty could be by sharing exclusive content such as new product launch or behind the scenes sneak peeks of a day in the life of your staff.

Be yourself

Let your brand personality shine through in your communication; be personal, relatable and interesting, and always put yourself in your customers’ shoes.

Remember to tell your story, not sell your story. Just like the dating game, let your customers know what your passions are, not your vital statistics.

Even the most corporate of companies can still be fun, inviting and informative so don’t be afraid to experiment and find your own online personality.

Look for love

So now you understand which social platforms your customers are using, what they want to see from you and how you can share content that’s going to interest and keep them wanting more. How do you track the attention you have put into making your online presence a success?

Once you identify the metrics you want to track, whether this is the reach of your content, the demographics of your followers or how effective your hashtags are, you’ll need to find tools to capture the information.

Some social media sites have dashboards and apps that offer an easy way to keep tabs on your social media love. For example, Facebook Insights will show you not just your new likes but which conversations and posts are most popular and when on your fan page, whereas Bitly is a great tool to track the pathway of URL clicks.

Remember it takes time to build a true and loyal social media community but if you talk with your customers (not to them), be human and interesting and keep your content relevant to their daily lives rather than your product range, your customers will be doing more than ‘like’ your social media channels in no time.

Author: OPR | | @OPRtweets

The Business Northumberland High Growth Programme

Do you have ambitious growth plans for your business?

Are you keen to access extensive expertise and knowledge networks that will facilitate the rapid growth of your business?

Are you eager to enhance your business skills?

business northumberland

The Business Northumberland High Growth Programme, delivered by Oxford Innovation, offers intensive coaching support for eligible businesses that have been trading for over 12 months. This coaching is bespoke to your business needs, as well as completely personal and confidential.

Oxford Innovation uses a team of highly experienced coaches, all with backgrounds of proven commercial success at senior management level, bringing new perspectives and detailed specialist knowledge from a wide range of sectors and disciplines.

The coaching programme is available to businesses based in Northumberland, and offers support in a number of areas, including growing a business, and building turnover and profits. The programme is completely free for eligible businesses as it is fully funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Over 100 high growth businesses have already signed up to the Business Northumberland High Growth Programme, including Aartoft and The All-in-One Company, and are already seeing benefits to their businesses. To read more case studies on businesses who have signed up, please click here.

For more information on this coaching programme or to find out whether your business is eligible, please visit the website ( or get in touch via:

Telephone: 01670 528 403


How simple questions can help you to sell your business and maximise your price

Do you ever ask yourself simple questions and find them the hardest to answer?  Children do this all the time – Why is the sky blue? Why is water wet? – and often the answers to the simplest questions provoke the deepest meaning.

General - Kids with Balloons

So as businessmen and entrepreneurs, do you ask yourselves the following simple questions:

  • Why do I work the way that I do?
  • What’s in it for me?

Answering them may just be the secret to maximising your value as shareholders and developing your exit strategy.

Why do I work the way that I do?

Understanding this allows you to identify what you most value in your business:

  • do you want a lifestyle business or one that is driven to maximise profits / shareholder capital value?
  • do you want to grow a business and with it accept the risks and rewards of success or failure?
  • do you want your business to be passed to your next generation, and if so, how do you want your business to look when you hand over the reins?
  • do you want to accept the change that could be inevitable in order for you to meet your aspirations?
  • do you know what you want and how to achieve it?
  • do you have the right team around you to achieve it?

Most businessmen will be able to answer these questions fairly readily, but some may have to allow themselves time out of the business to reflect on their position and that of their business so that the more insightful answers arrive. This is truly strategic thinking.

What’s in it for me?

This appears a selfish question and perhaps it should be.  The emphasis is for you to arrive at the right motivation to fit the strategic direction that you have chosen.

For example, if you want to grow your business with a view to maximise its capital value on a sale then what actions would you take?

  1. Take advice and start planning early (2 years) with experienced advisers.  Get your books and management information in order. Develop an exit strategy.
  2. Know and believe in your business plan and exit strategy to ensure you stay on track.
  3. Identify and address the key issues that impact your value: getting a customer contract, recruiting key management, identifying weaknesses and drawing up an action plan.
  4. Get a professional valuation and understand what drives that valuation from a buyer’s perspective.
  5. Timing – not only from the perspective of your business, but from the perspective of the market and your potential buyers.
  6. Identify buyers and start to think from their point of view. Where are they weak? How could you help them? If they are a competitor, how could you damage them? Look at alternative deal structures such as an MBO or a partial exit especially if shareholders have different agendas.
  7. Make the business attractive: stop unnecessary expenditure; improve your website; start a PR and press campaign; tidy up the property and if necessary add a splash of paint.

Author: Steve Plaskitt, Tait Walker Corporate Finance

0191 285 0321


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