News and comment from HW Fisher & Company
Brexit may mean Brexit, but what will it mean for business?
Brexit economic impact – Apocalypse postponed or keep calm
and carry on?
Improving business performance by cutting red tape
Insight | 1
Brexit may mean Brexit,
but what will it mean
The process of Brexit will be neither quick nor easy, with even the Chancellor
warning that British businesses face a “rollercoaster.” Corporate tax partner
Toby Ryland charts the potential ups and downs that lie ahead.
One of the many misleading
assumptions made during the febrile
pre-referendum atmosphere was that
British businesses would vote en masse
to remain in the EU.
The assumption was simple, but
simply wrong. It reasoned that if
businesses hate uncertainty above all
else, why would they choose to swap
the status quo for a prolonged bout
While that logic may have held sway
in most large corporates, and with
many in the financial services and tech
sectors, sizeable numbers of smaller
business owners and entrepreneurs
voted for Brexit.
But whichever side they backed, all
British businesses are already being
affected to some degree by the plunge
in the Pound triggered by the UK’s
Many also face considerable upheaval
during the extended period of
uncertainty that now looms.
With divorce negotiations between
the UK and the EU set to begin in
early 2017, and Brexit itself not due to
happen until 2019, it is still far from
clear what a non-EU UK will look like.
However two areas likely to see
significant change are taxation
and trade – so what should
Battle lines are drawn
At its heart, the EU is a customs union
and a single market. As a customs
union, there are no tariffs on goods and
services traded between EU member
countries. And when trading with
countries outside the bloc, member
states all face the same tariffs – putting
them on a level playing field.
With divorce negotiations
between the UK and the EU
set to begin in early 2017,
and Brexit itself not due to
happen until 2019, it is still
far from clear what a non-EU
UK will look like.
The single market means there is a
shared VAT system that is harmonised
and charged on a consistent basis
across the EU.
As a trading nation, Britain has
benefitted greatly from this
arrangement – with even Brexiteers
praising the ease and efficiency it
brought to cross-border trade, even if
they disagreed with the free movement
of labour that came with it.
In the wake of the referendum,
optimists suggested that the UK might
be able to negotiate a “soft’ Brexit in
which it left the EU but stayed in the
However, by October the chances of
that happening were looking ever
more slim. At the Conservative Party
conference, Theresa May made it clear
Britain would not remain in the single
market if doing so meant losing control
Yet European leaders insist that the free
movement of goods and services comes
hand in hand with the free movement
And so the first battle lines of the
Brexit negotiations were drawn – the
UK must choose between immigration
controls or the single market. Britain
can’t have both.
Growing signs that the government
favours the former convinced the
currency markets that the UK is heading
for a traumatic “hard” Brexit, and the
resulting fears sent Sterling plunging to
record lows against both the Dollar and
the Euro in early October.
The CBI and the UK manufacturers’ body
the EEF responded by writing an open
letter urging the government to preserve
barrier-free trade with Europe.
It warned that if the UK left the single
market and defaulted to World Trade
Organisation (WTO) rules instead, 90%
of UK goods traded with the EU would
be subject to new tariffs.
And so the first battle lines of
the Brexit negotiations were
drawn – the UK must choose
between immigration controls
or the single market. Britain
can’t have both.
However, in my view such tariffs would
be cumbersome but manageable and
are unlikely to be high, since high tariffs
would not be in the best interests of
either the UK or the EU.
Hold VAT thought
Changes to the most obvious direct
tax on business were mooted within
days of the referendum. One of George
Osborne’s last acts as Chancellor was to
suggest corporation tax be slashed to just
15%, though he gave no timeframe.
Insight | 2
The rationale behind the suggested cut
was to make the UK more attractive to
foreign investors, and it was possible
as the EU already allows its member
states to set their own corporation tax
as they see fit. However, the current
Chancellor, Philip Hammond, may feel
that such a cut in corporation tax is not
needed – more will become clear when
he delivers the Autumn Statement later
By contrast the other major tax that
affects businesses – VAT – is closely
wrapped up in the EU mechanism.
While nothing is expected to happen in
advance of Brexit, once Britain leaves
the EU, the UK could change how VAT
is charged in the UK or even replace
One of George Osborne’s
last acts as Chancellor was to
suggest corporation tax be
slashed to just 15%, though
he gave no timeframe.
But this too is unlikely, as the cost to
UK business would be high and
So in practice, the risk of double or
non-taxation means that the UK VAT
system is likely to continue to mirror the
EU system even after the two separate.
With fundamental change unlikely,
the main impact will be the imposition
of import VAT when goods enter the
EU from the UK and vice versa –
which may have cashflow implications
However there could be better news
for small and medium-sized enterprises
developing new products or services, as
a post-Brexit UK will be free to extend
research and development (R&D) tax
relief. Together with the Enterprise
Investment Scheme and Seed Enterprise
Investment Scheme – and the specialist
tax reliefs available to the creative
industries – such tax incentives are
currently classed as State Aid by the EU
and are strictly limited.
While nothing is expected to
happen in advance of Brexit,
once Britain leaves the EU, the
UK could change how VAT
is charged in the UK or even
replace it completely.
But these State Aid restrictions
would cease to apply to Britain after
Brexit, freeing Westminster to increase
the value of the existing tax breaks,
or introduce new tax incentives if
Similarly Britain’s Patent Box regime –
which was curtailed after EU opponents
accused it of offering a competitive
advantage to UK businesses – could
Divorce proceedings never
Theresa May has warned that she won’t
provide a “running commentary” of her
Brexit plans. But it’s safe to assume they
will have to adapt in the face of tough
negotiations with the EU.
In this issue...
Brexit may mean Brexit, but
what will it mean for business?
Brexit economic impact –
Apocalypse postponed or keep
calm and carry on?
Improving business performance
by cutting red tape
HMRC’s digital future – death of
the tax return?
Spotlight on…Kate Lyall Grant
No mercy for non-doms:
Another tax hit looms for those
who own UK property through
HW Fisher launch new Wills
and Probate service. Jamie
Morrison, Private Client Partner
One year on: learning the
lessons from the ‘extraordinary
failures’ at Kids Company
Financial due diligence – is it
Negative impact on
multinationals, but a boost
One aspect of Brexit that will hit
multinational companies operating
in the UK will be the loss of an
EU-wide corporate tax “freedom”
which allows organisations to make
cross-border interest or royalty
payments between subsidiaries free
from withholding taxes.
This “WHT protection” is a key factor in
the UK’s appeal to global corporations
as a gateway to the EU. Without it,
Britain may find it more challenging
to attract inward investment at the
same rate, however low its rate of
With hard and soft Brexit factions
already dividing the government, and
the EU’s two biggest powerbrokers
– Chancellor Merkel and President
Hollande – drawing a line in the sand
over Britain’s continued access to the
single market, there is likely to be
considerable horsetrading during the
two-year Brexit negotiations.
The “three t’s” of tariffs, tax and trade
will all be key battlegrounds. Businesses
should accept that change is coming on
all three fronts, even if the exact nature
of that change won’t be thrashed out
for some time yet.
Corporate Tax Partner
T 020 7874 7959
The Bribery Act – doing business
FRS 102 Practical issues:
Deferred tax on revaluations
Disclosure of transparency in
Insight | 3
Brexit’s economic impact –
Apocalypse postponed or
keep calm and carry on?
After the initial shock of Britain’s decision to leave the EU, an uneasy calm is
returning. But talk of a post-Brexit bounce is premature, and the impact on the UK
economy will be profound and long-term. British businesses must adapt to the new
normal in order to survive, argues Michael Davis.
When Britons voted to leave the EU
in June, both the UK and its European
trading partners were plunged into a
period of acute uncertainty.
Within hours, Britain’s Prime Minister
had resigned, billions were wiped off
the UK stock markets and Sterling
had slumped in value against both the
Dollar and the Euro.
The days that followed saw a
succession of business leaders make
dire predictions, and the Governor of
the Bank of England describe the UK
as suffering from “economic posttraumatic
But by the start of October, the sky had
steadfastly refused to fall in. Britain’s
property market, that reliable driver of
popular sentiment, had settled into a
familiar pattern of steady price rises.
Buoyed by low inflation, rising wages
and record low interest rates, British
consumers have continued to spend.
By August, UK retail sales figures
were up 6.2% on the same time in
2015. And in September, a GfK survey
of 2,000 households showed that
consumer confidence had surged back
to its pre-Brexit levels.
While the full picture of the
referendum’s economic impact has
yet to emerge, there are some
encouraging early signs. UK GDP grew
by a brisk 0.5% in the third quarter
of 2016, less than in the previous
three months but far faster than most
economists had predicted.
Growth in Britain’s dominant service
sector – which makes up four-fifths of
the economy – grew strongly in July,
according to ONS figures.
In contrast to earlier surveys of business
leaders that suggested there had been
a sharp drop in activity and confidence
in the aftermath of the vote, this first
hard data revealed that the sector grew
by 0.4% in July, faster even than the
0.3% increases notched up in May
While the full picture of the
referendum’s economic impact
has yet to emerge, there are
some encouraging early signs.
The good news didn’t stop there.
Helped by the weak Pound, in
September Britain’s manufacturing
sector grew at its fastest rate in
more than two years, according to
the Markit/CIPS purchasing
Bounce or benign limbo?
Such apparent stability has led some
commentators to conclude that the
initial gloom following the referendum
result was overblown.
“What was all the fuss about?”
they ask, seizing on the surprisingly
robust data as evidence of a postreferendum
Committed Brexiteers are now
confidently predicting a bright
economic future for a non-EU UK, and
that Britain will divorce amicably from
its European neighbours with little
Such a stance overlooks the fact
that much of the post-referendum
improvement in economic indicators
was down to a reversal of earlier falls
rather than a sign of a coming boom.
The fact the UK has not plunged into
the economic abyss, as some feared it
might, is more likely to be down to the
vast monetary stimulus unleashed by
the Bank of England.
In addition to its decision in August
to slash interest rates to a record low,
the Bank has embarked on a £70bn
extension of its quantitative easing
programme, and launched a £100bn
scheme to force banks to pass on
the low interest rate to households
This has shored up consumer and
business confidence to a large degree,
and helped Britain slip into a benign
limbo rather than a recession.
The fact the UK has not
plunged into the economic
abyss, as some feared it
might, is more likely to be
down to the vast monetary
stimulus unleased by the
Bank of England.
Apocalypse not yet
The consensus among most economists
in the run-up to vote was that Brexit
would have a broadly negative impact.
This has changed little, despite the
economy’s resilience so far.
True, the OECD has rowed back on
its warning that the UK would suffer
Insight | 4
immediately from a Brexit vote and
revised its 2016 GDP growth forecasts
for the UK slightly upwards from 1.7%
But it has cut the forecast for
next year from 2% to 1%, saying:
“Uncertainty about the future path of
policy and the reaction of the economy
remains very high and risks remain to
The World Trade Organisation is also
hedging its bets. Its director-general
Roberto Azevedo said in September:
“Economic forecasts for the UK in
2017 range from fairly optimistic to
quite pessimistic. Our forecast assumes
an intermediate case, with a growth
slowdown next year but not an
Such predictions that the UK will
avoid a recession, while more upbeat
than the forecasts of imminent
doom made during the frenzied
referendum campaign, are hardly
a ringing endorsement of Britain’s
The reason for the cautious
ambivalence is two-fold – hard
economic data can take many months
to filter through, and the course of
Brexit negotiations is far from clear.
With the Prime Minister finally
confirming in October that Article 50
– the formal process by which the UK
will extract itself from the EU – will be
triggered in early 2017, there is at least
Once underway, the negotiations must
be completed within two years. But
with rival “hard” and “soft” Brexit
factions already forming in government
and the EU’s two most powerful leaders
– Germany’s Chancellor Merkel and
France’s President Hollande – distracted
by domestic political problems, it is
impossible to predict what sort of
settlement will be reached.
Such predictions that the
UK will avoid a recession,
while more upbeat than the
forecasts of imminent doom
made during the frenzied
are hardly a ringing
endorsement of Britain’s
With such little clarity on everything
from Britain’s access to the European
single market to UK employers’ ability
to recruit skilled workers from the EU,
the post-referendum Phoney War is set
to continue for a while yet.
Brexit will be a process,
not an event
The first snapshot of the UK economy
in the wake of the referendum was
surprisingly positive, and only the most
churlish Remain campaigner could fail
to be cheered by it.
But to cite this initial resilience as
proof that the economy will sail blithely
through the next few years is premature
at best, and dangerously complacent
It also fundamentally underestimates
the scale – and length – of the
challenge ahead. As the Chancellor
Philip Hammond put it in October, the
economy faces “a rollercoaster” ride as
Brexit negotiations progress.
The sharp fall in the Pound following
the referendum may have helped
Britain’s exporters, but it has also
ramped up import costs. Coupled
with September’s oil price spike, more
expensive imports will likely drive up
inflation and steadily stifle consumer
But to cite this initial resilience
as proof that the economy will
sail blithely through the next
few years is premature at best,
and dangerously complacent
Despite the immediate shock
following the referendum result,
the true economic cost of the UK’s
monumental decision to leave the EU
has yet to be felt.
Brexit itself will be a process, not an
event. And for the UK economy, it’s not
so much a question of not being out of
the woods – as not even having entered
T 020 7380 4963
Insight | 5
cutting red tape
The British Chamber of Commerce recently downgraded UK growth expectations
after Brexit, warning that, although the UK should avoid recession, a turbulent
business period still lies ahead.
It is therefore more crucial than ever for businesses to reduce
their costs and improve their efficiency and performance using
all means possible.
One of the ongoing challenges facing small and medium-sized
enterprises (SMEs) is the abundance of red tape they need to
deal with when running a business. Keeping up-to-date with
compliance can be expensive and, together with the burden
of administration, time consuming. In fact, it is estimated
that small business owners spend a day a week on business
administration, time that would be better spent focused on
core business activities and strategy.
It is therefore more crucial than ever for
businesses to reduce their costs and improve
their efficiency and performance using all
The government pledged to cut the cost of regulation by
£10bn between 2015 and 2020 and one of the key arguments
to leave the EU was to reduce the burden of EU regulation
on businesses. Whether a reduction on the cost and burden
on businesses will materialise is uncertain. So what can
SMEs do now to reduce red tape and make their businesses
Cutting the burden of administration
An efficient business will ideally undertake all of its processes in
the most efficient manner to save time and money. There are
two key ways this can be achieved:
Automation uses technology, typically software for business
administration, to automatically complete business processes.
Automating as many of the day-to-day tasks required for your
business to run will ultimately save time and money in the long
run. This could include automatically sending out payment
reminders to customers or automating ongoing marketing form
enquiries on your website.
It can be both cost-effective and efficient to outsource
administrative tasks to another party that specialises in that
specific task. A good example where outsourcing can be
effective is payroll services. In order to operate an efficient
payroll you need to be able to keep up-to-date with changes
in legislation, and have the right software and trained
personnel. A good payroll company will have these resources,
and therefore will reduce the administrative burden on your
business as well as providing a cost saving.
Ultimately the processes you outsource will depend on your
individual business and its focus.
Cutting the burden of compliance
Reducing the cost and time spent on compliance is a balancing
act. The cost of keeping up-to-date with compliance can
be costly, but failing to comply can be more expensive still,
resulting in fines and a loss of customers.
Regulatory changes that have affected a large
proportion of businesses in recent years have
• Auto-enrolment of pensions
• HRMC Real Time Information (RTI)
• Food labelling regulations
The latest change on the horizon is the ‘Making Tax Digital’
proposal from HMRC which could see businesses being
required to upload management information to HMRC on a
quarterly basis which could be a massive burden on
The time saving, and ultimately the cost saving to the business
through the use of automation, can be significant and can also
ensure key tasks are completed with the minimum amount
Insight | 6
So how can a business deal with compliance
in the most effective and efficient manner?
The first measure is to ensure your business is kept up-to-date
so that you can deal with new compliance issues effectively.
Consider calling on a small number of key sources of
information such as the Chamber of Commerce to keep up-todate
with general compliance matters, the trade association for
your sector for specific industry matters and your accountants.
Preparing for changes in regulations well in advance allows you
to budget for costs, seek advice, source suppliers and put in
place any new business processes required. This will minimise
the impact on your cash flow, your staff and ultimately your
business as a whole.
Seek advice from professionals particularly if the matter is not
straightforward. If your business makes a mistake the fines
and costs can be significant. Taking advice from a regulated
professional, such as your solicitor or accountant, provides
comfort that the correct steps have been taken.
If you need to outsource a compliance function or purchase
new software, spend some time searching for a supplier
that will give you the best value for money and best service.
The sooner you start the process, the more time you have
Whilst it is important to ensure that your business is compliant,
remember that your time is best spent focusing on your
core business. Delegate the task of being compliant to an
appropriate member of staff that deals with that area, such as
an HR manager, bookkeeper or financial controller.
By carefully cutting the burden of red tape you can save time
and cost, and increase the efficiency of your business – as a
result, this will free up more of your time to work on your core
business proposition as you look to move to the next level.
John Buchanan, Performance Senior Manager
T 020 7874 7954
Insight | 7
HMRC’s digital future –
death of the tax return?
By 2020, the government plans to introduce a digital tax system for all UK taxpayers.
Called ‘Making Tax Digital’, the proposed plans will have a
wide-ranging impact on how businesses and individuals report
their taxable income and gains.
HMRC sees this as a shift towards ‘real-time reporting’ and has
even hailed the changes as “the end of the tax return”.
So why is the government making these changes and what
are the implications of such a comprehensive overhaul for
HMRC sees this as a shift towards ‘real-time
reporting’ and has even hailed the changes as
“the end of the tax return”.
What is ‘Making Tax Digital’ about?
The move towards digital – often called the Fourth Industrial
Revolution – has had a wide-ranging impact on all manner
The government has leapt upon this technological shift as
it seeks to streamline how tax is reported in the UK – with
the overall aim being a simplified and more holistic way of
declaring taxable income for the taxpayer, while driving up
levels of compliance through more accurate reporting.
As HMRC sees it, this is a move away from the “needlessly
bureaucratic form filling” of old, according to David Gauke,
Chief Secretary to the Treasury.
Instead, the government’s goal is for taxpayers to report their
transactions and income in ‘real-time’, making the onerous task
of filing tax returns at the end of the financial year a thing of
the past. In addition, the government intends to end the free
provision of software for filing the annual tax return and will
require reporting to be made using third party software – thus
driving up the cost of compliance.
The government has leapt upon this technological
shift as it seeks to streamline how tax is reported
in the UK – with the overall aim being a simplified
and more holistic way of declaring taxable
income for the taxpayer, while driving up levels of
compliance through more accurate reporting.
What are the implications of this?
The government’s target for this changeover is 2020, but a few
of these changes are already in place. Taxpayers can now open
digital personal tax accounts (PTA), to get a real-time view of
their tax affairs and see how their tax is calculated.
Over the next four years, UK taxpayers will progressively gain
more powers over their tax affairs through their PTAs.
For the self-employed, digitisation will include pre-population
of self-assessment with basic earnings and deductions from the
last tax year already filled in.
From 2018, it’s also likely that small businesses turning over
£10,000 a year – including from self-employment or through
Buy-to-Let – will have to update HMRC at least quarterly and
possibly pay on account of the eventual tax liability too. ‘Pay as
you go’ tax will be voluntary, at least at first.
The government’s target for this changeover
is 2020, but a few of these changes are already
While HMRC stress that this is designed to streamline the
reporting process and remove the stress of filing a return at
the end of January, freelancers and small businesses alike are
concerned this will quadruple their tax responsibilities – and
therefore increase the financial burden requiring them to seek
professional help on multiple occasions – and they will still be
required to submit a year end declaration in any event.
There is also a worry that the government’s digitisation
overlooks the ‘digitally excluded’ – who account for around
19% of the UK’s self-employed.
HMRC have sought to put provisions in place for this, allowing
people to nominate others to submit tax returns on their behalf
and to supply information over the phone.
A connected future
Despite some finding cause for concern, the government’s
digitisation of tax is seen as a necessary step to increase
compliance in the UK.
In this digital age, many people earn taxable income from a
growing and diverse range of sources – from online trading
to savings interest. HMRC’s plans are to collate these various
income sources into one place, and streamline the process of
collecting the correct amount of tax.
Tim Walford-Fitzgerald, Principal
T 020 7380 4927
Insight | 8
Kate Lyall Grant
We speak to our client, publisher Kate Lyall Grant of Severn House Publishers.
As an independent publisher of commercial
fiction, what gives Severn House an edge over
Our raison d’etre is to publish established authors who are
no longer being published by the bigger publishing houses,
perhaps because their mass-market sales are no longer
holding up, but who can demonstrate a loyal readership,
solid hardcover sales track record and some positive review
coverage behind them.
We’re also interested in publishing established authors who
are still being published by one of the big publishers, but
who are keen to experiment in some way, perhaps by writing
in a different genre. In the USA, for example, Severn House
punches well above our weight in terms of both the sales and
review coverage we secure; so for British authors wanting to
write a second series that will appeal to the American market,
it’s this transatlantic exposure that gives us an edge over
You’ve had an extremely successful career.
Which character traits would you say are
necessary to be successful in this profession?
A highly-developed sense of humour is a must in this industry,
along with confidence in your own editorial acumen, the
ability to infect others with your personal editorial enthusiasm
and persuade cynical sales & marketing colleagues of the
uniquely brilliant qualities of a particular book. It’s also
important to be open-minded, receptive to new ideas,
and able to connect with people from all different types of
backgrounds. Trade publishing is an incredibly social industry,
and one of the aspects I enjoy most about the job is meeting
potential authors who come from all walks of life, and who
often have the most fascinating day-jobs and life experiences
What has been the proudest moment of your
career to date?
It’s impossible to choose just one! The top three would have
to be the first time one of my titles reached the Sunday Times
Top Ten bestseller list, the first time I had an author selected
as a Richard & Judy Pick, and the first time I won a hotlycontested
publisher auction for a promising debut author.
What aims and ambitions do you have for
I’d like to see Severn House continue to adapt to the changing
market, ensuring that we attract top quality authors to the
list, and publish their books to the best of our ability. eBooks
and the advent of print-on-demand ensure that our titles have
a wider reach than ever, so I would like to see us explore every
opportunity to fully exploit the ‘discoverability’ of our books.
As a long-term aim I would like to see us find ways to do
more business with the general trade, that being Waterstones
and WHSmith in the UK; Barnes & Noble in the US.
What advantages come from being at an
independent hardcover publisher?
We are a small but highly focused team, assisted by a number
of longstanding, regular freelancers around the world, which
means we can be very flexible and allows us to adapt quickly
to changing market conditions.
Another strength is the quality of our editorial care. We aim
to give our authors the individual, in-depth editorial feedback
and attention that the larger publishing houses often don’t
have the time to devote to midlist authors. Authors also
appreciate the family atmosphere at Severn House – even
the receptionist who answers the phone knows exactly who
they are. It’s that kind of personal touch that is so important,
What are the biggest challenges that you face
at Severn House?
The ever-declining library budgets are of course a major
challenge. Obviously we have no control over government
spending, so we have to ensure that we can adapt other areas
of the business, such as our eBook list for example.
Insight | 9
Also, the abolishment of the Net Book Agreement almost
twenty years ago now and the subsequent disappearance of
all those high street bookshop chains – Ottakars, Borders,
Books Etc, Dillons – means that the big publishing houses
have drastically cut their midlist publishing over the years. For
an author, this means that to a large extent it’s all or nothing
on your debut novel: authors are no longer given a chance to
build and grow from modest beginnings.
If they’re not a brand name, it’s harder for authors to build
up a loyal and devoted readership: these are the kind of
authors who are the lifeblood of Severn House, and they are
becoming an increasingly rare breed. There is a substantial
readership for just those kinds of books, if publishers would
only give authors a chance.
What are you looking for from authors?
The authors we value most are those who meet their delivery
deadlines; produce excellently-crafted novels at regular
intervals and those who provide us with plenty of extra
content which we can use to market their novel. Also, those
authors who make good use of social media to reach out to
their readers and build up their fanbase online.
How has Severn House changed since you
joined in 2011?
Also, since 2012, technological advances mean that small
reprint runs of hardcover/trade paperbacks and print-ondemand
are far more cost effective than they used to be.
This means that none of our titles need go out of print, as
used to be the case. This is a major advantage for a publisher
like us, who do not publish mass-market editions.
What do you look for in an accountant?
Sound, practical, honest advice. A ‘glass half full’ approach: a
positive attitude to solving seemingly intractable problems.
What is the most important financial lesson
Everything in moderation – don’t spend what you can’t afford
or at least can’t afford to repay within a relatively short space
of time. As far as acquiring new titles is concerned, it’s OK to
take a punt, but don’t over-spend those costings! As a small
independent publisher, we can’t afford to absorb loss-making
books as part of the bigger overall picture. For example, about
85% of our authors earn out their advances and receive
royalties on top; this is certainly not something I can say of the
publishers I worked for previously. We take the view that every
book should cover its direct cost and contribute some margin:
this means not paying excessive advances, and getting the
initial hardcover print run as accurate as possible.
When I joined, our sales were divided approximately 50/50
between Britain and America. Now, admittedly with the
ongoing UK library budget cuts, but more significantly with
the growth of eBooks it’s closer to 30/70 UK/US, so we are
extremely focused on the American market.
Our eBook list has grown exponentially since I first joined, and
last year Amazon overtook the US library supplier, Baker &
Taylor, to become our biggest customer. The growth in online
sales means that we are just as concerned about how a cover
image will look as a thumbnail sketch on a website as how a
traditional hardcover print edition will look on a library shelf..
Insight | 10
No mercy for non-doms: Another
tax hit looms for those who own UK
property through offshore structures
In August the Treasury confirmed that the UK inheritance tax (IHT) advantages
enjoyed by non-UK domiciled owners of UK residential property will end, as planned,
in April 2017.
The measure, first announced in the
Budget of summer 2015, will mean that
UK residential property owned by an
offshore structure – such as a company
or trust – will be liable to IHT.
The removal of the exemption from IHT
is the latest change affecting non-UK
domiciled individuals, who have seen
the tax advantages of owning property
through such structures stripped away
steadily since 2012.
The measure, first announced
in the Budget of summer
2015, will mean that UK
residential property owned
by an offshore structure –
such as a company or trust –
will be liable to IHT.
Who will be hit and when?
The new IHT will come into force from
6 April 2017 and will be legislated as
part of the 2017 Finance Act. These
changes will apply to all ownership
structures regardless of when they were
As of 6 April, HMRC will be able to
assess whether an IHT charge is due
simply by focusing on the underlying
residential property asset, and “looking
through” these overseas structures.
Any one of the following
“chargeable events” could trigger
such HMRC assessments:
• The death of an individual holding
shares in an offshore company
which owns UK residential property
• The death of the donor within seven
years of the gifting of shares in an
offshore company which owns UK
• The 10-year anniversary
of a trust holding UK property
through an offshore company
Which properties will be
The government is yet to confirm
exactly which properties the new rules
will apply to, but has suggested that it
is likely to apply the same definition as
is currently used when assessing capital
gains tax, in which ‘residential property’
refers to any building which is used,
or suitable for use, as a dwelling. This
excludes care or nursing homes, any
building with 15 or more bedrooms
that has been purpose-built for student
accommodation and is occupied
by students, as well as prisons and
It is not intended that the new IHT
charge will have any minimum value
thresholds, and, importantly, it will
apply not just to properties caught
under the enveloped dwelling rules,
but to any UK residential property
interest held by a non-UK resident
through an offshore structure.
The government is yet
to confirm exactly which
properties the new rules will
apply to, but has suggested
that it is likely to apply the
same definition as is currently
used when assessing capital
gains tax, in which ‘residential
property’ refers to any
building which is used, or
suitable for use, as a dwelling.
However, there may be slightly less
pain for the owners of mortgaged
properties. Any outstanding mortgage
debt on a property can be offset
against its value when calculating the
IHT charge, but only if the mortgage
was taken out when the property
The government also plans to
introduce targeted anti-avoidance
rules in the new legislation, which will
deliberately disregard any arrangements
whose whole or main purpose is to
avoid or reduce an IHT charge on UK
In order to boost the reporting of
“chargeable events” to HMRC, a new
liability will be imposed on anyone who
has legal ownership of a UK residential
property (including directors of a
company which holds the property) to
ensure that the reporting requirements
are met, and that any IHT due is paid.
Finally, the government intends to allow
HMRC to block the sale of an indirectlyheld
property on which IHT is owed until
the tax is paid.
A wide variety of ownership structures –
from offshore trusts to companies –
will be affected by these changes.
It is crucial that anyone who owns
UK residential property this way takes
expert advice, as failure to do so could
leave them exposed to a substantial
IHT liability they could not have
anticipated when setting up the
Private Client Partner
T 020 7874 7983
Insight | 11
HW Fisher launch new Wills and
Probate service. Jamie Morrison,
Private Client Partner, explains all.
What is this new service and why are you
Since August 2014 the ICAEW has licensed accountants to
undertake Probate work that would ordinarily be undertaken
by a solicitor. Having gone through the relevant checks, HW
Fisher has now obtained its Probate licence and can now offer
a more rounded service to clients in helping them and their
families with administering estates and applying for the Grant
We can also draft your Will in conjunction with our partner
specialist firm of Will writers – The Moneta Partnership Ltd –
and assist you with your inheritance tax planning.
So who should make a Will and what happens if
A Will is important because under the terms of the Will you are
appointing executors, who are responsible for dealing with your
assets and liabilities and ensuring the instructions and wishes
in your Will are carried out in terms of distributing your assets.
They are also responsible for obtaining the Grant of Probate
and dealing with any inheritance tax payable.
The Will is a very important document as it allows you to dictate
how you want to distribute your assets. Importantly, your Will
can stipulate who will be legal guardians of your children in the
event that they are orphaned – rather than leave it up to the
discretion of the Court or Social Services.
Your Will should never be a document that you execute once
and leave in the back of the cupboard until it is needed. It
is very important that your Will is constantly reviewed and
updated during your lifetime to ensure it remains suitable in
Is it even more important for a business owner
to make a Will?
Yes, because the Will is usually part of wider inheritance
tax planning for owner-managed businesses, along with
Shareholders’ Agreements, LLP Agreements and appropriate life
policies, to ensure that the value that an entrepreneur has built
up during their lifetime can be realised to benefit the family
and allow the business to continue. An incorrectly drafted Will
can cause the loss of valuable inheritance tax reliefs, such as
business property relief.
This is something that I would usually discuss
with my solicitor – why would I use HW Fisher?
We see the introduction of this service as a natural fit to the
services we have historically offered our entrepreneurs and
private clients. As your accountant we typically know your
financial history and have a relationship with you – and the
family – often stretching back years. Rather than use a solicitor
that you barely know to execute documents, we felt that by
introducing this service, we would offer our clients the ability
to ensure that they can get the right tax planning and Will
structuring advice in one place.
What do these services cost?
Our pricing for Wills is on a fixed quotation basis and, coupled
with that, you may well want or need inheritance tax planning
advice. For Probate work, unlike banks or solicitors who
sometimes charge based on the value of your estate, we charge
on a fixed hourly rate, no matter what the size of the estate is.
Is there anything else I should be aware of?
In addition to your Will, we can also help you draft and
register lasting powers of attorney (LPA). An LPA is a powerful
document that allows someone to step in and administer
your affairs during your lifetime in the event that you become
incapacitated. It needs to be executed whilst you have the
mental capacity to understand what you are signing.
It is possible to split the powers you give your attorneys. You
can have one document covering your financial and property
affairs and different attorneys for your health and welfare and
yet still different attorneys for your business interests.
It is important that any LPAs you execute are registered at
the Office of the Public Guardian. Again, with The Moneta
Partnership Ltd, we can help you draft and register your LPAs
to give you peace of mind that arrangements are in place to
administer your affairs in the event that you lose the capacity
to do so.
For any further information please get in touch with
Jamie Morrison below.
Jamie Morrison, Private Client Partner
T 020 7874 7983
HW Fisher & Company is licensed by the ICAEW to carry out the
reserved legal activity of non-contentious probate in England and Wales.
Insight | 12
One year on: learning the
lessons from the ‘extraordinary
failures’ at Kids Company
“You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to spend 15 minutes or so looking at the
accounts and realise that this was an accident waiting to happen.”
These are the words of a former chief
executive of the Charity Commission,
Andrew Hind, following the collapse of
Kids Company in August 2015.
Yet one of the most depressing
details to emerge from Britain’s most
high-profile charity failure was the
revelation that concerns about financial
management were first raised with
trustees 13 years before it collapsed.
The primary responsibility rested with
those trustees, who repeatedly ignored
auditors’ clear warnings about the
charity’s precarious finances.
It is this failure which has risked
damaging the hard-won reputation
of the whole sector and denting the
public’s trust and confidence.
Critical lessons to be learnt
The demise of Kids Company
offers important lessons for anyone
involved in the governance and
finance of charities.
A fundamental mistake was around
risk management. The charity was
founded on the premise that no child
should be turned away. This demandled
model meant children could
self-refer for help, which posed the risk
that there would be a significant gap
between the charity’s resources and its
ability to deliver.
The demise of Kids Company
offers important lessons
for anyone involved in the
governance and finance
The big lesson must be that trustees
need to regularly consider key risks and
ways to mitigate and control them.
If the operating model is unsound and
the financial position is unsustainable,
then they need to act, and act quickly.
was woefully inadequate with no
long-term commitment to build
reserves. The lesson is that charities
need to monitor actual reserves against
a clear and considered reserves policy.
And that a key responsibility of trustees
is to challenge and ask questions of
the chief executive and his or her
The big lesson must be that
trustees need to regularly
consider key risks and ways to
mitigate and control them.
The UK’s charity regulators launched
a joint consultation in May this year
(2016) and which closed in September.
Its aim is to make it easier for
accountants who work with charities to
raise the alarm if they uncover a cause
Another issue was the demand-led
model meant that its financial reserves
were always low. The reserves policy
Insight | 13
A whistlebower’s charter?
The annual audit of a charity’s accounts
– or its smaller charity equivalent, the
‘independent examination’ – isn’t just
a legal requirement but also an
essential early warning system for
Auditors and accountants carrying out
independent examinations are dutybound
to flag up concerns they have
about the charity’s finances or the way
it is being run.
In the first instance, trustees are warned
of such concerns by a management
letter. But if the trustees and
management repeatedly take no action
to resolve the problem, auditors and
independent examiners are encouraged
to whistleblow to a charity regulator.
At present clear guidelines exist on
what constitutes a serious issue that
must be reported on – for example if
beneficiaries are being placed at risk,
or if there is a suspicion that the
charity’s assets have been used to
But there is much less clarity about
lower-level concerns, which are known
as ‘matters of material significance’.
As a result, auditors and independent
examiners are often required to use
their professional judgment on when
and whether to raise concerns about
The consultation seeks to spell out in
greater detail what should be viewed as
a matter of material significance – for
example if trustees have not managed
conflicts of interest correctly.
In a clear attempt to prevent a repeat of
the mistakes made in the Kids Company
saga, the consultation suggests that if
trustees fail to take action over matters
raised in the prior year’s management
letter, this too could be treated as
grounds for whistleblowing.
So rather than a new whistleblower’s
charter, the proposals are an extension
of the existing mandate for
auditors and independent examiners
A bigger whistle, but who
The onus remains very much on
financial professionals – auditors and
independent examiners – working with
charities to raise these concerns.
In a clear attempt to prevent a
repeat of the mistakes made
in the Kids Company saga,
the consultation suggests that
if trustees fail to take action
over matters raised in the prior
year’s management letter,
this too could be treated as
grounds for whistleblowing.
But the consultation also puts
more pressure on trustees to act on
management letters. Kids Company
trustees reportedly allowed themselves
to be ignored by the charity’s
management – a situation that
would trigger more decisive and
earlier whistleblowing under the
While it’s right that both accountants
and trustees share this responsibility,
and the principles behind the
consultation are laudable, even with the
greater clarity there will still be a degree
of subjectivity in what constitutes a
matter of material significance.
For example, how much is too much
to spend on fundraising? Accountants
and trustees may have very different
answers to such questions.
There is an important distinction
between the remit of auditors and
independent examiners: auditors are
explicitly charged with seeking out
and identifying reportable matters,
while independent examiners are not.
However, the auditor’s role is more that
of watchdog than bloodhound.
Irrespective of who pays their fees, both
auditors and independent examiners
are ethically and legally bound to flag
up any concerns they have about a
charity’s finances, and any significant
reportable matters they uncover.
Giving them a bigger whistle is one
thing, but they will still need to use
their financial and moral judgment
when deciding whether to blow it.
Andy Rich, Charities Partner
T 020 7380 4988
Insight | 14
Financial due diligence –
is it really necessary?
If you are considering making a business acquisition you will no doubt have
considered the legal requirements, both in terms of negotiating a sale and purchase
agreement and the legal due diligence required to ensure basic ownership issues
But have you also considered the benefits of financial due
diligence? Or rather, have you considered the potential fallout
of failing to undertake suitable financial due diligence?
Corporate acquisitions or investments in significant
shareholdings by corporates or individuals involve a
significant degree of risk, some of which can be mitigated
by quality due diligence.
What is financial due diligence?
The Oxford Dictionary defines due diligence
as “a comprehensive appraisal of a business
undertaken by a prospective buyer, especially
to establish its assets and liabilities and evaluate
its commercial potential”. An effective due
diligence process should provide you with
sufficient information to:
• Confirm an acquisition strategy and whether the
target fits that strategy
• Make an informed decision as to the reliability of
the target’s business plan and financial forecasts
• Verify that the target’s assets and liabilities are
• Confirm the key income drivers of the target
• Evaluate opportunities for improvement
• Provide opportunities to re-negotiate purchase
price if unexpected information arises
• Ensure appropriate warranties are included in the
sale and purchase agreement.
This all sounds like great information to have in an
ideal world, but due diligence obviously comes at a
cost, and many people may wonder if the benefits
really outweigh the cost.
Insight | 15
Is financial due diligence really worth
The simple answer is yes…but only if your advisers
understand the nature and size of the transaction and the key
objectives of the due diligence exercise, such that they ensure
it is tailored to the risks involved and the appropriate level of
work is undertaken to mitigate those risks without
The key word here is ‘due’ diligence, as the level of work
undertaken should match the size and complexity of the
transaction, meaning the cost should be appropriate too.
Corporate acquisitions or investments in significant
shareholdings by corporates or individuals involve
a significant degree of risk, some of which can be
mitigated by quality due diligence.
A well planned and executed due diligence exercise should
provide you with comfort so that you know what you are
getting into. It should help you establish the true value or
cost of an acquisition and give you the ability to negotiate
the terms of an acquisition that work for you. It should
prevent post-acquisition surprises and help post-acquisition
trading to continue smoothly, allowing future strategy to be
implemented as early as possible. It should highlight risks and
ways to mitigate them.
A high-quality financial due diligence report will give you
peace of mind that an expert opinion has been given on the
financial position and risks involved in the acquisition target.
It is usual to seek to mitigate risk in all areas of business
through the use of insurance policies and by obtaining expert
opinions on high risk matters; a financial due diligence on an
acquisition is a way to mitigate risk.
Our Transaction Services team
We have an experienced Transaction Services team with
a wealth of knowledge and expertise in due diligence on
transactions of varying sizes. All our work is tailored to the
specific requirements of our client, bearing in mind the size
and strategic objectives of the transaction, the client’s own
knowledge of the industry and the business being acquired,
and the level of risk associated with the transaction. By
targeting our work based on the risks and objectives, we
are able to keep costs proportionate to the deal, whilst still
providing the key information required.
Costs will vary depending on the specific requirements
and scope of the due diligence, and the size of transaction
being undertaken. You could expect to pay between £30,000
and £50,000 for a full scope due diligence on a transaction
of circa £5,000,000. This works out at between 0.6% and
1% of transaction value, which is small compared to the
Our Transaction Services team is experienced in advising
on all aspects of the acquisition process, can get involved at
any stage and can assist with negotiating the heads of terms
and share purchase agreement, as well as advising on suitable
warranties. Additionally, our tax teams, both corporate and
personal, can assist on any tax matters associated with
Helen James, Principal
T 020 7874 1163
The key word here is ‘due’ diligence, as the level
of work undertaken should match the size and
complexity of the transaction, meaning the cost
should be appropriate too.
Knowledge is power, and in the world of business acquisition,
effective due diligence provides the information and
knowledge to complete acquisitions on the right terms and
with the right post-acquisition strategy in place.
Insight | 16
The Bribery Act –
doing business a favour?
Before the passing of the Bribery Act 2010, offering prospects or clients lavish
corporate hospitality ahead of an important deal or contract might not have raised
too many corporate eyebrows in some quarters.
After all, there were many countries
around the world where it was the
accepted norm that wheels had to be
oiled and palms greased in order to
facilitate trade negotiations of any kind.
However, when the Act became law in
July 2011, all this was set to change.
Amongst its provisions it created new
offences of bribing another person,
accepting a bribe, and bribing a foreign
public official. On its enactment it was
heralded as the “toughest anti-bribery
legislation in the world.”
The definition of bribery in the Act is
broad and includes offering, promising,
giving or receiving a financial or
other advantage where the intention
is to encourage the recipient to act
improperly in an official or business
function. It doesn’t just cover cash
inducements but also includes gifts,
entertainment, and holidays.
Keeping within guidelines
The UK government has always
made it clear that the intention of
the Act was not to prohibit corporate
hospitality and gifts, rather to prevent
inducements and bribes being offered
that go well beyond what would be
considered reasonable in the normal
course of business.
Today, more and more businesses are
demonstrating that they have antibribery
policies and procedures in place,
especially when tendering for contracts.
These polices commonly include
information on how the risks of bribery
are reduced and controlled within the
organisation, rules about accepting gifts
or hospitality, guidance on conducting
business and negotiating contracts, and
rules on how conflict of interest is dealt
The UK government has
always made it clear that
the intention of the Act was
not to prohibit corporate
hospitality and gifts, rather
to prevent inducements and
bribes being offered that go
well beyond what would be
considered reasonable in the
normal course of business.
Many organisations now give staff
specific training in identifying the risks,
and set out the rules in their staff
handbooks to ensure that all employees
are aware of the standard of conduct
expected of them in their business
dealings. Where companies use thirdparty
agents and external business
introducers, it’s particularly important
that they too understand and abide by
the company’s policies.
Given that no business owner, large
or small, wants to be sentenced to
10 years in prison for being in breach
of the terms of the Act, taking a few
sensible measures makes good
It’s important, especially during the
negotiation of any contract, to look
beyond what might be seen as gestures
of good will, like gifts, business favours,
‘mates’ rates’, free advice or any
advantageous deals, and to be sure
that these actions aren’t being offered
as a bribe.
Many organisations, especially in the
corporate sector, protect their staff
from bribery allegations by prohibiting
the receipt of gifts of any sort. Other
businesses permit their employees to
accept small gifts in certain defined
circumstances, but stipulate that they
must be recorded in a company register
kept for this purpose.
Fundamentally, every firm needs to
consider what the appropriate policies
are for their type of enterprise. Large
multinational companies operating in
many different countries and using
third-party agents to negotiate deals on
their behalf will have to address a wider
range of potential bribery scenarios
than a small-to-medium sized firm that
doesn’t trade outside the UK.
It’s important, especially
during the negotiation of any
contract, to look beyond what
might be seen as gestures of
good will, like gifts, business
favours, ‘mates’ rates’, free
advice or any advantageous
deals, and to be sure
that these actions aren’t being
offered as a bribe.
During her leadership campaign,
Theresa May promised she would ‘get
tough on irresponsible behaviour in big
business’. As the UK searches for new
trading partners post-Brexit, it will be
more important than ever that the UK
can clearly demonstrate that it conducts
business with fairness, transparency and
honesty at every level.
T 020 7874 1158
Insight | 17
FRS 102 Practical issues:
Deferred tax on revaluations
We are now preparing most accounts under FRS 102. One transitional change that
commonly arises is the need to charge deferred tax on revalued assets.
Deferred tax is used to match the overall tax charge with the
accounting profits. For example, the tax relief given for capital
expenditure is normally given in advance of the depreciation
charge in the accounts. Deferred tax is used to spread the tax
relief over the same period as the depreciation charge.
A revaluation may indicate an expected gain on sale.
Otherwise the revaluation will unwind through increased
depreciation charges over the life of the asset.
Under previous accounting requirements the tax effect of
revaluations was regarded as remote and was left out of
account unless there was a binding agreement to sell the asset.
FRS 102 has moved closer to the international standards by
requiring the recognition of deferred tax on most revaluations.
FRS 102 requires deferred tax to be calculated
with reference to the expected tax effect of the
transaction so that:
a. Deferred tax on the revaluation of an asset held
for sale is calculated with reference to capital
gains tax rules, including any available indexation
allowance (although this point is not specifically
stated in FRS 102 and is sometimes disputed),
while the deferred tax on any revaluation of assets
expected to be retained throughout their useful
life would be calculated with reference to the tax
rates expected to apply to future profits;
b. Deferred tax should be recognised on assets
which, as permitted under the FRS 102 transitional
rules, are shown at a deemed cost, which is above
c. Where a gain on a current or previous disposal has
been deferred using Rollover or Holdover Relief,
a deferred tax liability still arises as the deferral will
All of these relate to deferred tax liabilities
which would not have been recognised under
previous accounting requirements.
As explained in previous articles (see Insight Summer 2014),
revaluations accounted for under the “fair value accounting
rules” of the Companies Act pass through the profit and loss
account. Deferred tax on these adjustments should match this
treatment and pass through the normal tax charge. This applies
to the revaluation of investment properties in the same way as
it applies to fair value adjustments on investments.
FRS 102 has moved closer to the international
standards by requiring the recognition of deferred
tax on most revaluations.
Most other revaluation adjustments (for example on other types
of property) would instead be reflected in the “revaluation
reserve” required under the Companies Act. Deferred tax
on these revaluations should be taken directly through
“Other comprehensive income” for offset against the related
The Companies Act permits a transfer from
revaluation reserve to profit and loss reserve
as the revalued elements of assets are realised.
Although this transfer is not a requirement, it is
best practice to transfer an amount reflecting:
a. Any depreciation on the revalued asset;
b. The movement on any related deferred tax
on an annual basis.
The overall effect will be that accounts prepared under FRS 102
are likely to include a higher deferred tax liability.
Michael Comeau, Technical Principal
T 020 7380 4917
Insight | 18
Disclosure of transparency
in supply chains
The Transparency in Supply Chain Provisions of the Modern Slavery Act came into
force on 29 October 2015. The provisions, contained in Section 54 of the Act, require
certain commercial organisations to produce a Slavery and Human Trafficking
Statement each financial year.
Any organisation that carries on a business, or part of a
business, in the UK and has global turnover exceeding £36
million per annum, will need to comply with the new
This affects entities which have their business solely in the UK
as well as global organisations that have parent companies or
subsidiaries in the UK.
The Slavery and Human Trafficking Statement
may be structured as follows:
• An introduction to the organisation’s structure,
business model and its supply chains
• Its policies on slavery and human trafficking
• An assessment of the parts of the business and
supply chains where there is a risk of slavery and
• The due diligence processes it has undertaken to
identify the risks of slavery and human trafficking
within its business and supply chains
• How it measures that slavery and human trafficking
has not taken/is not taking place in its business or
• Staff training
What is modern slavery?
Modern slavery is a term used to encapsulate
slavery, servitude, forced and compulsory labour,
and human trafficking.
Does Section 54 apply to companies only?
No, partnerships and unincorporated businesses
also have to produce the statement.
Does the Statement need to be published in
the annual report?
This is not required, although an organisation
may voluntarily choose to do so.
I sub-contract all of my manufacturing
processes and don’t employ my own workers.
Should I be concerned?
Any business that has complex supply chains,
uses high numbers of agency workers or
sub-contractors, and relies on gangmasters,
is particularly at risk.
I am a small business with turnover of
£3 million. Am I affected with this new
Yes and no. If you are part of the supply chain
of a large company, you may be required to
demonstrate to your customer how you comply
with the new legislation.
The Statement is required for financial years ending on or after
31 March 2016, so affected businesses will need to take action
now to ensure they comply with the requirements.
The Statement must be published on an organisation’s website.
If an organisation does not have a website, a copy must be
provided to anyone who requests it, within 30 days of the
The Statement is required for financial years
ending on or after 31 March 2016, so affected
businesses will need to take action now to ensure
they comply with the requirements.
Gilles Siow, Principal
T 020 7874 1159
Insight | 19
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Print date: November 2016. All rights reserved.