£17m funding available for training in the Sheffield City Region

£17m funding available for training in the Sheffield City Region

£17m funding available for training in the Sheffield City Region 

Do you know about the new Skills Bank for the Sheffield City Region? The Skills Bank is a government/LEP initiative aimed at workforce training and development in the Sheffield City Region. It is a £17m fund – new for 2016 – comprising of funding from the European Social Fund and Growth Funding.

What is the Skills Bank?

The Skills Bank is an exciting new service which invests in skills and expertise to drive business growth, and will run from Spring 2016 until March 2018 to help local businesses develop skills and grow.

The Skills Bank is a facility to help improve the skills base of the workforce in the Sheffield City Region, whilst also changing the way the skills system operates – placing the purchasing power for skills in the hands of employers. The £17m support will be used to either fully fund or partially fund the training and development needs of local employers.

The employer (i.e. you) may be eligible for funding, but will still likely be required to make a cash contribution towards the cost of training. The employer’s cost of the training and development will depend upon the number of learners, the duration of course, the method of delivery and the course content.

skillsbank

The Skills Bank is an opportunity for employers in the Sheffield City Region, comprising of nine local authority areas: Barnsley, Bassetlaw, Bolsover, Chesterfield, Derbyshire Dales, Doncaster, North East Derbyshire, Rotherham and Sheffield.

What does the Skills Bank work for employers?

The Skills Bank will support employers who have training and development needs in the Sheffield City Region.

The process of the Skills Bank works as follows:

  • Identify what training and development you need to grow your business;
  • You can do this by completing the “skills assessment” on the Skills Bank’s website;
  • Visit the Skills Bank’s “online marketplace” to find the training courses that suit your needs;
  • There are over 1200 courses already available;
  • If you are unable to find a course for your needs, the Skills Bank will help you find a solution;
  • The solution could mean a new course option becomes available, depending on demand;
  • Consider how, where and when you want your training delivered;
  • You will work with the Skills Bank to build a “skills deal” for your business;
  • This will involve agreeing your Skills Bank funding, your own costs and your training provider;
  • Complete your training and development with your training partner;
  • Submit feedback and a review on the learning that has taken place.

This is an exciting opportunity for all employers in the local region, particularly for those who have very specialised training and development needs, which may not be cost-effective to provide in-house.

Can the Skills Bank support your business?

A new website has been launched for the Skills Bank in the Sheffield City Region. Please take the time to visit the website to understand how the Skills Bank can support your business and check whether you are eligible for a skills deal.

You can quickly complete the “eligibility checker” and register your business for training opportunities.

Please click here to visit the Skills Bank’s website.

Paul Wormald is a partner at Hawsons, working in the Doncaster office. He worked previously with two national firms of Chartered Accountants prior to joining Hawsons in 2001. For more information or advice on anything covered in this article, please contact Paul on [email protected] or 01302 367 262.[/author_info]

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Anti Money Laundering

Anti Money Laundering

 Anti money Laundering

The SRA has recently issued its latest Anti Money Laundering (AML) Report which was generally encouraging in that it observed that most law firms visited seemed to display a positive attitude towards compliance in this area and were trying hard to meet their obligations.

You can download the full AML report here.

It is certainly our experience that our legal clients understand the need for regulation in this area and the possible consequences of non-compliance. Coupled with the increase in targeted attacks on solicitors through cybercrime and other hi-tech methods, it appears that the matter of AML is of increasing importance within the sector.

Whilst the report is largely complementary and finds that most of the firms visited had effective AML compliance frameworks in place, it does give some useful indicators of where some firms are falling down.

AML action points for solicitors

It may now be time for law firms to revisit their AML procedures to ensure they are fully up-to-date.

For instance, here are some questions to consider:

  • When were the firm’s AML procedures last reviewed and updated?
  • Have there been any mergers or acquisitions since the AML procedures were introduced, and have policies and processes been updated to take into account the change in ownership and have they been effectively communicated to staff?
  • Are all staff aware of who the firm’s AML officer is (often the COFA or COLP but could be someone else)?
  • Are staff and AML officers up-to-date with reporting procedures within the firm? i.e. some firms still report to SOCA instead of the National Crime Agency (NCA) to whom firms have had to report since the end of 2013.
  • Is AML training up-to-date for all staff at varying levels and do training records demonstrate this?
  • When performing client due diligence, are adequate checks of source of client’s funds being undertaken? Is documentary evidence of this taken or do you rely on verbal representation from clients?

SRA warns firms against charging for money laundering checks

In regards to client due diligence, the rules state that a firm cannot charge a client for the time spent in their due diligence – some firms apparently have done this. However, in complex cases where time spent on potential client due diligence is high (e.g. the need to obtain overseas due diligence) it may be permissible to agree some element of cost be charged to the client.

We realise there is much debate in this area with some commentators suggesting that a firm should be able to charge for such due diligence as it is a part of the cost of providing legal services.

The SRA also warns firms about AML complacency

Whilst the report is largely positive in tone SRA Chief Executive, Paul Philip, does warn against complacency, commenting: “…I am pleased that the overall picture is positive. But neither we, nor the firms we regulate, can be complacent.”

The Law Society is the named supervisory body for AML but delegate some of their responsibility to the SRA and Philip used this issue in lobbying for full separation from The Law Society due to potential conflicts of interest.

Looking ahead

We expect the AML issue will remain in the focus of the sector as it moves to implement the 4th EU Money Laundering directive and the forthcoming inspection regime by the UK Financial Action Task Force.

We will comment further as the matter develops.

More from our legal sector experts

You can find all of our latest legal sector news and newsletters here.

If you are looking for advice in a particular area, please get in touch with your usual Hawsons contact.

Alternatively, we offer all new clients a free initial meeting to have a discussion about their own personal circumstances – find out more or book your free initial meeting here. We have offices in Sheffield, Doncaster and Northampton.

Martin Wilmott is a partner at Hawsons

Martin Wilmott acts as lead engagement partner for a wide range of corporate and non-corporate clients in the Doncaster office, especially in the Legal and professional, agricultural, transport, property and construction, manufacturing, healthcare and hospitality sectors. For more information or advice on anything covered in this article please contact Martin on [email protected] or 01302 367 262.

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One year on from the 2015 new pensions rules – key stats

One year on from the 2015 new pensions rules – key stats

New pensions rules – key stats

According to HMRC figures released last month, over 230,000 people have used the new pension rules, introduced one year ago, to access over £4.3bn in pensions saving.

Since the pension flexibility rules took effect from 6 April 2015:

  • 232,000 individuals have accessed their money flexibly;
  • Over £4.3bn flexibly accessed through 516,000 payments;
  • In the most recent quarter, 74,000 individuals withdrew £820m, and;
  • In the previous quarter, 67,000 individuals withdrew £800m.

The figures above are taken from information voluntarily reported to HMRC by pension scheme administrators from 6 April 2015 to 31 March 2016. It is not mandatory for scheme administrators to flag these up as pension flexibility payments until April 2016. HMRC statistics cover ‘flexible payments’, which means partial or full withdrawal of the pension pot, taking money from a flexible drawdown account, or buying a flexible annuity.

The new pension rules in summary

In April 2015, the private pension world underwent unprecedented changes as the government introduced significant new pension rules to give people the ability to access their private pensions savings how and when they want. The new rules came into effect just over a year ago and were/are, on the whole, beneficial for most savers.

The principle changes were:

  • No need to take an annuity on retirement or at age 75;
  • The potential for people aged 55 or above to withdraw all or part of their pension fund;
  • Monies taken will be part tax-free cash with the balance treated as income;
  • Ability to pass on pension funds to any beneficiary on death, and;
  • Take partial benefits from pension funds.

The 2015 changes were the biggest shake up to UK pensions ever and, although mainly beneficial, they brought with them a number of complexities and new considerations for savers to make.

Understanding the pensions system can sometimes be a detailed and complex process, particularly when you are thinking about how you can make the most of the new pensions rules.

How we can help

The changes have given savers greater simplicity, choice and flexibility, making pensions a more attractive option for saving than ever before. The changes have also opened up exciting tax planning opportunities, both in regards income tax and inheritance tax. We recommend that you take your time to understand your options following the changes, and seek sound and proactive independent financial advice as what you decide now will affect the rest of your life.

If you would like advice on the new pensions rules, including your tax implications, please contact us.

If you are looking for advice in a particular area, please get in touch with your usual Hawsons contact.

Alternatively, we offer all new clients a free initial meeting to have a discussion about their own personal circumstances – find out more or book your free initial meeting here. We have offices in Sheffield, Doncaster and Northampton.

Free initial meeting

Natasha Fathers, Director of HWM

Natasha Fathers

Director of Hawsons Wealth Management Limited, Sheffield

0114 229 6557
New EU GDPR rules – 12 things you should be doing to prepare

New EU GDPR rules – 12 things you should be doing to prepare

After over four long years of political processes, detailed discussions and business lobbying, the final text of the new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) rules was released in April 2016.

As nearly all businesses and other entities use some form of personal data – solicitors, charities, retailers, manufacturers, care homes and so on – this is a new law which will impact the majority of UK organisations, going beyond the Data Protection Act regulations.

The new EU GDPR rules – a brief summary

The new EU GDPR rules have been put forward to “to make Europe fit for the digital age” and, as such, any entity that holds or uses European personal data will be caught by EU GDPR, regardless of where in the world they are located.

The new EU GDPR rules come into law in 2018; however, organisations should start to take action now to review current business procedures and implement appropriate measures for improved data security.

The rules bring radical changes to how organisations process personal data, giving greater protection to the public and greater powers to authorities to take action against companies that breach the rules.

Data protection errors will now be far more expensive than ever before and breached companies that fail to comply with the new regulations can expect fines of up to 4% of annual global revenue.

12 things you should be doing now to prepare for EU GDPR

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has released a 12 step plan to help companies prepare for EU GDPR.

It is important you begin to prepare for the new EU GDPR rules before the regulation comes into law in 2018.

You need to determine your risks and take the necessary measures before the new GDPR rules come into force. This is a process that could easily take two years.

Here are 12 things the ICO recommends you should be doing now:

  1. Appoint a data protection officer
  2. Raise staff awareness of the new EU GDPR rules
  3. Implement procedures to detect, report and investigate data breaches
  4. Audit the information you hold (including its source and use)
  5. Review privacy information and implement appropriate changes
  6. Consider individual’s rights (including the right to be forgotten)
  7. Update subject access requests procedures
  8. Establish and document your legal basis for processing data
  9. Review consent mechanisms and implement appropriate changes
  10. Incorporate data protection by design and privacy impact assessments
  11. Update procedures for processing data about children
  12. Determine the data protection authority for international organisations

As you can see, for a number of organisations there will be a lot of work to do and only two years to get everything in order. Failing to do so could result in considerable fines and loss of reputation.

How we can help you

Our data protection experts have a great deal of experience in this area, working closely with businesses to implement information security management systems. If you are looking for help in this area, please get in touch with Charles Kavazy, Director of IT Services at Hawsons, on 0114 266 7141.

Charles Kavazy

Charles Kavazy

Charles Kavazy heads up the firm’s IT services providing independent IT advice helping businesses with data security. He also helps businesses purchase, implement and get the most out of their software and hardware. For more information or advice on anything covered in this article, please contact Charles on [email protected] or 0114 266 7141.[/author_info]

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Agriculture update for UK farmers – May 2016

Agriculture update for UK farmers – May 2016

Welcome to our latest agriculture update for UK farmers – May 2016

Please do register for our agriculture newsletter if you would like to receive the agriculture update each month, along with our quarterly agriculture newsletter and topical sector developments.

Total Income From Farming (TIFF)

DEFRA figures show a huge decline in farm incomes in 2015, with TIFF falling by 29% to £3.77bn – equalling around £1.5bn being wiped off farm incomes in the year. In comparison, the TIFF decline in 2014 was just 3%.

The main reasons for the steep decline in TIFF have been the slump in commodity prices globally and the strength of sterling reducing support payments.

Looking ahead to the rest of the year and Andersons Farm Consultants forecast that TIFF for 2016 will be just under £4bn, based on a weaker pound. Uncertainty surrounding the EU referendum has weakened the sterling and, if this continues, then the sterling equivalent of support payments will rise and exports will be more price competitive.

No succession plan for 70% of young farmers

A Farmers Weekly survey of 61 young farmers has found that 70% do not have a succession plan in place.

Of those that responded, almost one in three had not spoken at all with their parents about the family farm’s future. Fear of offending and embarrassment to parents were found to be the main causes of non-discussion of the issue.

Other reasons cited included:

  • They’re too busy
  • They’re worried about hearing the wrong thing
  • There’s plenty of time to think about succession planning in the future

Succession is widely held as one of the central management issues in the agriculture sector, and is an issue farmers need to start planning ahead for. Whether you’re thinking of passing on the business to the next generation or selling the business to a third party, succession only really succeeds optimally when it is prepared for.

NFU Mutual is launching a social media campaign to help farmers make succession plans.

Other agriculture news…

  • The crisis in commodity prices appears to be putting downward pressure on rents, the Tenant Farmers Association says.
  • Bank of England figures to the end of February show an 8.7% rise year-on-year in agricultural borrowing. Commodity price pressure and late BPS are the main causes.
  • Potato prices have risen in the week to 29 April. The GB average has risen by £6.98 per tonne to £234.24 per tonne.
  • A Farmers Weekly survey has found that 58% of farmers back an EU exit, in findings which run counter to most farming unions. Sovereignty, immigration and EU regulation and policies were the factors. The NFU’s 90-strong ruling council, however, has passed a resolution in favour of the UK remaining in the EU.
  • The National Non Food Crops Centres (NNFCC) report on Anaerobic Digestion Deployment in the UK says the dramatic growth of the UK biogas sector is unlikely to continue much beyond 2017, as a result of reduced support and greater investor uncertainty. 130 AD plants came online in the last year (total 316) and 454 projects are in development.
  • Oilseed rape prices continue to rise as global soya bean demand outstrips production. The US Department of Agriculture is forecasting the world crop to fall from 68mt to 66mt. There are lower plantings in Canada, whilst Brazil and Argentina’s production estimates have fallen.
  • The RPA has announced that 9000 farmers are still waiting for BPS payments, four months after the payment window opened. 50% Treasury funded bridging payments are now planned.
  • British beef and lamb exports to the USA have moved closer after talks between the respective farm ministers. A 15-year ban was lifted in November 2013 for all EU imports.
  • 10,842 tractors above 50 HP were sold in 2015. The first 3 months of this year 2,382 agricultural tractors were registered for road use, a decline of 9.5%. The average size of tractors remained largely unchanged at 158 HP. Sales of tractors from 100-160 HP suffered the most. Most geographical areas saw a fall, but the East Midlands, West Midlands and Yorkshire and the Humber bought more tractors than last year.

 

More from our agriculture experts

You can find all of our latest agriculture sector news and newsletters here.

If you are looking for advice in a particular area, please get in touch with your usual Hawsons contact.

Alternatively, we offer all new clients a free initial meeting to have a discussion about their own personal circumstances – find out more or book your free initial meeting here. We have offices in Sheffield, Doncaster and Northampton.

Martin Wilmott is a partner at Hawsons

Martin Wilmott acts as lead engagement partner for a wide range of corporate and non-corporate clients in the Doncaster office, especially in the Legal and professional, agricultural, transport, property and construction, manufacturing, healthcare and hospitality sectors. For more information or advice on anything covered in this article please contact Martin on [email protected] or 01302 367 262.