The benefits of Cloud Accounting

The benefits of Cloud Accounting

The benefits of Cloud Accounting 

Cloud accounting is the use of accounting software where your data and software is stored on the cloud rather than your hard drive. It can be accessed remotely from any device that has internet access, much like your internet banking.

As your business grows, one of the key questions you will ask yourself is: “how can I prioritise my time?” and rightly so, with not having enough hours in the day is one of the key challenges many small business owners face. This is where Cloud accounting can help your business. Here are just a few ways where our online client accounting software can help your business:

Prioritise your time – online accounting brings new working practices. Bank fees that automate the postings into the software from entries on your electronic bank statement, the emailing of pictures of receipts on to your system and the scanning of supplier invoices all reduce the time in data inputting.

IT Services – The Cloud service providers deal with much of the IT maintenance such as the backing up of your data, installing software updates and this in turn reduces the need for on premise servers.

Flexibility ­­– In today’s environment, people are mobile working outside of their office hours and away from their office locations, usually on mobiles or tablets or other devices. It is also essential that you can securely access business software and data as and when needed, wherever in the world that may be.

Moving to the Cloud couldn’t be simpler, working on the Cloud will give you the opportunity to reduce the amount of time you spend on tedious and time consuming administrative tasks, allowing you to concentrate on what you do best which is running and growing your business. After all, you started a business to run a business, not to be an accountant or a book-keeper. With Cloud accounting, you can do just that.

Our Cloud Accounting services

We will work with you to find out which Cloud accounting software best suits your needs.

We work with a range of the leading traditional and Cloud accounting software providers:

We will help you move to your new software and make the data transfer as automated as possible.

Next, we will provide you with training on your cloud accounting software so you know how to use it efficiently and get the benefits as quickly as possible.

Ongoing Cloud accounting services

Once you are up and running we are available to help at any time answering any questions you may have. With your permission, we can log into the software at the same time as you and even take control of your screen to help you with any questions you may have.

How secure is the Cloud?

Charles Kavazy, Director of IT Services at Hawsons says: “It depends. Of course that’s not a very helpful answer, but much depends on many factors including your attitude to risk, the nature of your data and the strength of the security including the processes carried out by the company hosting your data. Some people argue that storing your data on the Cloud can be more secure than storing it on your desktop or an on-site server. The level of physical and electronic security that Cloud service providers offer may be higher, depending on the risk involved, and the duplicated continuous backup processes of Cloud providers are probably going to be better than most businesses would implement.”

Wherever you store your data, there are always security issues, as Charles adds: “Most Cloud computing providers take great measures to ensure your data is safe, including backup power supplies, firewalls, data encryption software and regular, third-party security audits. They can also protect your data against floods and fires by having multiple servers in different locations.”

Charles summarises: “The Cloud service providers take great care to protect your data, but ultimately each business needs to consider its attitude to risk, the data being stored and the implications of a security breach. If you decide the benefits of the Cloud outweigh the risks  and you are happy to accept the risk then you need to ensure you choose your Cloud provider carefully and implement robust procedures to mitigate the risk of problems. For example, controlling access rights, regular password changes and training your staff on security risks.”

Scott Sanderson

Scott Sanderson Partner

Scott Sanderson began his career with Hawsons and trained as a Chartered Accountant, becoming a partner in 2015, specialising in the healthcare sector and small businesses. For more details and advice, please contact Scott on [email protected] or 0114 266 7141.[/author_info]

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Pharmacy funding proposal rejected by PSNC

Pharmacy funding proposal rejected by PSNC

Pharmacy funding proposal from the Department of Health rejected by PSNC

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (“PSNC”) have rejected the proposed 2016/17 funding package by the Department of Health (“DH”). The package included cuts to pharmacy funding which could see patients suffer as a result of services being withdrawn. The DH will now have to put together a revised package for 2016/17 or instead, impose the changes on pharmacies in England, which would be unwelcomed news for the sector.

The key facts as to why the PSNC rejected the proposals are as follows:

  • Funding would be cut by 12% from December 2016 to March 2017, to set funding this year at £2.687bn;
  • Funding would be reduced by 7.4%, on current levels, for 2017/18, to set funding at £2.592bn for that year and;
  • Pharmacies would be forced to cut staff numbers and cut services;
  • Are rooted in the governments professed aim to close pharmacies

The PSNC have stated that in the Spring of this year, they put forward proposals in an effort to work collaboratively that would increase pharmacy services and reduce the burden that the NHS bears. However, these proposals were rejected by the government.

Areas with the highest health needs are also to see funding reduced, under the current proposals, with funding being reduced by over 10% next year, this is when the NHS has already stated that efficiency targets of 4% are already too high to be realistically achievable, yet has reduced targets to 2%.

It is to be pointed out that there is no significant difference between the current proposal and the proposal announced in December 2015 by the Department of Health.

Pharmacy Voice chair Claire Ward said this: “This is a bitter blow to community pharmacy after all our hard work to demonstrate the value we bring to the NHS, public health system and wider society.”

“The fact that the government currently appears to be unwilling to match our ambition – despite the evidence, its own warm words for the sector and the out-pouring of support from pharmacy users – is extremely disappointing.”

Scott Sanderson, healthcare specialist at Hawsons, had this to add: “The 2016/17 funding negotiations have been ongoing for some time now, with proposed funding cuts set to be implemented in October 2016, this was subsequently pushed back to December 2016 following the cabinet reshuffle in July. Phillip Hammond’s appointment as Chancellor in July was welcomed news for the sector, with Mr Hammond visiting a number of community pharmacists and lobbying support for the work it does. Whilst the funding proposals for 2016/17 are still to be concluded, we await the Chancellor’s first Autumn Statement on 23rd November.”

Scott Sanderson

Scott Sanderson Partner

Scott Sanderson began his career with Hawsons and trained as a Chartered Accountant, becoming a partner in 2015, specialising in the healthcare sector and small businesses. For more details and advice, please contact Scott on [email protected] or 0114 266 7141.[/author_info]

Charities given proposals to tighten up fundraising rules

Charities given proposals to tighten up fundraising rules

Charities given proposals to tighten up fundraising rules 

Following the negative press that rocked the charity sector in 2015, charities have been given proposals by a working group convened by charity umbrella body, the National Council For Voluntary Organisations (NCVO). The aims are to tighten up fundraising rules between the public and charities and put donors in control of fundraising.

The recommendations

The recommendations that have been put forward propose:

  • Charities who obtain contact details from third parties can only contact people if they have been given consent to be contacted by that organisation;
  • Donors or potential donors who are contacted by a charity must be asked by the charity if they are happy to be contacted in the future;
  • Letters are only to be sent to people whom they have positive reason to believe they would have an interest in hearing from the charity – and would always have an option to opt out of future correspondence.

The chief executive for the British Red Cross stated that the new proposals were an updated approach to consent and could prove to be the foundation between charities and their donors for a more trusting relationship. The recommendations are to be submitted to the FR (Fundraising Regulator) in order to be considered for inclusion in its fundraising code.

The sector’s key players such as Oxfam, Shelter and Battersea Dogs and Cats Home are well aware of the need to be seen as taking decisive action to improve people’s trust in charities and these recommendations are to be welcomed.

The proposals will allow donors to decide if they are contacted and how they are contacted by the charities they give to. This could potentially mean that the FR will be under pressure to make an example of charities who don’t follow the new proposals.

Simon Bladen, charity specialist at Hawsons, had this to say about the proposals: “I think broadly these proposals are a step in the right direction albeit I do personally believe there was some press sensationalism to get to this point. However any proposals to help improve trust in the sector should always be welcomed.”

Simon Bladen Partner

Simon Bladen is the partner responsible for looking after the firm’s legal clients and has worked at Hawsons throughout his career. For more information or advice on anything covered in this article, please contact Simon on [email protected] or 0114 226 7141.[/author_info]

Is your charity’s structure right for you?

Is your charity’s structure right for you?

Is your charity’s structure right for you?

When setting up your charity’s structure, it is important that you consider your options carefully. Broadly, there are four structures people tend to choose from, these are; charitable company, charitable incorporated organisation, charitable trust and an unincorporated charitable association.

Choosing the correct structure for your charity is an important decision as getting it right in the first instance can save time and effort down the line. That’s not to say that you can’t change your charity’s structure at a later date however.

If you are planning on starting up a charity or changing your charity’s structure, then it is important to know what some of the options are.

The different types of structure

A governing document is a legal document that sets out your charity’s purpose and the rules to which it should adhere to. The structure can impact on how the charity will operate and the culture it then adopts. Some points to consider:

  • who runs the charity –  will the trustees be personally liable for what the charity does
  • how the charity is run – will it have a wider membership?
  • what the charity can do – whether it can employ its own staff as well as enter into contracts

Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO)

This is the newest form of charitable structure which first came into play in 2013. Trustees have limited liability since the law views the charity as a separate legal entity in the way it would an individual. This allows the charity to do a number of things, such as:

  • Employ paid staff
  • Deliver charitable services under contractual agreements
  • Own leasehold or freehold land or other property
  • Enter commercial contracts registered in its own name

Unincorporated Association

Perhaps not as prevalent for newer charities as they once were, associations tend to be set up if you want your charity to have a wider membership but determine that a corporate structure is not necessary. This can depend on the nature of what the charitable remit is.

Charitable Trust

Trusts are often used by organisations who have a primary purpose of making grants without getting too involved in other work types. The governing document will take the form of a trust deed which stipulates the assets available to the trust. Liability is far greater than with a CIO or limited company.

 

Charitable Company

In a charitable company, the trustees have limited liability for the debts or liabilities. A charitable company is not the same as a commercial company so, unlike commercial companies, a charitable company:

  • Is usually limited by guarantee and not shares. This means they cannot distribute surpluses to shareholders or members
  • Can only use its assets for charitable purposes (to do otherwise would be against its charitable objects)
  • Must operate for the public benefit

We only cover the very basics regarding charity structure in this article. Getting your structure right is an important decision and one we recommend you seek professional advice on.

Simon Bladen Partner

Simon Bladen is the partner responsible for looking after the firm’s legal clients and has worked at Hawsons throughout his career. For more information or advice on anything covered in this article, please contact Simon on [email protected] or 0114 226 7141.[/author_info]

Haulage fleet finance

Haulage fleet finance

Haulage fleet finance 

How to finance a fleet of lorries is a big decision for all haulage businesses and there is a lot of advice floating around about how to finance vehicles.

Tractor units cost money and the numbers are never small! The options available all have their good and bad points, which can serve to confuse the issue.

What are the options?

The four main options are as follows:

  • Buy the lorry outright
  • Finance lease
  • Hire purchase
  • Operating lease

What is the best option for your business will depend its particular circumstances, and the asset being acquired, but the aim is to achieve to lowest whole of life cost of utilising the vehicle.

For example, an outright purchase involves a larger initial outlay than the other three, but over the lifetime of a vehicle may require fewer funds overall. However, that outlay will soak up large amounts of cash that could be utilised elsewhere in the business.

Alternatively, a hire purchase agreement may involve the lowest cost up front, but will attract interest charges over the term of the agreement.

There is no substitute for sitting down and outlining the cost and cash flow implications of each option to understand what those options will cost you, and when the cash is required.

There are also non-financial considerations to bear in mind too.

Brand image is a big consideration and many hauliers aim to renew their fleet on a regular basis even if vehicles are in good working order. Leasing agreements, which may appear favourable from a cost perspective, may tie you in for longer than you’d like from a fleet renewal viewpoint.

If you elect to keep the vehicle after the initial hire purchase term, you may well find you’ve got an asset with few associated financing costs. However, on the other hand when the term of the agreement is over, there are often good deals to be had on exchanging that vehicle for a newer one.

The state of the cash flow of a haulage business can have a big impact on the financing decision. An outright right purchase may mean less cost in the long run, but is a big one off call on cash resources.

The more manageable payment schedule of a hire purchase or finance lease under good terms may smooth the way for building a fleet while spreading the costs over the term of the lease.

The timing of the VAT payment for the lorry can also be key for cash flow. Both buying a lorry outright or via a hire purchase will trigger the entire VAT amount on the day of purchase. This is likely to be completely reclaimed, but there can be timing delays before this happens that can affect cash flow.

With a finance lease the VAT is included in the monthly payments, and so is spread out over the term of the agreement.

The tax angle

It is also important to understand the tax relief implications and their timing under each option.

With a hire purchase, finance lease, or buying the lorry outright, you are likely to attract greater initial tax reliefs due to 100% capital allowances in the first year (up to £200,000 currently). Again, it is important to look at the timing of purchases to take best advantage of these allowances

With an operating lease, tax relief is spread over the period of the lease.

Conclusion

With the range of options available to hauliers, and the various issues to consider there is no hard and fast rule that works in all cases. There is also no substitute for sitting down with your accountant and planning the timing and method of acquiring new vehicles within the context of your business and its particular characteristics.

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]