HS2 costs continue to rise

HS2 costs continue to rise

HS2 costs continue to rise

The cost of the high-speed railway HS2 has increased again just two months after construction officially began. The main reason for this is because more asbestos than expected has been discovered. This news became apparent to the government in the first six-monthly update from HS2 to Parliament. Ministers have said that the project will need an additional £800m on top of the revised budget of £98bn that was announced earlier this year. This budget was increased because the previous one became unrealistic. Ministers have also said that this budget increase of £800m does not include the impact of COVID-19. They have admitted this is likely to increase costs further still.

The Department for Transport has said they expect the first stretch of the railway between London and Birmingham to be completed within its target budget of £40bn. The government has decided to set aside an additional £5.3bn in case any unknown costs appear during phase 1 of the project. The reason for this is because large construction projects like HS2 are often full of risks and unknown factors which are only discovered during the construction process. 

 

When will HS2 be finished?

The current schedule states that phase 1 of the railway between London and Birmingham will not be completed until 2029 at the earliest. Phase 2 will link Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds and this may not be completed until 2040.

The debate regarding whether the eastern leg of Phase 2 will ever be built has prompted comment from Transport for the North who claim that the cost of Northern Powerhouse Rail may be an additional £13bn if the HS2 eastern leg wasn’t built with the two projects sharing around 50 rules of common infrastructure.

Calls were also made by the body for infill electrification schemes to be commissioned to ensure that the skills required for these two projects were not lost to the rail industry.

Local government leaders in areas on the route of the eastern leg have also called for a commitment from central government to the full completion of the project citing the need for investment in the eastern half of the country to help regions recover from the Covid-19 pandemic. They estimate that around 150,000 new jobs would be created as a result of Phase 2b being delivered in full.

Paul Wormald Transport and Logistics Partner at Hawsons commented: These are tricky times for those responsible for assessing and commissioning major infrastructure projects such as HS2. The Covid-19 pandemic has seen rail passenger numbers plummet over recent months. Add in the possibility that these may not recover to pre-pandemic numbers in the short to medium term as a result of people choosing and being able to work from home, and the case for spending such vast sums of public money on a new rail system could look questionable.

However, for the long term benefit of the whole of the UK HS2 should be completed in full, and investment in the classic rail network should be maintained also. To fail to take HS2 beyond Birmingham or to only take phase 2 to the north west, would risk adding an east-west economic divide to the widely perceived north/south divide that we have today. For rail infrastructure businesses to be able to invest, recruit, and train staff with certainty, central government needs to re-affirm its commitment to the full HS2 project.

 

How can we help?

At Hawsons we have a dedicated team of transport and logistics accountants at our offices in Sheffield, Doncaster, and Northampton. With our experience in the transport and logistics sector, we are able to develop a close understanding of your business and, through active year-round involvement, we can help you anticipate and deal with challenges quickly and effectively.

More from our transport and logistics experts

You can find all of our latest transport and logistics 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.

Free initial meeting

Paul Wormald, Partner

Paul Wormald

Partner, Doncaster

01302 367 262
Working from home Tax Relief: Employees can reclaim £129.60

Working from home Tax Relief: Employees can reclaim £129.60

HMRC launch microservice to aid employees working from home as a result of COVID-19 reclaim expenses

HMRC has simplified the process for applying for working-from-home tax relief due to an influx of applications, with more people working from home as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. They have now introduced a new microservice that can be accessed through the government gateway portal.

This new service means you can now claim a whole tax year, even if you have only worked from home for one day in the entire year. This policy is only going to be in place for the 2020/21 tax year due to the unique situation we find ourselves in. 

 Am I eligible?

To be eligible for application through the microservice you must:

·         Have worked from home on either a full or part-time basis.

·         Be an employee.

·         Not be reimbursed for working at home by your employer.

How to claim?

HMRC is allowing employees to make a claim from 23rd March 2020 for this tax year. Therefore, you can make a claim for this whole tax year and an additional two weeks. Employees that are working from home can claim £6 per week (or the exact amount you’ve incurred evidenced by receipts, bills, or contracts) to be relieved against tax payments.

You can claim more for substantial equipment purchased but any such claim must be evidenced, the equipment must be for work with no significant private use.

To access the site, follow the link below, you’ll need a government gateway ID. This can be set up if you don’t already have one.

Make your claim here

How does claiming on your taxable income work?

If you want to claim the basic rate of £6 per week and you pay basic rate income tax (20%) you would receive £1.20 a week in tax relief (20% of £6), equating to £64.80 in your pocket for the claim period.

 If you pay the higher income tax rate (40%) you would receive £2.40 a week in tax relief (40% of £6) equating to £129.60 in your pocket for the claim period.

This will be adjusted through your tax code, directly increasing your net pay for the remaining months of the year.

 Working from home part-time?

HMRC has stated that employees that are required to work from home part-time can still claim the full £6 allowance.

 

Self-employed?

These rules haven’t changed, if you work from home you can claim a reasonable proportion of your household expenses.

Please contact us if you require any assistance. 

How can we help?

At Hawsons we have a dedicated team of personal tax accountants at our offices in Sheffield, Doncaster, and Northampton. Our tax team works together to provide proactive, well-rounded, technically robust tax advice to private clients including individuals to help ensure that their tax affairs are in order and are correctly dealt with.

Dan Wood

Dan Wood

Audit Manager, Doncaster

Dan trained and qualified as a Chartered Accountant with Hawsons at the Sheffield Office, joining in 2012 before moving to the Doncaster Office in 2018. During his time at Hawsons, he has gained a range of experience providing audit, accountancy, and taxation services, including Solicitors Regulation Authority audits. Working with corporate entities, sole traders, and partnerships, he is able to advise clients on a wide range of business matters.

Free initial meeting

Dan Wood, Audit Manager, Hawsons Doncaster

Dan Wood

Audit Manager, Doncaster

01302 367 262

[email protected] 

Are Solicitors more Affordable than People Think?

Are Solicitors more Affordable than People Think?

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has recently conducted a survey of 3,539 users of legal services. The survey found that only 10% of consumers believed that solicitors were an unaffordable option once they had accessed information on price. This figure was 50% when the information on price was less clear prior to the transparency rules.

 

What are the transparency regulations?

The transparency regulations came into force in December 2018. This required firms to publish prices on their website for certain services, these include:

  • Conveyancing
  • Probate
  • Motoring offenses
  • Immigration
  • Employment tribunals
  • Debt recovery
  • Licensing applications

 

The SRA maintains that the reason they brought in this rule was so consumers were better informed about how much legal services actually cost and not to decrease prices.

However, 83% of consumers said their final decision when choosing legal services is based on reputation, experience, or recommendations. Most consumers have direct contact with potential solicitors before making a decision. Furthermore, the SRA found that 75% of consumers surveyed said that having access to the mandated information helped them make a more informed choice. 

 

How can we help?

At Hawsons we have a dedicated team of legal accountants at our offices in Sheffield, Doncaster, and Northampton. Hawsons are one of a few accountancy practices with a dedicated team of solicitor accountants specialising exclusively in the needs of solicitors and legal professionals.

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.

Free initial meeting

Simon Bladen

Partner, Sheffield

0114 266 7141
Has COVID-19 Changed our Spending Habits?

Has COVID-19 Changed our Spending Habits?

Introduction

In this article, we are going to be discussing COVID-19 spending habits.

 

The use of cash is declining quicker

The amount of cash being used was decreasing before the coronavirus lockdown and the coronavirus pandemic has only sped this up. Customers are now using card or contactless payments more to avoid or reduce physical contact.

 

We are doing more online shopping and local shopping

This may not come as a surprise for most since online shopping was becoming more and more popular before COVID-19. This is very worrying news for high street retailers who may struggle to bounce back if online shopping becomes the norm.

More consumers are now shopping in more local stores. There are a couple of reasons for this which include:

  • Supporting local business
  • Purchasing authentic and artisan products

We have also been wasting fewer foods and making more ethical and environmentally friendly decisions when purchasing products. With the majority of consumers saying that they would continue with this after COVID-19.

 

We are spending more on our homes

With more households now spending more time than ever in their homes, many are deciding to spend money on home improvements. There has been an 84% increase in online shopping for home and materials (Data from Virgin Money).

 

We are spending more on home entertainment

With COVID-19 restricting many of us to our homes. Many people are now spending more on home entertainment including baking, cooking, TV, gaming, and music.

 

Conclusion

To conclude, consumers are reducing spending on certain leisure and entertainment such as restaurants, and cinemas, etc. We are now spending more money on grocery shopping, local shopping, home improvements, and home entertainment. Many of these spending habits are likely to become the norm even once the COVID-19 pandemic has ended. COVID-19 has also sped up trends such as increasing numbers in online shopping and less use of cash.

 

How can we help? 

At Hawsons we have a dedicated team of retail, wholesale, and ecommerce accountants at our offices in Sheffield, Doncaster, and Northampton.

 

 

 

 

More from our retail experts

You can find all of our latest retail 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.

Free initial meeting

Pete Wilmer, Corporate Finance Partner

Pete Wilmer

Corporate Finance Partner

0114 266 7141
Charities Lose Millions to Fraud and Cybercrime Since March

Charities Lose Millions to Fraud and Cybercrime Since March

Since March charities have lost an estimated £3.6 million due to fraud and cybercrime. The Charity Commission has stated that the actual figure is likely to be far higher due to fraud and cybercrime being notoriously hard to detect and report by their very nature.

It is believed that unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated fraud and cybercrime because of the prevalence of remote working. Charities are often seen as somewhat soft and attractive targets by fraudsters due to the high volume of transactions and varied income streams. Staff have to be particularly vigilant to stop criminals getting into their systems.

The Charity Commission’s analysis of frauds reported an increase in not only external fraud but also insider fraud. The added economic strain caused by the pandemic has increased temptation for employees across all industries, not just charities.

 

Make sure your organisation has the best possible practices in place

It is always important to make sure your charity has the best practice in place to reduce the chances of a cyber-attack or data breach. Especially if there is a greater reliance on home working since the start of the pandemic, as fraudsters are looking to expose potential vulnerabilities within your system.

Further research has found that 73% of charities did make changes to their procedures and infrastructure once they had been the victim of fraud. But don’t wait until you are a victim before you review your current systems and processes!

For more information about how to maintain good cybersecurity please read our article here: https://www.hawsons.co.uk/cyber-security-home-working/

To find out more information about how to recognise bogus or phishing emails please read here: https://www.hawsons.co.uk/how-to-recognise-a-phishing-or-bogus-email/

 

How can we help

At Hawsons we have a dedicated team of charity and cybersecurity accountants at our offices in Sheffield, Doncaster, and Northampton. Our team fully understands the complex, ever-changing regulatory requirements of the charity and not-for-profit sector.

Our independent IT advice can provide you with cloud accounting and cybersecurity solutions.

 

More from our charity experts

You can find all of our latest charity 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.

Free initial meeting

Simon Bladen

Partner, Sheffield

0114 266 7141