Archive for the ‘DPM’ Category

Democracy gone wrong – otherwise known as Brexit

Thursday, March 28th, 2019

What do politicians think they are achieving by trying to arrive at an alternative compromise that a majority will support? What makes them believe that their compromise will be acceptable to the other 27 EU states? What makes this disjointed bunch of self-opinionated, self-important representatives think they can arrive at a better option than has been achieved through years of meetings and negotiations? They cannot even agree amongst themselves.
We elect politicians to help govern the country with a view to making life tolerable and as bearable as possible for as many people as possible. They, in turn, elect a committee (the Government) to decide, largely, on policies to be carried out. The Government is charged with decision making and negotiations to enable their policies to be actioned.
In this one instance (one too many in my view) a decision was delegated back to us – to remain in or leave the EU. The decision was to leave. It was never expected that we would each have our say in the detailed decisions necessary to achieve our exit from the EU. Why would individual politicians believe they should have a say either? There was a committee to do that – the Government. It was their job to arrive at as good a deal as possible. The deal could not be a unilateral one. It had to be acceptable to the other member states.
Why, in all of this, would the Irish border (between north and south) not be an obvious issue? Unless you have a common market with no tariffs between countries, how can you have the free passage of goods from one country to another? Yet another Irish problem.
In any negotiations there is never an outcome that universally satisfies everyone. Could I or you have done any better? Does anyone believe that our MPs, individually or collectively could have done any better? We have a Government, given the responsibility to negotiate a deal, which they have done. It’s time to leave.
What is the logic or the benefit of asking ordinary people to decide on a matter, the complexity of which is far greater than most of us could comprehend? – much like the universe. Even if we had all the facts (and fantasies) at our disposal, understanding it would be beyond most of us. It’s why we have Governments and Civil Servants.
The future result of either decision – to stay or leave – could never be known. It represents a leap of faith. Many subsequent events, unrelated to the leave or stay decision, will impact on the ultimate outcome of that decision.
The current mess outlines why democracy can be a very bad form of government. In this case the MPs have taken the concept of democracy too far – they think they have a say. Just as well they don’t try to meddle in every decision. And what on earth has Teresa May’s resignation got to do with whether or not to support ‘her’ deal?

Full of

Sunday, January 27th, 2019

Last week I listened to Chris Evan’s Breakfast show on Virgin Radio and have realised he (to quote a phrase oft-used in the comedy drama, ‘Suits’) is ‘full of’.

One of his reasons for deciding to leave the BBC was that he believes we are either ‘mountain climbers’ or ‘mountain observers’.  He regarded himself as a mountain climber, and that, if he stayed any longer at the BBC (Breakfast show), he would become an ‘observer’.

His attempt to conquer Top Gear may be regarded, for the purpose of his metaphor, as mountain climbing.  Unfortunately he didn’t make it beyond base camp.  He is obviously more suited to mountain observing as evidenced by his move ‘lock, stock and barrel’ from the BBC to Virgin.  He’s simply observing from a different valley.

I do not agree with awarding jobs to satisfy some gender equality quota, but I do wish Zoe Ball every success with her version of The Breakfast show.  As far as Chris Evans is concerned, there was no intent to mountain climb, rather to slither from one studio to another.  I do not deny he is good at what he does, but no question either that he is full of



More on Making Tax Digital – Demise of the Spreadsheet

Thursday, August 23rd, 2018

Tim Fouracre (founder of accounting software Clear Books) has suggested that HMRC’s concession to allow the continued use of spreadsheets for MTD is a ridiculous backward step; that HMRC are missing an opportunity to correct all the VAT errors, supposedly caused by spreadsheet records.
If Tim Fouracre believes that all business records maintained using software such as Clear Books are accurate and without error, then he inhabits a different world to me. He refers to ‘garbage in – garbage out’ as though it applies exclusively to the use of spreadsheets. I can assure him it does not.
I would not disagree that accounting software, operated correctly and as originally intended by the developers, is capable of providing correct accounts, VAT records and meaningful information for business owners. If he believes all accounting software is operated in this way and that businesses actually make use of the potentially useful information available from the software, I would welcome a visit to his planet.
We have a controlled spreadsheet capable of producing the basic information from which to prepare accounts and creating the necessary figures for VAT returns. The reason we advocate its use is the comparative ease with which clients can understand how to use it and continue to use it correctly.  In spite of this and in spite of HMRC’s apparent concession, our very practical spreadsheet solution is unlikely to survive MTD.  It is unlikely that any software will be developed capable of integrating with a multitude of spreadsheet formats sufficient to satisfy the ‘link’ requirement between the original spreadsheet record and the API facility transmitting the information to HMRC.
In theory this should represent more work for us – helping, teaching, correcting – but at a cost affordable to the very small businesses involved?  If not, who do you think picks up the cost?

Why don\’t they join up the dots

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2018

According to HMRC, around three million couples across the UK have boosted their finances by claiming the Marriage Allowance, but more than a million married and civil partnered couples are still eligible for the free tax break worth up to £238 a year.

Thanks to the start of the new tax year couples can backdate their claim and boost a potential tax refund to a possible £900.

HMRC further announced:

Applying for Marriage Allowance is quick and easy and once an application is complete it’s processed immediately. The new online form takes fewer than ten minutes to fill out and eligible customers will receive backdated claims of up to £662 as a lump sum. Over 300,000 couples have signed up for the Marriage Allowance tax break since March 2018.

Which is all very well, but if HMRC can estimate the numbers of couples that are still eligible to make a claim – the 1 million referred to above – then why don’t they simply re-allocate the allowances automatically? Obviously, HMRC would need the permission of the partner who was transferring their spare personal allowance but HMRC could set up a much slicker digital process to cope with the formalities?

Surely most of the one million taxpayers will not have access to HMRC’s press releases, and this is precisely why there are still one million couples who have not claimed?

Perhaps the department that is tasked with developing the Making Tax Digital technology should get involved?

If you are reading this post and either you or your civil partner/spouse have income below the personal tax allowance (£11,850 for 2018-19, and equivalent amounts for earlier years) then follow this link to make a claim:

As an addendum to this post I can see that data protection is relevant here.  If HMRC even suggested to the potential transferor that they could transfer part of their personal allowance to the spouse, it would be confirming that the spouse was a basic rate taxpayer.  Not all couples are open with their financial affairs and it would be wrong to disclose any such information.

Tax collecting at its most robust

Tuesday, June 12th, 2018

The following is an extract from a tax coding notice issued to one of HMRC’s ‘customers’ recently:

Tax you owe – earlier year
We previously told you that you owe £0 tax from an earlier tax year. We have therefore included an adjustment to reduce your tax-free allowance by £1 so we can collect the £0 tax in equal instalments. To make sure you pay the £0 by 5th April 2019, we will increase the amount of tax deducted from your wage, salary or pension.

You couldn’t make it up!

‘cos I was there

Saturday, November 25th, 2017

At the weekend I was reminded of the Max Boyce tour, many years ago, in the (19)70s, that he called ‘I was there’. He had stories and songs about events that he knew were true “ ’cos I was there’ “. That was 40 years ago, when both Max and I were (just) in our 30s.

Well, last weekend (18th November), I joined him in the 70s. We may not have sung hymns and arias but we did have dreams and songs to sing – and not alone. My special treat from Christopher and Timothy (and I can’t tell you how special) was a 1st class trip to Liverpool. 1st class, not only in content, but in travel as well. I’d never travelled 1st class before.

The alarm was set for 4:00 am. Although this was early, it is only one hour before my alarm normally goes off. Timothy had pre-booked the train tickets and we headed to Huntingdon station together to catch the 6:00 o’clock train. Timothy’s geography has never been very good, evidenced by the fact we were now travelling south – to Liverpool?. Unusually for us, we met up with Christopher at Euston without a hitch, and had time for a drink before taking our seats (1st Class) on platform 7 – the train on platform 7 – bound for Liverpool. I know what you were thinking, but, yes, it was the right train (this time).

Although it’s a fairly long journey, it passed very quickly. I’d never been to Liverpool before. Rarely been north of Sleaford, to be honest. We headed for the Liver building for the LFC hospitality lounge. Took photos, had a drink and three course meal – all before 12. Well, it was 5:00 o’clock somewhere. After a few tales from John Aldridge it was on the coach for Anfield. From where the coach dropped us, it warranted another bus ride to the ground, but we walked together amidst the myriad of other supporters arriving in droves in anticipation of another successful game – optimism is rife.

Scarves were purchased – not because it was cold – mainly to avoid any more piss taking for when I next held a scarf above my head it wasn’t a plain brown one (that I had taken with me). We were a little apprehensive about the seats we had – Block U, top corner of the main stand, adjacent to the Kop. Were they so modestly priced for a good reason? Might there be an obstruction? Would we actually see any of the game? We climbed the steps to Block U9 – what a magnificent sight it was – a perfect view of the pitch, the Kop, and beyond the stadium to see the afternoon sky turn to dusk – could not have been better.

It is true the pitch and players resembled a Subbuteo game but it was perfect. Players were identified by anything other than their faces, but the challenge enhanced the experience and in no way detracted from it. We watched the players warming up and the ground filling up. I had never been this early to a match before – it was a far cry from the windswept terraces of the Posh ground in Peterborough that I recalled from far off days. The atmosphere was nothing but friendly and excited anticipation of a good game to come. No sign of troubles that plagued soccer grounds for many years. Seated around us were familiar faces from the hospitality lounge.

We had dreams and songs to sing. I am stirred by the sound of a male voice choir, especially when they’re singing a rousing song, and I can safely say that 50,000 football supporters, filling a football stadium, make a very good choir. The singing may not be pitch (excuse the pun) – perfect but the singing of You’ll never walk alone (YNWA) did not disappoint. It was everything I’d anticipated it to be, and more. It stirs the soul. I could have left at that point and would have thoroughly enjoyed the experience and the day – but we stayed, and watched an exciting, entertaining game of football, made all the more enjoyable by the 3-0 Liverpool win.

The journey home was not without incident – wrong train, someone else’s seats, that sort of thing – and it takes longer to come home than to go, (it doesn’t really, it just seems that way). It was a very long day, wouldn’t have missed it for the world, made the more enjoyable to share it with my two sons and my sincere thanks to them for organising it, paying for it, and for sharing it with me on my 70th birthday (the actual day). It was a Happy Birthday to me. I had often hoped one day to go to a Liverpool match, and now I have.

With hope in your heart, you’ll never walk alone – I had hope, and I didn’t do it alone – thank you. And, on this occasion, like Max Boyce, I too can say all this is true – ‘cos I was there!

How much?

Thursday, March 9th, 2017

I had a twinge of sympathy when I read the headline ‘S & M chief’s pay cut by a third’.  I continued reading.  His total package (for the year) dropped to £2.7m.  My sympathy waned.  Most people don’t earn that in a lifetime.

There are many things wrong with the world, and this is up there with the best (or worst) of them.  Who on earth is worth £2.7m for a year’s work?  I would take some convincing that there is any justification for this level of pay (and I know that there are others paid even more) – regardless of the level of responsibility.  The figures are obscene.  Who makes the value judgement?  It is people who’s own ‘worth’ may largely be governed by the chief executive’s pay.  His perceived worth impacts their own.

I understand the idea that higher rewards encourage more people to aspire to similar riches.  Extra large lottery prizes apparently encourage additional ‘investment’ in the lottery – as though the odd £million is not sufficient to entice people to buy tickets – it has to be lots of millions.

Does the executive really need that level of reward to make him do a good job?  Did he do a good job?  One of the reasons his pay was so meagre (cut by 38%) was that targets were not met.  He was paid £2.7m for what appears to be failure to achieve.  Obviously not enough encouragement!

No, the lack of performance was likely the result of factors beyond the executive’s control, and the actual performance may well have been in spite of his control.  It’s the result of the efforts of a collective workforce.  It’s true someone has to lead – But £2.7m?

Where is the sense of realism?  Executives, footballers, football managers, (I’ve no doubt missed some categories) so vastly over-rated and overpaid in a world with so much poverty, malnutrition and disease.  Noah would surely be designing and building an even bigger ark.

Budget Statement 8 March 2017

Thursday, March 9th, 2017

Personal Tax and miscellaneous matters

Personal Tax allowance

The personal allowances for 2017-18 is £11,500 (2016-17: £11,000).

Transferrable allowances

The maximum amount of free personal allowance that can be transferred between spouses is increased to £1,150 in 2017-18. Couples can only make a claim if one partner has spare personal tax allowance and the other is a basic rate tax payer.

Income Tax rate bands

The levels for 2017-18 are:

  • For 2017-18 – £45,000 (the UK apart from Scotland)
  • For 2017-18 – £43,000 (Scotland)

If your income before allowances exceeds these amounts you will be paying 40% Income Tax on the excess (this assumes that you are only entitled to the basic personal allowance).

The threshold at which the 45% rate starts is unchanged at £150,000.

For yet another year there were no changes to the basic Income Tax rate (20%), the higher rate (40%) and the additional rate (45%).

Dividend allowance to be reduced

From 6 April 2018, the tax-free dividend allowance of £5,000 is to be reduced to £2,000. Director shareholders of small companies that have adopted the strategy of minimising salary and maximising dividends will likely pay more Income Tax on their dividend income because of this change.

Capital Gains Tax (CGT)

There are no changes to the basic CGT rates for 2017-18. The CGT on the disposal of chargeable assets, apart from residential property, remains at:

  • 10% on disposals that form part of the basic rate band.
  • 20% on disposals that form part of the higher rate band.

The higher rates (18% and 28%) will continue to apply to disposals of residential property subject to this tax and carried interest. Gains on a disposal of your home will continue to be exempt. The annual exempt amount for 2017-18 is £11,300 (2016-17: £11,100).

Money Purchase Allowance reduced to £4,000 from £10,000

This will restrict the amount of tax relieved contributions that can be made by an individual, into a money purchase arrangement, who has accessed their pension savings from April 2017.

Reminder for non-doms to be brought into the IHT net

A reminder, that from April 2017, Inheritance Tax will be charged on all UK residential property even when indirectly held by a non-domiciled person through an off-shore structure.

Excise duties

Duty on wine, beer, spirits and alcohol will increase in line with the Retail Prices Index from 13 March 2017. These measures will typically add 2p to the price of a pint of beer, 1p to the price of a pint of cider, 36p to a bottle of whisky and 10p to a bottle of wine.

Tobacco duty rates

Changes to excise duties mean that a pack of twenty cigarettes will increase by an average of 35p, an additional 17p per 10 grams of cigars, and a 35-gram pouch of tobacco by 42p.

Fuel duty

There will be no increase in fuel duties. At the end of 2017-18 this will be the 7th year fuel duty has been frozen.

New National Savings investment clarified

From April 2017, individuals aged 16 years or older will be able to invest in the new NS & I Investment Bond. It will be available for one year from April 2017. Minimum deposit is £100, maximum deposit allowed £3,000. The rate of interest applied is 2.2%.

Lifetime ISA previously announced

From April 2017, any person aged from 18 to 40 will be able to save into a new Lifetime ISA until the age of 50.

Up to £4,000 can be saved each year and savers will receive a government bonus of 25% – that is a bonus of up to £1,000 a year.

Some or all of the money can be used to buy a first home, or it can be kept until age 60.

Accounts will be limited to one per person rather than one per home, so two first time buyers can both receive a bonus when buying together. If a saver has a Help to Buy ISA it can be transferred into the Lifetime ISA in 2017, or savers can continue saving into both, but it will only be possible to use the bonus from one to buy a house.

After your 60th birthday you can take out all the savings tax-free. You can withdraw the money at any time before you turn 60, but you will lose the government bonus (and any interest or growth on this). You will also have to pay a 25% charge.

ISA limit from April 2017

The ISA savings limit for 2017-18 is confirmed as £20,000.

Business tax changes

Corporation Tax rate

The main rate of Corporation Tax from 1 April 2017 will be reduced to 19%. A further reduction has been announced to 17% from 1 April 2020.

NIC increases for the self-employed

To narrow the perceived imbalance in NIC charges for the employed and self-employed, Philip Hammond announced increases in the self-employed Class 4 NIC contributions.

The increases are:

  • From April 2018, an increase from 9% to 10%, and
  • From April 2019, a further increase from 10% to 11%.

The earlier increase is timed to coincide with the cessation of Class 2 contributions.

Business rates increases

In response to the negative publicity regarding increases in business rates in England, particularly for retailers, the Chancellor has stepped in with help for smaller businesses.

There are three areas of relief announced:

  1. Small businesses that find they are losing Small Business Rates Relief from April 2017, will have any annual rates increase capped at the higher of £600 or the transitional relief cap.
  2. Local authorities will be funded to provide an element of discretionary relief, and
  3. Public houses with a rateable value of up to £100,000 will benefit from a fixed £1,000 business rate discount – subject to State Aid limits if multiple properties are owned. This discount is available for one year from April 2017.

Local authorities will be fully compensated for any loss of income because of these measures.

Making Tax Digital

The Chancellor announced a one year deferral from Making Tax Digital for Business for unincorporated businesses and landlords with turnovers below the VAT threshold. This means that businesses, self-employed people and landlords with income of less than the VAT threshold will not have to start quarterly reporting until 2019.

Changes to trading and property income allowances

The two previously announced £1,000 tax-free allowances for small scale trading or letting will still be introduced from April 2017, but will now include restrictions if the income or rents are generated by dealings with companies or partnerships of which the recipient is a participator or partner.

Loss relief reform

Legislation is to be introduced to reform the rules governing corporate losses carried forwards from earlier periods. The changes will:

  • Allow more flexibility by relaxing the way companies can use carried forward losses from 1 April 2017.
  • Restrict the set-off of losses such that profits cannot be reduced by more than 50%. This restriction will apply to companies or groups with profits of more than £5m.

Corporation Tax relief for museums and galleries

Rates for 2017-18, already announced, are 25% for touring exhibitions and 20% for non-touring exhibitions. Following consultation, the draft legislation is to be amended to allow for exhibitions that have a performance element, but where the live performance is not the main focus of the exhibition.

VAT registration and deregistration limits

From 1 April 2017:

  • Registration threshold increased to £85,000
  • Deregistration threshold increased to £83,000

Avoidance and evasion

The government will continue to challenge and seek to overturn artificial arrangements whose sole purpose seems to be a reduction of tax.


Saturday, March 4th, 2017

Our two Border Collies, Merlin and Fionn, are my best friends.  I hope it will remain so for many years.  I have written previously about the loss of our Red Setters and the sadness that every pet owner understands and has experienced.  Why do we repeat it, knowing the inevitable? – Don’t know, except the dogs are wonderful companions (as long as we continue to feed them) that will play when you want them to and be quiet when you want them to be (mostly).

But I also love cats.  They are independent (except for feeding) beautiful, remote creatures that can (when they want to) show an affinity with you when they want to sit on your lap or when they crave a bit of fuss – It is a privilege to share that contact.  I’m talking about domestic cats of course, but if I tell you one of my favourite films of all time is Born Free you will understand my feeling for cats generally.

All this is solely to mark the passing of our pet Sooty, who joined us with her sister, Sweepy many years ago at the same time as our Setters Bella and Rosa.  Sooty and me had a similar liking for the settee and since I could not lay on Sooty, it was Sooty who laid on me – a lot of the time.  Sooty enjoyed being stroked – on her head and back.  Woe betide anyone thinking she might like her tummy rubbed.

Sooty had been with us for a long time before we acquired Merlin and Fionn.  Sooty was not keen on the arrival of the new upstarts and showed her disdain by removing herself from view – for a week or more, we thought we had lost her.  When she did return it was on her terms – no nonsense from the puppies, and they lived and mingled comfortably together ever since.

A beautiful cat, lovely companion and sadly missed, except by the other two sisters Ruby and Annie, who do not have to be so wary now.

Avids Arise

Saturday, March 4th, 2017

I discovered only today that Brian Matthew has been axed from Sounds of the Sixties, which he has presented for over 25 years – I thought it was his show.

He is 88, and very few people have the privilege of working at something they like and enjoy for as many years, but that is no reason to remove him from the job against his wishes unless he has become incapable of doing it.  Brian Matthew’s presentation has been knowledgeable, interesting, entertaining and the sound of (many) Saturday mornings for a very long time.  I am sad to see (hear) him go.

Tony Blackburn is no replacement for the show, especially two hours earlier than the previous slot.  Avids arise – sign the petition – at least let the BBC and Brian Matthew know you care.