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Winter 2012 Newsletter

Welcome all to the Barringtons e-newsletter!

Every three months or so we will be updating you with all that’s been going on at our offices, with articles on topics such as our events, new appointments and fundraising.

On top of that you will be presented with information on tax matters and changes in legislation we believe you need to know about in a straight-forward, jargon free and easy to digest format.

You will also hear from one of our directors, starting this time with Phil Wood, our MD and currently President of the North Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce.

Known for his no-nonsense approach, here Phil shares his thoughts on Chancellor George Osborne’s Autumn Statement.

He said:

“Whilst there were some positive and encouraging measures for small businesses, such as the planned axing of the 3p fuel duty rise and the very welcome rise in Capital Allowances, the truth is that restoring Britain to any sort of financial health and growth is going to take many years of painful cost reduction strategies."

“Yes there’s more money for schools and roads, but with a fresh squeeze on benefits and debt-reduction targets a long way off being met, we can expect ‘austerity’ to remain the buzz word for many years to come."

“Most working age benefits, such as Jobseekers Allowance and Child Benefit, will go up by 1% (less than the rate of inflation) however as you will read in this newsletter, the High Income Child Benefit Charge will hit right into the heart of many families and play a key factor in planning domestic arrangements between couples."

“The increase in the state pension by 2.5% will be welcomed but Mr. Osborne’s plans to raise £1bn from pension tax relief on the more well-off, is in my view, short-sighted as it attacks the middle-income earners who have worked and saved all their lives to get a decent pension pot."

“Nowadays, it is far easier to live abroad and measures like this could send people packing at a time when we need to keep them and their wealth in the country and not force them to foreign shores. In a nutshell, cutting pension tax relief puts people off saving."

“The Chancellor tells us there is hope on the horizon. Realistically, his hands are tied. An empty piggy bank leaves no scope for manoeuvre. But debt, he says, will start falling by 2015/16, the year of the next general election, and we will see austerity measures relaxing by 2018."

“That might seem like a long way off but speaking for this area, I see business success stories every day. Hard work, determination and a fantastic skills base, makes this a great place to be. For now we need to take advantage of all that this area offers, structure our businesses to be profitable in the current climate and be ready to fly when the climate is right.”

From all the team at Barringtons, we hope you enjoy reading this first e-newsletter and watch out for the next.

Editions will be emailed quarterly but also as and when an important topic arises.

Happy Christmas and all our very best for a prosperous New Year!

(PS For a full summary of the Autumn Statement visit www.hm-treasury.gov.uk)

The clock is ticking towards RTI

Real Time Information (RTI) is being launched in the Spring – so it’s time to act now to avoid potential penalties.

The new tax return presents a big shake-up in the way employers present their Payroll information to HMRC, and for many, a challenging administration task.

But with RTI becoming compulsory in April 2013, preparations need to be made. At Barringtons, we have a team of highly-skilled Payroll experts ready to take this headache away.

Our Payroll manager Sue Howie (pictured) said:

“Under RTI, employers and pension providers will be required to file PAYE returns containing similar information to the current P35 form, such as employees' earnings as well as income tax and National Insurance contributions deducted from salaries, every time employees are paid."

“Normally the return is due annually on May 19 but the new system will see it filed online following each pay day. It’s a big change for employers but preparations need to be made now to avoid fines if you miss the deadline, or fail to provide information correctly.”

RTI aims to improve accuracy and cut down on the number of bills and repayments being sent after the end of the tax year.

Let’s Do Business – a success for Barringtons

Barringtons welcomed clients to its stand at the crowd-pulling ‘Let’s Do Business’ event staged by the North Staffordshire Chamber at the Britannia Stadium.

Hundreds of visitors strolled around business exhibition stands at the home of Stoke City Football Club and we were delighted to meet many people keen to learn about the wide range of services we provide.

Our brochures, branded pens and key-rings were quickly snapped up and we received many entries in a draw for a hamper packed full of delicious foods.

Many thanks to everyone who came to meet us, especially our clients.

Barringtons staff manning the stand – and showing off the prize hamper

Benefit changes will be no child’s play

Sweeping changes to the rules on Child Benefit come into force in January starting with the introduction of a Tax Charge hitting couples with an income of more than £50,000.

High Income Child Benefit Charge (HICBC) will apply when one or both partners earn over this amount – and will be collected from the higher earner via a Self Assessment Tax Return (for the year ending 5 April 2013).

Payments to HICBC will affect couples in all relationships – married, living together as married or in a civil partnership.

Barringtons Tax Manager Jo Hamilton (pictured) said:

“The individual liable to the charge – who may not even be the parent of the child – will need to notify HMRC by next October of their obligation to complete a tax return."

“For the first time in many years couples will have to disclose their income to each other. HMRC is expecting them to be open with each other.”

"The changes call on couples to decide who is to receive the Child Benefit and who is paying HICBC - or they can opt out of receiving Child Benefit altogether by January 7."

Jo, who recently joined us to oversee a large department looking after the tax affairs of more than 800 businesses across North Staffordshire, added:

“These changes are likely to cause confusion for people who’ve never had dealings with HMRC before. We can help.”

Anyone needing advice on HICBC or help completing a tax return can contact Jo Hamilton and her team at Barringtons.

Factory tour was spot on for city businesswomen

City of Ladies is a popular networking group hosted by Barringtons at various venues across the city.

It’s gone from strength to strength over the past three years and is never short of takers when it comes to trying a hand at fun activities.

The last event saw ladies tour the Emma Bridgewater factory in Hanley.

They saw behind the scenes at the Victorian landmark and made local headlines with a photograph of volunteers trying their hand at decorating one of the firm’s iconic polka dot pots.

Sarah Reynolds of Barringtons said:

“The aim is to give businesswomen a chance to leave their workplace and make new contacts in an informal way, whilst enjoying fun activities.”

The group, which meets 3 times a year, has also met at the New Vic Theatre for a presentation on chocolate, a fashion show and attended a car maintenance workshop. The City of Ladies next get together is in February 2013.

If you wish to join or enquire about the City of Ladies please email Jo at jl@barringtons.co.uk

Claire Thomas of Brampton Recruitment in Newcastle tries her hand at decorating a jug watched by factory worker Julie Trotter and Gina Pritchard of Barringtons

The Barringtons team raise a mug to the third anniversary of City of Ladies

Compulsory workplace pensions – help is on hand

2012 saw major changes to pensions in the UK – all geared towards ensuring workers save enough money for their retirement.

These reforms, the most far-reaching since Prime Minister Lloyd George first introduced the Old Age Pensions Act in 1908, now make employers legally-bound to enrol employees over the age of 22 in a pension scheme.

Barringtons MD Phil Wood (pictured) said:

“Compulsory workplace pensions kicked in this October for large employers – smaller employers have longer to comply, however, in 2013, if you have more than 350 people on your books, you will be obliged to set up and contribute into a workplace plan for employees.”

Local employers may feel this places another burden on their shoulders – but help is at hand.

Barringtons has a team dedicated to unravelling complex legislation.

Festive fundraiser is signed, sealed and soon to be delivered

Staff will have a special delivery to make to our local Douglas Macmillan Hospice in the New Year after raising cash instead of sending Christmas cards.

Kind-hearted colleagues have staged all manner of fundraisers in 2012 - from a skydive, sponsored walk, coffee morning and Great North Run all for our chosen charities.

We also took a table and offered an auction prize at the hospice’s ‘Top Hats and Tiaras’ annual ball in October whilest staging a top hats collection around our offices – raising over £4000 in the process!

So instead of spending money on cards and stamps this Christmas, staff placed the funds into a collection and early in 2013 we will present a cheque for the proceeds.

But that’s not all we’ve done for charity this year. Various dress-down days and whip-rounds have also put cash in the coffers of Macmillan Cancer Support, Breast Cancer Care and Jeans for Genes.

Barringtons MD Phil Wood (centre) and staff get into the festive spirit to support the Douglas Macmillan Hospice