VAT for Academies - an insight

VAT for Academies - an insight


Our Senior VAT Manager, Julian Rosser, dispels some myths and clarifies the confusing topic of VAT for Academies.

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Our Senior VAT Manager, Julian Rosser, dispels some myths and provides some clarity around the confusing topic of VAT for academies.

Only a few years ago, most schools ran under local authority control. This meant that those authorities handled all their VAT obligations. However, as of 1 June 2017, 70% of all secondary schools and 23% of all primary schools have now converted to academy status.

This means that all academies are now responsible for their own financial affairs. As VAT Manager, I regularly hear the same few frequently asked questions – this article should help clarify the answers to some of those questions.

Academies not only need a firm of accountants and auditors, but they also need specialist VAT advice. This is not only to ensure that they meet their obligations, but also to guarantee that they reclaim all of the VAT that they are entitled to! This is where much of the confusion lies…

The education provided by academies is obviously an obligation under the State, so any VAT incurred on associated costs can be recovered. But, more and more academies are running activities that may be considered to be ‘business’ activities, and these costs are ineligible for the direct reclaim process.

Examples of these activities are:

  • Sales of printed books, zero-rated (0% VAT)
  • Uniform sales, zero rated broadly for under-14’s
  • Sales of sports equipment, standard rated
  • Sports tuition and letting of classrooms and facilities, likely to be exempt of VAT

Therefore, if an academy were to ask me whether they should register for VAT or not, I’d advise them to look at their taxable business activities. If they exceed the VAT registration threshold of £85,000 then they have to register. Anything below this level would qualify for voluntary registration. So, if you are considering registering voluntarily for VAT, there are loads of factors to consider, so it is important to take advice before you take the leap… 

Still unsure about VAT for Academies? Please don’t hesitate to contact Julian Rosser or Simon Atkins to discuss your individual needs.

How to stay on top of employment taxes

How to stay on top of employment taxes


Car dealerships face unique challenges when it comes to employment taxes. What’s more, HMRC has brought in so many changes over the past five years and, with a few more in the pipeline, it is tricky to keep up. In this article, we consider the key areas of concern for car dealerships, and give you the information you need to tackle any potential issues that may arise…

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Minesh Trivedi, Head of Employment Tax, PKF Cooper Parry

Car dealerships face unique challenges when it comes to employment taxes. What’s more, HMRC has brought in so many changes over the past five years and, with a few more in the pipeline, it is tricky to keep up. In this article, we consider the key areas of concern for car dealerships, and give you the information you need to tackle any potential issues that may arise…

Company car compliance

One of the biggest challenges relating to employment tax involves the provision of company cars to employees for private use.For most businesses, this is straightforward. However, car dealership employees are unique as they frequently change their car throughout year. HMRC expect dealerships to report car benefits using the “averaging” method, which, broadly speaking, requires the dealership to take an annual stock of cars, allocate them into list price bands and assign them to employees depending on their grade.

HMRC’s view is that companies should strictly apply the guidelines and individuals should only be allocated cars within their band. Therefore, the issue, in terms of compliance, arises when employees are permitted to drive cars which are outside their allocated band. However, the stark reality is that employees often need to improve their knowledge of the cars that sit outside their band. This is significant as it means that the individual is paying either too much tax or not enough.

With affordable car tracking/monitoring solutions readily available on the market nowadays, some dealership employers have chosen to report the car benefit based on an actual basis (i.e. each car the employee has had private use of).  Whilst this method is considered to be a fairer and more accurate way of calculating the tax (and Class 1A NIC for the dealership) payable, it is very much at odds with HMRC’s current guidelines.  HMRC’s view is that the current legislation is based on the principles of “availability” of cars to employees, which does not support the “actual” usage method of reporting.

This is a potential time bomb for the car dealerships that have chosen to deviate from HMRC’s “averaging” method of reporting car benefit. It is probably only a matter of time before HMRC follows up on this and seeks to recover the additional tax, Class 1A NIC plus interest and penalties, that it believes to be outstanding.

Private fuel

Another challenging employment tax issue faced by car dealerships concerns private fuel. If an employee drives a company car and the dealership pays for any private fuel, which the employee does not reimburse in full, it could trigger an automatic private fuel-scale charge. This is an “all-or-nothing” charge.  In other words, driving one mile for private purposes would incur the same tax charge as someone driving 20,000 private miles. 

Therefore, the advice here is to monitor mileage rigorously to ensure that private and business records are accurately maintained. One option to avoid incurring the fuel-scale charge is for the dealership to pay for all fuel. Then, based on transparent records, the employees pay back for their own private mileage.

Alternatively, the employer can reimburse the employee for business mileage only. In other words, the individual pays for all fuel used out of their own pocket and through accurate records, the dealership then pays the employee for the business mileage once the records have been submitted. This puts the onus on the employee to keep good records. 

Employee car ownership
Broadly, this is when an employee buys a dealership’s car, which they use for both private and business mileage.  The employee would normally receive a loan from the dealership to fund the vehicle, which the employee agrees to keep for a fixed period (typically for 24 or 36 months).  The employee would subsequently sell the car back to the dealership after the agreed fixed period.

As the car is regarded as a personal vehicle, the employee is entitled to claim a higher HMRC approved mileage rate as reimbursement for business mileage and does not incur a company car or private fuel benefit in kind tax charge.

The important thing to remember is that the arrangement needs to be set up and documented correctly to pass the HMRC test.  Failure to do so could result in significant unexpected tax and NIC liabilities (plus interest and penalties).

Employee status

This area has been very topical with HMRC for many years and continues to be even more so now.  HMRC believe that there are a lot of individuals who are incorrectly engaged and treated as self-employed, costing the Exchequer millions, mainly in lost National Insurance Contributions.

Indeed, HMRC has recently set up specialist units to tackle ‘false self-employment’ and is focusing quite heavily on individuals who are being treated as self-employed/individuals providing their services through an intermediary (e.g. a limited company).

The potential problem arises when ‘engagers’ take on people on a self-employed basis when in reality they have all the hallmarks of being employees. Engaging self-employed workers saves on National Insurance so can be an efficient cost saving. However, if HMRC believes that self-employed individuals are in fact employees, it can potentially back-claim six years of tax and National Insurance, plus interest and penalties.

This area is also topical following the controversy surrounding the recent outcome of the ‘Uber’ and Pimlico Plumbing cases, which further highlighted the importance of this relatively new ‘worker’ status.  Whilst this status does not entitle the individual to all the employment rights which an employee would enjoy, it does entitle the individuals to certain benefits (e.g. right to be paid at NMW/NLW rates, paid holiday, etc).

If you are at all concerned about any of these issues, we can offer you an employment status review to help.

Third-party incentives

Car dealership employees are often given incentives by third parties (e.g. finance companies, parts suppliers, etc) to ‘push’ their products to the end customer. 

Provision of such incentives still have tax and NIC implications and need to be reported to HMRC.  The responsibility for compliance could fall on the dealership (as the employer) or on the third-party provider, depending on who is party to the “arrangement”.

This can be a very complex area.  If you are aware of any such awards and need to understand the tax, NIC and reporting obligations, please let us know.

Finally…

There is a great deal for car dealerships to consider when it comes to the ever-shifting world of employment taxes. We recently conducted a survey, which put employment tax near the top of the ‘worry list’ for car dealerships. However, by tackling the issues head on, it’s possible to get on top of your game and put your worries to bed.

Minesh Trivedi has been an employment taxes specialist for 26 years. He spent four of those years working for HMRC.

Why the next few decades will be electric for the UK car industry - in every sense of the word

Why the next few decades will be electric for the UK car industry - in every sense of the word


Businesses in the Midlands are being offered the opportunity to brush up on their tax knowledge and find out about the latest changes and developments at our Annual Tax Conferences to be held in both our East and West Midlands offices.

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By Matt Hodgson, tax partner and car dealership specialist at PKF Cooper Parry

With its announcement that all sales of new petrol and diesel cars will cease in the UK by 2040, the government has fired the starting pistol on an automotive revolution.

Despite cynicism in some quarters, in my view this long-overdue legislation will go through. Not only because it’s needed to tackle pollution (as Defra says, “poor air quality is the biggest environmental risk to public health in the UK”), but also because electric cars will lead to significant energy efficiency savings.

Earlier this month, Volvo committed to build electric and hybrid-only cars by 2019. And Mini has announced that its fully electric ‘EV’ will go into production in Cowley in 2019. So, the electric storm was already building. And now the government has provided the clarity needed to unleash it fully.

The implications are huge.

We’re now going to see rapid development of car battery-charging technology. For example, Nissan is committed to building an integrated UK electric network, meaning our homes will become two-way charging points, allowing us to both power up our cars and siphon electricity back into the grid. So if your car has spare charge, you will be able to sell it back to the network. This means that an exciting byproduct of this technology will be the resurgence of home solar electric systems which will enable us to create some of our own power for use in other areas.

Happily, for car obsessives  like me, we’re also set to see a flood of pretty-damn-amazing vehicles rolling off the production lines. If you saw the electric, driverless Mercedes concept car that golfer Henrik Stenson arrived in at the Open at Royal Birkdale in July, you’ll know exactly what I mean. It was a thing of pure beauty! And thanks to the direction provided by the new legislation, manufacturers will now start to accelerate their R&D programmes.

In the near future, a series of scrappage schemes are also likely to appear, with cash incentives to scrap diesel and petrol cars in favour of electric vehicles. We’ll see more ‘clean air zones’ in town centres, too. For example, it won’t be long before diesel engines simply aren’t allowed inside our cities. What’s more, electric technology for midsize articulated lorries already exists and is now set to evolve even faster, particularly within the M25. 

So what does this all mean? One thing’s for sure: dynamic changes are afoot in our car industry. This new legislation is the tipping point and I can’t wait to see what this pioneering new chapter brings as more jaw-dropping technology unfolds…

To find out more about out Car Dealership team and what we do click here

Why capital allowances are slipping through car dealerships’ nets

Why capital allowances are slipping through car dealerships’ nets


Businesses in the Midlands are being offered the opportunity to brush up on their tax knowledge and find out about the latest changes and developments at our Annual Tax Conferences to be held in both our East and West Midlands offices.

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Capital allowances seem rather old hat these days. However, experience tells us that car dealerships miss out on quite hefty amounts of tax relief when developing sites or creating new ones. Tax breaks on capital expenditure are available in many areas, but lack of knowledge, lack of planning and lack of detail – plus the desire to push the job through fast – mean crucial claims get missed. Indeed, for every car dealership capex project I’ve ever assessed I’ve uncovered greater tax-relief opportunities than originally claimed.

There are several ways to approach capital allowance claims depending on the project. A portfolio of works across several sites can be a complex beast but offers greater opportunities than single-site claims. With single-site claims we look at all the costs on a detailed line-by-line basis, then analyse and prepare a claim. A multisite approach involves gathering larger volumes of information from numerous sources. This requires all the appropriate departments – from property to financial – to be linked so they can supply the right data at the right time.

Clients undoubtedly get the best results when they involve us early in the process. That allows us to tee up all the appropriate departments, plus the contractors, developers, architects, engineers and consultants to ensure that they provide suitable, timely information.

Whether working on single sites, multi-sites, future projects or historical reviews, we get a real buzz from turning the data provided into substantial financial gains for clients. For example, we recently reviewed £30m of historic capex costs – including land – for one car dealership. We improved the claim by more than 4% – equating to £1.2m.

Several types of capital allowance often get overlooked. But before going into those, there’s one recent key update to note: before June’s snap election, Chancellor Philip Hammond said he would give 100% year-one relief for commercial electrical car-charging points. However, due to the election this relief was not enacted. The expectation is that it will probably make the statute book in the next budget.

Here are the capital allowances that tend to get overlooked:

  • Business Premises Renovation Allowances

This relief is relevant when the project involves the rejuvenation of a building that has stood empty for 12 months, provided it is in a “deprived area”. However, the term “deprived area” is somewhat misleading in this case and city centres including Leicester, Nottingham and Derby all have eligible spaces. In fact, unexpected locations are often included, such as Colmore Row – one of Birmingham’s most prestigious business address. (I once worked on an office development near Colmore Row that received £15m of qualifying expenditure under BPRA).

Business Premises Renovation Allowances offer 100% relief on most building works but are capped at €20m. The other important thing to say about Business Premises Renovation Allowances is that they ended in April 2017. However, depending on your year-end you have up to two years from that date to claim… the clock is ticking.

  • Enhanced Capital Allowances

These are incentives to use green technologies to make buildings more efficient. Heating and water systems, lighting and air con that meet certain criteria result in 100% relief in year one. That means, for example, that if you spend £1m on appropriate lighting, you would save £200k in tax in year one. But if you don’t claim relief in year one, you must spread it out over 30 years. Many businesses miss out on this allowance.

We are able to help car dealerships with financial modelling in this area. Efficient green systems often have greater price tags, so that cost must be weighed up against the potential tax savings. 

  • Thermal Insulation, Solar Panels & External Solar Shading Relief

Thermal Insulation is often missed because people wrongly see it as cladding and therefore classed in the ‘building’ category. 

Solar Panels, meanwhile, fall into one of two categories: if they are ‘solar thermal’ and therefore heat water, they qualify for Enhanced Capital Allowance and 100% relief in year one; if they are ‘PV’ panels that simply generate electricity, they do not qualify for accelerated relief and it is spread over 30 years. 

Finally, external solar shading is a technology designed to reduce energy consumption in buildings. Brise-soleil fins on windows allow light through but reflect heat, meaning air con systems don’t have to work so hard. A relief of 8% is available on external solar shading but, again, this is often overlooked. 

  • Enterprise Plant and Machinery Relief

This may be relevant for car dealerships if there is an industrial element on site, such as a bodyshop or car maintenance facility. 

  • Land Remediation Relief

This comes into play when you have to deal with nasties in the ground that you didn’t put there yourself.

Claim options

As we’ve already touched upon, there are several options when handling capital allowances’ claims for car dealerships:

Statistical sampling: This is relevant for larger dealerships as you need at least 15 projects to qualify. As the name suggests, we take a sample of projects of a similar type, work out claims for them and then extrapolate them across the portfolio for up to three years. 

Template and tax manual: Here we produce a template and ask the quantity surveyor to populate it with data.

Single-project reviews: As previously mentioned, with these we assess the building on a standalone basis and maximise the claim on a line-by-line basis. 

Annual capex review:For this option, we look at spend across the whole portfolio. A dealership might be refurbishing its entire portfolio, in which case we would maximise claims across all sites. 

Property sales and acquisitions

Finally, a word on property sales and acquisitions… Dealerships and sites are being sold and acquired all the time. It’s important to find the best possible tax position when acquiring or selling sites by understanding exactly what capital allowances have been claimed to date, and what could still be claimed due to rule changes. The key thing is to talk to someone before agreeing the deal, ideally at the heads-of-terms stage. There are several factors to consider. For example, you can pass allowances onto a buyer, which might give you leverage for a better price. 

So there you have it. Even though capital allowances might seem like old hat, the potential advantages should not be ignored by car dealerships. Impressive gains can be made, whether through review of historic capex or – even better – by plotting your relief claim before kicking off a new development. What could you claim?

Why a laissez-faire approach to data protection is no longer an option

Why a laissez-faire approach to data protection is no longer an option


Car dealerships face unique challenges when it comes to employment taxes. What’s more, HMRC has brought in so many changes over the past five years and, with a few more in the pipeline, it is tricky to keep up. In this article, we consider the key areas of concern for car dealerships, and give you the information you need to tackle any potential issues that may arise…

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By Dan Moore, Consultancy Director, IT Solutions, PKF Cooper Parry

Is your cyber security up to scratch? Do you have a strong data-protection strategy? Not 100% sure? You are not alone. However, new legislation arriving in May 2018 means that you’ll need absolute confidence in these areas. The legislation is called General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and it has been designed to protect personal data. The headline news is this: the penalty for flouting GDPR is potentially devastating – up to 4% of total global turnover, or a maximum fine of up to 20m Euros. That’s enough to kill some businesses.

Here are the three key areas of GDPR that specifically affect car dealerships:

Consent

The biggest change that GDPR brings relates to consent. If you want to hold personal data, then that information must have been given with the positive consent of the individual. That means that pre-ticked boxes ­– common currency all over the internet and designed to harvest as many email addresses as possible – will no longer be legal. If you want to hang on to personal data, it has to be given with a clear positive opt-in. For marketing departments this is a game changer. 

Access to data
GDPR also gives greater rights to the consumer. If someone contacts your business and says: “I’d like to see all the information on me that you hold about me” – you must have a policy and process in place to provide said data. Currently, a business can charge a nominal fee to supply that information. Under GDPR it can’t.

Furthermore, customers can ask to be forgotten by a business, and the business must then be able to demonstrate that it has complied. Importantly, a potential sticking point here relates to the fact that businesses often have many databases in many locations. To comply with this new regulation, they must, of course, be able to delete user records completely from every location. 

Breach
With GDPR, if you suffer a data breach (a successful cyber attack, for example) you have 72 hours to contact the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). That means you need a rigorous process and transparent policy in place for such an eventuality. The ICO also says that if sensitive personal information is compromised, a business must have a policy in place to let its end users know. So you need to plan for both levels of notification. 

So what does this mean?

GDPR is coming, is real, and the potential fines it brings makes a head-in-the-sand approach unwise. Come May 2018, businesses need new processes and policies in place to meet the regulations. One of the biggest challenges is getting on top of your data and understanding it. For example, large businesses may have marketing departments, HR departments and third-party marketing partners. Each may hold personal data, including employee information, which is covered by GDPR (as is data held on good old-fashioned paper). 

The best course of action is to start thinking about your response to GDPR now, so that come May 2018 you’re ahead of the game. We at PKF Cooper Parry can offer you an initial data assessment to identify which areas you should focus on. To find out more, please get in touch. 

Dan Moore has more than 15 years experience in the IT service industry, having worked in every element of support, from desktop engineer to IT manager.

Our annual community week

Our annual community week


Despite the UK government’s stated commitment to a low carbon future, the Green Alliance has indicated that investment in wind, solar, biomass and waste to energy projects will decline by 95% between 2017 and 2020.

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PKF Cooper Parry are once again proud to support various charitable causes across the West and East Midlands in our annual Community Week (13 – 20 Sep 2017).

Over 100 staff are already signed up, each giving a full day of their time to support causes as diverse as The Prince’s Trust, LOROS Hospice and the RSPCA. Activities will range from digging gardens, to marshalling cycle races, to serving food and painting walls…..the list goes on and on!

By allowing each staff member to devote one day a year to charitable causes, we show how we fully invest in our local communities. Look out for more information on our website as the week approaches.   

VAT Recovery

VAT Recovery


PKF Cooper Parry is set to play a part in the expansion of Derby College's Employer Academy programme this summer.

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On 11 May 2016, the Supreme Court ruled in HMRC’s favour in the case of Airtours Holidays Transport Ltd (formerly MyTravel Group plc).
The case involved the recovery of VAT on costs incurred by Airtours on an Independent Business Review (IBR). There were multiple parties involved - but the fees were paid solely by Airtours.

It has been ruled that Airtours was not the recipient of the services provided by the professional advisor and consequently was not entitled to deduct the VAT incurred on related costs.

Although this case related to IBR costs, the judgment may apply to other transaction costs and transactions involving three parties.

For a number of years HMRC has had great success in disallowing VAT incurred by businesses on transaction costs and this success for them is likely to feature in updated guidance, as it is common to have more than two parties to a contract, particularly in private equity acquisition structures.

The judgment demonstrates the importance of accurate drafting when agreeing engagement letters and that payment for the services is not sufficient to evidence that a supply was received.

It once again brings in to focus the issue of who can recover VAT and is the name on the invoice all that is required to allow VAT recovery?

Overseas Expansion

Overseas Expansion


PKF Cooper Parry is set to play a part in the expansion of Derby College's Employer Academy programme this summer.

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When considering overseas expansion, it’s worth being aware that every country has its own laws and ways of contracting which link in with a company’s tax position. So, it’s always worth taking early legal advice as getting the legalities wrong could have serious consequences.
A number of key issues need to be addressed, starting with the business’s physical location and appropriate legal entity. Whether you opt for a limited company, a ‘one man on the ground’ or a joint venture, each entity will have its own tax implications.

There are several specific issues relating to the US: as well as Federal taxes, each state has its own tax system with powers to impose additional tax or offer incentives to attract businesses, resulting in an added level of tax regulation and compliance.

You will need to complete both a federal and a state tax return. You can’t establish a physical presence in one state and do business in other without completing tax returns in those states too. The US has a concept of a businesses’ Nexus to determine whether an out-of-state business selling products into a state is liable to tax on sales into that state.

Once the business is established overseas, it’s time to consider how to get profits back to the UK.

The UK is a good place to export from and is ahead of the global game, with a raft of tax exemptions. Tax rates in the UK are currently lower than anywhere else in the G8, with corporation tax set to reduce to 17% during this government’s lifetime.

Most sophisticated countries are subject to a ‘double tax rate’ treaty with the UK, which ensures a business doesn’t get taxed twice, so you’ll need to consider the treaty with your chosen country.

In many cases, businesses can repatriate profits at zero rate tax, which is making the UK an attractive place to have a HQ.

How will Brexit affect International Trade?

How will Brexit affect International Trade?


PKF Cooper Parry is set to play a part in the expansion of Derby College's Employer Academy programme this summer.

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Most of the questions we received in our first Brexit survey were about international trade. You asked how Brexit would affect interest rates, international tax, access to trade and whether we’d have trade deals on a country by country basis – for example, whether we’d have different trading terms with Germany to those we’d have with smaller European countries.

As we’ve summarised, lots of you feel uneasy about Brexit. And from your comments, we found a lot of your apprehension comes from the belief that those countries still in the European Union (EU) will have a sense of bitterness towards the UK and its businesses. You’re worried that business will slow down. And that eventually, when Article 50 is triggered, we’ll be left with a poor standing in trade deals, with higher interest and tax rates.

Different relationships with the EU

So countries can take part in the movement of goods, services and capital with EU member counties, different countries have different kinds of relationships and agreements with the EU:

• EU member – Like 28 other countries, you could be an EU member. In terms of trade however, this limits how you negotiate trade with non-EU countries. (Post-Brexit, this could be an opportunity for the UK.)
• EEA – You could be a member of the European Economic Area (EAA), which allows countries to stay part of the EU Single Market for the free movement of goods and services
• EFTA – You could be in the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) like Switzerland. Again, this would still allow for trade with minimum implications within Europe

Then there are those countries with agreements with the EU that doesn’t allow for easy going international trade. These countries may still get some trade advantages, including low tariffs or high import quotas, but it doesn’t compare to the three agreements above.

• There are Customs Union countries like Turkey. ‘Most Favoured Nation’ countries like Australia and ‘Duty Free’ countries such as Monaco or Singapore.

Put simply

We’ve put together a table that summarises the above and explains possible alternatives to EU membership. Keep an eye on the column on the left and the row that concerns how countries fare in terms of trade. Post-Brexit Britain could choose any of these options and it’s ikely a combination of more than one.

Table of Possibll Alternatives to EU Membership

Business confidence is allowing Midlands SMEs to boycott late payers

Business confidence is allowing Midlands SMEs to boycott late payers


PKF Cooper Parry is set to play a part in the expansion of Derby College's Employer Academy programme this summer.

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According to our experts here SMEs are walking away from contract opportunities with firms that do not pay invoices on time. This is in order to improve their financial security. Having long been the scourge of small businesses [in the region/city], late payment can have a catastrophic impact on cash flow. This prevents the flexibility required to pursue contract opportunities, invest in machinery and hire new staff. With some larger firms insisting on payment terms of up to 90 days, further delays can be critical, putting smaller companies at risk of insolvency.
This issue is made worse by a significant reduction in the overdraft facilities available to SMEs; recent data suggests that 30 per cent of firms have seen limitations imposed over the past two years, with 17 per cent having their overdraft withdrawn entirely.

Ross Cocker, director said:

“Historically many SMEs chased increased turnover, however, post-recession, the focus has now shifted to promoting stability and sustainable growth. The majority of firms now regard timely payment and healthy working capital as a priority, and as a result, many are boycotting clients that do not pay on time. Improved market conditions, as well as the necessity for businesses to manage their cash flow more effectively means that a number of SMEs now feel confident enough to walk away from deals with late payers.”

“From April, new legislation will require large companies to publish their payment practices on a biannual basis, including the average length of time the business takes to pay suppliers as well as the proportion of invoices that are paid beyond the agreed terms. This is a really positive step for SMEs and has the potential to promote a cultural change where transparency is expected as standard, putting smaller firms in an even better position to negotiate.”

There are a number of strategies that SMEs currently employ to protect their cash flow. This includes offering financial incentives to clients in exchange for swifter payment, as well as seeking alternative funding such as invoice finance and asset-based lending agreements.

Ross Cocker added:

“Extended payment terms are seen as somewhat of a necessary evil by many firms; 60 or even 90 day agreements can be planned for, and businesses with a sufficiently robust cash flow provision are unlikely to turn down lucrative contracts for this reason alone. It is late payment that is the real enemy.”

“Uncertainty skews projections and can have a knock-on effect on the day-to-day running of a business. SMEs must address the subject of payment procedures early on, ensuring that they are not held up by administrative loopholes, and that their client is aware of the importance of prompt payment.”

How to plan for leaving school, college or university

How to plan for leaving school, college or university


PKF Cooper Parry is set to play a part in the expansion of Derby College's Employer Academy programme this summer.

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(3 minute read)

If you’re about to go into your final year at school, college or university, you’re probably trying to make your mind up about further study, apprenticeships, getting a full-time job or even travelling the world.

Most application processes start super early opening in September/October for the following summer’s intake. Here’s what you can be doing in the next year or so to prepare: 

Think about your CV

Don’t make your CV generic. I see the CVs of hundreds of “driven”, “dynamic” and “self-motivated” candidates. These buzzwords are the norm. Instead, think about how to get your personality across. Are you patient and empathetic? Okay, show us where you’ve been like that. Tell a story. Back it up with evidence.

One more thing: bullet points. So long as you’re not creating long lists, these are very handy for avoiding big blocks of text. I like bullet points.

Seek out work experience or internship opportunities

This applies to anyone at any level. Whether you’re in your first year of Uni or Y10 at school. First, get the opportunity. Then, make the most of it. Keep a record of what you did. For your future CV, be able to say what you achieved and then how it benefitted the company. Written testimonials are great if you can get them too.

Accept that grades aren’t everything

Of course, do your absolute best. But don’t beat yourself up if you come out with a 2:2 or a third at Uni. Or if your UCAS points don’t add up to what you wanted.

It’s now well-known in recruitment that people can be textbook smart, but rubbish when it comes to interpersonal skills. It’s about your personal qualities and how you apply them to a position. And these days, lots of employers, like us at PKF Cooper Parry, want a diverse talent pool.

Make life count

A lot of young people are hard on themselves for not knowing what they want to do. But it’s fine. Maybe start thinking, how can you build a greater self-awareness about yourself? To do this, I’m a big advocate for travel. The benefits are endless…

You learn about yourself. Grow your confidence. You discover how to adapt and be flexible. You also learn to be independent (with money too!). You gain a greater cultural awareness and learn to appreciate not everyone has the same background as you.

Are you thinking about accountancy?

You don’t need to a maths wizard to be an accountant. It’s more to do with process than it is to do with numbers. Accountancy is fast-paced and dynamic. You have to learn quickly. In reward of your efforts there’s a quick progression path. Three years for a graduate and five for a school leaver to become a qualified chartered account.

If you’re naturally curious or inquisitive, you’d be great in accountancy. Another benefit: it’s a stable industry. We’re always going to need auditors!

Still unsure what to do? Find a flexible internship

If you’re still unsure what to do, and you’re still discovering your passions, skills, strengths and what you really enjoy, can you find a flexible internship?

At PKF Cooper Parry, we give our interns the chance to work in several different positions and teams across a 12-month placement.

If you’re interested, keep a lookout on our Jump on Board page and social media channels towards the end of September/October. You can sign up for our job alerts too.

All the best if you’re applying this year. And if you have any questions, please shout up.

Park View scoops gold at industry Oscars

Park View scoops gold at industry Oscars


After being named as one of The Top 10 coolest offices in the UK by The Telegraph last year, our offices have just picked up another award.

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After being named as one of The Top 10 coolest offices in the UK by The Telegraph last year, our offices have just picked up another award.

Park View, our base in Solihull, won the Gold Award at the FIS Contractors Awards, which are the equivalent of the industry Oscars for Paragon, the design and build specialist we partnered with on the project.

We like what Paragon said too

In their coverage, which you can find here, Paragon Business Unit Director, Lee Harris, who picked up the award on behalf of the Paragon team, said:

“The whole project, known as ‘Parrydise’ by our client, is unashamedly bold. They have been able to create, reflect and reinforce an incredibly vibrant organisational culture through their new workplace and we are proud to have played a part in that.

“Whilst a giant pink bull in reception may not instantly evoke thoughts of accountants they will soon realise that this is PKF Cooper Parry, this is Paragon and this is a very different way of thinking and working.

Haven’t seen it yet?

If you haven’t seen our Solihull office before, get in touch and meet us for a coffee. In the meantime, here are some pictures.

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