Neston & District Community Fund makes first donation

The newly launched Neston & District Community Fund has helped ensure a Family Fun Day in West Vale Park, Little Neston, will go ahead.

The Fund, which was set up in February, has donated £600 to go with a second grant of £600 from Neston Town Council to cover the total cost of £1,200.

The funding covers insurance, First Aid cover, hire of a small marquee, tables and chairs, publicity, face-painting and a number of workshops including animal handling and crafts.

The fun day, which takes place in August, will allow organiser, the Friends of West Vale Park, to consult residents on its plans for the coming year.

The Neston & District Community Fund was set up to support community and voluntary groups in Neston, Little Neston, Parkgate, Burton, Ness, Willaston and Puddington.

Four businesses – Phillip Bates, Clive Watkin Partnership, Rightway and G Tilby Engineering – launched the fund with an initial substantial donation.

Phil Bates, Principal at Phillip Bates & Co accountants, said: “We had no hesitation in providing funding for the West Vale Park Family Fun Day. Supporting worthy projects such as this is the reason we decided to launch the Neston & District Community Fund.

“There has been a lot of interest since the Fund was set up and we expect to make a number of other donations in the coming months.”

Ian Mellor, Partner at Clive Watkin in Neston, said: “In addition to hearing from community projects looking for funding, we would also like to hear from fellow business owners and private individuals who would like to become donors to the Fund, enabling us to grow the amount of money available to local causes.”

The fund is administered by Cheshire Community Foundation, allowing it to secure additional funding from other funds operating in Cheshire.

Helen O’Donnell, Chief Executive of Cheshire Community Foundation, said: “We are delighted that the Neston & District Community Fund has made its first donation.

“It is an excellent example of local philanthropy in action and a model we believe can be rolled out across Cheshire.

“We help people who want to give back to the places in which they live and do business by connecting them to the local community and helping them invest in that community in an intelligent and impactful way.”

Since Cheshire Community Foundation was founded in 2012, more than £1.6million has been given in grants with in excess of £456,000 going to causes in Cheshire West and Chester.

If you are interested in becoming a business or individual donor, please contact any of the four founders of the Neston & District Community Fund:

  • Phillip Bates: 0151 353 0003
  • Clive Watkin: 0151 336 7070
  • Rightway: 0151 353 1500
  • G Tilby Engineering: 0151 336 2339
  • If you would like to apply for a grant, please call Cheshire Community Foundation on 01606 330607.

Chancellor could have been “bolder” in Budget

Phil Bates, Principal of leading Cheshire accountants Phillip Bates & Co, said: “I am surprised the Chancellor did not seek to be bolder with his last Budget before the General Election.

“Among the initiatives announced, I am not sure about the practicality of the proposed move towards digital tax returns. There will still be a lot of information regarding self-employed, limited company and property income that is not readily available and is dependent upon the current manual input. I look forward to delving into the detail of the proposed changes to ensure that our clients’ tax position is protected.”

Bates, whose offices are in Neston, also labelled the further reduction in the lifetime pension allowance saving to £1million as “pension apartheid” penalising those who have worked hard to build their pension pots. The allowance has been repeatedly cut from a figure of £1.8million four years ago.

Bates added: “The system has become increasingly inequitable. The Government needs to decide whether it is in favour of encouraging pension saving or not.”

On a more positive note, Bates declared his support for the new
help-to-buy ISA which will see the Government add £50 to every £200 first-time buyers put away towards a deposit.

Bates commented: “This is an attractive policy which will help couples trying to save for a home. Even if they don’t buy a home they will still have their ISA.”

Landlords warned to get their tax affairs in order

Private landlords are being warned to get their tax affairs in order to avoid being caught in a crackdown by tax inspectors.

Phil Bates, Principal at leading Cheshire accountant Phillip Bates & Co, says the potential penalties are severe unless landlords ensure they have registered with HM Revenue & Customs.

Phil, who has more than 100 landlords as clients, says the Revenue has stepped up its campaign to bring to book any landlords who they believe are avoiding paying tax due on rental properties.

Figures for 2013-14 showed that tax inspectors obtained more than £130million as a result of enquiries into underpayments of capital gains tax.

Fewer than 500,000 taxpayers are registered with HMRC as owning second properties. HMRC estimates that the true number of landlords is much higher, at around 1.5 million.

Since January, a number of landlords have contacted Phillip Bates & Co having received letters from the Revenue over unpaid tax.

Phil, whose offices are in Neston, said: “A number of new clients are private landlords who have fallen foul of HMRC.

“A landlord must pay tax on profit just like any other business but only after costs – known as allowable expenses – have been deducted.

“This is where there is sometimes uncertainty. For example, allowable expenses do include reasonable repairs and maintenance to keep a property in good order, but they do not cover renovation costs incurred prior to letting or extensions, although these can usually be claimed for capital gains tax purposes when the property is sold.

“The potential penalties for landlords failing to pay their tax are severe – as much as 35 per cent of the potential lost revenue is standard, where HMRC makes initial contact with landlords.

“The Revenue is able to gather information on private landlords from various sources. The way to avoid a nasty investigation is to register as soon as possible and ensure your tax affairs are in order.

“The penalties are likely to be reduced or avoided entirely if a landlord advises HMRC first rather than waiting for the Revenue to catch up with them.”

Neston & District Community Fund launched to support vital projects

Vital community projects in Neston and District have been given a boost with the launch of a fund backed by local businesses.

The Neston & District Community Fund has been set up to support community and voluntary groups in Neston, Little Neston, Parkgate, Burton, Ness, Willaston and Puddington.

Four businesses – Phillip Bates, Clive Watkin Partnership, Rightway and G Tilby Engineering – have launched the fund with an initial substantial donation.

The Fund is now looking for other businesses and individuals to become donors in order to grow the amount of money available to support deserving causes.

It also wants to hear from charitable organisations and community groups in need of funding to support specific projects.

Phil Bates, Principal at Phillip Bates & Co accountants, said: “All four founding businesses are long established in Neston & District and believe passionately in the importance of supporting the local community.

“The Neston & District Community Fund is about ensuring local money goes to local causes.
David Clarke, Managing Director of Rightway and Chair of Neston & District Chamber of Trade, said: “We hope this is the start for all businesses locally, both national and independent, to give back to our community.

“The aim of the fund is to develop the strongest possible relationship between local business and the surrounding community.”

The fund is administered by Cheshire Community Foundation, enabling it to secure additional funding from other funds operating in Cheshire.

Helen O’Donnell, Chief Executive of Cheshire Community Foundation, said: “We are delighted to be able to support the launch of the Neston & District Community Fund.

“The Foundation aims to inspire local philanthropy, build local endowment and invest money in local grass roots organisations.

“We help people who want to give back to the places in which they live and do business by connecting them to the local community and helping them invest in that community in an intelligent and impactful way.”

Since Cheshire Community Foundation was founded in 2012, more than £1.3million has been given in grants with in excess of £250,000 going to causes in Cheshire West and Chester.

  • If you are interested in becoming a business or individual donor, please contact any of the four founders of the Neston & District Community Fund:
  • Phillip Bates: 0151 353 0003
  • Clive Watkin: 0151 336 7070
  • Rightway: 0151 353 1500
  • G Tilby Engineering: 0151 336 2339
  • If you would like to apply for a grant, please call Alison Tansey at Cheshire Community Foundation on 01606 330607.

Cheshire accountant says businesses expect more from their advisers

A Cheshire accountant says businesses are increasingly looking for greater support from their professional advisers.

Phillip Bates, the Principal at Phillip Bates & Co accountants in Neston, says business owners expect “a lot more than the numbers”.

Bates offers a specialist business development programme for firms looking for a more hands-on role. This involves Phil and his team helping owners to maximise their company’s potential through the development of a clear business strategy.

This service can include attendance at monthly board meetings and spending time within the client’s business.

Phil, who has worked with business owners for over 30 years, said: “The continuing economic uncertainty has left many business owners in a state of confusion.

“One day, they hear good news about the economy, while the next the news is less promising. This makes it very hard to forecast and plan with conviction because the fear is always there that the economy will start to slide again.

“This continuing state of uncertainty means that business owners are rightly more demanding than ever of their professional advisers. They don’t just want them to present them with a set of accounts – instead, they want far more proactivity and mentoring.

“Our business development programme for business owners is a key part of this approach and has helped a number of companies put in place plans for growth.”

Brian Blanchfield, the former owner of Wirral-based manufacturer BMB Weatherproof Canopies, is one client who went through the business development programme.

Phil advised Brian for more than 15 years before the successful sale of BMB earlier this year which saw more than 20 companies express an interest in buying the £2million turnover business.

Blanchfield said: “Phil’s advice and guidance has been invaluable over the years and he became a key part of our business, including attending monthly board meetings.

“Running a successful business requires many different skills and I would be the first to admit that the accountancy side of things is not my strongest area. This is why the relationship with Phil was so important – he is insistent on setting realistic yearly budgets and each month he is able to give us a good indication about our finances and the general state of the market.

“He is also invaluable in terms of helping us understand the financial pressures around stock control, overtime and other key factors in a business. Phil has played a crucial role in ensuring that our business was ready for sale.”

Ten questions to answer before setting up your own business

An accountant has issued a checklist to help the expected flood of New Year entrepreneurs decide if going it alone is right for them.

Phil Bates, Principal at Cheshire and Wirral accountants Phillip Bates & Co, says that many people will use the Christmas holidays to make their final plans to set up on their own, while others will do so having been made redundant as a result of the continuing tough economic climate.

The 10 questions Bates says all prospective entrepreneurs should ask themselves are:

  • Does a market exist for your business idea or product?
  • Where will your first client, project or sale come from?
  • Have you got enough income / savings to sustain you and any family until the business establishes itself?
  • Have you done a business plan – written down, not just in your head?
  • How are you going to find new opportunities while satisfying demands of the business you have?
  • Are you ready not to have a regular pay cheque?
  • Are you able or happy to reduce your expenditure while you develop your business?
  • Are you ready to live and breathe your business including working longer hours?
  • Is your family ready for you to take the plunge?
  • Do you back yourself 110 per cent to succeed?

Phil, who has worked with business owners for more than 30 years, said: “We always see an influx of people wanting to set up on their own after the Christmas and New Year period.

“In some cases, it is something they have been mulling over for some time but the extended holiday has given them time to decide to go for it. For others, they make it a New Year resolution to enter the world of self-employment.

“The number of would-be entrepreneurs has increased in the last few years because of the recession and people being laid off or taking redundancy.

“Becoming your own boss can be incredibly exciting and fulfilling, but the checklist I have put together will hopefully assist people to step back and make sure that self-employment is definitely the right thing for them and their loved ones.”

‘Fragile’ economy holding back businesses from seeking investment

Businesses are holding back on seeking investment to grow because they are still suffering the “aftershocks” of the longest recession in living memory.

Phil Bates, Principal of Cheshire and Wirral accountants Phillip Bates & Co says there is a “fear factor” among companies in the North West because the economy remains “fragile”.

Bates, whose office is in Neston, said: “The lack of certainty in the economy makes it extremely hard to plan ahead. Businesses are seeing a number of good weeks followed by flat weeks.

“I think the banks are keen to lend to businesses again, but the bigger issue is the reluctance of companies to take on finance. There remains a fear that any growth will be temporary and that the banks could then pull the rug from under them.

Bates said that avoiding investment in a business could be a false economy.

He said: “During the recession, a lot of companies cut costs in all sorts of areas including training, marketing, repairs and maintenance. For manufacturing businesses, too much short-termism can be a dangerous thing, for example continually patching up an important production line rather than investing in a new one.

“Businesses need to scrutinise all of their costs. If a cost is making a contribution to top line sales or bottom line profits then it is usually a cost worth shouldering.

“Ultimately, if you cut all costs you have little or no activity and you lose the spirit behind the business.”

Bates said he welcomed many of the new entrants offering businesses alternative forms of finance.

He added: “There is no doubt that for the right business owner, alternative finance such as crowdfunding can be a good option, but there is a need to do your due diligence.

“It is important to read the small print and understand any risks that might be written into a contract. Sometimes, business owners are so desperate for funding they do not carry out all the necessary checks.

“It is also vital that investors getting involved in funding businesses do their homework on any potential investment and understand the risk profile of each one.”

Four in five businesses increasing risk of failure by not having business plan

Four out of every five businesses are increasing their chances of failure by not putting in place a robust business plan from the outset.

Leading Cheshire and Wirral accountant Phil Bates, Principal at Neston-based Phillip Bates & Co, says as few as 20 per cent of new businesses have a detailed plan in place when they start up.

Bates, who has been advising owners of SMEs for 30 years, said: “One of the impacts of the recession is that a greater number of people are considering going it alone, either because they have lost their jobs or have taken redundancy. Because the need is greater and more urgent, the result can sometimes be that serious planning falls by the wayside.

“Setting up a business is not something to be taken lightly. You need to understand your company, its competitors, the size of the market, potential customers, likely funding required and a whole host of other matters.

“A plan is critical to a business’s success. You need to monitor actual performance against budgets on a monthly basis. Looking at a business’s accounts once a year is not enough. By setting targets and monitoring financial performance on a regular basis, a business owner will be able to take corrective action before it is too late.”

Bates said that his firm provides prospective clients with a specially created outline business plan to assist in their preparation.

He added: “We will always tell people thinking about setting up a business what the downsides and risks are.

“Running your own business becomes your life. It can often mean a significant financial and personal investment and risk. It therefore makes sense to do as much homework as possible before starting out on the journey.

“We advise our clients to write down and review annually their business and life plans. Once they are committed to paper, they seem more realistic and you are more likely to challenge them in order to keep on track.”

NOTES TO EDITORS

  • For more information or an interview with Phil Bates, please contact Nick Mason at MPG PR on 0151 239 5052 or 07903 237008 or email: nick@mpgpr.com
  • pbates.co.uk

 

Phillip Bates gives his Scottish Referendum Result Reactions to IFA Magazine

Phillip Bates was invited by IFA Magazine to give his reaction to the Scottish Referendum Result.

Phillip Bates, Principal at Cheshire accountants Phillip Bates & Co:

“I breathed a big sigh of relief this morning after waking to the news that Scotland had said No. The economic and social carnage that would have followed a Yes vote brought a cold shudder to me. Throughout the debate I felt that the major uncertainties associated with an independent Scotland around currency, admission to Europe and the extent of loss of jobs and income to Scotland as significant businesses moved south of the border would be so substantial that “No” would prevail.

“It is surprising the vote was as close as it was given the lack of clear financial information on the expected assets and liabilities, future income and expenditure of a Scottish nation. It is scary to think that the future of our Union could have changed with a swing of 5.3% of those who voted – only 192,000 people or two and a bit times the capacity of Wembley Stadium. The feelings of frustration, isolation and impotence  of the Scottish people with their lives controlled from a distant Westminster and a Government not understanding their position or needs has undoubtedly been a major reason for the dissatisfaction.  Similar frustrations are found in the North West and no doubt other regions outside the South East.  Those frustrations and the West Lothian question need to be addressed as urgently as the need to devolve powers to Scotland.”

You can read the full story online here: http://www.ifamagazine.com/review/scottish-independence-referendum-views-305879