Posted by Deloitte Newcastle on March 5, 2013 10:15 AM
Still too few companies are adequately geared up for pension auto-enrolment, warns David Brown, director in the Deloitte Total Rewards and Benefits team in the North East.
Auto-enrolment is being phased in gradually for every employer in the UK, and will eventually see every worker enrolled onto a pension scheme automatically.
But too few companies have started the necessary preparations and many could be facing an administrative nightmare before their deadline.
The scheme was launched by the Government in 2012, with the very largest employers required to comply first. By 1 May 2013, all employers with over 4,100 staff will need to be involved - by 1 November, it's every employer with over 500 staff.
By 2017, every employer in the UK will need to offer automatic pension scheme enrolment to its employees.
Put simply, not enough employers are putting enough planning into place to ensure they are geared up when their 'staging date' arrives.
There was a huge advertising campaign aimed at the individuals, but the message hasn't got through to enough businesses.
The sheer complexity of the task at hand is daunting enough for any employer, even those that already offer pension schemes, and we have been working with our clients for some time to ensure they can make the transition smoothly.
There have been lessons learned already since the scheme launched last year but there are going to be millions more individual savers in the system. Each has to be looked at and handled individually and it's a huge administrative process that we feel many may have underestimated.
We are increasingly hearing of employers that have failed to take any action yet, and, frankly, they are running out of time - it is imperative that they take advice as soon as possible to ensure they are fully geared up to offer these pensions when their deadline arrives.
Brown said employers that leave it too late could struggle to find a pension provider able to work with them.
Pensions underwriters are hitting the legal capacity of what they can offer because of the increased demand - eventually they could be forced to turn people away. It is an added complication to an already tricky issue.
Posted by Deloitte Newcastle on February 20, 2013 3:22 PM
The North East's exports to rapidly-growing economies such as Brazil are set to continue rising - but 'new' exporters should seek the correct advice first, according to international tax experts at Deloitte.
Richard Williams, international tax partner at Deloitte, says North East firms are increasingly taking advantage of the opportunities presented by emerging economies such as Brazil and India.
Figures from the ONS show exports from the North East region to Latin America hit new highs in 2012, up to £242m for the first three quarters of 2012, up from £204m for the same period in 2011.
Williams said this activity will increase as the eyes of the world shift towards Brazil, which hosts the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
However, as promising as the emerging economies are, Williams warned that companies should seek proper expert advice before heading off to attempt to trade there.
"Overseas markets will be increasingly important to the North East's firms' growth prospects in 2013," he said.
"Established multi-nationals already have operations in Europe, the US and in recent years have been expanding into India and China. Fierce competition for market share in mature markets means firms are increasingly looking for growth to come from new overseas markets.
"More firms are looking to fledgling acquisitions or joint ventures in countries like Brazil, Chile and Peru, as a first step into new markets, with a view to growing a larger, more profitable presence in these overseas territories.
"But companies that are new to the idea should be appropriately wary. Working in Brazil, especially, the approach is frequently 'litigate first, ask questions later' - so any approach to these markets needs to be watertight.
"The opportunities, though, are incredibly promising for those that are well prepared and willing to put in the work."
Posted by Deloitte Newcastle on February 5, 2013 4:14 PM
North East businesses received £264m from the first three rounds of the Regional Growth Fund (RGF). With a much reduced budget of £350m in Round 4, North East businesses will face tough competition to secure RGF cash. While the region is likely to benefit from some of the criteria used to allocate funds across the UK, greater awareness of the Fund, combined with a tight timescale for applications, means that businesses in the North East will need to submit a strong and well thought through case to BIS.
BIS' latest round of RGF funding can support the investment plans of private sector companies and/or public-private partnerships. This provides a significant opportunity for local businesses to access the major cash grant scheme. The region has been a clear winner from the three previous rounds but faces greater competition for funds due to a demand for grant funding increases and businesses that missed out in early rounds revisiting their case for grant.
Potential applicants will need to be quick off the mark to meet the March 20th deadline, and make a strong and well thought through case to BIS, which meets the criteria for grant and represents value for money in respect of job creation. While there is a £1m de-minimus limit for direct bids to RGF, other routes are available to businesses looking for finance through programme bids, delivered through LEPs, trade bodies and various financial institutions.
At Deloitte, we have supported a wide range of applicants in the previous three rounds and have been actively involved in the due diligence for successful applicants, prior to grant drawdown. This combined knowledge allows us to help applicants present a strong case for grant.
David Frith, Corporate Finance Partner, Deloitte, Newcastle
Posted by Mike Hughes on February 5, 2013 1:38 PM
Just a few more days to the official start of our second year of 2020 Vision. The next supplement is out on Monday, with two big-hitting issues tackled in depth.
Again - they are two subjects that directly affect what businesses do on Teesside.
First we talk to Stephen Catchpole at Tees Valley Unlimited - one of the most influential leaders in the region - about City Deal status and how important it could be for all businesses.
Stephen tells us: "The City Deal could help us to transform entire sectors."
Being part of Trinity Mirror means we have access to a vast network of regional papers around the country. So we also talk to the Business Editor of the Birmingham Post who tells us about the benefits of City Bid status and how it works there.
Then we head for the Commons and talk to Business Secretary Vince Cable. We asked 2020 backers to give us their questions for Mr Cable. We passed them on and now you can see the answers.
Mr Cable tells us: "We are reaching out to young people to encourage and inspire them to consider a career in manufacturing."
I think that's a strong start to the year - and we have much more planned to bring the 2020 Vision to life. Let me know what you think.
Posted by Deloitte Newcastle on January 22, 2013 2:39 PM
Although the final deadline for self-assessment isn't until the end of the month, applying for an online activation code to register with HMRC could take up to 7 days. This could prove to be problematic for the 119,000 people in the North East working for themselves, as some individuals will be caught out by the extra time needed to register for online filing.
New rules introduced last year mean that late returns could leave individuals liable to a £100 penalty, even if they have no tax to pay or are owed tax. Interest charges will apply immediately, with further penalties at three, six and 12 months.
For many people the January 31 self-assessment deadline will be their first experience of a process that requires attention-to-detail and where simple errors can lead to significant penalties. Entrepreneurs tackle many more challenging issues than their tax returns but anyone completing their self-assessment should make sure they leave enough time. This is the major interaction people will have with the revenue and should know that it is important not to cut corners.
At Deloitte, we advise that self-employed people preparing to complete their tax returns need to have their business accounts, along with receipts and invoices relating to their business. They will also need other documents such as P60 or P45 forms if they've been employed in the last year, bank and building society interest details and any dividends they've received.
Stephen Hall - Tax Partner, Deloitte Newcastle
Posted by ClimateNE on January 22, 2013 2:14 PM
So the snow is back and predictably has resulted in school closures and travel disruption, bringing much of the country to a standstill.
With more snow forecast how are you dealing with it? Has it caused disruption or are you able to operate as usual?
Can your staff travel to the office and if not do you have an agreed alternative way to work? Have you had to rearrange meetings? What about deliveries or footfall, which is important if you rely on passing trade?
Posted by ClimateNE on January 16, 2013 2:55 PM
Interested in the low-carbon economy? Seeking inspiration and information on becoming green? Want to showcase your work to date?
The Big Eco Show can help. And we're bringing it to Newcastle on 18 April.