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Year Start planning: time to get ahead?

As we near the end of the tax year, now is the time to consider not only year end planning, but also planning for the new tax year.

It is one of the features of the political cycle that the more difficult and less palatable legislation tends to come at the start of a parliamentary term rather than as an election nears. Tax changes are very much a case in point: the rises come soon after an election, the cuts shortly before the election. When 2016/17 starts there will be a number of important tax changes scheduled to take effect which need to be built into your financial planning: (more…)

Automatic enrolment: the number of fines is increasing

The Pensions Regulator is finding a growing number of automatic enrolment failures.

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) recently issued its latest “Compliance and enforcement” bulletin, looking at progress to the end of 2015. This showed that as the size of employers drawn into the scope of auto-enrolment has shrunk, so have the TPR’s actions and fines grown:

  • In the final quarter of 2015, TPR issued 2,596 compliance notices, which it describes as giving employers “a ‘nudge’ to encourage them to meet their duties”. In the previous three years, the average had been under 200 a quarter.
  • TPR served 78 Unpaid Contribution Notices in the last three months of 2015. Once again the average for the previous three years was much lower – about 12 a quarter.
  • Further up the non-compliance scale, TPR levied 1,021 £400 Fixed Penalty Notices for non-compliance: in the previous three years it had only issued 573 in total.
  • TPR also imposed 24 escalating daily penalties (which can run up to £10,000) for failure to comply with a statutory notice. In the first three years of automatic enrolment only seven were issued.

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Keep an eye on your cash

The latest inflation figure has crept up again, but interest rates haven’t followed.

Between December 2015 and January 2016, overall prices as measured by the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) fell by 0.8%. However, prices normally fall between Christmas and the New Year as the sales get under way and the festive travel price hikes are unwound. The latest turn of year drop was 0.1% smaller than that between 2014 and 2015, with the result that annual inflation nudged up by 0.1% to 0.3%, the highest since January 2015.

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