Posts by Cain & Beer

London taxation

Making Tax Digital – Major Changes

There have been major changes to ‘Making Tax Digital’ that were announced by HMRC on 13th July 2017. The scheme was due to go live from April next year however, this has been put back because of feedback that HMRC received. The accounting profession, Parliamentary bodies, businesses and several accounting software providers felt that there was not enough time to get ready.

The new deadlines are as follows: –

  • Businesses above the VAT threshold will have to keep digital records for VAT only from April 2019
  • HMRC will now not need to receive quarterly tax information until at least 2020
  • Small businesses can volunteer to provide details of their other taxes to HMRC

It is important that businesses still get prepared for ‘Making Tax Digital’ during the next year or so to ensure they are ready. Using online software is a key change that all businesses no matter how big or small will have to embrace.


If you need further advice about MTD or help in choosing the right software for your business please get in touch by calling 020 3633 1340, emailing us at  or by completing the contact box on our website

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VAT and bookkeeping

What VAT Scheme Suits Your Business Best?

Trying to decide the best VAT scheme that suits your business best can be a bit of a headache so hopefully, the following pointers will be of use.

If you just want to submit your VAT return once a year then ‘Annual Accounting’ is the scheme for you, you will have to make 10 equal monthly payments. The monthly payments are calculated by adding your previous year’s VAT returns together and dividing them by 10 or based on an estimated turnover for the year ahead. Once you submit your annual VAT return any balancing payment is then paid to HMRC or if you have overpaid, then HMRC will refund you.

If you are in arrears though it is highly unlikely that you will be able to join this scheme.

The positives of this scheme obviously are that you will be allowed to make monthly payments and it will cut down on administration.

If your business suffers late payments then maybe ‘Cash Accounting’ would be the best fit for you when filing your VAT returns. You only have to pay the VAT on the money you receive and reclaim it from amounts you pay out. That way, if some of your customers are slow payers then you wouldn’t have to pay over the VAT until you received your payment.

The advantages to this scheme are again that it helps reduce administration and that you don’t have to wait six months to reclaim VAT on bad debt relief.

There are other VAT schemes apart from the usual ‘Accrual’ scheme including ‘Flat Rate’ and ‘Partial Exemption’. The rules have recently changed on the ‘Flat rate’ scheme making it not so appealing. If you would like help with VAT then please get in touch with us by email calling us on 020 3633 1340 or you can contact us via our website

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business meal cain and beer

Is VAT allowable on Business Entertaining?

We get asked this question a lot by our clients and the answer unfortunately is NO you can’t claim the VAT on business entertaining as a rule.

However, you can claim the VAT element on entertaining your staff and overseas customers. So, if you had a Christmas party for all staff you could claim the full value of the VAT. If the Christmas party was for staff and their partners then you would have the deduct the VAT proportion of the partners.

If you need advice on which expenses you are allowed to reclaim the VAT on then please just ask by emailing us at calling us on 020 3633 1340 or you can contact us via our website

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taxation online cain and beer

Making Tax Digital for Businesses – Will You Be Affected?

The truth is, all businesses, self-employed individuals and landlords will be required by law to start using the digital tax service and it is going to be phased in from 2018. HMRC wants to help businesses to get their tax right and have more clarity of what your tax liability will be.

So, from April 2018 if your turnover is above the VAT threshold (currently £83,000) you will be required to submit details for your PAYE and NIC and a year later if your turnover is below the VAT threshold.

Everyone who is registered for VAT will be affected from April 2019 and from April 2020 if you are liable to pay Corporation Tax you must also make submissions.

If you use the services of a bookkeeper or accountant, they should already be gearing you up for MTD but it makes sound sense to start acting now. Choosing the right cloud based accounting software is something that you should be considering. There are lots of options out there so getting the right software for your business is a very important decision you must make and soon.

If you need further advice about MTD or help in choosing the right software for your business please get in touch by calling 020 3633 1340, emailing us at or by completing the contact box on our website

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Outsourcing Can Help You Save Money and Time

If you are a freelancer or a small business owner, then you must be enjoying the benefits of being your own boss without someone telling you what to do. But that means also taking charge of everything from your schedule to finances. Your operational costs might be low but there are things that you can probably outsource to increase overall efficiency.


Benefits of Outsourcing
Running a one-man show is fine, but there are not many who can do all aspects of a business brilliantly whether it is designing a website or keeping books up to date. The rule is, if takes you too much time to complete a task simply because it is not up your alley, consider outsourcing them.


Professional Expertise
One of the major benefits of outsourcing is you get a skilled individual who can do the job better than you. Among jobs which are outsourced, the most common ones are data entry, product research, customer support or bookkeeping. Outsourcing ensures you get the best people in their fields who can do the job way efficiently and effectively.


Lower Costs
Many companies outsource jobs to lower their operational costs. Although you will have to pay for a subcontracted job, this is something that you can recuperate because you will get quality results that you can use for the business. Bookkeeping for instance is a tedious yet very important aspect of an enterprise that provide valuable indicators of the health of a company.


Outsourcing the Risks
Whereas before, you would probably try everything and carry the burden of committing errors on your job, outsourcing can now spread the risks of a task. You don’t have to be accountable for mistakes in payroll management or bookkeeping, for example. The individual or company you hired will assume responsibility for blunders and will have the appropriate insurance.


Higher Productivity and Efficiency
When someone else does the job better than you can, he/she is essentially freeing valuable time that you can devote to the business instead. This will translate to higher productivity and efficiency for your enterprise. You can concentrate on stuff that matters such as customer or client expansion and development of growth strategies.


Taking Advantage of the Work Revolution
Outsourcing does not only make sense for big companies. Freelancers and small enterprises can exploit the advantages of outsourcing saving time and money that could be used to increase productivity and competitiveness by 10 to 100 times.

This piece was expertly written for us by Jenny Holt, Freelance Writer.

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10 Things Your Bookkeeper Should Do For You

10 Things Your Bookkeeper Should Do for You

1 – Give You Back Your Precious Time  

Do you really want to be spending your evenings and weekends doing your bookkeeping even if you know what you’re doing and unfortunately, a lot of business owners don’t! You probably think that it is best to do everything yourself to keep your costs down but it is best to leave important jobs like your bookkeeping to an expert; the outlay can easily be saved in the long run. A good bookkeeper will save you time; valuable time that can be better spent by you growing your business. Do you really want to be spending your evenings and weekends doing your bookkeeping even if you know what you’re doing and unfortunately, a lot of business owners don’t!

When you start out in business it is easy to get caught up with everything that needs to be done, cleaning your office or workplace, making the tea, organising your staff (if you have any), ordering stationery, buying stamps, collecting work, buying tools and materials, going to the bank and oh yes keeping up to date with your paperwork and updating your books!! Although it saves you money initially, all these things actually stop you from doing what you started out in business in the first place to do and make money.

2 – Save You Money 

If you have been keeping your own records and preparing your books or even if you fall into the trap of putting all your receipts and paperwork into a shoe box or carrier bags for your accountant at the end of the year, then, a bookkeeper can definitely save you money. An accountant’s fees or hourly rates will in most cases be a lot higher than a bookkeeper’s so your bookkeeper could actually save you money in accountant’s fees by preparing the books for your accountant to check so he or she won’t have to do all the legwork. There are also other areas where your bookkeeper could save you money these will be touched on later.

3 – Keep You Up to Date

As the emphasise is moving more towards ‘cloud accounting’ it is now possible to view your accounting position in real time so your bookkeeping should be done for you at least quarterly. Ideally if your bookkeeping is completed weekly you will always be up to date and know exactly where you stand, how much you have in the bank, what transactions are still to go through, how much you owe and to who and also how much you’re owed and by who.

4 – Prepare Regular Financial Reports for You 

If your bookkeeping is prepared for you weekly then at the end of each month your bookkeeper should provide you with some basic monthly reports which at the very least should include a profit & loss, a balance sheet, an aged debtors and an aged creditors list.

5 – Give You Detailed Management Accounts 

A bookkeeper worth his salt should also produce detailed management accounts; these are an extension to the regular monthly reports and provide drilled down information. For example, if you sell products you may need to know your best sellers or which products are the most profitable. You might also like to compare your figures from previous months or years so a report showing you a whole year month by month will be of real value.

These reports are key to helping you make informed financial decisions for your business and they will also show you what your ‘breakeven’ figure is which is basically how much you need to make to cover your overheads.

6 – Explain to You What It All Means 

Each month or at the very least every 3 months you should have a review meeting with your bookkeeper to go through your figures; during this meeting your figures will be explained to you. It is also an opportunity for you to ask questions and receive sound financial advice without having to wait until the end of the year. If you need

7 – File Your Returns Returns On Time 

It is essential that your VAT, PAYE, Corporation Tax, Self-Assessment and Annual Accounts are filed on time and these days HMRC are fining very heavily when you are late. If your bookkeeping is kept up to date, then there should be no reason for your returns to be filed late. Your bookkeeper should produce your VAT return and make you aware of when it should be filed by and how much you are due to pay and by when.


8 – Liaise with Your Accountants

At the end of your financial year, your accountant will need to prepare your annual accounts and calculate your Corporation tax payments using the bookkeeping that has been compiled by your bookkeeper. Your accountant will in most cases, need to ask questions or get clarification on certain transactions so your bookkeeper should be available to answer those questions.


9 – Deal with HMRC On Your Behalf 

Every now and then you may receive correspondence from HMRC and have a need to communicate with them. Your bookkeeper should be available to liaise with HMRC on your behalf and assist you if there is an inspection. Again, as your bookkeeper has prepared your accounts he or she will be best placed to speak to HMRC as they will have first-hand experience of the records.


10 – Assist with Your Cash Flow 

You have probably heard the expression ‘Cash is King’ well the truth is that so many businesses fail due to lack of cash despite being owed a lot of money. A decent cash-flow forecast should be part of your management reports that you receive but if it isn’t your bookkeeper should at the very least, keep you abreast of where you stand.

If you would like further advice about any of the above 10 points then please do not hesitate to contact us either by calling us on 020 3633 1340, emailing or via our website


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Cash is King

When you start out in business one of the first things you should do is write out a ‘Credit Policy’ outlining your payment terms and the stages that you will use to make sure you have done everything to ensure you are paid to your terms.

Inform your client when you want to be paid and once you have supplied the goods or completed your work obtain either a signed timesheet or written confirmation that your client is happy with the service / products received. If you are dealing with businesses, it would be wise to check their credit rating before offering them credit terms. There are a lot of companies out there that offer credit check facilities.

This is the point when you should raise an invoice confirming the terms agreed; if you haven’t offered any credit terms then payment should be made to you straight away; happy days!!

However, if you have agreed that your client can take time to pay whether it is 7, 14, 30, 60 or even 90 days (if you can afford to offer that length of time) you should diarise a note to remind you. What should you do now? Ask your client to pay you: this may sound like a daunting task to actually ask for your money; but guess what, it’s yours!!

Your customer pays you on time and everyone’s happy but what happens if you don’t receive ‘YOUR’ money on time? Well this is where the next stage of your ‘Credit Policy’ comes into play and it may look something like this: –

  1. Contact your client and remind them that payment is due and request your money
  2. If payment not received within 3 days then send 1st reminder letter or email informing client that payment not received and that their remittance is required.
  3. Assuming payment has still not arrived a 2nd chasing letter or email goes to the client saying that unless payment is received in 3 days; you will consider taking further action.
  4. After 3 further days and still no payment you could send a final letter called ‘Notice Before Proceedings Under County Courts Act’
  5. Hopefully, the thought of legal action spurs your client into paying you.
  6. If your client doesn’t pay you by the date mentioned in your final letter, what should you do? Well you have informed them that you would be taking legal action so unfortunately, you have to take the next step and apply to pursue the matter through the courts. You may want to give them a quick call first to inform your client that you are serious and will be taking legal action if they don’t pay today!#

In most cases your client will pay you on time but you have to consider your options and what time you will give your client to actually pay you.

It is not recommendable to let your clients know that they have more time before you will take legal action because you are basically telling them that although your terms are 30 days you will allow them another 30 days before you will instruct solicitors or start proceedings yourself.

Always, always, always keep on top of your customers (debtors) and make sure you are paid on time; a lot of businesses fail due to bad cash flow.

If you would like help preparing a ‘Credit Policy’ or need some advice on bad debts or court action please get in touch by calling us on 020 3633 1340, emailing or via our website

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Software Training

Software Training

When you start out in business there’s a lot to consider and think about including how you are going to keep your books. Do you hire a professional bookkeeper? or do you try to do your own bookkeeping?

We would always advise that you take on a certified bookkeeper and turn your attentions to running and growing your business but understand that this is an extra cost you could do without when starting up.

If you do decide to your own bookkeeping; what software will you choose; should it be on your iMac, laptop or desktop computer and should it be internet based; how much will it cost, the list goes on. All key things to think about when deciding which accounting software is best for your business. Then when you have made your choice; how do use the software, what information does it give you

If you would like help choosing an accounting software package that is right for your business or you need training and on-going support, then we would love to hear from you. Full details of all our training and support packages are on our website but if you would like to talk to us about your requirements please call us on 020 3633 1340 or email us

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If you are in business, networking is a great way of meeting other local business owners and service providers; you may even pick up the odd client or two! It is a time when you can exchange business cards and stay in touch with your fellow peers but you shouldn’t necessarily look at networking specifically for picking up new business.
It is all about meeting new people and following up and it could be the start of a fantastic business relationship. The more people you meet over time and form relationships with, the higher the chance that they will let others know about your products or services.
It is always a good idea to research your local area for networking events and then decide which ones you think would best suit you. There are a lot of breakfast networking events including BNI and BOB (Business over Breakfast) as well as evening and daytime alternatives.
Cain & Beer hold monthly Curry & Beer nights throughout the South East of England; if you are interested in attending please get in touch with us today or visit our website
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Verbal References; a Thing of the Past?

Verbal References; a Thing of the Past?


When an employee leaves their job in most cases it is amicable and the employer is more than happy to give them a decent reference to take to their next employer.


However, when things haven’t gone quite as planned an employer might not want to give a reference or even consider giving a bad reference if asked by the employee’s potential new employers.


The previous employer can state factors about the employee’s performance and also whether they were sacked. Something to bear in mind though is if the employee is given a job they are entitled to see any references given. If the employee considers it to be inaccurate he or she can challenge the reference and could seek legal advice and claim damages through the court.


Verbal references are no different in as much as the potential new employer could be making notes which again, if the employee is given the job, they are entitled to see what has been said.


The House of Lords has decided that an employer also has a duty of care to an employee when providing a reference. An employer giving a reference that contains inaccuracies whether it be written or verbal, could be sued for negligence if it has a negative impact on the employee.


Some businesses have changed their policies to prohibit the giving of verbal reference which seems quite a sensible stance.


We hope that this has helped you but if we can be of any further assistance please get in touch with us.

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