Posts by Cain & Beer

Setting up an auto-enrolment pension

Setting up an auto-enrolment pension

If you are an employer, then you are required by law to provide a workplace pension scheme for all your eligible staff. If you became an employer after the 1st of October 2017 then you must automatically enrol staff into a scheme, whereas if you were an existing employer at this time then you should have been notified of the applicable start date (known as the staging date) for your business.

Setting up a pension scheme can be a daunting task if you have never had to do it before. Pensions can be a complex area to navigate if you have no experience and it can be particularly tricky for a small business given all the other requirements on you as an employer, not to mention the actual day-to-day running of your business. It can be beneficial to get a specialist involved in managing it all for you so you can focus on everything else you need to do.

A few things you need to know about auto-enrolment:

You must determine what is included in employees’ earnings

There are three types of earnings that are classed as pensionable salary and you need to decide which definition you will use. They include:

  • Total pay: this includes salary, bonuses, overtime pay, and any benefits (such as health insurance)
  • Basic pay: this covers the base salary only, excluding bonuses and benefits
  • Qualifying earnings: this calculates the pensionable salary based on the top and bottom limits of National Insurance

You must select a pension provider

There is a large number of pension providers on the market offering a range of options and services to clients. As well as understanding the basics of what is involved in setting up a pension scheme you also need to be able to understand what each pension provider offers and what their charges are before deciding which one is right for you. With the new rules coming into force pension providers will become quite busy and some may even reach capacity and be unable to take on new business.

Communicate the changes to your staff

Once you have determined what constitutes earnings and which pension provider you are going to go for you need to let you staff know what changes are being introduced and how they will be affected. Although you are only legally required to send out a single communication to staff, the reality is that you will be faced with questions and uncertainty so it is worth considering an engagement strategy. This could include a variety of channels as well as follow-ups to ensure that all affected staff have been informed and understand what it means for them.

Do you need help?

Consider early on whether this is something you want to manage yourself, or if you want to get help from a specialist. An expert working in this field will be up to speed on all the details and requirements that will affect you and be able to advise on the right providers who can meet those needs. They can also help you communicate changes to your staff and answer any questions they may have, allowing you to focus on running the business.

For advice and guidance on auto-enrolment or for details on how we can assist, just ask our team at Cain and Beer by calling us on 020 3633 1340 or emailing us at .

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Keeping Accurate Bookkeeping Records

Keeping Accurate Bookkeeping Records

When you run your own business it is so easy to get bogged down with all the paperwork that arrives through your door. Keeping on top of your paperwork can potentially take up a lot of your time, time that should be spent running your business or with your family.

However, you can’t ignore it, hoping it’ll go away because it won’t and it’s definitely not a good idea of just putting it into a shoe box for your accountant at the end of the year.

There are a couple of options to ensure your bookkeeping doesn’t pile up out of control and they are either, keep simple spreadsheets yourself or use a bookkeeper. Bookkeeping is an essential and integral part of running a business no matter what you do.

There are a number of factsheets to help you on our website and what’s more they are completely FREE to download by clicking here.

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Bookkeeping services, London

Bank charges need not cause you grief

Do sights like this cause you worry? Then read about some of our handy hints below

It is so important to always know where you are with your bank account and keep regular tabs on incomings and outgoings. It is all too easy to bury your head in the sand and leave your bookkeeping to chance but that comes at a premium.

Things can be a lot easier if you use accounting software like Sage; providing you keep it up to date that is; you will know when certain payments are due out of your account.

Have you any idea how much your bank charged you in the last 12 months for going overdrawn without an overdraft or for unpaid transactions and unauthorised overdraft interest? If it is high that should be enough of a wake-up call to ensure you don’t get hit like that again in the next 12 months.

By taking a few simple steps you can drastically reduce your bank charges: –

  • Write a list of all your regular payments in date order on a spreadsheet showing payees and amounts payable. If the amount varies each month then make an educated guess based on previous months.
  • Add this list to your calendar as events, showing payee and amount for each direct debit and set a reminder for a few days before to check your bank account.
  • Do just that! Check your bank account to see if there will be enough cleared funds.
  • If there is enough money, great do nothing! If there isn’t, you need to take action right NOW! You either have to cancel the payment or pay money into your account.

This may cause a bit of inconvenience to cancel payments but generally your payees will understand especially if they only have to wait a few days to be paid. It could improve your relationship with your bank and possibly have a positive bearing on your credit rating.

To find out more about our bookkeeping services, workshops and training, please call Cain & Beer on , or email us at

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Really Good Bookkeepers Are Few And Far Between

When you decide the time is right to hire the services of a bookkeeper; where do you start? It is such an important decision to make and there are a lot people out there claiming to be bookkeepers. Also, will they work at your premises or remotely and what software is best? So many decisions to make and all you really want to do is grow their business.  Bookkeeping is such an integral part of your infrastructure so it’s essential that an expert looks after your financial affairs no matter how big or small your company is.

Although price is always important it shouldn’t be the main factor; quite often the cheapest option becomes the dearest. It is also worth considering that a really good bookkeeper will take less time to complete an amount of work than someone else who is cheaper.

It is wise to ask around and speak to local business owners, accountants, banks and solicitors to see if they know of a reliable and efficient bookkeeping service.

Here are some pointers when deciding on the right bookkeeper for you: –

  • Check that they are registered with a professional body such as the (ICB) Institute of Certified Bookkeepers or the (IAB) International Associate of Bookkeepers.
  • They should also be compliant with the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) rules and regulations so ask to see their certificate of compliance.
  • Always, always ask them for at least two but preferably three references.
  • A bookkeeper will post sales invoices and receipts, supplier invoices and payments, bank transactions and reconcile the bank account(s) and produce the usual monthly financial reports.
  • An experienced bookkeeper should also be able to produce detailed management accounts which are an essential tool when needing to make financial business decisions.
  • They should, where possible, be able to offer support when a business owner needs to ask accounting questions.
  • A monthly or quarterly one to one review of the financials is also a very important rather than having to wait until the end of the financial year.
  • Good bookkeepers should also be able to process your payroll too which will quite often save you money.

To find out more about our bookkeeping services, workshops and training, please call Cain & Beer on , or email us at

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The Top 5 Things To Consider When Hiring A Bookkeeper!

Ask for Referrals

Ask your peer group if they can recommend a good bookkeeper to you; think of all the people you know in business; fellow business owners, accountants, bank managers and solicitors; the list is endless. Referrals are a great place to start when hiring a bookkeeper but make sure you consider the following points before making your decision.

Do they have Qualifications?

Did you know that anyone can call themselves a bookkeeper? True! but does that make them good? You know the answer to that question so check them out and ask to see their credentials; they should be members of the ICB (Institute of Certified Bookkeepers) or the IAB (International Association of Bookkeepers). They should also have certificates for passing bookkeeping exams and by law they have to be compliant with the AML (Anti-Money Laundering) rules and regulations so check they have a certificate of compliance.

Ask for at least 2 References

A decent bookkeeper should be able to provide you with at least 5 references; so ask for the names and contact details and actually make contact with them. Bookkeeping is a very important part of running a business so it is key that you do your homework and check their references before making a decision.

The Duties they should perform as standard

Your bookkeeper should be able to raise or post sales invoices and receipts, post supplier invoices and payments, enter bank transactions and reconcile your bank account(s) and produce month end reports. On top of this a good bookkeeper will also be able to produce detailed management accounts to assist you to make financial decisions. You should also ask for a review of your figures at least once a quarter but preferably monthly so that you understand how your business is performing.

Don’t base your decision on price

Deliberately left for last because this is often the main criteria a business owner uses when taking on a bookkeeper!! By all means ask you wife, husband, sister, brother or next door’s cat to do your bookkeeping but please, please consider the above points first; the cheapest option will almost certainly turn into the dearest. You should expect to pay around £15 to £30 an hour based on a number of criteria including experience, qualifications and the level of tasks needed to be performed. A fixed fee is also an option which is usually based on the number of transactions being processed each month, quarter or year.

Hopefully, this has helped you but if you need any further help please feel free to call us on .

To find out more about our bookkeeping services, workshops and training, please call Cain & Beer on , or email us at

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Working From Home Tax Benefits

If you have an office in your home you could be missing out on tax savings and reducing the amount you actually pay to HMRC.

Generally speaking if you work from home in a dedicated office then you can offset a proportion of your household bills against your tax bill. This applies whether you are a sole-trader, part of a partnership or a Limited company and the bookkeeping for these costs is relatively simple.

Typically you can claim a percentage of your heating bills, landline, broadband, mortgage interest, rent, council tax and water rates. The amount you can claim depends on the number of rooms you have in your home excluding your kitchen, bathroom and toilet.

Let’s say you have 2 bedrooms and 2 reception rooms and you use one of these as an office; you can offset 25% of your household bills mentioned above. If you pay £1000.00 a month on these bills, that’s £250.00 that you can offset against your tax bill and a massive £3000.00 a year. If you use a bookkeeper they should not only be aware of this but they should be keeping records for you.

If you work from home and would like further details please download our FREE factsheet on our website by clicking here.

To find out more about our bookkeeping services, workshops and training, please call Cain & Beer on , or email us at

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Five Reasons To Choose A Certified Bookkeeper

Keeping on top of your bookkeeping is essential when running a business and knowing where you stand financially is key to your ongoing success. When considering whether to hire a certified bookkeeper or not the following 5 reasons may make your decision easier: –

  1. Saving Time

Running a business is time consuming and it can be quite hard fitting in everything that needs to be done including the bookkeeping. When business owners do their own bookkeeping it is probably left to the last minute, done late at night or at the weekend. The bookkeeping is also probably not up to a standard that an accountant can easily work with. Hiring a certified bookkeeper should ensure that the books are kept up to date and give the business owner time back.

  1. Saving Money

If a business owner lets their bookkeeping pile up and left to the last minute, they could incur late filing penalties. A certified bookkeeper can help a business owner stay up to date which in the long term could save them money. Systemised and accurate bookkeeping could also save money in accountant’s bills at the end of the year.

  1. Helping with Financial Management

A qualified bookkeeper should support a business owner throughout the year by not only keeping accurate records but also providing decent management reports. Management reports are a valuable tool for a business owner to stay in touch with their cash flow, identify areas where overheads could be reduced and make informed financial decisions.

  1. Organised Records

A qualified bookkeeper should organise the piles of paperwork into a structured and organised system. A business should always have a decent filing system with its sales and supplier invoices filed away in chronological and alphabetical order. The bank statements, month end reports and other business records including VAT, staff and payroll records should also be filed efficiently.

  1. Processing Expenses Claims

Quite often company owners and Directors will use their own cash or personal debit and credit cards to pay for business expenses. In a lot of instances these expenses get forgotten and don’t get claimed back through the business. A qualified bookkeeper will make sure that this doesn’t happen and will set up procedures to ensure that all claimable expenses are accounted for.

Not only is it a legal requirement for a business to keep accurate records but quite often it can be the difference between trading or going out of business.

If you need help with your bookkeeping, accounting staff training or just want some professional financial business advice then Cain & Beer would be delighted to hear from you.

To find out more about our bookkeeping services, workshops and training, please call Cain & Beer on , or email us at

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Enjoy The Great British Summer – On Your Bike!!

We all know that Holland is the main player when it comes to cycling but now is the time to clean up your old bike and get cycling to and from work.

If you’re an employer though, there’s a tax benefit to supply bikes to your employees as long as they mainly use it for work related travel. The ‘Cycle to Work’ scheme means employers can offer their staff and Directors a bike and protective headgear and gloves (that they own or rent) to use and there are potentially no PAYE or NIC implications.

Employees are not required to keep detailed records of their travel as far as HMRC are concerned as they would be if claiming mileage. What’s more, after a year or so the employer can give the bike to the employee however, this would be classed as a ‘Benefit in Kind’ and would be liable for tax. If the cost of the bike was originally £499 (including VAT) or less then after a year the ‘Benefit in Kind’ would be around £90 which would mean a 20% tax payer would have to pay around £18 and the employer would have to pay £12 class 1A NI. If the bike is sold to the employee for at least £90 then there would be no ‘Benefit in Kind’ implications.

So get on your bike and not only keep fit it’s potentially a tax free benefit.

To find out more about our bookkeeping services, workshops and training, please call Cain & Beer on , or email us at

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