A quick look back at the Borderway Agri Expo

On Friday the 2nd of November, Saint & Co. attended the 12th annual Borderway Agri Expo.

As one of the UK’s largest agricultural events, it was a terrific opportunity for some of the Saint team to meet existing and potential clients already working in the industry, and to offer accountancy advice specifically tailored to the farming community.

The event itself was a lively and vibrant showcase of the best quality sheep and beef cattle, along with the latest in farming practice developments, cutting-edge machinery, equipment, and technology. What’s more, a number of important discussions were led around topics such as the environment, exports, and livestock marketing.

Our Farm Advisor, Will Robinson, had this to say:

“Once again, the Borderway Agri Expo was a truly fantastic event, with many of our current – and some prospective – clients coming to see us at our stand for a chat. Some wanted to discuss Making Tax Digital and Xero, while others were keen to learn more about the Farmplan accounting software. Lucky for us, Farmplan had their stand right next to ours, which worked out well.”

“We had lots of visitors, and our branded merchandise (torches and bottle openers) were very popular. In fact, we ran out in the first hour! We also ran a free prize draw, with one lucky person scooping a £100 gift voucher at the end of the event.”

“All in all, it was a great day – we met a number of passionate farming professionals and provided plenty of expert guidance. I’m sure next year’s Expo will be even bigger, and even better. I’ve already circled it in my diary.”

Were you at the Borderway Agri Expo and missed us? Get in touch to chat with one of our farming experts.

Only a few places left – Event – Don’t let the taxman take your family’s inheritance!



Join us for an informal afternoon to enjoy buffet and wine tasting

at our Inheritance Tax Event

on 22 November 2018

at The Halston, Warwick Road, Carlisle, CA1 1AB

at 4.00 pm to 7.45 pm

Saint & Co invite you to our prestigious Estate and Inheritance Tax Planning event in conjunction with Quilter Private Client Advisers  – the perfect chance to learn how to reduce the amount of tax payable on your estate.

Plan for your family’s future.  Let us help you feel confident that your loved ones will receive the assets you intend and that any inheritance tax liability is minimised.

There are some very simple steps that can be taken to either totally eliminate, or at the very least reduce the amount of inheritance tax payable on your estate.

It is always useful to know the full tax implications of the options available to you to enable you to ultimately make an informed choice.

If you would like to know more about inheritance tax, how to calculate the value of your estate and what planning opportunities are available, book your place at our wine and buffet afternoon today.

To book email Jane MacLachlan – jane.e.maclachlan@saint.co.uk or give her a call on 01228 534371.


Event: Don’t let the taxman take your family’s inheritance!

Join us for an informal afternoon to enjoy buffet and wine tasting

at our Inheritance Tax Event

on 22 November 2018

at The Halston, Warwick Road, Carlisle, CA1 1AB

at 4.00 pm to 7.45 pm

Saint & Co invite you to our prestigious Estate and Inheritance Tax Planning event in conjunction with Quilter Private Client Advisers  – the perfect chance to learn how to reduce the amount of tax payable on your estate.

Plan for your family’s future.  Let us help you feel confident that your loved ones will receive the assets you intend and that any inheritance tax liability is minimised.

There are some very simple steps that can be taken to either totally eliminate, or at the very least reduce the amount of inheritance tax payable on your estate.

It is always useful to know the full tax implications of the options available to you to enable you to ultimately make an informed choice.

If you would like to know more about inheritance tax, how to calculate the value of your estate and what planning opportunities are available, book your place at our wine and buffet afternoon today.

The event is FREE but booking is essential as places are limited.  Please book early to avoid disappointment.

RSVP by 19 November to Jane MacLachlan – jane.e.maclachlan@saint.co.uk or 01228 534371


BITE 2018 Recap: How accounting sits at the core of your business

Xero, tech, BITE 2018

On Friday the 12th of October, 2018, hundreds of business owners descended on Carlisle Racecourse to spend the day learning about Business, Innovation, Technology, and Efficiency.

Or ‘BITE’ for short.

Saint & Co. welcomed a number of guest speakers to the stage to share their insight and expertise. And we couldn’t be more pleased to have had the brains behind BITE – our very own Andrew Liddle – kick things off in the morning with his talk called ‘How accounting sits at the core of your business.’

If you missed the event, or you’d like to refresh your memory, here is an edited transcript of Andrew’s talk:

Good morning ladies and gentlemen.

For those of you who do not know me, I am Andrew Liddle, a partner at Saint & Co., and the person who had the idea to bring this event to our community.

When looking through the final running order for today, we realised that there was an omission – so there is change to our running order this morning. You will be pleased to know there will be a tea and coffee break at 11am!

My Inspiration

The idea (for BITE) came to me when I attended a conference held by Xero – we use Xero internally for a significant number of our quarterly and monthly bookkeeping assignments for clients. I was visiting to see what the latest developments to the software we use were, and to see what was coming next in terms of features and enhancements.

The event was held at the Excel Arena, and as I entered the exhibition hall I was immediately struck by the number of people attending, and the huge array of applications that connected directly into Xero.

Yes, some of these applications were related directly to the accounting function, but a number were dealing with other business areas, such as advertising and marketing, which are traditionally outside the accounting function but used Xero as the hub of these tasks.

This intrigued me, and I spent the best part of two days looking at these applications and listening to talks about the impact of technology. At the conference I met Karen – whose firm we use for our marketing – and we were talking about how rapidly the technologies are moving and how this creates opportunities and threats, and realised that a smaller, focused event would be of interest to the business community our firm serves. Our businesses want to learn, develop and improve, and why should they have to travel to the major cities to do so when we could bring an event like BITE to them here?

This event was also where I first became aware of our keynote speakers this afternoon, Andrew and Pete, who stood out from all the talks I attended over those two days as the ones I would most want to hear again.

Finally, I would like to thank my fellow partners for embracing this idea to enable us to bring it to you all today.

A Story of Innovation

From the receipt of a ZX Spectrum some 40 years ago, I have always been interested in technology and innovation. The ZX Spectrum brought computers into the home environment for the first time.  All programs were installed via a cassette tape and could take up to 10 minutes to load as you sat eagerly awaiting the installation of your new game – Manic Miner and Daley Thompson’s Decathlon were particular favourites!

Some would say that 10 minutes to load a program is quick in comparison to the time you’re sat waiting for Windows to download and install the latest security patch on your computer.

Throughout the 80s and early 90s, computers were gradually becoming more and more commonplace in the workplace and the home. When I first started at Saint, we had 4 computers in the entire office which we had to book a slot to use. Most sets of accounts were produced on handwritten schedules, with the finished accounts produced on typewriters.

Giant Leaps; Same Old Mistakes

Now we have a server in every office, computers on every desk, with the majority of staff using 2 screens to ease multi-tasking, and the ability to work anywhere in the world as long as you have an internet connection.

It will not be long once Elon Musk’s space tourism business commences where it will be possible to file your VAT return while orbiting the moon. Or, more likely, sharing selfies on your social media platforms while commenting that the freeze-dried rocket food you have been served on the flight tastes just like chicken!

Throughout all these technological advances, we still see that a large number of clients continue to bring in their accounting records months after the event, which makes their numbers simply a historic scorecard.

A significant minority of our clients are using the improvements in technology and software applications available to have their accounting information accessible in real-time. And they use this data to enhance their business and personal life.

The story I am about to tell is one such example.

Meet ‘David’

I have a client who, to protect his identity, I am going to call David.

Now, David runs his own business and is successful, but the one thing he hates is paying tax. I used to dread his phone calls every time he had to make a payment to the Inland Revenue, as he would always say “how much?” and “is this correct?”

“Yes”, I would reply, “it is correct and you need to pay it by the end of the month.”

The industry he operates has become increasingly regulated to such an extent that he was faced with having to submit quarterly accounts to his regulator within 6 weeks of the quarter end. So he rings me up and says he has this problem and, as he is the chief cook and bottle washer, he is going to need some help as he doesn’t have enough hours in the day to cope with this change.

David’s record keeping in the past was simply a box of his bank statements in order, paying in books filled in fully, and chequebook stubs fully completed. They always arrived 4 months after his year-end, so by the time we got around to discussing these figures, they were out of date.

When we had this conversation, Saint had recently conducted a review of the cloud accounting providers at this time, and as a firm, we had selected Xero to be the one we would recommend if asked. I thought to myself, we have the opportunity to try this now for real.

A Chance for Change

I said to him, yes, we can help, but we would have to change how we processed his transactions. I explained that we would use this new cloud accounting technology to assist with him this. He said, “that’s great but I don’t want to pay any more fees.” I said they would have to be an increase, but it would be sensible to reflect the increased work.

So we set-up Xero and obtained a direct feed of his bank account transactions. He never processed a transaction, although he said he would, so we had to do the processing for him.

The first couple of quarters were a pain as we were back and forth identifying transactions  and getting him to use a debit card for payments rather than cheques – to a point where we simply gave him a quick call to go through a couple of  transactions we could identify directly from the bank feed to allocate the correct code.

A Bit More Back and Forth

During these phone calls, I said to him “you’ve had a good start to the year, but you’ll have a hefty tax bill if this continues.”

“Really?” he said, “how much?”

I told him if this continued he would have this figure to pay, and when he would have to pay it by.

After a few curses, he asked “what can I do about it?”

We talked through his options. Increasing his salary was considered. “I would have to pay too much tax on that if I increase, and I would only spend it down the pub!” he said.

He eventually decided that he would make a regular pension contribution for his retirement, and he would transfer 20% of his profit each quarter into a deposit account to cover his tax bill. And then in quarter 4 of his financial year, he would consider making a top-up to his pension if he was having a better-than-expected year.

A Happy Ending

I now no longer get the phone calls each time David has a tax bill to pay. He has the money set aside to cover it, and he knows that he has done all that he can to minimise the amounts.

He does still ring me when his bill is due for payment, as he likes to keep us on our toes. But a quick reminder of what we do for him, that he’s not stressing that his regulatory reporting will be completed on time (so he can enjoy his Friday night in the pub), and that he now has provision in place for his retirement, which he has saved corporation tax on, is met by a “I know, I know. I just need to have grumble at something.”

So today we’re bringing this new way of working to you all, with the aim of showing you the available possibilities. Our speakers and exhibitors have been carefully selected to raise your awareness and to show that there is a different way of doing all of this.

In Summary: Overcoming Barriers with Making Tax Digital

We have all attended events, read articles or had thoughts on improving our business, but are worried about the status quo being damaged. So we introduce barriers to implementing change.

However, like David, there is a change coming: Making Tax Digital – MTD for short. And this change is not going to target a specific industry; it is going to impact all VAT-registered business owners.

This change is being introduced from April next year, and the reality of Making Tax Digital is that you and I are now going to have to prepare our accounting records digitally to be able to submit a digital VAT return.  Here at Saint, we think this new initiative should have been named Making Accounts Digital, as it makes it easier to explain this change. However, with an acronym of ‘MAD’, this would not have lasted the first press release!

So, an action point from today is to make sure your business is ready for MTD.

This disruptor removes the status quo and removes the barriers to change as, unless you are already doing so, you are going to have to change and bring your accounting function into the very heart of your business.

Your record keeping can longer be an afterthought. Use this precious data to enable you to gain a greater understanding to your business; to understand how your cash flow varies over time; why, at certain times of the year, you are at the limit of your funding facilities; and once you become aware of the issue, then you can look at ways to alleviate it.

From your digital accounts, you now have information, and with relevant information, you can make informed decisions. But with a multitude of information at your fingertips, what details should you be looking at and using?

This is where your Trusted Advisor comes the fore

Who is your Trusted Advisor?

Studies have shown that most business owners see the accountant as their Trusted Advisor.

In the age of automation and artificial intelligence, this advisor becomes even more important. Some will ask why, and I would reply that we are human. We understand that not all the decisions we make are simply ‘yes’ or ‘no’. There are other factors in play, such as our own hopes and fears, which result in decisions that are grey.

At this moment time, the machines will not be able to cope with the answer “it depends”, and from my experience, people still like dealing with people.

As I said earlier in my talk, as a practice we have heavily invested in Xero and have recently become a Platinum Partner.

So, let me welcome to the stage Ashleigh Lambert from Xero, who will share her knowledge of Xero and the importance of the connections between people, and how their technology cements these relationships.

Not paying by standing order? Here’s why you should

If you’re currently paying your accountancy fee once or twice a YEAR, it could be time for a change.

Insisting on such payment terms can, in fact, leave you exposed to a myriad of cash flow problems, and makes short-term decision making and long-term growth incredibly challenging.

Why? Well, paying a large lump sum can heap pressure on you to find the money on time, be it every six months or every year. This could lead to delays in payment, compounding cash flow issues and putting your business at risk.

Instead of paying biannually or yearly, you should consider switching to a standing order and making more regular monthly payments.

Standing Order: What Is It?

  • Standing Order – You give an instruction to your bank to make regular payments of a certain amount and from a nominated account.

Why Should You Use It?

Using a standing order payment method gives you more control over your money. Paying your fee on time and at regular intervals is vital to a healthy cash flow. You can monitor your revenue and set aside what you need to cover your expenses each month, as opposed to saving for a one-off payment.

Are you ready to switch to a standing order? Contact your nearest Saint office today.

Saint & Co to attend this year’s Borderway Agri Expo

Friday the 2nd of November marks the 12th annual Borderway Agri Expo. Saint & Co. will be in attendance, sharing their agricultural accounting know-how.

The Borderway Agri Expo is one of the largest agricultural events in the UK, attracting thousands of visitors every year.

It showcases the very best quality sheep and beef cattle, the latest farming practice developments, cutting edge machinery, equipment, and technology, and discusses important environmental issues, export opportunities, and livestock marketing.

As far as the UK agri industry goes, Borderway is now firmly established as a true celebration of the best in British livestock, and the people who look after them. And Saint & Co. will be there to offer accountancy advice and guidance tailored to the farming community.

“We’re sending along 4 or 5 of our partners to chat with attendees about their agricultural accounting challenges and opportunities.” explains Agricultural Adviser, Will Robinson. “We expect to see around 100 of our existing clients there, and we hope to meet many more people throughout the course of the event.”

The Saint partners in attendance will all have experience in working with those in the farming industry, and can offer advice related to specialist accounting software, Xero, taxes, VAT, annual accounts, forecasts, and cash flow.

The Saint & Co. at stand (number 76) can be found  next to agricultural accounting software Farmplan.

  • If you’d like to learn more about Saint & Co.’s services, you can get in touch with us, just visit our website: saint.co.uk.


  • Or if you’re interested in switching to Xero, they also run drop-in days to view demos and answer questions. The next drop-in day is Wednesday the 5th of December.


  • And finally, Saint & Co. will be running a free Inheritance Tax and Estate Planning event, complete with wine tasting and buffet, on Thursday the 22nd of November.Booking is essential as places are limited. To book your place, contact Jane MacLachlan on: 01228 534371, or via email: jane.maclachlan@saint.co.uk.

What does the 2018 Autumn Budget mean for you and your business?

Chancellor Philip Hammond presented this year’s Autumn Budget earlier than usual, due in part to the crucial final stages of the government’s Brexit talks with the EU.

In our Budget Report, we provide an overview of the key announcements featuring in the Chancellor’s speech. Measures for businesses included a cut in business rates for small retail properties in England, together with an increase in the Annual Investment Allowance from £200,000 to £1 million.

Individuals will benefit from an increase in the income tax personal allowance a year earlier than planned, in April 2019. The higher rate threshold will also increase at this time.

The Budget Report supplies useful tips and practical advice in regard to tax and financial planning, alongside an informative 2019/20 Tax Calendar.

As accountants, we can prepare your accounts and tax returns in a timely manner, meeting the relevant reporting requirements. We will also make sure that your tax liability is kept to a minimum, and help you to maximise profitability.

Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you would like more detailed, one-to-one advice on any of the issues raised in the Chancellor’s Budget speech. Feel free to contact your local Saint & Co Office.

Ignore Making Tax Digital at your peril!


Less than 6 months now to go until tax gets digital via H M Revenue and Customs’ (HMRC) “Making Tax Digital” initiative. Yet a huge 40% of the affected businesses know nothing about it and have made no plans to conform with the new requirements for submission of their VAT Returns.

From 1 April 2019 VAT registered businesses with turnover above the VAT registration limit (£85,000) must submit their VAT Returns using HMRC approved digital software. The present online VAT filing system will be removed for businesses meeting the MTD criteria. The first VAT Return for a business’ VAT Return period starting after 1 April 2019 must be submitted digitally via “Application Programmed Interfaced” software (this just means that the digital software used must be capable of communicating with HMRC’s own digital software).

Whilst HMRC are expected to be lenient for the first year until people get their digital systems in place, they have published a penalty regime which will come into force from 1 April 2020 for late submissions and payments.

The regime is points based and will only apply to returns with a regular filing frequency e.g. monthly, quarterly or annually. It will not apply to occasional returns e.g. a return to report a one-off transaction.

A taxpayer will receive one point every time they fail to make a return on time. A penalty will be charged and notified once the taxpayer has reached the threshold penalty applicable to the frequency of submission periods as follows:-

Submission frequency Penalty threshold
Annual 2 points
Quarterly 4 points
Monthly 5 points

Points will have a lifetime of two years calculated from the month after the month in which the failure occurred.  Points will expire after a period of good compliance i.e. filing returns on time as long as all returns due within the preceding 24 months have been submitted.  The regime for period of good compliance is again set on the frequency of the returns as follows:-

Submission frequency Period of good compliance
Annual 2 submission
Quarterly 4 submissions
Monthly 6 submissions

As yet HMRC have not issued the amount of the financial penalty to be charged but Saints will keep you advised of this.

As everyone knows time flies, so it is sensible for VAT registered business to look at their record-keeping systems for VAT now and consider switching to an HMRC approved digital package.

Here at Saints we have been planning for our clients’ needs in light of this expected development for some time.  To this end we have adopted Xero Cloud software which has been approved by HMRC as being digitally compliant.  We offer clients flexibility in that we can supply them with Xero and provide the necessary training for businesses to use the package themselves.  Alternatively, advances in technology mean that we can offer clients a fee competitive package to maintain the required book-keeping and submit the digital returns – leaving businesses to concentrate on their day to day operations without worrying about VAT return submission deadlines.

Contact your local Saint & Co Office to learn how this could work for your business and receive a fee quote which could relieve you of a lot of hassle and stress!

Cyndy Potter

Saints Tourism & Leisure Manager

With CIS comes great responsibility

The Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) has caused quite a bit of confusion since it was first introduced back in 1972.

It has taken on a number of names and forms over the last 40 years, and today exists as a means of deducting money at the source for tax payments related to certain types of construction work.

These deductions count as advance payments towards a subcontractor’s tax and National Insurance, and contractors must register for the scheme.

What does CIS cover?

Let’s have a quick refresh of what CIS does and does not cover.

According to HMRC, CIS covers most construction work to:

  • a permanent or temporary building or structure
  • civil engineering work like roads and bridges

Where CIS is concerned, this construction work can include:

  • preparing the site, eg laying foundations and providing access works
  • demolition and dismantling
  • building work
  • alterations, repairs and decorating
  • installing systems for heating, lighting, power, water and ventilation
  • cleaning the inside of buildings after construction work

However, you do not have to register for CIS if you only carry out certain types of jobs, such as:

  • architecture and surveying
  • scaffolding hire (with no labour)
  • carpet fitting
  • making materials used in construction including plant and machinery
  • delivering materials
  • work on construction sites that’s clearly not construction, eg running a canteen or site facilities

Here’s where it gets tricky

From a cash flow perspective, it’s far more beneficial as a subcontractor to be paid gross. This means the contractor is paying you in full, without deductions.

The onus is then on you to pay your own tax and National Insurance at the end of the tax year.

This allows you to maximise your take home and gives you more financial control – as opposed to having taxes deducted up front.

Gaining Gross Payment Status

To gain Gross Payment Status (GPS), you must:

  • Demonstrate that you’re completely up-to-date with any and all tax liabilities and filings;
  • And have a business bank account.

You must also pass a turnover test. HMRC will check to ensure your labour-only turnover exceeds:

  • £30,000 for Sole Traders
  • £30,000 per partner or £100,000 for the whole Partnership
  • £30,000 per director or £100,000 for the whole Limited Company

Losing Gross Payment Status

But once you’ve gained GPS, unfortunately, that’s not the end of the story. You can also just as quickly lose it.

At least once during a 12-month period, HMRC will undertake a scheduled review to make sure that the business continues to qualify for GPS. And the business can lose its status if, during the 12-month period:

  • Contractor returns have been received late on four or more occasions;
  • One contractor return is more than 28 days late;
  • PAYE or CIS payments have been late on four or more occasions;
  • PAYE or CIS payment is more than 14 days late;
  • Self-assessment payment is more than 28 days late;

Furthermore, GPS is likely to be cancelled if the following is overdue:

  • P35;
  • self-assessment return; or
  • a payment of £100 or more.

Note: Should HMRC withdraw your gross payment status, you can appeal, however, you must do so within 30 days of receiving the notice.

Have any other questions about CIS? Call us on 01228 534 371 to chat with one of our friendly advisors.

BITE 2018: Who’s speaking at Saint & Co’s upcoming event?

Andrew Liddle, Saint & Co partner

On Friday the 12th of October, over 200 business owners will meet at Carlisle Racecourse for BITE 2018. Speaker Andrew Liddle shares what’s in store.

As an accountant, I’m used to providing advice and guidance to business owners – but it’s usually in a one-to-one setting!

At our upcoming business event, BITE 2018, I’ll be stepping out of my comfort zone and explaining to around 200 people why accounting sits at the core of every successful company. I’m very excited to share what I’ve learned throughout my 26 years with Saint & Co., and trying to distil that into a 15 minute talk.

But my fleeting appearance in the morning is only a very small part of a jam-packed agenda. With a number of fantastic guest speakers and sponsors involved, there’s a real buzz about the event.

Our opening keynote speaker is Ashleigh Lambert, a marketing manager at cloud-accounting software company Xero. While Ashleigh knows a thing or two about helping business owners use the software to solve problems, she’s also going to share the reasons why great technology can build powerful relationships with customers and colleagues.

At the other end of the agenda, our closing keynote will be delivered by dynamic marketing duo Andrew & Pete. They’ll build on what Ashleigh and our other speakers plan to discuss throughout the day, explaining why – even with the best technology and the strongest relationships – you still need marketing to stand out from the crowd.

Sandwiched in between will be sessions led by Jenny Fogarty of AutoEntry and Melanie Cant of Rocketspark, along with actual sandwiches, as our attendees enjoy the opportunity to network over lunch.

But that’s not all! Joining Xero, Rocketspark, and AutoEntry, our sponsors also include iwoca, The Profitable Firm, Float, The Cumberland, and LCR Systems. BITE attendees will have the chance to meet and speak with reps from each of these companies, and walk away with a goodie bag full of freebies at the end of the day.

If you’d like to join me, my colleagues, our speakers, and a few hundred like-minded business owners at BITE 2018, simply visit https://www.bite2018.co.uk to find out more and to register for free.

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