Working 9 to 5? It’s an unusual way to make a living

The archetypal 9am to 5pm working day might be so ingrained into the psyche of workers across the Western world that Dolly Parton wrote a song about it, but new research has revealed that it is now an unusual way to make a living for UK workers.

The YouGov survey found that just six per cent of UK workers now work the typical 9 to 5.

Instead, the pollsters discovered that nearly half of those questioned enjoyed flexible working arrangements, allowing them to mix work with other commitments.

There was little appetite from respondents to the survey, commissioned by fast-food chain McDonalds, to return to the 9 to 5 either.

The workers questioned revealed themselves to be larks, rather than owls, with 37 per cent wishing to work from 8am to 4pm and 21 per cent wishing to work from 7am to 3pm.

Link: Is it the end of the 9 to 5 working day?

Regulator tells banks to stop victim-blaming

The increasing sophistication of bank scams means that customers who lose money to such schemes should not automatically be blamed, the Financial Ombudsman Service has said.

Caroline Wayman, Chief Ombudsman and Chief Executive of the Financial Ombudsman Service, said: “It’s not fair to automatically call a customer grossly negligent simply because they’ve fallen for a scam.

“That’s especially true in light of the sophisticated way criminals exploit banks’ security systems – and convince customers that their money is at risk.

“We often remind banks that they need to support what they’re saying with facts. And if they can’t do that, it’s likely we’ll tell them to cover the money their customer has lost.”

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for banking industry body, UK Finance, said: “Banks and building societies take the threat of fraud extremely seriously and invest millions in advanced fraud prevention systems to protect customers, stopping £2 out of every £3 of attempted fraud last year. But we know there is more to be done.

“Banks will always make every effort to help a customer recover any stolen funds and the industry has introduced new standards on how banks respond to scam victims.

“At the same time our Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign is giving people the knowledge they need to stay safe and we are working with the Joint Fraud Taskforce to deter and disrupt the criminals responsible for these scams.”

Fraudsters are increasingly deploying sophisticated techniques such as fake websites and emails to snare victims, regularly stealing tens of thousands of pounds in the process.

Link: Banks told it’ll be harder to blame fraud victims

A quick guide to the new penalties for late MTD filing and payments

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has announced a pair of penalty systems for late filing and late payment under Making Tax Digital (MTD) for VAT, which is due to come into effect in April 2019.

Late filing will attract penalty points, which will accrue on the basis of how late the filing is and how many filings have been submitted late. After four late submissions, a penalty will be charged for each late submission. Points will be wiped after four compliant submissions.

A separate system will apply to late payments, with penalties applying after 15 days, and then doubling after 30 days, with daily penalties charged thereafter.

There will be a ‘soft landing’ period for late submissions during the first year of MTD for VAT, but this will not apply to the requirement for digital record keeping, which must be in place immediately.

The Government confirmed last year that MTD will not apply to other taxes until 2020 at the earliest.

Link: Making Tax Digital: Penalties for non-compliance

One in ten small businesses are concerned about business failure

A new study has revealed that in the last three months the number of SMEs predicting they could close has doubled from five per cent to 10 per cent.

Produced by Hitachi Capital Business Finance, the report makes for worrying readying as the proportion of small business owners reporting their concerns about business failure have remained consistent at around four to five per cent for the past seven quarters.

The study shows that:

  • Retail is the sector most fearful of collapse (17 per cent of businesses afraid of failure in Q3)
  • SMEs growth predictions for the next three months hit its lowest level for more than a year
  • SMEs in the North East believe themselves to be most at risk (20 per cent concerned about survival in Q3, up from just two per cent in the previous quarter)
  • Welsh businesses followed close behind (14 per cent of SMEs worried about going under in Q3)
  • Eight of the industry sectors tracked by Hitachi Capital saw a quarterly rise in the proportion of businesses fearing for their livelihoods.

Hitachi Capital said: “For the past year, our research has shown that the small business community has seen political and economic change as an opportunity.

“Our latest findings, though, suggest the protracted nature of Brexit negotiations may now be taking its toll.”

HMRC releases new advisory fuel rates for company car users

With the price of fuel going up, employees and businesses will welcome new changes to the fuel advisory rates, which from 1 September 2018 have slightly increased on the previous quarter for some vehicles.

Advisory fuel rates from 1 September 2018

Engine size Petrol – amount per mile LPG – amount per mile
1400cc or less 12p (11p) 7p (7p)
1401cc to 2000cc 15p (14p) 9p (9p)
Over 2000cc 22p (22p) 13p (14p)
Engine size Diesel – amount per mile
1600cc or less 10p (10p)
1601cc to 2000cc 12p (11p)
Over 2000cc 13p (13p)

Previous rate in brackets. These can be used for up to one month from the date the new rates apply (Hybrid cars are treated as either petrol or diesel cars for this purpose).

Advisory fuels rates apply when:

  • reimbursing employees for business travel in their company cars; or
  • requiring employees to repay the cost of fuel used for private travel.

HMRC reviews rates quarterly on 1 March, 1 June, 1 September and 1 December.

If you operate your own car, van or motorcycle as part of your business you can calculate your expenses using a flat rate for mileage instead of the actual costs of buying and running your vehicle, such as insurance, repairs, servicing and fuel.

The rates for this are as follows:

Vehicle Flat rate per mile with simplified expenses
Cars and goods vehicles first 10,000 miles 45p
Cars and goods vehicles after 10,000 miles 25p
Motorcycles 24p

Link: Advisory Fuel Rates

Property investments once again hit by new tax rules

In the last few years the property sector has been hit by a number of new tax rules, but now there are two new things on the horizon that landlords must consider.

Rent-a-Room Scheme

The current Rent-a-Room scheme offers people up to £7,500 a year tax-free from letting out a spare room.

However, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has revealed new plans to introduce a shared occupancy test, which would restrict the allowance to those landlords who are living and physically present in the property during the letting period.

For those letting out their whole property, this may mean that they are required to pay additional tax, while for some it may mean that it is the first time they are charged tax on their property rental.

The government will include legislation for the shared occupancy clause in the Finance Bill 2018 to 2019 and the change will take effect from 6 April 2019.

Let Property Campaign

Concerned that some landlords may not be paying the correct amount of tax on their rental property, HMRC has also launched the Let Property Campaign.

This will give landlords the chance to disclose any unpaid tax in the UK or abroad, allowing them to get up to date with their tax affairs.

Similar to other recent disclosure campaigns, once the tax is disclosed landlords have 90 days to calculate and pay what they owe. Full and voluntary disclosure of all unpaid liabilities will usually lead to a lower penalty for unpaid tax.

If a person does not come forward and HMRC discovers that tax is due, it may be harder to convince them that it was simply a mistake and they could find that a higher penalty could be applied – including fines of up to 200 per cent of tax due or criminal prosecution.

To take part in the Let Property Campaign a person should:

  • tell HMRC that they want to take part in the Let Property Campaign
  • inform HMRC about all income, gains, tax and duties not previously disclosed
  • make a formal offer
  • pay what they owe

There is no disclosure ‘window’ requiring a landlord to disclose what they owe by a specific date and HMRC have confirmed that the campaign will be ongoing for some time.

Links: Rent-a-Room & Let Property Campaign