Making Tax Digital (MTD)

Are you ready for the April 1st 2019 deadline?  If you are a VAT registered business with a taxable turnover of £85,000 you must keep digital VAT records & use specific software that is compatible with the new HMRC making Tax Digital requirements  

Making Tax Digital (MTD) is a government initiative that will change the way businesses maintain their tax records and the software they use to send tax returns.

The deadlines for sending VAT returns and making payments are not changing, including for monthly, quarterly and annual VAT return schemes, but businesses will have to keep digital records and send the returns to HMRC using MTD-compatible software for VAT accounting periods that start on or after April 1st 2019. This also applies to businesses that operate the Flat Rate Scheme for VAT.

Do you use spreadsheets for your business records?

A spreadsheet can be used to calculate or summarise VAT transactions to arrive at the return information you need to send HMRC.

If you use spreadsheets to keep business records, you’ll need MTD-compatible software so that you can send HMRC your VAT returns and receive information back from HMRC.

Get ready now – Find out what is right for you, contact

Tips on managing your business before, during & after a holiday…

As a self-employed person (often working alone), the thought of a holiday can fill you with dread. The kids have broken up from school, the sun is shining – and the temperature in the UK is high.   

Concerns over having no one to reply to emails, close business, deliver service to your customers and keeping the bank manager happy often cause stress. However, taking a proper break is hugely important to revitalise and re-energise yourself!


These top tips can help you stay sane, and keep your business running while you take a much needed vacation.

Before your holiday:

When is the best time to take a break? If your business is seasonal, perhaps it doesn’t make sense to take a holiday in the summer or at Christmas. When is your business quietest? Maybe an off peak holiday will be more manageable and more affordable.

Forward Plan – manage the last 3 to 4 weeks like a project. Know what you need to do and when. Keep an up to date list of everything that needs completing. Can you delegate some of the work, or pass to a virtual assistant? Can something be postponed? Remember Stephen Covey’s Time Management Matrix. This will help you to avoid working right up to the last hours before you go on holiday.

Communicate BEFORE you go on holiday – don’t rely on “out of office”. As a sole trader it is critical to communicate with your clients, suppliers and any other businesses/sole traders you have business relationships with. Start telling them 2 months in advance. Out of office can be useful for prospective clients, but is not a professional way to tell your existing and valued clients.

Decide on your availability and manage expectations accordingly – will you have an hour a day to manage any emergencies or can your clients expect you to be totally uncontactable? Talk to you family and anyone else going on holiday with you too – so you can set their expectations as well.  Remember to set your out of office and voicemail accordingly.   

During your holiday:

Stick to the availability schedule you set – Don’t disappoint family and friends by being totally stuck to your phone. If you have told Clients you will check email between certain hours – stick to it.   

Relax and enjoy yourself – Everyone needs to rest, relax and recharge. This may be sitting by a pool, being at the beach or being out exploring and seeing the sights. Do whatever it is that will provide you with the chance to re-energise. Only you will know what this is.

Take a notebook and pen – Even when we think we are switched off, our minds will keep processing information whether we like it or not. A note book will provide a great tool to catch those brilliant ideas that pop up when you’re least expecting them.

After your holiday:

Prioritise – Just as you did before you went away, you need to be realistic about when and how you respond to Clients and prospective clients on your return. If necessary, acknowledge their email or voicemail, and let them know when you will respond fully to their specific enquiry. Remember that time management matrix! Consider what is important vs. not important.

Review any notes you made – build any actionable items into your regular planning activities. Don’t disrupt your normal “modus operandi” but do give your ideas the time to come to fruition.

Review & Plan – consider what worked for you as you prepared for and enjoyed your holiday. Is it worth documenting those items that worked well so your next holiday goes more smoothly? What didn’t work – and what would need changing to make it work for you in the future? Then set about planning your next vacation! 

And if you can’t even think about taking time out for holiday!

If your time management skills let you down or you are too busy to think about holidays and family time – please make time to get this right! The Real Business Club can help you prioritize, plan with confidence and get you ready for relaxing! Peace of Mind – YES

Contact Isabel on 0118 9680813 or 07759 074864, or email us at

Don’t forget to renew your tax credit claims

Families and individuals that receive tax credits should ensure that they renew their tax credit claims by 31 July 2018. If you do not complete your claim form on-time you may have your payments stopped.

HMRC has been sending tax credits renewal packs to those already claiming tax credits and is encouraging everyone to renew their tax credits claim online. If you haven’t received your renewal pack by now you should contact the HMRC tax credits helpline (0345 300 3900). 


Just remember though, no renewal pack will be sent to you until April 2019 if you first claimed tax credits after 6 April 2018.

You will need to notify HMRC where there have been changes to your family size, child care costs, number of hours worked and salary. Details of previous year’s income also need to be completed on the form to allow HMRC to check if the correct tax credits have been paid. 


You must also inform HMRC of any changes in circumstances not already reported during the year such as new working hours, different childcare costs or changes in pay.

In some areas of the country new claims for tax credits may no longer be possible as the introduction of universal credit is slowly rolled out. Universal credit will eventually replace tax credits, and other social security benefits. If you have an existing tax credit claim, the change to universal credit will be between 2019 and 2022.


One of the questions on the claim form asks if you have already submitted your 2017/18 Tax Return. I would suggest you do this at the same time as your tax credit claim.


Need help and advice?  I can help

Dawn Edward
The Real Business Club

GDPR – stops joy riding with data!

The Real Business Club was recently the victim of a misuse of data and information. It was an unpleasant experience. In a way – someone went joy riding with information and left us with expense and frustration. Our situation was well managed and well protected. It became learning rather than pain. It made the reasons for GDPR very REAL.

There are good reasons for GDPR.

We want to keep data safe and respected – you probably do too.

You probably want to comply with the law about data. You can – it’s NOT difficult.

Good trusted engagement with our clients is very important – it will be for you too.

We have already delivered practical detailed training to finance professionals. The feedback showed they want to take care, they can adapt their systems to comply and it is NOT a total nightmare.


The key step is to know the data your business holds about other people:

  • What have you got and what do you use it for?
  • Have you got more than you need?
  • Do you keep it longer than you should?
  • Is what you use it for likely to be reasonably expected by the individual, based on their relationship with you?
  • Do you match data obtained from elsewhere?
  • Consent – clients actively opt in


The next step is to comply with how you hold it, use it and dispose of it:

  • You will need some planning to do this.
  • You will need people responsible for data and
  • You cannot ignore this!



Don’t be an information joy rider or encourage others!


TOP TIP – GO TO THE HORSE’S MOUTH – the Information Commissioners Office (ICO)

These are great resources – straightforward and comprehensive.

GDPR practical training and advice for small businesses – BOOK here

Contact The Real Business Club if you would like GDPR practical advice and a complementary review of your readiness for GDPR. Email

For other enquiries contact Isabel King on 01189 680813 and

Being Hacked is Horrible!

Last week for The Real Business Club was not much fun. It was however a good learning journey, although an uncomfortable one!

Have you ever experienced one of the following?

  • An incident out of the blue
  • Unsure what has happened and beyond your control
  • Concerned for impact on your business including reputation
  • Frustrated that someone maliciously attempts to fraud people
  • Disappointed that the world can be like this (NOT always!)

What happened?

The Bad news

Someone maliciously accessed a dormant Mailchimp account, imported a mailing list of their own, used publicly accessible data about us and made up an invoice template.

This was then sent to thousands of people on that list – most of which we did not know and who had never had any services from us. We spent time and money handling calls, emails and finding out what had happened.

The GOOD news

Our data had not been compromised and we had done nothing wrong with our contact data.

The actions we took closed down the situation quickly; we responded to all calls and in the vast majority people understood and were sympathetic.

Learning points – we share because we don’t want it to happen to other people:

  • Take seriously the possibility that your identity/data may be compromised
  • Have an emergency plan of what would happen and what you would do if your identity/data was compromised.
  • Action plan – public announcements and use of social media, phone messages
  • Action plan – check what your providers would do for you – are they competent? Get them to tell you what they would do is such a situation.

Top tips – safe data

  1. Passwords – make sure they are strong, protect them with two factor authentication, store them safely, change them on a regular basis, at least annually. If you are in a team make sure others can find them in your system so that they can action changes if an emergency arises.
  2. Get advice – make sure you have a good email account/website administrator who takes correct action, investigates promptly and advises you on public messages to get out.
  3. Social media – have a message prepared that can be adapted to the particular situation and that you post out through uncompromised routes.

Don’t let this happen to you

If you want a recommendation of a good email provider/web administrator who can help you have a strategy in place please contact us via email ( or phone 01189 680813

Helpful Links:

A wider issue than just us:  

How to set up two factor authentication in Mailchimp:

Starting a business – know it all? If you do ★ don’t read on

If you don’t read on and join us

I have been doing some reflective thinking over the Christmas break. I have been in business just over 10 years and most of those in The Real Business Club with Dawn Edwards. When we started out we knew some essentials but there was a whole lot to learn. We learned from doing for sure, but we also learned from workshops and from others who had been “round the block”.

We still think face to face learning matters and so…

…one thing we do is run public face to face real workshops (rare indeed!) We continue to work with all kinds of people starting out on this journey.

If you know anyone thinking of starting a business, who knows some things but needs to learn more to prepare them for the ups and downs, please signpost them to these workshops.

In the meantime here are some tips we have learned from people over the years.

Top tips for anyone starting up in business

  • YOU – Assess yourself – your personality, your skills, your motivations, your passions, your time management discipline, your weaknesses and how you will overcome these.
  • YOUR BUSINESS IDEA – Take time to get an honest reality check. Will enough customers want it and pay for it!
  • YOUR FINANCES – Assess your personal finances – A new business may not be profitable for 18 months. Will your personal circumstances stand this? What will you and your family live on if your business makes money more slowly than you really need? How good are you really at managing money?

The workshops will cover more DETAIL about these tips, and many more besides

Workshop participants have said…

What clients have said about TRBC Workshops

What our Workshop clients have said.



Is Your Cashflow Costing You Money?

How does your business survive when you are paid late by larger companies and limited liability partnerships (LLP’s)?

With the late payment regulations changing from April 2017 for these organisations this might help your businesses cashflow!

Their performance and payment practices will have to be published twice a year from April 2017. This will need to include the average time taken to pay supplier invoices.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) confirmed that if payments were made promptly, then 50,000 businesses would still be trading and adding  £2.5 billion to the UK economy.

Are you a small business that would benefit from a financial organisation chasing late payments regularly for you?  Would you like to see your business bank account in credit?  Or would you like to reduce your overdraft costs?

Contact Dawn Edwards for further information either by phone 0118 968 0813 or via email –


National Insurance Changes – What do I need to know?

Since its introduction in 1911, National Insurance (NI) has developed from a form of protection against ill-health and unemployment to include a wider range of benefits.

It continues to change. It now helps people build entitlement to the state pension and other state benefits including maternity allowance and incapacity benefit. But if you don’t pay in, you don’t get the benefits!

Are you self-employed?

So as a self-employed person, have you contributed enough years? How will you know? One way to find out is to obtain a pension forecast.

NI rates for self-employed people depend on how much profit is made. But there is always the option to make voluntary contributions. The Real Business Club can help you do this.

Class Rates for 201TAT6/17
Class 2 £2.80 a week on profits of £5,965 and over
Class 4 9% on profits between £8,060 – £43,000 2% on profits above £43,000


From the 2015/16 tax year most self-employed people pay their NI contributions through self-assessment. If this is you, are you completing the right boxes on your Tax Return?

The government has announced that class 2 NI will be abolished from April 2018. At the same time class 4 will be reformed so that self-employed people can still build entitlement to state benefits. We don’t yet know how this will work, but we will continue to keep you informed of any changes.

Working Abroad?

At present people working abroad may not have to pay NI, but this will depend on where they work and how long they are abroad. If you work within the EU, you need to be aware that the Laws governing NI contributions may change as part of the UK’s exit from the EU. The rules for working outside the European Economic Area are more complicated. So advice and help is essential.

To get the correct help and advice for YOU, email or call Dawn  0118 9680813


Workplace Pensions – Auto Enrolment

Do you employ at least one person?  If you do, you now have certain legal duties, which are listed below.

  1. You will have a staging date – this is when the law comes into effect for you.  The Pensions Regulator will have or will be sending each employer a letter with this date.
  2. You will need to confirm the primary and secondary contact for your company.  They will be responsible for making sure the legal duties are met.
  3. You can choose a pension scheme that is right for the company or join the National Employment Savings Trust (NEST) set up by the government.
  4. You will need to work out which employees need to be in the pension scheme.  This will depend on their earnings and age.
  5. It is your legal duty to write to all your staff to explain how Auto Enrolment applies to them.
  6. You will have a deadline to complete your compliance declaration otherwise fines maybe imposed.
  7. Then of course there will be ongoing tasks which will include keeping accurate records.

All a bit confusing?  Find out more from a trainer from the Pensions regulator at our workshop in Bracknell on the 11th April?

For further details and to book please click here.


‘Help to Buy’ ISA

Help to Buy ISA – what are you or your children doing with their Christmas cash gifts?

If you’re a first time buyer, or your children are, save up to £200 a month towards a first home with a Help to Buy ISA and the government will boost the savings by 25%.

‘Help to Buy ISA’ accounts have been available since 1st December.  They will be on the market to open for 4 years, but once you have opened an account there’s no limit on how you long you can save for.

Make an initial deposit of £1,000 when you open the account – in addition to normal monthly savings.

There is no minimum monthly deposit – but you can save up to £200 a month.

Accounts are limited to one per person rather than one per home – so those buying together can both receive a bonus.

The bonus is available to first time buyers purchasing UK properties.

To claim the minimum bonus of £400 per person save £1,600.

Save £12,000 to benefit from the maximum bonus of £3,000 per person boosting your deposit savings to £15,000.

Each account is individual only available to those who are 16 and over.

Even if you take advantage of the initial £1,000 lump sum allowance, it would take four years and seven months of paying £200 a month before you could claim the full £3,000 bonus.  So it could be a late 21st or early 22nd birthday present for your children!  But of course it MUST be opened by them.

The bonus will be only be available on home purchases of up to £450,000 in London and up to £250,000 outside London and paid when your first home is purchased.

If you’re saving into a Help to Buy ISA you can’t save into another Cash ISA at the same time.

You don’t have to stick with the same product through the lifetime of the scheme and can transfer out to a different provider.

Providers are free to set their own interest rates so, as with any savings product, it’s a good idea to compare and shop around for the best option for you.

The initial wave of Help to Buy ISA interest rates announced by providers were competitive, although it’s important to remember that variable interest rates could change at any time.

Of course, the money you’ve saved is yours to do with as you wish, as is the interest, but if you withdraw it and spend it on something other than a home, you won’t get the bonus payment.

Finally, bear in mind that the bonus can only be used to buy a home – not for anything else.

How easy is it to claim the bonus?

This bonus will be paid at the point you’re ready to buy your first home – you’ll need to close your ISA account when you’re ready to purchase and you’ll receive a closing letter from the ISA provider.

You then give this closing letter to your solicitor, who in turn applies online for the government bonus.

The bonus is transferred to the solicitor, who then completes the purchase of your new home using the full bonus amount.


As there’s some admin involved in this process, make sure you make your solicitor aware well in advance that you plan to use your Help to Buy bonus, so this can be planned into the timescales for completing your purchase.

For any further information please contact Dawn Edwards.