Keep calm and carry on

By David Scrivener 

In our last edition we focused in some detail on the immediate aftermath and possible effects of Brexit on our region and our clients. I am pleased to say that, in general, the effects have not been quite as cataclysmic as predicted or feared. That is not to say that all industries have been
left unscathed and our clients with continued exposure to exchange rates appear to have felt the heaviest burden so far. There is still considerable uncertainty facing those industries that rely on legislation derived from the EU for funding or subsidy.

My advice? Watch this space. I personally wouldn’t pay too close attention to economists’ views, as one thing that I have learned since the financial crisis of 2007/8 is that they don’t appear to be able to predict what is going to happen. The text books need to be re-written but things don’t seem to stay “normal” for long enough to allow that to happen. We also now have the prospect of a general election on the 8th June, I certainly won’t be paying close attention to the polls this time around!

Tax-wise we have had a number of firsts already in the early part of 2017.

The first Budget of 2017 (there is another one in the autumn, the new preferred date for the annual Budget), was delivered by Philip Hammond (the new Chancellor of the Exchequer) and the first U-turn on a major budget policy in the form of self-employed National Insurance Contributions (NIC). It does make you wonder whether anyone actually reads and considers the Budget before it is delivered as the proposed NIC increase clearly broke a Conservative party election manifesto and this played straight into the hands of the press.

Other than the NIC debacle, there wasn't a great deal of tax news to come out of the Budget which is perhaps to be expected given that we already knew the main changes in tax rates from the previous Budget/ Autumn Statement and there was a political need to keep calm in the wake of Brexit. Additionally, because of the manifesto pledge to not increase the main rates of tax, it led the Chancellor down the road of tinkering around the edges to raise revenue – not moving certain tax bands in line with inflation for example. There are now at least nine different income tax rates ranging from 0% to 60% (or possibly over 100% if you count child benefit withdrawal) depending on the level and type of your income! All bets are off as to what will happen to the manifesto pledge in the snap election.

We did however get confirmation that Making Tax Digital is progressing and is due to go live for some businesses in April 2018. There is an enormous amount of ground to cover for HMRC, the accountancy profession and, in particular, accounting software providers in the next twelve months and there will inevitably be issues to overcome. Our team are well on top of things though and Robert Leggett goes into more detail on this in the centre section of this newsletter.

Internally we have just published our own 2020 business plan and communicated our core values and mission statement to our teams. We have also published our values chart on our website which in summary reads as follows:

  • We treat everyone as individuals: our clients, teams and professional contacts
  • We are independent and have the highest standards of integrity
  • Technical excellence is fundamental to everything we do
  • We build long term relationships based on confidence and trust
  • We are approachable: real people listening to your issues and delivering advice which is understandable

The last value is perhaps the most important to me and I think it is what sets Ensors apart. We recently had some lovely feedback from a client that read “Many thanks for your help on this, it’s good to have advisers who are not only very capable but are also decent and likeable people”. That sums it up nicely for me! 

I joined the firm nearly 20 years ago when we shared one computer amongst 12 of us, shared a phone between desks and had a single dot matrix printer in the corner whirring away. When preparing the business plan, I looked back in time to see how far Ensors had grown in the same period. In turnover terms, we are nearly double the size we were ten years ago and over three times the size that we were twenty years ago. We also now employ over 200 people across our offices which is double the number from 1996. Despite growing, I am pleased to say that our core values are nearly identical to those that were fundamental to the firm twenty years ago (and quite probably in the 100 years before then!).

Moving to more fun matters. We are proud, for the second year running, to be the official sponsor of the running shirts for the Ipswich Building Society Twilight Road Races that are taking place on Friday 18th August around the streets of Ipswich. The event comprises of a 5k elite race and 10k mass participation where the aim is to beat the sunset! The races are organised by Ipswich JAFFA Running Club and, this year, are in aid of Inspire Suffolk. If you’d like to join in the fun (and secure your t-shirt) entries are now open and you can register online by clicking here. The 5k race attracts some of the top runners from throughout the UK due to the flat nature of the course and the chance to record the fastest time of the year so it should be a good event again.

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