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Business News Roundup – 24th March 2024

Business News England

Brought to you by DPC Accountants

Welcome to the DPC round up of the latest business news for our clients for 25 March 2024.

Please contact us if you want to talk with out team of experienced Stoke-on-Trent accountants about how these updates affect your business. We are here to support you!



Shareholder Agreements for limited companies: What you need to know

Why have shareholders agreements?

When there are several shareholders, a new company is being formed, a shareholder wants to pass their shares or pass them to their children, someone is nearing retirement, or the company has borrowed money from a shareholder, issues can easily arise that jeopardise the continued success of a business.

Shareholder agreements are crucial documents that set out the rights and responsibilities of shareholders within a company. These agreements, which are often overlooked, have a significant influence in shaping the trajectory of a business and safeguarding the interests of both shareholders and the company itself.

In this article we look at the areas where a good shareholder agreement can benefit a business and its shareholders.


Increase to small company thresholds

New rules set to benefit up to 132,000 businesses

Thresholds based on a company’s accounts and employee numbers determine whether a company is categorised as small or not. Being able to qualify as a small or medium sized business can cut red tape for a business with the reduced amount of both non-financial and financial reporting a small or medium sized business is required to do.

The Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, has announced that there will be 50% uplift to the current thresholds that determine a company’s size. The government expects that this will benefit up to 132,000 businesses.

The current thresholds were set by the EU, who recently uplifted its thresholds by 25%. However, following Brexit, the UK has greater freedom to set its own thresholds and so is opting for a larger increase.


Employers – Are you ready for the new tax year?

Get ready

The new tax year begins on 6th April and for employers running monthly payrolls, the March pay run will be the last of the 2023/24 tax year.

Some things you will need to make sure you do and when you need to do them are listed in this article:


Major reforms to apprenticeships announced

New apprenticeship advantages

The Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, has announced reforms to apprenticeships that will enable up to 20,000 more apprenticeships and could be especially welcome news to small businesses.

With effect from April 1st, the government will pay the full cost of training for anyone up to the age of 21.

If you are a small employer this will mean that you no longer need to meet some of the training costs and may mean that taking on an apprentice becomes more viable.


Have we heard the death knell for national insurance contributions?

Are NICs on the way out?

The original concept for national insurance contributions (NICs) was as a part of social welfare reforms implemented by the government in the early 20th century. The idea being to establish a social insurance that provides financial protection and assistance to individuals and families when sick or unemployed, or in old age.

The National Insurance Act of 1911 required workers and their employees to start making contributions to a national insurance fund, which was to be used to finance various benefits.

The national insurance system has been further expanded and refined since then, but now in 2024 national insurance contributions could well be on their way out.


HMRC announces and then halts changes to helpline services

Many still reluctant to deal with tax affairs online

Last week, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) announced changes to its helpline services that will encourage people to go online first.

However, in a fast about turn, the very next day they halted these changes while they consider how best to help taxpayers make more use of online services.

The changes HMRC are proposing apply to Self Assessment, PAYE and VAT services. Feedback though suggests that there is still a significant number of people who are reluctant to deal with their tax affairs online.


New fining guidance published by the Information Commissioner’s Office

New data protection fining guidance released

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has released some new data protection fining guidance showing how it decides to issue penalties and calculate fines.

A consultation on the guidance took place last year and the new guidance provides greater transparency on how the ICO uses its power to fine.

The sections about penalty notices in the ICO Regulatory Action Policy are replaced by the new guidance.


Bank of Japan increases base rate for the first time in 17 years

Bank moves in response to wage rises

Last week, the Bank of Japan raised its key interest rate to a range of 0.0%-0.1% from -0.1%. The move comes after increases in consumer prices have led to wage rises.

Official figures in Japan show that the core consumer inflation remained at the bank’s target of 2% for January. However, due to rising cost of living, the biggest companies in Japan agreed to a 5.28% salary increase earlier this month. This move triggered the bank’s decision to raise the base rate.


Car finance complaints being assessed by FCA

Discretionary commission arrangements examined

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) have said that they are assessing the extent of a pre-2021 problem with some car finance arrangements.

Prior to January 2021, some brokers were permitted by lenders to adjust the interest rates on the car finance they arranged for customers.

The rates were linked to the amount of commission that the broker received, and so typically a higher interest rate would mean a higher amount of commission for the broker. This was called a discretionary commission arrangement and naturally led brokers to increase the amount people were charged on their car loan.


Farmers and land managers to benefit from payment rate increases for woodlands

Significant uplift in England Woodland Creation Offer (EWCO) payments

The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Forestry Commission have announced a significant uplift in England Woodland Creation Offer (EWCO) payments.

The uplift is intended to promote an increase in tree-planting across the country. It takes effect immediately and offers more tailored tree-planting incentives to farmers and land managers, while also protecting food production farmland.




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