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Make the most of your holiday money

24th July 2018
24th July 2018

As the schools break up, it signals the start of the annual holiday season with many of us heading abroad in search of sun!  With the pound at a low level against foreign currencies such as the Euro, we will need to be careful to ensure our money goes as far as possible.  Here’s some top tips on how to make the most of your holiday money.

If you are taking cash – buy it before you get to the airport.  Exchange rates in airport money shops are notoriously bad and you will pay far more for your foreign currency there than on the High Street (real or virtual!)

When abroad, use your cards carefully.  If you can, find out what charges you will incur before you go.  For example, some debit cards have a fixed fee for purchases abroad.  You could be buying a couple of drinks for €5 and be landed a fixed fee of £1.50 on top.

Your credit card may be a better way to pay, as they tend to have a percentage fee rather than a fixed one.  Be careful, though – if you don’t pay the credit card off in full, you’ll still incur interest charges on the outstanding debt.  And if you take money out of a cash machine using your credit card, it’s likely that you’ll be charged interest from the time you take that cash out.

If you’re paying for items costing over £100 and under £30,000, by using your credit card you’ll have some protection under the Consumer Credit Act – which might be useful if you’re renting a car abroad this summer.

You will sometimes get a choice between paying for card purchases in pounds sterling or the local currency.  MoneySavingExpert Martin Lewis advice is to “always say the local currency”.  This is because if you pay in euros, say, the UK bank does the conversion.  Pay in pounds and the foreign bank does the calculation and that may well cost you several percentage points.

There are a number of new options available for spending money abroad.  Worth exploring are Monzo and Revolut – but always check the small print to make sure you know exactly what they will be charging you for.

How much of a business risk is cyber security?

12th July 2018
12th July 2018

Data breaches are big news now.  With the introduction of GDPR, the possibility of companies being hit with substantial fines has turned cyber security into a mainstream business risk issue – no longer is it a technology issue.

But is cyber security a wide-spread problem?  If you’ve not been affected, you may well think it’s a bit of a storm in a teacup.  In fact, if your business has not been affected by a data security breach in the past year, you are in the minority.  52% of businesses in the UK had some form of cyber security breach in the past year.

It’s no wonder.  Cyber criminals use a bit of kit called an exploit kit to attack vulnerabilities in systems, to distribute malware and other dodgy dangerous things.  Yet a staggering 99% of computers are vulnerable to exploit kit attacks.

If the amount of cash invested in cyber security is an indicator, then businesses still don’t see this as a high priority.  In 2017, small businesses in the UK invested £2,600 each in their cyber security.  Yet the total cost to UK business of cyber security breaches in 2016 amounted to approximately £30 billion.   Despite the size of the risk, only 25% of small firms gave their staff training in cyber security in 2017.

This is particularly relevant when you look at the causes of data security incidents.  Malware caused just 14% of incidents, with theft responsible for 22%.  Top of the league with 37% are employees, generally down to their own negligence.

This points to the importance of creating the right culture in your business, where education and awareness are critical aspects in helping protect the integrity of your cyber security.  You’ll also need to look carefully at how your staff work, as much as what they do.  If you have tight security protocols at work, yet staff work from home or remotely, then they may well be bypassing the very procedures you have put in place.

Changes to Public Sector contracts could benefit SMEs

29th June 2018
29th June 2018

The collapse of Carillion is going to have wide-reaching implications for public sector contracts – which could be good news for smaller and medium sized businesses.

The Social Value Act was introduced in 2012 and required public authorities – including local government and health bodies – to have regard to economic, social and environmental well-being when they gave contracts for public sector works.  It was designed to help public sector commissioners get better value for money.  This is now the case for any public sector contracts with a total value above about £170,000.

The crash of Carillion earlier this year left many contracts on hold, cost many thousands of jobs, and shook confidence in large scale public contracts.  As a direct result, the Government are announcing changes to the Social Value Act which require businesses bidding for public sector contracts to positively demonstrate the ‘social value’ of their business.

Minister for the Cabinet Office, David Lidington, said “We want to see public services delivered with values at their heart, where the wider social benefits matter and are recognised. That means government doing more to create and nurture vibrant, healthy, innovative, competitive and diverse marketplaces of suppliers that include and encourage small businesses, mutuals, charities, co-operatives and social enterprises – and therefore harness the finest talent from across the public, private and voluntary sectors.”

In practice, this should mean businesses with a progressive approach to issues such as the gender pay gap, equality and discrimination should be in a stronger position to compete for valuable large contracts.

David Lidington said that the Government aims to “ensure that contracts are awarded on the basis of more than just value for money – but a company’s values too, so that their actions in society are rightly recognised and rewarded.”

One month on from GDPR…

21st June 2018
21st June 2018

After the scramble for businesses to be ready for the implementation of GDPR on May 25th, one month on and there’s still a lot of activity happening.

Fortunately, our email inboxes are no longer filled up with desperate requests from organisations wanting to never lose touch with us.  We’ve managed to dramatically reduce the amount of un-read emails we are getting, which is one of the most positive outcomes of GDPR!

Whilst the focus has been very much on large firms, there are serious on-going implications for small and medium sized businesses.   Many are  “still struggling to get everything done. They’re being tactical, looking at the priorities, for example, making sure public-facing policies are rolled out, breach-management procedures are sorted out,” says Luther Teng, risk advisory senior manager at accountants EY.

One of the most important points to emerge over the past month is that GDPR compliance is about a lot more than just making sure everything was ready for May 25th.  It is an on-going process, requiring constant review and amendments.  As practises and technologies change, so businesses will need to ensure they continue to be acting within the law.

Whilst some companies are still needing to act to ensure they are within the law, there are concerns that other businesses will adopt a risk-averse approach, and over-compensate.  Date breaches need to be reported to the Information Commissioners Office, and there are concerns that events will be reported which don’t need to be.

Many businesses are seeing the introduction of GDPR in a positive light, viewing the changes as an opportunity for their brand to inform customers about what they do with information, to become much more transparent, and to build meaningful communication with customers.  By building trust and integrity, companies can derive substantial benefits in the long run.

Be one of the SmallBiz100

8th June 2018
8th June 2018

Many of you will already know about Small Business Saturday, when the focus, just before Christmas each year, is on promoting small, local businesses.  Each year, they choose 100 small businesses as the centre of their campaign – you can apply now to be one of the SmallBiz100, and the benefits are huge!

About Small Biz Saturday

Small Business Saturday UK is a grassroots, non-commercial campaign, which highlights small business success and encourages consumers to ‘shop local’ and support small businesses in their communities.

The day itself takes place on the first Saturday in December each year, but the campaign aims to have a lasting impact on small businesses.  The date for your diary this year is Saturday, 1st December.

On Small Business Saturday, customers across the U.K go out and support all types of small businesses, online, in offices and in stores. Many small businesses take part in the day by hosting events and offering discounts.


This year Small Business Saturday is once again highlighting 100 small businesses, one a day for the 100 days leading up to Small Business Saturday 2018.

For the last five years, the 100 have not only received exposure on Small Business Saturday’s social media channels and in the local and national press, but also joined the Small Business Saturday team in London at receptions in both Downing Street and The Treasury Drum with the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Applications close on June 30, 2018. Successful applicants will be notified by email in August.

Be part of it

Last year, Norfolk Deli in Hunstanton were one of the select 100.  It doesn’t cost anything to enter, and the potential benefits are large!  To put your business forward, just go here.  We’d love to have another local small business featured, do let us know if you’re entering, and especially if you’re one of the chosen few.


Marketing review:  what is Influencer Marketing?

31st May 2018
31st May 2018

In the world of marketing, there is always some new thing which everyone goes on about at length.  In practice, it’s probably just an old idea re-packaged with glitzy new names and slogans.  There’s currently a lot of buzz around Influencer Marketing so we thought we’d break it down and make it intelligible.

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Job Vacancies

24th May 2018
24th May 2018

We have 2 vacancies in our Wisbech office:


Accounts Vacancy
The main duties will include preparation of end of year accounts from the client records for a variety of business types and sizes, including sole traders, partnerships and limited companies.

The role will also include preparation of business tax calculations, company corporation tax and self-assessment tax returns.

Accountancy qualifications are not necessary but experience in practice would be required.

Bookkeeping Vacancy
The main duties will include processing of bookkeeping for our clients which is a varied and exciting role working on a broad range of clients and industries.

In addition, payroll experience would be very useful but not necessary.

The ideal candidate would have office experience and knowledge of sage and similar products.


Both positions are based at our office at the Boathouse, Wisbech.

For both positions, we are looking to appoint someone with up to full time hours, however, we are flexible and would consider any applicants looking for part time hours.

Please apply by sending your CV by email.

Closing date is Friday 22nd June 2018

Business Jargon – your go-to guide…

15th May 2018
15th May 2018

In order that you don’t have to re-invent the wheel and can hit the ground running, we’ve found an A to Z of modern business jargon to help you streamline your thinking and add value…

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Why local SEO is important to SMEs

8th May 2018
8th May 2018

local seo for local businessMost people have heard of SEO – search engine optimisation, where your website is listed high on Google (and other search engine) listings.  For the local business, the aim is to be high on searches for local businesses.  Nearly half of all Google searches ask for local results, so the aim for a local business is to be in that box which shows the top 3 results – here’s a search we did for “plumbers Wisbech”.  If you’re not in that top 3, your potential customers are going to have to work harder to find you.

So how do you get there?  There are some easy and straightforward techniques which you need to put in place – of course there are more complex and technical things to do as well, but for now we’ll concentrate on the more simple things you need to do.

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Why SMEs should use social media

23rd April 2018
23rd April 2018

Is #socialmedia ever out of the news nowadays?  A quick glance at today’s headlines shows 2 social media items in the top 10 – and they’re not good news stories!  Just last week saw the news that pub chain Wetherspoons are withdrawing totally from their many social media accounts.  In such a frenzied atmosphere, many businesses are reviewing their social media activity.  The fact remains, though, that it does play a key part in the marketing strategies of many successful brands.

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