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Money Talk: 'Tis the season to be wary

The scam email problem is so common that it's almost become a cliché. You receive an email from some individual in a far-flung country, offering a sizeable chunk of their 'lottery winnings'. All you need to do is give them a bit of help to get the money into the UK, and to do so, they just need your bank details. It's an oldie-but-goodie, although that doesn't stop the scammers from trying variations on it even now. But some more recent attempts have been a bit more subtle, and not so immediately recognisable for what they are.

Money Talk: Latest forecourt hourly pay rates revealed

There are several ways of trying to establish average pay rates in an industry or area. You can ask employers what they pay their staff; you can ask employees what they receive. Or you can do what we've been doing every year since 1998 examine the payroll data that PAYEPeople processes on behalf of hundreds of forecourt operators across the UK, and work out the real hourly pay rates that are being paid to thousands of individual employees. Bear in mind that with the advent of 'real time' reporting to HMRC, these figures are based on the same information that HMRC is seeing.

Money Talk: Big Brother is watching you, now more than ever

Think back just a few months to the global news story about US and UK electronic snooping on email and other internet traffic. The revelations at least served to illustrate just how vast the data capture and information processing abilities of government agencies have become. Of course, there were the usual reassurances that this was all necessary for our protection, and the standard secret policeman's line of 'Why worry if you've nothing to hide?'. So we stopped worrying and went back to business as usual.

Money Talk: Card merchant fees are not the real issue

It's been a little odd to watch the whole card processing cost saga increasingly dominate the news pages in Forecourt Trader over the past few months. At EKW (and particularly through this column), we have been pointing out the effect of retail percentage merchant fees on rising fuel prices for many years, and were warning about the current situation a long time ago in fact from a time when pump prices were less than half of the prices typical at the moment!

Money Talk: Being limited... part two

When you trade as a sole trader or as part of a partnership, strictly speaking you do not have to prepare or send a copy of your business accounts anywhere! That may surprise some operators who've always assumed that they were paying their accountants to do just that, and we'd be the last people to recommend trying to run a business without preparing annual accounts (at the very least). However, the accounts are only used to establish the owner's income. Obviously if HMRC questions the income that is declared by an individual, it is useful (to say the least) to have a proper set of accounts to support what you're telling them.

Money Talk: Limited knowledge of running a company

As accountants specialising in several retail sectors (forecourt, convenience, hospitality and even opticians' practices) we're involved in a great many new business start-ups. In recent years, a large proportion of these new businesses have come under the generic heading of franchises, and it's quite routine for franchise-type businesses to be operated through limited companies. Naturally, many people taking such franchises have already been running small businesses of their own for some time usually as sole traders. But we find that there's a considerable amount of confusion, and many misapprehensions, concerning the practical differences between working as a sole trader (or in partnership), and suddenly being a 'director' of their own company. So if you're in the position of considering a 'franchise'-type operation, or are about to start trading in a limited company set up, here are some of the basic distinctions to be aware of:

Money Talk: A very thin line between trading and disaster

Readers who occasionally watch any of the documentary channels on TV might be familiar with the warnings that our highly-automated and interlinked society is really rather fragile. One large solar flare or a heavy ice-storm, and power supplies and communications links suddenly fail, bringing normal activities to a grinding halt. It doesn't necessarily take a global catastrophe to prove just how much we rely on technology for things to work smoothly, the lack of immediate alternative fall-back positions and the consequent chaos if the technology fails. A recent incident at one client's place was far less dramatic, but still provides a small-scale illustration.

Money Talk: Whatever happened to our 'flexible friend'?

Every retailer reading Jac Roper's page in last month's issue should have been horrified by the prospect of a major electronic funds transfer (EFT) processor changing their debit card handling fees from a 'per transaction' cost to a percentage of turnover. That's because this was an attack on one of the few payment options available to fuel retailers which wasn't subject to the punitive 'turnover tax' based on pump prices levied by the card companies, or the high costs of cash-handling charged by the High Street banks.

Money Talk: Budget 2013: did you even notice it?

After what went down in history as the 'omnishambles Budget' of 2012, the contents of which had been leaked in advance all over the media only to be embarrassingly reversed in the following few weeks, this year's effort was at least kept pretty closely guarded right up to March 20. According to some of the more cynical commentators, the reason why there was little advance disclosure this time around was really quite straightforward even the Chancellor himself had no idea what he was going to be able to put into Budget 2013, since his economic options were so limited. With that background, perhaps it was not surprising that the March 2013 Budget speech was one of the shortest in memory, and provided relatively little real news for the next day's papers. However, in case you missed it, or have forgotten it already, here are a few of the main points that might affect you and your business.

Money Talk: Outstanding campaign from the VAT office

It sounds almost friendly doesn't it? No hint of a threat of any big investigation into your financial affairs, or any penalties. But don't be complacent about it. For all of the soft PR in which this campaign's been cloaked, there's still an iron fist within the velvet glove, and if your VAT accounting isn't up to date, you could find yourself in big trouble.

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Weekly retail fuel prices: 4 November 2019
RegionDieselLPGSuper ULUL
East130.9367.90138.13126.75
East Midlands130.73139.73126.64
London130.73139.60127.04
North East129.5562.90137.10125.31
North West129.9963.90138.40126.48
Northern Ireland128.05133.57124.33
Scotland130.6059.30137.24126.23
South East131.4566.90139.66127.42
South West130.7674.90137.94126.68
Wales129.84136.06125.42
West Midlands130.4059.90137.63126.57
Yorkshire & Humber130.02139.47126.29

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