Solicitors High Wycombe, Author at Reynolds Parry Jones LLP

Over half of UK businesses are still not fully GDPR compliant

Over half of UK businesses are still not fully GDPR compliant

According to the findings of a recent survey, more than half of UK businesses are still not fully compliant with GDPR.

The findings indicate that a significant number of businesses could end up on the wrong end of regulatory action should a major data breach or cyber-attack take place.

The survey commissioned by Egress Software Technologies was designed to assess the GDPR compliance of small, medium, and large businesses in the UK a year after the data security legislation was introduced.

Just under half of the respondents (48 per cent) said they were fully compliant with the GDPR legislation, with 42 per cent claiming to be ‘mostly compliant’ and the remainder at various stages of compliance.

These statistics come despite massive fines imposed on large organisations such as British Airways and Marriott following data breaches during the past twelve months.

It was also revealed that less than two thirds (62 per cent) rated GDPR as a priority in their organisations, with 35 per cent of decision-makers saying that the majority of their work to comply with GDPR was carried out before the implementation of the rules.

According to Tony Pepper, CEO at Egress Software Technologies, the initial lack of regulatory action following the enactment of GDPR could have led to a perception outside the security industry that the regulation was ‘all bark and no bite’.

“Although the authority’s announcement that it intends to fine British Airways and Marriott such staggering sums sent shockwaves through the security community, it is concerning only 6% of organisations have taken action to avoid the full potential of the legislation. These announcements should have acted as a clearer warning that organisations cannot risk compliance complacency,” he said.

For specialist help and advice regarding GDPR legislation, contact our expert team today.

Government to increase access to small business finance

Government to increase access to small business finance

The British Business Bank (BBB) will ramp up its existing services to increase access to small business finance.

It comes after policymakers, ministers and banking chiefs met earlier this month to form a new Business Finance Council.

According to reports, the Council comprising of members from the Treasury, UK Finance, Barclays, HSBC, Funding Circle, Lloyds, Metro Bank and more, has been launched to help “identify and address any barriers” faced by businesses in securing the finance they need.

As part of this programme, the wholly Government-owned BBB will expand its existing services to help lenders support the small business community.

This is currently achieved through the £300 million Enterprise Finance Guarantee, which enables lending to viable smaller businesses that lack sufficient security against which to borrow.

There will also be approximately £1 billion of “headroom” available this financial year through the BBB’s Enable Guarantee scheme. The Enable regime reduces the amount of regulatory capital participating lenders are required to hold for their loans to small businesses.

Commenting on the report, Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom said: “Lenders must empower their SME customers to seize the huge variety of opportunities that lie ahead as we leave the EU on 31 October.

“Our new Business Finance Council will bring together key players, ensuring that finance continues to flow to our brilliant British businesses so they can do just that.

“Our financial system is strong and banks have the capacity to lend. I would urge lenders to take advantage of the support on offer from our fantastic British Business Bank.”

The news comes shortly after the Government revealed that more than £32 million has been raised through the Bank Referral Scheme. The scheme, launched in 2016, has now helped 1,700 businesses which have been turned down by banks to access alternative finance opportunities.

For help and legal advice regarding your business, contact our expert team today.

Rising number of parents take legal action over ‘Bank of Mum and Dad’ loans

Rising number of parents take legal action over ‘Bank of Mum and Dad’ loans

An increasing number of parents are taking legal action to get their money back following the Bank of Mum and Dad (BOMAD) loans to help their children buy their own home.

Recent research has found that there are 12-15 cases each month of parents taking their adult children and their spouses to court to recover their money.

According to the latest research, this figure has increased significantly since 2014, when there were just three cases per month.

BOMAD has become the tenth biggest lender in the UK, with lending totalling £6.3 billion in 2019, while Clydesdale, the UK’s tenth largest lender, has lent £5 billion in the same period.

The average amount that parents lend their children has increased to £24,100, but some parents are arguing that the money is an investment, rather than a gift.

Experts believe that the most common reason for legal action was when their child split from their partner.

A problem can arise when the parents of one of the children contribute a significant amount of money towards a property purchase, but they do not agree what the terms of that contribution is – whether it a gift, an investment or a loan.

A rise in house prices has seen parents become more likely to lend to their children in order to help them get on the housing ladder, while one in five of all financial transactions can be attributed to the Bank of Mum and Dad.

For help and advice with any form of legal dispute, contact our expert team today.

IR35: What you need to know

IR35: What you need to know

HMRC has issued new guidance for fee-payers, intermediaries and engagers to assist with the operation within the revised rules for off-payroll working, which come into effect on 6 April 2020.

The off-payroll rules, otherwise known as IR35, will operate with two parallel systems for application, which will be used depending on whether the end client of the contract worker is;

  • A small private sector organisation or
  • A public sector body, or medium or large organisation in the private sector

In the case of a small private sector organisation, the worker’s intermediary (their personal service company) will determine the employment status of the worker to assess whether tax and National Insurance (NI) deductions should be made as if the worker was an employee.

For a public sector body or a medium or large organisation in the private sector, the determination will be made by the engager.

The criteria for a small private sector organisation are based on company law, but they also apply to unincorporated organisations such as charities and individuals.

An engager that meets two of the following conditions for the financial period that ends in the previous tax year is regarded as small:

  • No more than 50 employees
  • Less than £5.1 million balance sheet total
  • Less than £10.2 million annual turnover

The HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) guidance does not clarify how the contractor, or their personal service company, will know whether their engager is considered small, other than when they fail to receive an employment status determination.

Read the guidance in full here.

For help and advice on the upcoming changes to the IR35 rules, contact our expert team today.

More than one million workers denied legal working rights

More than one million workers denied legal working rights

According to a new report by the Resolution Foundation think tank, a significant number of workers in the UK are not receiving paid holidays or a payslip from their employers.

The analysis, which focused on legal violations within employment, shows that workers across the country are being failed by employers who are abusing their rights, amid a steady rise in precarious working conditions over the past decade.

There are more than 32 million people in the UK workforce, and by discounting those who are self-employed and do not get automatic legal protections for holiday and sick pay, the analysis suggests at least a million employees are being denied their rights in one way or another.

In the report, it was revealed that one in every 20 employees do not receive any of the holiday pay they are guaranteed by law, with one in 10 workers also not receiving a payslip from their employer, making it hard to calculate whether they are receiving the correct pay, pension and holiday.

Workers over the age of 65 were most likely to not have paid holidays, despite a legal entitlement to 28 days a year, or pro-rata for part-timers, while those at the start of their careers under the age of 25 were twice as likely as any other age bracket to be paid under the legal minimum wage.

It was also revealed that workers in the hospitality industry were more likely to miss out on legal workplace entitlements than any other industry.

Lindsay Judge, a Senior Economic Analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said: “The UK has a multitude of rules to govern its labour market, from maximum hours to minimum pay, but these rules can only become a reality if they are properly enforced.

“Labour market violations remain far too common, with millions of workers missing out on basic entitlements to a payslip, holiday entitlement and the minimum wage.

“Our analysis suggests that, while violations take place across the labour market, the Government should also prioritise investigations into sectors like hotels and restaurants, along with firms who make large use of atypical employment contracts, as that’s where abuse is most prevalent,”

For specialist advice regarding all matters of employment, contact our expert team today.

The clock is ticking on Help-to-Buy ISA

The clock is ticking on Help-to-Buy ISA

From 30 November 2019 savers will no longer be able to make new applications for the Help-to-Buy ISA.

The short-lived ISA has helped many people on to the property ladder but after this date, no new applications can be made, while existing account holders will only have until December 2030 to claim the 25 per cent bonus on their savings.

Although this ISA product is disappearing from the market, its replacement is already here in the form of the Lifetime ISA (LISA).

The LISA offers a similar top-up of 25 per cent of a person’s savings when it is used to buy a home, but as you can deposit a greater amount over a longer timeframe there is the potential to build up a far larger deposit.

However, unlike the Help-to-Buy ISA, the bonus is not paid on completion of the property sale, but rather at the end of the tax year in which the money is withdrawn for sale, which may mean that the bonus can contribute directly to the deposit amount.

Unfortunately, the LISA is currently only offered by 13 providers – far fewer than the Help-to-Buy ISA – and therefore take-up has been far slower.

Experts suspect that this may be because of the limitations of the LISA, which only allows savers to benefit from the bonus if it is used when they purchase their first home or if they withdraw the funds when they are aged 60 or older.

The LISA also has a £450,000 price cap on the purchase of a home, which means that it is often not suitable for buyers in London and the South East.

For further advice on legal issues relating to buying or selling a property please contact Carole Page.

Centre for Social Justice proposes higher state pension age

Centre for Social Justice proposes higher state pension age

Think Tank the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) has called on the Government to raise the state pension age to 75 to provide a £182 billion boost to the economy.

Its report, Ageing confidently – Supporting an ageing workforce, recommends increasing the state pension age to 70 by 2028, before then further increasing it to 75 by 2035.

This would significantly affect hundreds of thousands of people currently aged 50 to 64 if implemented by a future Government.

The current state pension age is not due to rise again until 2026 when it will increase to 67, before rising again to 68 between 2044 and 2046.

The CSJ’s reason for increasing the state pension age is to “ensure that the old-age dependency ratio remains in the sustainable range of 20 to 25 over the next 20 years”.

The CSJ fears that Britain’s ageing population means that taxpayers face escalating costs unless people stay in work for longer.

It says hundreds of thousands of people aged 50 to 64 are deemed “economically inactive” and recommends helping older people “access the benefits of work” by providing support to them and employers, such as increased access to flexible working and training opportunities.

The change would have a significant impact on many people’s retirement plans and may make saving for a private pension far more important for many as they will no longer be able to rely on a state pension until they are considerably older.

For further legal advice regarding issues related to anything mentioned in the article above, please contact our expert team today.

Bank of Mum and Dad is ‘One of the UK’s biggest mortgage lenders’

Bank of Mum and Dad is ‘One of the UK’s biggest mortgage lenders’

A new survey has revealed that parents are spending so much helping their children to purchase their own homes that they are now one of the country’s largest lenders.

According to the study by Legal & General (L&G), the average parental contribution for homebuyers in 2019 is £24,100 – an increase of £6,000 on the previous year’s figures.

This means that parents are thought to have collectively given £6.3 billion to their children in the last year, which would make the ‘Bank of Mum and Dad’ the tenth biggest mortgage lender – outranking the official tenth largest mortgage lender Clydesdale Bank, which only lent £5 billion last year.

Thousands of UK homebuyers have become reliant on their parents to either get onto the housing ladder in the first place or move to a larger home, as the disparity between house prices and wage growth widens.

Of those surveyed almost a fifth said they had already or would help a family member to buy a home, as many felt it was their responsibility to do so.

The poll of 1,600 parents found that more than half were using cash to fund their children’s home purchase. However, many others were withdrawing money from their pensions to help or were considering using equity release from their own homes.

As a result, 15 per cent admitted that they had to accept a lower standard of living in retirement, while more than a quarter were not confident that they had sufficient money for their retirement.

Despite the growth of lending from parents, there is growing evidence that parents are taking their children to court following a disagreement over home loans.

It is estimated there are between 12 to 15 cases every month of parents taking their adult children, or their child’s spouse, to court to retrieve cash from a home loan.

The figures come from Quanta Capital, a company that loans money to people pursuing such cases, who just five years ago only recorded about three cases a month.

If you are considering lending money to one of your children for the purchase of a home it is strongly advised that you seek financial and legal advice before doing so.

For further advice on legal issues relating to buying or selling a property please contact Carole Page.

What happens if I want to divorce amicably and start proceedings?

What happens if I want to divorce amicably and start proceedings?

If your marriage has irretrievably broken down and you wish to divorce your spouse, you will need to follow the divorce procedure below to legally end your marriage. At present in the UK, there is officially only one ‘ground’ for divorce, which is that your marriage has irretrievably broken down.

To file for a divorce you must prove this by establishing one of the five following factors; desertion, adultery, unreasonable behaviour, separation of two years (with consent) or separation of five years (no consent required).

Steps:

The first step for any divorce is to file the divorce petition, which is completed by the Petitioner and filed with a regional divorce centre.

Within the divorce petition, it must detail the reason why your marriage has broken down.

When you submit your divorce petition you will need to provide the court with your marriage certificate and pay the court fee of £550, unless you are on a low income or receive certain benefits, in which case you may be entitled to court fee remission.

The second stage of the divorce proceedings involves the court sending a copy of the divorce petition to your spouse, with an Acknowledgement of Service form that they need to complete and return within seven days.

The Acknowledgement of Service form confirms to the court that; your spouse has received the divorce papers and they agree with the reasons for the divorce as well as the wording used.

Once the respondent has sent back the Acknowledgement of Service form to the court, the petitioner can then apply for the decree nisi.

Decree nisi is an order by a court of law stating the date on which a marriage will end unless a good reason not to grant a divorce is produced.

The final step, once a date has been set, you need to apply for the absolute decree. This can be done six weeks and one day after the date given by the court. This application typically takes two weeks, which will then formally and legally end your marriage.

Keeping things amicable…

Here are a few suggestions for keeping what is a stressful and upsetting situation as amicable as possible:

  1. Plan how to tell your spouse you wish to divorce any why
  2. Keep ‘blame’ out of the situation wherever possible
  3. Focus on any children involved and place their needs first
  4. Be patient with your spouse and give them time to adjust
  5. • Negotiate the terms of any settlements in good faith, be fair, and abide by agreements made

Contact us now and let us guide you through the process of divorce.

If you are considering divorce, or dissolving your civil partnership, or your spouse/civil partner has issued proceedings against you, call our specialist family solicitor now to discuss how she can advise and help.

Over half of landlords planning to use a limited company for next property purchase

Over half of landlords planning to use a limited company for next property purchase

According to the latest property industry research conducted by Precise Mortgages, more than half of landlords plan to use limited companies to buy properties in the next twelve months.

The move highlights the continuing transformation of the buy-to-let market.

Limited companies offer a series of financial benefits, including several tax reliefs and lower interest rates which can help to lower the costs associated with the purchases.

The study found that 55 per cent of landlords plan to use one of these limited companies to complete their purchases over the next year, a figure which is more than double the number of landlords who are intending to purchase property as an individual (24 per cent).

This news confirms the rapid increase in the number of landlords taking this route, as, during the fourth quarter of 2018, around 44 per cent of landlords planned to use limited companies, a figure that increased 53 per cent in the first quarter of 2019 and has again increased in quarter two.

Limited companies are most popular with landlords who hold a portfolio of 11 or more properties with over 70 per cent using them for purchases. However, they are also still the majority option for those with less than 10 properties in their portfolio with over half (51 per cent) planning to use a limited company to buy their next property.

Alan Cleary, Managing Director of Precise Mortgages, said: “Despite the challenges in the market, professional landlords have still managed to grow their portfolios over the past year with the use of limited companies, and it will continue to be the most preferred purchase route particularly for those with larger portfolios.

The increased use of limited company status is further evidence of how the buy-to-let market is changing and demonstrates how brokers and their clients need expert specialist support when buying as a limited company or considering switching.”

For help and advice regarding setting up a limited company contact our experts today.

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