The Donno family

Family board meetings – you still need to take minutes

Paul and Jenni had a board meeting yesterday revolving around the cycle to work scheme and Boris Johnsons announcement regarding the new grants for Electric bikes.   Now when we say ‘board meeting’ it was actually a discussion over their ‘Avo’ on toast. The vote was a very formal “that sounds like a good idea” and the minutes were as follows:

1 Accounts Online Ltd

Meeting of the board of Directors

Kitchen of the Directors in Haverhill Suffolk – 7:45am


Paul Donno

Jenni Donno – Chairperson and PSC


Paul Donno – for not getting the toast quite right!

Minutes of last meeting

JD required an amendment to the last meetings minutes in so far as she didn’t say that PD could have more time off to play golf.  It was agreed that PD could play golf three times a month and not a week as per the minutes.  JD also said that she would write the minutes in future.

It was resolved

PD having read the Times’ article that Boris Johnson is going to give a grant for an electric bike, PD suggested that it would be a good idea to look at the Cycle to work scheme. He then suggested for JD to get an electric bike so that the board of 1 Accounts could stay fit and work out together.  PD advised that then they could cycle to their local café for tea and cake for their next board meeting and claim subsistence.

JD felt that this was a good idea and asked PD to look into the scheme and find her a bike suitable to get to the café.


PD thought that as JD is only fulfilling her statutory duties as part of the Furlough rules, tea making is not illegal and should be actively encouraged.  After much debate PD agreed to make his own tea.

There being no other business the meeting was closed

Jenni Donno


Cyclist - The cycle to work scheme

Is the new electric bike grant right for your business?

Boris Johnson announces grants for Electric Bikes, but are they a good idea for small business owners?

Bikes (including E-bikes) costing over £1000 will now be included in the Governments ‘Cycle to Work’ scheme. If any of your team members are keen to cycle to work, this is a great opportunity for your business to get involved.

GCI founder Rob Howes said in the Forbes article ‘E-Bikes And Other £1,000+ Bicycles Added To U.K. Government’s Money Saving ‘Cycle To Work’ Scheme’ :

We think the electric bike has an enormous part to play and making it possible to get one using the popular Cycle to Work scheme is a step in the right direction by the Government. We have multiple clients who have given up their cars and swapped to e-bikes, and we have helped lots of people who now have a cargo bike instead of a second bike

Rob Howes


Many cyclists will say that the electric bike is not for the ‘true cyclist’. However for the people who can’t keep up, need a little push up the hills or just don’t want to be sweaty when they arrive at work the electric bike is perfect and keeps cycling inclusive for all abilities.

There is also a myth that electric bikes are heavy, ugly things with wires hanging off the frame linking to a large battery that you have to get your legs around. This is not the case. Paul visited our local bike shop Aerocycles  and he was amazed at how good the electric bikes looked. They are definitely worth checking out.

Electric Bike


The Governments Green Transport plan aims to reduce pollution, promote healthier lifestyles and makes cycling to work cost effective. All companies in the UK qualify for the scheme (providing they are UK tax payers). Earnings must remain above the level of national minimum wage after the salary sacrifice has been deducted. Unfortunately sole traders do not qualify for the scheme. The scheme gives employees a tax exemption. The savings are typically about 25-39%. You can implement this as a ‘salary sacrifice’ or as a ‘company perk’.

The added health and environmental benefits of cycling to work are huge. We would definitely recommend this scheme to get you and your work force cycling.

For more detailed information please look at

If you have a bike already don’t forget the £50 voucher to get your bike back on the road.

Happy Cycling

How to deal with nit-picking clients

How to deal with nit-picking clients who are asking for a discount

Are you finding that some of your clients, some who have previously been good clients, have suddenly become quite fussy? Maybe they have been getting obsessed with the tiniest of mistakes when previously they would have just breezed over it, or maybe they are finding new issues that have never come up before. Whatever problems that are arising, here is how to deal with nit-picking clients, especially if they are asking for a discount.
Why postet note

The global pandemic has caused a considerable amount of stress. Some obvious, such as financial and health problems, and some not so obvious, emotions that can bubble and brew under the surface affecting our daily lives without us even realising.

As you can imagine, the net result of 3-4 months of anxiety and stress is starting to take its toll and people are trying to take control of what they can to ease some of that pressure.

Finances is a big one. Many people are worrying whether their businesses will bounce back, whether they’ll have a job to go back to, and their financial future, and to try and take control of this, many are now looking for that discount where they can. They are looking to shed overheads and for any opportunity to lighten the pressure of such a tight cashflow.

If you have clients who are asking for discounts, who are highlighting mistakes that you’ve made or who are trying to get more out of you, here are 3 things that you should do:

  1. Apologise – if you’ve made a mistake, acknowledge it. Put your hand up and own it and reassure them that you are investigating how it happened as well as putting in the necessary measures to prevent it from happening again.
  2. Offer additional value – don’t offer a physical discount, unless you’ve made a mistake that is of great magnitude. Always look to offer extra value instead. Is there any other way that you can help your client? Is there an add-on or service that doesn’t require too much from you that you can offer to the client for the same price?
  3. Listen and empathise – with how stressful it’s been, everyone is having a difficult time in their own way and they just want someone who can empathise and acknowledge this. If you can show them that you care and maybe even help them to see that this small mistake or issue they see is causing no material loss to them overall, that might be all they need.


It’s a difficult situation to be in, to have clients asking for discounts, but be strong. You are providing a service and you deserve to be paid for that service. It might only take an apology or for you to show your client that you want to help them in other ways.

If you start offering discounts, you will start training your clients to ask for discounts every time they see a mistake or if they’re not completely satisfied. Appeasing them now will only cause further issues for you down the line, so offer additional value and listen to their worries. They’ll soon start to value what you’re doing for them and you’ll be remembered for it when you need it most.

laptop and phone

Returning to work post-covid19: how do you assess your office needs?

In the short-term, it seems likely that many of us will remain working from home even after government orders to do so are lifted. Why? Because businesses have either found that remote working seems to be working favourably for them or they don’t know how to return to work safely. To answer the three most frequently asked questions from business owners today, here’s a quick guide to help.

Man on laptop - what are my options?

As businesses are slowly given the green light to return to work, business owners have a few options in front of them for how to move forward. Research shows that organisations have favoured one of these three below:

  1. Continue to work remotely and sublet their office space – don’t forget to check vital clauses in your rental agreement to see if this is an option for you.
  2. Using a blend of working from, team days, and hot-desking – this strategy has the benefits of both remote working and being in the office. Many businesses have been able to reduce their office space with this method.
  3. Phased approach to transition back to office work – this involves staggering the workforce where smaller groups or departments come in on alternate days until it’s safe for everyone to return.

To work out which is the best option for you, you need to consider who needs to be at the office the most. Many organisations have found that capping staff numbers off at about 30% is the social distancing sweet spot.

How much office space do I actually need

Business owners are reconsidering whether they need as much office space now that so many people are working from home. This is a smart question because miscalculations when it comes to space, even minor ones, can have a huge impact, especially when it comes to finances. Here’s some guidance to help you:

How do you calculate desk space?

As a rough estimate, you should allow 250 sq.ft. per employee. This means, for 50 employees, you will need 12,500 sq.ft. of office space. This guidance is for normal circumstances, so with the current Covid safety guidelines, you need to factor in 2 metres between each desk too.

How do you assess your office needs?

The formula above is just that, a rough estimate. This changes depending on factors such as office layout, employee density, and cost. For example, the most commonly accepted rule in London is that 100 sq.ft. per employee is the ideal amount of space per person.

To accurately assess the amount of space your business needs to thrive, you need to consider these variables:

  • How many employees you have/want to return to work in the office
  • What kind of staff you have (executive, administration, sales etc)
  • How many desks you will need (will employees need an individual desk or will you consider agile working?)
  • How much equipment you have to accommodate
  • What style of office works best for your organisation
  • Office layout and ceiling height
  • If you plan on taking on more staff in the next few years

What are the Health and Safety requirements now due to Covid?

All businesses will now need to carry out an extensive risk assessment to plan for a safe return to work post-lockdown. The purpose of this assessment is to identify the control measures that you’ll need to have in place to protect your employees and others from the risk of infection.

The main areas you need to consider are:

  • Offices and workspaces – these need to be set up to support social distancing (e.g. layout changes where desks are arranged with the minimum separation between them, appropriate signage and floor markings to denote safe distances etc).
  • Employee safety – as well as establishing maximum occupancy limits, work patterns and procedures will need to be changed to facilitate effective infection prevention. Employees will also need to be supplied with the appropriate PPE such as face masks and screen separators.
Defer your payment on account

Defer Your Self-assessment Payment On Account

Choose how and when you can delay making your second payment on account for the 2019 to 2020 tax year.

You have the option to defer your second payment on account if you are:

  • registered in the UK for Self-Assessment and
  • finding it difficult to make your second payment on account by 31 July 2020 due to the impact of coronavirus

You can still make the payment by 31 July 2020 as normal if you are able to do so.

The June 2020 Self-Assessment statements showed 31 January 2021 as the due date for paying the July 2020 Payment on Account. This is because HMRC updated their IT systems to prevent customers incurring late payment interest on any July 2020 Payment on Account paid between 1st August 2020 and 31 January 2021. The deferment has not been applied for all customers by HMRC and it remains optional.

HMRC will not charge interest or penalties on any amount of the deferred payment on account, provided it’s paid on or before 31 January 2021.




In March 2020, CH introduced temporary easement measures to suspend voluntary strike off action in response to coronavirus (COVID-19) and they have reviewed these measures each month.

Following the July review, this temporary measure will be lifted from 10 September 2020. From this date, CH restart the process to dissolve companies that have applied for voluntary dissolution.

If you’ve filed an application to strike off your company (DS01)

On 10 September 2020 CH restart the process of removing your company from the register.

You may have received a letter from Companies House stating that your company will be struck off within 2 months if no objections are received, but your company is still listed on the Companies House register.

CH may have suspended strike off action because they have received an objection to your application for strike off, or this could be due to the temporary measures to suspend voluntary strike off action during the coronavirus outbreak.

When voluntary strike off action restarts from 10 September – if there are no objections to dissolution and the 2-month period from the publication of the Gazette notice has expired, your company will be struck off shortly afterwards.

Objections to a strike off application

Any person with an interest in a company which is nearing strike off should register an objection to dissolution at Companies House. If you’ve already registered an objection, but the time period for that objection is due to expire – you’ll need to register your objection again if it’s still required.

When CH receive an objection to strike off, they will respond to advise whether the objection has been accepted or rejected. Every response will give a deadline and if they receive no further evidence that action is progressing by that date, they will resume the process to remove the company from the register.

It’s important to send any objection to CH as early as possible after publication of the Gazette notice and at least 2 weeks before the notice expiry date.

Applications from 10 July 2020

If you’re going to file an application to strike off your company from today onwards, these changes will not affect your company. The easements for voluntary dissolution apply to applications for strike off registered at Companies House before 10 July 2020.

If your application is acceptable, it will be registered, and a notice published in the Gazette. If there are no objections to the dissolution, your company will be struck off in around 2 months’ time.

Compulsory strike off

The compulsory strike off process is still paused. CH continue to review this measure on a monthly basis and publish any changes on our website.


Eat out to help out logo

Eat Out to Help Out

Restaurants and other establishments serving food for on-premises consumption can now sign up to a new government initiative aimed at protecting jobs in the hospitality industry and encouraging people to safely return to dining out.

The Eat Out to Help Out registration service went live on the 13th of July on GOV.UK, allowing businesses to join the scheme.

Restaurants, bars, cafes and other establishments who use the scheme will offer a 50% reduction, up to a maximum of £10 per person, to all diners who eat and/or drink-in throughout August.

Customers do not need a voucher as participating establishments will just remove the discount from their bill. Businesses simply reclaim the discounted amount through an online service, supported by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). Claims can be made on a weekly basis and will be paid into bank accounts within five working days.

The scheme is open to eligible establishments across the UK and can be used all day, every Monday to Wednesday, between 3 and 31 August 2020.

For details on how the scheme works see:

The Government has provided marketing resources for the Eat Out to Help Out scheme. There are posters, images and other promotional materials for use by establishments who are taking part in the Scheme.


Cup of coffee and laptop

Another Furlough Update


From 1st July “Flexible Furlough” was introduced and the calculations and time recording of full-time, part-time and fully furloughed employees has become more complicated.

Changes are occurring regularly as the Government and HMRC make clarifications to the scheme. If you have any queries regarding your claim talk to us first.

The latest changes are outlined below:

Steps to take before calculating your claim using the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Wording has been added to make it clear that HMRC will not decline or seek repayment of any grant based solely on the particular choice between fixed or variable approach to calculating usual hours, as long as a reasonable choice is made


HMRC has issued further guidance on the CJRS Individuals you can claim for who are not employees:

You can claim a grant for individuals who are not employees – as long as they’re paid via PAYE. The groups you can claim for include:

  • office holders (including company directors)
  • salaried members of Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs)
  • agency workers (including those employed by umbrella companies)
  • limb (b) workers
  • Contingent workers in the public sector
  • Contractors with public sector engagements in scope of IR35 off-payroll working rules (IR35)

Individuals who are paid through PAYE but not necessarily employees in employment law, can continue to be furloughed from 1 July as long as you have previously submitted a claim for them for a furlough period of at least 3 weeks between 1 March and 30 June 2020.


Paying employee taxes and pension contributions

There is also an update on ‘Paying employee taxes and pension contributions’ section and added wording to section on employee rights to make it clear that you can continue to claim for a furloughed employee who is serving a statutory notice period.


The process HMRC is developing to recover overclaimed grant amounts through the tax system

Information has been added about the process HMRC is developing to recover overclaimed grant amounts through the tax system.

If you have made an error in a claim and do not plan to submit further claims, you should contact HMRC to let them know about the error and find out how to pay back any overclaimed amounts. Once you have contacted HMRC you will be given a payment reference number and directed to make a payment.

The Government are introducing legislation to recover overclaimed grant amounts through the tax system. If you repay any overclaimed grant amounts back through the above methods then this will reduce or, if the full amount is repaid, prevent any potential tax liability under that legislation. Further guidance on this will be issued in due course.

If you have made an error that has resulted in an underclaimed amount, you should contact HMRC to amend your claim. As you are increasing the amount of your claim, they need to conduct additional checks.





The government made an announcement on 8 July 2020 allowing VAT registered businesses to apply a temporary 5% reduced rate of VAT to certain supplies relating to:

  • hospitality
  • hotel and holiday accommodation
  • admissions to certain attractions

The temporary reduced rate will apply to supplies that are made between 15 July 2020 and 12 January 2021.

clinking beer glasses


If you supply food and non-alcoholic beverages for consumption on your premises, for example, a restaurant, café or pub, you’re currently required to charge VAT at the standard rate of 20%. However, when you make these supplies between 15 July 2020 and 12 January 2021 you will only need to charge 5%.

You will also be able to charge the reduced rate of VAT on your supplies of hot takeaway food and hot takeaway non-alcoholic drinks.

More information about how these changes apply to your business can be found in Catering, takeaway food (VAT Notice 709/1). See:

Hotel bed

Hotel and holiday accommodation

You will also benefit from the temporary reduced rate if you:

  • supply sleeping accommodation in a hotel or similar establishment
  • make certain supplies of holiday accommodation
  • charge fees for caravan pitches and associated facilities
  • charge fees for tent pitches or camping facilities

More information about how these changes apply to your business can be found in Hotels and holiday accommodation (VAT Notice 709/3). See:

VAT on admission charges to attractions

If you charge a fee for admission to certain attractions where the supplies are currently standard rated, you will only need to charge the reduced rate of VAT between 15 July 2020 and 12 January 2021.

However, if the fee you charge for admission is currently exempt that will take precedence and your supplies will not qualify for the reduced rate.

This applies to:

  • shows
  • theatres
  • circuses
  • fairs
  • amusement parks
  • concerts
  • museums
  • zoos
  • cinemas
  • exhibitions
  • similar cultural events and facilities

Examples of where the reduced rate may apply could be attractions such as:

  • a planetarium
  • botanical gardens
  • studio tours
  • factory tours

More information about how these changes apply can be found in VAT: Admission charges to attractions.


Pictures of Rishi the UK's chancellor

What does Rishi’s mini budget mean for you?

We spent a large part of yesterday afternoon listening and reflecting on the budget update from the chancellor. In this blog, we will take you through what this actually means for you.

If you furloughed a member of staff you probably received this excellent summary from the government of the changes being announced. (It’s probably the best overall summary of the changes and worth a read)

  • Temporary reduction, until 31st March 2021, in stamp duty so that houses under £500k are exempt
  • The Eat Out To Help Out Scheme across August for participating restaurants
  • Temporary VAT reduction
  • Incentives to help young people into the workforce through apprenticeships and traineeships

The COVID-19 Job Retention Scheme or as most of us know it… Furloughing.

It was announced back in May that the scheme would stay open until the end of October. However, from August, employers will be asked to pay some of the costs of Furlough. Which is why we are now seeing daily announcements of large-scale redundancies from businesses.

The good news is that government is now incentivising companies to bring back their furloughed staff and keep them until at least Jan 2021. For every furloughed member of staff, you bring back to work, continuously employ and pay over an average of £520 a month for Nov/Dec/Jan, the government will give your business £1000. We are currently assuming this also applies for any directors who you have furloughed in this time.

The money will be granted once you have submitted your payroll RTI submission for January 2021. This could be a very welcome cash bonus for many businesses.

VAT changes for eat in/takeaway food, hospitality and leisure (just not alcohol)

Of course, we wholeheartedly applaud the reduction in VAT to 5% for these categories from July 15th to 12th Jan 2021. The accountant in us would have preferred the reduction to take place at the beginning or end of a month, but that’s just life!

If you sell or buy products which benefit from this VAT reduction, please get in touch to discuss how to administer/account for the VAT reduction.

For example:

  • Setting up a 5% VAT category in your accounting software
  • Negotiating with suppliers to check they are passing on the VAT reduction
  • Changing your prices for impacted goods or services if you previously quoted inclusive of VAT
  • Checking any auto publishing rules into your accounting software take account of the new VAT rate