Over £60million Rural Grants available in the South East

Not one equine business has received grant

Equine businesses throughout the South East and London could be missing out on their chance to apply for a share of £64 million in Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) grants. ... read more

How the internet company helped me buy my daughter a horse in Holland

A friend recommended that we use an on-line service rather than the bank to get a better exchange rate and avoid commission or charges. We save £600 on a £10,000 purchase...  read more

Equine FX

£184.8 million fund for small and medium-sized enterprises launched

The North West Fund is a £184.8 million evergreen investment fund established to provide debt and equity funding to small and medium-sized enterprises in the North West of England. The Fund will address an identified gap in the lending, venture capital and private equity markets

The Fund is managed by North West Business Finance Limited, an independent private sector company. It comprises six specific funds, each of which is managed by an experienced Fund Manager. These Fund Managers have been appointed to manage the discrete funds.

They will deploy the capital in a non-competitive and collaborative manner to provide comprehensive and tailored support to facilitate the long-term growth and prosperity of small and medium-sized enterprises across the region.

What is its purpose? To provide viable finance for SMEs in the Northwest.

How much funding has it received from European Regional Development Fund? £92.4 million.

Who applied for this project? NWDA.

Who can I contact to find out more? Andy Leach. pictured left, contact: info@thenorthwestfund.co.uk.


Business inspections can take place at random or they might be due to an out-of-place figure on your tax return, or even your tax payments fluctuating from year to year. They can also be triggered by a business’ profits being out of sync with HMRC ’s expected range for that type of business and location.

However, the recently announced crackdown, aimed at helping fill the hole in public finances, means you are more likely to receive a letter, phone call or a visit. HMRC inspectors will check for both tax evasion and avoidance.

Tax avoidance is a legitimate means of using the rules to reduce the amount of tax you pay, but is typically more of a big-business issue. Small firms are more likely to be targeted for tax evasion, where a business misclassifies an item in their records, or leaves out earnings, and pays reduced or no tax.

If you deal with cash, you’re more likely to be singled out as cash transactions need more scrutiny to ensure the proceeds are being accounted for - this includes construction firms, shops, restaurants, and vehicle-hire businesses. But all businesses are likely to be visited at some point, so be prepared.


Reduce the chance of a tax inspection If you keep organised, up-to-date financial records, you are less likely to be targeted for inspection in the first place as there will be fewer errors in your accounts. File your tax returns promptly with all the necessary paperwork.

Complete trading records are essential, as you will need to show evidence of what you’ve bought and sold. For example, keep receipts, invoices and bank statements to show what is going in and out of your account.

If you are contacted by HMRC about a simple mistake, you may be able to resolve it over the phone, although there will often still be a penalty of around 30 per cent on any outstanding tax owed.

Prepare for a tax inspection If you are selected for an inspection, HMRC will write to you, giving at least seven days’ notice and detailing which records they will look at.

Ensure that your books and computerised records are up-to-date. Make sure the right documents have been filed and are easily accessible online. Don’t make it difficult - just cooperate and present the facts.

If you are worried getting the figures right, ask your accountant to be present and to talk to the inspector on your behalf. If you and your accountant have identified any problems, raise them with the inspector rather than hiding them. Use the visit to ask questions.

Following the inspection, you will either be immediately informed of the outcome or contacted by letter afterwards. If you try to hide mistakes, you could end up with a bigger penalty, so it is better to be transparent.

Prepare for tax inspections

With HM Revenue & Customs announcing a crackdown on tax evasion, you need to ensure your accounts are in order if inspected by the taxman

Payroll on the Run

Payroll apps may not knock Angry Birds out of the sky anytime soon, but the fact that there are at least three payroll apps for the iPhone alone shows how viable the idea of managing a small business on the go has become... in our technology section you can read more

European Investment Bank funding for small and medium-sized businesses

If you run a business with 250 employees or fewer you are eligible to apply - but not if you operate in sectors such as the arms trade, gambling or tobacco.

The key benefit of an EIB-funded loan is cheaper credit from the participating banks. This is passed on to your business either directly through a reduced loan cost or via cash back. The only restriction is that the loan must be for a minimum of two years and the loans cannot be for short-term working capital needs.

How to access an EIB-financed loan

EIB finance is not packaged as an 'EIB loan' by the banks. To access an EIB-financed loan you should apply directly to one of the participating banks. If you ask about EIB finance in a branch of one of the participating banks, you will probably be referred to a relationship manager since the size of the loan will usually be higher than normally dealt with at branch level.

Applicants for this type of loan will be subject to each bank's own lending criteria, credit assessments, and terms and conditions, which may vary.

Which banks participate in EIB-financed loans?

There are several banks offering EIB-financed loans in the UK - Barclays, Lloyds TSB, NatWest, HBOS, Royal Bank of Scotland and Ulster Bank.

For more information here are links to UK EIB schemes:

EIB cashback scheme on the Barclays website 

EIB funding information on the Lloyds TSB website

EIB funding information on the NatWest website 

EIB funding information on the RBS website 

EIB funding information on the Ulster Bank website 

EIB's loans for SMEs on the EIB website

A number of UK high street banks have secured financing from the European Investment Bank (EIB) to provide lower-cost long-term loans to small and medium-sized enterprises

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You may be able to save up to £50,000

The Regional Employer National Insurance contributions (NICs) Holiday is available to new businesses for a limited period and subject to meeting certain conditions.

New businesses may be able to qualify for a reduction of up to £5,000 of the employer NICs that would normally be due - for each of the first ten employees they take on. This means a potential aid to business of up to £50,000.

This page contains everything you need to help you decide if you are eligible to apply and what you should do next.

Guidance available to support employers

Employer NICs holiday - who can apply? - Read this guide first to help you decide if you are eligible for this scheme - includes a link to the application form.

Employer NICs holiday - calculating and recording - Once your application has been accepted, you can begin to calculate the employer NICs that you can withhold and keep all the records you need to - includes a link to the recording tool.

Employer NICs holiday - change of circumstances - If you have started to take advantage of the NICs holiday and your circumstances change, you need to check that you still qualify.

Tools to help you
The tools available in this section are also available from the appropriate guide available to support employers. They are listed here as quick links for those revisiting this page and wishing to access the tools directly.

•Regional postcode checker - One of the key things you need to decide before you apply for the NICs holiday is whether your business is located in a qualifying region. You can check you fall into a qualifying region on the Government Office Network website. Check your business post code on the Government Office Networks website.

•Online recording tool - Once your application has been accepted, you'll need to calculate and record the employer NICs that you are eligible to withhold under this scheme. The Employer NICs Holiday Recording Tool on the HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) website can help you to do this. Download the Employer NICs Holiday Recording Tool from the HMRC website (PDF, 111K).

Technical and policy documents for accountants and payroll advisers
If you're an employer and want to know more about these subjects and whether they apply to you, see our guide: Employer NICs holiday - who can apply? This will direct you to these specialist guides where necessary.

In addition to the guidance available from this page there are more detailed documents in the HMRC Library. These cover the more unusual situations such as businesses HMRC may not consider to be new and some anomalies for business who already receive support in the form of State Aid.

Payroll advisers and professional representatives may find this guidance useful to supplement the basic guides. You can browse the HMRC Library on the HMRC website.

Regional employer NICs holiday for new businesses