Junior Accountant donates hair to Charity

Last night Aimee Harrison, let her sister cut off the length of her hair – it was all for a good cause though!

The Little Princess Trust is a charity that provides free real hair wigs to children who have lost their own hair through cancer treatment or other illnesses. Their aim is to provide children with wigs as close a match to their original hair as possible. If they cannot source suitable donated-hair wigs then they have to buy them and the cost of just one wig is on average between £350 – £500. In order to keep on supplying these wigs to children the charity relies on hair donations and fundraising, by people like Aimee, who decided to do both.

Aimee,  at Nicholsons Chartered Accountants said “I’d seen so many videos of brave young children (girls and boys) who had grown their hair to have it cut back up to their chins or shorter. This is where I first heard about the Little Princess Trust. I started researching the charity and found out just how much hair they needed and the impact it had on the children they help. I have had long hair since I could choose my own hair styles and have never liked having it cut.  At this stage I realised how much long blonde hair I had and decided to keep growing it. I knew it would take a few months before I had enough hair so I thought about fundraising in the meantime.”

Not only has Aimee donated her hair but she has raised over £235.00 for the charity.

Directors visit the Lincs & Notts Air Ambulance base

The directors from Nicholsons Chartered Accountants received a warm welcome from the team at the Lincs & Notts Air Ambulance when they recently visited the helicopter at RAF Waddington.

The Charity has taken delivery of a brand new state-of-the-art helicopter. Strategically placed in Lincolnshire, the helicopter can fly at 190 mph, getting to the further flung and more remote parts of the county within 15 minutes, delivering specialist critical care which impacts on the patient’s chance of survival and recovery.

Director, Emma Murray, from Nicholsons, specialises in the Charity sector said “Jane and the team at Waddington made us feel very welcome and gave us a better understanding of the essential service the team and helicopter provide.   We recognise the importance of supporting a local Charity and having the opportunity to go along to meet some of the people that are on the front line 365 days a year helps to inspire our fundraising for this worthy cause.”

Earlier in the year staff at the firm were asked to nominate a charity and then cast their votes. In a closely contested internal poll the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service received the most votes.  The firm has already carried out various fundraising activities and has more planned throughout the year.

Nicholsons Chartered Accountants has offices in Lincoln and Market Rasen. The firm has been serving local businesses since 1923.

Homeworkers – do you regularly work from home?

In terms of Health & Safety there is a difference between an employee who is a “homeworker”, and an employee who “works from home”.  So what is the difference and why is the difference so important?

A homeworker is an employee who regularly works from home and as a result they should be treated the same way as other employees. The homeworker would typically have their home as their permanent working base. Full risk assessments of all work activities must be undertaken, including appropriate Display Screen Equipment risk assessments by a competent person. Any hazards highlighted by the risk assessment process must be addressed so that the level of risk can be reduced as much as possible or “so far as is reasonably practicable”. Failure to follow this may lead to homeworkers being injured or suffering from ill-health.

An employee who “works from home” is someone who has their permanent place of work situated away from their home but, at times, just happens to undertake work at home. This is typical of the employee who takes a file home to read in the peace and quiet of their home, possibly in the evening after dinner.

To help identify the hazards associated with the “homeworker” it may be helpful to have a check list of all typically associated hazards and more importantly the appropriate ways of consistently controlling each activity and how to control or reduce risks to an acceptable level. You should ensure that your document only addresses “significant” hazards, i.e. any hazard that could, and more importantly is likely to, cause an accident or injury.

You may require the assistance of a competent health & safety practitioner.

When assessing the hazards, as with all risk assessing, you do not need to include activities that simply do not need to be there. However, keep in mind that if there is any chance of your employee being unaware of the safe way of doing something, then you will need to make it clear what the safe way is. As with any risk assessment, any control measure can only be to the level of “so far as is reasonably practicable”.

Listing every single hazard will be impossible; however, you should be able to document all “significant” hazards that are likely to be identified with your employee working at home. Please remember that you may have a list of generic risks associated with homeworking but as with all risk assessments you need to examine whether any individual, peculiar risks are present. The risk assessment should take into consideration the actual tasks that your homeworkers carry out on your behalf. I would recommend that these risk assessments are carried out in conjunction with the individual homeworker so that the requirement are fully understood.

Head of Human Resource at Nicholsons Chartered Accountants Lincoln HR


It’s all about turnover … 3 aspects to look at

I’m asked to interpret accounts a lot by clients. Either their own or somebody else’s, perhaps a competitor, customer, acquisition target or supplier. It doesn’t matter what the reason or how big or small they are, I always look at three aspects;

  • Are they growing revenue?
  • Are they profitable?, and
  • Do they generate cash?

Over the next 3 weeks I’m going to take a look at each of these in turn, starting this week with revenue, turnover or sales.

It’s important for a business to be growing, even if that growth is just to keep up with inflation, growth is healthy. So the first thing I look at is total sales and have they grown. If I’m lucky enough to have a few years of accounts I’ll look to work out the rate of growth. (Amount of growth divided by previous year’s sales x 100)

Take Qwerty Ltd, a small company with sales of £348,000 last year and £414,000 this year. The rate of growth is 18.97%. ({{£414,000 – £348,000} / £348,000} x 100)

Personally I like to see regular growth, but sometimes you see a significant increase in sales which can represent a step change in the business or may be a one off. It’s important to know which and so I start to ask questions. I also like to understand whether there is a cycle to sales. A time of the year where sales peak etc. Understanding this is vital as it helps plan activity and forecast cash flow and other resources that might be needed at either busy or quiet times.

Rapid uncontrolled growth can sometimes cause problems too as the cash needed to grow is more than the cash being generated. In this scenario “over trading” can eat through cash with disastrous consequences. As I always tell people, businesses ultimately fail because they run out of cash. That’s why “turnover is vanity and cash is reality”.

It’s also worth taking a look at the turnover note to see whether there is a geographical spread of sales. Turnover is usually split between the U.K., Europe and the rest of the world.

Analysing turnover is important, but it’s just the start.

Three tips for better bank reconciliations in XERO

Ever since seeing a demonstration of XERO I’ve always liked the bank functionality. It’s a key feature that is at the centre of the app and an important one to get right. We know that when bank accounts are reconciled the whole book keeping dataset is more accurate and with more accurate data going in we get more accurate information out.

So how can you take a step forward towards perfect bank reconciliations? Here are three top tips.

  1. Get your automatic bank feeds set up. Having bank data to hand when you log in means you can get to matching off bank transactions straight away.
  2. Use rules to post regular standing orders and direct debits. Rules are a great way of automating the posting of bank transactions. Rules can be set up quickly and easily and mean you can “ok” regular transactions.
  3. Check in two to three times per week. “How do you eat an elephant?… in small pieces” goes the saying. By logging in two or three times per week there will be less transactions to match meaning you don’t need to spend a lot of time in front of your computer.

For more information about how you can benefit from XERO or for help getting more out of it please call Stephanie Smith our XERO specialist on 01522 815100.


Recruitment and the new grading system for GCSEs

Some of you may remember the old GCE O Level examinations which worked alongside CSE examinations. It was widely accepted that a Grade 1 in CSE was the equivalent to an O level. We then had the introduction in 1988 of GCSEs with an A to G grading system. There was also a “U” classification which meant that the examination was ungraded.

From August 2017 there is a new grading system and those of you involved in recruitment will need to be aware of and understand the changes.

The change is that GCSEs will be graded on a scale from 9 to 1, with 9 being the highest grade and 1 being the lowest. This will apply to English language, English literature and mathematics in 2017, and will be followed in 2018 by 20 other subjects including all sciences, French, German, Spanish, geography, history, religious studies, art and design, drama and PE. Most other subjects will follow in 2019 so that by 2020, all GCSEs will be graded under the new system.

So, from a recruitment position, during this three-year transition period you will come across students who will have a mixture of letters and numbers in their GCSE grades. The good news is that from 2020, all grades will be in numbers.

I am told that the top grade available under the new numbered system, which is a “9”, will be a higher level grade than the current A*. The U classification is to be retained. Ofqual has said this has been done to recognise the fact that the new style GCSEs are more challenging.

I am also advised that the new grade 4 is considered to be a standard pass and is broadly equivalent to a grade C. So if you currently look for GCSEs grades A to C this will change to grades 9 to 4.

Living in Lincolnshire we have a good number of students who move around the country (for example, students of parents who are in the RAF) and you need to be aware of some geographical issues. These GCSE changes only apply to England. Wales and Northern Ireland are not introducing the new 9 to 1 grading system; their GCSE grading systems will retain grades A* to G. Scotland is not affected as its students sit Nationals, not GCSEs, so please remember that when you advertise for GCSEs of a certain grade you need to make it clear that you will accept an equivalent level of qualification.

Head of Human Resource at Nicholsons Chartered Accountants Lincoln HR

The savings habit gets stronger with age

People who are aged 55 or over have twice as much saved for the future than the UK average, according to March 2017 research by SunLife.

The Cash Happy report found over-55s have an average savings balance of £47,237, compared to the overall UK average of £26,180. One in five people in this age group have more than £100,000 stored away for their future.

That doesn’t mean older people are always making the best decisions for building up their savings. 30% of over 55s still keep some of their savings in a jar or biscuit tin, with one in 10 having more than £500 stashed away at home.

73% state they have savings stored in an instant access account – two-thirds of these people have more than £20,000 held in this way. This is despite the fact interest rates are at record low levels. 57% of over 55s surveyed said they are saving for their long-term future, but less than a quarter have a stocks and shares ISA.

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