FAQs

Use the links above to find the answers to the most commonly asked questions - our Swann specialists have also added some links to government bodies to ensure you have the complete information.

Bookkeeping & Payroll

There are several benefits to using a bookkeeper. These can apply whether you are a new company or well established. A few key benefits are below.

Save Time

  • Using the services of an experienced bookkeeper can save you time so you can focus on the areas of your business that you know best. A professional bookkeeper is proficient at the bookkeeping tasks and focussed on completing them. Business owners or their staff are often distracted by other areas of work so the books take longer to complete!

Save Money

  • Using a bookkeeper can help to save you money in a variety of ways:
    • by avoiding fines for late or incorrect filings to HMRC
    • making mistakes in the way your data is entered
    • save on your accountant's bill by providing information presented in the right format

Keep within the law

  • There are often revisions to the rules and legislation relating to the information companies are required to submit. Get it wrong and there can be financial penalties or even custodial sentences. Swann Systems Ltd keeps up to date to ensure we are working within the law, and keep you informed of changes that affect you.

Cygnets

  • We offer a modular package to help start-up businesses, providing you with experienced specialists and information to make sure your new business thrives, ensuring you understand legislation, accountancy packages, analysing your profit and loss and providing guidance to help your new business grow.

View Swann Systems' Bookkeeping services here

Outsourcing suits many companies as it means you are getting professional help focussed on keeping your books up to date but you can avoid recruitment and employment costs (including NICs). You benefit from having someone entirely focussed on your objectives without having any employer responsibilities.

Bookkeeping tasks vary from month to month or time of year. Your Bookkeeper only costs you for the time taken covering busy times and fewer hours when you are quieter -thus you only pay for what you are using, aiding your cashflow.

 

During the initial, free consultation, Swann Systems will assess what you need and how regularly. We will ask a series of questions that will help us to provide an estimate of how many hours support you will require on a weekly, monthly or quarterly basis. We will provide you with a fixed hourly rate for our services.

Swann Systems Ltd has a simple contract in place, with no termination fees. We are pleased to build long-term relationships with our clients and we are confident you will be happy with the service we provide. We review your needs and tailor our services over time, without any penalty to you.

Swann Systems Ltd aim is to provide a hassle-free service, tailored to your needs. We can work at your premises or off-site depending on your needs and preferences. We can work with your existing bookkeeping/payroll system or recommend an appropriate method if you do not have a system in place or are in any way unhappy with your current system. Swann Systems Ltd will ensure that switching over to use our services does not affect your day to day operation and will require minimal effort on your part.

The simple answer is YES!

We can assist with all of this, and help with your understanding.

 

Did you know?

MTD for VAT does not require you to keep additional records for VAT, but to record them digitally. Filing as normal through your Business HMRC gateway.

MTD for sales only requires Date of invoice, NET amount (amount charged to customer excluding VAT) Vat amount and % VAT.

MTD can only be sent to HMRC via a recognised provider – mainly the accounting software packages. We can provide you with the details and work with you to understand each of the following software packages Xero, Sage or Quickbooks, all are recognised providers and could help you with your returns.

MTD for income tax requires you to have an HMRC gateway. They are calling this your own Digital Tax Account (DTA). Covering your self-assessment tax, MTD and VAT returns.

Bookkeeping rate £32 / hour 

  • We have found over the years that an average monthly cost for a micro business is between £ 120 – £200 per month for basic bookkeeping including VAT returns.
  • For monthly support, the average can be between £250 - £450.
  • For businesses looking to have a regular bookkeeping input, i.e. a day per week, the average cost is between £700 - £900 per month.

As always it is dependant upon the number of transactions, bank accounts, credit cards, expenses etc. The amounts are approximate. Every business is different, also with businesses- pivoting the amount of paperwork can vary.

  • For your cash flow, we have the offer of arranging a set monthly cost – this is then reviewed quarterly or annually to make sure that you are not being overcharged or that we are not having our time covered. This is useful for seasonal businesses to spread the cost in the quiet months

For the reconciliation, monthly support packages – these are £50 / hour – we normally find the average is 2 – 3 hours per month.

 

All prices are subject to VAT – currently at 20%

  • Payroll for up to 5 employees for a monthly payroll is £35 per month
  • Weekly payroll for up to 5 employees is from £50 per month
  • For more than 5 employees – rate will be agreed – will average less per employee than the above rates.

All prices are subject to VAT – currently at 20%

Ready to find out more?

Get in touch for a free, no-obligation quotation.

Full and Top-Up Training

We provide training to help you understand and make the best use of your accountancy system, whether it is manual, a spreadsheet or a proprietary package such as SAGE, Xero or Quickbooks.

Training is tailored to your specific areas of interest and how your company operates.

All training is delivered in bite-size modules at your pace. You can ask questions throughout and we can go over things as often as you need or move on quickly. It’s up to you.

Training is delivered 1-2-1 at your desk, or Swann’s office using your computer to avoid complications of different PC / office settings.

We are also moving into online delivery, via Microsoft Teams.

View Swann Systems' Training services here

All training is delivered at a fixed hourly rate.

The average for each training session is two hours.

The number of training sessions will be dependant on your needs and preferences; You may only require one or two sessions. This will be discussed with you at the initial consultation, where the trainer will assess your requirements.

During the initial, free consultation, Swann Systems will assess what training you need to ensure it is pitched correctly.

We can help with many different training needs, from update training to migration to new systems.

Contact us for more.

Training and specific support pricing;

  • £75 per hour
  • ½ day rate £260
  • Full day rate £500

 

Expenses will be charged, mileage is 45p per mile.

Ready to find out more?

Get in touch for a free, no-obligation quotation.

Payroll, HMRC and PAYE

You will need to register with HMRC as an Employer. You start this process, on the gov.uk website.

You will then be sent an employer registration & reference letter: -

  • You will be sent a PAYE reference number (e.g. 123/AB12345) this is for any queries with HMRC regarding payroll or employment matters
  • You will also be sent an Office Reference number (e.g. 123/AB12345678) – this is for any HMRC PAYE payment queries – it is also the number to put on any PAYE/NI payments to HMRC

Swann Systems Ltd can take you smoothly through this process and can also act as your agent - delivering information to HMRC electronically on your behalf.

View Swann Systems' Payroll services here

When you are looking to take on a new employee, contact us and we will send you a New Employee form to fill in.

This will request all the information required to set them up on the payroll system.

We will need things like their full name, National Insurance number, full address and their payment arrangements.

During the initial, free consultation, Swann Systems will help you to decide how best to go about payments to your staff.

  1. You can give access to Swann for your payment method, and we can ensure that all staff are paid the correct amount, on time - every time. We will also ensure that all HMRC required payments are processed.
  2. You can use the provided employee payslips and HMRC payment information to pay both your employees and HMRC yourself.

Either way, you will be provided with payslips and yearly P60's for all of your staff.

You will also receive information giving you the amount of PAYE / NI that is due to be paid to HMRC, with your payslips.

  • Note that Small Employers currently have an annual £3000 NICS employer allowance – this relief will be calculated within your payroll software.

You can find out more about paying employers' PAYE on the gov.uk website, here.

This information is provided with the full reference for the payments, with your Swann payroll package.

 

  • Payment total amount £00.00
  • Account Name HMRC Cumbernauld (a majority are Cumbernauld)
  • Account Number 12001039
  • Sort Code 08 32 10
  • Reference Your accounts office reference number+

Year/month

You will be sent a letter from HMRC every year – outlining the year/month reference and pay dates. It is very useful to keep this in your payroll folder. HMRC use the following reference structure to keep track of each financial year:

  • PAYE year 6th April – 5th April year ref is yearend number (ie 2019 – 2020 ref 20)
  • Monthly is numbered (April month 1, May month 2 etc)
  • Weekly is numbered from the first Friday after 6th April (note some years have 53 weeks)

Setup your HMRC PAYE/NI payment:

  • HMRC payments should be made and received by HMRC on the 22nd of the following month ie: September payroll – should be paid by 22nd
  • We suggest that you pay on the 15th to make sure the money has been received
  • If sending a cheque send well in advance
  • Remember to check if you have Employers NIC allowance deduction

Remember you will need to keep all PAYE payroll paperwork for 7 years

If applicable you will also receive details of any company pension deductions and amount due to company pension provider.

  • Your Company pension cost will include your employee contribution and your employer contribution
  • Many Pension providers will take the pension costs by Direct Debit

Some of your staff may also be paying into a Student Loan, have an attachment of earnings order or other legal deductions. If this is the case, we will be able to show you how much is required to be paid, and how to arrange the payments. 

Calculations of holiday pay will be based on the agreements made with your employees when you set up their original contract. We can keep records of holidays taken via their payslips, but we also recommend that you do track these.

If an employee leaves we can help you to calculate any holiday pay that they may be due in their final pay.

Swann also has a system in place to track non-standard employees, e.g. casual workers, and their accrual of holiday pay.

Ready to find out more?

Get in touch for a free, no-obligation quotation.

Employee's Pension(s) and Auto Enrolment

It is a workplace pension scheme provided by every UK employer, started in 2016, overseen by ‘The Pensions Regulator’.

You can read more about The Pensions Regulator, and Auto Enrolment here.

Your best option is to check with the pension provider that the scheme is compliant with the new legislation.

You have to due diligence when choosing the pension scheme – you don’t want an employee in future years to take legal action as their pension wasn’t what they thought it should be!

Keep notes as to why you chose the scheme and the other schemes you looked at.

Remember it is up to you to check which is the best scheme for your company & employees.

Swann Systems is not an IFA, and therefore we would advise you seek information from a regulated Independent Financial Advisor.

The Financial Conduct Authority has provided some guidance on finding an advisor. You can read this, here.

All schemes will have an ongoing annual fee and/or a % on the contributions made. All private pension schemes will have setup fees from £400 to over £1,000.

As the employer, you will need to add a % to the amount each employee contributes.

If applicable you will also receive details of any company pension deductions and amount due to company pension provider.

  • Your Company pension cost will include your employee contribution and your employer contribution
  • Many Pension providers will take the pension costs by Direct Debit

Initial and annual costs are the companies’ expense, you will get tax relief on your % contributions.

Even though you have been sent the letter correctly – you will need to confirm that the nominated contact is correct.

The Pensions Regulator has provided some templates for standard pension letters.

You can access these letters here.

Your pension scheme provider will likely also be able to provide these letters to you - although there may be an additional cost for this.

The Pensions Regulator has created qualification guidance for staff.

 

Type 1 - staff who must be put into a pension scheme. You must pay into it.

Any staff who are:

aged between 22 up to State Pension Age
and earn over £10,000 per year, or £833 per month or, £192 per week
...must be put into a pension scheme and you must both pay into it.

We have additional information to help you understand your costs. You can also contact your pension provider should you require more information.

 

Type 2 - staff who don't need to be put into a pension scheme

If any of your staff fall outside of the above age and earning criteria then you only need to put them into a pension scheme if they ask.

If you've worked out that you don't have staff to put into a pension scheme you still have other tasks to carry out in order to meet your legal duties. If you don't have any staff to put into a pension scheme you will still have to write to them to tell them how automatic enrolment applies to them.

 

What happens if my staff are not in a PAYE scheme?

If your member of staff earns £120 a week (£520 a month) or below, HMRC may not require you to set up a PAYE scheme. However, you do still have certain automatic enrolment duties:

  • You must write to your staff to tell them how automatic enrolment applies to them
  • If your staff then write to ask you to put them into a pension scheme, you must set this up for them, but you don't have to pay into it

When you start paying a member of staff more than £120 per week, you must set up a PAYE scheme with HMRC. You must also assess your member of staff to work out if they need to be put into a pension scheme that you also pay into. After you set up your PAYE scheme, we'll write to you and ask you to complete a declaration of compliance, which is where you tell us how you've met your duties, by a specific date.

 

The Pensions Regulator has a full explanation of this, here.

 

Source: The Pensions Regulator

It doesn’t matter if your employees have said they don’t want to be part of a pension scheme.

By law, you must provide an accredited pension scheme.

If you don’t put a scheme in place you will be fined.

You need to enrol them – your staff, with the letter you provide, then choose to deregister from your pension provider.

It doesn’t matter if your employees have their own pension scheme in place.

By law, you must provide an accredited pension scheme.

If you don’t put a scheme in place you will be fined.

You need to enrol them – your staff, with the letter you provide, then choose to deregister from your pension provider.

All the main payroll software packages are compliant with calculating the pension contributions from both the employee & employer.

They are then able to create a report for you to send to the pension provider.

You then pay the money to the pension provider.

Swann's bookkeeping and payroll services will provide you with everything you need to send to the pension provider. All you have to do is send the payroll hours/salary to us to process.

View Swann Systems' Payroll services here

You will need to review the pension scheme that is the best one for your company & employees – this can only be done by a qualified IFA (Independent Financial Adviser).

Bookkeepers/accountants are (generally) not IFA’s so can help the running the scheme but cannot give advice on the type of scheme to use.

The Financial Conduct Authority has provided some guidance on finding an Independent Financial Advisor. You can read this, here.

Once set up, Swann's bookkeeping and payroll services will provide you with everything you need to send to the pension provider. All you have to do is send the payroll hours/salary to us to process.

View Swann Systems' Payroll services here

There are two key legal requirements in regard to record-keeping and scheme administration.

  • All records need to be kept for 6 years – if electronic – they must be accessible for that time period.
  • Every 3 years – you will need to reassess all of your workforce and re-enrol every employee – whether or not they have opted out. Your employees will need to ‘opt-out’ again directly from your pension provider. This is not something you can do on their behalf as it is illegal.

Ready to find out more?

Get in touch for a free, no-obligation quotation.

Software & Online Solutions

Small Micro business accounting software has so much choice now – that any business owner is lost and can be swayed by adverts, advice from fellow business owners, friends over coffee or in the pub.

Many choose the easiest option which is to go with the one their accountant has recommended.

This can leave them with a system that is too complicated, doesn’t give them the reports they require or the level of input required for their particular business.

Every business is different which is a challenge for the software providers to cover all requirements.

Over the years accounting software has gradually been updating and we are now in an acceleration phase with online, direct links to banking, mobile apps etc.

More information about the Software and Online Solutions we use can be found here.

Accounting software XERO, Quickbooks, SAGE is charged at the listed rate for each software provider. Most are from £20 / month + VAT.  VT Cashbook & FreeAgent are currently free of charge.

Pros:

Easy to use and easily read screens, takes the jargon out of accounting terms. Video tutorials for every task. Always updating improving the software. Encourage many other software providers to link direct to cover industry-specific requirements.

Online support – you can request a phone call for support. Easy to change any errors that you have made.

 

Cons:

Reporting is very basic – for more in-depth reports – you need to download to Excel and then manipulate the data.

 

Pricing:

Easy to understand monthly pricing, beware all the additional apps come with a monthly or user fee – so the cost can add up.

Comes with 50 users – small additional cost for multi-currency.

For additional companies – add as required

Pros:

Full accountancy package for any business with multiple sites and the requirement for in-depth reporting.

Sage has 100’s of reports – that run at the touch of a button.

Management information at your fingertips.

Brilliant for using departmental analysis.

 

Cons:

Complicated to set up and run if you are not accountancy minded.

You will need to have a professional to get it set to cover the business requirements.

Runs on desktop – some cloud access but not for the SAGE 50 Pro or SAGE 200 need external cloud providers to give you a solution.

Confusing as SAGE 50 Cloud – is not accessed via the cloud – but it checks for updates

Online – SAGE One – We have found this unusable

 

Pricing:

Sage is charged monthly for a single user – this can be very expensive for multiple users or multi-company

Quickbooks is another cloud-based software package, Easy to access from anywhere and tailored to be used via your phone or tablet.  Linking directly to your bank and credit cards. Can be a little ‘clunky’ at times to move between screens. This is due to it being older technology – moved into the latest requirements.

 

Their reporting is good and you are easily able to customise and save reports. These can then be shown in graph form, downloaded as PDF – ideal for presentations. 

Pros:

This is a very basic cashbook – ideal for anyone starting in business – easier to use than a spreadsheet.

It gives a basic profit & loss & balance sheet.

Easy inputting with hints and bank reconciliation.

 

Cons:

Desktop-based no cloud – as the business grows, you will need to upgrade to another package.

 

Pricing:

Free download – what’s not to love as a starter package

Swann staff are still evaluating FreeAgent, and will be able to provide a rounded evaluation soon!

Ready to find out more?

Get in touch for a free, no-obligation quotation.