Jan 132017
 

With thanks to Esther Green, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR.

As food poverty continues to grow across Grampian – with the slump in the oil and gas industry pushing up requests for aid –  a major financial firm is helping emergency food parcels reach those most in need.

Aberdeen-based charity, Community Food Initiatives North East (CFINE) has a fleet of nine vehicles distributing food donations to organisations operating at grass roots levels to support those living in Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire and Moray who are struggling to put a meal on the table.

Aberdeen Asset Management has donated £5,000 towards CFINE’s vehicle costs which has been described as a “fantastic contribution” that will help keep the fleet on the road, allowing it to continue to make essential deliveries to support the growing numbers of people affected by food poverty.

It’s not just those on benefits or low wages that gain assistance, the downturn in oil and gas resulted in a new market of referrals emerging, with laid-off energy sector workers forced to seek out vital support.

Dave Simmers, chief executive officer of CFINE said: 

“To see your income collapse, sometimes with no warning at all, because of a job loss leads to difficult times. We have heard of people losing well paid jobs in the oil and gas sector but left with next to nothing when their income dries up – any one of us could be just be a few pay cheques away from a crisis.

“Our services are more needed than ever and with benefit changes coming through we expect there will be a deeper impact on already hard-pressed families. Many already have to make choices between heating or eating and we hear anecdotal evidence of parents going without food so they can buy their children’s school uniform.

“We operate on very tight budgets and every penny counts so to get £5,000 from Aberdeen Asset Management is a fantastic contribution. Without our vehicles, we could not get out to the charities and community organisations like Cyrenians, Salvation Army and Instant Neighbour which in turn reach the people in need in Grampian, which is a huge area to cover.”

CFINE is seeing increases for aid and the number of referrals increase all the time. In 2017  it will receive, organise and deliver more than 500 tonnes of food – which equates to a staggering 1,190,476 meals. Last year it distributed 10,000 emergency food parcels thorugh its own foodbank, a huge increase on the 3,000 food parcels given out in 2012, its first year of operation.

Dominic Kite of Aberdeen Asset Management’s charity committee said:

“Food poverty  is a sad but very real fact of life for too many people in our region. We applaud the work of CFINE , its volunteers and partner organisations in tackling food poverty, building resilience and improving the health and wellbeing of people across the Grampian region.”

With demand for its services showing no sign of waning, CFINE has a number of volunteering opportunities and would welcome anyone who may be willing to help out. Call Christine or Graeme on 01224 596156; email info@cfine.org or visit the website www.cine.org to get involved. The charity also welcomes food and finanacial donations to ensure this vital work can continue.

The Aberdeen Asset Charitable Foundation was established in 2012 to formalise and develop the Group’s charitable giving globally and seeks partnerships with smaller charities around the world, where funds can be seen to have a meaningful and measurable impact.

The firm encourages its employees to use their time and skills to support its charitable projects. The main focus of the Foundation is around emerging markets and local communities, giving back to those areas which are a key strategic focus of the business and to build on the historic pattern of giving to communities in which Aberdeen employees live and work.

For more information visit http://www.aberdeen-asset.co.uk/aam.nsf/foundation/home

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Dec 232016
 

With thanks to Martin Ford.

Aberdeenshire’s Democratic Independent and Green Group (DIGG) councillors – Paul Johnston and Martin Ford – have made clear their belief that Aberdeenshire Council needs to do all it can to protect vital public services.
That includes raising additional income by putting up the Council Tax next year by three per cent.

The decision on Aberdeenshire Council’s 2017/18 revenue budget will be made against a background of rising demand for key Council services, in particular adult social care and an increasing school pupil population – with the inevitable attendant budget pressures.

The Council Tax rate has not increased since 2007, a freeze now lasting nine years.

A very preliminary analysis of the Scottish Government’s budget statement last Thursday (15 December) suggests the cut in Government funding to Aberdeenshire Council next year is in line with expectations or possibly slightly more than anticipated. A full analysis of the overall effect on Aberdeenshire Council of the various measures announced by the Scottish Government will be available early in January.

Cllr Martin Ford said:

“In the context of a cut in Aberdeenshire Council’s grant funding from the Scottish Government, rising demand for Council services and a nine-year freeze in the Council Tax, a Council Tax increase is necessary next year.”

The DIGG draft budget proposals for Aberdeenshire Council (published in November) included a three per cent rise in the Council Tax as one measure to help close the forecast funding gap in 2017/18.

Cllr Paul Johnston said:

“Given inflation, the freeze in the Council Tax was a real-terms tax cut. And it’s lasted now for nine years. Clearly services have to be paid for, so the freeze can’t just go on.

“For the DIGG, protecting essential services is the priority. For every one per cent increase in the Council Tax, the Council can avoid cutting a million pounds from its spending on services.”

For the benchmark Band D property, the current Council Tax in Aberdeenshire is £1,141.00. So a one per cent increase is an additional £11.41 on the annual Council Tax bill (or just under 22p per week, just over 3p per day).

A three per cent rise next year is just 66p extra per week for a Band D property.

Even if that increase is made, spread over the ten years 2008 to 2017, the Council Tax will have risen by only £3.42 per year in that decade.

“After many years of cuts, the priority has to be protecting the services people need,” said Cllr Martin Ford.

“The Council must do everything in its power to maintain the range of essential services it provides for residents.”

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Sep 232016
 

With thanks to Eoin Smith, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR.

Tuesday 26th August 2014, Aberdeen, Scotland. Hall Morrice Corporate Portraits (Photo: Ross Johnston / Newsline Scotland)

Shonagh Fraser, partner at Hall Morrice, which has been shortlisted for two categories in the Scotland’s Best Employer Awards.

Aberdeen-based accountancy firm Hall Morrice has been shortlisted for two separate accolades in a high profile awards scheme aimed at recognising the nation’s top employers.

The independent firm, which has a team of 50 staff, has been named as a finalist in the youth investment and training and development categories of the Scotland’s Best Employer Awards.

In addition to having their award applications scrutinised by a panel of HR experts, the entry process included an independently managed survey being conducted with staff.

They were required to give feedback to a number of survey questions covering everything on their thoughts on opportunities for career development within the firm to whether they felt invested in as individuals.

Hall Morrice partner Shonagh Fraser (pictured), who has a responsibility for HR, says the firm is honoured to have made the shortlist.

She adds,

“What makes this particularly special is that it is not just the senior managers putting forward an entry: we have been shortlisted because of the endorsement that we have received from our own staff.

“We are a mid-tier firm in general practice, and we believe that this sets us apart from other accountancy firms. We are small enough that we can focus closely on individual career development to ensure staff have the opportunity to move in the direction they want, but large enough that we can offer experience of the whole range of accountancy disciplines and services.

“The jobs market in the north-east has traditionally been very competitive for employers, as is the graduate market. We are therefore thrilled to have been shortlisted for Scotland’s Best Employer Awards as it underlines what we all believe – that Hall Morrice is a fantastic place to work.”

Hall Morrice has a long and proven track record as a training firm, and puts young people at the heart of its own growth strategy. Last year it took on a record number of new graduates, and around 30% of its team is aged under 24.

It has developed its own bespoke training pathway for young people studying towards Chartered Accountant status which offers a more seamless learning experience for graduates. This allows for all technical learning to be completed within the first 15 months, and leads to better support for students during their studies.

This innovative brand of training is producing improved exam results, with more students passing their exams at the first attempt.

But training does not stop with graduates: all members of staff have their own individual progression plan which is drawn up the moment they join the firm. Hall Morrice is committed to promoting internally and where no vacancy exists, new roles are created to ensure talent is retained.

Scotland’s Best Employer Awards are run by Scottish Business Insider and aim to recognise companies and organisations that put employees at the heart of their business, promoting their development, health and wellbeing.

The awards ceremony takes place in the Grand Central Hotel in Glasgow on October 5, where the winners will be announced.

Founded in 1976, Hall Morrice celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. It is one of Scotland’s leading independent firms of chartered accountants and has offices in Aberdeen and Fraserburgh. Based at 6 and 7 Queens Terrace in Aberdeen, Hall Morrice can be contacted on 01224 647394 or at accounts@hallmorrice.co.uk

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Aug 112016
 

With thanks to Eoin Smith, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR.

hm-new-recruits-2016

Michael Smith, Catherine Freeman, Aaron Williams, Toni Parker, Ashleigh Welsh, Irene Walker, Maria Marcas and Calum Mathers have all recently joined Hall Morrice.

An Aberdeen-based accountancy firm has announced the appointment of eight new members of staff. Following the creation of a new business development role earlier this year, Hall Morrice has further strengthened its team across its various departments in order to continue to provide exemplary service to clients operating in a wide range of industry sectors notwithstanding the current challenging economic backdrop affecting many.

Aaron Williams has joined Hall Morrice from KPMG UK, and will take up the role of audit and accounts manager, working with clients in a variety of sectors including oil and gas, ICT, retail, and property.

Aaron says,

“Hall Morrice has an excellent reputation in the north east of Scotland, so I welcomed the opportunity to join the team. Working across such a varied portfolio is a challenge, but one that I am looking forward to embracing. I look forward to working with the Hall Morrice team to continue providing the high level of service that our clients expect.”

The firm’s payroll team has been expanded in recent months, with the addition of Irene Walker and Maria Marcus. Additionally, CA students Ashleigh Welsh, Catherine Freeman and Michael Smith took on new roles within the firm last month, and were joined by RGU placement students Calum Mathers and Toni Parker.

The recruitment news sees the firm strengthening its operations at all levels, and follows an impressive year for Hall Morrice which saw a large intake of students taking on roles in 2015 and the appointment of Mike Innes to the newly-created role of business development director this spring.

Shonagh Fraser, partner at Hall Morrice, says,

“Undoubtedly times are tough for many businesses in Aberdeen, however we believe in a focus on the future. The economic climate will ease over time, and we want to be in the strongest position we can when it does.

“We firmly believe in developing and nurturing new talent, and we have been delighted to see so many students coming into the firm over the last month. By investing in young people, we are cementing the future of our industry for years to come.

“Aaron is an important addition to the managerial team, and we are confident that his leadership will help guide our new recruits and current staff over the years to come.”

Founded in 1976, Hall Morrice celebrates its 40th anniversary this year and is one of Scotland’s leading independent firms of chartered accountants with has offices in Aberdeen and Fraserburgh. Based at 6 and 7 Queens Terrace in Aberdeen, Hall Morrice can be contacted on 01224 647394 or at accounts@hallmorrice.co.uk

Aug 042016
 

With thanks to Kenneth Hutchison, Parliamentary Assistant to Dr. Eilidh Whiteford.

Eilidh-Whiteford-Parliament2Banff and Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford has backed a Chartered Trading Standards Institute campaign against scammers who prey on vulnerable customers.

Scam Awareness Month has been running over the summer to highlight different techniques used by unscrupulous criminals to part members of the public with their money.

Thousands of people across the UK every year fall victim to scams, with detriment estimated at £5-10 billion annually and growing.

The problem is amplified by the fact that only 5% of victims report such frauds to the authorities. Many suffer in silence, embarrassed at having been scammed.

The theme this year is ‘listening to your gut feeling’. Trading Standards are calling on consumers to act on their initial caution and suspicion that often comes when they get an unexpected phone call, email, mailing or knock at the door.

Dr Whiteford said:

“I am pleased to support what is a hugely important campaign to raise awareness of how these criminals operate. Whether it’s by e-mail, telephone or letter, everyone should be aware that not everyone who contacts you has your best interests at heart.

“The message is a simple one. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Never trust anyone who asks for your passwords or PIN. And if you have any doubts whatsoever about who you’re dealing with, don’t hesitate to leave the conversation.

“Scammers utilise email, telephone, and letter and can even turn up on your doorstep. Listen to your gut feeling, and if you have any doubts whatsoever, don’t proceed with the transaction – whatever it may be.”

For more information about Scam Awareness Month, visit http://www.tradingstandards.uk/events/ScamsAwarenessMonth2016.cfm

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Jul 292016
 

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESWith thanks to Kenneth Hutchison,
Parliamentary Assistant to Dr. Eilidh Whiteford.

Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford has given her wholehearted backing to NFU Scotland and the Press and Journal’s campaign to ensure the ongoing viability of the north-east dairy industry.

Adding her name to the list of supporters, Dr Whiteford stressed the need for a vibrant dairy sector in the north-east, and urged shoppers to buy local milk, and to lobby supermarkets to support local farmers.

Speaking after a meeting with NFUS representatives and farmers at new Deer Show, Dr Whiteford said:

“The closure of the Muller plant has undoubtedly been a blow to our north-east dairy farmers, and it’s difficult to overstate the challenges the industry faces.

“That’s why it’s more important than ever for consumers to support farmers in the north-east. It’s also why supermarkets have to do their bit by ensuring that these same farmers receive a fair payment for the top-quality milk they supply.

“Agriculture is the mainstay of many rural towns and villages in Banff and Buchan, and I am very happy to support this campaign.”

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.[Aberdeen Voice accepts and welcomes contributions from all sides/angles pertaining to any issue. Views and opinions expressed in any article are entirely those of the writer/contributor, and inclusion in our publication does not constitute support or endorsement of these by Aberdeen Voice as an organisation or any of its team members.]
Jul 212016
 

Aberdeen accountancy firm Hall Morrice leads companies through the maze of claiming time-limited relief. With thanks to Eoin Smith, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR.

Andrew Bell

Andrew Bell, corporate tax manager at independent accountants Hall Morrice LLP.

Britain’s economy has reached a major milestone with the country’s private sector business population exceeding five million for the first time ever.

But corporations are not driving forward the economy: the boom is being credited to the number of enterprising sole trader and partnership businesses deciding to branch out on their own.

According to the Business Population Statistics report, some 330,000 new ventures had been launched in a 12 month period leading up to the start of 2014.

Of these businesses, 197,000 were operating as unincorporated traders.

The report, produced by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, states that the combined annual turnover of small businesses was £1.2 trillion – around 33% of turnover within the private sector.

“The numbers are phenomenal and underlines that SMEs – particularly those at the S end of the scale – are the backbone of the economy,” says Andrew Bell, corporate tax manager of independent Aberdeen based accountancy firm Hall Morrice LLP.

“The figures would appear to suggest that small businesses are recognising that an unincorporated sole trader or partnership structure is best suited to their needs. Some businesses have been a little quick off the mark to set up as a limited company when that structure is not at all suited to how they will be operating.

“For many businesses, a limited company structure is the most tax efficient way to operate the business. However, with additional legal and compliance burdens placed on the shareholders, the time incurred in meeting those obligations often means that the efficiencies are negligible or even non-existent.

“Shareholders have often felt they have no option but to carry on operating as they are because disincorporation has always been a complex and ultimately very expensive process.

“HMRC recognised this and in 2013 introduced disincorporation relief for small businesses. Essentially, it is a simplification of the rules allowing limited companies to look at their options and, if appropriate, return to or change to unincorporated status in a tax efficient manner.

“For many small firms the responsibilities that come with being a director of a limited company overwhelming and unwelcome. All too often I come across clients that are struggling to keep on top of the administrative aspects of trading through a limited company. There are many obligations to Companies House, legal responsibilities and the financial rules and regulations can be a minefield without appropriate guidance.”

The disincorporation relief applies up to 31 March, 2018 and allows a company to transfer all of its assets, or all of its assets other than cash to shareholders who wish to continue the business in an unincorporated structure, without a charge to corporation tax arising on the transfer.

There are some criteria that must be met. For example, the total qualifying assets, including goodwill, must not be worth more than £100,000; the business must be transferred as a going concern; and the shareholders must have held shares in the company for at least 12 months before the transfer date.

Disincorporation frees up time and costs devoted to compliance of company accounts, corporation tax returns, and annual returns and allows many small businesses to make efficiencies in their budget for accountancy fees.

According to HRMC, over 600,000 businesses across the UK could be eligible to make a claim for disincorporation relief. Hall Morrice has helped many limited companies, where it has been found both desirable by and beneficial to the shareholders, return to an unincorporated status, and is in the process of recommending disincorporation to many more.

With the disincorporation relief scheme due to end in March 2018, Andrew urges companies that may fit better within an unincorporated structure not to delay looking at their options.

Andrew explains,

“There are some qualifying criteria as with any such tax relief schemes, but it has been set up in a way that makes the process as smooth as possible. The scheme will run for five years, and is due to be wound up in 2018 so it is a time-limited opportunity.

“Although 2018 may seem a long way off, I would recommend that business owners start considering their options now. I’ve worked with several businesses that have been through this process and it is not something that will happen overnight.

“On the face of it, there would be no better time to opt for disincorporation when there is the incentive of relief, but it is not for everyone. There are many advantages to remaining incorporated, including flexibility over profit extraction.

“There are lots of considerations to be made, and our team will work with shareholders to weigh up the pros and cons of moving to unincorporated status. It is vitally important to make the right decision as once a claim has been made, it is irrevocable.

“If shareholders do decide that they would like to opt for disincorporation, we will prepare the claim and guide them through the whole process to make sure that all obligations to HMRC and Companies House are met.”

Founded in 1976, Hall Morrice is one of Scotland’s leading independent firms of chartered accountants and has offices in Aberdeen and Fraserburgh. Based at 6 & 7 Queens Terrace in Aberdeen, Hall Morrice can be contacted on 01224 647394 or at accounts@hallmorrice.co.uk

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Jul 082016
 

With thanks to Kenneth Hutchison, Parliamentary Assistant to Dr. Eilidh Whiteford.

EW with other SNP MPs and WASPI campaigners

Banff and Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford joined with SNP MPs to take part in the Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) demonstration outside the Houses of Parliament.

They demand the UK government to investigates transitional measures for 1950s-born women negatively impacted by rapid rises in the state pension age.

The SNP has repeatedly called for action from the UK government, and led a backbench business debate on the issue in January which received cross-party support.

The increase in pension age is the second for women born in the 1950s, and will have a stark financial impact on thousands of women in their 60s.

Speaking after the demonstration, Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford expressed solidarity with the women, who have now had their retirement age raised twice.

She said:

“I was pleased to see such a good contingent of Women from North-east Scotland at the event in Westminster today. The SNP has given wholehearted backing to the WASPI campaign, and we will keep up the fight for these women at Westminster.

“A large number of local women born in the mid-1950s have been badly affected by the proposed changes, and have been in touch directly with me. They can rest assured that I and my SNP colleagues will continue to press the UK Government for a rethink on how it phases in increases to the state pension age.

“Changing patterns of life expectancy do demand a response from the Government. This, however, was the wrong response, and the Government needs to consider the damage its policy will do.”

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Jun 302016
 

With thanks to Kenneth Hutchison, Parliamentary Assistant to Dr. Eilidh Whiteford

Eilidh Whiteford MP Peterhead Harbour (1)

The UK Government has been urged to provide clarity for Scotland’s food producers following the vote to leave the EU.

Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford raised the topic with the Prime Minister on Monday (June 27) following his statement on the Outcome of the EU Referendum.

Concerns have been raised across Scotland, which exported £4.8bn worth of food and drink in 2015, much of it to Europe.

Banff and Buchan could face particular challenges following Brexit, given the region’s significant agricultural and fish processing sectors.

Speaking afterwards, Dr Whiteford said:

“It is vital that we work to protect local jobs and economic interests in the aftermath of the Brexit vote. Key sectors, notably in food production and processing, face considerable uncertainty, as many local firms export produce and depend on access to European markets. Many also rely on migrant workers to meet labour shortages and seasonal demands.

“While the Prime Minister was able to offer short term assurances about market access and the status of EU nationals working here, he was not able to outline any timescale for negotiations to resolve these issues.

“I will be meeting stakeholders in the days and weeks ahead to identify their chief concerns, and working with the Scottish Government to secure the best deal possible for our local industries. It is critical that we fight to defend the interests of Scotland’s people and the industries on which our livelihoods depend in the days ahead.”

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Jun 102016
 

With thanks to Eoin Smith, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR.

Jenni_head and shoulders 1Representatives from local tourism body VisitAberdeenshire are heading south of the border to promote the north east of Scotland to international MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and events) buyers later this month. Business development director Peter Medley and Jenni Fraser (pictured), business development manager, will attend The Meetings Show in London from 14-16 June, to promote the region to the lucrative meetings, events and conferencing market.

Over 5,000 meetings industry professionals from across the globe will attend the exhibition, where they will have the chance to learn about the new developments in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire’s venue and incentive offering.

As well as exhibiting to the masses, Peter and Jenni will meet with key business MICE buyers in order to discuss the finer details of what the region has to offer business travellers.

Peter Medley says,

“Attending events like The Meetings Show is an incredibly important step in marketing Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire as a business travel destination to the wider world.

“Although business tourism has dipped in the north east of Scotland over the past year, there are a number of new developments which will make the region an incredibly attractive prospect for those organising world-class conferences and events.

“Hotel room rates, which were once at an all-time high thanks to the high level of energy industry professionals visiting the city, are now at a much more affordable level, making the region much more enticing to those looking for an affordable – and well-equipped – destination to hold a conference or event.”

Improvements to Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire’s infrastructure are making it easier than ever before for overseas travellers to arrive in the north east. Aberdeen International Airport is currently undergoing a £20 million expansion programme, which will see its landside, airside and security facilities improved and updated.

Coupled with new flight routes from Icelandair, which open up faster routes to many US cities and other global destinations, it has never been simpler to travel to Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.

But it is not just the region’s travel facilities which are being overhauled. The Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre (AECC) is about to undergo a massive £333 million redevelopment and relocation, which will see it moved closer to the airport and the Western Peripheral Route.

Due to open in 2019, the new AECC will provide greater connectivity and convenience for those travelling to exhibitions and conferences in the area. New flexible space – including a subterranean area for holding large exhibitions – will provide greatly improved facilities for those organising events.

Similarly, Aberdeen Art Gallery and the Music Hall – both situated in Aberdeen city centre – are experiencing major renovations worth £30 million and £7 million respectively. Providing the perfect venues for gala dinners, drinks receptions and conferences, these new and improved venues will be major assets to the region’s business tourism offering.

Peter concludes,

“When many think of Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, their mind springs immediately to oil and gas, however the region has much more to offer meetings and conferences in all sectors – as evidenced by the wide variety of events celebrated by the Team Aberdeen Ambassador Awards earlier this year.

“The north east is also well equipped to cater for the incentive travel market. We are incredibly lucky to have a number of world-class golf courses in the region, including Royal Aberdeen and the Trump International Golf Links. Add to this a number of spectacular whisky distilleries which offer tours and tastings throughout the year, and it becomes quickly apparent just how much the region has to offer.

“We look forward to meeting event organisers from a wide variety of industries at The Meetings Show in London, and revealing to them exactly what Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire can provide.”

For more information about VisitAberdeenshire, visit www.visitabdn.com

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