Next month sees a number of key dates in the accounting calendar that you may need to be ready for:
- 1st April – the National Living Wage (NLW) for workers aged 25 and over will increase from £7.20 to £7.50 per hour.
This NLW increase is the first since its introduction in April 2016, keeping it on track to reach the target of £9 an hour by 2020. Meanwhile, the National Minimum Wage (NMW) will increase from 1st April:
- Aged 21-24: £7.05 per hour
- 18-20: £5.60 per hour
- Over compulsory school age but not yet 18: £4.05 per hour
- On the apprentice rate (where the apprentice is under 19 or over 19 but in the first year of their apprenticeship): £3.50 per hour
The NMW increases will be a surprise to some employers as they come so soon after the last wage increases in October 2016. But it’s with good reason. In last year’s Autumn Statement, the government announced that they would align both NMW and NLW rate changes to reduce the administrative and financial burden on employers. As a result, April’s slight increase to NMW is to set it at the right level for the next twelve months. After that, the government will review and increase both NMW and NLW every April.
Make careful note of the NMW increases and follow them.
Although the rises are only around 5 to 10p per hour, if you ignore them you face an HMRC investigation, tribunal claims, public naming and shaming, and financial penalties. And being unaware of the new rates is no excuse. Before the changes come into effect, use the next few weeks to prepare and protect your business.
- 1st April – business rates revaluation
The next business rates revaluation will come into effect on 1st April 2017 following a re-assessment of all business properties in England and Wales based on rental value as at 1st April 2015. The changes – increases or decreases – will be staged over the next five years.
- 1st April – pension auto-enrolment staging date (companies, 30 employees)
Under the Pensions Act 2008, every employer in the UK must put certain staff into a pension scheme and contribute towards it. This is called ‘automatic enrolment’. Whatever your business, if you employ at least one person you are an employer and you have certain legal duties. All auto enrolment staging dates were set by reference to payroll numbers as at April 2012. To find out your staging date, you will need to know the number of employees your business employed on 1st April 2012. 1st April is the auto-enrolment staging date for companies with fewer than 30 employees.
- 6th April – Apprenticeship Levy introduced
The Apprenticeship Levy will be a levy on UK employers to fund new apprenticeships. In England, control of apprenticeship funding will be put in the hands of employers through the Digital Apprenticeship Service. The levy will be charged at a rate of 0.5% of an employer’s paybill for employers with an annual pay bill of more than £3 million. Each employer will receive an allowance of £15,000 to offset against their levy payment.
If you are affected by any of these changes and would like advice, please get in touch.