Is your club up to date on tax laws?

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With all the talk in the media of obesity in adults and the push for an Olympic legacy this is a golden time for sports in our country as we drive to get more people active.

Wheelchair basketball - image supplied courtesy of Sport England

Clubs and organisations also need to offer a professional service that is business like and can cope with the ever changing financial climate. However, this can be difficult as we often run clubs as volunteers through our passion for our chosen sport or because we wish to give something back to the community we live in. This means that we often have no formal training in the ‘off the pitch stuff’ that can make or break even the most successful club (finance, marketing, book-keeping).

Unfortunately for some clubs a lack of expertise in this vital part of club management has been a costly wake up call and there have been reports of clubs receiving fines of up to £100,000 in unpaid taxes and penalties. Additionally, it may not be widely known that if your club is formed by a committee and not limited by a guarantee, the committee members can end up being personally liable for any tax debt the club incurs. 

So, with all this in mind, Epping Forest District Council in partnership with GB Sport will be running two interactive training courses to help clubs understand the tax environment and correct their procedures to fall in line with HMRC guidance (none costing more than £20). There is also an additional course on marketing to help clubs take advantage of the growing social media sector to develop their presence in the local community.

Business essentials for clubs

On 23 May at North Weald Golf Club from 6.30pm to 9.30pm. The course will cover

  • Legal status – detailing the definitions and requirements for the various ways coaches/workers can be paid
  • Self employment – outline the strict HMRC self employment guidelines, that if not satisfied can result in a hefty tax bill
  • Employment – review of the various types of employment for those involved in sport
  • Contracts –  sample contracts for self employment will be given and ideal working arrangements for coaches and clubs will be discussed
  • Insurance – we review insurance options to minimise risks to both clubs and coaches

Book-keeping essentials

 On 20 June at North Weald Golf Club from 6.30pm to 9.30pm. The course will cover

  • Book-keeping – How best to meet the HMRC requirements to ensure you are prepared for a tax inspection
  • Allowable expenses – the types of expenses that can/can’t be claimed by clubs and coaches
  • Invoicing and debt management – What to include in an invoice, how to avoid bad debt and options for debt recovery
  • V.A.T –  The rules and regulations for a sports coaching business, linked to turnover, legal status. A review of the VAT issues for non profit-making organisations such as clubs and associations, particularly focusing on what is and isn’t exempt from VAT

Marketing essentials

On 13 June at North Weald Golf Club from 6.30pm to 9.30pm. The course will cover

  • Branding – how to build and develop your club’s/organisation’s brand
  • Planning – how to put together a business and marketing plan
  • First impressions – why they count and how your organisation can make a good one
  • Social media – how to use facebook and twitter to improve your organisation’s profile and increase profit
  • Good practice – case studies of what other clubs have done and how it has helped them

The address for North Weald Golf Club is Rayley Lane, North Weald, Essex CM16 6AR.

If you would like more information on any of these workshops or would like to book a place on any of them, please contact Fabrizio on 01992 564567 or email

Council Tax frozen again

Written on . Posted in Business, Business rates, Council tax, Local business, Meetings, Residents, Supporting business, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your home, Your money

Low tax priority as District Council freezes Council Tax again.

Stimulating the local economy and keeping Council Tax low to support hard-pressed local residents and business have been set as key priorities by the councillor responsible for setting budgets at Epping Forest District Council. Councillor Syd Stavrou, Finance Portfolio Holder made the commitment as budgets were agreed at the meeting of Epping Forest District Council on Tuesday 19 February 2013.

Reductions in staff costs, a freeze on Council Tax and no increase in pay and display car park charges were key features in Epping Forest District Council’s own budget for 2013/14. There will also be no increase in the Council Tax levy collected by the District on behalf of Essex County Council, Essex County Fire and Rescue Service and many local town and parish councils. However, the charge set for the first time by the newly-elected Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex, Nick Alston is to increase by 3.49 per cent (£4.77 a year on an average Band D property).

Watch the webcast

Councillor Stavrou said: “Epping Forest District Council has not increased its own share of the Council Tax since 2010.  Savings of £1.4 million have been achieved in the 2013/14 budget. By changing the way it structures and delivers services, Epping Forest District Council has been able to make savings without major reductions in front-line services. We have good levels of reserves. A significant proportion of the savings in the new budget comes from reducing the size of the district council workforce (saving salary costs of £400,000) without the need for compulsory redundancies.  By delivering services in new and better ways the council has further increased efficiency.”

She continued: “Contributions from the New Homes Bonus and high levels of recycling by residents also help to keep Council Tax down. Epping Forest District Council will protect front-line services while balancing large reductions in Central Government funding. Additional savings of almost £200,000 in 2012/13 have helped cushion the council from one of the toughest spending rounds I can remember. Stimulating the local economy is one of our top priorities. The protection of local services and freeze on Council Tax comes as many other councils continue to make major cuts in services to meet budget pressures.”

Gross expenditure (excluding the Housing Revenue Account), the amount Epping Forest District Council spends before income is taken into account, will be £73 million next year. Less than £7.5 million will be raised in Council Tax towards the District Council’s net expenditure budget of just over £14 million. About £3 million will come from Business Rates (National Non-Domestic Rates) with most of the rest coming from other income such as reduced Government grants, fees, charges, rent on commercial property and investments.

Broken down into its constituent parts, the total bill for an average Band D Council taxpayer in Epping Forest district will be:

* £148.77 to Epping Forest District Council

and collected on behalf of organisations

* £1,086.75 to Essex County Council
* £141.48 to Essex Police
* £66.42 to Essex Fire Authority

Parish and town council precepts will vary and can be seen on the Council tax precepts.

Councillor Syd Stavrou added: “We believe local residents are best placed to decide how to spend their money and we hope they will spend it locally. Our aim is to stimulate the local economy by ensuring local people have as much money in their pockets to spend on local goods and services as possible. We are also holding down pay and display car park charges to encourage as much of that spend as possible in our local high streets.”

Other items on the agenda at Full Council

In a council meeting dominated by finance and budgets, other items included updates on the Local Plan, economic development and the annual conference of the Local Strategic Partnership, One Epping Forest. Councillors also expressed concern following uncertainty caused by Essex County Council over future funding of the locally provided Careline emergency alarm service.

Questions to members of the Cabinet ranged from the Buckhurst Hill parking review, the resumption of council house building and concerns about rough sleepers to fly-tipping of dead horses, the condition of shops surrounding Sainsbury’s in Debden Broadway and exceptional levels of recycling reaching nearly 64 per cent in the last quarter.

Other questions were raised over London Underground congestion statistics on the Central Line following the latest announcements on Cross Rail by the Mayor of London. 

Epping Forest District Councillors receive a basic allowance of £3,150 a year. At the annual review of their expenses, councillors rejected an independent panel recommendation to increase their basic allowance after being told they receive one of the lowest in the country. While expressing thanks to the panel for their work, councillors felt that any increase would be inappropriate when many residents are struggling in the current economic climate.

Councillors supported the creation of a new Cabinet Committee responsible for taking forward the new council house building programme.

Council Tax freeze agreed by cabinet

Written on . Posted in Business, Business rates, Community, Council tax, Councillors, Democracy, Grants, Housing, Local business, Meetings, North Weald Airfield, Out and about, Planning, Private housing, Regulations, Residents, Supporting business, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home, Your money

Council Tax freeze, new homes and disabled toilets were on the agenda when Epping Forest District Council’s cabinet met on Monday 4 February 2013.

Watch the webcast

Council Tax Frozen

There will be no increase in the Council Tax precept set by Epping Forest District Council if the recommendations of the cabinet are accepted by all councillors when the budgets are set later in February. The annual charge for a Band D property will remain the same for the third year in succession at £148.77.

Cabinet agreed the recommendations to full council despite further decreases in Government grant thanks in part to a number of savings reducing the next financial year’s ongoing revenue budget target to £14.37 million.

Councillor Syd Stavrou Finance Portfolio Holder emphasised Epping Forest District was and would remain a ‘low-tax’ council for the long term.

Councillor Chris Whitbread, Leader of the Council described the report as a ‘good news budget’ with £800,000 of savings coming mostly from ‘back offices’, no enforced redundancies, and fees and charges such as car park pay and display prices kept down. He acknowledged challenges ahead but remained upbeat about the council’s prospects.

After the meeting, Councillor Stavrou said: “At the current time with money so tight, it has never been so important to support local business and keep costs down for hard working local residents. Each member of the cabinet has played an important part in examining all service costs to reduce spending wherever possible while continuing to protect local services. Working with staff, we have found many new and better ways to deliver services without cutting quality and I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to the process.”

Obsolete bedsits to be converted to new homes

Marden Close, a scheme of 20 bedsit flats developed for older residents in the 1960s is to be converted into 10 modern one-bedroom flats. The vacant buildings had previously proved very unpopular and difficult to let. Cabinet favoured retaining Marden Close rather than pursuing earlier options to transfer it to a social housing landlord. Proposals also found favour with cabinet for the lease of Faversham Hall to Chigwell Parish Council. East Thames Housing Group will project manage the conversions. Works could start on site within 6 months.

Councillors welcomed the scheme which will create much needed accommodation for people on the housing waiting list.

North Weald consultants appointed

Drivers Jonas Deloitte has been appointed to take forward the review of North Weald Airfield. The £145,000 brief is expected to make recommendations for consideration by councillors for the future of the airfield.

Council to fund CAB debt advisors

Cabinet agreed £67,000 to Epping Forest Citizens’ Advice Bureau for the appointment of 2 full-time debt advisors. The funding will cover 2 18 month contracts to begin in April. The agreement includes a commitment from the CAB to support residents through the Limes Centre in Chigwell. This funding is additional money to support homelessness prevention over and above the council’s regular CAB funding of more than £100,000 a year.

Better disabled toilet facilities for Epping and Buckhurst Hill

The accessible superloo currently provided in Bakers Lane Epping is set to be relocated to Buckhurst Hill once a major refurbishment of the Bakers Lane public toilet block has been completed. Cabinet approved additional expenditure of £85,000 for Bakers Lane and £21,000 towards relocating the superloo. The improvements are expected to be especially welcomed by people with disabilities who will find accessibility much improved through the initiative.

One Business Briefing – brimming with news for local businesses

Written on . Posted in Abandoned vehicles, Animal welfare, Buckhurst Hill, Building control, Business, Business rates, Chigwell, Commercial properties, Community, Conservation and listed buildings, Doing business with the council, Drainage, Energy efficiency, Epping, Grants, Gypsy and traveller, Local business, Local plan / planning our future, Loughton, Media, Older people, Olympics, Ongar, Planning, Regulations, Residents, Supporting business, Travel, Trees and landscapes, Uncategorized, Waltham Abbey, Working with the council, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment

The January 2013 edition of ‘One Business Briefing’ is now available.

In this edition Reed in Partnership gives local businesses advice on how they can use Government funding to get staff job relevant qualifications at no cost to the employer or employee. It also introduces MP Eleanor Laing’s new Business Forum, reports on current tourism development work, including a key event on 31 January 2013 to develop tourism within the area and much more.

Read the January 2013 edition – One Business Briefing

Produced by Epping Forest District Council, One Epping Forest and local partners the briefing provides information for businesses and those looking to start up in business in the Epping Forest district. The briefing is designed to report on business funding opportunities / access to finance, business support, workshops / events for business, town centre news and other local economic development initiatives.

If you would like to receive future editions of ‘One Business Briefing’ by email please email

Comment on potential changes to planning permission for extensions

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The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has issued a consultation document for 6 weeks seeking comments on possible temporary changes to permitted development rights on extensions.

Among its proposed course of action is to allow homeowners and businesses to make larger extensions to their homes and business premises without needing to submit a planning application. For example, this could allow a maximum 8 metre depth for a single storey rear extension to a detached house and 6 metre depth for any other type of house, without needing planning permission. If approved, this would be a temporary measure for 3 years.

You can comment on this consultation direct to the DCLG, which ends on 24 December 2012, on a downloadable response form by following the link below. This form also includes details of the proposals.

Comment on the DCLG consultation document

New planning application fees

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As from 22 November 2012, there will be a new level of planning application fees, which  will increase by 15 percent above the current level.  This is the first national increase since 2008 and therefore any planning applications received from this date will require the new fee. 

 Please follow this link to view the new charges


Business Briefing hot off the press and brimming with news for local businesses

Written on . Posted in Abandoned vehicles, Animal welfare, Buckhurst Hill, Building control, Business, Business rates, Chigwell, Commercial properties, Community, Conservation and listed buildings, Doing business with the council, Drainage, Energy efficiency, Epping, Grants, Gypsy and traveller, Local business, Local plan / planning our future, Loughton, Media, Noise, Older people, Olympics, Ongar, Planning, Regulations, Residents, Supporting business, Travel, Trees and landscapes, Waltham Abbey, Working with the council, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment

The October 2012 edition of ‘one business briefing’ is available. Produced by EFDC, One Epping Forest and local partners the briefing provides information for businesses and those looking to start up in business in the Epping Forest District.  The briefing  is designed to report on  business funding opportunities/access to finance, business support, workshops/events for business and local economic development initiatives.

The October edition highlights a new training grant available from Essex County Council which is available to businesses but those eligible must be quick as the grant is only available from now until March 2013. The briefing also highlights specific support available to manufacturing and construction businesses in the Epping Forest district.  If you are looking to set-up in business the briefing directs individuals to support being offered by HMRC, including its free and informal workshop sessions held in Epping.

Read the October 2012 edition – One Business Briefing

If you would like to receive future editions of ‘one business briefing’ directly to your email inbox please email

Valuation Officer Examined on Business Rate Hike

Written on . Posted in Business, Business rates, Your area

David Jackson, Valuation Officer for East Anglia, appeared before Councillors, local business people and the webcast cameras of Epping Forest District Council to explain why he increased local Non-Domestic Rate (business rates) for shopkeepers during the worst recession in many years. Mr Jackson set out his case and was then cross-examined by Councillors of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee at the Civic Offices on Thursday 28 January.

Councillor Lesley Wagland suggested to Mr Jackson that his revaluation of local businesses `might be wrong` and urged him to relook at the `real market` in 2008.

Councillor Peter Spencer and Councillor Lesley Wagland pressed Mr Jackson concerning rate increases in Buckhurst Hill.

Mr Jackson acknowledged that previous rate levels had been wrongly applied in Buckhurst Hill, leading to the big increase. Councillor Peter Spencer asked if natural justice was served by such a large increase, especially before the regular five-year review. Mr Jackson felt he had to take account of new information in resetting the Business Rate.

In response to Councillor Lesley Wagland, Mr Jackson said that his role was impartial and not solely to extract the highest possible rate. He apologised to any shopkeeper where his staff had announced to shopkeepers that they had `Come to put the rates up.  Mrs Wagland challenged Mr Jackson. She felt the Valuation Officer had approached the process from the wrong perspective.

Councillor Wagland compared the `Waitrose effect` of a major grocery store being applied to small businesses such as the local newsagent. She asked Mr Jackson to ensure small businesses were aware they had until 31 March to appeal against the original 2005 valuation list and that they could appeal against the 2010 list from 1 April.

Councillor Derek Jacobs raised similar concerns on behalf of shopkeepers in Ongar. He suggested that rates in Ongar appeared to exceed those of London Boroughs. Mr Jackson said the rateable value for Ongar was based on the evidence for that area. It was not directly comparable to other areas.

Buckhurst Hill High Street

Under further questioning, Mr Jackson said shopkeepers affected by road works in Ongar and elsewhere should appeal for a temporary rate reduction.

Councillor John Knapman developed the points made by Councillor Wagland concerning the definition of a small business in comparison with a large business such as Waitrose. Councillor Knapman also asked how the Valuation Office took account of market conditions. Mr Jackson confirmed to Councillor Knapman that should rateable values go down, business rates should go down, too.

Councillor Knapman was frustrated that despite the poor economic conditions in which local Councils such as Epping Forest District and Essex County Council strived to keep businesses going the Valuations Office could push some under. Councillor Chris Whitbread added that the review had been carried out during the economic boom but had been implemented in the depths of recession. He did not think the local impact was neutral even if it had been nationally and he called for Government action to solve the problem.

Councillor Jon Whitehouse and Councillor Richard Bassett made further challenges. Councillor Whitehouse asked how transitional relief might be applied. Councillor Bassett was concerned that small businesses in his area (Nazeing) had seen business rates increase from £13,000 per year to £19,000 partly because of changes to the small business rate threshold. Councillor Bassett asked if the Valuation Office was geared up to the number of appeals it was going to get.

Mr Jackson assured Councillors his office would deal with every appeal.

Councillor Syd Stavrou established that the viability of businesses played no part in the valuation.

After a long and searching examination of the reasons for the increase, Overview and Scrutiny Committee Chairman Councillor Richard Morgan thanked David Jackson, Councillors and members of the public for their contributions.

Councillors will examine plans for health services provided to residents by north London hospitals at its next meeting on 4 March 2010.

Business Rates in the Spotlight

Written on . Posted in Business, Business rates, Your council

Epping Forest District Council`s Overview and Scrutiny Committee has arranged for representatives from the Local District Valuation office to attend their meeting at the end of January 2010.

The Chairman of the Committee, Councillor Richard Morgan, explained: Following recent concerns raised by the public and councillors about the rise in local business rates, the Overview and Scrutiny Committee has asked that representatives from the District Valuation Office attend our meeting on 28 January 2010. They will hopefully explain the rational behind the recent rises and how they were arrived at. This will also give our Councillors a chance to question them about the policy that has caused such concern to our residents.

Buckhurst Hill High Street

Residents are reminded that this meeting is open to the public and they may come and watch the proceedings. If they cannot get to the Civic offices in person they can watch it on the Councils website, as a live webcast or as a recording at a later date.

The meeting will be held on Thursday 28 January 2010 at the Civic Offices in Epping, starting at 7:30pm.

Council Challenges Government on Business Rates

Written on . Posted in Business, Business rates, Democracy, Your council

Epping Forest District Councillors voted to ask the Government to review its actions in raising the National Non Domestic Business Rate locally when they met on Tuesday 3 November 2009. They called upon the Government to reduce the multiplier to the greatest possible extent and at least 20 per cent, increase transitional relief so that no business sees its bill increase by more than 2.5 per cent between the current and the new financial years and doubling the limit that restricts entitlement to small business rate relief.

Watch the webcast

Watch webcast of the Full Council on 3 November 2009

Councillors also supported the case of Buckhurst Hill businesses which had been particularly affected by the latest business rate increases. Members voted to invite the District Valuation Officer to explain his actions to Overview and Scrutiny.

Non Domestic Rates are collected from businesses by Epping Forest District Council and then paid over to Central Government. The Non Domestic Rates a business pays are calculated by multiplying the rateable value of their property by a rate in the pound (the multiplier) set by the Government.

There are two issues causing concern to local businesses at the moment. Firstly, every five years business properties are re-valued by the Valuation Office Agency to keep values up to date. This is a national exercise and is intended to be revenue neutral across the country as a whole. Consequently the multiplier is reduced to the same degree that property values have risen.

Many local businesses have contacted the Council to express their concern at the letters they have received from the Valuation Office Agency. These letters give the new property values from the draft list but do not make businesses aware of the reduction in the multiplier which will also be taking place.

The Portfolio Holder for Finance and Economic Development, Councillor Chris Whitbread said: These letters only give people part of the story and have caused a lot of anxiety. There is a general feeling amongst the business community that they will be facing substantially higher bills.

The exact terms of the revised Non Domestic Rates scheme will not be announced until November and then will not be confirmed as final until mid January 2010.

Councillor Whitbread took one of the motions to the Council to support local businesses. He said: We are calling on the Government to consider the impact on businesses of the re-valuation and asking that when they set the final terms of the new scheme they make the greatest possible reduction in the multiplier, limit increases in bills to no more than 2.5% and double the limits that restrict entitlement to small business rate relief.

A second motion was brought forward by Councillor Jon Whitehouse in support of Buckhurst Hill traders.

The national re-valuation is the `correction` of rateable values for a number of businesses in Buckhurst Hill. The Valuation Office Agency has stated that these businesses have previously been incorrectly undervalued and now they have realised their mistake, corrected higher valuations have been issued. Councillor Whitbread expressed concern at the effect on businesses already struggling in the recession and urged any businesses that have been affected by the amended valuations to consider appealing.

The Chamber of Commerce is running an event on 11 November to provide help and advice to businesses who are concerned about their Non Domestic Rate bills. As the Council`s representative on the Chamber, Councillor Whitbread said: This should be a useful event to try and clear up some of the misunderstandings that exist. Speakers are still to be confirmed but I am hoping the Valuation Office Agency will be represented and some firms who advise on rating appeals have also been invited.