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HMRC recently revised their definition of mobile phones. As a result, employees and employers may be entitled to refunds of tax or NIC for smartphones, previously classed as a benefit in kind, provided to employees by employers since 2007. Before technology lovers become over-excited, note that the legislative changes are limited to smartphones and do not apply to devices such as tablet PCs.
Although strict condition must be met, I would urge anyone – individuals or companies – who might be affected to act now and contact your employer, tax adviser or tax office without delay, as backdated claims can be made. For tax year 2007-08, HMRC must receive eligible income tax claims and supporting information by 31 July 2012.
Full HMRC guidance can be found at http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/briefs/income-tax/brief0212.htm
Should you require further information, please feel free to contact me.
Posted by: Ron Yellon
Concerned that competition is being stifled and that independent suppliers and generators cannot buy or sell the power they need, Ofgem has thrown down a gauntlet by announcing proposals to open up the electricity wholesale market in “Intervention to enhance liquidity in the GB power market”, Ofgem 22nd Feb 2012, to benefit customers.
Ofgem gives Big Six three clear objectives to be met to make the electricity market a more transparent and open market for all suppliers; proposes mandatory auctions to drive the pace of opening up the wholesale electricity market for independent suppliers, and, although welcoming moves by large suppliers to sell more of their electricity on the open market, argues that much more needs to be done.
Posted by: Ron Yellon
The Energy Ombudsman’s website has today launched a tale of “lost love, suffering, heartache and ultimately rejection”, an anti-Valentine from an energy customer who had problems switching supplier.
On this 14th of Feb, curl up beside the heater, chuckle at this corporate mirth and subtle electric metre…
I admit that it appalled me that day you first cold-called me,
but you charmed me, won me over told me I would be in clover;
And I succumbed to your advances thought: what the heck, I’ll take my chances,
I told the Doubting Thomases that you would keep your promises,
you’d said that you would care for me that you’d always be there for me;
Oh how very wrong of me I should have thought more carefully,
all that warmth and bonhomie now seems like such hot air to me,
for when I called to clarify the startlingly high tariff I was on,
you proved elusive, and remarkably reclusive for one so formerly effusive,
in breach of all known etiquette you started playing hard-to-get,
left me feeling so much smaller as if I’m the nuisance caller,
with designs on your affection which is vexing and perplexing,
I don’t think it would hurt to see a bit of old world courtesy;
So I’m parting from your company who’s dumping who?
You’re dumping me, constructively dismissing me I trust you’ll soon be missing me,
and then you’ll once again change tack predictably you’ll call me back,
and find you’re waiting in a queue to hear,
when you at last get through,
Goodbye. It isn’t me. It’s you.
Npower’s speedy response is here.
Eon not to be outdone penned this one here.
Even Which? had a go here.
More at Utility Week
Last week EON published the findings of a survey that nearly four million of the UK’s 4.8 million small businesses are potentially missing out on £7.7 billion every year by not implementing energy efficiency measures.
Over 4 million don’t have lighting timers or motion sensors in their workplace;
Over 600,000 admit to leaving the windows open when the air conditioning or heating is on;
Over 3.5 million don’t have an energy monitor installed in the office but nearly 750,000 have a smart meter.
There are many ways to implement energy efficiency within a business and if the following seems a little daunting then Auditel can help companies by offering practical help and support in achieving their goals;
1. Understand your utility tariffs and charge rates
2. Carry out Energy Audits. Know what is being used, when it is being used and by which department.
3. Implement meaningful management reporting on utilisation and performance management against reduction targets.
4. Where appropriate make changes to your building infrastructure, low energy lighting, power factor correction etc.
The full EON report can be found here; http://pressreleases.eon-uk.com/blogs/eonukpressreleases/archive/2011/10/24/1753.aspx
Posted by: Kien Lac
SSE has announced bold moves to improve the liquidity of the UK power market by auctioning all of its electricity output and purchasing all of its electricity requirements in the day ahead market.
The company is the first of big six to break ranks over the way it manages its electricity trading. Its initiative will begin in earnest on 14 October with the expectation that it will reach 25 per cent during November. The aim is that all of SSE’s electricity supply and demand will be traded in the day ahead market by the end of the current financial year.
SSE argued that this move will significantly improve the liquidity, depth and credibility of the market, and assist in the creation of a robust and tangible pricing index.
SSE is the second largest electricity generator in the UK and last year generated over 47,500GWh of electricity, which represents almost 15 per cent of the UK electricity demand.
Alistair Phillips-Davies, SSE’s generation and supply director, said: “If other energy companies adopt a similar approach, this commitment could lead to a transformation in the wholesale electricity market in Great Britain.
“We believe this commitment represents the most significant change to the GB electricity market since the market arrangements were amended in 2005, to form the current market arrangements known as BETTA.
“Customers have demanded greater transparency around how we operate in the wholesale market. As well as improving liquidity, this approach will also improve the transparency of SSE’s activity in the wholesale market.”
Source: Utility Week
How Financial Directors can Regain Power Over Rising Energy Costs Impacting Their Organisations’ Profits
Wholesale energy prices have soared in the last six months as high oil prices continue, the Middle East is uncertain and the nuclear disaster in Japan causes concern. The major energy providers have passed these price increases on to their business customers. Many face energy bills which could be 50% higher than they were paying only two years ago.
In June 2011, the FT and The Economist Business Barometer Research found that leaders foresee the biggest risks to their businesses to be rising costs of oil, commodities prices and interest rates. This prompts greater scrutiny of their profit margins and higher expectation for financial directors to perform in challenging times.
In July, after a second major British energy supplier announced double-digit tariff increases, RWE npower reported: ‘Three hundred major and small energy user companies counted energy as a top risk concern, next to sales and legislation, in their Business Energy Index 2011. Only 66 percent said they had a strategy to manage it.’
Ofcom today announced a decision to amend General Condition 9 in order to prohibit Automatically Renewable Contracts (ARCs also referred to as rollover contracts or rollovers) to residential customers and small businesses with no more than ten employees in the fixed voice and broadband sectors.
For fixed voice and fixed broadband residential and small business ARCs the prohibition on the sale of new ARCs will take effect on 31 December 2011. This means that the sale of new ARCs will be prohibited from that date.
Now all we need is a similar decision from Ofgem for Utility supplies!
Further details of the Ofcom decision can be found here including provisions for existing contracts:
John & Denise Wilson
Following similar announcements from some of the other big six energy suppliers, I notice that Energy Secretary Chris Huhne took an unexpectedly tough line in his response to Scottish and Southern’s statement of its intention to raise prices last month by reportedly saying this was “disappointing”. Go Chris, fighting the good fight for the embattled consumer! Disappointing is something of an understatement methinks compared to the typical reaction to the circa 18% increase in gas prices and 11% increase in electricity prices that will be impacting on bills from this September. I shouldn’t mock though – I know he’s had big problems lately getting his ‘points’ across… (allegedly)
The energy companies are citing increases in wholesale prices as the reason for the latest rises, driven in part by world events such as those in Japan and North Africa/Libya. But it seems to many that they have been making excessive profits at their customers’ expense and there have been calls on the Government and the Regulator (OFGEM) to act. Dumfries and Galloway MP Russell Brown has said that this explanation given by the energy companies “rings utterly hollow” because “wholesale gas and electricity costs are over a third cheaper than in 2008 but the energy companies are charging their customers hundreds of pounds more.” And it seems like OFGEM might at last have been listening. In March this year the regulator published the findings of its ‘Retail Market Review’ – an investigation it started towards the end of 2010 into the markets for electricity and gas for households and small businesses in Great Britain.
Now it is the turn of the Ministry of Defence to come under fire for its approach towards cost cutting in the recession. It was reported in The Times on August 18th that:
“Private consultants are being paid £4,000 a day by the Ministry of Defence to help it to cut the costs of its contracts…
Under an agreement described as “extraordinary” by one MP yesterday, eight consultants will also receive a 30 per cent “success fee”, pushing their daily pay to more than £5,000 each.
It is also understood that the MoD departed from normal practice in awarding the contract, worth up to £12 million, by failing to advertise it before recruiting Alix Partners, a US-based company with a London office.
Industry experts criticised the deal, saying that the fees were unusually high and that the failure to advertise the contract might have led to an unnecessarily high bill for the taxpayer. The details have come to light as the Armed Forces pension scheme is cut and hundreds of redundancies are made.”
You can go here to read more.http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/uk/defence/article3137644.ece
Expectations of wind energy have been substantially increased in recent months due to the combination of rising fossil fuel prices, devastating oil spills and the shelving or downsizing of several nuclear programmes following the crisis at Fukushima.
Every month in 2009 and 2010, the global wind energy industry installed new capacity equivalent to the output of 1.2 average nuclear reactors. According to the EWEA*, expectations are that in 2015 wind power will avoid € 23.7Bn of fossil fuel costs – € 15.1Bn of coal costs, €6.4Bn of gas costs and €1.7Bn of oil costs – to produce electricity. This is based on a moderate development of wind power, with 460 GW of global cumulative wind power capacity installed by 2015, compared to 200 GW last year
Figures for 2020 will be even more substantial (€87Bn of fuel costs saved), whilst for 2030, EWEA forecasts that wind energy will meet 26-34% of Europe’s electricity demand, with almost as much electricity coming from offshore turbines as from those onshore.