First blog post in yonks…

As anyone who has looked at this page will have gathered, I am not a natural “blogger”. That said, I do like to think that my clients know that they are welcome to pick up the phone and give me a call.

I am generally quite busy though, especially as I am now a proud father (since May 2018). Never a dull moment! A combination of managing my business, trying to be a good dad and husband generally keeps me “out of mischief” although I still manage to find time to play some music which has been favourite pastime for longer than I care to admit.

What has prompted this blog is that I have recently had my website updated by Des Gregory. Not a radical overhaul in terms of content or presentation, although the presentation has been refined. More the “techie” stuff that needs doing and makes it work better. Thank you Des! Pam Wright who originally set up my website has moved to Wales for the goodlife – hope you are enjoying life Pam and thanks for your help.

Back to more boring stuff….. Organisations that are VAT registered will probably have heard about “Making Tax Digital”. I don’t think that this will have much of an impact on such organisations, especially if they are using a cloud-based accounting package which should take care of this. For other organisations, it may be necessary to use bridging software to translate their VAT workings into HMRC’s website.

Update on my business and increase in charity audit threshold

Well, this is my first blog post in some time. I have now been in business for a little over three years and am enjoying the challenge and flexibility that self employments brings. I am fortunate to be able to work with a broad range of charities and social enterprises that perform a wide variety of important work. Recently I have obtained some work with a number of organisations helping them with their systems and procedures including the training of accounts staff. This is work that I enjoy doing and is different from the year end accounts preparation which forms a significant part of my work. If you think I can help your organisation then please drop me an e-mail.

Other news is that the audit threshold for charities is due to be increased, from annual income of £500,000 to £1,000,000 (although the exact rules are not quite as simple as this). The change is due to apply for financial year ends from 31 March 2015 and should to be announced any day. This could lift the regulatory burden for some 4000 charities nationally. This also means that I will be able to perform independent examinations with a larger range of charities. I am looking for more work doing independent examinations of charities and would be happy to discuss this if you are considering changing independent examiners.

This link explains about the increase in audit threshold.


General update and some information about RTI and Gift Aid…

Well, this is my first blog post for some time… I have been in business for a little over a year now and I must say that I’m really enjoying the challenge and experience of working for myself. This is not to say that there are no difficulties but so far the rewards and independence easily outweigh the downsides.

I have picked up some new clients which is exciting, both in Manchester (including Salford) and Leeds. I am also enjoying working with longstanding clients who I have built up close working relationships with over a number of years. I am still looking for new clients, so if you know of any organisation that you think I could help then I am interested to hear.

I am about to send an e-mail to existing clients highlighting the forthcoming changes in payroll (real time information or RTI) from 6 April this year. Help and guidance is available on HMRC’s website to help with this change. For organisations that use payroll software or oursource the payroll function, this should not present too much of a challenge but I would advise any employer to read the guidance and ensure that they ready for this change.

In addition, from 23rd April, charities and community amateur sports clubs will be able to claim gift aid on-line, information about this change can be found here.

That is all for now, do send me an e-mail if you want to get in touch and I will reply promptly.

Thanks for reading!


cap on charitable giving?

Well, I don’t intend for this blog to get political, but I would like to draw your attention to this website which discusses the government’s proposed cap on tax tax relief for charitable giving. These proposals would appear to be inconsistent with any notion of a “Big Society”.

As an accountant specialising with charities and social enterprises, it did annoy me to see reports in the media that wealthy individuals can magically reduce their tax bill by giving to charity. It is true that if an individual donates to charity that they pay less tax. For example,  if an individual who pays tax at the basic rate (20%) donates say £80, the the tax which has been paid by the individual on this donation which is £20 can be claimed by the charity from the government.

To try and explain this in a different way, if an individual earns £100 and pays tax at 20%  then £20 tax is paid, leaving them with £80.

The individual pays the £80 to a charity, the charity can then claim £20 off the government, the net result being that the charity receives all the £100 earnt by the individial. The individual looses £80, the government looses £20 and the charity gains £100.

Hopefully this simple example helps to demonstrate that giving to charity is not a way of cheating the system and does not benefit the individual financially when done correctly.

There may be a small number of bogus charities established by wealthy individuals who donate large sums of money to the charity which then uses  the money donated (and the tax claimed from the government) in the interests of the individual. This is clearly illegal and  if this does occur should be stopped.


Well – my first Blog post for quite some time, and a lot has happened in that time.

On a personal and sad note, my father passed away on 18th February. He had been ill for some time with an agressive form of demantia so whilst this was very sad and a real shock, it was also a good thing that it happened when it did. I would not normally post personal issues such as this in my blog (generally I think it is good to keep professional and personal lives separate), but if clients did not hear from me much in February or early March, this was the reason. I am now completely back into the swing of things, although as several people have told me, the death of a parent is something which changes you and is therefore something you never truly recover from.

So far I have had no regrets about going self employed and am finding it to be an exciting, stimulating and challenging experience. The loss of my father was a poignant reminder that I am on my own, as I did not receive any paid compassionate leave, but still no regrets. My father’s illness was one of the pivotal reasons why I decided to go self employed, he had always worked very hard in his career and got afflicted with his illness after an all too brief retirement.

I have managed to pick up some new work and the work I have done to date has been varied and interesting. This includes running a course which was a success in both Manchester and London, to doing some consultancy for a high profile Manchester based charity in addition to more “run of the mill” accountancy. I am currently gearing up to working on March year end charities but also on the look out for new work so do contact me if you think I could help you.

On a more technical note, the Charities Act 2011 is now in force. This act essentially consolidates earlier Charities Acts such as the 1993 and 2006 acts.  The main impact on charity accounts is that any references to the Charities Act should be the 2011 act, and the references in independent examiners and audit reports should be updated. More information can be found on the Charity Commission’s website  here

I know I said that I would not post personal issues here, but I do feel that I should mention that a good friend of mine, Ian Reynolds Young, released an album “Shreds” about a month ago. I played on this album, and on 15th March we supported the wonderful Kirsty Almeida at Bury Met. For me it was a real experience to play there as it is one of my favourute venues in the Manchester area and is the first (and only) time of perfoming there, here is a photo of Ian and I at Bury Met:

Picture of Ian Reynolds Young and Paul on stage at Bury Met 15th March 2012 - Paul played on Ian Reynolds Young's album Shreds released early 2012 - Paul Cowham Accountancy - Manchester based accountant specialising in the charity and social enterprise sectors
(this photo is the copyright of Roger Liptrot)








That’s all for now, I’ll  post something here every now and then about how business is going and any technical and topical issues.

Thanks for reading


My first blog post

Well, this is my first ever blog post. I never thought I was going to be a natural “blogger”, but I’m aiming to use this facility to post information about my business and also links that my clients may find useful.

I have been freelance for about a month now and have mostly been setting things up (like this website), and also networking. Recently, however, I started to do some actual accountancy which was something of a relief (not many people can say that!). So far I have enjoyed the experience of being self employed, although as expected, this hasn’t been without its challenges, but so far so good.

Tomorrow I’m teaching a course aimed at treasurers of food coops and similar small organisations about bookkeeping and other issues they should consider. I have done a fair bit of preparation for this so am really looking forward to it (nothing worse than being underprepared for these type of events).

I am renting a desk on a part time basis in the Green Fish Resource centre which is proving to be a good move, the other people who work here seem to be very nice, and it feels great to get out into Manchester. I practiced the course I am teaching tomorrow on a small number of the tennants of the Green Fish Centre last week. This was certainly useful for me and it seemed to be useful for attendees too, I love “win, win” situations like that.  Here is a link to the Green Fish Resource Centre’s website.

That’s all for now, thanks for reading