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Late Night Levy introduced in Newcastle

Newcastle City Councillors have approved the introduction of the Late Night Levy which will start affecting Newcastle based licensed businesses, including Clubs, later this year. This means that Newcastle is the first local authority to implement the levy and it will be introduced on the 1st November 2013.
The Late Night Levy is an annual fee collected from premises authorised to sell alcohol between midnight and 06:00. If the Local Authority so chooses, all licensed premises within that jurisdiction will have to pay anywhere between £299 and £4,400 per annum, depending on the rateable value of the premises, for the privilege of selling alcohol between those times.
The ACC, along with CORCA, have argued that Private Members’ Clubs should not be included within the levy as Private Members’ Clubs do not significantly contribute to the increased policing costs which are often the result of commercial establishments open to the Public. Conservative Clubs have specific rules which enable any Member who behaves inappropriately to be suspended or expelled from the Club. Currently the levy applies to all licensed establishments open after 12am regardless of the likeliness of the establishment causing problems in its local community.
No other local authority has yet followed suit with the introduction of the Late Night Levy although it is thought that several authorities will be closely watching the introduction of the levy into Newcastle with a view to introducing it at a later stage. Currently the only way for a Club in a Late Night Levy area to avoid paying the levy is to make sure that the Club is not licensed to sell alcohol between the hours which the levy will be in operation – likely to be 12.00am and 6.00am (most Clubs will be able to open late on New Years’ Eve regardless of their designated licensable hours). We shall provide further updates regarding other local authorities’ plans as and when such information is available.

RTI Relaxation Extended

The temporary relaxation of the RTI reporting requirements for small employers has been extended to 5 April 2014. It was due to apply only until 5 October 2013.
Under RTI, Clubs are supposed to send a full payment submission (FPS) report to HMRC every time an employee is paid, on or before the date of payment. This could mean sending a FPS every week, or even every day if a Club paid a casual employee on a daily or irregular basis.
Under the terms of HMRC’s relaxation arrangements employers will be able to make submissions under RTI when they complete their main payroll run, providing that is on or before the last day of the tax month (5th). This may be after payment to employees has been made. This relaxation is aimed to avoid the problems of reporting under RTI under the “on or before” requirement, each and every time employees are paid.
HMRC’s own figures show that one in six payments under RTI has been reported using the current relaxation, illustrating that many employers have still not got to grips with RTI. Indeed HMRC figures show that, as of mid-June, 23% of the smallest employers had not submitted any reports under RTI. HMRC will be writing to these employers shortly to remind them of their reporting obligations. In spite of this strong evidence that the reporting relaxation is needed, HMRC has insisted that all employers will be required to make RTI reports on or before each payment day from 6 April 2014.
The relaxation applies to employers with fewer than 50 employees who pay staff weekly, or more frequently, but who run their payroll once a month. These employers can submit their full payment submission (FPS) at the time of the payroll run. However, the FPS must reach HMRC by the end of the tax month (5th).
 

HMRC Email Scam

Several Clubs have received an email purporting to be from HMRC, titled: NOTICE OF TAX RETURN FOR YEAR 2012. In the email, it is suggested that the recipient is eligible to receive a tax refund. In order to receive the refund a form must be filled in, which is attached to the email, and returned. This email is not legitimate and should not be replied to.
HMRC will never send notifications of a tax rebate, or ask you to disclose personal or payment information by email. If you have any doubt that an email you receive from HMRC is genuine, please do not follow any links, disclose any personal details or respond to it. Please forward it to HMRC at phishing@hmrc.gsi. gov.uk and then delete it. Further advice can be found on the HMRC website: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/security/advice.htm.

National Minimum Wage

On the 1st October 2013, the National Minimum Wage will be increased for all workers aged 21 and over from the current level of £6.19 to the new level of £6.31. The Minimum Wage rate for workers aged 18-20 will also be increased from £4.98 to £5.03 and for workers aged 16-17 the rate will increase to £3.72 (up from £3.68). We advise all Clubs to make sure that contracts are up to date and reflect the new rate where appropriate.

Question and Answers

Q Recently a visitor to the Club requested a glass of wine in a 125ml serving. We only serve wine in 175ml and 225ml servings, are we correct by doing so?

A No, at least a selection of the Club’s wines which are available for purchase by the glass should be available in quantities of 125ml. Wines which are purely served by the bottle are not included in this requirement. Whilst the Committee can decide that they will still restrict some wines to quantities of 175ml and 225ml most licensed establishments simply make all wine which is available to purchase by the glass available in 125ml measures. It is also a requirement that either on the Club’s wine list or via a notice at the bar that customers are informed that 125ml wine measures are available for wines which are sold by the glass. You do not need to go over the top with this notice as long as it is visible and that the information is available to be seen by Members who are considering ordering a glass of wine. It is not necessary to show prices for 125ml measures alongside published prices for 175ml and 250ml measures and a simple one line explanation such as this will suffice: “We also serve wine in 125ml measures. Please ask at the bar/your server for more details.”

Q We are reviewing our employment contracts and would like to establish a set policy for dealing with sickness absences, specifically our sickness pay policy. Do you have any advice on creating an appropriate sickness policy?

A Many Clubs, and employers, simply operate a Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) policy when dealing with employee absences. SSP only needs to be paid where the absence is genuine and has lasted for four consecutive days or more. Absences shorter than four days will not receive SSP. Employees must produce reasonable medical evidence for their absence and SSP does not need to be paid for any period not covered by the evidence. Whilst SSP merely requires that employees inform their employer of their absence within 7 days, many employers will place a stricter provision such as informing them on the day of the initial absence and thereafter at regular intervals.
For the first seven days of an employee’s sickness, it is reasonable to allow them to ‘selfcertify’ in order to claim SSP. After seven days has elapsed further medical evidence, such as a Doctor’s certificate, would be required. The traditional Doctor’s sick note is no longer used, instead a Doctor will issue a ‘fit to work’ note which will detail if the employee is fit to work and, if they are, what activities they are capable of performing for the duration of the ‘fit to work’ note. The change was made to enable employees to gradually return to work where appropriate. Should the Club wish to create its own sickness scheme then you may do so, although it must not be of a lower value than what the employee would have received under the SSP scheme.
Clubs which use ACC Model Contracts of Employment will

Q One of the Club’s Members recently attempted to purchase a beer so that a shandy could be made for an underage Member of their family. In this instance, the Club’s bar staff refused to sell the Member the drink as they knew what it was intended for. Is it correct that a diluted beer, such as a shandy, is still unlawful to serve to a person aged under 18?

A It is indeed unlawful to serve any drink which contains alcohol to a minor and your bar staff were correct to refuse the sale once they knew what the Member was intending. The only exceptions to the law preventing alcohol sales to persons under 18 are for aged 16 or 17 when purchasing a drink with a meal (is the meal is to be consumed in an area specifically set aside for food) or a product which contains 0.5% alcohol or less which can be legally sold to anyone. However, the Committee may wish to instruct bar staff to simply not serve alcohol to anyone under 18 irrespective of these allowances to make sure any appearance of impropriety is avoided.

Q In last month’s magazine, a question was asked about a Club’s auditor and the reply indicated that the Club could opt to not have a yearly audit. Could you provide more information regarding how a Club would cease having a yearly audit?

A For Industrial and Provident Societies with up to date Rules, the Club’s Members are able to disapply the need for a yearly audit if they wish to. At the Annual General Meeting each year, a motion can be placed onto the agenda that the audit is not required and should it be approved by the Members then the audit for that year would not be undertaken. Such a vote has to be undertaken yearly and typically Clubs will simply include the motion as a standard agenda item. In our experience it is almost always approved by the Members unless the Members decide that they wish, for whatever reason, to have an audit undertaken.
As the Club is registered with the FCA you must still send an annual return and/or accounts to the FCA each year. The Committee may engage an accountant or financial adviser to help prepare its accounts and annual returns. However, this does not preclude the Club from electing not to have
an audit and instead arranging for accounts to be produced (most Clubs, if not having an audit, will elect for an Accountant’s Report to be produced which is considerably cheaper).
If a Club is an Industrial and Provident Society but without up to date Rules which provide for the audit requirement to be disapplied then please contact the ACC and we can assist the Club in producing an update to the Club’s Rules. For Unincorporated Associations (Clubs with Trustees), the Members will determine the Club’s accounting practices. Most Unincorporated Societies will likely have an Accountant’s Report on the finances and accounts of the Club and only a very few will have a formal audit of the accounts which occurs when the Members specifically request that an audit is undertaken.

CABBIES’ DAY

Each year a group of London Cabbies brings a party of disabled and under-privileged children, mainly from East London, for a day out in Maldon.
The organisation – entertainment for the children, preparation and serving of food in a packed Plume School Gym – was incredible! The children, after their lunch, were taken for games and entertainment at the Promenade Park.
The picture shows the presentation of the £400 cheque donated by the Maldon District Constitutional Club – money raised by a Fun & Games Evening – to the Cabbies
Ken Flemwell (the Cabbies’ organiser) is in the centre, on his left, Club President Peter West and on his right, Vice President Ray Knight, all shaking hands and holding the cheque, which was very gratefully received.