Archive for October, 2015

Liquor Licence Renewals

Wednesday, October 7th, 2015

PublicHouse

1. Premises Licence Annual Fee Reminder

Your Premises Licence Annual Fee payment was due on 01 October 2015.

You must pay your annual fee on time or you will likely face a review of your premises licence which can result in your premises licence being revoked.

How to pay?

Most licensing boards are now in the habit of issuing annual fee invoices. You should have received a notice from your Licensing Authority 30 days prior to 01 October warning that the payment was due. If you have not received this notice it is important that you contact your Licensing Authority without delay to find out how much you have to pay and to arrange payment.

Consequences of non-payment of annual fee

Failure to pay can have serious implications on your business and involve you in the cost of applying for a new licence and possibly bringing the premises up to meet new building standards, food hygiene and fire service requirements.

2. Personal Licences for refresher failure

Good news as well for people who have had their personal licences revoked due to  failure  to meet refresher training requirements. The five year ban on re-application has been lifted and you can now re-apply for a new personal licence.

This is what you need to do

  1. Undertake and pass the full Scottish Certificate for Personal Licence Holders (SCPLH). It has to be done again!
  2. Apply for a personal licence to the Licensing Board where you now live – this may not be the same as the one which previously issued your revoked personal licence if you have moved to another area. Some boards will require you to appear before them.
  3. Obtain two colour passport photos one of which should be endorsed by a person of standing in the community with the words I certify that this is a true likeness of (name of applicant), followed by the full name of the person endorsing the photograph.
  4. Enclose the SCPLH pass certificate or copy depending on what your local licensing board requires – you need to check.
  5. Include your cheque in the sum of £50.00 for the licensing board fee
  6. Note some licensing boards require a copy of your passport or driver’s licence photograph before you can have the application processed – check in advance
  7. Courses We will be running SCPLH courses across Scotland please contact our our consultant, Janet Hood (janethood@me.com), to book a course.

Act now to ensure you know what to do about your/your staff members Personal Licences

1. Check and Confirm who has a personal licence – this is not a staff training certificate nor is it a Scottish Certificate for Personal Licence Holders training pass certificate but a Personal Licence issued by a Licensing Board – it will have the name of the licensing board, the name and address of the person whose licence it is, a photo of the person and an expiry date

2. Make sure you have those personal licences or if permitted locally a certified true copy of those personal licences on the premises (ask your local licensing standards officer what is required).

3. For each personal licence holder on your staff check the expiry date of personal licences and note date in electronic diary e.g. google diary. Go back 5 years and 6 months from the expiry date and enter reminder that licence needs to be refreshed  and that refresher  training will have to take place  - at that time book refresher training and remember to forward the refresher training certificate and the appropriate original personal licence to the licensing board so it can be updated.

5. Remember to keep a copy of both the original personal licence and any refresher training pass certificate on the premises.

If you have any queries about obtaining or renewing licences, please contact Janet Hood on the email above.

Inheritance Tax – Main Residence Allowance

Wednesday, October 7th, 2015

Inheritance-TaxAt present Inheritance tax (IHT) is payable at a rate of 40% on the value of the estate over and above the tax-free allowance (known as the ‘nil-rate band’) of £325,000 per person.  Married couples and Registered Civil Partners can pass the any of the unused allowance onto each other, effectively resulting in a maximum allowance of £650,000 between them.

In recent years property prices have risen far more quickly than the nil-rate band.  As a result, the number of estates subject to IHT has been increasing rapidly.  This is contrary to the aim of the current government that only the wealthiest estates should be subject to IHT.

In the 2015 Summer Budget, the Chancellor, George Osborne also announced a new transferrable main residence allowance.  This allowance will only apply when a main residence is passed on to a direct descendant, namely a child or grandchild and includes adopted children, foster children and step-children.  Other family members such as nieces and nephews, cohabitants, non-registered Civil Partners and friends would not qualify.

The definition of ‘main residence’ will generally be self-explanatory but a property which was never the residence of the deceased, such as a buy to let property would not qualify.

The allowance will initially be set at £100,000 from April 2017 and gradually increase to £175,000 by 2020/21.  This new main residence transferable nil-rate band is in addition to the existing nil-rate band.  In the same way that the current nil-rate band can be transferred to a surviving spouse or civil partner, any unused main residence transferrable nil-rate band can be transferred to a surviving spouse or civil partner.

It is therefore possible that an individual by 2020/2021 will have their own nil-rate band of £325,000 plus a main residence transferable nil-rate band of £175,000 together with a nil-rate band and main residence transferable nil-rate band inherited from their spouse, giving the much advertised total of £1 million.

The policy is retrospective so the additional allowance would be transferable even if one spouse had died before the policy came into effect.

However the existing nil-rate band remains the same level it was back in 2009 and will continue to be frozen through to 2020/21.  Individuals who own other valuable assets such as investments and savings etc will not benefit as the £175,000 extra allowance will only apply to heritable property.

There were concerns that the new proposals would discourage individuals from downsizing however there are measures in place which apply when someone ceases to own their main residence on or after 8 July 2015.   This may be of particular relevance if someone has sold their main residence to move into a nursing home.

This should serve as a timely reminder to make sure that your Wills remain relevant for your own personal circumstances and so that full advantage can be taken of the transferable nil-rate bands.

Should you wish further advice on Inheritance Tax planning, please contact Vivienne Bruce by email on v.bruce@jgcollie.co.uk or Philip Dawson on p.dawson@jgcollie.co.uk, or either of them by telephone on 01224 581581.

My Way or the Highway

Wednesday, October 7th, 2015

HighwayOwning a piece of the land in Scotland’s scenic countryside may be the idea of tranquillity for many people –  a large house, breath-taking views, endless garden space and a driveway with room for as many cars as you could wish for, what is there to worry about….

Although you may have owned your property for many years and never experienced any difficulties in the past, problems may arise when you finally decide to sell. The complications may not arise from the land itself but instead from gaining access to the property. A common example of this is a track road off which your property is located, where in order to gain access from the main road, you require to drive along the track road to the entrance. The question that must be asked is whether the track road is maintained by the Local Authority. This can be confirmed by checking with your Local Authority if the road is on the ‘List of Adopted Roads’. If it is, you have nothing to worry about and you should not encounter any problems accessing the property and subsequently when you decide to sell. However, if it is not adopted, there will be some issues to overcome as it is highly likely that any purchasing solicitor will check the status of the access road before completing any transaction.

So, what if your road is not adopted? Firstly, you may have to rely on a Servitude right of access. On examination of your Title Deeds, a right of access may have been conveyed in favour of the owners of your property before you purchased. This would be the case if the owner of the whole land (dominant proprietor) sold the property and in the process, conveyed a right of access over his land to your property. If this is not the case, you may be able to rely on the rules of prescription. The Prescription and Limitation (Scotland) Act 1973 allows the creation of a Servitude through the continuous use of the road for the purposes of accessing your property, for a period of twenty years. The rule of prescription for servitudes over land states that “the servitude has been possessed for a continuous period of twenty years openly, peaceably and without any judicial interruption.” Providing this has been satisfied, the right of access shall be exempt from challenge. In order to rely on this, it is likely the purchasing solicitor would ask for affidavits, swearing to the terms of prescription as evidence that the right will be exempt from challenge.

For a purchaser to ultimately be satisfied that he will purchase a property with access completely exempt from challenge, may require the servitude to be registered in the Land Register of Scotland. However, the Keeper will generally not enter any servitude right of access into the Register unless expressly granted or through declaration of the Court. In this whole process there is no guarantee of acceptance from the Keeper, and this can be a long and expensive process

Should the purchaser not accept affidavits confirming a servitude through prescription, you may possibly remedy the matter by obtaining a Title Insurance Policy. In doing so, you will detail the risk involved (no access) and insure the risk in case during the period of the purchaser’s ownership, the access is challenged. A policy will be in place protecting the purchaser. The policy will almost certainly be more cost effective than attempting to satisfy the Keeper of the Land Register, and although a clear title is not disponed, it protects both parties and all future purchasers of the property.

Access to properties, especially in rural areas, is fundamentally important, and must be checked on purchase – remember, is this road my way or the highway?

Should you have any concerns over access rights, please get in touch your regular contact at James & George Collie in the first instance.

The James & George Collie Financial Management Q3 Model Portfolio Commentary

Wednesday, October 7th, 2015

Prices-RisingThe events of the last few weeks have been traumatic for equity markets around the world. Fears regarding China and slumping commodity prices have combined with a strengthening Dollar to push share prices down across the Globe, with the economies of the emerging markets and Asia especially badly hit.

However, the subsequent rally and stabilisation, at least in the established “first world” economic areas, shows that sentiment rather than fundamentals were perhaps behind the severity of this correction in the market. This is not to say that we are set fair for a smooth ride, there are still a lot of factors in play that will create volatility in the near future, but the fact that the markets could cope with the slump without any panic measures being implemented should be seen as a positive sign for the future.

In our last commentary we suggested that the super cycle in bonds may have ended and despite the problems within Greece, UK Government bonds had not exceeded their peak value achieved on the 30th January this year. During previous periods of Euro crisis, safe haven bonds (UK, Germany in particular) have increased in value strongly, yet at the closest point yet to a Greek exit combined with European quantitative easing (QE) at 60Bn Euros per month driving demand, this did not occur, leading us to believe that the direction of this market had now reversed. We still feel this is the case in the medium term despite the short term flight back to bonds precipitated by the recent slump.

The first interest rate increases for a decade in the US is getting closer, although recent events may push this back into early 2016. However, this will mark the end of emergency interest rates. The impact of this rate rise is negligible in economic terms but significant psychologically as it marks a turn in the post credit crisis interest rate cycle. Market commentators expect future interest rate increases to be subdued, with rates likely to be around 1% at the end of 2016.

As mentioned earlier, Bond markets have previously shown some signs of decline and interest rate increases may accelerate this trend. This will push capital out of these markets and potentially unlock some of the QE potential which has not yet been realised. The effect could be that initial interest rate cuts provide more of a stimulus rather than a brake to economic growth. In this case the interest rate cycle is likely to steepen beyond current expectations, causing poor returns in sectors sensitive to the cost of capital including property, which has been a ‘darling’ asset class in recent months.

European equities are still good value compared to their US counterparts and this bodes well for short term performance, now that the immediate problems regarding Greece have been deferred. The longer term structural problems suggest that short term crises are going to come and go until Europe eventually achieves a full union or ultimately the Euro loses members. This benefit of a full union can be seen in the performance of the US economy, an education of a generation is needed for national agendas to be dropped in favour of a European agenda, but this may not be possible.

The poor performance of Asia and Emerging Markets has been disappointing over this period, as these markets were already considerably lower value than Global markets generally, and have underperformed since October 2010, by well over 35% in Sterling terms. There are continued concerns with regard to the slowing of the Chinese economy, the perceived asset bubbles in Chinese mainland stocks (less of an issue now) and the strengthening Dollar, which are all negative contributors to the region.

It is easy to see why these markets are unfashionable at present and represent a small and dwindling proportion of investor portfolios and indices. Nevertheless the arguments for exposure remain strong especially on a longer terms basis and the current unpopularity is also contributing to the low valuation. Investors are shying away from quality companies in higher growth markets whilst often preferring to hold overvalued growth companies in the US, or Bonds in Germany yielding negative rates.

Asian and Emerging markets have been steadily increasing their economic strength for years, which is supported by strong demographics, whilst their investment value has deteriorated significantly. These two trends should not be opposed to each other for long periods. Some of the significant headwinds such as Dollar strength and Chinese slowing growth are medium term factors; however the commodity cycle seems near a bottom, especially if economic growth globally, remains positive. Consequently this does not seem the right time to further reduce exposure to these markets for higher risk investors.

Strategy

This quarter has provided further evidence that a new cycle has begun and we do expect fixed interest assets to underperform equity markets in this new cycle. As we have seen, increased levels of volatility remain inevitable and this is often associated with a change in investment cycles.

The JGC Model Portfolios are already well positioned for the new cycle, although some small changes have been introduced this quarter to reflect this position or replace underperforming funds.

We believe there are now a lot of growth prospects in equity markets but have maintained a bias towards funds with a focus on value rather than growth. Asia and Emerging Markets remain favoured for high risk, longer term investors.

If you are interested in learning more about the JGC Model Portfolios, or want to undertake a wider review of your investment strategies, please do not hesitate to contact our Chartered Financial Planner, Scott Middleton, to arrange a free initial meeting via email scott.middleton@colliefinancial.co.uk or by phone 01224 581581.

Hanging up

Wednesday, October 7th, 2015

Kathleen-Hanging-Up

The “Voice” of James & George Collie, Kathleen Giulianotti, has put the phone down on her career with the Firm. Kathleen, our receptionist, retired at the end of September after spending the last 26 years on duty at the front desk. A gathering was held in the office to mark Kathleen’s retirement, at which she received a small presentation and cards from the partners and staff.

Senior Partner, Tony Dawson, reflected on Kathleen’s long service with the Firm and commented:-

“Kathleen has performed the role as telephonist/receptionist faultlessly.  She was a fantastic first point of contact which is so important for the Firm.    She was always very smartly turned out, always polite and well able to direct the public to the appropriate person.  These are rare talents indeed, and we must thank Kathleen for all her efforts on behalf of, and loyal service to, the Firm.”

The Partners and staff all wish Kathleen a long, happy and healthy retirement.