Cyber Security – New Guidance

It is a sad fact of life that our computer systems can come under attack from hackers or phishing scams. You can never be 100% safe but small business owners can take some common sense steps to protect themselves, especially if they hold sensitive client data.

The National Cyber Security Centre has issued useful guidance on how to keep safe. They have broken this down into five topic areas:

  • Backing up your data
  • Protecting against malware
  • Keeping smartphones and tablets safe
  • Using passwords to protect data
  • Avoiding phishing attacks

More information can be found at

You also need to have contingency plans for what you will do should you be hacked including how you will recover your data, communicate with clients and the data protection regulator.

Data Protection Regulations

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into force on 28 May 2018.

The new legislation will have a big impact on all businesses as they must take extra measures to ensure any data they hold is stored securely. If not they risk severe penalties for data breaches. They must also put in place procedures to erase data where requested to do so. The onus is on the business to be able to prove that they have done this, so they need to keep records. It will also affect businesses who send out unsolicited marketing material. From May 2018 they will need consent before sending mail-shots, whether by email or post.

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Inheritance Tax – how to make reductions

There are a number of steps that you can take to reduce the 40% inheritance charge on the value of a deceased’s estate. If the deceased leaves his/her home to children or grandchildren in their will then the inheritance tax threshold is increased by £100,000 to £425,000. For married couples or civil partnerships any unused threshold is added to that of the surviving spouse/partner so the maximum threshold can be up to £850,000.

The amount of inheritance tax can further be reduced by:

  • Giving away assets thereby reducing the value of the estate
  • Transfers of up to £3,000 per year are exempt from inheritance tax
  • Small gifts of up to £250 per person in any year are exempt
  • Gifts of up to £5,000 in consideration of marriage are exempt
  • Leaving assets to a charity in your will
  • There are restrictions where more than 10% of the estate has been left to charity
  • Holding assets that are exempt from inheritance tax
  • Shares in unincorporated companies and unquoted securities or land or plant or machinery held and used by an unincorporated company or partnership qualify for business property relief and are exempt.
  • Take out life insurance
  • The inheritance tax is still payable but the insurance pays out on the death of the individual which can then be used to pay the tax.

Inheritance tax planning is a complicated area due to the many anti-avoidance rules so we recommend talking to a tax specialist.