Category Archives: Press Releases

Accountant urges farmers to seek assistance with BPS payments ahead of the deadline

team-paul-lairdWith just weeks left until the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) closes the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) 2018 application window, Paul Laird of leading independent accountancy firm The Fish Partnership is encouraging farmers to seek help if they are struggling.

The BPS is an important subsidy paid to the majority of UK farmers and forms part of the money provided by the EU to the UK’s rural community.

Administered by the RPA, it has come under criticism in recent years following delays to the essential payments and a reduction in the number of helpful drop-in centres on offer to farmers.

In order to claim the BPS, farmers must provide a package of information that helps the RPA to assess the amount of subsidy they are entitled to, which can include information on the smallest of details, such as hedge boundaries.

Speaking about the BPS process, Paul, a Director at the Fish Partnership and an expert in the affairs of farming communities, said: “Collecting, collating and checking the data and information required for the BPS submission can take weeks, but failing to secure the subsidy could be the difference between survival and failure for some farms.

“It is important that they do not take this task lightly and if they are unsure they should seek the advice of a professional who can help them complete their submission on time.

“While the future of such subsidy payments to the farming community after 2021 is still in question in light of Brexit, it is important that farms put themselves in a strong position ahead of this date to ensure they are able to weather any future stormy periods.”

Spring Statement hints at bigger changes in Budget, but Fish Partnership says Chancellor needs to listen to businesses’ needs

team-paul-lairdOne of Buckinghamshire’s leading firms of accountants, Fish Partnership, has said the Chancellor’s first Spring Statement hinted at larger moves in this year’s Autumn Budget, which needs to consider the needs of smaller businesses.

Even before the Chancellor rose, HM Treasury had played down the impact of the first Spring Statement.

It had been touted as a ‘mini-budget’ with little or no tax changes or spending announcements, and yet Philip Hammond’s speech ended up delivering a few small measures to help businesses to grow.

However, The Fish Partnership said that underneath the small giveaways there were more important indications that the Government might be changing track on its spending plans – possibly signalling an end to more than a decade of austerity.

Amongst the announcements made by the Chancellor were a new £80 million fund to help small businesses to recruit new apprentices, the release of £95 million to help bring high-speed fibre broadband to new areas in the UK and a change to the date of the next business rate revaluation from 2022 to 2021 – reducing future rates bills for businesses.

He also provided an overview of the economy using the latest figures from the Office for Budget Responsibility, which showed that in the short-term GDP growth would rise, only to slow again in the long-term.

Paul Laird, Director at The Fish Partnership, said: “We weren’t expecting much from the Spring Statement, with the Chancellor and the Treasury going out of their way to downplay the speech.

“However, it would be fair to say that there were a few measures included in the Statement that were unexpected.

“Yet the biggest thing to come out of the Statement was the suggestion that the Government could be looking to increase spending later in the year – bringing to an end more than 10 years of austerity.

“It is now vitally important that the Government engages with businesses to see how funding and future measures can be directed to provide benefits that ensure they are able to grow and become more productive.”

Paul added that businesses needed to become more vocal about the changes they needed while also preparing themselves to take advantage of any opportunities that may come out of the Autumn Budget later this year.

In the hours following the Spring Statement the Treasury released a number of new consultation documents, including most importantly a review of the VAT threshold, with a view to removing the tax barriers that prevent small businesses from growing.

Accountants call on farmers not to delay after extension of subsidies timetable

team-paul-lairdThe environment secretary, Michael Gove, kicked off 2018 by confirming that farmers would continue receiving similar levels of farm subsidies until 2022, but a specialist accountant at Buckinghamshire-based firm The Fish Partnership has said farmers still need to be ready for future cuts.

Farmers currently receive around £3 billion a year from the EU in subsidies which are based on the land they manage or own.

This latest announcement will give them an additional two years, on top of the original 2020 deadline promised after Brexit, to prepare for the new farm payments system.

The Government has said this new system will reward farmers for looking after the environment and making land more accessible to the public.

Mr Gove described the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy as “unjust” and as a system that didn’t “really reward efficiency”.

He said that during the transition to the new system the Government would aim to reduce the largest subsidies, with a maximum cap or a sliding scale of reductions and insisted there would be a “smooth path” towards a new way of paying farmers when EU subsidies ended.

Commenting on the new plan for farm payments after Brexit, Paul Laird, a Director at The Fish Partnership and an expert in rural affairs said: “Many farmers will welcome the two additional years of funding, but they must remember that this means they only have four years to prepare for a completely new system – the details of which are still to be fully fleshed out.

“Mr Gove has suggested that farmers will be rewarded for undertaking actions that benefit the environment and public, so farm businesses need to consider how they can adapt their current business model and land management in preparation for this new system.

Paul added that research showed that a cut in subsidies would see the average UK farm income fall from a current level of around £38,000 per year to nearer £15,000*.

“Whether you agree or don’t agree with the Environment Secretary it is vitally important that farms begin preparations now, as very few businesses could survive their income being effectively halved as some studies have suggested,” added Paul.

Leading accountants warn of rising farm costs

team-paul-lairdA leading accountant at Buckinghamshire-based firm The Fish Partnership is warning farmers about a rise in input costs over the next 12 months.

The warning comes after a report was produced by AF Group which showed that input costs for farmers had risen by five per cent in the last year.

Its latest AgInflation Index, which was released at the end of 2017, showed that one of the most significant rises was the cost of fuel, which rose by 11.5 per cent in the year to September 2017.

The cost of seeds also rose by 7.3 per cent, as did fertiliser which saw an 8.7 per cent increase.

Meanwhile, contract and hire costs rose by 8.5 per cent, but these are expected to increase further with the recent change to the UK base interest rate in November.

Responding to the latest research, Paul Laird, a Director at The Fish Partnership and an expert in rural affairs said: “We have seen first-hand the rising cost to the farmer in the UK, which in many cases is the result of more expensive imports.

“With the pound still performing well below other currencies following the Brexit referendum the cost of buying overseas imports has risen and many domestic suppliers have followed suit as well.

“While this has also served to drive demand from the continent as well, due to the lower cost of UK produce, it would seem that the rise in input costs certainly isn’t matched by the additional income.”

He said businesses struggling with the new costs need to seek help to ensure their ability to trade wasn’t affected.

“So far we have seen some improvements in the strength of the pound early in 2018, costs are still likely to remain high for some time and those farmers experiencing cashflow issues as a result of higher prices need to seek advice sooner rather than later,” Paul added.

Chancellor talks of small businesses as ‘backbone of British economy’ but delivers little to SMEs, says The Fish Partnership

team-denise-eylesOne of High Wycombe’s leading firms of accountants, The Fish Partnership, has reviewed the Chancellor’s Autumn Budget and says that it offers little to help small businesses.

Rising to address Parliament the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, recognised that the Government could not “build an economy fit for the future without supporting its backbone” – the country’s small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Mr Hammond proclaimed that he recognised the pressure small businesses were under, but The Fish Partnership says that this is not truly reflected in the Budget he went on to deliver.

One of the key measures in his speech was the confirmation that the National Living Wage (NLW) and National Minimum Wage would continue to rise, with the NLW reaching £7.83 per hour from April next year.

This will increase payroll costs significantly for firms, forcing them to pay additional National Insurance Contributions and increasing payments into their workplace pension schemes.

Denise Eyles, Tax Director at The Fish Partnership, said: “It is good to see that Philip Hammond recognises the importance of SMEs to the UK, however, it is a shame that one of the measures in his Budget will see costs rise for businesses of all sizes. Whilst wages do need to rise to meet inflation, an increase of around 4.4 per cent for workers aged 25 and over may be more than some companies can endure.

“Some companies will have to look at other areas of their business in order to meet these costs, which may mean reducing investment in years to come – something that businesses may already be doing in the light of Brexit.”

In a small giveaway to SMEs, Mr Hammond announced changes to business rates that will see the date at which rates switch from being set by the Retail Price Index (RPI) to Consumer Price Index (CPI) brought forward to April 2018 – two years ahead of schedule. This is expected to reduce the burden of business rates by £2.3 billion over the next five years.

The Chancellor also confirmed that the Government would invest £2.3 billion in research and development, setting aside additional money, worth up to £500 million, for the development of AI and broadband. R&D Research and Development Expenditure Credit would increase from 11 per cent to 12 per cent on qualifying expenditure, to help businesses invest more.

Small businesses across the UK will also welcome the freezing of the VAT threshold. Prior to the Budget, the Office for Tax Simplification released a report suggesting that the Government should reduce the threshold to bring more businesses within the VAT regime – as the UK has one of the world’s highest limits.

However, the Chancellor said he may look to reform the threshold in future, but not within the next two years.

“I would imagine that many small business owners will be very disappointed by this Budget,” said Denise. “Whilst there are a handful of ‘gifts’ scattered here and there, the proposals as a whole fail to address some of the key issues that companies are currently facing.”

On a personal level, the Chancellor also confirmed that the personal income tax allowance would continue to rise to £11,850 in April 2018, while the higher rate threshold will rise to £46,350, which is in line with the Government’s current commitments.

Weak pound is a double edged sword for farmers, says Fish Partnership

A leading agricultural specialist from award-winning accountancy firm, The Fish Partnership, has said that official figures on farm profits are only one side of the story when it comes to Brexit.

The latest Government figures indicate that farm incomes in the UK have grown by up to 20 per cent during the last 12 months – mainly due to the fall in the value of Sterling and its impact on Common Agriculture Policy Basic Payments.

Released by the Department for the Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs (Defra), the figures also show an increased interest from overseas markets in ‘cheaper’ British produce as a result of weaker exchange rates, which also assisted farmers.

According to Defra, average profit for most farms in the UK during the last year was £38,000, an increase of 20 per cent on the £31,600 figure for the previous year.

The average basic payment, a subsidy paid by the Government to UK farmers from EU funding, was also up by 19 per cent – rising to £28,000.

Some sectors benefited more strongly from the weaker pound with specialist pig farmers seeing their average income increase by 167 per cent from £21,600 in 2015-16 to £57,800 in 2016-17.

However, other businesses in the farming sector did not gain as much, with horticultural enterprises seeing their income rise on average by just 29 per cent from £34,400 to £43,800.

Worse than that, around 20 per cent of cereal, dairy, lowland grazing livestock, mixed and poultry farms failed to make a profit at all in 2016-17.

Despite this surge in income amongst UK farmers, Paul Laird, a Director at The Fish Partnership has said that the weaker pound has also brought with it higher costs for fuel, livestock feed, transport and fertilisers, which have severely limited the scope of the current boom.

“The effects of Brexit are unpredictable and while many farms have enjoyed a boost in income as the result of a weakened pound – which has fallen in value by as much as 11 per cent against the dollar – they have also seen costs grow significantly,” said Paul.

“The next five years are likely to be even more uncertain, especially with potential trade tariffs and reductions in subsidies on the horizon, so it is essential that farmers make the most of the opportunities available to them now.”

He called on farmers to establish a number of different business plans that took into consideration the various changes that could arise in the next three to five years.

Paul said: “Future business planning needs to incorporate a higher degree of flexibility than ever before, so that rural businesses are properly prepared for any eventuality.

“It is also worth conducting more thorough checks of a farm’s finances by having regular management accounts prepared, so that owners can spot any weaknesses sooner and react.”

Fish Partnership expands with new appointments

The Fish Partnership, a leading firm of accountants based in High Wycombe, has announced the appointment of three new members of staff.

Kate B, Gareth Lathe and Alex McKeand have joined the firm and will now undergo training with the team, which continues to experience increased interest in its tax and accountancy services from local businesses.

Kate has previous experience in the field of accountancy, having previously spent two-and-a-half years at another practice before moving to a car tuning firm, where she worked as a Company Administrator.

She will work as a Management Accountant at The Fish Partnership, where she will assist clients with cash-flow forecasting and online accounting.

She will also study for the prestigious Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) qualification alongside her day-to-day duties at the firm.

The firm has also welcomed Gareth Lathe, a recent Accounting and Finance degree graduate, who has previous work experience within the world of finance.

Gareth will study towards the tough Association of Chartered Accountants (ACA) qualifications, which are accredited by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW).

Meanwhile, Alex joins the firm having completed a Business Management degree. He will be working in the firm’s audit and accounts department, where he will help with the preparation of accounts. He will also sit the ACA exams with hopes of one day becoming a Chartered Accountant.

Christopher Nisbet, Director at the Fish Partnership, said: “We are very excited to be welcoming Alex, Gareth and Kate to our team and look forward to seeing how they progress in their new positions.

“Both of them will be sitting some of the toughest qualifications in the industry, which will set them apart as experts in their field and ensure that our clients receive high quality services and advice.”

Alex McKeand , Kate B and Gareth Lathe have joined The Fish Partnership
Alex McKeand , Kate B and Gareth Lathe have joined The Fish Partnership


Fish Partnership encourages farmers to monitor financial performance closely

team-paul-lairdA specialist in the affairs of agricultural businesses at Buckinghamshire-based accountancy firm, Fish Partnership, is encouraging farmers to keep on top of their financial figures to avoid business distress.

In recent years the UK’s farming community has faced a number of pressures, from falling farmgate prices, to greater global competition and now the uncertainty of Brexit and a potential loss of EU subsidies.

With this in mind Paul Laird, Director at the Fish Partnership, is calling on the owners of agribusinesses to reassess how they monitor their financial performance and assets to ensure they don’t find themselves in trouble.

His message comes as new research from restructuring and insolvency trade body, R3, shows that more than one in five rural businesses in the South East (22 per cent) have been identified as being at a higher risk of insolvency in August.

“Farmers and agribusiness owners are in the whole very good at monitoring and managing their finances, but with so much uncertainty surrounding prices, land values and subsidies, it pays to gain a better understanding of their affairs,” said Paul.

“There are a number of options open to business owners depending on their size and complexity, from detailed monthly management accounts to incorporating online accountancy packages into their existing business, which can be checked in real-time by them and their advisers.”

Paul believes that with the minimal of outlay farmers can gain a far greater understanding of where their business is heading and identify signs of business stress sooner.

He said: “Like any business, information is power. Knowing where your strengths and weaknesses lie well in advance gives you that extra time to prepare yourself or seek the extra help you require.”

If you would like to know more about Fish Partnership’s range of services for farms and rural businesses, please 01628 527956 or visit

Top High Wycombe accountants celebrate second shortlisting success in seven days

12e59ff4bdaece7004f5329f275b7937b00a49923e54b8fb5d4e625ca8e3582cOne of High Wycombe’s leading accountancy firms is celebrating after securing its second shortlisting successes in the last seven days with the announcement that it is a finalist in the Medium Practice of the Year and the Practice Growth categories at the AccountingWeb Practice Excellence Awards.

These latest successes for The Fish Partnership follow hot on the heels of the announcement a week ago that the firm is a finalist in the Independent Firm of the Year – South East England category at the British Accountancy Awards.

The firm was one of just a handful to be shortlisted from more than 200 entries, following a rigorous judging process which saw the firm make a detailed written submission setting out its commitment to delivering the best possible service to each of its clients.

Martin Sheehy, Managing Director at The Fish Partnership, said: “It has been a great week for us here at The Fish Partnership, with the announcements that we are in the running for not one, but two prestigious industry awards.

“This is wonderful recognition of the efforts of our whole team, who are all dedicated to ensuring that we provide the very best possible service to each of our clients, which has led to rapid growth for our firm.

“We are now looking forward to the award ceremonies in the autumn, where we will discover whether we will be crowned as overall winners.”

The winners of the Practice Excellence Awards will be announced at a gala awards ceremony at The Brewery in London on 19 October 2017.

To find out more about The Fish Partnership’s range of tax and accountancy services, please call 01628 527956 or visit

Leading High Wycombe accountancy firm recognised with prestigious customer service award

Martin Sheehy, Managing Director at The Fish Partnership, is present with the Buckinghamshire Business Award on behalf of the firm.
Martin Sheehy, Managing Director at The Fish Partnership, is presented with the Buckinghamshire Business Award on behalf of the firm.

Directors and staff at one of High Wycombe’s leading accountancy firms are celebrating after they were named as the winners of the Excellence in Customer Service category at the Buckinghamshire Business Awards.

The firm was presented with the prestigious accolade, following a rigorous judging process, in recognition of its strong track record of delivering high quality services and support to its clients.

The awards, which were organised by local group Buckinghamshire Business First, recognise the county’s entrepreneurial spirit, innovation and drive, while celebrating the ‘best of the best’ in business.

Martin Sheehy, Managing Director at The Fish Partnership, said: “We are delighted to have received this award. Delivering excellent levels of service to every client is our top priority and it is wonderful that this has been recognised by the judges.

“At the Fish Partnership, we take pride in providing first-rate client service that makes life easier for our clients and gives them the time to focus on growing their businesses.”

The award was presented to the Fish Partnership at a prestigious ceremony at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre on Friday 30 June 2017.