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Fresh Threads: HMRC debt, van compensation, speculative applications, market stalls to a shop

  1. Jas Sensi

    Jas Sensi UKBF Newcomer Staff Member

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    Hi UKBFers,

    Welcome to Fresh Threads, our weekly roundup of the most popular threads, comments and advice from the forums.

    Here are my top picks from the past week.

    1. Can I still appeal this HMRC penalty?


    I went over the VAT turnover threshold in 2018, my VAT was backdated and assessed for £17,500 unpaid VAT which I paid in full. 

    The penalty charge was £4,000 for late registration and I sent an appeal letter back in August 2018. 

    They have now advised they never received the letter and I am too late to appeal, and are asking for the fine. I am now not in a position to pay the penalty. Does the penalty amount attract interest? Is there anything I can do to appeal this now at this late stage?

    obscure: Do you have proof of postage for the appeal letter?

    Mr D: You say you cannot pay the £4,000. Then why worry about charges and interest? Do you owe the money personally or is your business a limited company that owes the money?

    JEREMY HAWKE: I'm sure that they have a massive amount of customers at the moment and if it is a personal liability you might have time to get some money together.

    Aniela: You got charged for late registration. For you to appeal that, you would have had some evidence to show it wasn't a late registration? You should still have that evidence.

    2. Compensation for a van accident

    A few days ago a young driver who wasn't paying attention crashed into the back of my signwritten van causing damage to it. I was able to drive away, but his car was a write-off. He admitted liability and the van has now gone to be repaired by his insurers and a courtesy van supplied.

    Can I decline that they repair it and ask for some form of payment to compensate? Or can I ask for above market value as I need to take into account signwriting a new van, and business time out to source one?

    Mr D: You can ask for above market value. Then, when refused, chase the driver in a civil suit over your extra costs. Getting the money, in the event you win, may take a while.

    Paulears: I doubt you have any rights to change their system, which is designed to put you back to the same state. They almost certainly have discount schemes with preferred repairers to get them the best price, so giving you real money won't be best for them.

    Darren_Ssc: You can commission an independent engineer to access the van if it is repairable but, since most of these people are already regularly employed by insurers, you'll be lucky to find one. Double luck to find one who'll side with you.

    MBE2017: If the van is classed a write-off, you can ask how much they would sell the vehicle for to you you would get a cash price based on its value. 

    3. Speculative application


    Having recently been made redundant, I am in the process of contacting local businesses to find out if they have any available job vacancies. Not wanting to waste anyone's time, I will target relevant businesses for my skill set.

    I was wondering what your reaction to speculative applications would be?

    Do they work? What do you consider a good application?

    bodgitt&scarperLTD: Turn up at the yard, offer a day's work for free. Even if the business doesn't have work currently, if you impress then they will be quick to recommend you to anyone else.

    Alison Moore: It depends, if a business is short-staffed at short notice, a phone call offering your services could be just what they're looking for. But expect a lot of knock backs at the moment, as anyone not looking for staff won't appreciate their day being interrupted.

    The Byre: Everything depends on your skillset. Some skill sets such as general office work and hotel and restaurant trades are available in over-abundance and others, such as experienced building trades with all the right paperwork, are hard to find. 

    Aniela: Most CVs are pointless from the get-go. Unless a job has a specific requirement and you need to show it on your CV, it's pretty much all random luck.

    4. From market stalls to a shop

    BBQ Bill

    We would like to open a city centre shop to sell food and we’re keen to understand what help is available in regards to grants and loans for first-time business owners as well as any tips and tricks to guide us.

    We’ve been working markets and events for the last two years and would welcome any advice from veterans in this space.

    obscure: Generally, there are only grants if you are in a deprived area or a group, such as teens, that someone deems in need of support. Generally, if you are growing a business it is up to you to fund it.

    Socio South West: Check out the local policy on business rates relief for small businesses – in some areas it is 100%. If you do find grants or loans available, make sure you read the small print. If you can go it alone, then my advice would be to do that.

    Mr D: Governments and councils are not that keen to simply give money to expand though you may find a particular grant if you meet its exact conditions. Grants tend to be given to achieve a specific aim.

    PugwashEQ: My very first business went from a mobile van to a fish and chip shop, to eight fish and chip shops which we sold. It could have gone very wrong on so many occasions, and I was really lucky to have some amazing people involved who made everything happen.

    That's all for this week – have a great run into the weekend!