Brighton Newsletter – December 2019

The next Brighton lunch will be on 10th December 2019, 12:30 PM – 2:30 PM, at the Grand Hotel, sponsored by Harvey John – Book Here

Book onto upcoming dates here:



Harvey John

Ask a recruiter: How many accountancy partners in Brighton and Hove are women?

Tune in for our latest blog in the ‘Ask a recruiter’ series, where we share questions our candidates have about anything within and outside of the job search process. In case you missed it, our previous blog answered the question of finding work at a startup vs corporate company.

This week we’ve decided to answer a question posed by a client of ours to change things up a bit and discuss a query about Brighton and Hove firms.

During a recent meeting, a hiring manager at a notable Sussex firm posed the question: “What proportion of partners at accounting firms are women?”

I wasn’t entirely sure of the answer, but being interested, I decided to look into it.

To gain an insight, I looked at 17 chartered accountancy firms in Brighton and Hove – all of which had more than 1 partner (or in the case of no partner, directors). What I found was this: of 80 partners/directors I measured, 11 were women – just 13.8%, which is 4.2% lower than the national average*.

Partners: Women vs Men

While this initial research is in no way conclusive (the approach in selecting the firms involved being a little less than scientific), it does give an interesting insight into the gender balance at the top of our local firms.

Though this looks to be the case locally, the gender imbalance within senior positions is shifting at the national level. Just last month, Alison Rose was named as the first female leader of a Big 4 bank – and a broader shift can be seen in the trends across the FTSE 350**. In the last 8 years, the number of all male boards has decreased from 152 to just 5 – a 96.7% drop.

However, for accountancy firms, national data indicates something of a bottleneck. Firms included in the top 50+50 survey showed that 45% of qualified accountants were female, demonstrating a 27% disparity between women accessing the sector and those making partner.

There are still substantial barriers preventing women from rising to senior levels which require addressing and solutions. However, the pressing question now is: What can firms in Brighton and Hove do to remove these barriers?




Tune in for our next instalment of ‘Ask a recruiter’. If you want to get in touch about a question you’d like to ask us, contact our team.

Alice Cahill is a Recruitment Consultant in the Accountancy Division at Harvey John.

Eastbourne Newsletter – December 2019

The next Eastbourne lunch will be on 24th January 2020, 12:00 PM – 2:00 PM, at the Grand Hotel, sponsored by Humphrey & Co – Book Here

Book onto upcoming dates here:



Humphrey & Co

Christmas Gifts

At this time of year, it is worth revisiting the tax rules surrounding Christmas gifts and parties:-

Client Christmas gifts

  • Businesses cannot claim a tax deduction for client entertaining (such as a meal or Christmas drinks for clients)
  • Where clients attend your Christmas party, the costs have to be apportioned between them and employees for tax purposes
  • Business gifts to clients are not normally allowed as a deduction against profits – they are treated in the same way as business entertaining.

There are exceptions:-

  1. Gifts of free samples of your products are 100% tax-deductible
  2. Gifts carrying your business advertising or branding are tax-deductible (e.g. mugs, diaries or pens), but only up to £50 per person per annum. However, gifts of food, drink, tobacco and vouchers receive no tax deduction.
  3. Christmas cards to clients and prospects are considered an office expense and are deductible, provided they carry a clear advertisement for the company sending them.
  • VAT on client entertaining is not recoverable. You can reclaim the input VAT on gifts acquired for business purposes, which would include gifts for customers which meet the above conditions.

Staff Christmas gifts

A gift to an employee is tax-deductible provided that it is wholly and exclusively incurred for the purpose of your business. A seasonal gift is considered to pass this test. A gift made by an employer to an employee is not taxed as an employment benefit provided that it meets the criteria for being a trivial benefit. A trivial benefit is one that is non-contractual, costs £50 or less per employee, is not cash or a voucher, and is not for services performed. If the cost exceeds £50, the whole benefit is taxed, not just the excess.

HMRC have traditionally treated the following seasonal gifts as ‘trivial’ benefits:-

  1. A turkey
  2. A box of chocolates
  3. A bottle of ordinary wine

 Staff Christmas parties

Provided the staff Christmas party meets certain rules, they are free of tax and National Insurance Contributions.

The party must be open to all employees and the cost to the employer must not exceed £150 per head (including VAT, taxis and overnight accommodation), this being the total cost of the party divided by the total number of people attending (including non-employees).

Where the cost is less than £150 per head, the unused element could be spent on another staff function (perhaps in the summer) – provided the annual aggregate spend does not exceed the £150 per head limit. If the limit is exceeded, you can choose the lower costing event as taxable.

Eastbourne Newsletter – November 2019

The next Eastbourne lunch will be on 22nd November 2019, 12:00 PM – 2:00 PM, at the Grand Hotel, sponsored by Humphrey & Co – Book Here

Book onto upcoming dates here:



Humphrey & Co



It was announced on 14 October that Sajid Javed’s first budget would be on 6 November but with a general election in December when will it be now?


The current political uncertainty makes it difficult to give clear tax advice as a number of key proposals in the draft Finance Bill scheduled to take effect from April 2020 might not now take place, due to the December general election.


The key tax measures “in limbo” until legislated in Finance Act 2020 are:


–       Extending the “off-payroll” working rules to the private sector

–       Restricting R&D repayable credit for SMEs

–       Limiting CGT private residence and lettings reliefs

–       The proposed 2% reduction in P11d car benefits


The “off-payroll” working rules will almost certainly proceed, even if not from 6 April 2020, and thus businesses and workers affected should prepare for the planned changes. Contact us if you need help in assessing the likely impact on your business.

Brighton Newsletter – November 2019

The next Brighton lunch will be on 10th December 2019, 12:30 PM – 2:30 PM, at the Grand Hotel, sponsored by Harvey John – Book Here

Book onto upcoming dates here:



Harvey John

Women in Business: Sarah Henwood

Harvey John have the pleasure in sponsoring ‘Brighton Ladies Lunch’ held at The Grand Hotel, Brighton across 2019/2020 in collaboration with Ladies Lunch Club and Consortium.

 In recognition, we continue our ‘Women in Business’ blog series to highlight the achievements and careers of inspirational business women. This month, we are joined by Sarah Henwood.

Sarah is the CEO of Thomson Snell & Passmore. Managing a successful business that is 450 years old next year takes a lot of work but Sarah does it all with an open approach and value she puts in her winning team (amongst many other things!).

Sarah, thanks for taking the time out of your schedule to join us. Can you start by telling us about yourself, background, and your current role?

I’m the CEO of the world’s oldest law firm Thomson Snell & Passmore.  We’re located in Kent and advise both commercial and private clients. Although our primary coverage is the SEast of England we also have many clients throughout the UK.  I’ve spent most of my working life with professional services firms specialising in BD and marketing and have supplemented this with experience in change management, advertising and running a charity.

Sarah Henwood

How did you get to where you are today and who/what helped you along the way?

I’m having a brilliant career, though none of it was planned. I’ve lived and worked in the US, Asia, and England, having been privileged to work with many different cultures. I’ve met Prime Ministers, members of the Royal family, and also inspirational people who’ve built their businesses from scratch. I believe in having a ‘can do’ approach, trying to do the best job you can, being open to experiences and opportunities, and being helped by some great mentors along the way.

With such an extensive wealth of experience, what are the most important things that come with progressing as the owner/director of a business?

Being approachable and listening to your clients and your people, taking the time to find out what really matters to them and trying to deliver that. Playing it straight and doing what you say you’ll do or letting people know why you can’t. Being prepared to make the tough decisions but doing so in a way that’s respectful of those involved. Also remember, however well you think you communicate, it’s the other person’s perception of your message that counts.

That’s very true that you have to know how to communicate and make those difficult decisions while also understanding how the other might respond. Having these skills can lead to great success for the business. Success looks different to everyone though, what does it look like to you?

I love to win but winning as a team, achieving what we set out to do in the best way possible and making sure we have some fun doing it. I love seeing people grow, whether it’s acquiring new skills, confidence, or insights.

What is leadership for you, in running a successful business and team, and how in your experience do female leaders differ from male leaders?

To put it bluntly; it’s about getting results. But how you go about that is what defines you as a leader. I hope I’m seen as honest, approachable, brave, clear in direction and guidance, and as someone who listens but is also decisive. I may not do great things, but I hope to provide the context and platform for people to do great things.

I’ve worked with some great leaders – both men and women – and different situations require different types of leadership. Good leaders are the ones who have integrity, doing the right thing even when no-one is looking.  They’re also true to themselves and don’t try to be something they’re not. We all have strengths and weaknesses; it’s understanding what they are and working within that.

Understanding and learning from a potential weakness is a sign of someone willing to be a great leader. In your career, what has been the greatest challenge you’ve faced that you’ve had to overcome?

Every role has its challenges, the key is learning how to manage them, be it opposition to ideas, personality clashes, bullying, redundancy, or being a single working mum. I’ve learnt, eventually, to never be afraid to ask for help and advice, and a large bar of chocolate always helps!

Chocolate is a great cure-all for sure! Aside from career challenges, what’s your biggest bug bear in the corporate world?

3 things; bullying, bad client service – both of these apply equally internally and externally – and, lastly, constipation in getting things done!

What’s one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

The fact that I’ve never planned where I was going so I’ve always been open to opportunities. And if I’m allowed a second; finding a culture that fits with my values.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

The pressure others put on you will never be as much as you put on yourself – chill!

Thank you Sarah for taking the time to share your experiences with us and for being part of our Women in Business series. We wish you all the best in your future endeavours!

Sarah can be followed:

Hove Newsletter – October 2019

The next Hove lunch will be on 12th November 2019, 12:30 PM – 2:30 PM, at the Ginger Pig Pub, sponsored by Whitespace & ViiSana – Book here

Book onto upcoming dates here:





Viisana logo



ViiSana | We’ve rebranded!

Since we started back in 2015, we’ve offered life and health insurance with a difference, and our mission was simple – to encourage our clients to take small steps to a healthier life whilst protecting themselves, their families and their businesses.

We’ve learnt a great deal along the way, winning awards as we have gone – recognising the unique approach we take in the market. Our offering has developed and strengthened, and as a result of this we have decided to refresh our brand and logo’s, so that they truly reflect what our business has to offer.

Why the change?

Our brand lies at the heart of our business and is derived from the Spanish term ‘Vida Sana’ – to lead a healthy life. As we continue to add new products to our proposition, we felt that our brand needed capture our mission – to help our clients take control of their lives, health and wealth.


There is no change to our ownership, and we remain a privately-owned family run business.


Our vision

Our new logo represents our promise to help clients make life-changing decisions to reduce potentially life-changing risks. We want to present our brand clearly, without ambiguity and for it to demonstrate our offering in a straightforward way. We believe that we have achieved this with a logo and strapline that reflects our maturity as a company and is bold and clear, representing the company that stands behind it.

If you have any questions regarding the changes or indeed feedback, please do let me know.  For more news on this and other exciting developments, please follow us on social media; Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter or visit our website

Eastbourne Newsletter – October 2019

The next Eastbourne lunch will be on the 22nd of November 2019 12:00 PM – 2:00 PM at the Grand Hotel in Eastbourne, sponsored by Humphrey & Co – Book here

Book onto upcoming dates here:



Humphrey & Co



Recent figures provided by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) show that in the tax year to 5 April 2019 HMRC increased their investigations into inheritance tax (IHT) paying estates by some 25%. Such investigations are carried out to ensure executors have reported the full extent of the deceased’s estate as well as checking that the correct reliefs and allowances have been claimed.

It is considered that this growth in investigations is at least partly attributable to the complexities of the residence nil-rate band (RNRB). This relief was first introduced in April 2017 and by 6 April 2020 there will be potential for up to £175,000 of RNRB to be claimed, with a possible doubling up of this relief for some couples to £350,000. This is a potential saving of up to £140,000 in IHT on some estates.

As executors have a responsibility to deliver a correct IHT account to HMRC, if an investigation uncovers errors resulting in underpaid IHT then, as well as interest on unpaid IHT being due, there can also be penalties imposed by HMRC on the executors.

Our Trust & Estate Support Services (TESS) team are probate regulated by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales with substantial experience on assisting executors with completion of IHT forms and calculating the IHT tax due. They can also advise on the responsibilities of executors as well as guidance to lay executors on how to administer estates.

For further information please contact Amanda Eade or Sue Pocklington on 01323 730631.



 Our Trust & Estate Support Services (TESS) team are taking a stand at the Good Life Show in Eastbourne on Thursday 26th September. The show is open to visitors from 10.30am to 3.30pm, in the new Welcome Building at the Devonshire Quarter.

The lifestyle show covers many areas of interest and brings together a wide range of exhibitors with an appeal to people over the age of 50.

The TESS team will be on-hand to offer further information on their services including:

  • Inheritance Tax
  • Probate Applications
  • Estate Administration
  • Trust Administration
  • Wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney

Further details can be found on the Good Life Show website at


Worthing Newsletter – October 2019

The next Worthing lunch will be on 9th October 2019 12:00 PM – 2:00 PM at Liming Mexican bar & Grill sponsored by Bennett Griffin – Book here

Book onto upcoming dates here:


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Bennett Griffin

Cycling Safety

Whilst training for Ride London this year, I decided to join a whole load of cycling groups on social media. Hurrah! I had found a rare slice of social media that was both encouraging and supportive as well as having a wealth of helpful information. A rare sanctuary hidden away from people shouting at each other about Brexit.

One morning though there was a post referring to an article about a civil Court case that up until then had moved through the Court system with little fuss and no coverage whatsoever. The facts of the case were that on 20th July 2015 the Claimant was crossing a street in London along with other pedestrians as the Defendant was cycling northbound over London Bridge. He cycled through a green light at a busy junction and ahead of him the Claimant along with a number of other pedestrians were crossing the road. There was then a collision between the cyclist and one of those pedestrians who in the eyes of the writer was on her mobile phone and not paying any attention. The decision was a 50-50 judgment, ie the Claimant was entitled to 50% of her claim. Furthermore the cyclist did not have insurance so was facing financial difficulties in order to meet the judgment.

Cries of “outrageous!” went up. ‘How can this be? The world has gone mad!’ ‘Everyone is against cyclists’. ‘Wouldn’t happen if this was a driver!’

Having been in this area of law for quite a few years I have become quite accustomed to the media, shall we say, not providing a particularly good balance in this area. Donning my tin hat I therefore waded in suggesting to others that until the actual facts of the case were made known, it might be worthwhile just suspending any outrage as the reality may be different to how it had been reported. I retreated not long after following a gentleman sending me numerous links to tragic accidents involving cars where the drivers had got away ‘Scott free’. These of course were all criminal cases.

Helpfully though, the barrister representing the Claimant, Aneurin Moloney, very helpfully provided not only his note of the judgment of the case but also a note about the proceedings. This provided further information suggesting the following:
1. The cyclist knew that the point where the pedestrians were crossing was not controlled by a red/green man.
2. On seeing the pedestrians, the cyclist sounded his air horn which cleared a path.
3. Upon so doing, the cyclist continued to accelerate.
4. The Claimant, who was on her mobile phone at the time, then stuttered and retreated towards the central island rather than continuing on to the pavement.
5. The cyclist shouted a warning, tried to swerve but could not avoid the Claimant and there was a collision.

So whose fault should it be? The judge concluded the following:

1. The cyclist owed a duty to other road users to drive with reasonable care and skill. He had anticipated all the pedestrians would continue on to the pavement. The Claimant was established on the road.
2. The cyclist made a judgment call that it was clear to proceed when in fact there were pedestrians in the carriageway. He had some understanding that when pedestrians are established on the road they must be given way.
3. As a result he fell below the standard to be expected. A cyclist must be prepared for the pedestrians to behave in unexpected ways.
4. The Claimant’s conduct was also an important contributory factor. She was on her phone and she turned and went back. If she was crossing the road without looking then she must have equal culpability.
In this respect the Judge is saying that the onus on the cyclist is no different to that of a car driver, in that it is reasonable to expect them to respond to what happens in front of them, even if it is not what they are expecting. In this instance there was a pedestrian in the road crossing, with no idea that a cyclist was travelling towards her at 20mph. He was not entitled to think that when she finally saw him she would just continue onto the pavement like the other pedestrians. Whilst I would love to ensure a clear path every time I go out on my bike, I know that drivers or pedestrians often do daft things. This judgment says that if I see that and I have the opportunity to ensure there is not an accident, then I am under a duty to do so.

What we need to remember here is that just like cyclists, pedestrians are vulnerable road users. In fact relative to cyclists they are even more vulnerable. So in this case, the vulnerability of the pedestrian trumps that of the cyclist due simply to the fact that a cyclist is going to do more damage to the pedestrian than the other way round. It is no different to a cyclist being hit by a ten tonne box of steel. So cyclists should actually take a lot of comfort from a decision like this.

It does however throw up arguments of insurance. The cyclist in this case was not insured. Whether or not the crowdfunding page set up in his name covers all his costs remains to be seen, but clearly this is not a position many would like to find themselves in. My personal view is that I am totally against mandatory legal insurance for cyclists. We should be doing everything in our power to make it easier to cycle not harder. Getting people out of their cars and on to 2 wheels is good for their physical and mental health, and allows more room on the roads of those who have no option but to drive. We need more protected cycle lanes and a change in attitude about who is responsible for the safety of cyclists. That being said, I am insured and that will remain the case. I will also wear a helmet, although that’s a blog for another day. Maybe I should wear it whilst writing it. Now there’s a thought.


Brighton Newsletter – October 2019

The next lunch is on the 10th of December at the Grand Hotel in Brighton, 12:30 PM – 2:30 PM, sponsored by Harvey John – Book here

Book onto upcoming dates here:



Harvey John

Harvey John take part in the Brighton Legal Walk 2019

On the 10th of September 2019, we had the honour of taking part in the Brighton Legal Walk, a sponsored 10km around Brighton and Hove which raises money for agencies including Citizens Advice Brighton & Hove, Brighton Housing Trust, Possability People, and Money Advice Plus. All the agencies assisted provide much needed services in the community and positively affect peoples’ lives every day.

Brighton Legal Walk - Harvey John 2019

At the heart of the London Legal Support Trust (LLST), who organise these events, is the belief that “access to justice should be equally available to everyone, regardless of their financial situation”. This is tempered by the understanding that “in practice it is not the case”.


According to the Ministry of Justice, there were 870 not-for-profit legal aid providers in the period 2012/13.

Just 95 remained in 2013/14.

There are only 47 in 2019/20.

This plummet originally came from an estimated £100 million removed from these providers due to funding cuts across legal aid in part due to the LASPO reforms enacted in 2013, local government, and other funding changes. The MoJ reported that in the 2013/14 period, “the most common sources of funding for legal advice were local government and charitable sources”. When this level of funding was removed, many were simply unable to continue on.

With the cuts continuing to affect one of the most common funding sources for these providers, it’s of paramount importance that people come together to help them to continue with their work. According to the director of the Law Centres Network, Julie Bishop, “several more law centres [are] in a “precarious” state and likely to close soon”.

As part of seven Legal Support Trusts across England and Wales, the LLST aims to support legal advice agencies and law centres through grants, allowing access to justice, assistance, and advice. There are currently more than 12 Legal Walks which take place annually around the country, with the London Legal Walk being the largest of them all. Each of these looks to help provide access to justice and legal advice in their community, regardless of financial situation.

This year the Brighton Legal Walk broke all previous records, raising over £5,600 so far. With almost double the number of walkers this year to last, 140 people made up 26 teams who came together with the goal of raising much needed funds to support the work of these agencies.

The fundraising pages for the Legal Walk remain open for the next 3 months so we can keep adding to the total which will go towards providing legal advice and assistance to the most vulnerable individuals and families in our community.

Brighton Legal Walk group 2019



Worthing – September 2019

The next Worthing lunch will be on 10th October 2019 12:00 PM – 2:00 PM at Liming Mexican bar & Grill sponsored by Bennett Griffin – Book here

There will be a guest speaker from Turning Tides at this lunch speaking about their charity event in September called Go the Distance!

Book onto upcoming dates here:


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Bennett Griffin

Pensions on Divorce

A pension is often the largest capital asset after the equity in the family home within a marriage or civil partnership. Pensions can be complex and confusing at the best of times. It is therefore important to give pensions proper consideration when negotiating the financial settlement, with the assistance of a divorce lawyer and aided by an experienced financial adviser or Actuary if you and your lawyer determine this necessary and advisable.

There are three main options for dealing with a pension on divorce. These are offsetting, an attachment order (formerly referred to as an earmarking order) and pension sharing.

Offsetting means setting the value of the pension against another asset, for example, the house. For example, you might secure a larger share of the family home in return for your former spouse retaining his/her pension. This may seem a simple solution but there are risks. It is important to appreciate that it is not an easy exercise to compare the value of a pension which is a future income stream and say money in the bank which is readily available to you.

An attachment Order is where a percentage of the member’s pension is set aside for the former spouse to claim on retirement. The former spouse has no control over when the payment is received as it is very much dependent upon when the pension member elects to draw his/her pension which he/she, for whatever reason, may elect to defer. For example the pension member may elect to defer drawing his/her pension at age 65 years until, say aged 70 years meaning that the former spouse has to wait a further five years before receiving the benefit of the attachment Order. Further the benefit of the attachment order to the former spouse will be lost if he/she (the former spouse) remarries or if the pension member dies.

Pension sharing is probably the most preferred option. It allows for a percentage of the member’s pension to be transferred to a pension scheme in the other spouse’s name. As the pension assets are split immediately, it means that each party can decide what to do with their share independently.

In April 2015 a far greater degree of flexibility was introduced to the accessibility of pension assets. It means in the divorce context that it may be possible to cater more specifically for the needs of the parties. However, there are also risks and limitations, thus reinforcing the need for securing expert advice.

Only a Court can make a pension sharing order or pension attachment order. Further, the Order can only be implemented when a decree absolute of divorce or dissolution has been made. Even if you decide to pursue the option of offsetting it is advisable to incorporate the terms in a sealed Order of the court to ensure certainty and also enforceability should something go wrong.

Jackie Gifford, Chartered Legal Executive ( and Jackie Mensah, Collaborative Lawyer and Associate Solicitor ( are specialist family lawyers and understand the complexities surrounding pensions and divorce and can work in partnership with other financial specialists, if required, to make sure that you get a fair settlement.