Please note that we close at 5pm on Friday 22/12/23 and re-open at 9am on Tuesday 2/1/24. Merry Christmas and a very HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Autumn 2020 Newsletter

by Iain Mason

Published on 26th October 2020

Welcome to Optimum’s autumn newsletter. It’s been some months since we last published, and much has happened in that time. Who could have predicted Coronavirus and the far-reaching effects it’s had? Throughout, we’ve worked hard keeping our clients updated with developments, and we are grateful for all the support clients have shown us.

We were early to reopen our doors following lockdown, first ensuring we had Covid safety procedures in place. We have also welcomed new additions to our team, including Hannah, our Audit and Assurance Manager, who supports our growing portfolio of audit clients.

It may be some time until we can reintroduce our popular networking breakfasts, but we do welcome visitors to our office and are holding safe, socially distanced meetings here. If you would like to make an appointment to call in, to talk about any accountancy, audit or legal issues, we would be delighted to see you.

Spread the cost of your tax bill if you’re in self-assessment

As part of its response to Coronavirus, the Government is allowing those in self-assessment to spread the cost of their tax bill across monthly payments. This can be arranged online, via HMRC’s Time to Pay service. Once your 2019/20 tax return has been submitted, you can apply to make monthly instalments. Be aware, interest will be applied on any outstanding balance.

You must meet the following criteria:

• No outstanding tax returns
• No other tax debts
• No other HMRC payments set up
• Your self-assessment tax bill is less than £30,000
• It is no more than 60 days since the tax was due for payment.

Combining accountancy and law:
our winning formula

Optimum was the first professional services company in Swindon to offer accountancy and law under one roof – and it has proved to be a winning combination.

Here are just some ways our accountancy and legal teams have worked together:

• We helped a sole trader with a property legal issue and then stepped in to organise their accounts and provide advice on incorporating the business into a limited company.

• A manufacturer contacted us for advice on costings and accounting for an extensive product range, and we later used our expertise to help with a management buyout.

• A client needed legal advice on selling a parcel of land and we were able to assist with tax planning on how best to use the funds.

• We’ve supported a business owner looking to sell the company, with legal and accountancy advice.

The advantage is, we can work together, holding joint meetings to resolve matters quickly and efficiently. If you have an issue that needs both a legal and accountancy approach, we would be delighted to help.

Making a will is now easier than ever

Recent events, and the tragic effects of Coronavirus, have given many of us a chance to stop and think about putting our houses in order – and one area which shouldn’t be overlooked is estate planning, making a will, and lasting powers of attorney.

Under new Government legislation (introduced in response to Covid), it is easier than ever to make or update a will. The regulations now allow those witnessing the signing of a will to do so via video conferencing (such as Zoom or Teams).

This recognises the difficulties some people are having, as they may be self-isolating.

If you have yet to write a will, or wish to update your will, why not talk to our legal team, and they will be happy to help.

Controversy over leaseholds and new build homes

There has been much in the news about the problems homeowners have found with leaseholds and new build properties, and the associated fees they have to pay to the developers.

The issue is being investigated by the Competition and Markets Authority, which has given the UK’s top four residential developers six months to sort out the problem or risk being taken to court.

Thousands of homeowners are subject to hefty annual ground rents that are paid to the freeholder (usually the developer) that, under the terms of the lease, double every ten years. In some cases, people have bought their properties completely unaware that they are buying them as a leasehold and not freehold.

These spiralling ground rents bring a double problem, because they make the property difficult to sell and in some cases impossible to remortgage. Our legal team here specialise in property law, so if you are buying a property from a developer and want some expert help and close scrutiny of the terms of the sale, especially if a lease is involved, then please get in touch.

Accounts & Audit team expands

We’re growing our Accounts and Audit team here at Optimum, to reflect an increasing workload.

At the start of lockdown, we were delighted to appoint Hannah Matthews as Audit and Assurance Manager.

Hannah is working closely with Head of Audit, Rob Stokes, to support a growing portfolio of audit clients, including charities and academy schools. We have recently taken on Zach Bunce and Callum Morton, as Accounts and Audit trainees, who are already getting stuck in, by learning how to prepare accounts and VAT returns, with future audit experience to come in the next few weeks.

Finally, we welcome Carol Conway to the team, who joins as Accounts Assistant.

For accountancy and legal help for you, your business or your family please get in touch with the Optimum team. Our accountancy services include personal tax and business tax, business development, cloud accounting, audit, bookkeeping and payroll. On the legal side, we can help you with buying and selling property, remortgaging, equity release, and all commercial property legal issues. Our legal team also specialise in wills, probate, estate planning and lasting powers of attorney.

If you require more information on the services Optimum provides email:, phone 01793 538 198, visit: or call into the offices at: Vicarage Court, 160 Ermin Street, Stratton, Swindon, SN3 4NE.

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