Thursday, 28 March 2019

Business, Big and Small, are Urged to Audit their Intellectual Property Regularly.

Intellectual property is an umbrella term used to cover creations by individuals or businesses which include; trademarks, design, copyright and patents. IP also links to other areas such as confidentiality and trade secrets.

The Intellectual Property Office recommends all businesses, big and small, regularly audit their intellectual property to ensure they are adequately protected.

1. Define Your Work

Understanding what IP you have within your business is vital to protecting it. For example, it is vitally important that you keep your patentable inventions secret at least until you have filed your application. However, keeping your company name a secret is obviously not advisable - the whole point of your brand is to get yourself known!
Make Use of the IPO's IP Equip tool for free to help you find out more about how IP relates to your business.

2. Do You Own It?

A businesses website is often created by a website designer, an app by a software engineer, a logo by a graphic designer, or advertising material by a marketing agency. But if these creators are not part of your business, perhaps they’re a subcontractor or a friend, then you may not own what is being made for you. In these scenarios, and in the absence of employment or a contract stating ownership, copyright will stay with the creator.

To find out the common issues that exist for businesses and what you may be able to do about them, you can use the IPO's IP Health Check tool.

3. Did You Get There First?

It’s not uncommon for a business to say, ‘I own my name, I’m registered at Companies House’. Now, although registering your company name at Companies House is very important, it is not, in fact, the thing that protects your name in trade - that is what a trademark is for.

You can search for your trademark on the IPO website for free!

4. Do You Plan of Selling Abroad

Intellectual Property is often a regional right and can be treated differently from country to country. Your patents, registered trademarks and registered designs will only be protected in the countries in which you’re registered and granted those rights.

Copyright is recognised automatically in most other countries. This means that your copyright will usually have protection without registration from the moment you create it. However be careful, certain countries will have different rules to what exactly is covered by copyright, as well as how long such rights should last in certain circumstances.

The IPO have a series of country guides which can help you understand certain nuances in certain countries. They also have an attaché network in Brazil, India, South East Asia and China which helps UK businesses understand and develop their IP in those countries.

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Is Your Business Ready For Tax Going Digital on 1st April 2019?

Making Tax Digital is a key part of the government’s plans to become one of the most digitally advanced tax administrations in the world. The programme will result in fundamental changes to the way the tax system works – with the aim of making it more effective, more efficient and easier for taxpayers to get their tax right.


VAT-registered businesses with a taxable turnover above the VAT threshold will be required to use the Making Tax Digital service to keep records digitally and use software to submit their VAT returns from 1 April 2019.

The exception to this is a small minority of VAT-registered businesses with more complex requirements. This week the government announced that in response to concerns about business readiness they have made the decision to delay mandation for these customers until 1 October 2019 to ensure there is sufficient time to test the service with them in the pilot before they are mandated to join - see the timeline below.

April 2019 
Making Tax Digital mandated for all customers (except those that have been deferred). 

October 2019
Making Tax Digital mandated for customers that have been deferred:
  • trusts
  • ‘not for profit’ organisations that are not set up as a company
  • VAT divisions
  • VAT groups
  • public sector entities required to provide additional information on their VAT return (Government departments, NHS Trusts)
  • local authorities
  • public corporations
  • traders based overseas
  • those required to make payments on account
  • annual accounting scheme users.

Plans to Make Income Tax Digital

Some businesses and agents are already keeping digital income tax records as part of a live pilot to test and develop the Making Tax Digital service for Income Tax. If you are a self-employed business or landlord you can voluntarily use software to keep business records digitally and send Income Tax updates to HMRC instead of filing a Self Assessment tax return.

Talking about the scheme HMRC said "The majority of customers want to get their tax right but the latest tax gap figures show that too many find this hard, with avoidable mistakes costing the Exchequer over £9 billion a year. The improved accuracy that digital records provide, along with the help built into many software products and the fact that information is sent directly to HMRC from the digital records, avoiding transposition errors, will reduce the amount of tax lost to these avoidable errors."

Other Taxes

Following extensive consultation with key stakeholders HMRC has decided to postpone the date for mandating businesses to digitally report for taxes other than VAT until at least April 2020.

Help and Support

HMRC provides a wide range of digital services and support for businesses and the self-employed.
Smarter experience for individuals - click here for more information.

Monday, 11 March 2019

CQC's Latest Report on Independent Ambulance Services Raises Safety and Quality Concerns

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is calling on independent ambulance services, commissioners and the wider system to do more to make sure patients are safe, following concerns identified during its inspections.

While the regulator has seen evidence of good practice and improvements made by some individual services, concerns remain about how safely and effectively independent ambulance providers are caring for people using their services.

In a national report published today (Thursday 7 March) the CQC presented an analysis of the findings from its comprehensive inspection programme of independent ambulance services in England. The programme was completed in March 2018 and involved inspections of independent ambulance service providers registered with CQC at the end of December 2016.

Key Findings

  • The quality and safety of independent ambulance services varies greatly. 
  • Many services inspected had a poor understanding of governance which often led to weak recruitment processes. Checks to ensure that staff had the appropriate employment references, Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) certificates, and driving licence categories (for example to operate heavier vehicles) were not being enforced consistently.
  • Many providers offered either no or very limited staff training. This was particularly apparent in relation to emergency driver response training to ensure the skills required to transport a patient using blue lights or sirens, training to equip staff to recognise and escalate safeguarding concerns, and to effectively support patients with mental health needs.
  • The standard of medicines management was extremely variable. While some services had robust policies to support the safe administration of medication, others showed a lack of understanding, especially around controlled drugs and the need for their safe administration and secure storage. Some services did not have the required Home Office licence for the procurement and storage of controlled drugs.
  • In some cases they found vehicles that had not been regularly serviced, with missing or faulty equipment (including paediatric apparatus for transporting children in emergencies) and an absence of regular equipment checks.
Looking at the sector more widely, the CQC’s report also raises concern about those independent ambulance services that are not subject to CQC regulation, such as where medical cover is provided at temporary events.

Ellen Armistead, CQC’s Deputy Chief Inspector of Hospitals and lead for ambulance services, said “We have found and highlighted pockets of good practice in individual services, with compassionate one to one care from ambulance staff, and evidence of improvements in some services when we have been back to reinspect. But we remain concerned about the overall standard of care across the independent ambulance sector.

“Providers have a responsibility to ensure that people within their care receive appropriate treatment, that the vehicles used to transport patients are fitted with the right equipment, that staff are appropriately trained and supported to carry out their roles, risks and incidents are reported and addressed, and that medicines are stored securely. This was not the case in many of the services we inspected.

“It is wholly unacceptable for people using these services to be put at risk and where we have identified concerns we have held those providers to account by making clear where improvements must be made - using our enforcement powers where needed to protect people.

“Those who deliver and commission care must learn from the services that are getting it right so that people are protected from risk and can have confidence in the quality of care they receive from independent ambulance services across the country.”

As well as improvement from providers, the CQC is calling for NHS England, clinical commissioning groups and others that commission independent ambulance services to ensure they make safety and quality a priority, and that they use the quality ratings that the CQC can now award to independent ambulance services to help them make robust commissioning decisions.

The CQC will be strengthening its assessment of how those NHS hospital trusts that sub-contract ambulance services from independent providers ensure they have continued oversight of performance and quality. It will also continue to work with the Department of Health and Social Care to close the gaps in the regulation where it means independent ambulance services that fall outside of the CQC’s remit could pose a risk of people being exposed to poor care.