Scrutton Bland Winter Adviser 2019

Winter 2019

Harvest 2019 – the results are in

Whatever the weather – how forecasting is helping businesses 0330 058 6559


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Winter 2019

WHO WE ARE Scrutton Bland Group provide a range of financial services and professional advice to both business and private clients. Our philosophy is simple, we believe in delivering clear, professional advice and are committed to finding the most effective solution for our clients.

CONTENTS Who we are����������������������������������������������������������������������� 3 Fairs, festivals and freak weather��������������������������� 4 Millennial savers�������������������������������������������������������������� 6 Beavering away��������������������������������������������������������������� 9 An apple a day���������������������������������������������������������������12 A Suffolk sorbet�������������������������������������������������������������15 Freelancers and technology�������������������������������������16 Harvest results 2019���������������������������������������������������18 And the winner is���������������������������������������������������������20 Tech East and Scrutton Bland partnership�������22 The jewels of Suffolk���������������������������������������������������24 Demystifying digital����������������������������������������������������27 A bright spark on the Essex coast�������������������������29 Theft but not as you know it����������������������������������32 Looks like rain again����������������������������������������������������34 Buoyancy and bounce back��������������������������������������36 The cost of everything but the value of nothing�������������������������������������������38 Charity starts at home��������������������������������������������� 40 New Angle Prize for literature���������������������������������42

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Cover picture ©Russell Savory@37squadron

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Getting prepared to hold events on your land

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Farmers and landowners have long been aware of the need to diversify into other areas to boost their income. Whether arranging an event yourself or giving permission to a third party to use your land, you will need to ensure that you have the right specialist insurance covers in place to protect you and your assets. Adviser sat down with Ed Nottingham, Insurance Director to discuss the measures landowners should consider in order to protect their assets when using land to hold events.

Check that you have the right insurance Whilst the potential profit margins for organising an event on your own land may be higher, the administration and organisation requirements are far greater than for a allowing a third party to host a licensed event. Holding your own event requires that you undertake a thorough risk assessment of all the activities which may be happening as part of the event in order to mitigate the legal liabilities and potential for claims or damages from members of the public. Core insurance covers you should have in place are: ✓ ✓ Public liability – to provide protection against claims for accidental injury from members of the public attending the event. ✓ ✓ Employee liability – covers not only your paid employees, but also family and friends who volunteer, even if they do so on a casual basis. ✓ ✓ Product liability – protects you against claims following the use of food, fuel or other goods supplied for the event. ✓ ✓ Business interruption – makes up lost income following cancellation or disruption of the event after an unavoidable incident such as a fire or storm. ✓ ✓ Cyber liability – festivals are heavily promoted on social media and other digital marketing activities; ticket and event information is usually sent out in the same way. Cyber risk insurance can cover data restoration and forensic

Consider outside influences It goes without saying that whether licensing or running an event yourself, it is important to work with your local community to keep them informed and to make sure there is minimal disruption during the event. Neighbours have the right to object and petition the local council to limit the scope of the event or even to obtain an injunction to stop it happening altogether. The landowner also needs to check there are no covenants restricting the use of the land. However, no matter how much you try and mitigate your risks and exposures there are always events which can occur, and which are out of your control. An experienced broker can help you navigate the pitfalls of insurance cover and help you think about the covers which you might not realise you need or know are available. For example, what would happen if the weather was a wash out and attendance was significantly reduced? Or one of your main performers didn’t show up? What would be the impact of a terrorist threat on your event? These are all questions which your broker should be able to discuss with you and ensure that no matter what unexpected issues arise that you have an insurance cover in place which means you and your event are protected.

According to Ed, before committing to any event you should undertake a risk assessment by considering some of the key issues: Ensure that you have a robust agreement and licence in place If you are the landowner and are giving an event organiser permission to use your land you will usually need to give them a licence to occupy. Although you have given the licensed organiser temporarily ‘control’ of the land, you as the landowner could still be judged as having a degree of control over activities taking place on it and therefore could be seen to have a duty of care to ensure visitors are kept safe. This means that you could still be held to account if festivalgoers suffer harm or injury, for example if someone breaks their ankle when they trip over a rabbit hole. For this reason, you need to ensure that any event licence should be rigorous in identifying the requirements for site responsibilities and all aspects of health and safety. You should be very careful to ensure that the festival licence specifies that the organisers themselves have appropriate insurance cover to protect you as the landowner against the cost of possible claims and ensure that appropriate indemnities are given for any claims brought against you.

Scrutton Bland regularly work with clients who organise events on their land. For more information on insuring your land or event contact Ed Nottingham

on 0330 058 6559 or email

investigation following the theft of data, or if personal information is unintentionally made public.

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Recent research* has indicated that 26% of renters aged 25-34 have no savings at all, running the risk of running out of money later in life.

*Royal London report: The Millennial Mosaic

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Following on from his article in the summer edition of Adviser where he discusses the savings options for children, James Wright , Independent Financial Adviser takes a look at the investment options available to students and young adults who want to save for their future – whether that means paying off their student loan, saving up for a house, or setting up a regular investment plan.

Savings accounts in a bank or building society Minimum investment: Usually £1 but varies by provider and type of account. Rates of interest: Varies by provider and type of account. Regular (monthly) savings plans usually give a higher rate of interest than one- off deposits, although rates can also change at the end of the initial period. Tax implications: Interest is tax free if within your annual Personal Savings Allowance of £1,000 for basic rate taxpayers, £500 for higher rate taxpayers. If over these amounts then tax will be at 20%, 40% and 45% depending on your tax bracket. Other things to bear in mind: Savings are protected by the FSCS scheme which limits cover to £85,000 per bank/building society. Lifetime ISAs (LISA) Minimum investment: £1 for a Cash LISA, or £100 lump sum £25 per month for an Investment LISA. Rates of interest: Varies for Cash LISA (up to 1.4% currently), Investment LISA rate varies according to attitude to risk and fund(s) selected. Tax implications: Saver receives an additional £1 for every £4 contributed. Savings are free of Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax. Ease of access: Mostly Instant Access or else determined by the terms of the account.

Stock and Shares ISAs Minimum investment: Dependant on the terms of the ISA provider: typical monthly minimum investment is £25, one-off typically £100. Rates of interest: Varies depending on attitude to risk and funds selected. There are various multi-asset funds that can be used with low costs and global diversification for the underlying investments.

Ease of access: Can only be accessed to purchase or your first property if you are aged 60 or over. Otherwise there is a 25% penalty if withdrawn at any other time (except on the death of the saver). Restrictions: Only available to open for savers aged 18-40. Contributions can be made up to the age of 50. How much can be saved into each one per year: £4,000 (with further £1,000 added by the government). Other things to bear in mind: A good option for first time buyers, but a pension should be considered for retirement funding. Cash ISAs Minimum investment: £1 Rates of interest: Usually higher than a bank or building society account – but they vary considerably.

Tax implications: Free from Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax.

Ease of access: Available to all savers aged over 18. Charges may apply to withdrawals with certain providers.

Restrictions: Varies dependant on ISA provider.

How much can be saved into each one per year: £20,000 (less any contributions to other ISAs). Other things to bear in mind: Consider your timescale for investment. The shorter the term of investment the higher the risk being taken. Help to Buy ISAs (Last chance to open 30 November 2019) Minimum investment: £1. Rates of interest: 2% plus interest rates available. If the savings in the ISA are used to buy a first property then the government will top up the ISA by 25%.

Tax implications: Free from Income Tax.

Ease of access: Cash ISAs are set up as either Instant Access or Fixed Term. Higher interest is available for Fixed Term as opposed to Instant Access.

Restrictions: May have withdrawal restrictions or penalties applying to Fixed Term Cash ISAs.

How much can be saved into each one per year: £20,000 (less any contributions to other ISAs). Other things to bear in mind: Basic Rate and Higher Rate tax payers have a Personal Savings Allowance for interest of £1,000 or £500 respectively. Interest rates may be higher outside of Cash ISAs.

Tax implications: Free from Income Tax.

Ease of access: Can be withdrawn but won’t benefit from any government benefit.

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Workplace Pensions Retirement may be a long way off for

Other considerations likely to affect millennials and young adults Paying off your existing debts: If you have outstanding debts on, for example, credit cards, then you should concentrate on clearing those. The interest rate on credit card debt if you repay the monthly minimum is far higher than any interest on easy-access saving accounts. The only exception to this is student loans. Student loans: Although the general advice to young people is almost always to pay off their debts, in the case of student loans these function more as a graduate tax, with repayments based on how much the person is earning. You are able to pay off the debt early if you wish, but there is no incentive to do so. Child Benefit: Child benefit is paid monthly to all parents from the birth of a child to when they become 16 (or 20 if they are in education or training). If either parent’s total taxable income totals over £50,000 then a tax charge known as the High Income Child Benefit Charge will apply. This also relates to adults if they have a child living with them who is not their own child. Before you commit to any investment product you are strongly advised to get advice from an Independent Financial Adviser. The information above provides an overview of the products and services available to you and should not be used as a guide to investing. For more information please contact james.wright@ or tel 0330 058 6559 . Scrutton Bland Financial Services Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, registered number 209451 .

Restrictions: Minimum investment of £1,600 to receive any government top-up. Maximum of £3,000 government top-up, available on properties up to £250,000, or £450,000 in London. How much can be saved into each one per year: You can save up to £1,200 in first month then £200 per month, or £2,400 per year. Other things to bear in mind: Can save into this product until November 2030. The ISA must be used for a deposit by 1 December 2030 to receive the £3,000 government top-up. Ethical Investment Products The kind of funds into which savings providers invest has been of increasing interest to customers, including younger clients. Ethical investments are a range of saving products which go beyond simple financial returns to incorporate the saver’s ethical, social and environmental values into the process. This area is also often referred to as Sustainable and Responsible Investment (SRI). Typically the investment will be placed into company funds which take a responsible approach to environmental, social and governance issues, and which avoid investing in areas such as armaments, human rights abuse and environmental damage. Further independent advice is recommended to determine the specific requirements of the saver.

millennials, but the earlier a person starts saving into a pension the better since every employer is required to contribute to each employee’s pension, and the government will also boost the pension pot in the form of tax relief. Restrictions: Automatic enrolment only applies to employees aged 22 or over. If you are under 22 but earn more than £6,136 (in the tax year 2019-20) you have the right to opt-in to your employer’s scheme and receive employer contributions. If you earn less than £6136 your employer has to give you access to a pension scheme to save into, although they are not required to contribute to it. Other things to bear in mind: If you have opted out of a workplace scheme you have effectively taken a pay cut as you’re unable to receive the employer contributions elsewhere. Online savings only, such as Sbinvest Minimum investment: Varies according to provider: Sbinvest requires £50 savings per month or £1,000 lump sum.

Rates of interest: Varies depending on the saver’s attitude to risk.

Tax implications: An ISA is available for tax free savings, but once savings top £20,000 a General Investment Account will be required.

Premium Bonds (NS&I) Minimum investment: £25

Ease of access: No penalties for withdrawals.

R ates of interest: Nil. Prizes are awarded from a monthly draw. Prizes range from £25 to £1million.

Restrictions: This is a simplified advice investment solution. Independent financial advice should be sought for other investment needs. How much can be saved into each one per year: £20,000 can be saved into an ISA, a General Investment Account up to a further £80,000. Other things to bear in mind: Simplified investment solutions such as Sbinvest are easy to use but don’t offer a full range of investment options, so check if independent financial advice is required.

Tax implications: No tax due on NS&I Premium Bond winnings.

Ease of access: Account holder needs to be 16 years of age.

Restrictions: None.

How much can be saved into each one per year: Maximum total saving of £50,000.

Other things to bear in mind: Winning odds of 24,500 to 1 per £1 Premium Bond. Bonds fully secured by the government.

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Adviser looks at the reintroduction of one of the UK’s most industrious species

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History was made in March this year when a species that had been absent from the east of England since Elizabethan times was reintroduced into a quiet corner of Essex.

Beavers have been reintroduced in other parts of the UK such as Kent and Scotland, but not in East Anglia. In fact the last time there were beavers in the rivers of Essex was well over 400 years ago. Archie Ruggles-Brise of Spains Hall Estate near Finchingfield took the pioneering decision to reintroduce the animals in an ambitious flood management project on his estate - but not without some understandable concerns. Adviser interviewed Archie to find out more about his exciting plans. The landscape in East Anglia, like so much of the UK, has changed dramatically since the beavers were last reported living here back in the 1500s, so how confident were you that reintroducing beavers would be successful? There was no tried and tested management plan for this project, but it is a once-in-a- lifetime opportunity, and one which is hugely important to our local and national eco-system, and for everyone involved so far. How do you go about setting up such a scheme as reintroducing a species? Two beavers (one male and one female) were brought to our estate from a licensed project in east Devon, where numbers of the animals had increased to the point where the scheme managers needed to move some of the colony on. The Devon beaver project was created with

the intention of restoring a Site of Special Scientific Interest, but I could see that a similar scheme could be set up on Spains Hall Estate, particularly to help with natural flood resilience. Can you say a bit about how the flood management scheme will work? Our flood management scheme is designed to reduce the risk of flooding downstream in Finchingfield, although it will never eliminate flooding entirely. This project has required a different mindset to other flood defence schemes: most man-made infrastructures are large scale in size and are designed to hold back water during flooding, whereas the Spains Hall Estate project includes ten acres of woodland and uses materials from the estate to set up optimal conditions for the beavers to thrive, as they build the leaky dams which will slowly release water over a period of time. We have also installed eight man-made leaky dams on another part of the river in order to compare with the beaver dams. It must have been difficult to know where to start, what advice would you give anyone considering starting a project like yours? Embarking on any project which involves wild animals like beavers needs experience and expertise. I worked with The Rivers Trust

movement for over ten years, to build up my knowledge but it is important to surround yourself with as many people as you can who have experience within other organisations and with different areas of expertise. Working together also means that everyone can benefit from being involved in such a ground-breaking project. straightforward to get off the ground. Locating two beavers who could be moved to Essex was relatively simple, but getting all the health tests and licenses for the animals was less so! There were also considerations around the size and security of the area they would live in, and of course we had to get all the resources in place to maximise the chances of success for the project. Funding is clearly something which is very important when considering how a project such as yours can become a reality and stay sustainable. How was your experience of sourcing funding? In the past it was only large-scale flood management schemes who could apply for grants, for example the Ipswich Flood Barrier. However, in the past four or so years, the government has become much more open to The one thing we have learned is that pioneering schemes aren’t always easy or

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funding smaller scale projects, including those mimicking natural systems, where the benefits from installing flood reduction measures are apparent. The first block of funding came from the Regional Flood and Coastal Committee, part of the Environment Agency with the project funds being managed by the Essex and Suffolk Rivers Trust; unsurprisingly this was the first time either organisation had funded a water management scheme using beavers! Other help and support came from Essex Wildlife Trust who have been vastly knowledgeable about the ecology of the area. Funding has also come from some unexpected sources, such as Coca Cola who have been working to put back into the environment the water they have extracted for the soft drinks industry, a scheme running as part of the Cam and Ely Ouse Catchment Partnership, part of DEFRA’s Catchment Based Approach initiative. The estate has contributed further finance, labour and materials. Can you explain how the beavers’ habitat works within the landscape of the estate? At Spains Hall Estate we already had measures in place such as field edge bunds, or earth banks, around the edge of some fields to slow water run-off onto adjoining roads, and also attenuation (or balancing) ponds which are man-made basins designed to store floodwater at ground level. From a climate change perspective, we know that there are many more heavy rainstorms than there used to be, and more periods of drought. The way the beavers

work is to build dams which trap the water and create deep pools, which is the habitat they enjoy most. The dams gradually release the trapped water onto the adjoining land, like a sponge being squeezed. It is important to note that the quality of the water has also improved, as measurements have shown that oxygen levels in water from the dams is more stable than other streams, meaning aquatic insects and fish fry will benefit. For many people working with such beautiful creatures in the outdoors will seem rather idyllic. Have there been any downsides to the project? We were well aware that beavers fell and eat trees and shrubs, and sure enough several trees adjoining the dams have been damaged by them, including some willows that we had assigned for harvesting to use to produce cricket bats. From the outset the project included plans to test ways of deterring beavers from damaging selected trees. We are trialling fencing and an eco-friendly sand-paint mix, which seems to be working so far! But any downsides are outweighed by the huge positives. Since the project has started there has been enormous interest in the beavers and the dozen dams they have built. It’s been a springboard to many interesting conversations, and we are now working with the geography department of King’s College London, who want to develop low cost weather and water measurement systems for developing countries. They have installed a number of water flow and

measurement devices around the site, which will help to determine how much water can be held back in places that are prone to drought. The measurements from the devices here are relayed to the cloud, and anyone can view the data. We’ve also had visits from the Chief Executives of the Environment Agency, Country Landowners Association, Natural England and Flood Re. This last is particularly significant, as Flood Re is an initiative between the government and insurers to help homeowners who cannot get insurance as their properties are at such a high risk of flooding. There are four houses in Finchingfield who fall into this category so it has particular resonance for us here. This scheme won’t eliminate flooding, but it might reduce the risk by making the area more resilient and will give the government and the insurance industry better data. For more information on the beavers and Spains Hall Estate please see to assist all businesses invest in projects that provide environmental and climatic improvements which can help you establish sustainability projects on your land or within your business. If you are considering such a project, speak to the Scrutton Bland tax team to find out more about the options available to you. Email or tel 0330 058 6559 . There are a number of tax measures that have been introduced by successive governments

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Like many farmers, Jeremy Linsell hails from a farming family and spent most of his school holidays helping out on his grandfather’s Suffolk arable farm. He went on to study at a traditional agricultural college then travelled abroad before returning to work in training and educational development at Otley College. Eventually his farming roots drew him back into the practical side of the industry, and he went to work on a fruit farm, before buying his own apple orchard business near Eye in 2001. But the idea of carrying on with traditional varieties of apples on the farm didn’t appeal: “What motivated me, and continues to motivate me, is the idea of growing something with a point of difference,” says Jeremy when Adviser spoke to him recently.

This sounds like an obvious plan, so what was stopping other producers doing the same thing? “The simple answer is keeping up with technical advancements in this sector. Realising that there was an opportunity for specialist apple production for supermarkets I set up a structured programme of replanting, using some of the new varieties to produce the best commercial examples of those apples in the UK. These varieties needed to be carefully selected - often from overseas breeding programmes – an orchard is a long-term investment; it can be three years between ordering a tree and actually planting it on the farm. Then another two years before picking your first apples and year five after planting before you hit full production. Most financial models, will show an orchard which has been well managed with the right varieties, hitting breakeven at year 7; that’s 10 years after placing the tree order. Specialisation not generalisation? “I’d say that in farming, just like in many other fields, focusing on doing one thing really well is the key to success. Find that point of difference and then work on the detail to create the best product in your market. For me, this has meant focusing on a small variety of apples, and growing them for the UK market. I now also work part time as a technical consultant with, Worldwide Fruit Ltd, to assist UK growers in a technical capacity with varieties grown in the UK under licence. This has involved travelling around the world to meet with other grower organisations and scientists to work on the programmes and select the best examples to commercialise. Two thirds of the apples we eat are imported into the UK and some varieties like Pink Lady are 100% imported, so even though we think of an apple as being a quintessentially English fruit, we still have some way to go before we can call the market our own.”

Can you talk a bit about the early days of your business? “Like every entrepreneur setting up a new business, my resources were stretched as I set up the new enterprise. The first ten years were immensely challenging, and I was helped in having knowledgeable independent financial advisers who were able to give me the guidance and support I needed to get the business of the ground - and continue to advise me nearly twenty years later.” How has the industry developed since you started? “When I bought the farm the UK apple industry was going through an unprecedented period of change, resulting in a contraction in the number of apple growers. At that time (the late 1990s and early 2000s) consumer tastes were changing and customer supply requirements were getting higher. Larger growing businesses, became increasingly vertically integrated, being able to provide a complete service for customers, alongside their production operations. But my business wasn’t (and isn’t) on that scale. I knew that to thrive in this new environment my business needed to find that point of difference, so I decided to take out the older varieties such as Cox and Bramley and introduce some new ones of apples.”

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Which varieties of apples are most popular at the moment? “One of the most exciting new apples in the UK, and indeed the world, is Jazz ®, which now accounts for over 50% of production on my farm, mostly for Waitrose. One of my roles with WorldWide Fruit Ltd, is advising UK growers of Jazz® on best practice production techniques. Jazz® is a cross between Gala and Braeburn with a juicy peardrop flavour and an attractive red skin. Worldwide Fruit have exclusive marketing rights for Jazz® in the UK, and production is tightly controlled globally to balance supply and demand. Envy® is another variety which is increasingly popular across the world. It is a sister of Jazz®, which was also developed in New Zealand. I also grow Suffolk Pink and Winter Wonder varieties for Waitrose in smaller volumes.”

What are your predictions for future success? “We have high hopes for a new brand of apple called Kissabel®. For many years the global apple industry has been striving to breed a sweet apple with red flesh. Although there have been previous pink and red flesh varieties, they have tended to have an acidic taste, and so didn’t take off in the supermarkets. Kissabel® apples have both a deep red flesh and a sweet taste. The Kissabel® project is supported by partners from around the globe and is a breeding programme I have been actively involved with now for some time in my work for WorldWide Fruit . The first commercial orchards are now being planted in Europe, including on my own farm near Eye. Although the first harvests are (as you would expect) quite small, I predict that in a few years’ the Kissabel® brand will be well know by the UK consumer.”

And for the UK apple farming industry as a whole? “The industry continues to polarise, with larger growers focusing on large scale production of commodity varieties, with closer and closer links to their customers. But I believe there continues to be an an exciting opportunity for smaller entrepuneral businesses, working with dynamitic organisations like Worldwide Fruit Ltd, to produce specialist new varieties, which will excite the consumer and keep the apple category attractive and invigorated.

Scrutton Bland have more than 100 years of experience in advising clients in the agricultural industry on financial matters, at every stage of their business. If you would like to talk to one of our agricultural specialists about the ways that we may be able to help please contact Nick Banks

on 0330 058 6559 or email

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A Suffolk Sorbet Milsoms restaurants have long been regarded as being some of the best fine dining establishments in our region, and Adviser was delighted when Aaron Skerritt, head chef at Kesgrave Hall offered us an exclusive recipe, making use of some of the local apples found in his larder to create a refreshing green apple sorbet. “We always make the most of local and seasonal produce,” comments Aaron. “Suffolk is full of delicious fruits and vegetables at this time of year, and it makes sense to use the best of what we have on our doorstep whenever we can.”

The restaurant at Milsoms Kesgrave Hall provides a stylish and relaxed setting for drinks or dining and is open all day. Find out more at

Elderflower jelly

Green apple sorbet (makes about 2.4 litres)

Lemon tuile biscuits

Ingredients 300ml water 75g sugar 150ml elderflower cordial 3 leaves gelatine, soaked in water Method Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water until they are soft. Place the water, sugar and cordial in a saucepan and heat gently until the sugar dissolves. Remove the gelatine from the water and squeeze out excess water. Add the gelatine leaves to the pan and mix until dissolved then pour into glasses and set in the fridge.

Ingredients 8 large cooking apples such as Granny Smith Juice of 2 large lemons 400g caster sugar 800ml water 8 tablespoons liquid glucose Method Quarter and core the apples, but do not peel, then toss with lemon juice. Place a single layer in a shallow plastic container and freeze for a good hour. Place the sugar and water into a heavy-based saucepan and heat gently over a low heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil and cook on a medium heat for 5 minutes. Cool then mix in the glucose. Place the ice-cold apples in a food processor and blitz. Gradually add about a third of the syrup to make a fine puree. Scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice as you do this.

Ingredients 100g melted butter 100g icing sugar 3 egg whites

100g plain flour Zest of 2 lemons Method Sieve together the flour and the icing sugar.

Add the egg whites and beat to a smooth paste. Add the lemon zest and mix well.

Gradually incorporate the melted butter and mix well (allow to rest for at least 2 hours for best results).

Pre heat the oven to 180°C and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.

Once the mixture has rested, spoon a little of the batter on to greaseproof paper and use either the back of a spoon or a pallet knife to spread as thinly as possible. Place into the oven at 180°C for 3-4 min or until golden brown. Remove and leave to cool. The warm biscuits can be shaped around the handle of a wooden spoon or any other heatproof object.

Mix the rest of the syrup with the apples then pass through a sieve into a bowl, rubbing with the back of the ladle to extract as much juice as possible. Transfer into an ice-cream machine. Churn until almost solid, then transfer to a rigid plastic container, seal and

freeze. Alternatively, freeze the mixture in a shallow container, beating two or three times during freezing. Serve in scoops or shaped into quenelles.

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W hilst the world of freelancing is one of risk and instability, for many it can also be one of high rewards and an improved work life balance. Taking the first steps out of a salaried job and going it alone can often cause anxiety arising from a lack of stable income, a fixed place of work and a sense of unease as to where your next income stream is coming from. But since the early 2000s freelancing has been on the up. For millennials in particular, who have been brought up with the technology which allows them to work from home, being able to control one’s own hours and utilise a broader skill set has only increased the attraction of self- employment.

According to figures from the Office of National Statistics, the number of people registered as self- employed is continuing to rise. Adviser spoke to Ryan Pearcy, Business Advisory Director to take a look at why he thinks this trend is happening and what anyone considering going freelance should consider when making the leap from paid employment.

So what’s stopping people from going freelance? In many cases the fear and confusion around how to manage their own business finances has been enough to prevent people from taking the leap into starting their own businesses. But the increase and accessibility of business and accounting software has brought about an evolution in setting up as a freelance or contractor. According to Ryan, it has never been so easy to manage your own business. ‘There are so many pieces of software out there. Even just by going into Google, you can access cloud- based systems which are easy to use and often free. Take task management for example: freelancers can be working on multiple projects at once, each one of which contains multiple tasks. Combine this with constant travel and deadlines can be easily missed. Software solutions such as Asana and Trello can enable you to manage tasks on a cloud-based platform which means you can share progress with collaborators and or your client and set deadlines.”


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In an age of 24/7 activity, information overload is becoming a very real issue. When juggling the pressures of running a business even keeping up with your inbox can be a challenge. Ryan see this as an opportunity for freelancers to get ahead. “It’s a competitive marketplace and freelancers can often be working with multiple clients on multiple contracts, all of whom expect regular communication. One way to deal with this is to move away from traditional communication tools like email and to adopt software such as Slack which allows you to easily segregate clients, teams and communication topics.” And so, to probably the biggest issue which prevents professionals taking the leap of faith into self-employment: the F word – finance. You’ve established your career, honed your skill set and even set up a list of prospective clients, but the one thing which seems to frighten most people away from starting up on their own is the dread of having to manage accounts and invoices.

A major downside of being a freelancer used to be that after a long week of travel you would then have to devote a whole evening or even a weekend to sorting out your finances, be that invoicing, chasing debts or just writing up your accounts. This has all changed since online accounting platforms like Xero came on to the market. The latest easy-to-use accounting software enables you to create and send invoices, snap expenses (that automatically process themselves) and reconcile your bank all from your tablet or phone – which means that you can now issue an invoice from wherever you are. The Xero software allows for integrations with other add-on apps such as Stripe which is a payment solution and debt chasing tools like Chaser. In Ryan’s opinion there is only one way for the future and that’s to go digital: “When moving from a salaried job, cashflow suddenly becomes the number one issue, so adopting online tools and apps to help manage cash flow, and ultimately get you paid sooner has become a necessity rather than a luxury. There are so many tools out there now to help you, software like Fludily can even help you predict when cashflow may become an issue. Xero’s open API connections (in other words the interface between a client and their server) means that you can build bespoke solutions so that your financial tasks, projects and document management are all integrated into Xero giving you a more accurate picture of where you finances are and help you get paid faster.”

As apps and online technologies continually develop and enhance the way individuals can control their business finances, the relationship between client and accountant is evolving. As Ryan points out: “Gone are the days where you might have had an annual meeting with your accountant to go through your books, the relationship now between accountant and client is much more an advisory one. Whereas in the past we would have based our advice to clients on a quarterly or even annual set of accounts, the introduction of real-time financial reporting means we can see what the client sees and in real time. Consequently, we can offer much more accurate advice to our clients of how best to manage their cash flow and operations. The major difference for us as advisers is that we now need to stay one step ahead of the new technology, and to be educated enough to be in a position where we can advise clients on the software they should be considering.”

If you would like more information please contact one of our Digital Business Advisory Specialists on 0330 058 6559 or email

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The results of the 2019 harvest are emerging and it has proven to be a bumper year for UK wheat and barley production.

The DEFRA farming statistics report issued on 8 October 2019 reports that the UK wheat harvest is up 20.1% on the total output for 2018, yielding a total estimate of 16.3m tonnes compared to 13.6m tonnes for the previous year.

Commodity price volatility will always be a risk to the farmer, but the gross margins should be in sharp focus to measure profitability as one aspect of how sustainable the farm enterprise is as speculation continues about subsidy reform as a consequence of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. As important as reviewing the year-end profit forecast to make short term decisions is, it is equally important to appraise the strategic wellbeing of the farm to ensure that it remains in the strongest position to survive anticipated changes to the farming industry and rural economy. Is your management information giving you financial insight? Can I service my debt without subsidy and meet my other outgoings? Do all my assets generate a return or can it be improved? Is my farm fit for succession, financially and structurally? If the answer to any of those questions is “no” or “I’m not sure” then I recommend you reflect on any action that might be required to improve the wellbeing of your farm enterprise and take appropriate advice. Consider some of these questions:

2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019








Source: DEFRA

Inevitably this has led to a sharp reduction in wheat price since the start of the year. In January 2019 wheat was £170/t and at the time of writing at the end of October, the spot price is £128/t, a fall of some 25%.

Feed Wheat Futures Prices £/t

120 130 140 150 160 170 180 190




Source: AHDB,

It is interesting to observe the market price behaviour year on year, which has been the basis of my articles in the autumn editions of Adviser magazine since 2017. Comparison of future prices as at September 2018 with the actual prices and future prices as at October 2019 shows that the fall in market price anticipated is sooner and sharper than expected, a reaction to the harvest results no doubt. The political climate and fears of potential constraints on export by tariff or trade agreement together with the movement in exchange rate also influence the market price. The farmer’s gross margin and therefore profitability is a function of this price volatility. In a global commodity market the farmer is a price taker, unable to influence the price other than participating in grain pools managed by traders who perhaps have more information available to read the markets. I recently undertook some year-end planning with one of my clients trying to ascertain the level of profitability to consider capital investment and pension planning to mitigate tax. It is interesting to plot the prices my client had sold forward against the futures index. The contract price was secured in August ahead of the emerging harvest volume which has weakened prices since then. It is pleasing to report that my client has ultimately gained, achieving a price approximately 8% above the actual or forecast market price. However at the time of our planning activity he had only sold forward 53% of his wheat crop, with approximately 1,200 tonnes in store not subject to contract. The contract price secured for April 2020 was £156/t. The future price is now £151/t so, unless price strengthens, the lost revenue on the crop remaining is potentially £6,000. My client has sufficient storage to hold for price to strengthen subject to the cash need of the farm to establish next year’s crops.

At Scrutton Bland we have a team of specialist advisers who work with our agricultural clients as advisory partners to challenge and support our clients in meeting their objectives and ensure that, as far as possible, their farm enterprise can be an enduring asset for future generations.

Please contact Nick Banks at or tel 01473 939171 for more information.

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We’re in the middle of awards season at the moment. Whilst film and television stars are walking the red carpet to the collect their BAFTAs, Emmys and the occasional Oscar, in the business world there are an equal number of corporate business awards being given out to firms of all sizes and backgrounds. But there is only one business award which comes with the Royal seal of approval – that of the Queen’s Awards for Enterprise. A dviser spoke to Mark Pendlington, Deputy Lieutenant of Suffolk, who has been spearheading a campaign across Suffolk to encourage the county’s businesses to apply for this most prestigious of business awards. Can you explain a bit about the Queen’s wards? What is the process when a business wins an Award? “The Awards are announced on Her Majesty the Queen’s birthday (21 April) and are presented from June onwards by Her Majesty’s Lord- Lieutenants. In Suffolk this is Clare, Countess of Euston, who is Her Majesty’s personal Are there any advantages for businesses trading outside the UK? Although the Awards scheme is UK-based, their reputation is international, increasing visibility for your business in overseas markets. As Josh Richardson, whose firm Superyacht Tenders & Toys won a Queen’s Award for International Trade in 2017 comments: ‘It really gives first- time clients the confidence to use us. It’s like

representative in the county. If your business wins an Award you will be presented with a Grant of Appointment (an official certificate) and a commemorative crystal trophy by Lady Clare. You will be able to fly the Queen’s Awards flag at your main office and can use the logo on your marketing material such as advertisements, website and so on. Two representatives of your company will also be invited to a reception at Buckingham Palace, hosted by Her Majesty the Queen and attended by other members of the Royal Family. The Award is valid for five years.” This all sounds highly desirable, but are there any commercial benefits to winning a Queen’s Award? “The Queen’s Awards are both highly prestigious and very difficult to win, so any business that is successful can be sure of positive press coverage and associated marketing opportunities. It is hard to precisely quantify the direct correlation between winning an Award and a growth in earnings, but it undoubtedly adds value to your business, and may well give you a competitive edge when it comes to generating new sales. It is also beyond doubt that winning an Award will give your staff morale a huge boost, which in turn has all sorts of added benefits in the way your employees feel themselves to be a valued part of a successful organisation.” Black

“The Queen’s Awards began over fifty years ago in 1966 as the Queen’s Awards to Industry, in a scheme chaired by the Duke of Edinburgh. Following a review led by the Prince of Wales in 1999, the scheme evolved into The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise and were split into three categories: Innovation, International Trade and Sustainable Development. A new category, Promoting Opportunity Through Social Mobility was introduced in 2016.”

having the ultimate testimonial to call on. One of our large growth areas is the Middle East, and I think this is a key award to win for future orders from that region.’ Richard Vass is Managing Director of Burland Technology Solutions in Great Blakenham, who were given a Queen’s Award for Export Achievement in August 2019. ‘The recognition of being awarded a Queen’s Award has had a massive, positive impact on the morale and enthusiasm of the whole team at Burland,’ comments Richard. ‘In addition, the award gives us additional credibility when entering new overseas markets, and reassures potential clients that we have an exceptional, proven track record.’”

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Right: Claire and Josh Richardson of Superyacht Tenders & Toys won the Queen’s Award for Enterprise for International Trade in 2017.

Far right: Richard Vass of Burland Technology Solutions receives the Queen’s Award for Enterprise for Innovation in 2019.

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There is a preconception that Queen’s Awards are hard to enter. Is this the case? “The application process in quite in-depth, but you get a lot of feedback from the Queen’s Award team in London, and that really helps with applicants with their business development and strategy. Even if your business is not successful you will receive feedback on their application - excellent free business consultancy! - and are encouraged to apply again in subsequent years. Previous winner Superyacht Tenders & Toys devoted about three weeks of staff time to providing all the evidence required. Ideally, the drafting team should include a senior business director and the Finance Director, with marketing support if available. Alternatively, there are a number of professional consultants who can manage the process for you. Local advice is also available from the Suffolk Lieutenancy Business & Enterprise group.”

What kind of businesses are eligible? In order to apply your business must be ✓ ✓ based in the UK; ✓ ✓ file its Company Tax Returns with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC); ✓ ✓ be a self-contained enterprise that markets its own products or services and is under its own management; ✓ ✓ have at least 2 full-time UK employees or part-time equivalents; ✓ ✓ demonstrate strong corporate social responsibility Your organisation can be a business or non- profit, and depending on the category you are entering there are other specific criteria which will need to be evidenced. Four categories are open for applications, and there is no restriction on the number of categories a business can enter. Remember that this is not a competitive process, and there is no limit to the number of Awards, so each application is treated individually and on its own merits.

Why do you think businesses in Suffolk should put themselves forward for an Award? “This region is full of innovation, entrepreneurship and ideas, and Suffolk is one of the fastest growing and best-connected counties in the UK. We are home to a number of the world’s top businesses, with a vast network of thousands more smaller businesses with big ambitions for growth. From digital technology, financial services, life sciences and ports and logistics; to tourism, food drink and agriculture, manufacturing and engineering, energy, health and construction, Suffolk is an enterprise hub for jobs, new skills and investment. The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise offer the opportunity for national recognition to those who are leading by example in business excellence.” As Clare Countess of Euston has said: “Celebrating business excellence in Suffolk shines a spotlight on all those who are leading the way, and by working better together we will be celebrating many more winners in years to come. We are all immensely proud of Suffolk. It is one of the best places in the country to live, work and learn.”

For more information on the Queen’s Awards see enterprise

Suffolk Lieutenancy Business & Enterprise Group

Scrutton Bland will be holding an event at our Ipswich offices in February/March 2020 for local businesses to hear more about the Awards entry process and to hear from previous winners. If you are interested in finding out more please email and we will get in touch as soon as we have more details.

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