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Schools Briefing - Autumn 2014

13th November 2014

Welcome to the autumn edition of the haysmacintyre schools briefing.

It is a busy time for schools, with Bursars wrestling with auditors and governors alike. The Charities SORP was issued in the Summer and while the changes have not been revolutionary there are a few transition provisions to consider. Perhaps an area of more concern is the Data Protection Act. Although many organisations have had to become compliant since 1 March 2000, it would seem compliance is not as strong as it might be and large fines have been handed out to organisations falling foul of the rules.

Solar panels are increasingly being seen as worthwhile investments by many charities, including schools. While the benefits include the reduction in fuel bills, the income from both generation and feed-in tariffs is potentially taxable. A variety of staff at Independent Schools are regularly provided with living accommodation. Our tax team explain the importance of budgeting for the property costs, including the tax treatment of accommodation provided to staff and their families for less than full rent, as well as the tax implications of solar panels.

We are always very grateful to our guest writers. The audit season has highlighted the issue of recovering debt and Chris North, the Chairman of Redwood Collections, addresses the utilisation of the County Court.

Jennifer Agate, Associate at Farrer & Co LLP, notes how social media can be an invaluable tool for schools but highlights the importance of guidelines on appropriate use to ensure that both safeguarding and reputational issues are avoided.

A key consideration for schools at this time of the year is the performance of investment portfolios. Jon Rolfe, founding partner of Epoch Wealth Management, addresses the issue of absolute return funds and whether they might be suitable for your school.

Finally, may I wish you a successful end to what seems like a very long term and a good Christmas break. I look forward to welcoming you to the haysmacintyre independent schools’ conference on 3 February 2015.

Sam Coutinho
Partner, Independent Schools

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