Air Conditioning & VAT

Working with air conditioning units?

Are you a builder, electrician, Gas Safe installer, renewables engineer or a registered installer, repairer or supplier of air conditioning units?  Did you know that air conditioning units are eligible for reduced rate VAT if they’re supplied for a qualifying use?  Here we will explain the basics of how the reduced rate of VAT could apply to you, your business and your customers!

The government is keen to encourage energy efficiency as part of the Climate Change Programme and the Kyoto Protocol. With residential properties accountable for a quarter of all energy emissions, the only way for the UK to meet its obligations under Kyoto is for the government to encourage the uptake of lower cost, energy-saving solutions, including air source heat pumps and other air conditioning and refrigeration units.  HMRC has decided that one way to help consumers make the right choice is to provide a tax incentive in the form of reduced VAT on modern air conditioning and refrigeration units, such as air source heat pumps to residential customers.

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Increase Your Focus On Customer Data

At Together We Count we often meet small business owners and sole-traders who are desperate to grow their business but don’t realise that, in many cases, they already have many of the correct tools at their disposal.

We all know that it’s cheaper to maintain a client than to catch a new one- in the Plumbing and Heating Installation industry it’s essential to retain your clients and use them to grow new business.

Big companies like Amazon, Google and Facebook use “big data” to target their sales to their customers and to maximise their profits. But what is big data? It’s a buzz word you might have heard in the news, but it’s just a phrase used to describe the collection of information about all aspects of client interaction to mine for patterns and trends and so focus and target marketing and customer service. You might associate big data with the internet and technology but small companies can use a database to mimic and replicate many big data functions, big data for small businesses.

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Reducing your VAT bill: Working with energy-saving materials

Are you a builder, plumber, renewables engineer or gas engineer or another installer of energy saving materials?  This article will help you understand the basics of how the reduced rate of VAT could apply to you, your business and your customers!

Many people aren’t aware that if they are installing energy-saving materials they may be reduced-rated for VAT purposes, even if the installation is granted funded!  However, this tax saving rule only applies to installations, not supply-  you must be putting in place energy-saving materials, usually by the means of permanently fixing them, (although loft installation can just be unrolled and positioned and still be considered installed) to charge the reduced rate.  If you’re only supplying the products, then they are charged at standard rate.  The installation must be in, or in the curtilage of, residential accommodation, for example:

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Why you should outsource your accounting, bookkeeping and payroll?

As one of Brighton’s leading outsource accountancy firms, we have seen a deluge of enquires from businesses seeking advice on a variety of accountancy issues. At ‘Together We Count’ our clients range from start-up businesses to large corporate firms, but why should businesses consider outsourcing their accounts or payroll?

Firstly, statistics have been recorded that the average small business owner will spend up to 25 per cent of their working hours managing paperwork. Whilst outsourcing may seem daunting, it can certainly free up time for you to do what you love, running your business. However, an accountant is not just there for your general tax returns or payroll. Accountancy firms such as our fully qualified staff at ‘Together We Count’ can also offer solutions and provide methods to free-up cash flow and give advice on saving money.

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A guide to building a successful web presence for your business

A Simple Guide to Building Your Online Presence in an easy To Understand Guide!

Perhaps you own a new start-up business or have a business plan and need help implementing it? This simple guide designed by ‘Together We Count’ has been written to help your business develop a web presence without breaking the bank! So whether you wish to develop a successful website, produce a social media strategy or boost your google rankings we have an easy to understand guide.


Creating your website

Before constructing a website it is imperative that you make a plan. After all your website is the shop window of your business! So before you get started, grab a piece of paper and pen and think about the following:
Your Layout and Design- Your layout and design is essential! There is no point having a great product and then having a poor layout. You need to consider making the layout suitable for your product whilst having call to action requests, such as a purchase now button or an email subscription service.

The Content and Images

Your content that your website provides needs to attract and engage your audience. Therefore, using the correct language and using keywords will help people to understand your points. But don’t forget, that images and videos will be subject to copyright, so make sure you have permission to use a photo before adding it to your website! If you need images why not check out who offer image rights with competitive monthly plans

Not Just for computers

You may think that people and businesses only surf the web at home or in the office but statistics reveal that over 50% of the UK population use their mobiles to browse the internet and this is increasing! Therefore your website design needs to function on a mobile device just as well as it does on a desktop. Failure to provide this service will prevent your business from reaching your target audience.

The availability of the right domain name

Your domain is the online address of your website! Prices and availabilities will depend on what you are seeking but the most successful domains will include your business name with either .com or Your domain is essential, so make sure you get it right!

The website builder and the monthly costs

There are a variety of website builders to use, however, a great place to create and design your website is All the website builders will provide templates and help you with domains and layouts etc. Just remember you will be tied into a contract so choose carefully!
So now your plan is ready, just remember building your website takes time! Your website is a virtual shop window and therefore, the success of your online portal depends on the professionalism and the time you put in. Good Luck!

Get Blogging!

Blogs are increasing in popularity and they are created to document a particular topic or promote a business or service. Blogs need to have innovative ideas but they consume a significant amount of time and investment. It is all too easy to tire of updating a blog week after week. Moreover, you might become disillusioned because of low page views or run out of ideas for your next blog title. Regardless of the motive behind a blog, all blogs require motivation and dedication to be successful. The more contact you have with your audience then the greater the opportunity to engage with your audience! To find out about how to become an expert blog writer check out this post


Going Social

Social media networks are perhaps the most important resource for businesses looking to promote their brand online. Whilst sites such as Facebook and Twitter are free to use, they also offer the opportunity for paid advertising. This gives your business the opportunity to promote your business to a targeted and wider audience.


There are many different social media platforms but it is important that you choose the right accounts for your business! For example an accountancy firm won’t require an Instagram account. Popular sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are used by almost every company and it’s essential you use the social media tools in the correct method that helps you connect with your followers.
A successful social media account should help your business with the following:

  • Increase users to your website
  • Help to increase sales of your product
  • Provide product awareness
  • Improving communication and interaction with key audiences

Setting Up Your Social Media Sites

Setting up social media profiles regardless of the site can be a lot of work. If you’re starting from scratch, you may get disheartened by the long hours but your investment will be rewarded!

To set up your business Facebook account follow the link:

Again to setup your Twitter account follow the link:

Content Is King

Content reigns king when it comes to social media! Therefore, it is imperative that you produce content which is engaging and rewarding for your audience. By creating a variety of content which includes images and videos it will help to make your text-based content more appealing.

Advertising Your Business Online

Your website and social media accounts are not the only ways to advertise your business. Do you remember those Yellow Pages adverts? These directories now feature online! Connecting with business directories such as and will immediately help your business attract a wider audience. Promoting your business on these directories is easy! Complete an application form on the websites and allow your business to become more visible!

Getting To Grips with Google

With 88% of UK internet users using Google as it primary search engine it is imperative your business understands how to use the search engine correctly.

Making sure your SEO friendly

Search Engine Optimization is crucial for your website! To ensure you rank high in the search engine rankings using keywords and the correct website layout helps towards making it on page one of Google search. The higher up the search rankings, the more users will view your site and this can lead to a higher conversion of sales. To find out more about SEO check out this excellent free to download book

Listing your business on Google

It is essential you have a Gmail account to register your business with Google. By signing up to Google you can automatically create a landing page which includes all your businesses details as well as photographs and videos! This is a must for any business! Plus you have the options of Google Analytics and Google+. All for free! To register follow the link:

Advertising on Google

If you have a popular business then it may not be easy to achieve the first page of Google. So you made need to advertise to become successful or get noticed. Signing up for Google AdWords service is free however it requires you to set up a budget. Google AdWords charges your business when someone clicks on your ad, it really is that simple. So if your advert engages then you will be charged! To find out more check out

Need More Help?

If you are serious about developing your business then the information provided is just the starting point. At ‘Together We Count’ we are an established accountancy practice based in Brighton. As a specialist accountancy firm, we can assist in ensuring you follow the right practices for your business.  To find out more check out our website

Further Reading Material

For further reading please check the following books which can be purchased through Amazon and remember that planning your business is essential for success!

The Google Checklist: Marketing Edition 2016: SEO, Web Design, Paid Advertising, Social Media, PR.

Profitable Social Media Marketing: How To Grow Your Business Using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn And More

What needs to go on a UK invoice


Your invoice is a document that you send out from your business, so make sure that it reflects your brand – fonts, think logo, colours, and wording of the item descriptions and of your payment terms. An invoice is not the same as a receipt, which is an acknowledgement of payment.

Invoices – What they must include

It is very important that you clearly display the word ‘invoice’ on your invoice. You must include:

  • A unique ID number
  • The invoice date
  • Your business name, address and contact details
  • Correspondence business name and address
  • A clear description of what is being charged
  • The date the goods or services are provided (which is otherwise known as the supply date)
  • The date of the invoice
  • The amount(s) that is being charged
  • The total amount owed
  • VAT amount (if applicable)

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As a Café, what VAT do I need to pay?

Any Café with any area set aside for the consumption of food by customers, supplying food or drink to be consumed in the Café, or any additional food consumption area (for example chairs on a pavement outside your café), will have to pay the Standard Rate of VAT on the food and drink sold for that purpose.

What if I also sell cold food to be eaten as take away by the customer? You can apportion your sales of cold food between those consumed on the premises (standard-rated) and those taken-away (zero-rated).If you are unable to ascertain the correct liability at the point of saleyou must retain satisfactory evidence to support a fair and reasonable apportionment. Make sure that the cold food items follow the VAT liabilities as described in Notice 701/14 Food
How about Hot takeaway drinks? These are always Standard Rated
Hot takeaway food? If the food (or any part of it) is hot at the time it is supplied to the customer and any one of the following tests are met, then the food is standard rated:

  • It has been heated for the purposes of enabling it to be consumed hot
  • It has been heated to order
  • It has been kept hot after being heated
  • It is provided to a customer in packaging that retains heat (whether or not the packaging was primarily designed for that purpose) or in anyother packaging that is specifically designed for hot food
  • It is advertised or marketed in a way that indicates that it is supplied hot
What if I have a microwave so the customers can heat up their food themselves? This is still seen as fulfil the tests above so the food would be standard rated.
What about hot food with a cold ingredient (i.e. Hot dog) This is standard rated.
I have deal where you can buy a takeaway burger, chips and a milkshake; do I need to pay VAT ? If you sell hot and cold items at an inclusive price, you will need to work out the tax value of each item in order to calculate how much VAT is due on the standard rated items.
What about Salt and Ketchup? Condiments supplied at no charge to the customer can be ignored for VAT purposes
There is a vending machine in my café, is that liable for VAT? All supplies of food and drink from vending machines in café’s and restaurant type areas are standard-rated as supplies to be consumed on the premises where they have been supplied. An apportionment will only be allowed if the food seller can produce evidence to show that a proportion of the items of cold food (that would be eligible for zero-rating) are taken-away from the premises.
I deliver cold food and drinks such as sandwiches and bottled drinks from my café do I have to pay VAT? So long as the food is cold then that is not catering for the purpose of calculating VAT and you only have to follow the advice in Notice 701/4 Food
I sometimes provide packed lunches to events or functions, are these VAT liable? Yes- the HMRC considers this to be catering even when it’s done by a café and you will have to pay standard rate VAT
Do tips and service charges attract VAT? If you have a compulsory service charge then that sum attracts the standard rate of VAT, however if you allow customers to leave a tip if they wish then any money they leave is zero-rated.
I run my own Café, acting as a principle, how do I account for VAT? You must account for VAT on any supplies of catering or hot take-away food. You can reclaim any VAT charged to you as input tax, subject to the normal rules.
My Café is based in someone else’s business, (i.e. I run a café in a separate business, run by someone else) how should I account for VAT? You must account for VAT on:

  • Any supplies of catering or hot take-away food. You can reclaim any VAT charged to you under the normal rules
  • Sales of other standard rated items of food
  • Your fee to the owner of the catering facility
  • Any subsidy you receive from the owner of the catering facilities. This subsidy is standard-rated and should include payments you receive to balance a profit and loss account
  • You must account for VAT on your supplies even if the owner of the facilities makes exempt supplies
My café is based in someone else’s business, and I sometimes supply that business with food or drink (i.e. meals for events they are having), as well as running my café in their premises. How do I account for VAT? You supply food and drink to the owner of the catering facilities and then you prepare and serve it to the users of the premises on the owner’s behalf, so you are acting both as a principal in your own right and as an agent of the owner. You must account for VAT on both:

  • Your supplies of prepared food and drink to the owner. You can reclaim any VAT invoiced to you subject to the normal rules
  • Your fee for your services to the owner of the catering facilities for running the canteen.
I sometimes supply meals or drinks free of charge to customers or friends, do I need to pay VAT on this? This is business entertainment and you will not be entitled to deduct any input tax incurred in the provision of the meal or on the purchase of the drinks
I like to provide free sweets or drinks as part of a meal my customer pays for, such as mints or liqueurs with the bill, I this VAT liable? Treat this input tax as attributable to the taxable supply of the meal.
I give meals or drinks in exchange for an identifiable benefit to my business, (i.e. to coach drivers or party organisers in return for bringing their party to my café, do I need to pay VAT on this? Deduct any VAT incurred but you must account for output tax on the cost to you of these supplies
What about when I supply myself or my family with meals? You need not account for VAT on those meals. However, you must account for tax on the full cost to you of any standard rated items you take out of stock for your own or your families personal use.
I provide meals to my employees free of charge, does this attract any VAT? These meals would be zero rated.
My employees eat at the café and the cost is deducted from their gross wages, as set out in their contract of employment, is this VAT liable? These meals would be zero rated.
There’s a vending machine in my café which my employees can free of any charge, does this follow the same rules as other vending machines? No, these goods would be zero rated.

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Helpful and cheap ways to build a thriving web presence

Helpful cheap ways to build a thriving web presence for your business, from social media to google searches. Clearly explained with useful links.

The most basic reason for people to make a website is to create an online presence. This includes a way for consumers to contact you, business information, and what makes you and your business special. There are quite a few ways to create a good web presence, and the most important one includes a well-designed website.
A domain name will secure your place on the internet no matter what trends are hot. Having a strong website with a homepage that lets consumers contact you is essential. Your homepage should clearly answer what the point of you making the website is, and why the consumers should trust you. Your homepage is critical as it’s the first thing visitors see. Do not lose them at the start, so make sure your homepage is clear and concise. An about page can then give more contact information for you and your consumers to connect. It should go in depth about what your business is about and what you want to accomplish. A great place to create and design your website is from .
A blog is important because it shows your readers that you are an expert in what you’re talking about, and lets them know more about you. It is a way for your consumers to contact you. The more contact you have with your consumers, the more likely they are to buy from you.

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Do I need to pay VAT on the food and drink I supply?

What are premises?:
Premises are

  • Any areas occupied by the retailer.


  • Any area set aside for the consumption of food by the food retailers’ customers, whether or
    not the area may also be used by the customers of other food retailers.

Do you

Supply food or drink for consumption on the
premises where it is supplied?
Make sales of cold food to be taken away from
your premises, but also have on-site facilities
where food can be consumed?
You can apportion your sales of cold food
between those consumed on the premises
(standard-rated) and those taken-away (zero-rated).
If you are unable to ascertain the correct
liability at the point of sale you must retain
satisfactory evidence to support a fair and
reasonable apportionment.

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