Chartered Accountants and Professional Business Advisers

Renewable energy

Renewable and low carbon energy is a key growth sector for the UK as the people and business all over the world are committing to making a positive and significant impact on the causes of climate change. Leveraging current and emergent renewable technologies is key to the pursuit of a global low-carbon future through carbon emissions reduction.

The sector is embracing a wide range of technologies including onshore and offshore wind, wave and tidal, hydropower, solar heating and photovoltaics, deep geothermal; heat pumps, bioenergy and wastes. Bioenergy is further split into landfill gas, sewage gas, domestic and industrial wood, plant and animal biomass and anaerobic digestion. Sources of energy from waste include those from the combustion of tyres, hospital waste and general industrial waste.

The UK’s largest sources of renewable energy are bioenergy, onshore and offshore wind and wastes. Both bioenergy and wind power have grown strongly over the last five years. Hydropower provides a highly volatile output. Waste sources have increased steadily as businesses have been pressured to utilise waste products, and now account for between 6% and 8% of the total.

Long established businesses and new entrants are pursuing these opportunities. Direct capital raising and financing through consumer investment funds are helping to fuel the growth. It’s estimated that for 2017/18 green energy is equivalent to 19.7 million tonnes of oil.

The use of use of renewable energy sources is expected to grow quickly over the five years to 2022-23, to total 23.2 million tonnes of oil equivalent. The United Kingdom is legally bound by an EU target requiring that 15% of final energy consumption must come from renewable sources by 2020. To meet this target, 30% of UK electricity, 12% of heat and 10% of transport energy must be generated from renewable sources.

The businesses in the sector that we help include entrepreneurs, established energy businesses, funds and fund managers. Our work covers:

  • Business structure, including start-ups and joint ventures
  • Accounts
  • Audit – including funds
  • Corporation tax planning and compliance
  • Research and development tax credits
  • Cash flow modelling
  • Corporate finance
  • Feed-in tariffs

International agreements, public opinion and politics are driving global change and at a national level tax breaks, grants, incentives and penalties are very important across the industry, both to companies and investors.


Although the slowdown in business activity after 2007 left its mark on many legal firms, the sector has recovered and grew by 8% last year. The implications of Brexit may well help to drive demand, particularly once the detail of the changes become apparent. However, legal firms cannot rest easy. Innovation in services and service delivery will become a key differentiating factor, alternative business structures (ABS) may well become a source of competition, and there is a more concerted move towards fixed fees.

By combining our knowledge of the legal sector with our professional expertise, we provide practical solutions to help you manage change and provide you with your accounting, tax and business advisory needs.

Whether you’re a small, medium or large practice, we can help you with issues such as:

  • Accountancy and audit
  • Business tax planning and compliance
  • Personal tax planning and financial planning
  • VAT advice and registration
  • Forensic accounting advice and evidence
  • Strategic planning review
  • LLP status
  • Mergers and acquisition
  • Compliance with the Solicitors Regulation Authority accounting guidelines
  • Partner dispute resolution planning
  • Succession planning
  • Company share buybacks
  • Cross-border structuring for set-up in the UK.

What sets us apart is our focus is on getting to know you, your objectives and priorities. We build close, personal, long-term relationships with our clients to become a trusted adviser you can always turn to for practical advice and solutions.

Through our membership of AGN international, a global association of separate and independent accounting and advisory businesses, our clients have access to local rules and practices across the globe.

We have worked with a number of clients in the legal sector including law firms specialising in family law, real estate, private wealth, technology, media and entertainment, sports, corporate and commercial as well as in the retail and healthcare sectors.

Video games companies

The UK video games industry is important economically and culturally and is the largest video games sector in Europe with around 11,000 people directly involved in games development. Retail and digital game sales exceeded video sales back in 2013 and are more than double the value of music sales. Games are also exported widely.

A favourable UK tax environment - R&D tax credits and Video Games tax Relief (VGTR) - has been crucial in levelling the playing field to enable UK companies to compete internationally, particularly against competitors in Canada.

The video games tax relief applied from 1 April 2014 and the HMRC’s statistics show that ten claims totalling £0.5m were paid in 2014-15, increasing to 130 claims and payments of £45.4m in 2015-16, and 280 claims amounting to £73m for 2016-17.

We filed a number of these claims ourselves for our clients and all have been paid in full. We have regular contact with HMRC which helps us maintain a detailed understanding of how the rules are being applied in practice and gives us insight into likely future changes.

In addition to the UK tax incentives there are funding opportunities available from Creative Europe (the European Union’s financial support programme for the creative, cultural and audiovisual sectors in Europe) for video game companies to develop narrative led video games that have the potential to circulate within the European Union and beyond.

The UK’s vote to leave the EU means that the current EU state aid approval process may change and the UK government could have more flexibility to improve the VGTR.

Please contact one of our video games specialists to find out how we can help you.

Creative industries

Video game development companies, theatre production companies and orchestra production companies can benefit from a tax credit regime similar to that introduced for British films in 2007, and subsequently extended to animations, high-end TV and children's TV.

Our work with TV and film and especially our expertise in relation to the tax credits is well-known, so it was a natural step for us to specialise in these creative industries when the incentives began to be introduced in April 2014. Not only are the schemes very similar, they are administered by the same people at HM Customs & Excise (HMRC).

The special company tax reliefs provide a doubling of the tax deduction for certain expenditure. In the event of a loss, it may be 'surrendered' in return for a 'payable tax credit' from HMRC, at the rate of 25%.

How we can help

We can help creative industry companies with issues such as:

  • Planning and structuring companies to qualify for the tax credits
  • Tax credit claims including assistance with certification as British
  • Annual statutory accounts and audit where required
  • Corporation tax compliance (returns, computations and payment) and planning
  • Witholding tax
  • Personal tax compliance and planning for the owners and senior staff
  • Payroll and IR35
  • VAT compliance and planning
  • Company secretarial support
  • Business advice.

Please contact one of our creative industry specialists to find out how we can help you.

Property & construction

Recent surveys conducted by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors suggest that the sector overall is starting to recover.

The residential sales market is starting to firm nationally, with London and the South East showing the strongest price gains. Residential rent expectations are broadly similar across the country.

In the construction market, workloads ticked up at the beginning of the year and workload expectations for the coming 12 months are positive, although rising costs are holding down profit margins.

Current issues

We help a wide variety of people and businesses involved with many aspects of the industry. These include valuers, consultants, planners, architects, surveyors, financiers, finance brokers, builders, self-builders, developers, residential and commercial owner-occupiers, investors, agents consultants, and even demolition contractors.

Our input brings together our technical expertise covering a range of areas, and experience built up over many years. We are often asked to help with special projects such as tax planning (including SDLT and VAT), and in the current climate debt and business restructuring, as well as the routine compliance.

Tax planning for those in the sector covers a huge variety of topics and examples include the principal private residence exemption, trading vs. investment, the availability of entrepreneurs' relief, partnerships and succession, inheritance tax, SDLT mitigation, capital gains for groups of companies and capital allowances.

In the current climate it's especially important that compliance work is up to date and cost effective. HMRC are introducing ever more automatic penalties for those who are unaware of the rules or late in meeting them. Compliance areas include management accounts, statutory accounts, audit, PAYE, national insurance, the subcontractors scheme and VAT.

Our expertise and experience

We find that property issues affect almost all our clients, not just those within the industry. The owners of a manufacturing business may own the factory premises and need help structuring the purchase or sale. A senior city executive of may be a self builder for VAT purposes in relation to their new holiday home on the coast. For this reason, we don't have an team specialising in just dealing with the industry. Instead we have developed expertise which is available to all our clients, often co-ordinated by our clients normal Shipleys contact.

Through our membership of AGN international, a global association of separate and independent accounting and advisory businesses, our clients can gain access to local rules and practices across the globe.

Owner-managed businesses

The economic conditions remain difficult with ongoing concerns ranging from the global economic recovery and credit ratings of individual countries, to domestic demand and retail spending on the local high street. Our experience is that the picture is mixed, with some businesses flourishing and others struggling to stay afloat. And somewhat surprisingly, in these 'austere times', its not necessarily the luxury end of the market which is finding things difficult, with low interest rates perhaps boosting the spending power of those in secure employment.

Who do we help?

We help a wide variety of people and businesses involved with many different industries, and are well known and regarded for our work in a number of niche sectors, which include film & television, entertainment & media, charities and property & construction. Whether in one of these sectors or not, very often our clients are those where the owners are involved in the day-to-day running of the business - not just as a sole proprietor or sole trader, but also shareholders and directors of a limited company, or partners in a professional practice.

The right approach

Whatever the size of your business, our approach is to endeavour to build up a good understanding of your objectives and priorities, regarding both your role and the business overall.

We do this so that, when combined with our professional expertise, we can make sure our advice is relevant, practical and valuable. Because we get straight to the point with clear, jargon free answers so that you know what to do and when, many of our clients use us as a sounding board for both opportunities and problems. This is especially so with owner-managers who may not have in house financial experts, and it also helps us to keep our clients informed about issues and ideas that may affect them. We also provide information on specific issues and sectors to those we think will value it, and offer to introduce others who can help when appropriate.

How we can help

Our smaller clients and newer businesses, who may not have a dedicated accounts person in house, often rely on us to help keep their business financial records accurate and up to date, so that they can meet the obligations imposed by HM Revenue & Customs, Companies House and others. For some clients we run the payroll and complete VAT returns, as well as dealing with corporation tax and personal tax returns. For larger or more mature businesses we are more likely to carry out an audit or group tax planning exercise,  inheritance tax planning, or advice on maximising value and after tax return in relation to a sale.  All business have access to our help covering areas including accounting, tax compliance, tax planning for both the business and its owners, corporate finance, corporate recovery and strategic business planning.

Our expertise and experience

We are very experienced at balancing the needs and requirements of a business, its employees and it's owners. Although not strictly a business sector, owner managed business which are often also smaller or medium enterprises (SMEs) form the core of our business, and we are therefore used to looking at the overall cost or benefit for an business and its owners.

Financial Services

Financial services businesses operate in a complex environment which has become very heavily regulated. Those who struggle to meet the regulatory requirements are increasingly likely to be subjected to unwanted media attention.

Some organisations need guidance on what needs to be done and how to do it. The number of funds under management in the UK has increased in the last ten years from around 200,000 to over 600,000 and some do not have in-house compliance expertise.

Smaller investors and family offices require structures which are tax friendly and meet all the regulations but which do not cost a fortune to run.

Larger fund managers are under increasing pressure to demonstrate efficient fund administration and pursuit of sensible cost saving opportunities. At the same time they need to attract and retain a team which can consistently deliver good results.

Our help and support

We offer a level of support meeting regulatory obligations which is designed to meet the needs of the organisation concerned. For some, we are 'hands-on', highlighting deadlines and helping to ensure they are met. For others, we offer additional help to overcome problems which may arise. Flexibility and experience are key.

Our role is not just about having the industry knowledge and experience to carry out efficient fund audits and tax compliance. We also advise on record keeping and tax efficient remuneration planning, help high net-worth family offices establish and run their own funds cost effectively, and provide assistance with statutory returns, capital adequacy tests and systems controls.

We have a team that specialises in looking after funds and Financial Services businesses such as authorised corporate directors, corporate directors, unit trust managers, fund managers, investment advisers and other intermediaries. We currently audit around 60 authorised investment funds with a combined net asset value of over £2.4bn. These funds specialise in areas including fixed income, equities and derivatives.

Film industry

  • Production audits (both full and investigatory)
  • Distribution or royalty audits
  • British Film Certification audits
  • Co-Production Certification audits and advisory services
  • Statutory accounts
  • Corporation tax advice
  • Personal tax advice (self employed producers and actors)
  • Specialist VAT advice
  • Advice to both UK and non-UK entities, including tax planning
  • Pre- and post-production services
  • Structuring to take advantage of available tax breaks
  • PAYE and National Insurance compliance and planning

We are also linked into AGN International, a global association of separate and independent accounting and advisory businesses.

Steve Joberns heads up this department, and specialises in Co-Productions and British Film Certification work, as well as maintaining a general range of film and television clients.

Stewart Jell is also a principal in this department and works with clients involved in the development, production, distribution and exploitation of film and television content.

Other partner contacts involved in the industry are:-

Mike Luckett - International taxation
Simon Robinson - General practice and accounting

Over the years we have been involved with a number of highly successful British films including Trainspotting, Sliding Doors, Shakespeare in Love, Mansfield Park, The Talented Mr Ripley, Alexander and many more.

Our expertise covers a huge variety of work and our portfolio includes animations, documentaries and television series, as well as feature films with budgets from as little as £500,000 to well in excess of £100 million.

Charities & not for profit

The trustees of charitable and not-for-profit organisations face some complex challenges and a changing regulatory environment. Staying on top of the more onerous requirements coming into force under the Charities Act 2006 and increasingly stringent governance guidelines can be a formidable task and an added pressure on trustees. Failure to comply with these requirements can result in bad publicity, leading to loss of support.

At the same time, many charities are facing sharp reductions in income as a result of lower investment returns and falling disposable income among donors.

Our team of charity specialists is experienced in dealing with these challenges.

Setting Up

We work with all types of charities at all stages of their development. We can help set up and register a charity with the Charity Commission, including making sure its objectives meet the new public benefit test guidelines. Some charities are finding they need to refocus their activities to comply with these.

We can also advise on the most appropriate structure for the organisation. For example, charities may now consider registering as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO), an option which is being introduced by the Charities Act 2006 aimed at minimising trustees’ liabilities.

Charity Commission requirements

Registered charities with gross annual income over £10,000 must provide annual information and accounts. Smaller organisations which have more than £5,000 of annual income are expected to complete an annual return to ensure their details are up to date. Charities have ten months from the end of their financial year to file the annual return and accounts with the Charity Commission.

Charities that file their documents late will be listed as defaulters on the register.

Shipleys can help with any or all aspects of your annual return, whatever the size or type of your organisation.

Accounting, audit and assurance

There are different audit requirements for charities depending on their size and status. We can help you meet your obligations by helping you set up the right system to enable you to keep accurate and reliable financial records, comply with the latest SORP (recommended accounting practice) for charities and ensure cost-effective accounts preparation or independent audit.

Shipleys can also work with trustees and finance staff to maintain appropriate internal controls and help minimise the incidence of fraud.


For most charities tax on income is not a major issue. However, our specialist team can give advice on the possible tax implications of a charity’s operations, including, for example, VAT issues arising from any trading activity such as souvenir shops or sale of light refreshments. We may advise your charity to set up a limited company through which to trade to maximise tax efficiency.

Shipleys helps with all aspects of Gift Aid planning to make sure that charities maximise the opportunity to reclaim the tax on donations. Investment income may be subject to taxation and our team can advise on recoverability options.

We also offer payroll services to ensure the correct payment of National Insurance Contributions.

Strategic planning

At Shipleys we are taking a pro-active role to help charities through this particularly challenging economic period. We can work with you to assess what has been achieved and what can be done to meet future goals. We assess financial and operational risk and analyse the key drivers of performance improvement. By using the most appropriate reporting systems and management information, we can advise on budgets and forecasts, and fundraising effectiveness. We can help you assess the use of resources and identify cost saving opportunities where appropriate.

Once strategic options have been identified we can work together to develop an action plan tailored to the specific needs of your organisation and provide assistance in implementing the plan successfully.

Governance and trustees' responsibilities

Our charities team at Shipleys is fully up-to-date on Charity Commission, Companies Act and other regulatory requirements. We help trustees to meet their obligations under the Combined Code of Corporate Governance and advise on the correct procedures to be adopted for the effective running of both the financial and wider aspects of the charity. We work closely with boards of trustees to advise them on best practice with regard to their role, structure, leadership, performance and development.

Co-ordinated advice

We often play an important role in co-ordinating teams of external professional advisers. We have close relationships with specialists in employment law, health and safety, data protection, IT and human resources, and can put you in touch with them as necessary.

Our clients

We work with trustees and finance staff from a broad range of charitable organisations, from well-known national charities and their local branch offices, to independent schools, charitable trusts, religious orders and Government training bodies.

Shipleys’ charities team

Our team of charity specialists at Shipleys is experienced in dealing with the complex challenges and changing legislative requirements facing the voluntary sector. This enables us to deliver appropriate, independent advice underpinned by a thorough understanding of the current regulatory framework.

The team is led by our Managing Principal, Simon Robinson, who is a holder of the Diploma in Charity Accounting (DCHA) from the ICAEW and has specialist knowledge of the accounting, audit and governance issues facing charities.

Specific advice should be obtained before taking action, or refraining from taking action, on any of the subjects covered above.

Need more help? Please contact us at or +44 (0)20 7312 0000