survey reveals best and worst banks in great britain; london accountant

The Best and Worst Banks in Great Britain Revealed


If you’re in the market for a new bank, whether for your personal or business needs, you’ll want to take a close look at the latest rankings. Recently, a comprehensive survey in Great Britain asked current account holders to rate their providers on various metrics, such as online and mobile services, branch and overdraft facilities, and the quality of relationship management for businesses. Read on to find out the top-rated and bottom-rated banks to help you make an informed decision.

Top-Ranked Personal Current Account Providers

1. Monzo

Monzo tops the list for personal current accounts. Known for its excellent mobile banking experience, Monzo offers convenient services and a user-friendly interface.

2. Starling Bank

Following closely behind is Starling Bank. Similar to Monzo, it offers a fantastic online and mobile banking service. Its financial products are designed to be straightforward and easy to use.

3. First Direct

A pioneer in telephone banking, First Direct has successfully transferred its emphasis on customer service to the digital world, earning itself the third spot on the list.

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Bottom-Ranked Personal Current Account Providers

Virgin Money, Royal Bank of Scotland

Tied for the last spot are Virgin Money and the Royal Bank of Scotland. While both banks have a long-standing presence in the UK, they seem to fall short in satisfying the modern consumer’s banking needs.


TSB comes in just above the last two, facing challenges in areas like online and mobile services, as well as customer satisfaction in general.

Top-Ranked Business Current Account Providers

Monzo, Starling Bank

Monzo and Starling Bank claim the top spots for business accounts as well, indicating a strong performance across both personal and business banking services.


Handelsbanken stands out for offering excellent relationship management, which is a crucial aspect for small businesses.

Bottom-Ranked Business Current Account Providers


HSBC UK finds itself at the bottom of the list, signaling the need for improvement in multiple areas, particularly in relationship management for small businesses.

The Co-operative Bank, Virgin Money

Also struggling in the business banking sector are The Co-operative Bank and Virgin Money, who will need to up their game to compete with the leaders in the field.

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These businesses must register for money laundering supervision HMRC

Register for money laundering supervision

Money laundering is the process of hiding or obscuring the fact that money was obtained through illegal activity. This means making money that has come from things like drug trafficking or extortion look as though it was made by some legal business, like a restaurant.

Many businesses are monitored by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) or belong to professional bodies like the Law Society, which are meant to look out for money laundering. However, some sectors are supervised by HMRC, and businesses in those sectors must register with HMRC to avoid penalties.

Our CIMA-registered accountants can help you with this process. Contact us here for a free quote.

which businesses need to register for money laundering uk

Does my business have to register for money laundering supervision?

You must register for HMRC money laundering supervision if you run the following kinds of business:

  • Money Service Businesses not supervised by the FCA
  • High Value Dealers 
  • Trust or Company Service Providers not supervised by the FCA or a professional body
  • Accountancy Service Providers not supervised by a professional body
  • Estate Agency Businesses 
  • Bill payment service providers not supervised by the FCA
  • Telecommunications, digital and IT payment service providers not supervised by the FCA
  • Art market participants
  • Letting agency businesses

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Avoid fines by registering as a child minder

Avoid fines, register as a childminder

Avoid fines, register as a childminder

The UK Government takes childcare seriously, and requires that those providing childcare services are registered for the safety of workers, parents, and children.

If you provide childcare services outside of a home, such as a creche, you will be subject to different rules. But for those providing care in the home, you must register as a childminder if all of the following apply:

  • the children are under the age of 8;
  • you look after them for more than 2 hours a day;
  • you look after them in your own home; and
  • you get paid to look after them – including payment in kind.

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Who doesn't need to register?

You do not need to register (though may still choose to) if you are:

  • a nanny
  • a tutor
  • a babysitter and you look after the children between 6pm and 2am
  • a family friend and you look after the children less than 3 hours a day.

What do I need to register as a childminder?

You can register through Ofsted or via a childminder agency. You will need:

  • an enhanced check with barred lists for home-based workers from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS);
  • first aid training for the age group they will look after;
  • childcare training;
  • a health declaration booklet;
  • contact details for 2 references; and
  • a certificate of good character from an embassy – if they lived abroad in the past 5 years.


If you need help registering with HMRC, our accountants at CIGMA Accounting would be happy to assist. You can contact us here for a free quote.

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New transparency regulation for UK overseas property owners

New transparency regulation for overseas property owners

The Register of Overseas Entities came into force in the UK on 1 August 2022. The register is held by Companies House and requires overseas entities that own land or property in the UK to declare their beneficial owners and / or managing officers.

This compliments the current HMRC Worldwide Disclosure Facility (WDF), aimed at preventing offshore tax evation. You can learn what your business needs to disclose here.

Why implement this new register?

Information on the register will be available to HMRC and will be used to help identify offshore tax non-compliance of:

  • overseas legal entities
  • overseas legal arrangements
  • beneficial owners (including settlors, beneficiaries etc).

Which property sales does this affect?

Overseas entities that already owned UK property were required to register by 31 January 2023. This applies to overseas entities who bought property or land on or after 1 January 1999 in England and Wales, 8 December 2014 in Scotland, and on or after 1 August 2022 in Northern Ireland.

Entities that disposed of property or land after 28 February 2022 will also need to give details of those disposals.

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start-up loan success and new working rules for feb 2023

Start-up loan success and new work hours rules – HMRC updates Feb Q2 2023

The week of 13 February 2023 has seen positive reports from HMRC about its Start-up Loan Scheme and a record high of on-time self-assessment tax filings.

Importantly, new legislation is on the table that would give more power to those with zero-hour contacts. This new bill is aimed at mitigating the effects of forcing workers to be available at any time, with little warning.

Start-up Loan Scheme success

The Start-up Loans scheme was established in 2012, to provide support for new businesses that have been trading for less than 36 months.

The loans range from £500 to £25,000, and charge a fixed interest rate of 6% per year. Businesses also get free support writing up their business plan, and up to 12 months of free tutoring.

Young people (aged between 18-24 years old) have received 14 percent of loans since the scheme was established. Of the total of more than 100,000 loans, 40 percent have gone to women and one-in-five to people from Black, Asian, and other ethnic minority backgrounds.

With 12,382 loans in the North-West, 7,117 in the East of England, 5,616 in the East Midlands and 15,39 in Northern Ireland, as well as many more across all parts of the United Kingdom, the Start Up Loans scheme has seen the entire UK benefit, with total economic activity estimated to be around £5.3 billion.

Predictable working hours bill on the table

The Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Bill, proposed by Blackpool South MP Scott Benton, could bring forward huge changes for tens of millions of workers across the UK to request predictable working hours.

The move, which would apply to all workers and employees including agency workers, comes after a review found many workers on zero hours contracts (i.e. contracts with no minimum working hours) experience ‘one-sided flexibility’.

This means people across the country are currently left waiting, unable to get on with their lives in case of being called up at the last minute for a shift. With a more predictable working pattern, workers will have a guarantee of when they are required to work, with hours that work for them.

What does this change for zero-hours contracts?

If a worker’s existing working pattern lacks certainty in terms of the hours they work, the times when they work, OR if it is a fixed term contract for less than 12-months, they will be able to make a formal application to change their working pattern to make it more predictable.

All workers and employees will have this new right if the bill gets parliamentary approval. However, they must first have worked for their employer for a set period before they make their application. This period will be set out in regulations and is expected to be 26-weeks.

Employers do have the option to refuse a request for a more predictable working pattern on specific grounds, such as the burden of additional costs to make changes, or there being insufficient work at times when the employee proposes to work. Workers will be able to make up to two requests a year.

Record number of taxpayers file on time

HMRC reports that more than 11.7 million people submitted their 2021-22 Self-Assessment tax returns by the 31 January deadline. This included over 861,000 taxpayers who left their filing until the final day and over 36,000 that filed in the last hour before the deadline.

Whilst this was the highest ever number of filings, there are still an estimated 600,000 taxpayers that have missed the deadline and are yet to file. Are you among those that missed the 31 January 2023 filing deadline for your 2021-22 Self-Assessment returns?

If you have missed the filing deadline, have a look at this post explaining the penalties and this post on how to reduce your penalties.

If you are unable to pay your tax bill, there is an option to set up an online time to pay payment plan to spread the cost of tax due on 31 January 2023 for up to 12 months. This option is available for debts up to £30,000 and the payment plan needs to be set up no later than 60 days after the due date of a debt.

Late tax payment interest rate increase

For those who have not filed and paid their taxes on time, your repayment amounts have just gone up. Luckily, CIGMA Accounting can help you with this process.

The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) met on 2 February 2023 and voted 6-3 in favour of raising interest rates by 50 basis points to 4% in a move to try and continue to tackle upward pressures on inflation. This is the tenth time in a row that the MPC has increased interest rates with rates now the highest they have been since November 2008.

This means that the late payment interest rate applied to the main taxes and duties that HMRC charges interest on increases by 0.5% to 6.50%.

When do these changes come into effect?

These changes will come into effect on:

  • 13 February 2023 for quarterly instalment payments
  • 21 February 2023 for non-quarterly instalments payments

The repayment interest rates applied to the main taxes and duties that HMRC pays interest on will increase by 0.5% to 3% from 21 February 2023. The repayment rate is set at the Bank Rate minus 1%, with a 0.5% lower limit.

Becoming an Authorised Economic Operator

Authorised Economic Operators (AEO) status is a recognised quality mark of businesses who deal with imports, and customs control procedures. Businesses that hold the AEO standard can demonstrate that their role in the international supply chain is secure and that they have customs control procedures that meet Authorised Economic Operator standards and criteria.

There are 2 types of status:

  • Authorised Economic Operator Customs Simplification (AEOC)
  • Authorised Economic Operator Security and Safety (AEOS)

You can apply for customs simplification or security and safety, or you can apply for both (Customs simplifications & Security and safety-AEOF).

What are the benefits of being an Authorised Economic Operator?

Businesses with AEOS status benefit from Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs). The UK negotiates MRAs with other customs authorities to reduce friction and excessive taxation. The UK currently has negotiated agreements with the EU, Japan, China and USA. Following Brexit, all Northern Ireland AEO authorisations continue to be recognised in the EU.

HMRC’s list of approved Authorised Economic Operator businesses has recently been updated and lists 1,237 businesses that hold status with HMRC.

Change in approved ISA managers list

Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs) are accounts for cash and investments (such as stocks and shares) for which you are not charged tax on interest, income, or capital gains. The maximum you can save in ISAs for the current tax year is £20,000.


HMRC releases lists of individuals and firms who it deems are able to manage ISAs satisfactorily. However, HMRC has not approved any ISA that the ISA manager may offer. Potential investors are advised to take independent advice if they’re in any doubt about the suitability of the ISA manager or of a particular ISA.

What can i hold in an ISA?

The list of investments that can be held in a tax-advantaged ISA also includes:

  • securities (including retail bonds) and shares issued by housing associations and other co-operative societies or community benefit societies (registered societies – formerly known as industrial and provident societies);
  • a broader range of securities issued by companies, including those admitted to trading on certain Small and Medium Size Enterprise (SME) market; and
  • shares in a wider range of investment trusts.

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tax avoidance schemes uk penalties

UK Tax avoidance schemes and how to spot them

Tax avoidance schemes involve bending the tax rules to gain an advantage never intended by Parliament. This is usually done by making contrived and artificial transactions that serve little or no purpose except for reducing the amount of tax paid.

Often, these are umbrella companies or payment middlemen who promise that you will end up with more take-home pay by using their services.

HMRC has powers introduced in the Finance Act 2022 to name avoidance scheme promoters, publish details of the way they promote tax avoidance schemes and name the schemes they promote.

This allows HMRC to warn users and potential users of these schemes at the earliest possible stage, of the risks associated with use of the scheme, and to help those already involved to leave these avoidance arrangements.


What are your risks when joining tax avoidance schemes?

If you are found to be involved in a tax avoidance scheme, you could face various consequences, including:

  • Paying penalties, or interest on the tax paid late
  • Be required to pay all unpaid tax upfront and within 90 days
  • Be taken to court, where HMRC wins 9 out of 10 tax avoidance cases
  • Be treated as a high-risk taxpayer, meaning HMRC will closely inspect all your future tax affairs

How do I spot a tax avoidance scheme?

HMRC outlines things to look out for that hint at a scheme being aimed at tax avoidance. These are some of the warning signs:

  • It sounds too good to be true, such as promising to lower your tax bill for little to no cost.

  • Promising to put money in your pocket without having to pay tax. This can mean payment in the form of loans, grants, bonuses, and salary advances.

  • Promises of huge benefits

  • Payments that go around in circles, or transactions which seem to have no purpose

  • Misleading claims like ‘HMRC approved’, ‘Retain more of your earnings after tax’, or ‘Compliant tax efficient pay’. As you would probably expect, HMRC does not ‘approve’ schemes which aim to avoid tax

HMRC lists advice and warning signs specifically for dealing with umbrella companies and for contractors / agency workers.


Which companies are already labelled as tax avoidance schemes?

The latest list was published on 19 January 2023 and includes details of five newly added tax avoidance schemes.

Three of the schemes make use of complex company structures and directors’ loan accounts to extract profit, providing directors with income where Corporation Tax, Income Tax and National Insurance contributions were not correctly paid. The other two schemes make one payment to users that is close to National Minimum Wage and then another disguised payment, which the promoters claim is non-taxable and Income Tax and National Insurance are not correctly deducted.


This latest list of tax avoidance schemes contains these 32 companies and schemes:


  • Able Ltd
  • Absolute Outsourcing Limited
  • AML Tax (UK) Limited
  • Charteris Management Ltd
  • Contractor Central Accounting Ltd – see Able Ltd
  • Contractorcare Limited
  • Countrywide Partners Limited
  • Denmedical UK Limited – see AML Tax (UK) Limited
  • Focus Contractor Limited
  • Gateway Outsource Solutions Limited
  • Greenwich Contracts Ltd
  • Griffith Anderson Limited – see Umbrella Agency Limited and Charteris Management Ltd
  • Howe Consultancy Limited (Incorporated in Isle of Man) – see Charteris Management Ltd
  • Industria PAYE Limited
  • Integra Resourcing Limited (Incorporated in Malta) – see Greenwich Contracts Ltd and Charteris Management Ltd
  • Jeceris Limited – see Charteris Management Ltd
  • Nicely Paid Limited
  • Novus Consultants Limited (formerly Novus Limited) (Incorporated in Isle of Man) / Contractor Corner Accounting Limited
  • Ombros Solutions Limited – see Charteris Management Ltd
  • Omni Contractors PCC Limited (Incorporated in Isle of Man) – see Saxonside Limited – Saxonside Share Growth and Focus Contractor Limited – Share Growth
  • Paybox Umbrella Limited
  • PAYEme Limited
  • Peak PAYE Limited
  • Pure Invoicing Limited
  • Purple Pay Limited / Equity Participation Scheme
  • Saxonside Limited
  • T2 Outsourcing Limited
  • Tailored UK Services Ltd (trading as Tailored Resourcing)
  • Taurus Limited (Incorporated in Isle of Man) – see Charteris Management Ltd
  • U R Group Limited
  • The Umbrella Agency Limited
  • We PAYE Umbrella Limited

To get more information about these companies and why their schemes are considered tax avoidance, visit this page.

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New energy discount UK London

New business Energy Bills Discount Scheme

The new business Energy Bills Discount Scheme will replace the current Energy Bill Relief Scheme which is coming to an end on 31 March 2023. The new scheme will offer support to eligible non-domestic energy customers (i.e. businesses, rather than private residences) from 1 April 2023 to 31 March 2024. This includes UK businesses, the voluntary sector (such as charities) and the public sector (such as schools and hospitals).

The new scheme has been designed to help support businesses over the next 12 months whilst at the same time limiting the taxpayer’s exposure to volatile energy markets. A cap has been set at £5.5 billion based on estimated volumes.

What does this change for UK businesses?

Under the old scheme, businesses had access to a government-supported price ceiling of £211 per megawatt hour (MWh) for electricity and £75/MWh for gas. This meant that if your wholesale price exceeded this ceiling, eligible businesses could instead pay the government-supported price.

Under the new scheme, businesses will receive a discount starting when their wholesale price goes over the threshold for the fuel, capped at the maximum discount for the fuel. In effect, this is the same concept as having a price ceiling as before, but now with a maximum amount of discount.

Before, you could pay the government-supported price ceiling no matter your original cost per MWh. Now, if you pay above the ‘ceiling’ or threshold, you receive a discount which lowers your new cost per MWh as close to the threshold as possible, up to the maximum discount.

For electricity, the threshold is £302/MWh with a maximum discount of £19.61/MWh. For gas, the threshold is £107/MWh with a maximum discount of £6.97.

Here are some examples:

  • For a business paying £308/MWh for electricity, their discount would be £6/MWh (effectively paying the threshold or soft ceiling price of £302/MWh).
  • A business paying £125/MWh for gas would receive the maximum discount of £6.97 (effectively paying £118.03/MWh).
  • A business paying £100/MWh for gas would receive no discount.

Does this discount differ by business sector?

The government has also confirmed that a substantially higher level of support will be provided to businesses in sectors identified as being the most energy and trade intensive – predominately manufacturing industries. These businesses will receive a gas and electricity bill discount based on a supported price which will be capped by a maximum unit discount of £40/MWh for gas with a price threshold of £99 per MWh and £89/MWh for electricity with a price threshold of £185 per MWh. This discount will only apply to 70% of energy volumes.

As with the original scheme, suppliers will automatically apply reductions to the bills of all eligible non-domestic customers.

Read more about this bill here.

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MDT for Self Assessment Tax

Making Tax Digital for Self-Assessment

The introduction of Making Tax Digital (MTD) for Income Tax Self-Assessment (ITSA) is set to commence from April 2024. This means that clients who have not yet prepared for the change have less than 18 months to choose and begin using approved software.

What is the Making Tax Digital for income tax self-assessment? 

MTD for ITSA is a new initiative by the HMRC to digitise the process of submitting property and self-employed tax. In order to register for MDT, you need to be making use of accounting software that can store and send digital records to the HMRC. Not using any accounting software at the moment? Check out our post on the top 6 accounting software available in the UK.

Why is the HMRC implementing the MTD for income tax?

How will MTD for income tax work? 

MTD for ITSA will fundamentally change the way businesses, the self-employed and landlords, interact with HMRC. The regime will require businesses and individuals to register, file, pay and update their information using an online tax account. The rules will initially apply to taxpayers who file Income Tax Self-Assessment tax returns with business or property income over £10,000 annually.

Making Tax Digital for UK Taxpayers

General partnerships will not be required to join MTD for ITSA until a year later, in April 2025. The date other types of partnerships will be required to join will be confirmed in the future. A new system of penalties for the late filing and late payment of tax for ITSA will be aligned with the introduction of MTD for ITSA.

The MTD regime started in April 2019 for VAT purposes when businesses with a turnover above the VAT threshold were mandated to keep their records digitally and provide their VAT return information to HMRC using MTD compatible software. Since April 2022, MTD has been extended to all VAT registered businesses with turnover below the VAT threshold of £85,000.