Sustainability And The Role Of Accountants

15th Jan 2021
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Sustainable working practices are good for business and the environment. Here we look at how accountancy firms can play their part.

Accountants have the data

It may not be immediately obvious, but accountants are perfectly positioned to help their clients’ businesses become more sustainable. Here we look at how.

What is sustainability?

The world’s population of human beings is growing fast. But a large amount of the natural resources we consume are finite, with future generations under threat unless we take action now.

Sustainability revolves around adapting our behaviours so as to minimise damage on the natural world around us. But not only is this good for the planet, and for human beings, it’s good for business too.

To achieve the most effective sustainable practices, every organisation must understand the social and environmental impacts of its actions. Only then can it start creating more resilient growth for itself and the economy, whilst tackling global sustainability issues.

So where do accountants come in to this?

Sustainable practices and procedures are great, but they don’t come cheap. At a time when many businesses are already strapped for cash, accountants are well placed to answer the question “but what does it cost?”

Business reports play a vital role in guiding business strategies. As a trusted company accountant, you will already play a central part in creating and shaping these reports. This makes you excellently positioned to pinpoint where efficiencies can be made that not only boost sustainability but save the company money too. There may be the opportunity to go paperless for example.

It’s worth pointing out to your clients that sustainability doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, if done right it can even slash costs dramatically.

Practical things accountants can do

There are some further practical ways in which accountants can support their clients’ plans for sustainability. They include:

1. Helping to make the business case for sustainability to stakeholders

When a company is looking to ‘go green’, a business case will need to be made in justifying it. Accountants can help with this, not just in producing viability reports, but also in also setting the scene with stakeholders. Essentially, you can help these stakeholders to see beyond the inevitable short terms costs and embrace the longer term benefits. Certain tax reliefs, such as R&D Tax Credits could also be claimed - more on that later.

2. Adopting sustainability policies themselves

Your clients will (hopefully) see you as their partner, so aligning your firm’s values with theirs makes perfect sense. By demonstrating a commitment to sustainability themselves, accountancy firms will be highly attractive to new clients who value an ethical ethos. And of course, accountancy practices may benefit from cost savings themselves.

3. Disclosure and reputation

Engaging in sustainable practices can do wonders for a company’s reputation. There’s been plenty of media coverage over recent years about the destructions of rainforests, plastic in the sea and climate change. So organisations that are taking the time to review their own processes and make changes for the better will only be welcomed.

However, it’s important that companies send out the right message about their green credentials, and back them up with hard data. Accountants can help their clients to present an accurate, transparent and valid picture of their sustainability efforts. After all, sustainability policies are great but the sums need to add up - this is where accountants are worth their weight in gold.

4. Pinpointing opportunities

We mentioned this briefly earlier but it’s something we want to highlight. Yes it can seem cost prohibitive to go green - but accountants can provide line-by-line budget analysis that will highlight real cost savings. For example, adding insulation and solar panels to offices may well bring down heating and hot water costs in the long run. Plus, where an asset is coming to the end of its life, accountants can also assist firms in making more sustainable, better value choices when purchasing. 

R&D Tax Credits in brief

As a way of incentivising businesses innovation and growth, the UK government launched the Research and Development (R&D) Tax Credits scheme back in the year 2000. It’s essentially a tax incentive, designed to provide precious funding for any company investing in developing new products and processes or improving existing ones.

It’s a generous relief too, where companies can reclaim as much as 33 pence per £1 of their R&D expenditure back. This is in the form of a reduced Corporation Tax bill or as a series of cash payments. Regardless of your client’s company size or sector, if they’ve spent money on eligible R&D then R&D Tax Credits could follow.

Are my clients eligible?

Businesses must remain competitive, with R&D playing a huge role in this. Without an effective R&D plan, companies may struggle against their competitors and ultimately damage their brand reputation.

Your client’s business may qualify for R&D Tax Credits if the following conditions are met;

  • They are a limited UK-based company that’s subject to Corporation Tax
  • They’ve invested money into an R&D project that seeks to make a technological or scientific advancement in their field.

Sound like one of your clients? Have a look at our R&D Tax Credits page for more details, plus you may find our recent blog 5 Steps In Making A Successful Claim For R&D Tax Credits useful too.

Achieve the R&D Tax Credits your clients deserve

The expert R&D team at Myriad Associates developed the Tax Cloud portal for accountants as a hassle-free way to help your clients claim the R&D Tax Credit relief they’re entitled to. It will guide you step by step through the application process, putting together a claim that’s not only maximised but that stands up to HMRC scrutiny.

Average R&D Tax Credits claims in the UK currently stand at around £55,000 - can your clients afford to miss out?

See how else our team can work alongside you in providing a more complete R&D tax relief service. And of course, if you wish to discuss anything we’ve mentioned in this article feel free to send us a message.