Does your business have a CSR strategy?

woman with dreadlocks and man in yellow t shirt sorting clothes standing next to each other

Having a ‘corporate social responsibility (CSR)’ strategy was something that used to be the sole preserve of giant corporations.

But with the social and environmental impacts of business evermore transparent, it’s good practice for every business – both large and small – to have a CSR policy that reflects your core values and goals as an organisation.

1. What is a corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy?

CSR is a form of self regulation. Your CSR strategy measures the impact your business has on the local community and environment, and will help you focus your efforts on providing charitable support, community interactions and other ways of improving your positive impact.

2. How do you improve your social and environmental impact as a business?

Your CSR strategy helps you proactively improve your company’s social and environmental impacts – so you carry out positive work and make your business into a good global citizen.

This could mean cutting your emissions and carbon footprint as a business. It could mean hiring more local people to boost the economy. Or it could mean working with nearby charities, not-for-profit organisations or social enterprises to support good work in your community.

3. Why should your CSR strategy mirror your organisation’s core values?

As a business, you almost certainly have a set of core values that define how you do business. Your CSR strategy should reflect those core values. This helps you demonstrate the ways that your values, beliefs and long-term goals are ingrained in your long-term business plan.

For example, if ‘thinking greener’ is one of your core values, you need evidence that your CSR strategy is focused on making your operations more sustainable. If ‘community minded’ is a core value, you must be able to show how you’re reaching out to your local community to offer charitable help, funding and support etc.

4. How do you measure your CSR performance?

The key to measuring your CSR performance is to set clear targets for each area of your CSR strategy. By setting clear goals and timelines, you can track the business against these aims and measure your performance over time.

Including your CSR aims and performance in your annual report is a great way to hold yourself to account, while also being transparent and public about your performance.

5. What’s the best way to promote your CSR strategy?

Talking about your CSR goals and performance is an important part of being transparent about the good work you’re doing. But be careful about your wording and resist the temptation to make this a case of self-promotion.

If you run an event with a local charity, blog about it, or post a video from the day, and make sure you give the charity plenty of space to talk. If you’re doing work to help cut your use of single-use plastics, include a short update in your next newsletter, or ask staff for their ideas on how to meet this goal more effectively.

Start thinking about your corporate social responsibility strategy

Having a transparent CSR strategy should be an important goal for any business. Consumers and business clients want to know what their favourite companies are doing to improve the company’s impacts on the outside world.

Plain English guide to VAT for businesses

Getting to grips with the basics of accounting, financial management and business strategy can be a challenge. To make things easier, we’re starting a new Plain English guide to business.

This time, we’ll be looking at Value-Added Tax, or VAT as it’s generally known.

What is Value-Added Tax (VAT)?

Value-added tax (VAT) is a consumption tax. VAT is imposed on the value added at each stage of the production and distribution of many goods and services. Registered businesses charge VAT on their sales and can reclaim VAT paid on their purchases.

The standard VAT rate in the UK is currently 20%, with different reduced rates for certain goods and services that fall outside the standard rate.

How does VAT affect your business?

You can choose to register for VAT at any point. But registration does become mandatory once you hit the relevant threshold (see below). As a VAT-registered business, you’ll add a few tasks to your to-do list but will also benefit from claiming back any VAT expenses.

Here are your main VAT responsibilities:

  • Become VAT-registered – it’s mandatory to register for VAT once your company’s taxable turnover exceeds the rolling 12-months threshold (currently £85,000 per year)
  • File your VAT return – your business must file a VAT return (normally quarterly) that shows all VAT you’ve collected from customers, and all VAT expenses you’ve incurred.
  • Pay the collected VAT to HMRC – also every quarter, you’ll pay the VAT funds you’ve collected from your customers to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) less any reclaimable VAT you’ve paid to your suppliers.
  • Claim back VAT expenses – If there’s a refund – where the reclaimable VAT on your outgoings exceeds the VAT on your sales – you can claim that back from HMRC. This can be a helpful boost to your cashflow).

How can our firm help you with VAT?

Becoming a VAT-registered business brings a certain amount of professional kudos to your company – and it needn’t add too much to your financial workload.

As your adviser, we’ll let you know when you’re close to hitting the registration threshold and will be there to help you get VAT-registered. We’ll also make sure your VAT processes are as simple and streamlined as possible, and that you maximise your VAT expense claims. We can also help you decide whether one of the special VAT schemes might benefit you.

If you’d like to know more about registering for and managing VAT, we’ll be happy to explain.