Tributes to WNJ founder Michael Johnson

Tributes have been paid to Michael Johnson, one of the founders of WNJ, who has passed away at the age of 81 after a short illness.

Michael, who was once the youngest Chartered Accountant in the UK, was also a former director at Preston North End, chairman of the Preston Musical Comedy Society and president of the Preston Grammar School Association.

Preston-born and educated at the Grammar School, he founded his own accounting practice in the city after two years’ National Service, attached to the Grenadier Guards and based near Buckingham Palace.

That business was then merged with another firm of accountants to form Wallwork, Nelson and Johnson (WNJ) with his friend and business partner Doug Nelson.

Michael and Doug worked closely together and were instrumental in building up the large and respected firm of chartered accountants that is WNJ today.

He retired as a partner in early 2000 and enjoyed many years working as a consultant with the practice, only stepping down from working one day a week a few months short of his 80th birthday.

Michael was well known and respected across the city. He also held several positions over a 40-year period as a director, consultant and trustee of various businesses and charities in the local area.

He also had a number of leisure and social interests including football, golf, rugby, opera and musical comedy. Michael supported Preston North End for more than 65 years. And on the sports field he even played rugby at Twickenham on one occasion for The Guards.

Michael and his wife Barbara, who were married in 1959, have three sons: Ian, Stuart and Simon, eight grandchildren: Matthew, Natalie, Hannah, Isabel, Sam, Oliver, Joseph and Sophia and two great grandchildren: Emily and Alicia.

Today Ian is a partner at WNJ and Matthew is an associate at the practice.

Paul Woodburn, a partner at WNJ, said: “Michael was massively respected, not only for his dedicated work building this practice but also in the wider business community and for his support of community projects and charities.

“The impact he made on people’s lives has been evident by the heartfelt condolences and warm messages that have been sent to the firm’s office.

“His professionalism and knowledge was coupled with good humour and warmth. He will be sadly missed by everyone who knew him.”

Michael’s funeral service was held at Preston Crematorium and was attended by a large number of former clients and business associates, as well as family and friends.

Making re-enrolment simpler

Employers will be able to re-enrol their staff into a workplace pension more simply following the launch of a new online resource, according to regulators.

They say that while the vast majority are carrying out re-enrolment successfully, some are failing to complete the task correctly – which could lead to a fine.

The new re-enrolment tool has been launched by The Pensions Regulator as thousands of small and micro employers reach their re-enrolment dates in the coming months.

Its director of automatic enrolment Darren Ryder says: “Re-enrolment gives staff who opted out of their workplace pension a fresh chance to start saving so it’s an important task.

“Automatic enrolment has led to millions of new savers and we want to ensure this success continues. Our online re-enrolment tool will help employers continue to meet their legal duties so that staff continue to have the opportunity to save.”

Re-enrolment must be carried out every three years. Firstly, the employer needs to choose the re-enrolment date as this can be up to three months before or three months after the three year anniversary.

Then they must check whether they have any staff to re-enrol and must write to staff and inform them they are being put back into scheme.

They must then complete and submit their re-declaration of compliance. Official figures reveal that more than 176,000 employers have completed their re-declaration of compliance showing TPR how they have met their re-enrolment duties.

The majority of employers will not have staff to re-enrol, however they must still complete their re-declaration of compliance to confirm they have checked whether they need to re-enrol any of their staff, even if none were.

It is a legal requirement and the TRP stresses that failure to both assess and re-enrol eligible staff and make a declaration could result in a fine.

The launch of the new re-enrolment tool comes at the same time as new TPR research shows business advisers continue to play a vital role in helping employers meet their automatic enrolment duties.

The survey revealed that more than 92 per cent of accountants, payroll administrators and book keepers and 62 per cent of IFAs advisers assist their small business clients with automatic enrolment.

To discuss any aspect of workplace pension provision and enrolment please contact me on 01772 430000.

Giving Lancashire businesses a Boost

WNJ has underlined its strong commitment to helping Lancashire companies grow by joining the Boost & Co group.

Boost is Lancashire’s Business Growth Hub and as a member of the group we’re backing its important work across the county.

Since 2013, Boost has helped more than 5,000 Lancashire businesses to grow, creating more than 2,200 jobs in the county and adding £75m to the local economy.

Boost & Co is made up of private and public sector business support providers like WNJ, with specific services and offers that can help that growth continue.

Whether you’re a start-up, large business or somewhere in between, Boost can help get you the right growth support. It offers an invaluable service for growth-hungry businesses.

The project provides funded growth programmes as well as helping businesses navigate the best private and public sector business support available.

And the programme is delivered by specialists with a track record of supporting growth – of both start-ups and established businesses.

To start your growth conversation contact Boost on 0800 488 0057 or visit

WNJ can also help you on your growth journey. You can read our Boost & Co partner profile here:

To start your business growth conversation with our team of experts, please contact me on 01772 430000.

Lift-off for aerospace R&D

A new £24million fund for collaborative research and development (R&D) projects is good news for SMEs in the aerospace sector.

The new funding opportunity was announced by Business Minister Andrew Stephenson at the Paris Airshow. And the aim is to help keep UK aerospace suppliers at the forefront of manufacturing in the country.

The announcement is of particular interest here in the North West of England. The region’s aerospace cluster is the largest in Europe and contributes more than £7bn to the UK economy, accounting for one quarter of the nation’s aerospace turnover.

This funding together with the support for training, innovation and energy saving through Boost Business Lancashire and UCLan should give business in the area an opportunity to develop, innovate and grow.

Through the programme up to £12m government funding, matched by industry, will be available as part of the Open Collaborative Research and Development (CR&D) competition, supported by the Aerospace Technology Institute Programme.

The Business Minister also announced the opening of the new round of the National Aerospace Technology Exploitation Programme (NATEP 3) to help SMEs develop innovate technology.

In his speech, Mr Stephenson said: “Innovation and R&D are crucial for the UK aerospace sector and I am delighted that we have today launched two programmes to support R&D for SMEs.

“Through our Industrial Strategy we are ensuring the UK remains a world-leader by boosting R&D activity, developing new technology and increasing the UK’s share of the growing aerospace market.”

Open Collaborative Research and Development (CR&D) is a £24m programme to support and accelerate industry investment focused on SME supply chain companies.

The competition seeks high-risk, high-impact projects that demonstrate future-thinking, revolutionary and disruptive solutions to UK aerospace challenges.

The call will open in October 2019 and potential applicants should now contact the Aerospace Technology Institute to discuss the preparation of their bids.

The National Aerospace Technology Exploitation Programme 3 (NATEP 3) is a £13.7m programme aimed at SME suppliers to help them develop their own innovative technologies to enhance their capabilities and increase their ability to win new business.

It is primarily aimed at SMEs that are new to R&D or are restarting R&D activity. The programme builds upon the successful NATEP 1 and 2 programmes.

The first call for NATEP 3 will open in September and companies looking to take part are encouraged to speak to trade organisation ADS.

Its chief executive Paul Everitt said: “Programmes like these are generating new R&D investment at every level of the industry.

“This investment is vital to boosting our international competitiveness and to developing the technologies of the future that will deliver improved fuel efficiency and significant reductions in the environmental impact of aviation worldwide.”

To discuss any aspect of funding or R&D support relating to your business please contact me on 01772 430000.

It doesn’t have to be taxing!

With so many tax topics currently impacting on SMEs it is little wonder that business owners struggle to keep up.

That is the starting point to a special session WNJ is organising next month in conjunction with The Business Clinic.

I’ll be delivering the advice clinic ‘Don’t Let Your Tax Become Taxing’ with my colleague Steve Towler on Wednesday July 17.

Steve deals with tax consultancy and compliance matters here at WNJ, principally for owner managed businesses.

That includes corporate reconstructions and exit planning, as well as advising on income tax, capital gains tax and inheritance tax matters.

We’ll be looking to help business owners better understand their tax bill and plan for their tax liabilities.

The advice clinic is WNJ’s latest collaboration with The Business Clinic – a growing Preston-based community interest company set up to support businesses across Lancashire.

The Business Clinic delivers independent and thought-provoking strategy, skills and support to ensure healthier profits.

The organisation is run and supported by local business professionals like ourselves – who come from an array of different sectors and backgrounds.

They take part in surgeries and clinics giving businesses impartial support and advice and focusing on their strategy and development.

They include ‘peerworking’ surgeries that explore business opportunities and challenges and bespoke open clinics centre on business development and skills.

WNJ’s tax advice session will take place at The Business Clinic’s offices at Lockside Office Park in Preston from 6pm-8pm on July 17. To book your place online visit

And to discuss any tax matters in your business please contact me on 01772 430 000.

A secure approach to document exchange

WNJ is looking to further improve its communication links with clients through the adoption of the industry-leading Iris OpenSpace online platform.

Firms like Iris have developed specific, secure communications portals. It means sensitive information such as tax returns and final accounts can be sent without the use of email.

OpenSpace is a safe, simple and secure platform where we can share files and documents and our clients can electronically approve documents such as financial statements and tax returns.

Its key features are fast and secure document exchange. It is easy to use, there is no software to install and it is accessible from everywhere.

It also has the same level of encryption and authentication you would expect from online banking. You log in direct from the WNJ website.

There are numerous benefits that businesses can benefit from by using OpenSpace.

It will see the end of searching through emails or paperwork to file information. Once uploaded to OpenSpace, documents remain in your portal for you to access at your convenience.

When you upload a document your client manager receives notification that their attention is required.

You can also create and manage your own folder within your portal to enable you to organise your documents as you require.

The platform’s E-approval and E-signature allows you to sign and approve financial statements and tax returns with minimum fuss.

And its E-checklists are quick and easy way for you to provide us with the information we require to complete your Self-Assessment Tax return.

We can then upload it for you to digitally sign and provide your approval for us to file online with HMRC.

The use of these types of tools is growing. OpenSpace is currently being used by some 500,000 SMEs.

WNJ will be contacting its clients about the adoption of the platform. To discuss further please contact me on 01772 430000.

Cloud accounting – how we can help

Cloud accounting software is changing the way that businesses operate their bookkeeping functions.

With the imminent introduction of Making Tax Digital (MTD) it is important to consider whether this software could assist your business, not only allowing you to file your VAT returns but also enabling you to take advantage of numerous efficiency and cost saving benefits.

At WNJ, we have a dedicated team that can help and advise you and who are all cloud accounting specialists. We work closely with expert providers; Xero, Sage, QuickBooks and FreeAgent to give our clients the best solutions that suit their individual accounting needs.

We will set you up and train you to use all of the functions with confidence. And we can also provide a full or partial outsourced book keeping service.

To discuss cloud accounting benefits and determine which provider would be best suit your business, please call me on 01772 430000.

A FreeAgent boost for small business

Wallwork Nelson & Johnson (WNJ) is now an accredited partner of FreeAgent, with its MTD compliant software.

If you are a Royal Bank of Scotland or Natwest business customer, the good news is that FreeAgent is available as part of your business banking offering.

FreeAgent is cloud accounting software that makes it incredibly easy for you to regularly upload expenses, review bank transactions and save time on your daily processing.
Winner of the Software Excellence 2017 award for SME Accounts/Bookkeeping, FreeAgent also integrates with our processes so we have full visibility.

To view a demonstration on YouTube, please click this icon.

If you would like further information about FreeAgent, please contact me on 01772 430000.

A sad loss

Mervyn Coward, who was a Partner and later a consultant at WNJ, sadly passed away earlier this month following a short illness.

Mervyn, 69, from Fulwood, Preston, was a true gentleman and a popular figure whose long and valued association with WNJ spanned more than half a century. This speaks for itself, in that Mervyn was highly respected, appreciated and liked by staff, fellow Partners and his clients.

The heartfelt condolences and warm messages that have been sent to the firm’s office over the last two weeks have proved testament to Mervyn’s professionalism, wide knowledge and his particular fondness for a humorous tale of old times and new. Many staff and clients will recall happy days whilst accompanying Mervyn on audit visits across the country, when the evening’s entertainment and storytelling would make the time away from home little hardship.

Mervyn’s funeral service took place at St John the Baptist’s Church in Broughton.

All of our thoughts are with his wife Trisha and family.

Mervyn will be sadly missed.

Supporting a local Community Club

WNJ is helping to support Bamber Bridge football club as it looks towards another successful season on and off the pitch.
Often referred to as ‘Brig’ this community club is looking for more help from local businesses in its quest to rise up the football pyramid.

WNJ is the club’s accountancy practice and our advertising hoarding will be seen by supporters watching Brig at the Sir Tom Finney Stadium this season.
Bamber Bridge FC will start life in the EVO-STIK NPL Premier Division with an away game at Grantham Town on Saturday August 18.
Fans will get a chance to see the side in league action for the first time a week later when they entertain Workington on Tuesday 21 August, kick off is 7:45 p.m.

For all of the club’s 2018 / 19 fixtures, please click here:

Club fixtures

The club was promoted in May after emerging victorious in a tense play-off final against Prescot Cables, in front of more than 1,600 fans. The academy team also gained success by winning the league title and securing a place in the Under 21 League for 2018 / 19.

This year is also the 135th since a football club was first formed in Bamber Bridge, which is being marked with a number of promotional events.

Managing Director Alan Grant (pictured left) says: “Every year the club punches above its weight on and off the pitch, often facing opponents with seemingly limitless resources.
“The role-played by our supporters and local businesses in our successes to date cannot be overstated. Their backing has allowed us to continue to grow and as we move forward facing new challenges, we remain heavily reliant on their on-going support and generosity.”

“We hope to attract many more local businesses to help us and we are keen to maintain ‘the feel-good-factor’ that has seen our community get fully behind the club for many years.”
This family club has strong links with local primary and secondary schools and colleges as well as UCLan. It also has a strong relationship with Preston North End; Blackburn Rovers Ladies; Everton FC and recyclinglives.

The club actively supports many charities including Heartbeat, Baby Beat, St Catherine’s Hospice, Rosemere Clinic and Rainbow House.
Please feel free to contact Alan Grant on 07903 324688 or send an email to for any more information or to register your interest in getting involved in the club and to discuss ways to support its aims.