Budgetting software – free for the UK

Welcome to my blog about accounting software.

I have been working for various firms in the UK over several years, helping with their accounts. We have tried free software (freeware) as well as paid-for software. Surprisingly enough, the free stuff is often very much better than the things you pay for. There must be a story behind that!

To properly get the best profits from your firm, you must have a budget, and you must know how far you meet that budget. A budget is set by selecting key accounts from your Nominal (alias General) Ledger, and then comparing real results against your plans.

I really enjoy my accounts, to which you may well reply (reference 101601), “OK… it takes all sorts to make a world!”

For my reviews, I will select software from Small business accounting freeware best downloads which has a very professional outlook (reference 101602) and a wide selection of reviews about accounts freeware.

Most freeware accounts systems currently available for us to download in the UK will include Sales, Purchase and Nominal Ledgers (reference 101603), and sometimes sales invoicing, with possibly an inventory control system.

I have spent several happy and busy years of my life in various small and medium businesses working with all these types of systems (reference 101604), also known as a Supplier Ledger, Creditors Ledger, or a Bought Ledger.

I have been very actively involved in the accountancy (reference 101605) and management work of several different types of small and medium businesses in the UK including among others Gas Heating Installation and Maintenance, Garden Design and Grass Cutting, and Wooden Flooring installation and Renovation.

In each case, I needed to install, test, use and maintain the necessary computer software (reference 101606) to keep account of the numerous contracts, money and debts outstanding for the businesses, as well as all the other usual accounting functions.

For each of these businesses, I successfully kept their costs pleasantly low by using free software (reference 101607); this so-called freeware is sometimes of a surprisingly professional quality and also easy to use. It may well have been first released by the authors as a kind of free advertisement or free sample (reference 101608) to stimulate the sales of other products or services. Other widespread freeware that I always use frequently, perhaps every day, include the famous Firefox browser (reference 101609) and the popular phpBB forum software;  I firmly believe in using freeware! Like almost every user of the internet, I unwittingly and indirectly use the “LAMP” software (reference 101610), which comprises Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP, just about every time that I browse and visit a typical website.

Free accounting software that is available for us to download in the UK should, in my view (reference 101611), and in a perfectly free world, include various software accounts components:-

1. Job Costing file with all necessary job (or contract) records, so that each and every job (reference 101612) can be easily followed through in the accounts system, showing the job’s status, with profitability calculation as an added bonus.

2. Customer File comprising all live customer records (reference 101613), so that when you have regular customers especially, each of these should have a unique record, which is all but essential when your business sells on credit terms, and is also useful to record cash sales.

3. Sales invoice production, because it is very useful for you to have properly printed invoices rather than hand-written (reference 101614) ones, a matter which counts heavily with customer perceptions of your credibility and accuracy (and reassures tax inspectors), with the option to email out invoices.

4. Quotation Software to instantly produce completely accurate and professional quotes which will help to boost your sales dramatically (reference 101615), and also the ability to turn accepted quotes into sales invoices saves time and prevents copying mistakes.

5. Stock file comprising all your Stock Keeping Unit (reference 101616) records, because, if you buy and resell items, it is very important to keep accurate track in real-time of your inventory in hand, and its value and re-order needs.

6. Products and/or services file to include your repeated and routine things, some examples being “30 minutes work”, “standard call out charge” or “plant a tree” that have a standard price, although you can hardly be said to keep them “in stock” (reference 101617), and if this amalgamates seamlessly with your Stock Control system, all your related accounting matters are simplified.

7. Sales Ledger, with on-demand production of Customer Statements and a real-time Sales Debtors Schedule (reference 101618), because when you sell on credit it certainly helps you for all the software to be integrated together.

8. Timesheet Entry, because workers will work far more reliably, and arguably honestly, if they have to fully account for their time spent (reference 101619), and if they know all the details will be eventually entered into the computer software.

9. Payroll, so that if you already have all your workers’ timesheets and tax codes (reference 101620) available (which you probably will anyway), they can be fed directly into a payroll system, and the payroll financial data can also feed into your Nominal Ledger.

10. Subcontractors Ledger, because, in the UK at least, you must keep accurate track of your subcontractors’ IR35 tax certificates (reference 101621) to satisfy the standard demands of the Inland Revenue (HMRC) authorities for compliance.

11. Purchase Ledger, because if you buy stock for resale, it helps you if you can computerize incoming purchase invoices and what is owed to suppliers and taken into stock (reference 101622), and then you might as well include all your invoices for everything, including overheads as well as stock items, that are purchased.

12. Petty cash system, because petty cash will mysteriously disappear far less often, and will therefore occasion you far fewer potential tax problems (reference 101623) and headaches, if a voucher must be filled in at the time for the computer system.

13. Nominal or General Ledger, because this will help to give a full summary or quick overview of everything on the financial side (reference 101624) of your complete accounts system; this type of software is essential to the continued financial health (reference 101625) of your business, although many small businesses do not realize the paramount importance of cash control.

14. The Nominal Ledger is also the normal and most convenient place where you will maintain tax records, including VAT (reference 101626), for the government.

A purchase ledger is the present terminology for what has always been traditionally known by accountants as a creditors ledger (reference 101627), which has always been the management reporting system in accounting (otherwise accountancy) by which a firm or business records and monitors its creditors (suppliers with an account balance owing).

The purchase ledger contains full details of the suppliers to the business, and each supplier will have its own individual and unique account (reference 101628) containing such matters as name and address, and the balance outstanding and even its historic turnover. A supplier is defined as another firm or business from which your business has made purchases (reference 101629), and this was historically so for all your purchases on credit, although modern computerized purchase analysis software systems now record cash sales too. Information about purchase invoices (and credit notes, which are really just negative purchase invoices) received (reference 101630), and payments made out, are recorded on the supplier’s account. This was traditionally done manually using the centuries old debits and credits balancing system (reference 101631), although nowadays full software computerization means that this checking is redundant; today the balance of each account at a given moment represents the amount currently owed (reference 101632) to that supplier, and the total owed to suppliers will become the purchase ledger total posted as an item in the Nominal or General Ledger.

Historically, the purchase ledger was maintained by humans by hand in a book form, hence the traditional terminology of “ledger” (reference 101633), as in the books kept on a ledge or shelf, but in our more modern times it is much more likely to be held on a computer using an integrated accounts system written as packaged computer software.

All properly featured accounting software will include a Nominal Ledger (the popular term in the UK), which is also known as a General Ledger (reference 101634) in the USA.

To properly get the maximum profits (reference 101635) from your firm, you must have a budget, and you must know how far you meet that budget. A budget is set by selecting key (reference 101636) accounts from your Nominal (alias General) Ledger, and then comparing real results against your plans.

Freeware accounting software can often be found that works on a “single entry updates all” (reference 101637) principle, where, for example, a sales invoice will update the sales ledger, the tax returns, the nominal ledger, and the stock system (if used), this being termed “integrated accounts”.

I will gradually add much more information about my own personal experiences (reference 101638) to share about testing out many of the various freeware accounts systems that are available for download, and I also intend to compile and add tables (reference 101639) of features, which have not yet been published anywhere on the internet, so far as I know.


We have just heard rumors in the trade that the OSE Freeware Accounts System is about to be discontinued. Possibly this means that it will no longer be updated or supported, or perhaps it means that it will be re-branded as a paid package. Either way, this will not be good news for users of the OSE Freeware Accounts System, or for fans of their SRF Free Data Accounting module. The OSE system has become a standard in free accounts software downloads because of the simplicity and reliability of their software. It has been an example of excellent freeware. It includes not only the standard invoicing and cashbook modules expected for any business, but also inventory control, proper sales, purchase, and nominal ledgers, and full order processing. Their SRF Free Data Accounting module is an addon that appeals to most professional accountants. This allows the data from the OSE accounts to be exported (usually in CSV, or comma separated variable, format) and manipulated in a spreadsheet for management reporting. The combination of OSE and SRF has been very powerful indeed, and has provided ample facilities to run not only small businesses, but also firms at the high end of medium. If it should transpire that OSE and SRF are no longer to be supported, then many firms will no longer dare use them. The consequences of a new bug being found, and it being irreparable, could be disastrous to users. If the 2 software packages are re-branded as paid software, then the price tag is unlikely to be cheap, and this would cause budgeting problems for many users who are already feeling a financial pinch. We will keep our readers advised as and when we hear more news about the OSE Freeware Accounts System and the SRF Free Data Accounting module.

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