Showing posts from October, 2023

About Start Software

Start Software is an award-winning developer and leading publisher of asbestos software, systems for the legal services industry and more.

Want to know more about asbestos software Alpha Tracker? Alpha Tracker is the most used asbestos software in the UK, Australia & New Zealand with more than 60m items of asbestos data stored.

Our legal services software Alpha Legal helps will writers, accountants, solicitors, IFAs and estate agents to communicate securely with clients. Read about developments here on the blog.

Or need help with Alpha Anywhere or Alpha Transform projects or software development? You'll find useful info here.

iOS17 problem fixed with Tracker Mobile! Download the Mobile Data update from the Apple App Store

The issue we reported last week with Tracker Mobile (Mobile Data) and the latest iPhone/iPad update, iOS17, is now resolved.  You can read more about the issue here

Tracker Mobile (Mobile Data) and iOS 17 are now compatible

It's an easy fix - just install the latest version of Mobile Data from the Apple Store.  The link is here:

Thank you to all of our users who reported the problem, we really appreciate it.

Alpha Draw webinar on Tuesday 31 October at 12:30 (UK). Join Kim, Jack & Dan as they show you the new Alpha Draw in action

The new Alpha Draw site plan drawing app is on show on Tuesday 31 October in our regular Alpha Tracker webinar.  Kim, Jack & Dan will be showing you how you can use Alpha Draw alongside our asbestos data capture apps to work efficiently on-site when conducting an asbestos survey.

Alpha Draw is a free download from the Google and Apple app stores

Not registered for our free monthly webinars as yet?  Here's the registration link - go for it!

Step-by-step guide to our Write a Will feature now available. We'll even give you free credits so that you can try it!

Are you thinking of trying our Write a Will feature?  We've added a new step-by-step guide on the Alpha Legal website:

Read our step-by-step guide

You can read, download and print the guide here:

If you want to try the feature and have a subscription or membership with CTT Group (they will support you with any legal queries you have), drop an email to and we'll give you 200 free credits so you can create two test (or real!) Wills without charge.

Microsoft Teams <-> Alpha Tracker integration improved. New Tracker Filer now available

Tom has released a new version of our Tracker Filer product to improve the link between Microsoft Teams and your Alpha Tracker diary.

When you're setting up a Microsoft Teams meeting, try including your Tracker Filer email address as an attendee, like this:

Add your special Tracker Filer email as a meeting attendee

You'll see the meeting appear in your Alpha Tracker diary with the notes carried through from the Teams meeting.  Really handy!

How does Alpha Tracker calculate VAT on an invoice? It's not as easy as you might think

We've had a query from the finance department of a consultancy using Alpha Tracker to manage their business.  They use Alpha Tracker to raise their invoices, and sometimes notice that the VAT total is a few pence different to the amount expected.

For example, let's say that you charge £12.12 for an asbestos sample and you want to raise an invoice for five samples to your client.  The vat rate is 20%.  Here is the invoice:

Five samples @ £12.12+vat, plus five lots of £2.42 vat
Each line is invoiced at £12.12+vat.  20% of £12.12 is £2.424 which rounds down to £2.42 vat on each line.

The total net is 5 x £12.12 or £60.60.  The vat total is 5 x £2.42 or £12.10.  That gives an invoice total of £72.70 and that is what Alpha Tracker will display on screen, on the invoice PDF, and will transfer to finance packages Xero, QuickBooks or Sage (see this web page for all of our integration options

However... 20% of £60.60 is actually £12.12, so shouldn't the total be £72.72?  In other words, calculating the vat on each line and totalling it, is giving a different result to calculating the vat on the total net.

HMRC (the UK tax authority) is well aware of this dilemma and allow either the "add up the vat on each line" or the "calculate VAT on the total net" method to be used on an invoice.  They have posted a web page about it here:

For more information, do contact our Support Desk or read the following helpful information from Xero, the global leader of online accounting software for small businesses:

Mobile Data (Tracker Mobile) issue with iOS17 (the latest update from Apple) - be careful

We've had a report of an issue with Mobile Data (Tracker Mobile) on the very latest Apple update, iOS17.

The issue appears to affect the editing of text - perhaps relating to the new predictive text feature that Apple have launched?

iOS17 and Mobile Data (Tracker Mobile) - there is an issue

We have reported this to the developers and expect a response and fix soon.  

In the meantime, we recommend that you do not update your iPhone or iPad to iOS17 if you only have one device for your site work.  Please contact our Support Desks (UK or Aus/NZ) if you have experienced the issue or would like to discuss it further.

Alpha Tracker is exhibiting at the European Asbestos Forum in Brussels. See you there!

We're big supporters of the European Asbestos Forum, an international gathering of asbestos professionals from Europe and beyond.  

This years event will be held in Brussels, Belgium, and the whole Alpha Tracker team will be there to showcase all of our innovations from 2023.

Alpha Tracker at the EAF 2023

The full programme for EAF is here including the instructions for registration.

Consultancy for UK national contract wanted - get in touch! Surveys, reinspections, more?

We are installing a new Alpha Tracker system this month for an national organisation with approx. 300 small properties.  They are looking for an Alpha Tracker asbestos consultancy to work with them.

Are you looking for a national surveying/reinspection contract?

Get in touch with Robin if you would like him to forward your interest on.

Mavis & Ray are on the road again - this time at the BOHS/FAAM conference in Birmingham

It's a joy to share the portrait of asbestos campaigners Mavis & Ray Nye at conferences and other events.  Our director Robin is a Trustee of the Mavis Nye Foundation and has taken the painting - carefully wrapped! - on the train to a conference today.

Under wraps at Shrewsbury Railway Station

Today's trip has seen the painting arrive at the BOHS/FAAM asbestos conference at the Birmingham Events & Conference Centre.  What an excellent event - full of asbestos software Alpha Tracker clients and old industry friends such as UKNAR.

Some photos of the BOHS FAAM event

The portrait arrived safely and is generating a lot of interest and compliments.  It's a great tribute to the tireless fundraising and campaigning work that Mavis & Ray have undertaken over the years. 

Mavis & Ray and some admirers

CTT Legacy users can now automatically process their ID checks. Feature now live!

Our partners at CTT Legacy have been working hard to improve the link between Alpha Legal and their popular adviser software.

From today (16 October 2023), ID checks processed via Alpha Legal will automatically export through to CTT Legacy.  This means that CTT consultants and advisers can now initiate, receive and process an ID verification request without leaving their Legacy software.

Check out the new method here:

Screenshot from CTT Legacy

For more information, contact the CTT Legacy systems team via this link:

Our next-generation asbestos data collection app is taking shape. Keep an eye on Alpha Tracker Mobile for the update

Jack and his developers have been working hard on the next generation of our asbestos site data collection app.  Asbestos data collection will be joining water hygiene and our general purpose "forms" feature and will be coming to Alpha Tracker Mobile soon.

Asbestos data collection is coming to Alpha Tracker Mobile

Alpha Tracker Mobile is available in the Apple and Google app stores and has been downloaded 1000s of times.  Click this link for more information.

Congratulations Cath Tate Cards! Our favourite software customer is now our *award winning* favourite customer!!

We had some fabulous news this week.  Our incredible software customer Cath Tate Cards has won a Henry Award - the greetings card equivalent of an Oscar!!

Cath & Rosie celebrating their success

We love working for Cath Tate Cards.  Their funny, sparky, quirky, rude, political, clever cards are fabulous and our software powers their amazing retail and trade business and has done for a decade or more.

Congratulations again to Cath, Rosie and all of the team - here's to many more awards in the future!

Proud of our partnership with CTT Group! What an amazing night at the British Wills and Probate Awards 2023

We couldn't be more proud of Clive, Andrew & Bob, directors of CTT Group, the headline sponsors of the British Wills and Probate Awards 2023.  Clive's keynote speech talked about their 20 years in business and their focus on innovation and software enabling them to lead the industry and change the world of estate planning for the better.

Clive Ponder giving the opening address

As software development partners for CTT, Dan & I were there representing Start Software to support Clive and the CTT team.

Plenty of CTT freebies on the table

What a venue the Kimpton Clocktower Hotel is!

Our table was full of interesting people from the industry and the evening flew by - even with 26 awards to present!

The two Karens with Clive

Our new Legacy Portal app was launched at the event, giving clients direct access to the new, personalised, interactive estate planning reports.

Screenshots of the Legacy Portal app in action

Jennie Bond was presenting the awards for the 6th (and, sadly, last) time and was great fun and the ultimate professional, as usual.  She was as good on the dancefloor as she was on stage, too!

Jennie Bond in action

Congratulations to all of the winners of the awards presented during the event.  We're still very proud of our 2022 Legal Supplier of the Year award, for our Alpha Legal service.

Clive, Bob and some of the winners

Director Andrew Houston was ever-present at the ceremony and introduced the innovation award to the audience.

CTT Director Andrew Houston

Last, and by no means least, there was another software announcement - the launch of the AI Client Simulator, part of the adviser training offering from CTT.  We have been working on this with Piers Linney and Aalok Shukla, co-founders of Implement AI.  

Advisers can test their skills and knowledge, talking to a variety of AI-powered simulated clients.  It's incredible tech and we're thrilled to be bringing this to the UK legal market for the first time.

Hardeep Gill from Legacy Wills taking a look at the AI Client with Start Software's Dan

We're supporting our partners CTT Group at the British Wills & Probate Awards 2023

We're ironing our dinner jackets and polishing our shoes, ready for the British Wills & Probate Awards 2023! Dan & Robin will be at the event, supporting our partners and headline-sponsors CTT Group.

This year's event is being held on Wednesday 11 October at the Kimpton Clocktower Hotel in Manchester after outgrowing the previous venue - 600 attendees are expected!

We're excited about #BWAPAwards2023

Alpha Legal/Start Software was an Award Winner in 2022 - we were proudly presented the trophy for Legal Supplier of the Year - see  

This year, we're attending to support our partners CTT Group who are launching a whole range of technology innovations we have helped to create - including a new client app and an incredible AI client simulator - grab Robin or Dan for a demo!

Good luck to all of the shortlisted companies - hope you enjoy your evening as much as we will!

UK Government responds to the petition: "A central register of Asbestos and phased removal of Asbestos from all buildings"

We're not quite sure what to think about the UK Government's response to this petition: A central register of Asbestos and phased removal of Asbestos from all buildings

We're confused.  How can we change nothing when so many are becoming ill or worse?

Here is the Government response in full:

Government understands concerns about asbestos in buildings. We will continue to consider how we can improve the system to minimise the risk of exposure to asbestos.

The Government recognises the devastating impact asbestos related disease has on those who have been exposed and their families. We will continue to do all that we can to ensure the legacy asbestos risk in Great Britain is managed effectively.

We are not opposed to any steps which would enable the risk of asbestos exposure to be better managed. However, there needs to be clear evidence to demonstrate how responding to the two recommendations would improve health outcomes. 

It is the Government’s view that Great Britain has a mature and comprehensive plan to manage asbestos risk that aligns with the best evidence currently available. This is through the implementation of Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.

These regulations require those who own or are responsible for the maintenance and repair of non-domestic buildings (known as duty holders) to assess whether asbestos is present, what condition it is in and whether it gives rise to a risk of exposure. They must then draw up a plan to manage the risk associated with asbestos, which must include removal if it cannot be safely managed in situ. 

Asbestos must also be removed if it is in poor condition or a vulnerable position, and before any refurbishment and demolition work. This will lead to the elimination of asbestos from the built environment, without the need for a fixed deadline. National modelling estimation carried out in 2022 by the Health and Safety Executive, as part of the second Post Implementation Review ( of Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, indicated there will be a substantial reduction in the numbers of buildings containing asbestos over the next few decades.

Research studies carried out over several decades all agree that the sort of invasive and destructive work associated with removing asbestos gives rise to the greatest release of asbestos fibres and the greatest risk of exposure. As such, the Government could only advocate more proactive removal of asbestos from buildings if there is compelling evidence that the increase in exposure for workers removing asbestos is justified in terms of reduced risk to building users. At present, the evidence is not there.

Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 also requires duty holders to share information regarding the location, condition, and type of asbestos in buildings, in digital or paper form, with anyone liable to disturb it (e.g. workers, contractors and the emergency services). This information must be shared so an assessment can be made about the risk before work is undertaken on the building. Appropriate action can then be planned and taken to prevent or minimise risk of exposure to workers and building users. There is currently no evidence available to demonstrate how a central register would add value to this existing legal duty.

The Government recognises the importance of using good information to support management of the asbestos legacy in Great Britain and the Health and Safety Executive is working closely with industry stakeholders to better understand how the quality and accuracy of asbestos information can be improved.

The Health and Safety Executive, in its role as an independent, evidence-based regulator, will continue to review and consider any new or emerging evidence where it can help improve health outcomes.

Department for Work and Pensions

Specifically, we are questioning the comment that "There is currently no evidence available".  There is so much evidence to the contrary, and plenty of evidence that suggests that the condition of asbestos is deteriorating despite all of the controls currently in place and cited in the reply.  Our report Damage: The Poor Condition of Asbestos in our Schools, Hospitals & Houses created from independent expert analysis of asbestos software Alpha Tracker data (more than 3 million asbestos samples, no less!) demonstrates the shockingly poor condition of asbestos in our most important public buildings.

We simply must improve the management of asbestos in the UK.  Some MPs are starting to make progress with implementing change and we support them in their efforts.  It is critical that the entire asbestos industry demands change to improve standards, reduce risk, and help to reduce and prevent asbestos-related disease for future generations.

Support Desk stats for September 2023 show that 19/20 urgent calls are resolved within 2 hours

We took 705 calls on our Support Desk in September including 151 high priority tickets.

Always smiling! Our excellent Support Desk

Our hard-working 24x7 Support Team resolved 19 out of 20 urgent calls within 2 hours, quite a feat!

We been helping Student Adventures with their updated app - meet TripApp!

We've been providing Alpha Anywhere consultancy to US travel company Student Adventures.  Our the last few months, we have been helping them to rebuild their amazing app for travelling students, their parents and the trip organisers, TripApp.

Can we help you with your Alpha Anywhere-built project?  Check our our Q&A webinars which we run with Alpha Software on the last Wednesday of each month:
(and many more!)

Get in touch if we can help - drop an email to Robin

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