Archive for September, 2013

Plans to improve small firms’ access to public procurement

A consultation on plans to make it simpler and easier for smaller companies to tender for public sector contracts has been opened by the Cabinet Office. The proposals are based on proposals made in Lord Young’s ‘Growing Your Business’ report published in May this year. The proposed measures include requiring all public sector contracts worth over £10,000 to be published on the Contracts Finder website, removing pre-qualification questionnaires for low-value contracts and launching standard payment terms for all companies in the supply chain not just for primary contractors. The consultation closes on 17th October 2013.
Read more about the consultation at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/all-public-bodies-to-adopt-sme-friendly-business-rules

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Changes to rules funding pension advice

Employers are now prohibited from using employees’ pension contributions to settle consultancy charges in automatic enrolment schemes, under the Occupational and Personal Pension Schemes (Automatic Enrolment) (Amendment) Regulations 2013.  Before the ban came into effect on 14th September, employers could use pension scheme funds to pay for third party advice on selecting a pension scheme, and employees who didn’t want their contributions to fund this advice had no choice but to opt out of the pension scheme. Employers can still pay for advice, but must not recover this payment from the pension scheme. The Regulations don’t affect schemes that were in place before 10th May 2013, although a consultation into extending the ban to cover schemes already in place is to be introduced later this year.
Read more about the ban at:
http://www.gov.uk/government/news/governments-ban-on-
consultancy-charges-in-automatic-enrolment-pensions-takes-effect

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New-build rate relief for empty commercial properties

Newly-built unoccupied commercial properties in England which are completed between 1st October 2013 and 30th September 2016 will be eligible for 100% relief on business rates for the initial 18 months when construction is complete. The Government is contributing around £150 million to local authorities, which can use their discretionary powers to grant relief from business rates where commercial buildings meet particular criteria. Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis stated: “This move will boost confidence in the commercial property sector and allow them to develop new projects again without worrying about the risk of rate bills on empty buildings whilst they find a buyer.”
Read more about the new rate relief at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/fresh-incentives-for-new-commercial-building-construction

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Fifth round of RGF to open in October

The Department for Business (BIS) has announced that the fifth round of the Regional Growth Fund (RGF) will open this October.   Lord Heseltine, Chair of the Independent Advisory Panel for the RGF,stated that  they are looking for high-quality projects that can influence significant private sector investment, create sustainable jobs quickly and offer value for money. Applications for the latest RGF round will open on 11th October and will close on 9th December 2013.
Read more about the latest RGF round at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/deputy-prime-minister-
urges-business-to-prepare-bids-for-regional-growth-fund-round-five

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Funding for new business start up extended

The Start-Up Loans scheme, which gives mentoring support and loan finance for individuals starting a business, is to be extended to Scotland and Wales, the Prime Minister has stated. The scheme will also be expanded to give specific support for ex-service personnel and additional loans for people aged over 30. The Government has also announced that the New Enterprise Allowance (NEA) scheme that was scheduled to close to new applicants in September will now continue to take referrals until the end of December 2014, with a target of providing 60,000 extra places on the scheme.
Read more about the funding at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/69-million-more-for-start-up-loans-and-new-enterprise-allowance

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Small firms fail to reclaim VAT entitlement

Over a third of smaller companies are losing out financially by not claiming back the VAT they are entitled to, according to research carried out on behalf of Sage. The research discovered that many owner-managers do not understand the tax regulations relating to claiming back VAT and more than half of those surveyed calculated that this lack of knowledge could be losing their business more than £500 per year. Lee Perkins, Managing Director of Sage’s Small Business Unit, said: “Businesses that aren’t claiming back the VAT they are entitled to are really putting themselves at a competitive disadvantage.”
Read more about the research at:
http://www.freelanceuk.com/news/4369.shtml

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Business rates revenue to exceed council tax by 2015

Business rates income in Great Britain will surpass council tax revenue in 2015 – the first time in ten years, according to figures in the Grimsey Review of the high street. Business rates income is predicted to peak £29.6 billion in 2015, while council tax revenue will reach £29.1 billion. Paul Turner-Mitchell, high-street campaigner and key contributor to the Grimsey Review, said the Government was encouraging local authorities to freeze council tax while not doing anything about rising business rates. Commenting on the prediction, Ed Cooke of the British Council of Shopping Centres (BCSC) said: “It does look a lot like the Government sees business as a cash cow to raise taxes for local authorities.”
Read more about this at:
http://www.retail-week.com/property/business-rates-income-to-exceed-council-tax-for-first-time-in-10-years/5052536.article

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Employment allowance to become law by the end of the year

Recommendations to provide businesses with a £2,000 employment allowance towards their national insurance contributions (NICs) will become law by the end of 2013, according to HMRC policy adviser Raj Nayyar. Mr Nayyar stated that details of the allowance were yet to be resolved, but all companies would be entitled to the allowance from April 2014. The allowance will form part of the National Insurance Contributions Bill,  a package of measures to prevent  ‘abusive’ tax avoidance schemes.
There is more about the allowance at:
http://www.futurelinkgroup.co.uk/Contractors/News/August-2013/NIC-tax-break-confirmed-for-businesses.aspx

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