Archive for October, 2013

Small building firms see tentative signs of recovery

Small and medium-sized building companies have seen workloads grow for the second consecutive quarter, according to the Federation of Master Builders’ (FMB’s) State of Trade Survey. Especially the residential repair and maintenance, and private new build sectors which  saw the greatest increases in activity.  This was partly due to the Government’s Help to Buy scheme. However, the FSB has advised that the rising cost of materials, wages and salaries are a threat to the sector’s recovery, with many building companies having to raise prices. Brian Berry of the FMB stated: “Limited access to finance, the costs of regulation and a shortage of small sites for development are the key barriers for many smaller house builders.”
Read more about the Survey at:
http://www.fmb.org.uk/news-publications/newsroom/press-releases/2013/october/
rising-costs-threaten-building-recovery/

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Business leaders highlight EU rules stifling growth

The Prime Minister has welcomed a list of proposals to cut EU red tape which has been drawn up by a selected group of UK business leaders. The panel was tasked with highlighting EU rules which present barriers to growth in five different aspects of business activity: start-up, export, growth, new product development and overall competitiveness. Their proposals include removing EU-wide requirements for companies in low-risk sectors to keep written health and safety assessments, exempting the smallest firms from new employment laws, and simplifying e-commerce regulations.
Read more about the proposals at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-welcomes-business-led-plan-to-cut-eu-red-tape

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Micro-firms struggle to cope with online tax system

Micro-business owners and self-employed people are struggling to cope with the online tax system, according to a survey by the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT). Two thirds of survey respondents said they thought the tax system was becoming more digitally focused. In addition, 20% said the tax return process is too complicated and four in ten respondents said they lacked the resources and technical knowledge to keep up. Adam Harper of the AAT said: “If we want an ‘entrepreneurial UK’ in which start ups thrive, then we need to simplify the process and offer more support to those that need it, and ensure that tax isn’t taxing.”
Read more about the survey at:
http://www.aat.org.uk/about-aat/press-releases/micro-businesses

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Help for smaller online retailers to attract overseas orders

The Government has introduced a new package of measures to help small and medium-sized online traders to grow and attract more overseas customers. UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) will give training and support for businesses already exporting and those wanting to do so, as well as support to help 600 UK retail companies record their products on global marketplaces such as Alibaba.  Introducing the new campaign, Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “Britain’s 220,000 online retailers export more than the rest of Europe’s e-retailers combined, but other countries are catching up fast. UK companies need to stay ahead of the game”.
There is more about how to apply for support at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-support-to-help-7000-businesses-export-online

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National Insurance Contributions Bill introduced

Businesses and charities are to benefit from an annual £2,000 employment payment towards their national insurance contributions. The payment is part of the National Insurance Contributions Bill that was introduced to Parliament last week and is expected to be in place by April 2014.  To receive the payment,  employers will need to verify their eligibility via the normal payroll process. The payment will be deducted over a year from employers’ PAYE payments.
There is more about the announcement at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/employment-allowance-boost-for-business-bill-introduced-to-parliament

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Changes to automatic enrolment rules

Modifications to automatic enrolment regulations have been announced by the Government as a result of  a consultation earlier this year. The modifications  are intended to ease the pension enrolment procedure for employers and increase the auto-enrolment joining window from one month to six weeks. The deadline for employers to supply information to employees concerning their opt-in and joining rights has also been increased to six weeks, while the requirement for defined benefit test schemes will be more clear and consistent. Most of the changes are set to come into force from 1st November 2013, while changes to the joining window and registration deadlines will come into force from 1st April 2014.
Read more about the auto-enrolment changes at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/improvements-to-automatic-enrolment-to-help-employers
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One in five small firms admits forgetting to invoice

Approximately 20% of small and medium-sized companies admit to having forgotten to invoice clients at least once, according to a new survey.  Of the 450 companies examined, 12% said the overlooked invoice was valued between £5,000 and £10,000, while in 6% of cases it was worth more than £10,000. The survey also established that just over half of business owners and managers trust their accountant on business matters more than anyone else. Commenting on the figures, Hartmut Wagner of financial management software provider Exact stated: “We don’t want to blow this issue out of proportion, but these findings do highlight that many small and medium-sized enterprises who are eager to grow are not doing themselves any favours, particularly with so many of them expressing concern over their cash flow.”
For more about the survey results, go to:
http://www.accountancyage.com/aa/news/2299277/uk-smes-financial-systems-losing-gbp37bn-unnecessarily

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Consultation on filing annual returns

Recommendations to reduce the filing obligations for UK companies have been published in a new consultation report. The recommendations include withdrawing  the requirement to complete a mandatory annual return giving details such as the company address, type, names of directors and financial information. Instead of submitting a full return annually, the Government has suggested permitting firms to verify that the details held by Companies House are still correct or update them if necessary. Business Minister Jo Swinson stated: “We’re taking steps that will mean that businesses, pushed for time and money, are not simply filing paperwork for the sake of it.” The consultation is open until 22nd November 2013.
For more details and to respond to the consultation go to:
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/form-filling-for-companies-ditched-in-red-tape-cut

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Round five of RGF open for bids

The fifth round of the Regional Growth Fund (RGF) was launched on 11th October and will close on 9th December 2013.  Private sector bids seeking £1 million or more for projects  attracting  investment and job creativity are eligible for funding. The Department for Business (BIS) are holding  events for briefing  and also opportunities for bidders to discuss their proposal with a BIS representative at various locations across England between 11th October and 21st November 2013.
For more details and a full list of RGF events, go to:
https://www.gov.uk/understanding-the-regional-growth-fund

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Revised health and safety legislation takes effect

Two modified health and safety regulations came into force on 1st October 2013. The Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981 have been amended to withdraw the necessity for workplace first aid training providers to be approved by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).  Also, changes to the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) 1995, require less types of dangerous incidents to be reported and the list of 47 types of industrial disease has been superseded with eight classifications of reportable work-related illness. The changes are based on recommendations made in the Löfstedt review of health and safety published in 2011.
There is more about the changes at:
http://www.hse.gov.uk/press/2013/hse-legislation-changes.htm

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