Archive for December, 2013

Broadband grant scheme rolled out

Small and medium-sized companies in Belfast, Salford, Portsmouth, Cardiff, Derby, Bristol, Edinburgh, Newport, London and Manchester can request  grants of up to £3,000 to install faster broadband services at their premises. The development of the Connection Voucher Scheme, which is part of the Government’s Urban Broadband Fund is generated by  a successful two-month market test in August 2013. The objective of the Scheme is to enhance digital connectivity, establish new business opportunities and stimulate economic growth in UK cities.  12 more cities will join the Scheme in early 2014.
Read more about the Scheme at:
http://www.computerweekly.com/news/2240210657/DCMS-offers-small-businesses-broadband-grants

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Temporary staff ‘must receive data protection training’

Employers must ensure that temporary staff who routinely process personal information get sufficient data protection training, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has warned. The warning comes after recent data leaks at the Great Ormond Street Hospital, where letters incorporating information about patients’ treatment were sent to incorrect addresses by temporary staff who had not received adequate data protection training. Sally Anne Poole, ICO Enforcement Group Manager, stated that while many companies employ temporary staff over the Christmas period, they are still responsible for ensuring personal information is processed correctly.
There is more about the ICO’s warning at:
http://www.workplacelaw.net/human-resources/news/49783/ico-issues-data-protection-warning-to-employers

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Survey finds zero-hours contracts provide flexibility for all

A survey of zero-hours contract workers by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has established that most respondents are satisfied with their employment and, when they are managed properly, zero-hours contracts provide flexibility for both workers and employers. According to the outcome of the survey, approximately one million people in the UK are employed on zero-hours contracts, and 80% of workers surveyed, stated that they are never penalised for  being unavailable for work.  However, the CIPD also discovered evidence of poor practice, as 40% of workers said they receive no notice of cancellation of work and some employers and workers were confused about employment status and rights. Therefore, the CIPD has published guidance in association with law firm Lewis Silkin to improve practice in the use of zero-hours contracts.
Read more about the survey at:
http://www.cipd.co.uk/pressoffice/press-releases/cipd-research-
zero-hours-contracts-unfairly-demonised-oversimplified-261113.aspx

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Tax reform group claims Universal Credit penalises self employed

Self-employed individuals who claim the new Universal Credit can be worse off than employed claimants earning comparable amounts for the same type of work, according to the Low Incomes Tax Reform Group (LITRG). The LITRG has called for an improvement to the pilot Universal Credit system, which will eventually replace benefits such as tax credits, as the existing pilot is not challenging the impact of the new system on the self employed effectively. The Universal Credit system will require the self employed to draft monthly accounts for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) on a different basis than annual information required by HMRC.  Also, the DWP’s ‘minimum income floor’ assumes a specific amount of profit is made each month even if the actual profit is lower and doesn’t allow for trading losses to be offset against forthcoming months profits.  LITRG’s Technical Director Robin Williamson stated that the Universal Credit rules for the self employed should take into account how small businesses really operate.
Read more about the LITRG’s concerns at:
http://www.litrg.org.uk/News/2013/131112_PR_wider_uni_credit_pilot

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