Archive for January, 2014

Health and safety offenders facing tougher penalties

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Employers who contravene health and safety laws have faced harsher penalties since the Health and Safety Offences Act 2008 (the Act) was launched in January 2009, according to a study by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The Act increased the maximum penalties that courts could impose, and enabled lower courts such as Magistrates’ and Sheriffs’ courts to try more cases. Also, the Act provided that custodial sentences could be imposed for the majority of offences. The study found that after the Act came into force, 86% of cases were heard in the lower courts compared with 70% previously. The average penalty for breaching health and safety regulations also rose by 60% from approximately £4,500 to over £7,300.
Read more about the review at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/unscrupulous-employers-facing-tougher-health-and-safety-penalties

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Small firms not aware of Government support

Lack of awareness and comprehension of Government funding schemes and tax incentives is slowing small business growth, according to a survey by Baker Tilly. The survey discovered that just 19% of small and medium-sized companies were aware of Venture Capital Trusts, 15% knew of research and development (R&D) tax credits, 4% knew about Patent Box, and 8% had heard of the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS). Just over half knew about capital allowances and, although 32% were aware of the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS), only 15% had made use of it in the past. George Bull, Senior Tax Partner at Baker Tilly, stated: “There are frequent calls for the Government to provide more tax incentives for businesses. Our survey shows that businesses are not sufficiently aware of the reliefs which are already available.”
There is more about the survey at:
http://www.bakertilly.co.uk/publications/Pages/Your-Outlook-for-2014.aspx

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Self employed may lose out on state pension

An increasing amount of self-employed people in the UK may not be eligible for a full state pension when they retire, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) has warned. ACCA has stated that self-employed people who attained state pension age on or after 6th April 2010 will need to have 30 years of National Insurance Contributions (NICs) to qualify for the full basic state pension. Proposed changes to the state pension could increase this to 35 years for those reaching state pension age from April 2016. Additional  groups that may not be eligible for the full state pension include self-employed people who do not have to pay Class 2 NICs, because they have been issued a CA6812 Small Earnings Exception certificate or are residing abroad. Chas Roy-Chowdhury, ACCA Head of Taxation, recommended that anyone falling into these categories should contact HMRC to request a NICs statement.
Read more about the warning from ACCA at:
http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/smallbusiness/article-2539915/
Thousands-self-employed-expected-miss-state-pension.html

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HSE review raises concerns over Fee for Intervention scheme

A report into the effectiveness of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has called for a re-evaluation of the Fee for Intervention (FFI) scheme, implying that it is undermining trust between employers and the regulator. Under the FFI scheme, companies that breach health and safety law are liable for fines to cover the cost of HSE call-outs, inspections, investigations and enforcement action. The Triennial Review, which was carried out by Chair of the Engineering Employers’ Federation (EEF) Martin Temple, was on the whole, positive about the HSE’s work, although a  number of recommendations  were made to make it more efficient and innovative. Terry Woolmer, Head of Health and Safety Policy at EEF, stated that  the Review “missed an opportunity to look in more depth at establishing a unified health and safety agency, including local authorities, to cover all workplace health and safety issues.”
Read more about the Review at:

HSE review raises concerns over FFI scheme

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Competition to find ideas to rejuvenate Britain’s high streets

The Technology Strategy Board (TSB) has introduced a new competition, ‘Re-imagining the High Street’, to urge innovative businesses to suggest ‘technology-enabled’ ideas to rejuvenate Britain’s high streets. Businesses will compete for a share of an £8 million fund to assist them to develop enterprising ways to support aspects of the high street such as retailing, logistics and travel management. The deadline for initial registration for the competition is 26th February 2014 and a briefing webinar giving more information about the competition is being held on 20th January.
There is more about the competition at:
https://www.innovateuk.org/competition-display-page/-/asset_publisher/RqEt2AKmEBhi/content/re-imagining-the-high-street

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Free training

Come and discuss your training needs with West Herts College who may be able to offer you free training in a variety of valuable skills for your business including Marketing, Management, Retail and much more.  Also an opportunity to hear how Dacorum Borough Council can support you, including offering Apprenticeship grants and Business advice that’s free of charge.

Join us for coffee, cake and networking on Thursday 23rd January at 10am at Maylands Business Centre, Redbourn Road, HP2 7BA to find out how we can help your business grow.

For further information and to confirm your attendance please call 01442 531002 / 531003 or email lesley.crisp@dacorum.gov.uk

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Councils to receive funding to review alternative delivery models

A new £1 million fund has been introduced to permit local authorities to consider using enterprising ways to deliver their services, such as setting up employee-owned mutuals and partnering with voluntary organisations. The Delivering Differently Challenge will furnish ten local authorities with up to £100,000 each, along with professional support and guidance, to carry out a strategic review of all available options for delivering some of their services through mutualisation, partnering or other alternative delivery models. Local authorities must submit an expression of  interest to the Cabinet Office by 10th February 2014 and successful applicants will be able to begin organising their strategic reviews from March 2014.
Read more about the fund at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/central-and-local-government-team-up-to-improve-local-service-delivery

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Administrations down by 11% in 2013

The number of companies that went into administration in 2013 decreased by 11% to 1,629 compared with 1,833 in 2012, stated Deloitte. In the retail sector, the number of companies going into administration decreased by 6% to 183 in 2013, compared with 194 in 2012. Other sectors that experienced a drop in administrations in 2013 included the hospitality and leisure sector, which fell by 17.5% to 141, and property and construction, which fell by 24% to 322.  However, the healthcare and social services sector  experienced a slight increase in company administrations in 2013, with an increase of 7% to 45.
Read more about the figures at:
https://www.deloitte.com/view/en_GB/uk/news/a996605e2c743410VgnVCM2000003356f70aRCRD.htm

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