Archive for February, 2014

Confirmation of the organisations taking over functions of the OFT

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The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) will officially cease on 31st March 2014 and information has been released about each of the associations taking over its responsibilities from 1st April 2014. Competition regulation and some aspects of consumer protection will become the responsibility of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). The CMA will implement consumer law, relating to unfair contracts and misleading pricing and competition law, for example, relating to merger control. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) will take responsibility for authorising companies that provide consumer credit and enforcing consumer credit legislation. The OFT’s role in teaching consumers and business about consumer law has been carried out by Citizens Advice and the Trading Standards Institute (TSI) since April 2013.
There is more about the transfer of the OFT’s responsibilities at:
http://www.oft.gov.uk/about-the-oft/work-and-responsibilities

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Recruitment and Interview Skills Workshop 19.03.2014.

Finding the right person to fill a vacancy can feel like a huge task; getting it wrong is costly, time consuming and will/can affect your business in many ways. It is likely that many managers or team leaders won’t have been looking to actively recruit staff during the economic challenges in recent years. They may have not have not conducted an interview or assessment for a while and feel very out of practice.
The recruitment process can be broken down into more manageable chunks and this workshop will help you tackle filling a vacancy in a structured and measured way. Often we don’t really consider what skills we are looking for or what the changing business needs are and end up going on instinct alone.
This workshop will help you identify what skills and abilities you are looking for, how to structure your interview around these competencies and how to collect the information from the candidates to enable you to make a correct decision.

Held on Wed. 19th March, places are filling quickly!

Contact Lesley, Christine or Rose at Maylands Business Centre on 01442 531002/3  for more details

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Firms lack awareness of new types of cyber security risks

UK business owners have little awareness of the risks posed by ‘unknown threats’, according to a recent Global Security Survey carried out by Dell. The survey showed that 71% of UK companies had experienced a security violation in the past year, with 42% of respondents stating that they had increased spending on security monitoring services. However, Dell pointed out that new technologies and trends such as BYOD (bring your own device), web apps and cloud computing had intensified the risk to business from malicious or accidental internal cyber attacks. Matt Medeiros of Dell said: “We believe a new security approach is needed – one that is embedded in the fabric of software, governing access to every application and protecting every device, both inside and outside a corporate network.”
There is more about the survey results at:
http://www.computerweekly.com/news/2240214754/Businesses-ignore-unknown-threats-despite-cost-study-shows
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RTI penalties to be postponed

The commencement of Real Time Information (RTI) penalties for late filing and late payment is to be postponed, HMRC has announced. The penalties, which were due to be in place from  April 2014, will now commence in October 2014 and April 2015 respectively. The penalty for late settlement of in-year interest on any in-year payments will be introduced from April 2014 as planned. HMRC’s Director General  for Personal Tax Ruth Owen said: “This additional time will give us the opportunity to ensure that improvements to our internal systems are working, to learn from them and to provide better customer support to employers who require more time to adapt.”
Read more about the penalties at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/hmrc-unveils-new-timetable-for-rti-penalties

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Review of business rates administration announced

A review of the way business rates are administered from 2017 has been announced by the Treasury and the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG). The review will examine the application of rates relief and exemptions, improving communication with ratepayers, changes to the valuation process and the frequency of valuations, but will not review the link between business rates and rental property values. James Lowman, Chief Executive of the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS), said: “This review will provide retailers with a great opportunity to communicate the impact of business rates and how the system can be improved.”
There is more about the review at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/business-rates-administration-review-terms-of-reference
And:
http://www.acs.org.uk/en/Press_Office/details/index.cfm/obj_id/8FA3F407-30F6-4DCB-8F7A51A20B3C727B

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HMRC publishes guidance about Employment Allowance

The Employment Allowance,  first announced in the 2013 Chancellor’s Budget, will come into effect from 6th April 2014. The Allowance will allow businesses and charities to claim £2,000 each year to counterbalance their National Insurance Contributions (NICs). New guidelines have been published that sets out eligibility criteria for the Allowance, how businesses can submit a claim and record-keeping requirements. The Allowance forms part of the National Insurance Contributions Bill, a collection of measures to  prevent  ‘abusive’ tax avoidance schemes.
The guidance is available at:
www.gov.uk/government/publications/employment-allowance-more-detailed-guidance

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PM’s announcement on regulatory reform receives mixed reaction

Reforms to over 3,000 regulations implemented as part of the Red Tape Challenge will save British business £850 million annually, according to the Prime Minister. Speaking at the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) conference on 27th January 2014, Mr Cameron described the forthcoming reforms as “slashing needless regulations” and promised they would help companies develop, create jobs and secure a long-term recovery. Although his news was  received well by the audience, it has since been criticised by business support organisations including the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), which has warned against exempting one million self-employed people from health and safety law. In response to the Prime Minister’s announcement, Paul King, Chief Executive of the UK Building Council, described the slashing of 80,000 pages of environmental guidance as “utterly reprehensible”.
Read more about the reforms at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/3000-regulations-to-be-reformed-or-slashed
And:
https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/supporting-small-
businesses-david-camerons-qa-at-the-federation-of-small-businesses

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FSA launches new independent appeals panel

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has established the new Independent Business Appeals Panel (IBAP) to make it more straightforward for companies in England to appeal against decisions and challenge food safety recommendations received from local authority food safety inspectors. The IBAP, which consists of independent industry experts, was one of several proposals made in the Government’s Focus on Enforcement Review conducted in 2012/13. The IBAP will only consider disputes relating to technical food safety advice where local authority complaints procedures have been exhausted, but no agreement has  been reached. The IBAP’s role will be advisory, but local authorities will be expected to take the IBAP’s findings into account.
There is more about the launch of the IBAP at:
http://www.food.gov.uk/news-updates/news/2014/jan/business-appeal

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