Archive for March, 2014

Consultation on construction site safety regulations expected

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is expected to introduce a 12-week consultation on amendments to the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations in April 2014, with revised regulations coming into force in April 2015. The revisions are expected to extend the requirement to co-ordinate work to all construction schemes, rather than only notifiable schemes, and transfer the responsibility for co-ordination from a single individual to the actual team who plan and deliver the scheme. Sean Elson, Health and Safety Expert at Pinsent Masons, said: “What had originally begun as a process of evaluation and tweaking of the regulations appears to have become a substantial revision that if adopted, will create challenges and opportunities for ‘client’ organisations, designers and contractors.”
Read more about the consultation at:
http://www.out-law.com/en/articles/2014/march/new-site-safety-regulations-to-be-published-shortly-ahead-of-april-2015-implementation/

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Funding boost for apprenticeships aimed at small firms

The Apprenticeship Grant for Employers (AGE) programme is to receive further funding worth £170 million over the next two years, in order to encourage small companies to take on apprentices. From January 2015, AGE will focus entirely on small companies (i.e. those with fewer than 50 employees), with benefits incorporating a £1,500 grant for employers who have not taken on an apprentice in the previous year.  A further £20 million will be made available to companies taking on degree-level or postgraduate apprentices.
There is more about the AGE scheme at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/funding-for-apprenticeships-helps-small-business-and-post-graduates

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Small companies fail to claim £100 million in business rate relief

Small companies in England are losing out on approximately £100 million in unclaimed business rate relief, according to a report by chartered surveyors Bankier Sloan. Under the Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR) programme, companies with a single property of a rateable value less than £6,000 can claim 100% rate relief. However, the report disclosed that at least 100 businesses per local authority area that are eligible for the programme have not applied for it. Blame is partly due to out-of-date and inaccurate information published on council websites. Report author Ian Sloan has urged local authorities to update their websites in time for 1st April 2014, when new rate discounts will be made available to retailers.
Read more about the report at:
http://www.morningadvertiser.co.uk/General-News/Pubs-missing-out-on-rate-relief-due-to-council-flaws

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Consultation on modernising cheque payments launched

The Government has introduced a consultation on suggestions  to use ‘cheque imaging’ in Great Britain, which permits banks to accept certified digital images of cheques, in addition to traditional paper cheques. According to HM Treasury, if adopted, this payment method would cut short the time it takes for a cheque to clear to as little as two days, increase convenience for consumers and broaden payment options. The consultation closes on 7th April 2014.
Read more about the proposals at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/cheque-payments-to-become-quicker-and-easier
The consultation documents are available at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/speeding-up-cheque-payments-legislating-for-cheque-imaging

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Research reveals best places for business in the UK

Northampton provided the most favourable business environment in the UK in 2013, according to research by Experian. The research assessed the performance of UK towns and cities against four key indicators: the amount of start ups, rate of insolvencies, level of financial health, and turnover growth compared with 2012. Most of the towns and cities in the top 20 are located in the South of England. The research also showed that Central and East London had some of the highest start up rates, and Aberdeen had the lowest rates of insolvency throughout the UK.
There is more about the Experian research at:
http://press.experian.com/United-Kingdom/Press-Release/experian%20reveals
%20best%20performing%20uk%20towns%20and%20cities%20of%202013.aspx

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Business rates system ‘needs to be fundamentally reformed’

The business rates scheme is not fit for purpose and should be reformed, the Business, Innovation and Skills Commons Select Committee has concluded in a recent report on the retail sector. The Committee is advocating that the Government carries out an intensive review of the business rates scheme to decide whether business rates should be based on sales rather than the rateable value of a property, whether retail should have a separate form of business taxation, and how often rate revaluations should happen. In the short term, the Committee has suggested a six-month business rates amnesty for companies that move into empty properties and a cap on annual increases in business rates of 2%. Adrian Bailey, Chair of the Committee, stated: “Since the system was created, the retail environment has changed beyond all recognition. A system of business taxation based on physical property is simply no longer appropriate in an increasingly online retail world.”
There is more about the retail sector report at:
http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/
business-innovation-and-skills/news/on-publ-retail-sector-report/

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Report published on CDFI lending to social enterprise and charities

According to ‘Inside Community Finance’, a statement issued by the Community Development Finance Association (CDFA), in the year to March 2012, community development financial institutions (CDFIs) lent £145 million to social sector associations, but this decreased to £48 million the following year, to March 2013. The CDFA blamed the fall on restructuring in the two main social banks, Triodos and Charity Bank, which are members of the CDFA. However, there was a 37% increase in lending by the remaining 51 CDFIs in the year to March 2013. More increases in lending to small firms is expected by the CDFA in 2014/15 as more CDFIs begin to access Government funds via the New Enterprise Allowance and Start Up Loans programmes.
Read more about the CDFA report at:
http://www.civilsociety.co.uk/finance/news/content/16973/cdfi_lending_to_
charities_and_social_enterprises_down_almost_100m_in_year_to_march_2013

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Firms warned of Windows XP malware threat

Microsoft has recommended associations running Windows XP Service Pack 3 to move to a supported operating system, such as Windows 7 or Windows 8, as soon as possible. Tim Rains, Director of Trustworthy Computing at Microsoft, stated that there will be a relevant increased risk of malware infection on Windows XP machines after support for Service Pack 3 comes to an end in April 2014. However, Microsoft has announced that it will continue to provide XP malware support until July 2015 to assist associations whilst completing their move to a new operating system.
Read more about the warning at:
http://www.computerweekly.com/news/2240215159/Microsoft-urges-businesses-on-Windows-XP-to-migrate

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