Archive for August, 2014

Broadband grant scheme rolled out

Small and medium-sized businesses in 22  cities in the UK  can apply for grants of up to £3,000 for installation of  faster broadband services at their premises. The 22 cities include Bradford, Cambridge, Derby, Newcastle, York, Belfast, Perth and Newport. The Connection Voucher Scheme is an element of the Urban Broadband Fund and is open for applications until 31 March 2015. The objective of the Scheme is to improve digital connectivity, generate new business opportunities and stimulate economic growth in UK cities.
Read more about the scheme at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/boost-your-bottom-line-with-a-free-broadband-grant

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Small firms rejected by banks to be linked to alternative funders

Access to finance for small and medium-sized businesses will improve when the proposed Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill becomes law, following a Government consultation that ran throughout March and April 2014. The proposed Bill instructs banks and building societies to send details of any small companies that have had an application for finance rejected to platforms that will link them to alternative sources of finance. Companies’ details will only be sent with their consent, and distinct minimum standards will be set to ensure that companies are adequately protected and in control during the process.
Read more about the Bill at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/sme-finance-help-to-match
-smes-rejected-for-finance-with-alternative-lenders

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HMRC guidance on changes to VAT filing rules

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has issued guidance on alterations to VAT rules that provide additional exemptions to the necessity to file VAT returns online. The alterations, which came into effect on 1st July 2014, permit business owners that satisfy HMRC that it is not reasonably practicable for them to use the online system to submit paper returns. HMRC will also be able to allow telephone filing as an alternative method of electronic filing in specific circumstances.
The guidance is available at:
http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/briefs/vat/brief2914.htm

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Employment status review launched

An employment-status review has been introduced by the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) to examine whether the dividing line between employment and self employment has been ‘drawn in the right place and in the right way’. The OTS has recognised that many people now work for more than one business, and may be employed by one and working on a self-employed basis for another, meaning existing employment status tests can cause uncertainty. The review will also examine changes in employment law and how increased digitisation could provide scope for simplification of tax systems. The OTS is predicted to publish its recommendations before the Budget in 2015.
Read more about the review at:
http://www.freelanceuk.com/news/4574.shtml
And:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/employment-status-review

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Allergen labelling guidance published

The Food Standards Authority (FSA) has issued guidance for small and medium-sized food business operators on compliance with new food allergen labelling rules, which come into force on 13th December 2014. UK food business operators will  have to provide accurate information in a specific format, under the new rules,  about 14 allergens, where they are added to or used as ingredients in food. Also, this information will have to be provided on menus, as well as on food labels.
The guidance is available at:
http://www.food.gov.uk/news-updates/news/2014/jul/sme-allergen-guidance

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Business licensing in England to be reviewed

Cornwall Council has been awarded a grant by The Better Regulation Delivery Office (BRDO)  to enable it to explore options to simplify England’s complex business licensing system, with the aim of introducing a single business licence in each local authority in England. At present, companies must apply for a variety of licences covering activities such as food business registration, alcohol licensing and street trading. The project, which will investigate the changes that councils would need to make in order for a single ‘business licence for life’ to be issued, is expected to last for six months and will describe business start-up activities as well as those of established companies. Options to be examined by Cornwall Council include online accessibility, flexible payment options, a single licensing application form, and a single point of contact for council licensing.
Read more about the project at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/grant-to-explore-a-simpler-licensing-system-in-england

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Food industry unprepared for forthcoming changes to allergen law

Nearly half (44%) of food business operators are not aware of changes to allergen laws that will take place in December 2014, according to research by Unilever Food Solutions.  Over half of operators (54%) were unable to identify the allergens covered, and only one in three (33%) are prepared for the changes.  Observing the findings, Wendy Duncan, Technical Manager at Unilever stated: “It’s apparent from our research and queries we’re getting from our customers that operators are concerned about the new legislation.”
Read more about the research findings at:
http://www.bighospitality.co.uk/Legislation/Allergens-Half-of-venues-still-unaware-of-law

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Special summer offer for Virtual Office

Maylands Business Centre are offering Virtual Office Services at 20% discount for first 3 months – Must be signed up by Friday 29th August.

Never miss another call and get a prestigious business address with your calls answered in your company name by professional receptionists. Messages will be forwarded to you by email immediately after the call has been taken, saving time and ensuring there will be no additional hidden call charges .

Both services include the use of the meeting rooms and franking machine to add further value to your business.
All for the opening price of £48+VAT per month for virtual office. (Normal price will be £60+VAT per month).

Businesses already using our virtual office say:

‘The virtual office is a key enabler of my organisation being both profitable and professional at the same time. With the increase in communication technologies I have been able to run my business from the other side of the world! Working anytime and anywhere safe in the knowledge that a professional team will answer my calls and collect my post. In business it’s all about protecting the bottom line, formal offices can be a significant drain on your resources which impact heavily on profit margins. Lesley and her team provide a first class service, and there is always adequate meeting space when I need it. I wish I had done this years ago’.

‘The virtual office at the business centre has provided a valuable ancillary service to support my growing business. From mail handling to the delivery of goods, the centre takes care of all my deliveries, allowing me to concentrate on the more important activities within my business. The centre’s staff always keep you up to date by email with delivery information and with it’s convenient geographical location and opening hours, makes it easy for collections. The meeting room and cafe also provide a great place to meet your clients face to face and are all available at a reasonable price’.
We also offer mail handling and business address only for the great price of £30+VAT per month.
Please call 01442 531002 or email Lesley.crisp@dacorum.gov.uk for further information on all services.


 

 

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Charity bond fund launched to encourage investment

A £10 million fund has been established by Big Society Capital (BSC) to urge more charities to issue bonds and seek investment. The Charity Bond Support Fund will be used for market development, and will purchase remaining bonds in cases where there is a shortfall, to allow an issue to go ahead, provided that at least two thirds of an issued set of bonds have been taken up by investors. Nick O’Donohoe, Chief Executive of BSC, stated that the charity bond market had been transformed of late, and Mencap’s housing arm, Golden Lane Housing announced recently that it had raised £11 million in less than two weeks after issuing a bond.
Read more about the Charity Bond Support Fund at:
http://www.thirdsector.co.uk/big-society-capital-launches-10m-fund-help-charities-issue-own-bonds/finance/article/1305383

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Retail banking sector is failing small firms, regulators find

The UK’s retail banking sector lacks significant competition and is failing to meet the needs of small companies and consumers, according to two joint investigations by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The CMA has now introduced a consultation inquiring whether an in-depth investigation into the markets for both personal current accounts and business banking should be undertaken. As part of this consultation, the CMA is seeking opinions on the proposals put forward by various high-street banks to rectify faults in the small business banking sector, as an alternative to a market investigation.
To read more about the studies and consultation, go to:
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/personal-current-accounts-and-small-business-banking-not-working-well-for-customers

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