Our small business news section covers the latest reports, research, stories and updates on regulations that affect the UK’s small and medium enterprises.

Darling’s first Pre-Budget Report

The Chancellor, Alistair Darling, has delivered his Comprehensive Spending Review and Pre-Budget Report, but is there anything within his main points of particular relevance to British business? Firstly, he revised downwards the growth rate of the economy next year from 2.5%-3% to between 2% and 2.5% but expects growth to be around 3% in the year 2009/2010, saying that despite recent worldwide economic events, including increased raw material costs and financial uncertainty, the British economy remains strong. He stated that he intends to simplify the tax system, thereby allowing half a million business to function easier and save businesses £1,000,000 a year, though with no details of quite how he is going to do so as yet. The main rate (full rate) of Corporation Tax (Corporate Tax)... »

CBI Calls for “modest rise” in Minimum Wage

The Confederation of Business Industry (CBI) stated yesterday that there needs only to be a "modest rise" in the UK’s national minimum wage next year. After the Minimum Wage rate increase on 1st October, Britain’s minimum wage has become the third highest in the world after France & Australia. Britain’s wage rise is higher than any other OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) country when the same-period productivity gains are taken into account. Last Monday’s increase to £5.52 an hour has meant that the minimum wage has risen by 53% since its introduction in 1999. By comparison average earnings have grown by just 38.8%. One million British workers are estimated to have received a pay increase last week. The CBI has said th... »

Bank of England Holds Interest Rates

Small Business News – 4th October 2007 The Bank of England has held interest rates at 5.75% despite pressure from some quarters to drop them. Analysts from, amongst others, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Ernst & Young ITEM Club had called for interest rates to drop in order to boost the UK eceonomy ahead of an expected slight slowdown in economic growth next year. The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee held interest rates last month too where the figure has remained at 5.75% since the increase in July. After the last interest rate hold, the US sub-prime market crisis hit the American housing market and the Northern Rock banking crash happened here in the UK. As a result of the tougher financial lending conditions and econo... »

Postal Workers Ready to Strike

Postal workers are readying themselves for a 48 hour strike if last minute talks between the Royal Mail and the Communication Workers Union do not reach a settlement. The strikes, planned to start from noon today, will go ahead as planned if the dispute over pay and conditions is not resolved. The postal strike action is over pay & conditions and union fears of job losses. The CWU rejects Royal Mail’s offer of a 2.5% pay offer and believes that plans for modernising the postal service will put 40,000 jobs at risk. The Royal Mail, on the other hand, is concerned with its ability to compete in a postal system that has seen a number of changes over the last few years with private companies offering similar services. If Monday’s 48-hour postal strike goes ahead the situation is... »

Entrepreneurship Cannot be Taught say Small Firms

67% of small business owners believe that entrepreneurial skills cannot be taught, according to research by UK Business Forums. Whilst many respondents to the survey believed that general business skills like time management, negotiaition and sales & marketing can be taught, the majority of business owners believe that the finer entrepreneurial skills such as focus, self-sacrifice, risk-taking and making money are more inherent and that successful businesspeople are born with these talents. Dan Martin, the chairman of UK Business Forums, said: "It is clear from our survey that entrepreneurs are firmly of the belief that while the basic of business can be taught in the classroom, when it actually comes to being a proper entrepreneur, these are skills which are natural and cannot be... »

Health Support for Small Businesses

Small Business News – 2nd October 2007 The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB)offers its members additional health support with the launch of its FSB Care service. From 1st October 2007 all full, joint, associate and retired members of the FSB will be automatically entitled to the the welfare benefits offered by FSB Care. FSB Care is for SME owners who need support with serious illness. The scheme will allocate a personal nurse adviser to provide practical information and emotional support for as long as it is needed. In addition they can arrange: Home visits by specialist nurses or A course of specialist therapy or A course of specialist counselling They can also arrange for access to specialist charities and self-help groups if necessary. By launching this health support scheme th... »

Holiday Entitlement Increases

As well as the National Minimum Wage increasing, today sees workers’ holiday entitlement increase. From the 1st of October 2007 workers are entitled to a minimum of 4.8 weeks annual holiday, which amounts to 24 days holiday a year if employees work 5 days a week full-time. Part-time workers have the same paid-leave entitlement on a pro-rata basis. From the 1st of April 2009 holidays will be at 5.6 weeks per annum or 28 days a year. Within The Work and Families Act there is no statutory right to paid leave on bank and public holidays, of which there are 8 in a year, but these can be counted in a worker’s minimum holiday entitlement. The legislation has been introduced to improve choice and flexibility for employees although businesses will need to be prepared to give their workf... »

National Minimum Wage Rates Increase

Small Business News – 1st October 2007 The statutory Minimum Wage for adult workers rises again today from £5.35 to £5.52 and from £4.44 to £4.60 for 18-21 year olds. The rate also increases for 16-17 year olds from £3.30 to £3.40 an hour. For more detailed information read our briefing on Minimum Wage & Statutory Pay Obligations. »

Self-assessment Tax Deadline Imminent

Self-assessment taxpayers have until midnight on Sunday to hand in their 2006-07 tax returns if they want Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to calculate their tax. There is no penalty for skipping the end of September deadline as there is still the midnight 31st January 2008 deadline, but these taxpayers will have to work out their own tax. There are about 9 million self-assessment taxpayers, the majority being self-employed including company directors and partnerships. More complex taxes, including those earning money from the recent surge in buy-to-let properties, are also covered under this system. Tax return forms for the financial year 2006-2007 can be submitted in paper format or by using the HMRC’s online services which have become increasingly popular with arou... »

Lost Time is Lost Money

"New Business" Response Times It may seem like a cliché but in business time really is money. And to back that up new research, supported by the UK’s business leaders, reveals a shift in response times to "new business". Critically there is a "two hour window" in which to respond to a sales enquiry otherwise one in three companies will say they will simply take their business elsewhere. Vodafone’s latest research into mobile working polled more than 1,000 managers, directors & business owners and found the true cost of businesses failing to communicate with customers. Only 20% of sales staff have any form of mobile communication with their offices the average value of a lost sales call is £18,000 and in higher-stake businesses that... »

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