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

Will Rate Cuts Boost Business?

Small Business News – 3rd December 2007 With the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee due to meet to announce the interest rate on Thursday 6th December, pressure is mounting on the Bank of England to cut interest rates ahead of an expected downturn in the economy next year. One economist, Patrick Minford, a former advisor to Maggie Thatcher & the Treasury and now professor at Cardiff Business School, has even suggested an interest rate slash of as much as 0.75%. Another expert, Tim Congdon of the London School of Economics, has called for a 0.5% cut in interest rates. Both economists believe that the MPC is taking too long to decide that what has already happened is not good for business. With rates at 5.75% since July, a number of economic bodies have railed the MP... »

Climate Change – Everyone’s Business

Tackling Climate Change is now an urgent and shared national priority for businesses, consumers and government together according to a report released on Monday. Senior representatives from every major British business sector came together to assess and identify the threats posed by climate change and to develop an action plan to tackle the challenges. The CBI’s Climate Change Task Force report is the result of 10 months work by Chief Executives and Chairmen of some of Britain’s biggest companies. Heading the team was BT Chief Exec, Ben Verwaayen. The analysis of whether the UK can hit its carbon targets by 2020 are deemed unlikely but to reach the goals set for 2050 is certainly achievable but only if urgent action is taken to act sooner rather than later. By acting quickly th... »

Capital Gains Tax Concession, Darling?

Alistair Darling, Chancellor of the Exchequer, has made indications that the government will make some concessions on Capital Gains Tax (CGT) reform over the next few weeks. In early October Alistair Darling announced changes to both Corporation Tax and Capital Gains Tax, hoping to simplify the system with a 2% cut in Corporate Tax, a  single 18% CGT rate and an end to taper relief. Instead, Mr Darling angered many small businesses and incurred the wrath of the CBI, with an open letter to Mr Darling expressing the potential damage to the country’s many enterprising small businesses. In a speech to the CBI conference on Tuesday Mr Darling continued to defend his position, once again relying upon his insistence that the tax system will be simplified as a result of his actions... »

Minimum Wage Hurts Local Retailers

The national minimum wage is taking its toll on local retailers according to a report into the health of high street retailers by the British Shops and Stores Association. The bssa warns that, ever since its introduction in 1999, the National Minimum Wage has increased beyond the level of inflation driving up staffing costs at an uneven rate and it echoes the CBI’s call for a modest rise in the minimum wage. The bssa report, Health of the High Street (3.4Mb PDF), urges action from the governement to ensure the survival of Britain’s high street shops and to continue their growth. The report includes a full review of the formula for setting the national minimum wage, raising the threshold for Small Business Rate Relief for single shops within high rental zones of UK high streets ... »

Terrorism & Flooding Force Business to Review Continuity Management

Business in the UK is now better prepared for disruption or disaster than it was two years ago, ago to a report today from BSI (British Standards’ Institute) yearly Business Barometer, published on Tuesday. BSI research reveals that 42% of businesses have reviewed their business continuity management planning following the terror alerts in both London and Glasgow in June this year and more than a third of businesses are better prepared after the summer’s floods. The research found that 81% of companies would continue to function normally for up to a week before feeling the serious effects of disruption or disaster and that 63% of businesses are well prepared for catastrophic IT failure compared to just 27% back in 2005. Around 50% of business are prepared for forced office relo... »

UK Best for Startups

Despite concerns over red tape, the UK is the best place for startups, according to research from the Financial Times. The study, which involved the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United States, found that the British are reservedly enthusiastic about starting up business in the UK whereas there is pessimism amongst the Italians and Americans are strongly optimistic. Italians cite cynicism with the quality of government support, corruption and infrastructure problems as barriers to starting up in business. The French position on starting up business was more mediocre suggesting that the new premiere, Nicolas Sarkozy’s proposed reforms were doing little to change the attitudes of the French that business startups are tough for the budding Gallic entrepreneur. After 10 years... »

Small Business gets Raw Deal on Energy

Small Businesses are getting a raw deal on their electricity according to new findings from energywatch, the gas & electric energy watchdog. Energywatch receives around 2,000 calls a month from small businesses and the rate has increased by 22% since last year. 90% of the calls received by energywatch are complaints with billing (61%), problems with transfer to a new supplier (24%), and issues with the way in which a contract has been sold (6%) One particular problem small businesses have is lacking the ability to be able to compare tariffs between energy suppliers as the information is often not forthcoming. League tables published by energywatch show small business who are the best and worst suppliers. Not one of the "big 6" suppliers received even a satisfactory rating fro... »

Consumers Pay Premium for Great Reputation

A new poll by the CBI has found that more than 50% of consumers are happy to pay a premium for goods or services from a business with a great reputation, even if they can buy cheaper elsewhere. Today’s survey results show that 48% of respondents cite excellent customer service as the main feature of business reputation. A further 36% said that the fact that companies were meeting consumers’ expectations about products & services also ranked highly. Reputation was important due to businesses being a good employer, according to 7% of the answers, and brand appeal attributed only 4%. Ranking the businesses that had the best reputation, consumers came up with: Marks & Spencer John Lewis Partnership Virgin Group The unprompted responses gave Marks & Spencer more than twi... »

Skills Shortage forces Overseas Recruiting

Small Business News – 16th November 2007 A skills shortage is making London businesses struggle to compete and firms are increasingly looking to recruit staff from overseas according to research by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and KPMG. Not only is there a lack of skilled graduates but also of lower-skilled staff too. The results from the London Business Survey show that 65% of the capital’s firms expect a skills shortfall in the next 6 months whilst 58% of businesses are already recruiting from abroad to fill skills gaps. Of those companies looking to recruit overseas 29% said they would be increasing their recruitment outside the UK and, contrary to the opinion that overseas workers perform lesser-skilled jobs, 83% of companies are recruiting workers with highe... »

Bank of England Quarterly Inflation Report

The Bank of England released its quarterly report this morning, hot on the heels of yesterday’s news of a rise in inflation (to 2.1%) for the month of October and last Thursday’s interest rate decision (interest rates remain at 5.75%) The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee has indicated that in the short-term there is likely to be an increase in inflation and a slowing in growth with signs that, in the medium term, growth will again increase and inflation fall to within targets. The MPC sees residential and commercial property values moderating and expects personal saving rates to impact upon consumer spending. The report also made note of the instability in world markets due to the recent financial turmoil, predicting a cautionary approach to any future UK monet... »

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