Department for Business

Quarter of Small Businesses Don’t Have Basic IT Skills

Quarter of Small Businesses Don’t Have Basic IT Skills

A quarter of the UK’s small and medium business owners admit that they lack basic digital skills and could be missing out on opportunities over the web, as new government research points to strong correlation between digital skills and high turnover. The report, entitled Digital Capabilities in SMEs, featured 803 small firms and was conducted by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (DBIS) which found that, while 98% of small businesses use the internet for business purposes, only 64% have a website. Most business owners used the web for online banking and to email customers but only 20% used the internet for ecommerce sales. Of the businesses that didn’t have a website, a staggering 77% said they believed a site was not necessary. Other reasons small businesses gave for not h... »

Government-backed Bank Lending to Small Firms Plummets

Bank lending to small businesses under the Government’s Enterprise Finance Guarantee (EFG) scheme has fallen by 42 per cent in the past 12 months, new figures have revealed. Research from financial services group Syscap found that the total value of loans offered to small firms under the EFG scheme fell from £742 million to £433 million in the 12 months to 30 June 2011. The EFG scheme was introduced by the Government in 2009 with a target of lending £1.3 billion to viable businesses with a turnover of up to £25 million. Under the terms of the scheme, banks are advised to lend to businesses they would be happy to lend to commercially, regardless of the guarantee from the Government. Syscap’s research found that just £93.1 million was made available ... »

Business Support and Flexible Working Reforms in Queen’s Speech

Plans to extend the right to request flexible working to all employees and to reform the government’s business support network, were the key measures for small firms in the Queen’ Speech. The Queen’s Speech contained 22 Bills, including planned legislation to cut the budget deficit, invest in high-speed broadband, create a Green Investment Bank to support investment in low-carbon projects and raise employers’ National Insurance Contributions from April 2011.  Flexible working reforms were also announced. Currently, only employees with children aged up to 16, or disabled children up to 18, have the right to request flexible working. But under the Government’s proposals, all employees will have the right to request flexible working. The Department for Busin... »

Health and Safety

Anderson Review calls for free Government Advice

An independent review has recommended that the Government introduces a free advice service for small firms on employment law and health and safety issues. According to small–business owner Sarah Anderson’s Government–backed report, the Anderson Review, three–quarters of small firms have paid for advice on employment law or health and safety regulations in the past. This equates to a total of £1.4 billion per year. “Many small businesses do not use and have no confidence in guidance from the Government. The vast majority of small businesses want to comply with the law. The Government should give them a cost effective and efficient way for them to do so.” said Anderson. Anderson has proposed the Government introduce a free advice service to help firm... »

Credit Card

Calls for Cap on Credit Card Charges

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has called on the Government to cap interest rates on credit cards to help small firms survive the recession. FSB national chairman John Wright said putting a ceiling on charges would reduce business costs and free up much needed cashflow. Research from the FSB revealed that 26% of entrepreneurs use their personal credit card to finance their business and 23% use a company credit card. “With interest rates at 1.5% and falling, the Chancellor and the Governor of the Bank of England must look into capping interest rates charged on credit cards,” said Wright. “A cap on interest rates would not only reduce business costs but give consumers a real boost and cut the cost of borrowing,” he added. However, the Department for Business... »

First European small business week planned

The first ever European SME Week will be held next year to highlight the business support that is available to entrepreneurs in Europe. Organised by the European Commission, European SME Week will run from 6–14 May 2009, and include a range of events in participating countries. Activities will range from conferences, trade fairs and workshops to competitions, art performances and networking sessions, all aimed at encouraging small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs. Each event will focus on specific topics relevant to small firms, such as innovation, funding opportunities, tax, legal issues and business strategy. European Commission enterprise and industry deputy director–general, Françoise Le Bail said. “SME week is all about putting entrepreneurship in the spo... »

Credit Crunch

West Midlands firms given cash boost

The Government has set up a £4 million loan fund to help struggling small firms in the West Midlands survive the credit crunch. According to the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR), the fund is designed to help small and medium–sized enterprises (SMEs) overcome short–term funding problems. Loans of between £50,000 and £250,000 are available to established businesses for a maximum period of three years. The fund is being provided by Regional Development Agency Advantage West Midlands. Eligible firms can apply for funding straight away. Business Secretary Lord Mandelson said: “Access to finance is crucial for businesses to survive. With this fund, local firms can access the money they need to weather the economic storm and come... »

Peter Jones

Scarborough voted UK’s Enterprise Capital

Scarborough has been announced as the winner of the Government’s Enterprising Britain competition. Run by the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR), the competition recognises areas of ‘enterprise excellence’ across the UK, where jobs and a better climate for business and the local community have been created. The award was presented to Scarborough Renaissance Partnership at a ceremony in Downing Street for its Waking Sleeping Beauty project. The initiative has transformed Scarborough from a town where unemployment was twice the North Yorkshire average, many of its neighbourhoods were among the most deprived in the country and seasonal unemployment was around 20% during the winter. With support from the local council and Regional Development Age... »


SMEs struggle to access Public Sector Contracts

Small firms are struggling to access public sector contracts, with nearly three–quarters admitting they never or rarely bid for government work, according to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB). A joint survey of more than 500 SMEs by the FSB, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), and the British Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (BVCA), found that small firms still face considerable barriers when it comes to winning public sector contracts. The research found that more than three–quarters of SMEs still find it difficult to find out about government opportunities, while more than half feel that the tendering process and timescales require too many resources to respond effectively. The findings come despite Chancellor Alistair Darling’s pledge in t... »

Flexible Working Hours

SMEs quizzed on flexible working

The Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) has called for small firms to respond to its proposals to streamline the flexible working process for businesses, following plans to extend the right to request flexible working to parents with children aged 16 and under. According to BERR, the consultation is aimed at canvassing the views of businesses and highlighting ways to reduce the paperwork associated with flexible working legislation. At present, employees have the right to request flexible working if they are parents with children under six or under 18 if they are disabled. But under proposals announced in the draft Queen’s Speech, the Prime Minister revealed that the Government is exploring extending the right to request flexible working to those with chi... »

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