Forum of Private Business

Small Businesses: Secure Premises as Scrap Metal Theft Soars

Business owners need to take steps to protect their vehicles and premises as rates of scrap metal theft have soared across the UK, the British Transport Police (BTP) has warned. The rising market value of metals such as copper and lead is contributing to the increase, the BTP said. Official figures estimate that scrap metal theft is now costing the UK around £1 billion a year. BTP deputy chief constable Paul Crowther, who heads the Association of Chief Police Officers‘ Metal Theft Working Group, said metal theft was a “huge problem” which often caused serious disruption and a significant financial outlay for businesses.   He identified one common example of metal theft as the unlawful removal of catalytic converters from company vehicles, as these often co... »

Budget Must Simplify Business Taxes, says FPB

The Government has already pledged a “Budget for enterprise”, but for small firms to fill the economic vacuum the Chancellor must simplify the tax system, the Forum of Private Business (FPB) has said. The FPB has welcomed a recent report from the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) which recommends that the Government should merge income tax and National Insurance (NI) payments – saying that the current system is unclear and time consuming for employers. “Having one figure instead of two would give the employer a clearer idea of the overall cost of employment and simplify their payroll.” said FPB research projects manager, Thomas Parry. “In the past NI has been used as a stealth tax and it’s not always apparent to the employer what they are paying and what the employee is ... »

FPB: Enterprise Zones “must meet local needs”

The enterprise zones due to be unveiled in this year’s Budget must offer different tax breaks depending on the need of the local area, the Forum of Private Business (FPB) has said. Chancellor George Osborne announced at the Conservatives’ spring conference that the Government will create an initial ten enterprise zones, giving businesses in potentially high-growth and less wealthy areas tax breaks and simpler planning rules. The aim is to encourage businesses in these regions to start up and grow. The scheme is a smaller-scale version of the first enterprise zones launched in 1981 by Michael Heseltine. FPB research projects manager, Thomas Parry, said that the zones have the potential to drive growth if a flexible approach is used. “There should not be a rigid set of rules, because t... »

UK Self-employed: A Quarter May Move Overseas

UK Self-employed: A Quarter May Move Overseas

Almost a quarter of self-employed people are considering moving abroad in the next five years, research from currency broker Foreign Currency Direct has found. The survey of 2,000 self-employed people revealed that for those weighing up leaving the UK, Australia and New Zealand were the most popular destinations, followed by North America and Asia. The main reasons given for leaving the UK were a better work-life balance overseas, the prospect of further UK tax rises and other countries offering a greater chance of building a more profitable business. Foreign Currency Direct director, Stephen Hughes said that given the state of the economy, it is hardly surprising that so many self-employed people are considering moving their businesses abroad. “We’ve seen a significant jump in... »

Small Firms Cant Afford a  Period of political horse-trading

Small Firms Cant Afford a Period of political horse-trading

Business groups have warned that the uncertainty of a hung parliament will jeopardise the ability of small firms to plan ahead, and stressed that they can’t afford a period of political horse-trading. With the election result remaining uncertain and no party winning enough seats to form an overall majority, the British Chambers of Commerce’s (BBC) director of policy, Dr Adam Marshall, said businesses are concerned how a hung parliament could affect the business environment. “The business community expects the parties to put political horse-trading to one side and put the UK economy at the heart of their thinking,” he said. “Strong leadership and consensus are required to deal with the serious threats still facing the economy.” Commenting on the Greek eco... »

Scrapping Cheques will be Expensive, Warn Business Groups

Plans to scrap cheque payments could be expensive for small firms, business groups have warned, as business owners will be forced to buy chip and pin card machines as replacements. Last year, the UK Payments Council announced plans to abolish cheque guarantee cards by June 2011, and cheques are due to be completely phased out by October 2018. The changes mean businesses will be forced to consider alternative payment systems such as chip and pin. The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has warned that costs of such systems could be high. On average, chip and pin card readers cost around £30 a month to rent from banks, with additional charges per transaction. This means businesses could incur additional overheads of hundreds of pounds a year. “Getting rid of cheques and cheque g... »

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... »

National Apprenticeship Awards

National Apprenticeship Awards

Business owners have less than one month left to enter the Learning and Skills Council’s (LSC) National Apprenticeship Awards, which recognise employers that have successfully used apprenticeships to add value to their business. The LSC has urged employers to apply if they have used apprenticeships in their business, whether for training their workforce to encourage new, innovative ways of working. Businesses that have seen improved performance levels or increased productivity by using apprenticeships are also encouraged to apply. The awards include five categories, with two aimed specifically at small firms. Businesses with nine employees or less can enter the Micro Employer of the Year category, while the Small Business of the Year is open to firms employing between 10 to 49 employ... »

Television License

Firms warned to get licensed for Christmas TV

The Forum of Private Business (FPB) has warned business owners to ensure they have a TV licence if they allow staff to watch television on the premises during the festive season, even if they are watching it on their computer. The TV Licensing authority has warned it will be visiting unlicensed premises between Christmas and New Year. If employees are found to be watching TV without a licence, the business owner risks prosecution and a £1,000 fine. Businesses are required to have a TV licence for any equipment on which live programmes are watched or recorded, including computers and mobile phones as well as TV sets, digital boxes, and DVD or video recorders. However, computer users only need a licence if the viewer watches programmes at the same time they are being broadcast on telev... »

Calls for leeway on VAT cut

The Forum of Private Business (FPB) has called on the Government to give small firms some leeway on implementing the recent cut in VAT. Following the Government’s decision to cut the rate of VAT from 17.5% to 15% from 1 December until January 2010, the FPB has warned that small firms will face an increased administrative burden when they calculate the amount of VAT to charge on their goods and services. The FPB said that firms will have to re–price their goods and services to account for the new VAT rate, and will need time to complete the complex tax return calculations that will result from the VAT rate changes. FPB spokesman Phil McCabe said: “The difference between small firms and big business is that larger companies have the resources to bring these changes in quick... »

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