Poor Foreign Language Skills Cost SMEs Billions says FPB

The Forum of Private Business is warning that poor foreign language skills cost British businesses £21 billion per year, leaving them behind large companies which are increasingly investing in multilingual staff. Cardiff University’s 2007 ‘Costing Babel’ research (PDF) revealed that UK businesses miss out on £21 billion annually in lost contracts. It followed an earlier study showing that the demand for non-English language skills in large European companies is greater than the demand for English – often seen by UK SMEs as the international ‘lingua franca’ of business. The 2006 ELAN Project survey, which emerged from the European Commission’s 2000 Lisbon strategy to stimulate economic growth and employment, said there was evidence of &l... »

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 Questioned by Business Groups

Business groups have criticised the Government’s so–called “enterprise Budget”, saying the announcements would do little to encourage people to start a business and will only help small firms in the short term. National Federation of Enterprise Agencies chief executive, George Derbyshire said this was a “reasonable stab at a growth strategy” as small-business owners didn’t expect a lot due to Government spending cuts. “I didn’t see anything to help those people on the brink to make a positive decision to start a business.” Commenting on the plans to launch 21 enterprise zones in deprived areas to encourage start–ups, he said: “The Budget seemed to suggest that it would be up to individual Local Enterprise Partnerships to decide what their enterprise zone was. There’s no [guideline on] how ... »

FPB: Budget Small Business Growth Strategy Just First Step

Not-for-profit business group argues tax and red tape plans should have gone further One of the UK’s leading business organisations is welcoming several short-term measures to boost enterprise announced in today’s Budget – but arguing that more must be done in the long-term if small businesses are to truly drive economic growth and job creation. The Forum of Private Business (FPB) believes substantial measures on fuel duty – including an immediate cut from 6pm tonight and cancelling annual rises that had resulted from the introduction of the fuel duty escalator – should provide some cash flow relief for struggling small firms. Equally, the Forum is welcoming a range of small business tax breaks including lower rates for businesses based in 21 new ‘enterprise zones’, increasing tax relief a... »

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... »

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... »

Foreign Workers Reforms may Restrict Recruitment

Foreign Workers Reforms may Restrict Recruitment

Government plans to limit the number of skilled British jobs going to non-EU workers may make it harder for employers to find the recruits they need, the Forum of Private Business (FPB) has warned. From next year, businesses will be required to advertise jobs in the UK for one month (up from the current two weeks) before they can go ahead and recruit skilled non-EU workers. According to the Home Office, the move will ensure that British workers are not only first in line for jobs, but also have more time in which to apply. But the FPB has warned that the measures may make it harder for employers to find recruits with the right skills, unless education and the current JobCentre system were improved.  “It is certainly important that the domestic jobs market is made more accessible... »

Workplace Parking Levy may be Extended Nationwide

Workplace Parking Levy may be Extended Nationwide

A tax on workplace parking spaces, due to be introduced in Nottingham, may soon be rolled out nationwide, the Forum of Private Business (FPB) has warned. Under the new Workplace Parking Levy (WPL) scheme, businesses requiring 11 or more parking spaces for staff will have to pay up to £350 a year for each space. Nottingham City Council is the first authority to confirm that it is to operate the levy, following recent Government approval of its plans. The charge is due to come into effect in 2010. According to the council, it plans to impose an initial £185 fee for each workplace parking space, rising to £350 by 2014, and penalties will be incurred for non-payment. The council added that it would be up to each individual organisation to decide whether to pass on charges to ... »

Retirement at 65 could be scrapped in 2010

New Accounting Rules will “add to burden of small firms”

Hundreds of thousands of small companies will face extra administration if proposals to change accountancy rules for leasing are accepted by the UK, the Forum of Private Business (FPB) has warned. Companies that lease equipment, including cars, commercial vehicles, machinery and PCs, do not have to include them on their balance sheets as assets. Under new rules proposed by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB), however, leased items would be treated as a purchase, and recorded as an asset. The rule has been introduced by the IASB to stop larger businesses using leasing to buy equipment without recording it as an asset. According to the FPB, up to 400,000 UK small businesses that use leasing to control cashflow will be unfairly and disproportionately affected by the new rule. ... »

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