small business news

Welsh StartUps to Receive Tailored Support

Welsh Startups will be able to access tailored business support, following a £36 million investment from the Welsh Assembly Government to boost new businesses in the region.  The ‘StartUp’ initiative will be run by Flexible Support for Business, a new central point of government support for Welsh businesses, and is expected to help the development of up to 8,000 start-ups and create more than 10,000 jobs. The project is being funded by the Welsh Assembly Government and a £17 million investment from the European Regional Development Fund. The initiative is aiming to provide improved advice and support to people with business ideas that they want to turn into reality. The money will be invested in providing entrepreneurs with access to external consultants, IT su... »

Government Agrees Fair Deal on Agency Work

The Government has today agreed a deal between unions and employers that will see agency workers in the UK receive equal treatment after 12 weeks employment. The Government believes this deal can pave the way to reaching agreement in Europe on an agency workers directive that secures this flexibility for the UK. Announcing the agreement, Business Secretary John Hutton said: “This is the right deal for Britain. Today’s agreement achieves our twin objectives of flexibility for British employers and fairness for workers. It will give people a fair deal at work without putting their jobs at risk or cutting off a valuable route into employment.” AGENCY WORKERS: JOINT DECLARATION BY GOVERNMENT, THE CBI AND THE TUC The CBI and TUC have reached agreement on how fairer treatment f... »

Right to Flexible Working Extended

The right to request flexible working will be extended to cover another 4.5 million people. Current laws on flexible working apply to parents of children under the age of six. But after the PM backed an independent review on flexible working in November last year, the recommendations of the review, published today, have suggested that the laws be extended to apply to parents of children up to the age of 16. Around 6 million workers have the right to apply for flexible working but in reality around 14 million workers actually work flexibly. The review also found that Flexible working changes should be implemented immediately rather than in stages to make the working practice clearer for business and the employee. The UK’s small businesses have a much better track record on accepting r... »

Simpler Tax Forms for Small Business urged by the Public Accounts Committee

Simpler Tax Forms

The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee has called upon Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to simplify tax forms. The Committee of MPs, realeasing its 20th report entitled "HM Revenue and Customs: Helping individuals understand and complete their tax forms" calls upon the tax man to simplify tax forms in order to help the self-employed make their tax returns easier and cut down on the mistakes made by filling in over-complicated forms. Incorrectly completed tax forms had cost the treasury around £330 million a year, according to Edward Leigh MP, Chairman of the Public Acounts Committee. In addition the committee called for HMRC to meet industry standards on answering calls. In 2006-2007 HMRC answered 72% of calls within 20 seconds but still falls short ... »

Personal Tax Allowances up £600

After abolishing the 10p tax rate in the Budget 2008, Alistair Darling has made a concession to low earners. At a cost of £2.7 billion, Alistair Darling, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, has increased the personal tax allowance by £600 to £6,035 for this financial year. The move, benefiting all basic rate tax-payers under the age of 65, will see 22 million low and middle income earners be £120 better off this year, as "compensation" for the scrapping of the 10px tax rate. The additional £120 is expected to be paid in a £60 rebate in September with £10 extra in workers’ pay packets until the end of the tax year. »

Small Manufacturers Increase Prices

Small Manufacturers Increase Prices

A new study shows that smaller firms are pricing up their products as costs increase. The CBI in its April SME Trends Survey, highlights the fact that many small and medium-sized manufacturers have had to sharply raise prices under the highest pressures from costs in over 20 years. 20% of firms are reporting an increase in prices over the past 3 months, that’s the highest proportion since 1995 where 32% of firms were raising their prices. In the three months until April, 51% of SMEs said their average unit costs had gone up whilst only 7% had seen a decrease. The increases are chiefly due to rising raw material and energy costs. In addition there are reports that the same firms have seen demand for their products fall with export orders falling despite the weaker pound. During the sa... »

Office Keyboards Dirtier than Toilet Seats

Consumer group Which? reports that some keyboards in your business could be dirtier than toilet seats. Now that’s quite an alarming statement considering the number of keyboards in small businesses up and down the country. But the tests by Which? in their own London offices found that of the 33 keyboards tested, 4 were deemed as potential health hazards and one keyboard harboured 5 times as many germs as one of the office’s toilet seats! James Francis, the microbiologist who swabbed and tested the keyboards, reported that the one "dirty qwerty" had more than 150 times the safe level of bacteria on it and recommended it be removed and quarantined as a precaution. The bacteria & organisms found on office keyboards, if left to build up, can become a potential health ... »

Government Pilots Occupational Health Services for SMEs

The Government has invested £11 million in six projects across the UK, piloting occupational health services for small businesses. The funding will be used to provide businesses in Devon, East London, Merseyside, the North East, West Yorkshire and Worcestershire with NHS advice and support to improve the physical and mental well-being of their staff. The schemes will be managed by the Government’s occupational health network, NHS Plus. “The funding of these schemes highlights the importance of occupational health services and their important role in supporting health, safety and well-being in the workforce and the community,” said Health Minister Ivan Lewis. NHS Plus director Dr Kit Harling explained: “Occupational health services are based on the teamwork of ... »


Rate Cut

Interest rates cut to 5% As expected the Bank of England has cut interest rates to 5% Analysts had been expecting the BoE’s Monetary Policy Committee to drop the rate under the continuing uncertainty over the worldwide economic credit crisis. The UK interest rate was cut in December (to 5.5%) and remained untouched in January. A further cut in February (to 5.25%) was followed by a decision to maintain the rate in March. April’s cut of a quarter of one percent is seen as a further attempt to help the country’s slowing economy. The squeeze on global credit so far hasn’t been as severe in the UK as it has in the US where rates have been slashed to prop up their faltering economy. However, the economic outlook for the UK still remains cool, despite an increase in factor... »

Innovation: What our Economy Needs

Innovation: What our Economy Needs

Innovation is key to unlocking talent, boosting productivity and making the UK economy a world leader in ideas according to a recent white paper. After Lord Sainsbury’s Review of Government’s Science and Innovation Policies in October last year, we have a white paper published by the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) urging for investment in innovation (the successful exploitation of new ideas). The white paper entitled Innovation Nation (PDF – 923k) sets out UK Government intentions to make the country the best place in the world to set-up and run an innovative business or service and argues that innovation is key to Britain’s prosperity and ability to tackle major issues such as climate change. A key point in the white paper is that innovat... »

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