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SMEs place Energy Efficiency at top of Cost-Cutting Agenda

More than a quarter of small firms would place energy efficiency at the top of their cost cutting measures. Research from the Carbon Trust revealed that 69% of small businesses are cutting costs or considering doing so. Of these, 27% stated they would prioritise energy efficiency, 17% would make redundancies and 24% would introduce salary freezes or below inflation pay rises. Commenting on the research, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants’ (ACCA) head of social and environmental issues, Rachel Jackson, said: “It’s sensible to start cutting energy first before getting rid of staff, from a workplace morale point of view as well as an environmental one. It’s an easier thing to implement than the other measures, and one of the aspects they have the most c... »

Large Companies use SMEs as unofficial credit source

The chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has accused large companies of using small firms as an unofficial source of credit. The criticism follows Alliance Boots’ announcement that it has extended its invoice payment terms so its small–business suppliers will not get paid for more than 100 days. Alliance Boots, the company behind high–street chemists Boots, wrote to its suppliers in June to inform them that as of April 2008, bills would be paid up to 75 days from the end of the month of invoice – instead of the 30 days previously agreed. In addition, the company introduced a 2.5 per cent ‘settlement fee’ – a charge for paying the bill. “At a time when small businesses are finding it difficult to deal with a slowing economy and... »

Inflation pushes SME costs up a quarter

Rising inflation has resulted in ten per cent of small businesses seeing their costs rise by more than a quarter in the last 12 months, according to credit rating firm Creditsafe. The research from Creditsafe also revealed that 26 per cent of small firms have seen their costs increase by at least ten per cent over the same period, and 60 per cent of small businesses have experienced some degree of cost increase in the last year. “Businesses are faced by rampant business inflation, as the costs of fuel and borrowing increase dramatically,” said Creditsafe managing director Simon Camilleri. “They are also faced with the prospect of employees demanding inflation–busting pay rises to cover the costs of increasing petrol and food costs. “If inflation continues to r... »

Staff Absenteeism Costs SMEs

Staff Absenteeism Costs SMEs £25k a Year

Small-business owners could help reduce the cost of unscheduled staff absenteeism by allowing employees to work flexibly, according to telecomms firm Avaya. An Avaya survey found that one-fifth of small firms lose an average of £25,000 a year because of unscheduled staff absenteeism, caused by everyday occurrences including commuting delays and illness. According to Avaya UK manager Nick Roullier, allowing some staff to work flexibly can help reduce absenteeism. “Small-business owners who allow staff to work from any location are far less likely to feel the financial impact of absenteeism, because their workers have access to the systems and services they need, whether they work from home or the office,” he said. “Ultimately, flexible working can help small firms re... »

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 ... »

EU Opens to Small Business

The European Union opens up a one-stop-shop for Small Firms. The European Commission has launched a free business advice website for SMEs to use hoping that small business will adopt it as their central point for contacting business support organisations throughout the EU. Containg links to almost 600 resources the Enterprise Europe Network includes all the major SME support organisations, research institutes and innovation centres in the European Union. The aim of the European Enterprise Network is to help small firms find access to funding, launch products and expand into other EU countries. The EEN also includes links to upcoming business events and workshops throughout the European Union. “The new Enterprise Europe Network is a milestone in the Commission’s integrated polic... »

Small Firms Consultation Database

What is the Small Firms Consultation Database? The Small Firms Consultation Database offers small firms the opportunity to influence new regulations at an early stage to take account of the impact they may have on them. It holds details of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) that have agreed to be contacted. Small firms wishing to be consulted on regulatory issues affecting them should submit their details through the online form. Why was the Small Firms Consultation database created? It was created following a recommendation made by the Small Business Council (an independent group of active entrepreneurs) in their 2002 annual report. The database itself allows the Small Business Service (SBS) to contact SMEs on behalf of policy officials to gauge the potential impact of proposed new... »

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