British Chambers of Commerce

Services Sector Exports Slowing As Brexit Uncertainty Still Looms

Services Sector Exports Slowing As Brexit Uncertainty Still Looms

The services industry is experiencing a slowdown in exporting as post-referendum uncertainty still looms, according to the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC). It’s latest Quarterly International Trade Outlook has revealed that the volume of trade documentation issued nationally, fell by 4.14% on the quarter following a surge pre-Brexit – suggesting business who trade overseas are becoming more pessimistic about the future. The percentage of tertiary sector firms expecting profitability over the next 12 months also fell from +33% to +15% in Q2 – the lowest level in four years. While firms in the manufacturing industry saw a similar drop, with confidence lowering to +22%, from +28% in Q2 also. Despite the negativity, the number of manufacturers reporting improved export sales rose to +17%, u... »

Government Attempts to Reassure Small Businesses over Apprenticeship Levy

Government Attempts to Reassure Small Businesses over Apprenticeship Levy

The government have tried to reassure small businesses that they will not be affected by the introduction of the apprenticeship levy, stating that only large companies will be forced to pay it. However, the chancellor and government have failed to disclose what a larger company constitutes, with rumours suggesting that the Treasury is considering including businesses with 50 employees. In an interview with The Financial Times, one Whitehall aide said; “We have been clear that it is larger firms that will be focused on,” but the government still haven’t finalised what the cut-off point is. In the summer Budget, George Osbourne announced that large employers would have to pay a percentage (suggested as 0.5%) of their payroll to fund the apprenticeship programme. Under the programme, a compan... »

Small Businesses Face £23bn Red Tape Bill

New employment regulations due to be introduced over the next four years will cost UK businesses £22.17 billion, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has calculated. The BCC’s Employment Timeline (PDF) reveals a raft of regulations which are due to be introduced between April 2011 and April 2015. These include the Agency Workers Directive (2011) and Pension Reform (2012), which the business group claims will cost UK firms £1,548 million and £4,526 million respectively per year. “The Government claims business growth is top of the agenda, yet UK firms will be hit with huge costs once these new regulations come into force.” said BCC director general, David Frost. “Companies cannot generate growth and create jobs when they are facing a £22 billion bill, just to implement t... »

BCC: Negative Growth not Sign of a Double Dip

The UK economy’s first contraction in more than a year doesn’t mean we are heading for a double-dip recession, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has said. As reported on Tuesday (UK Economy Takes a Hit in Q4) recent Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures revealed that the UK economy shrank by 0.5 per cent in the three months to December 2010, after four successive quarters of growth. The ONS said that the snowy weather conditions at the end of 2010 were a key cause of the slump. However, BCC economic adviser, Steve Hughes, said that even without the effect of the weather, economic growth would have been disappointing. “It would still have been a flat growth rate well below expectation. And that is before we factor in the challenges facing businesses in 2011, including the ... »

Interest Rates Kept at 0.5%

The Bank of England‘s Monetary Policy Committee has held the base interest rate at 0.5% for a record 18th consecutive month in a row. With continued concern over the state of the economy amidst sharp cuts in public spending by the new coalition government the decision was welcomed by David Kern, Chief Economist at the British Chambers of Commerce, who commented: “The MPC made the right decision by leaving interest rates and the quantitative easing programme unchanged this month. However, uncertainty over future interest rate policy is damaging confidence. Businesses cannot properly plan for recovery without clear knowledge that rate rises will be off the agenda for an extended period.” “Global risks of an economic setback appear to be worsening, so the welcome news ... »

Business Groups Welcome Office of Tax Simplification

A new tax body set up by the Government to unravel the “spaghetti bowl” of complex tax laws has been broadly welcomed by business groups. The Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) task force, made up of a board of senior tax experts, is expected to deliver two reviews before the Budget next year. The first will look at all 400 tax reliefs, allowances and exemptions to see how they can be streamlined, while the second will focus on ways to simplify the tax system for small businesses, including finding a simpler alternative to IR35 legislation. IR35 was brought in ten years ago to tax “disguised employment” among contractors and freelancers. According to the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), the establishment of the OTS was a “necessary and long overdue response... »

Eurozone Crisis puts UK Recovery at Risk

The UK economy will grow at a faster rate than expected this year, but the Europe-wide debt crisis may inhibit recovery in 2011, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has warned. There is even still a risk of a double-dip recession if the coalition Government does not take strong measures to reduce UK debt and create helpful conditions for businesses, BCC spokesman Sam Turvey said this week. The caution came as the BCC revised its March GDP growth forecast from 1% to 1.3% following better than expected performance in the UK’s manufacturing sector and an increase in exports. At the same time, however, the BCC reduced its growth prediction for 2011 from 2.1% to two%. The chief threat to UK trade is the debt crisis in the eurozone, which is liable to hamper the UK’s exports. Unde... »

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... »

SMEs Sign “no NIC rise” Petition

SMEs Sign “no NIC rise” Petition

Business groups have called on small firms to sign an online petition demanding that the Government scraps its planned National Insurance Contributions (NICs) rise in April 2011. As part of its efforts to shrink the large public spending deficit, the Government intends to raise NICs by 1 percentage point in April 2011. But the decision has angered business leaders who see it as a “tax on jobs”, which could jeopardise an upturn in the labour market by discouraging businesses from taking on new staff. The British Chambers of Commerce, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), the Confederation of British Industry and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) are among the organisations all opposed to the increase. “We urge the Government to work with busin... »

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