British Chambers of Commerce

Free Office Space

Start-ups offered 3 months free office space

Start–up firms can apply for up to three months’ free office space by signing up to office provider Regus’ Get Started scheme. The Regus Get Started programme offers businesses a variety of workspace options depending whether they need meeting rooms, internet access or office space. It is open to any new business or entrepreneur struggling to afford set–up costs. Under the programme, Regus is offering office space with a total rental value of £10 million for free. Regus chief executive officer Mark Dixon said “Through our campaign we want to encourage people to fulfil their entrepreneurial dream by making it easy for them to set up a new venture giving them and the economy a much–needed boost,” Start–ups have three options through the G... »

Holiday Annual Leave

Long-term sick entitled to Holiday Pay

Employees on long–term sick leave are entitled to take the holiday pay they have accrued when they return to work, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled. In a decision that clarifies the law after years of uncertainty, the ECJ ruling states that employees must be compensated for annual leave not taken, and will be entitled to four weeks’ holiday pay for each year they are absent from work. Additionally, employees who have been sacked or have left an employer could be entitled to pay equal to any time they could not take as leave while off sick, on top of any redundancy or termination payment. The ruling comes as a result of a case brought by a group of HM Revenue & Customs employees who were denied holiday pay after returning from sick leave. According to employment... »

Economy In Decline

Economy declining at Unprecedented Rate

The UK economy declined at a record rate in the last three months of 2008 as domestic sales in the manufacturing and service sectors plummeted, according to the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC). The BCC’s economic survey of the fourth quarter of last year also revealed that employment levels and business investment fell to their lowest since the survey began in 1989. According to BCC director general David Frost, the pace of the decline has defied expectation. “These are truly awful results with the scale and speed of the economic decline happening at an unprecedented rate” “Despite the weak value of the pound, the export sector has not picked up as hoped. It’s a global recession and there isn’t the demand from customers for the goods we produce.&rdquo... »

Recession Arrow

Recession to be worse than 90s slump

The current recession is expected to be worse than the economic slump of the 1990s, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has warned. The BCC’s quarterly economic survey has predicted that UK GDP is expected to decline by 2.9% between the third quarter of 2008 and the third quarter of 2009. This would be greater than the 2.5% drop between 1992 and 1993. The survey also forecast that the UK economy would contract by 2.2% in 2009 — worse than the 1.6% negative growth it predicted last November. BCC director general David Frost said: “Some of the strain can be avoided, but only if the Government can address the two key problems of confidence and cashflow. We must avoid losing viable companies during this downturn.” “It will be business that drives the UK out of ... »

Health And Safety

HSE calls on firms to consult support services

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has launched a review of its support for small firms and is inviting small businesses to take part in its consultation process. Through a series of regional workshops to be held in January, the HSE will be looking at how it can work better with small firms to help them comply with health and safety regulation. Results will not be unveiled until the second quarter of next year, but the HSE said it would be championing a ‘common–sense’ approach to health and safety at work. In addition to customising support for small firms, the HSE also wants to improve the competence of those responsible for health and safety in workplaces. The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said that small firms would undoubtedly welcome an increased focus on the... »

European Union

Small Business Act approved by EU

The Council of Ministers, the EU’s most important decision–making body, has approved the Small Business Act (SBA) for Europe, which includes a three–stage action plan to help small firms through the economic downturn. The three priorities highlighted were to give all SMEs in the EU better access to finance, reduce their administrative burden and help them to benefit from European and international market opportunities. Though not legally binding on EU member states, the action plan includes a mixture of legislative proposals, such as giving those that trade in more than one member state new status as a European Private Company, as well as non–legislative commitments. The latter including providing small firms with better access to loans and introducing an ‘SME... »

Recession

BCC confirms Recession Fears

The UK economy is already in recession and economic conditions are likely to get worse, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has warned. The BCC’s quarterly economic survey revealed that the economy was under immense pressure in the third quarter of this year, with many key national balances in negative territory, and a collapse in confidence across all business sectors. BCC economic adviser David Kern said: “The alarming third quarter results point to worsening dangers of major economic downturn and rising unemployment. The results support the view that a UK recession has started and the downturn is getting worse.” While most business groups welcomed the Bank of England’s decision to cut interest rates from 5% to 4.5 percentage points, the BCC said that further a... »

Employers Unaware of Penalties for Hiring Illegal Migrants

More than a month after the Government introduced additional penalties for employing illegal migrants, businesses are still not aware of the risks of breaking the law, employment law firm Croner has warned. Under measures introduced in June, employers who hire illegal migrants without making sufficient checks on their employment status risk being ‘named and shamed’ on the UK Border Agency’s website. Businesses that negligently hire illegal migrants also face fines of up to £10,000 per illegal worker under the Government’s new immigration regulations, which came into force at the end of February. Employers who knowingly hire illegal workers can face an unlimited fine and a two–year prison sentence. “Many employers are still unaware of February&rsquo... »

Business Groups Divided over Interest Rate Cut

Small–business groups are divided about whether the Bank of England should cut interest rates – while some argue that a cut is needed to boost growth, others claim it is not possible because of rising inflation. The dispute follows the publication of a new survey by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), which predicts that the rate of inflation is likely to exceed three per cent for the rest of 2008, peaking at 3.8 per cent in the third quarter. The CBI also forecasted that the UK economy would grow at the slowest rate for 17 years in 2009. “The high level of inflation in the short-term prevents the Bank of England from reducing rates for much of this year,” said CBI director general Richard Lambert. “But once the peak in inflation has passed, we believ... »

Chamber Awards - British Chambers of Commerce

Last Chance to Win £50,000 for Your Business

The British Chambers of Commerce urge businesses to enter the Chamber Awards 2008 The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) is encouraging UK businesses not to miss the chance to win £50,000 (courtesy of the RBS Group) by entering the Chamber Awards 2008. The closing date for entries is the 27th June 2008 so there are only a few weeks left to make submissions.  The top prize will be awarded to the company that the judges agree should win the overall Award for Outstanding Business Achievement and will be announced along with the national winners at the Gala Dinner and Award Ceremony on 27th November 2008 at the Natural History Museum in London. Last year this prize was won by Tyrrells Potato Chips Ltd. They used the money to fund research into the growing of their own organic oil se... »

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