Changing the VAT rate – Top Tips for Business

The standard rate of VAT is reduced from 17.5% to 15% with effect from Monday 1st December 2008. What you have to do to change the rate depends on what type of business you are and what type of VAT scheme you are in. Frank Haskew, Head of the ICAEW Tax Faculty, gives the following advice: If you are a retail business that does not issue till receipts that identify VAT separately, you can continue to use these as before. It is up to you whether you reduce your VAT inclusive prices to reflect the lower VAT rate. The Government encourages businesses to pass on the benefit of a lower VAT rate to customers by lowering prices, but you do not have to do so. If you issue receipts that identify VAT, you will have to change your systems (which might include changes to your tills and accounting syste... »


Small firms benefit from Bank Bail-out

Small businesses will have better access to finance from Lloyds TSB, HBOS and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), following the Government’s £37 billion bank bail–out. The Government investment comes with the condition that the three banks maintain the availability of competitively–priced lending to homeowners and to small businesses. The agreement also includes NatWest, which is owned by RBS. The terms of the bank capitalisation also require Lloyds TSB, HBOS and RBS to restore small business lending to 2007 levels. The Chancellor, Alistair Darling said: “There will need to be a strong focus at these recapitalised banks on making lending available for small business and homebuyers. These conditions are set out in the individual agreements with the banks.” The ... »

New Google Browser for Business?

Is Google’s new browser a business tool? Yesterday saw the launch of Chrome, the new open source browser from search giants Google. Chrome launches into an arena dominated by Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and, to a lesser degree, Mozilla’s Firefox. Until now browsers have been built to mainly handle text and images but as the web has evolved and more & more business users demand video, email, chat & collaboration, the web browser has had to evolve too. Chrome is a "ground-up" designed browser, streamlined and simple as Google are renowned for, and it has been built with these new web applications in mind. Launched as a beta app for Windows users only for the meantime, Chrome will most certainly be explored by innovative and technical businesses intrigued... »

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... »

Start-ups undeterred by economic problems

The National Federation of Enterprise Agencies (NFEA) has stressed that new start-up figures prove entrepreneurs are undeterred by the state of the economy. According to the Barclays quarterly survey, there were 98,000 new start-up businesses in England and Wales in the first quarter of 2008, compared with 86,400 in the fourth quarter of 2007. The most popular industries for start-ups were business and financial services, construction and retail. “It’s encouraging to see the numbers of new businesses holding up in these worrying times, which is a tribute to the determination and persistence of the current generation of entrepreneurs,” said NFEA chief executive George Derbyshire. “No-one with a sound idea, a solid business plan and the right skills need be deterred b... »

learndirect Business – Release the Potential of your Workforce

Businesses often rely on recruiting new staff to fill skills gaps within their organisation, but have you thought about the skills that are potentially hidden within your existing workforce? Asking the right questions of your staff can uncover a wealth of talent that you can nurture and develop, that ultimately your business can benefit from. 60 per cent of employees revealed they have untapped potential their employers should be utilising Employers are being urged by learndirect Business to seek out the “hidden skills” within their organisations, and utilise employees’ talents to benefit their business. This call to action comes as six out of ten (60 per cent) employees polled in the learndirect Business Hidden Skills Survey¹ revealed they have untapped potential th... »

Is The Credit Crunch Bad News for Every Business?

Firms forecast rough times for others but not for themselves According to the doom-mongers it’s simple: We are in the midst of a credit crisis, heading for a recession with job losses and repossessions on the horizon. However a major survey of business confidence shows the real picture is far more complex. The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) releases its first Quarterly Economic Survey today which conveys the opinions of 200 finance directors across the country in manufacturing, retail and financial services as well as the public sector. The majority are buoyant about their own business fortunes. Half the companies report that sales have grown in the past quarter and 62 per cent of firms are forecasting sales growth in the next 4 months. But despite this almost h... »

The UK's business tax burden is like a ball and chain

Tax is ‘Ball and Chain’ to Business

A report by the Confederation of British Industry has suggested that our current tax system is a burden to Business. Ahead of Wednesday’s 2008 Budget, the CBI’s independent Tax Task Force, a group comprising of a dozen leading tax experts from some of the UK’s largest companies and smaller businesses, has released a report, the culmination of nine months work collating data to provide a vision for the UK’s tax system. The report "UK business tax: a compelling case for change" suggests that the ever-increasing tax burden on Britain’s small firms has reached a "tipping point" and the current tax system is unsustainable, especially in light of the globalisation of business in recent years. Rather than simply condemning the current system the r... »

Water at Work Week

September 17-21 sees “Water at Work Week” to remind businesses that excessive water usage can hit their bottom line. The campaign urges UK small business to review their water usage and to play their part in making an estimated annual national saving of £507 million by taking some simple steps to ensure efficiency. Envirowise make the following recommendations for businesses to get involved: Ensure board-level go-ahead. Collect all company water data – bills, meter readings & flow rates Check your business premises for water leaks Check the source and discharge routes for all your business’s water processes Make a plan to target areas of high and unnecessary water usage. To assist in these simple steps to cut business costs, improve profits and lessen envi... »

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