Friday 24th October

UK breweries export 1.1 billion pints of beer

Surging demand for UK-brewed beer means the UK now exports more than 1 billion pints to 113 countries around the world....

Surging demand for UK-brewed beer means the UK now exports more than 1 billion pints to 113 countries around the world.

Government figures reveal UK breweries exporting 1.1 billion pints of beer last year, generating about £630 million for the UK economy.

The rapid increase in exports has been driven by the rise in micro-breweries in the UK. Since 2010 the number of these small businesses has nearly doubled to 1,403.

The announcement chimed with environment secretary Liz Truss’ visit to Ilkley Brewery, which reopened five years ago and now produces 50,000 pints a week, many of which head abroad.

Ms Truss said “There’s no doubt we’re world leading when it comes to our food and drink – Ilkley Brewery is a shining example – selling Yorkshire brewed beer to the bars of Tennessee and Georgia.

“We want to see British businesses build on this success. That’s why we’re supporting them, opening on average almost three new markets every week since 2010 and demonstrating to international companies how attractive it is to invest in the UK.”

UK breweries are selling pale ale to China, Bahrain and Mexico, while bars, hotels and restaurants in the US purchased a record £147 million of beer last year. Belgium, famed for its beer, bought £93 million-worth.

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UK economy continues healthy growth, though storm clouds on horizon

The UK economy grew 0.7% between July and September following on from 0.9% growth during the second quarter of the year....

The UK economy grew 0.7% between July and September following on from 0.9% growth during the second quarter of the year, acording to the latest official estimates.

Although slower than the previous three-month period, growth in the third quarter was in-line with expectations. Total GDP was 3% up on this time last year.

Rebecca McNeil, head of SME enterprise at Barclays, said the figures chimed with Barclays in-house research into small business incomes, which are now well above the pre-recession peak.

small business income
“Small businesses in the real estate sector have seen the highest rate of growth, helped by the strength of the wider property sector, encompassing not only house prices but also building, repairs, management, letting and many other factors,” she said.

“Despite our data showing that London-based small business customers saw the highest increase in income, growing 8.3% between Q3 2013 and Q3 2014, growth is evident across the whole country, including North West and South West in particular.

Today’s GDP figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) provide further evidence of the UK’s economic strength, despite gathering clouds in the Eurozone and further afield in China.

But chancellor George Osborne, along with a number of analysts, says these events will impact on the UK’s economy in future months.

In a sign that the economy could be weakening, retail figures published yesterday showed shop sales falling 0.3% in September compared with August.

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A third of small business don’t know how much money they’re owed

More than a third of UK small businesses don’t know how much money they are owed in unpaid invoices, according to new research by Bibby Financial Services....

More than a third of UK small businesses don’t know how much money they are owed in unpaid invoices, according to new research by Bibby Financial Services.

The study quizzed 1,000 small and medium businesses about money owed to them during the third quarter of 2014.

Some 36% of SMEs questions could not put a figure on their owings. Of the businesses that could quote a number, 31% said it was more than £20,000 and 14% said it was more the £50,000.

Meanwhile, six percent said they were owed more than £100,000.

Bibby said the study findings reflected “barriers to growth” for thousands of businesses. It added that the issue was especially dire in the hospitality industry, with more than two-thirds of businesses in the dark about amounts owed.

David Postings, CEO of Bibby, said: “This represents a significant amount of money owed to UK SMEs and the value of these outstanding invoices could be reinvested into businesses in the form of recruitment or technology.

He added: “Small and medium sized businesses are the backbone of the UK economy so this represents a significant threat to long-term economic growth.”

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Thursday 23rd October

Shop sales slide in September

Government data gatherers say retail sales fell 0.3% in September, adding to signs that the UK economy could be about to weaken....

Government data gatherers say retail sales fell 0.3% in September, adding to signs that the UK economy could be about to weaken.

The figure was worse than analysts’ expectations and was the steepest fall since January. Economists blamed the extended warm weather that convinced many to delay winter clothes purchases, but sales fell in other retail sub-sectors too.

Clothing and footwear sales plummeted 7.8% in September on the previous month, while shop prices slipped 1.4% year-on-year as retailers offered discounts to encourage purchases.

In the last few weeks growing concern over the strength of the German economy (the UK’s biggest trading partner in Europe) and China as well as other EU states has caused confidence to falter in the UK.

Wobbling house prices and stagnating real wages have also impacted on consumer sentiment, while George Osborne, the UK chancellor, has said the UK will not avoid fallout from the slowing Eurozone.

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Wednesday 22nd October

Tax deadline approaching fast for business owners

Many small businesses are unprepared for next week’s deadline for self-assessment tax returns, which impacts on business owners filing on paper as opposed to electronically....

Many small businesses are unprepared for next week’s deadline for self-assessment tax returns, which impacts on business owners filing on paper as opposed to electronically.

Research by First Data Merchant Solutions shows that many small retailers don’t give enough thought to backroom processes, such as filing taxes, when they start-up.

More than four in 10 retailers said they struggled with day-to-day functions of running a business, such as tracking finances and filing information to HMRC.

Businesses are expected to file their self-assessment tax returns in paper form by Friday 31 October, although those filing electronically can wait until 31 January 2015, when tax payments are also due.

“A major issue is that many small businesses continue to rely on pen and paper or simple spreadsheets to record their accounts,” Raj Sond, general manager of First Data Merchant Solutions.

“If small businesses are to truly relieve the pressure of tax forms, they should go beyond simply filling a virtual form. By real-time tracking transactions and accounts data and even automating the process, small business owners could remove the inevitable tax deadline day dread.”

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Women more likely to become ‘stuck’ in low-pay jobs

Women working low-paid jobs are nearly 50% more likely to become “stuck” than men, according to the latest research by HR group the CIPD....

Women working low-paid jobs are nearly 50% more likely to become “stuck” than men, according to the latest research by HR group the CIPD.

The CIPD says women were 47% more likely than men to stay in the low-pay bracket for 10 years. It defines low-pay as up to 20% above the minimum wage.

It also suggests the proportion of people in this group is rising. In the late 1990s, 15% of employees took home smaller wages compared with 24% in 2011, it said.

The majority of people in low-paid jobs are women, although the ratio has improved from 70% at the start of the research period to 64% today.

Peter Cheese, chief executive of the CIPD says: “Over most of the last six years we have seen a significant fall in real wages, with evidence showing that the UK has a high proportion of workers employed in low wage roles compared with our international competitors.”

Mr Cheese said ministers should focus on growing the number of higher-skilled jobs across the economy. He also said businesses should aim to improve their skills base and career advice should be improved to give candidates better options.

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Rakuten launches UK merchant marketplace

Japanese internet giant Rakuten has launched a new marketplace to rival eBay, Amazon and Etsy in the UK....

Japanese internet giant Rakuten has launched a new marketplace to rival eBay, Amazon and Etsy in the UK.

Rakuten.co.uk will provide a new sales channel for the UK’s online retailers across a broad range of product categories while consumers will also be able to access Rakuten’s digital businesses including on-demand TV, movies and books.

“With the launch of Rakuten.co.uk we are making it easier for shoppers to discover what they want and empowering merchants to provide it,” said Kenji Hirose, CEO of Rakuten Europe.

“Over the next 12 months we will pioneer a new era of borderless retail and entertainment by integrating our e-commerce offering with our global ecosystem of Internet services, to make shopping more fun.”

To publicise the launch Rakuten has created a competition to create a “Rakuten millionaire”. Every customer making a purchase in November will be entered into a competition to win one million Rakuten Super Points, equivalent to £10,000, to spend on the site.

Mike Bishop, managing director of Rakuten.co.uk, said: “The launch of Rakuten.co.uk will empower retailers to truly take advantage of the internet and everything that is has to offer, to drive sales and reach new shoppers.

“With access to our merchant services team and e-commerce consultants, who can advise on how to adapt to the changing shopping habits of consumers and provide training, merchants can grow their businesses and build a recognisable brand.”

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Tuesday 21st October

More than a third of CVs ‘inaccurate’

More than a third of CVs submitted by applicants for jobs in the professional services sector have inaccuracies, a CV screening business says....

More than a third of CVs submitted by applicants for jobs in the professional services sector have inaccuracies, a CV screening business says.

Research by First Advantage looked at applications by candidates going for jobs in Europe, the Middles East and Africa between January 2011 and June 2014.

It found discrepancies between stated achievements and real achievements in 37.9% of CVs submitted to professional services businesses, higher than any other sector and well above the 27.2% average.

Checks on technology company candidates turned up wrongful information in 37.1% of cases. The same was found in 37% of legal sector applications, 35.7% in staffing and recruitment and 23% in financial services.

Traci Canning, managing director of First Advantage in EMEA, said: “The high proportion of checks uncovering discrepancies in the professional services sector is obviously concerning.

“Based on our findings, there appears to be a link between prevalence of screening and lower discrepancy rates, as illustrated by the comparatively low discrepancy rates in the financial services sector where screening is routine.”

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UK borrowing rises again in September

The government borrowed £11.8 billion in September, £1.6 billion more than the same month last year, despite continued efforts by ministers to reduce the UK’s deficit....

The government borrowed £11.8 billion in September, £1.6 billion more than the same month last year, despite continued efforts by ministers to reduce the UK’s deficit.

It is a further blow to chancellor George Osborne, who had pledged to reduce the deficit in the 12 months from March 2014. Between April and September borrowing was £5.4 billion more than last year – a 10.3% increase.

The figures were published today by the Office for National Statistics, the government's official number-cruncher.

Samuel Tombs, senior economist at Capital Economics, said continued borrowing could prevent Mr Osborne from producing tax breaks ahead of the upcoming general election.

"The continued run of poor UK public borrowing figures looks set to severely hamper the chancellor's ability to announce giveaways to address his party's deficit in the national opinion polls before next year's general election.

"The chancellor will be forced to acknowledge in December's Autumn Statement that the fiscal consolidation is not going to plan, limiting his scope to announce pre-election sweeteners," he said.

The main reason for weak public sector finances is stubbornly slow growth in income tax receipts. These went up just 0.1% in the 12 months to September.

At the weekend, thousands of public sector workers marched to demand a “national pay rise”.

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KPMG extends offer to small businesses

Accountancy group KPMG says it will invest £40 million to attract more privately owned small and medium businesses....

Accountancy group KPMG says it has invested £40 million as part of a drive to attract more privately owned small and medium businesses.

The business today announced the launch of KPMG Enterprise, which targets the 5 million SMEs operating across the UK.

It includes a new small business accounting service, combining technology with KPMG’s significant experience and expertise in the sector.

Fees start at £150 per month and includes accounts preparation, bookkeeping, payroll, VAT and corporate tax returns.

Simon Collins, UK chairman of KPMG, said: “We want to be the clear choice for all privately-owned businesses – from formation through every stage of their development and growth.

“By using new technology in combination with our deep experience, we can give hundreds of thousands of small businesses access to KPMG know-how at affordable rates, revolutionising the market for accounting across the UK.”

The service was launched alongside research suggesting 70% of SMEs think the government could do more to support entrepreneurs, with reductions to red tape and business rates, as well as more tax incentives top of the list of wants.

Iain Moffatt, head of Enterprise for KPMG, said: “Innovations in technology are enabling more and more people to realise their dreams of starting their own business but the daily reality of regulation, red tape and form filling can turn that dream into a bit of a nightmare.”

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