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.”

More on this story
Close article

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.

More on this story
Close article

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.”

More on this story
Close article
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.”

More on this story
Close article

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”.

More on this story
Close article

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.”

More on this story
Close article
Monday 20th October

Smallest business urged to meet pension deadline

Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees are being urged to prepare for auto-enrolment under government regulations....

Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees are being urged to prepare for auto-enrolment under government regulations.

Financial adviser Lighthouse Group says businesses with 30-to-49 employees are being phased in between August and October 2015, while those with fewer than 30 will begin staging as early as June 2015.

The Pension Regulator estimates that one-in-five small businesses and as many as half of micro-businesses are unaware of their staging dates.

To find out your staging dates the Pensions Regulator has created an online tool which you can access by clicking the link at the bottom of the page.

Malcom Streatfield, CEO of Lighthouse Group, said: “Although a staging deadline of next year may seem like plenty of time to prepare, the fact is that pensions enrolment takes a great deal of work. Employers must ensure all personnel data is correct and that their payroll system is capable, as well as choosing their pensions provider.

“All of this is a huge drain on resources for smaller employers, so it is little wonder then that so many are seeking help from advisers. However, those who have yet to take action will find themselves at the back of a long queue and, even with external help, time is running out quickly.”

More on this story
Close article

Better UK supply chains could create 500,000 jobs

The CBI says improving UK supply chains could boost the economy by £30 billion and create half a million jobs....

The CBI says improving UK supply chains could boost the economy by £30 billion and create half a million jobs.

In a new report the business group points to underinvestment in research and development and a growing skills crisis, which it says are weakening foundation industries key to supplying advanced manufacturing.

These include suppliers of plastics, metals and chemicals to cutting edge manufacturers.

The CBI has called on the government to help increase total spending on R&D to 3% of UK gross domestic product and to extend R&D tax credits to support the commercialisation of innovative products.

It also wants the UK’s innovation agency Innovate UK to double its spending during the next parliament and for more financial incentives for science, technology engineering and mathematics.

CBI deputy director Katja Hall said: “The scale of the challenge is sizeable - our competitors are powering ahead, with France outstripping our R&D investment by 40%. At the same time, only 3% of our graduates end up in engineering or technology jobs.

“We need policies which focus on creating long-term value - from increasing R&D spending to establishing a UK-wide materials strategy - to enable industry to play to its strengths and compete effectively on the world stage.”

More on this story
Close article
Friday 17th October

No interest rate hike ‘until autumn 2015’

The Bank of England’s chief economist has hinted that an increase in benchmark interest rates will be delayed due to weakness in the Eurozone economy and the Far East....

The Bank of England’s chief economist has hinted that an increase in benchmark interest rates will be delayed due to weakness in the Eurozone economy and the Far East.

Analysts said it could mean rates will stay anchored to their historical low of 0.5% until the second half of 2015. Until recently speculation was for a rise before the end of this year.

It is potentially good news for businesses borrowing to invest but bad news for savers. Flat-lining growth in the EU couple with weaker Chinese output will also concern exporters and businesses relying on foreign investment.

In a speech on Friday morning BoE economics chief Andrew Haldane said the UK was experiencing a two-speed recovery with business confidence and investment up but real wages falling.

"I am gloomier," he said during the speech. "This implies interest rates could remain lower for longer, certainly than I had expected three months ago."

Mr Haldane is one of nine members of the BoE’s Monetary Policy Committee, charged with setting UK interest rates every month.

Interest rates have been frozen at 0.5% since March 2009.

More on this story
Close article
Thursday 16th October

Business leaders confident about UK prospects

See-sawing economic fortunes across Europe have caused business confidence to drop in Germany but strengthen in the UK over the last three months....

See-sawing economic fortunes across Europe have caused business confidence to drop in Germany but strengthen in the UK over the last three months.

Grant Thorton’s International Business Report shows that growth prospects are improving in Spain, Ireland and Greece, but are slipping in Germany and France.

The trend poses questions about how the Eurozone will cope with varying fortunes of its members, it said.

On its scale, net confidence across the Eurozone dropped from 35% to just 5% in three months, while in Germany – the biggest economy in Europe – optimism dropped from 79% to 36% during the period.

In the UK on the same scale confidence hit 81%, down just 1% from its all-time high recorded in the first three months of 2014.

The UK is in second place on the index, behind India with a reading of 95%.

Scott Barnes, CEO of Grant Thornton UK, warned that it wasn’t all good news for British businesses: “The UK's economy is still heavily dependent on trade with eurozone countries, so despite a stronger domestic outlook, contraction across the trading block could adversely impact the UK's prospects.

“Avoiding this dependence on the eurozone requires more support, such as building on the efforts of UKTI to help our mid-sized business (MSB) community open new trade opportunities further afield – particularly in faster growing developing economies where 'brand Britain' carries a premium.”

More on this story
Close article
Load more