Wednesday 17th September

Business calls for Scottish ‘no’ vote

The Confederation of British Industry, a body representing hundreds of the UK’s biggest companies, says a Union including Scotland is the best way to grow the economy and boost jobs....

The Confederation of British Industry, a body representing hundreds of the UK’s biggest companies, says a union including Scotland is the best way to grow the economy and boost jobs.

The network of 190,000 businesses made the direct appeal to Scottish voters, saying the constituent nations of the UK were stronger as a result of the “partnership” between them.

A joint statement from the CBI regional leaders read: “We want Scotland to stay in the United Kingdom and hope you vote to do so. We believe that the prosperity of all people in the UK would be best served by Scotland remaining part of it.”

It adds to a wealth of voices, particularly south of the border, calling for a No vote in the ballot which takes place on Thursday. Today, 14 senior military figures from the army, navy and air force said Scottish independence would leave it and the rest of the UK more vulnerable.

Meanwhile, three new polls show a slight lead for the No campaign, but analysts said the final result was too close to call with just one day of heavy campaigning from both sides left to run.

The online gambling business Betfair disagreed; it has already paid out on 'no' bets made by gamblers.

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Tuesday 16th September

Ministers urged to secure UK’s digital future

UK technology industry lobby group techUK says the government must work to secure the country’s burgeoning digital economy for future generations....

UK technology industry lobby group techUK says the government must work to secure the country’s burgeoning digital economy for future generations.

Publishing a manifesto for growth and jobs in the sector between 2015 and 2020, the group pointed to research suggesting 65 per cent voters think it is the government’s job to plan for the future in this area.

The manifesto demands the adoption technology-led innovation to deliver high quality public services and increase productivity. It said ministers should work with industry to secure the estimated one million UK digital jobs.

It further calls for the creation of powerful leadership roles in government and the EU and a “comprehensive package” of support for science, innovation and talent.

Julian David, CEO of techUK said: “Tech and digital have a fundamental role to play in almost everything the next government will need to do, as we continue to rebuild our economy for the 21st century.

“That's why today techUK is launching its manifesto as a roadmap to 2020. The key message for politicians is that voters and industry alike want the Government to secure our digital future.”

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UK workers fear fashion police

Large numbers of British workers dress smartly for fear of being judged negatively by colleagues, new research reveals....

Large numbers of British workers dress smartly for fear of being judged negatively by colleagues, new research reveals.

A survey of workers by the Business is GREAT campaign shows that most people link the way they look with professional performance. Ripped jeans, branded t-shirts and short skirts were reportedly the worst garments to be seen in at work.

In a regional breakdown, people in Wales were most likely to judge fellow employees by the way they dress, with 50 per cent admitting to it. Least likely were people in the East Midlands, with just 38 per cent saying the same.

When asked about the best dressed business leaders, Amstrad’s Lord Sugar came out on top, with Richard Branson and Kelly Hoppen receiving honourable mentions. Three-fifths said a suit was the most appropriate work wear.

Geoff Quinn, managing director of shirtmaker TM Lewin, said: “The results of this research show we want our work clothes to demonstrate our work ethic. A third of those surveyed said they ‘dressed to impress’, choosing their business wardrobe to reflect their professional and hardworking nature.”

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Monday 15th September

Brits working from bed, survey finds

More than half of people in the UK who take business calls outside their place of work have done so from their beds, new research into phone habits reveals....

More than half of people in the UK who take business calls outside working hours have done so from their beds, new research into phone habits reveals.

Research out today shows that 54 per cent have taken a call from between the sheets, while 41 per cent talk business on holiday and 40 per cent take calls while down the pub.

In more bizarre findings from the study of 1,372 people, nearly a quarter have taken a work call on the toilet, while, incredibly, three per cent have admitted to doing so while on a rollercoaster.

Gareth Jeffery at alldayPA said: “We know that technology means we can be connected to work 24/7 but none of us expect employees to start taking calls on roller coasters!

“Employees are embracing technology to get on top of their jobs but, looking at the results, there has to be a concern over the quality of work being completed over the phone when so many people are taking calls in the middle of social activities.”

Men were more likely to take work calls in non-work environments than women, according to the survey, which found that 40 per cent take calls in bed compared with only 27 per cent of women.

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Small business confidence hits ‘record high’

Optimism among UK small businesses has reached its highest ever point, with all industry sectors feeling bullish mood about the short-term future....

Optimism among UK small businesses has reached its highest ever point, with all industry sectors feeling in bullish mood about the short-term future.

That’s according to the Small Business Index published today by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), which hit an all-time high of +41 points.

More than three fifths of business expect to grow in the next 12 months, while one-in-10 think they are about to grow “rapidly”. It is the seventh consecutive quarter that confidence has improved in the FSB score.

On a regional basis, the North East of England recorded the biggest improvement with a sentiment score of +44 compared with -7 this time last year. The South East remains most confident, however, with a score of +52.

FSB boss John Allan said: "We're seeing record breaking confidence from our members which suggests small firms will continue to spearhead the UK's recovery.

“We want policy makers to lock in this optimism and continue to back the self-employed and small businesses.

“As we head in to party conference season, we'll be looking to all the political parties to spell out what they will do to encourage job creation, investment and reward entrepreneurs in the next Parliament."

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Friday 5th September

Discrimination ‘soup’ within Generation Y

Generation Y employees are both victims and perpetrators of discrimination in the workplace, says a leading firm of employment lawyers....

Generation Y employees are both victims and perpetrators of discrimination in the workplace, says a leading firm of employment lawyers.

People in their twenties and early-thirties are most likely to be victims of sexual discrimination, but they are also most likely to discriminate on the basis of age and against those who work flexibly, research by employment law specialist Doyle Clayton shows.

Tina Wisener, a partner at the firm, said: "It is surprising that Generation Y has the most negative attitude towards flexible working and are most likely to see older colleagues and those who work from home or part-time as less committed to their jobs.”

Doyle Clayton says the results of its research were particularly worrying because Generation Y forms the largest part of the workforce and many are in charge of appraising, monitoring and recruiting employees.

“Generation Y are in supervisory and junior management roles, and are frequently involved in recruitment and appraisals,” said Ms Wisener. “People in their 50s and 60s applying for a job have a lower chance of a fair hearing when interviewed or appraised by Generation Y”

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ALS bucket challenge sees ice cube sales soar

Sales of ice cubes have rocketed during the UK summer, not just because of soaring temperatures, but due to the popularity of the ALS Ice Bucket challenge which continues to sweep the nation....

Sales of ice cubes have rocketed during the UK summer, not just because of soaring temperatures, but due to the popularity of the ALS Ice Bucket challenge which continues to sweep the nation.

According to global market intelligence firm IRI, sales were up 69 per cent last week compared to the same seven-day period in 2013.

“We started to see ice cube sales rise in the last week of August despite the fact that the weather has been much cooler, so it was clear that something else was affecting the figures,” said Tim Eales, director of strategic insight at IRI.

“While other frozen products like desserts and ice cream have fallen in the last month, ice cube sales have gone up and up, with people spending over £1 million per week on them on average over the past four weeks and £1.6 million in the final week of August.”

The UK ice cube industry is worth around £35 million annually, but with millions taking to social media to publicise the stunt – which involves pouring a bucket of cold water over their head – sales are likely to outstrip previous years.

The ALS challenge was created to spread awareness of Motor Neurone Disease, but other charities have also benefitted as the craze spread.

There have been around 2.5 million ‘ice bucket’ videos uploaded to Facebook since it began.

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Thursday 4th September

UK economic growth to slow, says CBI

The shine is about to come off the UK’s bold economic recovery, according to business group the CBI, but the economy remains “on solid ground”....

The shine is about to come off the UK’s bold economic recovery, according to business group the CBI, but the economy remains “on solid ground”.

Growth hit 0.8 per cent in each of the first and second quarters of 2014, a major rebound from sluggish performances in previous years and much faster than the European average, but the CBI says the speed of the recovery will ease as business and confidence begins to level off.

"The UK's recovery is on solid ground, with our quarterly growth on average outstripping G7 competitors over the last year," said John Cridland, CBI director general.

"For the rest of this year, we expect growth to get on to a more even keel and the recovery to become further entrenched next year."

The CBI expects growth of 0.7 per cent in the third quarter and 0.6 per cent in the fourth, giving an reading of 2.9 per cent over the calendar year. It says growth will hit three per cent next year and 2.7 per cent in 2016.

In related news, revisions to official statistics released by the government revealed that the economy grew by a slightly faster rate in each year between 1997-to-2012.

The 0.1 per cent annual upward revision came as figures included the impact of illegal drugs, prostitution and charities were included in the results for the first time.

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Enterprise Partnerships ‘should justify £17bn budgets’

Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) must place small businesses at the heart of their strategy for boosting UK growth, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has said....

Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) must place small businesses at the heart of their strategy for boosting UK growth, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has said.

The partnerships have a budget of £17 billion of public money to spend up to 2021 and the FSB says this needs to “be accounted for”.

The organisation says LEPs are “the right vehicle” to deliver economic growth in the regions, but they should have more contact with businesses at the local level and more transparency overall.

Since the economic recovery began, small firms have led the surge in UK employment. Between 2010 and 2013, 84 per cent of new jobs were in SMEs, according to government figures.

But FSB research shows that large corporates have the biggest perceived influence on LEPs, with 39 per cent of local authorities agreeing that large firms make the biggest impact on LEPs’ activity.

To help small businesses get more involved, three-quarters of them said LEPs should provide clear procurement advice, yet only a quarter of the organisations are planning to do so.

John Allan, national chairman of the FSB, said: “Because the sums of money involved will increase substantially, it is vital that LEPs are more accountable and transparent so local authorities, businesses and the public can be confident they will deliver for the local economy and are using taxpayer funds effectively."

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Wednesday 3rd September

Small business owners ‘lack retirement plan’

To many entrepreneurs and small business owners lack a plan for their retirement, according to a leading HR figure....

To many entrepreneurs and small business owners lack a plan for their retirement, according to a leading HR figure.

Tony Leahy, who is head of HR for Bank of Cyprus UK, says retirement planning is not “top of the list” for small business owners as the economy continues to recover from recession.

Research by the bank found that 28 per cent of entrepreneurs don’t know how they will fund retirement while only 34 per cent said they regularly paid into a pension.

“Naturally a priority for small business owners has been the recovery of their business in recent years,” said Mr Leahy.

“For this reason, we should not necessarily be surprised that our research data shows that just over a quarter of small business owners admit to having no retirement plan in place.”

The research also showed that just under on-in-10 business owners panned to use their business premises to contribute retirement income.

Mr Leahy said they should take advantage of Small Business Advice Week (this week) to learn more about the options on offer.

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