This websites uses cookies, by continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. View our privacy policy.

Business Groups Look Ahead To 2013

02 January 2013 •

New Year messages from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) have warned of the challenges facing UK businesses in 2013.

The FSB's national chairman, John Walker, said that the group's members were heading into 2013 with more confidence than in 2011 or 2012 and that many small businesses would be looking to grow and invest in the next 12 months. He said that access to bank finance had continued to be an issue in 2012 and he hoped that the Funding for Lending and Business Bank initiatives would help with this.

Mr. Walker said: "The signs seem to be positive, but it's going to be a long road ahead with some economists warning of a triple-dip recession, and others cautious optimism. There is little doubt small firms are best placed to help the recovery as long as they have the confidence and ability to invest and grow."

The New Year message from the CBI focused on the UK's role in Europe and its trade relationships with the US. The CBI's director-general, John Cridland, said that it was vital for the UK to be able to use the EU as a launch-pad for increased exports and global trade.

Mr. Cridland said: "We can't beat around the bush - we pack a bigger punch in securing trade deals inside the EU than outside. The US wants the big prize - access to a market of 500 million customers across the EU, not just 60 million on our own shores. So the best way of getting the right deal for the UK is on an EU-wide basis."

"It's essential we stay at the table to bang the drum for businesses and defend our national interest, particularly protecting our world-class financial services industry to maintain our competitiveness internationally."

Elsewhere, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) also reminded the Government that plans for the Business Bank would need a kick-start in the New Year. John Longworth, director general of the BCC, said: "We recognise that the road to a British Business Bank is a difficult one to travel. Yet business is clear that the new institution must develop into a major source of both patient growth capital and risk capital."

Mr. Longworth said that, in order for the bank to have a truly radical and transformative impact, it would need much larger amounts of capital in the long-term. He said: "We have one opportunity to radically change Britain's business finance system, and we must get it right."

Ban On Commission-Based Selling For Financial Advisers

28 December 2012 •

Financial advisers are no longer allowed to receive commission on the sales of financial products under new rules in force today.

Under the Retail Distribution Review (RDR), financial advisers will instead have to charge upfront fees on the sale of products such as pensions, loans and saving accounts.

The move by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) is designed to create a more transparent and fair charging system and to help prevent the risk of mis-selling, it said.

Establishing what the FSA calls a 'resilient, effective and attractive retail investment market that consumers can have confidence in', the RDR aims to protect consumers across the retail investment market and will:

  1. Replace commission-based selling with a transparent charging system - advisers will have to explicitly disclose fees before advice is given
  2. Categorise advisers into those which offer 'restricted' or 'independent' advice - restricted advisers can only offer advice on certain products and/or certain product providers while independent advisers can offer guidance on all types of investment areas from all products across all firms in the market
  3. Require all advisers to obtain additional higher-level qualifications.

Speaking to the press, the FSA's head of savings and investments Linda Woodall said: "The changes will improve customer confidence - we want people to feel that they are getting a service from their financial adviser that is relevant to their circumstances and in their best interests."

"These changes are about making the cost of advice clearer, where else would you buy something without knowing in advance how much it costs?"

"Customers will now know how much advice is costing them, the service that they are receiving and be reassured that their adviser is qualified."

Autumn statement lacks bank funding details say business groups

06 December 2012 •

Business groups have welcomed measures contained in the Autumn Statement to support UK firms but want clearer details and timescales on the creation of a state backed Business Bank.

The Government revealed yesterday that it will co-invest £300 million alongside private investors over the next two years into a Business Bank, but said any further details would be set out late in December 2012.

Reactions to the announcement came after the Bank of England revealed that the Funding for Lending Scheme - another Government initiative designed to boost lending to small businesses - had been poorly taken up by banks and building societies.

While the Federation of Small Businesses welcomed the measures on capital allowances in the statement and the cancellation of the 3p rise in fuel duty originally planned for January, it was one of many business groups to urge the Government to act swiftly to ensure funding reaches growing companies and drives economic growth.

Elsewhere, the Forum of Private Business's chief executive Phil Orford described the statement as good news for small businesses in cutting day to day costs.

"The increase in the Annual Investment Allowance to £250,000 is welcome but a tacit admission that the decision to cut the same allowance to £25,000 this year was a wrong one.

"Nevertheless, we welcome this increase and urge businesses to take advantage of it. There are big savings to be had here for firms who've been waiting for the right time to invest and upgrade equipment, and this kind of spending tends to wash right down the supply chain."

With regards to personal finance, the Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) said the Statement was a 'mixed bag' for pensioners.

The CIOT noted that whilst a small band of pensioners were set to gain from the increase in the basic state pension to £110.15 from April 2013, the phasing out of the age-related personal allowance was likely to hit those at the lower end of the income scale.

Robin Williamson, technical director of the Low Incomes Tax Reform Group, explained: "Although nobody will lose in cash terms, those approaching 65 now may have to revise their expectations and prepare to pay more tax than they might have anticipated. And more pensioners could be drawn into self-assessment as a higher proportion of those reaching 65 become, or remain, taxpayers than in previous years."

Universal Credit To Hit Small Businesses And Start-ups, MPs Warn

22 November 2012 •

Small businesses, the self-employed and start-up companies could all struggle with major upcoming changes to the welfare and benefit system and the way PAYE data is reported, a report by MPs has warned.

Under the new Real Time Information (RTI) system, most employers will need to report their employees' PAYE payments - such as tax and NICs - on or before each pay day, as opposed to at the end of each tax year. RTI will be crucial to the Government's new Universal Credit programme, which will calculate welfare claims and tax credits according to real time earnings.

According to the report published by the Work and Pensions Select Committee, the additional administration involved in RTI and Universal Credit could impose a 'significant and unnecessary burden on the self-employed', while ready access to the internet may cause problems for others.

The Committee also argue that the proposed minimum income rules for the Universal Credit could act as a disincentive to entrepreneurship.

Although a pilot of the Universal Credit system will begin in the north west of England in April 2013, MPs are calling for the 'ambitious' full national roll-out due in October 2013 to be delayed.

Commenting on the report, Anthony Thomas, chairman of the Low Incomes Tax Reform Group (LITRG) said there was a serious 'lack of realism about the extent of digital exclusion among the business community.'

"There are also far-reaching consequences for claimants and small businesses alike of erroneous data creeping into the systems, which could seriously impact their operation in practice."

According to the LITRG, the requirement of RTI to report employee earnings on or before the date of payment was unrealistic for many small businesses, particularly where employees are paid on an ad-hoc basis.

"Self-employed claimants will face substantially greater burdens to starting and growing their own business than now, which is worrying," he added.

"Those requiring some support from the welfare system to get a self-employment business going will need to prepare accounts for the DWP each month on a completely different basis from those it has to prepare for HMRC once a year. This will impose extra bureaucratic burdens and material additional time and financial cost, which are likely to deter claimants from starting up and building their own businesses. This is not the right way to go about encouraging new business start-ups."

Fuel duty and unfair petrol prices hitting economy, say motoring groups

16 November 2012 •

'Unfair' fuel taxes and wholesale petrol prices are hitting drivers and causing lasting damage to the UK economy, business and motoring groups have warned.

The report by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) argues that 'destructive' fuel duty prices puts 'companies at a competitive disadvantage and acts as a disincentive to work.'

In separate report, the AA added to growing discontent towards petrol retailers, revealing that falling wholesale fuel prices have not been reflected by prices at the pump.

The concerns follow a week of Parliamentary debates into the planned 3p fuel duty increase in January. Although any official announcements will be made in next month's Autumn Statement, the Government hinted at a possible delay in the tax saying it was 'determined' to help struggling households.

Calling for the rise in fuel duty to be cancelled, the IEA's head of transport Richard Wellings said: "Fuel duty in the UK has risen to exorbitant levels. Motorists are being unfairly treated by the Treasury. It's time politicians realised that when they tax so heavily they damage the economy. This is especially true when it comes to a tax like this which puts British businesses at a competitive disadvantage."

"Cancelling the planned rise in fuel duty should be a priority in the autumn statement. But this is not enough. Delivering on economic growth means reducing transport taxes over the longer term and bringing in more private sector investment," he added.

Echoing the IEA, the Forum of Private Business (FPB) said that fuel duty should be frozen for the foreseeable future.

"A 3p rise in January would be nothing short of economic vandalism in the current climate, and conceivably be the worst possible start to the New Year for cash strapped small businesses," it said.

Meanwhile, the AA's president Edmund King called for transparency within the wholesale petrol market.

"Recent political focus has been on the 3.02p-a-litre fuel duty increase, scheduled for 1 January, either ignoring or unaware that duty's ugly sister, unrestrained wholesale prices, has been running rampant in the fuel market."

European wholesale petrol prices fell from around 54p a litre at the start of October to 45p at the end of the same month. The AA estimates that this should have reflected a 10p decrease in consumer prices, however, prices at the pump moved down less than 4p a litre.

SMEs face rising business costs

26 October 2012 •

The majority of small businesses in the UK (95 per cent) have seen a rise in business costs over the past year, according to research from the Forum of Private Business (FPB).

According to its latest quarterly referendum survey, transport costs were the most commonly cited increase (88 per cent), followed by energy costs (85 per cent), marketing costs (82 per cent) and the cost of raw materials and stock (73 per cent).

Despite this month's fall in inflation to lowest level in nearly three years, the FPB said that many businesses were 'still facing an uphill battle to make ends meet.'

A rise in VAT and energy prices, combined with the weakness of sterling for importers, was blamed for the overall increase.

The Forum's senior policy adviser Alex Jackman warned that respite from energy price hikes in the near future was unlikely, with oil prices, utility bills and fuel prices all predicted to rise.

"It could be that we are shaping up for another winter of discontent, particularly if the mercury plunges this winter and firms are hit with huge heating bills and a fall in trade like we saw three years ago," he said.

"Many firms are already battling the economic elements, but if the weather turns it could spell the end for those already walking a cost tightrope."

Although CPI inflation has now dropped to 2.2 per cent, research suggests that small business inflation sits at 6.7 per cent, rising fastest for micro businesses and SMEs than the rest of the UK society. The figure has however improved slightly from the 8.3 per cent reported by the Forum last year.

Worryingly, one in three businesses also admitted they were absorbing rising costs or cutting their own costs in order keep customer prices static.

Businesses said that late payment from customers and competition from other businesses offering products below cost price were exacerbating the tight conditions.

The FPB is now calling for the Government to consider freezing business rate rises due in April next year.

Displaying results 109-114 (of 116)
 |<  <  11 - 12 - 13 - 14 - 15 - 16 - 17 - 18 - 19 - 20  >  >| 

“For the past 20 years Warrener Stewart has consistently given good advice... going above and beyond their remit.”
Theo Brehony - London Preparatory School Limited