The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has urged the government to secure an advantageous customs deal with the EU ahead of Brexit in 2019.
The BRC warned that agreements must be put into place in order to avoid goods being held up at borders. It suggested that delays or disruption could lead to rising prices, reduced availability on shelves and an increase in waste.
Investment in ports, roads and transport infrastructure should be prioritised to ‘get systems ready’ for the day when the UK leaves the EU in 2019, the BRC stated.
Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the BRC, commented: ‘A strong deal on customs is absolutely essential to deliver a fair Brexit for consumers.
‘Whilst the government has acknowledged the need to avoid a cliff edge after Brexit day, a customs union in itself won’t solve the problem of delays at ports.
‘So to ensure supply chains are not disrupted and goods continue to reach the shelves, agreements on security, transit, haulage, drivers, VAT and other checks will be required to get systems ready for March 2019.’
The government recently published a Brexit customs position paper, which set out two approaches: a ‘highly streamlined’ customs arrangement between the UK and the EU, and a new customs partnership with the EU.
A second paper outlined proposals to ensure that existing trade in goods and services can continue after the UK leaves the bloc.
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Articles include: ‘FSB urges Low Pay Commission to delay National Living Wage rise’ and ‘Business groups respond to Brexit customs papers’. Plus essential dates for September.
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A survey carried out by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has revealed that four in five businesses in the UK have been affected by rising costs generated as a result of changes to employment legislation.
In its Annual Workforce Survey, which garnered the opinions of more than 1,400 UK businesses, the BCC found that the Apprenticeship Levy, the National Living Wage (NLW) and pensions auto-enrolment have led to an ‘increase in the cost base of businesses’.
50% of respondents surveyed revealed that the NLW has helped to increase their employment costs, whilst 75% of firms reported a rise in costs as a result of compliance with pensions auto-enrolment.
Meanwhile, 20% of businesses have experienced rising costs as a direct result of the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy.
Rising costs could lead to reduced investment and wage growth opportunities, the BCC warned.
Commenting on the findings, Jane Gratton, Head of Business Environment and Skills at the BCC, said: ‘Businesses are under increasing pressure from the burden of employment costs, and this will influence the choices they make and outcomes for employees.
‘Higher employment costs impact on the bottom line and reduce the resources available to invest in the business and its people.
‘At a time when employers across the country are facing acute skills shortages, it is vital that they have the resources and flexibility to invest in their workforce and the future needs of the business.’
UK businesses have been urged by the Treasury to ‘remain vigilant’ when sending old £1 coins back to cash centres.
The warning came as cash management company Vaultex revealed that nearly half of the pound coins being sent back are the new style £1 coin, as opposed to the old round pound coin.
The government has stated that this confusion slows the sorting process down by removing new £1 coins from circulation and keeping old pound coins in tills and purses.
Commenting on the issue, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, Andrew Jones, said: ‘Businesses must remain vigilant when returning coins and ensure old and new coins are organised in separate packaging to make the sorting process quicker and easier.
‘We also want cashiers and shopkeepers working at till points, who are truly on the front line of the changeover, to play their part to ensure only new pound coins are given to shoppers in their change.’
On 15 October, the old £1 coin will cease to be legal tender. Individuals have been urged to spend, bank or donate their old coins ahead of this deadline.
After this date, retailers will not be obliged to accept old pound coins, and consumers will be required to take their old coins to a bank to exchange them.
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The government has outlined new arrangements for the protection and exchange of personal data between the UK and the EU once Britain has left the bloc in 2019.
A ‘unique approach’ to data protection and data sharing between the UK and the EU has been put forward by the government, which will help to ensure ongoing competitiveness, job creation and innovation.
The approach would reflect the ‘unprecedented alignment’ between British and European law, and will put into place ‘high data protection standards’ at the point when the UK leaves the EU.
A new UK-EU model for exchanging and protecting personal data has been put forward by the government, which will permit information to continue to be exchanged in a ‘safe and regulated way’, and continue to protect individuals’ privacy. The government stated that the model won’t impose ‘unnecessary additional costs to business’.
Commenting on the approach, Matt Hancock, Minister for Digital, said: ‘The UK is leading the way on modern data protection laws and we have worked closely with our EU partners to develop world leading data protection standards.’
However, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has warned that small firms require support to ensure that they are ready for new data protection rules. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is set to come into effect in May 2018, and will require businesses to safeguard the collection, storage and usage of their clients’ personal data.
Mike Cherry, National Chairman of the FSB, said: ‘We know that many small businesses have concerns about the incoming GDPR and many are simply unaware of the scope of the changes. There is a clear and present danger that companies could inadvertently face a fine if action is not taken to provide support and guidance to help them properly prepare for data protection changes.’
An analysis carried out by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has suggested that raising the higher income tax rate to 50% could create uncertain financial consequences for the Treasury.
The IFS analysed the effects of the Treasury’s ‘short-lived’ 50% tax rate for higher earners, which came into effect in April 2010 and ended in March 2013. The rate was then reduced to 45%.
A rise in the top tax rate could raise or cost the Treasury £1-2 billion per year in revenue, the think tank found.
It stated that the uncertainty could be caused by a number of factors, one of which is the so-called ‘forestalling factor’, which could see taxpayers bring forward income to avoid the tax rise.
Effects on revenue could also be influenced by the extent to which revenues generated by other taxes, such as VAT or capital gains tax, and future revenues could be affected by such a change in taxpayer behaviour.
Commenting on the ‘forestalling factor’, the IFS stated: ‘It seems clear from the data that many . . . individuals took advantage of this opportunity, artificially increasing their incomes in the year prior to the tax rate being increased, leading to a big reduction below their normal levels the following year.’