The government has published the first batch in a series of ‘no deal’ Brexit technical notices, which aim to help businesses and individuals prepare in case the government fails to reach a deal with the EU.
The first 25 notices cover a range of areas, including medical supplies, financial services, nuclear safeguards, farming and workplace rights. Announcing the publication, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab was keen to stress that reaching a Brexit deal ‘remains the overriding priority’.
Prominent business groups have responded to the publication of the guidance.
The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) criticised the government for making businesses ‘wait too long’ for answers to ‘basic’ Brexit questions. Its Director General, Dr Adam Marshall, said: ‘No deal’ preparations should have happened far earlier, and the onus is on the government to move quickly and give businesses as much detailed, technical information as possible to avoid significant disruption in any scenario.’
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) stated that it is ‘pragmatically right’ to prepare contingency plans in case a ‘no deal’ Brexit scenario becomes a reality. Mike Cherry, National Chairman of the FSB, commented: ‘We have long highlighted the need for preparations for a ‘no deal’ to be stepped up, to give time and real, practical advice to small businesses in order to make leaving without a deal more orderly.’
Meanwhile, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) welcomed the publication of the notices. Josh Hardie, Deputy Director General of the CBI, said: ‘It’s right and responsible that the government has supplied information to businesses on issues from financial services passporting to food labelling, all of which will help lower the risks of the harshest outcomes from a ‘no deal’ Brexit.
28% of businesses are unsure about their compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), according to a survey carried out by Infosecurity Europe.
The GDPR came into effect on 25 May 2018, and organisations were required to be fully compliant with the new regulation by this time.
Under the GDPR, all organisations that deal with individuals living in an EU member state must protect the personal information belonging to those individuals, and must have verified proof of such protection.
The GDPR places significant emphasis on transparency and accountability, and requires businesses of all sizes to be responsible for safeguarding the collection, storage and usage of personal data.
A handful of survey respondents revealed that they were not confident that they would pass a GDPR audit.
Businesses were also asked if they could identify where personal data is stored on their systems. More than half stated that they would require an additional three months to organise their systems in order to successfully identify where personal data is kept.
Commenting on the findings, Terry Ray, Chief Technology Officer at cyber security firm Imperva, said: ‘The deadline has now come and gone, and yet the study shows that many organisations aren’t sure they have achieved GDPR compliance.
‘Any company that put GDPR off until the last minute now realises compliance cannot be achieved overnight.’
Research carried out by banking group Close Brothers has suggested that 47% of UK small businesses have started to plan for a range of possible Brexit outcomes.
Ahead of the publication of the first of some 84 government advisory notices on Brexit and its potential outcomes, a survey of 900 businesses carried out by Close Brothers revealed that 40% of firms currently export to the EU.
57% of manufacturing firms surveyed export to the EU, and Close Brothers has suggested that it is these businesses that will be the ‘most exposed’ to supply chain disruption.
Reorganising supply chains will ‘not necessarily be a negative’ for one in five businesses, the survey found. 31% of manufacturers polled believe that reorganising their supply chain will be beneficial.
Commenting on the issue, Neil Davies, CEO of Close Brothers, said: ‘It clearly demonstrates that in the absence of certainty, businesses have taken it upon themselves to assess the impact leaving the EU will have on the supply chain, which, for many businesses exposed to Europe, is critical.
‘Every sector we polled had some level of export dealings with Europe, which demonstrates clearly just how entwined we are with the continent, and how important it’s going to be to ensure the movement of goods isn’t disrupted, both in the short and long-term.’
In response to a recent call for evidence, the Treasury has outlined proposals to use the UK tax system to reduce plastic waste from single-use items, such as straws, cutlery, coffee cups and takeaway packaging.
The call for evidence had a high response rate, with 162,000 individuals, businesses and campaign groups expressing their opinions on the matter. The majority of respondents called for the government to introduce a tax, charge or ban to help reduce the amount of single-use plastic waste.
Chancellor Philip Hammond reiterated the government’s commitment to reducing the amount of plastic waste the UK produces, and intends to analyse the views collected in order to ‘help inform and shape the government’s approach’ to the issue ahead of this year’s Budget.
The Treasury is analysing ways to utilise the tax system to encourage recycling as opposed to incineration, and plans to introduce taxes on plastic items that are regularly littered. Taxes may also be introduced to encourage manufacturers to design and create plastic packaging that is easier to recycle.
Robert Jenrick, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, said: ‘Tackling the scandal of plastic pollution is one of our top priorities and we know the public is right behind us. I’ve been overwhelmed by the public support, and the responses we’ve received will be invaluable as we develop our plans for using the tax system to combat this.’
Data published by Action Fraud has revealed that UK consumers lost £2 million to cryptocurrency scams during June and July.
According to Action Fraud, criminals are using social media platforms in order to advertise ‘get rich quick’ investment schemes and trading in cryptocurrencies.
Criminals convince their victims to register with cryptocurrency websites and supply their personal information, such as credit card details, in order to open a trading account. The victim is then asked to make an initial minimum deposit, with the criminal subsequently calling the individual to persuade them to invest again to ‘achieve a greater profit’.
In many instances victims realised they had been defrauded only after the cryptocurrency website was deactivated.
203 reports of cryptocurrency fraud were filed with Action Fraud between 1 June 2018 and 31 July 2018, with the amount lost to this form of fraud totalling £2,059,501.29.
‘It’s vital for anyone who invests or is thinking of investing in cryptocurrencies to thoroughly research the company they are choosing to invest with,’ said Pauline Smith, Director of Action Fraud.
‘The statistics show that opportunistic fraudsters are taking advantage of this market, offering investments in cryptocurrencies and using every trick in the book to defraud unsuspecting victims.’
Individuals who believe they have been affected by cryptocurrency fraud are urged to contact Action Fraud.
Following a joint investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), banks will now be required to publish their customers’ satisfaction scores on their websites, apps and in their branches.
The new requirement aims to improve competition in the banking sector, and provide consumers with better information in regard to the services that banks offer.
Under the new rules, banks will also be required to publish details of available services and helplines, alongsCn on the ‘number of major operational and security incidents they have experienced’, and provide updates on this matter on their websites.
The CMA believes that by having this information to hand, consumers and small businesses will be able to gain better knowledge of the services provided by their bank, and whether their chosen bank fulfils their requirements.
UK banks and building societies with more than 150,000 personal current accounts (PCAs) or 20,000 business current accounts (BCAs) will be required to publish information on the quality of their services every six months. Banking institutions in Northern Ireland with more than 20,000 PCAs or 15,000 BCAs will also be subject to the new regulations.
Commenting on the matter, Adam Land, Senior Director at the CMA, said: ‘For the first time, people will now be able to easily compare banks on the quality of the service they provide, and so judge if they’re getting the most for their money or could do better elsewhere.’
A survey carried out by Wesleyan Bank has suggested that UK small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are confident about their future growth prospects.
The Bank polled 500 SMEs, and found that 54% are now more confident in regard to their business prospects than when compared to a year ago.
65% of SMEs reported that they are confident that they will experience growth of up to 40% over the next two years.
The survey also revealed that 11% of small firms have Brexit-related concerns, with many stating that they are worried about how Brexit will affect their business.
However, a further 50% of survey respondents said that their business strategy will not be ‘dictated by Brexit’ – a significant rise when compared to last year’s figure of 28%.
Commenting on the research, Paul Slapa, Head of Direct Sales at Wesleyan Bank, said: ‘The UK’s economic outlook is often clouded by negativity, but this research highlights that SMEs are performing strongly and have built solid foundations to prosper, both pre and post-Brexit.
‘Unless there is a material impact on their business today, there is no reason why SMEs should put on hold their investment plans to sustain and maximise growth.’