Government urged to ‘pick up the pace’ in regard to Apprenticeship Levy reform

Government urged to ‘pick up the pace’ in regard to Apprenticeship Levy reform

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has urged the government to ‘pick up the pace’ in regard to its reform of the Apprenticeship Levy initiative.

Introduced in April 2017, the Apprenticeship Levy has changed the way in which apprenticeships are funded: larger employers are required to invest a percentage of their annual pay bill in apprenticeships. The Levy is 0.5% of the pay bill, but there is an annual allowance of £15,000. It is reported and paid using the Pay as You Earn (PAYE) process.

Image result for Apprenticeship Levy

The CBI’s statement comes following the recent publication of the latest Apprenticeship Levy statistics, which have revealed that, between August 2017 and April 2018, there were 290,500 apprenticeship starts – a fall of 34% when compared to 2016/17’s figure of 440,300.

The government is committed to achieving its target of creating three million apprenticeships in England by 2020.

Commenting on the statistics, John Cope, Head of Education and Skills at the CBI, said: ‘This stark drop in apprenticeship starts serves as a reminder that the Apprenticeship Levy is not working as intended. If we don’t significantly reform the Levy quickly, companies will find it harder to invest in the quality apprenticeships and skills training they value so highly.’

Meanwhile, the Institute of Directors (IoD) also warned that, if take-up of the Levy continues to be low, it ‘does not look possible for the government to meet its target’. The IoD added that ‘it’s now time for the government to rethink its approach and work with businesses’ in order to successfully reform the Levy.

Advertisements
Business groups respond to publication of Brexit White Paper

Business groups respond to publication of Brexit White Paper

Business groups, including the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and the Institute of Directors (IoD) have responded to the government’s recent publication of its Brexit White Paper.

The 104-page document is divided into four chapters, which focus on security, economic partnership, co-operation and institutional arrangements.

Image result for Brexit White Paper

A commitment to build a ‘new relationship that works for both the UK and the EU’ has been outlined by the government within the White Paper, alongside proposals for future trade arrangements.

Responding to the publication of the Paper, the CBI stated that many of the government’s intentions in regard to Brexit are ‘reassuring’. Carolyn Fairbairn, Director General of the CBI, said: ‘The Brexit White Paper reflects much of the evidence that business has been highlighting since the Referendum.

‘Businesses on both sides have been asking for frictionless trade between the UK and the EU, and shared rules could go a long way towards delivering that. It is now the EU’s turn to put economics before ideology on these proposals.’

Meanwhile, Stephen Martin, Director General of the IoD, said that EU negotiators ‘now have specific details to build upon’, and urged them to ‘respond constructively’.

The BCC, however, gave a decidedly lukewarm response. Dr Adam Marshall, its Director General, commented: ‘Businesses still need clear and detailed answers on many of the practical, real-world questions they face. Many of these answers can only emerge through negotiations – so it’s time for the two sides to crack on and get to a deal.’

Business groups call for ‘urgent progress’ in Brexit negotiations

Business groups call for ‘urgent progress’ in Brexit negotiations

As the EU Withdrawal Bill becomes law, business groups and unions from the UK and the EU have called for ‘increased pace and urgency’ in Brexit negotiations.

Image result for Business groups Brexit negotiations

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and the Trades Union Congress (TUC) have joined forces with EU organisations to call on the UK government and the EU to ‘inject pace and urgency in the negotiations, bringing about measurable progress, in particular a backstop arrangement to avoid a hard border in Ireland’.

‘Decisions will be needed in June and October to finalise the withdrawal agreement and the transitional arrangement, and put economic interests and people’s jobs, rights and livelihoods first.’

The Bill finally received Royal Assent after a number of previous defeats in the House of Lords.

Brexit Secretary David Davis described the passing of the EU Withdrawal Act as a ‘landmark moment’.

Government to require businesses to justify executives’ salaries

Government to require businesses to justify executives’ salaries

New plans outlined by the government could require large businesses to justify executives’ salaries.

Under the plans, firms with more than 250 employees will need to disclose and explain pay ratios annually.

Large businesses will be required to justify executives’ pay and explain the gap between their chief executive’s salary and that of an average worker. Directors will also have to demonstrate that they are acting in the best interests of all their employees and shareholders.

Commenting on the plans, Business Secretary Greg Clark said: ‘Most of the UK’s largest companies get their business practices right, but we understand the anger of workers and shareholders when bosses’ pay is out of step with company performance.

‘Requiring large companies to publish their pay gaps will build on that reputation by improving transparency and boosting accountability at the highest levels, while helping build a fairer economy that works for everyone.’

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) welcomed the proposals. It stated that high pay ‘is only ever justified by outstanding performance’, and that the plans will help to deliver a ‘better dialogue between boards and employees’ in regard to the goals and aspirations of their business.

CBI warns of cost rises if UK strays from EU regulations

CBI warns of cost rises if UK strays from EU regulations

In a new report, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has warned the government that costs could rise for businesses if the UK were to diverge from EU regulations.

The report states that Brexit ‘presents opportunities for rule changes’ in specific sectors, which could ultimately benefit the UK economy.

However, the CBI also warned that the government should only diverge from EU rules if it can be proven that the benefits of doing so will outweigh the costs.

It said that, for certain industries, existing EU rules are ‘fundamental’ to the trade and transport of goods, and as such, remaining aligned with the EU would be ‘essential’.

Commenting on the issue, Carolyn Fairbairn, Director General of the CBI, said: ‘It’s vitally important that negotiators understand the complexity of rules and the effects that even the smallest of changes can have.

‘Deviation from rules in one sector will have a knock-on effect on businesses in others, and divergence from rules in one part of a production process will have consequences for market access throughout entire supply chains.’

Business groups respond to government’s Brexit transition period agreement

Business groups respond to government’s Brexit transition period agreement

Business groups, including the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and the Institute of Directors (IoD) have responded to the news that the government has agreed terms for the UK’s Brexit transitional period.

The government outlined that the transitional period will last from 29 March 2019, the day when the UK will officially leave the EU, until 31 December 2020. During this transition period, the UK will be permitted to sign its own trade deals, the government said.

Many business groups welcomed the news. Dr Adam Marshall, Director General of the BCC, said: ‘This is a milestone that many businesses across the UK have been waiting for. The agreement of a status quo transition period is great news for trading firms on both sides of the Channel, as it means that they will face little or no change in day-to-day business in the short-term.’

The CBI hailed the agreement as a ‘victory for common sense’. Carolyn Fairbairn, its Director General, commented: ‘Agreeing transition is a critical milestone that will provide many hundreds of businesses with the confidence to put their contingency planning on hold and keep investing in the UK.’

Whilst the IoD welcomed the news, it also warned the government that it needs to focus on the ‘finer details and practical implications’ associated with the transition. Allie Renison, Head of Europe and Trade Policy at the IoD, stated: ‘Many businesses will only be able to sufficiently plan and prepare for Brexit once the precise details of the future relationship are known, and any changes to domestic infrastructure, like customs, have been implemented.’

2018 Spring Statement – the business reaction

2018 Spring Statement – the business reaction

Business groups have responded to Chancellor Philip Hammond’s Spring Statement speech.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) gave a broadly positive response, and welcomed the Chancellor’s commitment to tackling the issue of late payments to small firms. Mike Cherry, FSB National Chairman, stated: ‘The Chancellor is absolutely right to commit the government to eliminate the scourge of late payments, which place cruel financial pressure on more than eight out of ten small businesses.

‘The Chancellor explicitly put himself on the side of the UK’s millions of small businesses and self-employed.’

The response from the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), however, was decidedly lukewarm. Commenting on the speech, Dr Adam Marshall, Director General of the BCC, said: ‘As deficit and debt levels improve, the Chancellor must resist calls to pour money into politically-attractive, short-term spending priorities.

‘A far stronger push is needed to fund and fix the fundamentals here in the UK over the coming months, and business wants the Chancellor to use his Autumn Budget to double down and spend to improve digital connectivity, deliver further road and rail improvements, strengthen the UK’s energy security and build more houses.’

Meanwhile, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) praised the Chancellor for backing British businesses to ‘secure the UK’s future prosperity in a new economy’.

Rain Newton-Smith, Chief Economist at the CBI, said: ‘It’s great to see an upgrade in the state of our public finances, and rightly sensible to set more aside for a rainy day with Brexit uncertainty still weighing on the economy.

‘The CBI has long called for just one Budget in a year, creating more room for the government and business to get to work. But the Spring Statement is still important, and this one has proved more than welcome in setting the tone and vision for the country’s economic future.’