Confidence in UK economy has ‘returned to positive figures’, IoD finds

Confidence in UK economy has ‘returned to positive figures’, IoD finds

Business leaders’ confidence in the UK economy has ‘returned to positive figures’, and has risen to its highest level since Article 50 was triggered, a survey carried out by the Institute of Directors (IoD) has found.

The IoD’s poll of 700 company directors revealed that the balance of business leaders who stated that they are optimistic in regard to the UK economy has risen to 1%.

Directors’ confidence in their own businesses also rose, increasing to 47%, said the IoD.

However, the Institute warned that positivity is being ‘held back by labour shortages’, alongside the ‘burden of complying with government regulations’.

Commenting on the survey’s findings, Tej Parikh, Senior Economist at the IoD, said: ‘After nearly a year of economic pessimism winning out among business leaders, the scales have tipped gently into the positive.

‘It seems likely that meaningful progress in Brexit negotiations since December has brought some much-needed reassurance.

‘We urge the government to provide further detail on its proposals for the UK’s future trading and regulatory relationship with the EU, and to iron out its initiatives to narrow the skills gap and enhance business productivity through the Industrial Strategy.’

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Business groups call for ‘urgent reform’ of Apprenticeship Levy

Business groups call for ‘urgent reform’ of Apprenticeship Levy

Business groups, including the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and the Institute of Directors (IoD), have called for the government to reform its Apprenticeship Levy initiative as experts warn that the scheme could cost UK businesses ‘millions’.

The Apprenticeship Levy was introduced in April 2017, and is paid by employers with a pay bill of more than £3 million per year. The Levy is 0.5% of the pay bill, although there is an annual allowance of £15,000.

Data published by the Open University has revealed that £1.39 billion in funding has been paid into the scheme by UK businesses. However, firms have only been able to withdraw £108 million.

Funds must be used before April 2019 – after this time, they will start to expire.

Business groups are now calling for the government to introduce greater flexibility to the Levy.

‘Businesses all agree the Levy could be a vital part of the skills system, but its current form does not encourage more investment in high-quality training,’ said Neil Carberry, Managing Director of the CBI.

Meanwhile, the IoD stated that the Levy is ‘not working as intended’. Commenting on the matter, Seamus Nevin, Head of Employment and Skills Policy at the Institute, said: ‘We strongly advise that the Levy and co-funding system are reviewed in order to give employers the flexibility to develop the skills they need to be competitive, and to avoid any further drop in apprenticeship recruitment and training volumes.’

IoD publishes list of business predictions for 2018

IoD publishes list of business predictions for 2018

The Institute of Directors (IoD) has published a list of 14 business and economic predictions for 2018.

Image result for institute of directors publishes list of predictions for 2018In its publication, the IoD predicts that 2018 will be a year of ‘great change&squo; for UK companies. The business group’s predictions cover a range of key issues, such as taxation, Europe and trade, employment and the UK economy.

It speculates that the Treasury will attempt to tax self-employed individuals ‘more like employees’, and predicts that Chancellor Philip Hammond will launch a consultation on the matter in the 2018 Autumn Budget.

The IoD also predicts that, by March, the UK and the EU will have reached an agreement on transitional Brexit arrangements, and a written commitment will be made.

Meanwhile, the number of companies being formed will ‘continue to rise’ in 2018, the Institute speculates. Its latest survey on confidence amongst business start-ups revealed that UK entrepreneurs are entering into 2018 with a ‘positive attitude’ towards investment in their firm.

Commenting on the predictions, Edwin Morgan, Interim Director of Policy at the IoD, said: ‘2018 will be another big year for business. The ongoing Brexit negotiations will be playing on many business leaders’ minds, but it would be a mistake to think it’s the only show in town.

‘By the end of 2018, if decent progress is made in the Brexit talks, companies will hopefully be able to look forward to the coming years with greater clarity and positivity about where the UK is going.’

The IoD’s full list of predictions can be found here.

‘Immediate action’ required to stop business rates increases, BCC warns government

‘Immediate action’ required to stop business rates increases, BCC warns government

In its Autumn Budget submission, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has warned the Chancellor that ‘immediate action’ is required to ensure that UK businesses aren’t hit with further business rates increases.

Image result for british chambers of commerce brexitThe BCC has urged the government to abandon the annual uprating of business rates for the next two years. It also called for the government to exclude plant and machinery from business rates valuations.

Echoing the call made by the Institute of Directors (IoD), the BCC urged the government to temporarily increase the Annual Investment Allowance (AIA) from its current rate of £200,000 per annum to £1 million, in order to ‘incentivise business investment during the Brexit process’.

In addition, the business group called for the government to refrain from imposing ‘more input taxes or other significant costs’ on firms, and urged the Chancellor to commit to ensuring adequate mobile coverage across the UK by 2020.

Commenting on the wishlist, Dr Adam Marshall, Director General of the BCC, said: ‘At a critical moment for the UK economy, the Chancellor must be bold – and deliver a big Budget that prioritises economic confidence and investment.

‘The best possible Brexit deal won’t be worth the paper it’s written on if conditions for growth aren’t right here at home. The Chancellor has a unique chance to move the dial on growth and productivity now, leaving the UK in a position to succeed over the long-term.

‘Action to slash the upfront costs faced by business, to incentivise investment and to improve mobile coverage and infrastructure would lead to a real boost to productivity, wages and trade.’

The Chancellor will deliver the Autumn Budget on Wednesday 22 November. Make sure you keep an eye on our website for coverage of the key announcements.

Significant number of UK business leaders ‘in the dark’ about new GDPR

Significant number of UK business leaders ‘in the dark’ about new GDPR

A survey carried out by the Institute of Directors (IoD) has suggested that almost a third of UK business leaders have not heard of the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Image result for gdprThe GDPR comes into effect on 25 May 2018, and will strengthen the obligations on all businesses in regard to the safeguarding of individuals’ personal information. Firms must be accountable for their data usage, and must identify a lawful basis for processing personal data.

The IoD surveyed almost 900 businesses and found that four in ten company directors don’t know if their business will be affected by the new data protection rules.

It also discovered that half of directors have not discussed GDPR compliance arrangements with individuals with whom they share data.

Commenting on the findings, Jamie Kerr, Head of External Affairs at the IoD, said: ‘It was clear from the outset that this would be a mammoth task for small and large businesses alike, but the scale of the challenge has not necessarily translated into preparedness for the new regulation, despite the huge costs of non-compliance.

‘It is crucial everyone understands just how big this regulatory change will be for business leaders over the next few months.

‘We urge the regulator to step up its engagement with businesses to ensure that they are spreading the message far and wide.’

Businesses who fail to comply with the GDPR will face fines of up to €20 million, or up to 4% of total annual worldwide revenue, whichever is the greater.

Government establishes new Brexit business group

The government has created a new business advisory group, comprised of five major UK business groups.

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI), the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), the Institute of Directors (IoD) and manufacturers’ organisation the EEF make up the new business group, and their director generals will meet weekly with the Business Secretary, Greg Clark.

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During a recent parliamentary session, Mr Clark reported that he had met with businesses, business leaders, employees and investors around the UK since the Brexit vote. The new group will seek to ensure that business has more input into the Brexit negotiations.

Dr Adam Marshall, Director General of the BCC, hopes that the new business advisory group will also help to achieve a ‘business-friendly’ Brexit outcome that addresses firms’ ‘real-world needs’.

Commenting on the creation of the new business group, Mr Clark said: ‘The government is creating a new EU exit business advisory group to ensure business is not only heard, but is influential throughout the negotiations.’

Meanwhile, Stephen Martin, Director General of the IoD, stated: ‘A good Brexit outcome is one that puts the economy, jobs and prosperity right at the centre of the negotiations, so we wholeheartedly welcome the formation of this advisory group by the government.’

Business confidence has ‘fallen dramatically’ since General Election, IoD suggests

A snap poll carried out by the Institute of Directors (IoD) has found that, following the General Election and the subsequent Hung Parliament, business confidence in the UK economy has ‘fallen dramatically’.

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The poll of 700 IoD members revealed that businesses require ‘rapid agreement’ on transitional arrangements that arise from Brexit talks, alongside clarity as to whether EU nationals already residing in the UK will be permitted to remain in the country following Brexit.

Businesses also have ‘no desire’ for another election this year, the poll suggested.

The IoD has called for the government’s main priority to be striking a new trade deal with the EU.

It also warned that political uncertainty generated by the election could have ‘disastrous’ consequences for the UK economy.

Stephen Martin, Director General of the IoD, said: ‘The needs of business and the discussion of the economy were largely absent from the [General Election] campaign, but this crash in confidence shows how urgently that must change in the new government.’