Research finds UK SMEs ‘optimistic about their role in global economy’

Research finds UK SMEs ‘optimistic about their role in global economy’

A survey carried out by American Express and Oxford Economics has suggested that UK small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are feeling optimistic in regard to their role within the global economy.

The survey aimed to identify the key challenges businesses face in 2018, and outline the strategies and opportunities they will make use of over the coming year.

57% of businesses surveyed stated that they feel optimistic about the global economy and their role in it.

UK SMEs intend to go ‘back to basics’ this year, and will prioritise meeting their customers’ demands in order to drive growth. The research revealed that 45% of firms believe that this is crucial to revenue growth.

The survey also found that 41% of UK firms will use the advantages associated with being an SME to help accelerate growth in 2018.

Commenting on the matter, Jose Carvalho, Senior Vice President at American Express Global Commercial Payments, said: ‘Our research shows that the UK’s smaller enterprises are primed for success in 2018 by focusing on their special advantages, staying close to their customers and improving efficiency.

‘As an integral part of the economy, and the frontline of British business, SME optimism should instill confidence in other UK businesses and stakeholders.’

Advertisements
Small businesses affected by rising fuel costs, business group reveals

Small businesses affected by rising fuel costs, business group reveals

Following the news that both petrol and diesel prices have increased considerably, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has revealed that many small firms are being affected by rising operating costs as a result.

Image result for Small businesses affected by rising fuel costsAccording to figures published by the government, December saw prices for petrol and diesel rise to their highest levels since 2014.

Petrol prices rose to 121.11p at the end of last year, whilst diesel prices reached 123.46p.

The increases can be partly attributed to a rise in the cost of oil. Commenting on the issue, Simon Williams, Fuel Spokesman for the RAC, said: ‘December was the month oil reached its highest point for over two and a half years – something which motorists are now feeling the effect of at the pumps.’

The FSB found that the proportion of its members reporting a rise in operating costs is at its highest in five years. Nearly a third of these members stated that fuel costs are a main contributor to the rise in operating expenditure.

Mike Cherry, National Chairman of the FSB, said: ‘Affordable travel on roads is absolutely vital to the success of small businesses and local economies. That’s why it’s critical that the fuel duty freeze set out in the Autumn Budget is continued in the future.

‘Over the coming year, we look forward to the government doing its utmost to help small firms battle the rapid rise in operating costs. Where vehicles are concerned, that also means taking a hard look at the ever-increasing Insurance Premium Tax (IPT).’

Government launches Small Business Commissioner service

Government launches Small Business Commissioner service

The government has launched its new complaint handling service, which will be managed by the new Small Business Commissioner, Paul Uppal.

The service will seek to resolve complaints from small businesses in regard to unfair payment practices and late payments.

Firms can also visit the Small Business Commissioner’s new website, which will provide guidance to businesses on payment issues, including advice on which course of action to take if a payment is overdue.

It will also supply guidance on how to check if the correct information has been provided to the correct person in order for an invoice to be paid, and chase when a payment is overdue. The Small Business Commissioner’s website can be accessed here.

Commenting on the launch of the new service, the Small Business Commissioner, Paul Uppal, stated: ‘My mission is to help all small businesses nurture positive and lasting relationships with their customers that work in the best interests of both.’

Meanwhile, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) welcomed the launch. Mike Cherry, its National Chairman, said: ‘The Small Business Commissioner is crucial to turning the tide on [the] late payments culture. FSB will be encouraging small businesses affected to use the service, and we hope then to see clear actions taken to tackle the worst examples of supply chain bullying.

‘Success will be a UK economic culture where a business that does a job promptly is paid promptly.’

SMEs hindered by lack of available funding, research suggests

Research published by banking group Close Brothers has suggested that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are struggling to access the funding required to grow their business.

The bank found that only 41% of UK firms are able to access finance from their preferred source, with a further 23% stating that while they are able to access the funding they require, it is often not supplied by their preferred provider.

5% of those surveyed said that they wouldn’t know where to access capital that they require, and an additional 33% use an overdraft to help finance the expansion of their business, the research found.

In addition, Close Brothers revealed that the British Business Bank supplied over £3.1 billion in finance to UK SMEs last year.

Commenting on the findings, Adrian Sainsbury, Banking Division Manager at Close Brothers, said: ‘Low productivity hinders economic growth and improving productivity is vital, particularly as the UK prepares to leave the EU.

‘SMEs need access to the right finance and support to invest in training staff or adopting new technologies, so increasing awareness of financial options is crucial.’

Survey suggests two in five SMEs ‘unprepared’ for new GDPR

Survey suggests two in five SMEs ‘unprepared’ for new GDPR

A survey carried out by the Data Compliance Doctors has suggested that two in five UK small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) – around 2.1 million businesses – are unprepared for the upcoming introduction of the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Image result for SME new GDPRThe new GDPR is set to come into effect on 25 May 2018, and will strengthen the obligations on all businesses in regard to the safeguarding of individuals’ personal information. Businesses have been advised to review their data privacy and security practices ahead of the implementation of the GDPR.

The survey found that, of the 61% of UK firms that have started to prepare, over 600 hours have been spent getting businesses ready for the new data protection requirements.

It also revealed that a further 27% of firms have employed new staff members to help prepare for the introduction of the GDPR.

Lisa Chittenden, Data Compliance Doctor at the Data Compliance Doctors, commented: ‘Our survey has revealed a mixed bag in terms of GDPR preparation amongst SMEs.

‘Some have spent a lot of time and money to ensure they are in a good position come May 25, 2018. However, our figures show there are many thousands that have not even started, despite all the discussion and media stories in recent months. But, with six months to go, it’s not too late to get yourself up to speed.’

Chancellor suggests ‘staircase tax’ could be abolished

Chancellor suggests ‘staircase tax’ could be abolished

Chancellor Philip Hammond has suggested that the so-called ‘staircase tax’ could be abolished by the end of this year.

Image result for tax abolishmentDuring a Treasury Select Committee hearing, the Chancellor admitted that the tax has been putting additional stress on businesses. He told the Committee that he is ‘certainly looking at’ the legislative steps that can be taken to abolish the tax.

Termed the ‘staircase tax’, businesses with offices on multiple floors of a commercial property have been receiving separate business rates bills for each floor they occupy, provided the areas separating the offices are communal. Some firms in England and Wales have seen their business rates rise as a result.

Business rates are calculated separately in Scotland using the rateable value, which is set by a local assessor, and the ‘poundage rate’, which is set by the Scottish government.

In a recent letter to Melissa Tatton, Chief Executive of the Valuation Office Agency (VOA), Nicky Morgan, Chair of the Treasury Select Committee, labelled the sending of backdated staircase tax bills to firms as ‘unfair’.

In response, Ms Tatton revealed that, of the 11,000 rates that had to be reviewed, 5,500 firms saw their rateable value rise as a result of the staircase tax, 4,100 experienced an increase of less than 10%, and 1,400 saw a rise of more than 10%.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) had previously called for the staircase tax to be axed. The business group welcomed the Chancellor’s remarks: Mike Cherry, National Chairman of the FSB, said: ‘The staircase tax has heaped misery on thousands of small businesses that happen to occupy split workspaces.

‘The Chancellor’s words will come as welcome relief to the desperate firms who had absolutely no idea that bill hikes were coming down the line.’

Small Business Commissioner appointed by government

Small Business Commissioner appointed by government

The government has appointed the first Small Business Commissioner, who will seek to ‘empower small businesses in the UK’ and help to drive a change in payment practices.

GovernmentPaul Uppal, the new Commissioner, will be tasked with helping to resolve payment disputes between small businesses and larger companies.

Mr Uppal will also assist small firms in accessing dispute resolution services and support.

Commenting on the appointment, Business Secretary, Greg Clark, said: ‘Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, providing jobs and opportunities across the country. I am delighted to announce Paul Uppal as the first Small Business Commissioner.

‘His extensive experience as a small business owner makes him perfectly suited to champion the interests of small businesses and bring about a change in culture that will create a level playing field for everyone.’

Meanwhile, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) welcomed the appointment, and also called for the new Commissioner to take urgent action in order to help resolve supply chain disputes.

Mike Cherry, National Chairman of the FSB, said: ‘The hard work now begins to make a real difference and address the billions of pounds owed to small businesses by large companies. If successful, this could see the beginning of the end for Britain’s poor payment culture.’

The office of the Small Business Commissioner is expected to be operational by the end of this year.