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.’

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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.

Backdated ‘staircase tax’ bills ‘unfair’ to small businesses

The Head of the Treasury Select Committee, Nicky Morgan, has labelled the sending of backdated business rates bills to small businesses with offices on multiple floors ‘unfair’.

Termed the ‘staircase tax’, businesses with offices on multiple floors of a commercial property now receive 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.

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The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) determines firms’ business rates. In a letter to Melissa Tatton, the VOA’s Chief Executive, Ms Morgan enquires into what is being done to soften the impact of the rates, and how many businesses will be affected by the staircase tax.

Ms Morgan stated: ‘It seems unfair to tax businesses differently depending solely on whether the staircases between their rooms are communal or private.

‘It seems particularly unfair for the increase in rates to be backdated.’

Commenting on the staircase tax, Mike Cherry, National Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said: ‘No small business should receive a sudden tax hike of 5,000% simply because a workplace has been separated, for years, by a communal area, stairway or lift.

‘Some small business owners are discussing whether to knock holes in their walls or stick a staircase on the outside of their premises.

‘This is no way to run a tax system in the 20th century, let alone the 21st. Ministers have the power to provide relief, and they should do this urgently – to correct this defect in the UK tax system.’

Cybercrime a bigger concern for SMEs than Brexit, research suggests

Research published by Barclaycard has suggested that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are more concerned about the risks that cybercrime poses to their business than those put forward by Brexit.

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44% of businesses surveyed by Barclaycard consider cybercrime to be a major concern for their firm, whilst 34% reported that they are worried about the impact of Brexit on their business.

Barclaycard found that SMEs now invest £2.9 billion per annum on cyber security experts, in order to help them ‘stay ahead of the latest threats’.

Over the last five years, small businesses have increased their cyber security spending by 43%, the research revealed.

The research also suggested that small businesses are concerned by the challenges that the UK’s ‘uncertain economic landscape’ poses. 34% are worried about their ability to manage changes and demands as their business grows.

Sharon Manikon, Managing Director of Customer Solutions at Barclaycard, commented: ‘UK SMEs face immense pressure to keep up with competitors of all sizes.

‘This is all the more challenging in an uncertain political and economic landscape with shifting consumer preferences and new technology that continues to develop at pace.’

‘Brexit funding gap’ poses threat to small businesses, report warns

In a new report, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has warned that ‘billions of pounds in EU funding’ will need to be replaced following the UK’s departure from the EU if Britain is to avoid creating a ‘business support black hole’ for small firms.

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According to the report, the EU has dedicated £3.6 billion to the development of a competitive business environment for UK small businesses for the funding round set to end in 2020.

The FSB has suggested that, currently, there is ‘no regional development spend budgeted at national level beyond 2021’.

It is calling for the next government to seize the opportunity that Brexit presents to reform the business support landscape for small firms.

Mike Cherry, National Chairman of the FSB, stated: ‘Small businesses across the country are staring into a business support black hole from 2021. This is a particularly pressing issue for the many small firms with growth ambitions and those in less economically developed regions.

‘If the next government is serious about developing an Industrial Strategy that delivers prosperity across all areas of England, it must replace EU funding dedicated to small business support and access to finance after we leave the EU.’

FSB research reveals single market access is ‘top priority’ for small businesses

Research carried out by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has revealed that small businesses’ top priority post-Brexit is to be able to access the EU single market.

63% of firms surveyed believe that access to this market is key. Meanwhile, 49% of businesses selected the US as a priority market, with a further 28% choosing China as a key target market.

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The FSB also discovered that 58% of small businesses find the EU single market easier to trade with than non-EU markets.

Additionally, 45% of exporters and 53% of importers find it cheaper to trade with the EU single market than to trade with non-EU markets.

Commenting on the findings, Mike Cherry, National Chairman of the FSB, said: ‘Small firms trade with countries based on ease, cost and value and any future trade deal must deliver on these key aspects, both with the EU single market and non-EU markets.

‘The top non-EU countries of choice for trade deals include the US and China. However, the reality is that the EU single market is still a crucial market for smaller firms and cannot be undervalued.’

The FSB has called for the government to ‘secure the easiest and least costly access to the EU single market’ in its Brexit negotiations