8thOct
News article

Business groups warn that fragile economy is on shaky ground

Business groups have warned Prime Minster Boris Johnson that the UK economy is fragile and the recovery from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic remains on shaky ground.

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Business groups have warned Prime Minster Boris Johnson that the UK economy is fragile and the recovery from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic remains on shaky ground.

The Prime Minister's speech at the Conservative Party conference outlined his vision for an optimistic UK, buoyed by higher wages and improved opportunity for all.

However, the only new policy was a 'levelling-up premium' for education, worth up to £3,000, to 'send the best maths and science teachers to the places that need them most'.

Shevaun Haviland, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said: 'There is much in the Prime Minister's ambition for the future of the UK which should be rightly applauded, but what businesses urgently need are answers to the problems they are facing in the here and now.

'Firms are dealing with a cumulative crisis in business conditions as supply chains crumple, prices soar, taxes rise and labour shortages hit new heights.'

Tony Danker, Director General of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), said: 'Ambition on wages without action on investment and productivity is ultimately just a pathway for higher prices.

'It's a fragile moment for our economy. So let's work in partnership to overcome the short-term challenges and fulfil our long-term potential. It's time to get around the table, roll up our sleeves and get things done. It's time to be united.'

7thOct
News article

IoD urges government to introduce tax super-deduction for investment in retraining

The Institute of Directors (IoD) has called on the government to introduce a tax super-deduction to plug an investment gap in retraining.

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The Institute of Directors (IoD) has called on the government to introduce a tax super-deduction to plug an investment gap in retraining.

The IoD also outlined other measures to 'help the UK reorientate to a higher skill economy', including reintroducing lifelong personalised training budgets to be used on accredited vocational and professional training, and widening the uses to which firms deploy their Apprenticeship Levy funding pots.

The business group also advocates introducing tax allowances for sole traders and the self-employed to incentivise investment in accredited professional and vocational training.

Commenting on the issue, Kitty Ussher, Chief Economist at the IoD, said: 'In an attempt to encourage physical investment, the March Budget included a welcome tax 'super-deduction' for capital investment in plant and machinery. But, as we have seen in recent weeks, we also have a gap for investment in retraining.

'We would therefore like to see the super-deduction apply to investment in human capital as well as physical capital, after all many of the jobs of the future will be in the service sector.'

6thOct
News article

FSB warns tax rises 'threaten recovery from pandemic'

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has warned that tax rises could threaten the UK's ongoing recovery from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

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The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has warned that tax rises could threaten the UK's ongoing recovery from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

According to the FSB, small businesses are coming up against 'unprecedented strain', with the cost of doing business higher than ever. Small businesses are also being affected by disruption to supply chains and increasing costs, the business group said.

Following the end of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), it has called for the government to focus on helping employers create jobs. The FSB also urged the government to generate new schemes to help fill skills shortages.

'It's disappointing to see that more is not being done to tackle employment costs which are a huge drain on small businesses,' said Mike Cherry, National Chair of the FSB.

'Increasing the Employment Allowance would help protect the smallest employers who are being hit hard by the end of furlough and the NICs rise. The government should also expand Small Business Rates Relief to premises with a rateable value of £25,000, removing an additional 200,000 small firms from the scope of this tax.'

5thOct
News article

Chancellor commits £500 million to extend job support schemes

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has committed £500 million to renew job support programmes set up during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic after the end of the furlough scheme last month.

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Chancellor Rishi Sunak has committed £500 million to renew job support programmes set up during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic after the end of the furlough scheme last month.

The Chancellor made the announcement during his speech at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester. The Kickstart Scheme – which subsidises eligible jobs for young people on Universal Credit – will be extended by three months to March 2022. Additionally, the Job Entry Targeted Support (JETS) scheme, which helps long-term unemployed people on Universal Credit, will be prolonged until September 2022.

The Treasury said that details will be confirmed at the Spending Review taking place alongside the Autumn Budget on 27 October.

Commenting on the Chancellor's speech, Tony Danker, Director General of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), said: 'Business shares the Chancellor's ambitious vision for a high-growth economy driven by science, technology and innovation.

'The Chancellor's emphasis on equipping young people for the world of work, from the Kickstart scheme to new AI scholarships, as well as helping people retrain for the jobs of the future, is the right approach.

'The only way to achieve the high-wage, high-skill economy we all want is to unlock productivity through higher investment and growth. All must rise together to avoid a further squeeze on living standards and to realise a better decade than the last.'

4thOct
News article

Working Tax Credit customers must report changes to working hours

HMRC is urging Working Tax Credit (WTC) customers to check if they need to update their working hours if these have reduced because of the pandemic.

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HMRC is urging Working Tax Credit (WTC) customers to check if they need to update their working hours if these have reduced because of the pandemic.

During the pandemic, WTC customers have not needed to tell HMRC about temporary short-term reductions in their working hours due to the coronavirus (COVID-19).

If a WTC customer's hours temporarily fell because of COVID-19, they have been treated as if they were working their normal hours.

Customers do not need to tell HMRC if they re-establish their normal working hours before 25 November 2021, but from then, they must do within the usual one-month window if they are not back to working their normal hours shown in their WTC claim.

Myrtle Lloyd, HMRC's Director General for Customer Services, said: 'We introduced this measure last year to help support working families. It is vital that WTC claimants who have benefitted from it update HMRC with their working hours if they have reduced, and they won't return to their normal level before 25 November.

'Anyone who is no longer eligible for WTC due to a change in their circumstances may be able to apply for other UK Government support, including Universal Credit.'

1stOct
News article

Off payroll rules the forgotten factor driving the HGV crisis, says IPSE

Changes to the off payroll rules, commonly known as IR35, that were introduced earlier this year are the forgotten factor driving the HGV crisis, according to the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE).

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Changes to the off payroll rules, commonly known as IR35, that were introduced earlier this year are the forgotten factor driving the HGV crisis, according to the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE).

IPSE has urged the government to repeal the changes to IR35 and at the very least investigate the unintended consequences of the changes.

The changes to IR35 took effect on 6 April 2021 and shifted responsibility for making the decision on employment status on each contract away from contractors and personal service companies (PSCs) and on to the client receiving the services. This had already been done in the public sector.

Andy Chamberlain, Director of Policy at IPSE, said: 'IR35 is evidently not the only factor involved, but as research from the Road Haulage Association has shown, it is a key factor for more than half of drivers who are leaving the industry. This cannot be overlooked. But sadly, as with so much else to do with contractors and the self-employed, that is exactly what government is doing yet again: overlooking this vital sector.

'If government really wants to resolve the HGV crisis and get food and fuel flowing again, it must address the IR35 factor. We've been fighting the changes to IR35 for many years now and continue to urge government to repeal them.'

30thSep
News article

Chancellor warned of redundancies as furlough scheme ends

The government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) ends today (30 September) after supporting millions of workers during the pandemic.

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The government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) ends today (30 September) after supporting millions of workers during the pandemic.

The government said the wages of more than 11 million people were subsidised for at least some of the scheme's duration at a cost of around £70 billion.

There is now uncertainty over the almost one million people still thought to be on the CJRS at the end of September.

Economists say there is likely to be a rise in unemployment due to new redundancies, despite the fact that some may be able to find work in recovering sectors such as travel and hospitality.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said the end of the furlough scheme, the scrapping of the small employer sick pay rebate and the closure of the government's apprenticeship incentive scheme will only add pressure on companies.

Mike Cherry, the FSB's National Chair, said: 'It's potentially a dangerous moment. As the weather turns colder, so too will the operating environment for many firms. With recent economic growth numbers having fallen below expectations, the upcoming festive season may not provide as much of a boost as hoped to many small businesses' bottom lines.'

29thSep
News article

New emergency fraud hotline launched

A new emergency fraud hotline has been launched for individuals to report financial scams as they take place.

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A new emergency fraud hotline has been launched for individuals to report financial scams as they take place.

The new hotline, which can be accessed by dialing 159, will connect an individual to their bank's fraud prevention service.

The new hotline is being trialed for a year, with fraud prevention experts hoping that 159 will eventually become a universal number, as 999 is, and that it will be used across all phones and banks.

The hotline is being promoted by Stop Scams UK, which is made up of a coalition of technology and banking businesses. Banks participating in the trial include Barclays, Lloyds (including Halifax and Bank of Scotland), Santander, Starling Bank and NatWest.

Commenting on the new hotline, Gareth Shaw, Head of Money at Which?, said: 'This should be part of a range of solutions as no one solution on its own will be enough to tackle phone-enabled scams.

'That is why we also need action to prevent scams at source and to ensure victims are treated fairly after they have been targeted.'

28thSep
News article

£800 million Reinsurance Scheme opens for live events

The government has opened a £800 million Reinsurance Scheme to cover live events against coronavirus (COVID-19)-related cancellations.

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The government has opened a £800 million Reinsurance Scheme to cover live events against coronavirus (COVID-19)-related cancellations.

The live events sector is worth more than £70 billion annually to the UK economy and supports more than 700,000 jobs, including small businesses and the self-employed.

The UK Live Events Reinsurance Scheme will support live events across the country – such as concerts and festivals, conferences and business events – that are at risk of being cancelled or delayed due to an inability to obtain COVID-19 cancellation insurance.

The government has partnered with Lloyd's Market Association to deliver the scheme as part of its Plan for Jobs.

The scheme will see the government act as a 'reinsurer', stepping in with a guarantee to make sure insurers can offer the products events companies need. The scheme is available from 22 September 2021 and will run until the end of September 2022.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: 'The events sector supports hundreds of thousands of jobs across the country and as the economy re-opens, we're helping events providers and businesses plan with confidence right through to next year.'

27thSep
News article

Government announces plans to make requesting flexible working a day one right

UK workers could get more choice over when and where they work under new proposals to make the right to request flexible working a day one entitlement.

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UK workers could get more choice over when and where they work under new proposals to make the right to request flexible working a day one entitlement.

The government will also introduce a day one right to one week's unpaid leave for carers balancing a job with caring responsibilities. The government says the plans will make for more productive businesses, whilst accommodating both employee and employer needs.

The proposals consider whether limiting an employee's application for flexible working to one per year continues to represent the best balance between individual and business needs.

The consultation also looks at cutting the current three-month period an employer has to consider any request.

If an employer cannot accommodate a request, as can be the case, they would need to think about what alternatives they could offer.

Matthew Fell, Chief Policy Director at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), said: 'Businesses have learnt a huge amount about the pros and cons of flexible working during the pandemic, with many firms expecting to receive more formal and informal requests in the future. Employers support giving employees the right to request flexible working from day one in the job. 

'Companies want to work with the government to ensure that they can say 'no' when they have properly considered requests but for good reason can't accept them.'