13thJul
News article

TUC urges employers to ensure employees are protected from sun during heatwave

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has urged employers to make sure their employees are adequately protected from the sun following the publication of health alerts by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).

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The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has urged employers to make sure their employees are adequately protected from the sun following the publication of health alerts by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).

Temperatures could reach or exceed 30°C in some parts of the UK, forecasters have warned. A level two health alert has been issued for the South West, East Midlands, West Midlands, North West and Yorkshire and the Humber regions, whilst a level three alert has been issued for the East, South East and London regions.

The TUC recommends that employers keep workplaces cool to make them more bearable for employees; allow flexible working, including hybrid working; provide plenty of sun protection for outdoor workers; and consider temporarily relaxing workplace dress codes to help keep employees cooler.

Frances O'Grady, General Secretary of the TUC, said: 'Indoor workplaces should be kept cool, with relaxed dress codes and flexible working to make use of the coolest hours of the day.

'And bosses must make sure outdoor workers are protected with regular breaks, lots of fluids, plenty of sunscreen and the right protective clothing.'

12thJul
News article

IoD calls for extension of capital allowances super-deduction

The Institute of Directors (IoD) has called on the government to extend the capital allowances super-deduction.

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The Institute of Directors (IoD) has called on the government to extend the capital allowances super-deduction.

Between 1 April 2021 and 31 March 2023, companies investing in qualifying new plant and machinery will benefit from new first year capital allowances.

Under this measure a company will be allowed to claim:

  • a super-deduction providing allowances of 130% on most new plant and machinery investments that ordinarily qualify for 18% main rate writing down allowances
  • a first year allowance of 50% on most new plant and machinery investments that ordinarily qualify for 6% special rate writing down allowances.

The relief is not available for unincorporated businesses.

Data published by the IoD found that the super-deduction has had 'a positive and measurable impact' since it was introduced at Budget 2021. 13% of firms reported that the super-deduction had had a direct impact on their level of investment undertaken between 2021-23. For half of these businesses, it was entirely new investment as a direct result of the super-deduction.

The business group is urging the government to make the super-deduction permanent.

Kitty Ussher, Chief Economist at the IoD, said: 'It is wrong to look at declining overall levels of business investment in recent months and conclude that the super-deduction has not worked. Instead, our data shows that even less investment would have taken place if the super-deduction did not exist.'

11thJul
News article

More women have been underpaid state pension than previously thought

Figures published by the government have revealed that more women have been underpaid their state pension than previously thought.

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Figures published by the government have revealed that more women have been underpaid their state pension than previously thought.

The data found that 237,000 pensioners were underpaid their state pension. £1.5 billion in state pension payments has been underpaid, the government revealed.

This equates to 105,000 more affected individuals than calculated in 2021. Figures published by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) found that this number includes widows and divorcees who may have been underpaid their state pension for years.

A report on the issue carried out by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) found that pension underpayments were a result of outdated systems and the manual processing of pensions at the DWP.

Commenting on the matter, a spokesperson for the National Audit Office (NAO), said: 'DWP has carried out additional reviews of its records to understand the pensioners that may be affected, but the full extent of the underpayments will not be known until every case has been reviewed.'

8thJul
News article

UK economic outlook has deteriorated, Bank of England warns

The economic outlook for the UK and the rest of the world has 'deteriorated materially', the Bank of England (BoE) has warned.

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The economic outlook for the UK and the rest of the world has 'deteriorated materially', the Bank of England (BoE) has warned.

Energy and fuel costs are rising rapidly around the world, pushing up prices quickly.

However, UK banks are in a position to endure even a severe economic downturn, the BoE said. It told banks to keep more money in rainy day funds to ensure they can 'weather any storm'. The Bank's comments came in its latest Financial Stability Report.

International forecasters such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) have said Britain is more susceptible to recession and persistently high inflation than other Western countries.

Households have come under increasing pressure in recent months, as energy, food and fuel prices soar. In April, domestic energy bills jumped after the price cap increased by 54% to £1,971 for the average household.

Experts believe this could rise again in October to around £2,800, which could help to push inflation up to more than 11%.

The BoE said: 'Commodity price volatility following the Russian invasion of Ukraine has further exacerbated price pressures facing households and businesses, and has had implications for the financial system.'

7thJul
News article

Pandemic-born businesses could add £20.4 billion to UK economy

More than £20 billion could be added to the UK economy in the future from the number of additional businesses created during the pandemic, according to research carried out by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

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More than £20 billion could be added to the UK economy in the future from the number of additional businesses created during the pandemic, according to research carried out by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

Around 800,000 companies were registered in the first year of the pandemic, a 22% increase compared with the previous year. Only 13% of these start-ups cited regulation as a challenge when starting their business.

However, access to finance was a key concern for many burgeoning business leaders, with 55% highlighting this post-2020, compared with 42% pre-Covid.

The research also found that businesses born during the pandemic are 20% more likely to embrace sustainability than firms established prior to 2020.

Tony Danker, Director General of the CBI, said: 'Pandemic-born businesses – led by ambitious, resilient entrepreneurs – have innovated in so many ways, and at such speed, giving me great sense of optimism. It's crucial we give these leaders the support they need to grow and succeed. 

'Rising energy prices, supply chain challenges, an uncertain economic outlook and cost-of-living crisis mean we've some testing months, and possibly years, ahead. For start-ups which count their experience in months, not years, that environment is even tougher.

'That said, even if the cost of doing business is rising, the cost of starting a business shouldn't. The UK needs the ideas and ingenuity of entrepreneurs to help us grow.'

6thJul
News article

National insurance threshold rises to £12,750

The level at which people start paying national insurance has risen from £9,880 to £12,570, effective from 6 July.

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The level at which people start paying national insurance has risen from £9,880 to £12,570, effective from 6 July.

According to the government, 30 million people across the UK will benefit from this tax cut. It says the increase will lift 2.2 million people out of paying any personal tax.

The threshold change means that 70% of UK workers will pay less national insurance, even after accounting for the Health and Social Care Levy, the government added.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: 'We know it's tough for many families across the UK, but we want you to know that this government is on your side.

'Today's tax cut means around 70% of British workers will pay less national insurance - even after accounting for the Health and Social Care Levy that is funding the biggest catch-up programme in NHS history and putting an end to spiralling social care costs.

'So whether you are a receptionist, work in hospitality or are a delivery driver, this tax cut is likely to make you and your family better off.'

5thJul
News article

First Plastic Packaging Tax returns due this month

Businesses that are now liable for the Plastic Packaging Tax (PPT) will need to file their first returns this month.

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Businesses that are now liable for the Plastic Packaging Tax (PPT) will need to file their first returns this month.

The UK's PPT took effect from 1 April 2022 and the first return will cover the period from the date the business became liable to register for the tax to 30 June 2022.

The return will become available to submit on the government gateway from 1 July 2022.

The deadline for completion of the return, and payment of any PPT due, is 29 July 2022.

The government says the PPT will incentivise businesses to use recycled plastic in the production of plastic packaging. Manufacturing or importing ten tonnes or more of plastic packaging containing less than 30% recycled plastic will be taxed at £200 per tonne.

The government said: 'Businesses who import plastic packaging need to check who is responsible for complying with and paying the PPT. This is unlikely to be the suppliers.

'The retailer is the consignee and in control of the import, so are the businesses who will need to register for the tax where they pass the ten-tonne registration threshold.

'If businesses import finished plastic packaging components using incoterms, they will need to agree with the other business about who is responsible for including the details on their PPT return and paying the tax.'

4thJul
News article

Millions hit with three-hour broadband outages during last year

Almost 11 million consumers have suffered a broadband blackout lasting more than three hours over the last year, according to data from Uswitch.

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Almost 11 million consumers have suffered a broadband blackout lasting more than three hours over the last year, according to data from Uswitch.

The average UK household lost a total of almost two days of internet time from loss of service, power cuts and maintenance, figures show.

UK homes that experienced broadband provider outages were offline for an average of 19 hours in the year to 14 June, the report said.

When additional factors that cause the internet to go down are added – including an average of 11.5 hours of power cuts, five hours of cable damage and almost 10 hours of routine maintenance – the typical UK home was offline for nearly 45 hours.

Outages caused issues for remote and flexible workers operating from home, with 16% of those affected saying their work had been affected at an estimated cost to the economy almost £1.3 billion.

Ernest Doku, a broadband expert at Uswitch, said: 'Misfiring home broadband can quickly become a huge annoyance, given that video calls have become essential for many remote workers.

'Many households who took out a broadband deal during lockdown in the January sales last year will now be reaching the end of their contract. It's the perfect time to shop around.'

1stJul
News article

BCC warns of 'perfect storm' of increasing costs

The UK's businesses are facing a perfect storm of increasing costs and time is running out for the government to act, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has warned.

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The UK's businesses are facing a perfect storm of increasing costs and time is running out for the government to act, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has warned.

In a recent speech, Shevaun Haviland, Director General of the BCC, highlighted the increasing costs of raw materials; supply chain and shipping issues; problems in recruiting people; and spiralling energy prices.

The BCC noted that inflation is at a 40-year high at over 9% and interest rates are climbing, dampening business confidence. It also stated that retail sales are continuing their downward trend.

Ms Haviland said: 'It really is the perfect storm of increasing costs, firmly putting the brakes on recovery.

'The Spring Statement was a missed opportunity. We saw some support for business, but the lack of a clear strategic direction meant it did not give clarity or confidence.

'This has to change as we are on limited time. The government has until the Autumn Budget to reset, rethink and get their house in order.'

30thJun
News article

HMRC urges families to make use of Tax-Free Childcare scheme

HMRC is reminding families not to miss out on the financial support offered by its Tax-Free Childcare (TFC) scheme.

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HMRC is reminding families not to miss out on the financial support offered by its Tax-Free Childcare (TFC) scheme.

Under TFC, the tax relief available is 20% of the costs of childcare up to total childcare costs of £10,000 per child per year. The scheme is therefore worth a maximum of £2,000 per child (£4,000 for a disabled child). Parents are able to apply for TFC for children under 12 (up to 17 for children with disabilities).

HMRC reported that more than 384,280 families used TFC in March 2022, which represented the highest number recorded since the scheme was launched in April 2017.

Research published by HMRC earlier this year found that 1.3 million families could be eligible for TFC.

Helen Whately, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, said: 'TFC helps families with the cost of childcare bills, but we know that thousands of parents could be missing out.

'There are lots of fantastic holiday clubs and childcare providers to help working parents during the upcoming summer holidays, so now is the time to take advantage of this support.'