Industry News

Childcare scheme – are you eligible ?

Employers are being advised to assist employees with covering the costs of childcare, with the school holidays in full swing.

Parents who earn more than £131 a week and less than £100,000 a year are eligible for tax-free childcare.

The scheme offers up to £2,000 a year towards a child under the age of 12, or £4,000 a year for a disabled child under 17.

Eligible parents need to open an online account, and the Government will add £2 for every £8 saved up to the thresholds.

The scheme can be used to pay more than 58,000 childcare providers in the UK, including childminders, nurseries, and sports camps running this summer.

The Government has urged businesses to help employees sign up for the scheme, which may mean fewer members of staff need time off between July and September. More…

Demand for digital skills on the up and up

Businesses could be set to face an increasing talent gap in the coming years as demand for digital skills continues to rise.

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said 67% of UK firms currently have unfilled digital vacancies.

Its Delivering Skills for the New Economy report also expected 95% of UK businesses to see demand for digital skills grow.

While most firms are taking action to address this shortage, they are also focusing on the same pool of digital talent.

As a result, only 31% of the business community believe they will be able to secure these skills in the next three to five years.

Among smaller businesses, 69% say their digital skills needs are likely to peak over the next year or two.

To tackle this, the CBI said the Government should set a target for the entire UK workforce to have basic digital skills by 2025. More…

Apprenticeship ‘starts’ fall by a quarter

The number of people starting apprenticeships has fallen by 26% since the Government’s reforms to the apprenticeship system, according to a report from the National Audit Office (NAO).

In April 2017, the Department for Education (DfE) introduced several changes to the apprenticeships scheme, including a levy on large employers and a co-funding requirement from smaller firms.

The changes were intended to improve the quality of apprenticeships and meet employers’ needs, but instead seem to have caused participation in the scheme to decrease “substantially”.

In the 2017/18 academic year, there were 375,800 new apprenticeship ‘starts’ – down from 509,400 in 2015/16. More…

Stamp duty surcharge for the oversea buyer

The Government is considering introducing a new stamp duty surcharge, which is designed to clamp down on overseas wealth being used to buy homes in England.

Ministers have expressed concerns that affluent foreign investors, particularly those buying properties in London, have been driving up house prices for domestic buyers.

Figures from the Land Registry showed that nearly half of all foreign-owned properties in England and Northern Ireland, where stamp duty applies, are in London.

This has resulted in thousands of people fleeing the capital to purchase homes in places like Scotland, Birmingham and Bristol, where their money goes considerably further. More…

Are we leaving the EU?

What can your firm do before 29 March 2019?

As the clock continues to tick down to the 29 March 2019, when the UK is scheduled to officially leave the EU at 11pm, there is still much uncertainty around what Brexit will mean for UK business.

What is certain is that it will bring change for businesses of every size and sector, but planning for it seems almost impossible.

For businesses that buy and sell to the EU it is important to have contingency plans in place which are flexible enough to cope with a variety of outcomes.

Preparing for the worst will give your business the best chance of moving through the transition regardless of the outcome of negotiations. More…

Government launches service to prepare firms for EU exit

The Government has launched a new website service to help businesses prepare for the UK’s exit from the EU later this month.

‘Prepare your business for leaving the EU’ is an online tool that provides information on specific rules and regulations, and aims to inform business owners of what is changing in their sector.

The service asks business owners seven questions before providing what the Government describes as “guidance relevant to your business”.

With an agreement yet to be reached on the UK’s scheduled exit from the EU at 11pm on Friday 29 March 2019, the Treasury has stepped up its efforts to prepare exporters. More…

Minimum contributions rise to 3% for employers in April

Most employers in the UK will see minimum contributions towards their workers’ occupational pension schemes rise from 2% to 3% next month.

Businesses are legally obliged to automatically enrol all staff aged between 22 and state pension age, and earning more than £10,000 a year, into a workplace pension.

The first workers were automatically enrolled in October 2012, with staging dates bringing businesses and their employees into workplace pension schemes for the first time. More…

Budget 2018: Tax and business round-up

At a time of political and economic uncertainty, the announcement of several substantial measures in the Budget on 29 October 2018 came as a surprise for many businesses.

In fact, the Budget was met with an overall positive reception from industry groups, with the FSB calling it the Chancellor’s “first small-business-friendly Budget”.

A range of measures were announced to support high street businesses, including a reduction to business rates by a third for many independent shops, pubs and cafes with rateable values below £51,000.

This will apply for two years from April 2019, subject to state aid limits.

Pressure was also eased for smaller firms funding apprenticeships, as the co-investment rate required for training will be halved from 10% to 5%.

Meanwhile, businesses investing in plant and machinery were boosted by the annual investment allowance rising from £200,000 to £1 million for a two-year period from 1 January 2019.

Employers will need to pay attention to the national living wage when planning for next year, which is set to increase from £7.83 an hour to £8.21 an hour from 6 April 2019.

The VAT-registration threshold was frozen at £85,000 until 1 April 2022, with the Government planning to review it once the terms of the UK’s exit from the EU have been confirmed.

Suren Thiru, Head of Economics at the BCC, said:

“We are pleased that the Chancellor listened to our call to keep the VAT threshold unchanged over the near term, providing much-needed certainty to firms across the UK.

“A reduction in the VAT threshold could well have proved to be a tipping point for some of our most promising young firms.”

For some, however, the Budget wasn’t all good news, as the Chancellor confirmed that reforms to the off-payroll working rules – known as IR35 – will be extended to the private sector in April 2020.

The responsibility for operating these rules will move to the firm engaging the worker.

Chris Bryce, chief executive at the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed, called the IR35 rules “complex and crude”, and warned that genuinely self-employed people could be impacted.

To ease some of the burden, small organisations will be exempt, while medium and large organisations will be given support and guidance by HMRC.

Speak to us about how these measures affect you.

Entrepreneurs say they need more support

Four out of five entrepreneurs in the UK believe the government could do more to support their small business, research claims.

Aldermore surveyed 1,799 people, including 642 small business owners, and found 79% of respondents believed existing initiatives did not provide enough support to SMEs.

Apprenticeship levy funds go towards the training of apprentices, but only 36% of SMEs polled were aware of the funding and only 4% had accessed this form of government support.

A similar pattern emerged with capital allowances, with 27% of respondents aware of the scheme and only 5% utilising it to support their business. More…

Landlord costs could increase due to legislation

A new ban on tenant fees could push costs of more than £80 million onto landlords, government figures have shown.

The tenant fees bill, which was published on 2 May 2018, includes a ban on all fees charged to tenants apart from rent, deposits, and certain necessary costs.

A government impact assessment confirms that “the main costs fall on landlords and letting agents” as a result of the changes, with landlords expected to absorb £82.9 million in the first year. More…

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