Category: In Business

SMEs See Strong Start to 2024 Despite Hiring Caution and Sustainability Concern

A recent survey by NatWest has revealed that SMEs in the UK have enjoyed a strong start to the year, signaling resilience and adaptability in the face of economic challenges. The survey, based on responses from 850 companies across Britain, highlighted a positive trajectory in new business and output growth, particularly within the service sector. Notably, March marked the fifth consecutive month of new business…

£243,000 IR35 case to be reheard 14 years after contract concluded

Five years after HMRC appealed an IR35 case defeat carrying £243,324 in tax liability, judges have instructed this long-running saga to be reheard despite the work having taken place 14 years ago. IR35 specialist, Qdos, said the situation “smacks of unfairness” and highlights the “nuances and complexities of the IR35 legislation”. In 2019, IT contractor, Richard Alcock, successfully appealed HMRC’s view that he belonged inside…

Squeezed Homeowners Opt for Longer Mortgage Terms

As interest rates soar, homeowners facing the end of their mortgage deals are seeking relief through extended loan terms. The trade association UK Finance reports that 24 per cent of remortgages, approximately 5,400 loans, were structured with terms of 30 years or more in December, a significant increase from 11 per cent in December 2021. The surge in demand for longer mortgage terms comes as…

Darktrace on a high amid escalating cybersecurity concerns

Amid escalating cybercrime threats British-based cybersecurity firm Darktrace have reported a robust quarter with revenues surging by over a 25 per cent, driven by heightened demand from concerned companies. In the three months ending March, Darktrace witnessed a significant 26.5 per cent increase in revenue, soaring to $176.1 million compared to $139.2 million in the same period last year. This surge has led the company…

AI Skills Gap putting Public Sector projects in jeopardy, according to new research

The artificial intelligence (AI) skills gap is holding back public sector projects with 60 per cent labelling the shortage as their top implementation challenge. Although all industries are facing a shortage, the public sector gap is by far the widest. According to Salesforce research only 28 per cent of public sector IT professionals claim to be experts at using generative AI as part of their…

UK cyber defences faltering as half of businesses hit by cyber attack, according to Government survey

The cyber defences of UK businesses are faltering as 50 per cent of businesses reported a cyber attack or breach over the past 12 months, according to the government’s latest Cyber security breaches survey 2024. The figure rose substantially among medium businesses (70 per cent) and large businesses (74 per cent), while 32 per cent of charities were subject to an attack or breach. Phishing…

7.4 Million UK Consumers Struggle to Pay Bills, Financial Regulator Finds

According to recent findings from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), more than 7.4 million individuals across the UK encountered challenges in meeting bill payments or credit repayments in January, underscoring ongoing financial strain among a significant portion of the population. Although this figure represents a decrease from previous years, it remains substantially higher than pre-crisis levels, indicating persistent financial difficulties exacerbated by the cost of…

UK’s largest pub group Stonegate struggles to refinance £2.2bn Debt, giving it an uncertain future

Stonegate Pub Company, the UK’s leading pubs and bars group boasting a network of over 4,400 establishments including popular chains like Slug & Lettuce and Be At One, has issued a warning about its financial viability as it struggles to refinance its substantial £2.2 billion debt. Despite ongoing discussions with potential lenders, the company has yet to secure new loans to replace existing debt set…

UK Construction Industry Rebounds, Ending Six-Month Decline

The UK construction industry has marked a significant turnaround, returning to growth after enduring six consecutive months of decline, as revealed by a closely monitored survey. S&P Global’s survey highlighted a resurgence in civil engineering projects and a stabilization in housebuilding activities as key drivers behind the sector’s recovery. The Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) score, derived from the survey data, climbed to 50.2 in March,…

‘5am the new 9am’ under new flexible working regime

It is being predicted that there will be a huge upsurge in parents starting work early under new Flexible Working laws. The law change, which comes into effect on April 6, will require that employers consider employee requests for flexible working in good faith and consult with them on how they might be able to make them work. Employees will also be able to make…

UK Manufacturing Sector Shows Signs of Recovery

The UK manufacturing sector experienced a notable turnaround in March, as domestic orders surged, bringing an end to nearly two years of contraction. According to the latest S&P purchasing managers index (PMI), manufacturing output reached a 20-month high, signaling expansion with a reading of 50.3. The increase in domestic demand for manufactured goods has been a significant factor in driving this positive momentum. However, challenges…

Protecting Women at UK Business Events: The Rise of Event Codes of Conduct

In response to growing concerns about harassment and misconduct at business events, organisations in the UK are implementing event codes of conduct to safeguard attendees and protect corporate reputations. Prompted by high-profile cases such as the Harvey Weinstein scandal and revelations about the Presidents Club dinner, companies are increasingly focused on addressing misconduct beyond traditional office settings. Trade bodies and industry groups, including the Financing…

UK and US sign landmark agreement to regulate AI risks

The UK and US have signed a landmark artificial intelligence (AI) agreement to collaborate on testing and mitigating the risks of AI models. The deal is the first global bilateral agreement on AI safety, bringing together the UK and US governments to share technical knowledge, information and talent on AI safety. The deal was signed by UK Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan and US Commerce Secretary…

Dragons’ Den: Entrepreneurs secure investment for their pet smoothie drinks company

Husband and wife, Ian and Louise Toal from Much Wenlock in Shropshire secured a £50,000 investment for a 35% share of their company from fashion retail entrepreneur and investor, Touker Suleyman on BBC One’s Dragons’ Den, for their award-winning range of smoothie drinks for dogs. Furr Boost was the inspiration of Louise who, for over 20 years was a technical manager to the food industry….

Could AI Take the Grind Out of Accountancy?

Owen Hewitt, a trainee chartered accountant at haysmacintyre, finds himself amidst a unique cohort of accountants poised to integrate artificial intelligence (AI) into their daily routines from the onset of their careers. Two years into his training, Hewitt anticipates AI’s potential to alleviate the tedium of certain job aspects. According to Hewitt, AI’s role primarily revolves around tackling time-consuming tasks like financial data analysis, allowing…

ThinCats announces £300m regional fund to support high-growth owner managed businesses

ThinCats, the leading alternative finance provider for mid-sized SMEs, has today announced a new £300 million funding commitment to support the growth ambitions of owner managed businesses across the UK. Using its primary funding hubs based in Birmingham, Manchester and London, ThinCats is targeting businesses across the Midlands, North West and London & the South East. ThinCats is aiming to deploy over £300m, dedicated to…

Labour unveils floating wind farm plans to boost energy security

Labour is unveiling plans to invest in building floating wind farms off Britain’s coast as part of its strategy to enhance the country’s energy security and reduce reliance on foreign energy sources. Sir Keir Starmer, the leader of the Labour Party, will announce the creation of a state-owned firm called Great British Energy, which will have a budget of £8.3 billion to fund the construction…

Branson waves £100M he stood to receive from Nationwide for use of Virgin Money brand

Sir Richard Branson has agreed to waive more than £100 million that he was entitled to receive from Nationwide Building Society for the use of the Virgin Money brand in its £2.9 billion acquisition of the bank. Known for his strict licensing agreements granting companies the right to use the Virgin name across various industries, Branson has already secured a £250 million “exit fee” to…

My Imposter Self and Me

It was December 30th, and the honours list was announced on the news. I’d been given a tip off that I may have been included in the 2024 list, so as soon as the news was announced, I went to check the full list and see if my name was there. Nothing. I was gutted, but reasoned that I was not worthy enough to deserve…

UK Innovation Activity Shows Strong Growth, According to European Patent Data

The latest European filing data from the European Patent Office (EPO) indicates that innovation activity in the UK is thriving, with a significant increase in patent filings reported for the past year. The EPO’s Patent Index Report 2023 highlights a robust uptick in European patent applications originating from UK-based innovators, marking another successful year for the country’s research and development sector. UK-based innovators filed 5,918…

Climate Change Impacting Easter Egg Prices

Climate change is being cited as a significant factor contributing to the rise in prices of chocolate Easter eggs this year, with researchers highlighting the adverse effects on cocoa crops. The majority of chocolate production relies on cocoa beans grown in West Africa, where a recent humid heatwave has severely impacted yields. Experts attribute this extreme weather event to human-induced climate change, making such occurrences…