Business News Northern Ireland - 23 October 2023

Business News Northern Ireland – 23 October 2023

Welcome to our round up of the latest business news for our clients. Please contact us if you want to talk about how these updates affect your business. We are here to support you!


Inflation Holds Steady At 6.7%

UK inflation unexpectedly held stable in September at 6.7% as rising fuel costs offset the first monthly fall in food prices for two years to maintain pressure on households during the cost of living crisis.

The largest downward contributions to the monthly change came from food and non-alcoholic beverages, where prices fell on the month for the first time since September 2021, and furniture and household goods, where prices rose by less than they did a year ago.

The Consumer Prices Index including owner-occupiers’ housing costs (CPIH) rose by 6.3% in the 12 months to September 2023, the same rate as in August.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the annual inflation rate as measured by the consumer prices index (CPI) remained unchanged from August’s reading, already raising questions by experts over the Bank of England’s next decision on interest rates due in November. City economists had forecast a modest fall to 6.6%.

Occupiers’ Housing Costs (OOH) increased by 5% in the twelve months to September 2023.

Source: Office for National Statistics.

So what actions can a business take now to remain resilient to any changes in the economy?

Here are a few suggestions to help you think about your business:

  • Review your Budgets and set realistic and achievable targets for 2024.
  • Review your debtors list and chase up overdue invoices (if appropriate).
  • Assign responsibility to one individual for invoicing and collections.
  • Put extra effort into making sure your relationships with your better customers are solid.
  • Review and flow chart the main processes in your business (e.g. Sales processing, order fulfilment, shipping etc) and challenge the need for each step.
  • Encourage team members to suggest ways to streamline and simplify processes (e.g. sit down and brainstorm about efficiencies and cost reduction).
  • Review your staffing needs over the next few months.
  • Review your list of products and services and eliminate those that are unprofitable or not core products/services.

Talk to us about your business, we have many clients who have changed the way they do things and some really innovative stories to share with you! 


Do You Have A Side Income?

If you do then you are probably aware of the requirement to disclose this on your Self-Assessment tax return. It is important to record any side income accurately and HMRC is going to be able to see exactly how much income you receive when using a digital platform from 1 January 2024.

HMRC have new powers which means that anyone in the UK who makes money selling goods or services online will have their incomes recorded on the digital platform that they use and HMRC will have direct access to this.

Digital platforms include apps and websites which facilitate the provision of goods and services such as the provision of taxi and private hire services, food delivery services, freelance work, and the letting of short-term accommodation.

HMRC will have access to the digital records of businesses such as Airbnb, Fiverr, Upwork, Uber, Deliveroo, Etsy and other online businesses. The change is part of a wider plan for HMRC to keep a more accurate eye on people adding to their existing income through side profits or freelancing and they will be checking tax returns to ensure the figures tally with the records from the platforms themselves.

The power to enable these regulations to be made was introduced under section 349 of the Finance (No.2) Act 2023.

From 1 January 2025, certain UK digital platforms will be required to report information to HMRC about the income of sellers of goods and services on their platform. HMRC will then exchange the information with the other participating tax authorities for the jurisdictions where the sellers are tax resident.

Under the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) rules, digital platforms in participating jurisdictions will be required to provide a copy of the information to the taxpayer to help them comply with their tax obligations.

The legislation, ‘The Platform Operators (Due Diligence and Reporting Requirements) Regulations 2023’, as issued in July 2023, can be seen here: The Platform Operators (Due Diligence and Reporting Requirements) Regulations 2023 ( and the reporting rules for digital platforms can be seen here: Reporting rules for digital platforms – GOV.UK (

If you are not currently filing a tax return then you can check how to register for Self-Assessment here:  Check how to register for Self Assessment – GOV.UK (

Please talk to us if you have any questions about a side income and how to declare this on your tax return, we have considerable experience in helping our clients comply with the complex HMRC disclosure requirements.


Latest HMRC Tax Webinars

Listed below are a number of live HMRC webinars that will help employers with payroll. The webinars are free and last around an hour.

Expenses and benefits for your employees – social functions and parties
Wed 1 Nov at 11:45am

Expenses and benefits for your employees – trivial benefits
Tue 31 Oct at 1:45pm

Statutory Maternity and Paternity Pay
Fri 27 Oct at 9:45am
Tue 14 Nov at 11:45am

Expenses and benefits for your employees – company cars, vans, and fuel
Thu 2 Nov at 1:45pm

Expenses and benefits for your employees – phones, internet, and homeworking
Tue 7 Nov at 1:45pm
Wed 8 Nov at 1:45pm

Statutory Sick Pay
Thu 9 Nov at 11:45am

Getting payroll information right
Mon 27 Nov at 9:45am

Please talk to us if you have any payroll queries; we have extensive experience in helping our clients comply with HMRC regulations.


The New UK Supply Chain Directory

The High Value Manufacturing (HVM) Catapult could make it easier for domestic manufacturers to connect with a new, free to use, UK Supply Chain Directory.

The platform harnesses the power of machine learning to provide up-to-date information on UK manufacturers. It combines publicly accessible data with web scraping to create the single most data-rich source of UK’s manufacturers and suppliers. It also allows companies to put up their company profile to update and enrich their content.


HVM keep Companies House as a reference and it joins information coming from companies’ websites, CreditSafe, and Dealroom.

This new tool is bringing together hundreds of thousands of businesses across UK industry in one online resource.

The tool is free to sign up for and access, and businesses can use it to:

  • find new suppliers and customers; and
  • map the UK’s capability in their sector or area.

Users can search the directory according to company size, location, and specialist areas, with a wide range of other filters. Using data-driven classification, users can also find suppliers or supply chains based on manufacturing capability.



Exporting – Rules of Origin to South Korea Extended

The UK has secured a two-year extension to rules which help British companies to access lower or zero tariffs when selling goods to South Korea.

The extension has been secured under the UK-South Korea free trade agreement and comes as welcome news for businesses who can continue to avoid the high tariffs imposed by South Korea on products entering the country.

It also comes ahead of the launch of negotiations on a new, modernised trade deal between the UK and South Korea which will cover new sectors like digital, expected before the end of the year.

South Korea is the 13th largest economy in the world and set to grow rapidly and its import market is expected to grow 45% by 2035. The UK’s trade with Korea has more than doubled since the original FTA was negotiated.

Goods make up the majority of UK exports to South Korea, with £7.3 billion worth exported last year. A broad range of British manufacturing sectors are expected to benefit from the extension, including food and drink and automotive, which is the second largest British export to South Korea.

See: British businesses celebrate as rules of origin to South Korea extended – GOV.UK (


Innovate UK Smart Grants: September 2023

Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, is investing up to £25 million in the best game-changing and world-leading ideas.

Ideas need to be designed for swift, successful commercialisation and be genuinely new and novel, not just disruptive within their sector.

All proposals must be business-focused, with deliverable, realistic, adequately resourced plans to achieve return on investment, growth and market share following project completion.

Applications can come from any area of technology and be applied to any part of the economy, such as, but not exclusively:

  • net-zero,
  • the arts, and
  • design and media.

To be in scope, your proposal must demonstrate (among other things):

  • a game-changing, innovative, and disruptive idea that will lead to new products, processes or services;
  • an idea that is significantly ahead of others in the field, set for rapid commercialisation; and
  • clear potential to positively impact the UK’s position, productivity and competitiveness within the global economy.

Innovate UK will fund feasibility projects, industrial research projects and experimental development projects, as defined in the guidance on categories of research.

Your application must include at least one micro, small or medium-sized enterprise (SME) as the lead or a collaborative grant claiming partner.

Read the full eligibility criteria and scope for Innovate UK Smart Grants.

The competition closes at 11am on Wednesday 17 January 2024.


New Wine Industry Reforms

Following a public consultation, Wine: reforms to retained EU law, the UK government has set out reforms for the wine sector which will begin in 2024.

Feedback from the wine industry has shown that certain regulations within the current 400-page rulebook have been stifling innovation and preventing the introduction of more efficient and sustainable practices.

Changes will include removing some packaging requirements – such as ending the mandatory requirement that certain sparkling wines must have foil caps and mushroom-shaped stoppers. This will reduce unnecessary waste and packaging costs for businesses. Outdated rules around bottle shapes will also be scrapped, freeing up producers to use different types.

The government will also remove the requirement for imported wines to have an importer address on the label – the Food Business Operator (FBO) responsible for ensuring all legal requirements are met will still need to be identified on the label, as is the standard requirement for food products. This will create more frictionless trade and reduce administrative burdens.

Further reforms will also give producers more freedom to use hybrid varieties of grapes. This will enable growers to choose the variety that works best for them and reduce vine loss due to disease or climate change, while also providing greater choice to consumers.

See: New wine reforms to boost investment and ease burdens on industry – GOV.UK (


Mindset: Extended Reality for Digital Mental Health

Funding is available for immersive digital mental health therapeutic solutions.

Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will invest up to £4.5 million in innovation projects across the two strands of the Mindset XR competition.

The aim of this competition is to develop digital therapeutic extended reality (XR) solutions to provide improved delivery of mental health and wellbeing services.

This competition is split into two strands:

Your project must undertake feasibility studies or industrial research in the application of XR to provide mental health care solutions. Your proposal must specifically explore how digital therapeutic content can provide positive mental health applications and outcomes for young adults (aged 13 and above) or older adults. Your project must also demonstrate that the solution could be applied, trialled and ultimately adopted at scale, to provide a broad benefit to the UK mental health sector.

The deadline for applications to both strands of this competition is 11am on Wednesday 6 December 2023. To find out more about the competition, potential applicants are invited to register for an online briefing and applicant workshop, taking place on Thursday 12 October 2023.

Innovate Local Northern Ireland

Innovate UK and Invest NI are partnering to host an event which promises to be a catalyst for business innovation and growth in the region.

The ‘Innovate Local Northern Ireland’ event will take place on Thursday 23 November 2023 at the Lagan Valley Island conference centre in Lisburn.

The event will explore the importance of innovation and its role in:

  • driving business growth,
  • boosting competitiveness, and
  • fostering resilience.

Any business based in Northern Ireland, from any sector or industry, is welcome to attend.

Whether you’re a small start-up or an established enterprise, this event is designed to help you understand the power of innovation and its practical applications.

Participants will get a chance to:

  • connect with innovation experts and potential collaborators;
  • discover opportunities and incentives for innovators and businesses in NI;
  • network with like-minded professionals from the local business community; and
  • take the next steps towards transforming your business through innovation.

See: Event: Innovate Local Northern Ireland (


‘Move to UC’ has started

The final phase of Universal Credit (UC) implementation across Northern Ireland has started for those in receipt of tax credits and no other benefits.

The ‘Move to UC’ started on October 16 when Migration Notice letters were issued across all postcodes to Working Tax Credits and/or Child Tax Credits recipients who receive no other benefit.

The final stage of the ‘Move to UC’ involves moving those who are still in receipt of the benefits and tax credits being replaced by Universal Credit. Deputy Secretary of Work and Health at the Department for Communities, Paddy Rooney said:

“We are approaching the final implementation stage of UC with the utmost care.

“We will closely monitor the impact of implementation and ensure that all of the proper help, advice and support is available to everyone throughout the ‘Move to UC’ process.”

Migration Notice letters are being issued from the Department explaining what people need to do and will include signposting to help for those who need it. Working Tax Credits and/or Child Tax Credits recipients who receive no other benefit do not need to do anything unless they receive a Migration Notice letter from DfC.

See:Move to UC’ to begin next week | Department for Communities (


CE Marking and Global Technical Compliance Seminars

Invest Northern Ireland (Invest NI) is holding a series of online seminars to offer guidance on compliance, European, and global standards.

Taking place over two half-days on 15 and 16 November 2023, the CE marking for mechanical engineering webinar is based primarily on the Machinery Directive.


CE Marking for Electrical Engineering Webinar.

Taking place on Tuesday 28 November 2023, this full-day webinar is based primarily on the Low Voltage and Electro-Magnetic Compatibility Directives.

Both CE marking webinars will provide guidance to compliance and assist participants in determining the route that is most appropriate, cost-effective, and efficient for their product. For most companies, the CE and UKCA marking is a self-certification process and involves an evaluation of the product, machine, or equipment against a relevant standard.


Global Technical Compliance Webinar.

This half-day, intensive webinar on Tuesday 5 December 2023 is aimed at businesses looking to supply mechanical or electro-mechanical machinery and/or electrical and electronic products (including control panels) outside of the EU.

The webinar will provide up-to-date and relevant information on global standards requirements for product and component safety, and compliance guidelines for key global trading areas, focusing on those that are of particular interest to participants attending.

See: CE marking and global technical compliance seminars (


Apply for Co-Founders 2024

Run by Catalyst, this programme aims to bring together a wide range of people to facilitate collaboration for start-ups.

Catalyst are looking for people who are interested in creating a start-up; both the people who have skills they could bring to a start-up team, as well as people who already have a great idea or have come up with a problem space but need a team of skilled people to make it happen. They are also open to teams that have already formed.

Entry to Co-Founders is free. The programme will take place over 12 weeks, on Monday evenings from March to June 2024. The deadline for Co-Founders 2024 applications is Thursday 30 November 2023.

Co-Founders can help you:

  • form a start-up team with other participants;
  • upskill with weekly workshops and mentoring;
  • grow your network and meet talented and skilled individuals; and
  • prepare you to access funding for your start-up.

The teams will receive access to mentors and industry experts, who will help to validate their idea, test them in the real world, and develop their business. Each team will then pitch to a panel of seasoned entrepreneurs, allowing them to progress through the programme and access the best funding opportunities.

See: Apply – Co-Founders

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