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!
Flexible Working Will Become the “Default” for Employees
Following a recent UK Government consultation and Royal Assent of the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023, flexible working will become the default for millions of employees who will be able to request flexible working from day one of their employment in 2024.
Flexible working doesn’t just mean a combination of working from home and in the office – it can mean employees making use of job-sharing, flexitime, and working compressed, annualised, or staggered hours.
The UK government states that the new measures will give employees greater access to flexibility over where, when, and how they work, and the government hopes it will lead to happier, more productive staff. Flexible working has been found to help employees balance their work and home life, especially supporting those who have commitments or responsibilities such as caring for children or vulnerable people.
Some experts have argued the legislation leaves employers open to grievances if they do not follow proper procedures and that this is yet another layer of administration. All employers are advised to take steps to prepare an updated flexible-working policy which can be released from the date the changes come into force.
The right to request flexible working legislation currently supports all employees with 26 weeks continuous service to make applications to change their work location, working hours and/or working pattern.
The new legislation means the following measures are adopted:
- make the right to request flexible working a day one right;
- introduce a new requirement for employees to consult with the employee when they intend to reject their flexible working request;
- allow 2 statutory requests in any 12-month period (rather than the current one);
- require a decision period of 2 months in respect of a statutory flexible working request (rather than the current three); and
- remove the existing requirement that the employee must explain what effect, if any, the change applied for would have on the employer and how that effect might be dealt with.
Inflation is Down But Managing Your Cash Flow is Essential Right Now!
UK inflation fell to 4.6% in October, due mainly to a fall in energy prices, but in general, supplier prices remain volatile. High interest rates and a stagnant economy mean managing your business’s cash and understanding the flow are now vital tools in maintaining resilience and being able to adopt flexible strategies for success.
Cash flows are a reflection of all the cash that is flowing in and out of a business. Owners can look at the direction of the cash flows for insights about the health of specific products or services and overall market patterns.
Some types of business are more likely to run into cash flow problems, while other types appear to be more resilient. If you are a business owner, you might be wondering which category your business falls into. No matter how inventive or simple your business model is, you can still have problems with cash flow. Here are our thoughts on managing the flow of cash in your business:
The first stage of understanding and predicting how funds flow is to perform a health check on your accounts. Look at your latest profit and loss statement and check that your income is sufficient to cover your expenses. If your profit is falling behind your expenses and cash flow is slowing down, you might need to take action. Prepare a cash flow statement so you know where the money goes.
Next, create a yearly budget, look where cash could become tight, and identify months where you can save to cover off the quieter times. Look at those quieter months and think about flexible work scheduling, new products or services, or other activities to tide you over.
Finally make sure you collect your money from those who owe you quickly. Reward customer loyalty by offering early bird discounts, set credit limits and payment terms to ensure customers follow the rules. If you take on new customers make credit checks. Penalise late payers and request up front deposits or payment.
Please talk to us about preparing a cash flow statement and annual budget so that you can work on your business for maximum success!
Find a Grant Service
Find a grant is a UK government service that allows businesses to search all UK government-funded grants. Businesses can use the website to browse or search for available grants, check if they are eligible and find out how to apply for each grant.
Anyone can use the UK government Find a grant service to find and apply for grant funding. Each funding opportunity has its own eligibility criteria and scope. There is no cost to use this service.
You can also sign up to get updates about new grants.
Volunteering: Guidance for Employers on How to Manage the Risks
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has guidance on how to manage the risks to volunteers.
The guidance explains how health and safety law applies to volunteering.
There is also information on:
- when to report incidents involving volunteers; and
- including volunteers in your risk assessments.
The pages provide some specific advice for volunteers who manage non-domestic premises such as village and community halls, as well as guidance on charity retail and fundraising.
Latest HMRC Tax Webinars
Listed below are a number of live HMRC webinars that will give the self-employed an understanding of key taxes that affect them and also help employers with payroll. The webinars are free and last around an hour.
Webinars for the self-employed
Capital expenditure and revenue repairs (IFP1)
Tue 28 Nov at 1:45pm
Cash basis and property income allowance (IFP3)
Thu 30 Nov at 11:45am
VAT – the basics and the VAT return
Tue 12 Dec at 9:45am
Finance costs and travel expenses (IFP2)
Wed 29 Nov at 9:45am
VAT accounting schemes
Fri 1 Dec at 1:45pm
Mon 18 Dec at 9:45am
Car expenses for the self-employed
Wed 13 Dec at 9:45am
Capital allowances and vehicles
Wed 13 Dec at 11:45am
Business expenses for the self-employed
Thu 14 Dec at 11:45am
Company directors – payroll and you
Tue 21 Nov at 1:45pm
Getting payroll information right
Mon 27 Nov at 9:45am
Expenses and benefits for your employees – travel
Tue 5 Dec at 11:45am
Expenses and benefits for your employees – company cars, vans, and fuel
Thu 7 Dec at 9:45am
Employer filing obligations
Wed 13 Dec at 1:45pm
Taxing employees’ benefits and expenses through your payroll
Thu 14 Dec at 9:45am
UK and Florida Sign Pact to Boost Trade
The UK and Florida sign the 7th UK-US state level Memorandum of Understanding to boost trade and investment. Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to boost trade and investment between the UK and Florida.
Florida has a GDP of over £1.1tn – the fourth biggest of any US state and roughly the same size as Spain. The MoU is designed to help make it quicker, easier, and cheaper for UK and Florida firms to do business and is targeted at sectors in which the UK and Florida have particular strengths such as space, fintech, AI, and legal services.
The MoU is the first the UK has signed which focuses on the space sector. Florida is home to the NASA Kennedy Space Centre and has world-leading capabilities in launch infrastructure, manufacturing, and satellite development, presenting huge opportunities for the UK’s growing space industry – now with an income worth over £17.5 billion and employing nearly 50,000 people.
The UK now has MoUs with seven US states – Indiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Utah, Washington, and Florida – with a combined\AQ GDP of £3.3tn, just under the GDP of Germany. The UK is also actively engaging with further states including Texas, California, Colorado, and Illinois.
USA Export Toolkit for Smaller Businesses
The Department for Business and Trade has launched a toolkit to help small businesses export to the USA.
The toolkit designed for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) looking to trade between the two countries. It helps SMEs find support in the UK from the Department for Business and Trade and other sources to help their business grow and export, particularly to the USA.
Heat Pump Ready Programme Stream 2 Wave 2 Competition
The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) Heat Pump Ready (HPR) Programme Stream 2 Wave 2 competition will support applied research and development projects, focused on driving down the lifetime costs of domestic heat pump deployment, and improving the domestic consumer experience and acceptability of heat pumps through technology, tools, business model, and process innovation.
It aims to develop solutions that:
- improve the ease of heat pump deployment in homes that are ‘complex to decarbonise’ by addressing physical, material, locational, technological, regulatory, or social challenges;
- develop innovative solutions to enable heat pumps to be deployed in ‘distress purchase’ situations when a new home heating system is required urgently;
- improve performance and/or reduce costs of domestic heat pumps with low global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants (below 150 GWP), while ensuring safety; and
- reduce the lifetime costs or improve the overall lifetime performance of domestic heat pumps or improve the domestic consumer experience of using and living with a heat pump.
The HPR Programme is funding the development of technology and tools which are expected to be nearing commercialisation by the end of their projects. The solutions supported in Stream 2 Wave 2 must be:
- hardware at Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 5/6/7 at the start of a funded project, with the expectation that technology developed through the competition projects will reach TRL 7/8/9 by the end of the project; and
- software at Discovery/Alpha phases at the start of the project but should not be at Beta or Live phase – software is expected to reach Live phase by project completion.
Up to £10 million of grant funding is available in total through the competition. The maximum possible grant funding for a single project is £1.5 million and successful project teams will be required to provide private sector funding alongside the grant funding provided from the HPR Programme.
Applications are open until Monday 8 January 2024.
Creative Catalyst Challenge Fund
Creative UK is accepting applications for the Creative Catalyst Challenge Fund, offering businesses an opportunity to access grant funding of up to £250,000.
Supported by Innovate UK, this fund is designed to empower creative minds to channel their innovation towards addressing specific climate challenges within the industry.
The focus of this grant is to support research and development that:
- combats waste;
- promotes decarbonisation; and
- minimizes the creative industry’s impact on the environment.
The deadline for applications is midday, Monday 27 November 2023.
Call for Input on New Trade Negotiations with Turkey
The Department for Business and Trade has launched a call for input on an updated free trade agreement (FTA) with Turkey.
The deal would replace the existing UK-Turkey FTA, which was rolled over from when the UK left the European Union but doesn’t cover key areas of the UK economy like services, digital, and data.
The consultation seeks input on:
- what you think about the UK’s current trading arrangements with Turkey;
- where the UK could make changes or improvements; and
- where you are facing challenges or constraints when attempting to trade with Turkey.
The UK government will use this information to help inform their approach for starting negotiations on a new FTA with Turkey in the future.
This is an opportunity for businesses, organisations and individuals to help shape and refine the UK’s negotiating aims ahead of the talks.
This call closes at 11:45pm on 5 January 2024.
British Goods Remain Eligible for Reduced or Zero Tariffs to Mexico
The UK has secured an extension to arrangements that were due to expire, helping British manufacturers access lower or zero tariffs when selling their products to Mexico.
The arrangement will come into effect from 1 January 2024 and will remain in place until a new UK-Mexico Free Trade Agreement enters into force.
The deal will provide welcome certainty for UK businesses, helping them to continue avoiding high tariffs imposed by Mexico and maintain their competitive edge in the market. The announcement is particularly welcome news for the automotive and food and drink sectors, with road vehicles accounting for almost £300 million in exports to Mexico, almost 20% of all goods exported.
Mexico is the 14th largest economy in the world and second largest in Latin America, and its demand for imports is forecast to grow by 42% between 2021 and 2035 as its economy continues to grow. With a population of over 130 million people, its market is larger than France and Italy combined.
Innovate UK Agri-Food Accelerator
Innovate UK is looking for UK-based innovators from underrepresented groups or who have struggled to access funding in the past and who would want to fast-track their agri-food innovation ideas.
This opportunity is open to people who identify with a community considered underrepresented by Innovate UK in the innovation ecosystem. This includes:
- disabled, including, and not limited to mental health conditions, learning disabilities, neurodiversity, and physical disabilities;
- ethnic minority groups;
- non-binary and all marginalised genders;
- people with primary caring responsibilities;
- people from low socioeconomic backgrounds;
- people from non-traditional educational routes into innovation;
- women; and
- younger (aged 18-30) and older (aged 60+) people.
A cohort of up to ten participants will be selected to take part in six training sessions. Some sessions will run in person and online, and others online only, so everyone can access them.
The training sessions will help you:
- understand the agri-food innovation sector better;
- learn how to get support when applying for funding through Innovate UK and beyond;
- improve your access to partners and markets; and
- expand your business.
Each session will be facilitated by a member of the Innovate UK Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) agri-food team, and/or a member of the Innovate UK Transforming Food Production team.
Some topics covered during the training sessions will be tailored to the needs of the cohort. The programme will be finalised when participants have been selected.
The deadline for applications is 24 November 2023.
New Programme Helps British SMEs Lead the Way on Net Zero Air Travel
Cutting-edge British aerospace companies are set to benefit from a new multi-million pound SME Programme that will secure high-skilled jobs and help the UK lead the way on greener air travel.
The Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) SME Programme will offer UK-based small and medium-sized firms the chance to bid for a share of £10 million total funding per year towards their innovative research projects.
The Programme was announced by Industry Minister Nusrat Ghani at the ATI’s 2023 Conference in Birmingham. It will be delivered in partnership with the ATI and Innovate UK.
The new Programme will open to applications in February 2024 and aims to give SMEs the best opportunities possible to apply for funding to develop innovative technologies supporting the Government’s commitment to Jet Zero.
This is the plan to achieve net zero carbon emissions for commercial aircraft by 2050, while also keeping the UK’s aerospace industry competitive in the sustainable design, manufacture, assembly and operation of future aircraft.
The Programme will allow SMEs in the UK aerospace sector to bid for grants of up to £1.5 million each, helping to boost high-skilled jobs in the industry across the UK.
It also builds on the Government’s commitment to backing UK aerospace R&D to succeed, as demonstrated by the ATI Programme, for which government provided £685 million in 2022.
Support for organisations engaging with the SME Programme will be delivered by the ATI Hub. This will include sessions with ATI technologists, themed innovation workshops and guidance on preparing for a pitch-panel presentation.
The ATI Hub can also generate new connections between start-ups, SMEs, bigger and tier one organisations which could become consortia applications to the SME Programme.
Graduate Placement Programme Argyll and Bute
This programme allows small to medium-sized enterprises and social enterprises in Argyll and Bute to take on a graduate for a 12-month project. Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) will fund up to 50% of their salary, for salaries between £21,000 and £28,000.
Placements related to innovation, net zero, and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) will be given priority.
Each applicant will only receive funding for one graduate placement.
The programme can help if there is an aspect of your business that would be more efficient if you brought in new skills, fresh thinking, or additional resources, or if you have a project role in mind but are struggling to find the time or skills within your current workforce.
Social Media and Management Tools
Business Gateway offers free guides, articles and more on how digital can help you to improve your business, people, and processes.
- Social media content calendar template;
- Responding to customers online;
- Should my business be on Instagram;
- Social media content calendar template;
- Social media strategy guide; and
- How to use influencer marketing to boost your business.
Development Land for Sale in Angus
The Invest in Angus team can help businesses find development land that suits the needs of the business. The team will offer bespoke advice on what land is available in Angus and can provide an insight into what else Angus Council can offer to support businesses to grow.
Angus has prime industrial land at a significantly lower cost than neighbouring Aberdeen and Dundee and easy access to transport infrastructure. It also offers a strong manufacturing sector and a growing renewables sector, with many innovative and ambitious developments coming from the Tay Cities Deal.
Land is currently available at:
- Orchardbank Business Park, Forfar;
- Brent Avenue/Forties Road, Montrose; and
- Brechin Business Park.
Tayside Expert Help Programme
The Tayside Expert Help Programme allows businesses to get free support from specialists to help them grow and develop their business. It’s available to businesses in the Dundee City Council, Angus Council, and Perth and Kinross Council areas.
Businesses located in the Tayside area will receive free support, including advice from experienced, qualified professionals.
Full support is available on range of topics, including:
- supporting your growth strategy;
- procurement – how to win tenders;
- leadership and organisational development;
- digital marketing;
- digital strategies;
- environmental support;
- internationalisation; and
- innovation support.
Scottish Enterprise Account Management Service
Scottish Enterprise provides a dedicated account management service for ambitious companies that are able to demonstrate that they can make a significant contribution to achieving a fairer and greener economy.
The account management service will:
- develop your business strategy;
- offer advice and support to help build strong and effective leadership and management practices;
- build a tailored support package;
- connect you with and maximise available funding from business support partners and the innovation, investment, and entrepreneurial eco-system in Scotland (and beyond);
- introduce you to like-minded businesses and industry networks relevant to your future ambitions; and
- introduce you to specialist advisors who can help you plan and implement changes.
Account-managed companies should be:
- focused on achieving growth and delivering outcomes for the Scottish economy;
- focused on retaining or creating quality jobs in Scotland that pay at least the Real Living Wage; and
- committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions.
The service will also help direct your business development and growth plans to:
- prepare for and attract appropriate growth investment for your business;
- improve productivity and increase innovation within the business (in products, processes, business models and workplaces);
- achieve international growth; and
- grow and become more resilient.
The account management service is not open to all companies, but Scottish Enterprise works closely with a number of partners – including Business Gateway, innovation centres and regional incubators and accelerators – and may direct you to one of these partners if appropriate.
Help With Export Finance and Risk Support
Scottish Enterprise provides free export finance support to Scottish companies through an export finance adviser.
The adviser will offer guidance on:
- how to understand and manage export-related financial risk;
- export finance;
- how to identify the finance options available;
- how to review key risks, such as payment methods, payment protection and cash flow;
- payment options; and
- risk review and how to mitigate risk, including foreign exchange exposure, shipping terms and incoterms.
Your adviser will provide direct support by email or telephone. In some cases, a few sessions may be required in order to provide the relevant guidance.
Business Growth Programme – Glasgow
Businesses can benefit from a range of support through Glasgow City Council’s business voucher programme, which provides access to specialist consultants.
Eligible businesses will be able to use the vouchers to access one-to-one support with consultants on the topics that best suit their needs. The length of time each business will be given with the consultants will depend on the outcome of the application process. The consultancy must be used within a 12 month period.
Available support topics include:
- business structuring,
- business growth,
- leadership, skills, and resources,
- business financial management,
- design thinking and innovation,
- sales and marketing,
- digital development and innovation, and
- green business support.
This project is funded by the UK government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.
Glasgow City Council Tech Smart Meetup Subsidy
The Tech Smart Meetup Subsidy is a fund to support tech community events in Glasgow. Businesses that are organising events can apply for funding to cover costs such as catering and venue hire.
The grant can be used for activities such as tech meetups, founder events, and hackathons.
This fund aims to support the setup of tech community events and encourage attendance from businesses in this sector.
This project is part funded by the UK government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.
The maximum grant amount is £1,000. It will be paid in arrears, after the event has taken place.
International Selling Programme
Scottish Enterprise and its international arm, Scottish Development International (SDI), have designed the International Selling Programme to help exporting companies in Scotland rethink their international sales strategy and processes.
Through workshops and direct support, the 4-week programme can help you improve the skills you need to sell internationally and develop an informed and structured approach to selling in complex and consultative environments internationally.
Participants are also mentored and coached throughout the programme, culminating in a pitching session. The end goal of the programme is for participants to develop a customised and action-orientated international sales growth plan based on a specific opportunity area.
Some of the topics and themes covered in the programme include:
- understanding market dynamics and the buyer;
- your international value proposition;
- international sales cultures; and
- opportunity win planning.
Free Local and International Market Research and Reports
The Research Service provides free, high-quality information to businesses and entrepreneurs across Scotland to help you plan and grow your business and reduce the risks involved in decision making.
Want to get to know your markets, customers, and competitors better? Looking to expand your operations in local or global markets? You can save time, money, and effort by getting in touch with the Research Service.
They have access to trusted sources of quality information and market research. They can provide information on:
- market size,
- growth potential,
- key opportunities,
- competitive landscape, and
- drivers, challenges, and trends.
All within 5 working days of your initial request.