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!
Is Your Business Attracting New Talent?
Recruiting new employees is tough just now so be different! For example, some employers are now offering “Wellbeing leave” in addition to the usual holiday package. If you want to recruit more, you have to get serious about the process and be on it 24/7, 365!
There are a number of actions you can take to make your business attractive to new staff. In addition to reviewing your pay and conditions to be as competitive as possible, these include:
- Tasking recruitment as a permanent process;
- Regularly asking existing staff, customers, and suppliers for introductions;
- Offering incentives for referrals;
- Make sure you are running constant online social media and local advertisements;
- Embracing flexibility in hours and location in your business;
- Introducing a “Golden Hello” and loyalty bonusses for length of service (typically one to three years);
- Advertising testimonials from existing staff;
- Using government initiatives for apprentices (if available in your area);
- Make your company and the job sound as attractive as possible by outlining the position to sound prestigious and challenging. These two factors are big incentives for bright potential candidates;
- Knowing that job satisfaction comes from feeling respected and having the opportunity to learn new things and excel in the face of obstacles when advertising the role; and
- Convey your business’s personality so potential employees get a feel for what it would be like to work for you;
Useful guidance on the procedures for recruitment can be seen in the ACAS guide “Recruiting staff” which can be seen here: Recruiting staff (acas.org.uk)
Post-Brexit Import Checks Delayed For Fifth Time
The UK government has announced a fifth delay to post-Brexit checks on EU imports amid concerns the new system would fuel food inflation. The first stage of the new border controls, which have already been delayed four times, was due to be rolled out this October but now won’t be implemented until January 2024. The UK government says this the timetable is being revised to give businesses more time to prepare for the changes, which include more health and safety checks on food and animal products entering the country.
In April 2023, the UK government published a draft ‘Border Target Operating Model’, applicable to imports from all countries into Great Britain, including the EU. In it, they outlined how their proposals sought to balance the need for effective border controls with the need to support businesses with import processes that are as simple as possible.
After feedback from stakeholders and attendees at workshops and seminars, businesses and the border industry highlighted where further detail was needed to prepare for the model and set out a range of challenges that implementation of the new model would present. These were focussed both on new complexity and costs that would be introduced into the supply chain, as well as the timing of the introduction of new controls. In particular, businesses highlighted that their supply-chains would need time to adapt to new controls. This was particularly important in relation to the requirement for health certification which will require action from EU suppliers.
In response to this feedback, the UK government has decided to push back some of the implementation milestones for the Border Target Operating Model in order to give businesses more time to prepare. They say they will implement the Border Target Operating Model from January 2024 onwards, beginning with the introduction of health certification on relevant EU goods. This will bring the launch of the Border Target Operating Model closer to the upcoming simplification of border requirements through the new UK Single Trade Window. They say they have also sought to respond to stakeholder feedback to improve the wider model and provide further detail on its implementation.
One-Stop-Shop to Help Businesses Save Money and Go Green
British businesses will be able to access advice and support to reduce their energy bills while cutting their carbon emissions.
The UK Business Climate Hub, launched in August, includes a free carbon calculator and a suite of new tools to help businesses measure, track, and report on their emissions and save money by using less energy. It offers detailed advice on everything from sourcing products from green suppliers and reducing emissions from freight and logistics to the most cost-effective ways of installing solar panels and electric vehicle (EV) charging points.
Research shows that such measures can save companies on their overheads. For example:
- switching to EVs can not only cut running costs but also lower servicing and maintenance costs by around 40% compared to petrol or diesel cars;
- with up to half of companies’ overall electricity bill coming from lighting, making changes such as switching to LED bulbs can help shave up to 40% off bills; and
- giving drivers fuel efficiency training can help save companies an average of 15% on fuel use and carbon emissions in transporting goods.
The new support is aimed particularly at 5.5 million small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) in the UK, with business and industry accounting for around 25% of emissions. Research shows that 90% of SMEs are keen to tackle climate change but find it difficult to know how or where to start to find the right solutions to reduce their carbon footprint.
Studies also show 85% of consumers are more likely to buy from a business with a reputation for sustainability, meaning going green can help grow the economy.
Dementia is one of the greatest challenges we face in society today. All businesses can contribute to tackling the social and economic impact of dementia.
Statistics show that less than half (47%) of people living with dementia feel a part of their community (Alzheimer’s Society, 2013), and 28% said they have given up even getting out of the house.
Businesses and organisations can make a big difference for people with dementia and their carers by making a commitment to become more dementia-friendly. Becoming a dementia-friendly business is not only a socially responsible step but can also bring economic benefits.
Find out how your business can become more dementia-friendly and get our free guide. From retail to housing, utilities to entertainment, finance to transport, all sectors have a part to play.
Companies Urged to File Accounts Early to Avoid Penalties
If you’re due to file accounts with Companies House (CH) by the end of September, allow plenty of time before your deadline. All limited companies, whether they trade or not, must deliver annual accounts to CH each year. This includes dormant companies.
Running your own company can be exciting but also challenging. Directors have lots of responsibilities including keeping company records up-to-date and making sure they’re filed on time. You need to understand your role as a director, the importance of remaining compliant, and how late filing could affect your company.
Missing your filing deadline could affect your credit score or access to finance. It can affect how others view your company and whether they want to do business with you. There are also financial penalties and legal consequences – you could get a criminal record, a fine or disqualification.
If you file using CH online services, you’ll be sent an email to confirm they have received your accounts. They will send you another email when they have registered your accounts.
File your company’s accounts online before your deadline.
To file online, you may need your company authentication code. If you need to request a new code, you should allow up to 5 days for this to arrive at the company’s registered office.
Over 65% of companies use software filing as their preferred method.
There are a variety of software providers which offer a range of accounting packages to prepare and file accounts. Most types of accounts can be filed using software, depending on the functionality of the software package you’re using.
In the future, as part of new legislation brought about by the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill, you’ll only be able to file your accounts using software. This means you’ll no longer be able to file accounts on paper or using CH online services. Find out more about software-only filing.
After the Bill achieves Royal Assent and becomes an Act, CH will let you know the timetable for the phased roll-out of the change to software-only filing. CH state they will make sure that if you don’t already file using software, you have time to make the change before it’s a legal requirement.
You should only send paper accounts if your company cannot file online or by software. Accounts filed on paper need to be manually checked. CH only check them during office opening hours, and they can take over a week to process.
If you need to file your accounts on paper, you should send them to CH well before the deadline. This will give you plenty of time to correct your accounts and resend them if they are rejected.
It’s also important to make sure you send all documents to the correct Companies House office. This will help avoid any delays, as your documents may be re-directed, and they’ll take longer to reach CH. They will not accept postal delays as a reason to appeal a late filing penalty.
Guidance and Support
Please contact us if you have any CH related filing queries, we have considerable experience in helping our clients in this area.
EU Settlement Scheme: Information for Employers – Update
The EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) was established to enable EU, EEA and Swiss citizens resident in the UK by 31 December 2020, and their family members, to get the immigration status they need to continue to live, work, study, and access benefits and services, such as healthcare, in the UK after 30 June 2021. For those citizens resident in the UK by 31 December 2020, the deadline for applications was 30 June 2021.
The UK government have recently updated their EU Settlement Scheme guidance and in conducting right to work checks when recruiting EU, EEA and Swiss citizens from 1 July 2021 onwards. Support is available for employers on the website below.
Check If You Need To Send a Tax Return
If you normally file a Self-Assessment tax return, you will need to send it to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) for the tax year 2022 to 2023 and pay any tax you owe by 31 January 2024.
Once you have registered for Self-Assessment, you must file a return by law, even if you have already paid all the tax you owe or think you don’t owe any tax.
Not Sure If You Need To File A Tax Return?
Use this online tool to check if you need to complete a Self-Assessment tax return.
If you have already sent a tax return for the 2022 to 2023 tax year, or HMRC has been in contact to tell you that you don’t need to send one, you don’t need to do anything else just now.
If you no longer need to send a tax return, you need to let HMRC know. If you don’t, you may have to pay a penalty.
How to tell HMRC if you don’t need to send a return:
- if you were self-employed but have stopped working for yourself, use HMRC’s online form; or
- if you’re not self-employed, HMRC has created some guidance and an online form you can use.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO)
The ICO upholds information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals. ICO is an executive non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology.
If you are looking for some answers to data protection issues, then the ICO website is worth a visit. They give advice on all areas of data protection, including:
- UK General data protection regulation;
- Direct marketing;
- Data protection and the EU;
- Network and information systems;
- Freedom of information and access to information requests;
- Law enforcement;
- Electronic identification and trust services; and
- Intelligence services.
Innovation in Professional and Financial Services Competition
Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, is investing up to £5 million to support digital innovation within Professional and Financial Services.
This competition aims to advance the Professional and Financial Services sectors by supporting them in the creation and adoption of digital approaches and new digitally supported services.
To be eligible, projects must:
- have a total grant funding request between £50,000 and £200,000;
- start by 1 April 2024;
- last between 6 and 18 months;
- carry out all of the project work in the UK; and
- intend to exploit the results from or in the UK.
Your proposal must show how you will help these sectors:
- to deliver better products and services;
- increase access to these services; and
- make these services more effective for their customers.
This competition is split into two strands and will close for applications on Wednesday 27 September 2023.
Environmental Taxes, Reliefs and Schemes for Businesses
The government states that environmental taxes “encourage your business to operate in a more environmentally friendly way”. There are taxes and schemes for different types and size of business.
You may get reliefs or be exempt from some taxes, for example if:
- you use a lot of energy because of the nature of your business;
- you’re a small business that does not use much energy; or
- you buy energy-efficient technology for your business.
You can pay less tax by applying for schemes to help you demonstrate that you’re operating more efficiently and producing waste that’s less damaging.
Location Data Can Help Build the EV Chargepoint Network of Tomorrow
A new report seeks to support local authority decisions about electric vehicle (EV) chargepoint rollout. The transition to EVs will be enabled by a dependable public charging network and local authorities are ideally placed to identify their local charging needs.
By 2030, the sale of new petrol and diesel cars will be phased out and by 2035 all new cars and vans will be zero emission. The transition to EVs will be enabled by a dependable, well located public charging network that local authorities are ideally placed to help deliver.
Location data can arm local authorities with evidence to rollout a public charging network that gives current and prospective EV owners the confidence to make their journeys, whether in a densely populated city or the countryside. Drivers need to have the same confidence that they can charge their EV as they have that they can refuel their current petrol or diesel vehicle, so they can go about their business unimpeded.
Scheme to Support Coastal Communities
A scheme to support local projects in coastal areas of Wales in tackling the climate emergency could benefit from funding from the Welsh Government.
Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths said the Coastal Capacity Building Fund will be important in helping coastal communities improve environmental outcomes.
The fund aims to build capacity, helping communities to deliver sustainable action which supports growth and recovery in local marine and coastal areas.
The types of projects the fund could support varies from developing skills, knowledge, and networks to engage with marine and coastal issues, to carrying out scoping exercises to look at reducing carbon emissions in the marine and coastal environment.
It could also help increase public understanding of local eco-systems and how to manage and use them responsibly as well as supporting projects which improve the local seafood supply chains.
The fund has a yearly budget of £500,000, for two years. All projects must be completed by 31 March 2025. The application process is open and closes on Friday 22 September 2023.
The fund will be managed by the Wales Council for Voluntary Action as part of the Local Nature Partnership network.
Age Inclusion Online Workshops for Employers
Responsible business network Business in the Community Cymru is offering employers fully funded places for its Age-inclusive Learning Network online workshops. Part of the Age at Work programme, the interactive workshops are ideal for HR professionals or those with D&I responsibilities, who will hear from expert speakers, learn and share best practice, and take away practical actions to implement that will help them to recruit, retain, and support over 50s in their own workplace.
- Supporting your employees with caring responsibilities, Thursday 5 October 2023, 10am to 11:30am.
- Age-inclusive Recruitment, Tuesday 7 November 2023, 10am to 11:30am.
- Preparation for Retirement, Tuesday 5 December 2023, 10am to 11:30am.
- Building an age-inclusive culture and combatting ageism in the workplace, Tuesday 16 January 2024, 10am to 11:30am.
Advice on Eligibility for Covid-19 Autumn Booster Vaccination In 2023
For autumn 2023, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is recommending a single dose of Covid-19 vaccine be offered to:
- Residents in a care home for older adults;
- All adults aged 65 years and over;
- Persons aged 6 months to 64 years in a clinical risk group, as defined in tables 3 and 4 of the COVID-19 chapter of the Green Book;
- Frontline health and social care workers;
- Persons aged 12 to 64 years who are household contacts, as defined in the Green Book, of people with immunosuppression; and
- Persons aged 16 to 64 years who are carers, as defined in the Green Book, and staff working in care homes for older adults.
Welsh Government Modern Slavery Statement
Slavery finds its way into the supply chains of the clothes we buy, the food we eat, the materials we use in our buildings and the components in our phones and computers. It also takes place within our communities, where individuals are forced into labour exploitation, sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, and criminal exploitation by organised criminal gangs, criminal networks, and individual perpetrators.
Wales is not immune to these abhorrent practices. We must continue to take steps to tackle modern slavery wherever it exists.
The Welsh Government is publishing this Modern Slavery Statement in accordance with their Code of Practice on Ethical Employment in Supply Chains. In developing and becoming a signatory to this Code of Practice, the Welsh Government has voluntarily committed to producing an annual Modern Slavery Statement.
As a large organisation, the Welsh Government is inevitably part of global supply chains where workers face exploitation. In publishing this statement, we are acknowledging these risks, accepting our responsibilities, and committing to improving our practices.
Agriculture Act Comes into Force
The first made-in-Wales Agriculture Act is now law, having received Royal Assent on the 17 August.
The main source of future Government support for farmers in Wales, underpinned by the Act, will come through the proposed Sustainable Farming Scheme. This Act provides Welsh Ministers with the powers necessary to provide support in the future whilst also ensuring continued support for farmers during a transition period.
It also paves the way for the banning of snares and glue traps, with Wales becoming the first UK nation to introduce a complete ban. The Act provides tenant farmers with a route to dispute resolution to ensure they are not unfairly restricted from accessing financial assistance.
It also alters the Forestry Act 1967 to give Natural Resources Wales the power to add conditions to amend, suspend or revoke felling licenses to prevent felling that would contradict other environmental legislation.
It also replaces time limited powers in the Agriculture Act 2020 which are due to expire in December 2024.
Media Cymru Development Fund
The Media Cymru Development Fund offers up to £50,000 for Wales based individuals and businesses to research and develop (R&D) innovation-driven projects that demonstrate clear potential for a tangible product, experience, or service in the media sector.
Media Cymru is looking for ideas that have long term economic benefits for the media sector in the Cardiff Capital Region (CCR) or Wales.
Media Cymru are keenly interested in projects which focus on:
- Virtual production,
- Placemaking and tourism related content,
- Immersive storytelling,
- Extended reality technologies (augmented reality, virtual reality, mixed reality etc.),
- Tools that support environmentally sustainable media production, distribution and consumption,
- Developing tools to improve the production process,
- Tools that encourage the development of new and inclusive business models within the media sector, or
- Bilingual or multilingual production.
Previously funded Media Cymru Seed Projects are welcomed to apply for funding to further develop their existing idea. Applications close on Friday, 15 September 2023.
A Guide to Fair Work
The Welsh Government have updated their ‘Guide to Fair Work’.
Fair work is the presence of observable conditions at work which means workers are fairly rewarded, heard and represented, secure, and able to progress in a healthy, inclusive working environment where rights are respected.
This guide is designed to provide information to individuals and organisations to improve their understanding of fair work, their awareness of the benefits of fair work, and provides illustrative examples of steps that organisations can take to promote fair work.
Throughout this guide, the term ‘organisation’ is used as a general term to describe entities and businesses in the private, public, and third sectors who employ or otherwise engage workers to deliver, produce, or trade goods and services. This includes businesses that are totally or significantly owned by their workers such as worker co-operatives.
This guide aims to assist understanding of:
- what fair work means in practice;
- why promoting fair work is beneficial for organisations, workers, and wider well-being; and
- how organisations can continue on their fair work journey.