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!
Thinking Long Term is a Key Business Strategy
We were finally getting over the financial crisis when Covid struck. Then, in the trough of the worst economic downturn in 300 years, we discovered that recovery was driving the FTSE to new heights and the job market into a frenzy. In the wake of that, it became clear that the recovery was overheating and that we are now facing a period of rising inflation and industrial action.
Russia’s war in Ukraine has made things worse. It has not only meant human suffering – it has affected the entire global economy, driving up the cost of food and energy. It adds to the hardship for those on low incomes and means serious food security risks in the world’s poorest economies.
The economy has always had its ups and downs, but its resemblance to a roller coaster is currently more marked than ever.
Businesses of every size face challenges that are now suppressing growth. A business might have a great product or service, but without a strategic plan to help it define, articulate and communicate where it is going, it will be at the mercy of outside events. We encourage our clients to take some time to think long-term about their business and to establish goals or targets that you can control.
A plan starts with identifying and accessing opportunities within your market and should address how your business is going to evolve to meet the challenges of today and the future. The plan gives your business purpose and answers questions about your long-term goals.
The first step is to look at five important areas:
- Think long term – invest time in understanding where the market is going and what this means for your customers. Short-term decisions do not help grow a business.
- Having a good value proposition is essential – this states the relevance of your product or service, what it does and why customers need it. What is yours?
- Expand your reach – who is your target customer and what do you need to do to let them know you exist and that your product or service is relevant to them?
- Growth means new people, systems and (maybe) different ways of doing things. Grow at a pace you can manage.
- How will your marketing get your value proposition to relevant customers?
Once you have taken time to write your plan and decide where you want your business to be in (say) 2 years, the next step is to work out a marketing programme with actions to make it happen.
A marketing plan is a business document outlining your marketing strategy and tactics. It is often focused on a specific period of time (i.e. over the next 12 months) and covers a variety of marketing-related details, such as costs, goals, and action steps. But like your business plan, a marketing plan is not a static document. The plan should outline:
- How you are going to keep existing customers happy and returning to buy more often.
- What the goals are for getting new customers.
- The marketing methods you are going to use to achieve 1 and 2.
We specialise in helping our clients manage their businesses. We do this by preparing and updating detailed forecasts, using the latest and most powerful software.
Please talk to us about strategic planning. We can help with a template so you can do this yourself or work together to produce estimates for various scenarios and help you take control of your business!
Bills and Notes Guarantee
UK Export Finance has launched a new product to help support SMEs through challenging market conditions.
The new Bills and Notes product is now open to guarantee payments by overseas buyers. The product will be available to more financial institutions with a simpler, more streamlined process.
Bills and Notes are a standard method of payment where money is due under bills of exchange or promissory notes. UKEF has now improved its offer to enable overseas buyers of UK goods to benefit from extended payment terms structured using these methods.
Simply put, it means that small UK businesses can get paid more quickly and easily for their exports.
HMRC Reduce Advisory Fuel Rate for Petrol Company Cars
HMRC has announced their suggested reimbursement rates for employees’ private mileage using their company car from 1 December 2022, which are summarized in the table below. The rates have been reduced in line with the recent fall in petrol prices. However, diesel prices remain the same and LPG reimbursement rates have increased.
Remember, that provided all private fuel is fully reimbursed by the employee/director, the fuel benefit does not apply.
|1400cc or less||14p
|1600cc or less||14p|
|1401cc to 2000cc||17p
|1601 to 2000cc||17p|
Where the employer’s policy is that they do not pay for any fuel for the company car, these are the amounts that can be reimbursed to the employee in respect of qualifying business journeys for the payments to be tax-free. Where there has been a change, the rate for the previous quarter is shown in brackets. You can continue to use the previous rates for up to 1 month from the date the new rates apply.
Note that for hybrid cars, you must use the petrol or diesel rate. For fully electric cars, the rate is now 8p per mile (previously 5p per mile).
Self-Assessment: Don’t Forget to Declare COVID-19 Payments
HMRC is reminding taxpayers that they must declare COVID-19 payments in their tax return for the 2021 to 2022 tax year.
These grants are taxable and should be declared on tax returns for the 2021 to 2022 tax year before the deadline on 31 January 2023.
The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) application and payment windows during the 2021 to 2022 tax year were:
- SEISS 4: 22 April 2021 to 1 June 2021
- SEISS 5: 29 July 2021 to 30 September 2021
SEISS is not the only COVID-19 support scheme that should be declared on tax returns. If taxpayers received other support payments during the 2021 to 2022 tax year, they may need to report this on their tax return if they are:
- In a partnership
- A business
Data Protection Employment Practices: Monitoring at Work Draft Guidance
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is producing topic-specific guidance on employment practices and data protection. The ICO is releasing drafts of the different topic areas in stages and adding to the resource over time. A draft of the guidance on monitoring at work is now out for public consultation.
The draft guidance aims to provide practical guidance about monitoring workers in accordance with data protection legislation and to promote good practice.
The public consultation on the draft guidance and draft impact assessment will remain open until 11 January 2023.
Artificial Intelligence for Decarbonisation Innovation Programme
The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has launched the Artificial Intelligence (AI) for Decarbonisation Innovation Programme. It will support the development of innovative artificial intelligence technologies for decarbonisation applications to support the transition to net zero.
The programme will also promote coordination and collaboration between AI and carbon-emitting sectors in the United Kingdom in order to maximise the economic and carbon benefits of AI solutions in solving our most critical decarbonisation challenges.
Resource Efficiency for Materials and Manufacturing Competition
Innovate UK has launched a competition which will invest up to £1 million in innovation projects to improve resource efficiency. The aim of this competition is to support United Kingdom materials and manufacturing organisations to become more resource efficient. Simultaneous demonstrations of how UK materials and manufacturing will become more resilient or technologically advanced are encouraged.
Circular Fashion Recycling and Sorting Demonstrator
Innovate UK are to invest up to £4 million in an innovation project. This will be to develop and demonstrate closed-loop recycling for the fashion and textile sector at scale. This is the initial activity of a £15 million UK Research and Innovation Circular Fashion Programme.
The aim of this competition is to fund a research and development activity demonstrator. This will demonstrate new technologies, services, processes and business models capable of addressing the recycling and sorting challenges, as part of the UK’s fashion and textile sector and their direct supply chains.
Future Flight Skills Gap Competition
The future flight challenge for Innovate UK will invest up to £500,000 in projects to close aviation industry skills gaps.
The aim of the competition is to create and deliver course content and materials that will support skills, talent and training across the future flight sector. The purpose of this is to build awareness of future flight emerging markets and fill key gaps in the United Kingdom’s workforce talent and training capabilities.
Projects can deliver one or more of these objectives:
- Schools’ engagement
- Apprenticeships and internships
- Upskilling and reskilling of existing workforce
- Technical courses and vocational training
- Undergraduate, postgraduate and continuing professional development (CPD)
Airlines, Airports and Passengers to Have Their Say on Independent Aviation Regulator
The government has launched a call for evidence as part of its review of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the UK’s independent aviation regulator.
Open to all interested parties, it will provide an opportunity for anybody who uses the CAA or is affected by its work – including airlines, airports, pilots and passengers – to provide insight and evidence to inform the government review, on everything from the CAA’s strategy to its organisation and performance.
The call for evidence will close on 22nd January 2023. It will ask questions such as whether the CAA has the right powers to effectively regulate the aviation market, whether its charges are good value for money and whether it is effectively structured.
Wales Freeport Bidding Process Closes
Applications have closed from bidders interested in setting up a new Freeport in Wales.
Backed by £26 million in UK Government funding, the Freeport Programme in Wales aims to create jobs, boost the local economy and regenerate surrounding areas.
Three bids have been received from ports around the country. They will be jointly assessed by officials from the UK and Welsh governments, and it is expected that the successful site will be announced in early 2023 before becoming operational later in the year.
The Export Hub: A Free Online Resource Covering All Aspects of Exporting
In the Hub you will find information to help you explore overseas markets, find new clients, ensure market compliance, clarify import duties and more.
In addition, you will find:
- 190 detailed country profiles.
- 25,000 market reports.
- 12,000 trade shows.
- Databases containing more than 1 million importers and suppliers.
- Guidelines, tools and tips, such as checklists for finding counterparts, exporting to emerging markets, and complying with trade regulations.
Grant Scheme to Support Social Care Improve Energy Efficiency Now Open
A new grant scheme to support energy efficiency improvements and decarbonisation across Residential Social Care providers, which will help the sector deal with the cost of energy crisis, has been launched and is now open for applications.
The £1.4 million scheme is part of the Welsh Government’s Backing Local Firms Fund, which has been established to support businesses in parts of our local everyday economy, also known as the Foundational Economy, to deliver more of the products and services required by the public sector, helping to create more and better jobs closer to home.
The funding announced last month will support residential care providers to implement energy efficiency and low carbon measures, helping mitigate the impacts of the cost of energy crisis and move the sector one step closer to net zero carbon emissions by 2030.
It is open to residential care providers registered with Care Inspectorate Wales. This pilot scheme offers grants of between £30,000 to £50,000 to fund investments such as heat pumps, cavity wall insulation, double glazing/replacement windows, ground source heat pumps, loft insulation, tanks and pipes insulation.
Eligible businesses have until 21 December 2022 to apply for funding.
Historic Buildings Capital Grant Programme
The Historic Buildings Capital Grant Programme is a new Cadw-funded grant focusing on the repair of listed buildings at risk or in a vulnerable condition, to safeguard their significance, enhance the condition, support beneficial use and ensure their long-term maintenance.
The Historic Building Capital Grant Programme can fund 50% of eligible works (up to a maximum of £250,000) and aims to invest essential capital in heritage at risk to help owners and custodians to safeguard listed buildings at risk into the future for the benefit of the wider community.
FSB Small Business Awards 2023
The Federation of Small Business (FSB) is celebrating the achievements and contributions of small businesses and the self-employed across the UK. As the largest event of its kind in the small business calendar, the high-profile FSB Celebrating Small Business Awards are free to enter and open to all.
With winners from each category securing a spot at the UK final and a chance to be crowned the UK Small Business of the Year, it’s an opportunity for widespread recognition.
There are 12 categories, and you are welcome to enter as many different categories in your area as you like, however, please only submit one entry per category.
The closing date for Wales is 2 February 2023 with the Welsh final taking place on 24 March 2023.
Support Package Announced for People Affected by the Closure of Menai Suspension Bridge
The new package, put together in partnership with UK Highways A55 Ltd and Anglesey and Gwynedd County Councils, includes an extensive range of measures, including free parking, traffic flow solutions, access to active travel routes and additional bus stops to support people affected by the bridge closure.
From 1 December, free parking will be available at car parks in Menai Bridge town and at the two park and share sites throughout December and January. This practical support measure has been put in place to assist local businesses dependent on Christmas trade, help reduce the number of vehicles wishing to cross the A55 Britannia Bridge, and ease commuting times for those seeking to travel to and from Anglesey. These steps have been taken in addition to other signage measures that are currently in place.
To assist with the loss of bus services on the island following the closure of the bridge, the council has provided additional stops closer to the Menai Suspension Bridge to allow the general public to travel by bus and walk across the bridge instead of being potentially held up in traffic on the A55. They are also using their community transport to help the more rural communities affected by the bridge closure.
Local authorities are also considering active travel routes to allow cyclists to use ‘hire bikes’ to potentially be used in Menai Bridge and Bangor.