Business News – 20th April 2017

Late payment culture continues

A new report from SFS says that slow and late invoice payments mean SMEs in the UK are missing out on £250bn a year. Ian Cole, at SFS, comments: “SMEs make an important contribution to the economy, accounting for 47% of all private sector turnover, yet they continued to be plagued by lengthy invoice terms and late payments.

Fresh Business Thinking

Best places to start a small business in the UK

Oxford and Inverness are the best places to start a small business in the UK, followed by Cambridge, Durham, Portsmouth and Salisbury, according to Nominet. Eleanor Bradley, chief operating officer of Nominet, said: Setting up a new business can be daunting but giving consumers what they want, where they want it is the key to success.” She adds: “With millions of Brits searching the web for local services before hitting the streets, the lack of an online presence is the same as turning business away.”

City AM

Three-minute loans from RBS

RBS chief Ross McEwan has said he wants to make £4bn available to small business customers, who will be able to apply for loans of up to £35,000 online in as little as three minutes. Mr McEwan said a new platform will, from later this year, make the process automatic and the payments “instantaneous”.

The Sun, Page: 45

Skills shortage a boon for consultants?

SMEs in the UK spend over £60bn on external consultants a year, according to research commissioned by Zeqr, but many find costs for the advice are inflated and fixed fees inefficient. The most sought after areas for advice are: accountancy, insurance, IT, payroll and pensions and website building. The data also shows that 50% of businesses are lacking essential digital skills required to grow their companies. Businesses in the North East spend over double what London business do on expert fees (£29.9k compared with £12.6k). The discrepancy is attributed to the fact that London has a wider pool of experts in business related areas and subsequently more competitive fees.

Small Business

UK is Europe’s capital for fintech unicorns

Britain now boasts more billion-dollar fintech companies than the rest of the continent put together. The UK houses four fintech “unicorns” with a combined valuation of $18.5bn, according to a report by GP Bullhound. This compares to two in the rest of Europe, which are worth $4.6bn between them. However, China remains the world’s dominant fintech hub, with funding to Asian fintech companies surging to $7.1bn last year, more than in the US and Europe between them. Globally, fintech investment grew slightly to $13.6bn, although there was a decrease in the number of investments from 942 to 840.

The Daily Telegraph

VAT evasion by foreign online retailers costs UK £1.5bn

VAT evasion by online retailers from outside the EU cost the government up to £1.5bn last year, the NAO has warned. Meg Hillier, the chair of the PAC, said the tax authorities should “finally step up and act to confront this growing problem.” She added: “This is a double whammy for taxpayers. Overseas sellers who avoid VAT undercut the prices charged by small, law-abiding British businesses, hitting British jobs.” The NAO pointed out that overseas sellers, particularly from China, were using “fulfilment houses” in British port cities before selling them to British consumers through online marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay. HMRC had not yet been able to assess how much of the VAT losses were due to lack of awareness, error or deliberate fraud, according to the NAO’s study, but added that Amazon and eBay had not been taking sufficient action against non-compliant sellers. Amazon and eBay said they were educating traders, and providing tools to help with VAT reporting and compliance.

Financial Times, Page: 2    Independent i, Page: 40   Daily Star, Page: 2   The Guardian, Page: 24    Daily Mail, Page: 21   The Times, Page: 1, 2   Yorkshire Post, Page: 6

Engineers are the biggest tea drinkers

Two separate surveys conducted by kitchen company Smarter and Mecca Bingo, ahead of National Tea Day tomorrow, sought to determine the most popular ways of making a cup of tea. Four-fifths said they add water to the teabag before the milk while only one in five puts milk in before the water. Fourteen per cent leave the teabag in. The biggest tea drinkers are engineers, followed by healthcare workers, accountants and builders.

Daily Express, Page: 22

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Business News – 19th April 2017

Business News – 18th April 2017.