Here’s the #EurofficeSMEUpdate for March 2015 to keep you posted on developments on the small business front
New Dragons coming to the Den
The most important news first – #Dragons’ Den is getting three new entrepreneurs, replacing Douglas Bannatyne, Piers Linney and Kelly Hoppen.
Your new Dragons are Nick Jenkins who founded MoonPig.com, Sarah Willingham who bought and turned-around Indian restaurant chain The Bombay Bicycle Club and your final fire-breather is Touker Suleyman who runs menswear company Hawes & Curtis and womenswear label Ghost.
Get your wallets out for prompt payment
Whether you owe or are owed, you should know that the government is extending the voluntary Prompt Payment Code (#PPC) in order to further tackle late payments.
In February, business minister Matthew Hancock said that the PPC will ‘promote’ 30-day terms as standard, with a maximum of 60 days. Companies that can’t explain why they’re taking more than 60 days to pay will be removed from the PPC register of prompt-paying companies.
This is good news, but don’t businesses need mandatory, court-enforced protection? According to the Federation of Small Businesses, 43% of firms have waited more than 90 days beyond the agreed payment date before receiving money owed.
Government launches ‘Fit For Work’ scheme
The government has launched a new website offering free health advice for working people with health conditions, or those who want to get back to work. It’s billed as a ‘line of support for GPs, employers and employees to help those who are in work and off sick’.
It’s interesting that in England, it appears that this been outsourced to a company owned by an American firm called Maximus. In Scotland, the same service is run by the NHS.
Couldn’t the whole thing have been run by the NHS? I mean, Americans are very nice and all but they can’t even make proper chips.
Keep your customer’s details private
The Information Commissioners Office says companies should do more to tell customers how their data is used and shared, citing figures that show that 85% of people are concerned about how their details are sold and passed to other firm. Some 77% have worries about their data being kept securely.
If you have to take customer details as part of a transaction or for customer service, do your best to have a clear statement about how you’ll use and protect their private information.
New fund to help SMEs be more competitive
The UK Commission for Employment and Skills (#UKCES) is looking to find and fund ‘anchor institutions’ around the country to help SMEs improve leadership entrepreneurial skills.
An anchor institution is one that has a strong local presence and makes a strategic contribution to the local economy. This could include, for example, universities, local enterprise networks (LEPs), colleges, chambers of commerce, banks and major employers.
The idea is that these anchor firms come up with a proposal to help SMEs in their local area, or area of expertise. If the proposal is accepted, UKCES may give the project a share of the £1.5million pot to help get it off the ground. The deadline for proposals is 30 April 2015.
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