Catch up on the big issues in this week’s Small Business Bites. We cut through the noise to dig out stories that really matter to UK small business owners, from the last month. Here’s our roundup of things you need to know:
Small Business Saturday spend up 15% year-on-year
An estimated £717 million was spent with small businesses across the UK on Small Business Saturday (December 3) this year. This was up 15% on 2015, with over half (57%) of those aware of the day saying they spent more than usual.
According to the official website, over 80% of local authorities actively supported the campaign on the day in a variety of ways, from staging or supporting small business events to offering free parking.
Support was also bolstered by 130,000 tweets on the day, reaching more than 120 million people.
Michelle Ovens MBE, campaign director of Small Business Saturday, said: “In its fourth year, Small Business Saturday has once again delivered a sustained increase in spending with Britain’s small independent businesses. To see the spend on Small Business Saturday reach £249 million more this year than on the first Saturday in 2013, an increase of 53%, is fantastic and confirms the positive stories we are hearing from small businesses in communities across the UK.”
Legal providers to be more up front with prices
Following a year-long study into the legal services sector, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) that competition in the legal services for individual customers and small businesses is not working well. In particular, there is not enough information available price, quality and service to help those who need legal support choose the best option.
As a result, the CMA has set out a package of measures which challenges providers and regulators to help customers better navigate the market to get value for money. They include “a requirement on providers to display information on price, service, redress and regularly status to help potential customers”. This would include publishing pricing information for particular services online (only 17% of firms do so at present).
Mike Cherry, chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said: “Many small businesses could benefit from greater use of legal services, but currently the market is complex and difficult to navigate.
“Smaller firms can often fail to recognise a problem as a legal issue, or assume a legal resolution to be too expensive, time consuming or risky to pursue. Greater transparency on price and quality of legal services will encourage more small businesses to seek expert advice when necessary.
“We’re pleased the CMA is now looking to close the gaps in the market we identified, by demanding greater transparency from legal service providers.”
For more information see https://www.gov.uk/government/news/cma-demands-greater-transparency-from-legal-service-providers
UK businesses owe £1.8 billion in late Corporation Tax
The total value of Corporation Tax payments in arrears has jumped 15% in the past year, to £1.82 bn up from £1.59 bn, as businesses increasingly struggle to pay their tax bills, says Funding Options, the online business finance supermarket.
Conrad Ford, CEO of Funding Options, said: “We have seen an increasing number of companies come to us for funding in order to pay their overdue tax bills.
“These figures demonstrate the growing pressure on cashflow for companies, which could get worse following the outcome of the EU referendum. Companies might want to explore in detail alternative finance options available to them before HMRC comes knocking on their door.”
“Businesses need to make sure they have the adequate funding to pay tax bills on time, without taking capital from other areas of the business.”
To help businesses find other alternative ways of finding additional funding, the Government has introduced the ‘Bank Referral Scheme,’ aimed at making it easier for small businesses to receive funding. As part of this scheme, banks are required to offer any small business whose loan application they have rejected a referral to three designated finance platforms, including Funding Options.
Company Check launched its first ever 12 Days of Christmas
In the run up to Christmas, Company Check ran an online ‘advent calendar’, providing customers with interesting articles, useful content and discounts from December 12-23. Gifts included 12 tips for staying productive during the Christmas period, a round up of the best business infographics of 2016 and a 25% discount off Company Check membership.
See the full 12 Days of Christmas here: http://hub-new.companycheck.co.uk/christmas-2016/