News in brief: energy, finance, legal

News in brief
News in brief

ENERGY

SMEs are overspending on their energy bills

According to an analysis conducted by the Energy Efficiency Financing (EEF) scheme, small and medium-sized commercial office businesses in the UK are overspending by more than £82 million per annum on their energy bills. This is due to a combination of inefficient technology and old equipment. The EEF scheme, a joint initiative between the Carbon Trust and Siemens Financial Services, aims to make finance for the acquisition of energy-efficient and renewable energy equipment more accessible and affordable for companies, in particular SMEs.

EEF scheme sales manager Richard Baker commented: "Many firms feel discouraged from investing in green technologies because of insufficient access to capital. However, with funding available from innovative schemes like EEF, where expected savings pay for the investment, organisations can now act on their green endeavour without having to worry about upfront capital."

No business wants to increase their costs unecessarily, and with SMEs where money is tight this becomes more important than ever. Be savvy, find out what schemes are availbale to you. 

LEGAL

New site aims to help SMEs cut costs when hiring a lawyer

A new website has been launched to help SMEs save money when they need to hire a lawyer. The Bar Council’s Direct Access Portal allows the business owner to go straight to a barrister rather than going through a solicitor, thus saving the extra associated costs.

It is possible to get advice on the chances of success of their case, use the barrister to draft court documents, prepare documents for trial, or to represent the person in court. In addition, they can obtain services at fixed fees in some cases, so they won’t have to contend with any unexpected costs. Barristers on the portal can help with a range of legal matters, including employment issues, family matters, tax, property law, immigration, licensing and road traffic laws.

Some smaller businesses might feel out of their comfort zone if the time comes when they need to hire a lawyer. Make sure you find out what help and advice is out there so you don't end up paying through the nose!

FINANCE

ING Belgium offers crowdfunding services to businesses

ING Belgium is launching a fast-track procedure for its business clients on crowdfunding platforms Seedrs and KissKissBankBank. For entrepreneurs who are driven by innovative ideas, a classic bank loan is not always the best or only solution. ING Belgium will now be able to offer projects that it believes will derive added value from (partial) financing through crowdfunding, a fast-track procedure at both Seedrs and KissKissBankBank.

Using the ING fast track procedure, it only takes the entrepreneur a couple of clicks to get access to the selected platform. Seedrs and KissKissBankBank will then get in touch with the business concerned and give it a first indication on the suitability of the project for its platform and on the chances of success.

Arval announces it will absorb government imposed tax increases

Vehicle leasing and fleet management company Arval has announced that it will be absorbing next month’s increase in Insurance Premium Tax (IPT) on its motor insurance products for customers on this occasion, in conjunction with sister company Greenval Insurance. This means that new or existing customers ordering an insured vehicle from Arval before 1 November will not incur the 3.5% government-imposed increase in their monthly fees.

More than 60% of vehicles used by the UK’s SME sector are supplied by Arval. In the July Budget Chancellor George Osborne announced that the standard rate of IPT would increase from six percent to 9.5% on 1st November this year. This will mean higher premiums across a whole range of personal and business insurances (from home and life to motor insurance).

The majority of medium-sized businesses would use a non-big four bank

Nearly three quarters of medium-sized businesses in the UK would consider using a non-big four bank, according to new research by BLME, a UK-based challenger bank. A fifth (20%) of respondents had already sought finance from a challenger bank.

Over a third of the respondents said they would do so to encourage greater competition in the banking market, while 32% of firms considering challenger banks said it was a result of hearing others having a positive experience. A quarter of mid-market firms see their respective scale with challenger banks as a good match.

Head of Corporate Banking at BLME Jervis Rhodes said: “Historically, the UK’s big high street banks have had a strong grip on the business lending sector. However, there is now evidence that the tide is turning, as we see the mid-market look for a bank with a competitive offering that has the time and expertise to understand their specific business. This will drive greater innovation and create a healthy, vibrant landscape for business lending across the UK.”

The alternative finance market is rapidly growing, and offers some amazing opportunities for SMEs. Get clued up to help your business innovate!