News in brief: franchising, employment rates, NLW

News in brief
News in brief

New franchise awards announced for 2016 has announced the launch of its Top Franchise Awards, sponsored by LawBite. The awards have been created to recognise companies of all sizes that have empowered women in business.

The online ceremony will include an awards presentation, a Q&A session and opportunities to network with peers. The six award categories are: Supportive Franchisor Award; Family Friendly Franchise Award; The Franchise Award for Continuous Improvement; Best Newcomer Award; Overall Top Franchise Award and Franchise of the Year Award. founder Gillian Nissim said: “The best franchises offer both the benefits of self-employment, but without some of the risks associated with striking out completely on your own, since franchisors have already demonstrated the viability of their business models.”

Small business employment on the rise in the UK

Latest government figures have revealed that employment by small businesses has increased by 1,618,000 employees over the last five years.

There are more than five million small businesses in the UK, generating £1.2 trillion for the economy. Since 2010, private sector employment has grown by nearly 2.5 million and small businesses accounted for 65% of this. These figures demonstrate the contribution small businesses have made to the nation’s record employment rate of 73.7%.

Small Business Minister Anna Soubry, said: “Our five million small businesses are the beating heart of our economy, providing millions of people across the country with the security of a job.

“I urge everyone to get out there today and support your small businesses, whether that be your local baker, hairdresser, mechanic or independent pub. And of course, your local high street is a great place to start any Christmas shopping.”

SMEs called on to prepare for the National Living Wage

The government is urging SMEs to take four steps to be better prepared for the introduction of next year’s (2016) new National Living Wage (NLW), on the day that the statutory instrument is laid to write it into law:

• know the correct rate of pay – £7.20 per hour for staff aged 25 and over

• find out which staff are eligible for the new rate

• update the company payroll in time for 1 April 2016

• communicate the changes to staff as soon as possible

The advice comes after a poll found that 93% of bosses support the initiative, with majority believing it will boost productivity and retain staff. Encouragingly, 88% believing it will lead to higher productivity and 83% saying it will make staff more loyal to their firm.

Business Minister Nick Boles said: “The government’s new National Living Wage will provide a direct boost to over two-and-a-half million workers in the UK – rewarding and providing security for working people.

“By taking these measures, companies will be able to properly reward their staff and avoid falling foul of the law when it takes effect.”

More than 10% of SMEs forced to wait 90+ days for payment

More than one in ten small businesses are being forced to wait more than 90 days to get paid by their suppliers, research by Tungsten Network has found.

Despite industry efforts to eliminate the problem, including strengthening the Prompt Payment Code backed by 1,800 UK businesses, three per cent of UK SMEs report having to wait four months (120 days) for payment in their contract terms, according to the study.

Tungsten’s CEO Rick Hurwitz said: “Too many SMEs struggle to span the working capital gap between completing a job and getting paid. After paying out their costs, they often have to wait too long for their customers to pay them.

“From our daily experience of helping SMEs better manage their cash flow, we know these extended payment terms are seriously impacting their ability to invest in growing their businesses.”

SME sector leaving itself wide open to cyber-attacks

The SME sector is leaving itself wide open to serious crime risks according to new research from risk management company Aon Risk Solutions. Just 4% of SMEs polled said they had insurance cover in place to help protect them from the implications of cyber-attacks, virtually no change from Spring 2015 (3%).

In addition the new research reveals only one in twenty SMEs (5%) say they have cover in place for crisis management situations (including terrorism, ransom and product contamination).

Aon Affinity MD Chris Lee-Smith commented: “The SME sector is currently dealing with change on two fronts. On the one hand, many are preparing to gear their businesses up for growth, with one in two (50%) claiming a positive outlook for the months ahead. Set against this there have been a range of high profile cyber-attacks and an increased feeling of insecurity in recent weeks underlining the uncertain world we live in.

“Cybercrime is a significant risk and security concerns should be top of mind for any business. Our research suggests that whilst general economic confidence in the SME sector is improving, many are over-looking the need to protect their business from very real risks that could derail growth plans.”