News in brief: HR, economy; fleet management; pensions

News in brief
News in brief


Online fleet management tool launched to help lower admin hours

According to the Centre for Economic and Business Research (CEBR), small businesses waste up to 28 hours each week dealing with administration and red tape. If this time was spent on growing the business instead, an extra £4.7bn could be added to the UK economy.

Fleet services provider UK Fuels has launched an online fleet management tool called Velocity that allows fleet operators to manage their fleet admin, including resolving employees’ fuel expenses and claiming back fuel VAT. It combines data from fuel cards, telematics and corporate charge cards to give complete oversight of a fleet in just seconds.

UK Fuels Group Marketing Director, Jakes de Kock, said: “We’re asking companies with a fleet of two or more vehicles to look at how much time they’re spending on things such as reimbursing driver fuel expenses and claiming back VAT on fuel purchases, and considering what else they could be doing with that time – I suspect most would be looking at how to grow their business.”


More than a fifth of workers do not take the full holiday allowance

More than a fifth (22%) of the UK workforce did not use all their paid holiday allowance in 2014, according to the latest research from Canada Life Group Insurance.

The number of employees not taking their full holiday allowance has fallen by just 1% since 2014 (23%), painting a worrying picture of work/life balance in the UK. At the same time, almost nine in ten (89%) employees have admitted to coming into work when unwell, as presenteeism continues to plague the UK workforce.

Around one in seven (15%) blame staffing issues – for example, maternity leave or members of staff leaving – as the reason they did not taking their full holiday allowance. This is almost double the number who said the same in 2014 (8%). A worrying 5% said their organisation actually discouraged employees from taking time off, while 16% failed to plan their time adequately and ran out of opportunities to use their annual leave.

Businesses offering health insurance must prepare for cost spike

Health insurance is one of the most popular employee benefits in the UK. However, from 1 November policyholders will see a significant spike to their renewals as George Osborne’s increase in Insurance Premium Tax (IPT) takes effect. The rise, announced in the last budget, sees IPT go up by more than 50%, from 6% to 9.5%. This will affect most policies taken out or renewed after the beginning of November.

Health Insurance Group commercial director Brett Hill explains, “Between the IPT increase and the normal inflation of health insurance costs we are looking at increases across the market from around 10% to as much as 15%, before any allowance is made for a customer’s claims experience or age profile.”

According to Hill, businesses can make substantial savings by spreading benefit provision across a range of products and services, not all of which will be subject to the change in IPT.


New fast-track service for auto-enrolment

With auto enrolment staging dates for SMEs fast approaching, pension specialist HFS Milbourne has launched a non-advised Fast Track service for employers looking for a quick and cost-effective way to set up and manage their company pension scheme.

The core Fast Track fee covers the key stages of introducing a compliant workplace pension, including initial data gathering and assessment, scheme design and implementation and compliance. An additional element provides for ongoing support and monitoring once the pension is in place. An option that supports the National Employment Savings Trust (NEST) scheme is also available.

According to HFS Milbourne head of employee benefits Jane Read, “Companies with fewer than 30 employees will have a staging date that falls within the next 18 months and for some employers this will be as soon as January 2016. Although the advice is to allow plenty of time before the staging date to prepare for auto enrolment, inevitably there will be some employers who run out of time and our Fast Track option is ideal in such a scenario.”


High growth small businesses make significant contribution to the economy

One in every three new jobs in the UK and almost 20% of economic growth was created by high growth small businesses (HGSBs) last year, according to the Octopus High Growth Small Business Report 2015.

Representing less than 1% of UK businesses and less than 3% of the total UK economy, these 22,470 companies created on average 4,500 news jobs each week in 2014 three times more than the entire FTSE 100.

Octopus CEO Simon Rogerson said: "High growth small businesses are a national opportunity – they can be found in every region of the UK and across every sector but are all too easily lost within the broader SME universe.”