News in brief: late wages, analytical skills, tax, MOD, challenger banks

News in brief
News in brief

Employees complain about late wages

Over a fifth of British workers claim bosses have failed to pay their wages on time, and have suffered financial losses as a result.

A study of 2,000 UK employees, conducted by Cascade HR, found that 22% have been paid late from their current employer at some point in their career. Of those affected, nearly half (49%) said this had happened more than once.

When wages arrived late, the employees claimed they experienced various financial issues, with some even struggling to buy food and every day essentials. Just under two thirds (61%) had been forced to borrow money from various sources, but 33% were unable to pay bills and direct debits. Over a quarter (27%) received late payment charges from their bank, and 21% were unable to cover basic living costs such as food and travel expenses.

Graduates do not believe analytics skills are important

UK graduates are greatly underestimating the importance of data analytics skills required in today’s workplace.

New research from Tableau Software reveals that just 40% of recent graduates believe data analytics skills are essential for their future job and only 30% believe data analytics to be critical in fulfilling their career goals. This is in sharp contrast to a recent study from LinkedIn that ranked “statistical analysis and data mining” the number one skill to get you hired in the UK.

The survey polled 1,000 recent graduates from across the UK about their level of data analytics skills and its place in their future professional development. With more than 75 percent of companies planning to invest in big data through 2017, the results reveal a concerning disparity between today’s business requirements for data analytics skills and a lack of proficiency and understanding of the value of data analysis from graduates.

SMEs call for simplified tax system

Around 55% of SMEs want the Chancellor to reduce the complexity of the tax system and introduce a flat rate of tax in the upcoming Budget.

According to a new survey by Moore Stephens, SMEs say this would help to simplify the tax system, which is currently too complicated and time-consuming for many businesses. The joint most popular measure amongst survey respondents was a further crackdown on tax avoidance, particularly VAT avoidance, by large multi-nationals, also favoured by 55% of SMEs.

Moore Stephens partner Simon Baylis says: “Above all small businesses want simplicity in the tax system. Our clients are not necessarily appealing for a lower overall rate of tax, but for a removal of red tape and complexity that will make dealing with taxes easier, faster and more certain.”

New MOD measures to increase SME spending

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has launched a new policy for SMEs, cutting red tape to make it easier for companies to work with Defence. The changes will help the MOD drive towards its target of 25% of all procurement spending – both direct and indirect – going to SMEs by 2020.

The final set of published figures for the last parliament showed the MOD as achieving a total of 19.4%, or £3.8 billion, with SMEs in 2014-15. In order to achieve the spend target of 25% by 2019-20 this figure will need to increase to around £4.9 billion, and the refreshed SME policy is designed to help achieve this.

Minister of State for Defence Procurement Philip Dunne said: “We spend £4 billion a year with small firms, and this new policy is a signal of our intent to do more to tap into the innovation of SMEs in our supply chain.

“This new approach will harness UK brainpower so that our Armed Forces get the best possible equipment, deliver better value for money, and boost exciting new companies.”

Metro Bank champions SMEs

Newly listed Metro Bank was the second largest provider of SME lending during 2015.

Metro Bank provided £448mn to small and medium-sized businesses in 2015, more than any other challenger bank, and beating all but one of the old, established High Street banks, according to the Bank of England’s latest figures for the Funding for Lending Scheme (FLS). In 2015 Metro Bank more than doubled its lending to £3.5bn, up 123%, with 36% going to businesses.

Metro Bank’s chief executive Craig Donaldson said: “Small and medium-size enterprises are the heart and soul of Britain’s economy. Metro Bank is incredibly proud to stand by the many local firms, from restaurants to high street garages to start-up companies, that provide vital services and jobs. Thousands of businesses like these come to us every year because they know that Metro Bank understands them and wants to help. The entrepreneurial spirit that drives Britain’s SMEs is in Metro Bank’s DNA.”