News in brief: NLW, apps, tech, digital skills, crime

News in brief
News in brief

National Living Wage becomes law

On Friday (01 April 2016) the new National Living Wage (NLW) will come into force. The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is calling on small firms to make sure they act on this new legal requirement to avoid heavy penalties.

The NLW is a new compulsory minimum wage of £7.20 per hour for the over 25s. The Government has set a target for the NLW to rise to the equivalent of 60% of average earnings by 2020. Based on the latest projections, this will mean the NLW will increase to approximately £9.15 per hour in 2020, although this is subject to change.

FSB believes the Low Pay Commission, the independent body that advises Government on the minimum wage, should be free to deviate from this target if it becomes apparent that the economy cannot afford it.

While many small firms already pay their staff above NLW and will not be affected, others will find it a significant challenge and face difficult choices in order to pay for the higher wage bill.

Businesses get app-savvy

Businesses are turning to custom web and mobile apps to improve productivity and efficiency.

A study, conducted by Apple subsidiary FileMaker, found 81% of businesses are using custom apps to reduce the impact of inefficient tasks, with a further 74 per cent using the apps to increase team productivity.

The news comes at a time when most businesses are looking for innovative ways to reduce costs and increase output; with recent news highlighting how the UK productivity gap widens to its worst ever level.

Company Accountant and Software Developer at Clarity Copiers company accountant and software developer said: “Improving productivity and efficiency is key to the growth of all SMBs and ours is no different. It is a constant battle to remain on top of processes and information that is scattered in various areas of the business. Therefore we turned to custom apps to control all areas of the business from Customer Orders to Stock Control, Invoicing and Service management.”

Only 50% of workplaces allow for remote working

Workplace flexibility and remote working is being held back by a lack of mobile technology provided by employers

This is according to a new study by Steelcase, the workplace solutions provider, which found that only 50% of British workplaces currently accommodate remote working – six percentage points less than the global average - while fixed technology still exceeds mobile by 2:1 in UK offices.

The findings suggest that the so-called ‘remote working revolution’ - and its predicted efficiency savings - could be held back by a failure to invest in the tools and tech to make it a reality. Previous studies have shown that a “work from anywhere” culture could add up to £11.5bn per year to the UK economy.

Only 39% of UK workers are provided with a laptop, compared to 77% who have a desktop computer, found the study. Meanwhile, only 38% are given a mobile telephone, compared to 91% who have a landline.

Digital skills summit for SMEs

A digital gathering aimed at helping small and micro firms improve their digital health has been announced by small business network Enterprise Nation.

The Go and Grow Online Summit on April 15, will see the founders of fast-growth digital superpowers including Swiftkey, Propercorn and Doddle share their powerful experiences and journeys in very different sectors from start-up to global growth.

The day-long event is part of the support group’s ongoing nationwide Go and Grow Online campaign and will be delivered with the help of private sector sponsors including internet technology business Verisign, Microsoft, BT Business and Dell.

Founder of Enterprise Nation Emma Jones said: “Studies show that those that embrace the digital opportunity are much more likely to see returns and build in sustainable growth than those that don’t.

“This summit aims to bring together digital superpowers and experts who can offer practical tips around how they picked their way through the software landscape, offer guidance that will boost digital know-how, capacity and security as well as hearing from those that have already turbo-charged their business through a good understanding the digital world and future trends.”

SMEs not reporting crimes

Small firms are not reporting crimes against their business because they do not think it would lead to a successful prosecution (38%). These findings call into question the accuracy of the current crime statistics and suggest low levels of trust in the ability of the police to deal with business crime among small businesses.

According to research from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) Nearly a quarter of smaller business owners (24%) do not report any crimes committed against their business. When asked why, most said they felt reporting it would not achieve anything positive (46%). This figure has not changed in six years, highlighting an ongoing lack of confidence in the authority’s ability to address business crime over that period, despite the launch of Police and Crime Commissioners (PCC) in 2012.

FSB National Chairman Mike Cherry said: “While the new definition of ‘business crime’ adopted by the police in April 2015 is a real step forward, there is still a long way to go in understanding and addressing the true extent of the problem. Crime affects all businesses, but it impacts smaller firms the hardest as they cannot absorb the unexpected costs. The fact that businesses are not reporting crimes shows a real breakdown in trust and confidence in the police.”