News in brief: NLW, credit data sharing scheme, contactless payments

News in brief
News in brief

SMEs may struggle with National Living Wage

The new National Living Wage was introduced last week. The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has described it as the most significant labour market intervention since the National Minimum Wage.

CBI Deputy Director-General, policy and campaigns Josh Hardie said: “Companies are committed to raising prosperity and living standards - but for wage increases to be sustainable they must go hand-in-hand with productivity growth.

“If the National Living Wage (NLW) doesn’t get this balance right it will risk being unaffordable for many firms. Smaller businesses and those in key sectors like hospitality, retail and care are likely to be particularly affected.”

Hardie said that companies have been looking at their business models to manage the extra costs by reorganising the workforce, raising skills, improving leadership and management capacity and investing in new technologies. However, many may be forced to reduce hours and benefits.

Retailers make the most of popular contactless payments

The increase in the contactless card payment limit from £20 to £30 6 months ago has generated significant growth of certain purchases within the new limit – such as at service stations, supermarkets and restaurants – and in contactless payments overall, which rose by 237% compared to the same period year-on-year. This is according to new analysis from Visa Europe. The limit was increased from £20 to £30 in September 2015 and has

This is according to analysis from Visa Europe, highlighting consumer appetite to use the technology for more expensive purchases. In total, contactless usage between £20 and £30 now account for more than 10% of all face-to-face card transactions within that spending band.

SME credit data sharing scheme goes live

The government’s SME credit data sharing scheme has been launched to make it easier for new challenger banks and alternative finance providers to check credit worthiness of potential business customers.

The government is requiring nine banks and three Credit Reference Agencies (CRAs) to share, with the SME’s permission, the credit information they hold on SMEs equally with all finance providers. This will increase competition in the SME lending market and help more businesses find the funding they need to grow.

A number of bodies, including the Office of Fair Trading and the Competition Commission, have all highlighted how a lack of information about the creditworthiness of SMEs has been a major barrier to competition in the SME lending market. The biggest banks currently have access to much more data than challengers and the new regulations will enable over 100 alternative finance providers to compete effectively in the SME lending market. SMEs are vital to the UK economy, accounting for over half of private sector employment and nearly half of all private sector turnover. The ability of SMEs to access finance is important for funding business investment, ensuring businesses reach their growth potential, and for facilitating new business start-ups.

Employees think flexible working improves productivity

Over half (52%) of workers admit to having a daily “siesta” when working from home – with a further 11% admitting to sending emails from their bed.

It also emerged a large percentage make the most of working from home – by getting stuck into their workload in their pyjamas (10%) or even a onesie (9%).

However, according to the study of 1,019 British office workers by Hammonds Furniture, 82% said they would be more productive if they could split their working week with a ratio of 3 days in the office to two at home.

As for bosses, 34% said they were ‘flexible’ in terms of home working – but an old-fashioned 20% said they preferred their team to do a traditional 9 – 5 in the office.

And 2% of bosses said they do not trust their staff and want them where they can see them.