News in brief: rent hikes, NEA scheme, tax, NLW

News in brief
News in brief

SMEs resilient in the face of rent hikes

The latest commercial market survey from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) forecasts that UK business rental values would increase by 4% over the next year, with rents in London expected to rise by 6% over the same period. Despite this, 44% of respondents to the Owner Managed Businesses (OMB) barometer felt that such increases were manageable or did not have a material impact on their business performance or growth plans.

In August 2015 the barometer revealed that more than a third (33%) of OMBs wanted the government to make it their top priority to double rate relief permanently for small businesses. Although not a permanent move, the government announced in the Autumn Statement in November 2015 that the doubling of rate relief would be extended until April 2017.

New Enterprise Allowance scheme kick-starts 4,300 Welsh businesses

More than 4,300 new businesses have been started by entrepreneurial jobseekers in Wales, using the Government’s New Enterprise Allowance (NEA), according to new official statistics released by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Across Britain 76,960 new businesses have been set up under the NEA scheme, which provides benefit claimants who have a solid business idea with seed funding and a business mentor.

Employment Minister, Priti Patel, said: “We want everyone in all parts of Britain, including Wales, to benefit from the opportunities being created by our growing economy.

“Starting up in business requires funding, support and advice, which is exactly what we offer through the New Enterprise Allowance scheme.

“This scheme helps claimants with a good business idea to become their own boss so they can support themselves and their families, and turn their lives around.”

Secretary of State for Wales, Stephen Crabb said: “From antiques shop owners to coastal café entrepreneurs, thousands of people in Wales are now achieving their dreams of becoming their own boss with the support of the New Enterprise Allowance.

“This Government is giving the employers of the future the support they need to move away from a life on benefits and realise their entrepreneurial ambitions.

“They are helping to steer Wales economic recovery in the right direction, creating more jobs for our country and more security for Welsh families.”

Record numbers of businesses filing tax returns on Christmas Day

Data from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has revealed that record numbers of people are choosing Christmas Day to file their tax returns online.

Data from HMRC reveals:

• 1,773 self-assessments were submitted online to HMRC on Christmas Day last year, a total just shy of Britain’s lowest populated city, St. David’s (which has 1,797 residents). 2014’s number was a 13% increase on the previous year (where 1,566 submissions were made)

• Lunchtime (from 12pm- 1pm) was the time people were most likely to file on the 25 December - with 148 people in the UK submitting at this time

• However, Christmas Eve is by far the most popular day during Christmas week to file a self-assessment form - with 17,644 being submitted

• Overall, 24,228 people filed their tax return over the three-day festive holiday from December 24-26 2014

Online accounting software provider FreeAgent’s CEO and co-founder Ed Molyneux said: “Filing returns early means people can have complete peace of mind for the new year and actually look forward to January, instead of scrambling at the last minute to meet the tax deadline at the end of the month. This is especially important for freelancers and micro-businesses as it means they can concentrate on other parts of their businesses, which will leave them in a much better position for the rest of the next year.”

SMEs continuing to create jobs despite National Living Wage increase

Nearly a quarter (23%) of SMEs will continue to create new jobs in 2016, despite concerns the introduction of the National Living Wage may increase wage bills, according to research by Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks.

More than one in four (28%) SMEs will invest more money into staff training to support their belief that skilled people are the key to innovation, creativity and business growth. Healthcare, technology and manufacturing businesses are the most likely to prioritise recruitment and training in the next 12 months.

However, nearly two thirds (63%) of small and medium-sized businesses believe the introduction of the National Living Wage in 2016 will lead to an increase in staff costs. More than one in five SMEs (21%) expect their salary costs to go up by as much as 10% as a result of the National Living Wage introduction.

From April 2016, employers will be required to pay all staff over the age 25 a National Living Wage of £7.20 an hour – a 50p increase on the current national minimum wage of £6.80. By 2020 this will rise to £9 an hour.

More than one in three SMEs (37%) thinks the National Living Wage will have no impact on their salary costs at all.

Returning to work after the holidays increases workplace stress

The new year return to work will increase workplace stress for nearly three out of four employees as the holiday glow quickly fades, new research from MetLife Employee Benefits shows.

A minority of employees – just 27% – don’t find the return to work after Christmas and New Year celebrations at all stressful – and the different causes of stress identified by the study highlight the growing pressures in the workplace and possible lessons for employers.

The biggest cause of stress identified by 43% of employees will be readjusting after taking time off. However, for 31% the main worry will be catching up with a work backlog caused by having to take time off and 25% will be battling financial pressures caused by Christmas spending.

Older workers are likely to find the return to work the least stressful – around two out of five employees aged 55-plus say they do not worry about going back to work. This falls to around one in five employees aged between 18 and 34.