News in brief: Sunday trading, EIS, business confidence

News in brief
News in brief

Sunday trading hours extended

Small businesses may soon benefit from extending Sunday trading hours, allowing high street shops to compete with online retailers.

The new trading hours are being introduced as part of the Enterprise Bill, announced by the government. As part of the plans to give local authorities powers to extend Sunday trading hours, local retailers will have the flexibility to seasonally adjust hours to enable them to better compete for trade. Last year, internet retailers accounted for 13.8% of all retail spending in December 2015.

The ability to seasonally vary Sunday trading hours will also mean that high streets can take advantage of increased tourism opportunities enjoyed by countries which have already extended Sunday trading hours. According to Visit Britain, in Sweden full deregulation has increased turnover by 5%.

Business Minister Anna Soubry said: “Extending Sunday shopping hours has the potential to help businesses and high streets better compete as our shopping habits change.

“The rights of shop workers are key to making these changes work in everyone’s interests. We are protecting those who do not wish to work Sundays, and those who do not want to work more than their normal Sunday working hours.”

Enterprise Investment Scheme reaches record levels

The number of businesses using the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) is on the rise and the amount of funds raised has risen to record levels.

The EIS was designed to help small businesses raise funding by offering tax relief for investors. According to the latest statistics, £1,563m was raised in 2013/14.

However, partner at accountancy, investment management and tax group Smith and Williamson Adrian Walton warns that there are pitfalls with the scheme that SMEs should take note of. “It is important that businesses and investors watch out for these pitfalls if they want to safeguard their EIS issue and investors’ reliefs.”

Pitfalls to watch out for:

· Shares issued before they are paid for - Avoid shares being issued today and paid for tomorrow (or later). In this situation, no EIS relief will be available.

· Conversion of loans - There must be a subscription of new funds in order to claim EIS relief. Existing loans in the company can’t be converted to equity.

· Directorships - the shares should be issued to the relevant individual before they are appointed as a director and prior to the signing of a service agreement.

· Anti-dilution rights - EIS shares can’t have anti-dilution rights. Companies need to be careful to ensure that there are no offending clauses in their shareholders’ agreements or articles.

· Connection - In relation to the 30% equity limits for EIS claimants, the shares held in the relevant company by the individual’s ‘associates’ are included.

SME business confidence drives the economy

More than half (53%) of the UK’s SMEs confirm that business confidence and optimism is a key component to managing a successful business.

According to research by cloud accounting software provider Xero, business confidence is the key contributor to business success and economic growth. Business confidence enables SMEs invest in themselves. These investments, through hiring, generate future success and concurrently for the wider benefit to the economy, growth.

The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills reports that SMBs make up a staggering 99.8% of the British economic engine, generate 47% of revenue and employ 60% of the workforce. The economy’s increased focus on small businesses is driven by an understanding of how this grouping of commercial enterprises make up the backbone to the UK.

SMEs are under-prepared for cyber-attacks

British small businesses need to do more to protect their customers and safeguard their business, as consumers are taking the issue of their data security more seriously than ever before. That’s according to a report by the government’s Cyber Streetwise campaign and KPMG.

Despite the fact that almost two thirds of consumers (64%) surveyed think that there will be more cyber-attacks this year than in 2015, many small businesses are unprepared and unconcerned, according to the research. Half of small businesses (51%) surveyed think it’s unlikely or very unlikely that they’d be a target for an attack, which perhaps helps to explain why only a third feel completely prepared for a cyber security issue (33%).

The rise in high profile attacks means that the majority of consumers (83%) are now concerned about which businesses have access to their data and whether it’s safe. Nine in 10 consumers (90%) surveyed also admit that hearing about security breaches in the news, or from friends and family, makes them concerned about the security of their information. And it’s not just consumers that want to ensure their data is secure – recent KPMG Supply Chain research shows that an overwhelming 94% of procurement managers say that cyber security standards are important when awarding a project to a SME supplier.

Help for SMEs building custom apps

SMEs can now build their own custom apps with the help of a new free series of how-to guides from FileMaker Platform.

Custom apps can be developed in virtually any size organisation but are very often done by small teams consisting of fewer than 25 people, be it entire small businesses or teams within larger companies. FileMaker’s new how-to guides provide a step-by-step process that starts with a comprehensive planning cycle covering goals, requirements, functionality and usability.

FileMaker senior director of marketing Ann Monroe said: “Imagine how you could transform your business with custom apps, running over iPads and iPhones, that meet the unique needs of your business. The best practices in these guides make this happen by helping teams plan, create and deploy their first custom app.”