News in brief: tech, Brexit, Budget, cyber threats

News in brief
News in brief

Employees expect businesses to invest in tech

There is a large disconnect between the expectations of young people and the realities they will actually face at work.

That’s according to 22 million UK workers, who make up 72% of today’s workforce, as revealed in a new report from business communications company Fuze. The findings highlight the attitudes and expectations of 5,000 workers and 2,500 teenagers on how, when and where they want to work.

Today’s workers consider desk phones, printers, pens and paper as essential workplace items, yet teenagers think very differently:

• Teenagers are 25% more likely than today’s employees to view a smartphone as an essential work item

• 75% of teenagers say using the latest technology at work is important

• Just 2% of teenagers use a landline, preferring text-based, video and mobile communication

The research also highlights dissatisfaction among current workers, with 51% saying the technology they use at work is inadequate for working effectively. This leads to significant ‘shadow IT,’ as 39% use their own mobile phones for work and many work with software outside of IT’s control, including messaging apps (32%) and video calling (25%).

Brexit debate continues to divide opinion

The process of the UK leaving and establishing a new position outside of the European Union could take up to ten years.

Cabinet Office minister, Matt Hancock, said that the new government analysis found that a Brexit “would lead to a decade of damaging uncertainty. The risks to our economy are clear and would leave the jobs and prosperity of the British people dangerously exposed.”

The report also says British trade would be forced into uncertainty and would require renegotiations on an individual basis deals with countries that have any outstanding arrangements with the EU.

ReesRussell partner Jonathan Russell however is keen to point out that deal would be negotiated outside of the EU: “Let us be clear that Governments are now mere minnows when it comes to the power of big business. If there is a commercial need then agreements will be negotiated and created quickly…The big difference between governments and commercial businesses is that governments worry about problems, whereas businesses concentrate on solutions.

BKL director of tax David Whiscombe said: “This is not a general election; it’s an irreversible decision which will be the most important decision in a generation. Yet, in place of the clear honest and objective facts, which they need, voters are getting (from both sides) the kind of tendentiousness and duplicity that gets politicians a bad name; the government’s refusal to allow the other side access to the full facts held by government is particularly despicable. How can we make a sensible choice when no-one is telling us the truth?”

Turbulent times lead SMEs to put growth on hold

Ahead of the Chancellor’s 2016 Budget, Mark Sismey-Durrant, Chief Executive Officer at Hampshire Trust Bank, has urged the Government to review the new stamp duty rules and reform business rates.

Sismey-Durrant warns that the threat of Brexit combined with home-grown regulatory changes means that businesses and consumers may be tempted to batten down the hatches and choose not to invest in future growth.

"Our business savings research found the country’s SMEs are already building up their cash reserves, driven by the perceived need for greater ‘cash buffers’ and concerns about the volatility of the economy,” he said. “We need to build much greater business confidence if the country is to succeed and therefore the Chancellor needs to be cautious about introducing too much taxation as it will cause uncertainty and for the economy to slow down.

“Instead the Chancellor needs to spend his way through the next period – as recommended by the OECD - to install confidence in both companies and consumers and do everything in his power to create a period of steady economic growth for the year ahead.”

In order to encourage SMEs to invest in their businesses in 2016, Sismey-Durrant claims the UK needs a period of steady economic growth and a context of increased certainly over the future business landscape.

New initiative to help SMEs tackle cyber risks

A new initiative is being launched to help Britain’s small businesses obtain free access to world-leading guidance, drawn up in consultation with Universities, multinationals and Government bodies, on how to reduce software flaws that are undermining SME productivity and security.

Trustworthy Software Essentials scheme will give SMEs free and easy-to-implement guidance based on input from the world’s leading authorities; from Microsoft to the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, to reduce costly software problems and cyber-attacks that exploit insecure software.

Trustworthy Software Essentials includes a video guide and documents available under Open Government License to help SMEs create and maintain secure, high-quality software to a trusted standard at a low cost.

UK Testing Board executive director Ian Howles said: “As we move towards a digital economy, software is becoming a ‘single point of failure’ for many businesses. Software failures can compromise vital services upon which SMEs depend, from online payment services to customer data, while software vulnerabilities can leave them exposed to ransomware or theft of their IP.”

Review into fostering the UK’s culture of entrepreneurship

Businesswoman Baroness Mone OBE has called on the government to increase help to business start-ups in the most disadvantaged communities across Great Britain.

Her recommendations include:

  • improving access to start-up loans
  • strengthening the quality of New Enterprise Allowance (NEA) support to achieve stronger and more viable businesses
  • encouraging existing self-employed people to mentor new business starters
  • asking schools, local authorities and government to look further at how business skills can be taught to pupils.

The recommendations were published in her review, ‘Boosting enterprise in more deprived communities’ which is the culmination of a 6 month-journey in which Baroness Mone met business leaders, start-up owners and aspiring entrepreneurs from areas of high unemployment across the country.

Commenting on the recommendations, Federation of Small Businesses policy director Mike Cherry said: “There is a growing culture of entrepreneurship and innovation in the UK and this needs to be cultivated if our economy is to grow and compete internationally. Key to achieving this is making sure we don’t limit our potential by restricting opportunities to the well off or well connected. Supporting those from more disadvantaged communities will broaden opportunity and boost the UK’s pool of innovation, creativity and passion for business.

“Ministers should take note of Michelle Mone’s recommendations as they pinpoint many of the critical areas where support should be improved. We are pleased to see the review supporting our own ideas for improving the New Enterprise Allowance and start up loans. We would also back her calls for improved localised support from Local Enterprise Partnerships and Banks.”