(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Tue, 16th July 2019) London, Uk – –
The latest employment figures give some support to growing evidence of a reluctance to hire but the overall picture remains rosy.
Average wage growth has accelerated to levels not seen since July 2008, according to official figures.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said earnings, excluding the effects of bonuses, rose by 3.6% on an annual basis in the three months to May – beating the forecasts of economists.
When bonuses were included, the percentage figure rose to 3.4% from 3.2% a month earlier.
The data suggests a boost to household spending power as the rate of inflation, due to be updated on Wednesday, currently stands at 2%.
But the latest employment figures also betrayed a possible early sign that the jobs market – resilient since the EU vote in 2016 – may be showing a sign of stress as the clock ticks down to the next Brexit deadline of Halloween and the world economy slows because of the US-China trade war.
Employment growth slowed to its weakest level since August last year with 28,000 positions created over the three months though the jobless rate remained at 3.8%.
The ONS released its findings at a time when closely-watched surveys of companies have pointed to growing caution over hiring.
The latest research from recruitment firm Reed showed a 2.3% decline in jobs advertised in the second quarter of the year – the largest drop since 2010.
It blamed political and economic uncertainty as the Conservatives prepare to choose the country's next prime minister – a leader set to preside over the ultimate fate of Brexit.
Commenting on the ONS figures, employment minister Alok Sharma said: “Wages outpacing inflation for 16 months in a row, more people in work than ever before and joint-record female employment, means better prospects for many thousands of UK families and shows the continued resilience of the UK labour market.”
But he conceded in an interview with Sky News that continued uncertainty over Brexit was dragging on investment – and therefore UK economic growth.
He said: “It's not good for business, it's not good for government so I think Boris Johnson's right.
“We have this hard deadline (of) 31st October. We leave, hopefully with a deal, if not without a deal”.Sponsored Links
(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 15th July 2019) London, Uk – –
Two million low-paid workers could receive government-funded sick pay for the first time.
Currently, employees must earn at least the equivalent of 14 hours on the minimum wage to qualify. But the government is looking at whether to extend eligibility to those earning below this threshold.
There could also be more help for those returning to work after sick leave.
The government has launched a consultation on the proposed changes.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “We need to remove the barriers that stop people with disabilities or health conditions from reaching their full potential – these steps will help us achieve that.”
Workers need to earn at least £118 a week to receive statutory sick pay, although the threshold is reviewed every tax year.
It is unclear if the plans would benefit “gig” workers on freelance or short-term contracts, but the Department for Work and Pensions said the consultation did not seek to “undermine the flexibility in the UK labour market”.
Around 1.1 million people in the UK are considered gig economy workers, receiving little or no holiday or sick pay.
Sick pay: What are my rights?
To qualify for statutory sick pay (SSP) you must be classed as an employee
Agency workers are also entitled to SSP
You need to earn at least £118 per week to be eligible for SSP
You need to have been ill for at least four days in a row, including non-working days to claim SSP
SSP is £94.95 a week. If your employer has a sick pay scheme you may get more
The maximum amount of time you can claim SSP for is 28 weeks
Phased returns to work
The government is also looking at making statutory sick pay more flexible, as it seeks to reduce the number of people quitting work after a period of sickness.
Each year more than 100,000 people leave their job after a sickness absence lasting at least four weeks, it said.
It will explore allowing phased returns to work, in which people would continue to receive statutory sick pay, as well as offering small businesses who help employees return to work a rebate.
It will also consider whether to change legal guidance to encourage employers to intervene early during a period of sickness absence.
For example, employees could be given the right to request modifications to their working patterns – similar to the right to request flexible working – to help them return to work.
Matthew Fell, chief UK policy director at lobby group the CBI, said managing sickness absence effectively made “good business sense”.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Wed, 19th June 2019) London, UK —
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s inflation rate cooled in May and cost pressures in factories fell to a three-year low, according to data that might reassure the Bank of England there is no urgency to pursue its stated policy of gradually raising interest rates.
Unlike in the euro zone and United States, where waning inflation has spurred expectations for interest rate cuts, the British central bank has stuck to its view that rate hikes will be required at some point to prevent the economy overheating.
Still, Wednesday’s data pointed to muted price pressures.
Britain’s Office for National Statistics said consumer prices rose at an annual rate of 2.0% in May after a 2.1% rise in April, matching the BoE’s target as well as the consensus in a Reuters poll of economists.
Sterling, which has fallen sharply in response to growing expectation that Prime Minister Theresa May’s successor will take a more hardline approach to Brexit, showed little reaction to the data.
“With inflation relatively subdued, and against a backdrop of heightened political and economic uncertainty, the case for raising interest rates anytime soon remains weak, despite recent warnings by some Monetary Policy Committee members,” the British Chambers of Commerce’s head of economics, Suren Thiru, said.
Stable inflation, combined with the lowest unemployment rate in 44 years and rising wages, has taken the edge off the uncertainty about Brexit for many households whose spending drives Britain’s economy.
Britain’s modest rate of underlying inflation is also helping the BoE to hold off on fresh interest rate hikes while it waits for the outcome of the Brexit impasse, although some officials in recent weeks have said increases may be needed sooner rather than later.
Core inflation, excluding energy, food, alcohol and tobacco, dropped to 1.7% in June, the lowest annual rate since January 2017 and as expected in the Reuters poll.
“Inflation eased in May, as travel prices such as air fares fell back after their Easter highs in April,” ONS statistician Mike Hardie said.
Britain’s inflation rate surged in 2017, pressured by the slump in sterling after the Brexit referendum in June 2016.
It peaked at a five-year high of 3.1% in November 2017 but has now fallen back to the BoE’s 2% target.
Britain’s on-target inflation differs from the euro zone’s where the European Central Bank has struggled to get inflation to match its target of just below 2%. ECB President Mario Draghi on Tuesday raised the prospect of further monetary stimulus to end the persistent undershoot.
Investors will also watch for signals that the U.S. Federal Reserve might plan to cut rates later this year — as markets expect and U.S. President Donald Trump has demanded — when it announces its policy statement at 1800 GMT.
By contrast, when the BoE announces its policy decision on Thursday the focus will be on policymakers’ enthusiasm for higher, not lower, rates.
Still, the ONS figures suggested less short-term pressure in the pipeline for consumer prices.
Among manufacturers, the cost of raw materials — many of them imported — was 1.3% higher than in May 2018, slowing from 4.5% in April and marking the weakest increase since June 2016.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected input prices to rise by 0.8%.
Manufacturers increased the prices they charged by 1.8% last month compared with 2.1% in April, broadly in line with forecasts and the lowest rate since September 2016.
The ONS said house prices in April rose by an annual 1.4% across the United Kingdom as a whole compared with 1.6% in March. Prices in London alone fell 1.2%, the tenth consecutive fall.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri,7th June 2019) London, Uk – –
Bank overdraft fees are to undergo a major shake-up, which the UK financial regulator is calling the biggest overhaul for a generation.
Banks and building societies will no longer be allowed to charge fixed daily or monthly fees for overdrafts.
In addition, there will no longer be higher fees for unplanned overdrafts than for arranged ones.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said the new rules would start by April 2020.
Under the new measures, which were first proposed in December, banks will also be required to charge a simple annual interest rate on all overdrafts, and overdraft advertisements will need to come with that rate clearly displayed, to help consumers compare various products.
In 2017, banks made more than £2.4bn from overdrafts – with 30% alone coming from unarranged overdrafts.
Previous research showed those aged between 35 and 44 were most likely to have some form of overdraft, and about 10% of all 18 to 24-year-olds had exceeded their overdraft limit in the previous 12 months.
The regulator said the changes would make overdrafts “simpler, fairer, and easier to manage”.
It will mean:
No difference between arranged and unarranged overdraft prices – but no cap on the cost either
An end to monthly or daily fees
A requirement for banks to advertise their overdraft rate as a single annual interest rate, or APR
Banks will still be able to refuse to make a payment if a customer does not have the funds to cover it, but any resulting fee for the customer must reflect the cost to the bank
Banks must do more to identify and help customers who are showing signs of financial strain or are in financial difficulty
When the new rules come into force, the typical cost of borrowing £100 through an unarranged overdraft would drop from £5 a day, to less than 20p, the regulator said. However, some fear that the costs to those who previously used arranged overdraft charges might rise, or charges for accounts may rise.
Banks and building societies will be required to charge a simple annual interest rate on all overdrafts, and overdraft advertisements will need to come with that rate clearly displayed, to help consumers to compare various products.
The FCA's chief executive, Andrew Bailey, said the overdraft market was currently “dysfunctional” and “causing significant consumer harm” because vulnerable customers are often hit by excessive charges for unarranged overdrafts, which can be 10 times as high as fees for payday loans.
“Consumers cannot meaningfully compare or work out the cost of borrowing as a result of complex and opaque charges, that are both a result of and driver of poor competition,” said Mr Bailey.
“The decisive action we are taking today will give greater protections to millions of people who use an overdraft, particularly the most vulnerable.”
Eric Leenders, from bank trade body UK Finance, said: “Overdrafts can provide a convenient way for customers to smooth their short-term cash-flow, and there is a highly competitive market in the UK. The banking industry is committed to helping customers manage their money and we will be working closely with the FCA to implement these rules.”
Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said overdrafts were one of the most common areas of concern when worried consumers contacted the charity.
“Overdraft charges can have serious knock-on effects for people's debt and mental health. These new rules should help thousands of people from getting trapped in a debt spiral,” she said.
“If, after these measures are introduced, people still pay over the odds, the FCA should review the need for an interest rate cap to ensure no one is paying back more than twice what they borrowed.”
Peter Tutton, of debt charity StepChange, said: “We would like the regulator to be more pro-active and fleet of foot in identifying and refining the specific, practical steps banks should be taking to help customers escape the overdraft trap more quickly, and to break the cycle of repeat use of overdrafts.”
(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Wed, 5th June, 2019) London, Uk – –
The ‘bad bank' which runs loans granted by Northern Rock and Bradford & Bingley before their financial crisis bailouts has repaid its £48.7bn taxpayer loan.
UK Asset Resolution had not expected to repay the crisis-era loan until the mid-2020s but has been able to do so more quickly by selling off packages of loans to private equity buyers.
UKAR has 35,000 customers, fewer than around 800,000 at the outset.
The aim is to sell the last of those loans in 2020.
This would be done by finding buyers for what is left of NRAM – which holds the remaining loans from Northern Rock – and also B&B.
“I am delighted that, in under ten years, we have been able to repay in full the government loan of £48.7bn,” said Ian Hares, UK chief executive.
“Looking forward, we are focused on the disposal of the remaining government investments in NRAM and B&B whilst ensuring that customers are appropriately protected.”
UKAR which does not grant new loans and only manages existing ones, would then become a government-owned holding company. Among its responsibilities would be pensions for around 10,000 people.
The other part of Northern Rock was sold to Virgin Money in 2011.
The government has already sold off its crisis-era shareholding in Lloyds Banking Group but continues to hold a stake of more than 60% in Royal Bank of Scotland.
UKAR was created in October 2010 and since then it has cut its balance sheet by £104.4bn, including £43.5bn of customer loan repayments and £37.4bn of asset sales.
It now has 140 staff and just £5.5bn of mortgages left, 55% of which are buy-to-let mortgages.
The BBC's Panorama programme reported last year that Cerberus, one of the private equity buyers for the loans, had told the government it was planning to offer homeowners better mortgage deals – but had not done so.
This left homeowners trapped on high interest rates, it said. Cerberus denied the allegation.
The Financial Conduct Authority, though, is working on plans to help so-called mortgage prisoners – which include some Northern Rock and B&B customers – find lower loan rates.
UKAR's annual report shows Mr Hares was paid £650,000 last year and could receive £823,000 next year if all the performance conditions on bonuses are met, including the sell-off of the remaining loans.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via cityam.com – – Tue, 23rd April 2019) London, Uk – –
Natwest will double its growth funding programme for small and medium-sized British businesses, citing the need to help them navigate Brexit disruption.
The UK bank’s growth funding loan pot, which was started in May 2018, will be immediately doubled to £6bn in the latest sign that companies are demanding resources to cope with political impasse and that banks and investors can cash in by helping them.
The money will be available immediately and will help businesses looking to grow, fund green initiatives and navigate the current uncertain business climate, Natwest said.
Last week the government announced it had handed over £200m to help support smaller businesses in the 2019-20 financial year as the future of European Union funding remains uncertain.
The Treasury made the cash available to the British Business Bank, a public-private partnership which provides loans to small companies looking to increase in size through investment and venture capital firms.
The national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), Mike Cherry, said at the time: “With Brexit on the horizon, serious questions regarding future funding for a UK small business support network that’s heavily reliant on the EU remain unanswered.”
Natwest figures released today showed that £2.9bn of its already-expanded £3bn growth funding pot had been approved for investment.
The bank said it would increasingly focus on financing eco-friendly projects and intellectual property.
Alison Rose, chief executive of commercial and private banking at Natwest, said: “We are working every day to look at what businesses need to not just survive, but grow. In many cases this is bespoke funding.”
Referencing Brexit, she said: “We recognise that the challenges businesses face evolve all the time, which is why we try to innovate whenever we can.”
(qlmbusinessnews.com via cityam.com – – Wed, 23rd Jan 2019) London, Uk – –
A total of 1,270 jobs are at risk after Santander announced plans to close 140 branches across the UK today.
The bank said it expects to redeploy around a third of the employees affected within the business.
A shift in customer behaviour is to blame for the closures, the lender said, after research found that the number of transactions carried out in Santander branches has fallen by 23 per cent over the last three years while digital transactions have grown by 99 per cent.
The bank plans to refurbish 100 of its remaining 614 branches over the next two years, with an investment of £55m.
Santander head of retail and business banking Susan Allen said: “The way our customers are choosing to bank with us has changed dramatically in recent years, with more and more customers using online and mobile channels. As a result, we have had to take some very difficult decisions over our less visited branches, and those where we have other branches in close proximity.
“We will support customers of closing branches to find alternative ways to bank with us that best suit their individual needs. We are also working alongside our unions to support colleagues through these changes and to find alternative roles for those impacted wherever possible.”
(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Sat, 19 May 2018) London, Uk – –
With LEDs widely regarded as the modern lighting solution of choice, one family-run company is looking to enlighten the masses
How is the Internet of Things changing the way we shop? We might expect inventory or the supply chain to be affected by changes in technology, but there is one aspect of the shopscape that is hiding in plain sight: lighting.
Modern lighting systems have undergone a transformation. Incandescent bulbs are hot, wasteful, don’t last long and many countries have restricted their sale. Fluorescent lighting is cheaper but harsh, difficult to control and less attractive. Both types of lighting have given way to LEDs, which offer more flexible lighting solutions, but not all retailers have caught up yet.
Shoplight, founded in 2014 by Mark and Melanie Shortland, puts the power of LEDs into the hands of stores. “Shops have always been about creating an experience for the customer,” says Ms Shortland, “and with the threat from online shopping, customer experience is only becoming more important.”
Thinking about the customer experience is what kickstarted the business in the first place, she notes: “Mark felt after 20 years of working with large manufacturers in the lighting business that there was a gap in the market. As the offer was getting more high-tech, old fashioned customer service was missing and that’s where we stepped in with Shoplight.”
Mr Shortland decided to differentiate the business by demonstrating to clients that the business understood the fast-paced nature of store opening programmes and the dynamic requirements of the retail sector that often drive down costs and force more nuanced competition through product and service.
“Early on, we secured an order from Skechers,” he says. “Although it was a small order it led to us supplying Skechers with their lighting solutions across the UK, Europe and in Africa and certainly allowed us to gain confidence and momentum with other clients.”
Today, their client list includes Moss Bros, Selfridges, T2, Waterstones, Jigsaw and Lush. Mr Shortland says: “Some of these clients have moved from long-established relationships with our larger competitors, which really reinforces our belief that great service matters now more than ever and that we are definitely doing many things right.”
Looking ahead, he predicts that flexible lighting will become more responsive to customers, with IoT-enabled luminaires allowing shopping environments to adapt to new moods and settings at the flick of a switch – or increasingly a tablet. “This will help retailers put the customer at the centre of retail experiences, encouraging people to visit, stay and buy,” he says, “and Shoplight are playing a leading part in this evolution.”
(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Sun, 22 Apr 2018) London, Uk – –
How small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) use Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to become local hotspots.
‘We reach people who don't know we exist’
Paula Milner, founder, The Crafty Lass
For every workshop that we hold, we set up a Facebook event and post that link to local Northamptonshire Facebook groups.
It means that we can keep track of people interested in our events
(they can click the “interested” button) and reach locals who may not even know that we exist, but are only a few clicks away from purchasing a ticket.
Facebook reviews are also key, because people check these when they visit your profile page, the star rating of which is visible when your page appears in Google search, so a poor score can put someone
off before they have even clicked through.
Encourage customers who have a good experience with you to give
a high-star rating and leave some positive words, which are vital if you want to improve word-of-mouth recommendations.
‘I use hashtags to stand out’
Pragya Agarwal, founder, The Art Tiffin
Across all my craft company's social media, I use location-specific hashtags, such as #lancashirehour and #liverpoolhour, which are used by locals during specific time periods to find out what’s going on in their area.
I do this on a regular basis and during specific times; for example, #liverpoolhour takes place every Thursday from 8-9pm.
The local hashtags create a real sense of community. This especially works with social enterprises like ours, because people are particularly keen to chat with and retweet businesses that are engaging with the community and have a sense of social responsibility.
I also use location tags in Instagram’s live “Stories” feature,
which is good for attracting followers and messages. I recently posted an Easter-themed short video of my kids painting eggs, which was viewed more than 500 times – and thanks to the local hashtag, half the views were from Formby, Merseyside.
I have also made quite a few sales to locals who have seen my Instagram or Twitter posts.
I once posted images of a red squirrel linocut that I made on Twitter, so tagged the local Formby National Trust Red Squirrel reserve and the location hashtag. It resulted in quite a few sales of the linocut print.
As a small firm operating primarily online, it’s difficult to be found in Google keyword searches, but with customers more conscious about supporting their local businesses, social media offers an opportunity to be seen in a crowded marketplace.
It’s also good for offering attractive discounts such as free delivery, because local people will likely be able to pick the goods up in person.
‘It’s powerful marketing on a budget’
Russell Jenkins, managing director, Thomson’s Coffee Roasters
We make sure that our social media posts are tailored to our local Glasgow customers. We will also use hashtags such as #glasgowcentral and #glasgowcafe to reach local people who want to find out what’s going on in their area.
Don’t forget to use your local knowledge and include directions for those who don’t know how to find you.
Social media also means that we can engage directly with the locals.
For example, a post about our policy of welcoming dogs, which featured pictures of canines sitting in the café, was our most successful to date; we got 50 shares and 568 likes within 24 hours. People commented about how excited they were to come to visit with their pups.
Across the three main social media websites, we have built up a community of more than 5,500 followers, which is increasing daily.
If you think of social media as a digital version of word of mouth – and local social media followers as a community group who make recommendations to each other about where to go – then it’s a really powerful tool, especially on a
We make sure to target messages to the most relevant consumers by location, demographic and interest – and we respond to reviews
and feedback, whether they're positive or negative. It shows customers that we're actually listening.
‘We tap into people’s interest in buying local’
Charlotte Mitchell, co-founder, Charlotte’s Butchery
People are more interested in buying local meat and social media enables us to tap into that.
We use Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to encourage people to
place orders for big events and we share little bits of information about the meat to garner interest. We recently started “did you know” Mondays, where we write about different cuts and share recipe ideas.
It shows that we provide a service, rather than just sell meat.
Customers have also become accustomed to using the messenger service on Facebook and Instagram. When they watch cooking shows that feature unusual cuts of meat that the supermarkets don’t
provide, such as lamb neck fillet or marrow, they send us messages straight away to order the ingredients.
It means that we can do business 24/7, even when the physical shop is shut.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 13 Apr 2018) London, Uk – –
One of Britain's oldest home shopping companies has gone into administration.
Kleeneze, best known for selling household and beauty products through its network of door-to-door sellers, said it had ceased trading on Thursday and 140 jobs are at risk.
But there is also a question mark over the future of 5,000 independent distributors who sell the products.
Administrators FRP Advisory is seeking a buyer in a last ditch attempt to save the 95-year old firm.
Joint administrator David Acland said: “Kleeneze has performed well over the years and has a strong network of independent sales distributors.
“Unfortunately, tough trading conditions have resulted in the business entering administration.
“The business suffered from operational issues after its move to the Heywood distribution site earlier in 2017.
“There were logistics challenges and IT issues that took six months to resolve, which resulted in significant lost sales,” Mr Acland said.
Kleeneze's self-employed distributors deliver catalogues throughout in the UK and Ireland, earning cash or rewards for every sale they make – either at the doorstep or through their own online shop.
These sellers are a mixture of self-employed sole traders and partnerships, and many work for Kleeneze alongside other jobs.
The company employs 69 permanent staff at its head office in Accrington, Lancashire, and a further 71 at its warehouse in Heywood, Greater Manchester.
Usdaw, the trade union for Kleeneze staff, said it was seeking urgent meetings with the administrators in a bid to protect jobs.
Annette Bott, an Usdaw area organiser, said: “This is clearly a difficult and upsetting time for the 140 staff based in Accrington and Heywood.
“We are pressing the administrators to find a buyer for the company who will protect jobs and keep the business going. In the meantime, we are providing our members with the support, advice and representation they need.”
(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Thur, 11 Jan 2018) London, UK —
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain could lose almost 500,000 jobs and 50 billion pounds investment over the next 12 years if it fails to agree a trade deal with the European Union, according to a report commissioned by London Mayor Sadiq Khan.
Cambridge Econometrics, an economics consultancy, looked at five different Brexit scenarios, from the hardest to the softest form of Brexit, and broke down the economic impact on nine industries, from construction to finance.
The study said that in a no-deal scenario, the industry that fares the worst will be financial and professional services, with as many as 119,000 fewer jobs nationwide.
“If the Government continue to mishandle the negotiations we could be heading for a lost decade of lower growth and lower employment,” Khan said. “Ministers are fast running out of time to turn the negotiations around.”
Britain and the EU will soon begin the much harder task of defining their future trading relationship, after settling the broad terms of their divorce settlement last month.
A stand-off between Britain and the EU over the future access to single market for London’s vast financial services industry is shaping up to be one of the key Brexit battlegrounds before Britain is due to leave the bloc in March 2019.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Wed, 10 Jan, 2018) London, Uk – –
A business group warns the crisis is the biggest potential drag on firms in 2018, as “it is people that make businesses work”
The shortage of skilled workers in the UK is reaching “critical levels” and a large number of companies are struggling to recruit qualified staff, a business group has warned.
Research by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) showed 71% of businesses in the services sector are finding it difficult to hire the right workers – the highest figure on record.
Three-quarters of manufacturing firms that were hiring also had problems finding workers with the right skillset.
The findings coincide with fears that the economy is already suffering a brain drain amid uncertainty over immigration and trade rules after the UK leaves the European Union.
Official figures released in November showed a leap in the number of EU citizens leaving Britain in the 12 months to June.
But the BCC has suggested that the Brexit vote is only part of a wider issue, as employment levels remain historically high despite a slowdown in investment, recruitment and output.
Director general Dr Adam Marshall said: “While there are many business bright spots across the UK, the evidence from the biggest private business survey in the country shows that growth and confidence remain subdued overall as we enter a new year.
“Labour and skills shortages are set to be the biggest potential drag anchor on business in 2018, since ultimately it is people that make businesses work.
“Business itself must do more, by training and investing wherever possible in people, but Government must also give firms the confidence to put their livelihoods on the line and go for growth.
“This must be the year employers act rather than just complain on skills, and the year Government delivers clarity, leadership and investment in people and infrastructure. Kick-starting growth, and boosting wages and prosperity for all, depends on this.
“Other findings from the survey included cost pressures remaining a worry for demand in the economy – especially among consumer-facing firms such as retailers.
Suren Thiru, the BCC's head of economics, said: “Looking forward, the UK economy is set to continue on an underwhelming growth trajectory over the near term with uncertainty over the impact of Brexit coupled with high inflation and weak productivity likely to dampen overall economic activity.”
The Government was yet to reply for a request for comment on the report.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via cityam.com – – Fri, 29 Dec 2017) London, Uk – –
The rise of the robots will bring with it greater inequality rather than mass unemployment, according to fresh research.
Fears of automated machines replacing humans have led to many predicting that humans will become obsolete. But analysis by the IPPR think tank warned that it is more likely to increase pay inequality and that less well paid low skilled jobs are more likely to be automated.
“Despite the rhetoric of the rise of the robots, machines aren’t about to take all our jobs. While technological change will reshape how we work and what we do, it won’t eliminate employment,” said IPPR senior research fellow Matthew Lawrence.
“A bigger challenge is arguably the effect of automation on inequality in the UK. Managed badly, the benefits of automation could be narrowly concentrated, benefiting those who own capital and highly skilled workers.”
It estimates that jobs with wages worth £290bn a year – a third of all earnings in the economy – are at risk of automation. This may be offset by a rise in wages elsewhere due to higher output and productivity, which it predicts to grow by between 0.8 per cent and 1.4 per cent annually while boosting GDP by 10 per cent by 2030
But the think tank warned that these rewards must be distributed fairly.
“To avoid inequality rising, the government should look at ways to spread capital ownership, and make sure everyone benefits from increased automation,” said IPPR research fellow Carys Roberts.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via independent.co.uk – – Thur, 21 2017) London, Uk – –
Admin workers are losing up to £1,000 a year because of employers exploiting legal loopholes
Agency workers are being paid £400m a year less than the permanent staff they work alongside, with the average admin worker out of pocket by nearly £1,000, a new study has revealed.
According to think-tank the Resolution Foundation, 85 per cent of these workers have been in an agency job for more than three months, which entitles them to equal pay under the law in almost all circumstances.
Despite this, agency workers are still losing £300m a year due to lack of pay parity with other employees.
The study found that workers in admin lose on average of £990 a year, while those in sales and customer service occupations were down to the tune of £803.
The Foundation’s analysis compared the hourly wage of agency workers and employees with the same personal characteristics such as age and ethnicity doing the same type of work.
It found that between 2011 and 2017 the average agency worker was paid 23p less an hour than their colleagues.
The charity said that the pay penalties exist despite the Agency Worker Regulations introduced in 2010 which gives those with 12 weeks-plus of continuous service pay parity with other employees.
These regulations allow agency staff to forgo their right to equal pay with direct employees in return for a contract that offers pay between assignments, but such contracts are often abused by employers, the foundation said.
Lindsay Judge, senior policy analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said that the Government needed to close these loopholes and enforce equal pay rights for agency workers.
“Agency workers deserve to be paid the same as employees if they’re doing the same job, so the Government should look to close the loophole that allows agency workers to sign away their right to equal pay. With the government-commissioned Taylor Review noting this abuse, we’re hopeful that 2018 will be the year of action on fair pay for agency workers,” Ms Judge said.
“Many workers prefer the flexibility that agency work can sometimes offer, and are willing to be paid less as a result, but those doing the same job on the same terms as employee colleagues deserve to take home the same day’s pay,” she added.
The analysis found that the agency pay penalty varies considerably by occupation, with agency-employed managers actually seeing a bonus, which may be in part compensation for missing out on pension contributions.
There are also premiums for those working in less predictable sectors such as social care which legally allow agencies to command a higher price to fill last minute gaps in staffing schedules, the charity said.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Two people working next to each other, doing the same job, should get the same pay rates. But too often agency workers are treated like second-class citizens.
“That’s because there’s a loophole in the law that allows bad bosses to deny agency workers equal pay.
“It’s time to end this Undercutters’ Charter and for the Government to scrap this loophole. It’s recent review into modern employment practices called for precisely that.”
(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Thur, 14 Dec 2017) London, UK —
LONDON (Reuters) – British shoppers pounced on electrical goods and other Black Friday bargains last month, giving an unexpectedly big boost to retail sales, which contrasted with earlier signs of a subdued start to Christmas spending.
Consumers have been squeezed through most of this year by rising inflation which hit its highest in nearly six years last month, at a time when wages are failing to keep up.
But there was some unexpected cheer for retailers in November data from the Office for National Statistics, which showed sales volumes were 1.6 percent higher than a year ago, beating all forecasts in a Reuters poll of economists.
Spending in cash terms was 4.7 percent higher.
The market reaction was muted and some economists said the surge in retail sales might reflect Christmas spending being brought forward to take advantage of Black Friday discounts.
“The boost from Black Friday will be fleeting,” Samuel Tombs of Pantheon Macroeconomics said.
The figures may provide some reassurance to the Bank of England, which raised interest rates for the first time in over a decade last month and will publish its latest rate decision at 1200 GMT.
Kallum Pickering, an economist with Berenberg Bank, said the figures added to signs from factories that Britain’s economy was picking up a bit of speed in late 2017 and he expected that momentum to continue into 2018.
“The risk from inflation to real spending growth has been exaggerated. Households will simply borrow a little more and save a little less to smooth out their consumption,” he said.
On the month, overall retail sales were 1.1 percent higher, up from growth of 0.5 percent in October and much stronger than economists’ forecasts of a 0.4 percent rise.
Household goods stores specifically reported that Black Friday promotions had boosted sales, the ONS said, with the amount of electrical household appliances sold jumping by nearly 9 percent compared with October.
The data are seasonally adjusted, but the agency said this may not fully strip out the effect of Black Friday, as the promotion period – a relatively recent phenomenon borrowed from the United States – has increased in Britain in recent years.
Looking at the past three months as a whole, which smoothes out monthly volatility, the picture is gloomier. Sales in the three months to November grew by just 1.0 percent compared with a year earlier, the weakest since May 2013.
When the BoE raised interest rates on Nov. 2, it forecast real-terms household consumption growth would slow to 1 percent next year from 1.5 percent predicted for this year as demand shifted towards business investment and exports.
Official data earlier this week showed that consumer price inflation rose to its highest in nearly six years at 3.1 percent in November, while the number of people in work fell for a second consecutive month.
Food prices are rising at their fastest rate in four years, adding to the squeeze on household budgets. The ONS data showed the volume of food purchased was 0.1 percent lower than a year before, while spending on food was up by 3.5 percent.
This week British electronics retailer Dixons Carphone said it had enjoyed record sales during November’s Black Friday promotion, despite weak demand for mobile phones that hit profits.
But home furnishings company Carpetright (CPRC.L) cut forecasts after warning of fragile consumer confidence.
The British Retail Consortium said last week its members had seen subdued sales last month and credit card company Visa reported the first year-on-year fall in inflation-adjusted spending in five years as Britons cut back on big purchases.
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(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Wed, 20 Sept 2017) London, Uk – –
Entrepreneurs are looking to downsize, sell or close their firms at a rate not seen in years, a survey has suggested.
The Federation of Small Business (FSB) found that 13% of respondents were looking for ways out of their business, the highest percentage since it began measuring in 2012.
The survey also indicated that optimism among small firms had tumbled.
The FSB blamed the fall in optimism on rising costs and a weaker UK economy.
“A record proportion of business owners currently expect to downsize, sell or shut up shop, while rent and taxation are frequently mentioned as causes of increased costs. We need to see more support in this space – that includes ending enforcement of the ridiculous ‘staircase tax',” said Mike Cherry, FSB National Chairman.
The term “staircase tax” emerged when some firms found they were paying extra business rates because they had an office divided by a staircase.
The FSB's Small Business Index is based on a survey of 1,230 of its members and was last conducted in July – the responses were used to create a weighted index.
In July, the confidence index fell to 1 from 15 in the previous quarter. The lowest levels of confidence were seen in retail and entertainment firms, according to the FSB.
However, the FSB noted that confidence has been rising among exporters, with 40% reporting an increase in overseas sales.
Exporters have been boosted by the weakened pound, which helps make their products more competitively priced overseas.
The report also indicated that, overall, small firms are looking to increase their workforce.
“Employment intentions are up, but so too are labour costs. This is causing significant problems in a number of sectors, not least hospitality and retail,” Mr Cherry said.
“With conference season and the Autumn Budget approaching, policymakers have an opportunity to restore optimism.”
(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Tue, 19 Sept 2017) London, Uk – –
The number of people on zero hours contracts in the UK has fallen slightly, according to the latest official figures.
Between April and June 2017, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said that 883,000 people were on contracts that do not guarantee work.
This is 2.2% lower than the figure from the same period in 2016.
However, the proportion of British workers on zero-hours contracts remained broadly flat at 2.8%.
In July, a government review of employment practices said too many employers and businesses were relying on zero-hours, short-hours or agency contracts, when they could be more forward-thinking in their scheduling.
It did not call for a ban, but did suggest reforms such as reclassifying workers for platform-based firms such as Uber as “dependent contractors” and improving in-work training.
The prime minister said the government would take the report's recommendations seriously.