August 23, 2013
Energy firms end automatic rollover contracts
EDF Energy, SSE, nPower and British Gas have all ended automatic "lock-ins" for small firms on their energy contracts. John Allan, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said: "One in four FSB members has been locked into contracts with un-negotiated price increases and we welcome the Prime Minister's determination to tackle this issue. We now want to see the big six go one step further and publish small business energy tariffs so that SMEs can easily compare one supplier's price to another without having to contact different suppliers or rely on an energy broker."
More lending would boost SME recruitment
Research by recruitment specialist Robert Half UK shows that more than two thirds (67%) of finance directors in SMEs would increase headcount if they had access to lending. And 96% of FDs called on lending institutions to do more to increase finance to SMEs. Since the start of the recession, 38% of finance leaders at UK SMEs have been turned down for lending. Midlands-based firms are worst affected, with 43% of finance leaders there having been turned down for extra lending in this period. Phil Sheridan, managing director at Robert Half UK, said: "What our research indicates is that employment could be further bolstered should SMEs have the financial resource necessary to expand their teams."
Warning over compulsory Employers' Liability Insurance
A Sunderland firm has been fined for failing to hold statutory insurance that enables employees to claim compensation should they be injured at work. Health & Safety Executive (HSE) inspectors fined Sun Spirit Ltd £750 and ordered it to pay £850 in costs for breaching Section 1(1) of the Employers' Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969. HSE inspector, Andrea Robbins, said: "As well as being a legal requirement, Employers' Liability Compulsory Insurance offers important protection for employers and employees alike. The failure of employers to insure is seen as a serious matter and HSE will continue to take legal action where appropriate."
Demand for Enterprise Finance Guarantee scheme rises
New figures show lending through the Enterprise Finance Guarantee (EFG) scheme for the second quarter of 2013 reached £84 million, the highest since March 2011. EFG allows banks to lend to SMEs who would otherwise not receive credit, by providing the banks with a government guarantee for 75% of the loan value. Since May 2010, over 12,400 SMEs have been offered EFG loans with a total value in excess of £1.2 billion. Business minister, Michael Fallon, said: "Access to finance remains a crucial issue for SMEs and while I welcome the increased EFG lending by the banks, it is only scratching the surface of the problem. We have made the EFG scheme more flexible and easier for banks to use, and we are taking action to improve competition in the SME lending market through the business bank. But we need the high street banks to help our businesses grow and keep the recovery going."