September 06, 2013
Theft of confidential information hits record high
High Court disputes over the theft of confidential information from businesses have jumped 58% to a record high in the past year, according to law firm EMW. There were 167 cases focusing on the theft of confidential information in the High Court in 2012, up from 106 in 2011 and just 45 in 2010. The majority of these cases were businesses launching civil claims against former employees to prevent them from using confidential data obtained from company databases. Mark Finn, principal at EMW, said: "The boom in cloud computing and the widespread use of services like Dropbox have made copying a large database something that can be accomplished by virtually anyone in seconds."
Survey reveals work dress code gender gap
A survey of over 2,000 British office workers commissioned by US clothing brand Original Penguin and conducted by YouGov has highlighted a gender gap in corporate dress codes. The results show that female employees have more freedom than male employees when it comes to what they can wear to work – especially when it comes to casual dress. More than twice as many women as men are permitted to wear flip-flops to work (35% vs 15%) and three times as many are allowed to wear vest tops (41% vs 12%). However, women are less likely to be allowed to wear shorts in the office (29% vs 24%).
Infrastructure Commission could end 'stop-start' Britain
The Infrastructure Commission could put an end to "Stop-Start" Britain, according to the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC). Commenting on the publication of John Armitt's independent review on infrastructure planning, the BCC's Dr Adam Marshall said: "For too many decades, we've seen plan after plan, strategy after strategy but little delivery on the ground. An independent infrastructure commission could help end what we call 'Stop-Start' Britain, and promote greater business investment." Katja Hall, CBI chief policy director, said: "The World Economic Forum downgrade of UK infrastructure competitiveness sends a clear message that we need to rise above the parliamentary cycle to take some important strategic decisions to plan for the next 30 years."
Mis-selling compensation for SMEs 'painfully slow'
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has revealed that just ten businesses out of 15,000 SMEs seeking redress for mis-selling of complex financial products have been offered compensation – five months after the process began. John Allan, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said: "What makes this even more disappointing is that 1,300 firms who should be offered redress straight away are still stranded in this inept compensation scheme. The protracted nature of the redress scheme can only further harm those businesses who are victims of mis-selling and hinder efforts to increase confidence in the high street banks."
New app delivers instant payments for SMEs
Zapper has launched a new Scan-to-Pay service that promises to help small firms avoid late payment problems. The service allows businesses to add unique QR codes to invoices (electronic or paper) to speed up the payment process. Once customers have downloaded the free app, they can scan and pay bills instantly. There are no set-ups fees for small firms and no monthly contracts – businesses pay a standard fee of 2.7% +£0.20 per successful payment.
HMRC launches Alternative Dispute Resolution service
Small businesses and individuals can now resolve tax issues with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) via the new Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) service. The scheme is intended to provide a fair and quick outcome for both parties, helping to reduce costs and avoid a tribunal. Independent HMRC facilitators will work with both sides whenever a tax issue is in dispute. Richard Summersgill, HMRC director of local compliance, said: "Evidence has shown that by using the simple service, many disputes can be significantly shortened and resolved without recourse to Tribunal."
New lending scheme to support UK exporters
The Direct Lending Scheme, announced by the Chancellor in the 2012 Autumn Statement, is now open for applications. The scheme is intended to support exports where buyers need loans of up to £50 million to finance the purchase of capital and semi-capital goods and services from UK exporters, but have been unsuccessful in obtaining an export credit loan from the banks. Under the Scheme, UK Export Finance will provide an export credit loan directly to an overseas buyer or borrower.