Developments Impacting Your Enterprise

A Comprehensive Digest of Recent Developments Impacting Your Enterprise

Delve into our compilation of the most recent business news tailored for our esteemed readers. Feel free to reach out if you wish to discuss how these updates impact your business. Your success is our priority, and we’re ready to provide the support you need!

Embracing Flexibility: A Paradigm Shift in Employee Work Dynamics”

In the wake of a recent paradigm-shifting move by the UK Government, the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 has received Royal Assent, heralding a transformative era where flexible working is set to become the default for countless employees. As of 2024, workers will have the unprecedented ability to request flexible arrangements from the very onset of their employment.

The concept of flexible working extends far beyond the conventional dichotomy of home and office. It encompasses a spectrum of options, from innovative job-sharing arrangements to the fluidity of flexitime, compressed, annualised, or staggered work hours. The UK government asserts that these progressive measures aim to provide employees with unprecedented freedom to shape when, where, and how they work, fostering a vision of a content and highly productive workforce.

Recognising the diverse needs of modern-day professionals, the government envisions this shift as a catalyst for enhanced work-life balance, especially for those juggling responsibilities such as caring for children or vulnerable individuals. However, amidst this wave of transformation, some experts caution that the legislation could expose employers to potential grievances if proper procedures are not meticulously followed, adding an additional layer of administrative complexity.

All employers are strongly urged to proactively develop and communicate updated flexible-working policies ahead of the impending changes. This proactive approach ensures a smooth transition when the new measures come into force. Under the upcoming legislation, employees will have the right to request flexible working from day one, a departure from the current requirement of 26 weeks of continuous service.

Key facets of the legislation include introducing a new obligation for employers to engage in meaningful consultations when rejecting a flexible working request, permitting employees to make two statutory requests in any 12-month period (up from the current one), and streamlining the decision period to two months for statutory flexible working requests (down from the current three). Additionally, the requirement for employees to detail the potential impact of the requested change on the employer and propose mitigation strategies will be eliminated, further simplifying the process. This legislative evolution marks a significant stride towards a future where workplace flexibility is not merely an option but an integral part of the employment landscape.

See: Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill 2022-23: Progress of the Bill – House of Commons Library (parliament.uk)

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Mastering the Art of Financial Agility: Navigating the Current Economic Landscape”

In a landscape where the winds of economic uncertainty blow, the recent dip in UK inflation to 4.6% in October might suggest a momentary respite. Yet, the truth lies in the nuances; energy prices may have dwindled, but the broader realm of supplier costs remains tumultuous. Against the backdrop of elevated interest rates and a stagnant economy, the pivotal skill of our times is not just weathering the storm but strategically steering your business through uncharted waters.

Cash flow management emerges as the linchpin in this quest for resilience and flexibility. A business’s cash flows, akin to the pulse of its operations, encapsulate the ebb and flow of financial vitality. It’s a nuanced dance that offers insights into product or service health and broader market trends, guiding astute business owners toward sound decision-making.

While some business types seem inherently robust, others face a higher likelihood of cash flow turbulence. Regardless of your business model’s sophistication, cash flow challenges can manifest. To demystify this financial ballet, consider the following strategies:

1. Diagnose and Decipher:

Embark on a financial health check by scrutinising your latest profit and loss statement. Ensure that income aligns with expenses. An action will need to be taken if profit is expenses are not covered by the income & cash flow is slowing down. Here, you will need to create a cash flow statement to determine where the money is being spent.

2. Forecast and Fortify:

Arm yourself with a yearly budget that acts as a financial compass. Identify potential cash flow bottlenecks and strategise ways to navigate leaner months. Consider flexible work scheduling, introduce new products or services, and explore innovative activities to fortify your financial position.

3. Expedite and Empower:

Accelerate the collection of receivables to maintain a robust cash flow. Incentivise customer loyalty through early bird discounts. Establish clear credit limits and payment terms, enforcing adherence to these guidelines. Conduct credit checks for new customers and institute penalties for late payments. Demand upfront deposits or payments to instill a proactive approach.

In these dynamic times, proactive financial management is not just a necessity; it’s a strategic advantage. Engage with us to craft a bespoke cash flow statement and annual budget, empowering your business to not just weather the tides but surf the waves of success. Book a free meeting with our expert accountants. Your financial journey starts with a conversation, and we’re here to navigate it with you.

Discover Funding Opportunities for Your Business with ‘Find a Grant’

Unlock UK government-funded grants effortlessly through ‘Find a Grant.’ Search, check eligibility, and apply for grants at no cost. Open to all businesses, sign up for updates to stay informed about new opportunities. Empower your business—explore, apply, and thrive.

See: Home – Find a grant (find-government-grants.service.gov.uk)

Ensuring Safe Volunteering: Employer Guidance from the Health and Safety Executive

Navigate the intricacies of managing volunteer risks with guidance from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Learn how health and safety laws apply to volunteering, with insights on incident reporting and integrating volunteers into your risk assessments.

Explore specific advice for volunteers overseeing non-domestic premises, including village and community halls. Additionally, find valuable guidance on managing risks in charity retail and fundraising.

Empower your commitment to safe volunteering—access essential guidance from HSE today.

See: Volunteering: How to manage the risks – HSE

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Latest HMRC tax webinars

Explore a Range of Live HMRC Webinars Offering Insight into Crucial Taxes for the Self-Employed, and Payroll & VAT Guidance for Employers.

These Free, Hour-long Sessions Provide Essential Knowledge:

Webinars for the self-employed

Capital expenditure and revenue repairs (IFP1)
Tue 28 Nov at 1:45pm

Cash basis and property income allowance (IFP3)
Thu 30 Nov at 11:45am

VAT – the basics and the VAT return
Tue 12 Dec at 9:45am

Finance costs and travel expenses (IFP2)
Wed 29 Nov at 9:45am

VAT accounting schemes
Fri 1 Dec at 1:45pm
Mon 18 Dec at 9:45am

Car expenses for the self-employed
Wed 13 Dec at 9:45am

Capital allowances and vehicles
Wed 13 Dec at 11:45am

Business expenses for the self-employed
Thu 14 Dec at 11:45am

Employer webinars

Company directors – payroll and you
Tue 21 Nov at 1:45pm

Getting payroll information right
Mon 27 Nov at 9:45am

Expenses and benefits for your employees – travel
Tue 5 Dec at 11:45am

Expenses and benefits for your employees – company cars, vans, and fuel
Thu 7 Dec at 9:45am

Employer filing obligations
Wed 13 Dec at 1:45pm

Taxing employees’ benefits and expenses through your payroll
Thu 14 Dec at 9:45am

UK and Florida Strengthen Economic Ties with 7th Memorandum of Understanding

Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis have inked the 7th UK-US state-level Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to enhance trade and investment between the UK and Florida. With a GDP exceeding £1.1tn, Florida, the fourth-largest US state economically, offers significant opportunities.

This MoU aims to streamline business processes for UK and Florida firms, focusing on key sectors where both entities excel, such as space, fintech, AI, and legal services. Notably, it marks the first UK-signed MoU with a dedicated focus on the space sector, capitalising on Florida’s renowned NASA Kennedy Space Centre and its leading capabilities in launch infrastructure, manufacturing, and satellite development.

With existing MoUs with six other US states and ongoing engagement with states like Texas, California, Colorado, and Illinois, the UK is fortifying its economic bonds across the Atlantic, with a combined GDP of £3.3tn, rivaling Germany. This strategic move underscores the commitment to fostering global partnerships and seizing opportunities for mutual economic growth.

See: UK and Florida sign pact to boost trade – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Empowering SMEs: USA Export Toolkit Unveiled by the Department for Business and Trade

Unlocking new avenues for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the Department for Business and Trade has introduced an export toolkit tailored for businesses seeking to trade with the USA. This resource is specially crafted to guide SMEs through the intricacies of cross-border trade, providing access to support from the Department for Business and Trade and other relevant sources in the UK. Designed to foster business growth and facilitate exports, particularly to the USA, this toolkit serves as a valuable asset for SMEs navigating international markets.

See: Export advice for SMEs doing business in the UK and overseas – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

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Heat Pump Ready Programme: Stream 2 Wave 2 Competition

The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) announces the Heat Pump Ready (HPR) Programme Stream 2 Wave 2 competition, designed to support applied research and development projects. Focused on driving down the lifetime costs of domestic heat pump deployment, the initiative seeks to enhance the consumer experience and acceptance of heat pumps through innovation in technology, tools, business models, and processes.

Key objectives include addressing challenges in deploying heat pumps in ‘complex to decarbonise’ homes, providing innovative solutions for urgent ‘distress purchase’ situations, enhancing the performance and reducing costs of low global warming potential refrigerants, and improving the overall lifetime performance or consumer experience of using heat pumps.

This funding opportunity emphasises the development of technology and tools expected to reach commercialisation by the projects’ conclusion. Projects supported in Stream 2 Wave 2 should start at Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 5/6/7 for hardware and Discovery/Alpha phases for software. The total grant funding available is £10 million, with a maximum grant funding of £1.5 million per project. Successful applicants are required to contribute private sector funding alongside the grant funding provided by the HPR Programme.

Applications are open until Monday, January 8, 2024.

See: Apply for Heat Pump Ready Programme: Stream 2 – Wave 2 opportunities – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Unlock Innovation with the Creative Catalyst Challenge Fund

Creative UK invites applications for the Creative Catalyst Challenge Fund, providing businesses the chance to secure grants of up to £250,000. In collaboration with Innovate UK, this fund aims to empower creative thinkers in addressing climate challenges within the industry.

This grant focuses on supporting research and development initiatives that combat waste, promote decarbonisation, and minimisethe environmental impact of the creative industry. Don’t miss the opportunity – apply by midday on Monday, November 27, 2023.

See: Creative Catalyst Challenge Fund – Creative UK (wearecreative.uk)

Have Your Say: Input Needed for New Trade Negotiations with Turkey

The Department for Business and Trade invites your input on an updated free trade agreement (FTA) with Turkey. The existing UK-Turkey FTA, rolled over from the EU exit, lacks coverage in key areas like services, digital, and data.

This consultation seeks your views on the current trading arrangements with Turkey, opportunities for changes or improvements, and challenges faced in trading with Turkey. Your insights will shape the UK government’s strategy for initiating negotiations on a new FTA with Turkey.

This is your chance to influence and refine the UK’s negotiating aims. Share your thoughts before the call closes at 11:45 pm on January 5, 2024.

See: Trade with Turkey: call for input – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Boost for British Exports: UK Secures Tariff Extension with Mexico

The UK has successfully negotiated an extension to tariff arrangements with Mexico, preserving the eligibility of British goods for reduced or zero tariffs. This extension, effective from January 1, 2024, will remain in force until the implementation of a new UK-Mexico Free Trade Agreement.

This development provides essential certainty for UK businesses, allowing them to maintain access to lower tariffs and uphold their competitiveness in the Mexican market. The automotive and food and drink sectors, particularly road vehicles constituting nearly £300 million in exports to Mexico, stand to benefit significantly.

As the 14th largest global economy and the second largest in Latin America, Mexico’s robust demand for imports is projected to grow by 42% between 2021 and 2035. This news is especially welcomed, considering Mexico’s population of over 130 million, making its market larger than that of France and Italy combined.

See: British businesses avoid tariff cliff edge with Mexico – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Innovate UK Agri-Food Accelerator: Fast-Track Your Innovation Journey

Innovate UK is actively seeking innovators based in the UK who identify with underrepresented groups or have faced challenges accessing funding. This unique opportunity aims to expedite agri-food innovation ideas and is specifically open to individuals from communities traditionally underrepresented in the innovation ecosystem.

This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Disabled individuals, encompassing mental health conditions, learning disabilities, neurodiversity, and physical disabilities.
  • Ethnic minority groups.
  • LGBTQIA+ community members.
  • Non-binary and all marginalised genders.
  • Individuals with primary caring responsibilities.
  • People from low socioeconomic backgrounds.
  • Those from non-traditional educational paths into innovation.
  • Women.
  • Younger (aged 18-30) and older (aged 60+) individuals.

Up to ten participants will be selected to engage in a series of six training sessions, combining in-person and online formats for accessibility. The sessions aim to enhance your understanding of the agri-food innovation sector, guide you in navigating funding applications with Innovate UK and beyond, facilitate access to partners and markets, and foster business expansion.

Led by experts from the Innovate UK Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) agri-food team and the Innovate UK Transforming Food Production team, these tailored sessions will address the specific needs of the cohort. The program’s finalisation will occur after participant selection.

Don’t miss this opportunity—apply by the deadline on November 24, 2023, and propel your agri-food innovation journey forward.

See: Innovate UK AgriFood Accelerator – Innovate UK KTN (ktn-uk.org)

Empowering British SMEs to Pioneer Net Zero Air Travel

Revolutionising the future of air travel, a groundbreaking SME Programme is set to benefit cutting-edge British aerospace companies. This multi-million-pound initiative, led by the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), is designed to secure high-skilled jobs and position the UK as a leader in sustainable aviation.

Announced by Industry Minister Nusrat Ghani at the ATI’s 2023 Conference in Birmingham, the SME Programme will provide UK-based small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with the opportunity to bid for a share of £10 million in annual funding. In collaboration with Innovate UK, the program aims to open doors for SMEs to secure funding for innovative research projects, aligning with the government’s commitment to Jet Zero.

Scheduled to accept applications from February 2024, the Programme supports SMEs in developing technologies crucial to achieving net-zero carbon emissions for commercial aircraft by 2050. It ensures the UK aerospace industry’s competitiveness in sustainable aircraft design, manufacture, assembly, and operation.

SMEs in the UK aerospace sector can vie for grants of up to £1.5 million each, bolstering high-skilled jobs nationwide. This initiative builds on the government’s commitment to aerospace R&D, exemplified by the ATI Programme, which received £685 million in 2022.

The ATI Hub will offer support to organisations engaging with the SME Programme, providing sessions with ATI technologists, innovation workshops, and guidance for pitch-panel presentations. Facilitating connections among start-ups, SMEs, and larger organisations, the ATI Hub aims to foster collaborative consortia applications to the SME Programme, driving innovation in the UK aerospace sector.

See: New multi-million pound Programme helps British SMEs lead the way on net zero air travel – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

BAE Systems Records a £10 Billion Surge in Orders Amid Ongoing Global Conflicts

BAE Systems has witnessed a substantial £10 billion increase in orders since the end of June, according to its latest trading update. The defense giant, with bases across the UK, anticipates a double-digit surge in annual earnings, attributing the boost to heightened military spending by countries amid conflicts such as those in Gaza and Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year, BAE Systems raised its earnings guidance in August, projecting a 10% to 12% growth in earnings per share for 2023 and a sales increase ranging between 5% and 7%.

See: BAE Systems sees a £10 billion rise in orders as global conflict continues – Business Live (business-live.co.uk)

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