Latest Business News in the UK - Recruitment Tips, Brexit Updates & More

Business Buzz: Recruitment Strategies, Brexit Updates, and Green Initiatives in the UK

Welcome to our latest business news update for our clients. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’d like to discuss how these updates impact your business. We’re here to support you!

Is Your Business Attracting New Talent?

Recruiting new employees is currently quite challenging, so it’s time to stand out. For instance, some employers are now offering “Wellbeing Leave” on top of the holiday package. To attract more talent, you need to take recruitment protocols seriously and be on top of it all day, every day!

Here are some steps to make your business more appealing to potential staff:

  • Treat recruitment as an ongoing process.
  • Regularly seek introductions from existing staff, customers, and suppliers.
  • Provide incentives for employee referrals.
  • Maintain a strong online and local advertising presence.
  • Embrace flexibility in terms of work hours and office location.
  • Consider offering a “Golden Hello” and loyalty bonuses for service longevity (typically one to three years).
  • Feature testimonials from your current staff.
  • Explore government apprenticeship initiatives (if available in your area).
  • Present your company and job as prestigious and challenging.
  • Emphasise respect, learning opportunities, and problem-solving in job descriptions.
  • Convey your company’s personality to give potential employees a feel for the work environment.

For detailed recruitment procedures, check out the ACAS guide “Recruiting Staff.” which can be seen here: Recruiting staff (acas.org.uk)

Post-Brexit Import Checks Delayed Again

The UK government has announced a fifth postponement of post-Brexit checks on EU imports, citing concerns about potential food inflation resulting from the new system. Originally scheduled for implementation this October, the first phase of these delayed border controls will now be rolled out in January 2024. This adjustment aims to afford businesses additional time to prepare for the forthcoming alterations, which entail heightened health and safety inspections for food and animal products entering the country.

In April 2023, the UK government unveiled a draft ‘Border Target Operating Model’ encompassing imports from all countries into Great Britain, including the EU. Their objective was to strike a balance between efficient border controls and facilitating straightforward import processes for businesses.

Following extensive feedback from stakeholders, workshops, seminars, and industry representatives, various concerns surfaced. Businesses raised alarms regarding the increased complexity and costs imposed on the supply chain, alongside apprehensions regarding the timing of new control introductions. The need for adequate time to adapt to these new controls, especially regarding health certification, was emphasised, particularly for EU suppliers.

In response, the UK government has decided to extend some of the implementation milestones for the Border Target Operating Model. They now plan to introduce it incrementally from January 2024, commencing with health certification requirements for relevant EU goods. This adjustment aligns the model’s launch more closely with the forthcoming simplifications in border requirements through the new UK Single Trade Window. Additionally, the government aims to address stakeholder feedback, enhancing the overall model and providing more comprehensive implementation details.

More information: The Border Target Operating Model: August 2023

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One-Stop-Shop for Green Business Savings

UK businesses can now access advice and support to reduce energy bills and carbon emissions through the UK Business Climate Hub, launched in August. This resource includes a free carbon calculator and various tools to help businesses measure, track, and report emissions while saving money by reducing energy consumption.

Examples of cost-saving measures include switching to electric vehicles (EVs), using energy-efficient lighting like LED bulbs, and providing fuel efficiency training for drivers. Such changes can significantly lower overhead costs. This support is particularly aimed at the 5.5 million small and medium-sized businesses in the UK, which account for around 25% of emissions. Studies show that going green can also attract customers and help grow the economy.

Creating Dementia-Friendly Businesses

Dementia is a significant societal challenge, but all businesses can contribute to addressing its impact. Currently, fewer than half of people with dementia feel part of their community, and many avoid leaving their homes. Becoming a dementia-friendly business not only demonstrates social responsibility but can also bring economic benefits.

Explore how your business can become more dementia-friendly and get a free guide. All sectors, from retail to housing, have a role to play.

See: Dementia-friendly businesses | Alzheimer’s Society (alzheimers.org.uk)

File Your Accounts Early to Avoid Penalties

If your deadline for filing accounts with Companies House (CH) is approaching at the end of September, it’s crucial to allocate ample time for preparation. Every year, all limited companies, regardless of their trading status, are obligated to submit their annual accounts to CH, and this includes dormant companies.

Managing your own company can be an exhilarating yet demanding endeavor. Directors shoulder various responsibilities, including the maintenance of up-to-date company records and ensuring punctual filing. It’s essential to have a comprehensive grasp of your role as a director, recognize the significance of compliance, and be aware of the potential repercussions of late submissions.

Failing to meet your filing deadline can have adverse consequences, such as negatively impacting your credit score or impeding access to financial resources. It can also influence how external parties perceive your company and their willingness to engage in business with you. Furthermore, there are financial penalties and legal ramifications to consider, including the possibility of a criminal record, fines, or disqualification.

File online

Opting to file your documents through CH’s online services offers several advantages. You’ll receive email notifications confirming the receipt and registration of your accounts, streamlining the filing process.

File your company’s accounts online before your deadline.

For online filing, it’s essential to have your company authentication code. If you require a new code, please anticipate a waiting period of up to five days for it to be delivered to your company’s registered office.

Software filing

More than 65% of companies have embraced software filing as their preferred method. Numerous software providers offer a diverse array of accounting packages tailored for the preparation and submission of accounts. The software’s functionality determines the types of accounts you can file using it.

In the future, a result of the new legislation introduced by the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill will mandate the use of software for filing accounts. This implies that paper-based filings or the use of CH online services for this purpose will no longer be viable. Find out more about software-only filing

Once the Bill receives Royal Assent and becomes law, Companies House (CH) will provide a timeline for the phased implementation of the shift toward software-only filing. CH is committed to ensuring that if you currently do not employ software for filing, you will have adequate time to make the transition before it becomes a legal obligation.

Avoid rejections

Paper accounts should be reserved for situations where online or software filing is not feasible for your company. Accounts submitted on paper necessitate manual inspection, and Companies House (CH) conducts these reviews solely during their office hours, which can lead to processing times exceeding a week.

If you find it necessary to submit paper accounts, it is advisable to dispatch them to CH well in advance of the deadline. This proactive approach provides ample time for account rectifications and resubmissions in case of rejection.

Furthermore, it’s vital to send all documents to the correct Companies House office. This precautionary step helps prevent delays, as redirected documents can significantly extend processing times at CH. It’s essential to note that postal delays will not be accepted as grounds for appealing a late filing penalty.

Guidance and support

Register for email reminders to know when your accounts are due. You can also check your filing deadline on the Find and update company information service.

Please book a free consultation if you have any CH related filing queries, we have considerable experience in helping our clients in this area.

EU Settlement Scheme Update for Employers

The EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) allows EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens residing in the UK by December 31, 2020, and their family members, to secure the immigration status needed to live, work, study, and access benefits and services in the UK. The UK government recently updated its EUSS guidance, especially in conducting right-to-work checks when hiring EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens from July 1, 2021.

Support for employers is available on the provided website. See: EU Settlement Scheme: information for employers – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Check If You Need to Send a Tax Return

If you typically file a Self-Assessment tax return, remember to send it to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) for the 2022 to 2023 tax year and pay any owed tax by January 31, 2024. Register for Self-Assessment if required by law, even if you’ve already paid your tax or believe you owe nothin.

Use the online tool to check if you need to complete a Self-Assessment tax return. If you no longer need to send one, inform HMRC to avoid penalties.

Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO)

The ICO upholds information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals. Visit the ICO website for advice on data protection issues.

Innovation in Professional and Financial Services

Innovate UK is investing up to £5 million to support digital innovation in Professional and Financial Services. Projects eligible for funding must have a grant funding request between £50,000 and £200,000, start by April 1, 2024, and last 6 to 18 months. They should aim to enhance these sectors by creating and adopting digital approaches and services.

This competition is split into two strands and will close for applications on Wednesday 27 September 2023.

See: Innovation in Professional and Financial Services – single applicants

See: Innovation in Professional and Financial Services – collaboration

Environmental Taxes, Reliefs, and Schemes for Businesses

Environmental taxes encourage businesses to operate more sustainably. There are various taxes and schemes available, offering reliefs or exemptions for energy-efficient practices and waste reduction. These initiatives can help your business become more eco-friendly while potentially reducing your tax bill.

You can pay less tax by applying for schemes to help you demonstrate that you’re operating more efficiently and producing waste that’s less damaging.

See: Environmental taxes, reliefs and schemes for businesses: Overview – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

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Location Data to Boost EV Chargepoint Network

A report supports local authorities in decisions about electric vehicle (EV) chargepoint rollout. As the UK phases out petrol and diesel cars, a dependable public charging network is crucial. Local authorities can use location data to identify optimal charging locations, ensuring drivers have the confidence to use EVs for their journeys.

Deadline Extended for Countryside Stewardship Applications

The application window for 2024 Countryside Stewardship Mid-Tier agreements has been extended until Friday 15th September to allow more time for people to submit their applications online, following direct feedback from farmers.

Countryside Stewardship plays a significant role in the Government’s efforts to make food production more resilient whilst contributing towards the UK’s environmental goals, such as biodiversity and water quality. By extending the application window, farmers can apply and be paid for environmental work alongside sustainable food production, from restoring wildlife habitats and managing woodlands, to mitigating flood risks.

The scheme is popular in the sector and has continually evolved following farmer feedback, with 32,000 agreements already successfully in place across England for 2023. This represents a 94% increase in uptake since 2020 – including nearly 26,000 Mid-Tier agreements – and additional investment has been put into online systems to increase capacity. This has supported a further high level of interest this year.

There have been some technical issues which have been experienced by a small number of some applicants when submitting their applications. These have now been resolved. The Rural Payment Agency has been working closely with affected applicants and agents to support applications, with actions taken to resolve issues as quickly as possible and systems put in place to assist farmers through the process.

Further improvements to the online system are already in train, including greater flexibility over when farmers can apply and how they manage their agreements.

See: Deadline for Countryside Stewardship applications extended – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Application Dates for Sustainable Farming Incentive 2023

Farmers can sign up for the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) from September 18th, 2023. Pre-registration is encouraged to ensure all necessary information, including online maps and land use details, is ready when applications open. The SFI rewards farmers for actions supporting food production, farm productivity, resilience, and environmental protection.

Efforts to expedite preparations for Sizewell C nuclear power station have been announced. An additional £341 million of funding has been allocated to ready the site for construction, procure essential components, and expand the workforce. This supports the UK’s goal of establishing new nuclear power stations, with Sizewell C capable of supplying low-carbon power to millions of homes.

For more details on any of these updates, please refer to the provided links. See: Government announces application dates for Sustainable Farming Incentive 2023 – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

New steps will speed up Sizewell C preparations

Steps to further speed up preparations to make the site at Sizewell C in Suffolk shovel-ready were announced last week, as part of a drive to create a new generation of nuclear power stations in the UK.

Ministers today made available a further £341 million of previously allocated funding for development work on the project. The extra money will help prepare the site for construction, procuring key components from the project’s supply chain, and expanding its workforce.

It would see activity ramp up at the Suffolk site, supporting continued preparation works, such as constructing onsite training facilities for 1500 apprenticeships, further development of the plant’s engineering design, and direct investments in the local community ahead of work starting. The funding would build on the government’s existing £870 million stake and help drive progress towards the long-standing objective of reaching a Final Investment Decision on a new large-scale nuclear project this Parliament.

Sizewell C could provide reliable, low-carbon power to the equivalent of 6 million homes over 60 years – saving the UK as many as 9 million tonnes of CO2 emissions each year. At the peak of construction work, it could support 10,000 jobs nationwide, with 70% of the value of construction contracts in the supply chain going to UK businesses.

See: New steps will speed up Sizewell C preparations – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

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