Tax reliefs would spur SME tech adoption

A report by Coadec, a business group representing start-ups, is arguing for tax reliefs to be provided by a Singapore-style digital adoption fund to help persuade small businesses to adopt productivity-enhancing technology. Coadec said government grants aimed at increasing business digitisation in Singapore were a “huge success” and a similar scheme could be “worth billions to SMEs” in the UK.

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 4


Small businesses may struggle to access fresh funding

The Guardian reports on concerns that, if the number of bounce back loans scheme accredited lenders shrinks, there will be a sharp rise in small businesses unable to access funds this winter. The worries stem from Tide being unable to offer any more loans because it is reliant on private investment to fund lending and the company ran out of funds in the summer. Tide is now reviewing formal documents linked to the scheme and trying to figure out how it might finance the top-ups promised by the UK Government last week. Tide has so far failed to gain access to Bank of England loans to fund further bounce back loans. Mike Cherry, chair of the Federation of Small Businesses, said it was important that struggling businesses are given access to much-needed funds. “Given that many firms applied for bounce back facilities at a time when the extent of disruption was so unclear, it’s vital that the roll-out of the top-up initiative is a success.”

The Guardian, Page: 32

Outlook for small manufacturers stabilises

A survey of small manufacturing firms by the CBI has found that investment plans still remain weak for the year ahead despite improving in recent months. However, output fell at a considerably slower pace in the three months to October and the survey also indicated a decline in the number of firms worried about staff shortages, cash flow and demand for goods and services. Job cuts among SME manufacturers were significant in the latest quarter, but employment is now expected to rise modestly in the months ahead.

Daily Express, Page: 46


Last-minute fundraising expected ahead of rule change

A relaxation of fundraising rules comes to an end in three weeks, prompting the City to brace itself for a second wave of companies seeking funds from the market. The temporary change to rules on pre-emption rights was introduced by The Pre-emption Group, which represents the interests of shareholders, companies and brokers and whose secretariat is the Financial Reporting Council. Companies were permitted to raise the equivalent of up to 20% of their share capital through placings with a select group of shareholders under the new regime, in contrast to a typical threshold of 10% after which all investors have to be offered access. The regulator confirmed last week that the special measures will no longer apply from November 30th, however, the Times suggests the deadline could be extended.

The Times, Page: 39


Real living wage rises

The Living Wage Foundation has announced an increase in the voluntary real living wage to £10.85 an hour in London and £9.50 elsewhere. The new rates will be paid by almost 7,000 employers giving more than 250,000 UK workers a pay rise. The Living Wage Foundation rate is now 78p an hour more than the Government minimum wage for over 25-year-olds and the London level is £2.13 an hour higher. Laura Gardiner, Living Wage Foundation director, said: “It’s an incredibly challenging time for us all, but today’s new living wage rates will give a boost to hundreds of thousands of UK workers, including thousands of key and essential workers like cleaners, care workers, and delivery drivers who have kept our economy going.”

The Guardian, Page: 22 Daily Express, Page: 46

Tutoring is boosting graduates aiming for top jobs

The FT reports on how graduates are hiring coaches to help them with online tests they need to pass in order to secure interviews with Big Four professional services firms.

Financial Times, Page: 21


Ashley ‘frozen out’ of auction for EWM brands

The Telegraph reports that Mike Ashley has been “frozen out” of the auction for three Edinburgh Woollen Mill brands. The tycoon’s Frasers group, which owns Sports Direct, House of Fraser and Evans Cycles, reportedly expressed interest in the Jaeger, Peacocks and Edinburgh Woollen Mill brands, part of Philip Day’s retail empire, which have been put up for sale. But according to a source quoted by the Telegraph, insolvency consultants at FRP Advisory “have been unhelpful throughout the process, either refusing to provide or providing very slowly the normal information a buyer would expect”. However, a spokesman for Mr Day said: “All the bidders for Peacocks and Jaeger have had access to the same information and ample opportunity to make an offer since we want to secure the best possible future for both these businesses.” The Edinburgh Woollen Mill and Ponden Home chains fell into administration on Friday after a protracted process to restructure the wider business.

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 1


Pre-Christmas slump expected amid further restrictions

Further job losses and shop closures are predicted in the run up to Christmas, according to business surveys. This comes despite measures to protect businesses during the latest COVID-19 lockdown. BDO said measures of business confidence and output fell for the first time since April in October. Kaley Crossthwaite, a partner at the firm said: “The green shoots of recovery that started to emerge in May have been dealt a blow by the announcement of a second lockdown.” Elsewhere, a study by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and the recruitment firm Adecco showed that almost a third of UK companies planned to make redundancies. Gerwyn Davies, the senior labour market adviser for the CIPD, said: “The best that can be said is that the situation is getting worse more slowly. Employment looks set to keep falling and the relatively weak demand for labour means that it is going to be a long and hard winter, affecting young jobseekers in particular.”

The Times, Page: 42 The Guardian, Page: 33 The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 6

Over one in eight shops failed to reopen after first lockdown

Research by PwC and the Local Data Company indicates that up to 5,552 retail outlets that closed in March have not managed to reopen over the summer, leaving over one in eight shops in limbo. A total of 36,209 of the 43,766 shops across Britain reopened after the lockdown, whereas more than 2,000 closed permanently, the analysis found. Zelf Hussain, retail restructuring partner at PwC, said: “Businesses including pubs and bars, Italian restaurants, dentists, cinemas, social clubs and entertainment venues are particularly exposed to remaining mothballed, while hair and beauty, Asian restaurants, estate agents, mobile phone shops and off-licences; DIY shops and vaping stores are among those businesses that bounced back quickest and reopened at a higher rate.”

The Times, Page: 2 The Guardian, Page: 33

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Paul Southward