Business News England - 27.08.2021

Latest UK economic figures

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) latest data average pay in the UK jumped 7.4% and job vacancies hit a record 953,000 in the three months to July.

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Early estimates for July 2021 indicate that the number of payrolled employees rose by 2.0% compared with July 2020, which is a rise of 576,000 employees but the number of payrolled employees is still down by 0.7% since February 2020, a fall of 201,000.

These figures show employment is in robust recovery as the economy reopens and the furlough scheme starts to be phased out. This is welcome news for business owners and hopefully we can all look towards the Autumn with more confidence.

See: Home - Office for National Statistics (ons.gov.uk)

Temporary protection for more applicants to the Settlement Scheme

EEA citizens and their family members who apply late to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) will have their rights protected as the Home Office continues to support those wanting to stay in the UK.

The Home Office has put in place comprehensive arrangements to enable those with reasonable grounds for missing the deadline to apply to the EUSS.

The UK Government has informed the European Commission and is working to implement this generous approach to provide further clarity to EU citizens.

Further details will be published in due course.

In the meantime, employers and landlords are advised to get in touch with the Employer and Landlord Checking Services if they have a prospective employee or tenant who has confirmation of a late application to the EUSS.

See: Temporary protection for more applicants to the Settlement Scheme - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Cyber Runway - support scheme to help grow the cyber sector

Innovative cyber start-ups, small businesses and scaleups could benefit from a new scheme to help them launch and grow their businesses.

Cyber Runway will see entrepreneurs and businesses across the UK get access to business masterclasses, mentoring, product development support, networking events and backing to trade internationally and secure investment so they can turn their ideas into commercial successes.

The Cyber Runway programme is funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and delivered by Plexal in partnership with CyLon, Deloitte and The Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT). The programme aims to support at least 160 organisations and companies over the course of six months.

Companies participating in DCMS’s cyber growth initiatives in the past have, on average, more than tripled their revenues year on year.

Expressions of interest from applicants, mentors and investors can now be made.

See: Cyber Runway - Plexal

Employers ‘named and shamed’ for paying less than minimum wage

191 businesses were recently named for breaking national minimum wage law.

Following investigations by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, a total of £2.1 million was found to be owed to over 34,000 workers.

The breaches took place between 2011 and 2018. Named employers have since been made to pay back what they owed, and were fined an additional £3.2 million, showing it is not acceptable to underpay workers.

The UK government recently gave millions a pay rise, by increasing National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage rates in April 2021. The rise means someone working full time on the National Living Wage will be taking home £5,400 more annually than they were in 2010. Every single UK worker is entitled to the National Minimum Wage, no matter their age or profession.

Whilst not all minimum wage underpayments are intentional, it has always been the responsibility of all employers to abide by the law. Clear guidance is available on gov.uk, which all employers should check.

Minimum wage breaches can occur when workers are being paid on or just above the minimum wage rate, and then have deductions from their pay for uniform or accommodation.

The employers named today previously underpaid workers in the following ways:

  • 47% wrongly deducted pay from workers’ wages, including for uniform and expenses
  • 30% failed to pay workers for all the time they had worked, such as when they worked overtime
  • 19% paid the incorrect apprenticeship rate

See: Employers ‘named and shamed’ for paying less than minimum wage - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Employer webinars from the Equality Commission

With their employer training programme currently suspended due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the Equality Commission are now providing a number of training sessions as online webinars. These will focus on a number of issues for employers. Topics include an introduction to understanding equality in the workplace, promoting sex equality, people with disabilities, employees with mental health and age equality.

See: Employer webinars from the Equality Commission (nibusinessinfo.co.uk)

Grants of up to £15,000 available to Social Entrepreneurs

Grants of up to £15,000 plus business support are available to social entrepreneurs that are looking to start or grow an existing social venture; the funding is being made available through the UnLtd.

UnLtd are committed to providing 50% of their awards to Black, Asian and minority ethnic social entrepreneurs, and/or disabled social entrepreneurs. To be eligible applicants need to be aged 16 or over, living in the UK and are looking to fulfil a clear social need and demand. 

The closing date for this funding round is the 30 September 2021.

See: UnLtd - Awards | Apply For Funding & Support | UnLtd |

HMRC Employer Bulletin August 2021

The August edition of the Employer Bulletin covering HMRC updates and guidance to support employers and payroll agents was released last week. There is information on:

  • UK Transition and the changes to right to work checks from 1 July 2021
  • COVID-19 information with updates on Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
  • PAYE
  • tax updates and changes to guidance, including updates on the off-payroll working rules support and P11D(b) penalty warning letter
  • general information and support.

See: Employer Bulletin: August 2021 - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Help to Grow: Digital

Help to Grow: Digital is a new UK-wide scheme to help small and medium size businesses (SMEs) adopt digital technologies that are proven to increase their productivity.

The scheme will offer SMEs free and impartial advice on how technology can help their business. An online platform will help them to:

  • identify their digital technology needs
  • assess technology purchasing options
  • implement new technologies in their operations

The scheme will also offer eligible SMEs a grant token worth up to £5,000 to cover up to half of the costs of pre-approved, digital technology solutions.

The Help to Grow: Digital scheme will be launched in the Autumn. It will run for 3 years, taking a phased approach over a number of waves. Each wave will provide the opportunity to roll out new technologies and functionalities for SMEs and vendors.

See: Help to Grow: Digital – apply to become a vendor - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

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