Business and Other Briefings

BIS: A package of measures to ‘help UK manufacturers seize the opportunities provided by emerging technologies’ has been launched by Business Secretary Lord Mandelson. Investment totalling £151.5m has been announced as part of the Government’s targeted strategies for key sectors & markets.
 
It is intended to expand access to information, encourage take up of new technologies and address specific challenges faced by the aerospace sector. Advanced Manufacturing describes businesses which use a high level of design or scientific skills to produce technologically complex products & processes.  Because of the specialised requirements involved, these are usually goods & associated services of high value.
Press release ~ Advanced Manufacturing – Building Britain’s Future ~ Manufacturing: New Challenges, New Opportunities ~ Low Carbon Industrial Strategy: A vision ~ Low Carbon Business OpportunitiesBuilding Britain’s Future: New Industry, New Jobs ~ New Industry New Jobs strategy
 
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has confirmed an extension of the ‘approved persons regime’ for those that perform a ‘significant influence’ function at firms.  In its supervisory enhancement programme (SEP) the FSA stated that it would place greater emphasis on the role of senior management, including non-executive directors (NEDs).  
 
This policy statement sets out changes to the approved persons regime which improves FSA’s approach to ‘significant influence’ functions by ensuring that those likely to exert a significant influence on a firm fall within the scope of the approved persons regime.
 
These changes will come into effect on 6 August 2009 with a transitional period of 6 months.  Firms should now begin assessing which individuals require approval and submit timely applications to comply with the end of the transitional period.
Press release ~ PS09/14: 'The approved persons regime – significant influence function review' ~ CP08/25: 'The approved persons regime - significant influence function review'
 
HMRC: The latest in a series of online, bite-sized videos for new & small businesses is now available to download free. Episode three in the ‘Start Up Diaries’ series follows recent developments in the lives of three budding entrepreneurs – Ruth, Nick and Hannah.
 
The video diary series provides a unique insight – in the trio’s own words – into how they’ve coped with the ups & downs of going it alone.  It can be viewed or downloaded free from the Business Link website and is essential viewing for anyone who’s recently started up in business, or is thinking of doing so.
 
HMRC recently launched a range of 10 video guides, fronted by TV presenter Dan Snow, which provide a helpful overview on a range of key tax issues.  These include: setting up in business, income tax for the self-employed, corporation tax, and VAT.  They can also be downloaded for free.
Press release ~ Business Link Tax help
 
COI: The Central Office of Information (COI) has announced that it will create a centralised media buying framework, meaning that one company will handle all of its media buying. To date, COI has tendered its media buying contracts by medium.  These arrangements are set to expire in March 2010.
 
COI’s decision to create one single supplier framework forms part of its ongoing ‘Agenda for Integration’ announced last April following an independent review of its media buying systems by RAB (Radio Advertising Bureau) founder and media industry expert, Douglas McArthur OBE.
 
All suppliers interested in applying for the contract should register at coi.bravosolution.co.uk and complete the pre-qualification questionnaire by 25 September 2009.  Questions about the contract can be sent via the messaging tool on the website, and questions & answers relevant to all applicants will be published online.  Suppliers should not telephone queries to COI direct.
Press release ~ Central Office of Information (COI) ~ ‘Agenda for Integration’
 
FSCS: The Financial Services Authority recently published its Policy Statement on banking & compensation reform.  The FSCS welcomes the changes and believes they will contribute to improving consumer confidence.
Press release ~ Policy Statement 09/11 – Banking and Compensation Reform ~ FSCS
 
HMRCHM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has confirmed the details of a new disclosure initiative that will allow people with unpaid taxes linked to offshore accounts or assets, to settle their tax liabilities at a favourable penalty rate.
 
Under the New Disclosure Opportunity (NDO) people who make a complete & accurate disclosure will qualify for a 10% penalty.  Those who choose not to take this opportunity and are subsequently found to have undeclared tax liabilities are likely to face a 30% or higher penalty and also run an increased risk of criminal prosecution.  Those notifying on paper can do so from 1 September to 30 November, while those notifying electronically can do so from 1 October to 30 November.
Press release ~ New Disclosure Opportunity (NDO)
 
BIS: Rosie Winterton, Minister for Regional Economic Development, visited Seevent Plastics near Brighton to highlight the importance of ensuring that companies pay their suppliers promptly, without changing their agreed terms.  Over 750 companies in the South East failed during 2008 because of late payment and the region’s companies will pay over £33m in unnecessary interest charges because of overdue payments this year.
 
The Minister urged businesses to sign up to the Prompt Payment Code, which aims to encourage better payment performance between businesses.  Regional Minister for the SE, Jonathan Shaw, will also write to local councils, public sector bodies & business groups in the region to encourage them to sign up to the code.
Press release ~ Prompt Payment Code ~ Signatories to code ~ 'Paying on time is good for businesses' ~ South East England Development Agency ~ Managing Cashflow guides
 
FSCS: Banks, building societies & credit unions are being asked to pay £406m as their initial contribution to the costs of the 5 bank defaults of 2008, the FSCS has confirmed.  It is issuing a levy to deposit taking firms in respect of the interest charges on the loans it used to fund its compensation payments following the failures of 5 banks, together with related management expenses.  
 
FSCS costs for the defaults were funded through loans from HM Treasury on an interest only basis for the first 3 years.  The Scheme will use any recoveries received to repay the principal.  It will start repaying the outstanding principal (net of any recoveries) in 2012, according to a repayment schedule it will agree with HM Treasury in the light of prevailing market conditions at the time.  The FSA & FSCS are sending invoices to firms due to pay the levy, which are due to be paid by 1 September 2009.
Press release ~ Copy of a letter to deposit taking trade associations updating the industry on the costs of the failures ~ Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) ~ Financial Services Authority
 
HMRC: A new minimum interest rate on tax repayments of 0.5% means that in future interest will still be payable even when the Bank of England base rate falls below 1.5% HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has announced.
 
The Government will also be introducing changes to the current interest rates regime which are claimed to  deliver greater transparency & certainty in the way that rates are set and applied.  This will pave the way for the implementation of full interest harmonisation which was legislated for in this year’s Finance Bill.
Press release ~ HMRC
 
HMT: The UK Government has introduced legislation to remove VAT from supplies of emissions allowances (also known as carbon credits) traded within the UK, in order to prevent the risk of VAT fraud. The new law, which has already taken effect, follows evidence that commodity trading in emissions allowances is being used by fraudsters to steal VAT revenues from the UK and that the UK may become a major target for this activity in the coming months.
 
Similar measures have been taken by the Governments of France & the Netherlands to prevent this form of fraud.  The UK Government has sought a derogation from EU law to cover this short-term action pending agreement with EU partners on an EU-wide solution.
Press release ~ HMT – Emissions Trading
 
CLG: Businesses all over England can now apply to their local council to defer part of their 2009-10 business rates bills thanks to a new government scheme. Local councils are now sending out a simple one page application form with details of how to apply for this scheme and small business rate relief to every ratepayer in England.
 
Businesses should apply to local authorities as soon as possible.  Once approved businesses will pay reduced instalments for the remainder of the financial year or until payment is complete.  Businesses that submit their application next month can expect to see their bills reduced by October.  Further help may be available for small businesses to pay their bills, with Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR).  
Press release ~ Business Link – Help with Business Rates ~ CLG – Business Rates
 
HMRCRevenue & Customs Brief 46/09
This brief announces that emissions allowances will be zero rated with effect from 31 July 2009 in order to tackle the rapidly increasing threat of VAT fraud.

HMRCRevenue & Customs Brief 45/09
This Brief announces changes to the forms and guidance used by individuals who are claiming back VAT that they incurred as DIY housebuilders and converters on the costs of their building work.

HMRCRevenue & Customs Brief 44/09
The brief announces a series of changes to Schedule 10 of the VAT Act 1994.
Implement a Building Readiness Inspection Before Reopening