Is “Going Green” an option for smaller businesses?
After some of the hottest temperatures seen on record last month we have been reminded about global warming and how small businesses could help the drive towards net zero.
Smaller businesses have recently been affected by the pandemic, higher interest and inflation, and increased energy costs, so it is worth discussing the viability of a green policy during these tough times.
What is a “Sustainable” business?
A sustainable business, or a “green business”, is an enterprise that has minimal negative impact or potentially a positive effect on the global or local environment, community, society, or economy.
Going green could boost competitiveness and specifically improve a business’s reputation with its customers and staff. Most importantly, many surveys reveal that consumers are increasingly assessing a company’s environmental credentials, while business supply chains are under scrutiny to minimise environmental, ethical, and social impacts.
There are also several current incentives for environmentally switched-on businesses, and we anticipate future legislation designed to support government environmental pledges.
With a focus on climate change and the environment, sustainability should be increasingly at the heart of business operations. Even small changes can help move UK businesses towards a greener future. The British business bank lists eight ideas on sustainability:
- Don’t use single use plastic;
- Use sustainable suppliers and service providers;
- Implement a greener commute scheme;
- Switch to low energy lightbulbs;
- Install smart power strips;
- Reduce water usage;
- Make workspaces more heat efficient; and
- Install built in recycling units.
For the full details see: 8 sustainable business ideas – British Business Bank (british-business-bank.co.uk)
The British Business Bank has a wealth of information and guides on how to create a sustainable business and prepare for green growth. Take action with their green business guides, jargon busters and helpful explainers.
Find out what Net Zero actually means with their Green Decoder. The online guide has been co-created with Nottingham Business School, Nottingham Trent University to help smaller businesses decipher the terminology surrounding decarbonisation.
You can also commit to the UK Business Climate Hub and take steps to be greener, saving your business money and saving the planet too.
For further information visit Sustainability – British Business Bank (british-business-bank.co.uk)
Does your business need inspiration to grow?
Ask us for a copy of our guide called “57 Ways to Grow Your Business!”
Our publication is packed full of bright ideas for the Serious Entrepreneur and starts with the four basics of growth before looking at some really useful ideas.
All the ideas in this guide ultimately revolve around four basic insights about growing a business by:
- Increasing the number of customers you have;
- Increasing the number of times each one does business with you;
- Increasing the average value of each transaction; and
- Improving your own effectiveness and efficiency.
Here are some other business principles that we explore in the guide:
- What you can measure, you can manage;
- Building unique core differentiators and focusing on them constantly;
- It’s more important to be different than it is to be better;
- Cutting the price is always an option but there is usually a better way – increasing value;
- Break compromises and lower the barriers to people doing business with you;
- Systemising every aspect of your business;
- Empower your team to make it right for every customer; and
- Creating a clear and detailed action plan.
Ask us for a copy – you never know, there may be a gem or two in there for you to help you grow faster!
Accident, sickness and unemployment cover explained
We never know what life has in store for us. We hope that everything goes our way, but we can’t guarantee it. What can be guaranteed is that the bills keep coming in even if our income doesn’t.
Putting food on the table and a roof over it is expensive and could become impossible if a serious illness, accident or job loss were to stop us working. State benefits exist, but the sums involved and the help they provide is limited.
Accident, Sickness and Unemployment cover, also known as ASU, is a type of insurance designed to replace a lost income. It is an insurance policy that pays you a tax-free proportion of your lost salary every month for a period of time over 12 or 24 months if you are unable to work due to illness, injury or redundancy. It can help you cover your financial commitments such as mortgage, rent, bills or loan repayments until you are fit enough to return to work, or until you find a new job.
Short-term policies can pay out up to 70% of your income every month for a limited period – usually up to two years. You can claim multiple times on your policy as long as you continue paying your premiums.
Long-term policies have no limit to your claim period, so you can continue receiving monthly benefits from your policy until you reach retirement age. However, long-term cover usually excludes cover for unemployment.
ASU pays you a tax-free proportion of your lost salary every month until you’re back on your feet. A typical policy can cover 50% to 70% of your monthly income, based on your salary or your gross annual earnings.
After stopping work, you will need to wait out a set period before you begin receiving ASU benefits. This can be set to match any sick pay you may have. Setting longer periods can save you money on your premiums.
Self-employed individuals may not qualify for unemployment cover under an ASU policy, so they should consider accident and sickness only cover.
Other types of income protection include Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) which will cover the repayments for outstanding loans if you stop earning. The pay-outs usually go directly to your lender.
Mortgage PPI will cover your mortgage payments if you can’t work. Some policies continue to pay out until your mortgage is paid off. Mortgage PPI pay-outs usually go to the policyholder.
If you can’t count on a generous sick pay or redundancy package from your employer, ASU can provide valuable peace of mind. It can be even more important if you are self-employed or run a small business where the income depends on you and your hard work.
We recommend that our clients get expert help from an Independent Financial Adviser (IFA). They can help you look at your options for ASU cover.
If you haven’t got an IFA then please talk to us or see: Finding an adviser | FCA
High energy use businesses urged to claim extra discount on energy bills
Energy-intensive businesses and heat network operators have less than three weeks to apply for UK Government support that could see their wholesale energy bills reduced by as much as a fifth.
All eligible businesses are urged to act now to benefit from the support available through the Energy Bills Discount Scheme. Companies have until 25 July 2023 to apply, with discounts applied to their bills until April next year.
Fund To Drive Export Growth
The Institute of Export & International Trade (IOE&IT) is the professional membership body representing and supporting the interests of everyone involved in importing, exporting, and international trade.
The IOE&IT has launched a £5 million Export Support Programme to help UK businesses. The programme will provide exporters with a bespoke package of training and consultancy to reflect their circumstances and needs.
The support package has been put together by industry experts, considering the most common and difficult obstacles faced by SMEs wanting to export.
Consultation: The future of customs declarations
HMRC is seeking views on potential simplifications to customs declarations and the use of technology to facilitate declarations and other customs processes.
This call for evidence is seeking views on potential simplifications to customs declarations and the way that businesses use technology to facilitate the completion of customs declarations and other customs processes.
This will be of interest to traders of all sizes making either import or export movements, including traders who complete declarations themselves and those who use customs intermediaries and so do not interact with HMRC customs systems directly.
It will also be of interest to customs intermediaries and customs software providers, as well as businesses who do not currently engage in international trade but may if customs processes could be simplified or better facilitated by technology.
The call for evidence will run for 10 weeks starting on 29 June 2023 and ending on 8 September 2023.
Alcohol Duty system changes are imminent
On 1 August 2023, the Alcohol Duty system will change, taxing all alcoholic drinks based on their alcohol by volume (ABV).
This replaces the current Alcohol Duty system, which consists of four separate taxes covering beer, cider, spirits, wine and made-wine.
Small businesses as well as pubs and restaurants could benefit from reduced rates on qualifying products, such as draught beer and cider.
Financial Services and Markets Bill receives Royal Assent
The Financial Services and Markets Act 2023 is part of the UK government’s plan to grow the economy and create an open, sustainable, and technologically advanced financial services sector.
It is designed to help tailor financial services regulation to fit UK markets. The Act aims to improve competitiveness of the UK as a global financial centre and deliver better outcomes for consumers and businesses. It contains new powers that will set the path for reforms to the European Union rules on financial services the UK has followed since 2016.
The Act also introduces new secondary objectives for the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority – to facilitate the growth and international competitiveness of the UK economy. This will be backed up by changes to enhance the scrutiny and accountability of the regulators, including ensuring regular reporting and a greater focus on cost-benefit analyses.
First Wales Agriculture Bill
Senedd Members have voted in favour of the first made-in-Wales Agriculture Bill which will be key in supporting farmers and sustainable food production for generations to come. The Bill, which has been led by the Rural Affairs Minister, Lesley Griffiths, will now seek Royal Assent, and if approved, is expected to come into force in Wales later this summer.
The main source of future Government support for farmers in Wales will come through the proposed Sustainable Farming Scheme. This Bill provides Welsh Ministers with the powers necessary to provide support in the future whilst also ensuring continued support for farmers during a transition period.
Food and Drink Festivals and Events Fund announced
A £300,000 fund to provide support for food and drink festivals and events across Wales opened for applications on 1 July.
The small grant scheme, which will address the 10 key actions of the Welsh Government’s ‘Vision for the Food & Drink Industry’, will support festivals and events to add value to the industry in Wales and aims to improve visitor access to and awareness of Welsh food and drink.
It also aims to encourage collaboration and co-operation between Welsh hospitality and food and drink businesses to source more local food and drink, and to increase the prevalence of Welsh food and drink on menus and retail offering.
The scheme is open to festivals and events taking place between 1 July 2023 and 31 March 2024. It brings together the areas of agri-food, food processing, tourism destinations, the food service sector, food festivals, and food retail outlets into one scheme.
The closing date for applications is 5pm on 31 July 2023.
UK Government funding to save pubs for communities
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has announced £1.44m for six projects across Wales as part of the UK Government’s Community Ownership Fund.
Pubs in Wales will receive a total of £694,250 from the Community Ownership Fund to allow them to stay open and serve the needs of local people.
The Cross Inn and the Tafarn Crymych Arms in Pembrokeshire will receive £244,250 and £210,000 respectively and are among six projects across Wales to receive funding.
The money will allow locals to restore the pubs so they can benefit their communities and attract visitors.