Funding for e-cycle schemes
Two electric bike loan schemes that have successfully encouraged more local residents to swap their car for a bike in communities across Wales will receive additional funding for a further year, the Welsh Government has announced.
The E-Move scheme operated by Sustrans and Pedal Power’s ‘See Cycling Differently’ scheme have both been running successfully with the help of government funding since 2021 and have seen significant numbers of people using their service.
Sustrans, offers a range of battery assisted electric bikes for free, on medium-term loan, for local residents who do not cycle regularly or find the cost of electric bikes a barrier to using them.
The scheme which is operating in five locations across Wales – Rhyl, Swansea, Newtown (with links to Aberystwyth) and Barry – is estimated to have saved 600kg of CO2 in its first year, with users reporting a 39% drop in car journeys and a 76% positive impact on their wellbeing.
Pedal Power’s ‘See Cycling Differently’ project, which is aimed at increasing the inclusivity of cycling by offering a range of e-cycles, has also experienced similar success with an increase in regular e-cycle and adaptive e-cycle riders and more people taking up their free e-cycle tasters.
See: Welsh Government extends funding for successful e-cycle schemes | GOV.WALES
Land-based or environmental business training for staff
The land-based and environmental industry in Wales has around 18,600 businesses and 85,000 employees.
Lantra is your one-stop-shop that can lead you from entry level training right through to expert user qualifications.
As an employer, you’ll want to develop your team’s skills and help them work safely and productively. Lantra can help with specialist training and qualifications designed to support skills development and your business.
See: Looking for quality training for staff working in your land-based or environmental business? | Business Wales (gov.wales)
Education Maintenance Allowance payment
From April 2023 the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) will increase from £30 per week to £40 for eligible further education students in sixth form or college.
EMA is a weekly grant designed to support 16 to 18-year-olds from low-income households with further education (FE) costs, such as transport or meals.
FE students are eligible for EMA if their household income is £20,817 or less, if they are the only young person in the household, or £23,077 if there is more than one young person in the household. An FE Calculator (Student Finance Wales) is available to check students’ eligibility.
The increase will be a commitment for the next two academic years, while a comprehensive review into EMA is conducted.
Alongside this increase to the EMA, Jeremy Miles (Minister for Education and Welsh Language) also announced funding to allow free appeals for economically disadvantaged learners taking general and vocational qualifications in Summer 2023.
See: Wales first in the UK to increase Education Maintenance Allowance payment | GOV.WALES
Building business resilience
Millions of businesses and households are struggling with their energy costs, alongside increases in general taxation, the cost of council tax, water bills and other utilities.
Is it all doom and gloom or can you plan forward and make adjustments in, and to, your business to factor in these changes?
Our experience tells us that business owners are a resilient bunch and those that are the most successful are also flexible in their planning. Here are some of our recommended actions, based on what we have seen other clients doing recently to firm up their resilience to these tough times:
- Review your budgets and set realistic and achievable targets for the remainder of 2023. Know your cash flow forecast inside out.
- Review your debtors list and chase up overdue invoices (if appropriate). If applicable, offer existing debtors extended payment terms and/or discounts.
- Make sure your terms of business contain explicit payment terms.
- Assign responsibility to one individual for invoicing and collections.
- Put extra effort into making sure your relationships with your better customers are solid.
- Review your list of products and services and eliminate those that are unprofitable or not core products/services.
- If appropriate, review banking facilities and discuss future needs.
- Know what you are spending and on what. Look at your detailed expense list in your profit and loss account and assess if there is room for negotiation in any of your fixed expenses and/or whether there are alternative suppliers.
- Review and flowchart the main processes in your business (e.g. sales processing, order fulfilment, shipping etc.) and challenge the need for each step.
- Encourage team members to suggest ways to streamline and simplify processes.
- Review efficiency of business processes and consider alternatives such as outsourcing certain activities locally or overseas.
- Establish your key performance indicators (KPI’s) and measure them on a weekly basis.
- Pull everyone together to explain the business strategy and get their buy-in.
The British Business Bank’s Guide to building business resilience contains impartial, practical, and actionable information and support to help smaller businesses manage their costs, boost their long-term profitability, and increase their resilience.
There is guidance on everything from energy efficiency to investing in technology, included to help make your business more innovative and resilient.
Other topics covered in the guide include:
• Foundations for growth,
• Managing business costs,
• Securing funds and controlling debt,
• Focusing on customers,
• Optimising your supply chain, and
• Controlling staff overheads.
See: Guide to building business resilience – British Business Bank (british-business-bank.co.uk)
Please talk to us about planning ahead because we have considerable experience with helping our clients with their strategy and sustainability in turbulent times.
Giving Shares to Employees
Where companies give shares to employees in the company or group that they work for they will generally be taxed on the difference between the market value of those shares and the amount paid, if any. The transaction also needs to be reported to HMRC by 7 July following the end of the tax year. HMRC provide a template to enable employers to report the transaction online:
See: Other ERS schemes and arrangements: end of year return template, technical note and guidance notes – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Considerations around whether employers need to operate PAYE and whether national insurance contributions are payable depends upon whether the shares are ‘readily convertible assets’. Broadly, this would be where there are trading arrangements in place to quickly sell the shares.
It is generally more tax efficient for the employee if the company awards them shares under a tax-advantaged share incentive scheme such as under the Enterprise Management Incentive (EMI) scheme or a Share Incentive Plan (SIP).
Contact us if you would like more information about these schemes.
Corporation Tax relief for Employee Share Acquisitions
Provided certain conditions are satisfied, the employing company will obtain a corporation tax deduction when employees acquire shares in the company or group that they work for, whether they acquire the shares directly or under a share option agreement. The amount of the deduction is the difference between the market value of the shares and the amount paid by the employee and will often mirror the amount taxed on the employee. This is a statutory deduction and will be available irrespective of whether there is a deduction for the transaction in the company’s profit and loss account.
Awarding shares to employees is a complex area so please contact us before you consider such arrangements.
Working Capital Finance explained
Working capital finance solutions offer businesses the opportunity to improve cash flow. The world of commercial finance and asset-based lending (ABL) is complex and expansive with products, terminology, and contractual interpretation varying from lender-to-lender.
The benefits of arranging working capital are:
- Up to 90% of outstanding invoice value can be advanced within 24 hours;
- Flexible lending – funding increases in line with your growth (UK and Export);
- Confidentiality – lenders can offer a completely confidential service – your customers need not know you have a facility in place;
- Lenders allow you to manage your funding at all times;
- Sector-specific finance is often available;
- Structured ABL – funding for management buy-outs/management buy-ins; and
- Trade finance & supply chain finance solutions.
Specialists in this area can advise on:
- Invoice Finance – an effective way of quickly accessing a proportion of the value (up to 90%) of your invoices. Effectively a business ‘sells’ its invoices to the lender in return for accessing cash at the point products and services are sold. Specific sector-based offerings are available, as is the ability to arrange finance for selected invoices only;
- Structured ABL – generate a higher level of funding by unlocking the maximum value tied up in the combined assets within your business, including Debtors, Inventory, Plant & Machinery, and Property. Additional forms of funding can be structured in addition to this, such as top up loans to drive growth; and
- Trade Finance – supply chain finance with various options, enabling the purchasing of goods from overseas where you are otherwise unable to obtain credit from suppliers.
Typically, you will need to ensure your management accounts are up to date, you make available current detailed lists of debtors and creditors, and you might need up to date projections before an expert will consider your application.
Please talk to us about finance; our working capital finance experts have many years of experience and success in advising business across a wide range of sectors in obtaining working capital finance solutions.
Pub is the Hub Community Services Fund
Isolation and loneliness are very prevalent in rural areas where transport and amenities are scarce, so Pub is The Hub is making funding available to pubs prepared to support their local residents.
If you would like to consider ways in which your pub could diversify and support your local community then please read on!
- Would you like more information on developing your pub into a hub for your community?
- Would access to experts in the licensing trade be something you would value before making any decisions on diversifying?
- Would you like this support to be free of charge?
- Would you welcome a grant of up to £3,000, subject to meeting guidelines, to support any project you had identified?
- Would you welcome PR and Media coverage free of charge?
See: Community Services Fund – Pub is The Hub
Manufacturing Awards 2023
The Make UK Manufacturing Awards 2023 is recognising and awarding manufacturers and their apprentices who have done exceptional work in the sector.
Share your stories of resilience and transformation and shine a light on the incredible efforts of your people and business. Whether you’ve implemented a new export strategy; developed a new product; or have taken great leaps in your journey towards net zero – you are all manufacturing heroes. With 5 apprentice categories and 7 business categories, there is an award for you and your business. It’s free to enter, and you can apply to multiple categories. Application is quick and simple via an online form
See: | Make UK
SE100 Social Business Awards 2023
Equality and Climate share centre stage for this year’s NatWest SE100 Index and Social Business Awards. Don’t miss your chance to be named among the UK’s top impact enterprises – enter by 7 May 2023.
The awards recognise social ventures and mission-driven businesses that are leading by example in their quest to generate revenue to deliver a social or environmental mission.
This year’s categories are:
- Equality Award,
- Trailblazing Newcomer,
- Social Business Champion,
- Impact Management Champion,
- Leader of the Year,
- Social Investment Award, and
- Climate Champion.
See: UK social enterprise ‘top 100’ 2023 edition opens for nominations | The Social Enterprise Magazine – Pioneers Post
Businesses can sign the Armed Forces Covenant
The armed forces covenant is a pledge that together we acknowledge and understand that those who serve or who have served in the armed forces, and their families, should be treated with fairness and respect in the communities, economy, and society they serve with their lives.
The covenant focusses on helping members of the armed forces community have the same access to government and commercial services and products as any other citizen.
Reservists and veterans bring a variety of transferable skills and qualities to the civilian workplace, developed throughout their military careers.
Businesses, charitable, and public sector organisations of all sizes who wish to support the armed forces community can sign the covenant. You make your own promises on how you will demonstrate your support.
See: Businesses – Armed Forces Covenant
Business Companion – trading laws explained
Business Companion provides information for businesses and individuals that need to know about trading standards and consumer protection legislation.
The guidance is divided up into 15 broad Quick Guides and each one contains a number of more detailed In-depth Guides.
There may be rules you are not aware of, so make sure you explore the site thoroughly. Business Companion covers Trading Standards law for England, Scotland and Wales and is backed by UK Government.
See: Home | Business Companion
Importing live animals or animal products
The UK Government have updated their collection of guidance for importing live animals and animal products.
- Topical issues,
- Welfare of animals in transport,
- Import under Balai rules,
- Food, drink and composite products,
- Live animals, cattle or high-risk food and feed,
- Endangered species, and
See: Guidance on importing live animals or animal products – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)