Stay informed with our handy news bulletins, which include special announcements regarding the Breakthrough programme's Masterclasses, trade missions and Breakthrough Live events. 

Are UK SMEs ready for shared parental leave legislation?

December 2014
As the UK gets to grips with its new parental leave legislation, SMEs will be cautiously waiting to see how the rules impact upon their businesses. 
The new ruling entitles parents to share the 50-week leave period, and there is a lot more flexibility, as employees are able to take leave in up to three separate blocks provided they give their employer eight weeks’ notice. 
The move has been welcomed in terms of giving parents greater options with regard to child rearing and returning to work. But many SMEs are worried about the implications of extended leave, particularly as fathers are now entitled to the same leave as mothers. 
On the flipside, any underlying reticence about employing women of childbearing age will be turned on its head, as employers will now need to be prepared for the possibility of male employees also taking extended leave following the birth of their baby. 

Small business owners taking time out to train staff

December 2014
SME owners are spending an average of 100 hours a year recruiting and training new staff and helping to develop the skills of existing staff, according to a report from Everline. However, the time spent varies greatly between younger and older business owners, with those aged 16-34 dedicating more hours to staff training. SME owners in this age bracket spend an average of 26 hours per month on these tasks, while those in the over-55 age bracket spend around seven hours. 
With almost one-quarter of SMEs surveyed having current vacancies, it’s perhaps a shrewd move to dedicate time to recruiting the right staff. However, the time spent on recruiting and training costs young business owners £7,540 in lost output, according to the report. 

Report reveals high level of optimism among UK SMEs

December 2014
The latest annual Business Growth Report from Santander Corporate & Commercial reveals that small business owners are predicting 33% turnover growth over forthcoming years. The report is in its third year and the feedback is the highest percentage to date, demonstrating a leap in confidence for SMEs. 
In fact, many businesses (17% of those surveyed) are now actively looking to grow through acquisition – a figure that is up from 14% last year – while 29% are looking to grow organically. Despite all the optimism, business owners do still have concerns, chief among them being the hiring and retention of staff. Other worries include operating in a difficult trading environment and dealing with rising costs.

FSB to give small business a 'Big Voice'

November 2014
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has offered UK SMEs the chance to have their opinions heard directly by the government and other national policymakers. The FSB’s ‘Big Voice’ is a research community that will gather feedback on all business issues, among them funding, employment, pensions and tax. These insights will form the basis of the FSB’s discussions with the Prime Minister, Chancellor and other leading politicians with the aim of creating lasting change.
FSB National Chairman John Allan believes this will provide a direct and much-needed connection between government and SMEs. “The collected data is shared by the FSB with politicians at all levels of government, to create change for small businesses,” he says. “No matter how small the company, the experiences of its owner helps policymakers and politicians understand the needs of small businesses and how they operate.”
Big Voice’s online community will be managed by research company Verve on behalf of the FSB. “A community panel allows the FSB to gain the views of their members as if they were just sitting in the room next door,” says Verve founder Andrew Cooper. “This empowers the FSB to fulfill its mission to represent the voice of small business, allowing members to be heard as never before.”

CBI calls for fairer share of growth benefits

November 2014
Speaking at the Confederation of British Industry’s (CBI) Annual Conference this month, CBI President Sir Mike Rake called for a fairer share of the benefits of economic growth within the UK. He urged the political parties to establish policies that would encourage businesses to grow, create jobs and boost the standard of living for everyone in the UK. Other speakers in attendance included Prime Minister David Cameron, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Leader of the Labour Party Ed Miliband and Minister of State for Trade and Investment Lord Livingston.
Sir Mike also called for the UK to remain open to trade, immigration and investment with the European Union. In his opening address, he said that immigration, “has been and is part of the solution to the skills shortage faced by the UK,” but acknowledged the existence of “a disconnect between the experiences of business and the public at large.”
Published on the same day was the CBI’s report A Better Off Britain, which recommends several steps that businesses and government can take to ensure a fairer share of the benefits of growth.