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Cool Ventures September 2013 Newsletter

Regional Growth Fund
Business Finance Scheme
Grants to install energy saving devices
R&D Tax Credits
Employment Allowance
Superfast Patent Service
VAT Reclaim
HSE Guidance
Born Global 2013

HMRC Information
Minimum Wage
RTI Information
Universal Credits

Round 5 of the Regional Growth Fund for England to Open in October

Businesses across England are being encouraged prepare to apply for funding from the next round of the Regional Growth Fund. The Deputy Prime Minister has announced that Round 5 will formally open in October.

This round will make funds available to bidders from the private sector seeking £1 million or more for high quality projects that generate private sector investment and create sustainable jobs. Small and medium-sized businesses that do not want to bid for this much should be aware there are millions of pounds of Regional Growth Fund cash currently available from programmes for eligible projects.

More details about Round 5 will be available on the Regional Growth Fund web pages in the autumn.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: "The Regional Growth Fund has been a success, helping to create thousands of jobs. Britain is returning to long term growth, but we want to see business booming. I’d encourage all companies to look carefully at how the Fund can help you grow, and get ready to apply in October."

Source: 05/09/2013

Business finance scheme picks up lending

Lending through the Government's Enterprise Finance Guarantee (EFG) scheme to small businesses picked up to £84 million the second quarter of 2013, following a period of decline.

It is the highest level of lending since March 2011, with lending picking up 17 per cent compared to the same quarter last year.

However, the lending scheme remains almost 60 per cent below its peak in Q3 2009 when it lent more than £200 to small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).

Business minister Michael Fallon wrote to high street banks taking part in the scheme last year to express concern that lending via the scheme was declining.

Launched in 2009, the EFG scheme encourages banks to increase lending to SMEs by providing government guarantees for up to 75 per cent of loans worth between £1,000 and £1 million.

Over 12,400 businesses have been offered loans totalling £1.2 billion via the scheme since May 2010.

Michael Fallon said: "As a demand-led scheme, increased EFG lending shows that businesses are increasingly looking to invest and grow, and this is a positive indication for growth in the wider economy."

"Access to finance remains a crucial issue for SMEs and while I welcome the increased EFG lending by the banks, it is only scratching the surface of the problem. We have made the EFG scheme more flexible and easier for banks to use, and we are taking action to improve competition in the SME lending market through the business bank."

Over the past year the Government has made a number of changes to the EFG, including increasing the turnover limit for eligible businesses from £25 million to £41 million.

Is your business looking for finance? We can advise on the EFG and other funding schemes available to small businesses.


Reducing energy demand


Last week, Energy and Climate Change Secretary Edward Davey set out how businesses and other organisations could receive financial incentives for reducing the amount of electricity they use through a new pilot worth at least £20 million.

Edward Davey has today confirmed that:

  • British businesses and other organisations could receive financial incentives for reducing the amount of electricity they use under a new pilot worth at least £20 million. The new pilot will examine how businesses, and other organisations such as charities, that install measures like more efficient motors, air conditioning and lighting could receive financial incentives for the reduced amount of electricity they use.

    For more information see :

Rising number of small firms claiming R&D tax credits

There was a 49% increase in the number of small and medium-sized firms claiming R&D tax credits between 2008/09 and 2011/12, according to data published by HMRC. The data revealed that the number of claims for R&D tax credits made by smaller firms increased from 6,000 to just under 10,000 over this period, with a total of 85,000 claims made since the scheme was introduced in 2000/01. Felicity Burch of the Engineering Employers Federation (EEF) says the data is encouraging and attributes the increase to recent improvements to the Government's administration of the scheme.

There is more about the tax credit claims data at:

Employment allowance to become law by the end of the year

Proposals to provide businesses with a £2,000 employment allowance towards their national insurance contributions (NICs) will become law by the end of 2013, according to HMRC policy adviser Raj Nayyar. Mr Nayyar said details of the allowance were yet to be finalised, but all firms would be entitled to the allowance from April 2014. The allowance will form part of the National Insurance Contributions Bill, a package of measures to crack down on 'abusive' tax avoidance schemes.


Government scraps plans for 'superfast' patent service

Plans to introduce a 'superfast' patent service have been dropped by the Government following a consultation. The superfast patent service, which would have granted patents within 90 days rather than the usual 18 months, was originally proposed in 2012 as part of a package of measures to make it easier for innovators to 'turn their ideas into business growth'. However, just three respondents to the consultation said they were likely to use the service and many raised concerns that the shorter timescale would lead to invalid patents being granted, which would then need to be amended or revoked.

There is more about the scrapped plans at:

Small firms fail to reclaim VAT entitlement

Over a third of smaller firms are losing out financially by failing to claim back the VAT they are entitled to, according to research carried out on behalf of Sage. The research found that many owner-managers do not understand the tax rules relating to reclaiming VAT and over half of those surveyed estimated that this lack of knowledge could be losing their business more than £500 per year. Lee Perkins, Managing Director of Sage's Small Business Unit, said: "Businesses that aren't claiming back the VAT they are entitled to are really putting themselves at a competitive disadvantage."

Read more about the research at:

HSE publishes guidance to new first aid training rules

Guidance to help employers assess their first aid training needs and comply with amendments to the Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981 have been published by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The requirement for workplace first aid training providers to be approved by the HSE will be removed from 1st October 2013. The HSE has published the guidance in advance of the amendments coming into force, which cover carrying out a first aid needs assessment and selecting a first aid training provider.

Read more about the changes at:

Do you have a new and exciting product idea, innovative solution or service with export potential?

Business West is looking for South West companies and entrepreneurs to take part in the Born Global 2013 competition, where you will get the boost needed to turn new ideas into a global reality.

The Born Global winner will get expert international advice, support and, of course, a cash prize!

This is so much more than a competition; by entering you will have access to the Launchpad Workshop programme, designed to accelerate your global take off.

From writing a proposal to pitching in front of investors, we will support you and your international aspirations, whether your business is large or small.

If you’re confident that your new business idea is ready for international success then you must apply to be in the running for this year’s prize package.

Deadline for applications is 18 October 2013

For further information see :

HMRC Information

The National Minimum Wage: including rate changes effective from 1 October 2013

guide gives you a simple overview of the national minimum wage and explains how HMRC is enforcing the rules. The new rates from 1 October 2013 have also been included.

Find out about Authorised Economic Operator certification (AEO)

Any business involved in international trade needs to be aware of the AEO scheme and decide if the status offer benefits to their business. New legislation, Union Custom Code (UCC), which will become effective from May 2016, will have an impact on all businesses that operate a customs authorisation.The EU Commission has launched a new Authorised Economic Operator e-learning package for anyone involved in AEO or considering making an application.

RTI: Reconciling PAYE charges                
Acting on feedback received relating to difficulties being encountered with some PAYE schemes.

What do you know about Universal Credit?
Universal Credit was introduced on 29 April 2013 in selected areas of Greater Manchester and Cheshire and will be gradually rolled out to the rest of the UK from October 2013. Read this overview, to find out more, including information for employers and claimants.
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An Introduction to Business
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