January 19, 2021

Entrepreneurship

The UK will strengthen its Prompt Payment Code (PPC) to push larger firms to pay small businesses quickly.

Under the changes, large companies that have signed up to the code must pay small businesses within 30 days instead of 60.

The government estimates there are £23.4bn worth of outstanding late invoices.

The issue is more prevalent than ever due to the impact of the pandemic.

The small business minister Paul Scully said the changes would help the UK’s economic recovery.

“Our incredible small businesses will be vital to our recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, supporting millions of livelihoods across the UK,” he said, in a media release.

The voluntary code currently has more than 2,800 signatories, who are required to pay 95% of their invoices within 60 days or else be publicly struck off the code until they make substantial changes to their payment practices.

Under the changes, payments to … Read the rest

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Health authorities in Norway say there’s no evidence of a direct link between the recent string of deaths among elderly people inoculated against COVID-19, and the vaccine they received.

The Norwegian Medicines Agency is seeking to address fears that taking the vaccine might be too risky, after 33 people in the country aged 75 and over died following immunization, according to the agency’s latest figures. All were already seriously ill, it said.

“Clearly, Covid-19 is far more dangerous to most patients than vaccination,” Steinar Madsen, medical director at the Norwegian Medicines Agency, said by phone on Monday. “We are not alarmed.”

The initial reports from Norway made international headlines as the world looks for early signs of potential side effects from the vaccines. Until Friday, Norway had only used the vaccine provided by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE, and the companies are now working with the Nordic country to look into the … Read the rest

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Government ministers describe the post-Brexit headaches that British exporters have suffered since 1 January as mere “teething problems”.

However Alex Paul, who jointly runs a successful family business that features in the Department for International Trade’s list of national “export champions”, disagrees. And he wants the real story to be told.

Two weeks into the supposed golden era of global Britain, Paul and many other British entrepreneurs, large and small, are running into very serious problems.

UK fish exporters are unable to sell into European markets because of delays at borders and complain that Boris Johnson and others misled them about Brexit. Leading supermarket chains are warning ministers of food shortages in Northern Ireland because of new border rules and bureaucracy. And small UK companies such as Paul’s, which thrived as part of the EU single market, are saying they may have no future at all in exporting into continental … Read the rest

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Automation is hardly a new threat to workers. Long before the arrival of COVID-19 disrupted businesses, many manufacturing executives were already changing how their companies assembled products, and other industries were considering following suit.

But as the global crisis has dragged on, the pandemic could be accelerating that shift.

“Every time there’s a disruption it forces people to make decisions,” says Tom Smith, an associate professor of finance at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School. “I would put money on the fact that this has sped up at least the decision-making process. When, all of a sudden, you’re in a crisis, smart and creative people find solutions. Creative people don’t let the crisis take everything down if they can help it.”

Just under 40% of U.S. jobs are at significant risk of being automated, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF). More than 10% of the country’s jobs are at high … Read the rest

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Tens of thousands of small businesses are set to receive insurance payouts covering losses in the first national lockdown, following a court ruling.

The Supreme Court found in favour of small firms receiving payments from business interruption insurance policies.

For some, it could provide the lifeline allowing them to trade beyond the coronavirus crisis.

The ruling could cost the insurance sector hundreds of millions of pounds.

In the lockdown of last spring, many small businesses made claims through business interruption insurance policies for loss of earnings when they had to close.

But many insurers refused to pay, arguing only the most specialist policies had cover for such unprecedented restrictions.

It was agreed that a selection of policy wordings should be tested in court, setting the parameters for what would be considered a valid claim.

The ruling provides guidance for a wider pool of 700 policies, potentially affecting 370,000 small businesses.… Read the rest

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Across the nation major central business districts in cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, and Seattle remain eerily empty as employers continue to keep staff working remotely. Heading into the holidays, only 1 in 10 office workers had made their way back into Manhattan.

But is the disruption caused by the pandemic—and the work from home boom—actually convincing Americans to pack their bags and move?

To find out, Fortune and SurveyMonkey polled 2,098 U.S. adults in November.* This poll, which has a modeled error estimate of +/-3%, is an even deeper study than our August look at migration

The finding? Millions of Americans moved as a result of the pandemic—and millions more plan to do so. Among U.S. adults, 16% say they have either moved out of their city/county during the pandemic (6%) or plan to move in the next 12 months (12%). Around 2% of Americans who moved … Read the rest

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Sales at Halfords shifted up a gear in the last quarter of 2020 as the bikes-to-car parts retailer rode a lockdown cycling boom.

Its shares jumped by almost 8 per cent, or 22p, to 299½p after it said that its sales had increased 11.5 per cent in the three months to January 1.

However, the company warned that bike sales were likely to be lower in the next three months of bad weather.

It added that it was still deciding whether to repay the government’s furlough money and would “provide an update when the Covid-19 situation becomes clearer”.

Halfords said that there had been a 35.4 per cent rise in like-for-like cycling sales, below the 49 per cent like-for-like growth in bike sales for the overall financial year so far. “Lockdowns weakened demand and supply chain disruption delayed stock arriving into the business,” it said.

Like-for-like sales of motoring products … Read the rest

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In 2014, a group of university students in Beijing founded Ofo, a bike-sharing startup that let customers scan QR codes to rent bikes for short rides around cities, picking up and dropping off the bikes wherever they wished.

The convenience and ease of dockless bike shares spawned competing startups like Mobike and Bluegogo, with each brand distinguished by the bright colors of its bicycles. The bikes became ubiquitous on the streets and sidewalks of China’s biggest cities, and the startups attracted billions in investments, turning founders like Dai Wei, the CEO of Ofo, into celebrity entrepreneurs.

But four years later, at least five Chinese bike-share startups had gone bankrupt, and a Chinese court revealed in June 2019 that Ofo, the sector’s pioneer that was once valued at more than $2 billion, had “basically no assets” and was unable to pay the significant debts it owed to suppliers and customers.

Subscribe Read the rest

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A large London plumbing firm plans to rewrite all of its workers’ contracts to require them to be vaccinated against coronavirus.

Pimlico Plumbers chairman Charlie Mullins said it was “a no-brainer” that workers should get the jab.

If they do not want to comply with the policy, it will be decided on a case-by-case basis whether they are kept on, he said.

Employment lawyers said the plan carried risks for the business.

The NHS is seeking to vaccinate 15 million people from priority groups by mid-February as part of efforts to try to control the spread of Covid-19.

But, Business Matters columnist Mullins, said he was prepared to pay for private immunisations for people at the firm, should they become available, which would be done on the company’s time.

Doctors have warned that key hospital services in England are in crisis, with reports of hospitals cancelling urgent operations after … Read the rest

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Good afternoon, readers.

Say you walk into a hospital or other COVID vaccine distribution site. You qualify to get one because you’re a priority group under local regulations, and there are enough available doses around for you to get one. Which one would you actually receive?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has already granted emergency authorization to two of them, one from Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech and the other from Moderna. But you’re unlikely to know which one of those you’ll be getting.

This pandemic has had a unifying theme: Triage. You get the resources to who needs them most. You allocate such resources accordingly. That was the case with coronavirus testing at the start of the outbreak. Now it’s the case for one of the most complex immunization campaigns in history.

While the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines share scientific roots, they’re still very different … Read the rest

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