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Financial news round-up for Small Business - April Roundup
by Startacus Admin
Welcome to the Startacus monthly financial news round-up, brought to you by Sophie Turton of Crunch Accounting.
April has seen further economic developments prompting an increase in nationwide confidence - interest rates are down, UK exports are on the up and HSBC, one of the UK’s four big banks, has claimed 2014 will be “a turning point for British business.”
UK fastest growing G7 economy
The British economy got another ego boost this month as projections by the International Monetary Fund showed the UK to be the fastest growing major economy in 2014.
It’s the first time since April 2008 that the UK economy is forecast to grow faster than the US or Germany. Growth forecast is now at 2.9% for 2014, revised upwards from 2.4% in January and 1.9% last October. In comparison, the US economy is forecast to grow by 2.8%, Canada by 2.3% and Germany by 1.7%.
2014 “turning point for British Businesses” says HSBC
HSBC has doubled-down on business lending, offering up a healthy £6 billion specifically for small and medium-sized firms. In a statement to the BBC, HSBC’s head of banking and business, Amanda Murphy, said this is probably the best time for many years for businesses to invest and grow. HSBC want to play a part and as a result are putting ‘their money where their mouth is’.
Highest rate of female employment in decades
Female employment rates have hit their highest since comparable records began in 1971, according to The Labour Market Statistics report released by the Office for National Statistics earlier this month. The report showed that the proportion of women in employment has increased to 67.6%, while the proportion of men has decreased to 77.6%.
The unemployment rate for women has broadly followed that for men since 1971, though remaining slightly lower throughout. However, unemployment in women increased by significantly less than that of men during the economic downturn in the early 1990s. Unemployment figures currently stand at 6.5% for women and 7.2% for men.
Late payments still harming small businesses
Hold your party hats, we’re British after all. Despite the increasing volume of positive economic news, the UK’s financial recovery is not yet secure, particularly for SMEs. The Forum of Private Business (FPB), which lobbies on behalf of small businesses, has surveyed its 18,000 members and found that 23% of the UK’s small firms have seen a sharp increase in the frequency of late payments.
This is worrying, particularly in light of a recent study which found that overdue invoices were a factor in as many as 20% of business insolvencies. A survey of members of the Association of Business Recovery Professionals, the industry body for insolvency practitioners, revealed that 47% had experienced a business going under where late payment was the primary (or major) factor.
Exports and production are on the up
Never one to finish on a low, April sang more positive news for Britain's service sector. Exports hit an all-time high last quarter, according to the British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) economic survey, and the number of sales and orders has now exceeded pre-recession figures. The BCC say this is a good indicator of economic growth. However, long-term governmental policies that support businesses as they look to grow are ‘crucial’.
Knowledge–based businesses saw a 38% increase in sales, up on the last three months of 2013. Manufacturing and chemical companies also expressed optimism in future sales. Happy squeals can be heard from Britain’s production industries, as production output for the country has increased by 2.7% between February 2013 and 2014 and there is growing confidence that these figures will continue to rise.
Startacus gives a huge thanks once again to Sophie and Crunch Accounting for sharing their expertise !
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