Business Connections

Small Talk: Many young people are entering the jobs market without the right skills

Over the past couple of weeks thousands of young people received their exam results and I’d like to congratulate them all. Many of these school leavers will go on to work for a small firm or even start their own business.

Small Talk: Slow progress on curbing the power of energy giants – but small businesses can do more to help themselves

Another week, another inch forward in the grindingly slow battle against vested interests and uncompetitive markets that do so much damage to consumers and small businesses alike. Six days after announcing the referral of the banking sector for a full-scale competition inquiry, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced the next step in its investigation into the energy market, which has already been referred for the same process.

Market Report: Investors disappointed after hoping for juicy takeover bid for Salamander Energy

Investors hoping for a windfall from a juicy takeover bid for Salamander Energy have been disappointed.

Small Talk: Forget the regulator, it’s down to the customers to force better competition in business banking

Small businesses pleased that the Competition and Markets Authority’ has decided to refer the banking sector for a full competition inquiry should not get too excited. The truth is that if small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which the CMA agrees suffer at the hands of a lack of competition in the banking sector, really do want a better deal, they are going to have to fight for it.

Six in 10 small businesses are owed late payments and the average small business is currently owed £38,186 in overdue bills, Bacs says

Small Talk: Small businesses struggle to get paid – and too often the culprits are big businesses and councils

One in four companies is spending more than 10 hours a week chasing overdue payments

Small Talk: The Alternative Investment Market has recovered after five miserable years but is still fragile

Britain has a remarkable propensity for building things up only in order to knock them down again. The sad story of the online fashion retailer Asos is a case in point. Having lauded the company for years, driving its stock to higher and higher valuations, investors have run for cover at the first sign of trouble; two profits warnings have seen the share price halve this year.

Small Talk: Click and collect could be the catalyst for small, independent retailers to mount a comeback

Could the internet save the high street, particularly the smaller independent retailers we all profess to love but all too often fail to support with our custom? Brandon Lewis, the government minister with responsibility for the internet, thinks so – and he might be right.

Medium-sized businesses need more support to stop them from falling over the tax cliff

More support for Britain’s often-neglected medium-sized businesses: the Confederation of British Industry today publishes a series of proposals for tax reforms it hopes will enable many of these companies to fulfil their potential.

Small talk: As more small companies appeal against rejected applications for credit, banks need to try harder to get their lending decisions right

More than 1,100 small firms were wrongly turned down for finance by a big bank over the year to the end of March, a report reveals today.

Small Talk: Forget the funding... entrepreneurs should bank on having a mentor to give them a flying start

What support do business start-ups need most today in order to get off the ground, grow and eventually prosper?

Small Talk: Celebrating regional talent and innovation will help to foster growth, says chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses

In many ways, London is in a league of its own. It is home to one of the world’s greatest financial centres. The capital is a crucible of trade and commerce for both established and emerging markets as well as being the hub of creative talent, but there is so much untapped potential in our nations and regions.

Small Talk: In Britain small companies are often sold on to bigger firms. In Germany they tend to do things differently ...

The former BT boss Lord Livingston, who now serves at the UK’s Trade and Investment minister, is understandably delighted about the deal announced last week by Chinook Sciences, the Nottingham-based clean technology specialist. Chinook’s £300m contract to build a waste-driven energy plant in the UAE is the first large export deal for a medium-sized British company since Lord Livingston unveiled specialist support for these businesses earlier this year.

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A piece of the wreckage of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in Donetsk
Last year was more expensive for air disasters than any year since 2001. Jamie Dunkley examines the cost to the underwriters of aviation risk
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The rise in the number of whistleblowers is impressive whichever way you look at it, says James Moore
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The institution is now controlled not by a co-operative but by hedge funds, where these sort of payments are par for the course, says James Moore
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The Treasury Select Committee will today take one of its last chances before Parliament’s dissolution to bowl another bouncer at the chest of the Financial Conduct Authority. James Moore on why we must watch over our watchmen
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Princess Anne talks to Anthony Constantinou at the London Boat Show
Anthony Constantinou’s infancy was shattered by tragedy, but he went on to build a multimillion-pound City of London  business. Yet now the shadow of the law hangs over the boss of Capital World Markets, reports Jim Armitage
News
USC was put into administration by Sports Direct and was bought back immediately also by Sports Direct, with its £15.3m debts to staff, suppliers and landlords wiped clear
We’ve known for a while that Sports Direct sails close to the wind in terms of its business practices. After the performance of its chairman, James Moore says a more apt metaphor might be that it has been dancing with a hurricane
News
Ben Chu has the answers
News
MP Stella Creasy
Picking a team is fun, says Mark Leftly
News
The law on annuities will be changed from April 2016
History has shown that if you propose even a modest reform to the UK’s pension market you’re guaranteed a migraine from the bellyaching, notes James Moore
News
Ticket signs at Victoria Station on January 2, 2015 in London, England. Increased rail fares averaging 2.5% come into effect today, pushing the cost of some commuters annual rail fares to more than �5,000. Earlier this week, Network Rail chief executive Mark Carne said that he would not be receiving his annual bonus because of the major rail disruption passengers faced over the Christmas period, which was caused by engineering works that overran.
Far from relieving the pressure on trains, the 16 per cent increase in seats might not even be enough to cope with the growth in passenger numbers, says James Moore
News
The story of Georgiou’s alleged fraud snugly fits the victim narrative so beloved of the country’s government, says Jim Armitage
News
The law on annuities will be changed from April 2016
Could pension providers’ loss be small businesses’ gain? David Prosser finds out
News
George Osborne was accused of a ‘roller-coaster’ approach to public spending
No ifs or buts, says David Blanchflower: last week’s mean-spirited heartless roller-coaster Budget was designed to smash the state and make the poor poorer.
News
What a shame that Next doesn’t do more to share that success with its employees, says James Moore
News
Spring breakers enjoy a pool party – but some fear that university debt will soon cripple the US economy
The cost of going to college has fuelled a $1.3trn debt bubble that some experts fear could burst just like the subprime mortgage one did. Andrew Dewson reports on how a degree may no longer be the route to an affluent lifestyle in the US
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Now that George Osborne has finished throwing his confetti of numbers down the aisle of the House of Commons in an attempt to prolong his marriage with a weary nation’s finances, James Moore asks an important question: do they add up?
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People queue at a currency exchange office in Geneva on 15 January, after the shock move by Switzerland’s central bank
The spread-betting giant IG has admitted that it may never claw back most of the £18m lost by its clients after the Swiss scrapped their currency ceiling – and now its credit controls are under scrutiny. Russell Lynch investigates
News
George Osborne will present his sixth Budget on Tuesday
Follow the build-up to George Osborne's last pre-election Budget as it happens
News
James Moore: it says a lot about the supermarket sector that Sainsbury’s reporting a 1.9 per cent fall in sales at stores open at least a year is being viewed as a good result
News
Follow financial markets for long enough and you’ll realise once-in-a-lifetime events are more common than people would have you believe, says James Moore
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Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing