Business Connections

Small Talk: Watchdog has left door open on interest-rate swap cases

The emails began arriving within minutes of the announcement by the Financial Services Authority that tens of thousands of small businesses have been mis-sold interest-rate swaps by the banks. Within half an hour, no fewer than six "claims management" firms had got in touch offering their views on mis-selling and, naturally, their services to small businesses that might be due compensation.

Small Talk: Unity is strength when it comes to beating late payers

How do small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) deal with persistent late payers that damage their cashflow and jeopardise their very survival? A new piece of research from Barclays Bank suggests many SMEs are getting tough with late payers – if that's the case, it's not before time.

Small Talk: Taxman is cracking down hard on the small companies with very little hope

Is the taxman getting tough on small businesses struggling to pay their bills? HM Revenue & Customs' own figures suggest this may well be the case.HMRC's data, crunched by Wilkins Kennedy, the accountant, reveals that in the 2011-12 tax year, it presented 57 per cent more petitions to wind up companies with unpaid tax bills than in the previous 12 months. It sought to liquidate just over 5,300 companies last year, up from about 3,400 in 2010-11.

Small Talk: Problems ahead but the tax revolution looks a winner

HM Revenue & Customs is as adept as any commercial organisation at presenting changes to its practices as "improvements", no matter what additional expense or hassle they cause. So it is with real-time information (RTI), about which David Gauke, the Treasury minister with responsibility for HMRC, tends to be evangelical.

Small Talk: Flawed, but scheme to help start-ups still has lots to offer

How many people have begun January by resolving to make 2013 the year they finally strike out alone and start their own business? Social market research invariably shows self-employment is hugely appealing to many people – over and above the increases we have seen in the past couple of years (one suspects many of these newly self-employed people have been forced into this status by the double-dip recession).

Small Talk: Sorry, but it's time to end the misery of these zombie firms

Here's the thing about zombies. As every horror movie fan knows, the fact the undead are invariably victims themselves – typically of some awful pandemic – they still pose a threat that must be countered.

Small Talk: Lots of funding initiatives but precious few achievements

The patchwork quilt of different measures designed to fund the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises is at last being knitted together. But goodness, progress is slow.

Small Talk: Volume may be a problem for investment trusts

The investment-trust industry, which has long been the poor relation of open-ended funds such as unit trusts, is rubbing its hands with glee at the prospect of the retail distribution review. The regulatory shake-up of financial advice, which takes effect on 1 January, will ban providers from paying commissions to advisers who recommend their products to clients. Investment trusts, as quoted companies, have never been able to do this and blame commission bias for the fact financial advisers neglected the sector in favour of open-ended funds.

Small Talk: Osborne prolongs the great business rates robbery

All Chancellors give with one hand only to take with another – that's the job – but for far too many small businesses, George Osborne's Autumn Statement only prolongs the agony. For all the talk of targeted help for small businesses, the great business rates robbery will continue.

Small Talk: Stalemate over new bank is disappointing

Wednesday's Autumn Statement looks set to see another chance to boost small and medium enterprises go begging. Despite months of discussions, it's almost certain George Osborne will not be able to unveil the blueprint for a state-backed business bank. The Chancellor and his officials have apparently failed to reach agreement with Vince Cable's Department for Business on the detail. This is unhelpful, for the arguments over bank lending to SMEs have reached a stalemate.

Small Talk: Why the seed enterprise scheme fell on stony ground for the Treasury

Sometimes, you can't even give your money away. That must be the feeling among those ministers who have had a hand in the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme.

Small Talk: Few entrepreneurial role models for risk-averse British

Who are the role models for Britain's aspiring entrepreneurs and small business founders? There are surprisingly few – anyone who works with small and medium-sized enterprises will quickly become accustomed to the same faces used to promote the sector's campaigns.

Small Talk: Let's give a warmer welcome to Vince and his Business Bank

Government isn't much fun – just ask Business Secretary Vince Cable, who in pre-coalition days was routinely lauded as politics' voice of reason, but who today has barely a friend to his name. The latest Vince wheeze to get a kicking is the Government's new Business Bank, which he hopes will be able to turn £1bn of taxpayers' money into £10bn worth of support for small and medium-sized enterprises.

Small Talk: Cameron plan to ease cash flow for SMEs could be a winner

Having failed to force Britain's banks to lend more to small and medium-sized enterprises, it appears the Prime Minister now hopes to persuade our largest companies to do their bit instead.

Small Talk: Helping hand with cash flow – but urgent questions, too

Desperate times call for desperate measures. There is good reason to think the Government's new supply chain finance initiative will be successful – in that sense it is to be applauded. But the fact David Cameron last week felt it necessary to ask the bosses of Britain's biggest companies to back the scheme shows just how dysfunctional the operating environment for small businesses has become.

News
Hewlett-Packard has accused Oracle and CEO Larry Ellison of 'harassment'
On Thursday, Oracle announced its co-founder Larry Ellison would step down as chief executive. This is what you need to know about the fabulous life of the software mogul.
News
Pro-union activists rally opposite of pro-independence supporters in Glasgow's George Square, in Scotland
Scotland has spoken. But what are the implications for GDP growth and living standards for the UK economy now?, Ben Chu explains
News
The campaign has left much of Scotland divided
After the shrillest campaign of fear from the financial and corporate community, the Scottish people decided to vote "no"...Or as City traders would say, to adopt a "risk off" strategy
News
Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo!
Yahoo owns a 22.5% stake in Alibaba after making a $1bn investment- but IPO could be a make or break moment for Mayer, says Oscar Williams Grut
News
Lionsgate is funding British films using the money made from global hits such as ‘The Expendables’ series
The chief executive of film distributor Lionsgate tells Ian Burrell why more movies should be both made and set in the UK and why ITV and BSkyB should play their part
News
A pedestrian walks past Alibaba.com advertising in Hong Kong.
The countdown for Alibaba's New York float has begun and the stage is set for what could be the biggest initial public offering of all-time. Here is what you need to know.
News
Video: The Independent's Alex Lawson provides a run-down of the day's major news from the City
News
Jack Ma founded Alibaba in 1999 with a website offering 22 items. It now accounts for 70 per cent of all packages delivered in China
E-commerce behemoth on track to become the biggest IPO in history
News
Americans are less fussy when it comes to shareholder rights and Alibaba is taking advantage to ensure Jack Ma remains in the driving seat, writes Anthony Hilton
News
A Yes vote does not deliver independence; it delivers a negotiation to secure the terms of independence. But once politicians start negotiating, anything can happen.
News
VIDEO : Get the latest business news from our City staff
News
While the Canadian province eventually voted No, the years of uncertainty caused banks to move elsewhere and damaged GDP. Mark McSherry ponders a similar fate for Scotland
News
Phones 4U stores will remain closed while talks continue with parties interested in acquiring the business
The mobile phone retailer’s demise is a tragedy for its employees, but just business sense for those responsible, Alex Lawson and Simon Read report
News
The Deputy First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon (right), is joined by the leader of Welsh nationalist party Plaid Cymru Leanne Wood (centre) as they pass a bookmakers during a walk-about to meet the Scottish electorate
There’s a lot riding on Thursday’s poll, not least among bookmakers and punters such as Russell Lynch , who would like a referendum that makes them a little richer
News
Latest figures say export growth in Britain has slowed to its lowest point since April, while factory output is at its weakest since the start of 2013
The underlying trend in  factory output is its weakest since the start of 2003, writes David Blanchflower
News
Alex Salmond and the nationalists reject claims that Scotland's economy would suffer if the UK broke up
Ben Chu looks at what could happen if the 'yes' campaign triumphs in next week’s independence referendum
News
Emissions policies will raise the cost of steel making
As Europe pursues anti-pollution measures, steel producers are warning that steeper costs will drive customers away, writes Thomas Biesheuvel
News
Such an outcome would be the worst result for Scotland, says Mark Leftly
News
Samuel L Jackson at the annual event
The company donates its global revenues on the day to hundreds of charities
News
Véronique Laury takes over as Kingfisher’s chief executive from Sir Ian Cheshire in January
More than half the UK population is female but she will become only the fifth FTSE 100 female chief executive, says Laura Chesters
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Senior BA - Motor and Home Insurance

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

Market Risk & Control Manager

Up to £100k or £450p/d: Saxton Leigh: My client is a leading commodities tradi...

SQL Developer - Watford/NW London - £320 - £330 p/d - 6 months

£320 - £330 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...

Head of Audit

To £75,000 + Pension + Benefits + Bonus: Saxton Leigh: My client is looking f...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam