Business Extra: News in Brief

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The Independent Online

Finance still tight

Businesses are still having difficulty accessing finance from their banks despite a fall in decline rates, according to figures released by the Institute of Directors earlier this month. The survey of 899 company directors carried out in June also shows that one in three firms applying for finance in the first six months of the year were declined by their banks. In addition, there is evidence that banks’ lending criteria are being tightened. Miles Templeman, director-general of the organisation, said:

“Although there is clear evidence of a drop in decline rates, we’re still concerned that access to finance for businesses remains difficult.” He added that the organisation was still convinced that the best way to improve access to finance in the longer-term was introducing a lot more competition into the banking sector. “Only when firms can choose more easily where they can place their business and switch banks will we have a banking sector that is better focussed on the needs of business customers,” he said.

Made in Sheffield

A festival that offers training opportunities for entrepreneurs and small business owners is to take place in Sheffield in September. Made: The Entrepreneur Festival, which is scheduled for 8 to 11 September, is due to feature a two-day boot camp with former Dragon’s Den entrepreneur Doug Richard as well as appearances by deputy prime minister and Sheffield MP Nick Clegg and Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones, “the black farmer”.

Green aid

Case studies and practical advice on corporate responsibility, sustainability and ethical business practice - including the bottom-line business benefits of developing an effective environmental policy - are available in Managing4Good: Kaplan’s Guide to Responsible and Sustainable Business, a new handbook from specialist publisher Kaplan. The book has been written to help organisations create strategies and policies that will have a lasting positive impact on employees, customers, suppliers, the wider community and the environment. It is aimed at business leaders and managers responsible for green initiatives, and describes the business benefits of “going green”. It also outlines the impact of relevant legislation, such as the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme (the UK's mandatory climate change and energy saving plan), and it features best practice case studies and examples from leading organisations such as Asda, BT, Barclays, Deloitte, DuPont, Google, John Lewis Partnership, Mars, Microsoft, Morrisons, O2, Sainsbury’s and Tesco.

Payment confusion

The announcement of the Government’s plan for a “fair payment” code, to accelerate payments to sub-contractors on public construction projects, has received a cautious reception from the Institute of Credit Management (ICM) and Bacs Payment Schemes Limited (Bacs). The two organisations are already working in partnership to build awareness of the issue of late payments in the UK, through the Prompt Payment Code. Philip King, chief executive of the ICM, said: “While we welcome all initiatives designed to help address the issue of late payments, the Government’s latest plan appears to duplicate the efforts of the Prompt Payment Code, launched only two years ago. There are already 917 voluntary signatories to the Prompt Payment Code, 27 of which are operating in the construction industry, and our work in partnership with Bacs is set to drive this membership further.”