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FSB: Osborne has 'pulled out all the stops'

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said Chancellor George Osborne has "pulled out all the stops" with a "wide-ranging package" of measures to support small businesses.

National chairman of the FSB John Walker said, "The housing initiative will help reinvigorate the construction sector in which many of our members operate".

"National Insurance cut goes beyond what we were asking for and we are pleased to see the scrapping of the 3p fuel duty due in September", he added.

How the Chancellor's Budget plans to help business

  • New Employment Allowance will take the first £2,000 off the employer National Insurance bill of every company in the country
  • Around 450,000 small businesses - one third of all employers - will pay no employer National Insurance at all after introduction of Employment Allowance in April next year
  • Small firms will be given help through Government procurement budgets, growth vouchers and controls on regulators' charges
  • The Capital Gains Tax holiday will be extended
  • Corporation tax to be reduced by a further 1% to 20% in April 2015
  • Small company and main rates of corporation tax merged at 20p

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Attempt to revive Comet included profit plan say owners

Comet owners OpCapita issued a statement on the failed retailer saying its plan to rescue the firm included measures to improve the profitability of the business.

We will of course assist fully with any inquiry and welcome the opportunity to provide BIS with factual information relating to the circumstances which led to Comet entering administration.

Deloitte published yesterday its Initial Report to Creditors of Comet Group Ltd which already includes detailed information and commentary on the events leading up to the appointment of administrators.

In addition the report sets out the detail of the turnaround plan for Comet which included a series of measures designed to improve the profitability of the business.

– OpCapita statement on Comet

The statement added that once administration is completed, Deloitte will issue a full public report to creditors.

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Empty shops at record levels sets 'alarm bells ringing'

One in 10 shops in UK high streets and shopping centres were empty in October as retailers battle against stagnating sales and rising costs, a survey has found.

One in 10 high street shops were left empty, the survey found Credit: Lewis Stickley/PA Wire

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said the town centre vacancy rate of 11.3% was the worst figure since its nationwide survey began in July 2011.

A fifth of store units are currently empty in Northern Ireland, while the rate for Wales is 15.1% and for the North & Yorkshire region the rate is 14.6%. Greater London had 7.6% of its units lying empty.

BRC director general Stephen Robertson said the new figures would set "alarm bells ringing" as it confirmed the financial challenges for both customers and retailers were far from over.

Big brands including JJB Sports, Clinton Cards, Blacks Leisure, Game and Peacocks have either disappeared or scaled back their presence in town centres after going into administration.

Cable to unveil 'settlement agreements' for dismissals

  • Under the proposals if the worker accepts the deal it will become legally protected so it cannot be used later as evidence in any court case or tribunal.
  • Officials insist the move is fair to employees as they are not obliged to take the package and also incentivises bosses to offer a good package, which can include a binding promise of a favourable reference.
  • Mr Cable will also consult on plans to change the limit on unfair dismissal payouts to a maximum of 12 months' salary or set it at an even lower figure.
  • He wants to reduce the current £72,300 cap significantly in the hope of encouraging small businesses to start hiring more staff.

Government drops no-fault dismissal plans

Business Secretary Vince Cable will announce that "no-fault dismissal" proposals are being dropped after a lack of support for the idea among the business community.

Mr Cable has made no secret of his opposition to the recommendation, which many Tories backed, but aides were keen to stress the proposal was being ditched because there was "no significant evidence" that it would help employers.

The Business Secretary wants to bolster settlement agreements - where employers can offer under-performing employees a pay off - so they become more widely used to resolve disputes.

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