SMEs lose thousands from insolvent customers

According to new findings published today by Experian, three quarters of SMEs have lost money as a result of a customer becoming insolvent. Experian surveyed 600 SMEs and found that in the past five years, 76% of SMEs have lost money as a result of customers failing. Nearly a fifth (19%) of these businesses each lost between £5,000 and £10,000, while a 35% lost over £10,000 over five years. It also found that 68% of SME owners said that they did check their customers' and suppliers' credit ratings at least once a year. However, 34% said they only started monitoring suppliers after they had already lost money.

SMS campaigns are preferred form of mobile marketing

A new survey by mBlox has revealed that 49% of UK consumers prefer SMS and push messages compared to other forms of mobile marketing, including video advertising, banner or standard display ads and email. And 45% said that SMS messages are most likely to prompt a purchase. The survey, conducted by Millward Brown Digital in eight countries including the UK, found that UK consumers said they receive more text or push messages than consumers anywhere else in the world, with 84% stating they have received a SMS or push notification from a company. Of these, 44% found the content sent to them of value.

National Minimum Wage tool from Acas

Acas is urging employers to avoid tribunals by getting ready for the new National Minimum Wage (NMW) rates coming into force on Tuesday 1 October 2013. Last year there were 500 NMW-related employment tribunal claims, and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) also identified 736 employers who had failed to pay the wage. Acas has launched a new tool to help employers and employees work out the right minimum wage payments. The new minimum wage rates for workers will be:

£6.31 for people aged 21 years and over;

£5.03 for people aged 18 to 20 years old;

£3.72 for people aged 16 to 17 years old;

£2.68 for apprentices under 19, or aged 19 or over who are in the first year of apprenticeship.

Yield from SME tax investigations jumps 31%

The additional tax yield received from compliance investigations into SMEs by HMRC has jumped 31% in the last year, says accountancy group UHY Hacker Young. Compliance investigations into SMEs raked in £565m in 2012-13, up from £434m in 2011-12 (year ending March 31). Roy Maugham, tax partner at UHY Hacker Young, said: "Small businesses are bearing the brunt of HMRC's tougher approach to tax investigations. With an ambitious target set by the Chancellor, HMRC is desperate to squeeze as much money as they can from businesses who may owe tax. SMEs are often less likely to have accountants to manage their finances, making them prone to mistakes when filling in returns and therefore an easy target for HMRC."

Freelancers are overlooked by politicians

Labour's business ambassador and enterprise advisor, Lord Parry Mitchell, has said that politicians are "not switched on to freelancers". Speaking at the Brighton Digital Festival – during the Labour Party Conference – he said: "The freelance population is growing fast, it's really important. The structure of work in this country is changing dramatically. There are more and more small businesses who themselves want to hire freelancers because it enables them to control their costs much more effectively. I think politicians from all parties have really got to pay attention to this group because they're meaningful and they make a major contribution to our economy."

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