Few government contracts go to startups
While government contracts to small firms in the UK have reportedly increased from 6.5% in 2010 to more than 25% in 2015, analysis by Spend Network suggests that only 3% of spend goes to businesses that are less than five years old, and just 0.5% to those in their first two years of operation. The Nesta grant-funded research looked at published procurement transactions between 2012-2014 worth £68bn. Writing for The Guardian, Tom Symons, principal researcher in the policy and research team at Nesta, commented: "We need to be conscious of the barriers that can exist for new companies trying to bid for [government] contracts. We have to consider alternative approaches to procurement that reduce contract sizes, are less restrictive and provide transparent and easy access to tenders."
Bogus self-employment costs workers and the government millions
According to Citizens Advice, some 460,000 people in the UK are de facto employees – despite being registered as self-employed – which means they are missing out on holiday pay worth £1,200 per year and sick leave entitlement. The government also loses tax revenue and National Insurance contributions worth £314m a year, with unscrupulous employers saving money and gaining unfair advantage over responsible businesses. Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: "Working for yourself should be empowering, not an opportunity for rogue firms to siphon away sick and holiday pay. There are workers who are missing out on more than a thousand pounds a year because they should legally be employees. The government's review into self-employment is a welcome opportunity to look at how these workers can be better supported."
Most UK workers don't take their full annual leave
Research by employment agency Reed suggests that more than half of UK workers give up three days of leave entitlement each year – despite 90% of employees claiming that a break boosts their productivity. Employees also admit to doing an average of 70.5 hours unpaid overtime a year. About 45% of employees have cancelled holiday leave because of work, with 24% claiming they would rather do that than leave work unfinished or fall behind. Other reasons employees don't take their full leave include lack of organisation, while 18% say they're so busy they forget to book time off and 12% admit that poor planning means ending up with too many days to take at the end of the year. Reed is encouraging employers to ensure staff take adequate time off.
Broadband 'not-spots' still plague too many businesses
The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has given a lukewarm reaction to a recent government update on the UK rollout of superfast broadband, which is now available to "three million more UK homes and businesses". Dr Adam Marshall, BCC executive director of policy and external affairs, said: "No one should be patting themselves on the back because an unambitious target is likely to be met in two years' time. Across the UK, far too many businesses and consumers still have insufficient or unreliable broadband, which stops entrepreneurs and exporters in their tracks. While many are in rural areas, 'not-spots' plague companies near major cities. If we want to be the world's most prosperous country, we need to have the best digital infrastructure, and we're a long way from that. Ministers and regulators need to set their sights – and their investment commitments – higher."