Celebrations for 350th anniversary of the cheque marred by plans to kill off the payment method

As one banking organisation celebrates the 350th anniversary of the cheque, another is deciding when to kill it off as a method of payment.

On Monday, London based business leaders attended a function at the Bank of England Museum, 350 years to the day since the first cheque was signed. The reception was organised by the Cheque and Credit Clearing Company, which has commemorated the occasion in a report charting the life and times of the preferred method of payment for small businesses. However amid the celebrations, the Forum of Private Business (FPB) is warning that the Payments Council is preparing a ‘roadmap’ that is likely to decide when the cheque will be abolished.

Businesses counting cost of snow

Disruption caused by the heavy snowfall could cost UK businesses more than £1.2bn, business groups have estimated. The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said that 20% of the UK’s working population, or 6.4 million people, would not make it to work. South-east England has the worst snow it has seen for 18 years, causing all London buses to be pulled from service and the closure of Heathrow runways. Trading on the London Stock Exchange was thinner than normal.

Equality experts: ‘focus on outcomes not process’

Businesses striving towards equal opportunities should focus more on outcomes than processes, according to a United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) Think Tank event.

Speakers at “Quality and Equality – Standards for A Modern Society” concluded that progress on equality will only be made if companies and regulators alike focussed more on what they needed to achieve rather than methodology. There was consensus that accreditation is a good way to drive behaviour, whilst regulation should only be used to prevent harm.

Mandelson’s billion pound business support package is not enough say key business leaders

Leading business organisations have given a guarded response to the government’s £11bn loan guarantee package with many voicing the opinion that it ‘did not go far enough’ to help businesses starved of credit.

The employers’ organisation, the CBI, said certain important companies needed to refinance £100bn of credit facilities this year. "The scale of the problem goes well beyond what the government has announced today. The sense of living on borrowed time is palpable," the CBI’s director-general, Richard Lambert, said.

More pressure on banks to lend to small businesses

A third of small businesses surveyed in the Forum of Private Business’s (FPB’s) latest Referendum poll of members actively sought finance during the last quarter of 2008. However, despite the Government’s high-profile bail-out and pressure on banks from the FPB, almost half were either partially or completely rejected by UK lenders.

Small firms ‘take long Christmas’

More small firms are planning to take an extended Christmas break than at any time in 16 years, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has said.

From a survey of its members, the FSB estimates that 10% or 500,000 are planning to close for two weeks over the festive period.

The FSB says the main motivation for the move is to save money.

FSB official Stephen Alambritis said the firms were following the decisions of carmakers such as Land Rover.

‘Reduced bills’

"By closing down for the full two weeks, small firms are looking to save a bit of cash though reduced electricity and fuel bills," he said.


Government hears concerns of small businesses at second finance meeting

Representatives from the UK’s banks and business groups met government officials yesterday to discuss the impact of the economic downturn on small businesses. At the meeting of the Small Business Finance Forum, the Forum of Private Business (FPB) presented the latest findings of its economic downturn panel of member-firms, whose owners are being surveyed every fortnight to present a true picture of market conditions and lending restrictions for small firms.

HSBC throws business a Billion Pound lifeline

HSBC has announced a new £1bn loan fund for its small business customers as recession leaves firms struggling to meet day-to-day running costs.

Many of its rivals are constraining lending while they nurse their balance sheets back to health, and HSBC hopes to seize the opportunity to find profitable business in the midst of the downturn.

Apprenticeship expansion launched

The Government has reaffirmed its commitment to developing the nation’s skills with the launch of an innovative new trial to develop Apprenticeship Expansion Programmes aimed at increasing current apprenticeship numbers to fill existing skills gaps. The trials, delivered through the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) will provide participating employers with access to funds of more than £10 million over the next three years, in a bid to increase the number of available Apprenticeship vacancies.

Chancellor’s help firmly rejected by small business owners

Small business owners are wary of the Chancellor’s efforts to help them, believing the longer-term costs of Alistair Darling’s Pre Budget Report outweigh the supposed benefits. A resounding majority reject the government’s assistance because of fears that the Chancellor’s generosity will come back to bite them.

An online research programme by Trends Research for us at Business Matters magazine immediately after the Pre Budget Report gathered the opinions of 816 leaders of small and medium sized businesses to a package of measures designed to help them survive the recession.

Mandelson alarmed at banks treatment of small business

Lord Mandelson says he is concerned about the "alarming" treatment of small businesses by some bank managers.

The business secretary welcomed Royal Bank of Scotland’s announcement that it would freeze overdraft charges for small firms until the end of next year.

But he said there was concern some banks were summarily changing the terms of loans to small firms.