Business News England & Wales

Welcome to our round up of the latest business news for our clients. Please contact us if you want to talk about how these updates affect your business.

Written 23 January 2023

Remaining resilient in a shrinking economy

Despite a small growth in the economy in November of 0.1%, the UK has been struggling under the weight of high inflation and rising borrowing costs. Most economists are predicting a contraction in the economy in the next six months. Conditions are likely to remain challenging for businesses and individuals alike, so now is a good time to focus on resilience.

Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress — such as business, workplace, and financial stressors. It means “bouncing back” from difficult experiences.

So what actions can you take now to remain resilient to any downturn in the economy?

Here are a few suggestions to help you think about your business:  

  • Review your Budgets and set realistic and achievable targets for 2023/24.
  • Be careful with ‘can’t pay’ customers and get rid of ‘won’t pay’ customers.
  • Review your debtors list and chase up overdue invoices (if appropriate).
  • Offer existing debtors extended payment terms and/or discounts (if applicable).
  • Make sure your terms of business contain explicit payment terms.
  • Assign responsibility to one individual for invoicing and collections.
  • Agree extended payment terms with all suppliers in advance (if applicable).
  • If appropriate, review banking facilities and discuss future needs.
  • Put extra effort into making sure your relationships with your better customers are solid.
  • Review and flow-chart the main processes in your business (e.g. Sales processing, order fulfilment, shipping etc) and challenge the need for each step.
  • Encourage team members to suggest ways to streamline and simplify processes (e.g. sit down and brainstorm about efficiencies and cost reduction).
  • Review your staffing needs over the next few months. 
  • Review your list of products and services and eliminate those that are unprofitable or not core products/services.

Establish your key performance indicators (KPI’s) and measure them on a weekly basis, e.g.:

•           Sales Leads generated,

•           Orders supplied/fulfilled,

•           Cash balance,

•           Stock Turnover,

•           Debtor Days,

•           Gross Profit, and

•           Net Profit.

The good news!

The important thing to remember is that the vast majority of people will not lose jobs, the majority of businesses won’t fail and, eventually, we’ll recover. (NatWest Bank, Key economic predictions for 2023).

Statutory Pay Rates from April 2023

The UK Government has published the proposed statutory rates for maternity pay, paternity pay, shared parental pay, adoption pay, parental bereavement pay, and sick pay from April 2023. 

The rates normally increase each April in line with the consumer price index (CPI) and the increase normally occurs on the first Sunday in April, which in 2023 is 2 April.

See: Benefit and pension rates 2023 to 2024 ( for more information.

From pensioners to teenagers, HMRC reveals who files a tax return

HMRC has revealed that more pensioners filed a tax return for the 2020 to 2021 tax year compared to young people.

Overall, those aged 65 and over accounted for 16% of individuals who submitted a tax return, whereas 16 to 24 year olds made up 2.7% of total filers.

The new data is part of analysis by HMRC into the demographic data of the Self-Assessment population. The findings also show:

  • people aged 45 to 54 were the largest group of filers, accounting for 24% of all tax returns submitted;
  • more than 294,000 16 to 24 year olds filed a return; and
  • 62% of those who submitted a return last year were men, compared to 38% who were women.

The data also showed that almost 146,000 people submitted their tax return at the earliest opportunity between 6 and 11 April 2021.

More than 12 million people are expected to file a Self-Assessment tax return for the 2021 to 2022 tax year. Anyone yet to submit theirs has until 31 January to complete it, pay any tax owed or set up a payment plan, or risk having to pay a penalty.

Employers should prepare for a warmer future

It might sound strange when we are in the middle of Winter just now, but science shows the planet is getting warmer and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is advising businesses to think how they need to adapt to warmer working conditions for their staff.

Employers have a legal obligation under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations to assess risks to the health and safety of workers. They must review the risk controls they have in place and update them if needed. This includes risks from more frequent extreme weather such as heatwaves.

While there is no maximum temperature for workplaces, all workers are entitled to an environment where risks to their health and safety are properly controlled. Heat is classed as a hazard and comes with legal obligations like any other hazard.

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations require employers to provide a reasonable temperature in the workplace.

For more information see: Heat warning: Employers must prepare for a warmer future | HSE Media Centre

The Improving National Workplace Health and Wellbeing Event 2023

Between 2019 and 2021, there has been a 38% increase in reported cases of work-related stress, depression or anxiety, according to the Health and Safety Executive. With the Bank of England predicting a recession at the end of 2022 through to 2023, increased pressure on public services and its workforce is likely. Taking steps to improve staff health and wellbeing is therefore essential to maintaining workforces and continuing to deliver effective public services. This is a key time for professionals across the public sector to come together and share best practice, tips and resources for supporting the wellbeing of public sector employees.

  • In 2020/21 there were an estimated 822,000 workers affected by work-related stress, depression or anxiety (Health and Safety Executive).
  • In 2021 the Royal Society for Public Health found that people who switched to working from home exercised less (46%) and developed musculoskeletal problems (39%).
  • 41% of employees surveyed in 2021 experienced work-related mental health issues last year (BITC).

At The Improving National Workplace Health and Wellbeing Event 2023 you will hear the latest guidance on creating a workplace that promotes the health and wellbeing of all staff. You will be able to engage with best practice case studies on improving work-life balance, developing a whole organisation approach to health and wellbeing, and developing policies to support staff mental health.

The event takes place on the 2nd of February 2023 online.

For more information see: Improving National Workplace Health and Wellbeing (

Ban on single-use plastics in England

A range of polluting single-use plastics will be banned in England, Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey has announced.

The ban will include single-use plastic plates, trays, bowls, cutlery, balloon sticks, and certain types of polystyrene cups and food containers. This ban will be introduced from October 2023, allowing businesses time to prepare.

According to estimates, England uses 2.7 billion items of single-use cutlery — most of which are plastic — and 721 million single-use plates per year, but only 10% are recycled. If 2.7 billion pieces of cutlery were lined up they would go round the world over eight and a half times (based on a 15cm piece of cutlery).

From October, people won’t be able to buy these products from any business – this includes retailers, takeaways, food vendors and the hospitality industry. The government’s announcement reveals that over 95% of those who responded to the consultation were in favour of the bans.

For more information see: Far-reaching ban on single-use plastics in England – GOV.UK (

Age inclusion online workshops for employers

Responsible business network Business in the Community Cymru is offering employers fully funded places for its Age-inclusive Learning Network online workshops. Part of the Age at Work programme, the interactive workshops are ideal for HR professionals or those with D&I responsibilities, who will hear from expert speakers, learn and share best practice, and take away practical actions to implement that will help them to recruit, retain and support over 50s in their own workplace.  

– Upcoming workshops
Positive Ageing | Wednesday 25 January 2023 10am to 11:30am 
Explore how you can support individuals over 50 to adapt their behaviours for a healthier and longer working life and learn how to build a diverse and inclusive workplace culture that perceives ageing positively. 
Preparation for Retirement | Wednesday 1 March 2023 10am to 11:30am 
Discover how your business can offer support to help its employees gain clarity and feel confident and better prepared for retirement, building a future that is right for them. This session will help employers to support their people through the post 50 stage of their employment journey by looking at providing support for planning for retirement as part of a wider wellbeing strategy.  

For more information see: Age inclusion online workshops for employers | Business Wales (

Explore Export Wales 2023

Following a successful event in 2022, the Welsh Government has announced the dates of its annual export conference. Due to strong interest, this year they are delivering two events:

  • Thursday 9 March 2023 at Cardiff City Stadium 
  • Thursday 16 March 2023 at the Village Hotel St David’s, Deeside

The conference will consist of one-to-ones with overseas market representatives, export focussed seminars and an exhibition area.

Proposed new licensing scheme to level the playing field and improve the standard of visitor accommodation in Wales

The Welsh Government has launched a consultation on establishing a statutory licensing scheme for all visitor accommodation providers in Wales.

The primary aim is to establish a level playing field for all visitor accommodation businesses operating in the sector. The concern around the lack of a level playing field has been a long-standing area of discussion with concerns certain parts of the sector do not meet or comply with their statutory obligations.

The Welsh Government’s Co-operation Agreement with Plaid Cymru commits to a statutory licensing scheme for holiday lets as part of a package of measures to address the negative impact second homes and short-term holiday lets can have on the availability and affordability of housing for local people in Welsh communities.

For more information see: Statutory licensing scheme for all visitor accommodation providers in Wales | GOV.WALES