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UK Firms Set to Invest £338 Billion in Re-Industrialization Over Next …

In a bid to fortify supply chains and rejuvenate domestic manufacturing, UK firms are poised to inject a staggering £338 billion into re-industrialization initiatives over the next three years.
Research conducted by professional services firm Capgemini reveals a substantial uptick in investment, reflecting a strategic shift towards bolstering national resilience and competitiveness.
According to the study, which surveyed 200 supply chain and manufacturing executives at UK firms generating over $1 billion in revenue, the trajectory of re-shoring is gaining momentum. While only a quarter of firms had recently upgraded their manufacturing facilities, a striking 78% of respondents indicated the formulation or active development of re-industrialization strategies.
Key drivers behind this transformative wave include concerns over national security, with over two-thirds of executives deeming the enhancement of domestic manufacturing capability as imperative. Moreover, anticipated benefits extend beyond resilience, with executives foreseeing competitive advantages and sustainability gains from re-industrialization efforts.
Amidst the backdrop of a global manufacturing landscape marked by geopolitical tensions and supply chain vulnerabilities, Western economies, including the UK, are pivoting towards industrial strategies. While the UK has lagged behind in policy initiatives compared to counterparts like the US and the EU, the survey underscores a growing consensus among businesses for more robust government intervention to support re-industrialization endeavors.
Crucially, the study highlights the pivotal role of workforce development in realizing the full potential of re-industrialization. With two-thirds of surveyed executives advocating for a more highly skilled workforce, investment in human capital emerges as a linchpin for sustaining and maximizing the impact of re-industrialization initiatives.
As UK businesses gear up for a transformative period of re-industrialization, the research underscores the strategic imperative of fortifying national capabilities and harnessing competitive advantages in an increasingly complex global landscape.
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UK Firms Set to Invest £338 Billion in Re-Industrialization Over Next Three Years, Research Reveals

Hipgnosis Music Investor Agrees to £1.1bn Takeover by Concord Chorus

Hipgnosis, the renowned British music royalties investment fund boasting rights to hit songs by artists ranging from Beyoncé to Neil Young, has greenlit a $1.4bn takeover bid by Concord Chorus, a rival specializing in music and theatrical rights.
The deal, offering a 32% premium to Hipgnosis shareholders, holds the potential to quell lingering uncertainty surrounding the company’s structure and leadership after months of turmoil.
The acquisition by Concord Chorus, which houses a diverse portfolio of copyrighted musical works from legends like Phil Collins and M.I.A, signifies a significant step in consolidating the music industry landscape. With Hipgnosis’s extensive catalogue and Concord’s strategic vision, the partnership promises to reshape the dynamics of music rights management.
Robert Naylor, Chair of Hipgnosis, hailed the acquisition as an opportunity for shareholders to realize immediate value, mitigating risks and paving the way for sustained growth. Meanwhile, Concord’s CEO, Bob Valentine, expressed confidence in the fair pricing offered for Hipgnosis’s catalogues and music assets, emphasizing the opportunity for shareholders to capitalize on a premium to the prevailing share price in cash.
However, the proposed delisting of Hipgnosis from the UK stock market raises concerns within the financial and regulatory spheres. Amid fears of London’s waning competitiveness and the loss of UK-listed companies to private ownership, the move could prompt further scrutiny from City stakeholders and Whitehall leaders.
Founded in 2018 by Merck Mercuriadis, a seasoned manager of music icons, Hipgnosis embarked on a journey to acquire valuable catalogues, aiming to capitalize on the evolving landscape of music consumption. Despite initial success, shareholder dissent in October precipitated a series of challenges, including the ousting of leadership and setbacks in portfolio valuation, culminating in the recent takeover agreement with Concord Chorus.
As Hipgnosis shareholders prepare to vote on the proposed acquisition, industry observers anticipate transformative shifts in the music investment landscape, driven by strategic partnerships and evolving market dynamics.
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Hipgnosis Music Investor Agrees to £1.1bn Takeover by Concord Chorus

FundOnion targets £1 billion funding goal in bid to close business fi …

AI-driven business finance comparison site, FundOnion, has announced plans to facilitate over £1 billion in funding to help up to 25,000 SMEs grow over the next four years.
The plans come as the small business finance platform continues to work to consolidate what is a historically fragmented market for small business loans.
It is estimated that the UK is suffering from a £22 billion funding gap for SMEs, stifling growth and limiting opportunities for a group of businesses that are vital to the UK economy, but poorly served by traditional funding routes. Combined with an application process that is time consuming and opaque, and a return to higher interest rates, there is a clear need for businesses to have clarity of the funding options available to them.
FundOnion’s platform enables businesses to quickly compare the cost of business loans from over 30 providers and secure funding in a faster and more transparent way. This world-first approach to business finance has led to an unheard-of pace of delivery, with FundOnion’s fastest loan being provided in just 19 minutes.
This funding has already been seismic for thousands of businesses in the UK. One family-owned business recently received a £500,000 growth finance loan through the FundOnion platform and was able to quadruple its revenue in just 12 months.
FundOnion CEO and Co-Founder James Robson, said: “The UK’s small business community has been chronically underfunded for over a decade as institutional lending has dried up, stifling growth, creativity and the economy. We’re flipping the script by providing the small business community with a platform that’s dedicated to fuelling their expansion and resilience. We’re also aware that our £1 billion goal is just the start of our ambitions to create the country’s best-known marketplace for business finance. Let’s be clear: we’re not here to play small.”
“While our core focus currently is business loans, we are adapting our technology and our capital partner infrastructure to offer a whole host of financial products to SMEs across trade finance, invoice finance, asset finance, and a whole universe of Asset Based Lending (ABL). We’re rewriting the playbook on how to provide capital to UK SMEs all while making a positive and meaningful difference to the UK economy.”
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FundOnion targets £1 billion funding goal in bid to close business finance gap

Parliament needs to oppose DWP Bank Account Snooping Charter, say Fara …

Nigel Farage has said Parliament needs to oppose an amendment which some say could give the DWP the right to access the bank accounts of anyone in receipt of DWP money.
Speaking on GB News, Nigel Farage said: “We’ve been hearing a lot of stories recently about fraud, particularly on Universal Credit.  And I have to say that the Department of Work and Pensions having powers to check into people’s bank accounts and assets to make sure they’re not being defrauded on the face of it, I think is a good thing.
“However, and this is worrying, there is an amendment coming into government legislation that will allow the DWP to access bank accounts which after all aren’t just financial transactions; they also say where you’ve travelled to and many other things that you’ve done – that will allow them to access it for anybody in receipt of DWP money.
“And that will of course include every pensioner in the country.
“I have to say that I’m not surprised that Big Brother Watch says it’s breathtaking that the Conservative government is so recklessly creating Big Brother style spying powers to intrude on the population’s bank accounts and this worries me. In a sense, once again this is about financial institutions, it’s about their relationship with the government.
“I really think someone in Parliament needs to stand up and shout because government just gets bigger and bigger. Its ability to intrude into our lives and indeed, to interfere in our lives, gets greater and greater, for frankly, not much good at all.”
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Parliament needs to oppose DWP Bank Account Snooping Charter, say Farage

Garden Centres Rush to Stockpile Plants Ahead of Brexit Border Checks

Garden centres and nurseries across the UK are engaged in a frantic race to stockpile plants before the implementation of Brexit border checks later this month.
Concerns abound regarding the readiness of border posts to handle the influx of deliveries, prompting businesses to take preemptive measures to safeguard their supplies.
The Horticultural Trade Association (HTA), representing garden retailers and growers, reports a surge in orders as members seek to bolster their stocks before the impending checks commence on 30 April. With suppliers on the continent expressing apprehension about potential delays at border control posts (BCPs), many businesses are accelerating deliveries to mitigate risks.
Government plans to introduce physical checks for plant and animal products entering Britain from the EU have raised concerns among industry players. The new border target operating model (Btom) aims to enforce stringent checks at designated BCP facilities, raising uncertainties about operational efficiency and potential disruptions.
According to a survey conducted by the HTA, 41% of its members plan to expedite deliveries in anticipation of the border checks. Sally Cullimore, the HTA’s technical policy manager, highlights widespread concerns about the adequacy of border control infrastructure, particularly in handling loading and unloading procedures. The timing of these checks coincides with the peak trading weeks for horticulture, exacerbating anxieties within the industry.
Businesses are primarily focusing on stockpiling wooded plants, shrubs, and perennials with longer shelf lives to minimize potential losses. Martin Emmett, chair of the NFU’s horticulture and potatoes board, notes the strategic importation of products with longer production schedules to ensure flexibility and mitigate risks associated with border delays.
However, challenges persist as some suppliers on the continent opt to withhold deliveries for several weeks following the implementation of border checks. Richard McKenna of Provender Nurseries highlights disruptions caused by suppliers in Ireland, the Netherlands, and France, exacerbating supply chain uncertainties.
While the government reassures businesses of its preparedness to handle the volume and type of expected checks, industry stakeholders remain vigilant. Collaboration between authorities and the horticultural sector is essential to navigate the complexities of Brexit border checks and mitigate potential disruptions to supply chains.
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Garden Centres Rush to Stockpile Plants Ahead of Brexit Border Checks

Long-Term Sickness Absences Hit Record High

The UK grapples with a record-breaking surge in long-term sickness absences, reaching over 2.8 million individuals, marking an increase of 700,000 over the past three years.
Before the pandemic, approximately 2.1 million individuals were classified as economically inactive due to long-term sickness. The staggering rise in long-term sickness absences underscores the profound impact of health-related challenges on workforce participation, according to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
Analysts at HSBC highlight a concerning trend, noting that the total number of individuals aged 16 to 64 inactive due to long-term sickness has surged by 36% since the end of 2019. This surge in long-term sickness absences poses significant challenges to economic recovery efforts, intensifying inflationary pressures and constraining the pool of available workers.
The rise in long-term sickness absences has broader implications for the economy, contributing to a decline in employment levels and exacerbating inflationary pressures. Charlie McCurdy of the Resolution Foundation underscores the broader economic implications, citing rising redundancies, falling job levels, and stagnant economic growth as signs of a troubled economy.
Experts attribute the rise in long-term sickness absences to various factors, including delays in routine healthcare treatments, increased mental health issues, and tighter access to basic benefits provision. However, a consensus on the primary drivers of this trend remains elusive.
The surge in economically inactive individuals extends beyond long-term sickness absences, with the overall number of economically inactive people of working age reaching 9.4 million. This level, last seen in 2012, underscores the severity of the current economic challenges.
Mel Stride, the work and pensions secretary, said: “We’ve seen long-term, sickness-related inactivity rise since the pandemic. That’s why we introduced our £2.5 billion back-to-work plan to transform lives and grow the economy.
“Our welfare reforms will cut the number of people due to be placed in the highest tier of incapacity benefits by over 370,000. As millions are benefiting from this month’s huge boost to the national minimum wage, it is work, not welfare, that delivers the best financial security for British households.”
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Long-Term Sickness Absences Hit Record High

Understanding the new Tax-Free Childcare plans

The new financial year is often an opportunity to get organised for the year ahead. For self-employed parents juggling the demands of running a business with caring for their family, it could also be a good time to review the family planner and take a fresh look at the household budget to ensure they’re getting all the support they’re entitled to.
We asked the experts at HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to outline the financial help available for our readers so they can access the childcare they need while keeping an eye on their bottom line.
What help is available for self-employed parents?
There are a number of schemes available that could be worth thousands of pounds a year including Tax-Free Childcare, free childcare hours, Universal Credit, tax credits and Child Benefit.
What is Tax-Free Childcare?
Tax-Free Childcare is a government funded top-up scheme for working parents, including the self-employed. It can save parents up to £2,000 a year per child – or £4,000 if their child is disabled – to put towards the cost of childcare. For every £8 paid into a Tax-Free Childcare account, the government tops it up with another £2.
 Who is it for specifically?
Working families including self-employed parents. Latest statistics show more than 63,000 families, with at least one self-employed parent, use it to help pay for their childcare.
Families should check out the full eligibility on GOV.UK but in summary it’s for working parents or guardians, including those who are self-employed, who:

have a child or children aged up to 11. They stop being eligible on 1 September after their 11th If their child has a disability, they can receive support until 1 September after their 16th birthday
earn, or expect to earn, at least the National Minimum Wage or Living Wage for 16 hours a week, on average
each earn up to £100,000 per annum
do not receive tax credits, Universal Credit or childcare vouchers.

 What can I use it for?
Tax-Free Childcare can be used flexibly to pay for any approved childcare that suits your family’s needs. You can use to pay for childminders, nurseries and nannies, before and after school clubs, holiday or activity clubs. If you find a provider you want to use and they’re not signed up, encourage them to do so by going to Childcare Choices for more details of how to sign up and what it means for them.
How do parents open an account?
It’s simple to open an account via GOV.UK and only takes about 20 minutes. Accounts can be opened at any time of the year and can be used straight away, money can be deposited at any time and used when needed. Any unused money can be simply withdrawn at any time.
Account holders will be reminded every three months to confirm their details are up to date to continue receiving the government top-up.
I have more than one child in different childcare settings – can I use it for both?
Yes! If families have more than one eligible child, they will need to register a Tax-Free Childcare account for each child. The government top-up is then applied to deposits made for each child, not household.
For more information about Tax-Free Childcare and how to register go to GOV.UK
Can Tax-Free Childcare be used with the free hours offer?
Yes! If you meet the eligibility criteria, you can receive both free childcare hours and Tax-Free Childcare.
In England, eligible working parents of 2 year-olds have been able to access 15 hours free childcare per week since 1 April This the first step in the rollout of the largest investment in childcare in England’s history.
The offer will expand to 15 hours free childcare for working parents from nine months old up to when their child starts school by September this year, and 30 hours by September 2025. This is set to save parents using the maximum allowance up to £6,900 per year.
Can I use Tax-Free Childcare with Child Benefit?
A.Yes! Child Benefit is worth £25.60 per week for the oldest or only child and £16.95 per week for each additional child. It can be claimed by parents or guardians once you have registered your child’s birth and can be claimed up to age of 16 or 20 if the child stays in approved education or training.
In addition to financial support for your family, Child Benefit ensures parents qualify for National Insurance credits which could help protect their state pension, and also helps children automatically receive a National Insurance number when they reach 16.
You can now claim Child Benefit online and manage your account via the HMRC app. To check eligibility and make a claim go to  GOV.UK .
Can I use Tax-Free Childcare while claiming Tax Credits or Universal Credit?
No, but tax credits offer alternative childcare support that could also be worth thousands.
If you already claim tax credits, you’ll receive a letter from HMRC by 19 June. There are two types of letters to look out for: if your renewal pack has a red stripe across the page then you will need to check the information, renew and report any changes by 31 July otherwise you risk your payments being stopped. If your renewal pack has a black stripe across the page, you need to check the information is correct, and only contact HMRC if you have any changes to report.
Tax credits are being replaced by Universal Credit by April 2025. Many customers who move from tax credits to Universal Credit could be financially better off and can use an independent benefits calculator to check. If customers choose to apply sooner, it is important to get independent advice beforehand as they will not be able to go back to tax credits or any other benefits that Universal Credit replaces.
You cannot claim Tax-Free Childcare and Universal Credit at the same time.
How do I know which offer is best for me?
Go to Childcare Choices to find the right childcare offer for your family.
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Understanding the new Tax-Free Childcare plans

Tackling late payment by getting back to basics

Philip King FCICM, former Small Business Commissioner and advisor to PKF Littlejohn Advisory, believes a ‘back to basics’ approach would help many businesses overcome the late-payment challenge.
It is an established fact that companies often become insolvent not because they are inherently bad businesses, but simply because they run out of cash. Poor cashflow management, compounded by bad debts and slow paying customers, are typically to blame.
But while it is tempting to lay the blame wholly on late payment, businesses must shoulder some of the responsibility for their own poor credit management practices. Put another way, best practice credit management can limit the amount to which a business finds itself financially vulnerable.
So how can bad debts be avoided, and payments accelerated? Much can be achieved by getting back to basics and doing the basics well.
Know your customer
First and foremost, even the most basic checks can avoid potential embarrassment later. Know your customer (KYC) should be the mantra of every director, every sales executive, and every individual in your credit team. How well do you know the company you are dealing with? What is their Company Registration Number? Do they even have one? What is their legal status? Are they a limited company? A Partnership? A PLC? LLP? All such information is important, not least to ensure you invoice the correct legal entity at the point your product/service has been delivered.
Using data from reputable credit reference agencies is always advised to supplement the information stored at Companies House. This enables you to dig deeper and get beneath the company itself. It will help you determine the amount of credit you want to extend, especially since their success and survival may depend on the stability of their customers and other suppliers.
As well as published sources, there are also other tactics you can use to discover more about the company you keep. Looking through their social media accounts (LinkedIn, Facebook etc) and any comments around them can give you hints about their reputation and how they treat their supply chain. Traditional media coverage through google searches can also give you a better steer on their financial viability. Google Search can also show if the warehouse they say they own, even exists!
Documented rules of engagement
Once a new customer is being onboarded, the terms and conditions you agree are absolutely critical. They should be documented with explicit payment terms.
The concept of ‘30 days’ – a particular favourite among politicians and the media for denoting best practice – can still mean different things to different people. Is that 30-days from date of invoice, receipt of invoice, or end of month, for example? This needs to be crystal clear or else 30 can so easily become 50 or more.
When you are invoicing, make sure you understand their payment and invoice approval process and whether, for example, a purchase order is required and what other specific information may be needed. Make sure the amount you are invoicing is also correct in terms of what has been agreed; even a penny difference can cause the payment process to grind to a halt!
Customer interaction
In terms of how you interact with your customers, build a strong relationship with key people in the company; they could be invaluable when you need to chase payment ahead of other suppliers. At your end, keep the ledger clean and have absolute clarity about what invoices are outstanding. Confusion is a great obstacle to payment and can easily be exploited by those who are seeking to delay paying what they owe.
Making contact in advance of the due date to ensure the invoice has been received and is correct will also reduce the likelihood of a payment subsequently being held in dispute. Keep large totals separate from smaller ones; there is nothing to be gained for having a £10,000 invoice comprising £9,800 for the product and £200 for the delivery held up because the delivery charge is being disputed.
Even if you have clear lines of communication with the customers, always follow up on the day the invoice is due; never wait and hope for the best. Hope is not a strategy and someone else will be being paid while you’re left waiting. To that end, never be afraid to escalate a late payment to your collections team and/or a third-party activity sooner rather than later. A customer that doesn’t pay you isn’t a customer worth having.
Seek advice early
Such advice should not come as a surprise, but in my 40 years in credit management, it still amazes me how businesses are quick to blame everyone else when they’ve ignored many of the fundamentals themselves.
Getting back to basics may not always be successful, but like winning the lottery, you first have to buy a ticket. And if despite all your best efforts, an insolvency may still be looming, talk to the experts at PKF Littlejohn Advisory. They might be able to help the business avoid failure and, if the worst happens, they can work with you for the best outcome from the unfolding insolvency process.
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Tackling late payment by getting back to basics

Hundreds of British bosses fear AI could steal their jobs

Hundreds of UK chief executives believe that artificial intelligence (AI) could steal their job, underlining widespread fears over the technology’s potential to shake up traditional working models.
Nearly half of CEOs said they felt that their job could be at risk due to AI technology, according to a major new study from AND Digital.
Additionally, three quarters of CEOs have launched Artificial Intelligence (AI) training bootcamps this year, to help themselves and their staff stay on top of the latest tech trends.
The findings were revealed in The CEO Digital Divide: are you accelerating enterprise value or slowing it down? report, which surveyed 600 global CEOs and was conducted by independent research company Censuswide.
A worrying 44 percent of CEOs polled said they feel their staff aren’t ready to handle AI adoption amid rapid global developments.
AI amplifies the dilemma confronting CEOs, with one-third opting to ban AI tools like ChatGPT within their organisations. However, 45 percent admitted to secretly utilising AI tools, such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT, to fulfil their job responsibilities, often passing off the work as their own.
Ironically, given the widespread secret use of AI technology, ethical considerations in AI adoption also emerged as a critical concern, with 68 per cent prioritising it as a top issue.
Stephen Paterson, Chief for Technology and People at AND Digital commented: “CEOs cannot afford to be complacent when it comes to AI. Neither can they allow a culture of fear and distrust surrounding new technologies to gain a foothold, so reskilling people and teams across all departments to the highest standards should be an absolute top priority.
“It is important for business leaders to establish a well-designed framework around AI in order to maximise value and mitigate risks, empowering people with the guidance and resources to innovate safely. Failure to do so will leave them falling behind the competition and falling behind peers who do possess the AI skills to lead the new wave of tech innovation.”
“Ultimately, CEOs must embrace the ‘AND’ mindset, rather than the ‘OR’, when it comes to embracing new technology. This involves adopting juxtaposed concepts of speed AND security, small AND scale, as well as legacy AND innovation in order to unlock the full potential of technology investments.”
The news comes amid the UK and US forming a new partnership to ensure the safety of AI amid concerns about its future versions. The collaboration aims to jointly develop advanced testing for AI models and share information on AI capabilities and risks.
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Hundreds of British bosses fear AI could steal their jobs