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Surprisingly frequent, these accidents stem from a variety of causes. In this discussion, we'll delve into the typical reasons behind slip and fall incidents, shedding light on the injuries they can lead to.

The Common Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents

Slip and fall accidents can occur in virtually any location. That's why it's crucial to grasp the fundamental causes behind these unfortunate incidents.

  1. Wet and slippery surfaces: Spills, leaks, or wet floors due to inadequate maintenance or cleaning cause slip and fall accidents. Common locations for these incidents include grocery stores, restaurants, and public restrooms.
  2. Uneven or damaged flooring: Uneven surfaces, loose tiles, or damaged flooring materials pose a considerable risk. Cracks in sidewalks, torn carpets, and uneven steps are all potential hazards.
  3. Inadequate lighting: Poorly lit areas can obscure potential dangers. This makes it challenging for individuals to see tripping hazards.
  4. Weather conditions: Slip and fall accidents can also result from inclement weather. These happen particularly in regions with ice and snow. Unsalted sidewalks or wet entryways can quickly become slippery zones.
  5. Lack of handrails: Stairs without handrails or poorly maintained handrails can lead to accidents. Especially for the elderly, or individuals with mobility issues.
  6. Obstructed pathways: Cluttered walkways or obstacles in high-traffic areas can impede safe movement and lead to falls.

The Legal Framework Of Premises Liability

Slip and fall cases typically fall under premises liability. This means that property owners or occupiers are legally obligated to maintain their premises safely. When this obligation is not met, leading to injuries, the injured party may seek compensation.

Whitley Law Firm has the experience to fight for the compensation you deserve. They will determine the following: 

  1. Duty of care: Property owners or occupiers owe a standard duty of care to those legally on their premises. This includes customers in stores, guests in private residences, and even visitors in public areas.
  2. Breach of duty: A slip and fall case hinges on this duty of care breach. This breach occurs when a property owner or occupier fails to take reasonable measures to prevent hazards that could cause accidents.
  3. Causation: The injured party must demonstrate that the breach of duty directly caused their injuries. In other words, the unsafe conditions led to the slip and fall accident.

Pursuing Legal Recourse

After a slip and fall incident occurs due to property negligence of the owner or occupier, the injured party may try to recover damages.

●      Document the scene: If a slip and fall occurs, it's essential to document the scene. Take photographs or videos of the hazardous condition and your injuries. This evidence can be invaluable in building your case.

●      Seek medical attention: Seeking prompt medical attention after a slip and fall accident is important. Though injuries initially seem minor, they may develop into more significant issues later.

●      Report the incident: Report the incident to the property owner or occupier. Make sure it is officially documented.

●      Witness statements: If there were witnesses to the slip and fall, obtain their contact information. They may be able to provide valuable testimony later.

●      Preserve evidence: If possible, preserve any evidence related to the accident, such as the shoes or clothing you were wearing at the time.

Personal Injury Claims

Personal injury claims provide a legal route to seek compensation for damages. To pursue such a claim, the following elements must be established:

●      Negligence: Proving negligence is crucial. This shows that the property owner or occupier failed to meet their duty of care, leading to the hazardous condition.

●      Causation: Demonstrating that the negligence caused the slip, fall, and subsequent injuries.

●      Damages: Document the damages suffered as a result of the incident, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and any long-term effects.

●      Timeliness: Filing a personal injury claim within the statute of limitations is key. This varies by jurisdiction. In North Carolina, the time frame is three years from the accident. 

Damages You Can Claim in Slip and Fall Cases

Compensation in slip and fall cases can cover a range of damages:

●      Medical expenses: This includes past and future medical bills that are related to the injuries from a given accident.

●      Lost wages: Victims can seek compensation for income lost due to the inability to work during recovery.

●      Pain and suffering: Damages for physical and emotional distress endured as a result of the slip and fall.

●      Loss of enjoyment of life: Compensation for reduced quality of life and the ability to enjoy activities as before the accident.

Exercise Care Wherever You Go

Slip and fall accidents can result in both substantial injuries and financial hardships. For those who have gone through such incidents, gaining insights into the prevalent causes, the legal aspects of premises liability, and the potential avenues for legal recourse is paramount. Pursuing compensation for medical costs, lost income, and emotional distress can alleviate the financial stress stemming from slip and fall accidents.

That’s why it’s important to consider the financial impact of supplemental health benefits, whether you are an employer or employee. These benefits go beyond simply enhancing healthcare coverage; they can also play a significant role in employees’ overall financial well-being. Keep reading as we explore how supplemental health benefits can positively affect employees’ financial situations. 

Protection Against Unexpected Medical Costs

Medical expenses can quickly add up, especially for employees who are facing a serious illness or injury. Supplemental health benefits provide an additional layer of protection by covering expenses that may not be fully covered by their primary health insurance. This can include deductibles, co-pays, and even alternative treatments not covered by traditional plans. By reducing out-of-pocket costs, these benefits help safeguard the employee’s financial stability. If you’re an employer, consider supplemental benefits that decrease premiums for members on your plan, offering stability and security to employees during tough times. 

Income Protection During Illness or Disability 

Nobody likes to think about the possibility of being unable to work due to illness or disability, but it is a reality that many people face. Supplemental health benefits, such as disability insurance, provide income protection during such circumstances. If an employee is unable to work, these benefits can help replace a portion of their lost income. This ensures that individuals in this situation can meet their financial obligations and focus on their recovery without worrying about finances. 

Savings on Healthcare Expenses

Supplemental health benefits can also lead to significant savings on healthcare expenses. For example, vision and dental coverage included in these benefits can help employees save money on routine check-ups, corrective procedures, and prescription eyewear. Plus, wellness programs and preventative care services covered by supplemental benefits can help employees maintain their health, potentially reducing the need for costly treatments down the line. By promoting proactive healthcare, these benefits contribute to long-term financial savings. 

Flexible Spending and Tax Advantages

Many supplemental health benefits come with flexible spending options, such as health savings accounts or flexible spending accounts. These accounts enable employees to set aside pre-tax dollars to cover qualified medical expenses. By utilizing these tax-advantaged accounts, employees can reduce their taxable income while saving money on future healthcare needs. It’s a smart way to reduce tax liability while ensuring that funds are readily available for medical expenses. 

Peace of Mind and Reduced Financial Stress

Financial stress can take a toll on overall well-being. Supplemental health benefits can provide employees with peace of mind, knowing that they have additional coverage in the case of unforeseen circumstances. This peace of mind translates into reduced financial stress, allowing employees to focus on other aspects of their lives, such as family, career growth, and personal pursuits. By alleviating financial worries, these benefits contribute to a healthier and happier mindset. 

Supplemental health benefits have a significant financial impact, offering protection, savings options, peace of mind, and more. By considering the financial aspect of these benefits, you can make informed decisions to support the overall financial well-being of your employees. 

Shifting your employees to home working at the start of the pandemic may have been difficult, given the speed at which it had to happen and the less developed understanding we had of COVID-19 at the time, but going back to the workplace is even more complicated. It requires employers to balance a number of factors, which are outlined here.

You need to keep your employees safe

As an employer, you have a legal obligation to prioritise the health and safety of your employees. This is also important purely from a business perspective, especially if you’ve supported them during the furlough period, investing in the long term retention of talent. Healthy adults of working age have a low risk of dying from the currently active strains of the virus, but there is also a risk of them suffering long-term disability due to long COVID, developing chronic lung problems, or developing a mental illness or neurological problem – something found to affect one in three infected people.

You need to be ready to run a minimal-risk workplace

Before you bring employees back into the workplace, you will need to do an assessment to work out how you can best implement social distancing and additional hygiene measures across your premises. Current government guidelines are that every on-site worker should receive at least two lateral flow tests per week to reduce the chance of infection spreading between employees, and anyone who has been in contact with an infected person should self-isolate, which means it’s a good idea to keep home working as an option. These measures apply even to fully vaccinated individuals.

You need to consider the impact of lockdown

On the flip side of this, spending a long time in lockdown has had a negative effect on many people’s mental health, and getting your employees back to normal – as much as possible – can itself be important to their well-being. It will be all the more important to use drug and alcohol workplace testing because addiction rates have risen during this time. You may need additional training options to brush up on neglected skills, and a more relaxed approach to short breaks in order to help returning workers readjust.

One size may not fit all

If you have employees who are at high risk from the virus, or who live with people at high risk, equalities law may require you to let them keep on working from home. There are advantages to this which go beyond their well-being, as their absence can make it easier to accommodate workplace social distancing. Bear in mind that a lot of people have lost loved ones to the pandemic and some of those people may not feel able to return to the workplace yet but may be happy to work from home.

It’s probable that we never will quite go back to normal after all this, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Smart employers will take the opportunity to make positive changes to how they go about their work.

In 2020, millions of workers began working from home because of the pandemic. Remote working became the new normal and the preferred work set-up for some employees. With more time at home, workers can achieve a better work-life balance and minimise the number of distractions.

Remote working is a little bit like marmite

instantprint surveyed 2000 Brits who were working from home due to COVID-19. At least 86% of the nation worked at least part of their job from home in 2020. Video calls were used for staff meetings, and Microsoft Teams became the hub for office work. However, the UK’s remote working population appear to have mixed feelings about the new working process.

34% of Brits love working from home and only want to return to the office part-time when the restrictions are lifted. 23% of remote workers enjoyed their newfound flexibility and found they could achieve more in a day without a lengthy commute on either side.

In fact, many workers are happier working from home because they have more time to focus on their mental health. They can take care of household chores on their lunch break, spend more time with their friends and family and keep their lives more organised. A whopping 43% of remote workers would consider relocating after remote working for nearly a year.

Remote working helps staff save money on commuting and gives them more time in their safe place. Employees are more likely to be productive and happy when they can control their working environment.

The challenges of remote working

That said, only 16% of Brits have a home office due to issues with space, budgeting and hectic family life. A home office can help remote workers separate work from their personal lives, even though they are both under one roof. Invest in company branded banners and posters to make your home office a motivating place to work in.

However, remote working does bring a whole new set of challenges. Some workers find it unsociable and isolating to be working alone all day. Children and pets were the biggest distraction for home workers as they often interrupted video meetings. 11% of remote workers said they were experiencing too many distractions at home and found it difficult to concentrate. A home office can help to minimise this distraction so you can stay focussed through the working day.

If you are working from home, consider setting up virtual coffee breaks and Friday night drinks to maintain your team relationships. It’s important to celebrate the good times and identify the accomplishments of your team members. Virtual hangouts can give staff a deeper sense of connection and commitment to the company. Make sure to communicate with your co-workers through calls and voice notes to add a personal touch.


The number of people being made redundant in the UK reached a record high in October amid the second coronavirus wave, new data has revealed.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said on Tuesday that redundancies rose to 370,000 in the three months leading up to October as jobs were cut in the run-up to the withdrawal of the government’s furlough support scheme which had been slated to close at the end of the month. The wage subsidy scheme was then extended until the end of March 2021 as rapid acceleration in COVID-19 infections prompted a second national lockdown in England and tighter controls elsewhere in the UK.

ONS data revealed employment has fallen at its fastest pace in a decade. There are now 819,000 fewer people on UK company payrolls than there were in February when the pandemic first hit, the employment having risen to 4.9% in October.

Meanwhile, the number of people claiming unemployment- and low pay-related benefits reached 2.7 million, an increase of 64,300.

Worst affected by the rise in redundancies were young men aged between 18 and 24, with unemployment levels in this bracket having risen by 39% since February. The worst-affected sectors were hospitality and retail, which have respectively shed around 297,000 and 160,000 jobs this year.

Business chiefs have warned that the rise in unemployment in the UK is likely to accelerate further as London and other parts of the UK prepare to enter Tier 3 of England’s regional lockdown system, which will see pubs, restaurants, cinemas, museums and other venues shut down from Wednesday. This will mark the third time these venues have been forced to close since the onset of the pandemic earlier this year.


“While the roll-out of the vaccine has buoyed employers, it won’t automatically undo the damage done to their businesses by the pandemic,” warned Tej Parikh, chief economist at the Institute of Directors, who suggested that cutting employer national insurance contributions could help their cashflow troubles and keep the furlough scheme’s new March wind-down date from becoming another financial cliff-edge.

Profile Pensions has investigated how employer contributions to pensions vary based on industry and gender and which sectors offer the best pension planning with high contributions from employers.

The Best and Worst Industries for Employer Contributions

The financial and insurance industry has been revealed as the most advantageous option for obtaining support. Although, as a sector renowned for its remunerative staff benefits, it’s no surprise that employer contributions are at an average of 9.5%. The education industry also fares very well in terms of pension options, with teachers receiving a rewarding 9.3% average contribution. This is followed by the electricity, gas, steam, and air-conditioning supply industry, however, this is significantly lower than the prior two with average contributions of only 7.1%.

At the other end of the scale, agriculture, forestry and fishing jobs offered the minimum legal contribution of just 2%, making it them worst occupations for creating a satisfactory pension pot. As an industry which is also climate dependant, this further defers individuals seeking a financially secure retirement after an unpredictable career. The accommodation and food services sector received a similarly low employer contribution of just 2.1%. While the arts and entertainment industry had the third lowest employer contribution, where it reaches only 2.5% on average. Although as a notoriously competitive industry, it’s anticipated that employers can get away with such a low contribution and a major factor to consider when navigating the risky world of entertainment.

Not All Pensions are Created Equal: The Gender Gap

Gender stereotypes still exist across industries with men receiving an overall higher contribution rate than women, at 4.6% compared with 4.4%. Education, as a female dominated industry, was the only industry where women outperform men in terms of employer contribution, where they receive 1.4% more annually. These high pensions also mean that teachers are likely to fare better in retirement than those in typically high-earning careers like real estate or finance. In technical areas, men acquired higher contributions and in the electricity, gas, steam, and air-conditioning supply industry, men had an employer contribution of 7.4% compared with 4.2% for women.

When looking at the gender differences, it’s clear an effort to increase the employer contribution in the male permeated professions should be made in order to incentify women to pursue these types of careers. Generally we know women are more likely to have lower incomes and more interrupted careers as a result of their caring responsibilities. Ensuring the pension contributions doesn't penalise them is as much of an organisational culture issue as it is a government policy issue.

Interested in Better Contributions? Here are the Jobs and Salaries Available in These Generous Sectors

We have crunched the numbers on the jobs available and average salaries for the most generous industries. The education industry has 102,805 jobs available in the UK, making teaching the most in high demand profession. When combined with the competitive employer contribution, it’s one of the best options for graduates seeking stability when finding a job and creating a secure retirement package. On the other hand, the administrative and supportive services sector has the lowest average salary bracket, equating to only £544 in contributions each year; an unattractive choice in terms of wages both during and post career.

The mining and quarrying industry offers the most enticing average compensation for it’s workforce with an annual salary of £39,51, although has only 2404 available positions in the UK each year. Similarly, the agricultural, forestry and fishing sector has an average income of £29.451. However it has the fewest number of jobs available and lowest employer contribution compared to any other industry, making it a very risky option in the long term.

Research from Profile Pensions finds which industry’s employers offer the highest level of contributions – that is, how much they pay into pensions as a percentage of salary, including how that differs by gender.

No Tension Pensions

With a target pot of £38,000 to live modestly in retirement, and £247,000 to live comfortably, retirement planning is a crucial financial consideration across all industries. These sectors, however, offer the best pension planning with high contributions from employers:

At the other end of the scale, however, agriculture, forestry and fishing jobs offered the minimum legal contribution, 2%, when the ONS statistics were last published in 2018 prior to the April 2019 rise.  While it’s scarcely more in accommodation and food services, at 2.1%. The third worst is the arts, where it reaches only as high as 2.5% on average.

The Gender Gap

While overall there was a slightly higher contribution rate for men than women – at 4.6% compared with 4.4% - in individual industries the range varies significantly.

The average difference in industries was marginally in favour of women, though only by 0.1%. Education, in particular, favoured women, with an average employer contribution of 9.3%, while men received only 7.9%.

In technical areas, however, men saw higher contributions. In electricity, gas, steam, and air-conditioning supply, for example, they saw 3.3% higher contributions, at 7.4% compared with 4.2%, and in manufacturing, there was a difference of 0.9% (5.3% to 4.4%).

Michelle Gribbin, Profile Pensions’ Chief Investment Officer, said: “The difference between industries is remarkable. While some you might expect, like financial and insurance industries, the high pensions in education mean teachers are likely to be better off in retirement than those in typically high-earning careers like real estate or logistics. Providing an interesting consideration for both employers and employees.”

“As for the gender differences uncovered, this is just another example of the gap between genders in the workplace, this time played out through pension contributions. 

Generally, we know women are more likely to have lower incomes and more interrupted careers as a result of their caring responsibilities. Ensuring this doesn't penalise them is as much of an organisational culture issue as it is a government policy issue. 

Firms should really start to get to grips with the fundamentals and fully adopt a policy of 'equal pay and pension contributions for equal roles', applied to both full time and part time workers. As a further step, firms regularly reporting on gender disparities in income and pension contributions really helps ensure good transparency and commitment on this issue.”

A business’s success comes down to the employees that power the operation which means that it is essential that you keep hold of your best workers. This can be challenging as the top performers will usually be looking to progress and earn more money. Here are a few tips:

Career Development Opportunities

As mentioned, the top performers will usually want to advance their career whether this is within the company or by making a move. Therefore, you need to try and keep them at your company by offering options for promotion and development in the form of training.

Additional Responsibilities

Leading on from this, the top performers can easily become bored if they are excelling in their responsibilities. This means that you need to keep them active and engaged so additional responsibilities can be an effective way of doing this while helping them to develop their abilities and find areas of the business that interest them. This could involve leading a project, managing a small team, giving a presentation etc.

Positive Feedback

Positive feedback is incredibly important yet often overlooked by business owners. Additionally, the top performers often do not get positive feedback as sometimes owners will believe that they do not require it. This is not the case as it is important that all hard work is recognized, appreciated and celebrated.

Financial Wellbeing Resources

A good salary is, of course, crucial for retaining employees, but it is also important that you can provide financial wellbeing resources for workers. Personal money matters can have a huge impact on employee wellbeing, so if you are able to help your staff to improve their money management then it could have a huge impact on retention, as well as morale, productivity and absenteeism.


It can also be helpful for those that are performing well to have a mentor who can help them with career advice and to further engage them with the company. These mentors should be senior employees who are good at engaging with younger staff and are able to provide valuable support.

In order to grow and succeed, it is essential that a business is able to keep hold of its top performers. If the best workers left, then you will constantly have voids to fill which will result in dips in performance. The above are the best strategies to use to keep hold of your top performers and help them to enjoy their work and maximize their abilities. Retaining employees is all about recognizing their talent, providing them with opportunities to grow and develop within the company and creating a positive working atmosphere. This should then inspire your entire workforce to work hard each and every day.

However, if you fail to spot the right candidates, your firm runs the risk of needlessly overspending and wasting resources across the searching and recruitment process.

To find top talent, Molly Evans, an administrator for, suggests switching to these creative strategies:

1.       Interview first before relying on an algorithm

Companies make use of computers in candidate selection to remove bias from the equation. However, algorithms are not yet that sophisticated to gauge important human traits like influencing skills. Such limitations are probably why big companies like Amazon have temporarily suspended their online recruitment platform.  So consider interviewing some of the applicants before letting the algorithm eliminate them.

2.       Don’t limit the interview with questions

After selecting a group of potential candidates, your next step is probably to ask standard sets of questions. However, don’t stop there. Aside from asking them about their work experiences, you can ask them to demonstrate their skills.

For example, you can set a scenario where they have to advise clients about their mortgage needs. See what strategies and ideas they come up with on how to meet the client’s needs. Such an assessment can tell you right away if they will be a valuable asset for your company.

3.       Consider the talents working for you in the long term

Hiring the best talents is hard, but retaining them is harder. Many top performers are aware of their skills and abilities. Keep in mind that high salaries are not enough to keep them. Instead, you can give them:

Also draw attention to their current role’s importance and status, as well as possible promotions or greater responsibilities for staying with your company.

4.       Pick people who are willing to learn

Changes in an organisation’s structure are inevitable. You’ll need people who are agile, excellent communicators, and willing to collaborate. You’ll also need people with a creative mindset who can innovate and adapt. You’ll need candidates that are:

You can learn these qualities by making your interview questions detailed and specific. For example, you can ask them how they would handle a lost account.

5.       Hire people from your community if possible

One of the best places to start looking for potential employees is within your community or industry. You can do this by reaching out through:


6.       Get thinkers not taskmasters

Successful candidates know how to delegate tasks. However, if you want your company to grow, you’ll need thinkers. They are the people who are always asking ‘why?’, pushing for quality and efficiency. If implemented correctly, they can change the company’s culture for the better. Consider encouraging and supporting these kinds of talents. You may have to adjust or change the old ways but this is a small price to pay for raising your company’s competitiveness.

7.       Get referrals

There are advantages to getting referrals both from within and outside your company. Your staff will usually refer you to top performing people rather than underperforming ones. Consider providing incentives to your current employees for their referrals. Outside the company, you can look for job candidates from financial recruiters like

8.       Develop talents for the job

Finding and hiring the best people isn’t cheap and could take time. So why not try to develop those talents within your company? Consider investing in your employees through training, coaching, seminars, and workshops. Also, don’t forget to give them continuous feedback to sharpen their abilities. By recruiting the best talents from within, you could boost loyalty and productivity in your company.

9.       Use trial periods

If it’s possible, you can ask potential employees to undergo trial periods first. Once they’ve passed, you can then choose to offer them full-time work. Trial periods are like internships except that the pay is better with more serious work responsibilities. You can run it for several weeks or months – just enough time to assess their performance.

For example, you can get the candidate to start by assisting or handling minor client accounts. During that time, you will be able to gauge their attitude and skills for the job. It’s also important to pay the candidates fairly to avoid any legal and moral complications.


CVs and algorithms are useful for providing a list of skills. However, to build a great team of talent, you need to ask more than routine questions. Use the interview to learn how they work based on their skills and capabilities. By doing so, you’ll know that you’ve found the right people. Remember also to cast your recruitment net wide to increase your opportunities for finding the best-skilled people. This means maintaining links with your industry and community and using incentivised candidate referrals. Follow all these strategies and you’ll be in the best position to encourage top talent to beat a path to your door.

More than a third (38%) of IT decision-makers across the UK financial sector believe it has become more difficult over the past five years to find staff with the right skills and experience. Over a third (34%) believe the problem is going to worsen in the coming five years. This is according to a survey across a range of financial and banking sector organisations, including retail and investment banking, asset management, hedge funds and clearing houses.

The survey, commissioned by software vendor InterSystems found a shortage across a variety of roles. Almost a fifth (18%) of respondents cited a lack of data scientists followed by 17% who revealed a shortage in security consultant/specialists, while 16% referenced application developers and 12% mentioned financial analysts.

“IT skills shortages are clearly a major concern for banking and financial services firms across the UK and this is only likely to escalate in the future,” says Graeme Dillane, financial services manager, InterSystems. “Skills shortages are a barrier to innovation in the banking and financial services sector. And as firms upgrade their legacy systems and look to innovate to meet the latest wave of regulations, that represents an increasingly serious concern.”

When survey recipients were asked to name the key qualities that technology can bring to help mitigate the negative affect of skills shortages within businesses today, 44% of respondents said: ‘simplicity of use’, 42% cited ‘ease of implementation’ and 36% ‘high-performance’.   

The study also found that skills shortages are one of the biggest barriers preventing innovation as cited by 35% of the study, behind only cost (41%) while compliance was referenced by 31%.

“These findings match with our experience in talking to customers and prospects across the sector,” added Dillane. “IT employees with the skills that banks and financial services companies are looking for are in short supply. Knowledge transfer is therefore increasingly key alongside solutions which combine ease of development; simplicity of use; high-performance and intuitive workflow transfer.”

(Source: InterSystems)

The private sector outsourcing market soared to a three-year high in 2017 as businesses signed contracts worth £4.93 billion, according to the Arvato UK Outsourcing Index.

The research, compiled by business outsourcing partner Arvato and industry analyst NelsonHall, found that the total value of contracts signed by UK companies rose 36% year-on-year, from £3.62 billion in 2016 and £1.84 billion in 2015.

Overall the UK outsourcing market saw an increase of nine% year-on-year in 2017, with contracts worth £6.74 billion agreed by the public and private sectors over the period.

A surge in technology investment was behind the strong performance in the private sector, according to the findings. Businesses spent £3.82 billion on procuring IT Outsourcing (ITO contracts) agreements in 2017, more than double the value of deals agreed in 2016 (£1.73 billion).

The analysis shows that companies focused their spending on securing multi-process IT deals, which included new hosting services, equipment, network infrastructure, data centres and application management.

Customer services accounted for almost half (46%) of business process outsourcing (BPO) agreements signed by companies last year. Firms spent a total of £508 million as they looked to deliver improvements in customer experience across traditional and digital channels, according to the findings.

Debra Maxwell, CEO, CRM Solutions UK & Ireland, Arvato, said: “The private sector is increasingly outsourcing more sophisticated work, with firms turning to external partners to introduce new technology and enhance the customer experience.

“This shift towards greater complexity is contributing to more outsourced services being delivered here in the UK. Just two% of private sector deals procured last year will be delivered offshore, compared to 12% in 2016, as outsourcing continues to move up the value chain.”

Overall, fewer deals were agreed across the UK outsourcing market last year, with 98 procured compared to 165 in the 12 months previous, according to the research.

The rise in spending in the private sector market comes as activity across the government market fell year-on-year. Central government departments and councils signed contracts worth £1.82 billion in 2017 compared with £2.59 billion in 2016 – a 30% drop.

Excluding work procured for healthcare, the data shows that the average value of deals signed across government was down 42% year-on-year in 2017

Debra Maxwell added, “In line with calls for a review of the government outsourcing model, the findings show the public sector is already moving away from procuring long-term, high value outsourcing contracts.

“Councils and central government departments are now accessing the technology and expertise they need to deliver a range of functions, from digital service transformation to cyber security, through smaller contracts for productised services.”

Financial services leads private sector growth

The analysis shows that a sharp rise in the value of outsourcing contracts procured by financial services businesses was behind the growth in private sector spend last year.

Companies across financial services agreed deals worth £3.26 billion in 2017, more than treble the total value of contracts agreed in the previous year (£829 million).

According to the research, the growth can be attributed to a sharp increase in ITO spending as firms turned their attention to deals in application management, application hosting and end user computing. The findings show ITO contracts worth £2.70 billion were signed across the sector last year, up from £208 million in 2016.

Pat Quinn, CEO of Arvato Financial Solutions UK & Ireland, said: “Financial services businesses are under pressure to transform, particularly in the wake of high profile security threats and the upcoming GDPR obligations.

“The findings show that a growing number of companies see outsourcing as key to addressing the challenge, delivering the resilient infrastructure and architecture they need to protect against cyber-attacks, keep their data safe and comply with new privacy legislation.”

Alongside financial services, telecoms & media and energy & utilities were the most active sectors in the UK outsourcing market, procuring deals worth £1.08 billion and £279 million respectively, according to the findings.

The research showed that the average value of contracts signed across the private sector more than doubled to £91 million in 2017, from £36 million in the previous year.

(Source: Arvato UK & Ireland)

From diesel tax penalties and calls to rule out a further rise in insurance premium tax, to housing ambitions and planning laws, UK Chancellor Philip Hammond has faced a lot of pressure this week, ahead of the announcement due tomorrow.

Below Finance Monthly has heard from a number of source in the industry on what they expect, predict and would like to see come from the announcement, in this week’s Your Thoughts.

Adam Chester, Head of Economics, Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking:

Tomorrow’s budget will have to strike a difficult balance. Improvements to the public finances had given some room to ease policy, but that will be squeezed when the Office for Budget Responsibility revises down its growth forecasts on Wednesday.

The commitment to reducing the so-called structural budget deficit to below two% of national income by 2020-21, gives us a framework to assess how much room there is for any giveaways.

At the March Budget, the structural deficit was forecast to undershoot the two% target by £26bn. It’s now set to fall £6-8bn short of the March forecast, mainly due to stronger-than-expected tax receipts.

However, the OBR warned it will dial down its productivity forecasts, and we estimate a 0.4% downward revision would increase the structural budget deficit by around £15-£20bn.

On top of this, new funds are being sought for areas including Northern Ireland, public sector pay and the NHS, which would likely mean breaching the two% cap.

However, we suspect any available wiggle room would be used to fund a modest fiscal giveaway in order to keep borrowing and debt projections on track.

Matthew Walters, Head of Consultancy & Data Services, LeasePlan UK:

Fleets have been subjected to a lot of change in 2017. April saw the introduction of a new Vehicle Excise Duty system and new rules for Optional Remuneration Arrangements. July saw the publication of the Air Quality Plan, with its promise of Clean Air Zones around the country. And now it’s the turn of the Chancellor’s first Autumn Budget.

This Budget cannot add to the uncertainty facing fleets and motorists. In fact, it should provide clarity. The Chancellor must take the opportunity to reveal the rates of Fuel Duty for next year, as well as the rates of Company Car Tax for 2021-22 – and preferably beyond.

We’d like to see the Chancellor maintaining the freeze on Fuel Duty rates for another year – or perhaps even cutting them for the first time since 2011.

In addition, the UK Government is working hard to encourage the uptake of Ultra Low Emission Vehicles (ULEVs). We will have to see what incentives the Chancellor has up his sleeve.

Stephen Ward, Director of strategy, the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC):

An Englishman’s home may be his castle, but purchasing that castle, family home or two bed flat is an archaic process that needs to be updated. The conveyancing market has never been in more need of attention and next Wednesday’s autumn budget presents Philip Hammond with a real opportunity to let the genie out of the lamp and demonstrate a real commitment to innovation in the property transfer process. We have three wishes for next week, namely:

James Hender, Partner, Saffery Champness:

Stagnating productivity means that any rabbits which the Chancellor wishes to pull out of his budget hat are not looking too healthy. OBR forecasts have eaten into the £26bn headroom the Chancellor thought he had, and though the expectation may be that Mr Hammond will spend to win some political capital, any tax gift will come at a price, and is likely to be subsidised at someone else’s expense.

The government is arguably stuck between a rock and a hard place on corporation tax. A fine balance will need to be struck between ensuring the UK demonstrates that it is open for global business, and being publicly seen to tackle any perception of big business not paying its way.

In this climate, the 2020 commitment to 17% Corporation Tax may be looked at again, and we can certainly expect rhetoric, if not concrete action, to further reinforce the government’s position in taking a central role on international tax transparency and anti-avoidance.

On appealing to younger voters: This is perhaps one of the most politically-charged Budgets of recent years, with many predicting that the Chancellor will use the occasion to try and appeal to a younger generation of votes. If Phillip Hammond is as bold as some have called for him to be, the implications of this political move on taxpayers could be significant.

Michael Marks, CEO, Smoothwall:

After Philip Hammond’s pledge in last year’s Autumn Statement to invest £1.9bn in cybersecurity, we can expect further funding (or at least reference) to this issue as the cybersecurity landscape heats up. Following a year that included the biggest cyberattack on the NHS and the Petya malware attack across the continent, cyber security needs to be an absolute priority for investment; without extra funding and protection, the Government risks undoing a lot of the hard work. So far, the near £2bn cyber windfall doesn’t seem to have had quite the desired impact.

Along with cyber security, I would like to see continued investment in the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS). It’s thought that the EIS investment may be reduced from 30% to 20%, thereby reducing entrepreneurial growth, and the UK could suffer consequently in the long term. As a country with a great track record of innovation, reducing investment in this scheme will have a detrimental impact on driving technology and business growth at a time when we need more people to ‘take that step’.

Stuart Weekes, Tax Partner, Crowe Clark Whitehill:

We would welcome a simplification of the rules and the removal of one of the two sets of Patent Box incentive rules as part of tomorrow’s announcements.

Very few companies are taking advantage of Patent Box incentives, which tax the profits from patented products at 10%, a nine-percentage point discount on the current 19% rate of tax. Many companies do not know about this and, for those that do, the complexity of the legislation has been a major barrier to making a claim. Once the UK exits the EU, will the government improve the benefit of the Patent Box, especially as the UK Corporation Tax rate will drop to 17%, making the margin for the Patent Box less attractive than it might otherwise be? Will this prompt a cut in the applicable Patent Box tax rate from 10% to 8%?

Chris Wood, CEO, Develop Training:

The UK Government has recently published an independent review concerning the increasing applications for artificial intelligence (AI). Its recommendations focus largely on the provision and development of training and education in academia and for master-level and PhD students. Support is recommended for organisations such as, and amongst other, the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Alan Turing Institute, and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. AI is likely however not only to influence academia but, over the next 10-30 years, affect almost all of the current activities we perform at work and at home.

The current skills shortage, felt most keenly in the utilities, construction and engineering sectors is the end-result of under-investment on the part of both government and industry over the last 30-40 years. It is inconceivable, and somewhat terrifying, that this will continue into the mid-21st century particularly against a backdrop of such monumental change. Therefore the 2017 budget should include provision not only for a greater understanding of AI from an academically-driven research perspective but also from that of every individual. Children, school-leavers and those who will be in employment for the next 30-40 years must be educated in how AI is likely to affect their jobs, careers and lives. To achieve this the government would do well to establish a national institute for the promotion, understanding and application of AI for the benefit of all.

Mark Palethorpe, CFO, Cox Powertrain:

There are Government incentives for small innovative businesses like ours, but the Patient Capital Review has promised to address the need to encourage long-term investment in step-change innovation. For some people, the investments required by smaller innovators are just too small to get excited about and, for others, investment levels are too big for the risk. You can get caught out whatever size you are. Results of the Patient Capital Review are expected to be announced as part of the Autumn Budget and we’d like to see more opportunities for investment in innovation. We’d welcome an increase in the cap that exists for tax relief investment schemes like EIS, which has worked really well for us but does limit the amount an individual company can invest.

Nigel Wilcock, Executive Director, the Institute of Economic Development:

For the good of the economy, in tomorrow’s announcement on the UK Autumn Budget we need clarity on the structures and budgets for elements of the Industrial Strategy; clarity on how Structural Funds will be replaced for regions and clarity on local authority funding – how the business rate retention mechanism and re-allocation system will work. Specifically, we are seeking commitments from the Chancellor to transport infrastructure that equalises expenditure per head between regions, greater recognition of the social care costs falling on local authorities and funding for state aid interventions for business. We also recognise that National Insurance contributions from employers need to be looked at – it is an important economic issue that variations in different types of employment contracts are allowing corporations to be avoiding contributions when the economy is at full employment. The tax take of the economy is increasingly disconnected from the level of activity.

Damian Kimmelman, CEO, DueDil:

The abnormally low level of interest rates could be weighing on productivity growth by allowing weak and highly indebted firms to survive for longer than they normally would, by alleviating the burden of servicing their debts. Better information is needed to identify these firms, understand their business and support those with potential.

We have seen the government put their full weight behind opening data initiatives, such as Open Defra, to huge effect. DueDil would like to see the government put their full weight behind Open Banking and ensure that all of the CMA 9 banks (and beyond) open up as much banking data as possible to stimulate innovation in financial services and put the UK at the fore-front of Open Banking globally.

The UKEF committee has pledged to continue supporting exports and export finance. More interestingly, they have pledged that they will digitalise and standardise the application and on boarding process for businesses applying for export financing. DueDil would like to see the government to fund a competition to build a solution that would support the digitalisation of UKEF, in order to ensure that SMEs can painlessly and efficiently access a market of export financing and to ensure the ongoing success of SMEs following Brexit.

William Newton, President & EMEA MD, WiredScore:

The UK has the largest digital economy of any G20 nation, but it is important that technological skills and innovation continue to be employed across a range of industries. The service sector, for example, currently accounts for the greatest share of hours worked at lower productivity levels in the UK. Therefore, digitising existing processes in this sector presents a massive opportunity to address this productivity concern.

If the Government is to enable increased productivity, it must ensure that the existing generation has the necessary skills to meet the demands of modern industry. We would like to see a policy on business rates incentives for organisations who can prove they are investing in their workforce's digital skills.

Earlier this year, the Government announced its intention to support business rate reliefs on new 5G Mobile and full fibre broadband in the Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill. This proposal was received favourably by network providers, and we are now witnessing commitments such as that made by Openreach chair Mike McTighe confirming a plan to bring fibre to 10 million premises before Christmas. As such, the impact of business rates incentives has already been shown to be successful in spearheading improvements to the country’s digital infrastructure. We now need to see digital skills getting the same treatment.

Katharine Lindley, Chartered Financial Planner, EQ Investors:

It could be a tricky Budget for the Chancellor with limited legislative time due to ongoing focus on Brexit. But first one of current Parliament so generally Chancellors like to increase taxes and hope people forget by the next general election. However, minority government makes controversial changes difficult:

Mark Tighe, CEO, Catax:

The UK’s reputation as a world leader in Research and Development is essential to the welfare of the British economy as the Brexit process gathers pace.

In order for these smaller firms to compete on the world stage they must be innovating - which can be expensive. As it stands, current R&D tax credit legislation allows SMEs to take the risk of developing a new product, service or process - without undue worry over the financial impact if it fails or is never used. This creates a fertile environment for businesses to experiment and grow and supports the economy moving forward.

Mrs May used her speech at the CBI earlier this month to call on business to innovate more. She’s absolutely right to do so. The key now is making sure Philip Hammond follows through and makes sure the Government properly supports the firms that do.

Ed Molyneux, CEO and co-founder, FreeAgent:

Assuming that the VAT threshold is lowered - as some reports are suggesting - a huge number of contractors, freelancers and micro-business owners would be faced with a significant new administrative and financial burden.

It’s very unfair to position freelancers and contractors as not being on a level playing field with those who are employed. These business owners have none of the employment rights or the security that employed workers have and there must be some recognition for that - unless the government wants to slow the growth of this very important part of the UK economy - representing more than 95% of the UK’s 5.5 million businesses.

We would like to see some positive news in the Budget for the micro-business sector; whether it’s new legislation to help them overcome the chronic issue of late payment, easier tax rules to navigate or simply recognition of the recent Taylor Review and the ongoing status of those working in the gig economy. Freelancers and micro-businesses play a huge role in our economy - it’s time the government started supporting them.

Steven Tebbutt, Tax Director, MHA MacIntyre Hudson:

There’s a growing expectation that Entrepreneurs’ Relief will be attacked as part of the Autumn Budget 2017, which will prove an unpopular move with business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs. Such a change might appeal however to younger generations who feel that wealthy business owners shouldn’t benefit from such a generous tax saving measure.

The Government has already introduced “anti-phoenixing” rules to combat business owners abusing the relief by extracting profits through liquidation, only to resume the same business, sometimes multiple times or even ad infinitum. However, there remains a number of planning opportunities which the Government could still look to limit or close.

For example, it would be relatively simple for the Government to amend the legislation so that qualifying conditions have to be met for, say, five years, rather than the current one year which generally applies. This would immediately make it more difficult to structure disposals in advance of a sale to secure Entrepreneurs’ Relief, as business owners looking to sell would have far less opportunity for eleventh hour planning. Such a change would help ensure that only business owners meeting the conditions over a substantial period qualify for relief.

Robert Gordon, CEO, Hitachi Capital UK:

We know that clean air is on the agenda, as we have seen the Government proactively move towards legislation aimed at tackling the UK’s pollution problem, therefore we fully expect that tomorrow’s announcement will include some form of punitive measure towards diesel vehicles.

Growing uncertainty from consumers around the future of diesel vehicles has already fuelled a rapid decline in the market, with October sales falling by nearly a third compared to last year and any additional deterrent could prove to be decisive, in encouraging a phasing out of diesel vehicles altogether.

If this happens, the Government must be prepared to outline how it plans to fund the infrastructure improvements required, to give businesses and consumers the confidence to make the transition to vehicles powered by alternative fuels at a faster pace than we have seen to date.

Jonquil Lowe, Senior Lecturer in Economics and Personal Finance, The Open University:

The Chancellor is expected to follow an Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) recommendation to reduce the VAT threshold, currently £85.000, possibly as low as £25,000. This must look tempting since it could bring up to £2 billion into the government coffers, sucking 1.5 million business minnows into the VAT system. Depending on whether traders can pass the tax on to customers and who their customers are, this extra tax will be paid partly by firms and partly by households through higher charges for their plumbers, builders, taxis and hairdressers.

Quite apart from paying the tax, HMRC has estimated the cost per business of dealing with the VAT admin is £675 a year. Moreover, if there is no change to the exemption level for Making Tax Digital, currently set at the VAT threshold, from April 2019 those small businesses will also suddenly find themselves sucked into mandatory quarterly digital accounting.

By extending the VAT base, cutting the threshold narrowly skates around the Conservative Manifesto promise not to raise the level of VAT. And, no doubt, it will be dressed up as a tax avoidance measure aimed at traders operating in the informal economy. But make no mistake: this will be a stealthy and substantial tax rise.

Martin Ewings, Director of Specialist Markets, Experis:

As we await the Chancellor’s Autumn Budget with anticipation, the focus must be on driving growth in key areas and ensuring the long-term economic prospects of a post-Brexit Britain. Increased infrastructure spending is expected to be one of the pillars of the budget, injecting regions around the country with much-needed jobs and investment. But we must have the skills in place if the nation is to deliver on such projects, both now and in decades to come. The recent announcement of £21m to boost regional tech hubs around the country is a positive step, but more needs to be done if we are to close the ever-widening skills gap.

Digital investment will be an important component of this, and new technologies could hold the key. Philip Hammond is poised to focus on AI (£75m investment), electric cars (£440m investment) and 5G (£160m investment), while also pledging £76m to improving digital and construction skills more widely. With so many different priorities, it’s important not to lose sight of nurturing future talent. The Cyber Discovery programme is a great example of what needs to be done. The £20m government initiative, announced on Saturday, will aim to encourage and inspire 15-18-year-olds to enter the cyber security industry via a comprehensive curriculum. There will be three million unfilled jobs in cyber-security by 2021, but investing in programmes like this could go a long way to help ministers and businesses plug the UK skills gap, both now and in the future.

Craig Harman, Tax Specialist, Perrys Chartered Accountants:

Following the introduction of the help to buy ISA, first time buyers could once again be one of the winners from the budget as the chancellor is expected to announce changes to Stamp Duty Land Tax. This could include either a reduction in the rate for first time buyers or even a ‘holiday’ period providing a complete exemption for those able to benefit. It has even been suggested that there could be a fundamental overhaul by making the seller liable for Stamp Duty instead of the purchaser. This would benefit any individuals moving to a more valuable property as the liability would be based on the lower value of their current home.

Tax relief on pensions has been a bit of an easy target over the past few years with both the annual and lifetime allowance significantly reduced. It is likely that we will see a further cut in the tax relief available on funding for retirement. Some have even suggested a complete change to an ‘ISA’ like system, however this may be a step too far.

Individuals with significant dividend income have been penalised heavily over the past couple of years and this may be set to continue with many predicting either a cut in the tax-free dividend allowance or an increase in the tax rate.

Aziz Rahman, Founder, Rahman Ravelli:

The Paradise Papers have placed the issue of non-payment of tax back on the news agenda at a time when the Chancellor is announcing his tax priorities.

A large part of the Chancellor’s job is to assess and determine what taxation can be brought in from business. And in the current climate, everyone in business is under scrutiny to ensure they are paying what they should. This scrutiny can only increase if new or heavier taxes are announced tomorrow.

This may seem alarmist. But the Criminal Finances Act, which only came into effect two months ago, makes companies criminally liable if they fail to prevent tax evasion by anyone working for them; even if they were unaware it was happening. They can face unlimited penalties.

If businesses are to avoid prosecution, they must be able to show they had reasonable measures in place to prevent such wrongdoing. To ensure this is the case, they must review their practices and procedures to minimise risks.

This means ensuring staff are aware of the legislation regarding tax offences, having procedures in place for monitoring workplace activity and introducing procedures so that suspicions of wrongdoing can be reported in confidence.

The government is under huge pressure to tackle the non-payment of tax. At a time when the government is outlining its tax priorities, it would be foolish for those in business to fail to make sure their tax affairs are legal and above board.

We would also love to hear more of Your Thoughts on this, so feel free to comment below and tell us what you think!

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