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Business news round-up: UK economic slowdown, small business rates revaluation, cyber resiliency of UK firms

1st March, 2017

MediaCom gets smart about helping women back into work in Greater Manchester

Two leaders in the UK fashion industry have urged business people from in and around Manchester to support Smart Works, a charity which helps dress women in need for job interviews and gives one-to-one interview training and advice needed to become work-ready.

Betty Jackson, CBE and Jane Shepherdson, MBE – both patrons of the Smart Works charity – were speakers at an event hosted by MediaCom’s Manchester office.

Jane explained: “We are all only one wrong turn away from being unemployed and losing confidence. So many women get side-tracked and side-lined through no fault of their own and some can’t find a way back.

“We support women with a full outfit including a handbag, shoes and coat, and provide tips for interviews and applications. Over 70% of the women we have been able to contact have been successful in getting a job.”

Smart Works Greater Manchester was founded in June 2015. Since then, it has helped over 500 women with the clothes and the confidence they need to succeed at their job interview.

Find out more about Smart Works on their website.

SAP enforces upgrade charge and specific software adoption

Ahmed Azmi, Director at DTEC (Dubai Technology Entrepreneurial Centre) - the largest tech startup hub in the Mideast hosting over 550 startups and SMEs – describes in his latest LinkedIn article how SAP risks alienating its customers with enforced software adoption.

In 2015, SAP launched its S4 business suite. S4, in contrast to its predecessor ECC6, is certified exclusively on the SAP HANA database.

ECC was an open system that allowed customers to choose their backend database. However, with the ECC install-base running on either Oracle, Microsoft or IBM databases, SAP is forcing customers to adopt one of these options only.

In addition to certifying S4 exclusively on HANA, SAP made S4 a new purchase and not a free upgrade, even for customers with a current ECC maintenance contract.

DSAG is the German SAP user group, the largest and most influential SAP user community. Hans-Achim Quitmann, the DSAG Board Member for Technology, said of SAP’s decision: “We think it’s important to ensure that S4 HANA can be operated on alternative databases soon. Companies must also be able to implement S4 HANA without additional expenses for things like licenses, migration, functionality, and investment protection.”

To read the article in full, visit Ahmed’s LinkedIn profile.

Small businesses warn rates revaluation could spell the end of the British high street

Business rates are based on the value of commercial property and, according to analysis by CVS Business Rent & Rates Specialists, shops in 791 villages, towns and cities in England and Wales will see their rateable values rise from 1 April.

UK business owners already pay more than any other country in Europe, but are facing huge hikes following a two-year delay in reassessment.

Overall, rateable values since the previous property assessment in 2010 (based on 2008 figures) have risen by £654m.

Chancellor Philip Hammond revealed in the Autumn budget that properties that fall under £12,000 will pay no business rates from 1st April, with tapered relief to £15,000. There is also likely to be some transitional relief, spread over the next five years.

To find out if and how your business will be affected, read the full article on The Guardian website.

Cyber resiliency of UK firms barely changed in a year, study shows

According to a Ponemon Institute survey of 413 IT and IT security professionals, high performing UK companies with a high level of cyber security maturity are leading in cyber resiliency, but  overall, they have lower confidence in containing and recovering from attacks, the survey revealed.

The second annual cyber resiliency study shows 40% of respondents said they were confident in preventing cyber attacks (up from 35% the year before) and 49% said they were confident in detecting attacks (up from 42%).

However, just 47% said they were confident in containing attacks (down from 49%) and 35% said they were confident in recovering from attacks (down from 36%).

View the statistics in full on Computer Weekly.

UK economy to slow down, says European Commission

The view of the Commission on the UK was shared recently by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR).

The latest forecast says the UK economy will grow by just 1.5% this year and by 1.2% in 2018, compared to 2% last year. This is in stark contrast to the Eurozone, with the 19 countries’ economic growth predicted to rise by 1.6% this year and 1.8% in 2018.

The Commission says the slowdown is prompted by uncertainty following last June's Brexit vote in the UK, saying: "Business investment is likely to be adversely affected by persisting uncertainty while private consumption growth is projected to weaken as growth in real disposable income declines."

Read more about the Commission’s forecast on the BBC website.