March 20, 2014 - Rachel Miller
The recent Higgins report on High Speed Two (HS2) has recommended that the new rail line is built earlier than planned. John Longworth, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said: "HS2 is vital for our economic future, as it is the only scheme that can provide the extra capacity that Britain's overstretched railways so desperately need. Businesses across the country will support many of the plans outlined in David Higgins' report – as long as this means the benefits are felt earlier than originally planned. But HS2 will only reach its true potential if it is a fully-functioning national network, which includes linking it to HS1. It is important that passengers can board a train in Birmingham, Manchester or Leeds and travel straight to the continent."
More than 70,000 employers are still to take up PAYE real time reporting, according to HMRC, and it warns they will face penalties if they don't comply. Employers who have never used the new system to file PAYE returns in real time are being sent an email this week telling them to do so by the end of the year. Ruth Owen, HMRC's director general for personal tax, said: "Over 99% of PAYE records are being successfully reported in real time and the majority of businesses say they find the new system easy to use." Employers who no longer need their PAYE schemes should tell HMRC as soon as possible.
Online sales are set to grow by 16% in the UK and, for the first time, the average shopper will spend more than £1,000 online this year, according to new research for RetailMeNot conducted by the Centre for Retail Research. The report reveals that the UK is the largest ecommerce market in Europe and it forecasts that £45 billion will be spent online in the UK in 2014. Giulio Montemagno, SVP of international at RetailMeNot said: "In 2014, we are expecting to see online sales across Europe grow at a rate that is 11.9 times faster than in-store sales. In the UK, online retail is expected to increase by 15.8% this year while the offline segment will grow by only 2.4%."
With the emphasis on high growth, Accelerate 2014 will be one of the signature events at the International Festival of Business (IFB) to be held in Liverpool this summer. The IFB is hosting more than 200 business events in June and July 2014, including an international trade expo and a two-day conference on exporting. The event is backed by the UKTI, the FSB and the CBI. Accelerate 2014 will open on 20 June. Speakers are to include Karren Brady, of BBC TV's The Apprentice, designer Wayne Hemingway and Michelle Mone, founder of Ultimo. Karren Brady, said: "I'm delighted to be taking part in Accelerate 2014. The UK's fast-growth firms are the ones transforming communities and countries all over the world with their ambition and performance – and it is imperative that we lend them the continued inspiration and support they need."