New Enterprise Zones Announced 
Prime Minister David Cameron has announced a second wave of enterprise zones designed to kick-start the UK’s economy. These new zones follow on from the 11 announced in March, which included areas in most of the country’s major cities.

This time the successful bids include Daresbury Science Campus in Warrington, the Humber Estuary Renewable Energy Super Cluster and Newquay Aerohub in Cornwall.

Ministers said that 30,000 new jobs would be created by 2015 in the zones by giving cheaper business rates, superfast broadband and lower levels of planning control. Cutting red tape was another part of the Government’s plan for growth.

Mr Cameron said: “We are determined to do everything we can to make Britain the best place in the world to start and grow a business.

“Enterprise zones are a major step towards delivering this, cutting business taxes, easing planning restrictions and giving business the tools they need to invest and expand.

“These new enterprise zones will be trailblazers for growth, jobs and prosperity throughout the country.”

And speaking of the job creation the zones will bring, Chancellor George Osborne said:

“They will benefit from over £150 million in tax breaks over four years, new superfast broadband, lower levels of planning control and the potential to use enhanced capital allowances.”

When the idea of 21 Enterprise Zones across the country was announced, Business Secretary Vince Cable said that they would give businesses simpler planning rules and more generous treatment in respect to business rates and capital allowances.

And the scheme has been compared to similar initiatives in the 80s and 90s, which saw the transformation of London’s Docklands, amongst other sites.

However, when the initiative was first announced in the March budget, critics were not convinced that the zones would be successful, which can only be tested with time.

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Digital Help For Small Business 
The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and BT Business announced the continuation of their six-year partnership yesterday that will focus on supporting small and medium-sized businesses, helping them grow and become more competitive.

There will be ten events across the UK to help businesses keep ahead with the latest technologies. At the events SMEs will have the chance to speak to industry experts, who will discuss ways of generating new business, improving efficiency and productivity in addition to controlling costs and improving customer service.

The British Chambers of Commerce is campaigning to make 2011 a Year for Growth and ensure businesses are given the right environment to thrive and grow. And BT Business showed its support for this theme by emphasising how technology can help businesses to meet the ever-growing demands and expectations of their customers.

Nigel Stagg, managing director of BT Business, said: “Our own recent survey showed that small businesses can’t work effectively without their broadband link for more than two hours, which demonstrates how fundamental technology has become.

Business people told us they are focusing very sharply on their costs and productivity. One bright spot is that customers are paying half the price for twice the broadband speed compared to three years ago, as a result of a highly competitive market.”

Mr Stagg went on to say that new technology standards emerge on a regular basis, so keeping old or incompatible technology can be a “costly mistake.” Consequently, examples at the events will include solutions like the latest communication systems and broadband technologies that support business growth.

David Riches, Director of Operations at the BCC says: "We have been campaigning to ... restore confidence in the small- and medium-sized companies that will drive Britain’s future growth.

“BCC member businesses will be able to benefit from BT's expertise in driving success in website design and other online and print-based marketing solutions,” he added.

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Small Businesses To Receive Help In The Aftermath Of The Riots 
In reaction to the damage caused by the rioting last week, the Government has announced a number of measures to help businesses affected by it, including a £20 million fund for small firms and a pledge to help uninsured businesses.

And HMRC has set up a special helpline for businesses caught up in the aftermath. Those affected can use the helpline to take advice on agreeing payment schedules, if they are unable to pay their tax bills due to short-term financial difficulties, and to discuss practical solutions where businesses and individuals cannot meet their other obligations to HMRC in cases, for instance, that have seen records lost or destroyed.

HMRC has said that it will deal “sympathetically” with affected businesses and, whenever possible, there will be a review of any penalties imposed and that additional surcharges that would normally be triggered by missed deadlines will be withheld.

The scheme will probably operate along the same lines as the Business Payment Support Service, called Time To Pay (TTP), which was introduced in 2008 to help firms hit by the recession.

In reaction to the news, John Walker, National Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses, said:

"Small firms are still reeling from the shock of the last week and are trying to pick themselves up from the damage caused... we are glad to see that insurance deadlines and the Time to Pay scheme have both been extended.”

"The announcement that Government will support businesses through the high street support scheme, suspension of business rates payments for affected businesses and help for uninsured firms, is welcomed by the FSB. At this time, it is also vital that people keep trade local to support their communities so that businesses can get up and running again," Mr Walker added.

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Help For Businesses In Riots Aftermath 
UK banks, including RBS, HBC, Barclays and Lloyds have pledged additional financial support to businesses affected by the recent riots. This includes making short to medium-term financial arrangements available for repairs and to replace stock. They will also offer repayment holidays until insurance claims can be settled.

Chief Executive of the British Bankers’ Association (BBA), Angela Knight said: "These riots are appalling and it seems that the majority of businesses affected are small. We hope that as many as possible will reopen and the banks are putting in place arrangements to help. Businesses must contact their insurance company, but at the same time we know that claims take time to process and we stand ready to help."

According to a statement on the BBA website, customers can get help and advice from their bank simply and quickly. The banks have put special numbers in place for customers to call, teams are available inside the banks to help and business relationship managers are getting in contact.

It goes on to say that many bank branches have also been affected by the riots but even in these areas they are doing their best to make sure that all customers can get the banking services they need.

The statement says that the banks will sympathetically and sensitively consider the problems of each business and additional financial support will be available should it be required to provide solutions for the affected businesses.

The BBA has published a list of the numbers to call for customers of Bank of Scotland, Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds TSB, Natwest, RBS and Santander, which can be found on their website.

Prime Minister David Cameron also announced emergency measures for businesses affected by the rioting. He pledged that any shops or companies that had their premises destroyed would have their council tax and business rates cancelled immediately.

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Bank of England Cuts Growth Forecast 
In a further downgrade since the last one in May, the Governor of the Bank of England, Sir Mervyn King, has cut the 2011 growth forecast for the British economy to 1.5 per cent.

This is the fifth downgrade since last June and this time the estimate has been cut from 1.8 per cent. The knock-on effect is that the forecast for 2012 has been cut from 2,5 per cent to nearer to 2 per cent.

He also predicted inflation could increase above 5 per cent as energy bills continue to climb. “The timing and fall back in inflation is highly uncertain,” King said. However, he is sure that inflation should fall back below the 2 per cent target in the medium term, as temporary factors fade.

According to the Governor, some of the biggest risks to economic growth come from the global economy and it is very hard to quantify those risks.

“The key question is whether that burden will be shared in the context of a downturn in the world economy or a rebalance in demand. We must work with our colleagues abroad to reduce the imbalance. But there are limits to what monetary policy can do to alter inflation,” he said.

He declined to say if the Bank of England was considering another round of quantitative easing in order to prop up the economy. But he warned that "there is a limit to what UK monetary policy can do when large, real adjustments are required".

On a more upbeat note, the Governor is confident that, while it may be small and more gradual than some would like, there will be a recovery, as the country is doing its best.

“We have a credible medium-term fiscal plan, which many countries do not, and we have had a depreciation of our exchange rate (which could help exports)," he said.

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