Small Businesses Lose Money Through Energy Inefficiency 
According to E.ON, one of the UK’s leading energy suppliers, small businesses in the UK are losing £7.7bn every year because they aren’t taking sufficient care in improving their energy efficiency.

Research by E.ON showed that nearly four million of the UK’s 4.8 million small businesses just aren’t aware of energy efficiency measures and equipment. For example, of the businesses surveyed, almost nine out of 10 did not have lighting timers or motion sensors and 13 per cent said that they left the windows open when the air conditioning or heating was on.

The survey also found significant frustration around the subject among employees, with almost 90 percent saying that their fellow employees’ attitude to energy efficiency was ‘irresponsible,’ while 84 percent said their company’s approach to the environment affects their overall happiness in the workplace.

With price increases for businesses of as much as 30 per cent over the last year, the cost of energy is now one of the highest bills companies have to pay, so it makes sense to take measures to improve energy efficiency.

The research exposes small businesses in the financial and professional services sectors as being the least savvy when it comes to energy efficiency awareness. Almost all of the small businesses surveyed from these sectors were unaware that they are missing out on savings of up to £2,000 per year each.

"Introducing small changes in your business behaviour, like installing energy saving equipment, light sensors and smart meters, can have a significant financial impact on your energy bills," said Iain Walker, head of business sales at E.ON.

"With energy saving playing a key role in employees' happiness in the workplace, taking a more efficient approach makes sense. It's a win, win, win situation - saving your business money, helping protect the environment and improving the happiness of employees."

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QE2 No Guarantee Of Lending 
Bank of England Governor Mervyn King has told MPs that the £75bn the Bank has injected into the economy in a bid to aid the UK’s recovery is no guarantee that the commercial banks will lend more to business.

However, Mr King said that he thought that lending would have fallen if the action had not been taken and denied waiting for too long before agreeing on taking the step of a further injection of cash.

Giving evidence to the Treasury Select Committee, Mr King said: "I can't guarantee that it means that bank lending will rise, but what I do believe is that it won't fall as far as it might otherwise have done,"

"I think the action will make a difference to the amount of lending, but it certainly doesn't guarantee that lending to the real economy is positive.

"Only the banks are in a position to assess credit risks for SMEs. What we have to do is to find ways of giving incentives to the existing banks in order to lend more."

£200bn had already been pumped into the economy in 2009, so this second round of quantitative easing, or QE, has been dubbed QE2. When asked why the Bank had waited for so long to incrase its QE programme.

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Nick Clegg Calls For Relaxation Of Rules 
In a speech to small business leaders in East London later today Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg will call for a reduction in the number of “intrusive visits” that state inspectors can make on businesses.

Some companies face up to 12 visits a year from such bodies as Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) or the Health and Safety Executive. Mr Clegg will suggest that this be cut down to a maximum of two annually.

Mr Clegg says that the Liberal Democrats support moves to reduce red tape and support “intelligent, effective regulation”. He will also criticise the previous Labour administration for introducing an average of six new regulations a day.

“The diehards will tell you that the Liberal Democrats share Labour’s love of regulation, that we are red tape-wielding zealots intent on gold-plating every new offering from Brussels – but that is absolute nonsense,” he will say.

However, Mr Clegg will mount a defence of some regulation saying that deregulation is not the “be all and end all for growth”, describing such a position as “ridiculous”.

“Where people have expressed support for regulation, we’re keeping it,” he will say. “Like with the hallmarking system for gold and silver. But, if it’s tedious and pointless, it’s going.“

“So, no more insisting that a shop selling kitchen descaler has a poisons license. No more having to pay for a piece of paper just to put on a little live music in a pub. Where there were twelve pieces of legislation on consumer rights, we’re collapsing them into one.”

The Government has already begun a plan to cut bureaucracy for businesses amid claims that the reforms have already saved British businesses £3bn. However, the British Chamber of Commerce said last month that new regulations had imposed £45m on businesses.

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“Forgotten’ Medium-Sized Businesses 
A report issued today by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and management consultancy McKinsey has said that the Government and City should focus on Britain’s ‘forgotten army’ of medium-sized firms as a way of boosting the economy by up to £50bn a year over the next decade.

Such businesses, with a turnover of between £10m and £100m, represent less than 1 per cent of all businesses in the UK but generate 22 per cent of revenue and 16 per cent of all jobs.

According to the report, new measures should include improving access to finance for these companies, especially in the bond markets and nurturing our own version of the German ‘Mittelstand’.

In the German model only 10 per cent of family firms is run by the eldest son whereas in the UK the figure is 50 per cent. The report also notes that second-generation, family owned companies run by sons generally underperform and that too few executives have a university qualification.

Director General of the CBI, John Cridland, said: "Medium-sized businesses are truly a forgotten army, and now is the time to unlock their potential.

"We should be championing, nurturing and encouraging our mid-sized firms so that more of them grow and create jobs.”

Mr Cridland went on to say: “"I want the UK to have its own version of the German "Mittelstand".... These future champions would help the UK weather unexpected economic shocks, and act as a new engine for growth.

"To achieve extra growth, medium-sized firms must have access to new kinds of finance. This means opening UK bond markets to medium-sized businesses, encouraging use of venture capital, and making it easier for large companies to invest in medium ones, possibly in their supply chains."

A Department for Business spokesperson said: "We welcome the CBI's focus on the UK's mid-sized companies.... The Government is already focused on this group as part of the growth review"

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Digital Dough 
Figures released this week by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that almost £1 in every £10 spent on buying goods is now spent on-line. We spent around £539m on-line each week in September, meaning that shopping on the internet is becoming part of the retail habit.

The internet’s 9.6 per cent share of retail sales is 30 per cent up on last year and is potentially taking its toll on high street shopping. For example, clothing store Next revealed last month that much of its on-line growth had come at the expense of sales in its high street stores.

According to the ONS retail sales were up generally in September and increased by 5.4 per cent compared with last year. However, nearly all the growth came from inflation, with only 0.6 per cent of that revenue coming from the volume of goods sold.

Interestingly, the sale of luxury goods such as mobile ‘phones, lingerie, alcohol and home products were particularly buoyant in September and smaller stores performed better than larger ones.

Despite the encouraging figures, the Interactive Media in Retail Media Group (imrg), the membership community for the e-retail industry, is trimming its forecast for further on-line growth from 18 per cent of retail sales to 16 per cent.

David J Smith, Chief Marketing & Communications Officer at IMRG, comments: “While consumer confidence in the online market was high ... there has been a slight dip in terms of the growth levels.

“The tough times for the travel sector are showing little sign of improving any time soon, with consumers focusing on home improvements rather than going on holiday.

It is clear that both the stagnation in the housing market and the continuing uncertainty over the economic recovery are influencing consumer behaviour in the online market.

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