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New company vehicles continue to play a central role in small and medium sized business (SME) investment plans in the second half of 2015, according to research from Lex Autolease.
The bi-annual Business in Britain survey of 1,500 SMEs from across the UK found that that more than three quarters (76%) of management teams plan to raise money for business investment in the second half of the year, with over one in four (28%) expected to invest more than £100,000.
The findings show that 9% of small firms planning to invest in their businesses have identified company cars and vans as a key area of spend for the rest of the year, alongside other key priorities of marketing, R&D and new plant and machinery.
The research points to a continuing commitment to company vehicles, with the figure up slightly from a near similar share of planned investment spend (8%) in January.
New vehicles are a particular investment priority for firms in the transport with over a quarter (27%) planning to buy or lease before the end of the year.
Company vehicles are also high on the agenda for SMEs across the construction, retail and healthcare industries. New cars and vans are on the shopping list for over a sixth (17%), a near equal share (16%) and over a tenth (13%) of small firms respectively.
Simon Barter, head of SME at Lex Autolease, said: “It is encouraging to see that company cars and commercial vehicles remain a key part of investment plans for UK SMEs, particularly in the transport and construction sectors where the overall economic picture looks especially strong.
“As business confidence grows, companies are looking to reduce costs and streamline their operations in different ways to free up cash for growth.
“As a result, we are seeing an increasing number of firms consider alternative ways of managing company vehicles.
“As firms look to move depreciating assets off their balance sheets and avoid paying lump sums, we expect to see a rise in vehicle leasing over the next six months as companies make efforts to be more agile.”
Moreover, the study carried out for Kwik Fit revealed that many of these seven million drivers are well aware that their neglect will prove more costly in the long run.
Almost half (45%) of those neglecting their car’s servicing or maintenance said that they would be spending more as a result of the delays, with the additional bill for drivers totalling £153.9 million.
Londoners are more likely to have skipped maintenance than car owners anywhere else in the UK, with a third (33%) having done so in the past 12 months. In a clear warning to the capital’s second hand car-buyers, the most common reason given by London car owners for skipping maintenance or repairs is because they were planning to sell the car.
Conversely, car buyers may benefit from travelling to the south west to buy their next used car. Only 13% of the region’s car owners say they have skipped servicing or maintenance in the last year – with almost half (47%) of them saying they have done so because they are driving fewer miles.
Kwik Fit’s research found that the UK’s more experienced car owners clearly see the benefit of keeping on top of their car’s maintenance – amongst the over 65s only 8% have skipped servicing over the last year, compared to 40% of owners aged between 18-24.
Older drivers also have a greater appreciation of the cost of delaying work. Those over 65 who have skipped on servicing believe the delays add an average of £101.44 to their eventual bill, while those under 24 think the additional cost is only £41.
The reasons given for skipping car SMR and the number of car owners stating the reason are:
Roger Griggs, communications director at Kwik Fit, believes more drivers should appreciate that neglecting maintenance can compromise safety as well as having a financial impact. He says: “This research clearly shows that delaying servicing or maintenance often ends up hitting drivers with a bigger bill in the long run. We are sure that car owners could have put that £150 million, which was needlessly spent, to much better use.
“The old adage of a stitch in time saves nine remains as true today as when our grandmothers first told it to us as children. However, it’s not just in the pocket where car owners can feel the impact of neglecting their car. Those looking after their car will find that it looks after them when they need it most, whether that’s starting first time in an emergency or gripping the road surface in bad weather.”
Dealer margins continued to come under increased pressure in July.
In a survey of UK car dealers carried out by CAP, 56% of dealers said margins had been squeezed in July compared to June. Just 7% said they had improved and 37% said there was no change.
“The pressure on retained margins doesn’t appear to be easing soon with once again 56% reporting they have been experiencing compression again since last month,” said Philip Nothard, Cap Black Book editor.
“July sees a slight rise in those respondents reporting an increase in Physical Footfall from 15% in June to 21% in July; whilst those feeling its declined dropped by -3% to 48%. In a period where over the preceding two, it’s felt tough, its positive news for those experiencing a rise in this area.
“Interestingly, unlike the physical footfall, the On-line activity hasn’t seen the equivalent level of respondents reporting an increase, with a drop from 29% in June to 23% this month.
“However, the remaining majority is reporting no noticeable change, as 40% report that it is about the same. The activities for both physical and on-line have without doubt eased since May this year,” said Nothard.
Dealers were asked to assess consumer demand in July compared to June and the majority, 51%, said it was worse, 24% said it was better and the same percentage said it was about the same.
Dealers were more positive about the availability of stock in the market with 35% saying it was better in July than the month before, 21% said it was worse and 44% said it was about the same.
Dealers expressed concern over trade prices with 52% saying they were too high, 40% saying they were about right and just 7% saying they were too low.
HPI has launched a lead management tool as the firm continues its move to expand its dealer product services.
The new Vehicle Monitor service allows dealers to track a vehicle, once it’s sold to a customer, by producing an alert if and HPI Check has been conducted.
The company said this would enable dealers to approach customers to either buy the vehicle back or sell them a new one.
HPI also said the tool would enable dealers to calculate the average financial settlement length based on the make and model of vehicle. The tool’s database management notifications will also enable dealers to save on issuing service and MoT reminders for customers who are actually thinking of selling.
“Using Vehicle Monitor’s trigger points, dealers can approach customers at a point when they are most likely to buy, creating valuable business leads,” said explains Neil Hodson, managing director for HPI.
“In addition, by harnessing the power of the HPI database to weed out any vehicles with a keeper change, written-off or reported as stolen, dealers don’t waste resources on invalid leads. They gain more opportunities to market their vehicles and encourage repeat business from existing customers.
Camelot, operator of the National Lottery, will be providing retailers who have Scratchcard only terminals the opportunity to sell tickets for National Lottery draw-based games, such as Lotto and EuroMillions, through their current terminals from early next year.
Retailers will be able to sell the expanded range of games through their current Scratchcard terminal with the installation of a small printer and a software upgrade. Camelot will be contacting all Scratchcard only retailers over the coming months with more information about the scheme.
Peter Cooper, head of retail sales at Camelot, said: “This exciting initiative will help us to satisfy ongoing strong demand for National Lottery games, and give the public even better access to them.
“It’s great news for our smaller retail partners who, possibly because of lower turnover and footfall, wouldn’t ordinarily be suitable for an Altura terminal. It gives them a fantastic opportunity to benefit from selling the full range of National Lottery games and so add further value to their businesses.”
Retailers who sign-up to sell National Lottery games through their Scratchcard terminals will continue to earn 6% commission on Scratchcard sales in addition to 5% commission on National Lottery sales.
The all-new Ford Mustang is the first vehicle to be equipped with a new type of knee airbag that is integrated within the lid of the glove box, instead of the instrument panel, preserving maximum passenger space.
Rather than a textile fabric airbag, the technology consists of an innovative moulded plastic design, sandwiched between the outer and inner glove box lid surfaces.
Just 46cm long and 28cm wide, the glove box airbag weighs 65 per cent less than a conventional knee airbag but offers comparable protection. In the event of a collision, a tiny gas generator inside the glove box lid inflates the bladder in just 20 milliseconds, pushing the lid exterior outwards to provide leg protection. Weight reduction improves fuel efficiency and the innovation has so far been granted 23 patents.
‘This is a new way of thinking about airbags. We went back to the drawing board and in the course of a year went through hundreds of prototypes to get it just right,” said Ford restraints manager Sean West. “With this design we were able to combine the functions of two separate parts into one single part to save on space, weight and components; and move the instrument panel further forward, ensuring there was more room for the front passenger.’
‘Our glove box airbag opens up a whole new world of possibilities for injection-moulded plastic airbags. The glove box airbag could be just the beginning,’ West added.
Altogether the all-new Ford Mustang is equipped with eight airbags as standard and has been awarded the highest-possible safety standard by North American authorities.
Thousands of motorists are paying a high price, in some cases driving illegally, by cutting corners when buying motor insurance according to latest figures out today from the ABI (Association of British Insurers).
ABI research shows that in 2014 insurers uncovered 212,000 attempted dishonest applications for motor insurance, up 18% on 2013 and equivalent to just over 4,000 every week.
Common lies exposed include ‘forgetting’ to disclose previous claims or unspent convictions when asked, giving a false address or post code for a lower risk area, and parents insuring in their name a vehicle being mainly driven by their son or daughter (commonly known as ‘fronting’). Last year over 1,500 reports to the Insurance Fraud Bureau’s ‘Cheatline’ related to motor insurance application fraud- nearly a quarter of the total calls received.
The ABI also warns against ‘ghost broking’ scams. These involve illegal insurance advisers selling bogus motor insurance policies, that result in the innocent motorist driving illegally without valid motor insurance, facing prosecution and having their vehicle seized and crushed. Ghost brokers may operate through professional looking websites, and in pubs, clubs, car parks and university campuses.
An illegal insurance adviser who made £65,000 selling fake car insurance was jailed for two years. Another con man, who sold worthless car insurance to Manchester students, was jailed for three years, while an illegal adviser who sold fake motor insurance to over 100 drivers in west Yorkshire was jailed for a year. And an illegal adviser already serving a jail sentence was recently ordered by the Central Criminal Court to repay over £600,000 to the 600 drivers he sold fake cover to or face further time in jail.
The Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB), who manage cross-industry, large scale ghost broker investigations, is currently dealing with 26 cases of ghost broking fraud.
ABI’s advice to help motorists get the best value and legal motor insurance deal:
Shop around. Motor insurance is a very competitive market, with insurers, comparison websites, insurance brokers all offering competitive deals that will ensure you get the right policy and the best price.
Lower your risk. The following can all help cut the cost of cover: have an approved immobiliser fitted, keep the vehicle garaged/on a driveway overnight, have a telematics-based pay as you drive policy.
Opt for a higher voluntary policy excess. The higher the amount of any claim you pay yourself, the lower the premium.
Buy your insurance from a reputable source and avoid policies sold on social media networking websites, pubs, clubs and newsagents. You can check if your policy is on the Motor Insurers’ Bureau’s Motor Insurance Database, which holds details of all vehicles insured in the UK, and check on the Financial Services Register that the insurer or broker is authorised.
Mark Allen, the ABI’s fraud and financial crime manager said,
‘Insurers recognise that innocent mistakes and oversights happen. But anyone lying to get cheaper motor insurance, or tempted by cheap insurance offers without first checking that they are genuine, risks driving illegally. The consequences include getting a criminal record and a massive financial headache if found to be at fault for a crash. The risks are just not worth it – especially when you can shop around for the right policy at the lowest price.’
‘Industry initiatives, such as the Insurance Fraud Register, MyLicence that allows insurers to check for any motoring offences, and the work of the Insurance Fraud Bureau and the Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department in tackling ghost brokers are helping to reduce the scope for insurance application fraud.’
Insurance provider RSA, has confirmed it is to withdraw fully from the personal lines broker motor market, ceasing to write new and renewal business from 1 November 2015.
The move follows the insurer in May 2014 announcing it was exiting all motor-only personal lines broker relationships. Post reported 800 brokers were axed as part of this change.
The personal lines broker motor portfolio is worth £65m premium, representing around 7% of RSA’s total motor book.
RSA currently trades with approximately 300 brokers that offer personal lines motor and home products. The insurer has now entered formal discussions with those brokers to explain its decision and talk about the next steps.
RSA reported on 6 August its personal lines motor combined operating ratio had declined to 113.6% in the first six months of the year (H1 2014: 102.7%).
Audi said it will develop batteries for electrically powered SUVs that can run more than 500km per charge.
The Volkswagen Group premium brand will get cell modules for the batteries from LG Chem and Samsung SDI, Audi said in a release on Thursday.
The South Korean suppliers will source the batteries from plants in Europe, Audi added.
Audi, Samsung SDI and LG Chem declined to give financial terms of the respective partnerships.
LG Chem’s automotive customers include General Motors, Renault Group, and Daimler, while Samsung SDI supplies electric vehicle batteries to BMW and Volkswagen brand.
As the government’s workplace pension reforms start to apply to smaller employers, it’s time to start thinking about how you can make the process as straightforward as possible.
Between now and 2018, every employer in the UK will have to offer their staff a workplace pension scheme. They’ll have to set up a pension scheme that meets certain minimum standards, automatically enrol some or all of their workers and pay contributions on their behalf.
NEST was set up by the government to make sure that every employer will have access to a scheme that meets the requirements of the new pension rules, whatever the size of their business. This means that when you need to set up a workplace pension, you’ll know that NEST is here and ready to help.
At NEST, we’ve worked hard to make setting up a workplace pension quick and straightforward. We’re run as a trust with a legal duty to do the best for our members, and this includes making things easier for employers.
NEST’s online processes make it as simple as possible to manage all the day-to-day tasks involved with pensions. We’ve designed tools to simplify technical tasks, including pre-set enrolment types and electronic member opt-outs.
NEST is free for you to use and has low charges for members. You pay nothing to start using NEST and there are no charges for ongoing administration.
It’s a great choice for your workers too. The way we look after their money is designed to provide more certainty over what they’ll get in the end. Our NEST Retirement Date Funds use a sophisticated approach of the sort generally only available in expensive corporate schemes that’s tailored for the year each member is planning to retire.
Over 20,000 employers of all sizes and from all sectors are already using NEST to meet their new duties. Having worked with so many employers we’ve learned a lot about the sorts of things they need to be on the lookout for when getting ready.
Know your staging date and start planning
Your staging date is the date that you need to start enrolling your workers into a workplace pension scheme. It’s based on the number of workers in your organisation – the more workers you have, the sooner your staging date.
Employers in the automotive aftercare industry tend to employ between 2 and 50 people. This means that most of you will need to get a workplace pension scheme in place for your workers between now and April 2017, depending on exactly how many workers you had on 1 April 2012.
If you don’t already know your staging date, find out now. You can find out from The Pensions Regulator.
Few employers in the automotive aftercare sector have any experience with workplace pensions. If you do have a plan in place, though, this is a good time to see whether it meets the standards set by auto enrolment.
You can find more information about the standards a scheme needs to meet from The Pensions Regulator’s website. Some schemes have been set up especially for the new duties. For example, because NEST was set up especially for auto enrolment it meets – or exceeds – all of these standards.
You should contact your payroll provider to check that they can support auto enrolment. NEST has been designed to work with any payroll software.
Decide your contributions
The minimum contribution is currently 2 per cent of the worker’s pay. Employers have to pay at least 1 per cent of this with the rest coming from the workers’ pay and tax relief. The minimum contribution will rise in stages to 8 per cent by 2018, of which employers will have to pay 3 per cent.
It’s worth thinking about paying extra as an incentive to keep good staff. NEST’s online functionality makes it straightforward to increase contributions at any time. Members can also manage extra contributions to their retirement pots on their own behalf so you won’t have to manage extra contributions for them.
Get all your information in order
Before you set up your scheme, you’ll need to collect and check key information about your organisation, bank account details for paying contributions, and facts and figures about individual workers. Making sure you’ve got all this up to date and close at hand will make it much easier to get set up.
NEST has produced a useful form that you can use to gather this information in one place to make the sign up process as easy as possible.
Set up processes for day-to-day management
Remember, that a workplace pension isn’t a ‘set and forget’ task. You’ll have to make sure that you’ve got processes in place to keep up with your responsibility to automatically enrol new workers and pay regular contributions.
If you pay your workers the same amount every payday, then ongoing administration will be much easier for you. For example, NEST’s systems allow you to copy over your pay information every time you create a contribution schedule. If you need to add overtime for particular workers, you can do it quickly using standard software like Microsoft Excel. This can massively simplify your day-to-day management.
If you’re concerned about the amount of time it might take you to look after a pension scheme, then NEST makes it easy to get help. Accountants, payroll providers and financial advisers using NEST Connect can take over some or all the tasks involved with setting up and using NEST. Ask your service providers if they’ve signed up for NEST Connect.
The thousands of employers that are already using NEST feel good about their workplace pension. It’s quick and straightforward to set up, free to use and is good for their staff. Find out how you can join them.
Find out more
© NEST Corporation 2015. All rights reserved. This information doesn’t constitute financial, investment or professional advice. We don’t make any personal recommendation or give advice to employers, their workers or advisers on how to make investment decisions. If you’re considering using NEST might want to consider seeking advice from a qualified professional. The NEST trademarks and trade names used above are owned by NEST Corporation and should not be used in any way without our permission.
Police are urging motorists to THINK! bike as part of an August safety campaign
Throughout this month, the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Road Policing Unit has been running a motorcycle safety campaign, encouraging road users to THINK! bike.
Because motorcyclists are some of the most vulnerable road users, it’s monumental that all motorists are aware of risks, as well as knowing how to prevent them.
Seven motorcyclists were killed on Hertfordshire’s roads last year, so police are reminding drivers to stay vigilant by making sure they look out for motorbikes to help prevent collisions.
Inspector Mark Rogers from the road policing unit said: “Although motorcyclists are responsible for their own safety we can only reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries if other motorists play their part.
“Unfortunately motorcyclists remain extremely vulnerable road users and it is vital that motorists remain alert and aware of who they are sharing the road with. This is particularly important when approaching bends and junctions,” he continued.
“We will be targeting those riders and drivers whose poor driving puts them and others at risk throughout August, using unmarked police vehicles to target those riders and drivers breaking the law.”
To avoid a collision with a motorcyclist, drivers should always stay alert, look properly, not get distracted, take their time and THINK! bike.
If you want to take your road safety to the next level, you can sign up to the BikeSafe scheme, which is a motorcycle project run by most police forces throughout the nation.
Two companies – Always Enjoyable Limited and Living Creative Limited – which produced a magazine on behalf of the Federation of British Police Motor Clubs (FBPMC) – have been wound up in the High Court for misleading advertisers.
The winding up follows an investigation by the Insolvency Service.
The court heard the companies, under their previous names of Mode Design and Branding Limited and Mode Design and Printing Limited, respectively, sold advertising space in ‘Overdrive’, a magazine affiliated to the FBPMC which they were supposed to publish on a quarterly basis.
However, the Insolvency Service’s evidence showed that Always Enjoyable had recklessly misled customers and used high pressure sales techniques in order to achieve advertising sales. In particular, the company:
misled customers to believe that it was affiliated with the police and/or the emergency services,
misled customers and potential customers into believing that someone within their business had previously agreed to advertise with the company in order to agree a sale and,
misled customers as to circulation, readership and regional aspect of the distribution of the “Overdrive” publication.
The Court also heard that there was little or no commercial benefit to the advertisers.
Living Creative Limited continued the trading model adopted by Always Enjoyable, also had a lack of commercial benefit to advertisers and was the third company, following on from Always Enjoyable and Mode PR (UK) Limited (now in liquidation), which utilised the trading model.
Commenting on the case, Alex Deane, an Investigation Supervisor with the Insolvency Service, said:
This company took substantial sums of money from businesses for services which were of little or no commercial benefit and through misleading sales practices. Those responsible should be aware that the Insolvency Service can and will take firm action against companies which operate in this manner.
The average price of diesel has fallen below 113p per litre for the first time since January 2010, according to the information group Experian Catalist.
In the last week, supermarkets have cut prices by between 2p and 4p per litre.
Last month, diesel became, on average, cheaper than petrol for the first time since July 2001.
Petrol has also fallen in price this week, hitting 115.24p per litre on average, its lowest level for three months.
Lower fuel prices have followed the falls in the price of oil.
This month, the price of a barrel of Brent Crude oil fell below $50 (£32) for the first time since January this year.
David Hunter, an energy industry analyst with Schneider Electric, told BBC Radio 5 live’s Wake Up to Money programme that “faltering economic growth in resource-hungry countries like China is keeping a lid on demand for oil, while on the other hand there is a supply glut”.
The International Energy Agency said that oil demand around the world is expanding at its fastest pace in five years thanks to rebounding economic growth and low prices, but global oversupply will last through to 2016.
How low can they go?
Petrol averaged 106.4p per litre at the beginning of February, after the previous low levels in oil prices.
“The biggest factor for the future path of fuel prices remains the crude oil price – if it continues to fall, and sterling holds its value against the dollar, then further reductions at the pumps are possible,” Mr Hunter said.
Diesel had been more expensive than petrol in the UK for 14 years, but its price is now falling more quickly than petrol.
Mr Hunter added: “Recently, Saudi Arabia has ramped up production of ultra-low sulphur diesel for export to Europe – resulting in steeper falls for diesel than petrol.”
James Hookham, deputy chief executive of the Freight Transport Association, said the drop in prices may not last.
“We must highlight there is nothing sinister going on and prices could go up as quickly as they are falling,” he said. “It is a very volatile market.”
DRIVING AN ELECTRIC car has a lot of upsides: A quiet, smooth ride. Tons of torque for great acceleration. No gas to buy, access to the HOV lane, and that warm, fuzzy feeling you get knowing you aren’t burning fossil fuels.
But charging the damn thing sure can be a pain. If you want to plug in anywhere but your garage, you’ve got to there’s a charger wherever you’re going, and hope someone isn’t using it when you need to (fat chance).
That just got a whole lot easier for people who drive their Nissan Leaf, Tesla Model S, or Fiat 500e to work at LinkedIn every day. The company is providing EV chargers on wheels, an interesting idea that eliminates two things that make charging such a hassle.
The first is infrastructure. There are some 26,000 charging stations in the US today. There would be a lot more if installing them didn’t require the expense and annoyance of tearing up concrete, stringing lines, and getting all the right permits. And then there’s the risk of going to all that trouble and having too few drivers plug in to make it worth the effort.
The second is the fact chargers would be a whole lot more useful if the cars using them moved on as soon as they were charged. Too often, they just sit there, because the person is off working or shopping or doing whatever.
The Mobi Charger solves both problems. The gadget, made by a Bay Area startup called Freewire, resembles a bulked-up ice cream cart packing 48 kWh of juice instead of Fudgsicles. It can charge a car in as little as 30 minutes, and works with any plug that isn’t a Tesla plug. (Sorry, Model S drivers. Blame Elon for insisting on a proprietary plug.) And bringing the eco-thing full circle, the Mobi cart uses batteries pulled from old electric cars—Freewire’s getting them from Nissan for the moment, and is talking to BMW and GM.