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Business confidence at 12-year low
Confidence among employers has fallen to its lowest level since 1996, according to the Institute of Directors. Taken in conjunction with a report by the Ernst & Young Item Club, which forecast growth of just 1% in 2009, the news is gloomy reading for business owners hoping to avoid recession. ... more

Call for Equitable Life payout
The government should compensate Equitable Life policyholders who were hit by the pension provider’s near-collapse in 2000, which left thousands of people with reduced savings for retirement. The Parliamentary Ombudsman accused various government regulators of failing to use the powers that were available to them to safeguard the assets of policyholders. ... more

High street retail sales down
High street retail sales suffered in June as the impact of the credit crunch and unpredictable weather kept customers away from stores, the British Retail Consortium claims. The body said retailers had been unable to retain the surprise rise in sales that had been seen in May, and attributed that to a seasonal blip. ... more

Firms told to cut water waste
Businesses are being warned they face increased water bills if they fail to cut down on the amount they waste every day. Water bills have risen by an average of 18% over the past five years but government body Envirowise is encouraging firms to reduce the amount they waste if they want to avoid even more expensive bills in the future. ... more

Warning on extended maternity leave
Extending maternity leave to a year could adversely affect women’s career prospects, the chief executive of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission has warned. Nicola Brewer warned that employers would be wary of recruiting women of childbearing age or offering them promotion to more senior roles if they thought they might disappear for a year on maternity leave. ... more

FSB backs local VAT plans
The Federation of Small Businesses has welcomed plans by the European Commission to allow VAT cuts on labour intensive and locally provided services. The move will allow national governments to cut tax in areas such as housing, domestic care services, personal care, gardening and restaurants. ... more

Franchise firm lands BFA backing
Web design company eBusiness UK has become the first company in its field to be awarded membership of the British Franchise Association (BFA). The company established its franchise model in 2007 and currently boasts operations in Edinburgh and Glasgow, with others in the pipeline. ... more

Firms warned on driving risks
Company owners are being urged to provide staff with kit to help them drive more safely and educate them about the need to drive sensibly on work trips. Andrew McGavin, the founder of, which contains details of reported incidents of dangerous driving, is warning that fewer than half of all business owners have policies in place to protect their employees and themselves ... more

New guidance on tackling stress
New guidance on how managers can prevent and reduce stress in the workplace has been released by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Investors in People (IIP). The research is part of a three-year project to identify how companies can tackle stress at work and sets out a 12-point competency framework including acting with integr... more

Recruiters blast interview technique
Over 40% of recruiters were dissatisfied with their own interview process when they got their current job, according to an industry survey by Perriam & Everett. The survey found that over a third were looking for more structure at the interview stage, with one respondent saying: “Get over the chat over a cup of coffee; put me through my paces.” ... more

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