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Peak-rate phone firms named
Consumer group Which? has published a list of businesses and government departments it claims are profiting from forcing customers to call peak-rate helplines. The body claims more than 30 bodies make money from using 0870, 0871, 0844 and 0845 numbers, many of which keep customers on hold for long periods of time. ... more

Company car fuel rate rise
Businesses that provide staff with company cars for work purposes will have to reimburse employees with higher fuel costs. HMRC has increased the rate for petrol cars by between 9% and 15%, depending on the engine size, while diesel drivers will be able to claim back between 18% and 21% more. ... more

Business carrier ceases flights
UK business airline Silverjet has suspended all flights as it struggles to cope with falling customer demand and rising fuel costs. Shares in the company were suspended in May and the cessation of flights follows the failure to secure new funding. ... more

Small firms lead flexible working
Small companies have a better record of accepting requests for flexible working than larger ones, according to the government’s Walsh Review. Statistics from the British Chamber of Commerce revealed that 89% of small firms already offer some form of flexible working to employees, ranging from working from home, part-time work, compressed hours or flexi-time. ... more

New law to enforce fair trade
A new law against dodgy business operators has come into force, obliging all companies to trade fairly. The move outlaws practices such as false closing-down sales to misleading claims by salespeople, specifically banning 31 practices. ... more

Services sector at seven-year low
Companies in the services sector have experienced their toughest quarter since 2001 in the last three months, according to research by the CBI. The organisation revealed that only travel companies had seen an uptake in activity with restaurants, pubs, cinemas and other entertainment venues witnessing a slump in sales. ... more

Apprentice star sparks degree interest
Aston Business School (ABS) in Birmingham has reported a 27% increase in the number of applications to a course attended by one of the stars of the current series of The Apprentice. Alex Wotherspoon completed the BSc in management and strategy (MAS) course at ABS in 2005 but the university believes his success on the show, which features Sir Alan Sugar’s hunt for a new recruit, is behind the... more

Offshoring creating IT skills gap
Junior IT staff have seen pay levels and job prospects stagnate because of the trend by companies to relocate services to India, research by the Association of Technology Staffing Companies (ATSCO) claims. The organisation’s research suggests annual salaries in the most junior positions have not risen for the past five years as people have been put off entering the trade due to the competitio... more

Faster bank transactions scheme
A new scheme promising faster bank transfers for telephone and internet transactions has gone live. The £300m Faster Payments Service has been developed by 13 banks and will allow customers to make one-off payments of up to £10,000 that will leave the account and reach the destination account on the same day. ... more

Pension life expectancy up
Many UK companies now assume future male pensioners will live until the age of 87, an increase of one year since 2006, according to research by accountancy firm KPMG. The assumed life expectancy has risen steadily from 83 in 2004, but KPMG warned that the Pensions Regulator wants employers and pension schemes to work on the basis that men will reach 89. ... more

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