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SME output grows at fastest rate for 7 years

Output among small and medium-sized manufacturers grew at the fastest pace in 7 years as demand for exports remained strong in Q2 2017.

Out of 364 businesses polled for the SME trends quarterly survey, 38% reported an increase in total new orders in the 3 months to 31 July 2017.

36% also said the volume of orders grew at a strong pace, with export orders growing at the highest rate since April 2011.

Furthermore, 28% of SMEs took on more staff in Q2 2017 and intend to continue recruiting in the next quarter. 

Overall, 19% of firms were optimistic about the general business situation compared to 3 months ago and 22% are more confident on their export prospects for the next 12 months.

Alpesh Paleja, principle economist at the Confederation of British Industry, said:

“Firms are clearly in an exporting sweet spot, able to exploit the competitiveness gains from a low exchange rate and a firm global backdrop.

“But the boost from a lower exchange rate will fade over time, so maintaining frictionless and tariff-free trade routes with the EU will be critical for future exporting success.”

Talk to us about exporting for your business.

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Businesses prepare for data protection regulation

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) is urging businesses to prepare for the General Data Protection Regulation, which comes into force from 25 May 2018.

All businesses holding personal data will need to make sure their procedures are fit for purpose and compliant with the new rules.

Legislation will impact UK businesses post-Brexit, and if found non-compliant may result in potential fines of up to €20 million – or 4% of annual global turnover.

BCC has issued the following steps to its members:

  • organise personal data the company holds, where it’s sourced from and who it is shared with
  • review privacy notices and plan for changes before the new law comes into force
  • review the process of seeking and obtaining records consent from individuals
  • ensure procedures are in place to detect, report and investigate personal data breaches
  • designate a Data Protection Officer (if needed) to take responsibility for data protection compliance.

David Riches, executive director at BCC, said:

“The General Data Protection Regulation is intended to reflect modern working practices in the digital age and will strengthen consumer trust and confidence in businesses. 

 “With 12 months to go, there are procedures businesses should be reviewing to determine what changes may need to be introduced to be compliant. 

“Businesses that are already vigilant about their data protection responsibilities won’t be unduly burdened by the new legislation.”

Talk us about how these changes may affect your business.

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FSB issues cybercrime warning

Small businesses are being urged to take steps to protect themselves from the threat of ransomware attacks after hackers targeted the NHS earlier this month.

Research from the Federation for Small Business (FSB) claims 7 million cybercrimes are committed against SMEs in the UK every year, equating to more than 19,000 a day.

FSB figures show the average cybercrime incident costs a small company £3,000 and takes 2.2 days to recover from.

Dave Stallon, commercial director at FSB, said:

"We are raising the alarm. It is vital small businesses and the self-employed prioritise this - and they do it today.

"These businesses have limited resources, time and expertise to deal with the current and growing cybercrime threat but there is assistance available. They should follow our guidance - and do it now."

Mike Cherry, FSB chairman, added:

"We are urging all small businesses to take steps to reduce the risk of an attack.

"Businesses should immediately check for updates to their operating systems and anti-malware software and download them where needed.

"We advise small firms to make sure their data is backed up - if the worst happens, data cannot then be held to ransom."

Contact us to discuss protecting your business.