Ed Miliband Vows to Cut Business Rates

Ed Miliband Vows to Cut Business Rates for Small Business
Ed Miliband is to pledge to help about 1.5 million small businesses in England by reversing a planned business rates rise if Labour wins the next election. The move would be paid for by reversing a planned UK-wide cut in corporation tax for “big business” in 2015. The Labour leader is due to make the policy pledge in his keynote speech to his party’s annual conference in Brighton later.

The Institute of Directors said Mr Miliband was “tinkering at the edges”.

The Conservatives said it was “yet more economic incompetence from the same Labour politicians who got us into a mess”.

Building on his vision of a One Nation Labour Party, set out in his conference speech last year, Mr Miliband will push the case for an economy based on higher skills and wages – and the “dynamism” of small business. He will tell Labour activists: “David Cameron talks about Britain being in a global race. But what he doesn’t tell you is that he thinks the only way Britain can win is for you to lose. He will say that means “the lowest wages, the worst terms and conditions, and the fewest rights at work – a race to the bottom”, adding: “The only way we can win is in a race to the top.”

He will pledge to take action on what he has called Britain’s “cost of living crisis”, setting out an alternative vision of Britain’s economy to that pursued by the Conservatives.

“Too many of the jobs we’re creating in this country are just too low paid, too many of the gains in our economy are just scooped up by the privileged few, including those big bonuses, and too often you are left being charged over the odds. “They used to say ‘a rising tide lifts all boats’. Now the rising tide just seems to lift yachts.”

Mr Miliband will also use the speech to outline what aides call “a roadmap” to tackle the housing crisis by building a new generation of new towns.

Business rates are due to rise in April 2015. If a Labour government came to power in May 2015, it would immediately reverse that rise for small firms so their rates fell back to 2014 levels. That rate would then be frozen for 2016.

The move would apply automatically only to businesses in England, but money would be given to the devolved governments in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland so they could follow suit.

Labour says House of Commons Library figures show this “effective tax cut” would cost £250m in 2015/16 and £540m in 2016/17.

Up to 1.5 million businesses with properties worth an annual rent of £50,000 or less would benefit, Labour believes. The party claims this would save small businesses, such as pubs, shops and hi-tech start-ups, an average of nearly £450 over two years, with some firms saving £2,000. The party says it would pay for this by reversing a planned cut in corporation tax from 21% to 20% which is due to come into force in April 2015. It claims this would save the Treasury £340m in 2015/16 and £785m in 2016/17. It says this “effective tax rise” would affect 80,000 large firms.   If the corporation tax cut raised more money than expected, any cash left over would be used to cut business rates further, say Mr Miliband’s aides. The corporation tax change would affect the whole of the UK.

Labour aides said that while small businesses had seen their rates rise in recent years, big businesses had seen their corporation taxes fall by £6bn since 2010.

BBC political editor Nick Robinson said Mr Miliband wanted the proposal to show he was “on the side of the small guy”.

But the Institute of Directors said it would apply only to very small firms that had commercial premises with an annual rental value of £50,000. The business lobby group also expressed concern that even a small rise in corporation tax would send the wrong signal to potential foreign investors.

The director general of the CBI, John Cridland said cutting corporation tax was “one of the coalition’s greatest achievements, sending a clear signal internationally that the UK is open for business”. He said it would make more sense to overhaul the business rate system to create a tax system “that works for all firms – large and small”.

In recent days, the opposition has announced a series of initiatives intended to relieve what it says is the continuing squeeze on low- and middle-income families, including more free childcare and a commitment to “strengthen” the minimum wage. But delegates passed a motion on Monday calling on the Labour leadership to reverse its support for the coalition’s 1% cap on public sector pay rises.

Ahead of Mr Miliband’s speech, former minister David Lammy warned the party had lost momentum over recent months and it could not win the next election unless it improved its economic credibility. But Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman told the BBC that the momentum was with Labour. “Since 2010 when we lost the general election, we have won 1,950 new council seats all around the country,” she said. “And if you look at party membership, which has been on a long trajectory of falling across all the political parties, since Ed Miliband became leader we have increased our membership by 14%. Whereas with David Cameron, his party membership has fallen by 40%.”

Business Minister Matthew Hancock said: “Ed Miliband is calling for a tax rise on business that would cost jobs. “And because he would reverse our planning reforms, the only way Ed Miliband could deliver his promise to build more houses is to spend more and borrow more. “Tax rises on businesses and the same old Labour policy of more borrowing and more debt would undermine the recovery. And it’s hardworking people who would pay the price with their jobs, higher taxes and higher mortgage rates.”

Tesco Launch Low Cost Tablet

Tesco Launches Hudl Tablet
Tesco tablet expected on 23 September – and may be very low-priced, Analyst forecasts £99 price point as tablet market in UK set for growth of more than 50%.

Tesco will unveil a new device – expected to be a low-priced own-brand entry into the tablet market – on 23 September. It has sent out invitations using the phrase “We’ve got something to show you” and using Tesco’s new “Hudl” trademark.

Ben Wood, mobile analyst with research firm CCS Insight, suggested that Tesco might try to price the device, expected to have a 7in screen, at £99. “Obviously it’ll be Android, probably 16GB and attempting to hit the £99 price point, in my mind that will have to be the price,” Wood told the Guardian.

Tesco might be able to hit the £99 price using a cash back-style promotion, Wood suggests: “I can see Tesco using substantial discounts on other services such as bundled media from Blinkbox, or vouchers for discounts on petrol or groceries through its ClubCard loyalty scheme.”

The tablet would take on competitors from the likes of Apple, Google and Amazon, and will be tailored to online shopping and video viewing – both areas where Tesco is looking to capitalise on its position. Wood said: “the tablet market is unbelievably competitive with extremely narrow margins, but that’s something Tesco is used to.” The 8GB Amazon Kindle Fire costs £99 from Amazon, while Google’s newest Nexus 7 costs £199 for the 16GB model, while a 16GB version of Apple’s iPad mini currently costs £269.

The tablet market within the UK has exploded in the last few years, with tablet sales dominating the run up to Christmas. CCS Insight says that 8.3m tablets were sold in the UK in 2012, with more than half of sales coming in the last quarter of the year alone. The UK was Europe’s biggest tablet market.

Almost 6m tablets were sold in the first half of 2013, and demand is expected to accelerate into Christmas. A September launch would put Tesco’s tablet device in prime spot for the Christmas sales, although price is likely to be a key issue, Wood said.

Sources have previously indicated that Tesco’s device will be a 7-inch device made by a Chinese manufacturer, and compete directly with Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD and Google’s Nexus 7. It would probably also include quick access to the Tesco-owned Blinkbox video-on-demand service, and Tesco’s online shopping services.

Tesco applied for a trademark in February for the Hudl name to cover a wide range of goods, including tablets and accessories. The anticipated announcement, set for 23 September, follows a move to withdraw consumer electronics sales from Tesco stores, after the retailer’s chief executive Philip Clarke said that it would be scaling back on sales of products such as flat-screen TVs, as they “quite frankly take up a lot of space and [don’t] take a lot of money.”

Microsoft IE Browser Bug

Microsoft Releases Fix for ‘Zero Day’ IE Browser Bug
Microsoft has released a temporary patch to fix a “zero-day”, or previously unknown, vulnerability in its Internet Explorer (IE) web browser. The software giant said the bug, which relates to the browser’s memory, could affect all versions of IE6 to 10. Attackers could set up websites specifically designed to exploit the vulnerability, Microsoft said, and then run malicious code on users’ computers.

Targeted attacks directed at IE8 and 9 had already been reported, it said. “This is a serious vulnerability potentially affecting millions of Windows computers,” Dana Tamir, director at security company Trusteer, told the BBC. “Hackers are already exploiting this so I hope Microsoft produces a full patch within a few days,” she said.

In a blog post, Microsoft’s Dustin Childs advised concerned users to set internet and local security zone settings to “high” to block ActiveX controls and active scripting. He also recommended changing IE settings to prompt users before running active scripting. But doing this “may affect usability”, he said, so users should add sites they trust, and visit often, to the IE trusted sites zone.

Microsoft’s Fix It patch applies only to 32-bit versions of IE. It is not being rolled out automatically and is not intended to be a replacement for scheduled security updates, the company said. “This temporary workaround is like applying a Band-Aid to a wound,” said Ms Tamir.

Last week, Microsoft admitted that it had been forced to rewrite four of its security updates just three days after they had been issued. Customers had reported receiving repeated demands to install the updates even after they had already done so.

APT Sound Testing

Working with APT Sound Testing
Direct Submit are pleased to be working with a UK company specialising in air and sound testing for buildings. If you have a new-build or a conversion, it is now a requirement of Part E of Building Regulations that you, as a developer or self-builder, provide adequate sound insulation between dwellings and demonstrate compliance through sound testing.

Direct Submit will be working with APT Sound Testing to help promote their website and business across the Internet.


Ofcom: Piracy Accounts for One in Four Downloads

Ofcom: Piracy Accounts for One in Four Downloads
Almost a quarter of downloads in the UK infringe copyright, according to a study prepared for regulators. Just 2% of UK internet users accounted for almost three-quarters of online piracy over a year, the report Ofcom indicated.

A small number of the most prolific pirates accessed “vast amounts” of infringing content, it said.

It also said pirates spent more on legal downloading and streaming than those who never access illegal content.

A small minority of UK internet users illegally downloaded and streamed music, films, games, TV programmes and computer software between May 2012 and May 2013, according to the study undertaken for Ofcom by Kantar Media. The company processed 21,475 responses to four surveys over the year to research the report.

Films tended to be the most consumed type of pirated content – 35% of the total number of films viewed online infringed copyright.

A passion for particular music, films, games, TV programmes or computer software tended to be the driving force behind both the legal and illegal consumption of content. Pirates were prolific consumers of legal digital content, on average spending £26 every three months compared with £16 spent by non-infringers.

The highest volume infringers tended to justify their actions by saying that they had already spent enough on content, and that legal content was too expensive. The top 20% of infringers were more likely than other pirates to have streamed content outside of their home networks, or used mobile technology for illegal downloads, making enforcement complex, said the study.

Only a quarter of the people who consumed the most illegal content said they would stop if they thought they might be sued, and one in five said they would stop if they received a letter from their internet service provider (ISP) telling them that their account had been used for copyright infringement.

Fall in UK Unemployment Rate

Fall in UK Unemployment Rate – Drops to 7.7%
The rate of unemployment in the UK dropped to 7.7% between May and July from 7.8% in the previous three months. The governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, has said that interest rates are unlikely to be raised before the rate falls to 7%.

The number of people unemployed fell 24,000 in the period to 2.49 million.

The official figures also showed the number of people claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance fell 32,600 to 1.40 million, its lowest level since February 2009.

“It’s another set of impressive figures on the job market with positive signs on all three main indicators,” said Victoria Clarke at Investec. “It suggests the jobs market is recovering, much like the broader economy.” “It reinforces our view that unemployment will come down to 7% more quickly than the Bank of England expects.” Mr Carney said he expected the fall to 7% to take at least three years.

Average pay rose by 1.1% compared with the same time last year, which is well below the 2.8% rate at which prices are rising.

Amazon Matchbook offer Bundles Print and ebooks

Amazon Matchbook offer Bundles Print and ebooks
Amazon has announced plans to offer buyers of printed books a copy of the text in digital form for free or at a discounted price. Its Matchbook scheme will apply retroactively to any title bought from the store since it opened in 1995. At present the offer is only being publicised on the firm’s US website.

Analysts agree it is likely to be expanded to others countries but are split over how significant an offer it will prove to be.

Amazon said the programme would launch in October and would include more than 10,000 titles. Publishers involved include Harper Collins and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. The retailer said it was now urging other authors and publishers to enrol. The company launched its Autrorip service, which allows people to get MP3 versions of CDs or records they have bought, in Europe in June, about half a year after the US.

One expert said the latest move could overcome some shoppers’ concerns about ebooks. “The problem with digital content, as people are just twigging, is that you don’t own it, you just license it – you’re renting it effectively,” said Neill Denny, an independent book industry commentator. “So, to have both a physical copy and an ebook is quite an attractive proposition. And weirdly it might help print, because by bundling the content it locks the analogue to the successful digital model in a way that publishers have been struggling to find.”

However, Philip Jones, editor of trade publication the Bookseller magazine, was less enthusiastic.

“I’m sceptical about whether the reader actually wants it,” he told the BBC. “As far as I can tell most people read in one format, so they choose print or they choose digital and it’s quite rare that they read both. “However, I can see there would be advantages for students or for people who have particularly weighty hardbacks that they’d like to read in print form at home and then as an e-book on the road.”

Amazon said that Matchbook would offer digital versions of titles for prices ranging between $2.99 (£1.92) to free. “In addition to being a great new benefit for customers, this is an easy choice for publishers and authors who will now be able to earn more from each book they publish,” said Russ Grandinetti, vice president of Kindle Content.

The firm has also announced a new version of its bestselling Kindle Paperwhite e-reader, which is being made available outside the US.

Amazon says the second version of its Kindle Paperwhite has a 25% faster processor. The company said the latest version would turn pages faster and had a better front-light than the previous model.

Amazon’s chief executive Jeff Bezos told the BBC last year that his firm made no profit on Kindle hardware. Instead it aims to ensure shoppers come to its site to buy compatible ebooks and other goods from which it does make money.

The wi-fi version of the new Paperwhite retains the previous £109 price tag as its predecessor, making it £11 cheaper than Kobo’s Aura but still £40 more expensive than Barnes & Noble’s Nook Simple Touch Glowlight.

According to tech analysis firm Gartner, e-reader sales are expected to fall from 17.9 million units sold worldwide last year to 16.1 million in 2013 because many shoppers are instead preferring to buy tablet computers.