National SME winners revealed at Business Champion Awards 2023 finale

National SME winners revealed at Business Champion Awards 2023 finale

A glittering night of celebration for the UK’s 140 finalists of the Business Champion Awards.

Over 300 guests filled the East Wintergardens in London’s Canary Wharf and were hosted again by the nation’s favourite broadcaster, Huw Edward’s, the evening’s guests were treated to a night of champagne, music, laughter and thought provoking speeches.

Jamie Waller accepted the Lifetime Achievement Award on behalf of His Majesty King Charles III and The Prince’s Trust. He spoke, saying that if the King himself had been present he would wish to recognise the hard work his dedicated team have done in helping his vision come to life, maintaining it to the point where, today, over one million young people have received support and much needed belief.

The audience then listened in awe to the three guests that Jamies invited on stage with him, all of whom had been believed in and helped by The Prince’s Trust. Each person had experienced incredible hardship from different means – bullying, domestic violence and addiction. Brenda Beverley, Rebecca Beattie and Duane Jackson, spoke strongly about what the support had meant to them and how they had used the support of The Prince’s Trust to turn adversity into an … Read More

Accenture cuts 19,000 jobs on slowdown fears

Accenture cuts 19,000 jobs on slowdown fears

Accenture has announced plans to cut 19,000 jobs, about 2.5 per cent of its workforce, as corporate clients grow increasingly cautious about the strength of the global economy.

The business, one of the world’s biggest consultancy groups, follows others in the sector in implementing sweeping layoffs after lowering its annual forecast of sales and profits.

McKinsey is cutting up to 2,000 jobs in its 45,000 workforce, while KPMG is shedding almost 700 posts in its US advisory business and about 200 in Australia — about 2 per cent of its total in each country.

Only 16 months ago Accenture pledged to create 3,000 tech jobs in the UK, half of them outside of London, over three years. A spokesman for Accenture said this commitment still stood.

The firm, which has 738,000 employees, embarked on a recruitment spree as it enjoyed robust demand for tech advice from large companies. In three years its workforce has grown by about 229,000 people.

Accenture estimates that the planned job reductions will cost a total of $1.5 billion this year and next. It is braced to spend $1.2 billion on severance payouts and $300 million on the “consolidation of office space”.

Accenture said: “While we … Read More

Only 1% of £1.1bn lost in Covid business scheme recovered

Only 1% of £1.1bn lost in Covid business scheme recovered

Just 1% of the estimated £1.1bn lost from the government’s Covid business support programme in England as a result of fraud and error has been recovered so far, the public spending watchdog has said in a report urging ministers to learn lessons from the scheme.

The “overwhelming majority” of fraud and error occurred during the initial incarnation of the grant scheme launched in March 2020, which did not require prepayment checks, the National Audit Office (NAO) said in its report on the rushed-through efforts.

The total of £1.1bn lost in grants amounted to just under 5% of the total for the scheme, according to business department statistics. The latest figures of retrieved money, collated by the newly renamed Department for Business and Trade (DBT) and cited by the NAO, showed that only £11.4m of that has been recovered – 1% of the amount lost.

The report sets out the sheer speed at which the eight separate grant schemes for businesses, administered by local authorities, were developed and launched, noting that the business department was only asked by the Treasury in late February to examine how such a system might work.

The first version began from 11 March, with a second … Read More

Ten construction firms fined total £60m for ‘illegally colluding’ on contract bids

Ten construction firms fined total £60m for ‘illegally colluding’ on contract bids

Ten construction firms have been fined a combined £60m by the competition regulator for “illegally colluding” to rig bids for lucrative contracts for projects including Bow Street magistrates court and Selfridges department store.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) found that the companies had acted as a cartel over 19 private and public sector contracts that were worth a total of £150m.

The contracts were found to have been rigged between 2013 and 2018 using a tactic known as “cover bidding”, the regulator said.

Cover bidding involves companies conspiring to assist each other in winning contracts by submitting a substandard or overpriced tender that gives the false impression of competition while ensuring that the rival bid will win.

The losing bidder can then return the favour on a different contract. The practice can result in customers, such as the public sector, overpaying or receiving lower-quality services, the CMA said.

Ten companies in the demolition and the asbestos services trade were involved in the cartel, said the CMA, naming Keltbray, Brown and Mason, Cantillon, Clifford Devlin, DSM Demolition, Erith Contractors, John F Hunt, McGee, TE Scudder and Squibb.

Five of them were found to have entered into arrangements whereby the company … Read More

Retail sales rise 1.2% as households eat at home more

Retail sales rise 1.2% as households eat at home more

Retail sales volumes beat expectations to rise by their biggest margin in months to return to pre-pandemic levels in February.

Sales rose by 1.2 per cent in February, the largest monthly growth since October, after a revised 0.9 per cent rise in January, according to new figures published by the Office for National Statistics.

Strong sales in discount department stores pushed up non-food sales by 2.4 per cent and food sales rose 0.9 per cent as cost of living pressures prompted shoppers to cut down on eating at restaurants and instead buy more food to eat at home.

Sales volumes, however, fell in the three months to February compared with the previous three-month period and remain 3.5 per cent lower than in February last year.

City economists had predicted a 0.2 per cent rise in sales in February, which would have represented a decline of 4.7 per cent compared with the same period in 2022.

The volume of sales has followed a general trend of decline since summer 2021 but the value of sales has risen as inflation remains close to its highest level in decades.

Inflation is thought to have peaked at 11.1 per cent last October,its highest level … Read More