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News Round-up: SMEs lead the way in closing gender gap, late payment measures welcomed, PayPal hits £1 billion in SME lending

Here are the week’s main news stories in the world of small business and e-payments:

FSB urges government action for struggling small businesses

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has welcomed the announcement in the 2019 Spring Statement of the first measure to tackle the issue of late payments to small businesses – to make a non-executive director responsible for the supply chain through the audit committee of every large business, and to report back through the annual report on their progress. Cherry said the measure means the end of late payments “could finally be in sight”. The FSB previously called for UK chancellor Philip Hammond to help the small business community that is subject to Brexit uncertainty, business rates hikes, pension contribution increases, Making Tax Digital (MTD) for VAT and the late payment crisis.

Smaller companies lead the way in closing gender pay gap

The UK’s smaller employers are leading the way in closing the gender pay gap, according to analysis by payroll and HR services provider Moorepay. Data from the government’s Gender Pay Gap Service shows that women employed by SMEs earn 87.6p for every £1 earned by men. This compares to 85.31p earned by women working at larger companies. While this disparity is still an area for concern, the pay gap at the UK’s smaller employers is also closing faster than at larger firms. Companies employing 250-499 staff have cut their gender pay gap by 2.35 per cent compared to 2017, based on gender pay data submitted so far for 2018, while companies with 5,000-19,999 employees have closed their gender pay gap by just 0.41 per cent.

PayPal UK small business lending passes £1 billion

PayPal announced it has provided £1 billion of finance to UK small businesses through PayPal Working Capital. The alternative finance offering allows UK small businesses to apply for, and receive, a cash advance against future sales online in minutes. The total amount advanced through PayPal Working Capital increased by 60 per cent from £625 million to £1 billion in 2018. This increase comes as UK government figures show that traditional bank lending to small businesses remains flat. Over 37,000 British businesses have now benefited from PayPal Working Capital since its UK launch in 2014.

Almost a third of SME manufacturers ‘moving supplier base from EU to UK’

The challenging economic and industrial climate is pushing UK manufacturers to move their supplier base out of the EU and invest precious cash reserves in stockpiling raw materials. According to the latest UK SME Manufacturing Barometer by SWMAS and partner Economic Growth Solutions, while actual and forecast performance both show a slight recovery from the previous quarter, the number of SME manufacturers reporting an increase in turnover, profits, staffing and investment in new machinery and premises are all down compared to the same period in 2017.

UK banks launch small-business hubs

Natwest,Lloyds Bank and Barclays have unveiled plans for joint business hubs amid fears small firms are being hit by branch closures. The pilot will see six business banking hubs launched across the UK, which will allow business customers of all three banks to pay in large volumes of coins, notes and cheques and complete cash exchange transactions. The total number of UK bank branches has fallen from 11,365 in 2007 to 7,207, according to a parliamentary review last year. The Banking Standards Boards recently said small businesses were being damaged by branch closures and urged banks to collaborate.

Assetz Capital agrees SME funding partnership

Peer-to-peer lending and investment platform Assetz Capital has partnered with German private bank Varengold Bank to provide funding to UK SME borrowers. The partnership brings additional institutional funding to further support the strong growth in lending by Assetz Capital as the UK comes through the Brexit process and beyond. "This new institutional funding relationship further enhances the potential scale of our lending to the businesses that we support,” said Assetz Capital chief executive Stuart Law.

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News Round-up: SMEs lead the way in closing gender gap, late payment measures welcomed, PayPal hits £1 billion in SME lending
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