Archives for posts with tag: Business

uSwitch research has revealed that over half of us are ashamed of our local high street. As the government calls on Mary Portas to revive Britain’s high street, we reveal how each region feels about its local town center:

Region Proud of local town centre          
East of England






North East


North West


South East


South West


What do you think of your local highstreet? Do you have suggestions for the government and Mary Portas or does your community takes real pride in your local shops? Leave your comments below and get discussing!


Image via Mike Cattell

Olaf Garvey, Commercial Manager for, adds up how much the 5p rise in the cost of stamps earlier this month would cost us here at uSwitch

As you may or may not be aware, the post office has increased the cost of stamps, effective as of the 4th of April 2011. The headline increases being 41p to 46p for first class and 32p to 36p for second class. That is over an 11% increase on first class stamps. For small businesses that rely on post for their business this change will have a significant impact on costs. They will either have to swallow the costs or will end up passing them back onto their customers.

So why are we seeing these significant rises? Yes, the Post Office needs to modernise but should businesses and consumers have to pick up the tab? This is the biggest rise in stamp prices since the early 1980s when First Class stamps increased for the first time.

The second question to ask is what could these rises mean for a business? Well, I had a look at what we were sending out on a typical day at

A typical day 13/4/11

Type Quantity 2010 cost 2011 cost Total Cost Total increase
1st Class Letter


41p 46p 16.10 11%
Recorded Delivery


74p 77p 77p 4%
Special Delivery


505p 545p 10.90 8%
Large First Class


66p 75p 75p 12%
Small Packet


701p 762p 7.62 8%

This would mean that if we had the same amount of post every day for a year that it would cost us £827 more compared to 2010 pricing.  This is a significant hit for small business, along with the high rate of inflation that we are seeing coupled with the increase in VAT to 20% circumstances for small businesses are not looking up.  Post, much like utilities, are essential for businesses; if you can cut your utilities costs at uSwitch for Business where we have saved our customers on average £962 per annum, it could offset the increase in unavoidable postage costs.

*252 days
My Lunch

Image via Wikipedia

If you’ve got a heavy workload don’t fool yourself into thinking that working through your lunch break is the answer. You’ll find that your productivity levels will plummet later in the afternoon and you’ll lose time that way instead.

For a business, time is money, and this loss of productive time is costing UK businesses a grand total of £50 million per day.

Your health at work


As well as affecting productivity, working through your lunch break is likely to make you irritable and stressed, and continually working 10-11 hour days can even increase the risk of serious health problems such as heart disease.

If you’re one of the many who like to refuel with coffee and chocolate, next time you reach for that chocolate bar, remember that overdosing on caffeine could lead to insomnia and dehydration.

Reclaim your lunch break

To stop lunch breaks falling by the wayside, Bupa has launched ‘Reclaim the Lunchbreak’, an initiative to encourage workers to take regular breaks throughout the day.

So resist pressure from your manager to work through lunch, throw your unhealthy snacks in the bin and follow these top tips from Bupa experts to become a healthier, more productive member of staff:

Diet do’s and don’ts


  • Do drink six to eight glasses of fluid a day. Keep a large, refillable water bottle nearby and get into the routine of filling it up every morning and finishing it before you go home.
  • Don’t skip lunch – adrenaline can sometimes mask hunger and your brain will miss out on the essential nutrients and glucose it needs to function for the rest of the afternoon.
  • Do base your lunch on the three basic food groups – one-third starch, over one-third vegetables or salad and the rest a low-fat protein source. This will help you maintain energy and concentration levels.

Get fighting fit

  • During the day, stretch the muscles in your neck, shoulders and back to reduce strain and improve flexibility.
  • Try to get up from your desk every half an hour, even if just to stand up for a moment or walk on the spot for a few seconds.
  • Go for a walk or run at lunchtime, take the stairs instead of the lifts and walk up the escalator.

Workplace psychology

  • Where possible try to speak to your colleagues rather than constantly sending emails. This can serve as motivators and stimulators for both employers and employees.
  • Give specific and regular feedback to your colleagues. This promotes growth for employees and the organisation.
  • Respect your employees and colleagues need for a healthy work/life balance. This will encourage prolonged work productivity as well as motivation.
Budget 2010

Image by The Prime Minister's Office via Flickr

Over the past year, small businesses have been struggling with inflation and VAT rises, so it was hoped that there would be good news for small businesses in this year’s budget.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB)’s pre-Budget wish list included scrapping the planned fuel duty, extending the national insurance holiday and a freeze on employment law.

While not all of its wishes have been granted, the FSB has welcomed several announcements in the Budget that it believes will give stability and help support small businesses.

A boost to businesses

The FSB believes small businesses are key to innovation and several other features of the Chancellor’s Budget look likely to provide a much-needed boost to small entrepreneurial enterprises. These include:

  • The extension of the Enterprise Investment Scheme
  • The doubling of Entrepreneurs Relief to £10 million
  • The re-introduction of Enterprise Zones across the UK and the creation of 21 new zones
  • A 200 per cent increase in SME R&D
  • An extension to Small Business Rate Relief for properties with a rateable value below £6,000
  • 50,000 apprenticeships.

Fuel duty

John Walker, National Chairman of the FSB, said:  “We are pleased that the Chancellor has introduced a fuel duty stabiliser, has committed to cutting fuel duty and has introduced 21 new Enterprise Zones. This will provide much needed stability for struggling small businesses.”

Budget decisions to reduce and stabilise fuel duty appear to have been particularly welcomed by the FSB and are sure to delight the 70%of respondents to an FSB survey who said that their car or van is crucial to their day-to-day operations.

The unpredictable nature of fuel prices has been shown to damage growth for businesses across the UK, with a recent FSB survey revealing that 62% of businesses are increasing prices, one in 10 laying off staff, a quarter freezing wages and 36% reducing investment.

New employment laws

The FSB has welcomed a three-year hold off on new regulations for micro-firms which has prevented businesses from taking on more staff.  They believe this moratorium will give the smallest firms the confidence to employ more staff without having to worry about constant changes in employment law.

In order to really open up an environment for businesses to take on more staff, the FSB would like this to be extended to all small firms, and there are concerns that new employment laws being brought in this year.

“The Government has committed to cutting red tape but we believe new employment laws will still come into force in this year, which could hinder businesses from taking on staff,” said Walker.

Corporation Tax

Moves to reduce the main rate of Corporation Tax over the next three years have also been welcomed but the FSB is disappointed that there was no mention of how the small business rate of 21 per cent would be affected.

A missed opportunity

Though the FSB’s response to the Budget has been largely positive, it’s disappointed that the Government hasn’t extended its National Insurance Contributions (NICs) holiday to existing businesses. With unemployment at 2.5 million, the FSB sees this as a missed opportunity and believes such a policy would have been cheaper to implement than keeping people on benefits.

“Extending the NICs holiday nationwide to existing businesses would really have provided incentives for small firms to take on more staff,” said Walker.