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Need To Know: Your Business Updates for July 2019


Welcome to the July 2019 'Need to Know' update. You'll find the latest key information on directors remuneration, tax credits, late payment and consumer loyalty.

Companies (Directors’ Remuneration Policy and Directors’ Remuneration Report) Regulations 2019

The Government has produced a document that sets out how and when companies will be affected by new reporting requirements in the Companies (Directors’ Remuneration Policy and Directors’ Remuneration Report) Regulations 2019.

The regulations implement Articles 9a and 9b of European Directive 2017/828/EC1, commonly known as the Revised Shareholder Rights Directive.

The Regulations were made on 22 May 2019 and apply to company reporting on financial years starting on or after 10 June 2019.

A full list of the new measures, and the extent to which they were already given effect in previous UK law prior to the Regulations, is available. To see the list click here; 

Tax credit renewal reminders issued by HMRC

Taxpayers must renew their tax credits by 31 July, or risk having their payments stop, HMRC has declared in a publicity campaign to make business owners take action
The department has urged people to meet the timeframe, and highlighted the consequences of missing the end of month deadline.

HMRC says failure to renew before 31 July will mean payments are stopped, while in some cases people will have to repay the money they have received since April 2019.
Taxpayers will not get a renewal pack until April 2020 if they first claimed tax credits after 6 April 2019.

Renewal can be done online. Taxpayers can log into to check on the progress of their renewal and get updates on when they will hear back from HMRC.

Angela MacDonald, director general for customer services at HMRC, said: “We know that our customers lead busy lives, which is why our online services are available day and night. Customers can complete their tax credits renewals at a time convenient to them. Renewing on time is vital to ensure that their payments don’t stop.”

From this year HMRC is no longer taking new tax credit claims, as the universal credit regime is rolled out.

For more information on renewing tax credits see:

Competition and Markets Authority expects Facebook and eBay to tackle sale of fake reviews

The CMA has urged Facebook and eBay to act to stop the sale of fake reviews through their sites.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has found troubling evidence that there is a thriving marketplace for fake and misleading online reviews. After web sweeps performed in the period November 2018 to June 2019, the CMA was concerned about over 100 eBay listings offering fake reviews for sale. It also identified – during the same period – 26 Facebook groups in total where people offered to write fake reviews or businesses recruited people to write fake and misleading reviews on popular shopping and review sites.

It is estimated that over three-quarters of UK internet users consider online reviews when choosing what to buy. Billions of pounds of people’s spending is influenced by reviews every year. Fake and misleading reviews not only lead to people making poorly informed choices and buying the wrong products, but they are also illegal under consumer protection law.

The CMA is not alleging that Facebook or eBay are intentionally allowing this content to appear on their websites. Since the CMA wrote to the sites, both have indicated that they will cooperate and Facebook has informed the CMA that most of the 26 groups have been removed. The CMA welcomes this, and expects the sites to put measures in place to ensure that all the identified content is removed and to stop it from reappearing.
Andrea Coscelli, CMA Chief Executive said: “Lots of us rely on reviews when shopping online to decide what to buy. It is important that people are able to trust that reviews are genuine, rather than something someone has been paid to write.

“Fake reviews mean that people might make the wrong choice and end up with a product or service that’s not right for them. They’re also unfair to businesses who do the right thing.

“We want Facebook and eBay to conduct an urgent review of their sites to prevent fake and misleading online reviews from being bought and sold.”

You can find out more at

Broad new measures to ensure small businesses get paid on time

For the first time large businesses could be fined for failing to pay smaller suppliers on time as part of a robust package of measures unveiled by Small Business Minister Kelly Tolhurst.

Company boards will now be held accountable for payment practices to small businesses within their companies in a drive to increase transparency and accountability on late payments. Measures will force Audit Committees to report payment practices in company annual reports.

The government will consult on strengthening the powers of the Small Business Commissioner to hold to account the minority of larger businesses who fail to make payments on time. New powers could include compelling information and disclosure of payment terms and practices, imposing financial penalties or binding payment plans on large businesses found to have unfair payment practices.

Responsibility of the voluntary code of best practice – the Prompt Payment Code – will be moved to the Small Business Commissioner. This will put tools to tackle late payment under one organisation, ensuring the Commissioner has the powers to affect culture change in unfair payment practices.

Small Business Minister Kelly Tolhurst said: “The vast majority of businesses pay their bills on time, with the amount owed in late payments halved over the last five years. But as a former small business owner, I know the huge impact a late payment can have on the ability of a small business to plan, invest and grow.

Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and through our modern Industrial Strategy we want to ensure the UK is the best place to start and grow a business. These measures will ensure that small businesses are given the support they need and ensure that they get paid quickly - ending the unacceptable culture of late payment.

Other proposals include:

A tough new approach to large companies which do not comply with the Payment Practices Reporting Duty – an existing mandatory requirement on large businesses to report payment practice to a national database twice a year. The legislation allows for the prosecution of those which do not comply, and fines may be imposed. The government will consult on giving these powers to the Small Business Commissioner.

A Business Basics Fund competition of up to £1 million in funding to encourage businesses to use technology to simplify invoicing, payment and credit management to ensure they work as effectively as possible.

Mike Cherry, National Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “Small businesses will be delighted with today’s announcement. FSB has worked very hard with government to create a whole-board approach to late payment within the UK’s large companies, and empower Audit Committees to look after the supply chain. Together with measures to strengthen the Small Business Commissioner’s powers and reform the Prompt Payment Code, the measures today could finally see an end to poor payment practice. Changing our business culture will boost the small business community, productivity and growth.

Small Business Commissioner Paul Uppal said: “During the first 16 months of my post I have been struck by the trepidation felt by small businesses when talking about late payment with their large suppliers.

“The government has a range of measures in place to tackle late payment and this consultation is a further step in the right direction to protect and support small businesses.

“I welcome any additional provisions which will strengthen the influence my Office has in tackling poor payment practice and levelling the existing playing field.”

Artificial Intelligence - a worldwide overview of AI patents

The Government have produced a new report providing an overview of the trends in the AI sector worldwide with a focus on patenting by the UK AI sector.

This report follows on from the efforts of WIPO8 earlier this year and provides an overview of the AI sector through a patent-focused lens, looking at differences across countries and concentrating on the industries in the UK that use this patented AI technology.

You can read the report here;

New powers to fine firms that exploit consumer loyalty

Tough new powers have been given to the competition watchdog to fine businesses directly who have broken consumer law.

Firms that overcharge or mislead their customers could be hit with direct fines without the need to go through a court, under plans unveiled by Business Secretary Greg Clark.

The government has confirmed it will consult on giving the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) new powers to decide itself whether consumer law has been broken, without having to go through the courts as is currently the case. New powers would enable the CMA to intervene earlier and more quickly to tackle these failings and would include being able to directly impose fines on firms for poor business behaviour.

This will act as a powerful deterrent to firms that are harming consumers with misleading claims, unfair terms and conditions and hard-to-exit contracts - practices that are central to many ‘subscription traps’. These measures aim to ensure subscriptions are as easy to exit as they are to enter. It also helps the CMA tackle bad practices in other consumer markets like secondary ticketing and unfair terms for care home residents.

The government also announced that it will legislate to give regulators, such as Ofcom and the Financial Conduct Authority, new powers to stop loyal customers being taken advantage of if their existing powers are insufficient.

Prime Minister Theresa May said: “For far too long, many big companies have been getting away with harmful trading practices which lead to poor services and confusion among customers who have parted with their hard-earned cash.

“The system as it stands not only lets consumers down but it also lets down the vast majority of businesses who play by the rules.

“It is high time this came to an end and today we are confirming our intention to give much stronger powers to the CMA, to strengthen the sanctions available and to give customers the protection they deserve against firms who want to rip them off.”

You can read more here;

Restrictions to be extended on products containing plasticising chemicals

Restrictions on phthalates will come into force on 22 July 2019 for most electrical and electronic equipment (EEE).

Changes to the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) regulations mean that products that were out of scope of the 2008 regulations will now be included and will prohibit non-compliant products from being placed on the market.

The changes also include the introduction of four particular phthalates (chemicals used to soften PVC), and will prohibit any products containing these substances being placed on the market from 22 July 2019.

This will affect all electronic and electrical equipment except for medical devices and monitoring and control instruments, which are exempted until 22 July 2021. The restriction will not apply to spare parts or cables used for the repair, reuse, updating or upgrading of capacity of EEE placed on the market before 22 July 2019, and to medical devices and monitoring and control instruments placed on the market before 22 July 2021.

The restrictions within the RoHS regulations are applied at the point products are ‘placed on the market’ which, in most cases, involves importers and manufacturers - it is illegal to place products on the market that are non-compliant.

If the product is received by a retailer before the change date it will not be subject to regulation. This would have to be readily demonstrated to the market surveillance authority (the Office for Product Safety and Standards) on a regular basis, with invoices and delivery notes etc.

Anyone placing non-compliant products on the market after 22 July 2019, knowing they are non-compliant, will be liable to prosecution under the regulations.

You can read more here; 

Regulation rulebook rewritten to ensure UK leads tech revolution and empowers consumers

New measures announced by the Government will free up businesses and innovators to test their ideas, make use of the latest technologies and get their products to market quicker – keeping the UK at the forefront of innovation.

Speaking at London Tech Week, Business Secretary Greg Clark said the proposed reforms will ensure an agile and flexible approach to regulation in the UK, a key part of the government’s modern Industrial Strategy.

This will allow entrepreneurs and business to embrace innovation, seize the opportunities of cutting-edge technology and bring transformative products to market - such as personalised medicine or pioneering new modes of transport - to benefit consumers and other businesses. These measures include:

a new Regulatory Horizons Council to advise government on rules and regulations that may need to evolve and adapt to keep pace with technology

a Regulation Navigator – a new digital interface to help businesses ease their way through the regulatory landscape and bring their ideas to market quickly

a partnership with the World Economic Forum to share best practice on getting innovative products and services to market

a review of the Regulators’ Pioneer Fund, which backs projects that are testing new technology in partnership with the regulators in a safe but innovative environment

You can read more about this at;