It’s been a busy start to the year for businesses settling into the changes that faced them at the beginning of 2023!

As we look towards Spring, here are all the stories that hit the headlines in business and accounting in February.

UK SME’s Feeling Positive About 2023

Research by Barclays has shown that 41% of UK SMEs are feeling optimistic about their business prospects – the highest it has been in 9 months, with 55% expecting to see revenue growth, 33% planning to take on more employees and 29% planning to invest on upgrading to new technologies within the workplace.

Whilst this is a positive sign for businesses after an uncertain few years, there are still concerns about the energy crisis impacting the business, with 73% expressing concerns about what that could mean for their future.

Tesco Stores Give Staff A 7% Pay Rise

Since 2022, we’ve been seeing strikes across multiple industries regarding better working conditions and better pay. Tesco have now committed to providing staff with a 7% pay rise, placing them now ahead of rival supermarkets Sainsbury’s and Aldi regarding what they’re paying their workers. Staff in London will receive a pay rise of 8.3%.

The national officer of the shop workers union Usdaw, Daniel Adams, said the rise “represents a significant step forward for pay within Tesco retail. It represents a third increase in pay in 10 months and ensures that the business continues to respond positively to the significant pressures our members face.”

Four-Day Week Work Trial A Success

Businesses who committed to a 4 day-week work trial will continue with the scheme going forwards. Of the 61 businesses taking part, 56 have decided to extend the scheme, and 18 have made it a permanent change in their business.

The findings have been presented to parliament, with a push to give all workers in Britain the right to a 32-hour week.

The director of the campaign, Joe Ryle, has said: “Across a wide variety of sectors, wellbeing has improved dramatically for staff; and business productivity has either been maintained or improved in nearly every case. We’re really pleased with the results and hopefully it does show that the time to roll out a four-day week more widely has surely come”.

German Expansion Could Help Small Businesses

German company Alaiko, who launched in 2020, is set to make its first international expansion to Birmingham, and then Milton Keynes.

The company hopes that the expansion will create a significant number of new jobs and help small

companies boost their own e-commerce operations using Alaiko’s software and logistics support.

The expansion will also mean European e-commerce companies can invest and export to the UK using lower transport costs and having reduced delivery times.

Jeremy Hunt Sets Out Plan to Grow The Economy

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has announced his long-term plan to grow the UK economy after a difficult few years. He has called on businesses to begin investing in the UK, and has marked out digital technology, life sciences and green industries as sectors to focus on.

With the Spring Budget due on March 15th , Hunt expressed his plans for the UK’s economy before the budget is announced – “Our plan for this year remains to halve inflation, grow the economy and get debt falling, but all three are essential building blocks for much bigger ambitions for the years beyond: World-beating enterprises to make Britain the world’s next Silicon Valley, An education system where world-class skills sit alongside world-class degrees, Employment opportunities that tap into the potential of every single person so businesses can build the motivated teams they need, and opportunities spread everywhere – just as our talent is spread everywhere.”

With the next month looking to be an interesting time for the UK’s economy, business owners and accountants will have a better view on how to plan and allocate their business’ spending to maximise revenue and ensure survival and success. Let’s see what the next month brings and have a wonderful March!