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November 09, 2012

Also in the news this week – 9 November 2012

EDF offers "New Start" for small businesses

EDF Energy has launched a dedicated SME electricity contract for start-ups and businesses that have moved into new premises. New Start provides short-term contracts (6-9 months), freedom to leave any point, low standing charges and no automatic contract roll-over. Richard Hughes, director of SME at EDF Energy, said: “Last year alone more than 200,000 people started a new business. We estimate around 40% of them took on premises, and we want to play our part in helping them succeed.”

Government consultation aims to give consumers new powers

Consumer affairs minister Jo Swinson has announced a new consultation that could see consumers getting new powers from the courts when their rights are breached. The Civil Enforcement Remedies consultation could give authorities such as Trading Standards a range of new powers to use in civil courts, to ensure that businesses abide by consumer law and consumers are reimbursed for money lost. Proposals include giving courts the option of making a business designate a point person who will look at how well that business complies with consumer law.

iZettle allows small traders to take credit cards

A new card-reader that plugs into iPhones, iPads and some Android smartphones and tablets has been launched in the UK after a successful roll-out in other markets. With iZettle, customers can hand their card to a supplier, such as a market stallholder, the card is swiped and they can then sign through the device it is plugged into. The merchant has to pay a commission of 2.75% per transaction. Big names are backing iZettle including EE, Mastercard and American Express. Visa, meanwhile, is an investor in another mobile payments product, Square, started by Twitter founder Jack Dorsey.

Women losing out as pay gap widens

The pay gap between men and women is at risk of widening for the first time on record, warns the Fawcett Society. Women still earn 14.9% less on average than men for the same job. And this gap could widen as public sector cuts push women into the private sector, where the gap is wider. The warning comes as the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) 2012 Gender Salary Survey suggests that a woman can earn £423,000 less than a man over the course of her career.

Skype launches online platform for small firms

Skype in the workspace (SITW) has been launched by Skype as a place for small businesses to connect with potential customers, partners and suppliers. The free-to-use tool allows small firms to promote their products and services to new and existing networks. Skype in the workspace will provide a central hub for entrepreneurs, start-ups and small businesses to connect with experts, coaches and consultants who can help them develop their business.