Tag Archives: UK

Brexit – sources of information

Please note: a regularly updated version of this posting is now on the main website at http://www.shugle.com/sources/brexit.htm?

Those of us living and working in the UK are constantly bombarded with news and information of varying quality on Brexit. I regularly run workshops on sources of business information and,? inevitably, these now include a section on the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, commonly referred to as Brexit. One of the exercises I give those attending the workshop is to draw up their own individual list of resources that they are likely to use for keeping up to date, or as starting points for researching the topic. We then produce a combined list for the whole group.? I have listed below a selection of those resources, concentrating on the more general sources rather than industry specific sites that were mentioned in some of the sessions.? It is by no means a comprehensive list and this blog posting will not be updated,? but I have created a separate web page Brexit – UK withdrawal from the EU, which will be added to and amended periodically.

EU referendum results

Electoral Commission EU referendum results
The Electoral Commission is the independent body that oversees elections and regulates political finance in the UK. This page shows the voting totals and results by region and by area within that region. You can download the results data in full as a CSV file. There are also links to?results visualisations, information on?grants to designated lead campaigners, the Electoral Commissions?assessment of the EU referendum question?and their recommended amendment, and the?voting guides.

EU Referendum Results – BBC News
The BBC referendum results page and linked pages presents the same information as the Electoral Commission but in a slightly different way. There are links to the?BBC news stories and videos?on and around the date of the referendum.

Results of the United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, 2016 – Wikipedia?
Another page showing the voting results in a variety of ways but in addition this one has links at the end to external sources reporting on the run up to the referendum and local press articles some of which show a breakdown of the results by ward.

News

Brexit: research and analysis – UK Parliament
“Research and analysis from Parliament’s libraries and committees on how leaving the EU will affect different policy areas in the UK”.
Brexit email alerts?on updates and new content are available.

Brexit: All you need to know about the UK leaving the EU – BBC News
Background information on the what has happened so far, what is happening now, what has been agreed and what needs to be agreed. There is also a long list of FAQs (frequently asked questions), many of which cannot be answered yet but some possibilities are discussed.

The Guardian – Weekly Brexit Briefing
A very useful summary and update from The Guardian newspaper on what has been happening over the past week. You can sign up to receive the briefing by?weekly email?and there is also a weekly?Brexit Means podcast.

General News Search

If you are interested in seeing articles that represent a wider range of viewpoints and opinions, run a search on Brexit in Google News and Bing News. As well as the national and regional UK papers, these will also pick up stories appearing in the press in other countries.

Legislation

European Union (Withdrawal) Bill 2017-19 – UK Parliament
Use this page to monitor the progress of the Bill through Parliament and see related documents such as:

  • Full text of the Bill as introduced and further versions of the Bill as it is reprinted to incorporate amendments (proposals for change) made during its passage through Parliament.
  • Tracked changes versions of the Bill
  • Explanatory Notes
  • Full list of amendment papers relating to the Bill.
  • Public Bill Committee and report stage proceedings
  • House of Commons Library and House of Lords Library briefing papers
  • Will write letters (Questions put to government Ministers during debates on Bills may be answered by the Minister saying ‘I will write to the Hon Member’. “Will write” replies are not published in Hansard but are placed in the Library of the House concerned and published on the Parliamentary website.)

Alerts on changes to the page, stage reached by the Bill, and new documents are available by?email?and?RSS.

Blog | UK Constitutional Law Association
Affiliated to the International Association of Constitutional Law. The UKCLA blog provides analysis and comment on matters of constitutional law in the UK. Not suprisingly, many of the current blog postings cover some aspect of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill.

Jack of Kent blog
“News and comment on law and policy, from a liberal and critical perspective”. Written by David Allen Green who is a?legal commentator at FT.com?and a former?legal correspondent of the New Statesman. Currently posting mainly about Brexit.

Public Law for Everyone – Professor Mark Elliott
Another source of comment and analysis on the EU (Withdrawal) Bill. Written by Mark Elliott, Professor of Public Law at the University of Cambridge, a Fellow of St Catharine’s College, Cambridge, and Legal Adviser to the House of Lords Select Committee on the Constitution. The views expressed on this blog are in a purely personal capacity.

Business information – selected slides from June 2016 workshops

Some of the slides that I used as part of my June 2016 workshops on Business Information are now available on both SlideShare and authorSTREAM. The workshop run in the last week of June inevitably included a session on the EU referendum and the Brexit result. A few of those extra slides are included in this edited version of the presentation.

Business Information - key web resources

Small companies now allowed to be bigger … or smaller

One of the services I provide is company research including official registry documents and accounts. Many registries, including, the UK’s Companies House, make a significant amount of their data available free of charge. Some still charge for documents and a few insist that you register before you can even search for a company. ?If I know the information is freely available I usually point the client at the relevant website but a few people come back to me when they discover that the?interface is in a foreign language. If registration and/or payment are required I’m often asked to search on the client’s behalf because they just do not want the hassle of going through the registration process and recouping the cost of a small overseas transaction from their accounts department.

Regardless of whether the information is free or charged for, I often receive what I call a second stage request?for more detailed accounts. Why is there no Profit & Loss? Where is the revenue/turnover figure? I then have to explain?how?the reporting and filing requirements differ depending on the country, or even state; and then I have the joy of taking the client through small company exemptions. Some people I know have only just got their head around the changes introduced by UK Companies Act 2006. I now have to tell them that this has changed yet again.

In March 2015 the UK Government approved new regulations that implement the requirements of the new EU Accounting Directive. The changes came into effect in the UK from 1 January 2016. There are a number of changes, which may reduce yet further the amount of information that small companies are required to provide, and there are also changes to what is deemed to a be a “small” company. ?Small companies can now be bigger.

A company can now qualify as small if meets at least two of the three following criteria:

  • turnover not more than £10.2m (previously £6.5m)
  • balance sheet total not more than £5.1m (previously £3.26m)
  • average number of employees not more than 50 (no change)

Information on some of the other changes can be found on the Companies House Blog –?Changes to accounting standards and regulations. The key?ones are:

“… the removal of the ability for a small or medium-sized company to file abbreviated accounts with us at Companies House.?A company will now be required to file the accounts they prepare for their members at Companies House (although a small company or micro-entity will usually be able to choose not to file their profit and loss account or director’s report).”

“However, this does not mean that all small companies are now required to file full accounts, the very smallest companies may disclose less information by preparing micro-entity accounts.?Other small companies may, instead of filing full accounts, choose to prepare a set of abridged accounts for their members and then file these with us.”

So, as well as “small” being allowed to be bigger we now have even smaller companies or “micro-entities” who can choose to disclose less information. The whole thing is beginning to look as clear as mud!

The ICAEW has a useful overview of what is happening at The revised UK small companies regime?but if you want to keep up with the latest updates then follow the Companies House Blog.

Debunking Euromyths

Those of us living in the UK have become accustomed to sensational headlines in the British press warning us that the European Union (EU) is about to ban British cucumbers, sausages, cheese, church bells, street acrobats [insert food or activity of your choice]. Tracking down the relevant EU legislation to find out whether or not there is any truth in the stories is a nightmare, and they are not the easiest of documents to read and understand when you do find them. But help is at hand from an EU blog called “European Commission in the UK – Euromyths and Letters to the Editor” at http://blogs.ec.europa.eu/ECintheUK/.

The blog covers scare stories that have appeared in the UK press, some of which go back to 1992, and explains what the situation really is and the relevant legislation.

Euromyths A-Z

There is a neat A-Z index at ? http://blogs.ec.europa.eu/ECintheUK/euromyths-a-z-index/ so you can quickly check, for example, if the EU is about to ban bagpipes:

As for banning bagpipes, Scots can rest assured that their favourite musical instrument is not under threat from EU proposals on noise pollution … they are designed primarily for those who work with loud machinery for a sustained period – more than 87 decibels for eight hours in a row. The law … will apply only to workers rather than audiences. ?If, in the highly unlikely event a bagpipe player is hired to play continuously for eight hours, and the noise created averaged more than 87 decibels, the employer would be obliged to carry out a risk assessment to see where changes can be made – tinkering with the acoustics in a hall to reduce echoes, for example. If that fails, personal protection such as earmuffs will need to be considered, but only as a last resort. Banning musical instruments is not an option.

The blog is just one of many on the Europa website. A list can be found at?Blogs of the European Commission.

Turn2Us database of hardship grants

I came across Turn2Us? via the Paul Lewis Money blog (http://paullewismoney.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/hardship-grants-available.html) where there is an excellent overview of the service. Turn2Us is part of the Elizabeth Finn Care charity. As well as providing a useful benefits search tool there is a searchable database of over 3000 charities that distribute £288 million in grants to individuals in financial hardship every year. To find potential sources of grants?in your location?type in your postcode, gender and age. Some of the charities only provide grants for people who have worked for a particular company or in a particular industry, but there are many that offer support to the general population and can help with education costs, living costs or hardship in retirement.

When I typed in my postcode (Reading), age and gender it came up with a list of 72 charities. There were some that were bizarre in their specificity. The Edmund Godson Charity, for example, offers “one-off grants for people in need who wish to emigrate and who currently live in and around Woolwich, Shinfield near Reading, north east Herefordshire and Tenbury in Worcestershire”. I was also intrigued by one that provides grants and annuities?for “older women in the UK who are not ‘of the artisan class'”, and was left wondering whether I would qualify.

Turn2Us

Those idiosyncrasies aside, there is a wide range of help available here from charities that are little known and not easy to find.

Interactive maps of UK renewable energy generation

I recently mentioned Gridwatch (How the UK’s electricity is generated ?http://www.shugle.com/wordpress/2013/08/21/how-the-uks-electricity-is-generated/) as a way of tracking how much energy is passing through the National Grid and the technology used to generate that electricity. Although Gridwatch is a great way of observing the total amount of electricity that is generated by each technology – gas, coal, wind etc – it does not go into any detail with respect to individual installations. The?Digest of UK energy statistics (DUKES) produced by the UK ?Department of Energy & Climate Change (http://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-of-energy-climate-change/series/digest-of-uk-energy-statistics-dukes) includes a spreadsheet listing all of the operational power stations, fuel that they use, installed capacity, location, and the year that generation began. The direct link to the spreadsheet is?http://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/226895/dukes5_11.xls. This is historical data and the current list refers to plants in operation at the end of May 2013.

UK Energy Watch has a map (http://www.ukenergywatch.org/Electricity/PowerStations) showing the location of UK power stations of 400 MW or larger, so it is by no means comprehensive. It does allow you, though, to click on a plant and display current generation except for CCGT stations (Combined Cycle Gas Turbine).

There are more options available when it comes to what are called renewables (for example wind, solar, biomass, hydro). The DECC’s?RESTATS interactive map at?http://restats.decc.gov.uk/app/pub/map/map/?enables you to search by technology, region, county, planning authority and application status. It also has a separate map for wind farm capacities.

RESTATS Interactive Map of Renewables

The site information includes installed capacity, details of the planning application but not how much energy is actually being produced. RESTATS says that “Information is held on the performance of operational projects but owing to the need to maintain the commercially sensitive nature of these data, specific site details and performance figures are not disclosed“.

RestatsSIteDetails

 

The UK Data explorer has produced a renewables map at?http://ukdataexplorer.com/renewables/?that uses the RESTATS data and?shows operational renewable electricity sites over 0.01 MW.?The different colours represent the type of plant and the area of the circles indicate installed capacity (maximum power output).

UK Data Explorer renewables interactive map

 

To see details of a specific installation you should be able to hover over a point on the map. This did not work for me with some of the smaller plants and when I tried to zoom in on an area I often lost the background map.

The Interactive Map of Renewable and Alternative Energy Projects in the UK at?http://www.renewables-map.co.uk?is another interactive map and?can be filtered by technology type and planning status.

 

Renewables Map UK

 

According to the website the information is gathered from “a wide range of web resources, in all cases these will be referenced, usually by a link to that information. Locations are either taken from existing data, usually from planning applications, or by painstakingly identifying the location on the ground using online maps.” I am not sure how up to date the map is and I noticed that the smaller hydro installations along the Thames are missing. Another problem that I have experienced with this site is that when I click on “More details” for an installation I get far too many “internal sever errors”. However, when the information does appear it includes useful comments on the technology, links to relevant websites and the latest news.

 

Renewables_Map2

The final one in my list is from the energy generating company RWE Innogy (http://www.rwe.com/web/cms/en/194914/rwe-innogy/sites/production-data-live/). Its interactive map provides information on most of its European plants and includes?wind farms, hydro power plants and biomass CHP (Combined Heat and Power). The production data is updated every minute. To see information on an installation, click on its icon on the map.?The information includes live production, location, type of installation and when production started.

?Renewables_RWE

These are by no means the only websites offering interactive maps and information on UK energy production, and none of them give the full picture. They are good starting points, though, if you are interested in researching individual technologies or individual power stations.

How the UK’s electricity is generated

Gas and electricity supply, and energy in general, are constantly in the headlines in the UK. Reports on the anti-fracking protests at Balcombe recently dominated discussions on the topic but the central issue remains. How do we meet our energy needs in the future: gas, coal, nuclear, renewables? Looking at the level of current consumption and how it is generated is key to understanding the nature of the problem. For electricity, there is detailed data available on the status of the UK National Grid and can now be viewed via a service called Gridwatch.

Gridwatch (http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/index.php) shows the demand for electricity in the UK at any one time, the source and how it is being generated. The site is maintained by Templar Consultancy and uses near real-time data from?BM Reports on what the UK’s electricity grid is doing. The data is updated every 5 minutes.

The data is presented as a series of dials so that you can easily see how much energy is generated and how that changes throughout the day. Most of the screen is taken up with dials for demand, coal, nuclear, CCGT (gas) and wind.

?Gridwatch - UK National Grid Status

The right hand area of the screen shows how much electricity is generated through pumped hydro, hydro, biomass and oil, and the level of imported electricity.

?UK National Grid Status Imports

? UK National Grid Status - Gas

Move your cursor over a dial for further information on the different technologies and sources of generation. Coal and nuclear power stations are always switched on and provide most of what is called the base load of electricity required throughout the day. Gas makes up the difference and covers peak demand and balances the variable output from renewables such as wind.

Not much changes during the summer months but the demand can increase dramatically during very cold weather in the winter. It is interesting to see how the dials shift as soon as people get up in the morning. Also, the amount of electricity produced via wind turbines drops to almost zero during stormy weather. The turbines are switched off in high winds to protect them from damage.

Warning: this site can be addictive, especially if you start monitoring it during late autumn and winter!

For more data and statistics on UK energy go to the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) at?https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-of-energy-climate-change/about/statistics

Company Check: free UK company and director information

Company Check (http://companycheck.co.uk/) and its sister website Company Director Check are two of the more popular services on my business and search workshops. They repackage official information from Companies House and provide much of it free of charge. I first reviewed them in 2011 (http://www.shugle.com/wordpress/2011/07/20/company-information-company-check-gives-more-uk-data-for-free/?and?http://www.shugle.com/wordpress/2011/11/14/free-uk-company-information-company-director-check/)?and since then there have been many updates and additions. A recent change is that company and director information have been pulled together on the Company Check website making it easier to flip between companies and directors. Data on companies in Ireland is also now available.

Companies and directors can be searched from the same search box. You then select the appropriate entry from a list of possible matches. The company summary is free of charge and includes a business overview, data on its status and business activities, and a list of trading addresses.

CompanyCheck1

 

Also free of charge are the accounts and list of directors but you have to register (free of charge) to view the information. There are options for logging in with your Facebook, Twitter or Google account but if you prefer you can register a user name and password.

Five years of key financials (cash at bank, net worth, total current liabilities and total current assets) are shown as graphs and more detailed information is displayed in the Company Accounts Table.

CompanyCheck2

 

The financial statements submitted to Companies House can be downloaded free of charge as PDFs. Other documents lodged at Companies House such as “Change of director’s details” or “Allotment of securities” are listed under the Documents tab and are £2 each.

The Credit Risk information (risk score, credit limit, payment data and key factors) and Charges (mortgages and County Court Judgments) are priced. For a single company the price is £4.99 + VAT, which gives you 30 days unlimited access to all premium credit data on that company for 30 days. If you are likely to be researching more than four companies on a regular basis it is worth upgrading to the All Companies options costing £20 + VAT. This gives you 30 days unlimited access to credit data across every company and director.

Current directors and secretaries for a company are listed free of charge. Previous directors and secretaries are part of the subscription service. The free director profile includes an overview, their registered details and a summary of the companies of which they are or have been a director. This can be more informative as a way of identifying connections between companies and other directors than looking at the company records in isolation. The full director report?reports are £8.99 and include credit risk, CCJs, mortgages and charges, and a summary for each current appointment with key information taken from the associated company report.

CompanyCheck3

For both companies and directors you can set up free alerts and add them to a dashboard. This is an easy way to compare results for companies, with negative and positive changes in key financials shown as red or green arrows pointing up or down.

COmpanyCheckDashboard

Company Check is not the only service providing free access to some of UK Companies House and Ireland company data. DueDil (http://www.duedil.com/) and Bizzy (http://bizzy.co.uk) are two others that are worth looking at. I understand, though, that Company Check ?is working on additional services that are due for launch in the next few months. It will be interesting to see what they come up with.

Direct marketing lists for market and industry sector information

When it comes to researching a market or industry sector the major national and international players are generally well covered by the established market research publishers. If you are looking at a highly specialised sector, are interested in smaller companies or just want to know who is doing what in a town or county then direct marketing lists can be the cheaper and better option. The source I often use is a UK based service called MarketingFile.com (http://www.marketingfile.com/). They have been around for a while but continue to update their services and ensure that the databases they offer are regularly checked and cleaned.

MarketingFile’s lists are divided into business and consumer marketing and further segmented by communication channel: postal, email, fax or telemarketing lists. You can drill down further and specify key job roles, industry sectors, geographic areas and company size. For consumer lists you can segment by criteria such as geographic areas, household finances, interests, investments, cars driven and charities supported.

For each list there is information on coverage, pricing and selection criteria.

MarketigFile Selection Criteria

You have to register to search the lists but registration is free of charge. The search screen makes it easy to select and combine multiple criteria and the number of results (counts), which is sometimes all one needs to know, is free.

MarketingFile Search

The full data is charged on a per record basis and you can also opt to have only those records that include named contacts. If you are on a limited budget or want to test a sample of the data you can request a specific number of records for example 50, 100, 200, 1000.

MarketingFile have extended their services and now offer complementary services such as printing and posting of letters, postcards and inserts. They have a 100% Delivery Guaranteed offer on email and postal lists which offers 50p per item towards your postage for mail “goneaways” and 5p – 10p per item towards broadcast costs for email hard bounces.

It is not always easy to identify the most appropriate list for your research. Rather than waste time trying different lists I’d recommend that you contact their helpline, which is based in the UK. They will be able to give advice on the best strategy for your research or project.

Doing Business in the United Kingdom and France

Compiled and published by Bryan Cave LLP, Doing Business in the UK is an excellent summary of what is involved in setting up a business in the UK and the associated legislation. As well as describing the various types of company it also covers director’s duties, UK taxation, employment law, business immigration, intellectual property, data protection and competition law. There is a similar publication on Doing Business in France. Both are free of charge.