engage magazine issue 001 spring \'06 - Page 13

NEWS FOCUS 13 News Radical shake-up of pension rules There has been a radical shake-up of UK pension rules in order to make saving for retirement easier. From April 6, dubbed A-Day, anyone can be a member of a company pension scheme and also pay into a personal pension at the same time. One can also draw a pension and carry on working. In future, people can invest up to 100% of their earned income in any tax year - up to a ceiling of £215,000 - and receive tax relief at their highest marginal rate. Ethnic minorities make up only 3 per cent of UK 100 partners Only 3 per cent of partners in the UK’s top 100 law firms come from ethnic minorities and a third of the firms surveyed have no partners from ethnic minorities at all, The Lawyer publication has revealed. The Lawyer named and shamed a handful of these firms, which represented some of the country’s largest firms including Addleshaw Goddard, Eversheds, Irwin Mitchell and Linklaters. Of the top 100 firms, 40 failed to participate and seven more did not provide enough information to be ranked. The 2006 Diversity League Table is a groundbreaking survey of The Lawyer’s UK 100, the 100 largest firms in the profession and was produced by The Black Solicitors Network (BSN) and the Law Society. Mobile charges a major concern for small businesses Mobile phone costs seriously impact on the profits of small businesses but many find it difficult to find a price plan that suits them, a survey suggests. Research from telecoms operator T-Mobile and YouGov shows that 33% of small businesses find mobile phone bills difficult to understand. The study also showed that 75% of the 935 businesses surveyed said that costs were a major concern and that international calls were too expensive. The ‘one size fits all’ approach of some phone operators was also criticised with 60% of small businesses saying that this made it difficult for them to select a plan that fitted their individual needs. A further 35% said that the mobile plans offered didn’t fit in at all with their business models. SMEs ‘not blogging and podcasting’ Almost three quarters of small to medium businesses (SMEs) don’t feel sufficiently informed to be able to utilise new internet technologies such as blogging and podcasting as effective web marketing tools, according to a new survey. Only half of the 23% of SMEs that were confident using podcasts and blogs said that they understood RSS (Really Simple Syndication), the UK Business Barometer (UKBB) discovered. The UKBAB, which examines business advisors’ knowledge base, also found that 74% of business advisers were not knowledgeable about advising businesses on using new technologies. However, 67% of business advisers said they offer advice on online facilities to a high or relatively high degree. Only 23% of respondents said they were confident about their knowledge of the new tools, with blogs emerging as the best understood technology ahead of podcasts and RSS. In addition, 39% of respondents to the UKBB who have fewer than 50 employees and can benefit from filling in their tax returns online said they have not yet participated in this, however 44% said they make the annual PAYE returns online and one quarter have filed VAT returns online. SPRING ISSUE 2006 engage