Debate on worth of brands: The Accounting Standards Board is considering findings from a public hearing into the value of goodwill and the worth of brand names in annual accounts. An open meeting was held as to how long brands should be recognised on annual accounts sheets, but no decision was reached. A board spokeswoman says: “We’ve listened to what everybody else had to say, but the next stage is uncertain. We won’t be announcing anything for another three or four months.”

Small businesses still in trouble: Smaller companies are continuing to face the worst trading conditions according to a survey by National Westminster Bank. The latest NatWest Small Business Research Trust Quarterly Survey of Small Businesses in Britain finds that low turnover, which has been a leading small-business problem for four years, lack of consumer confidence and the depressed state of the housing market are among the factors contributing to the reduction in small-business confidence.

The survey also underlines the fact that small businesses are looking to Government to improve the situation. “Government measures to encourage increased investment and growth are needed to restore confidence,” says Ian Peters, head of small-business services at NatWest. “Possible measures to ease the burden on business include increasing capital allowances and raising the VAT threshold. With the growing disparity between small and large businesses it would seem prudent that any measures introduced through the budget should take particular account of small-business confidence,” he adds.

Say goodbye to company cars: Company cars could become a thing of the past for small businesses as increased taxation and spiralling bureaucracy threaten to make them a financial liability. A survey by Lloyds Bank reveals that one in five small businesses have already given up their company cars or vans and many are expressing unease about reinstating the perk.

But John Spence, Lloyds Bank head of business banking, says: “For many small businesses, a car is a tool of the trade which is vital for the running of the company. So I sympathise with respondents who do not see their vehicles as a luxury and yet feel they are being taxed as though they were a perk.” Given the critical role small firms play in the UK economy, many feel there could be a case for considering what could be done to ease this burden on them, he adds.

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