DIY services for freelances: Freelance designers in London who don’t have all the trade’s mod cons at their fingertips can make use of Declare, a DIY computer centre. The company has acquired Neal’s Yard Desktop Publishing Studios in London’s Covent Garden, so designers can now print out proofs, bromides and film. On-site staff will provide technical support for Macintosh and PC workstations, with the latest software for multimedia, DTP and design applications available: you pay only for what you use. The shop opened this week.

Fatter cats in small business: The fat cat phenomenon is not just a trait in big business. According to a survey by the Institute of Management and Renumeration Economics, managers in smaller businesses received bigger pay rises than their counterparts in large organisations. Managers in companies with turnovers of less than 40m saw a 5.2 per cent rise in earnings, compared with a managerial average of 4.7 per cent in the year to January 1996.

Low business morale: Small firms are being left out of the economic recovery, according to a survey from the Confederation of British Industry. The organisation has found that a large number of small businesses are still struggling in a recovery which has been led largely by manufacturing exports. Findings include a fall in business optimism among small and medium-sized firms for the fourth consecutive quarter.

Tax compliance takes its toll: The cost to business of complying with tax legislation has soared 33 per cent over the past five years – twice the rate of inflation in that time, according to a tax simplification survey by accountant KPMG. UK-quoted companies spend more than 250m a year on tax compliance – and most of those companies feel this work diverts them from core business activities.

Support for minimum wage: Almost half of small businesses are relaxed about the prospect of a national minimum wage. Reed Personnel Services surveyed 249 companies from various sectors with fewer than 100 employees as to whether they thought a minimum wage was a good or bad idea. It found 48 per cent in favour, compared with 25 per cent against. Across firms of all sizes, 55 per cent said they were in favour of a national minimum wage. A spokesman for the Federation of Small Businesses says: “Although small businesses are against the principle of an inflexible wage floor, many want to see about 4 an hour go to the lowest paid, provided they won’t be undercut by cowboys.”

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