Here are this week’s favourite stories across business and finance from our Head of PR, Bilal Mahmood. Happy reading!

Commissioner to help small firms tackle payment disputes

The government has appointed a small business commissioner and launched a complaint-handling website to help small firms resolve disputes around payment practices. The government says a third of payments to small businesses across the UK are late and 20% of all small businesses have run into cash flow problems because of late payments. Read more

UK ‘best country for business’ in 2018

The UK has risen from fifth place to first in Forbes’ best place to do business rankings, performing particularly well in technological readiness and workforce education. The UK’s financial services sector and investment by top US technology firms were cited as major positives for the country. However, more needed to be done to support business to boost growth and productivity over the long-term. Read more

Brexit progress set to boost business confidence

The Bank of England says confidence among households and businesses is likely to be supported by recent Brexit talks, when the EU agreed that sufficient progress had been made in negotiations to put in place a transition period from 2019. The Bank said the breakthrough would reduce the likelihood of a “disorderly” Brexit. Meanwhile, the BoE has kept interest rates on hold in its first meeting since last month’s decision to raise rates for the first time in 10 years. Read more

‘Digital divide’ holds back rural areas

Ministers will relax planning laws by the end of the year to help build a new generation of mobile phone masts, as research reveals 82% of homes and businesses in rural areas cannot get a good 4G mobile phone signal. Ofcom’s Connected Nations report also disclosed that just over 1m homes and offices, predominantly in the countryside, do not have access to decent broadband. Read more

Productivity pairings pay off

The Sunday Telegraph’s Ben Marlow says the Government’s productivity leadership group is pointing business in the right direction. Its “Be the Business” campaign has already had a positive effect on the companies that have taken part, he adds. The programme suggests pairing productive companies with unproductive ones so that managers can identify problems and share ideas on how to make the most out of staff and equipment. Small businesses are also urged to embrace technology and talent, and set regular targets, however small. Read more