Thursday, 28 February 2019

Over Half of UK Retail SMEs Selling Online Sell Through 3rd Party Marketplaces

According to a study, commissioned by Royal Mail, almost six in ten (58 per cent) UK SME online retailers now sell their products through a 3rd party online marketplace, such as Amazon or Etsy, even if they have their own website selling direct to customers.

Over half of the SMEs talked to for the study reported that they are looking to expand in 2019. With a variety of options for reaching customers being looked at:
  • 41 per cent are looking for space in another physical store to sell goods,
  • 39 per cent are considering listing on additional marketplaces,
  • 27 per cent plan to sell via exhibitions or trade fairs.
The research found that almost half (47 per cent) of UK SME online retailers have a physical store as well as a presence online. For those that sell in a physical store, 80 per cent reported selling through their own outlets and a third reported selling through others outlets either exclusively or in tandem with their own stores. Other popular ways to sell goods for these retailers include:
  • over the telephone (22 per cent), 
  • via exhibitions (13 per cent),
  • and via a catalogue (12 per cent).
Just under one in five (19 per cent) UK SME online retailers import goods, 16 per cent export goods and 52 per cent do both.

Over eight in ten (81 per cent) of those that sell overseas target Europe, 42 per cent sell to the USA and 29 per cent to Canada. Asia (27 per cent) and Australasia (23 per cent) are also common destinations to target.

A spokesperson from Royal Mail said “Entrepreneurial UK SME online retailers are increasingly turning to online marketplaces to sell their products. The rise of online marketplaces is impacting the way consumers shop online and how retailers sell to their customers but the physical store still has a role to play. As the ecommerce sector becomes increasingly global, UK SME online retailers should look at opportunities to expand the international side of their business”.

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

EU Copyright Directive Set to Strengthen Authors Rights

Following several months of negotiation and weeks of political deadlock the European Parliament, Council and Commission have reached agreement over the wording of the new Copyright Directive.

The passage of the Directive has not been straightforward. It was first presented by the Commission in September 2016 and has faced numerous setbacks, including being rejected by the European Parliament last June.

The Directive still needs to be confirmed by member states and MEPs before it is formally adopted but passing this stage of the drafting process is a significant step in the right direction.

What is the Copyright Directive?

Currently authors, creators and rights-holders are not adequately protected or remunerated when their work is used online, the Directive is designed to address this imbalance.

The publicity around the Directive has mostly centred around Articles 11 and 13. Article 11 will oblige US tech giants such as Google to negotiate licensing agreements with rights holders before publishing links to their content (for example on Google News). Article 13 will require internet platforms such as YouTube to acquire licences for the content they host and ensure that there is no copyright infringement on their sites. These Articles have been fiercely discussed and negotiated. We are awaiting the final texts but it seems that what has emerged provides a fair balance that will benefit creators and users without being unduly onerous to hosts.

What Does it Mean For Authors, Scriptwriters, Translators and Illustrators?

Under the terms of Article 14, creators will be entitled to transparent information on how their works are being exploited by their publishers. This will make it easier for authors, scriptwriters, translators and illustrators to negotiate future contracts and to receive a fairer share of the generated revenues. If publishers or producers fail to exploit the rights that the creators have transferred to them, authors and performers will be allowed to revoke their rights. In addition, Article 15 introduces a contract adjustment mechanism (or “bestseller clause”) allowing creators to claim additional remuneration when sales are much better than expected.

Nicola Solomon, Chief Executive of the Society of Authors, said: “This is excellent news for all creators and rights-holders. the Copyright Directive is a vital piece of legislation which affirms the rights of creators whose work is used online.

“The ‘bestseller clause’ will ensure that our members receive the remuneration they deserve when their work does better than expected. And if it isn’t being exploited, creators can get their rights back.

“We aren’t celebrating just yet, as the Directive still needs to be confirmed by member states and voted on by MEPs. But this breakthrough following weeks of deadlock comes as a huge relief, and we are optimistic that the Directive will soon be passed into EU law - and then into UK law within the following two years.”

Friday, 22 February 2019

CQC Campaign to Encourage Patients and Families to Raise Concerns Over Quality of Care

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is calling for people to speak up about their experiences of care, as new research showed that almost 7 million people in England who have accessed health or social care services, in the last five years have had concerns about their care, but never raised issues with staff.

The most common reasons for not raising a concern were:
  • not knowing how (20%) or who (33%) to raise it with, 
  • not wanting to be seen as a ‘troublemaker’ (33%) 
  • and worries about not being taken seriously (28%). 
Over a third of people (37%) felt that nothing would change as a result.

However, when people did raise a concern or complaint, the majority (66%) found their issue was resolved quickly, it helped the service to improve and they were happy with the outcome.

The research has been published as part the CQC's ‘Declare Your Care’ campaign. The campaign is encouraging people to share their experiences of care with CQC to support its work to improve standards of care in England.

The majority of people who did raise a concern or complaint were motivated by a desire to make sure that care improved for others. This included wanting to improve the care they, or a loved one, had received (61%) and improve care for everyone using the service (55%) with a smaller number also hoping for an apology or explanation (26%).

The main reasons given for raising, or wanting to raise a concern, were delays to a service or appointment, lack of information and poor patient care. Additionally, over a fifth indicated that they have raised or wanted to raise concerns about the lack of communication between health and care services.

Ian Trenholm, Chief Executive at the Care Quality Commission (CQC) said "Our annual State of Care report shows that most people are getting good care, a real testament to the hard work of the many people working across Health and Social Care in this country.

“We know that when people raise a concern they have a genuine desire to improve the service for themselves and others. We also know that the majority of services really appreciate this feedback and make positive changes, as this new research shows.

“Hearing from people about their experiences of care is an important part of our inspection work and contributes to driving improvements in standards of care. Everyone can play a part in improving care by directly giving feedback to services, or by sharing information and experiences with us so that we can take action when we find poor care. Sharing your experience also enables us to highlight the many great examples of care we see.”

Friday, 15 February 2019

Universities Urged to Boost Number of Students with Disabilities in Higher Education

Chris Skidmore, Universities Minister, is urging universities to boost the number of students with disabilities going into higher education and to do more to help them succeed when they get there.

Although the number of people going to university from this underrepresented group has increased to a record amount they still only represent 13% of entrants this is well below the proportion of working-age adults with a disability.

Chris Skidmore has asked key stakeholders to meet with him to discuss how the higher education sector can continue to break down barriers and secure improvements for students with disabilities.

Talking about the issue the Universities Minister, said "No-one’s background or circumstances should hold them back from the opportunity of a university education and there is no reason why disability should be a barrier to fulfilling someone’s potential.

I want to see the access and participation plans that universities are beginning to produce increase the ways they can support this group."

"Institutions such as Brunel University, with their award-winning Disability and Dyslexia Service, and the University of Worcester, who have built their entire campus with accessibility in mind, are leading the way – there is no reason why other universities can’t follow suit and match their provision. Working with key stakeholders and disabled students, I believe that we can do more to break down access and participation barriers in higher education by focusing on spreading good practice and listening to disabled students about their needs."

The Department for Education has published research showing that the Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) has helped to break down barriers that can exist for disabled students at university. The research shows results from a survey of disabled students, which found that 69 per cent felt confident about completing their course and 68 per cent felt confident about passing their course.

Universities that charge fees above the basic level must draw up an access and participation plan agreed by the Office for Students and higher education providers have legal responsibilities to support disabled students under the Equality Act 2010.