Not paying Child Maintenance will affect your credit rating

New measures are currently making their through Parliament that will enable the Child Maintenance Service to begin sharing information about payment of child maintenance with credit reference agencies. Therefore, if you allow your arrears to build up this will affect your credit rating like any other debt.

On the switch side, if you pay your child maintenance regularly (through the Child Maintenance Service or Child Support Agency) you will be able to ask that this information is shared with credit agencies which will, in turn, improve your credit rating.

Important case on overtime entitlement on holiday pay

The long awaited decision of Bear Scotland v Fulton as to whether overtime should be included in the calculation of holiday pay has been handed down. As what can only really be described as a triumph for employees, the Employment Appeals Tribunal concluded that:

Non-guaranteed overtime (i.e. overtime which the employer is not obliged to offer) should be included in the calculation of salary paid whilst a worker is on annual leave;

The inclusion of such payments will only apply to the first 4 weeks of annual leave and not the additional 1.6 weeks provided for under UK law;

Minimum wage rises to £6.50 per hour

The national minimum wage has risen by 19p to £6.50 per hour as of 1 October 2014.

The rate applies to anyone aged 21 or over. All other rates have also risen, with workers aged 18-20 now earning at least £5.13 per hour, workers aged 16-17 on at least £3.79 per hour and apprentices on a minimum of £2.73 per hour.

The government has faced criticism in recent years for failing to ensure that all workers are being paid at least the national minimum wage.

Subcontractor must pay for faulty workmanship

A subcontractor has been told it must accept liability for faulty workmanship that caused a flood at a block of flats even though the work was examined and signed off by the construction company running the project.

The case involved flats built in the south of England. The construction company responsible for the development subcontracted out much of the work.

Months after the job had been completed, a water pipe burst and caused substantial damage to several flats.

The building owner made a claim against the construction company.

Many small and medium-sized firms fighting to survive

An increasing number of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are struggling to escape from the financial uncertainty left by the recession, according to a new survey.

Research by insolvency specialists Begbies Traynor shows that the number of UK companies that were suffering ‘significant distress’ in Quarter 2 of 2014 was 237,000, which is 60,000 more than the same period of 2013.

SMEs are suffering the most, accounting for about 90% of the total number.

Commercial tenant not entitled to refund on prepaid rent

The Court of Appeal has ruled that a commercial tenant was not entitled to a refund of prepaid sums after exercising a release clause.

The tenant had a commercial lease which was due to expire in 2018. The terms included a break clause that offered the tenant the option of terminating the lease in either January 2012 or January 2016.

The tenant exercised the clause at the first opportunity and paid the basic rent for the whole quarter.

Directors disqualified for using unlawful sales tactics

Five company directors have been disqualified from trading for a combined total of 39½ years after repeatedly using sales tactics that breached consumer legislation.

The directors worked for SAS Fire and Security Systems Limited. The company sold fire and burglar alarms. It was investigated by Trading Standards in 2013 for its aggressive sales approach.

The investigation by the Insolvency Service found that customers were being cold-called over the phone, and coerced into agreeing to an appointment for a presentation of the products in their home.

Changes to family court system come into force

Changes have been made to the family court system with the aim of improving standards and speeding up the process.

The new measures mean that only the most qualified, experienced and recognised professionals will be allowed to give evidence in family cases where children are involved.

These expert witnesses can only give evidence if the judge believes it is necessary to resolve the case properly and fairly.

Rise in damages for hurt feelings in employment disputes

The level of compensation a victim receives for hurt feelings in employment disputes is to be raised by 10%.

Earlier in the year, the Court of Appeal decided that there should be a 10% rise in the monetary value placed on a victim’s hurt feelings in civil cases. The Employment Appeal Tribunal has now confirmed that this will also apply to cases between employers and their staff.

The level of hurt feelings that an employee might suffer will be assessed and categorised into one of the following bands:

Nearly 40,000 first-time buyers used Help to Buy in first year

The Help to Buy schemes, launched by the government last year, have enabled nearly 40,000 people to buy their first home, according to official statistics.

Help to Buy consists of two schemes which enable people to buy a property even if they only have 5% of the purchase cost.

More than 48,000 people in total have taken advantage of Help to Buy in the scheme’s first year. The government has released a statement revealing some of the key figures: