From: Professional Electrician & Installer

Findings from a recent survey into consumer attitudes to payments reveal that many self-employed tradespeople may be losing potential income by not being able to accept card payments.

However, there is competitive advantage to be gained as the survey shows that businesses adopting new card payment technology often attract more customers than those only accepting cash. In the last year, one-in-five UK consumers has abandoned a purchase due to the trades person not accepting card payments or because they did not have enough cash, over half of consumers (54%) finding this lack of flexibility inconvenient.

The implications are far reaching:

  • 72% of consumers are left with a negative impression of a business that fails to accept cards
  • 28% of customers may also see this lack of service as poor customer service
  • 19% see lack of card payment options as being unprofessional
  • 18% even perceiving the business as unsuccessful or struggling
  • 87% state that they spend more money when paying by card as they purchase additional services or products, demonstrating the potential benefits on offer for those mobile workers that adopt the new service

Tradespeople have the potential to gain new customers by accepting card payments on the move. 38% of people saying that would prefer a tradesman (38%, an electrician 35% and a plumber 33%) if they accept card payments over one that doesn’t, even if the job quote, materials and service quality are the same.

The survey of 5176 people was conducted via online interviews with UK consumers (18+ year olds) during April 2013 for WorldPay.

As a consequence WorldPay has launched ‘WorldPay Zinc’ which allows tradesmen to use a mobile chip & pin keypad, costing £59.99, to take card payments on-site. Offering quick transfer of funds (usually 4 working days), this service offers a pay-as-you-go system of 2.75% per transaction.

This amounts to the tradesman having to pay £2.75 on every £100 pounds that is put through the card reader, this may seem to be a lot, but bear in mind some retail outlets pay 5% or more.

- Mark Jenkins

 

Mark Jenkins is the Electrical Course Development Manager at Access Training. If you would like to learn more about electrical work and maintenance, you might want to consider one of the many electrical training courses we offer. These are available for both DIY enthusiasts AND people looking to gain the vital qualifications needed to make the career change to become an electrician. To find out more give us a call on 0800 345 7492.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) are currently consulting recently published plans to simplify the way self-employed people pay National Insurance Contributions.

It has been put forward whether it might be less hassle to collect contributions alongside Class 4 NICs and Income Tax through the Self-Assessment Process. This would mean self-employed people would only need to fill in an annual SA return to have these NICs collected. The aim is reduce the administrative burden on self-employed people, which is the main area many express difficulty in when taking the steps to become self-employed.

HRMC are also encouraging representatives of the self-employed to respond to the consultation before the final review. The closing date for this is the 9th October 2013. More information can be found on the HMRC website.

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The financial aspect of going self-employed with your trade can be offputting to many skilled tradesmen, but here at Access Training we make sure our students are fully prepared to take that next step in their career. As well as all the relevant qualifications in electric, gas, plumbing and various construction trades, help is on hand to give you the basic knowledge you'll need to handle the technical side of self-employed life. After that you'll be free to enjoy working flexible hours while being your own boss. For more information on our training courses and what is needed to become self employed contact us via email or telephone 0800 345 7492.

If you are looking to leave the army and start a new career, you’ll need a whole new skill set. You’ll probably have heard about ELCs (Enhanced Learning Credits), IRTC grants (Individual Resettlement Training Cost), GRT (Graduated Resettlement Time) and a whole host of other three letter acronyms. But what does it all mean and how can you use all of these resources to start a new career and a new life after leaving the armed services?

Over the next few weeks we’ll be looking at retraining in trades for ex-services personnel, so keep your eyes peeled for our blogs and articles aimed at getting you the best training and making the most of the excellent retraining resources the army supplies. In this article we’ll be looking at exactly what ELCs, IRTC grants and GRT are and how you can use them to learn a trade in preparation for your civilian life.

What are Enhanced Learning Credits (ELCs)?

ELCs or Enhanced Learning Credits are a form of financial support for servicemen and women who want to take up further education or retrain in a new profession when they leave the army. Here are the key things you need to know about ELCs:

1.    ELCs are available for three separate years; these years do not have to be consecutive and can be used at any point in the decade after you have left the army.

2.    There are two levels of ELCs. The lower level entitles you to £1,000 per year, which can be claimed after four years of service. The higher level entitles you to £2,000 per year and is available after eight years of service.

3.    All courses your ELCs are spent on must be delivered by an authorised provider and must be a nationally recognised level 3 qualification or above. This may include but is not limited to:

•    Overseas qualifications
•    Postgraduate qualifications
•    Foundation degrees
•    Vocational training
•    Other academic qualifications

4.
    ELCs cannot be used to pay for books and materials, travel, accommodation and food required during the training. However, IRTC grants can be used for these purposes and can be used at the same time as your ELCs. Read more about this below.

What are Individual Resettlement Training Cost (IRTC) Grants?

IRTCs or Individual Resettlement Training Costs are another form of financial support for ex-army personnel who want to retrain or get back into education after six years of service. Many people do not realise that IRTCs can be used at the same time as ELCs, but in fact this is a very good way of making the most of your allowances and resources.

IRTC grants are tax-free and entitle you to £534 to be spent on an approved course. A further benefit of £80 a day can be provided to be spent on accommodation and an added £25 can be given to spend on daily food requirements.

Because the yearly £1,000-£2,000 ELCs (Enhanced Learning Credits) are not always enough to cover the cost of a quality, nationally approved training course, many training providers will provide both food and accommodation along with the one-off £534, and use the surplus accommodation and food allowances to cover the rest of the courses cost. This makes great training courses affordable for ex-servicemen and women and keeps them fed and housed for the duration too.

This combination of ELCs and IRTCs is not handled by all training providers but there are a number of excellent vocational training providers, Access included, who are highly-rated by the army because they do a brilliant job of retraining ex-army personnel in this way.

What is Graduated Resettlement Time (GRT)?
Graduated Resettlement Time (GRT) is leave allowance given to army personnel which they can use to prepare for life outside the army. Depending on your years of service, you will be entitled to a different number of GRT days.

No GRT is allotted to military personnel who have been serving for less than six years. After six years the time allotted is as follows:

Years of Service1 GRT Days Allotted
6+ Years 20 Days
8+ Years 25 Days
12+ Years 30 Days
16+ Years 35 Days

If you have to leave the army on medical discharge your GRT days are more generous and start from your very first year of service.

So What’s Next?

Now you know the basics about how the key army resources for retraining can fit together, you now need to decide what you want to do and put all this information into practice. Many ex-servicemen and women take up a trade after leaving the army; to do this you will need to train in your chosen field. Access is a vocational training provider with close links to the services. We allow you to use your ELCs and IRTCs to their full advantage whilst the flexibility of our courses allows you to use your GRT to learn in tandem with your current career.

To learn more about the huge range of vocational courses that Access provide for servicemen and women, visit the rest of our website or call one of our experienced and knowledgeable team on 0800 345 7492 today, and take the first step on your brand new career ladder!

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