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December: Redundancy payouts push up cost of layoffs; Improving profitability a top priority; Green IT still matters, despite economic slump

Company insolvencies up
Company insolvencies for England and Wales are up by 26.3% in Q3 2008 on the
same period in 2007, and 10.5% up on Q2 2008, according to the
Insolvency
Service
statistics. This was broken down into various types of
insolvencies with the biggest rise in receivership appointments. These grew by
238% from 80 in Q3 2007 to 270 Q3 2008.

Paid to go
Sweetened redundancy payments are pushing up the cost of layoffs to an average
£10,000 per person. The public sector is nearly double that according to a poll
conducted by KPMG and the
Chartered
Institute of Personnel and Development
. Half the companies polled
claimed they had made payments above the statutory redundancy pay level, with
public sector workers receiving on average £17,926 each and those in the private
sector receiving an average of £8,981. The survey also found that redundancies
in the voluntary and not-for-profit sector averaged £7,629 per head.

Perfect FD
A management academic has unveiled a list of top qualities financial controllers
need to make it to FD. Polling around 4,000 companies,
Professor
Colin Coulson-Thomas
found that FCs needed to exhibit integrity,
determination, independence, objectivity, balance, commitment, individuality,
sensitivity, strategic and ethical awareness and a sense of accountability and
responsibility. However, he also said being able to explain financial forecasts
and results was more important than any of the other traits.

Share huggers
Returning cash to shareholders is only a priority to a minority of businesses,
research from
Siemens
Financial Services
has revealed. Of 736 UK firms, 62.3% thought
improving profitability was the biggest financial priority, while 46.3% thought
reinvestment in their business was paramount, followed by 39.5% who believed
increasing turnover should come first.

Banking bricks
The UK economy was worth £7 trillion at the close of 2007, according to the
Office
for National Statistics
, which calculated the figure using
information on capital stocks, capital consumption and non-financial assets held
on the balance sheets of UK companies in 2008. The housing market made the
biggest contribution to the valuation at 62% in 2007, 10% more than in 2006. The
ONS’s estimate put the total net worth of the UK, including financial assets, at
£6,998bn in 2007 ­ an increase of £506bn on 2006.

Green computing
Despite economic turmoil, 70% of companies still say that green IT is a
priority, according to registrants at the annual technology event,
Storage
Expo
. Self interest features largely, however, as just 4% said they
would push taking an environmentally aware approach to IT “even if there were no
cost savings to the business”. Two per cent said they were too worried about
their own jobs “to even think about it”.

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