The government – supposedly being the flavour to favour business and entrepreneurs – seems hell bent on strewing obstacles at small businesses at the moment.

There is another one on its way that I don’t think all of you will have paid much attention to. If you have one member of staff 22 years of age or over, earning £10K or more, you will have to put a pension scheme in place. It’s called automatic enrolment, although employees can opt out if they wish. The date when you will have to start (known as the ‘staging’ date) depends upon how many employees you have. But start you must, eventually, or the Pensions Regulator will come calling. The fine this year if you miss your staging date is £2,500. There is a lot of information online about the subject in general.

Londis retailer Steve Vaughan (Handbridge Services, Chester), got in touch just after attending a retailer meeting where he said that everyone had been moaning about it. Steve is very good at handing on tips which I generally feature in C-Store’s sister paper Forecourt Trader, but this tip was too good to restrict to just one magazine so I’m putting it in both. As Steve says: “A lot of people are making truckloads of money out of it.”

This will certainly be true. There will be companies springing up all over the place that will come cold calling and offering to set you up for a few grand, to make sure you are ‘compliant’. But the company that Steve found will set you up a system for just a few quid per person, per month.

The company is called AEclipse and it too is based in Chester (believe it or not Steve heard about it through his dentist), but works nationally. I spoke to Pete Avery at the firm who said he recently had a client who had been quoted £7.5K for setting up a scheme for a dozen staff. “We can do that for £48 a month. That’s £3 per employee per month + vat.”

The company’s minimum fee is £40 per month + vat.

Pete has given me two direct lines that you can reach him and a colleague on: 01244 691993 and 01244 691992. And if you mention the reference code AE1, they will know that you have come via Convenience Store or Forecourt Trader magazine.