Central England Trading Standards Newsletter
Winter 2013 The Local Economy issue here
Heart of England Fine Foods Business Newsletter
Read the 5 December 2013 issue here
FSB Members invited to help shape the design of a new HMRC online service for small and medium businesses
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is looking for volunteers to take part in a live trial of an early version of a new online service for small and medium businesses. The new service will bring together in one place everything businesses need to manage their tax affairs, for example: file tax returns, check and make payments, view important dates for future action.
If you'd like to take part in this trial, which will run during February and March 2014, please register your interest with HMRC by 17th January 2014 using the link below. You will be asked to provide some basic information about the nature of your business to help ensure that a diverse range of small and medium businesses is selected to participate in the trial.
Basic internet skills are all that's needed – no special equipment or expert knowledge is required.
Volunteers will be asked to provide some feedback on their experience of using the new service using online surveys, which should take no more than 5 minutes to complete. This will be used to help shape the development and design of the service.
View the form here
Herefordshire Rural Hub e-News
Training opportunities for businesses in the Marches (Shropshire, Herefordshire and Telford & Wrekin)
More information here
Civil Contingencies Secretariat seeks feedback from small businesses
What is the Civil Contingencies Secretariat?
The Civil Contingencies Secretariat (CCS) is the UK's agency which manages the nation's risk. Formed in 2001 the CCS works in four main areas:
- risk assessment
- preparation and planning
- response and recovery
- building a resilient society to ensure businesses and communities are better prepared for, and able to recover from, emergencies
A threat to the UK can be anything that affects the wider community and can be just about anything which would place significant numbers of people at risk of harm, ill health or injury etc. A flu epidemic, major chemical contamination or threat to national security are examples of such threats.
Call to action - your feedback
CCS is also keen to understand how small/medium enterprises engage with the services they offer or how they might wish to do so in the future and ask business owners to take just a few minutes to complete their survey here
The deadline for completion is close of play on the 12th November.
More information about the CCS is available here
10,000 Small Businesses
10,000 Small Businesses is designed to unlock the economic and job creation potential of small businesses and social enterprises operating in the United Kingdom. The programme is based on the broadly held view of leading experts that greater access to a combination of education and business support services best addresses barriers to growth. 10,000 Small Businesses is targeted at small businesses and social enterprises with clear ambitions to expand. The goal of the programme is to provide participants with tools and resources to help them lay the foundation for long-term sustainable growth and job creation in their communities.
10,000 Small Businesses is funded by the Goldman Sachs Foundation.
Application form here
The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has published a Small Business Property Guide
RICS has published a Small Business Property Guide covering issues such as valuations, leases, planning permission, business rates and more. The FSB believes the guide is a good tool for small and medium-sized businesses to use to manage their property assets more profitably.
View the Guide here
Do you need to comply with regulation?
Most businesses do – but do you know what regulations you need to comply with?
It's a minefield!
Regulatory Services has introduced ERWIN – or ‘Everything Regulation Whenever It's Needed' to help hard pressed business owners to understand and comply with the every more complicated rule book.
Take a look at ERWIN and see if it works for you.
Business training courses available at Kington, Herefordshire
View Marches Access Point Autumn Prospectus here
West Midlands Trading Standards Newsletter
September 2013 issue available here
Hereford College of Arts
Business Short Courses
Autumn Term 2013
Includes: Business Start up; Introduction to Marketing, Marketing Strategy and Advertising.
Short courses are also available across a range of subjects to meet the needs of business owners.
More information available here
Identifying burdensome regulation
Your input would help
Business Minister Michael Fallon tells us that he's looking at ways to reduce the burden of EU regulation on businesses.
We need your help. We know how difficult it is to spot the individual pieces of legislation which tie up time in a business let alone whether it originated at the EU or UK level. However, you are at the coalface and we would like any member who can identify a regulatory area that is time-consuming and/or difficult to manage to let us know. Please email FSB here by close of business on Monday 12th August.
Is your business in the retrofit industry?
If so, and you are based in the West Midlands, employ fewer than 250 staff and turnover less than £50m PA the European funded Aim High scheme could help you.
More information here
Herefordshire business support available
Following the appointment of Great2Good as the Marches Local Enterprise business support agency a series of workshops and clinics is now available to businesses within the Marches area (Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin)
More information here
FREE confidence workshops
The Mayor of Shrewsbury, Councillor Jon Tandy, is hosting a free workshop for young people at the Guildhall in Shrewsbury on Thursday 22nd August. The workshop will be facilitated by John Rainford and is aimed at anyone who lacks confidence either through depression, lack of social skills, or perhaps just shy. This is a light-hearted and inspiring workshop demonstrating how easy it is to leave your comfort zone and live life to the full. Visit www.creativity4confidence.co.uk for further details on workshops.
University of Worcester Export Survey
The University of Worcester is conducting primary research into the barriers to export for West Midlands businessesThe survey will take you about 10 minutes to complete and no personal information is required.
Visit the survey here
Good2Great wins contract for business start up and growth support across the Marches LEP area – Shropshire, Herefordshire and Telford & Wrekin
More information available shortly – visit Good2great for more information
Read FSB Member David Snowden's latest blog
Top ten errors on understanding Business Continuity Management
Read the blog
Wage incentives now extended nationally through Jobcentre Plus
Businesses across Great Britain are benefiting from Youth Contract wage incentives to take on a young person and help their business thrive. The scheme has been extended - recruit an eligible, unemployed young person through Jobcentre Plus across England, Scotland and Wales and you can now claim up to £2,275.
Recruiting a new member of staff can be a big commitment but if you employ an eligible 18 to 24 year old then you can get financial help that more than covers the cost of a year's national insurance contributionsla.
If you take someone on full-time - for 30 hours or more a week - you'll be able to claim the top rate of £2,275. Recruit someone part time - between 16 and 29 hours a week - and you'll get £1,137.50. (The job must last at least 26 weeks.)
Think about it – helping a young person get their foot on the job ladder makes great business sense. Where employers have taken on young people they have found them open to new ideas and different ways of working. They bring a fresh perspective and offer the business a unique chance to train tomorrow's talent and build future potential.
Take advantage of a cash incentive and you'll be giving an eager young person the chance to get off benefits and into work. At the same time you'll be helping your community by creating opportunities and developing the skills of young people in your area.
Wage incentives work for business but don't just take our word for it. Thanks to the wage incentive scheme a family-run business in Hull, Meg's Sweet Shop, has taken on a new employee. Co-owner Dean Mortimer said: "The wage incentive has meant we can take on extra staff we need and make the business thrive."
Applying for a wage incentive is simple. To find out more talk to Jobcentre `Plus - they will give you advice on eligibility and support to find the right person for the job.
For more information contact Mike Dzioba on 01342 363670 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
The wage incentive is still available if you take on a young person from the Work Programme, delivered by the private, public and voluntary sector to help individuals at risk of becoming long-term unemployed find work. Recruiting a young disabled person from the Work Choice programme also attracts a wage incentive.
For information about wage incentives available through the Work Programme or Work Choice go to: www.gov.uk/jobcentre-plus-help-for-recruiters/other-employment-schemes/p>
FSB report on cyber crime and fraud, the effects on UK small businesses
Read full report
Are you a local employer with a vacancy to fill?
Opportunities and vacancies can be uploaded to the Job Centre Plus's Universal Jobmatch system: https://www.gov.uk/advertise-job . This is a free service aimed at matching employers and potential employees from any part of the country.
Auto enrolment & what it means to employers
The phased introduction of auto enrolment of the workforce into pension schemes commenced in October 2012. The scheme started with the largest organisations will continue to roll out to businesses until the those with fewer than 30 enrol last between 2015 and 2017. If you employ anyone this will affect you.
Employer information here
Scheme information here
A fair deal for your local
Speak up and demand a fair deal for your local pub and stop the exploitation of licensees by the large pub companies.
More information here
New Defra broadband film for businesses
Organisation: Countryside Alliance
Source: Press Releases
Defra has produced a short film in which small businesses talk about their experience and success in using broadband to help grow their business, in order to encourage other small businesses to follow suit. The video supports the wider Government infrastructure programme to make faster speed broadband available to over 90% of the population, especially in rural areas.
The video, embedded below, had its first public outing at the FSB Conference in Leicester today, when Environment Secretary Owen Paterson addressed the business community. The video might be a helpful tool for many businesses to think about the possibilities.
The Government has announced an increase in the national minimum wage from October 2013
The following rates came into effect on 1 October 2013:
- The adult rate will increase by 12p to £6.31 an hour
- The rate for 18-20 year olds will increase by 5p to £5.03 an hour
- The rate for 16-17 year olds will increase by 4p to £3.72 an hour
- The apprentice rate will increase by 3p to £2.68 an hour.
- The accommodation offset increases from the current £4.82 to £4.91
Do you run a business in Worcestershire?
Are you looking for ways to reduce your energy bills and become more resource efficient?
Grants are available to businesses meeting the criteria – more information here
Do you run a land based, rural skills based or rural tourism based business?
DEFRA is offering training for certain rurally based businesses sectors.
Stourbridge College has been successful in winning a partnership bid for funding with Calderdale College which will benefit up to 1,000 employed young adults in the Dudley Borough
‘Work Place Learning' is funded by the European Social Fund and co-financed by the Skills Funding Agency with the West Yorkshire Consortium of Colleges accountable for driving the £55 million project forward. It promotes ‘in work' training for employed people who are looking to progress to higher level qualifications and build on their existing skills. The partnership is delivered across Yorkshire and the Humber, East & West Midlands and in the North East & North West of England.
Lynette Cutting, Principal at Stourbridge College, said: "We are always looking for additional funding which might be available to deliver training for young people in the Black Country – in line with the Local Enterprise Partnership's focus on ensuring we have the right skills in the region to support our thriving economy. We're delighted to have been awarded this three year contract as part of this national project which will see over £1m available to local employed people aged 19 or over. Small to Medium Enterprises with up to 1,000 employees will be able to take advantage of training opportunities for staff keen to get some qualifications under their belt."
The West Midlands has been awarded £11.8m in total and Stourbridge College is the only Black Country Further Education college to secure funding.
More information and contact details
Central England Regulatory Services Newsletter
FSB Six Point Plan for Business Continuity - see page 5 here
Business Continuity Planning
Have you built your Business Battle Box yet?
Any interruption to your business can have devastating effects – don't be caught out!
Check out some ideas that could help you, your staff, your business and your cash flow here
FSB free guidance on flood insurance claims
FSB Insurance is offering guidance on the website http://www.fsb.org.uk/floods and a direct helpline 0845 762 6158 (local rate calls) for members to call irrespective of whether you are insured with FSB.
Discretionary Business Rate Relief
Local Authorities are being urged by Government to support businesses wherever possible and is providing some funding to LAs to cover some of the extra costs associated with the granting of Discretionary Business Rate Relief.
DBRR is unlikely to be made available to many businesses, but if you think you have specific circumstances which make your business a special case it may be worth applying.
More information about the scheme
Government launches new guide
View the new guide to ' Growing your Business Base to include Disabled People ' here
Apprentice Training Agencies
Did you know there is a single portal for the whole of Shropshire, Herefordshire & Worcestershire for employers and applicants for information about Apprenticeships?
The ATA is ideal for employers who would like to have an Apprentice but don't want to have the hassle of employing them or may want to share an Apprentice with another small business AND they find the right Apprentice for you
The ATA in Worcestershire known as ‘The Apprenticeship Works' employ the apprentice (up to 25 years of age) takes care of their weekly wage, holidays, sickness and all the hassle.
Totally flexible, the employer only commits to the agency for as long as they need (minimum of 4 weeks) There are no strings, just a weekly charge to the employer.
For further information visit www.hwstpa.co.uk email email@example.com or phone 01902 461873
Helping British business seize exporting opportunities
Did you know that the UK Government provides help, aimed particularly at smaller and mid-sized businesses but available to companies of all sizes from all sectors, that cannot get the finance/insurance from their bank/trade credit insurer that they needed to take advantage of export opportunities? This help is delivered through UK Export Finance (UKEF) and can help you with:
- Cash flow
- Protect you against not being paid
- Assist with your finance needs
- Contract bonds
- Insurance against unfair calling of bonds by the buyer, particularly in politically unpredictable countries
- Provide a line of credit, which enables an overseas buyer to purchase goods or services from several UK exporters simultaneously under one loan from a bank
- Insure British companies' investments overseas
UKEF can assist exporters to obtain working capital to fulfil export orders before being paid by their buyer. They will share risk with the lending bank to increase its capacity to provide finance to exporters and to reduce the collateral exporters need to provide to the bank for that finance. They can also help exporters to access foreign-exchange products.
UKEF also offers export insurance to protect British exporters against non-payment. They work to fill the gaps in private insurers' capacity, often in markets with higher growth and more opportunities than the traditionally ‘safe' markets of the Eurozone and USA. Therefore if a buyer can't or won't pay, the exporter can claim the money from the UK Government instead. Exporters pay a premium, just as they would if they took out private insurance. They can also support UK banks' capacity to lend, for example by providing Government guarantees against the risks to banks of confirming overseas letters of credit; or guarantees for loans that banks make to overseas buyers of goods from British companies.. This gives British exporters extra comfort when trading in unfamiliar markets. Such loans are typically repayable over more than two years. The loan is used to pay the UK exporter at the time the goods are shipped, so you can offer your customers the credit they want without waiting to get paid.
UKEF will also help exporters who have to give contract bonds to their buyers. For example, a buyer may be willing to pay a UK exporter 20% of the contract price in advance, to provide funds for the exporter to make the goods or provide the services. In many such cases the buyer will ask the exporter to have its bank issue a bond, so the buyer can get his money back on demand. However, the banks usually require cash or other security for issuing this bond, negating any benefit to the exporter of getting the money up front!
UKEF steps in to provide a bank guarantee to reduce the amount of security required from the exporter, so some or all of the advance payment can be released to the exporter to fulfil the contract.
In the last year UKEF helped around a dozen smaller exporters with insurance, supporting around £50 million of exports; supported LCs worth more than £200 million and guaranteed bonds worth around £100 million.
Sadly many local banks and bankers lack knowledge of the support available from UKEF or how to access it and this valuable support for British industry is underutilised. Visit www.ukexportfinance.gov.uk for more information.
Thinking of starting up a business but not quite sure how?
South Worcestershire College has introduced a one week long intensive course covering the areas that you are most likely to need to know more about before you invest in your own enterprise.
Brief details and contact information.
Introducing the new Youth Contract
The Youth Contract is adminstered by Job Centre Plus and it's all about employing and supporting young people into work. Download the basics here or contact Mike Dzioba at Job Centre Plus or phone 01432 363670 or 07855 319945 for further information.
Herefordshire Brand Toolkit goes live!
Hereforshire Council, Business Board and VisitHerefordshire are pleased to announce that the toolkit is now live!
The online brand toolkit will give you access to a whole range of assets including access to guidelines for use. On the site we have 3 different partnership options for you to choose from, one which offers a taste of the brand, one which offers a wider selection of brand assets and another which offers everything we have available.
There are three simple steps for you to follow:
- Visit www.hereyoucan.co.uk
- Fill in the sign up form and select suitable partnership
- Await email with username and password and away you go
The brand is controlled and managed by the Herefordshire brand management team which includes Visit Herefordshire, the local authority and the Herefordshire Business Board. It is their job to ensure that those using the brand use it properly and that quality standards are maintained for the good of all.
Being able to use the brand is upon application, so please advise how you are planning to use the branding so it can be reviewed by the brand guardian and if necessary by the brand management group.
If you have any questions, queries, feedback or problems please don't hesitate to get in touch - and they want to hear from you.
Contact Rachel Jones, Herefordshire Brand Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org
Franchises - what are they, how much do they cost and do they suit everyone?
More information by Michael Amies
The British Franchise Association (BFA) provides current franchise opportunities, costs and other information.