Apprenticeship Levy Transfer

Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce currently have a member business, from the ceramic sector, who is an Apprenticeship Levy Payer.

This business is interested in identifying SME’s across Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire, who would like to benefit from an Apprenticeship Levy Transfer. Currently, Levy Payers can support the cost of apprenticeships in other organisations by transferring a percentage of their unspent apprenticeship funds to other employers.

From April 2019, the rate available to transfer, increased to 25% of the annual value of funds entering the apprenticeship service account. These funds can be transferred to any employer, including smaller employers in their supply chain.

Transferred funds will be used to pay for the training and assessment cost of the apprenticeships agreed with the receiving employer.

If you would like to be considered or would like to find out more about apprenticeship levy transfer, then please contact

More than 150,000 construction companies are facing a 20% drop in cash flow when planned VAT changes come into force in October.

Premier Tax Solutions are joining other accountancy practices in calling on the Government to delay the changes for at least six months.

The planned “domestic reverse charge” changes mean companies in the construction supply chain will no longer receive their 20% VAT payment when they submit bills.

The VAT cash will instead be paid direct to HMRC by the customer receiving the service who will reclaim it in the normal way.

Several pressure groups, including the National Federation of Builders are warning the Chancellor of the Exchequer that this will damage an industry already struggling due to a fragile pre-Brexit economy.

“We work with several firms in the construction industry and it is clear this could hit cash flow at a time when some companies may be just about managing,” said Vanessa Fuller, Director of Premier Tax Solutions.

“We have just seen the demise of Pochin and the problems that has caused for sub-contractors and to work on the development of the Hilton Garden Inn, close to our two North Staffordshire offices.”

Premier Tax Solutions welcomed a statement from its industry professional body, the Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT), calling on HMRC to delay the change by six months.


We now want to see a delay and a major awareness raising campaign to prepare the construction industry for the changes.


Without this deferment, the industry is predicting be significant confusion among businesses, leading to disputes between suppliers and customers as to whether or not VAT should be charged.

“This will have a knock-on effect for the HMRC whose staff could be inundated with calls at the same time as they are currently dealing with the fall-out from Making Tax Digital, and the build up to Brexit.

Linda Skilbeck, Vice-Chair of CIOT’s Indirect Taxes Sub-committee, said: “We are concerned about the combination of a substantial lack of awareness, and lack of preparedness even among those businesses who are aware of the measures.

“We urge the Government to delay the current implementation date. A start date of 1 April 2020 is more appropriate. This should allow time for a dedicated information campaign to be operated by HMRC, with the assistance of industry and professional bodies.

“The aim of the domestic reverse charge is to combat missing trader fraud in the construction sector. The CIOT supports actions to tackle tax evasion. However, there must be a balance between countering fraud and disrupting genuine business, and the CIOT considers there will be considerable burdens to affected taxpayers from this lack of publicity.”

CSSC Accountancy Tuition based in Newcastle under Lyme, Staffordshire, are delighted to announced they have achieved GOLD level accreditation from ACCA ( (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants). This is a reflection of their outstanding pass rates, student feedback and quality of their tutors/ resources and premises. Accountancy tuition is offered at all levels by CSSC Tuition ( CIMA, ACCA and some upcoming short AAT courses).
Please contact to find out more.

At Keele University, the commitment to student development, graduate outcomes and employer engagement is paramount.

By engaging with employers, the University is able to fully understand the knowledge, skills and attributes that are required from graduates, ensuring that Keele students are prepared and equipped to succeed in the world of work.

Stakeholder collaboration and the co-creation and co-delivery of academic and development programmes is now commonplace at Keele and is being driven forward by the Employability and Employer Engagement Team within the Keele Institute for Innovation and Teaching Excellence (KIITE).

A group of Keele professional services and academic staff recently met with some senior accountants, including representatives from Geens Ltd, Phillips Chartered Accountants, John Capper & Co and the ICAEW, to discuss new talent requirements including the most wanted skills and how Keele can support students when entering the accountancy profession.

The meeting was headed by Terry Dray, Associate Director for Employability and Employer Engagement at Keele: “The session followed a conversation that I had with Chris Beeston, Tax Director at Geens Ltd, at a recent Finest Board Meeting. We both agreed that it would be beneficial to get together and discuss how Keele Talent can transition seamlessly into the profession.

“During the meeting, it was pleasing to hear how the skills and knowledge possessed by our graduates generally match those required and expected by the industry. There are some gaps to fill, but we now have a clearer idea of how, together, we can address these.

“Conversations like this ensure that we are delivering academic programmes that reflect the demands of the professional world and provide a talent pipeline that will hit the ground running. We are actively seeking more conversations like this one across a wide range of professions and sectors, and would very much encourage interested parties to get in touch.”

Terry Dray can be contacted by emailing

A Stafford-based motorhome business is extending the benefits of a new partnership with vehicle manufacturers, Fiat Professional, to offer local automotive businesses the opportunity to provide their customers with genuine Fiat parts supply and mechanical services.

Erwin Hymer Centre Travelworld recently signed an agreement with Fiat Professional, a major supplier of motorhome chassis, to join its trade programme, Club Ricambi which is run by MOPAR, the service and customer care organisation within Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. The deal means Erwin Hymer Centre has become one of only two approved Fiat dealers in Stafford, helping the business further realise its ambition to become a one stop centre for all motorhome servicing requirements.

As an authorised dealer, it can now offer local garages direct access to both its car and motorhome parts supply and Fiat factory trained technicians, to help local automotive companies better serve their customers, who can purchase dealer parts at competitive prices with daily and next-day delivery.

Andy Wright is MOPAR Service and Parts Zone Manager who works alongside MOPAR Customer Care manager, Thomas Lysaght, both of whom have been involved in the EHCT partnership process. Andy said: “Stafford is an area with great growth potential, with lots of small thriving businesses, partnering with EHCT, with its purpose-built centre, is a big part of helping us penetrate this area.”

EHCT’s Fiat Parts manager Jonathan Banner said: “We think this is a golden opportunity for Stafford garages who may otherwise have to turn away customers looking for genuine Fiat parts and accessories. We want to build links with reputable businesses in the area and form positive, reciprocal relationships and we are already making good progress!”

Simon Dean Motor Services based in Stoke is one garage that recently got on board with the program. Simon said: “Having a reliable car and professional van parts supplier for all my Fiat requirements on my doorstep is great news for my business, and being able to offer uprated suspension systems from Goldschmitt is an added bonus.”

Erwin Hymer Centre first became a Fiat Professional partner three years but to gain its official Fiat partnership, it was subject to a series of rigorous processes, involving the recruitment of new Fiat staff members, financial commitment, running several training programmes and database assessment.

Erik Baxendale added:” The process was strict and required a lot of commitment from us but we believe the finance and time invested will pay dividends. Although we do supply motorhomes on Fiat Ducato, Mercedes Sprinter, Debeko and Iveco Daily chassis also, we recognise that Fiat is a strong brand to be associated with. We’re enjoying working with the Fiat team, and linking in with businesses in the local area.”

Local auto businesses and garages who are interested in linking in with the company’s program are invited to a ‘Fiat Trade Evening’ held at the Erwin Hymer Centre in Stafford on Wednesday 11th September from 5pm until 7pm. For more information, please contact Jonathan Banner via email: or call him on: 01785 87 87 87.

Multi award-winning Health and Safety Consultancy Rhino Safety are celebrating their move to larger offices at the Edwin Foden Centre in Sandbach.
Since winning their first award for Start Up Business of the Year in 2015, the company has grown quickly, with a directly employed team of 7, including 4 expert Health & Safety consultants.
The expansion into new premises has coincided with their largest ever month’s turnover, and follows their most recent award of Business of the Year (under 25 employees) with the South Cheshire Chamber of Commerce.
Rhino Safety operates nationwide and works with a number of large, multi-site clients as well as SMEs and 3rd-sector organisations in industries from office and retail through to construction, manufacturing and engineering. They are able to take care of all aspects of businesses’ health and safety obligations, including training, documentation, ongoing support, risk assessments and fire risk assessments.
Director Simon Walter says “As well as working with some well-known corporations, at Rhino Safety we also enjoy working with small firms who simply can’t justify having their own dedicated Health and Safety team.
What we tend to do with smaller clients is act as their own “mini” Health and Safety department. That’s because with all the new regulations and constant changes to existing ones coming from the government, small companies simply can’t afford to ignore them – a small mistake could end up costing them a huge amount of money or even bankrupt the company. It just makes sense for them to outsource all that to us so they can relax and get on with what they do best while we take care of all the legislative headaches for them”.
Working with such a wide variety of clients has benefits both to their consultants and clients. As Director Cate Walter explains, “Lots of H&S consultants specialise in one industry, but we strongly believe that our experience working with clients in a wide range of fields keeps us at the forefront of H&S developments and aware of all the possible risks, rather than becoming ‘nose-blind’ due to over-specialisation in just one field.
This also benefits our clients, because we can provide them with innovative solutions based on our experience from other sectors, and ultimately ensure they are providing safe working environments without threatening their commercial focus.”
The company have also just launched a brand new, turnkey product aimed at low-risk businesses with less than 15 employees: H&S Unlocked.
Simon explains, “These smaller companies are often overlooked by the H&S industry, and the information and materials available to them to manage their H&S are often a scaled-down version of those designed for huge companies with completely different needs.
H&S Unlocked is a one-off cost pack that contains everything these businesses need to be compliant – without overkill.”
Cate continues, “H&S Unlocked offers these businesses the opportunity to show genuine engagement with their H&S obligations that downloadable templates just don’t provide, but without the huge time or financial commitment. It’s a bespoke solution at great value for money.”
For more information on Rhino Safety’s services, contact or 01270 440 341, or go to

Innovative use of Augmented Reality has seen Tamworth tech company Enlighten win a major contract to support mental health awareness solutions for 1,200 students at a London Higher Education college group.

Enlighten are working with the Regent College Group to provide advice and information embedded into student ID cards and posters.

Based at the Tamworth Enterprise Centre, Enlighten develop Augmented Reality solutions in the corporate business, health and education sectors. Previous work with the Armed Forces has seen Enlighten embed important health messages on Post Traumatic Stress Disorders in posters for the British Armed Forces.

Now they have been recruited by the Wembley based Regent College Group to support mental health awareness programme, Mind Connect.

“It is a coup for us as we are a SME from Staffordshire working for a college group in the Capital city with five 5 campus’ and well over a thousand students,” said Enlighten’s Managing Director Suzanne Edwards. “We are a company which has a strong track record of developing tech for good and evidence shows our Augmented Reality mental health awareness application has provided effective support and signposted users to seek help.”

Tanya Tanna, Student Experience Manager, at the Regent College Group, said: “We wanted to reach out to our whole student body and needed innovative solutions. Enlighten have been fantastic, supplying inspirational ideas and constant support.

“Using Enlighten’s easy to access technology, students will be able to find lots of helpful information about how to take care of their emotional and financial wellbeing and where to seek help at any time. Students will have a special augmented reality code on their ID cards and, with the help of their smart phones, they will have access to mental health help 24/7 without necessity to talk to anyone, if they don’t want to.

“Augmented Reality provides immediate access and an engaging portal for our students to access bespoke, relevant student information, mental health support and a way to access the student support services whenever they need it.

“The areas of North London covered by Regent College has a diverse population with around 70% of our students originating from Eastern European families. Research shows that it can be difficult to talk about mental health issues in some of the communities involved but Enlighten has been able to provide engaging, highly visual content that students will find easy to access.

“Students can use their mobile phones to access the Augmented Reality content and find lots of helpful information about how to take care of their emotional and financial wellbeing and how to seek support.”

Each student is given a code with their ID cards. They can use their smart phones to access information about support services at any time.

Tanya added: “We are also going to promote our Student Support Centre services and a new programme called Thinking into Character. Our students will find links to the corresponding platforms on the college website.

“The project has passionate support at the college and we see the Augmented Reality programme as extremely useful for staff too, making a real, positive impact on staff who may be struggling in silence.”

Regent College Group has five campuses, providing business orientated Higher Education courses at HND and Degree level. Subjects include business management, marketing, entrepreneurship, software engineering, computing and health and social care.

Suzanne Edwards of Enlighten added: “Mental ill-health, including stress, depression and anxiety, is thought to be responsible for 91 million lost working days each year in the UK, more than for any other illness, costing workplaces £24 billion each year. By using Augmented Reality technology we can help organisations to reach staff and students who may not want to talk to a counsellor or visit a GP.”

To find out more about Enlighten, please go online to

Freeths LLP, leading law firm and long-standing sponsor of the national Women of the Year Luncheon and Awards, is delighted to announce that Jenny Johnston, Training and Development Manager at KMF Group Ltd is a finalist for the prestigious Business Woman of the Year Award and the Freeths Woman with Edge Award.

2019 has been a record-breaking year for the Women of the Year Luncheon and Awards, with the greatest number of nominations ever received in this category. Over 500 women were nominated, making the judges job of narrowing the field down to just 10 finalists, a massive challenge.

In addition to sponsoring the Women of the Year Luncheon and Awards, Freeths is proud to announce they will also be sponsoring this year’s Woman with Edge Award. Freeths will appoint the Woman with Edge Award to a business leader who has demonstrated the courage to challenge and make a real difference.

Peter Gavin, Partner at Freeths Stoke said: “We are proud to be a long standing sponsor of the Women of the Year Awards, with our Freethinking approach we actively encourage the celebration of women’s achievements and promote diversity. More than ever before, women are taking up leadership roles in business and making their voices heard. We are delighted that a local Staffordshire business woman has been recognised for her achievements”.

The 2019 winner will be announced to over 550 guests at this year’s Women of the Year Luncheon and Awards, which takes place on 25th October at Hilton Birmingham Metropole.

First Trenitalia has won the contract to run rail services on the West Coast Main Line from December 2019.

Virgin Trains, the current operator of the rail line, was barred from bidding to keep the route over a pensions contributions dispute. First Trenitalia said it would run 56 refurbished Pendolino trains and replace its diesel-powered Voyager fleet with something more environmentally friendly.

The consortium will also design and develop High Speed 2 (HS2) as a “shadow operator” and run HS2 from March 2026 until 2031 along with the reshaped West Coast rail services. Chamber members can learn more about this news at our Transport Forum taking place on the 12th September.

Stafford businesses and commuters will be pleased to learn that construction of the new Stafford Western Access Route, SWAR for short, is underway.

While most of the construction work is not due to be completed until 2021, the new route will enable future development sites to be unlocked, improve traffic flow within the town centre and at the train station and create an improved public realm for pedestrians and cyclists alike.

The road project will link the A34 Foregate Street at Madford Retail Park to the A518 Newport Road at Castlefields Junction – helping to improve traffic flow in Gaol Square, Station Road, Chell Road, Doxey Road, Newport Road (east of Kingsway) and the A34 Foregate Street (south of the scheme).

The Staffordshire Chambers’ looks forward to seeing diggers on the ground and will work with all key partners to reduce impacts on business and commuting. Members can find out more information by attending the Chambers’ Transport Forum on the 12th September (see website for booking details) and by visiting the Staffordshire County Council’s information page at