Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce has commissioned a new ‘Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Skills Hub’ to help support SME businesses in Staffordshire with the cost of bespoke training.

The fund is available to businesses from any sector, who can receive up to 48 percent of the cost of a training course up to the value of £5000.

To access the fund businesses will need to complete a needs analysis form with a member of the Skills Hub team.

Businesses can apply for funding for any bespoke course that is not currently funded elsewhere. Training such as CRM courses, accountancy courses, specialised engineering courses and training on specific business machinery are all included.

The Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Skills Hub was devised by Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce who won ESF funding to help bridge the skills shortage in the area.

Suzanne Quinn, Project Manager of Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Skills Hub, said: “Any business who uses equipment or employs one or more staff member should contact the Skills Hub to see how we can support them. During our needs analysis we can identify how a business can be improved through specialised training and then we’ll help to find and fund that course.”

Sara Williams, CEO of Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce said: “This is a great initiative open to all businesses in Staffordshire and we urge any business to get in touch to utilise this great opportunity”.

For more information businesses should call the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Skills Hub on 0300 600 1066

A Stafford accountancy firm has more than doubled in size in the past two years as it responds to a significant upturn in clients. Their latest recruit is Vikki Miles who has joined from another Stafford practice and brings with her a wealth of experience, not only in standard compliance work but also in the more complicated tax areas, such as capital gains and inheritance taxes.

The family run firm now has an 18-strong team and will look to make more strategic recruitment as the business continues to grow.

Rupert Carthy, Managing Director, said: “We embarked on a growth strategy in 2016 when we expanded our offices in Eastgate Street. Since that time, we have consistently expanded our services and grown our team at all levels in the business.

“We are both responding to business trends and creating capacity to take on further clients. The employment picture has changed in recent years, with the launch of record numbers of small businesses.

“We have seen an upturn in enquiries and have built in capacity to take on even more clients, from start-ups to established businesses. At the same time, we have responded to the Government’s ‘Making Tax Digital’ (MTD) initiative which has added new complexities for clients, and these will only grow as the number of people and businesses affected by the MTD initiative increases from April 2020”

Added Vikki: “I was delighted to join the Carthy team as it was clear they are a firm who have a clear vision about the future, have developed a strong customer focused ethos and offer an excellent working environment. From past experience I knew I wanted to work in an environment where I can focus on supporting clients across their whole range of accountancy needs.”

To find out more about Carthy Accountants please visit

Aspire Housing has invested in positive mental health, becoming the first housing association in the country to commission Big White Wall, the leading online support community.

Colleagues of Newcastle-based we are aspire, as well as over 20,000 Aspire Housing customers, more than 1,000 PM Training learners and a number of Realise charity beneficiaries, will have free 24/7 access to Big White Wall’s online mental health support thanks to the investment.

Will Nixon, Deputy Group Chief Executive of Aspire Housing, said: “We recognise that there’s a high proportion of people in our region with mental health issues and we also understand that many of our colleagues, particularly frontline staff, can be exposed to extreme situations as part of their work.

“Big White Wall offers a fantastic online mental health support community, with a wide range of benefits to its members. As a community-focused organisation, we felt that we could make a huge difference not just to our colleagues, but to our customers, apprentices and learners, by offering a proven route for people to get support when they need it most.”

At its core, Big White Wall provides an online community of members who support each other in a clinically moderated and anonymous environment. The service offers 24-hour access to trained professionals who monitor forums and activity within BWW, 24/7. In addition to this, members also have access to a range of courses, self-help materials, assessments and resources to self-manage their mental health. The service is anonymous and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for 365 days a year.

Henry Jones, CEO of Big White Wall said “Securing a home is often one of the most stressful periods in a person’s life. We’re proud to be working with Aspire Housing, who are the first housing association to offer widescale, 24/7 mental health support to their customers. Not only are they investing and demonstrating commitment to the communities they serve, but they are rolling out our service to every member of staff. I hope this is the start of a long-term partnership and provides a gold standard level of care across the sector.”

The mental health support launched for we are aspire colleagues, customers and learners from Sunday 1st December 2019, with the businesses signing up to Big White Wall for three years.

Langley Foxall Christmas giveaway offer

Langley Foxall are hosting a huge Christmas Giveaway where they are giving you the opportunity to win over £3,200 worth of development time towards your business. Whether that’s a new website, a customer portal or part of a larger ERP project the development time is yours to do what you please.

Closing time for the giveaway is at 12pm on 20th December 2019. The winners will be announced that afternoon.

To enter visit:

Karen Lowe, a Director at Geens Chartered Accountants, takes you through the tax rules around giving your staff a festive treat.

It is Christmas party time, but do you know the rules when it comes to giving your staff a festive treat?

HMRC allow limited tax relief for company social events, but you have to ensure you don’t overdo it – and we’re not talking about how much you have to drink!

A company’s social functions qualify as a tax-free benefit if:

• They don’t cost more than £150 a head/per year

• Its primary purpose is for entertaining your staff

• It is open to all employees or all employees at a branch/department.

The cost per person is the total amount, including VAT for the event, and any transport or accommodation provided.

The money does not have to be spent on a single event, for example, you could have three parties at £50 a head.

In terms of recording the event, the amount spent should be recorded in company accounts as staff welfare.

Of course, an extremely generous employer is allowed to spend more. However, this will be classified as a benefit in kind and staff will have a tax and National Insurance liability to pay.

The employer can settle a tax charge arising on behalf of their employees, using a HMRC PAYE Settlement Agreement (PSA).

Importantly, this tax concession is only for entertaining employees. The full cost of an event will be disallowed if the staff party is incidental to an event where a company is entertaining its customers.

In summary, if you want to get festive with a staff event this Christmas, you can. Have fun and dance the night away.

Prism’s mince pie mingle

Help Prism give a warm Christmas at the annual Prism Mince Pie & Mingle event supporting Manna House homeless drop-in charity

This year they are supporting Manna House to help the homeless and vulnerable to have a warm and safe Christmas.

Join them at their annual ‘Mince Pie & Mingle’ event to enjoy an afternoon of delicious mince pies with your business community.

There will be mulled wine, hot chocolate and tombola prizes up for grabs too!

Date 13th December 12.30 – 15.00
Price Tickets are £10* all proceeds to the charity.
Location Congleton Tennis Club
(Off West Street Car Park, West Street, Congleton CW12 1JR)

To RSVP, search ‘Prism Mince Pie & Mingle’ on to reserve your ticket.

See the great work that Manna House do at