Klarius has added a selection of new aftermarket exhausts to its 11,000+ emissions control range, designed to fit an array of modern vehicle applications. All are available with next morning delivery in the UK, with a 2-year warranty and Fit First Time guarantee standard across the range.

You can see the full list of new parts here.

There are new replacement exhaust systems for the 2011-2014 Kia Rio and 2015-2016 Picanto 1.0 included in the Klarius range. New parts are also available for light commercial vehicles including an exhaust system for the 2010-2015 Nissan NV200 1.5 and diesel particulate filters (DPFs) for the Fiat Doblo 1.6.

Ford’s pint-sized Ecosport 1.0 crossover has new exhausts in-stock, with new systems for the 2012-2016 i-VTEC powered Honda Civic 1.4, the trusty 2008 Volkswagen Golf 2.0 from 2008 onwards and the suave Passat 1.6 completing the additions.

Klarius is a key player in OES supply for leading automotive brands. The business provides emission control components that match OEM levels of performance; enabled by its in-house development, testing and manufacturing facilities. All applicable components are type-approved.

At the Klarius Group of Companies, we are striving to offer you the best possible service during the COVID-19 outbreak. Please click here for the latest company service update.

Lucideon, the international materials and process consultancy, and PCL Ceramics, a market leader in the manufacture of high-pressure casting equipment, have joined forces to deliver new advances in processing across key market sectors.

The two companies are preparing for the future and will be working together to provide more benefits for their respective customers, including an integrated and full service to the technical and traditional ceramics sectors.

PCL’s technical ceramics processing in the defence, healthcare and aerospace sectors, along with knowledge of the sanitaryware industry, will be combined with Lucideon’s expertise in materials selection, development and characterisation to provide an end-to-end service for ceramics manufacturers and the supply chain worldwide.

Tony Kinsella, Chief Executive of Lucideon, which has its global headquarters in Stoke-on-Trent, said: “We are extremely pleased to be teaming up with PCL Ceramics to offer this unrivalled service to the ceramics sectors.

“Both PCL and Lucideon are passionate about delivering new technologies to the world and are working relentlessly towards this goal.

“Materials and processing challenges are inherently linked. This strategic partnership will allow us to pool our knowledge and experience to benefit both our and PCL’s clients, helping them to overcome challenges and to develop new products and processes quickly and cost-effectively.”

Cyril Journoux, Managing Director at Kings Lynn-based PCL Ceramics, said: “Considering the design for manufacturing principles, our expertise needs to come earlier in the design for products for our customers, which is where Lucideon is involved. We also see this relationship as a strong baseline for the launch of our PCL service.

“At PCL, innovation and problem solving is in our DNA, and we feel that this partnership will be a great asset in supporting this and delivering greater value to our customers.”

“With combined industry skills and knowledge, we both expect to see further developments in their joint service offering over the coming months.”

This week seems like a watershed in the war against Coronavirus, with government’s announcements of further lifting of lockdown restrictions, coming into effect at the start of a next week.

June is going to feel very different with some school children returning on Monday, and lots of businesses, including the ourselves at the Chambers, making their way back to the office, albeit a small percentage of staff and no visitors yet, whilst we reorganise our space and set to work on minimising any risk of infection with strict social distancing and hygiene measures.

Despite all the caution and sense that it is not over yet, I feel excited and optimistic. Excited to see work colleagues who I have missed. Zoom and Teams are great, but I think you know where I am coming from. Also, I cannot wait to sit in a proper comfortable work chair at a real desk.

Optimistic because of the amazing business community we have in Staffordshire which seems to have gained in strength, supporting each other, the vulnerable, key workers, and the community in so many ways since lockdown.

We have all learned a lot about ourselves and our businesses over the past three months, and yet there is so much more to learn. Business teaching and training is by and large based on experience and hindsight with the experienced imparting their wisdom and fact-based knowledge to the less experienced.

The pandemic has changed this with business teaching based on what might happen and what we can do to prepare for all eventualities.

This is what the Chamber’s webinars are all about. We started off dealing with the aftershock of lockdown with webinars about setting up a home office and wellbeing, moving on to marketing and communicating post-lockdown, re-skilling, employment issues, post Covid exporting many more.

It is going to be a long time before we can sit several people together in one room so we will be continuing our webinars for a long time to come. We are always keen to hear from anyone wanting to share their knowledge and experience with an interesting subject for a webinar.

If you would like to present a webinar you can contact Laura Hodgkiss: laura.hodgkiss@staffordshirechambers.co.uk

If you want to talk to us about any business issues, you can call our switchboard on 01782 202222 or call the Stoke and Staffs Growth Hub Helpline on 0300 111 8002. We also have a weekday daily Twitter hour from 11am – 12noon #StaffsChamberChat

Examples of current phishing attempts seen by NFIB

Bitcoin investment – phishing emails advertising investments in Bitcoin platforms that claim to “take advantage of the financial downturn” and can help people recover from bankruptcy. A link is provided in the email which claims to take recipients to a website that explains how Bitcoin trading platforms work. This link has two main threats; one for phishing and one for malware, where the suspect is trying to steal credentials and/or get the recipient to download a virus.

Government tax relief – phishing emails stating the government are offering “emergency COVID-19 tax relief”. Recipients are asked to click on a link to get a free evaluation.

Business opportunities – phishing email asking recipients to invest their money/sponsor/make a donation to assist the urgent manufacture of cancer treatments, other cancer related medication and the production of an animal vaccine, as a result of the outbreak. They attempt to entice the recipient by claiming that they will have a major share in the percentage of the profits.

WHO coronavirus grant – phishing attempts purporting to be from the World Health Organisation (WHO) offering cash grants to selected individuals as a result of the outbreak. Recipients are asked to contact the sender via email for more information on how to receive funds and quoting reference numbers.

Amazon COVID-19 relief fund – phishing attempt purporting to be from Amazon, asking customers whether they would like to apply to the Amazon Grant relief fund, to receive a grant of up to £1,000. This fund is claiming to be administered by the Emergency Assistance Foundation Inc. and is targeting individuals in self-isolation caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. The recipient is asked to click on a link if they wish to be enlisted, the link has been checked and results confirm it is designed to steal credentials.

TV Licensing – fake TV Licensing emails with some including a COVID-19 related hook. The emails claim the recipient’s direct debit has failed and that they need to pay in order to avoid prosecution.

Universal Credit – phishing emails purporting to be DWP, DWP will never text or email asking for personal information or bank details.

Government Support Schemes – phishing emails exploiting government support schemes, seek reliable information for support by visiting here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/support-for-those-affected-by-covid19/support-for-those-affected-by-covid-19

For further information on how to recognise genuine HMRC contact and recognising phishing emails visit here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/genuine-hmrc-contact-andrecognising-phishing-emails/genuine-hmrc-contact-and-recognising-phishing-emails

National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB)

Online Pet Fraud – fraudsters are advertising puppies and kittens for sale on social media and selling platforms, including websites dedicated to pet sale. The victim will be asked to pay a deposit to secure the purchase. The fraudster will not let the pet be collected in person due to the lockdown, and will insist on shipping the pet to the victim’s address. After the initial payment has been made, more funds will be requested to cover delivery costs, pet insurance or vaccinations. Each time the funds are sent another request will come.

Here is the advice:

 Do your research – Before purchasing anything online, including pets, look up reviews for the site, or person you are buying from. If you are still not sure, ask a trusted friend or family member for their advice.   Trust your instinct – If you cannot physically go to see the animal in person, ask for a video call. If the seller declines, challenge them on why. If you have any suspicions, do not go ahead with the purchase.   Choose your payment method wisely – If you decide to go ahead with the purchase, avoid paying by bank transfer which offers you little protection if you become a victim of fraud. Instead, use a credit card or a payment service such as PayPal.

N FIB

NEWS

EasyJet Cyber Attack – Announced 19th May 2020

EasyJet has suffered a significant cyber-attack resulting in nine million customers details being compromised including email addresses and credit cards details. If you are, or know anybody who is an EasyJet customer, it is important to take steps to protect your data and personal information by safeguarding bank accounts and stopping compromised cards, change passwords to vulnerable email and online accounts, add two factor authentication (2FA) and ensure all devices are fully updated. Keep a close eye on financial transactions and be aware of phishing emails, calls and messaging. ‘Fraudsters will no doubt pose as EasyJet, banks, or the authorities and claim to be dealing with this latest breach. They are simply trying to steal personal details themselves’ BBC Tech News .

APT Attacks Targeting Healthcare and Essential Services

An advisory has been published to help reduce the threat of continued Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) attacks which are targeting healthcare and essential services. This is a joint advisory from the United Kingdom’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). This advisory highlights ongoing activity by APT groups against organisations involved in both national and international COVID-19 responses. It describes some of the methods these actors are using to target organisations and provides mitigation advice’ NCSC (Advisory document attached).

https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/news/warning-issued-uk-usa-healthcare-organisations

New Era, the domestic abuse support service for Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire, is urging local employers to be on the look-out for tell-tale signs their employees might be in an abusive relationship and in need of help, as the lockdown restrictions start to be relaxed and more people return to work.

New Era provides emotional support, practical advice and advocacy services for anyone in Stoke and Staffordshire affected – victims and their families, as well as perpetrators who want help to change their abusive behaviour.

Mickey Hemmings, New Era’s acting head of service, said: “There’s no doubt the lockdown has brought added emotional, financial and other pressures for many people.

“If a colleague is showing a change in their personality, either by being quieter and more withdrawn than usual, appearing to be on tenterhooks or worried about something, it might be a sign they are in an abusive relationship and in need of support.

“Whatever the circumstances, it’s important local employers – and employees – know what to do.

“If anyone is experiencing domestic abuse or concerned about someone else who might be, we’re able to provide specialist round-the-clock advice and guidance.”

Other indications someone might be affected by domestic abuse could include having a succession of unplanned days off work, offering to work longer shifts and extra overtime and an apparent reluctance to go home.

New Era’s confidential helpline for victims – 0300 303 3778 – operates 24-hours a day, while the helpline for perpetrators is 01785 601690 and is available during normal office hours, Monday to Friday.

Mickey added: “Research shows employers who don’t tackle domestic abuse are more likely to see a reduction in productivity and lower staff morale within their organisation, as well as a higher turnover of people, which could lead to extra recruitment and other costs.”

New Era runs free one-day domestic abuse awareness and Workplace Champions training for local employees at different locations around Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent which it plans to resume as soon as it’s safe to do so.

For more information about New Era’s training, please email: new-era@victimsupport.org.uk or Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce: info@staffordshirechambers.co.uk

During its first 12 months, New Era handled around 6,000 enquiries from people across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent and provided support to more than 3,000.

New Era was commissioned by the Staffordshire Commissioner for police, fire and rescue and crime – Matthew Ellis – along with Staffordshire County Council and Stoke-on-Trent City Council.

A Greener Future?

Wednesday 3 June 2020, 3.30pm – 4pm

A Greener Future? will be delivered by Dr Eleanor Atkins, Lecturer in Biology and Geography at Staffordshire University.

While we stay indoors, the world outside is thriving. Since the COVID-19 outbreak began, pollution has reduced, climate change has slowed, wildlife has flourished and our appreciation of green spaces has increased.

How can we make sure this continues when everyday life returns to normal?

Link to event page: https://www.staffs.ac.uk/events/2020/06/a-greener-future

Get in the Game

Wednesday 10 June 2020, 3.30pm – 4pm

Get in the Game will be delivered by Craig Weightman, Lecturer in Computer Games Programming.

During life under lockdown, gaming is growing and bringing families, friends and online communities together. This talk explores how playing video games can be a healthy social pastime, encouraging cooperation and teamwork while unlocking skills you might not know you had!

Link to event page: https://www.staffs.ac.uk/events/2020/06/get-in-the-game

Stoke-on-Trent City Council has launched a £2.8m grant scheme to support more small businesses through the coronavirus restrictions. The funding is to help those businesses that were not eligible for the small Business Grant Fund or the Retail, Leisure and Hospitality Fund which launched on 31 March. Businesses can apply for the new funding stream until 5pm on Wednesday, June 3, and grants of up to £10,000 are available.

 

The funding is primarily aimed at supporting:

  • Small and micro businesses
  • Businesses with relatively high ongoing fixed property-related costs
  • Businesses which can demonstrate that they have suffered a significant fall in income due to the Covid-19 crisis
  • Businesses which occupy property, or part of a property, with a rateable value or annual rent or annual mortgage payments below £51,000.

 

A full list of eligibility criteria and an application form is available via: www.stoke.gov.uk/discretionarygrant.

Thousands of contact tracers are starting work today to track down people who have tested positive to Covid-19 who will be told to isolate under the government’s new much talked about test and trace scheme.

People who test positive to Covid-19 will receive a text, email, or call to ask who they have had contact with. Those contacts will then be told to isolate for a fortnight regardless of whether they are sick or not. Even those who have already had the virus will be asked to isolate.

The hope is that test and trace will speed up the lifting of lockdown restrictions opening the way for a more localised targeted approach to restrictions.

Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce, in conjunction with the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has been supportive of the introduction of test and trace for several weeks now. We know that an effective programme really matters to business as it will prevent another economically damaging lockdown, of the nature we are still enduring.

We see it as essential to boost to confidence of businesses, staff and consumers as the economic restart continues. We know that businesses are keen to play their part in the success of the programme and want to support their staff in following the guidance.

The contact tracing system will only work if everyone adheres to the rules and the likelihood is that employers will have to pay SSP to those needing to isolate, however, a coordinated approach to test and trace across the UK will be critical to ensuring the success of the programme and in enhancing business confidence.

We know that many of you concerned about how all of this will affect business and a crucial time when we are all returning to work. It is now important that the full details of what potential location-based actions or local lockdowns may look like in practice to support businesses’ contingency planning.

Rest assured that we will be working hard to get as much detail as we can, as quickly as we can to enable business to work through the phased return to work whilst supporting the contact tracing programme.

There is more information about test and trace on the gov.uk website:  https://bit.ly/2yE5Ylt

To get in touch about any issues around returning to work you can contact us at info@staffordshirechambers.co.uk

If you want to talk to us about any business issues, you can call our switchboard on 01782 202222 or call the Stoke and Staffs Growth Hub Helpline on 0300 111 8002. We also have a weekday daily Twitter hour from 11am – 12noon #StaffsChamberChat

Leading Midlands accountancy practice, Mitten Clarke, has secured more than £9 million for clients from the government’s COVID-19 response packages, helping one haulage firm to receive almost £3.5 million.

Scott Heath, Managing Director of Mitten Clarke Chartered Accountants, believes UK banks have been unfairly portrayed as obstructive during the pandemic and says the bail-out schemes have worked well, protecting companies and saving thousands of jobs, as long as people are realistic and get their applications right.

“The haulier we supported had seen its initial application rejected and faced financial ruin. We advised the company that they needed to state fully why they needed the funding and that they must demonstrate business viability.  The Government has made funds available to support businesses which can show that they are working well and have a strong future, so if they were struggling before lockdown, and cannot demonstrate a clear route forward, the banks will rightly question their viability,” said Scott whose Festival Park, Stoke-on-Trent based firm has a 70-strong team and a second office in Spinningfields, Manchester.

“In this case, we were able to put together a clear, viable business plan and the funding was made available quickly. The information presented has to be clear and concise and companies need to demonstrate that they have done all they can to protect their businesses, such as using the furlough scheme responsibly.”

Scott added: “We have worked with most of the major banks during the current crisis and we have found helpful staff who are working long hours to support good businesses.

“At present, we are living in a false economy as government actions, such as the furlough scheme, taken for all the right reasons, are keeping companies afloat, particularly in the hospitality sector. Realistically, these will have to come to an end and when they do, we will see the most dangerous point for businesses. This is why it is so important to look at the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) and other finance options, as companies will need working capital to survive.”

Mitten Clarke works with around 800 companies across the Midlands and North West and their team have been calling clients to offer support during the coronavirus crisis.

Tom Bostock, Client Director at the firm, said: “On Monday, 16 March, at 5pm, the government advised anyone who could work from home to do so, and within 24 hours the office was bare.  Laptops, computer screens, chairs and more, had all been taken home by the team.

“It had been clear that the crisis was coming so we had planned ahead, putting us in a strong position.

“I believe that our team has risen strongly to this unprecedented challenge and been on the front foot with clients.  We are proud of their response.  We worked hard in April with updates on new schemes and any changes to those previously announced.  The whole team has been involved in helping our clients to ensure that they have enough cash to get through the next few months. Where clients did not qualify for CBILS or the Bounce Back Loan Scheme we worked with their banks to renegotiate existing finance agreements or agree payment holidays.

“In addition, we’ve been busy submitting furlough claims, helping clients strip back overheads to minimise the strain on cashflow, supporting them with business decisions and simply acting as a sounding board.

“Now our focus has changed to the future and we are challenging our clients to view their prospects post-pandemic.  Every business is different, but the fundamentals must be in place, such as protecting assets, looking closely at cashflow forecasts, restructuring as necessary and maybe even planning to run companies on a smaller scale.

“We must not forget the upside, with some clients thriving during lockdown. There has been a great deal of innovation and excellent examples of businesses adapting to focus on online sales.”

For media enquiries please contact Nigel Howle by telephone on 0776 2043436 or by email at nigel.howle@howlecom.co.uk.

On Monday 1st June, ten weeks to the day from the day we closed our offices on Festival Park to enter lockdown, some of us will be making the first tentative steps back to a new world of work.

Not all staff will be returning to the offices and no one is being asked to come in against their will or put under any undue pressure. Rather, it is a slow start to a way of working which will see a blend of office-based and online activity.

All through the lockdown I have had daily online meetings with the Chambers’ management team and fortnightly all staff meetings, including furloughed staff, so that everyone has had a chance to contribute to the decision-making process along the way.

We have undertaken a full risk assessment which will be published on our website later this week. It follows the government guidelines for returning to offices and coves vital areas such as social distancing measures, hygiene and PPE. In the short term the offices will only be open to staff. The Members’ Lounge will remain closed until further lifting of restrictions.

I envisage that all staff will be spending part of their working week at home for some months and we are doing everything we can to make sure that everyone has essential equipment to do this, such as a proper office chair, laptop supports and footrests. The last thing we want is staff suffering injury due to poor posture from home working.

One of the real positive outcomes from the lockdown has been the way in which members of the Chambers’ team have supported each other through this time. Lockdown has been a different experience for us all dealing with issues – some positive and others much less so – such as home schooling, caring for elderly relatives, self-isolation, loneliness, and illness.

Coming back to work in Commerce House is going to be challenging for us all in different ways and so to help everyone, we have re-established our wellbeing group headed by our HR specialist advisor, Joe Gill. It will enable us to share concerns, hints and tips and best practice.

All of this is new territory and we know we have a lot to learn. However, we are happy to share anything discussed here with all business as well as learning from you about what is working well in your organisation. And we are keen to learn from your experiences too.

To get in touch about any issues around returning to work you can contact us at info@staffordshirechambers.co.uk

If you want to talk to us about any business issues, you can call our switchboard on 01782 202222 or call the Stoke and Staffs Growth Hub Helpline on 0300 111 8002. We also have a weekday daily Twitter hour from 11am – 12noon #StaffsChamberChat