Staffordshire’s summer employment figures remain encouraging, says economic growth leader

Staffordshire’s mid-summer out-of-work claimant count statistics show that the county is retaining a position of having near full employment.

Mark Winnington, Staffordshire County Council’s economic growth leader, said every effort is being made to ensure this continues with major development projects getting under way and a new round of skills programmes due to start next month.

The claimant count figure for Staffordshire is 1.9 per cent, which is lower than both regional (3.6 per cent) and national (2.7 per cent) figures.

Mark added: “It is always encouraging to see that we have low unemployment in Staffordshire and with new growth projects getting off the ground. We are also about to start the new academic year and we will have some first-class skills development programmes starting across the county.

“Working with the local enterprise partnership we coordinate the advanced manufacturing and engineering skills hub at colleges and learning centres across the county. The programmes enable people to develop skills which will help them into employment in our key industry sectors.

“Some of these jobs will be at locations like i54 South Staffordshire, where we have just started an extension to the site which will have an additional workforce of up to 1,700. Our focus remains to support the creation of better skilled, better paid jobs which can be taken on by a local people.”

Ends

 

Opportunities for our Members

Take a look at the latest business and funding opportunities: 

EIS Industrial Fuel Switching programme

PHASE 3 of the BEIS Industrial Fuel Switching programme, which aims to stimulate investment in fuel switching processes and technologies, is open to expressions of interest until August 21. This phase offers £17.8m for implementation and demonstration, which can include detailed process modelling or engineering design. More information

LOANS for ‘game changing’ innovation projects are available to SMEs

InnovateUK is financing ‘late stage’ projects using any technology in any industry. Following the success of the Innovation Loans pilot in 2018, the programme is now extended to the end of 2020 with an additional £25m available. The loans should ‘support the transition from cutting-edge innovation to successful commercial realities’. Projects must focus on commercialisation, growth or scaling-up, and priority will be given to projects likely to improve productivity. The registration deadline is September 11. More information.

GRANTS of between £250,000 and £10m are available to fund ‘industrial digital technologies’
The Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, ISCF, pot of up to £30m aims to transform the productivity and agility of UK manufacturing. Projects should include an element of cross-sector collaboration, and can be anywhere along the development phases, from feasibility to demonstrator stage. All projects must start on or before December 1, 2019, with a defined consortium agreement, agreed industry match funding and a project plan. Registration closes on August 28. More information

AMCASH, the Advanced Materials Characterisation and Simulation Hub, is offering free support

The hub, which is jointly funded by the University of Birmingham and ERDF, offers R&D and technical support to SMEs in the West Midlands. It focuses on supporting advanced materials and manufacturing using experimental and computer modelling and has supported over 140 SMEs so far. SMEs interested in accessing free high quality support from materials and manufacturing experts can contact: AMCASH Business Engagement on 0121 414 3436 AMCASH@contacts.bham.ac.uk

100% Match Funding Scheme

Transition Law, a law firm based in Cannock have announced a system of 100% match funding to assist businesses afford the costs of their GDPR compliance.

GDPR compliance is a statutory requirement for all businesses regardless of size. However, in some small businesses, cash-flow difficulties leaves them prioritising other matters, which exposes them to high levels of fines, Criminal Prosecution and adverse publicity by the Information Commissioners Office (ICO), who publish the names and offence details of every organisation who is subject to their Enforcement Action.

In addition to the Match Funding assistance, once compliant every business is entitled to free access to the SHIELD program which confirms their status as a compliant business and allows them to use the accreditation to promote their business in their Marketing activity and when Tendering for work.

Robert Linford, Head of Practice at Transition Law said “GDPR compliance should be the first job for all small businesses, even starting a business which is not compliant is a Criminal Offence. The fines being issued are enough to close a small business down. Only last month a local firm was fined £90,000.

Our new Match Funding package means everyone can access Free Legal advice, receive professional assistance and once they are compliant, they can use the SHIELD programme make everybody aware of their compliant status.”

Full details of our End to End GDPR services, including Free Legal advice and the new Match Funding Scheme are available at www.transitionlaw.com/gdpr where any business owner can check their eligibility for the funding free of charge.

Aspire Housing has joined a national lobby, calling on the government to use £2bn in unclaimed financial assets to create a Community Wealth Fund.

The Newcastle-based housing association is among the first 100 organisations to join the Community Wealth Fund Alliance, campaigning for strategic, long-term funding to support the communities who need it the most.

The alliance is made up of public, private and voluntary sector organisations and initiatives that are campaigning for the creation of a new multi-billion pound Community Wealth Fund to support deprived communities. Sinéad Butters, Group Chief Executive of Aspire Housing, said: “We’re delighted to sign up and support the lobby to create a Community Wealth Fund, targeting millions back into our communities from dormant assets.

“Supporting deprived communities is a fantastic idea, and for us a critical step in helping to ensure our country shares equally in wealth created. After all, we all helped create it, so let’s all benefit from it.”

The alliance proposes that the fund should provide long-term investment for communities, with local people in control of the spend to ensure it reflects their aspirations and creates a legacy of positive change in their areas.

The fund would be financed by £2bn of unclaimed and dormant assets – from bonds, shares, insurance and pension funds and charitable trusts – which could grow to £5bn with corporate investment.

The Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce are pleased to have been awarded a “Good” rating in the SEL Group’s Plastic Users, Shops, Services and Hospitality Audit (PLuSH).

Already certified to ISO 14001: 2015, the Chamber are always looking at ways to improve their environmental practices and the QEST Group invited Dr Dawn Pope to carry out the plastic audit and to receive help and advice on what could be done in the near future to achieve “Excellent”.

The QEST team are pro-active and are constantly striving to reduce the Chamber’s plastic footprint. Recent initiatives have included providing toiletries with refillable containers, using jugs and refillable water bottles to reduce single use packaging. The team also actively encourage the segregation of plastic wastes and reusing name badges.

Dr Dawn Pope said: “ The audit identified a number of opportunities to further reduce the plastic impact of the Chamber and both Ann Steele and Sarah Eccleston from the QEST team have some brilliant ideas on how to achieve these changes. It is predicted that by making these changes, they could achieve a rating of “Excellent”.

“The PLuSH audit tool is aimed at addressing end user issues encountered by organisations involved in service, retail and hospitality sectors. It provides a simple objective review of plastic use within an organisation and can be used to benchmark an organisation and to track progress”.

M6 Toll Business Survey

Andy Cliffe, CEO of the M6toll, is making it his mission to ensure local businesses and commuters know that the road is for them, every bit as much as it is for through traffic and long distance drivers:

“There is a common misconception that the M6toll is only really for long distance traffic.  That means a lot of local drivers are missing out on the chance to save a great deal of time and stress, whether they’re going about their daily commute or travelling on business.”

“Each day 50,000 vehicles use the M6toll, as an alternative to the M6. But the road also helps drivers steer clear of some of the busiest stretches of the A5, the A38 and the A446.  Since we opened 15 years ago it’s done a lot to keep the region moving, but there’s much more we can do and so today we’re urging drivers across the region to complete our summer survey to help shape our next phase of product development.”

M6toll recently launched a range of ‘saver’ products primarily aimed at regular commuters.  ‘Hopper’ covers a weekly commute, and works out at £3.50 a trip.  Shuttle is capped at a weekly fee of £20 for unlimited short local journeys, and Return Pass cuts the price of a same day return by 20%.  An online advertising campaign is currently running to drive awareness of these new products, and will be followed by a bigger push in September, when the school holidays are over and traffic congestion is at its most severe.

“The time saved on the M6toll is up to 25 minutes each way.  Our customers avoid heavy traffic and get there on time, every time, because it’s predictable and reliable. That can be a real stress-buster for commuters at the start and end of a long day.

“Drivers choose the M6toll for a variety of reasons, and whilst many drivers pay the toll themselves, we’ve found an increasing number of employers cover the cost. The time savings really add-up, even for short journeys, so there’s a positive impact on productivity and staff welfare, even job satisfaction and staff retention where a lot of time is spent behind the wheel. This new study focuses on work-related trips and the needs of businesses, so we’re delighted to have the support of Chambers in reaching out to members so we can hear their views.

To have your say and complete the survey, simply click here: http://sgiz.eu/s3/M6toll-Businesses

Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce have teamed up with Hays Recruitment to launch our eighth annual regional salary/recruitment survey.

The aim of the survey is to provide local businesses with an insight into local salary information, so they can make clear decisions on the salaries required to secure the very best candidates.

The report provides a snapshot of local pay levels, average rates of pay per role, employee benefits and working practices. The survey draws on results from previous years, identifying key labour market changes and trends that will affect your business.

Key to the success of the report is ensuring we get a strong response rate from local employers. The more data we receive from you, they better the accuracy of the report, so please take 10 minutes of your time to complete the confidential survey.

Please follow the link below and do not hesitate to contact tom.nadin@staffordshirechambers.co.uk if you have any questions.

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/StaffsWorkforceSurvey

The Chamber is seeking comprehensive external audit services to be in place from 31st March 2020 for a period of three years, with an option to extend for a further two years. Please note that whilst this is initially a three year contract, performance will be reviewed on an annual basis and re-appointment will be on an annual basis subject to the approval of the Audit and Governance Sub-Committee and the Board of Directors.

We invite suitably qualified and experienced firms to tender for the provision of these services.

INVITATION TO TENDER FOR EXTERNAL AUDIT SERVICES

Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce and Industry is a non profit organisation, and a company limited by guarantee. We are supported by the Chamber Council and the Chamber Board of Directors. A separate Audit and Governance Sub-Committee of the Board of Directors meets at regular intervals to examine all issues relating to audit and governance of the Chamber.

A £55million programme to boost people’s skills and employment prospects across Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire has launched a new round of targeted programmes.

The European Social Fund Operational Programme has so far seen £37million invested in a range of programmes since 2014 which by March this year had seen nearly 20,000 people participate with over 9,000 progressing into education, further training apprenticeships or employment.

It is being run by the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership and plays an important part in its strategy to secure a well-qualified and adaptable workforce with the skills sets appropriate to the needs of existing business sectors, as well as those where there are aspirations for economic growth.

The European Social Fund (ESF) Operational Programme is part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme for England in 2014-2020.

Three partner organisations are supporting the programme delivery and providing match funding. They are the Education Skills Funding Agency (ESFA), Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and The National Lottery Community Fund (BBO).

Now four new targeted programmes have launched, running until July 2021 and will benefit from £15million investment. Over 60 delegates gathered at an event earlier this month to celebrate the success of the overall programme and to mark the launch of the new round.

The new programmes are:

  • Skills support for the unemployed which will include bespoke personalised support and training.
  • Support for people who are not in education, employment or training (NEET) or risk of being NEET which will encourage young people to realise their potential and progress in learning and in the workplace.
  • Community grants of up to £20,000 to develop the capacity of local community organisations and help them meet local needs.
  • Skills support for the workforce and redundancy – a programme to help people in work to progress and support those at risk of redundancy.

Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP deputy chairman Alun Rogers (pictured) said: “Developing a skilled workforce to meet the needs of our employers is essential to the LEP and the European Social Fund Operational Programme has been hugely successful in helping us to achieve that.

“It has delivered targeted programmes to those most in need of support and has benefited over 9,000 so far in terms of progression into education or employment.

“We are speaking to businesses now to help formulate our Local Industrial Strategy and finding out how training programmes can support them is important.

“We’re now looking forward to seeing the new programmes get underway and make a real difference to people and business.”

Businesses with an annual turnover above £85,000 are being urged by HMRC to sign up to Making Tax Digital before the 7 August VAT filing date. Many of the 1.2m businesses affected by the MTD rules, which became law for VAT periods starting on or after 1 April, will be required to submit their first quarterly VAT return to HMRC using software by the 7 August. If paying by Direct Debit, these businesses must register by Monday 29 July.

£55m employment and skills programme launches new round

A £55million programme to boost people’s skills and employment prospects across Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire has launched a new round of targeted programmes.

The European Social Fund Operational Programme has so far seen £37million invested in a range of programmes since 2014 which by March this year had seen nearly 20,000 people participate with over 9,000 progressing into education, further training apprenticeships or employment.

It is being run by the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership and plays an important part in its strategy to secure a well-qualified and adaptable workforce with the skills sets appropriate to the needs of existing business sectors, as well as those where there are aspirations for economic growth.

The European Social Fund (ESF) Operational Programme is part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme for England in 2014-2020.

Three partner organisations are supporting the programme delivery and providing match funding. They are the Education Skills Funding Agency (ESFA), Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and The National Lottery Community Fund (BBO).

Now four new targeted programmes have launched, running until July 2021 and will benefit from £15million investment. Over 60 delegates gathered at an event earlier this month to celebrate the success of the overall programme and to mark the launch of the new round.

The new programmes are:

  • Skills support for the unemployed which will include bespoke personalised support and training.
  • Support for people who are not in education, employment or training (NEET) or risk of being NEET which will encourage young people to realise their potential and progress in learning and in the workplace.
  • Community grants of up to £20,000 to develop the capacity of local community organisations and help them meet local needs.
  • Skills support for the workforce and redundancy – a programme to help people in work to progress and support those at risk of redundancy.

Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP deputy chairman Alun Rogers (pictured) said: “Developing a skilled workforce to meet the needs of our employers is essential to the LEP and the European Social Fund Operational Programme has been hugely successful in helping us to achieve that.

“It has delivered targeted programmes to those most in need of support and has benefited over 9,000 so far in terms of progression into education or employment.

“We are speaking to businesses now to help formulate our Local Industrial Strategy and finding out how training programmes can support them is important.

“We’re now looking forward to seeing the new programmes get under way and make a real difference to people and business.”