Staffordshire Chambers CEO, Sara Williams OBE, has appeared on the first episode of the recently-launched “Why Women Don’t Play Golf” podcast.
The monthly podcast, hosted by Strategi Solutions CEO Wendy Dean, strives to challenge stereotypes and amplify women’s voices in business and beyond.
Wendy said: “I would like to thank Sara for joining us on the first podcast. I look up to Sara as a leading light in Staffordshire (and beyond), as a woman who gets stuff done.
“She has been a great mentor to me over the last few years and I was very flattered when she agreed to partake in the first episode, especially as she has such a busy calendar at the moment. What a joy it was to discuss her career to date as a woman who has always pushed boundaries.”
“My first experience of this kind of media is that it gives an opportunity to share pearls of wisdom and thoughts of a world that might not normally be open to everyone.
“I really hope you enjoy it and look forward to sharing others each month.”
Listen to the episode in full on Spotify, here spoti.fi/3SVtdhQ
Aspiring entrepreneurs are being urged to join our next Boosting Women in Business cohort that launches on Thursday, 30 November.
Through a series of events, workshops and one-to-one support, we offer a safe and supportive environment where you can learn to understand the value of your skill set and how these skills can translate into running your own business.
The first session takes place at Commerce House this Thursday, 30 November from 10 am-2 pm.
Our programme will give you the fundamental knowledge you need to transition into the world of self-employment.
Tom Nadin, Head of Projects at Staffordshire Chambers, said: “As an organisation, we believe that enterprise, self-employment and growing businesses are a great way to help people change their lives.
“This is a unique opportunity to join a programme that offers tangible support to local entrepreneurs, many of whom have gone on to launch their own successful business in Staffordshire.”
If you’re interested in launching your own business, please email email@example.com
National law firm Freeths has been crowned Best Technology Team of the Year at the prestigious British Legal Technology Awards 2023.
Hosted by Netlaw Media, the annual awards acknowledge and reward excellence in Legal Technology and IT Security across the UK and International Legal Sectors.
With over 300 people in attendance, Freeths were crowned winners amongst stiff competition, all displaying strong leadership, innovation and technology in the field.
With 10 categories overall, Judges recognised the firm for its incredible growth and transformation over the last five years.
Freeths CTO Richard Hodkinson, said: “The result represents a milestone in market recognition of our efforts which has been very much a collective effort. The win was based on not just the activity over the last year but reflected on the totality of work that’s gone in by the Freeths team over the last few years in what has been transformational – Freeths IT department by any measure does not resemble that of five years ago.
“The team’s continued focus and dedication in supporting the endeavours of the firm’s partners has been incredible. A well-deserved win.”
Declan’s Blog: Dear Chancellor of the Exchequer, this is our business ‘wish list’ for the Autumn Statement’…
In last month’s Money Matters Forum meeting, we discussed the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement which will be delivered on Wednesday 22nd November 2023. We’ve developed a number of key business ‘asks’.
Infrastructure investment – We ask for more investment in our energy grid network. Such investment could generate a multiplier effect to boost the economy. Private business investment is being stymied by an overloaded grid. We know of Staffordshire businesses who are unable to offload surplus energy into the grid, due to a lack of suitable infrastructure.
Business rates – A fundamental review of the business rates system, with an extension of business rates relief for our hard-pressed retail and hospitality businesses. We would like to see a business rates system which better reflects firms’ ability to pay. In its current form, the business rates system is a burden on businesses regardless of ability to pay and it does not make allowances for the major changes that have taken place in the UK economy over the last decade. Many commercial premises in towns and cities lie empty and serve as a reminder of a struggle to compete with online shopping. Indeed, all of our local centres bear witness to this, with some faring particularly badly, deterring not only visitors, but also potential investors.
Planning – Local authority planning teams are struggling under the strain of a heavy caseload and challenges with recruitment and retention of planners. This is causing lengthy delays in getting planning application decisions turned around. Faced with continued delays, businesses may choose to pause their growth and expansion plans, keeping the brakes on local economic development. Reform of a creaking planning system is long overdue and this would help to speed up major infrastructure projects and develop the potential for businesses to grow.
Training – Staffordshire Chambers’ of Commerce has been appointed as the designated employer representative body for the Stoke-on-Trent & Staffordshire Local Skills Improvement Plan (LSIP). Since the launch in October 2022, a high volume of activities and data gathering have taken place. Through our work in developing the LSIP for Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire, we are very much aware that more needs to be done in developing a skilled workforce and tackling skills shortages. We would like to see an introduction of tax breaks in the Autumn Statement, which will encourage firms to invest more in training.
Occupational health – The launch of tax breaks could serve as an encouragement for firms to offer Occupational Health benefits, which will help to keep people in work and avoid the disruptive and damaging impact of long-term sickness.
We hope that your Autumn Statement will outline a clear path for growth from Government, with a strategic vision and a framework which will serve as a shot in the arm for investment.
This week’s news that UK inflation fell sharply in October to its lowest rate in two years at 4.6% down from 6.7% the previous month, is encouraging. However, the reality for consumers is that prices are still worryingly high, affecting spending and hitting just about every business.
The government says its pledge to halve inflation by end of the year has been met early. But there is a limit to how much credit ministers can take for the fall as energy prices continue to fall from their record highs of last winter.
Economists have said the main reason inflation has fallen from its peak of 11.1% in October 2022 is due to a fall this month in the energy price cap, which limits what suppliers can charge consumers per unit of energy. They also note the Bank of England’s decision to raise interest rates, in a bid to cool demand in the UK economy and slow price rises. Rates are currently at 5.25%, a 15-year high, which has pushed up mortgage costs but also led to higher savings rates.
The data shows prices in the production sector continue to fall with input producer price inflation (PPI) now at –2.6%. The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) Quarterly Economic Survey to which many of our members contribute, has been showing a fall in the number of firms expecting their prices to rise for the past five quarters.
Despite that, many firms are still struggling to invest, as they face the challenges of high interest rates, skills shortages and difficult trading conditions.
Next week’s Autumn Statement is an opportunity for the government to outline a clear strategy for growth. My previous blog was all about how Chambers of Commerce are calling for action from the Chancellor on planning, the energy grid, full expensing, business rates and occupational health.
Movement on these crucial issues can provide a springboard for business investment which will be the cornerstone of sustainable economic growth.
So, it is timely that Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce’s Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) is now open for responses.
The QES is the largest and most representative independent business survey of its kind in the UK and is closely watched by policymakers such as the Treasury, the Bank of England and the Office of Budget Responsibility whilst attracting a significant amount of media attention. Results are collated and fed into the BCC survey, and we really want to keep up our above average representative sample of how our local businesses are performing and an indication of future outlook. Surveys can be completed anonymously if you wish to, and the closing date is 5pm on Friday 24th November.
It would be greatly appreciated if you could add your input. It only takes a couple of minutes to complete the survey which you can find at this link: https://forms.office.com/e/tUmdeV965u
I would also be grateful if you could please forward the survey link to your business contacts and encourage them to take part.
If you want to talk to us about any business issues, including funding, you can call our switchboard on 01782 202222, call the Business Helpline on 0300 111 8002 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Grants worth up to £2000 available across Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire to help young people launch businesses
Grants of up to £2,000 are now available for people aged 18-30 across Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire who need support with business start-up costs.
The Community Foundation for Staffordshire is managing the grant scheme for SWEF, a fund that invests in the business initiatives of young people with the aim of producing 500 entrepreneurs across the UK every year.
Companies and sole traders less than two years old, owned by people aged 18-30, are asked to apply via this link SWEF – Enterprise & Business Grants – The Community Foundation for Staffordshire as soon as possible.
Applicants must be able to give evidence of significant steps taken to get their business off the ground and demonstrate a financial need for the grant. The funds will only be available for stock, equipment and materials, product development, one-off costs for developments plus rent or business-related bills. The scheme is particularly wishing to support those who are not in education, employment or training. This is not a loan scheme and recipients do not need to pay the grant back. The full criteria including what business owners can’t apply for is on the Community Foundation website.
And the successful companies will also have access to an online business forum with other organisations that have been awarded a grant. The forum offers a space to exchange ideas, experiences and learn.
The Community Foundation for Staffordshire is a team of locally based grant managers with extensive knowledge of local needs. They create and administer benevolent funds and grant giving schemes for philanthropists, businesses, central Government, and local authorities that want to improve their reach into local communities. The Community Foundation manages more than £10m of charitable funds each year, which are designed to create a lasting local legacy.
Leanne Macpherson, Head of Programmes at The Community Foundation for Staffordshire said: “Starting a business is challenging emotionally and financially and we hope this scheme will help make that leap of faith into entrepreneurship that little bit easier.
“And we want to make the application process simple, not taking up too much time that could be used to develop the business. So I ask interested people to contact us to ensure their application is the best it can be.”
Aspiring entrepreneurs urged to launch their own businesses in Tamworth with support of new Ignite programme
Staffordshire Chambers, in conjunction with Tamworth Borough Council, has launched its Ignite Start-up Programme. These sessions, funded by the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, will support anyone looking to start a business to develop the skills needed to start and grow a successful business across the Borough.
Hosted by expert business advisors, the sessions will cover topics such as:-
• Business Basics
• Company Formations
• Business Planning
• Finance including Forecasting and Budgeting
• Marketing and Social Media.
You will be provided with key information, factsheets, templates and have the opportunity to ask specific questions about your business idea. You will also get 12 months access to our online start-up portal with key videos and information that you can access 24/7. The sessions will be held in person at Tamworth Enterprise Centre, Corporation St, Tamworth B79 7DN.
To find out when the next session is taking place contact email@example.com
Staffordshire Chambers partners with the Hubb Foundation to launch new Warm Clothes for Christmas initative
Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce has joined forces with the Hubb Foundation to launch a new “Warm Clothes for Christmas” initative.
This initiative aims to gather and distribute vital warm clothing items for the most vulnerable members of our community during the winter months.
To support this cause, Staffordshire Chambers will be collecting donations at Commerce House, Festival Park, from now until the morning of Friday, 15th December.
The initiative urges the community to donate warm clothing—such as jumpers, hats, gloves, trousers, and coats—to provide essential warmth for those facing the challenges of winter in our city.
All donated items will be managed by the Hubb Foundation, ensuring their distribution to two key centres, the Gingerbread Centre and the Macari Centre.
To find out more, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
The 28th UN Climate Change Conference takes place in the United Arab Emirates from 30 November – 12 December 2023.
Alongside the main summit, British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) will be hosting a significant presence in Glasgow, acting as a hub for our network of Chambers across the world.
This is a key date for the international community to come together and set out how to meet the Climate Challenge as a planet. The Chamber Network will be actively taking part in COP28 events and initiatives.
Chambers unite for a greener future’, our global campaign launched earlier this year, has united our 127 Chambers and has as its centrepiece this hugely significant event.
From Monday 1 – Thursday 4 November, the BCC, in collaboration with the international British Chambers Network, will be presenting a full agenda of business-focussed policy debate, thought leadership and exceptional networking opportunities, while giving our members the chance to showcase the best of their climate leadership. We will be exploring the key challenges of the coming decades, including:
- Green Trade and sustainable finance;
- The opportunities for collaboration the green agenda brings
- Innovation, implementation, and the business landscape of the future
COP28 will showcase the Chamber Network as the leading business organisation on COP28 business engagement by uniting Chambers, countries, companies, multinationals, SMEs, start-ups, experts, young professionals, public and private sector for a greener future.
Find out more, here.
There was an outbreak of election fever at Staffordshire Chambers last week, with members casting their votes for new applicants to join our Stafford Chamber Local Area Advisory Board and our Staffordshire Moorlands Chamber Local Area Advisory Board (LAAB). Staffordshire Chambers is the voice of business in Staffordshire and joining a LAAB is a great way to represent your local business community and provide the local input to matters of importance within that community.
Our Stafford Chamber LAAB has members representing the business community across an area south of The Potteries, down the M6 and over to Uttoxeter. Meetings are typically held at our Stafford home, in Shire Hall Business Centre.
Staffordshire Moorlands is one of the most scenic parts of our county and is home to a diverse mix of businesses in both rural and urban locations. Our Staffordshire Moorlands Chamber LAAB has a representation of businesses from across the area, stretching from Biddulph to Cheadle. Meetings are typically held in Leek but will discuss and address key priorities across the Moorlands.
During this last year, representatives of both LAAB have joined us in meetings with local MPs, Karen Bradley, Sir Bill Cash and Theo Clarke. We’ve used these meetings to raise key priorities such as boosting footfall in our town centres and transport infrastructure. Guest speakers are invited to attend LAAB meetings to provide timely updates on upcoming developments and the impact on the local economy, meaning that our LAAB members are well informed about what’s happening. We’re looking forward to a new era of working with our two LAAB and we extend a warm welcome to our newly elected members.
Michelle Hickmott (Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Staffs Fire & Rescue) was the guest speaker at our Stafford Chamber AGM and she spoke of the role played by Staffordshire Fire & Rescue, in supporting our local business community, with three key elements of:
Figures suggest that between 40% and 60% of businesses who are damaged by fire and who don’t have a business continuity plan in place, will struggle to re-open again. Staffordshire Fire & Rescue has a wealth of information resources available to the business community. This includes a Resilient Business Software Toolkit, which is a free resource that that offers practical advice and support to small and medium sized enterprises. Leading insurers have contributed to this toolkit which is administered by the Fire Protection Association. The Business Service Support team can help organisations that need assistance in completing the toolkit.
During the last few years, more than 900 fires have damaged non-domestic business premises in Staffordshire, resulting in 4 fatalities and 5 serious injuries. Is your business at risk of being damaged by fire? Could your business bounce back from the impact of devastating fire?
Click below to open up the resources on the Staffs Fire & Rescue Service website:
Staffordshire Fire & Rescue is keen to get your views on its Service Safety Plan, which is a document all fire and rescue services are required to produce. Click below to open up and leave your comments: