Parents must plan carefully when gifting to children

A leading Yorkshire lawyer has advised parents acting as “the bank of mum and dad” to think carefully about how they gift money to their children to fund their first step on to the property ladder.

Lending a helping hand to a child to buy a home is becoming more common with around half of all first time buyers receiving help from a parent.

However Kelly Kirby of York-based Langleys Solicitors, says parents must be aware of inheritance tax rules and ensure that all interests are protected to avoid a family dispute.

“There are a number of options but gifting is the easiest way to assist a child; by providing a deposit as a gift for anywhere between 10% and 25% of the cost of the new home,” said Kelly.

“A parent is able to give up to £3,000 a year to a child without attracting inheritance tax. A couple could, therefore, give a child £6,000 in a year.

“A parent can, however, give any amount of money to a child in a year as free of inheritance tax providing the parent does not die within seven years of the gift.”

Kelly also advises parents to consider a loan, at a lower interest rate than the child would pay to a traditional lender or interest-free. She says the family should enter into a legal agreement, which should be drawn up by a solicitor. This will ensure that the terms of the loan are properly documented to protect all parties.

“If there is no readily available lump sum to gift or loan to your child you can use your current assets, such as property or income, to fill this gap,” added Kelly.  “An IFA or solicitor can assist you in this regard. Do not leave yourselves unprotected!”

New home for Leeds sign manufacturer

A signage firm in Leeds has moved to larger premises and purchased new equipment, creating six jobs, with the support of a funding package from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking.

Signlex produces signage for a wide range of businesses including Saint Gobain, Unilever and Balfour Beatty, but until recently the manufacturing work was outsourced while design and project management was handled internally. The company has now purchased new machinery for the printing, cutting and laminating of signs to enable it to bring a considerable amount of its work in-house.

The business has also moved premises on the Maybrook Industrial Park, creating office space for up to 20 staff and a large workshop area for production using its sophisticated range of new equipment.

Signlex was started in Leeds in 2007 by managing director Simon Belton, who has worked in the industry for 30 years. The company is on course to increase its turnover to around £2 million this year from £1.3 million in 2014, which led Simon to begin exploring new ways to drive the company’s continuing expansion.

Simon Belton, managing director of Signlex, said: “The investment in new equipment is a huge step forward for us as a company, which will significantly increase our profit margins and is already opening up new and larger contract opportunities for us.

“We are also bringing sign installation in-house, with our own van and installation team, as well as starting to print onto a wider range of materials including glass, acrylic, timber and vinyl, giving us a real edge when competing for new work.”

The company approached Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking to secure a funding package to support its growth strategy, which included an asset finance facility to purchase the new machinery. The bank also assisted in the securing of Regional Growth Fund support for the expansion.

Simon added: “The support offered by the bank was perfectly suited to the type of expansion we were planning, and was a key part of the smooth completion of the purchase.”

Evan Griffin, relationship manager for Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “This expansion really is a transformative step for Signlex, which will open up new opportunities to take on larger and more complex contracts.

“There is a wide range of support and guidance we can offer to businesses to support their growth plans, and we continue to approve eight out of ten requests for loans and overdrafts.”

JCT600 gears up for Tour de Yorkshire vehicle support

One of the UK’s largest privately owned independent motor groups, JCT600, has been unveiled as the official car supplier of the Tour de Yorkshire.

The Yorkshire-based car company will supply every official vehicle for the cycle race‎ including providing Volkswagens, Audis and Maseratis.

JCT600 was originally founded in 1946 from a single garage and now has 19 franchises operating from 50 dealerships across the North, with an annual turnover in excess of £1bn.

John Tordoff, Chief Executive of JCT600, said: “We have a huge amount of Yorkshire pride and that’s why we wanted to be directly involved with the delivery of this massive new international race. Our cars will be seen on TV around the world, which is great for us, and ultimately we wanted to ‎play our part in making this massive new event for Yorkshire a success.”

Gary Verity, Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said: “JCT600 and its cars will become synonymous with this major new international race and we are delighted yet another proud, leading Yorkshire company is wanting to help make it a huge success.”

The Tour de Yorkshire will take place on May 1-3. Stage 1 on Friday May 1 starts in Bridlington and finishes in Scarborough. Stage 2 on Saturday May 2 starts in Selby and finishes in York, with a women’s race also taking place the same day. Stage 3 on Sunday May 3 starts in Wakefield and finishes in Leeds.

It is a 2.1 European Tour class race being delivered by Amaury Sport Organisation and Welcome to Yorkshire with the backing of British Cycling.

Major world-famous teams including Team Sky and Team Giant Alpecin have already been confirmed as racing.

For more information on the race and spectator guides see

Pic: JCT600 cars in action during the Tour de France 2014 in the publicity caravan, promoting Yorkshire to the world.

Thackray Medical Museum wins Lottery Fund support

The Thackray Medical Museum, in Leeds, has received a first-round pass* for funding of £1.6 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for its Healthy Future project, it was announced today. The project aims to attract visitors from all walks of life to the museum by providing brand new exhibitions, updated visitor facilities, and making essential repairs and environmental improvements to the building.

Development funding of £154,600 has been awarded to help the Thackray Medical Museum progress their plans to apply for a full grant at a later date.

The project aims to give the museum a healthy future by developing galleries with wide appeal, showcasing the historic contributions of Leeds medics and the medical technology industry, which thrives in Yorkshire. Museum staff will work with community groups and industry partners to explore how modern medicine has developed and how it continues to progress.

The Thackray Medical Museum first opened in March 1997, supported by an HLF grant of £3 million. Eighteen years old this month, the museum is now home to over 70,000 medical artefacts and books and receives over 60,000 visitors a year.

This landmark birthday has been made all the more special by the award, which has come as a bumper birthday present for the Museum.

Commenting on the award, Museum Chief Executive Joanne Bartholomew said: “We’re absolutely delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has renewed its support for the Thackray Medical Museum, especially coming as it does on the museum’s birthday! The museum is a major asset to Leeds and the Yorkshire region, and we aim to ensure that, in years to come, thousands of visitors from all walks of life will continue to be inspired by the fantastic medical heritage that we care for.”

Fiona Spiers, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund Yorkshire and The Humber, said: “The Museum has proved to be a hit with visitors since it was established in 1997 with support from HLF. We look forward to receiving its detailed plans for the next stage in its development.”

Treske to showcase kitchens at York Spring Fair

Treske, the award-winning North Yorkshire designers, manufacturers and suppliers of bespoke traditional and modern kitchens, will be exhibiting at the prestigious Living North Spring Fair at York Racecourse this weekend.

The fair, which is held from Friday March 27 to Sunday March 29, is the biggest Homes, Gardens, Food and Lifestyle exhibition in Yorkshire.

Justin Bartlett, the owner and managing director of Thirsk-based Treske, commented: “This is a tremendous opportunity for us to showcase our kitchens. The Living North Fair is always very popular and attracts an excellent clientele.

“Many of our kitchen styles will be on show, from our iconic V&A Kitchen, inspired by furniture we first designed for the Victoria and Albert Museum in London in 2004 during the International Arts and Crafts exhibition, to hand-painted kitchens to suit all tastes.

“All our talented designers will be at the fair to explain every aspect of our bespoke kitchen service from inception to installation. This is an important weekend for us at an important time. Spring is often the time when householders look to improve their homes and a new kitchen is an integral part of that process,” said Mr Bartlett.

Treske’s stunning kitchens are manufactured in beautiful natural hardwoods by skilled craftsmen in the company’s picturesque headquarters on the outskirts of Thirsk, before being delivered and installed to homes throughout the United Kingdom.

Mr Bartlett explained: “Our talented kitchen designers work with you to create your dream kitchen.  From classic styles to innovative hi-tech kitchen designs, we have years of experience of creating the perfect custom-built kitchen just for you.

“Worktops can be selected from a range of granite, quartz, solid wood, slate and other distinctive materials and we supply and fit appliances from only the very best manufacturers. Each Treske solid hardwood kitchen is made to the individual customer’s specification.

“As our kitchens are built to last, and will last for many, many years, it is crucial that the right choices are made. So we take a huge amount of care when guiding our customers through the vitally important selection process.”

Justin Bartlett added: “Our kitchen team has never been stronger. We have just appointed Greg Murray, a very talented and experienced kitchen furniture designer, maker and fitter with an excellent track record, as head of the team. He is a superb addition to our staff.”

Interim CEO appointed to lead the Leeds BID

The board of BID4Leeds, the company behind the Leeds Business Improvement District (BID), are pleased to announce the appointment of their interim CEO, Keith Ramsay. Keith, who has a strong track record in the city over a number of years across the retail, business support and skills sectors, will lead on the setting up and initial development of the BID and its work streams across the three key themes of the Leeds Welcome, the Leeds Experience and the Leeds Business Voice.

Commenting on the appointment, John Bywater, chair of the Leeds BID board, said: “My colleagues and I are delighted that Keith has taken up the reins of setting up the company at the start of what looks like an exciting road for Leeds BID. Amongst the first of his tasks will be working with the Board and others in appointing the executive management team over the next few weeks and months.”

Keith said: “It is a great honour to be asked to work with the Leeds BID, its members; Board and Steering Group in developing the current draft Business Plan into reality. I am particularly looking forward to establishing the platform which will enable the BID to deliver real benefits for Leeds.”

Keith is based at the BID’s offices at Elizabeth House in Queen Street and is contactable via the office on 0113 2206360, mobile on 07989 851744 or via email at

Low inflation continues to support growth

  • Annual CPI inflation in February 2015 was 0.0%, a new historical low, down from 0.3% in January 2015
  • The main contributors to the fall in February came from recreational goods, food and furniture
  • Goods price inflation in February 2015 was -2.0%, while services inflation was 2.4%

Commenting on the CPI inflation figures for February, David Kern, Chief Economist at the British Chambers of Commerce said:

“These historically low figures reinforce our belief that inflation will fall into slightly negative territory in the coming months, before returning to a positive trend before the end of the year. However, we remain convinced that there is very little risk of a long period of deflation.

“Inflation in the service sector, which accounts for 80% of the UK economy, remains firmly above the government’s 2.0% target, and core CPI inflation in February was 1.2%. Together with higher earnings, lower inflation is boosting people’s spending power, and will contribute to economic growth in the year ahead.

“To sustain business confidence we need a firm commitment from the MPC to keep interest rates on hold until at least early 2016.”

Northern rail connectivity plan

A report has been published aimed at improving rail connectivity across the North of England.

Think tank IPPR has produced the work for ‘Transport for the North’ (TfN), a new body of combined authorities.  If adopted, the report could see upgrades to key lines, or even the building of new ones, including top speeds of up to 140mph.  It follows last year’s floating of a high-speed trans-Pennine rail line, now known as HS3.

Other steps might include:

–          Delivering HS2 in the north sooner through Parliamentary Bill changes

–          Simplifying rail fares across the north, by streamlining regulated fares

–          Developing contact-less travel cards for northern cities as well as clearer passenger information

Major improvements to the road network could also follow:

–          Expand M62 to 4 lanes between Leeds and Manchester including ‘smart’ motorway management

–          Upgrade M6 to 4 lanes

–          Improve A1 to provide continuous motorway standard between London and Newcastle

–          Widen M1 to 4 lane running in Yorkshire.

There could also be a review for regional airports affected by the recent devolution of air passenger duty.   TfN will subsequently become a representative body led by an independent chair.

Some observers say the initiative is a pre-election ploy only aimed at winning votes.  Transport, however, continues to be one of the major concerns of many businesses.

The 40-page report can be found online here.

Election Panel Debate: Supporting Business Growth

General Election – Business & Politics

How will our MPs support business growth in the region?

When: 6-8pm, Thurs 23 April 2015

Where: Yorkshire Building Society, 6th Floor, Broad Gate, The Headrow, Leeds LS1 8EQ (entrance opposite top of Lands Lane where it meets The Headrow)

The most unpredictable election for many years is causing great uncertainty among many businesses – not good for confidence or future planning.

At this hustings event, just 14 days before Polling Day, we test the business expertise of some of the region’s political figures and explore the implications for growth in West & North Yorkshire.

– How important is the business community to our MPs?

– How do they intend to deliver what matters for Yorkshire’s economy from Westminster?

– What are the prospects for economic growth and prosperity if there is, again, no overall majority in the House of Commons?

These and other key questions will be posed by BBC Yorkshire’s Political Editor Len Tingle.  You will, of course, have the opportunity to ask your own questions.

All four main parties (Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat and UKIP) will be quizzed on the big regional business issues and how they plan to tackle them – transport, skills shortages, finance, devolution, global instability and (unfortunately) more.

Book now (limited places) – email here or phone 01274 206660 / 0113 247 0000 / 01904 567838

Nearest parking: multi-storeys at The Light, St John’s & Merrion Centres