£5 Million to help flood-affected businesses in Leeds City Region

The West Yorkshire Combined Authority Investment Committee has endorsed a £5m fund to help small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) across Leeds City Region recover from the effects of recent flooding.

Today’s meeting of the Committee supported a recommendation to invest £5m from the Leeds City Region Growth Deal allocation to establish the Business Flood Recovery Fund. An initial £1.4m will be made available with the full £5m awaiting final approval by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Board at their meeting on 4 February. The new fund will be managed by the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

The Business Flood Recovery Fund is expected to be in place by next week with grants of between £5,000 and £100,000 available. The fund could support SMEs with critical capital investment requirements such as new equipment or hire costs for machinery and premises required to recommence or maintain their operations.  It could also go towards implementing internal flood resilience measures such as building a mezzanine floor to move business critical equipment to a higher point. Each application will be reviewed on a case by case basis and will need to be accompanied by a detailed flood recovery plan.

Support will be provided by the LEP’s growth managers, local authorities, Chambers of Commerce and the Manufacturing Advisory Service to help eligible businesses develop the plans and ensure business continuity over the long term.

Cllr David Green, chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Investment Committee and Leader of Bradford Council said:
“The funding approved today is about supporting local businesses with the long-term recovery by enabling them to resume trading, safeguarding jobs for local people and re-establishing supply lines to meet their customers’ requirements.

“With an initial assessment on the impact of the flooding on the regional economy  suggesting the long term damage could be as much as £365m, it is clear we need government to work with us to achieve long term solutions that will prevent these destructive deluges and stop the idea of a Northern Powerhouse being overwhelmed.”
“With over 2,000 Leeds City Region businesses thought to be affected by the recent flooding, we are expecting a high volume of applications to the new Business Flood Recovery Fund but we will turn them around as quickly as possible.
“We will also be investigating ways to potentially provide support for companies that are facing cash flow issues because they are suppliers or customers of flood-hit businesses and will be discussing this on Thursday 4 February at the next West Yorkshire Combined Authority meeting.”

Roger Marsh OBE, chair of the LEP and deputy chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Investment Committee said:

“This funding is for those businesses that require the highest level of investment to get back towards operating at full capacity. Having visited some of the affected businesses in Calderdale myself, I know how vital this long-term investment is to return to the same level of trade as quickly as possible.

“The devastation of the flood is not going to be fixed overnight. However this funding will complement the initial rapid response support from our partner councils to address the longer term issues and costs businesses face in returning to full operation and alleviate any further impact on business growth.”

The Business Flood Recovery Fund will operate under the same guidelines as the existing LEP grant funding scheme currently supporting SMEs to grow in Leeds City Region. To be eligible for funding, businesses must be an SME and from one of the LEP’s priority sectors; manufacturing, food and drink, low carbon and environmental, financial and professional services, health and life sciences and digital and creative – although discretion will apply.

The Business Flood Recovery Fund application form will be available from the LEP growth service next week and via local authority growth managers across the region. The LEP has a package of support available to businesses looking to grow and find support to help them realise their full potential. Support for business grants and loans, skills advice, apprenticeships and export are all available through the LEP and businesses are encouraged to get in touch by calling 0113 348 1818 or emailing businessgrowth@the-lep.com to find out more.

Further information about the support available to flood affected businesses can be found at www.the-lep.com/floodsupport.

By supporting the Business Flood Recovery Fund, West Yorkshire Combined Authority is building on the existing support provided by government of up to £7,500 that has been made available to SMEs in Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds, Wakefield, York and North Yorkshire to help companies with the immediate clean-up effort and flood resilience.

BCC Annual Conference 2016 Jeremy Corbyn joins line-up of top speakers

BCC Annual Conference: 3rd March 2016, QEII Conference Centre, London

  • Other speakers include senior UK cabinet Ministers, senior European and international figures, and leading businesspeople and commentators

A senior cabinet minister and Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn MP will join other politicians and business leaders at the upcoming British Chambers of Commerce Annual Conference, titled Decision Time: New Politics, New Economy, New Britain? Coming months before a highly anticipated EU referendum, the conference also will feature a senior European politician and a debate between leading business figures from both sides.

Speakers and panellists will focus on addressing business critical themes, including Europe, infrastructure, and both current and future economic prospects for the UK. Sponsored by American Express, Facebook, BT Business, and Smart Energy, the conference will also bring together hundreds of businesspeople from a range of industries, and from across the UK.

Speakers include:

  • Senior cabinet minister confirmed
  • Senior European political speaker confirmed
  • Rt Hon Jeremy Corbyn MP, Leader of the Opposition
  • Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills
  • Angel Gurría, Secretary-General, OECD
  • Lord Rose, Chairman, Britain Stronger in Europe
  • Jon Moynihan, Spokesman, Vote Leave
  • Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO, WPP
  • Sir Peter Hendy, Chairman, Network Rail
  • John Longworth, BCC Director General

Commenting ahead of the Annual Conference, John Longworth, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said:

“With increasing global uncertainty and a once-in-a-generation EU referendum campaign set to dominate the business headlines in 2016, our Annual Conference offers senior politicians and business leaders the opportunity to debate the big business issues and to engage with businesses from all parts of the UK. We look forward to welcoming all our speakers to the Conference, as we look to maintain and improve the UK’s position in the global economy.”

Conference 2016: New Economy, New Britain?

Increasing global uncertainty.

An unpredictable economic outlook.

Decision time for the UK on Europe.

Against this backdrop, no business can afford to miss the BCC’s 2016 Annual Conference – the ‘business to government’ forum that tackles the big issues affecting the UK’s future prosperity.

This year’s conference will:

  • Examine the UK’s economic prospects, in light of fast-moving global developments
  • Debate whether the UK should remain in, or leave, the European Union
  • Highlight what needs to change – from infrastructure to business ambition – for the UK to be the best place in the world to grow a business.

Don’t miss this high-profile, unique event – the business conference where the focus will be on the big decisions – and their impact on companies of all sizes and sectors.

Find out more at www.bccconference.co.uk; follow @WYNChamber for updates or join the conversation #BCCConf.

New rail franchise will boost business travel options in Yorkshire

A new rail franchise is expected to create major improvements to business travel across the North and into Scotland. In December the Department for Transport confirmed its appointment of UK transport operator FirstGroup as the winner of the seven year Trans Pennine Express franchise, running intercity rail services across Northern England and Scotland. The new franchise, which will begin in April, will deliver a £500 million investment over its lifetime leading to more trains, more seats and quicker services. TransPennine Express Managing Director designate Leo Goodwin said these upgrades will greatly benefit business customers who need to stay connected and productive during their journey. “Many stations across our network already have WiFi available, but this will be expanded under the new franchise, with all of our trains providing a free internet connection by July 2018. We’ll also see 220 brand new intercity state-of-the-art carriages added to our rolling stock, meaning around 75 per cent of our trains running across our network will be new.

“The service and environment of our First Class carriages will also be enhanced under the new franchise, while catering and entertainment options will improve across the network. We will introduce new media streaming services on board- meaning customers can stream movies, tv and news to their own tablet or mobile for free. All these changes will greatly enhance the customer’s experience and journey.”

The new franchise will lead to a 55 per cent increase in connectivity between the major cities of the North and Scotland and will provide much needed additional capacity with more than 13 million extra seats a year. By December 2017 new intercity trains will run between Liverpool and Newcastle, while six TPE trains will run every hour between Manchester and Leeds. Mr Goodwin said the new franchise will deliver an increase in services across the North, helping to connect local businesses. “Improving the rail network and increasing connectivity will allow businesses to share skills and ideas across the North. This is essential in helping to boost economic development in the North. Improvements in the rail network have a huge role to play in building a Northern Powerhouse, and our new franchise will deliver on those plans.”

Irwin Mitchell launch 2016 Annual Employment Update

Irwin Mitchell LLP and Elevation Recruitment Group are delighted to announce the launch of their annual employment update seminar for 2016.

The seminar will be an opportunity to get your business ready for the year ahead.

The session will include overviews of key cases that will affect UK employers including holiday pay, working time, TUPE, unfair dismissal and whistle-blowing and will also examine new legislation including:

  • The right to unfair dismissal protection for some zero hours employees
  • The introduction of gender pay reporting
  • The introduction of a higher rate of minimum pay for workers aged 25 and over

The update will be followed by a free employment legal advice surgery where businesses can obtain advice from Irwin Mitchell’s team of highly rated employment lawyers

Previous delegates have said that this annual update is “a very interesting good general update with excellent speakers” and “very informative and beneficial to the business we are in”.

The seminar will also include the opportunity for attendees to share views, ask questions and network with other HR professionals and business leaders.

These events will be held in partnership with Elevation Recruitment Group, a multi-disciplined, specialist recruitment business that focusses on permanent, interim and temporary recruitment across the Yorkshire Humberside, Lincolnshire and East Midlands regions.

To book your place at one of these events please click on the relevant link below:
Leeds – Tuesday 2 February 8:00am – 10:30am
Sheffield – Wednesday 3 February 8:00am – 10:30am
Birmingham – Wednesday 2 March 8:00am – 10:30am

BCC Oil price fall will continue to dampen inflation

  • The consumer price index rose by 0.2% in the year to December 2015, compared with a 0.1% increase in the year to November 2015
  • Movement in transport costs, particularly air fares and motor fuels, were the main contributors to the rise
  • Downward pressures from alcohol, tobacco and food partially offset the rise
  • Goods annual inflation in December 2015 was -2.1%, while services annual inflation was 2.9%

Commenting on the Inflation Figures for December 2015, published today by the ONS, David Kern, Chief Economist at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said:

“UK inflation is edging up slightly but remains very low, and inflationary pressures in the foreseeable future are set to remain very weak. Recent falls in oil and commodity prices will have a dampening effect on inflation, while labour costs remain subdued.

“Turmoil in the global economy and weak UK trade and manufacturing figures are powerful arguments for postponing any rise in interest rates. Our main policy priority must be to nurture the fragile recovery in the face of major global headwinds.”

HMRC warns self-employed to guard against phishing e-mails

HMRC has warned that millions of people due to complete online tax returns by the end of January may be targeted by fake e-mails claiming to be from HMRC. According to a survey by digital authentication vendor, MIRACL, up to 40% of people due to complete online tax returns have been targeted by ‘phishing’ e-mails pretending to be from the tax office.

Jonathan Lloyd White, HMRC’s Director of Security and Information, said: “When using our online services I would urge all our customers to be vigilant, and remember that HMRC will never send an e-mail to ask for your personal information or password, or include a link or attachment. We want to help you stay safe online. Visit cyberstreetwise.com for more advice.”

For further information, go to:


Invitation for suppliers to attend Census market engagement events

On 15 January 2016, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) opened registration for its forthcoming market engagement exercise on delivery of a nationwide census in 2021, and is inviting supplier organisations that may be interested in getting involved with the delivery of the census to sign-up to take part in the exercise and attend one of three Supplier Briefings being held in England and Wales.

ONS is keen to see active involvement and participation in these briefings from a wide range of industries and sectors, including (but not limited to): IT systems and solutions, data collection / storage / processing, security, logistics and distribution, professional services (including management consultancy, legal and accountancy services), marketing / advertising, programme management / support / delivery, recruitment and training, professional development.

Read details here.

York tourism campaign welcomed

West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce has welcomed the announcement, being made today, that a new national marketing campaign for York is to be launched.

The announcement is being made today (20 Jan) by Visit York, at its annual conference at the Racecourse.  It will be welcomed by many businesses across the city affected by the recent floods.  The floods not only affected businesses directly by making them unable to trade through excess water on their premises.  City centre firms have also complained about the lack of footfall since Boxing Day at an already difficult time of year for trading – those in particular have been calling for a campaign to address that problem.

Then there are also those not flooded directly, but have had access to their shops or other premises restricted or halted due to flooding to nearby streets.

York Central MP Rachael Maskell has been hosting a series of meetings to gather the views and problems of businesses and residents in the affected areas, and the Chamber attended one of those on 15 January.  There was widespread criticism of the decision to raise the Foss barrier, although the Environment Agency claimed it had little or no option due to flooding in the pump station.

The new marketing campaign will include a strong focus on social media, and a targeting of potential international markets.

Read more on the York Press website here.