Chamber network reacts to government immigration statement

Commenting on the Home Office’s statement on UK immigration policy during the planned transition period following the UK’s exit from the European Union, Adam Marshall  of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said:

“The BCC has long campaigned for an immigration system that supports the economy, so the UK government’s unilateral offer of rights for EU nationals during the transition period is a big step in the right direction.

“Since the vote to leave the European Union, employers across the country have sought assurances and clarity on the status of existing EU workers and those that arrive during the transition, so they will be pleased to finally have answers. This announcement will remove significant short-term uncertainty for families, businesses and wider communities.

“The government’s announcement means that employers can hire EU nationals during the transition period without expensive and unnecessary compliance issues, which too often hinder the ability of firms to recruit talent from overseas when necessary.

“Business will be pleased that during a time of record-high labour shortages, the government is showing a pragmatic approach to immigration. Firms will want to see this realism embedded in future migration policy when the UK leaves the EU.”

Economic Survey Appeal

The Beating Heart of the Economy

Businesses in West & North Yorkshire are being asked to complete the region’s latest economic survey.

The findings of the Chamber of Commerce survey are used to help inform policy-making with bodies like the Bank of England.  The results are also conveyed to MPs, councillors and senior council officers.

The survey tracks economic trends in areas such as confidence, labour markets, investment plans and sales and orders.

It takes just a few minutes to complete the survey, and results are fed back to business here on the website and on social media – please complete the survey here.

Chamber in Brexit talks with government officials

Chamber of Commerce members have received an update from officials from the Department for International Trade on the work going on behind the scenes to process Brexit.

Officials met with two dozen businesses from West & North Yorkshire recently (January 2018), and heard about their hopes and fears, aswell as opportunities and challenges. The civil servants were keen to reassure worried businesses that they are doing all they can to avoid a ‘cliff edge’ Brexit, and that trade talks with literally dozens of countries have already taken place and will continue to do so.

The UK is aiming, via a ‘cross-border trade’ Bill, to replicate much of the current EU legislation that is benefitting the country. It is intending to do this by March 2019. This will be the implementation of so-called ‘grandfather rights’, where old rules continue to apply despite new arrangements coming into force. Members of the DIT team attending the Chamber’s meeting are part of the Government’s Trade Policy Group, which is assessing closely how the post-Brexit ‘new world’ will look.

Business hear about post-Brexit customs models

While the International Trade Secretary’s many miles travelled and countries visited have been widely reported in the media, the officials confirmed that countries such as the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, China and India were all priority targets for free trade agreements. Businesses present also pressed for other Commonwealth countries to be included. Trade missions – sometimes seen as typical of a bygone age now – could also make a comeback, while economic partnership agreements – sometimes described as an initial step towards free trade agreements – already exist between the UK and 29 other countries.

The meeting was held under the auspices of the Chamber’s Brexit Advisory Group, and chaired by Shulman’s Andrew Latchmore. The Leeds legal firm also hosted the lunchtime event, which was part of a roadshow series being held around the country to tap into the views of business and others with an interest in Brexit. The last meeting in September included representatives from the Treasury and HM Revenue & Customs.

Mike Cartwright, Policy Executive for West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, said after the event:

“This series of meetings between the Chamber and government officials about Brexit and international trade are proving useful for both sets of attendees. The civil servants get to hear direct from businesses about their hopes and concerns, while our members find out just what is happening behind the scenes to advance their interests. While it is a very difficult time for the Brexit negotiators, it is also unsettling for business. However, businesses should be assured that the Chamber will keep that dialogue going between our members and government representatives to ensure that the business voice continues to be heard and listened to.”

The Chamber is soon to produce a ‘healthcheck’ guide to help its members understand and prepare for post-Brexit trading.

Picture caption: Brexit Advisory Group Chair, Andrew Latchmore, with Chamber members at Shulman’s office in Leeds, in 2017.

Help bring NPR to Bradford

The campaign to bring a new rail line and station to the heart of Bradford continues this month, with a Transport for the North consultation event.  Business people and others are encouraged to attend the event – a ‘drop-in’ from 4-7pm on Wed 21 February, at Bradford College Advanced Technology Centre, on Randall Well Street.

The event is part of a series of TfN roadshows throughout the North, designed to raise awareness of the transport group’s strategy consultation under way right now.  The consultation closes on 17 April, after which all the views and evidence will be collated to help determine and boost the North’s future transport connectivity and services.

The ‘Next Stop Bradford’ campaign is fully endorsed by West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, and not only among the Bradford contingent:  Leeds Council is backing the Northern Powerhouse Rail line coming through its neighbour’s patch, recognising the strength of closer collaboration between the two cities and across the North.

For more information and to book visit the TfN site here.

Read more about the TfN consultation here 

Find out more about the Next Stop Bradford campaign by contacting the team here.

The Chamber will have representatives at the 21 February event.

Invitation to tender: Ad:Venture program workshop delivery

To: West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce

For: The delivery of a series of business growth workshop for pre -starts, start-ups and young business as part of the Ad:Venture programme.

West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce are looking to engage a number of contractors to deliver a series of workshops across the Leeds City Region as part of the Ad: Venture business support programme.

The Ad: Venture programme provide ERDF funded growth support to pre-start, start-up and young business in their first three years of trading in the Leeds City Region. For further details please see:

The Ad: Venture Programme is part funded by European Regional Development Funding

Further details including criteria can be found on the attached document.

Deadline Date

Your response is required by 12noon Friday 23rd February 2018.

Government warned on lack of unity on Brexit

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has written to the Prime Minister, making an urgent appeal for clarity on the Government’s objectives in relation to Brexit.

The letter, from Director-General Adam Marshall & President Francis Martin, urges the Government to make key choices and deliver a clear statement of intent – so that businesses can make decisions for the future.  It warns that patience is wearing thin due to the continued divisions in Cabinet.

Extracts from the letter are below.

“In Chamber business communities across the UK, there are a range of views on the UK’s future relationship with the EU.  As a consequence, the BCC has refrained from entering into the noisy political debate on the shape of the final settlement in. We have instead emphasised the need for answers to the many practical questions businesses now face.

“Businesses need those elected to govern our country to make choices — and to deliver a clear, unequivocal statement of intent. The perception amongst businesses on the ground, large and small alike, is one of continued division. Even amongst the many optimistic, future-oriented firms — those who see opportunity in change — patience is wearing thin. Directly-affected companies are poised to activate contingency plans. Many others, worryingly, have simply disengaged.

“Clear UK negotiating objectives are crucial to both business and public confidence.  While the BCC has campaigned strongly in favour of a status-quo transition period, to give businesses time to plan for change, this transition must lead to a clear endpoint. There is no room for continued ambiguity as companies make investment and hiring decisions. The government must set out its plans.”

Francis Martin is the elected, non-executive President of the British Chambers of Commerce, and the first in the 158-year-old organisation’s history from Northern Ireland. He is a partner and former Managing Partner (2008-2013) of BDO Northern Ireland, a member of the global accountancy and business advisory firm.

Ahead Partnership secures national Chamber Business Award

Ahead Partnership, the Yorkshire based social enterprise that provides students with business-inspired learning to build aspiration and potential, has been crowned the Best Business and Education Partnership nationally at the Chamber Business Awards 2017.

Following a rigorous judging process, Ahead Partnership attended an evening of celebration at The Old Brewery in London on Thursday 30th November, where it fended off tough competition to be chosen the overall national winner. Its Make the Grade programme launched in 2011 and now helps over 60,000 young people explore career options and develop their employability skills each year.

Headquartered in Leeds, Ahead Partnership won the award for its work in helping improve the skills and career choices of young people in schools, colleges and universities across the country. Ahead Partnership finds exciting ways of bringing employers and educationalists together to create and run focused employability activities which build confidence, resilience and aspiration. Activities range from enterprise competitions, live briefs, careers panels and interview practice to workplace visits, mentoring and transition skills. Employers co-design and deliver the activities, ensuring strong labour market relevance.

The win comes hot on the heels of the release of the government’s new Careers Strategy which highlights the importance of employers’ involvement in careers programmes. Employer participation in well-planned, face-to-face activities with young people is vital to “support individuals to grow and develop.” Under this new strategy, schools and colleges are compelled to provide their students with at least one encounter with an employer each year. Make the Grade education partners are already achieving with Ahead Partnership’s help.

Ahead Partnership’s work also supports the government’s ambitions to improve social mobility through education as set out in the plan presented in December 2017. Access to networks of advice, information and experience of work is particularly valuable to young people from less well-off families. Make the Grade provides an extensive network of employers who help to guide, motivate and connect all young people to opportunity regardless of their background.

Chief Executive of Ahead Partnership, Stephanie Burras CBE, comments: “I am delighted that our Make the Grade programme has been recognised nationally as an exceptional way for employers to connect into their local schools, colleges and universities. Over the last six years, we have been working really hard to scale this programme whilst maintaining all the ingredients that have made it such a success. The impact that we achieve each year is entirely down to the diligence and enthusiasm of our exceptional team and our visionary partners from education and business who share our desire to bring opportunity to all.

“Skills gaps and mismatches are prevalent right across the UK whilst the labour market has never been more dynamic. Our activities help young people to better understand their opportunities by bringing them face to face with employers who are best placed to provide them with the very latest information.”

Francis Martin, President of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said: “Bridging the gap between the worlds of education and work is vital to empowering tomorrow’s workforce with the skills that businesses need. Ahead Partnership demonstrates the importance and benefits, to both students and employers, from such tailored and systematic engagement. They are truly worthy recipients of this award.”

For more information on how your business can volunteer to take part in exciting Make the Grade activities such as workshops and enterprise competitions please visit or call 0113 2467877.


Head of Membership Celebrates thirty years with Regional Chamber

January 2018 marked 30 years of employment within the West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce for Head of Membership Liz Wood.

Having joined in 1988 as an accounts assistant and worked in every department of the organisation Liz Wood has been an asset throughout her tenure amassing an unrivalled knowledge of this historic organisation.

Most recently Liz has been involved in mentoring new apprentices within the membership team, passing on knowledge of the Chamber, its wider group and the business community here in Yorkshire.

The last 12 Months have seen other significant employment milestones reached at the Chamber, with Tim Bailey, Director of International Trade at Chamber International celebrating 35 years at the company and Chief executive Sandy Needham passing the 20-year mark with the group.

 Chamber Chief Executive Sandy Needham said:


“Liz is a valued colleague, and we’re proud to have her on the Chamber team.  Over the last 30 years, she has worked in different areas of the business, took time out to have children, returned and developed new skills.  Importantly Liz is very customer focused and always aims to provide whatever members need.”

Chamber HR Manager Natasha Hudson said:

“Celebrating colleagues like Liz highlights the enviable culture created at the chamber, allowing colleagues to develop and flourish and is something in which we take enormous pride.  WNY Chamber currently has 16 colleagues with 5 years or more service totalling an impressive 282 years between them. The solid knowledge base that long-serving colleagues like Liz provide is an invaluable support system and is crucial to the continued success of our apprenticeship programme in which the Chamber is dedicated to training and developing the next generation of long-serving colleagues.”