The best business advice, opinion, news and expertise in Greater Manchester and further afield.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Action for Business: moving forward, driving government event

In November, the Chamber launched our Action for Business plan designed to tackle the onset of recession and improve the business climate in whatever way we can.

The plan is a combination of practical support and lobbying activity involving 12 Calls for Action that the Chamber is progressing. These are real measures that will have everyday implications for business and as such, the views of business are important to us so that we can adapt and revise the 12 proposals as the business landscape changes.

Now the Chamber is looking at the second version of the plan and is in need of your feedback on each of the Calls for Action and any issues affecting business that you would like to raise.

At a breakfast event at the Palace Hotel on Thursday 26 Feb, we'll be asking a series of questions which you can respond to using Who wants to be a Millionaire-style buzzers. These will be used to rate the Calls for Action and raise any issues for discussion during the second part of the session.

We really value your feedback at the Chamber and would appreciate your input on this important Chamber campaign. You don't have to attend to let us know what you think however; you can simply email us at
But please take a look at the Calls for Action and see what you think first!

Friday, 20 February 2009

Interest on late payments could boost SMEs

The Chamber has just received an email from Susan Bateson at Stephensons Solicitors with an interesting reminder for our members:

Businesses can charge up to ten per cent on late payments.

Here are some words from Susan herself:

“Small businesses in particular are being crippled by a growing culture by larger firms who string out payments terms, with some not paying at all. A lot of businesses aren’t aware that they can claim ten per cent statutory interest and compensation, while others who are aware, are afraid of losing out on future contracts by actively reclaiming their debts.

“Times have changed and businesses need to take a more proactive approach to debt recovery."

Susan gives some handy advice about Debt Recovery as part of our new Recession Business Doctor feature. We're assembling a panel of experts from our membership to give out free advice for coping with the recession. Read Susan's contribution here and have a good weekend.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

JJB job losses

by Paul Foster
Local Manager for Wigan & Trafford

JJB have announced over 400 job losses today after appointing administrators KPMG to their lifestyle division - that's the Qube and Original Shoe Co. stores - of which, 46 will be closing.

It's unfortunate news but not unexpected. JJB have been granted time to sort out their finances and are taking action amidst extremely tough trading conditions to address the loss-making elements of the business. The whole sports retail sector is currently underperforming but as a result of this move hopefully JJB can find a way forward and build on a strong and well-established reputation in the local area and across the country.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Recession Business Doctor

The Chamber is assembling a panel of experts from our membership to provide their own advice, hints and best practice for coping with the recession and responding to the pressures businesses are facing. We have a dedicated area of our website that we want to fill with practical advice for business and we need your help to do it! So if you have something to add from your own experience, please get in touch on 0161 237 4124 or email Matthew Hall. We'll add the newest submissions to the top of the page and build from there.

We're already featuring advice on the following issues...

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Inflation figures

by Ilona Krohn
Principal Economic Adviser

The smaller than expected fall in inflation is reflective of the various forces at work in our economy. While petrol and utility prices have fallen quite significantly over the last few months the weak pound has pushed up prices on imported goods and raw materials.
In the medium term, the Chamber doesn't see inflation as a major issue and trust that the Bank of England and MPC will start to implement other effective policies to curb the economic downturn.

Chamber response to today's Conservative Report

A report was published today by the Conservatives proposing more power for local councils and in it there were some interesting ideas raised for business. Incentivising business growth locally makes a great deal of sense and providing the flexibilities to do that is important.

Businesses must get a say in the use of revenue raised from additional business rates so the proposal to allow local authorities to consider business rate discounts is bound to be attractive to many businesses - particularly to stimulate growth.

The report also mentions Empty Property Rates. These are causing hardship to many companies, particularly since the market has declined so severely. This is something the Chamber is looking at as part of our Action for Business plan; we are campaigning for the reinstatement of relief and are in a dialogue with the Treasury about this. Click here to find out more about our progress with this action.

Top 100 Business Blogs

by Matthew Hall,
Press & PR Officer

Whilst browsing through the myriad of business blogs on the net, we stumbled upon this list of the Top 100 Business blogs that may help you if you're looking for any business ideas. Times may be tough but it seems there's no shortage of ideas out there and this list may be a useful starting point for any businesses looking for a bit of straight forward advice.

Quarterly Economic Survey

by Holly Keogh,
Assistant Policy Manager - Research

We have now issued our QES for Q1, 2009 to more than 5,300 businesses across Greater Manchester.

The QES is a national survey conducted by the Chamber of Commerce and is one of the sources used by the Monetary Policy Committee.

The Chamber is here to support you and represent your interests to local and national government and now, more than ever, we rely on your feedback and comments so that we can lobby on your behalf.

This time, we have added some additional questions on to the survey regarding access to fair finance. This has been highlighted by our members as a major issue and something we are working on as part of our Action for Business campaign. We are very interested in your own experiences with lenders at the moment. If you have had any issues with your bank or if you are not receiving the support you should be, please get in touch with us directly - call Holly Keogh on 0161 237 4106 or email

Monday, 16 February 2009

Action for Business Update

by Chris Fletcher
Deputy Chief Exec.

We've recently been focusing our efforts on the banks and whether or not the flow of credit is still there for business or, as some are saying, it has been cut off. Our second Call for Action is to ensure that access to finance is maintained and that costs of finance are not disproportionately high in relation to Bank of England interest rates.

Despite the Government emphasizing that bank lending is crucial to kick start the economy the initial feedback we've received from businesses indicates that generally, banks are still lending to businesses. This seems to run contrary to what the Government are saying and what the press are reporting. But I don't think we've got to the root of the problem yet. We believe that bank lending is a problem and it is impacting on businesses. But in what way? Which businesses are affected? Are the problems with accessing new finance or changes to existing finance arrangements? This month we will feature a series of banking questions in our Quarterly Economic Survey which will hopefully shed more light on the problems businesses are having.

The Government has announced a loan guarantee programme of over £10billion. We look forward to the finer details of the scheme being announced and will work to ensure that it is implemented efficiently and effectively.

In the meantime, we would welcome your feedback if you've had any problems accessing finance. Email your comments to

View our Action for Business document here

Have Your Say - Chamber Poll

The Chamber runs frequent polls to find out what you think about burning business issues. Your feedback helps to inform our policy activity so please consider your response carefully.

Q. Do you think the government is doing enough for business during the recession? If not, what action would you like to see them take?

Vote on our poll here.

Our previous poll asked 'Is your bank giving you full support in the current economic situation?' 4/5 businesses answered 'Yes'. Read more.

Action for Business Update

by Chris Fletcher Deputy Chief Executive

We have now had our Action for Business plan out for the last few months and been making strong representation to government on our "Calls for Action" designed to get measures in place to help businesses through these tough times.

It seems like hardly a day goes by without another government announcement about another initiative designed in some way to offset some of the effects of the current economic downturn. Whilst some of these seem, at least on the face of it, to address some of our demands there are still many more issues to address including having a close look at how effective some of the measures have been.

We will be taking forward and refining our Calls for Action over the coming weeks and months and, from time to time, will be pushing some harder than others. Your input and information is absolutely crucial to this. In meetings with government ministers the one thing they all want is evidence from business about the current state of the economy and what still needs doing.

If you haven't yet seen Action for Business, view it here and keep coming back to check on our progress so far. Your help, comments and input is absolutely crucial at this present time, moreso than ever in the past.

Your input allied with our skill at getting in front of the key decision makers is an unbeatable combination.

Action for Business

Greater Manchester Chamber has launched an action plan for tackling the recession. The plan is a combination of practical support and lobbying activity the Chamber is working on to help businesses through these challenging times.

Read the full document

Or to find out more about our 12 Calls for Action and the progress we're making on them, click here.