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

Friday, 27 March 2009

Lib Dem Deputy Vince Cable addresses Chamber

by Chris Fletcher, Deputy Chief Exec.

Liberal Democrat deputy leader, Vince Cable spoke at our Chamber Council meeting held this morning at the Palace Hotel in Manchester. It was great to hear his views on the economy at present and also some of the interesting questions put to him by our members.

Vince criticised the Government's "arm's length" approach to running the banks but praised Greater Manchester and the UK's entrepreneurial culture, which he cited as key to future recovery.

For those who couldn't attend, we'll have a podcast of Vince's speech and the Q&A available next week but for now read a short write-up of the event at the Chamber site.

Following the Q&A, the Council meeting covered the latest developments in our Action for Business campaign. We've been revising our Calls for Action and tying them in with some of the brilliant services we offer through Business Support Solutions. But more on those next week... we'll be sending out an update out to members of things we don't want you to miss.

In the meantime, have a good weekend.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Latest Inflation Figures show less speculation and more action needed

by Chris Fletcher, Deputy Chief Exec.

Interesting figures today with a less-than-forecast fall in the Retail Price Index (RPI) and an unpredicted rise in the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

Obviously the threat of deflation is still around and any future drops in RPI will push the economy that way. However, when you compare actual performance with all the predictions made, it shows that it is getting increasingly difficult to predict any future economic performance and perhaps we should be putting more effort into the reality of helping businesses and people now.

Chamber survey says Government needs to do more to support business

In the latest round of talks with our members as part of our Action for Business campaign, they have overwhelmingly stated that the Government needs to do more to support them during the economic downturn. 78% said they thought not enough was being done to help business despite a number of recent announcements to the contrary.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Will the 48 hour working week affect your business?

by Samantha Dunbar,
Policy Manager for Employment, Skills & Workplace Legislation

In future, businesses will be expected to ensure that their employees do not work more than 48 hours a week, averaged over a year. The EU Parliament have voted on this and the Government now needs to decide on the mechanics for making this work. We want to know what you think.

Q. Will the introduction of a 48 hour working week adversely affect your business?

Visit and let us know.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Unemployment figures hit two million mark

by Samantha Dunbar,
Policy Manager for Employment & Skills

Today's results show that unemployment has hit the two million mark for the first time in twelve years. This latest rise comes on top of two other worrying unemployment stories. One was a report from the TUC, which estimated that there were now 10 unemployed people for every job. The second was about the number of job centres which have closed in recent years.
So the key concern is not how many unemployed there are but whether there is enough support for them. Not only are there fewer job centres but they have not traditionally dealt with the type of people, such as those from the financial sector, who are being made redundant.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Free business review for members

We're offering a free Business Review to members to provide strategic support through the recession. If you request it you'll get a visit from one of our Business Advisors who will help to identify the challenges your business is facing and implement an action plan through use of services open to you as members.

Book an appointment here.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

BBC Newsnight's Gavin Esler confirmed for Annual Dinner

BBC Newsnight presenter Gavin Esler has been confirmed as guest speaker at our Annual Dinner, to be held at Manchester Central on Thursday 30 April.

Our Chief Exec, Angie Robinson, said: "I'm delighted to have secured such a well-renowned broadcaster for our Annual Dinner. This is a great opportunity to hear from one of the country's top news anchors."

Gavin is also an anchor on BBC News 24 and hosts the arts and culture programme HARDtalk. For BBC Radio 4 he presents the foreign affairs series Four Corners.

After-dinner entertainment on the night will be provided by comedian Dara O'Briain. O'Briain is the host of successful panel show Mock the Week and has previously appeared on Have I Got News For You and Q.I. He has recently completed a tour of the UK.

If you'd like to attend, tickets cost £86.25 including VAT for Chamber members and £132.25 including VAT for non-members. To book a place, visit

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Business leaders welcome Manchester-Leeds rail plans

by Richard Critchley
Policy Manager for Transport

The Chamber welcomes proposals for a high speed rail link between Manchester and Leeds. The two cities are major business centres yet the transport links between them are inadequate. A lot of money has been spent on high-speed services to London, but important cross country links like this are often ignored.

Greater Manchester Chamber and Leeds, York & North Yorkshire Chambers of Commerce have both backed the scheme which would slash rail journeys between the two cities to 25 minutes - a massive improvement. Faster journey times and a newly dedicated high-speed line could bring benefits to the whole North West region, increasing rail capacity and bringing the two economic powerhouses of the North closer together. This will drastically improve services for business people and commuters making both cities even more attractive locations for investors.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Chamber disappointed by interest rates cut

by Chris Fletcher,
Deputy Chief Exec.

Interest rates have again been cut - to a record low of 0.5%. We are disappointed by this decision at the Chamber - an increasing number of our members have voiced their concern about further drops in the bank rate and have instead called for a hold.

There is the perception that another cut will have a negative effect on the economy rather than the desired boost. Also, there was a feeling that it was better to retain the option of further cuts at a later date should this become necessary.
Let us know your views on this and other issues affecting the economy:

Chamber slashes Business Training prices

We have cut the price of our business training courses by up to 50% during March and April to help companies during the economic downturn.

A variety of courses are being offered in areas including Health & Safety, Management Development, Office Skills and Financial.

Courses are provided by Business Support Solutions, working in partnership with Greater Manchester Chamber, and the offer is currently available to all businesses.

According to Donna Whelan from Business Support Solutions: "In an economic downturn, there is always a temptation to cut spending on training - but it's a false economy."
She added: "Research in 2007 confirmed that firms that don't train are two and a half times more likely to fail than those who do."

For more information, visit:

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

GM Chamber wants your feedback

by Chris Fletcher
Deputy Chief Exec.

To follow up our Action for Business event last week, our Local Managers have been on the phones this week, talking to members for further feedback on our Calls for Action. This is vital work we're doing to ensure that we're representing your real needs when we take our campaign to the banks and government.

If you do get a call, please spend a couple of minutes letting us know what you think.

Alternatively, you can answer the questions here - it should take about two minutes!

Follow us on Twitter!

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For bite size updates of what we're doing right now go to:

Heaton Traders Association

by Hazel Kimmitt,
Local Manager for Stockport & Tameside

The first meeting of the Heaton Traders Association last night proved to be a very productive one. Held at Kro Bar in Heaton Moor, we had around 30 people attending - made up of Chamber members who want to take some positive action to improve the area.
We covered a number of issues including empty premises and business crime and we'll be meeting for a second time in two weeks to turn this discussion into an action plan that we can take forward.

Thanks to all those who attended - it was a very important first step for businesses in the area. If you'd like to find out more or come along to our second meeting, please give me a call on 07773 350 753.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Closure of the Yang Sing Hotel

by Chris Fletcher, Deputy Chief Exec.

I don’t believe the closure of the Yang Sing is due to a particular problem with business in China Town - it was a case of bad timing having opened just as the economic downturn was starting to bite. Rather it is a reflection of the wider economic situation across the country.

Just because the Yang Sing has closed, it doesn’t automatically mean that other boutique hotels will follow suit. The Yang Sing was in a unique position, in that it was trying to attract customers to a brand new hotel during a period of great economic uncertainty.

Established hotels are in stronger position as they have already built up a reputation and a client base. Moreover there is still strong demand for hotel accommodation in Manchester and this will be boosted by the forthcoming Conservative Party Conference.