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

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

GM Chamber's Carbon Reduction Group

The Chamber is providing members with an opportunity to determine the structure and direction of its new Carbon Reduction Group. An event will be taking place at Addleshaw Goddard on Barbirolli Square, Manchester on Friday 16th July to introduce members to the aims and objectives of the Group and outline the results of our carbon skills and capacity survey. Speakers at the event will include Leader of Manchester City Council, Sir Richard Leese, and Phil Jones, Vice President of the Chamber and Sales and Marketing Director of Brother UK. The event will take place from 8.30-11.30am and places will be offered on a first come first served basis. For more information and to book your place, follow this link:

For more information about the work of the Group, contact Richard Critchley on 0161 237 4037.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Business Confidence Rising in Greater Manchester

Businesses are continuing to enjoy growth according to Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce’s latest Quarterly Economic Survey.

Manufacturers saw growth across domestic and export markets for the first time since Quarter Four of 2007.

The survey found confidence was high among manufacturers and that they remained positive about recruitment and job creation.

The service sector also saw growth across domestic and export markets for the first time since Quarter One of 2008.

Job creation in the service sector continues to be positive, indicating net job creation for the second successive quarter. Along with the positive balances in manufacturing this reinforces the Chamber’s view that unemployment across Greater Manchester is declining at present, though National Statistics’ figures suggest it is continuing to rise.

Dr Brian Sloan, Head of Business & Economic Policy at Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, said: “This quarter’s survey results are really encouraging for Greater Manchester. Businesses are seeing demand grow across services and manufacturing along with positive job creation, which is also good news for households.

“The concern is that the confidence indicated is not underpinned by strong intentions for investment, though access to finance appears to be the cause of this at present.

“The broader results do mask the ongoing difficulty for the construction sector that remains firmly in the grip of recession across Greater Manchester. Whilst on the road to recovery, the local economy is not immune to the threat posed by public sector spending cuts and the rise in VAT, so difficult and uncertain times remain ahead.”

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Chamber Reaction to Budget

Dr Brian Sloan, Head of Business and Economic Policy at Greater Manchester Chamber.
Given the scale of the task ahead of the Government to reduce the deficit and debt, businesses will view this as a positive Budget for the private sector.

The Chancellor committed to maintaining capital spending, which for Greater Manchester means final confirmation of funding for the Metrolink expansion programme and the Chancellor announced improvements to the Liverpool to Leeds rail line that we hope will include electrification.

On Corporation Tax the Chancellor announced that over the coming four years the headline rate will fall to 24% and the Small Companies’ Rate to 20%, paid for in part by a reduction in the Annual Investment Allowance and changes to other allowances. The preferential treatment of business assets for the purposes of Capital Gains Tax has been maintained and Entrepreneur’s Relief extended to £5 million, potentially saving another £240,000 tax on the sale of a business or businesses over a person’s lifetime.

The widely anticipated rise in VAT has been delayed until 4th January 2011, by which time it will be hoped that inflation has fallen back and the inflationary impact of this tax will not give the Bank of England cause to increase interest rates prematurely. Businesses will however incur the administrative burden of changing VAT rates that were estimated by HMRC to be £125 million for the change back to 17.5%.

Although the previous Government’s planned 1% increase in Employers’ National Insurance will go ahead, the threshold will be increased so that for employees earning less than £20,800 there will be effectively no increase.

There is also good news for businesses setting up outside London, the South East and East, in areas dependent on the public sector. New businesses in these areas will be exempt from up to £5,000 Employers’ National Insurance Contributions on the first 10 jobs that are created. We are also pleased to see that the 50p landline tax has been abolished before it was introduced. Vince Cable will also be launching a review on how to expand the availability of credit to businesses.

Budget Reaction

The Chamber's reaction to today's Budget will follow shortly...

Budget Update

* VAT will rise to 20% in January next year
* Increase in cider duty scrapped
* Higher rate tax payers will pay Capital Gains Tax at 28% from midnight
* Broadband tax scrapped

Budget Summary

The Chancellor has annnounced the following measures:

* Child Benefit to be frozen for three years
* Medical assessment for Disability Living Allowance from 2013
* Two-year pay freeze for public sector workers earning over £21,000
* Maximum limits on housing benefit
* Corporation Tax to be cut by 1% next year and the following three years
* Tax relief for video games industry scrapped

Budget Summary

The Chancellor has begun delivering the Emergency Budget.

Key points so far include:

* An end to over reliance on the financial sector
* A rebalancing of the economy, with a greater role for exports
* Lower spending, rather than higher taxes
* The UK will not join the Euro during the current parliament

Digital Event

Wednesday 7th July 4.30pm to 7pm, Regus, Peter House, Manchester

A chance for Manchester businesses to meet and hear from Manchester's best digital developers and agencies.

Many businesses in Manchester don't know where to start when looking for someone to help them to develop their digital presence. That's why Manchester Digital, Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce and Pro.Manchester have come together to organise B2D - the first in a series of events where businesses can hear from and meet members of Manchester Digital.

The event will feature a series of short presentations on hot topics in technology that we hope will stimulate further discussion at the event. After the presentations, some of the Manchester Digital members will have their own table for you to go and chat with them plus there will be an open space for networking with other Manchester Digital members.

All members of Manchester Digital are bound by a code of conduct, so you’ll be sure to meet reputable companies at the event. So if you have a project in mind or simply want to chat about how technology can help your business, then this event is for you.

To attend you must be a paid up member of Manchester Digital, Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce or Pro.Manchester.

There are a limited number of places to this event, so it's strictly first come first served, so book now to avoid disappointment.

Reserve your place now using the online registration service at


The Chamber's Economics Team will be monitoring today's Emergency Budget. They will provide a summary of what it means for Greater Manchester businesses via the Chamber Blog and Twitter.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Chamber Council Meeting

The next Chamber Council meeting will take place at 8am on Friday (25th June) at the Midland Hotel on Peter Street, Manchester. It is a free event and we are giving members the opportunity to pose their questions to two of the region's MPs: Andrew Stunell OBE, MP for Hazel Grove and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Communities & Local Government and Tony Lloyd, MP for Manchester Central.

Both MPs will be giving their views on the new style of government and the issues that will affect Greater Manchester's business community. The Chamber will also be providing an update on the emergency Budget, the proposals for a new Combined Authority for Greater Manchester and ongoing Chamber activity.

For further information and to book your place contact Sana Nabi on 0161 237 4045 or email

Friday, 18 June 2010

Guest Blog

Can a pre-nup save your business?

Lisa Kemp, Family Law Partner at Dennison Greer Solicitors

All you need is love as the Beatles once sang but, as Sir Paul McCartney discovered after his split from Heather Mills, when marriages break down you could find yourself with significantly less that you’d planned on.

The list of celebrities who are big fans of the pre-nup is as long as the list of clauses that appeared in the agreement drafted before Catherine Zeta Jones’ marriage to Michael Douglas which included the fact that she is guaranteed $2.8 million for every year of marriage, plus a $5 million bonus if he is caught cheating!

Even if you’re not an A list celebrity, the inevitable financial wranglings that arise in divorces are compounded when either party is a business owner. I’ve often seen the look of shock on even the most savvy business owner's face when the realisation hits that the value of their hard earned business is fair game as part of the financial settlement.

I know it might not immediately seem be the most romantic concept, but pre-nuptial agreements are becoming almost as much of an integral part of people’s wedding planning as choosing the first dance and booking the venue.

“Darling, we really should get that pre-nup sorted” probably isn’t most people’s idea of pillow talk but, although it isn’t the most hearts and flowers of concepts, it means that couples can enter into their marriages with a clear head and peace of mind about their financial situations.

Essentially, the content of a pre-nup is an agreement between people getting married about what should happen financially upon their divorce. Although they’re actually not legally binding in England and Wales, there have been a couple of landmark cases that have demonstrated the increasing seriousness with which they are being viewed. Everything is pointing to the fact that pre-nuptial agreements will soon be treated as binding in the courts.

To ensure you protect your business given the nature of a pre-nup there are a few pitfalls that need to be avoided to make sure the court doesn’t disregarding the agreement. If it could be argued that one party has been placed under duress or misrepresentation is evident then it could be completely dismissed in the divorce settlement.

The best way to see if a pre-nup is right for you is to consult a solicitor for a free initial consultation and find out exactly what it entails before going away and discussing it with your intended. The clients I’ve met in this way have often been amazed about how much it can help protect their business.

The court will retain the power to ignore or vary the agreement but the clear message to people entering into a pre-nuptial agreement is that it is more likely than ever that they will be held to its terms.

If you’ve got a business to protect, then it’s one extra precaution that you can only ignore at your peril. Plus, it’s a sure fire way to wheedle out the gold diggers, unless you’re planning on marrying Catherine Zeta Jones that is!

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Unemployment Falls Across Greater Manchester

Unemployment has fallen again across Greater Manchester according to figures released today.

The total number of people claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance last month was 77,213 compared with 80,479 the month before.

Dr Brian Sloan, Head of Business & Economic Policy at Greater Manchester Chamber, said: "For the second month in succession the number of Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants has fallen across every local authority in Greater Manchester.

“This is great news all round and very much in line with the data emerging from our Quarterly Economic Survey. It also shows that the recovery, though weak, is certainly underway in the region.

“The Government must do what it can in the upcoming Emergency Budget to underpin rising private sector confidence and ease the burden of employment taxes and regulation on employers.

“Abandoning the 1% increase on Employers’ National Insurance Contributions and a moratorium on employment legislation will encourage businesses to accelerate investment and recruitment plans.”

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Inflation Falls

Brian Sloan, Head of Business and Economic Policy at Greater Manchester Chamber

Today’s inflation figures showing falls in each measure will be welcome news to consumers.

The underlying reasons for the falls are lower prices at the supermarket and leisure activities, which should lower consumers’ inflation expectations, in turn easing pressure on pay negotiations.

This means the Bank of England will be able to maintain lower interest rates for longer. Businesses will be relieved that there is good news for consumers and interest rates are unlikely to rise in the short term, but the detail of these figures highlights evidence of continuing pressures on business costs. The price of fuel has increased over the last twelve months leading to an impact on transport costs.

This is largely as a result of the depreciation of sterling over the past year, increasing the effective price of oil and other related commodities.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Quarterly Economic Survey

The Power of Your Voice in Four Minutes

The Chamber’s Quarterly Economic Survey is nearing a close for quarter two. This is your final opportunity to let us know how your business is faring this quarter and send the right message to policy makers at the heart of Government and the Bank of England.

This is the most eagerly awaited survey of its kind and the reasons for this are clear, Greater Manchester is the engine room of the North West economy and outside of London is the most important economic centre in the country.

The QES results for the North West economy closely track the UK as a whole. We get this information ahead of official growth figures so the importance of your response to our work and understanding of the local economy cannot be understated. Your contribution allows us to speak with authority on your behalf. Please take three to four minuters to complete the survey anonymously online here

Many thanks! Results will be published 30th June.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Just 2 weeks left to enter the Chamber Awards 2010

There are just 2 weeks left for members to enter this year’s Chamber Awards

Run by British Chambers of Commerce and sponsored by the Royal Bank of Scotland Group, the awards aim to recognise and celebrate business excellence through the successes and achievements of its Accredited Chambers of Commerce and their members.

Categories include:

• Business of the Year
• Award for Innovation Through Technology
• Most Promising New Business
• Entrepreneur of the Year
• Achievement in International Business
• Award for Excellence in People Development
• The Green Award
• Excellence in Customer Service

Previous winners have experienced year round exposure from the Awards programme and the national winner of the grand prize also receives £25,000, with prizes of £15,000 and £10,000 being given to the second and third prize winners.

The deadline for entries is 25 June.

For further information on all the categories and information on entering visit the Chamber Awards web site at

Friday Guest Blog

Is your business fit for the recovery? You might benefit from a no-cost ‘health check’

By Roger Longden – Leadership Performance Consultant and Coach, Volition Development

Many businesses are emerging battered and bruised from the adverse conditions of the past couple of years, eager to make the best of the better times that lie ahead.

With the economic recovery now beginning to gain real momentum, there has never been a more opportune time to take a good look at your business. Taking action now to find out what’s working well, as well as what isn’t, could be the best thing you do to ensure your long-term viability.

Survival has, for many, meant that difficult decisions have had to be taken. Reductions in staffing, halts in training and development activities, and delays to strategic initiatives are just some of the measures that firms have had to put in place.

However, these actions may have also significantly diminished firms’ abilities to respond adequately to the upturn in the economy. Not only do they not have the same capacity as they did pre-recession, but many of the processes, structures, policies and systems currently in place are in desperate need of review and overhaul. After an extensive period of cost reduction, a variety of activities such as leadership and talent development, change management, development and strategic reviews are now long overdue for most companies.

Failure to properly prepare for recovery now could mean that you are unable to deliver at the required level of quality. Damage your reputation and seriously undermine your future growth prospects. So, what can you do to ensure you emerge primed and ready to reap the rewards of the forthcoming recovery?

Volition Performance is pleased to be now working in partnership with the leading consultancy, coaching and training provider in the region, Watt Works Consulting Ltd. Watt Works Consulting helps individuals and organisations achieve sustainable improvements in performance. Their MD, David Kerr, suggests that there has never been a better time to undertake a proper review of your organisation.

In partnership, Volition Performance and Watt Works offer a portfolio of proven value-added services such as: strategy definition, change management, executive and team coaching, facilitation, leadership development, management training, innovation, branding and project management.

To offer new clients the opportunity to sample their services portfolio, Volition Performance and Watt Works are pleased to launch their ‘Organisational Health Check’ service. This service brings together many of our offerings together in a unique package that sees us undertaking a thorough review of where our clients are. We explore areas such as organisational structure and processes, information flows, how they make sense of their environments, and assess their ability to create coherent and effective strategies moving forward. Then, we help them put together a plan of activities so they can really make the most of the opportunities ahead. We’re also providing this free of charge to Chamber members, in the event the health-check leads to further consultancy, training or coaching with us.

In the same way that you’d want to get a clean bill of health before running a marathon, the Health Check service offered by Volition Performance and Watt Works could allow you to step back and get a fresh view on your organisation. Getting a handle on what’s working and what isn’t could be critical to success.

Performance improvement isn’t just about ensuring that there are measurement and reward systems in place to ensure you get the best out of people - it’s about ensuring your organisation is working effectively, efficiently and coherently to achieve its long term aims.

Ultimately, you need to create a culture as well as a set of capabilities and competencies that allow you to continuously improve, learn and grow, whilst being able to consistently meet and exceed your customers’ expectations. We’re here to help you do that.

This could be the perfect time to check that you’re adequately prepared for the next stage of your development. What are you waiting for?

For more details on the’ “Organisational Health Check” service (that may be provided free of charge to Chamber members) see, email or call 01565 759893 for a no-obligation discussion.