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

Friday, 29 July 2011

Guest Blog

Alex Swift, Regional Director at St John Ambulance in the North West

Provisional figures released by the HSE recently show a worrying increase in the number of fatal accidents in the North West. In 2010/11 there were 23* fatal accidents in the region, a 35% rise on the 2009/10 figures. The region also has the highest average of fatal accidents based on figures for the past five years.

It is worrying to see that the number of workplace deaths has risen in the region. This should be a stark reminder to all employers not to let health and safety slip down their list of priorities. The planned reduction in HSE inspection should not be interpreted as a reason to lose focus on workplace safety. It’s vital that all employers make the necessary efforts to ensure their health and safety provision is up-to-scratch, covering risk management and prevention, as well as having the skills and equipment in place to respond when an accident does occur. If not they face severe consequences.

First aid training for example is far too often seen as a regulatory tick box by employers, rather than a necessary life skill, but it does save lives. We know that up to 150,000 people die in situations where first aid could have given them the chance to live. With some 59% of people wanting first aid training in the workplace, businesses have the perfect opportunity to help reduce this figure before the progress made in previous years is lost and more unnecessary workplace deaths occur.

St John Ambulance has 24 training venues across the North West and can also deliver a range of courses in first aid and health and safety in the workplace. Chamber of Commerce members are entitled to a 10% discount off all St John Ambulance commercial courses in the North West. Call 0844 770 4800 or visit

Monday, 25 July 2011

Guest Blog

The Bribery Act 2010- Is your Business ready?

Aarti Bedi, an Associate Solicitor in the Employment Team at the Old Trafford based Colemans-ctts LLP.

The Bribery Act 2010 will come into force on 1st July 2011. It has wide ranging and serious implications for all businesses, large or small. This Act creates new offences for offering or receiving a bribe, for bribery of foreign public officials and of a failure to prevent a bribe being paid on an organisation’s behalf.

Businesses will now have to turn their thoughts to how best they can comply with the new legislation to avoid being faced with claims. Here are a few key points to bear in mind:

• There is no need to put bribery prevention procedures in place if there is no risk of bribery on your behalf
• There is no offence of failing to prevent bribery if you can show that your organisation had ‘adequate procedures’ in place to prevent bribery.
• There is no need to extensively amend your handbooks, provided that you have been managing your business with sensible employment contracts and processes.
• Corporate hospitality, if genuine, will not be prohibited as long as the activity is reasonable, proportionate and made in good faith.
• Be aware that facilitation payments (in other words, payments made to officials to facilitate a business transaction) are not permitted and are considered bribes.
Individuals convicted of any of these new offences could face a penalty of up to 10 years' imprisonment. Convicted businesses will be liable to an unlimited fine for failure to prevent bribery.

For more guidance on the Bribery Act see

If you believe your business might be susceptible to activities involving bribery then we recommend that you undertake a risk assessment. Only then will you be able to identify the “adequate procedures” required to protect your organisation in the face of this new legislation.
For assistance in implementing the provisions in your business or guarding against a claim, please contact Aarti Bedi on 0161 876 2502 or

Friday, 15 July 2011

Friday Guest Blog

Clive Drinkwater, Regional Director for UK Trade and Investment in the North West

I was sent one of those picture texts this week by a friend who had been invited to a Royal Garden Party. He was outside the gates of Buckingham Palace resplendent in his morning suit and his wife in a beautiful outfit befitting such a special occasion. It got me thinking about how much hard work the Royal Family does on our behalf and reminded me that the winners of the Queen’s Awards for 2011 were in fact being invited to a reception at Buckingham Palace this very week.

The Queen’s Awards began in 1966 and winners are announced every year on Her Majesty’s birthday, April 21 and recognise outstanding companies in international trade, innovation and sustainable development. To be considered for the International Trade award, companies have to have seen uninterrupted growth in exports for over three years and, given the difficult economic conditions that prevailed at that time it is a particularly difficult measure to have achieved. Nevertheless, seven North West companies were successful in winning the awards and I hope that those that are able to make it to Buckingham Place enjoy their day.

I was looking at what it was, in addition to export sales growth, that the firms had in common. They range from the University of Manchester with nearly 10,000 employees to Genesys International Limited in Cheshire with only 11 staff. Macuk Neuroscience Ltd of Blackpool only began trading in 2003 but RS Clare in Liverpool is the UK’s oldest manufacturing company, having been established in 1748.

Size clearly doesn’t matter; neither does age. I think you start to get a clue when you look at Barrett Dixon Bell Ltd of Cheshire, James Halstead plc and Rayburn Trading Co, both of Manchester as well as the big and small, old and young I’ve already outlined. I lost count of the number of times that I read the words innovation or innovate in their citations. Spending on R&D or innovation in the way that the firms deliver their products and services, coupled with an attitude that is hard to describe but which, if you could bottle it, would be a world beating product on its own, inevitably lead to the sort of award winning growth in exports that these companies have all spectacularly achieved.

I’ve issued a major challenge to the North West region to dramatically grow the number of exporting companies it has. We will begin that process soon by challenging our partners to identify potential exporters, working with the Chambers of Commerce to put in place a mentoring scheme to help new exporters through the tricky first few steps. We are also planning a major event in the New Year to kick it all off. I know that there are lots of SMEs out there that have fantastic products and services that could be successful in world markets and I know that the North West will rise to meet the challenge. The potential rewards are reflected in those Queen’s Award winning companies that will be at Buckingham Place this week. Good luck to them. I hope they will soon be joined by many more - find out more on if you want to be in the running for 2012.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Launch Of 'Yes To Apprenticeships'

The Launch of ‘Yes to Apprenticeships’

By Heather Green, Director of Apprenticeships, Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce

I am really excited about today’s launch of the ‘Yes to Apprenticeship’ campaign. Our mission is to get even more Greater Manchester employers understanding the business benefits of apprenticeship recruitment and for them to join us in saying ‘Yes to Apprenticeships’ by pledging a vacancy in their company for one of this summer’s school or college leavers.

We are generating a record level of interest from employers and we already have well over 100 companies which have joined the campaign to ensure that they don’t miss out in securing the best young talent that Greater Manchester has to offer....but we are not stopping there as we need even more.

This year more school and college leavers than ever before are choosing to do an Apprenticeship in their chosen field. We already have over 2,000 pre-assessed and enthusiastic candidates on our books who want to start working, gain real skills and experience as well as work towards a nationally recognised qualification but we need the support of GM employers to make this happen.

Today’s school and college leavers are the future stars of tomorrow, potential business leaders for Greater Manchester and they need their time to shine. We’re excited and proud that ‘Yes to Apprenticeships’ will give them this.