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A new report published by insurance and pension provider Standard Life has revealed the key drivers of success for UK SMEs over the next five years. Having polled both SME leaders and employees, the report highlights the fundamental trends of collaboration, empowerment and adaptability as central to growth

SME leaders said the number one priority is to empower the workforce, by building an environment that encourages creativity and innovation.

Employees agreed, stating that the most desirable quality in a business leader is the ability to empower and trust their colleagues.

The report also found that the traditional five-year business planning cycle is largely a thing of the past, with 82 per cent of SME leaders altering their strategy at least once a year and almost three fifths doing so at least every six months.

Meanwhile, 60 per cent of employees felt ‘adaptability’ is the most important attribute for professional success.

Stephen Ingledew, Standard Life Managing Director of Marketing, said: “SMEs are an important part of our client base, and we wanted to take a closer look at the behaviours these business leaders and their employees adopt to achieve success and fuel entrepreneurship.

“Our research shows that UK SMEs are strongly committed to building working environments that encourage and nurture flexibility and innovation.”

The report stated that business leaders believed that the most productive workforce can be achieved by offering employees flexible working conditions (41 per cent) and by investing in future potential (40 per cent), with training/upskilling the number one focus in the next half a decade.

Indeed, at McPhersons, our staff values our flexible working conditions. In fact, some cite this as the main reason they came to us. The work life balance is a key factor to consider and at McPhersons, staff are able to plan their working day around childcare, dog-walking, socialising and other interests.

With employees at every level of qualification and some with us for over 40 years, we understand that development and support with study and qualification are vital as well as necessary for staff retention.

The majority (69 per cent) of leaders also believe the role of CEO/MD will become more diverse and accessible to their workforce in the future, it is a position that is still seen as out of reach by many employees, with 56 per cent expecting promotion to CEO to become far more challenging over the next five years.

Stephen Ingledew added: “SMEs are generally very outward-looking and focused on retaining strong core values which help them attract and retain the best talent.

“The research indicates that they regard positive contributions to society as an important measure of success, and that they carefully consider how their decisions impact their broader industry, their people and their communities.”

Need more help?

This feature aims  to give some informal hints and McPhersons are offering small businesses free advice so get in touch now to arrange your free meeting on 01424 730000 or info@mcphersons.co.uk

UK manufacturing activity contracted for the first time in three years in April due to concerns about the strength of the global economy.

The Markit/CIPS manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index fell from 49.2 in April from 50.7 in March, which is the first time that activity in the manufacturing section has dropped since March 2013. Anything under the 50 mark indicates falling output.

Firms have said that a fall in new business from overseas and uncertainty due to the EU referendum are to blame. As the oil and gas industry is currently slowed, it is hitting production as this is a major company for UK businesses.

Matching February’s three-year low, the index for new orders fell to 50.4 in April, which is lower than 51.9 the previous month.

Official figures revealed last week that UK economic growth slowed to 0.4% in the first quarter of the year from 0.6% later in 2015.

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Video company Smokescreen Visuals and children’s charity Chestnut Tree House are amongst the latest occupiers to take offices in Pacific House on Eastbourne’s Sovereign Harbour Innovation Park.

Other new tenants include computer specialists Southern IT networks, hospital transport firm Coperforma and business intelligence company Match2Lists – while further offices remain available to let.

Open Week: An Open Week is being held between Monday 16 and Friday 20 May, 9am – 5pm, when anyone is free to drop in and look around without an appointment.image003

Smokescreen Visuals is an award-winning video production company with clients including the NHS, Activision, Craft Guild of Chefs and The London Mint Office. The company was founded by Matt Derbyshire in 2004 after returning to his home town of Eastbourne following a London career making TV and cinema trailers.

The company has fit out its new offices (photos available) to a high standard including three hi-tech video editing suites. Its new base has enabled it to more than double its number of employees and it plans to continue expanding.

MD Matt Derbyshire explains: “We were on the outskirts of Eastbourne and had been looking for new premises for five years – but couldn’t find anything with the right feel until now. Pacific House is like nothing we’ve ever seen before in the area. A building of cutting-edge design and facilities, plenty of parking and good security – it’s what we’ve been waiting for all this time. It’s the ideal environment to enable us to keep on growing.”

Chestnut Tree House provides hospice care for children and young people with life-shortening conditions.

It has taken two offices for its East Sussex team of nurses, fundraisers and volunteers to enable it to expand – with desks for 20 staff in the building. Its new base is intended to help it to reach more families, raise awareness of its work and attract new supporters.

Tracey Luker, Head of East Sussex Fundraising, said: “We’re caring for around 55 children and young people in East Sussex but there are many more who need our specialist help. Our move to Pacific House gives us more room to accommodate our growing service, better access to major transport routes and a pleasant working environment in a modern, well-equipped building.”

The charity is keen to recruit more volunteers, whether on the basis of a regular commitment or a few occasional hours. Anyone interested should contact 01903 871800 or enquiries@chestnut-tree-house.org.uk.

Southern IT Networks provides small businesses with computer services and support and has taken a ground floor office within Pacific House. The company’s services span managed IT, cloud computing, connectivity, business continuity and telecoms solutions.

Coperforma specialises in hospital transport and has moved into a nearly 2,000 sq ft office within the building. The company is a primary provider of transport services to the NHS and arranges more than 1,500 patient journeys each working day.

Match2Lists is a business intelligence company which has taken a first floor office. The company provides software tools which enable firms to match, merge and de-duplicate data lists for marketing and customer management purposes.

About Pacific House: Developed by Sea Change Sussex, the building is a contemporary, three-floor business centre. With offices available from 627 sq ft upwards, it is suitable for small, medium and large companies.

There are small suites available on the ground floor, medium-sized offices on the first floor and two large offices on the second floor.

The building incorporates a light-filled atrium, break-out areas for informal meetings and a conference room. It is designed to be a low-energy building and has parking spaces for 130 cars.

In addition to Pacific House, the Sovereign Harbour Innovation Park has development sites which can accommodate further business premises up to 80,000 sq ft. Companies can commission Sea Change to develop bespoke freehold or leasehold properties for them or buy serviced sites to create their own.

The Innovation Park is designed to provide an economic boost to the area by providing high-quality premises and sites on previously disused land. It is three miles from Eastbourne town centre and five minutes’ walk to the cafes, restaurants and boutiques of Sovereign Harbour’s marina and retail park.

Business seminar:  A free seminar – How to move your business to the next level – is being held in Pacific House on Wednesday 25th May, 9.30am to 12.30pm. Interested parties can register here.

Anyone interested in offices in Pacific House or sites on the Sovereign Harbour Innovation Park should contact one of Sea Change’s agents:

They can also visit www.sovereigninnovationpark.co.uk to see more information and download a brochure.

 

The Hastings Independent Press (HIP) is a free, not-for-profit, fortnightly newspaper run mainly by volunteers – and they’ve just published their 50th issue. Having run for two years on a shoestring, they’re now raising the bar – to the tune of £15,000. This would finance a professional office space and a distribution service, allowing the paper to build on its success.

About the Hastings Independent

For two years, HIP’s team of volunteers have worked tirelessly to provide quality news, back local causes, support community cohesion, promote local arts, and provide training and work experience to local people.

This kind of positive, community-focused organisation is vital to the town, which suffers low average incomes, high unemployment, and more than its fair share of substance abuse and mental health problems. According to the Department for Communities and Local Government, Hastings is the most deprived town on the south coast, and the 13th most deprived local authority in England.

“It’s a community paper, for and of the community,” says reader Jane Grimshaw, who has also appeared in the paper for her work with Hastings Supports Refugees. “It’s lead and inspired by members of the community with an inclusive approach to reporting what is happening in our area.”

Providing training to the community

Very few of HIP’s volunteers have formal training in journalism, so the team run free weekly peer-to-peer sessions on Monday evenings at a local careers centre. Recent sessions have included news writing (run by the news ed, an ex sub-editor), law for journalists (run by the sports ed, a retired solicitor), photojournalism (run by the picture ed, a professional photographer) and media sales (run by the advertising manager). Volunteers also make use of free training resources, such as the online course in community journalism by Cardiff University.

“I came to HIP to learn new skills, become more confident in my writing and gain new experiences,” says volunteer Leanne Cannon, who is also studying English with the Open University. “Working with HIP I feel that I can reach those goals.”

With recent news that the University of Brighton will be withdrawing its Hastings campus in five years (along with its journalism course), HIP has become even more vital as a training resource.

Recent coverage

HIP is primarily paper-first, feeling that a free, paper-based news source is important to the community. But it has also recently refurbished its website, to broaden its reach and allow volunteers to link to their stories when applying for jobs. Here are a few recent articles:

Achievements to date:

  • Pagination has increased from an initial 16 pages to a current 24.
  • Regular volunteers have grown from an initial 4 to a team of 37, including 12 section editors, 4 sub editors, 4 photographers and over 20 writers.
  • We also have more than 100 occasional contributors.
  • Advertising covers most running costs, with preferential rates for small local businesses and community organisations.

What past volunteers are doing now

Several volunteers have used their experience with HIP to gain new employment. A few examples are: gallery assistant at Express Newspapers, social data journalist at Brandwatch, freelance writer for Novara and the Guardian, communications manager for the local borough council.

Crowdfunding campaign

Having confirmed the local appetite for an independent news source over the past two years – and the HIP team’s ability to provide it – they are celebrating their 50th issue by launching a crowdfunding campaign to raise £15,000.

This will allow the paper to build on its success to date, by financing for one year:

  1. A distribution co-ordinator to do newspaper deliveries.
  2. Improvements to the office, which was kindly donated but needs some work.
  3. Occasional shortfalls in running costs such as printing and design (usually financed by advertising).

hastings-independent-logoAny help with raising the profile of the crowdfunder, or the paper in general, would be much appreciated.

In the fourth quarter of 2015 the UK economy grew 0.6%, which is higher than the previous estimate of 0.5%.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the economy grew by 2.3% for the whole of 2015. This is higher than the 2.2% previously thought. Analysts forecast that the figure would remain unchanged.

The figures for the UK’s current account deficit were at a record high in the final quarter of last year. In the three months to December it was £32.7 billion, which is the equivalent of 7% of GDP.

Considering the whole of 2015, the deficit was £96.2 billion or 5.2% of GDP. Since records began in 1948, both figures were the highest since. As a result, the deficit means that the UK imported more goods and services than it exported.

The Bank of England’s Financial Policy Committee stated that uncertainty over the UK’s membership of the EU could put financial stability at risk. This includes the current account deficit.

The UK inflation rate stayed at 0.3% in February, the same as January.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said that the rising food prices, in particular vegetables, helped to keep the Consumer Prices Index unchanged.

Last year inflation reached zero and the annual inflation has continued to be below the Bank of England’s 2% target for the past two years. The Bank expected inflation to stay below 1% this year.

Under the separate Retail Prices Index (RPI) measure, inflation was 1.3% in February, which also showed no change from the previous month. The measure includes housing costs.

The ONS reported that government borrowing fell less than expected in February at £7.1 billion. Chancellor George Osborne is close to missing his target for cutting the budget deficit in the 2015-16 financial year. The total deficit now stands at £70.7 billion for the 11 months of the year. The chancellor’s full-year target is £72.2 billion.

Chancellor George Osborne announced that corporation tax will be reduced by 17% by April 2020 and hopes this will lure more companies to Britain.

The tax was already cut from 28% to 20% previously and Osborne believes the extra cuts will provide a boost to local firms. This should save British firms around £15 billion a year by 2020.

A reduction in corporation tax would make Britain the country with the lowest rate in the G20, which will encourage more people to start, run and grow businesses in the UK.

The deficit will also be eliminated over the next 4 years and the government will be running a surplus. There will be a further £3.5 billion of savings from departmental spending in 2019-2020 to help achieve this.

Osborne announced in the Budget that there will be a longer school day for 25% of secondary schools and every school will become an academy by 2022.

The new Lifetime ISA will allow people to save for retirement or to buy a first home as from April 2017, any adult under 40 will be able to open one. Each year up to £4,000 can be saved and savers will receive a 25% bonus from the government.

The current Personal Allowance rate stands at £10,600 before workers start paying tax, but this will change from £11,000 in 2016 to £11,500 in April 2017.

 

 

On Wednesday 16th March Chancellor George Osborne will deliver the Budget plans to members of Parliament in the House of Commons.

Although the Autumn Statement happened back in November 2015, it was another update on the Chancellor’s economic forecasts. The Budget this week will contain more detail and will happen at 12:30pm and last approximately an hour.

Pension changes were not covered in the Autumn Statement, so some expect changes to this in the Budget on Wednesday. Some have said Osborne may reduce the amount that people can save into their pension.

Although nobody knows what George Osborne will deliver in the Budget, many think that it could be possible for him to introduce a new flat rate on tax relief on contributions of between 25% and 33%.

The Chancellor has admitted that he may have to impose further austerity measures. This could mean more reductions in the budgets of non-protected government departments. He also warned that more savings will be needed due to the worsening of the economic backdrop.chancellor

Workers on a zero-hours contract as their man job stood at 801,000 at the end of 2015, which is up by 104,000 from the year before the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

Since the ONS began monitoring the number of zero-hours contracts, this is the highest report and means that 2.5% of the employed UK workforce is on this type of contract.

In November, there were around 1.7 million contracts that did not guarantee a minimum number of working hours, which means that workers may have had more than one zero-hours contract.

Seasonal factors could have affected the previous estimate but the ONS said they should not be directly compared. Workers on zero-hours contracts were likely to be young people, part-time workers and students in full-time education opposed to other people in employment.

The ONS has also said that those on the contract, on average, worked 26 hours a week but a third of those wanted to work longer in their current job, rather than more hours in a different job. Only 10% of people in other types of jobs wanted more hours.uk employment

The East Sussex Social Enterprise Conference will take place on Tuesday 22nd March 2016 and will involve an afternoon of speakers, topical discussions and practical workshops.

The conference will address issues facing social entrepreneurs at every stage from start-up to sustain and scale-up. The workshop topics will be investment for growth, financing start-ups, impact measurement, European funding and community enterprise.

An opportunity to help shape the future of support for social entrepreneurs will be available as the East Sussex Social Enterprise Strategy and the formation of Social Enterprise East Sussex CIC will be launched.

Networking will start at 12:30pm before the opening speakers begin at 1pm. The event will last until 4pm and is held at the University of Brighton’s Hastings campus.

To register for the event please click here.business-breakfast