LOOKING TO THE FUTURE ISSUE 05
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FOREWORD Business leaders are seizing the day, making the most of what this new year, new decade and new dawn have to offer.
here is no better way for East Anglia in Business to demonstrate that entrepreneurial spirit is refusing to be bowed by Brexit than to tell the stories of East Anglian firm Inawisdom and Dutch paint company Anker Stuy. You never know, their staff might well have crossed tracks mid-Channel as the former set up a new office in Rotterdam and the latter its first UK base, in Peterborough. Yes, Anker Stuy appeared to be swimming against the tide, said co-owner Emile Stuy, but as far as he was concerned the business case was a no-brainer. “There are 60m British people and they still want to move house and buy new furniture - we knew it was time to have our own presence in the UK.”
But he taps straight into the key theme of this issue when he adds that the region can’t stand still. “We need to keep driving forwards in terms of finance, infrastructure and skills.” The team at the recently-formed Norfolk and Suffolk Unlimited couldn’t agree more. One Wednesday in January, they were part and parcel of a Parliamentary summit that drew together business representatives and MPs from across the two counties. Those present listened to the details of the 12 priority projects identified to improve infrastructure and pave the way to growth. You can learn what they are too – simply read on.
Inawisdom’s office in Rotterdam, meanwhile, was the obvious next step for a business that has gone from ‘start-up’ to ‘global’ in just three years. It provides a toehold in Europe for a company with a big vision. Founder Neil Miles said: “As a business, we see great opportunities ahead and they are there for us to grasp - we mustn’t let any concerns about Brexit distract us.” He has been asked if running his business out of East Anglia creates any additional challenges. “No!” was the resounding answer. “Good things have happened here.”
Helen Compson Editor, East Anglia in Business
CO NTE NTS
CON T E N TS
Foreword 03 As the UK enters unchartered waters, it is vital that adequate support is provided to our manufacturing and engineering sectors.
The 2020 Vision 08|15 What does business in East Anglia look like in 2020, Helen Compson asked the recently-appointed head of the New Anglia Growth Hub. And, importantly, where does he believe the growth will come from?
Digital Innovation 16|21 Data is the rich resource at your fingertips, but you need to know how to use it. Helen Compson learns more from one of East Angliaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ICT gurus.
Transport and Infrastructure 24|27 MPs and business leaders joined representatives from across Norfolk and Suffolk to pledge to work together to drive an infrastructure revolution across the two counties.
Legal 28|31 A law firm which specialises in legal services for local SMEs is dragging the legal profession into the 21st century.
Finance 32|35 The spirit of entrepreneurship has always been strong in the East of England with smaller businesses making a significant contribution to the regionâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s economy.
CO N TENTS
Editor Helen Compson firstname.lastname@example.org
Design Distinctive Publishing, 3rd Floor, Tru Knit House, 9-11 Carliol Square, Newcastle, NE1 6UF Tel: 0191 580 5990 www.distinctivepublishing.co.uk
Advertising Distinctive Publishing, 3rd Floor, Tru Knit House, 9-11 Carliol Square, Newcastle, NE1 6UF Tel: 0191 5805990 www.distinctivepublishing.co.uk
Energy Focus 36|39 ScottishPower Renewables has reinforced its commitment to working with local suppliers on East Anglia ONE by awarding James Fisher Marine Services a multimillion-pound scheduled maintenance contract.
Training and Apprenticeships 40|41 In today’s high-tech work environments, ensuring the next generation is equipped to step up to the plate is crucial. Here, an engineering company tells East Anglia in Business about its approach to training and development.
East Anglia in Business @EAinBusiness
Business Focus 48|51 In deciding to set up its first UK base ahead of Brexit, high-end Dutch paint company Anker Stuy is indeed flying in the face of corporate opinion.
Health and Wellbeing 52|54 With traffic congestion and the health of the nation at a crossroads, maybe this is the year your company will take a right-hand turn - down a cycle track.
East Anglia in Business www.eastangliainbusiness.co.uk
Distinctive Publishing or East Anglia in Business cannot be held responsible for any inaccuracies that may occur, individual products or services advertised or late entries. No part of this publication may be reproduced or scanned without prior written permission of the publishers and East Anglia in Business.
Duke of Edinburgh Awards 42|45 Innovation has proven a popular topic and it’s one we’re keen to explore further. Who better to continue the conversation with than Professor Fiona Lettice, Pro-ViceChancellor (Research & Innovation) of the University of East Anglia.
CON T R I B UTORS
Managing Director at The British Business Bank
Manager, New Anglia Growth Hub
Richard Bearman is a Managing Director at the British Business Bank, where he is responsible for Start Up Loans, the Government-backed programme that provides support, finance and mentoring to help people across the UK to start and grow a business. Since 2012, the Start Up Loans programme has delivered more than 67,000 loans, providing more than £534m of funding. Richard has a wealth of experience working with start-ups and entrepreneurs, previously holding the position of Head of Business for HSBC UK, where he was responsible for setting up the strategic direction and growing HSBC’s UK small business customer base and leading a team of Business Specialists.
Richard has considerable expertise both as a managing director and at an operational management level in a range of commercial sectors, including finance, business development, retail, property and the automotive industries. He joined the New Anglia Growth Hub at its inception in 2014 and for five years was its senior business adviser, until August 2019. After a short break, he rejoined as Growth Hub manager in February this year. He is now responsible for guiding and supporting the team of advisers and office-based personnel, developing the hub’s programmes and ensuring that the business support provided remains impartial and relevant.
Neil Miles CEO of Inawisdom As co-founder and CEO of Inawisdom, Neil has an extensive background, founding and growing a number of highly successful businesses. As a leader and innovator in the Technology sector, he is passionate about investing in people and working closely with customers, to enable them to get the maximum value from their data – the key is to drive growth, revenue and business differentiation. Neil is also Chairman of TechEast, the not for profit organisation and plays a fundamental role in promoting and supporting the digital technology sector across the East of England.
Lee McLean Manufacturing Manager, Proserv Controls Lee McLean has almost twenty years’ experience in the energy industry and since 2019 he has held the role of Manufacturing Manager at Proserv Controls. Lee first joined the company in 2002, as an apprentice, before going on to become a mechanical technician, developing expertise in manufacturing and the testing of both topside and subsea controls systems. Lee was appointed to the post of Team Leader in 2012, progressing to Senior Team Lead in 2017. Lee is passionate about supporting the development of people’s skills and capabilities.
CO N TRIBU TORS
Hayley Mace Head of Communications, New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership Having started her career as a newspaper journalist, Hayley has a decade of PR and communications experience. She has worked in the third sector, for food and agricultural businesses and on a range of skills projects before joining New Anglia LEP in 2016.
THE EAST OF ENGLAND â&#x20AC;&#x201C; HEADING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION ISSUE 02
Neil Ashley Barrister Neil qualified as a barrister in 1999. Since then he has spent the majority of his time litigating employment, corporate and related commercial claims, as well as advising on complex boardroom and shareholder disputes.
BUILDING A CIRCULAR ECONOMY ISSUE 03
Marsha Robinson Solicitor Marsha qualified as a solicitor in 2008. Since then she has specialised in contentious and noncontentious commercial law, including employment law, intellectual property, commercial contracts and information rights. ROUTES TO INNOVATION ISSUE 04
T H E 2 0 2 0 VI S I O N Ne w A ng l i a Grow t h Hub
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LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
What does business in East Anglia look like in 2020, HELEN COMPSON asked the recently-appointed head of the New Anglia Growth Hub. And, importantly, where does he believe the growth will come from?
T H E 2 0 2 0 VI S I O N Ne w A ng l i a Grow t h Hub
ichard Glinn is better placed than most to do a bit of crystal ball gazing, having previously worked for the Growth Hub for five years as its senior business adviser, but he begins with a glance over his shoulder. Each and every one of England’s 38 local enterprise partnerships had had to justify the need for their very existence, he stressed. Only the wellresearched and finely-honed strategies got the go-ahead. As it was, SMEs were crying out for one-to onebusiness support in Norfolk and Suffolk, of the financial and practical type the New Anglia Growth Hub has been providing them with for five years now. Four new advisers, experts variously in the fields of sales, business engagement, consultancy and international trade, joined the team late last year, taking the number of ‘on-the-ground’ advisers at the hub to 14. Between them, they have supported 9,000 businesses over the past five years with 45,000 hours of advice. In 2019 alone they awarded small grants worth a total of just over £678,000, which was matchfunded to the tune of £2.6m and led to the creation of 77 jobs. New Anglia Growth Hub is managed by Suffolk Chamber of Commerce on behalf of the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership and is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. From the hub’s base in Ipswich, the team covers Norfolk and Suffolk and the two have their own personalities, said Richard. “To outsiders, we might – incorrectly – be known generally for our agriculture.
“However, the picture needs to be repainted. There is a lot of greenery between the towns and cities and we’re certainly on trend in that we’re seeing a lot of farmers wishing to diversify. “But beyond that, we are home to many exciting and fast-progressing businesses in competitive sectors that include manufacturing, tech, digital and clean energy, residing in small and large industrial business parks across both Norfolk and Suffolk.” The two live grant schemes the Growth Hub was working with highlighted the differences between the two counties. The one offering the bigger grants, the Growing Business Fund, pays a percentage of a project’s costs up to the value of £500,000. Most of those grants went to Norfolk, with its bigger companies and bigger projects. The Small Grant Scheme, which pays out up to £25,000 at a time, is mostly taken up in Suffolk, which plays host to many a small company. The hub doesn’t cover Cambridgeshire, but their neighbouring county is home to a Silicon Valley tract of techy companies that is rapidly expanding east and south into Norfolk and Suffolk too. “Enterprise parks, with the business rates relief they offer to businesses taking up premises, are going up across all three counties,” said Richard. Prominent in Norfolk’s business profile are the East Anglia ONE windfarm being constructed by ScottishPower Renewables 45kms offshore, tourism – whereby the ‘get out of London for a weekend’ break now rivals the traditional family staycation – and that swathe of farm diversifications. This last wholeheartedly embraces camping and glamping, specialist food production and the odd brewery and gin distillery thrown in just for good measure.
There is a lot of greenery between the towns and cities and we’re certainly on trend in that we’re seeing a lot of farmers wishing to diversify. But beyond that, we are home to many exciting and fast-progressing businesses in competitive sectors that include manufacturing, tech, digital and clean energy, residing in small and large industrial business parks across both Norfolk and Suffolk. 10
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Richard Glinn Â© Jamie Bird
T H E 2 0 2 0 VI S I O N Ne w A ng l i a Grow t h Hub
And, of course, there is engineering, on a wholesale scale. Richard said: “We have a lot of small industrial units housing engineering and manufacturing enterprises across both Norfolk and Suffolk.
There can be major cash injections too for the eligible employer in the eligible sector. One Essex engineering manufacturer moved to Suffolk recently to take advantage of a grant that helped her achieve a high-spec business premises complete with matching equipment.
Indeed, a new initiative, Norfolk and Suffolk Unlimited - managed by the New Anglia LEP on behalf of the two county councils – has been launched to bring together this rich diversity of public and private sector partners to promote the region and increase inward investment.
“Yes, there are incentives to help employers make that move,” he said. “I bumped into the MD recently and she said to me that in terms of staff retention, only one of her 16 staff hadn’t come with her.”
Perhaps that accounts for the international flavour of the region’s eateries. As Richard says, “The quality is high and the choice almost unlimited. You can get just about anything you fancy in both Norfolk and Suffolk … “ The latter is also renowned for its food production, particularly at the niche end of things. In the area around Newmarket, for example, there are butchers, bakers and artisan cheese-makers turning out the county’s own prized take on sausages, pasties and Stilton.
Manager, New Anglian Growth Hub newangliagrowthhub.co.uk
“Two or three of those producers moved from Essex to Suffolk, with the help of grants,” said Richard. “There are actually some big boys in Suffolk now. “One well-known busiess is Treatt, the flavour company that’s moving onto an enterprise park just outside of Bury St Edmunds.” And that leads us nicely on to where Richard sees the biggest potential for growth in East Anglia companies are decamping to the region, no two ways about it. Whilst rail links to London and beyond are reasonable (New Anglia LEP’s 2014 Great Eastern Rail Campaign led to a significantly beefed up service), the biggest benefits await entrepreneurs who move lock stock and barrel to this lovely corner of the world. He said: “Business owners are thinking about their personnel – they are looking at house prices as well as the cost of commercial space. “I have come across quite a few incomers of late. Cambridge is very popular for that type of move and it is quite chocabloc these days, but if a business sets up just down the road at Newmarket, they find both residential and commercial property prices are significantly cheaper, it is less congested
“Personally, my family and I moved from Essex to Suffolk 14 years ago and we love it.”
“You can go onto an anonymous industrial estate where nothing much appears to be going on, but then you step behind the façade … I went into one unit and they were making equipment to transport livers for transplant.”
The Suffolk port of Felixstowe warrants special mention, not least because 48 per cent of all cargo brought into the UK in shipping containers first docks on its quays.
traffic-wise and simple things such as parking charges are cheaper.
The quality of life on offer in East Anglia had been a major factor for the employees considering resettling their families, they agreed. Grant funding is equally available for existing businesses looking to expand. Sudbury in Suffolk has an historical claim to fame in that it is at the heart of silk weaving in Britain, and has been for centuries. Three such companies continue to ply their trade there today and two of them have been awarded grants of late to buy new looms. Richard said: “I’ve had a couple of factory tours and it’s quite amazing to see the old-fashioned, Dickensian looms they’ve still got. “They are installing new models - one needed two, while the other needed just one, but at a cost of £100,000 – however they have to retain their old looms, because there are things the new ones can’t do. A client might come back and say ‘produce this from 50 years ago’.” All consultations with the New Anglia Growth Hub begin the same way - with the business advisor listening closely to what the entrepreneur has to say about their hopes and vision, about what they want. “Managing growth is probably more difficult to manage than failure,” he said, “and that’s where the advisor’s skill comes in. It might be a grant that is being discussed, but equally it might be ‘I’m having a problem employing the right people’. “The reply could be ‘have you thought about apprenticeships?’ ‘Well, I’ve heard of them, but I don’t know how they work’. And that’s how the advisor/client relationship begins.”
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Export Director, Anker Stuy Coatings Ltd, Peterborough
Director, React Computer Partnership, Woodbridge, Suffolk
As a Dutch businessman with a company in the UK, I predict that there will be some hysterical weeks coming up after the official Brexit moment. This will, of course, be stirred by the media as it will receive a lot of attention.
Hopefully a government with a working majority will give people confidence that a functioning government will let us get back to normal trading conditions in 2020. However, there is likely to be some nervousness over how changing the terms of trade with our major partner will affect things.
But with a proper deal, Brexit will not be as unclear as it would have been without a deal. That would have caused many more problems. Now customs and custom related organization will be able to adopt and adjust to the new standards. Also, I don’t believe the UK will impose tariffs on our sector. The focus there will be agriculture, fishing and livestock. The economy will struggle, I’m sure, during the coming year, but in the long term I expect it will grow because the UK will have much more flexibility over making trade agreements and investing in sectors where previously it was restricted. I also think Sterling will recover – it is already doing so. For companies that export from the UK to the EU, it will get a bit more difficult, because there will be more paperwork and maybe restrictions on some articles.
East Anglia is a vibrant place to do business, benefiting as it does from close links with Europe and, here, the Cambridge Innovation Hub. While this is excellent for businesses, the region does also suffer from having just one main transport link, the A14. Yes, the road is being improved in Cambridgeshire, but it doesn’t take much to cause significant traffic disruptions for the whole area. From an IT perspective, people will use more cloud services in 2020. That is an excellent way of improving business productivity, as software is available at low monthly cost. This does need to be balanced though with the increasing threat of cyber-crime which, although recognised, is largely underestimated.
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Head of Communications, New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership
Chief Executive, Inawisdom, Adastral Park, Ipswich
I believe businesses should be optimistic – political uncertainty is nothing new and if you are making a great product or delivering a first-class service, your customers will always need you.
I’ve been asked if there are any challenges to running a business in East Anglia and the answer is no. Good things have happened here, but as with any region we can’t stand still.
You may need to adapt and invest in capital or technology but there are great opportunities to reach new domestic markets and there’s lots of support available to help business continue to grow. Our flagship grant scheme – the Growing Business Fund – allocated grants worth over £3.9m to businesses across Norfolk and Suffolk last year and programmes like that continue to provide match funding for firms wanting to grow and invest. I think one of the challenges which many businesses will start to set for themselves over the coming year will be around sustainability and clean growth. This will certainly be a theme which continues to pose opportunities and challenges and it is already interesting to see lots of companies making innovations in this area.
We need to keep driving forwards in terms of finance, infrastructure and skills to ensure that Inawisdom as a company and East Anglia as a region remain at the forefront of what we do. I don’t see anything different about the coming decade for Britain, operating under our own aspirations. As a business, we see great opportunities ahead and they are there for us to grasp - we mustn’t let any concerns about Brexit distract us. Some people see barriers that aren’t there. This region is well-placed to capitalise on the automation of technology and the greater use of data. The opportunities are there - we just need to grab them!
I don’t see anything different about the coming decade for Britain, operating under our own aspirations. As a business, we see great opportunities ahead and they are there for us to grasp - we mustn’t let any concerns about Brexit distract us. Neil Miles
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In upstream oil and gas, if factors negatively impact hydrocarbon prices, a service company must anticipate what this will mean to corporate strategy and adjust its own business model accordingly, with the same dexterity that it would use in a boom. Geert Kooi
Vice-President, Operations, Proserv Controls, Great Yarmouth
founder of DALE Coaching
One of the key criteria for success in the energy industry is having the agility to respond to economic, geopolitical or technological disruption and so remaining at the forefront of competitiveness. In upstream oil and gas, if factors negatively impact hydrocarbon prices, a service company must anticipate what this will mean to corporate strategy and adjust its own business model accordingly, with the same dexterity that it would use in a boom. Last year was one of change for Proserv, as we restructured to form two global facing divisions, Proserv Controls and Gilmore, a Proserv Company, so, as we commence 2020, we are firmly focused on developing controls technologies to directly reflect client needs. The wider industry is also undergoing dynamic changes and the energy transition promises a wealth of opportunities. To meet future demands, we are working alongside key partners to generate controls solutions for the offshore renewables market.
Despite lots of uncertainty, I think 2020 will be a good year for small businesses. But with success comes the need for reflection. As business leaders face the challenges ahead, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s important that they put the health and well-being of their teams front of mind. This means taking the time to talk to employees, develop personal development plans with proper objectives, and listen to the concerns of their staff. Business owners should also consider the cost-benefit of up-skilling employees in terms of identifying which people in their teams are capable and willing to learn new skills. Finally, business owners should reflect on their own leadership style and think about whether itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s aligned with the way they want to take their business forward.
DI GI TAL I N N OVAT IO N In aw i s dom
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HARNESSING A HIDDEN POWER Data is the rich resource at your fingertips, but you need to know how to use it. HELEN COMPSON learns more from one of East Angliaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ICT gurus.
DI GI TAL I N N OVAT IO N In aw i s dom
ata is the new currency, entrepreneur Neil Miles has absolutely no doubt about that. And if any proof were needed, we need look no further than the success of this inveterate innovator’s latest venture. Three years ago, the fledgling Inawisdom was at the start-up stage. Basically, it was just Neil, a couple of colleagues who joined him and a new approach ready to take flight. Today, the firm has around 50 members of staff in its main nest on Ipswich’s Adastral Park and another 40 split between London and the newest office, in Rotterdam. Between them, they service contracts - across Britain, Europe and the Middle East – using artificial intelligence to tell the future, sort of. Simply put, they extract data and marshal it, with increased sales and margins, the detection of fraud and the addressing of security concerns/risk just some of the goals.
NEIL MILES Chief Executive, Inawisdom, Adastral Park, Ipswich
“Ultimately, it is all about the data.” East Anglian businesses have been quick to get on board. Digital innovation is thriving here. Far from being a rural backwater, the region is a hotbed of activity, said Neil. Take Inawisdom, for one, and the slipstream it entered. “We are very pleased with the progress we have made. Having begun from scratch just three years ago, we’re now working on some really great AI and machine-learning projects, developing leading services for some very big customers. “And to have been able to grow the bulk of that here in East Anglia, to have the heart of Inawisdom based here at Adastral Park, is very satisfying.”
“Working in technology, applications and software development as we do, we are seeing the pace of change and the value that the new commercial model around public cloud systems is driving,” said Neil.
And look at Innovation Martlesham too, just one of a myriad of techy networks buzzing with energy. The cluster of companies it facilitated and supported with affordable accommodation on Adastral Park is now 130 strong.
“We are also witnessing the explosion in data – in terms of both volume and richness - and so the great benefit to companies of leveraging the value of their data.”
Neil himself is also chairman of TechEast, the not-for-profit organisation established to promote the fact the digital technology sector is alive and kicking in the east of England.
It is a fast-paced environment, fed by an evergrowing flood of information streaming in from more and more sources.
“One of East Anglia’s best kept secrets is the innovation and enterprise and strength of the technology businesses here,” he said.
Social media is a biggie; so too is IoT, the ‘Internet of Things’, the now widely recognised system of interconnected computers, mechanical and digital machines, people and even animals that possess unique digital identifications and, as a result, the means of transferring data over a network at the touch of a button.
Personally, Neil established Inawisdom in Ipswich because he’s a local lad. But, that’s not to say he didn’t appreciate what Suffolk had to offer him as a businessman.
What defines the Internet of Things is evolving by the month and year as technologies collide and converge. The older technologies of control systems and wireless sensor networks have been joined by analytics, machine learning and commodity sensors of late. A good example of all that coming together to one end is the concept of the smart home, whereby Jo/e Bloggs on holiday can yet switch devices at home on and off using her/his smartphone. And the success of all those processes and outcomes is driven not only by the sheer volume of data, but, as Neil puts it, the ‘richness’ of it. Data is coming in from so many different directions today that, harnessed effectively, it provides a very clear picture of the choices made by society as a whole and by the individual on the street.
Neil said: “Data insight, data-driven businesses, digital transformation, data-driven transformation, they are phrases we use day in, day out, here, because data is the new asset that businesses have to help them market-differentiate and to make them stand out from the crowd.
“It’s got good connections to London, of course,” he said, “but the talent we need is also here. We have grown really fast and yet been able to draw on the talent we need.” With a number of successful businesses to his name – his last one, Smart421, was sold to cloud-based technologies specialist KCOM – he already enjoyed good relationships with “great organisations” such as the Chamber of Commerce and the Innovation Martlesham team. “TechEast flies the flag for the industry and in doing so, works closely with the Chambers of Commerce, the county councils and the Local Enterprise Partnership,” he said. “People who work in this region ought to be proud of what we are all doing – it is worth shouting about!”
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We are very pleased with the progress we have made. Having begun from scratch just three years ago. And to have been able to grow the bulk of that here in East Anglia, to have the heart of Inawisdom based here at Adastral Park, is very satisfying.
New Year’s Cyber Resolutions In my last article I wrote about the importance of companies adopting the governments cyber essentials scheme. This was aimed at organisation that were starting a security programme. For those that are more mature I wanted to focus on some key security principles that should be considered in your cyber strategy for 2020. Cyber Training. There is continued growing evidence that training your staff on cyber security can have a real effect on reducing the risk to your organisation. Cyber risks won’t be solved by technology alone. The human side of the equation is vitally important. The large majority of attacks continue to be delivered via email. Users should be confident in identifying and reporting suspicious emails as well as be aware of how to handle and transfer sensitive information. Training platforms are evolving as well with intelligent software platforms that learns how individuals learn and personalises the experience to each person automatically. The personalised experience is based on their attitudes, confidence, knowledge and behaviour. These platforms are also now directed towards SME’s as well as corporate companies. Regulated sectors such as Banking, Financial and legal have seen a bigger adoption with sectors such as Construction and Manufacturing also adopting security awareness programmes. Threat Intelligence provides organisations with an understanding of hacker’s techniques that could be used against an organisation. It is often a misconception that hackers need to run advanced techniques against organisations to compromise them. The reality is that many hacks are
preventable. If only the organisation had identified the vulnerability and simply addressed, it. We witnessed this regularly in 2019 across our new customers that we onboarded. There is often a weak understanding of their vulnerabilities that our publicly visible. It remains one of the most effective controls you can implement in your security programme. Asset Management is acknowledged as the foundation of any security programme. Essentially you can’t protect what you don’t know. However, what we are seeing is the convergence of more and more systems connected to company networks that the company has no visibility of. This can be anything from CCTV to vending machines and in one recent case a coffee machine. The internet of things (IOT) will allow an ever more connected business for the better. But organisations should have a real time view of their network and be able to identify any unauthorised devices connecting onto their network. Context is always important, and these principles can have different priorities dependent on the organisations size and structure. But it’s also worth companies considering their growth plan and ensuring as they grow these security principles are embedded. Trying to apply these retrospectively can be considerably more
For more information visit www.macyberuk.com or contact email@example.com
expensive and resource heavy than adopting at an early stage. We wish you a secure 2020 from the team at MA Consulting Ltd and we remain available for any support your company may require.
Mo Ahddoud Interim CISO / Security Consultant / Board Advisor
Mo Ahddoud is the managing director of MA Consulting Ltd a cyber security consultancy focussed on helping companies protect themselves against cyber threats. He is a security expert who last served as the Chief Information Security Officer at SGN, which manages and operates over 74,000 km of gas mains and services in Scotland and the south of England. Prior to coming to SGN, Mo acted as the International IT Security Lead at NBC Universal. His professional history also includes leading companies like IBM, BAE Systems, and a ten-year tenure as an officer in the British Army. His depth and variety of experience across public and private sectors gives him a unique insight into all angles of cybersecurity
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R E ACT Comp uter Par tne rshi p
REACT COMPUTER PARTNERSHIP For almost a quarter of a century now, the React Computer Partnership in Woodbridge, Suffolk, has acted as right-hand man for small to medium size companies in need of an IT department.
pecialising in the supply, installation and support of business IT systems, last summer the family behind it, the Pledgers, were anointed Family Business of the Year at the East of England FSB Celebrating Small Business Awards. Often, when it comes to helping businesses improve how they work, the solutions are already at their fingertips. Take Microsoft’s Office 365 package, for example. Around 80% of users access no more than 20% of its capability, so the potential for improvement there alone is huge, said director Francis Pledger. “Businesses can be paying their monthly rental for Office 365, but using just one or two applications. “However, the Teams/Planner/Forms/One Note collection of applications can revolutionise the way a company works in terms of teamwork and project management. “With a little bit of training, people can be up and running in no time. It’s a quick win using a package clients often already have, and that’s what we’re trying to get across – there can be some very simple solutions available.” One client, a manufacturer of window blinds, approached React because he was frustrated by the inefficiency of relying on old-fashioned paperwork. Francis said: “He was reliant on the paper forms his fitters filled in, paperwork that often didn’t reach him. “So, using Office 365, we created a digital version of the form and put it on the fitters’ mobile phones. Now, they can do the job, take the required picture of the installation and send the completed form into the system at the touch of a button.” Trouble-shooting began with simply listening to the client. “Whenever a client comes to us with a problem, we’ll sit down, discuss the pinch-points and then identify a solution.
While the firm actually has clients all over the UK, including Scotland and Wales, the majority are in East Anglia itself. “Most of our clients are small to medium sized enterprises that perhaps aren’t big enough to have an IT manager, but they do need IT,” he said. Far from simply focusing on the technical aspects, React takes a holistic approach, routinely carrying out a business analysis that elicits the bigger picture. The starting point is always ‘what affect are current practices having?’ Francis began his working life in industry, so he understands both sides of the equation.
REACT COMPUTER PARTNERSHIP
“The chances are, rather than having to spend a lot of money on a one-off software purchase, the solution is probably there within Office 365.”
“We’re not an organisation that takes money for a project and then simply moves on to the next customer,” said Francis.
01394 387337 firstname.lastname@example.org www.reactcp.co.uk
Conversation and a personal, tailored service have been the cornerstones of React since it was launched 24 years ago by Francis and brothers Richard and Alan. The operation runs all the more smoothly because their office manager also happens to be their sister, Penny.
“We have clients we have had since our first year of trading. People stay with us because we work to create a partnership.
There are eight members of staff in all, based in Woodbridge’s Deben Mill Business Centre.
“We have skills at React that effectively become theirs.”
“We say ‘we are your IT department’ and they know they can rely on us to be just that, whatever the problem or issue might be.
BU S I N ES S S UPPO RT
YOUR POSITION IN THE MARKETPLACE: WHAT MAKES YOU DIFFERENT? Everyone who has ever read a book or blog about sales and marketing, tried to break into a new industry, or really heard anything about the best way to run a business will have heard about the importance of USPs.
SP stands for Unique Selling Point and essentially means that every business needs SOMETHING to make them stand out against the crowd. If I asked you, right now, “What makes your business different?”, what would be your answer? It can be a difficult question and something that is often hard to put into words. But most people will be able to list a few USPs and also the areas where they’ve had the most success.
But are these actual differences – are you really THAT different from your competitors? The most illuminating way to find out, to me anyway, is to ask your customers why they decided to go with you rather than your nearest competitor. Find out what they think makes you different. Trust me, it can be eye opening. For example, if Burger King asked you what made them different to McDonalds, what would you say? You might prefer one to the other, but at the end of the day, both serve fast food…specialising in burgers. Speaking of McDonalds, one of the things that
really stayed with me from the Ray Kroc’s account of his involvement with McDonald's growth is when he was asked what his business did. As you might expect, he said that they server burgers. But his investment coach corrected him and said that he was actually a property developer! At the time McDonald’s were (and remain) one of the largest real estate owners in the US.
And this just introduces another element in the USP question. What do you think makes you different? What do your customers think are your differences? And now we can add: what differences matter in business? These are questions that the big brands ask themselves all the time. Going back to Burger King, they might say that their main USP revolves around the way they make and prepare their burgers. Their customers will say that it comes down to the ability to customise their order. But in business terms, their main USP could be a lower threshold for franchise investment. (I just made that up for this article…please don’t sue me.)
BU SIN ESS SU P P ORT
You can see that there is no “single” USP that makes my fictious Burger King example special. The things that make them unique are all about who is asking the question.
And this goes for everyone Here at OpenCRM, we are, at a high level, “just “another hosted CRM product…you have no idea how difficult it is to say that, but at one level it is true. For some businesses, our most attractive feature is that we have a solution that can help mid-market businesses better manage the whole customer journey. So, the difference is the breadth of application and therefore its functionality in helping business achieve efficiency. For others, it all comes down to location and personality. We are a modest sized UK business and therefore we understand the pressures of UK businesses. We’re also a nice bunch of guys and gals that you as a customer can get to know, establishing a closer relationship. And that’s a big USP for us when we come up against our larger overseas based competitors.
So how do you know what ALL of your USPs are? For starters, you’ll already know a lot of them. You will know WHY you wanted to start a business (or join a particular company). You’ll have a good idea where you sit within the market and how you compare to your competitors. When it comes to discovering those “other” selling points, the best place to go (in my opinion) is direct to your customers. Through conversations, surveys, and online reviews, you will start to narrow down why they’ve decided to build a relationship with you. And stay with you. Use this information to build on your existing marketing strategies and your business will grow… and then you’ll have even more opportunity to find out why your customers chose you. It’s a never ending cycle.
So, when someone asks me "tell me what makes you different" I always pause for thought.
Graham Anderson, is the CEO and founder of OpenCRM, one of the UK’s leading customer relationship management systems.
Not because I don't know but because I need to understand what the question means to the asker… what they’re really asking me.
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IN FRAST RUCTU R E A ND T RA N S PO RT Nor fol k & S u f fol k Unli m i te d
WESTMINSTER CALLING Norfolk and Suffolkâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s infrastructure priorities highlighted at Westminster summit 24
IN F RASTRU CTU RE AN D TRAN SP ORT Nor fol k & Suf fol k Un li m i te d
Ps and business leaders joined representatives from across Norfolk and Suffolk to pledge to work together to drive an infrastructure revolution across the two counties. The infrastructure summit, on Wednesday 5th February, at the Houses of Parliament was organised by New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, with Norfolk and Suffolk County Councils. The event was hosted by James Cartlidge, MP for South Suffolk. Forty regional and national stakeholders heard details of 12 key priority projects which will enable productivity gains and clean, inclusive growth for those living, working and learning in the region.
The 12 projects highlighted were: Ely and east-west rail connectivity A47 dualling and junction improvements Improved mobile connectivity including 5G
Doug Field, Chair of New Anglia LEP, calls for an infrastructure revolution in partnership with Government
Fibre To The Premises Local energy solutions to address lack of grid connectivity Sustainable transport to support Sizewell C Strategic water planning for future sustainability
IN FRAST RUCTU R E A ND T RA N S PO RT Nor fol k & S u f fol k Unli m i te d
MPs, business leaders and local authorities joined forces at Westminster for the summit
Local benefit from projects on the Norfolk and Suffolk Energy Coast Haughley and Trowse improvements on the Great Eastern Main Line Funding for Norwich through the Transforming Cities Fund A14, A47, A11 and A12 improvements by 2025 and A47 full dualling Support and funding for Transport East to develop mthe regional evidence base for local schemes
“The region’s new place brand, Norfolk & Suffolk Unlimited, allows us to market the area better to attract investment and compete for funding.”
We must work together to ensure levelling up includes Norfolk and Suffolk. We are a net contributor to the UK economy so through investment in the region, the Government gets a bigger return.
Doug Field, Chair of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “We all want Norfolk and Suffolk to achieve its potential and drive clean and inclusive growth.
“We are pleased to see such support here to hear about these priorities which will deliver what we need to drive forward the ambitions in our economic strategy.” James Cartlidge MP said: “We must work together to ensure levelling up includes Norfolk and Suffolk.
We are a net contributor to the UK economy so through investment in the region, the Government gets a bigger return.
Transport Minister George Freeman, MP for South Norfolk, said that vision, a strong business plan and partnership are all needed to deliver smart growth across the area. “We can be the poster child for how we deliver these projects – we must make sure we show a clear delivery mechanism, the ability to match public and private investment and showcase our key sectors,” he said.
The Economic Strategy for Norfolk and Suffolk sets out clear ambitions to deliver 88,000 net new jobs and 30,000 new businesses by 2036. It pledges that local private and public sector partners will work together to explore innovative approaches to funding and finance, driving returns on investment in infrastructure.
IN F RASTRU CTU RE AN D TRAN SP ORT Nor fol k & Suf fol k Un li m i te d
Delivering an infrastructure revolution in Norfolk & Suffolk â&#x20AC;&#x201C; in partnership with Government
LEGAL Pa l adi n
DYNAMIC NEW LAW FIRM LOOKING TO REVOLUTIONISE THE LEGAL SERVICES MARKET A law firm which specialises in legal services for local SMEs is dragging the legal profession into the 21st century.
aladin is owned by dynamic duo Neil Ashley and Marsha Robinson. It operates primarily across East Anglia, with a committed focus on the region’s small and medium-sized businesses. Paladin makes use of the latest cloud-based technology to ensure that its team can be more responsive, more flexible and more agile than their competitors. Unusually, the owners are a barrister and a solicitor working side by side in the same firm.
Marsha Robinson & Neil Ashley Paladin Paladin-knight.co.uk
Neil Ashley is the barrister, called to the bar in 1999. He describes himself as, first and foremost, a trial lawyer with a ‘street fighter’ pedigree. His results speak for themselves and the leading legal directories of the last decade or so have been littered with accolades regarding his advocacy and courtroom prowess. He is described as “fascinating to watch” and “devastating in cross examination”. The fact that several local judges have recommended him to their nearest and dearest speaks for itself.
Why should you wait for weeks and have to fight through dusty layers of bureaucracy to get quality legal advice? You shouldn’t, and with Paladin you don’t have to.
Marsha Robinson qualified as a solicitor in 2008. She explains that she is the ‘engine room’. She does a lot of the hard background work and manages the client relationships. Bette Midler would describe her as ‘the wind beneath the wings’ of their cases. Marsha has spent the last 10 years perfecting the art of leaving no stone unturned in pursuit of delivering outstanding outcomes for her clients.
With such complementary skill sets, it was perhaps inevitable that Neil and Marsha would work so well together. But they quickly realised that they shared much more than a commitment to do a great job. They were both frustrated with their professions and with the legal industry generally which, according to Neil, has been far too slow to adjust to modern client expectations and customer service standards. Thus, when recent regulatory changes finally allowed solicitors and barristers to join forces within the same law firm, the two didn’t hesitate: Paladin was born and with it began a concerted assault on an archaic profession. “We’ve started with the basics,” explains Neil. “We recognise that when people have legal problems, they want them sorted. You can choose new clothes and have them delivered within 24 hours. You can run your entire business in real time sat on the beach. You can even organise a date with a simple swipe of your finger. So why should you wait for weeks and have to fight through dusty layers of bureaucracy to get quality legal advice? You shouldn’t, and with Paladin you don’t have to. Our touchstone is the provision of fantastic customer service, and that means being agile, responsive, cost-effective and delivering a great return on investment. We sort your problems and you get back to running your business.”
L EGAL Pa l adi n
But great customer service is only the beginning. Solicitors and barristers working seamlessly together threatens to disrupt the centuries-long referral-type relationship which so often does a disservice to the client. As Marsha explained: “Clients are often quite baffled at the way in which the traditional client-solicitor-barrister relationship works. It is not uncommon for a barrister to attend court to present a case which has been conceived, structured and prepared by someone else entirely. Sometimes they won’t even have seen the case until the day before the hearing. That can be quite terrifying for the client. And as any barrister will tell you, they frequently find themselves having to argue X whilst thinking that they really would have approached it very differently had they been involved earlier on. On any view, it’s a bit too late by that stage.” Paladin’s novel business structure overcomes this problem. The complementary skillsets of barrister and solicitor are pooled under one roof and each case receives the right input from the right person at the right time. It goes without saying that as a consequence, the client is considerably more likely to get the outcome they are seeking – and at a lower cost. As Neil pointed out: “By far the best way to ensure that you can deliver a spectacular end result for the client, is to ensure that you are there at the beginning and throughout. That is cost prohibitive with the traditional ‘referral’ model of old, but with our new model it is totally affordable. Other law firms can’t touch us.”
East Anglia. Their services centre on corporate and commercial legal services such as employment law and HR, shareholder and director disputes, intellectual property, commercial disputes and debt recovery. They also offer specialist investigation services so that businesses can outsource their complex and high-priority investigation work.
Marsha Robinson & Neil Ashley of Paladin
So what does 2020 have in store for Paladin? “We’ve established ourselves and our way of working, and demonstrated that it pays dividends,” said Marsha. “We now intend to build on those foundations by starting to shine a spotlight on all the ways in which some of our competitors are letting down the consumer. Fees are a great example. As anyone who has used a law firm will know, the costs of the fee earner running the case can quickly ramp up. Yet scrutiny of some solicitors’ bills will show a raft of other costs for senior ‘supervising’ partners, expensive trainees and unqualified ‘paralegals’ and almost-asexpensive secretaries. The view we take at Paladin is that value for money – and giving a return on investment - is everything. If the case does not warrant fees at hourly rates, we will say so and try to find a workaround. One size does not fit all.” “Are local law firms worried about us?” asks Neil. “They certainly should be. We are going to call out mediocrity wherever we see it. We are going to show the consumer what great actually looks like. And we’re going to drive down fees. Other law firms will either change their ways or they will fall by the wayside.”
Paladin is now deploying this relatively new way of working to the advantage of clients throughout
We’re shaking up the way lawyers do business - with business There’s a lot of difference between us and most other lawyers. We do our business like businesspeople. Our clients like our rates (and the absence of dubious charges for expensive trainees, supervision by invisible senior partners and the like). We’re super-agile. And we’re absolutely committed to delivering a return on investment. What’s more, our owners are a solicitor and a barrister working together in the same firm. You don’t find that very often, but it means your team is all in one place. We’re THE lawyers for local business. Whatever your situation, we can help. Employment law | Shareholder disputes | Commercial law | Intellectual property HR consultancy | Investigation services | Mediation | Data and Privacy
T: 0345 222 0111
MAKE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY YOUR BUSINESS Every business will have some form of Intellectual Property (IP) – not just those that deal with technology. To appreciate the importance of this IP, it is necessary to understand the nature of different IP rights, what they protect, and how the rights can be obtained and how they best be commercialised.
enerally speaking, IP can be seen as a bundle of property rights that protect “creations of the mind”. These rights can be crucial for your business, as not only can they be used to protect your own creations, but also provide useful business tools that can be exploited commercially. Different forms of IP may be used to protect different aspects of your business. Not all IP rights may apply to your particular field of business, but many will, and understanding not only your rights but those of your competitors will put you on a sound commercial footing. The first group of rights below are all obtained through a registration process, and the costs, timescales and procedures for each will vary. Brand names and logos, whether they be the name of your business, the name of any products you produce or any associated services, can all be protected by way of a trade mark registration. Innovative products and methods of manufacture may be protected by way of a patent. Whereas patents may protect the way something works, or the way it is made, the visible appearance of these products may be protectable by way of a registered design. Whilst registered trade marks and designs and patents all need to be obtained through a legal procedure (with associated expense), other rights are automatically obtained, and can also be used to protect your intellectual creations. Copyright exists to protect the expression of ideas, and protect original written works (including computer code), as well as works of art including
drawings, sculptures and photographs. The design of products is also protectable by an unregistered design right, but this offers weaker protection than a registered design. There is also limited protection for names, logos, trade style and other indicia associated with your business, if it can be proved that you have sufficient goodwill and reputation for those indicia. It is also important to be aware of your confidential information and trade secrets, since action can be taken if this information is disclosed without permission. IP rights can be put to use in a number of different ways. On one hand, IP may be seen as a negative right. That is, it can merely be used to prevent others from copying your written material, or producing products that infringe upon your patents and designs. From this, you maintain a competitive edge. On the other hand, IP can be used in a positive sense. Since IP is a property right, it can be bought and sold. It can be licensed, so that others can use your brand name or make products that fall within your patent, for which you will receive a royalty payment. IP can be used to give you the upper hand in negotiations, and can be exchanged for mutual benefit. Furthermore, IP rights can be obtained globally, unleashing your businesses potential to a global market. It must also be borne in mind that not only is your IP important, so is that of others. You will need to be aware of competitors’ rights so that they are not infringed, which could put your own business at risk.
FIN AN C E
B r i t i s h B u s i ne s s B a n k
Rupert Waters and Emily Robertson
CHIN CHIN The spirit of entrepreneurship has always been strong in the East of England with smaller businesses making a significant contribution to the region’s economy.
n fact, British Business Bank research found the East of England’s 564,000 smaller businesses account for more than half (54%) of the region’s private sector employment and generate 46% of private sector turnover.1 The success of the East of England’s smaller business has been fuelled by an exciting pipeline of innovative start ups that have been able to thrive in the region. The latest statistics from the Bank’s Start Up Loans programme show that since its launch in 2012, it has delivered more than £35m of funding to people in the region to help them start or grow a new business.
In total, Start Up Loans has issued 4,556 loans, worth an average of £7,873 each. Start Up Loans was established in 2012 by Lord Young to help people - wherever they are in the UK and whatever their background - to achieve their ambitions of starting their own business. At the time, there was 4.5 million small business in the UK. Today, the number is close to six million, pointing to a real spirit of entrepreneurship in the UK. Start Up Loans has helped to drive this growth by supporting aspiring business owners who might otherwise struggle to access funding from the
F IN ANCE
B r i t ish B u sine ss B a n k
traditional High Street Banks. These groups include the unemployed, people from black, Asian and ethnic minority communities and women who have historically found it more difficult to access finance. I’m very proud to say that last year 40% of our loans went to women, 35% were unemployed when they applied for a loan; and 20% came from black, Asian and ethnic minority communities. Among those to receive a Start Up Loan is Emily Robertson, 28, who borrowed £25,000 in 2017 to set up a distillery in Cambridgeshire producing handcrafted gin. A former software developer at a multi-national tech company, Emily decided to give up her desk job and the daily commute to Cambridge and launch Roundwood Gin with co-founder, Rupert Waters. She used the start up loan to transform an outbuilding into a fully-functioning distillery with a hand-designed copper still. Since its launch in 2017, the company has gone from strength to strength, launching two new products early this year - the Cask Aged Sloe Gin and the London Dry Gin Miniatures - which they sell and distribute through their website. The business now employs four members of staff to help with the day-to-day running of the operation and with workshops which teach their customers about the process behind the distilling. When I spoke to Emily recently, she told me that starting a business was the best thing she had
ever done. But she also mentioned the challenges, describing her journey as “a complete rollercoaster” full of ups and downs. Like so many Start Up Loans recipients, Emily benefited from the programme’s network of expert business advisors who are available to help applicants with all aspects of setting up a business, from writing a business plan through to managing cash flow. All successful loan applicants are also offered 12-months of free mentoring to guide them through the early stages of their business journey. We do this because we recognise that starting a business isn’t easy. Notwithstanding having a good idea, it takes courage, ambition and a lot of determination. Many people give up at the first hurdle, which is why we put as much emphasis on mentoring as on providing financial support. The Start Up Loans programme provides fixedinterest loans of £500 to £25,000 to aspiring business owners. Since 2012, it has delivered 69,555 loans, providing more than £563 million in funding to help people from all walks of life start their own business. If you’ve got an idea that you think fills a gap in the market, get in touch. We encourage you to read more on the free support and advice section of our website and the straightforward application process for a loan can be accessed at: https://apply.startuploans.co.uk/s/register
BY RICHARD BEARMAN Managing Director, Start Up Loans
1. BBB SBFM 2019 (East of England press release)
FIN AN C E Co o de n Ta x
WILL 2020 BE THE YEAR YOU MAKE THE MOST OF INNOVATION TAX RELIEFS It’s the start of a new decade and with that comes the chance to have a fresh look at everything that is happening in your business.
t is likely to be the most active decade for innovation that the world has ever known, with continuing advances in artificial intelligence and green technology and solutions to save the world, given even more focus by the competition announced over the New Year by the Duke of Cambridge with Sir David Attenborough. Innovation is surely going to be omnipresent! You must also ask yourself the question, “Am I paying the right amount of tax?” When it comes to your corporate tax bill, which ultimately affects your profitability as much, if not more than most costs in your business, the question you should be asking is “Am I making the most of my available Tax Reliefs?”
The SME Scheme is for small and mediumsized entities who employ less than 500 people and have a turnover of less than €100m or a gross asset value on their Balance Sheet of less €86m, who are performing research and development at their own financial risk. If you don’t meet these criteria or you are performing paid R&D for another company or you’ve received a grant or subsidy for your R&D then you can claim under RDEC.
The SME Scheme will deliver tax relief for a profitable company worth up to 24.7% of the eligible spend, a loss making company can surrender their loss up to a value of 230% of the R&D spend for a repayable R&D Tax Credit, which can be worth up to 33.35% of the Generally, Tax Reliefs are a legitimate way of reducing a company’s tax liability. Government eligible spend. have legislated tax reliefs for innovation, open The RDEC Scheme is significantly less to companies across all industries. rewarding at around 9.72% of the eligible spend, but still quite a significant amount of cash. Research and Development Tax
Relief The definition of Research and Development for Tax Relief is “a company must be undertaking a project to seek an advance in science or technology through the resolution of scientific or technological uncertainties. The advance being sought must constitute an advance in the overall knowledge or capability in a field of science or technology, not a company’s own state of knowledge or capability alone.” Finally, a competent professional operating in the field mustn’t be able to readily deduce a solution. There are two R&D Tax Relief schemes, the SME Scheme and RDEC Scheme.
Patent Box If your company has actively participated in the development of a product that has been granted a UK or EU patent and you will be actively selling the patented item or a product with that patented item embedded within it, then you will be able to claim Patent Box. The patented item doesn’t have to be your own product, it could be someone else’s but you have to have been involved in the research and development of that product and more importantly you have to have an exclusive licence to sell that product within a “National” market.
The tax relief for a Patent Box claim is an additional deduction from the company’s profits that equates to a reduction in the tax charge on the profits derived from selling that product from 19% to 10%. The profits derived is a complex calculation and isn’t just a case of tallying up the sales and deducting the cost of sales. The one thing to be wary of with a Patent box claim is that products with a low volume and or a low margin might well create a loss for Patent Box (which you really don’t want), it’s always best to calculate the value of a potential claim first.You can’t pick and choose your patents, it’s all or nothing!
Designed for Innovation Both Patent Box and R&D Tax Relief have been designed to encourage businesses to seek Innovative ways to improve their existing products or processes or to develop completely new ones. R&D Tax Relief will soon be celebrating its 20th birthday and yet it remains widely underclaimed by businesses across all industries. Both are also fairly complex and ideally you should seek expert advice that might be outside of your current accountant and tax adviser, if you’ve always been doing it, they are unlikely to tell you that you might qualify after 20 years! www.coodentaxconsulting.co.uk
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E N E R GY FOC U S
James Fisher Marine Services Ltd
LOCAL HEROES ScottishPower Renewables has reinforced its commitment to working with local suppliers on East Anglia ONE by awarding James Fisher Marine Services a multi-million-pound scheduled maintenance contract.
EN ERGY FOCUS
James Fisher Marine Services Ltd
E N E R GY FOC U S
James Fisher Marine Services Ltd
he latter has created 20 new jobs at one of its bases, in Lowestoft, to help fulfil the new £5.6 million ‘above water balance of plant’ contract. ‘Balance of plant’ usually covers all of the supporting components for a power plant and in this instance will see the company providing scheduled and corrective maintenance for the 714MW windfarm. Work will include statutory inspections, equipment maintenance and structural integrity checks for components. Staff will work both onshore and offshore servicing the windfarm during the three-year contract, which has an extension option after the initial contract term. It is another feather in the cap for James Fisher Marine Services, which has been awarded several contracts – worth more than £35m - to support the construction of East Anglia ONE. They include seabed clearance, unexploded ordinance investigation and the provision of integrated marine services. Founded 170-odd years ago as a ship owner and operator, the company that is James Fisher today provides tailored products and expert services for the oil and gas, marine renewables, shipping and defence industries. On land, it is also a supplier to the nuclear, construction and transportation sectors, providing safetycritical knowledge and skills in engineering environments.
Project director with the company, Charlie Jordan said: “We’re delighted to have such a strong supply chain in East Anglia and we’re really pleased to be furthering our working relationship with the James Fisher team. “Many fantastic companies from across the East of England have played important roles in bringing East Anglia ONE to fruition and we are committed to working with the region’s businesses on our current and future East Anglia windfarms.” ScottishPower Renewables started the way it meant to go on back in 2015/16 when it announced a 25-year commitment to the Port of Lowestoft. This was recently cemented with the opening of a £25m state-of-the-art operations and maintenance centre at the port. It is now at the heart of all day-to-day operations for ONE, including the co-ordination of marine services, and as such, the main office for contractors working on the project.
Many fantastic companies from across the East of England have played important roles in bringing East Anglia ONE to fruition and we are committed to working with the region’s businesses on our current and future East Anglia windfarms.
Scott McMillan, operations and maintenance director at James Fisher Marine Services, said: “We’re delighted to have been selected by ScottishPower Renewables and to extend our close working relationship with the East Anglia ONE team. “As a company rooted in Lowestoft, we are really proud to be part of a local supply chain that celebrated a collective achievement when the wind farm first generated power earlier this year.” East Anglia ONE not only represented a huge step in the right direction in terms of producing the clean energy the UK needed, he added, but there was an additional bonus. “It is providing opportunities to the people and businesses of East Anglia.”
ScottishPower Renewables has pledged to spend more than £70m with businesses across the region in bringing the ONE offshore windfarm to fruition.
While around 100 new direct jobs have been created at the base, ultimately many more will be generated among the hundreds of supply chain companies that frequent the site every year. ScottishPower Renewables’ windfarm projects would contribute substantially to the East Anglian economy, said Mr. Jordan.
Boasting 102 turbines located 43km off the Suffolk coast, East Anglia ONE is a joint venture between ScottishPower Renewables and Macquarie’s Green Investment Group. The windfarm supplied its first power to the grid last September and once fully operational this year, the £2.5bn project will provide enough clean energy to power the equivalent of more than 630,000 homes annually. East Anglia ONE is the first of four offshore windfarms ScottishPower Renewables is developing in the region.
EN ERGY FOCUS
James Fisher Marine Services Ltd
Above, East Anglia ONE operations and maintenance base, Lowestoft © email@example.com ScottishPower Renewables’ East Anglia ONE offshore windfarm under construction
T RAI N I N G AN D A P P R E N T ICES H IPS
KEEPING THE LIFEBLOOD FLOWING In today’s high-tech work environments, ensuring the next generation is equipped to step up to the plate is crucial. Here, an engineering company tells East Anglia in Business about its approach to training and development. The energy industry is a constantly evolving sector characterised by innovation and the development of new technology. So the need to continually refresh and renew the workforce is critical to future-proofing, ensuring there isn’t a shortage of skills when expert personnel move on or retire. Controls technology company Proserv, for one, is doing its utmost to maintain a fresh blood supply, not least at its centre in Great Yarmouth. At Artemis House, staff play a major role in delivering its cutting-edge subsea controls technology. Manufacturing manager Lee McLean says tapping into the supply of young talent in East Anglia efficiently is key to the firm’s future. “Most of our apprentices come through our close relationship with East Coast College,” he said. “Early in the year, we put out advertisements and interest levels are invariably strong. “The recruitment process is time-consuming and intensive, as last year we had 60-70 applicants competing for two apprenticeships.” Company and college then work together to tailor an engineering course that suits both the requirements of the students selected and the firm. This year, apprentices will divide their week into two days of study and three in the workshop at Artemis House. The industry went through several years of downturn from 2014 after the oil price slumped, but despite the challenges, the firm’s strategy around apprenticeships remained resilient. Lee said: “Regardless of market conditions, we have always brought in at least two a year, as we have a commitment to developing our youngsters and we have stuck firmly to that.”
Lee McLean, Manufacturing Manager
For aspiring engineering apprentices, McLean reveals the firm tends to look for a particularly strong drive in candidates, such as an enthusiasm for maintaining vehicles or undertaking a Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, because “every applicant will say he or she is a team player, so we look for something that sets someone apart.” It was a long-standing interest in engineering itself that encouraged second year apprentice Yasmin Madden down this particular training route. “I chose to undertake an apprenticeship after leaving school,” she said, “because I thought going straight from school to this industry gives me the best opportunity to learn and achieve what I want to. “I also feel coming straight into an apprenticeship gave me more of an insight into a working environment and more of an appreciation of it.”
TRAIN IN G AN D APPREN TIC ESHI P S
Toby Bass, first year mechanical apprentice
Yasmin Madden, second year apprentice
First year mechanical apprentice Toby Bass opted for an apprenticeship rather than university as it offered him a practical understanding of “how and why things are built like they are.” Although Toby had studied an A-level course in engineering, initially the adjustment to in-job learning on an apprenticeship was difficult. “At first, I felt a bit out of my depth,” he said, “as previously I had no real experience of working with tools. However, I quickly picked up some of the basic skills and understanding and began to enjoy what I was learning.” Like Toby, Ewan Holland is a first year mechanical apprentice and he too was attracted by the practical elements of what an apprenticeship offers, always enjoying “handson tasks”. Ewan has thrived in his new role. “I am learning new things every day, while having the opportunity to be in and about big projects,” he said. “This has helped me gain an understanding of how the business operates and also has allowed me to pick up key skills from the technicians around me.”
John Spatchett, Senior Engineer – Mechanical
Meanwhile Proserv is also pursuing a yearly internship programme and has a growing connection with the University of East Anglia. Senior engineer John Spatchett has represented the company at several of the university’s careers fairs and recently participated in a SELECT event, during which undergraduates took part in 12 minute ‘speed’ interviews to secure work placements or future sponsorship. The event was part of a tie-up between UEA and local and national engineering firms. John said: “After the SELECT interviews, we draw up a shortlist of candidates to come in for an in-depth chat and from there we approach one or two, who are offered a 12-week summer internship.
Regardless of market conditions, we have always brought in at least two a year, as we have a commitment to developing our youngsters and we have stuck firmly to that.
Yasmin, Toby and Ewan all have one eye to the future too – HNC or HND courses are possibilities further down the line. Proserv makes a point of engaging with local training events, such as the annual Skills for Energy show run by the East of England Energy Group. Apprentices regularly represent the firm and talk to students about their plans and aspirations. Lee McLean explains why. “There is nothing better than a wannabe apprentice talking face-to-face with someone who is actually going through what they want to do in a couple of years’ time. They get first-hand knowledge of what the role entails.”
First year apprentice Ewan Holland carries out an inspection
“If an intern then makes a positive impression, we would strongly consider approaching him or her about a full time opportunity after they finish their studies.”
He points to the impact, ideas and skillsets young graduates can bring to a team. “Graduate engineers can offer a fresh pair of eyes, questioning why things are done in a certain way, which might then greatly improve efficiencies, or they might have used a particular type of software at university which could be introduced.” When a firm is looking to recruit young talent, Lee McLean believes there are certain core attributes to look out for in prospective candidates. “You want to see passion, a personality and someone who is inquisitive,” he said. “For instance, apprentices are young people aged between 16-18, so their CVs are understandably still taking shape. “You are investing in that person for the future, because their skills will come over time, so at this stage you want to see potential.”
DUKE OF E DI NBU R G H AWA R DS C a m br id ge Co oke r y S cho ol
COOKING SKILLS FOR LIFE Cambridge Cookery School opened its door to students in 2008 and have won awards for its quality of teaching young and old. With a team of highly experienced Leiths and Cordon Bleu trained chef teachers and a huge state of the art kitchen, the school caters for a wide range of students. Approved by the Duke of Edinburgh Award, it has been offering the Gold Residential course for the past 7 years. Students come for a full week and learn to cook for independent life. The emphasis is on healthy, sustainable food and teaches students knife skills, budgeting and planning through solid, competent home cooking. Knife skills, soup making, roasting, pan frying, breakfasts, snacks, dinners, cakes and breads all form part of a full-on week which culminates in a full Sunday Roast with added vegetarian options for invited family and friends. Students stay in Homerton college rooms around the corner. The school also offers a wide program of cookery classes for the general public who come to learn how to fillet fish, make fresh pasta, create perfect pastry, hone knife skills, cook gourmet meat free
meals and more. It is also a popular venue for small and large corporate team building events with teams sipping fizz while competing in a tongue in cheek Master Chef fashion, before dining together. Says owner and founder Tine Roche “we are spoilt with exuberant feedback. Cooking together is great for bonding and so much more fun than some participants anticipate. We offer Food Safaris, wine tastings, Bake Offs and more for teams of up to 50. With our team of chefs and assistants it’s a seamless experience with lots of fun and no washing up!” Since 2015 there is also a Café with high quality hand made food and an iconic Weekend Brunch menu and since January this year, Michelin starred chef Mark Poynton is in residence every Friday and Saturday night, cooking in front of guests in the open kitchen. If you would like to find out more, please go to www.cambridgecookery.com
Cooking for Gold! 5 fun days learning cookery skills for life Award winning cookery school in central Cambridge State of the art kitchen Stay in a Cambridge college More than 10 years experience www.cambridgecookery.com @ccookeryschool School House, Homerton Gardens, Purbeck Road, Cambridge, CB2 8EB 42
D U KE O F ED IN BU RG H AWARDS
SUPPORT YOUNG EMPLOYEES TO FUTUREPROOF YOUR BUSINESS When you’re recruiting for your organisation, what do you look for? Academic qualifications? Technical knowhow? Personal qualities? Whatever sector you’re in, socalled ‘soft skills’, such as communication, teamwork and leadership, are no doubt high on your list of requirements.
n a survey of more than 500 senior managers that we conducted in 2017, we found that 95% of employers regarded soft skills as equally or more important than academic achievements alone and 9 in 10 said young people with strong soft skills often progress faster in the workplace.
from their employees – “...not only their technical skills but also their ability to think creatively, collaborate effectively and adapt quickly”. 80% of talent professionals interviewed by LinkedIn agreed that soft skills are increasingly important to company success.
In addition, LinkedIn’s Global Talent Trends Report 2019 described what organisations need
Imagine if you could fill your workplace with more confident, well-rounded people who know how
DUKE OF E DI NBU R G H AWA R DS
to work in a team, solve problems and manage their time. This is where The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE) comes in. In return for a donation to the DofE charity, we help businesses across the UK to integrate the DofE into their development programmes and unlock the potential of younger employees. We give them a safe space in which they gain vital skills in the early stages of their career which, in turn, supports businesses in achieving organisational goals.
BY ALEX HAY Head of Partnerships, The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award www.dofe.org
As a sample of businesses running the DofE, Royal Mail Group runs the Gold DofE Award alongside its in-house engineer apprenticeship programme; young apprentices at furniture retailer DFS are invited to take part in the DofE; more than 500 apprentices at infrastructure support services provider Amey, have achieved their Gold DofE Award; and RSM, a provider of audit, tax and consulting services, offers the Gold DofE to its young school leaver apprentices and graduates. In 2018, 85% of DofE Award holders who took part in our impact survey said doing the DofE helped
Here at DFS, we know that young people with a DofE Award will benefit massively from the activities they will be involved in and we know it helps strengthen their skills and abilities to apply themselves to different situations. Since we launched the DofE in 2014, we’ve seen for ourselves the positive effect of the DofE. It builds confidence and self-belief, initiative and a sense of responsibility, and leadership and teamworking skills – all of which are key attributes that fit with our values and will help strengthen our business for the future. Jill Wingfield Head of Learning and Development, DFS
them to develop teamwork skills and 70% told us it boosted their leadership skills. 89% of DofE Leaders and Managers said the DofE helped young people to develop their communication skills and 82% agreed that DofE participants learn how to look for solutions to problems. For me, the most striking thing about the DofE for businesses is how it creates real behavioural change. This isn’t just a short training session or a one-off volunteering opportunity – it’s a tailored 18-month programme that gives young people the right experiences and opportunities to progress within your organisation. One Award holder recently described doing her DofE through her employer as “an unforgettable experience”. As a DofE Champion, she is now supporting the next wave of young people as they shape their future careers. Whilst it’s impossible to predict what the next few years look like for the UK economy, employers will always need confident and resilient employees to help drive success.
The Gold Award offers our young people the chance to connect with their community, make new friends, nurture their own mental and physical wellbeing and learn new skills, such as self-confidence, resilience, leadership communications and teamwork – enhancing the overall company culture and boosting morale. Volunteering gives our apprentices the opportunity to develop their social skills, helping them to build an invaluable and well-rounded skillset to be successful in life and work, whilst providing them with a real sense of purpose.
With an unparalleled footprint across the country, the DofE offers you a toolkit you can tailor to increase employee retention, support diversity, improve employee wellbeing, reduce skills gaps and gain other operational advantages. It can also help you to bring your company purpose and values to life as you build up a cohort of motivated young people who volunteer in the communities you serve. The DofE Award is a kitemark of achievement, not just for the young people who take part but for the organisations that support it.
Tracy Fairhurst Head of Apprenticeships, Royal Mail Group
If you’re interested in finding out more about how the DofE can help your organisation visit www.dofe.org/run/dofebusiness
D U KE O F ED IN BU RG H AWARDS
Together with the DofE, Amey has been supporting communities across the UK for the last 17 years. Taking part in the DofE is a life-changing experience for young people who are marginalised or at risk. By taking responsibility for their own progress through the DofEâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s structured activities, they discover their ability to overcome challenges, manage their own lives and help others. These experiences boost their selfesteem and confidence, help them to climb out of poverty, gain positive experiences and build the skills, behaviours and attitudes needed for a new and different life. Emily Davies Head of Social Impact, Amey
STAND OUT FROM THE CROWD by sitting through your DofE Expedition!
Gold expeditions by Bell Boat â&#x20AC;&#x201C; all the team in one boat Expeditions throughout the year for individuals or groups to join
More info at www.benbullenadventures.co.uk e: firstname.lastname@example.org 45
BU S I N ES S E VEN TS
DO YOU THINK BUSINESS EVENTS ARE A WASTE OF RESOURCES? YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG
ver a decade ago, the financial crisis and ensuing recession changed everything – and those working in the events industry were hit hard. Gone were the days of lavish budgets and using events as a spending exercise, it was time to get creative. While nobody would have wanted that cataclysmic global event to happen, the change it forced on the industry hasn’t been all bad. In fact, it could be said that it’s revitalised the work that is done by events professionals, compelled them to work more closely with in-house marketing teams and the benefit to clients is significant. That’s why when you do them right, events can deliver a great return on your investment. So, how do you avoid the pitfalls of staging an event?
Speak to a professional There’s a good reason why an events specialist should be your first investment and that’s because
of the amount of time and money they can save you. Don’t expect your in-house team to have the knowledge and expertise to deliver a great event because the chances are that they won’t. There are several key decisions an events professional will help you make – including whether your idea can be achieved for the budget you have, the right suppliers to use to help you deliver a great experience and any risks you need to take into account.
Decide on your business goals It’s so easy to hit upon an idea you love and get carried away with excitement. You need to keep your business goals in focus. Ask yourself, how does this event fit into the bigger picture of our marketing activities? What value will it create for my target audience? How does the customer experience map out at the event and beyond? Any events professional you use should be guiding you through these questions, and helping you to define what a return on investment means for your company and how to achieve it.
BU SIN ESS EV ENTS
At great deal of businesses have amazing ideas for events but don’t have the budgets to make them happen. This doesn’t have to be the end of the conversation, because any events professional worth their salt will help you find innovative ways to solve gaps in funding. They’ll also be able to give you advice on the timeline of event preparation. Fantastic events involve a time investment and can’t be turned around in two weeks, so be prepared to take your time.
Every decision you take in your events planning will have consequences so think them through. An events manager will help you avoid making costly mistakes, or taking a decision that could backfire on another part of the planning. Minimising risk and fighting fires are badges of honour for seasoned events pros. Let them help you to deliver an amazing experience on budget and on time.
“This is architecture of the very highest order” RIBA Stirling Prize Shortlist Judges 2018 Host your next event at a spectacular multi-award winning venue with sustainability at its heart. Elegant modern design finished to the highest standard makes Storey’s Field Centre a memorable space for conferences, meetings, away days, presentations, product launches, dinners and fundraising events. The Centre is near to the M11 and A14 and has excellent transport connections to the city. Call to arrange a viewing or to discuss your requirements with our team of event experts. Storey’s Field Centre Eddington Avenue Cambridge CB3 1AA 01223 656696 email@example.com www.storeysfieldcentre.org.uk
BU S I N ES S FOC U S A n ke r S t uy Co at i ng s Ltd
BU SIN ESS FOCUS A nker S t uy Coat in g s L td
SWIMMING AGAINST THE TIDE
There’s a Dutch saying that posits the theory swimming against the tide creates bigger champions, as Emile Stuy tells HELEN COMPSON. It’s a rough translation and doesn’t rhyme in English the way it does in Dutch, he says with a smile, but you get his drift.
BU S I N ES S FOC U S A n ke r S t uy Co at i ng s Ltd
n deciding to set up its first UK base ahead of Brexit, high-end Dutch paint company Anker Stuy is indeed flying in the face of corporate opinion. “People have asked me ‘are you sure you want to do this?’, but it’s not like the world is going to stop spinning,” he said. “We notice our customers are still very busy and they still require what we make. “There are 60m British people and they still want to move house and buy new furniture - we knew it was time to have our own presence in the UK.” So it was that in January last year, with the Brexit clock well and truly ticking, Emile visited Peterborough in search of warehouse and office space.
The company’s headquarters is in Terwispel, in the far north of the Netherlands. Emile is the third generation of his family to run the company taken over by his grandfather Adriaan in 1952. However, the roots of what was originally the Anker paint and printers’ ink factory stretch as far back as 1898.
There are 60m British people and they still want to move house and buy new furniture - we knew it was time to have our own presence in the UK.
He also began headhunting a high-calibre manager with all the knowledge and experience needed to service the medium and large-scale joinery companies that are the company’s bread and butter. At that point, it had been exporting to the UK for four or five years, but had relied soley on an import company to distribute their wares.
Today, Anker Stuy Coatings Ltd has four members of staff holding the fort at its new base on Alpha Park, conveniently located within the Bretton Industrial Area a stone’s throw from the city centre and the Soke Parkway with its ready access to the A1.
Emile said: “When we first began exporting to the UK, Cameron was still Prime Minister and there was talk of referenda, but not about Brexit yet. “We began because the importer wanted to do business with us and, of course, the UK market is of interest to us.
“The importer set about supplying our products to small joinery companies, but we were aiming at the bigger companies and for that we needed boots on the ground, to make sure we could provide the service they demanded.” With the majority of questions about Brexit unanswered, Anker Stuy yet decided to step into
BU SIN ESS FOCUS A nker S t uy Coat in g s L td
the breach. They felt the perceived risks were worth taking. “From our point of view, we were entering the UK when both Sterling and confidence in the UK market were low, so the only way to go was up! “We also decided to go forward with the plan because otherwise our brand and identity in the UK would struggle.” The company’s base products continue to be manufactured in the Netherlands, where its stateof-the art laboratory provides quality assurance. The East Anglia staff then mix pigment into the staples of white or translucent on demand. “We’re already looking at expanding our Peterborough operation,” he said. “We have new customers on board and people who like our products. “I believe this year it will be all about growth.” While he had found the inward investment advice provided by Opportunity Peterborough and the Netherlands British Chamber of Commerce very helpful, help had not been forthcoming from the British banks. Because Emile is neither resident in the UK nor the holder of a UK passport, most had declined the company an account. “A lot of banks probably want to do business with us,” he said, “but despite our 80 year banking history in the Netherlands, they just said ‘you yourself are not in the UK’.
All things considered, far from being cowed by Brexit, Emile feels positively optimistic about the opportunities that lie ahead. He laughed when he said Continental views on Brexit were polarised. “There is a big difference between people who are pro-Europe and those who are saying ‘look at the British, look what they did, we should too … “ Dutch news coverage was certainly fuelling fears about the Brit-breakaway though and potential investors were struggling to make the decision about whether to set up in the UK. He, on the other hand, had no doubts. “Each week I’m in the UK and in factories meeting customers and, yes, they are a bit concerned about things in the short-term, but we are all realistic – there are more than 60m people here and life goes on. “England is an important trading partner and Brexit is here, so let’s get on with it. We share borders on the North Sea and our two countries have many objectives in common, so what sort of agreement can we have? I hope our Prime Ministers will push this forward, and quickly.”
EMILE STUY Export Sales Manager, New Business at Anker Stuy Verven ankerstuy.nl/en
And as for Anker Stuy itself, well, the vision there is clear. “We have the ambition to become the biggest paint supplier to the joinery industry in Britain – I want them to recognise our brand within the next couple of years.”
“In the end, a Dutch bank which is also established in London, ABN Amro, managed to get us up and running. “I was surprised by the attitude of banks such as HSBC and Barclays, because they were just rude – not helpful at all!” There could be more pitfalls to come, he conceded. Who knew what was around the corner? He understood the business people who were wary about planting even just one foot in Britain at this pivotal time in economic history. He said: “People are afraid – ‘what will it mean for me?’ I know an exporter of fresh flowers, Dutch tulips, etc, and with this product, it is key to get a consignment to market within two days. “But if there are Customs delays and the flowers stand for a week in a trailer, he loses his stock.” Anker Stuy was lucky in that its time line wasn’t as critical as that, but in common with all import/ export companies, they were keeping a sharp eye on the tariffs issue. “Is the UK going to put tariffs on paint? I don’t believe so, because there wouldn’t be any advantage in doing so,” he said. “I think they will probably do it on food, where they want to protect local markets, but paint … I can’t see any benefit of that.”
H E ALT H AN D WE L L BE IN G C yc le to Wor k
HEALTH AN D WELLB EI NG C yc le to Wor k
NEW YEAR, NEW DECADE â&#x20AC;¦NEW YOU?
With traffic congestion and the health of the nation at a crossroads, maybe this is the year your company will take a right-hand turn - down a cycle track.
H E ALT H AN D WE L L BE IN G C yc le to Wor k
or the incentives are there, courtesy of Her Majesty’s Government, to launch a Cycle to Work Scheme that will benefit employer and employee alike. The Department of Transport recently updated its Cycle to Work Scheme Guidance for Employers, and it pulls no punches. At the sharp end, illness as an outcome of physical inactivity costs the NHS up to £1bn a year, with further indirect costs calculated at £8.2bn. Cycling is one of those activities that not only improves individual health, but has wider benefits for society too. The more people ride to work to work, the lower the traffic congestion, the better the air quality, the greater the footfall in local shops and the more pleasant places are to live. But the biggest winner of all is the individual who does, indeed, get on their bike. Cheaper travel, improved health, greater stamina and thereby increased productivity at work what’s not to like? The introduction to the DoT’s guidance notes states: ‘We want to make sure that Cycle to Work schemes continue to attract new cyclists and are as inclusive as possible so that people travelling to work have the opportunity to realise the benefits that cycling affords.
Another alternative is to create a cycle-pool, whereby the business buys a fleet of bikes available either on a one-to-one or a pool basis. Work place schemes should focus on attracting people who currently travel on less sustainable and less active modes, such as their cars, between local meetings or work sites. The salary sacrifice element can, again, benefit both employee and employer. If the scheme meets the relevant criteria, it can benefit from a tax exemption introduced under Section 244 of the Income Tax (Earnings and Pensions) Act 2003.
We want to make sure that Cycle to Work schemes continue to attract new cyclists and are as inclusive as possible so that people travelling to work have the opportunity to realise the benefits that cycling affords.
‘The scheme has involved over 40,000 employers across the country, and has contributed to help more than 1.6 million commuters to cycle to work.’ Basically, the Cycle to Work schemes are employee benefit schemes that subsidise the hiring of bikes - that are used at least 50% of the time to peddle to work – in return for a deduction from their earnings known as salary sacrifice. An alternative option is to provide a loan to the employee to cover the purchase of the bike, much in the same way salary advances are sometimes made to help in the purchase of rail season tickets.
Loan schemes, including on an interest-free basis, may be subject to regulation by the FCA. Also, whether a loan scheme meets the criteria to be exempt from regulation will depend upon the nature and duration of the loan. If the loan is not exempt, the employer will need FCA authorisation.
Since a portion of the salary is foregone, the employee pays less tax and National Insurance Contributions (NIC), and the employer is able to save on employer NICs at 13.8% and Apprenticeship Levy at 0.5% (where applicable) on the amount sacrificed. The employee must not own the bike themselves at any point during the hire agreement, but one of the three option that apply at the end of the term does include the possibility of purchase.
Option one: extend the hire agreement. Option two: return the bike. Option three: buy it under a separate agreement after the hire agreement has ended. But there must be no option, whether express or implied, as part of, or alongside the initial hire agreement for the employee to purchase the cycle or equipment at the end of the hire agreement, because it could then be construed as a hirepurchase agreement. It is important therefore that the employee is not given any expectation at the outset that they may be entitled to buy the cycle outright.
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