November 2016 Policy Update

Sizewell C: latest plans ready for public consultation 

EDF Energy has announced that the next stage of the formal public consultation on the proposals for a new nuclear power station at Sizewell will run from 23 November 2016 to 3 February 2017. 

EDF has published an ‘Updated Statement of Community Consultation’ (SoCC), which is a document that outlines the activity they will undertake during the public consultation, and has also distributed a Sizewell C newsletter announcing Stage 2 Consultation to thousands of households and businesses within a 10 mile radius of Sizewell.

Read the ‘Updated SoCC’ and the latest Sizewell C newsletter here.

EDF is arranging a series of presentations on the Stage 2 proposals and the exhibition timetable is here. 

In addition EDF will be presenting on the Stage 2 proposals to the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce Transport and Infrastructure Board on 17 January 2017 and you can contact Ashleigh Seymour-Rutherford ashleigh@suffolkchamber.co.uk to reserve your place at the Board.

East Anglia rail franchise

The new franchise began on 16 October 2016 and was marked with a series of special events, press releases issued by Abellio Greater Anglia together with a stakeholder brochure and factsheet about the new franchise and details of the leadership tem. 

They provide details on the key upgrades, investment and improvements planned for the new franchise including the transformational replacement of the entire train fleet during 2019/2020, enabling not just a better travelling environment, but also more capacity, extra services, quicker journey times and better performance.

The documents can be read below:

Abellio Group GA Launch 

Abellio Group GA Launch 2   

Abellio Group GA Launch Fact sheet

Abellio Group GA Launch Stakeholder Brochure

Abellio Greater Anglia appoints leadership team.

A14 campaign: evidence being gathered for RIS2 bid

Partners in the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce-led No More A14 Delays in Suffolk campaign are building up evidence to prove the need for improvements along the route’s twelve ‘pinch points’ in the County. 

Attendees at the latest campaign Strategy Board, now chaired by Jo Churchill MP,  heard how Suffolk County Council’s Strategic Planning and Infrastructure Framework (SPIF) is being developed to help the county get the infrastructure it needs in the future. This Framework will provide the long term context for the local economy’s growth and so will provide important evidence in supporting the campaign. 

The meeting also heard from a senior civil servant from the Department for Transport (DfT), who outlined the process for bids such as that to improve the A14 to be submitted for the second round of the Government’s Road Investment Strategy (RIS2), and from Suffolk County Council regarding the work underway by their consultants Mouchel who are building the case for the Suffolk RIS2 ‘candidates’. 

Both the SPIF and the input from the DfT and Suffolk County Council will be very helpful in ensuring the campaign provides the right evidence at the right time to maximise our chances of the A14 being included in RIS2.

Suffolk Chamber is continuing to encourage local businesses and residents to share their own experiences of A14 delays by uploading them to the campaign’s Twitter (@NoMoreA14Delays) and Facebook (@NoMoreA14Delays) accounts.

A1307 campaign: inaugural Strategy Board meets

The Suffolk Chamber in Haverhill-led A1307 campaign was launched in October 2015 and included a December 2015 meeting with Roads Minister Andrew Jones MP who encouraged the preparation of a full business case for upgrading the A1307 from Haverhill to the A11. 

Following a series of informal partnership meetings a Strategy Board for the campaign has now been formed, chaired by Matt Hancock MP, and an inaugural meeting was held at Culina Logistics on 7 October 2016. As well as the Chamber, the Board draws together: Cambridgeshire County, Haverhill Town, St. Edmundsbury Borough and Suffolk County Councils; Greater Cambridgeshire Greater Peterborough and New Anglia LEPs; and senior business leaders. 

The Board reviewed the economic significance of Haverhill to the economies of both Cambridgeshire and Suffolk and to housing growth in and close to the town itself. Work is now underway to build the business case drawing on up to date traffic data, economic and housing projections and linking into opportunities presented in the Autumn Statement (see following item). 

The next meeting of the Board will be on 16 December 2016

Autumn Statement 

Suffolk Chamber of Commerce as part of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) is fully backing the BCC platform of seven recommendations to Government in advance of the 23 November 2016 Autumn Statement. These include a pledge to introduce no new input taxes or other significant costs on businesses for the remainder of this Parliament, further fundamental reforms of business rates and improvements in the implementation of the Apprenticeship Levy. 

In addition, Suffolk Chamber of Commerce is pressing for Government commitments on a number of much-needed capital projects that will make it easier for local businesses to get goods and people in and out of Suffolk. 

In particular, we are looking for financial commitments to Highways England under RIS2 budgets to support our priorities for the A11, A12, A120 and A14. 

We’d like to see the continuation and extension of the Local Majors Fund to support significant investments (including studies) in roads infrastructure that are ‘beyond’ Highways England and local authority budgets such as the  A1307 and the A12 north of Ipswich. 

We are also pressing for increased funding for investment in our rail network to guarantee support for key rail infrastructure projects such as Ely and Haughley Junctions. These will optimise the improvements outlined in the new East Anglia rail franchise recently awarded to Abellio Greater Anglia.

The Post 16 Area Review for Norfolk and Suffolk 

The Post-16 Area Review will begin in Norfolk and Suffolk in December 2016 and conclude in the Spring of 2017. Chaired by Dr Peter Funnell, this review is part of a national programme being led by the Department for Education with contributions from both Norfolk and Suffolk County Councils and New Anglia LEP.  The Area Review will develop provision for learners and employers and will ensure there is a clear plan for the future development of post 16 training that can inform investment and planning decisions.  Further information about the aims of the Review and the process is available here.  Although the national process is aimed primarily at involving the College Sector, leaders in Norfolk and Suffolk are keen to use this as an opportunity to enhance future planning for the whole Post-16 sector. 

Individually and collectively, school sixth forms, Apprenticeship providers and independent training organisations provide a significant proportion of the 16-18 offer and need to be as involved as possible in this process. The review will also provide an important reference point for the future planning of the Adult Education Budget in preparation for devolution in 2018/19, given the requirement upon the Combined Authority as stated in the Norfolk and Suffolk Devolution Agreement to “focus a greater proportion of its devolved Adult Education Budget on learning that delivers sustained job outcomes, productivity and economic growth”. 

New Anglia LEP reveals impact of its Economic Plan           

New Anglia LEP has launched its Strategic Economic Plan Impact Report, including an update on targets for economic growth. 

The review shows that the LEP is already more than a third of the way towards its target to create 95,000 more jobs by 2026; the target of 10,000 new businesses by the same date is almost half achieved; and the target to unlock £199m in private investment has been exceeded five years early, with £208m already invested. 

You can read the full report here

£220 million for cutting-edge new technology

Chancellor Philip Hammond has unveiled a package of support including £220 million for the life science and university sectors to help technology breakthroughs translate into commercial success, as well as action to ensure disruptive businesses thrive in the UK.

Read more here.

National Minimum Wage increases

As of 1 October 2016, young workers earning the National Minimum Wage will have received a pay rise of up to £450 a year. Almost 270,000 of the UK’s lowest paid workers will benefit from a £450 annual pay rise and the new £6.95 National Minimum Wage is the highest rate ever in real terms.

Read more here.

The National Minimum Wage Toolkit - Employer Version.

Key automatic enrolment messages for November 2016

Automatic enrolment: don’t ignore the workplace pension

If you employ staff, then you will have automatic enrolment duties. It’s the law. Make sure you know when your legal duties begin, and what you need to do. If you miss your deadline and don’t comply with your duties on time, then you risk a fine.
It takes only 5 minutes to find out what you need to do, and by when. Complete The Pensions Regulator's Duties Checker today and get the ball rolling. 

Using a business adviser for automatic enrolment? Make sure you are clear about who’s doing what

Completing a declaration of compliance is one of a number of tasks to do as part of your automatic enrolment duties. Failure to complete and submit the declaration of compliance to The Pensions Regulator could result in a fine. One of the reasons given by employers for missing their declaration of compliance deadline is that they thought that somebody else was completing this on their behalf. It is the employer’s legal responsibility to comply with automatic enrolment. You should know when your declaration of compliance deadline is and ensure that it is completed on time.

For more information and to complete the declaration, click here.

Setting up a workplace pension scheme – is your payroll software compatible?
In order to make pension contributions into a workplace pension scheme on behalf of your staff, you will need to regularly exchange information between your payroll software and your chosen pension scheme provider. It’s important to check if your payroll or process will work with your chosen pension scheme to allow easy transfer of data between the two.

For more information, go to The Pension Regulator website.

Do you employ seasonal or temporary staff? Automatic enrolment duties will apply

If you employ seasonal staff over the Christmas period, or you have staff whose pay and hours fluctuate, then you still have automatic duties. You will need to take into account

  • Their varying earnings and hours

  • That they may join and leave your employment in the middle of pay periods

For more information on dealing with seasonal workers, including checking your software and using postponement, go to The Pensions Regulator website.

HMRC Digital Support for Business

HMRC have developed a range of free on-line products, available to support businesses, which include: 

HMRC webinars, email alerts and videos

E-learning Tax guide for your self-employed business 

E-learning Becoming an Employer 

E-learning Self-employed business expenses 

E-learning Letting out a property 

Self Employed - Ready Reckoner Tool

Consumer council for water notification 

From April 2017 businesses, charities and public sector organisations in England will be able to switch their supplier of water and sewerage retail services. By switching, or negotiating with the current supplier, customers could get a better price or a more tailored service. Retail services include meter reading, billing and handling customer queries and complaints. 

The Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) is the independent consumer body for the water industry in England and Wales, and has published information about the changes for businesses, which can be viewed here.

For more information, contact marketreform@ccwater.org.uk or

Tel: 0121 3451028 

Quarterly Trade Figures 

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), in partnership with DHL, has published its latest Quarterly International Trade Outlook, which indicated that uncertainty following the vote to leave the European Union is slowing down export orders in the services sector. 

In contrast, the report also showed that a greater proportion of manufacturers enjoyed an improved export performance compared with the second quarter, with some benefiting from sterling’s recent fall. This is also replicated in an improvement to the sector’s future orders. 

The results show that exports are expected to grow at a slower pace in the coming months, and confidence in turnover and profitability has also fallen in the medium term. The BCC has called on the government to use the Autumn Statement to increase resources to directly support SME export plans, providing direct monetary support for firms to explore new markets or deepen sales abroad. 

The full BCC press release and the report are here

Apprenticeship Levy

Education Secretary Justine Greening has announced details of the final funding policy for the Apprenticeship Levy. Among the measures detailed are an extension of the time employers have to spend funds in their digital account, up to 24 months, and a commitment to introducing the ability for employers to transfer digital funds to other employers in their supply chains. 

A detailed BCC press release is here.

The Skills Funding Agency has produced an online tool that businesses can use to estimate if they will pay the Apprenticeship Levy, how much their organisation will have available to spend on apprenticeships and how much the Government will contribute towards the cost of training. 

The tool can be accessed here - you will need to know your organisation’s annual UK payroll.

BCC Economic Review for November 2016

The BCC has published its UK Monthly Economic Review for November 2016, providing an easy-to-use commentary on the key domestic and international economic indicators for business.

This month's headlines: 

  • UK economy continues to grow at a moderate pace, but growth remains reliant on services;

  • The declining value of sterling set to push inflation higher in the coming months; and

  • US economic growth at two-year high, boosted by stronger investment and exports

Read more at BCC Economic Review November 2016

BCC: Time for action on high cost of childcare 

The BCC has published a survey of businesses, which shows that a third of companies (33%) regard the availability of childcare as a key issue in recruiting and retaining staff. 

The survey, of more than 1,600 business leaders across the UK and supported by Middlesex University, also shows that over a quarter (28%) of firms have seen a reduction of working hours by staff due to the cost of childcare, while nearly 1 in 10 (9%) have seen employees leave their business. 

While the survey has also shown that nearly 40% of businesses view government plans to double free childcare next year as likely to have a positive impact on their business, BCC is calling on government to go further, and consider the costs and benefits of a universal childcare entitlement up until school entry, which would help more firms retain and promote productive staff, and help working parents progress. 

The full BCC press release is here.

See Potential

Business leaders including Richard Branson and Deborah Meaden have backed an employment campaign – See Potential – to help businesses fill skill gaps by becoming more open-minded about talent. 

See Potential highlights the business benefits of broadening your talent streams, by hiring candidates from disadvantaged groups, such as the long-term unemployed, ex-offenders, care leavers, homeless people, single parents, recovering addicts and military veterans. 

Click here to find out more about how you can get involved, join the #SeePotential conversation on Twitter and get tips from leading inclusive employers by following See Potential on LinkedIn

To discuss these and other policy issues, contact:

John Dugmore on john@suffolkchamber.co.uk

Nick Burfield on nick@suffolkchamber.co.uk