September 2018 Policy Update


British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) Expert Panels

BCC are recruiting Chamber member businesses to their new Expert Panels to help develop policy for the Chamber Network in their area of expertise. Each panel will have between 12-14 members and will have broad representation from across the regions.  

Panel members will provide expertise in their field and an understanding of the impact of policy in their region. The panels will meet 2-3 times over a 6 month period. The aim is for panels to present their recommendations to policy makers and ministers.

Transport Panel

SMEs, larger firms and providers with experience of road, rail, aviation, public transport, distribution, autonomous/connected vehicles, funding, demand management, etc.

Skills Panel

SMEs, large firms and providers with experience of workforce skills planning, skills shortages, apprenticeships, higher education, adult-lifelong learning, careers advice and guidance, business-education partnerships etc. Members that can represent multiple stakeholder groups would be ideal: for example, business leaders who are also school or college governors, or are members of industry sector or regional skills organisations.

Employment Panel

SMEs, large firms and providers with experience of immigration, general HR practice, employment law, recruitment, diversity, flexible working, labour market enforcement, NMW, etc.

Digital Panel

SMEs, larger firms and providers with experience of digital skills, digital infrastructure, and cyber security, etc.

To find out more about the Expert Panel opportunities, please contact Nick Burfield in the first instance.

Prime Minister responds to British Chambers of Commerce Brexit concerns

Prime Minister Theresa May has written to Dr Adam Marshall, Director General at British Chambers of Commerce, in response to a number of concerns about our future relationship with the EU that were raised in a letter to the Prime Minister from BCC and partners in May.

The Prime Minister’s reply addresses, especially: business engagement in policymaking; the need for frictionless trade; the common rulebook; the Facilitated Customs Arrangement; and labour mobility.

A copy of the letter can be found here.


Exporting is GREAT

The Department for International Trade is looking for companies to join Exporting is GREAT, its export-focused campaign, aimed at helping to drive substantial growth of the UK economy.

At the heart of the campaign are its ‘Export Champions’; everyday businesses of all shapes and sizes from around the UK that are proudly selling overseas. By becoming an Export Champion, you will join a nationwide network of UK companies that are ambassadors for exporting; sharing success stories, offering practical advice and leading by example. You will also have access to a suite of customisable digital Exporting is GREAT assets to show your support for the campaign.

DIT would like any exporting business – whatever their product or service, wherever they’re based, to join the campaign – and become an Export Champion. You can sign up here.

Better Broadband for Suffolk

As the roll out of superfast broadband in Suffolk continues work is in hand to promote take up to those businesses and communities, especially in rural areas, that now have access for the first time.

To that end the Better Broadband for Suffolk team are currently looking to gather some business-related broadband case studies that illustrate how much a faster broadband connection can benefit a rural business.

If you have seen some form of business transformation or growth as a result of getting a fibre broadband connection and you would be prepared to act as a case study to inspire your peers, please get in touch with Nick Burfield in the first instance.

Updated Business Brexit Checklist and Risk Register

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) have updated their Business Brexit Checklist and Risk Register following the publication of UK government contingency planning, and as negotiations continue. BCC will be updating these again in the coming weeks following the publication of further technical notices.

You will always be able to find the latest version of these documents on the BCC website.

Grant Funding - time is running out!

BEE Anglia has European funding to support businesses in Suffolk & Norfolk to implement energy efficiency improvements, but the project WILL close in December 2018.

  • Grants of up to £50,000 are available for businesses to implement energy efficiency measures

  • Grants are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis

  • Intervention rates will vary on a project to project basis, with the maximum rate of 28%

Please don't wait to get in touch and discuss your project.  BEE Anglia will come to a close in December 2018, so get that energy efficiency grant application in asap to make the most of the funding while it’s still available.

Please get in touch to discuss the next steps in applying for the grant. To find out more visit the website or call the team on 01473 350370.

Find out about New Anglia LEP investments near you​

An interactive version of the New Anglia LEP investment map is available on their website, showing investments made through the Growth Deal and Growing Places Fund programmes, plus information on each of the Enterprise Zone sites.

BCC comments on Brexit notices: A start, but businesses need more detail

Following the Government’s recent publication of 25 technical notices, informing people and business what they may need to do in the event of a 'no deal' exit from the European Union Dr Adam Marshall, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said:

“Public preparations for all eventualities – and clear, crisp communication with affected businesses – are long past due.

"The technical notices being published by the UK government are a good start, but businesses still need more detailed information to trade as smoothly as possible across borders if there is no UK-EU deal on March 30th next year.

“Ministers say they will take unilateral steps to keep trade moving freely but must demonstrate what they will concretely do to limit the impact of delays, inspections and red tape.

"It is unfortunate that businesses face several weeks wait for further information and clarification. Every additional delay means less time for businesses to prepare ahead of the UK's fast-approaching exit from the EU."

BCC’s detailed comments on the Brexit notices are here

Free Trade Agreement Consultations

The Government has launched a series of consultations calling for views on the UK's proposed future trading agreements. More detail can be found at http://bit.ly/DIT-Consultations-East and views must be submitted before the consultation closes on 26 October 2018.

Employer information on GCSE and A level reform

Ofqual have put together information on changes to the GCSE and A level system, and what they mean for employers. The presentation can be found here.

National Business Crime Centre

The National Business Crime Centre releases a wealth of information and guidance on its website on how businesses can protect themselves against crime, covering everything from fraud and scams to violence. For more information click here.

Institute for Apprenticeships Stakeholder Perception Survey 2018/19

The Institute for Apprenticeships is holding its inaugural stakeholder perception survey.

The survey will explore stakeholders’ perceptions on:

Awareness and understanding of the work and role of the Institute

The Institute’s strategic role in delivering quality across the apprenticeship system

Advocacy towards the organisation

Strengths and weaknesses and suggestions for improvement; and

Effective and preferred methods for communications.

The survey can be found here, and is open until 28 September.

Opportunity to join the Making Tax Digital pilot

From 1 April 2019 VAT registered businesses with a taxable turnover above the VAT registration threshold of £85,000 will be required to keep their VAT business records digitally and submit their VAT returns using Making Tax Digital compatible software. HMRC is currently in the ‘private beta’ testing phase of its MTD VAT pilot. HMRC is keen to hear from BCC members interested in participating in the pilot to help them develop and shape the service.

If you are interested please contact HMRC using the MTD mailbox.

EU web domains

If you have a .eu web domain but do not have a presence in the EU, you may be at risk of losing your domain as a consequence of Brexit. Only firms that are established in a Member State are allowed to own .eu domains, and therefore some firms that are based in the UK, but own a .eu domain could be at risk of losing their website.

More information on potential scenarios can be found here.

If you could be exposed to the risk of losing your .eu domain, please contact Mark Carvell, Head of International Online Policy at DCMS.

T Level – Invitation to Tender

DfE has launched the ITT for the first three T Level qualifications - Construction, Digital, and Education and Childcare. The successful bidders will be awarded the exclusive right to develop and deliver the qualifications across England for four cohorts starting from September 2020.

The outline content for the T Levels has been developed by panels made up of employers, educationalists and FE providers. The new Technical Qualifications will be jointly quality assured by Ofqual and the Institute for Apprenticeships, ensuring that they are subject to rigorous standards of assurance.

The ITT will remain open for bids until 26 October 2018. It sets out the assurance and regulatory requirements that suppliers will need to meet for these qualifications.

Ofqual is publishing a response to its recent policy consultation, which sets out how it will regulate Technical Qualifications and also launching its technical consultation, which includes draft conditions and guidance for Awarding Organisations. This will run until late October with the response to be published in December 2018.

DfE will publish the details for selecting the next wave of T level providers in early 2019. Later this year, DfE will also be publishing a formal consultation on the review of qualifications at level 3 and below.

British Chambers of Commerce/DHL: Sterling volatility major ongoing concern for exporters

The British Chambers of Commerce, in partnership with DHL, has published its latest Quarterly International Trade Outlook, based on survey and documentation data from UK exporters. The Outlook indicates that many exporters are performing well but economic and political factors are weighing on them.

The survey, of over 2,600 exporters, found that confidence in future operations remains strong, but external economic and political factors are having an impact. The results show 60% of exporting manufacturers were more concerned about exchange rates in the second quarter of the year than in the previous three months. There was also increased concern among 43% of service exporters, highlighting the broad impact of the weakness of the pound.

The findings indicate that price pressures eased slightly on exporters during the second quarter of the year. However, those manufacturers under pressure to raise prices report the cost of raw materials as the leading factor (81%). Service firms believe the cost of raw materials (39%) and other overheads (51%) are the leading sources of cost pressure.

The escalating labour shortage in the UK is also having a serious impact on exporters, with a staggering 69% of recruiting manufacturers struggling to find staff.

Key findings from the report:

  • 39% of exporting manufacturers saw an increase in export orders over the last three months, 30% of exporting service firms report an increase

  • 60% of manufacturing exporters are more concerned about exchange rates than three months ago (up from 56% in the previous quarter)

  • 26% of manufacturing exporters and 25% of service firm exporters are more concerned about inflation than three months ago

  • 35% of exporting manufacturers and 32% of exporting service firms expect the price of their goods/services to increase

  • For those manufacturing exporters under pressure to increase prices, 81% report the cost of raw materials as the leading source of pressure

  • 77% of exporting manufacturers and 67% of services firms attempted to recruit in the last three months, however, of those, 69% and 60% respectively reported difficulties finding the right staff

  • The BCC/DHL Trade Confidence Index, a measure of the volume of trade documentation issued nationally, fell by 1.34% on the quarter. The Index now stands at 125.26 – the fifth highest level since records began in 2004.

The full report is here.

British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) Monthly Economic Review

The BCC Economic Review for September 2018 has been published, providing an easy-to-use commentary on the key domestic and international economic indicators for business.

This month's headlines:

  • UK GDP growth remains below the historic average, despite picking-up in Q2;

  • UK inflation rises for the first time since November 2017 as wage growth slows; and

  • US GDP growth revised upwards as Romania sees the strongest growth among EU countries.

There is a link to the BCC Monthly Economic Review here.

To discuss these and other policy issues, contact:

John Dugmore on john@suffolkchamber.co.uk

Nick Burfield on nick@suffolkchamber.co.uk