Worcestershire’s success recognised by Prime Minister
Under the headline ‘Now that’s what I call a success ....’, it was heartening to see on the front cover of the Worcester News (19 December) a picture of David Cameron apparently mingling with the crowds on Worcester High Street.
We wondered if we’d missed a visit by the Premier to our fair city, but it turns out he was commenting on a statement made by city MP Robin Walker. During Prime Minister’s Question Time, the PM said that improvements reported in the latest labour market statistics showing that there are 1,000 fewer people out of work in Worcester than when unemployment peaked was ‘welcome news’.
We are delighted that David Cameron has recognised our joint achievements to date and hope that one day soon we will have the opportunity to show him around our beautiful county for real.
Congratulations to the Chamber on Award
The LEP was pleased to hear the news that Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce has been awarded ‘Chamber of the Year’ at the British Chambers of Commerce Annual Awards.
The Award is well deserved and recognises the hard work and dedication shown by the Chief Executive of the Chamber, Mike Ashton, and his team.
As deliverers of the Destination Worcestershire contract, and in several other ways the Chamber is a valuable partner of Worcestershire LEP and we are fortunate to have such a dynamic Chamber in support. Tourism and the visitor economy are important components of the LEP’s Strategic Economic Plan and we recognise the vital role that the industry plays in the county.
Chancellor’s Autumn Statement
The Chancellor made some welcome announcements for business in his 2013 Autumn Statement.
We were pleased with the 2% cap on business rates which, according to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, will benefit 131,000 business premises across the West Midlands.
Removing Employers’ National Insurance contributions for under 21s will help an estimated 123,000 young people in the West Midlands from April 2015. This initiative, coupled with the creation of an additional 20,000 apprenticeships nationally over the next two years will enable many more young people to make that first step on the career ladder.
Together with the decision to scrap a planned increase in fuel duty, these announcements provided some really good news for businesses.
For a detailed breakdown of the Autumn Statement, click here
Latest economic indicators
We are pleased to report a continued reduction in the number of Job Seekers’ allowance claimants in the county.
The latest statistics show a further decrease of 428. At 7,636 claimants, this is the lowest figure since October 2008 and although 2,485 above the pre-recession low in December 2007 this is encouraging news for Worcestershire and compares very favourably against both national and overall West Midlands figures.
The number of 18-24 year old claimants in Worcestershire has also fallen by 4.8% to levels better than the West Midlands and England, as has the number of those claiming benefit for over 12 months – down by 105.
For full details of this month’s statistics, click here
Last chance to apply for Green Bridge funding
The fifth and final round of the Green Bridge supply chain programme opened on 6 January and will run until 31 January.
The scheme is designed to help SME supply chain companies develop, grow and diversify their businesses within the green sector in the West Midlands.
Grant support of between £20,000 and £100,000 is available to companies that operate within the green sector or are seeking to diversify or set up within this sector, for example renewable energy, low carbon, building technologies, manufacturing, transport and logistics.
To find out more and check eligibility click here
Free consultancy advice for Worcestershire SMEs
Entrepreneurs, inventors and SMEs in Worcestershire have been urged to take advantage of free consultancy advice to transform their ideas into reality.
The Health Design & Technology Institute (HDTI) at Coventry University has secured £341,500 of second phase funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to continue its support across Worcestershire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Herefordshire, Warwickshire and the West Midlands.
The additional funding has been awarded for a further 18 months for innovative ideas connected with the assisted living and community healthcare market.
Highly skilled staff at HDTI will provide up to five days’ worth of product development consultancy free of charge for product design and usability testing.
For further information contact email@example.com
or visit www.coventry.ac.uk/hdti
Pupil Design Awards appeal
RSA Academies in the East and West Midlands has launched a ‘crowdfunding campaign’ to pilot Pupil Design Awards in three schools, including two in Redditch (Arrow Vale RSA Academy and Whitley RSA Academy).
The pilot offers an opportunity for students to apply their design skills to real life problems. For further information on how you can get involved, click here