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Read the latest news and views from Worcestershire LEP.
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Worcestershire LEP Newsletter

Bulletin no: 31

INTRODUCTION from the
LEP Chair, Peter Pawsey

Welcome to 2014 and may it not only be a happy new year but an exciting, rewarding and prosperous one for you and your organisation.

We in the LEP enter the new year with much encouragement and determination to see Worcestershire, its businesses and its people grow further in an ever improving economic climate.  The past year has seen us and our many partners lay down some solid foundations for future growth.  This has been pulled together in the compilation and submission to Government of our first draft of the Worcestershire Strategic Economic Plan just before Christmas.  We shall soon begin to receive feedback from Westminster as we refine the Plan and complete the consultation process with our various local and Government partners, prior to submission of the completed Plan by the end of March.

During recent months I have become more and more convinced that there is something special going on in Worcestershire.  We have seen our partners, local authorities, businesses and third sector alike get behind a common vision and proactive outlook for further growth, which is a long way removed from the culture of contentment and limited vision that has held the county back from achieving its true potential over many years.  We have also seen some really encouraging figures and trends in reducing unemployment and claimant numbers.  This renewed vision and growth determination is great news and must be supported fully by all the relevant organisations and authorities if we are to truly realise the potential economic benefits across Worcestershire and to deliver quality jobs, services and security for the county’s population.

That then is our challenge for 2014 and beyond …………. no pressure!

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 guy.smallman@coventry.ac.uk 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
 

Upcoming Events


Grow in Wychavon book launch
17 January
Regal Theatre, Evesham

Resource Efficient Worcestershire conference
28 January
Worcester Cricket Club

UKTI Local Investment Showcase
4 February
Birmingham

Landscape conference
6 February
The Hive, Worcester

Grow with confidence small business forum
28 February 2014
Gainsborough Hotel, Kidderminster

Wyre Forest Apprenticeship & Jobs Fair
14 March 2014
Kidderminster Town Hall

LEP Network conference
26 March
Church House, Westminster

WLEP Board meetings:
23 January 2014
20 March 2014
22 May 2014
24 July 2014
23 September 2014
20 November 2014
 

Wyre Forest events

Mark Garnier, MP for Wyre Forest, is organising two free events that may be of interest to readers:

Grow with confidence small business forum – 28 February
Taking place at the Gainsborough Hotel in Kidderminster, the forum will feature presentations from Worcestershire LEP’s Executive Director, Gary Woodman, as well as sessions on finance and business mentoring and harnessing the power of the web.

Wyre Forest apprenticeship and jobs fair – 14 March
Businesses are invited to exhibit free of charge at this event, taking place in Kidderminster Town Hall from 2.00 – 5.00 pm.

For further information regarding both events, please contact caroline.garnier@parliament.uk or telephone 01562 746771.
 

International trade opportunity

UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) has announced a free networking lunch and interactive session aimed at those wishing to offer their services to international investors.

As part of its new Local Investment Showcase website targeted at overseas investors, UKTI is developing a service directory that aims to put inward investors in touch with local UK service providers. 

If you would like to promote your services to a wider international audience, contact the UKTI Event Support Team on 01772 767712 or ukanworkshops@glasgows.co.uk.  There’s a session taking place in Birmingham on 4 February.
 

Resource Efficient Worcestershire Conference

Taking place on 28 January at Worcestershire Cricket Club, the first Resource Efficient Worcestershire Conference will feature local businesses who are taking practical steps to reduce their carbon footprint.
 
Confirmed speakers include representatives from the London 2012 Olympic Games, the Carbon Trust, Manufacturing Advisory Service and Thomas Vale Construction.
 
Resource efficiency professionals from the Marches Environmental Technologies Network (metnet) will be on hand to offer advice on how you can cut costs by reducing energy and water consumption.
 
To book your free place, click here or for more information, telephone 01905 765519.
 

New campaign to make Britain more ‘Cyber Streetwise’

With such a strong and growing cyber security sector, particularly around Malvern, we welcome the announcement by the National Fraud Authority of a major campaign to make Britain more ‘e-savvy’.

A new web portal will provide insight and clear guidance to consumer groups and SMEs, enabling them to adopt safer measures while online.  The campaign aims to save the UK an estimated £77-85 million in online fraud losses over the next two years. 

For further information click here

 

 


 
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Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership.

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