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Blogs

Check out our blogs section where Chamber representatives, members and high-profile business figures write about a range of topics. If you are a member and want to submit a blog, please click here.

Court of appeal warns against legalistic approach to planning decision

By Sundeep Bilkhu | Sydney Mitchell LLP

When making planning decisions, local councillors are entitled to use common sense and local knowledge and it is not for judges to take a legalistic approach and second guess their conclusions. The Court of Appeal made that point in opening the way for conversion of a large apple storage barn into four executive homes. There was no dispute that the development in open countryside conflicted with the local development plan. However, planning permission was granted in reliance on the recommendations of a planning officer. He had reported that the developer could in any event take advantage of permitted development rights to turn the barn into three new homes without the need for planning permission. The...

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The introduction of T Levels

By Emily Stubbs | Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce

On 11 October, Education Secretary Justine Greening announced that the first three T levels in Digital, Construction and Education and Childcare will be taught from 2020. The full set of T levels will be introduced by 2022. This follows directly from an independent panel review last year, chaired by Lord Sainsbury. The review concluded that the existing education system was too complex and included too many qualifications which didn’t provide young people with the necessary skills to enter the workforce. Criticism of the existing technical education system has often included discussions that it is unresponsive and suffers from a lack of engagement with employers. The Sainsbury report also linked...

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Mental health in the workplace: the five ways to wellbeing

By Michelle Smitten | Gateway Family Services

The theme for this year’s World Mental Health Day, set by the World Federation for Mental Health, was “mental health in the workplace”. With one in six workers experiencing stress, depression or anxiety, and mental ill health costing UK employers £26 billion each year (OECD, 2014), employers have a clear duty of care. So how can we begin to address wellbeing in the workplace? One of the simplest ways is for staff – and employers – to learn the “Five Ways to Wellbeing”. This is an evidence-based government strategy that sets out five simple actions a person can take to improve their wellbeing. It’s based around self-awareness – by becoming more mindful of your own wellbeing, you can build...

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5 tips on how to stay on track when negotiating with procurement

By Sarah James | Mercuri International (UK) Ltd

It has been said over the past couple of years, that procurement departments are becoming increasingly powerful. They dictate how negotiations unfold as value propositions are torn apart and prices lowered until vendors can hardly think straight. It sounds like a horror story, right? But it doesn’t have to be that way. Dealing with procurement is always going to be a challenge, but if you understand their game, it will be much easier to play yours. The following five tips aim to do just that: Help you stay on track while negotiating with procurement. 1. Get to know procurement Your team has objectives to achieve, but so does procurement. Understanding this, and acting accordingly, is really...

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The calculation of personal injury compensation payments

By Mike Sutton | Sydney Mitchell LLP

When a compensation award is made to the victim of an accident, the actual amount of the settlement is adjusted to take into account the interest the claimant can expect to earn by investing it. This is achieved by applying a 'discount rate', or 'Ogden rate' to the sum awarded. Traditionally, the percentage rate applied has been linked to returns on lowest-risk investments – typically index-linked gilts. The lower the rate, the higher the compensation award. The rate also applies to compensation awards by way of damages made by an Employment Tribunal for personal injury where a claimant is found to have suffered ill health – physical or psychological – as a result of unlawful discrimination...

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How well does your team work together?

By Diane Rance | Creating Value with People

How well does your team work together? Are you looking for a way to discuss how the team you work in gets along or would you like your manager to modify how they lead the team? The chances are you’re spending a lot of time with work colleagues, perhaps more than with your family. You probably know you work so much better in some situations, and not at all productively in others. However, as we know, it’s hard to tell the person who pays your salary that you’d like things to be different. A recent Harvard Business Review article titled "Why start-ups like Uber stumble over problems they could have avoided" (Chris Zook and James Allen) discusses how the barriers to growth in rapidly growing...

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Top 5 tips for a successful commercial business relocation

By Stephen Burke | FBC Manby Bowdler

It’s said that moving to a new house is one of the most stressful events of your life. If you’re moving your business, then you have a completely different set of things to worry about. Rather than ‘Where’s the kitchen box with the kettle gone?’ it’s more ‘Where’s the box with the server gone? But FBC Manby Bowdler’s Stephen Burke says you’ve also got to make sure that a move doesn’t cost you more than just the price of the removals van, and that your business doesn’t suffer as a result. Business relocations should be smooth transitions with barely a ripple and here are Stephen’s top 5 tips to make sure your relocation is a success. Get all the legal paperwork done A change of business address...

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Why diets don't work

By Vicky Farmer | Feelgood Factor

As far as I am concerned, where weight loss is the issue, “diets” don’t work. So why is that? “Diet” is actually a confusing word because it actually means “the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats”. For example if someone follows a vegan diet, they would not eat dairy products so remember not to serve a cheese sauce when they come round for dinner. Diets are also prescribed for medical reasons such as a gluten free diet for someone with celiac disease. However most of us think of diet in a different context as “an eating plan where someone eats less food, or only particular types of food because they want to become thinner”. Why am I against that kind of diet? Let...

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Facts determine tax treatment of dilapidations payment

By Sundeep Bilkhu | Sydney Mitchell LLP

Virtually all leases have clauses which stipulate that when the lease comes to an end, the tenant must leave the premises in the same condition as they were in when they entered them, and the negotiations over the termination of a lease will often involve a payment by the outgoing tenant to take account of the dilapidations. In principle, the payment from the tenant to the landlord is to put the landlord back in the position it was in at the commencement of the lease: restoring the asset (the leased premises) to its former condition. But how should such a payment be accounted for? Should it be treated as income in the hands of the landlord, and thus subject to taxation under the rules of Income...

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Why there has never been a better time to be a mum returning to work

By Sally Dhillon and Nishi Mehta | Career Mums

There has never been a better time to be a mum returning to work. The government have announced they are funding returnship programmes to recruit additional civil servants, teachers, health professionals and social workers who have previously left their professional roles. Returnships are used to support people back to work after a break, perhaps having taken time out of employment to raise children, look after elderly or sick relatives.  These responsibilities are more commonly taken on by women and partly explains the continued gap in earnings and pensions between the genders. Returnships are just one example of the various initiatives available to support mums back to work after having...

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