Colors: Purple Color

Hundreds of thousands of homeowners will receive vouchers of up to £5,000 for energy-saving home improvements, with the poorest getting up to £10,000.


Chancellor Rishi Sunak is due to set out a £2bn grant scheme in England for projects such as insulation as part of a wider £3bn plan to cut emissions. The Treasury said the grants could help to support more than 100,000 jobs.


Labour said renters appeared to be left out and called for a "broader and bigger" plan to cut carbon emissions.


It comes ahead of a summer statement from Mr Sunak, in which he could announce changes to stamp duty and VAT. Business leaders and a former chancellor have called for radical action to bolster the economy, which is still reeling from the impact of coronavirus.


Under the Green Homes Grant, the government will pay at least two-thirds of the cost of home improvements that save energy, the Treasury said.


For example, a homeowner of a semi-detached or end-of-terrace house could install cavity wall and floor insulation for about £4,000 - the homeowner would pay £1,320 while the government would contribute £2,680.


The scheme will launch in September, with online applications for recommended energy efficiency measures, along with details of accredited local suppliers. Once one of these suppliers has provided a quote and the work is approved, the voucher is issued.


Business Secretary Alok Sharma added that the poorest households could receive up to £10,000 towards costs, and that double glazing would also be covered by the scheme. He continued: "What [the scheme] ultimately means is lower bills for households, hundreds of pounds off energy bills every year, it's supporting jobs and is very good news for the environment."


The government said about half of the fund - which is due to be spent in one financial year - will go to the poorest homeowners, who will not have to contribute anything to the cost.


Better insulation could save some people £600 a year on energy bills, the Treasury said.


Sunak said the investment would also help to "kick-start our economy" by creating thousands of jobs and providing business for existing skilled workers, as the UK recovers from the economic shock of coronavirus.


"As Britain recovers from the outbreak, it's vital we do everything in our power to support and protect livelihoods across the nation," he said.



Phoenix Group, a leading savings and retirement business, is sponsoring Midlands Air Ambulance Charity’s lifesaving CPR and Bleed Control Mission Support training programme for 18 months.

Phoenix Group has previously invited clinicians from Midlands Air Ambulance Charity into its local Wythall-based offices to provide staff with critical Mission Support training consisting of basic CPR skills and information on how to control severe bleeding wounds.

The sponsorship will enable the charity to continue providing the training to adults in businesses, organisations and community groups in the West Midlands.

Cardiac arrests and stabbing incidents were consistently ranked in Midlands Air Ambulance Charity’s top five missions over the last 12-month period. Both types of incident require immediate bystander support before the arrival of advanced clinical care teams, such as Midlands Air Ambulance Charity’s aircrews, to give a patient the best possible outcome and to increase their chances of survival.

While social distancing is in place, training will be delivered virtually, and once restrictions have been lifted, the charity will deliver Mission Support training across the Midlands region, providing local people with practical advice on how to undertake CPR and utilise severe bleed control techniques. In addition, the funding will provide each group that undertakes the free training with a bleed control kit, which contains items, including bleed control gauze and a tourniquet for limb injuries.

Emma Gray, fundraising and marketing director for Midlands Air Ambulance Charity, states: “From August 2019 to February 2020, 14 full days of our Mission Support training has been delivered to over 800 people. The programme offers two hours of crucially important lifesaving techniques for each person that takes part. As well as practical skills, each participant will receive an official certificate, and handy Mission Support pocket guide.

“The continued support we have received from Phoenix Group during the past six years of partnership has been integral in allowing our service to grow. By sponsoring our training programme, Phoenix Group is helping give back to its local community by enabling us to reach a greater number of businesses, organisations and community groups within the region, which could help save more lives in the Midlands.”

Andy Moss, Heritage CEO at Phoenix Group said: “We’re proud to support the vital work Midlands Air Ambulance Charity does on a daily basis and are delighted to be sponsoring the training programme which will ensure more people in the local area are able to help save lives.

“At the start of this year we extended our partnership with Midlands Air Ambulance Charity to the end of 2020, given the important role the charity is playing in the face of COVID-19. At a time when finances may be stretched it has never been more important for businesses, who are able to do so, to help their local charities.”



The boss of Deliveroo, Will Shu, has said that “restaurants are hurting” due to the coronavirus pandemic.

He said: “Even if restrictions are lifted, there is going to be a long period of social distanced dining”.

Deliveroo has expanded its UK customer base, with the coronavirus pandemic accelerating the adoption of delivery apps.

Mr Shu said: “Covid-19 has really marked a new era of delivery.

“Since we started Deliveroo, there has been this incredible adoption towards online and apps.

“But I think that Covid-19 has brought forward this consumer behaviour by about 1 to 3 years.

“On the other hand, though, our restaurant partners are hurting”.

He said: “Technology firms like Deliveroo need to develop better tools for restaurants to operate safely and profitably”.

It comes as Deliveroo launches a new feature called ‘Table Service’.
From July 15, UK users will be able to order food and pay through the Deliveroo app when they have a sit-in meal at participating restaurants, cafes or pubs.

The firm says that it is aimed at making social distancing easier when eating out.


A new survey of writers has yielded powerful evidence that writers have been more resilient to the impact of lockdown. Whether or not we see the next big literary success story, we are on track to see a flurry of new books, unlike new film and TV content where productions have stalled.

With book downloads and Kindle sales currently going through the roof, more content and talent discovery is fantastic for avid readers. And many more people have taken up reading since pandemic restrictions locked them into their homes.

The survey by Page Turner Awards, an award for published and unpublished fiction and non-fiction from all genres judged by high-profile experts from the literary world, tallied responses from writers across 15 different countries.

Surprise findings showed that 61% of writers are able to write more since the lockdown started.

This would indicate that the lockdown hasn’t had as big a restricting effect on the majority of those within the writing community as it has with many other leisure, social or employment pursuits.

Among the notable results:

  • Looking at the percentage splits shows that 39% of writers are writing less during lockdown. However, 61% are writing more or about the same as they make the best use of their extra writing time.
  • Being able to write more or about the same would be encouraging for the 34% of writers who write full time, so the lockdown hasn’t disturbed their main livelihood, unlike so many other professions and creative interest areas.

Writers who have been able to write more during lockdown claim they can write more due to home working freeing up more time and less socializing means more writing time. Unfortunately, 33% of those who are writing more are able to do so because they have lost their job.

The top reasons why people are writing less during lockdown is mainly due to new calls on their time, such as caring for family, more home working, and the need to do home-schooling.

One writer reported a serious block in creativity and had to find other methods to draw it out, saying the stress of the situation had stymied their creative process.

In the UK this ‘writing more trend’ is even more acute. Key results from UK writers revealed that nearly twice as many writers are finding it easier to write more, and writing a lot more than the survey average, with 60% of UK writers spending more time writing.

This has mainly been driven by a loss of job, using extra spare time to boost their writing output, with UK writers happy to turn to their passion for writing as a means of using their spare time positively. 70% of UK participants are part time writers.

Results from the US revealed that women were more likely to be full time writers, with 43% of all replies from US women were full time writers.

48% of writers surveyed in the US are writing less, a lot less, in fact, on average 30% less, and in many cases 100% less. The main reason for this shows the increased responsibility and time needed to care for family particularly, it would seem, by the many female writers who find themselves in this position. The most notable US result shows that only 28% of the American writers surveyed have been able to write more.

Co-Founder of Page Turner Awards, Paula Sheridan said, “It’s wonderful to see that writers are determined to use an increase in their spare time to dedicate to their writing ambitions.”

The Page Turner Awards, sponsored by ProWritingAid, gives writers and authors the chance to enter unpublished or published fiction and non-fiction books, where a group of literary agents will read the work. Two writers are guaranteed to be published.


According to the latest rental market analysis from deposit replacement scheme, Ome, London has been the most affordable city for renting in England and Wales over the last five years when taking into consideration the increasing cost of renting.

Ome dissected rental market statistics from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) across 19 major cities in England and Wales to see how the cost of renting in each area had increased over the last five years, as well as the average yearly increase during that time.
The data shows that as a whole across England and Wales, the cost of renting has increased by 8% in five years; increasing by an average of 2% annually.
While London remains the most expensive region for flat out rental costs (£1,697), the city has proved the most affordable where rental increases are concerned. The average rent in the capital has increased by just 1.3% in the last five years, an average annual increase of just 0.3%.

Leicester has seen the largest increase in rental costs with tenants seeing a 26.8% increase in the last five years, increasing at a rate of 6.1% a year.
Oxford (6%), Cardiff (5.8%), Bristol (5.7%) and Nottingham (4.9%) have also seen some of the largest average annual increases in rent, with the cost of renting in each city increasing between 19.7% and 25.3% in the last five years.

Not only has London seen the lowest increase in rental outgoings, the capital has also seen a reduction where the initial financial barrier of renting is concerned.

With the recent ban on tenant fees capping rental deposits at five weeks rent, the cost of a rental deposit in London has actually declined -11.4% in the last five years, down -2.9% a year on average. Of course, this still requires tenants to stump up an average of £1,958 and this remains the largest deposit sum across England and Wales.

Cardiff, Newport and Leicester have seen the largest increases in the initial cost of a rental deposit, up 2.8%-5.9% on average each year with a total increase of 10.9%-25.2% over the last five years.  

Co-founder of Ome, Matthew Hooker, commented: “The high cost of renting in London is nothing new and while many tenants object to this cost, especially in the current climate, it’s important to remember that in normal circumstances the vast majority of London renters also benefit from higher wages when compared to elsewhere across the nation. 

“When you couple this with the fact that rental costs in the capital have seen the lowest increase over the last five years when compared to other major cities, there are at least, some positives to take when it comes to living in the London rental sector.  

“You could argue that tenants in Leicester, Oxford and Cardiff have however had a far tougher time, with the cost of renting increasing by twenty-five percent or more in the last five years. While the actual cost of renting may come in below that of London, this aspect remains relative to the area and the earnings available and so tenants in these cities have been squeezed to a greater degree than their counterparts in London.”

Business Network

March 21 is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

This type of discrimination still takes place, including in the workplace.

Yet the benefits of Diversity in the workplace are many.

Discrimination VS. Diversity

Just a few days before International Women's Day, the day to combat racial discrimination takes place.

This day has its origins in the fight against Apartheid (a regime in favour of racism). Indeed, it commemorates the Shasperville massacre, which took place in 1960. This is also the case for Human Rights Day in South Africa, which is on the same date.

These events have left a stigma where racism has taken root. This is the source of the exclusion of many foreign ethnic groups, leading to a vicious circle of poverty.

It is well known that humans are afraid of the unknown. Yet these differences can be sources of great cultural and innovative wealth.

Let us therefore look at the interest of a Diversity policy. Let's not just sign a charter to give ourselves a good conscience and a good image.

What is Diversity?

Engrenagem_2 It is a process aimed at creating and maintaining a positive working environment.

Every difference and commonality between members is identified and highlighted.

This enables the group to reach its full potential to achieve the company's strategic objectives.

What are the benefits of Diversity?

A company that promotes diversity becomes more efficient and creative.

The multiplication of points of view leads to more ideas: the company has a greater potential for innovation. It also allows the company to diversify the products and services it offers, satisfying a wider range of customers.


In addition, this diversity makes it possible to solve problems more effectively. It also makes it possible to come up with a lot of innovative ideas during a brainstorming session.

Beyond the quality employer brand, Diversity policies help to lift international boundaries and attract the best talent to the company.

In this favorable context, employees tend to be more engaged, satisfied and productive in their company.

Under what conditions?

To reap these benefits, it is essential to create and maintain good team cohesion and quality communication.

Without this, conflict, lack of communication and cooperation can occur.

This is one of the reasons why the diversity process is based on the identification of individual richness: to highlight it within the group. In this way, everyone gets used to the fact that his or her colleague is different, even going so far as to realize that this is what makes him or her strong and complementary. The strengths of one colleague can compensate for the weaknesses of another.

This is where the signing of a Diversity Charter takes on its full value: in internal and external communication.

The people responsible for change management must support the project and promote this charter.

The majority group must be pushed to put itself in the place of the minority group: this is a powerful way to reduce discrimination and stereotypes.

Specialized training can be offered, which at the same time promotes team cohesion through exercises that foster understanding of the other.

In particular, it is necessary to train recruiters in order to be able to select new employees from diverse backgrounds. Managers must also be trained to manage this cultural diversity and promote it within the team.

Severn Trent’s Community Fund is open for applications after being refocused to help vulnerable communities during coronavirus.

The company has awarded nearly £700,000 from its Community Fund to 39 projects across its region since March, as part of its goal to donate more than £10 million over the next five years to projects that will bring benefits to local communities and the environment, across the Midlands.

Daisy Powell, Community Fund Manager, said: “It was really important to us that we were able to directly support everyone affected by the coronavirus crisis through our emergency funding but we thought now was a great time to try and get things to back to something approaching normality.

“Community spirit and wellbeing are as important as ever right now, so we wanted to get back to supporting those amazing groups which are supporting the most vulnerable people in our region or which have great projects they need to get off the ground to help loads of people.”

The company has donated almost £700,000 so far from the Community Fund, and some of the groups that have benefitted from grants include a volunteer coding project where children can programme plants to water themselves, a Food Farmacy incentive delivering healthy organic food to doorsteps, and a Family First project, that offers advice and support to parents and families on areas including food and nutrition, physical and mental health.

“We know that there are lots of amazing groups out there itching to apply as they have amazing ideas that will bring loads of benefits to people living in the local community,” said Daisy. “And we’d urge them to apply so we can see if we can help.”

The Community Fund is open to any non-profit organisation or local charity, but the team is specifically looking for projects that show a clear link to community wellbeing, such as:

People: Projects that help people to lead a healthier life and gain new skills;
Place: Ideas that help create better places to live in and use; and
Environment: Schemes that will help look after the natural environment, give people greater access to that environment or help look after water.

Applications are then put to an Independent Panel made up of Severn Trent customers, who ultimately decide which projects are successful.


Revitalise, known as the people who create respite holidays for disabled people and their carers at their Netley Waterside House centre in Southampton, are pleased to say that their first charity shop re-opened yesterday in Stubbington and made a fantastic £400 on the first day alone – three times what they made on the same day last year!
Revitalise’s series of charity shops will continue to reopen to public over a four-week period, following their closure in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic and will be offering 3 for 2 on many of the items available as an added incentive for customers. 
These charity shops are a valuable way for Revitalise to raise funds for their vital work and are crucially important in the current climate. The pandemic has hit all charities hard financially - a summary from the Institute of Fundraising estimated that half of charities in the UK potentially face collapse within six months without financial support and the average projected loss of voluntary income at almost 50%. Revitalise desperately need the support of local customers as restrictions start to lift.
The charity has gone above and beyond to ensure each of their 14 stores, dotted around the South Coast region, are safe for staff and customers, with a wide-range of health and safety measures in place, including social distancing and hand sanitising stations.
Andrew Pallister Revitalise Head of Retail said: “We are so pleased to be reopening our charity shops and welcoming back our loyal customers, many of whom have let us know over social media that they have been missing us. We are committed to making the stores as hygienic as possible and the wellbeing of our staff and customers is the highest priority. We look forward to seeing you!”
During the COVID-19 crisis, Revitalise have adapted their usual holiday experience at their centre at Revitalise Netley Waterside House, to instead provide a place to stay safe either short or long term, for disabled people in urgent need of respite due to the restrictions of lockdown. The centre is also supporting the NHS by welcoming non-COVID patients from local hospitals, freeing up beds for people with the virus.
Revitalise Netley Waterside House and Revitalise Sandpipers in Southport are both welcoming disabled people in urgent need of respite, and both centres are fully accessible, with equipment including hoists, profiling beds and airflow mattresses. The teams are comprised of Registered Nurses and Care Assistants. Many disabled people are supported by one family member, or a private carer who visits them at home, and can very quickly be at risk if that person becomes ill - unable to get support, or even basic supplies.
Revitalise have had significant press coverage for the adapted service they are offering during the crisis, supporting disabled people and the NHS, with several articles in local press, and most recently a feature on ITV Meridian television which took place at Revitalise Netley Waterside House.
Revitalise is proud to be able to support the NHS and help fight the crisis at a time like this, but is looking forward to welcoming guests back for more unforgettable holidays once we all emerge from COVID-19. Anybody who is worried about whether their care support at home can continue, should contact Revitalise.

The Commission has put forward recommendations to promote entrepreneurship in European schools and universities and to inspire a new generation of entrepreneurs. The recommendations are part of the Commission's strategy to promote entrepreneurship in schools and universities and to inspire a new generation of entrepreneurs....

The Commission has presented recommendations to promote entrepreneurship in European schools and universities and to inspire a new generation of entrepreneurs.

The recommendations are part of the Commission's strategy to create growth and jobs. In November 2005, the Commission defined the eight key competences that every citizen should have in a modern knowledge-based society, one of which is entrepreneurship.

Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen, responsible for enterprise and industry, said that to encourage young Europeans to become tomorrow's entrepreneurs, a systematic approach to entrepreneurship education, from primary school to university, is needed.

Accordingly, the Commission has outlined a number of recommendations aimed at equipping education to raise awareness of entrepreneurship at an early stage and to help young people develop basic entrepreneurial skills; at a later stage, universities should integrate entrepreneurship as an important component of the curriculum.

Commissioner for Education and Culture Jan Figel said: ³cEntrepreneurship as a competence refers to an individual's ability to turn ideas into action, to take initiatives, to act responsibly, to accept risks and to achieve one's own goals.

In particular, the Commission recommends that entrepreneurship should be explicitly included in school curricula at all levels as an educational objective. Schools should be given practical support and incentives to integrate entrepreneurship into their curricula; special attention should be given to teacher training and awareness-raising among school principals and cooperation between educational institutions and the local community, including businesses, should be promoted.

While giving various examples of good practice in promoting entrepreneurship in schools, the Commission believes, in particular, that the creation of student-run mini-companies should be further encouraged. Roughly 15 per cent of secondary schools in the EU are already involved in such activities, and the Commission estimates that almost 20 per cent of participants in mini-enterprise activities in secondary education start their own business after completing their studies.

Inspiring a new generation

As far as higher education is concerned, the Commission would like to see entrepreneurship integrated into various courses, particularly in scientific and technical subjects. Teacher mobility between academia and the business world should be encouraged, as should the participation of business in education. The development of networks is also recommended to enable universities to share good practice.

Like entrepreneurship, the other key competences that the Commission intends to promote under its Growth and Jobs strategy are basic mathematics, scientific and technological skills, digital skills, as well as horizontal components such as creativity and critical thinking.

To mark this year’s International Women in Engineering Day (June 23rd), Dame Judith Hackitt, Chair of Make UK, the manufacturers’ organisation, is calling on young women across the Midlands to join its diverse and talented intake of apprentices, to meet the on-going challenges that both the sector and UK now face.

The proportion of women in the UK joining the sector as apprentices is 7.5%1; at Make UK, however, women accounted for almost 10% of the 2019/20 intake at its Technology Hub in Aston, Birmingham.

Dame Judith commented: “2020 has demonstrated to us all, more than ever before, the need for talented people to address the challenges we face in engineering, manufacturing and in every aspect of how we live our lives. 
“Solutions to some of the biggest challenges we’ve ever faced require diverse and inclusive teams – women and men from all backgrounds. Young people who really want to make a difference in the world choose engineering. Make UK’s centre at Aston is a shining example of diverse and inclusive groups working together to shape the future. More than ever before your talent and your passion is needed in manufacturing.”

Vicky Stanislavska, an apprentice with Alcon, added: “I decided to go into engineering because I believe that there are so many opportunities in this field, because of my interest in cars, and I wanted an opportunity to work in the automotive industry. I also had a passion for art, so design engineering was a logical solution to combine both interests. Places will always need engineers and there are so many jobs which women would enjoy.”

Evie Hammond, who is in her third year as a Severn Trent engineering apprentice, spent her first year of studies at Make UK’s Technology Hub. She commented: “Not only have I gained on-the-job experience, but I have also gained the same academic achievements of someone that went to university to do a similar course. I definitely made the right decision!”

Now in its seventh year, ‘​International Women in Engineering Day’ is an international awareness campaign which raises the profile of women in engineering and focuses attention on the amazing career opportunities available to girls in the industry. The theme of this year’s campaign is #ShapeTheWorld.


The latest research by estate agent comparison site,, has highlighted the declining revenue of the average UK estate agent due to a reduction in transactions, largely driven by the industry-wide lockdown as a result of the coronavirus.

GetAgent looked at the average fee charged by estate agents and what the total potential value is when considering all residential transactions. GetAgent then compared this to market performance over the last year and five years to see how lucrative it is to be an estate agent in the current market climate. 

In the financial year of 2015-2016, the average estate agent charged a fee of 1.3%+VAT which equated to £2,622 on the average house price of £201,695; £3,146 when taking VAT into account.

Fast forward five years and this fee has dropped marginally to 1.25%+VAT, however, with house prices climbing to an average of £231,906 the average agent has seen income from each transaction climb by 10.6% to £2,899.
The difference? A -11.8% reduction in transactions, meaning that five years ago the 1,321,630 annual transactions within the resi market would have made the industry nearly £3.5bn in fees.

With the lockdown in March seeing agents restricted throughout April and transactions plummeting as a result, this total value has seen a notable decline, with £86,373,744 lost in fees.

Between 2018/2019 financial year and 2019/2020, the data also shows transactions have fallen by -1.9% meaning that while the average estate agents fee has still increased when compared to this time a year ago, the industry as a whole has seen revenues fall by nearly £25m where the fees secured on completed transactions are concerned.  

Founder and CEO of, Colby Short, commented: “The property industry has endured a tough couple of months and the Government’s lockdown of the market has had a notable impact on transactions and as a result, the revenue of many agents.

“This struggle is likely to continue over the coming months as we inevitably see a further reduction in transactions.

“The good news is not all agents are average and we’ve seen a monumental effort by many to adapt, evolve and in some cases, thrive in current market conditions. People still want to move and it will be those agents out on the front line helping them to do so that will remain relevant in an ever evolving industry. As ever these days, the best service will prevail and UK agents are really understanding that differentiator now.

“Many will have to knuckle down, manage overheads and potentially jettison branch offices.

“Some may also reconsider Rightmove as one of their biggest expenses. However, in recent years we’ve seen the industry survive the financial crash, pivot to fight against online agents and overcome months of Brexit uncertainty, and we’re confident we will see this resilience shine through once again.”

The total amount of vital coronavirus business grants so far paid to City of Wolverhampton businesses is closing in on £40million.
Eligible city businesses who have yet to claim their coronavirus business support grants are also being urged to submit their online form.
More than 3,400 businesses have now received a share of £38.8million distributed by City of Wolverhampton Council from the Government’s Small Business Grant Fund and Retail Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund, since April 6.
Over 94% of requests for funding have been paid and there are currently a further 162 city businesses at various stages in the process, working with the Council.
Eligible businesses have been contacted by letter and/or email and allocated a code, a Business Account reference number, and a link to a web form to capture the relevant business information. Businesses are encouraged to check their post and emails for correspondence from the Council.
Anyone with any business support queries should call 01902 290242 between 9am and 5pm from Monday to Thursday or from 9am to 4.30pm on Fridays. 
All forms submitted by businesses are subject to thorough eligibility checks, and to ensure that they meet the criteria of:

Being the ratepayer
In occupation of the business on 11 March 2020

The council is dealing with a high volume of calls to update records and is working as quickly as possible. Following this, businesses are contacted and invited to confirm their eligibility for a grant.
Further communication with businesses may be necessary if any of the required information is missing.
City of Wolverhampton Council Cabinet Member for City Economy, Councillor Harman Banger, said: “We are doing everything we can to support our small businesses to access this money including proactively contacting businesses who are eligible.
“We have staff on hand to support businesses who require help and advice with the online process, and I would urge eligible businesses to get in touch.
“If you’ve already filled in an online form but haven’t received your grant payment yet, please bear with us.
“We yesterday (Monday) also launched the Discretionary Grant Fund for small and micro-businesses who have been ineligible for other schemes.
“But I would urge businesses to first ensure they are not eligible for a grant from the Small Business Grant Fund or Retail Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund.
“Rest assured, we will make sure every business is supported in whichever way possible.”
The Government guidance on the size of the grants is as follows:

small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief, and have a rateable value of £15,000 or less; or
grant funding of £10,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value of £15,000 or below; or
grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,001 and £50,999

Full details of the latest government business support measures can be found at

A new business hub is offering a fully funded programme of support focusing on preparing local companies for the problems they may face following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Delivered through the University of Wolverhampton in Stafford, the Stafford Business Hub programme is providing over £500 worth of support for business start-ups, re-launches or up scales through a structured and dedicated service based in Stafford.

The project is funded through Stafford Borough Council’s Economic Growth programme and is available for small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) of Stafford Borough to support their business growth plan.

UwiS Centre Co-ordinator, Trevor Humphreys, said: “In addition to giving access to a wide range of training courses and qualifications which we provide at the Centre, Stafford Business Hub provides businesses with expert support to identify ways in upscaling their business or setting up a new venture.

“The free training will pinpoint ways in which they can facilitate their growth plans as well as improving their ability to adapt to the evolving business environment in Stafford Borough.”

The full programme is based on attendance at four key phases and the business must be based within Stafford Borough.

Phase 1 focuses on starting or growing a business and is designed for those responsible for growth or business development.  It will focus on the basic principles of running a small business with basic marketing techniques, opportunities and pitfalls as well as business planning.

The second phase of the programme is a 2-day more intensive look at the skills needed for start-ups and up-scaling, including in depth marketing of the business, networking and pitching to clients. 

Stafford Business Hub will also provide individual 1:1 support to help plan business development and growth.

Councillor Frances Beatty, Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Planning at Stafford Borough Council, said:  “The Stafford Business Hub will complement the range of successful skills development programmes we already have up and running within the Borough. 

“Our strong partnership with the University of Wolverhampton in Stafford is built on a shared ambition to deliver our strategy for growth.”

Delivered by the University of Wolverhampton in Stafford, through local providers, the training is for business operating in Stafford Borough. 

The business programme will play an important role in supporting Tourism and Leisure businesses who have been most affected by the recent pandemic.

The courses are designed to support those who sell their services directly to the consumer, advising on planning ahead, cash flow, marketing support and digital development. 

People are set to join Ushvani Spa, in collaboration with Shilpa Reddy Flower Design, for a special online ‘Garland Workshop’ – a beautiful afternoon of festival-style flower garland making using handcrafted sustainable paper flowers. Perfect for crafty adults and children alike - a brilliant activity to fill the long school summer holidays!
Shilpa, the creative director of fashion-forward flower brand ‘Shilpa Reddy Flower Design’ will demonstrate how to create a stunning floral lei in her signature style. Those joining will have the chance to make their very own lei alongside her that will include flowers such as the Hibiscus, the national flower of Malaysia in a nod to Ushvani’s roots.
At a cost of £25 per kit (and £15 per additional Garland), participants will also receive a complimentary Ushvani Balm (rrp £35) – to help with the inevitable headache that craft related activities with children might create! A blend of pure essential oils and camphor crystals designed to soothe both mind and body, the balm is based on a traditional Asian ‘cure all’ aromatherapeutic remedy, containing healing oils of rosemary, thyme, eucalyptus and soothing menthol.
The workshop, on Saturday August 1, at 2pm, will take place online via Zoom allowing those taking part the chance to interact and share their creations. All materials required will be posted out prior to the workshop and it will also be recorded so participants can access and replay the content when required.
Maximum 20 bookings per class and 1 Ushvani balm per booking.

Change into Action, the alternative giving scheme, has raised more than £150,000 in donations to help support homeless people across the West Midlands.
The scheme, which supports local specialist charities and street teams working to change the circumstances of rough sleepers and those at risk of rough sleeping, uses donations to pay for items such as clothing, travel to get to medical and other essential appointments, emergency accommodation, and rent deposits.
Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, donations from generous residents and businesses have continued to come in, with the scheme now passing the £150,000 milestone. In Coventry alone, more than £12,000 has been donated during the lockdown period.
Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands and founder of the WMCA’s Homelessness Taskforce, said: “I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has supported our most vulnerable members of society across the region by donating to Change into Action.
“The Coronavirus pandemic has been extremely difficult for businesses and residents, but despite this people are still giving generously to Change into Action, which is incredibly heart-warming.
“Rough sleepers are at high risk from Covid-19, and it is therefore more important than ever we do everything we can to support them. Change into Action is a safe and easy way for residents and businesses to do that, with people having the confidence that the money they donate will go directly to helping people who are sleeping rough.
“For those wanting to donate to the scheme, the easiest and most direct way is through the Change into Action website at “
Change into Action was initially launched as a pilot in Birmingham in 2017, as a partnership between the Mayor of the West Midlands, the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), and Birmingham City Council. The scheme now covers four West Midlands areas Birmingham​, Solihull, Coventry and Walsall, and Wolverhampton City council runs a similar scheme called Small Change for Big Change.
Cabinet Member for Homes and Neighbourhoods at Birmingham City Council and Chair of the WMCA Homelessness Taskforce Members Advisory Group, Councillor Sharon Thompson, added: “This is wonderful news and I’d like to thank everyone who has contributed. Homeless people are particularly vulnerable to Covid-19, and in Birmingham alone, 267 people have received help through the scheme which is fantastic.

“Over the last decade, we’ve seen rough sleeping increase exponentially. While we’ve been working tirelessly to do all we can to support and prevent homelessness, the resources of local authorities across the country, and particularly in the West Midlands, have been limited. That’s why Change into Action is vital. It provides rough sleepers with the type of funding that can be seemingly small but in reality, is life changing.

“As a homeless teen myself, I know first-hand how tough it can be to change your life. Donations, like these, will make a huge difference and will put us one step closer to designing out homelessness in the West Midlands.”

The news comes as the West Midlands Combined Authority’s (WMCA) Homelessness Taskforce urges the Government to act now to prevent a post-COVID-19 surge in homelessness across the region.
The Taskforce has called on Government to introduce a range of new measures to support rough sleepers and people at risk of becoming homeless as the pandemic continues. More than 800 existing or potential rough sleepers have been housed by local authorities in the region throughout the crisis and now the Taskforce wants to use the lessons learned during the pandemic to ensure that those who have come in are able to stay in.
A West Midlands submission to the Government's homelessness Tsar, Dame Louise Casey, highlights growing concerns that the number of people presenting as homeless could rise due to the virus temporarily ‘bottling up’ demand. In particular, the Taskforce has highlighted rent arrears and wider debt accrued during the lockdown due to the reduction in people’s incomes as two key reasons why people will find themselves facing homelessness as the pandemic continues. The group has also raised the ‘significant risk’ of relationships breaking down during the lockdown phase as another factor leading to homelessness.

The government has announced that self-employed people in the UK whose work has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic will be receiving a “second and final” grant in August.

More than two million people have applied for a single grant of up to £7,500 so far.

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, has announced that they, and other self-employed people, will be eligible for a second payment of up to £6,570.

It comes as details of the extended furlough scheme were also outlined.

Until now, self-employed workers who qualify have been in line for a grant of 80% of their average profit, up to £2,500 a month for three months.

This is being paid in one instalment.

Those whose work has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic will still be able to apply for the lump sum up until June 13.

Now Chancellor Sunak has announced that applications for a taxable grant will open in August.

This will be slightly less generous with it covering 70% of the applicant’s average monthly trading profits.

It will also be made in a single payment, covering three months and capped at £2,190.a month, or £6,570 in total.

Applicants will need to confirm that their work has been affected by the Covid-19 virus, but they would not need to have taken the first grant to be eligible for the second.