Colors: Purple Color

Responding to the workforce report by the King’s Fund, Nuffield Trust and Health Foundation, Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers said:

“This well-considered report is clear that there will need to be minimum of £900 million more invested every year for the next five years in order to boost numbers of staff we train, employ and develop to support the delivery of the NHS Long Term Plan.

“The report reinforces the argument from employers that some level of incentive is required to fill the extra nurse training we need in particular, as well as the importance of a more thoughtful government approach to international recruitment after we leave the European Union.

“Employers accept that there is more they must do to improve our workplaces but they also need tangible national support and extra investment.”

Many other actions employers have been calling for include:

  • Changes to the way the apprenticeship levy operates to realise the opportunity this route provides for nurse training
  • The importance of re-investing in workforce development funding to help keep pace with emerging technology and enable the necessary service transformation to take place
  • Ensuring the NHS pay system supports recruitment and retention
  • Pension reform and to ensure we have a functioning immigration system which enables the necessary international recruitment in the NHS and social care.

Some 69 per cent of landlords surveyed by Spareroom state they insist on a ‘no-pet’ policy.  Yet, 21 per cent of pet owners asked admit they breach the terms of their tenancy agreement by keeping animals in their homes without their landlords’ knowledge.

For the first time, efforts to encourage landlords to reconsider their stance on pets in their properties by the UK’s first pet think tank are anticipated to result in a default right for renters to keep pets.

Key reasons landlords are against allowing pets in their properties include smell (57 per cent) and potential damage to the property (55 per cent), while 37 per cent hold concerns that tenants will not properly train their pets. Despite landlords’ reservations, 88 per cent of residents state they have never met complaints about keeping domestic animals, nor have their pets caused any damage to houses they rent.

London’s best-known animal shelter, Battersea Dogs Home, has launched a campaign for a more consistent approach by the Capital’s social housing providers when it comes to pets, stating that 10 per cent of animals it takes in are due to landlords refusing to accommodate them.

While landlords and renters have opposing views, common ground needs to be found, as the ‘No Pets Rule’ is a key element to bear in mind when looking for new accommodation.

Sian Astley, builder, DIYer and property expert for the Homebuilding & Renovating Show, who has been a hands-on landlord of 17 rental properties for 15 years (and is a cat owner and lover!), shares her solutions below.    

Introducing a pet policy within the rental agreement

A solution to encourage more landlords to accept pet-owners may lie in finding a balance between conflicting needs. Including a clause for pets within a tenancy agreement approved by housing regulatory bodies such as the NLA, MyDeposits or Spareroom, may help to inform tenants of their rights and responsibilities for any issues or damage to the property resulting from insufficient training or inadequate supervision of their pets. Where clear evidence exists of pet-inflicted damage or difficulties, this would quash attempts to evade their responsibilities by the tenants.           

Responsible pet ownership                                                             

Responsibility from tenants in rented housing for the upkeep of their pets poses another solution. Tenants should use their own judgment about whether an animal is suitable for a rental home and should be prepared to rectify issues with their pets on their own initiative. Maintaining awareness of the condition of their animals to other residents may also help to ensure a pet-friendly environment.

Insuring against pet damage

Keeping insurance for both residents and homeowners can also offer an answer. Requiring potential tenants to purchase pet insurance before they inhabit a property warrants that landlords can effectively narrow down responsible pet owners and increases the likelihood of tenants taking greater care of a rental home. However, landlords incurring extra costs in the future as a result of today’s damage is unfair. Additionally, charging increased rent to pet-owning residents who are covered by insurance may be considered unreasonable and extortionate.

Zero-tolerance for unruly pets

Despite Labour’s recent proposals to give tenants in rented properties a ‘default right’ to owning pets, an agreement between landlords and tenants can be enforced which places restrictions on badly behaved pets. By including a clause within the tenancy agreement governing that where a domestic animal is disruptive to other residents, for example odours, excessive noise or aggression, the landlord can be authorised to prohibit the pet from occupying the premises.

To answer more questions on this topic, Sian Astley will be present at the National Homebuilding & Renovating Show, NEC Birmingham, from 28-31 March 2019. 


Nationwide has made a bold commitment to protect branches as it urges businesses to rediscover their role in the community at a difficult time for the nation.

Failing to embrace changing consumer needs and not actively encouraging communities to thrive could spell the end for many local shopping centres due to disenfranchised local shoppers, Britain’s largest building society warns.

Nationwide, which has around 650 branches, has today committed to not leave any town or city in which it is currently based without a branch for at least two years.

Nationwide hopes that the assurance, which lasts until at least May 2021, will give consumers confidence that their local shopping centres will not be left branchless. It has been made as far ahead in the future as is possible given Nationwide’s scale and the fact it is not immune to major shifts in consumer behaviour.

The move, which comes in the wake of significant bank branch closures, forms part of Nationwide’s staunch support of communities, which includes allocating £22 million of funding over five years to help local housing issues, pledging to serve small businesses by entering the business banking market and an ambitious £50 million project to build more than 230 new homes in Swindon, with any profit to be reinvested back into communities.

A bank or building society branch often acts as a bellwether for the health of a high street and can be a catalyst for growth or decline. They are not only places to access cash and make transactions but also provide somewhere for people to talk to someone face-to-face regarding their finances or concerns. Nationwide data shows a clear correlation between the health of a high street and the local contribution of a branch due to increased footfall and transactions.

An estimated 10,000 shops are expected to close over the course of 2019, according to the Centre of Retail Research1. But while much of the focus on declining footfall has been on the shift to online retail, Nationwide believes more needs to be done to serve and empower communities.

Joe Garner, Chief Executive of Nationwide Building Society, said: “Healthy high streets are vital in keeping local communities alive. They are a major part of our history and identity – a space where we come together. But in many cases they have become almost uniquely transactional, despite consumer behaviour highlighting that people increasingly want to relax and enjoy themselves when out shopping. We need to rediscover the sense of belonging that has served communities for centuries and as businesses we need to open our doors to people and not just customers. It’s not good enough that we succumb to the perceived inevitable and watch our local shopping centres fade away. We owe it to our communities to make ourselves relevant again.”

The Society is committed to spending £350 million over five years - £80 million this year alone - to ensure its branches remain relevant to the needs of people – from introducing high-definition video and iPads to creating areas where members can chat, read a newspaper or have a coffee. Creating a sense of community in the branch has been key to the new design. Branch usage remains stable, while there has been significant growth in some areas, with in-branch current account openings increasing by more than a third (38%) in the last five years.

Nationwide will still close branches where it makes sense to do so, for example where two outlets are near each other and could better serve members if they were combined and received additional investment.

The Society will continue to look into the health of the high street this year and will be working with like-minded organisations to create positive change and explore what can be done to help communities thrive.

Garner added: “As a mutual we exist to serve the needs of our members and we are driven by that purpose.  Our members tell us they want digital convenience and a human touch.  That’s why we are both investing in technology and making this promise to maintain our branches. Even with the latest technology, members appreciate being able to visit a building and meet with real people who can help them with their financial affairs or even just listen.”


As Wales, Ireland, England, Italy Scotland and France bring this year’s competition to another exciting climax, the Guinness Six Nations is considering an offer from private equity firm CVC to sell a stake in rugby's oldest championship; with the Six Nations unions having been in talks for the past 18 months over pooling their commercial interests, a strategy dubbed 'Project Light'.

It is believed it could provide a windfall of more than £100m to each union but would mean partly surrendering control of the competition. Coming as the power-brokers of the world game meet in Dublin over the proposed Nations Championship,

If the Six Nations decide to sell to private equity, it would almost certainly kill the chances of the revolutionary Nations Championship getting off the ground. World Rugby will present its vision for the future of the sport following their meeting as the power-brokers of the world game meet in Dublin.

The interest from CVC - one of a handful of possible options - means the Six Nations face a dilemma between selling to private money, or embracing the World Rugby-sanctioned Nations Championship.

It is understood CVC's offer is for an approximate 30% share in the Six Nations. Sources at the unions have not denied an offer is on the table but insist a deal is not imminent.



Mortgage free retired homeowners saw their homes increase by nearly £1,000 a month over the past six months despite housing market uncertainty, analysis from UK’s leading independent equity release adviser Key shows. Total property wealth owned by over-65s who are mortgage free is at a new record high of £1.118 trillion with the average homeowners seeing the value of their homes grow by £28 billion.

Across Great Britain, average gains for the over 65s in property wealth are worth £5,998 each with all areas of the country benefiting in the past six months.  Homeowners in Yorkshire and Humberside (+£8,607) have seen the biggest increases followed by those in Wales (+£7,875) and the North West (+£7,546) have also done better than average (+£5,889).

Retired, mortgage free homeowners in London (+£1,655) have the least to celebrate and have only just matched over six months the same amount over-65s in Yorkshire & Humberside have achieved in a month (+£1,435).  Key’s index demonstrates the long-term investment success of home ownership and the value of housing wealth for retirement planning.

Those in Yorkshire and Humberside have seen the biggest increases (+£8,607), followed by homeowners in Wales (+£7,875) and the North West (+£7,546).

Retired, mortgage-free homeowners in London have seen property values rise by an average of just £1,655 in six months.

Over-65s in the North West are most likely to own outright with 671,000 having paid off mortgages compared with 656,000 in the South East.

However nearly a fifth of all property wealth held by retired homeowners is in the South East.

Will Hale, CEO at Key said: “The numbers are fascinating but the basic fact is that no matter what happens year to year to house prices many over-65s will have considerable property wealth which can transform their standard of living in retirement and help family members.

“Increasingly equity release customers are able to make substantial gifts to family members including their adult children or even grandchildren with money being used to clear debts, fund university fees and pay for house deposits and weddings. Customers can also use the money to ‘age-proof’ their own homes and preserve wealth for the family.

“While equity release is not right for everyone, it is clear that if your home is your largest asset in retirement, you should take some time to think through when and if you might need to access this wealth. Speaking to a specialist adviser is key to making smart choices.”


A support package was announced today to help businesses directly affected by the construction of new routes for the West Midlands Metro tram network.

The new initiative, which will include financial assistance, has been approved by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), which owns and operates the network.

With the network set to triple in size over the next few years, the scheme is designed to support businesses during periods of unavoidable disruption.

The support package has been drawn up by Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), which is part of the WMCA, and the Midlands Metro Alliance (MMA) which is building five extensions on behalf of the authority.

Laura Shoaf, managing director of TfWM, said: “We already work closely with the MMA and local highways authorities to minimise disruption as far as possible. But it is inevitable that intensive construction works of this nature will have an impact for some businesses alongside the route.

“That’s why we want to work with them to minimise that impact. While there is no obligation on the WMCA to implement a business support scheme we believe it is only right to offer a level of financial assistance to those smaller businesses who may experience a drop in trade as a result of the works.

“In the longer term, of course, there will be a huge benefit for those businesses with the Metro going right into the heart of their communities, boosting the local economy and making it quicker and easier for people to get to there.”

The initiative will be specifically targeted towards businesses who have frontages directly affected by construction along the new routes.

There will be three levels of assistance for small businesses which have been trading for more than 12 months. Qualifying businesses will receive a proportion of demonstrated losses subject to the submission of properly documented accounts to the independent scheme administrator.

Full details of the scheme are available at but the package allows for support of up to 70 per cent of lost profits. The financial assistance will be assessed and administered by an independent body.

In addition, TfWM and the MMA will work alongside identified local trader groups to support them with a series of ‘open for business’ campaigns to assist in maintaining footfall levels during the height of the construction programme.

MMA director, Alejandro Moreno, added: “Similar schemes have been tried and tested in other parts of the country when tramways have been constructed and they have proved beneficial.

“Legislation allows the WMCA to provide this sort of help around the construction of new tram routes and we welcome the announcement. Ultimately this expanded Metro network will play a key role in supporting the region’s future economy, opening up new job, education and leisure opportunities for thousands of people.”

The five new tram routes being built at a cost of more than £1bn are:

  • Birmingham Westside – from Grand Central to Centenary Square (end of 2019) and along Broad Street to Edgbaston (2021)
  • Wolverhampton City Centre - along Pipers Row stopping at the bus station and the redeveloped rail station 2020
  • Wednesbury to Brierley Hill – connecting Line 1 at Wednesbury to Dudley town centre, Merry Hill and Brierley Hill including the DY5 enterprise zone 2023
  • Birmingham Eastside – serving the Curzon Street HS2 and on through Digbeth
  • East Birmingham to Solihull – from Digbeth through the east of the city and north Solihull before terminating at the airport/HS2 Interchange station – both of these last two schemes are earmarked for completion in time for the opening of HS2 in 2026


CYBG’s latest SME Health Check Index witnessed a 4.9 point increase to give a national score of 54.9, the highest level in six quarters. This was mirrored in the West Midlands, which received its own score of 44.6, increased from 42.9 in the previous quarter. This was due to a slight improvement in new business creation and lending indicators.

The report, which is published in partnership with leading economic consultancy, the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr), covers Q4 2018 and highlights that on a national level, SMEs are continuing to hire staff, taking employment rates to record levels.

It also examined the health of SMEs in UK cities for the first time over the same time period to add extra depth and insight to the regional picture. In total, 25 cities were examined, which included Birmingham and Coventry in the West Midlands. Birmingham sits in 19th place with economic and employment growth well above the UK average. However, there was a sharp fall in the number of SMEs operating in the city in 2018 after four years of rapid growth. Manufacturing is a large part of the economy so a disruptive Brexit is a major risk. It also lags behind London in terms of productivity.

In Coventry, its employment rate is the third highest out of the 25 cities reviewed, however the number of SMEs operating in the city has fallen by than two per cent between 2017 and 2018, resulting it in being ranked in 17th place. Education is an important sector for the area with more than 4,000 residents employed by the two universities as well as a high percentage of students coming from overseas.

Gavin Opperman, Group Business Banking Director, at CYBG, said: “This is the first time the SME Health Check Index has done a deep dive into SME activity in the UK cities. SMEs are the backbone of Britain’s economy and cities, like Birmingham and Coventry, often act as drivers of regional economies. This new level of detail gives us an excellent insight into what’s really happening at a local level and is invaluable in supporting our customers in the West Midlands.”

At a national level, the report reveals that businesses have increased their borrowing with lending reaching the highest level since this index began in 2014. However, in contrast, this was accompanied by plummeting confidence levels, as well as a 0.9% decrease in investment. Despite decelerating GDP growth and continued uncertainty about Brexit, SMEs seem wary but optimistic with a determination to “keep calm and carry on”.

From the seven indicators surveyed, five showed improvement with Q4 2018 witnessing a welcome slow-down in business cost inflation. It fell to 2.8%, which is 0.2% lower than the rate recorded in the third quarter. This was primarily driven by a slowdown in price growth for commercial rents and physical inputs as employment cost inflation continued to accelerate.

Gavin added: “The latest SME Health Check Index shows a nuanced picture but one which gives me cause for optimism, as the country’s SMEs seem poised for greater growth and success when the Brexit fog clears. They are showing resilience and resolve with strong employment growth, positive net business formation and increased borrowing, which is all good news for UK plc. However, decelerating GDP growth, partly driven by a slowdown in the global economy and increased household borrowing, feeds in to decreased confidence.”

Colmore BID has appointed a former Special Branch police officer to help support safety projects in Birmingham’s commercial district.

Paul Street has assisted police investigations into the 7/7 terror attacks and was one of the lead officers tasked with setting up the West Midlands Counter-Terrorism Unit, the first regional unit in the UK.

In 2008, Mr Street moved back into community policing, rising to the rank of Temporary Inspector. Initially based in Handsworth, he has led on tackling street gangs, youth violence and business crime.

Mr Street recently completed a 12-month contract delivering award-winning work for Soho Road BID after a career at West Midlands Police spanning 30 years, which culminated in a Commissioner’s Commendation.

Colmore BID recently secured by renewal ballot its third five-year term representing more than 500 businesses in the Colmore Row area of the city. The new term starts on April 1, 2019. The BID works in partnership with Birmingham City Council on public realm projects and enhancement schemes for the District.

The safety and security of workers and visitors to the area continues to be a key priority for the BID and Mr Street will establish new and develop existing partnerships within the District, working with West Midlands Police and street intervention teams among others.

Mr Street will be supported by the BID’s Street Operations Manager, John Jo-Von Johnson on delivering the ‘Safe and Sound’ strategy. Together they will continue to work to help businesses be better prepared for major incidents in the city and to reduce the impact of crime on local businesses.

He will also be working with the area’s growing evening economy to ensure Colmore Business District is the place to go for a safe and enjoyable night out.

Mr Street said: “Having delivered award-winning interventions at Soho Road BID over the last 12 months, I’m delighted to be bringing my experience with West Midlands Police and BIDs to Colmore Business District.

“The growth of the District’s fantastic food and drink scene over the last five years brings with it a range of challenges which I look forward to overcoming in partnership with our local businesses, and I will continue to work with new and existing partners to ensure that the District is as resilient as it can be.”

Alan Bain, Chair of the BID’s Safe and Sound Working Group, added: “I am pleased to be able to announce that Paul has joined the Colmore BID team. Security was a key issue for businesses during our ballot.

“Paul’s appointment shows our commitment to providing even greater support to businesses in our third term. Paul brings with him a wealth of experience in counter-terrorism and community policing and I am looking forward to working with him and local businesses over the next five years.”


Employees at Barclays Bank Plc, at One Snowhill, in Birmingham, raised £2,958.76 for the charity by holding various events throughout 2018 and presented the cheque to Regional Fundraiser Gayle Kelly on the charity’s 50th Anniversary.

These events included cake, sweet & samosa sales as well as football related events during the 2018 World Cup.

Parkinson's UK is the leading charity driving better care, treatments and quality of life for those with the condition. Its mission is to find a cure and improve life for everyone affected by Parkinson's through cutting edge research, information, support and campaigning.

Susan Handy (Wholesale Lending) on behalf of Midlands Campus Citizenship, said: “We decided to fundraise for Parkinson’s UK because we felt that a charity such as this sometime goes under the radar. We also have members of staff here with a parent who has been diagnosed with the condition and we wanted to show our support. I hope that our money will fund research that will one day find a cure. We’re so happy with the amount of money raised”

Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological condition for which there is currently no cure and it affects 145,000 people in the UK including over 12,000 in the West Midlands.

Parkinson’s UK estimate that there are more than 40 symptoms of the condition.  As well as the most widely known symptom - tremor - these range from physical symptoms like muscle stiffness to depression, anxiety, hallucinations, memory problems and dementia, but Parkinson’s affects everyone differently.

Gayle Kelly, Regional Fundraiser for Birmingham and the Black Country at Parkinson’s UK, said: “Nobody should have to face Parkinson’s alone - or without hope that one day we’ll find better treatments and a cure.

“The money raised means that we can be there for more people when they need us most and invest in further research that will one day bring an end to the condition.  It was lovely to be presented with the cheque on our 50th Anniversary too!

“We’d like to say a huge thank you to Barclays Bank Plc for fundraising for Parkinson’s UK.”

To find out how to fundraise for Parkinson’s UK visit:


As part of a wider expansion plan, Bruton Knowles has appointed Senior Surveyor, Tim Bloomer, to its growing team in Birmingham, based at 60 Church Street. With eight years’ experience, Tim’s focus will concentrate on developing valuation work within the West Midlands commercial sector.

Tim Bloomer’s arrival at the national property consultancy coincides with a period of considerable growth for the firm, with the nationwide team expected to expand by over 30 per cent before the end of the second quarter of the year.

Tim will be working within the valuations team, joining six others in the Birmingham based office. His expertise will be used to help improve and grow the specialist markets within Burton Knowles and also to develop further skills covering compulsory purchase orders and residential valuations. His sector experience spans the licensed, retail and childcare and education markets.

James Bailey, Managing Partner at Bruton Knowles: “We have an exciting year ahead with plans to grow the business further, and in order to do so we need to have the best in the business on board. That’s why recruiting high calibre surveyors, like Tim, who wish to expand their specialist knowledge is so important. We have great strength and depth of talent across all disciplines, our confident and capable staff can offer insight, experience and expertise using the same values that has allowed Bruton Knowles to become the success it is today.”

Tim Bloomer: “This move to Bruton Knowles will open up my career progression and develop my surveying experience significantly. It’s a step I have been looking to take for some time but had to wait for the right opportunity to open up, with the right firm.

“I’m keen to utilise my skills to aid growth within the business, as well as learn and develop in areas I’m not so familiar with, sharing all of my learnings along the way with my junior colleagues and newly appointed graduates. In years to come, I hope to be assisting across the board in the services that Burton Knowles offer and have the opportunity to grow the specialist markets team.”

Tim will also be mentoring graduates at Bruton Knowles, helping with their training to complete the APC, assessment of professional competence, and become fully qualified Chartered Surveyors.

Bruton Knowles is an independently-owned national property consultancy with 12 offices across the UK. Its large multi-disciplinary team is highly experienced in sale and purchase, valuation, leasing and strategy across commercial, rural and urban property, and has specialist expertise in utilities, public sector and social housing.

To celebrate International Women’s Day 2019, the UK’s leading body for registered electricians, NICEIC, is encouraging more females into the electrical sector through its bursary scheme.

The bursary, which opens for entries today, offers grants to women already working as an electrician or those looking to get a helping hand at the start of their career. It is open to females of all ages and the grant can help cover training, equipment or other associated costs up to a maximum of £500.

The bursary, which is now in its second year, forms part of NICEIC’s wider ‘Jobs for the Girls’ campaign, which was set up in 2011. It aims to educate women on the opportunities available to them in the electrical trade, as well as dispel the myth that it’s a job only suited to men.

Paul Collins, Communications Manager at NICEIC, commented: “Our bursary scheme aims to help more women into the electrical industry, which is still massively under-represented by females.

“Our research suggests that just one in every 100 electricians is female. If we can help out those women who are just starting out or inspire others who might be thinking about a career in the electrical industry, then we will be well on the way to addressing the gender imbalance.”

One female electrician who received bursary funds last year was 41-year-old Amanda Pugh from Buckinghamshire, who used the funding to set up a website for her business, Amanda Electrics.

Commenting on her experience, Amanda said: “I was just starting out on my own and although I had help with some of the training, and was fortunate enough to already have my own tools, I still had to pay for additional courses, books, registration, insurance, website fees, business cards, work clothing and other tools.

“The bursary from NICEIC helped offset some of the costs and meant I was able to start making money from my work sooner.”

For more information on NICEIC ‘Jobs for the Girls’ campaign, visit: 


Free food, flexi-time and fitness aids have been named among the best job perks by a recruitment expert.

Anita Tweats, CEO of financial services matchmaker The Finance People, has revealed ten of the most sought-after job benefits for attracting high quality office staff.

A casual dress code and a games room have also made the leading businesswoman’s list, on top of an attractive salary, holiday allowance and professional development.

Her own company has won praise for its unique service, matching experienced finance professionals with start-ups and other small companies who require financial expertise.

The Finance People CEO Anita Tweats said : “Many businesses often think that the headline wage is all that matters to potential employees.

“But my experience has taught me that sometimes the little things can make all the difference, so an appealing perks package could be crucial when recruiting.” 

Here is The Finance People list of the ten best job perks:

  1. Free food - Filling employees’ stomachs for free is one of the easiest ways to their hearts, whether it’s a complimentary breakfast club, laying on sandwiches for lunch or installing a snack station.
Anita said: “Providing food for your staff is a straightforward and low-cost way to show you’re a company that cares – even if you want to keep it informal, it’s cheap and easy to order pizzas once a week, for example.”
  1. Health Insurance - For companies with a larger budget, a private health care plan for each employee could show a reassuring long-term commitment to your staff.
“Personal wellbeing is a top priority for most people, so companies that want to take care of your physical and mental health are immediately more attractive,” Anita said.
  1. Flexi-time - Around core daytime hours, allowing staff to start and finish an hour or two earlier or later could provide the flexibility they need to maintain other commitments.
“Potential employees might not want to drop everything for a new job and will appreciate a firm that helps them keep up a healthy work-life balance. Some people are also early risers or just not fans of the morning and would be grateful for flexible hours.”
  1. Casual Dress Code - Some businesses will chose to ditch suits and uniforms and replace them with a more relaxed approach that allows employees to wear whatever they feel most comfortable in, as long as it’s not inappropriate.
“This obviously isn’t the right approach for every company, but depending on your sector and business model, allowing a hoody in the winter and shorts in the summer shouldn’t do any harm and could create a more welcoming environment for prospective employees.”
  1. Special Fridays - An increasing number of companies are choosing to close early on a Friday or socialise as a team to start the weekend.
“With most businesses winding down for the week on a Friday anyway, it’s usually a popular move to treat everyone to an earlier finish or a round of drinks after work!”
  1. Local discounts - Larger businesses can use their contacts and bulk buying possibilities to enter partnerships with other local companies to offer staff discounts, but even small and medium sized enterprises could join forces with local food outlets, retailers and service providers to offer staff money off.
She continued: “If there’s a favourite café near your offices, why not invite them to overtake the competition by offering your employees 10 or 25% off their lunch or morning coffee? They should get more customers and great recommendations in return.”
  1. Pets - Being careful to consider existing employees’ opinions, an office dog or invitation to bring your own pet in from time to time could entice future staff.
“Dogs are often said to be a man’s, or woman’s, best friend – and many people would love to work with their best friend around to keep morale high.”
  1. Group bonding activities - Events and experiences that create fun memories and allow colleagues to get to know each other better as individuals can be a key contributor to a work environment that is attractive to prospective new members of the team.
She continued: “Whether its tickets to a concert or a day at the races, to a paintballing session, an escape room challenge or even a simple pub quiz, group bonding activities can help foster a fun and welcoming office environment.”
  1. Fitness aids - Personal fitness is increasingly a priority for millennials and the middle-aged alike, so companies that lend a hand in this area could be more appealing to possible new hires.
“A partnership with a local gym or sports club to give your staff free membership could make the difference when employees are choosing their next move. If there’s space, why not provide some fitness equipment in the office too?.”
  1. A games room - Many office spaces could attract new talent by providing a fun room full of pool or ping pong tables, video games or whatever entertainment people want.
Anita finally said: “Sometimes employees want somewhere to let their hair down at lunch time, or just break out for a few minutes during a stressful day – a games room can be perfect for that.”



Former President of the Black Country Chamber of Commerce and current Board member of the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership Ninder Johal has added ‘Deputy Lieutenant of the West Midlands’ to his already impressive portfolio. His appointment was announced by Lord Lieutenant of the West Midlands, John Crabtree the Queens personal representation in the region.

A leading proponent of business to business events, media production and a successful chart topping record company Johal, born and bred in the very region he has been serving for so long, the entrepreneur, who is extremely passionate about business, set up the Nachural Group as a record label specialising in dance music; achieved global success with 9 no 1’s, a No.5 in the UK charts and a no.7 in the US charts. It is equally highly recognised for specialising in presenting spectacular red carpet black tie events, stunning business award nights, memorable corporate presentations and also the manufacturing of high resolution audio - he is noted for hosting the ever-popular Signature Awards for business professionals and entrepreneurs.

“Having lived and worked in the region all my life, to be appointed as Deputy Lieutenant for the West Midlands is a great honour for myself, my family and all those who have supported me along my journey.”

The appointment of Ninder Johal DL was announced on February 1.


Generous employees at Birmingham-based HealthTrust Europe have broken the company’s fundraising record by raising a total of £8,212.73 for Duchenne UK.

The amount is the Edgbaston company’s highest annual total raised for a charity to date and highlights the company’s commitment to the care and improvement of human life.

During 2018 HealthTrust Europe members of staff took part in dress down and dress up days, a charity raffle, a cake sale, and awareness & educational activities. However, the major event was November’s five and 10k runs in Sutton Park which resulted in a massive boost to funds of more than £3,000. The total donation made via HealthTrust Europe’s JustGiving webpage was in the top three per cent of such pages in the UK for fundraising in November.

Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) affects 1 in 3,500 boys and is the most common genetic disease diagnosed in childhood and is caused by a lack of the protein dystrophin that affects the entire body. The illness almost always affects boys, and they tend to be diagnosed before the age of five. There are around 2,500 patients in the UK and an estimated 300,000 worldwide.

HealthTrust Europe helps health and care providers save money by sourcing best value products and services to deliver healthcare. The company provides solutions that are patient-centred and clinically-led, driving quality, safety, service and price.

Dennis Robb, CEO said: “I am delighted that colleagues supported Duchenne UK over 2018 with so much enthusiasm and generosity, and I am proud that we have been able to contribute to fighting this condition.

“This wonderful result exemplifies our mission to improve healthcare in the communities we serve.”

Emily Crossley, Co-founder and Co-CEO of Duchenne UK said: "We would like to say a big THANK YOU to all the staff at HealthTrust Europe for their continued support of Duchenne UK. We are so grateful to you for raising an incredible £8,212.73 in 2018. We are a very ambitious and focused charity so every penny you raise will help us to fund research in to treatment and a cure for Duchenne muscular dystrophy."

Duchenne UK funds research into treatments and a cure for DMD including funding research posts and clinical trials at Alder Hey Children's Hospital, which is also the first hospital to become a DMD Hub site.

More information about DMD can be found on the Duchenne UK website.


Wine Vault, the company behind WiV, a block chain-based trading platform for fine wines, has made a significant step towards long-term viability by attracting investment from Singapore-based Holland Park Capital. As a result of the move, Holland Park’s founding partner, Frank Holle, has joined WineVault’s board of directors and WineVault has opened an office in Singapore, extending its reach into Asia.

The investment in WineVault comes at an exciting time as the firm gears up for the mid-2019 launch of WiV. The platform will integrate seamlessly with existing systems, and bring new levels of efficiency to three aspects of the trading process:

  • Pre-trade: Each wine asset is allocated a digital WiV Wine Asset Token that securely collects and stores provenance and transaction history
  • Trade: Users can execute, clear and settle fine wine trades quickly, transparently and securely on the WiV Exchange reducing the need for complex paperwork
  • Post-trade: Every bottle is professionally stored and held in secure locations, minimising physical movement of the wine to ensure that it is maintained in ideal condition
The move into Asia extends WiV’s potential network beyond Europe for the first time.

Holle brings a wealth of experience to the WineVault team, having spent the last two decades setting up and managing an award winning quantitative hedgefund, successful start-up companies and a venture capital firm. Originally trained as a business lawyer, Holle spent the first decade at ABN AMRO, Amsterdam and later as a director at Merrill Lynch in London.

“The additional investment and Frank joining our board strengthens us as we move into our launch phase,” says Tommy Nordam Jensen, CEO at WineVault. “Having a formal presence in Asia is also very exciting given the region’s lively market for fine wine. We genuinely believe that removing the friction from wine trading will benefit every part of the industry, whether you represent a chateaux, négociant, merchant distributor or investor.”



Employees at Barclays Bank Plc, One Snowhill, Birmingham raised £2,958.76 for the charity by holding various events throughout 2018 and presented the cheque to Regional Fundraiser Gayle Kelly on the charity’s 50th Anniversary.

These events included cake, sweet & samosa sales as well as football related events during the 2018 World Cup.

Parkinson's UK is the leading charity driving better care, treatments and quality of life for those with the condition. Its mission is to find a cure and improve life for everyone affected by Parkinson's through cutting edge research, information, support and campaigning.

Susan Handy (Wholesale Lending) on behalf of Midlands Campus Citizenship, said: “We decided to fundraise for Parkinson’s UK because we felt that a charity such as this sometime goes under the radar. We also have members of staff here with a parent who has been diagnosed with the condition and we wanted to show our support. I hope that our money will fund research that will one day find a cure. We’re so happy with the amount of money raised”

Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological condition for which there is currently no cure and it affects 145,000 people in the UK including over 12,000 in the West Midlands.

Parkinson’s UK estimate that there are more than 40 symptoms of the condition.  As well as the most widely known symptom - tremor - these range from physical symptoms like muscle stiffness to depression, anxiety, hallucinations, memory problems and dementia, but Parkinson’s affects everyone differently.

Gayle Kelly, Regional Fundraiser for Birmingham and the Black Country at Parkinson’s UK, said: “Nobody should have to face Parkinson’s alone - or without hope that one day we’ll find better treatments and a cure.

The money raised means that we can be there for more people when they need us most and invest in further research that will one day bring an end to the condition.  It was lovely to be presented with the cheque on our 50th Anniversary too!

We’d like to say a huge thank you to Barclays Bank Plc for fundraising for Parkinson’s UK.”