Community House in Selby held an event on the 12th June to highlight the ‘Disability Confident campaign’. This is promoted all over the UK by Justin Tomlinson, who is the UK’s Minister for Disabled People. Disabled people make a huge contribution to our national economy both as customers and as employees. Our newly elected MP for this area, Nigel Adams and his team has organised this event to help businesses and recruitment managers find out how disabled people can make a greater contribution. All local business leaders and management teams are welcome to attend the free event. The UK’s 12 million disabled people have a combined household spend of £212 billion every year. They also have major skills, valuable education and knowledge which is sometimes overlooked when looking through piles of CV’s. Help is available nation wide to adapt buildings and equipment to accommodate a disabled workforce. Looking at the bigger picture, disabled people are a significant proportion of the available employees in the UK. The event runs for 2 hours and includes networking amongst those in attendance and refreshments. Various presentations and one to one fact finding discussions can take place. For more information and further details please call the Tadcaster office on 01937 838088.
A report published recently shows that Asia has overtaken Europe as the world’s second richest region. The Asia Pacific, which excludes Japan, held £30 trillion in private wealth. The number of millionaires also rose drastically in China and India. North America remains the world’s richest region with £34 trillion of private money. The report predicts that Asia will take over the number one spot in 2016. If growth continues in that part of the world, Asia is projected to hold 34% of worlds wealth by 2019. Asian companies are buying well known brands across the world and expanding their marketing projects. Some consumers will not know famous English and American brand names are now produced overseas for a fraction on the cost. Supplying items for cheaper means higher profit margins. 4.4 billion people (60% of the world population) currently live in Asia. China and Asia are the largest economy’s in the world and hold a huge spending power over other countries. They also hold the record for the world’s longest continuous economic booms, starting with the Japanese (1950 – 1990), and China (1978 – 2013). As mentioned in previous columns, Selby is a very famous location in Asia as the abbey was the wedding location for a very famous Asian singer. Overall, global wealth grew by 12% last year to £100trillion, lifted by positive gains in the stock and bond markets. ‘Old world’ regions remained in the single digits, but ‘new world technology’ led by Western Europe, North America, and Japan created the highest gains.
Six of the world’s biggest banks have been fined £3.6 billion between them for manipulating the foreign currency exchange market. JP Morgan, Barclays, Citigroup, Royal Bank of Scotland & UBS will all plead guilty to charges made against them. Barclays was fined the most as it did not help the investigations team. Eight employees from Barclays involved in the scheme have now been sacked. A sixth bank, Bank of America, had a smaller fine as it was not a major player in the scheme. The investigation found that between 2008 and 2012, several traders formed a on line chat room to manipulate prices in their favour. A few seconds before the days price was announced, one of the traders withdrew his stake, The other traders knew this was going to happen so they planned ahead to make more money. Violence and threatening demands we’re made during the four years worth of messages. One trader was told to ‘sleep with one eye open’ if he messed up a major deal. Unsuspecting members of the public and financial businesses would be buying their currency at an artificial price. This has been a game changer in the banking world as they finally admitted guilt. The financial district has been dragged through the mud in previous years with under hand dealing and working together to get a better price for themselves. Normally the banks have settled previous investigations out of court without an admission of guilt, but with a bigger fine.
For all those thinking about starting up in business this year, some help and guidance is 
available in our area very soon. This is part of a national programme that has been running since April 2012. The 
service is hoping to continue until at least March 2017. The advice and programme is funded by the governments 
'Department for Business, Innovation and Skills' and is aimed at those who are currently in the Small and Medium 
Enterprises (SME's) sized category. This project also includes new Start up businesses across England. The 
Growth Accelerator programme is now part of the 'Business Growth Service', again, a Government backed UK 
service offering support to businesses who have the potential to improve and grow. If you have already built a 
successful company and your ready for the next stage of the project, why not attend the event and see what 
happens. Lots of fresh ideas are available for you to use in your own project or expansion programme. 
We need to remember all the big multi million pound businesses in our city centres once started out as a small 
business at one point in the past. Also part of the event is having the chance to meet and network with other 
liked-minded businesses. They maybe in a similar position and have experiences to share. Access is also 
available for up to £2,000 in match funding for senior managers to hone their leadership and management skills. 
For those who are interested or require further details, the Selby contact is Carl Wolf who can be contacted 
on 0113 3854616 or 07841 903 088.
The Pound Coin as we know it, is set to change design and shape by 2017. Over 6000 people designed and suggested ideas for the new look coin. The winner, 15 year old David Pearce is from Wales. He’s drawing will feature on the new currency coin and it will go on general circulation in a few years time. He was told the news he had won by the Governments Councillor George Osborne, in person. The new coin will be the most secure coin anywhere in the world to stop counterfeiting. George Osborne said: “The competition captured the imagination of thousands of people and David’s winning design will be recognised by millions of people from around the world in the years ahead”. The winning drawing shows the UK’s national emblems – a rose for England, a leek for Wales, a thistle for Scotland and a shamrock for Northern Ireland. The other side will feature the Queen as normal. All four emblems are emerging from a Royal Coronet. Renowned coin artist David Lawrence and lettering expert Stephen Raw slightly tweaked David’s design to meet the Royal Mints specifications. The £1 coin is being replaced for the first time in more than 30 years because of its vulnerability to counterfeiters. The main point everyone will notice straight away is it’s shape. It will have 12 sides and remind people of the old three pence coin from decades ago. Machines around the UK will need altering to accept both the new and old coin, as the old coin will be in circulation at the same time until the banks slowly reduce its availability. It will be made by bi-metallic construction and feature the Royal Mint’s new state-of-the-art, and secret, anti counterfeiting technology.
In October 2015, the minimum wage will rise by 20p to £6.70 an hour. This increase will mean more money for over a million lower paid workers throughout the UK. The Government has accepted the advice and independent recommendations to also raise the levels for younger workers over 18 by 17p to £5.30 an hour, and for 16 and 17 age group by 8p to £3.87. Apprentices wages are also increasing by 57p to £3.30 an hour. With the election only a few weeks away, the minimum wage is major issue for the various parties to get right. The Prime Minister, David Cameron has called on the UK employers to “give Britain a pay rise” following the improved economic situation over the last few years. More money in peoples pockets means more money being spent in our shops and businesses. I’ve spoken in this column before about the Governments huge push for school and college leavers gaining ‘hands on’ practical knowledge. One of the main ways for young people to do this is by taking on a apprenticeship qualification. Having practical experience in a trade is a huge plus point for anyone applying for a job. This country will always need skilled trades such as plumbers and electricians. The Prime Minister went on to say “Whether you’re on low pay or starting your dream career through an apprenticeship, you will get more support to help you go further and faster.” The opposition party, Labour has promised that their levels of wages will rise to £8 by 2020.
Shoppers have been spending their hard earned pennies even more recently. We’ve just had the sunniest April since records began, and this has helped lift quarterly retail sales figures for businesses across the country. The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has announced an 0.6% increase in overall retail spending. The ‘feel good’ weather has made people leave their houses and spend. Non food sales rose 2.3%, with food sales going up 0.4% over the quarter. The BRC quoted in the report that it gave “a clear indication that confidence among consumers is slowly improving even more”. They also mentioned “this is despite overall profitability being under intense pressure due to continued changes in shopping habits”. These shopping habits include shopping via websites and the attractiveness of home delivery. Consumers are also not being loyal to any one brand or product any more as they search for a discount or bargain. Old habits use to be shopping in the same place every time. Now, with adverts, social media and the internet, shoppers can be swayed to go elsewhere if they see a better reason to go. Retailers will be paying out for shop rents and business rates at the end of this quarter, so they will be trying extra hard to attract more footfall into their stores. This normally means ‘summer sales’ starting early. The good news is that it is set to continue, The weather ahead looks to stay warm and sunny through out the summer and the news of Princess Charlotte being born continues the consumers ‘feel good’ factor and encourages spending even more as we head into the next quarter.
Sadly for over nearly 3,000 workers, Christmas was not a enjoyable time. The courier company City Link went into administration on Christmas eve. Unless a last minute rescue package is found, they look set to be made redundant by new years day. For those who have used City Link to send their parcels, customers are being urged to collect parcels from depots on Monday. The companies online tracking system will tell you where the parcel is. If you have used them to send numerous parcels far away, I’m afraid you face many miles to go and get them back. City Link was founded in 1969, and had been acquired by restructuring specialist Better Capital for just £1 in 2013. The company had been running at a lost for some time. It had recently upgraded its fleet on yellow and green vans to Mercedes Sprinters, but this had come at a huge price. It was also in a difficult sector in the parcel industry. I send 40 to 50 parcels each month, but only used City Link twice in three years. Their prices were too high compared to similar companies and drivers would turn up hours after the allocated collection time. Another company facing a worrying time is the chocolate maker, Thorntons. It’s retail outlets had been doing well in the run up to Christmas, but its new centralised warehouse in Derbyshire, had major teething problems that had created delivery issues. Online sales had been heavily hit. The company had already started a store closure programme which shut half of its 350 shops, this lead to 500 jobs being lost over the past four years, at the moment they still employ almost 4,000 people and made a pre-tax profit of £5.97m in its last financial year.
Plans to improve rail journey times in the north have been announced. We first heard details back in 2011 that around £300 million will be spent on the electrification of the Transpennine route, with work due to take place in the Selby area in the next 3 to 4 years. The station and Bawtry Road bridge will need major work doing to it to allow for the extra height needed for electrification. As part of the national High Speed 2 project, an extension (High Speed 3) will join the big cities across the M62 corridor. Estimates have suggested a running speed of 140 miles per hour will reduce timings on current journeys to 30 minutes. Chancellor George Osborne, launched the news soon after the proposed £43billion High Speed 2 rail link from London to the north, and suggested that even more cash is spent on new rail links between cities such as Manchester and Leeds. Extending the project from Leeds to Selby Train Station and maybe onto Hull is part of the proposals. With our direct link to London, the Hull to Selby and Selby to the main line at Temple Hirst sections need to be included as well. The Chancellor has also promised to fix the roads which is a huge investment in itself. The disgraceful state of the bypass has been discussed already, and we await resurfacing plans in early 2015. The governments idea is to create one large ‘global northern city’ to recreate the various sections of our capital city, London. The proposed link from Manchester to Leeds would be based on the existing rail route, but speeded up with new tunnels and infrastructure.
Earlier in 2014 we heard news of a risk of blackouts during peak times. In the winter we all turn up the heating and stay indoors using every appliance to hand. Advert breaks during our favourite TV shows show a huge spike as we all put the kettle on. The government has been working on stopping the blackouts. They have put into place a system for the next four years. In the run up to this Christmas, power generation firms have been secretly told about the auction. The outcome of the auctions means they are to receive close to £1 billion to ensure their power stations stay open. The UK needs them to be fully working to produce the energy needed. The Government created a auction for energy businesses to trade their supply’s. This was the first time a system like this has been used and will be used again in the future. The country has now secured 49 GW of power capacity at a secured cost of £19.40 per KW. The total cost of this to the UK bill payers is £960 million. Sadly it will add around £11 to everyone’s bill over the year. This works out at 92p extra per month. The doom and gloom people have straight away criticised the scheme, saying that it will keep coal fired power stations such as our local plants, Drax, Eggborough and Ferrybridge, open even longer. I’m sure local workers will welcome the news that they get to keep and expand their employment. We know that Drax has had huge investment to change over to BioMass and hopefully this auction news will help secure Eggbrough staying open for a long time into the future. There are fears of a shortfall in power because power plants in the country have closed because of new pollution rules or because they have become uneconomic to run. The two coal mines left in the country can’t produce coal cheaply enough.