Colors: Purple Color



The category finalists in the Black Country Chamber Business Heroes Awards were announced in a colourful digital event that also marked the close of the third Black Country Business Festival – an initiative that is also led by the Chamber of Commerce.

Jude Thompson, president of the Black Country Chamber revealed the category finalists, who will now go forward to the final on Friday 13 November. This will be an exciting, high-energy digital event that will be live-streamed to the world. 

Jude said, “I would like to thank everyone that has entered the Black Country Chamber Business Heroes Awards. We have genuinely been overwhelmed by the ingenuity, determination and resilience of the local business community in meeting the challenges of 2020.

“We have received an exceptional number of extremely high-quality entries in every category and the judges have found the shortlisting process extremely difficult. I would like to offer very many congratulations to all the finalists.”

The Awards are headline partnered by the University of Wolverhampton which has contributed and judged three of the 12 categories. The category finalists are:

Large Business Hero of the Year – sponsored by chartered accountants, MHA MacIntyre Hudson

  • Compton Care
  • HomeServe NHS and Frontline Free Service
  • National Express West Midlands
  • Robinson Brothers Limited
  • SIPS Education
  • Supporting Communities
  • Wintech Group

Small Business Hero of the Year – sponsored by Nant Water Safety Specialists

  • Clover HR
  • Cox & Plant
  • Deans Management Services
  • Fit Mommas Ltd
  • Lord Combustion Services Limited
  • Lotus Sanctuary CIC
  • Penny Post Credit Union
  • Switch Midlands

Family Business Hero of the Year – sponsored by CK Chartered Accountants

  • Dancers
  • Incomm
  • Lawrence Cleaning Ltd
  • Lord Combustion Services Limited
  • Robinson Brothers Limited

International Trade Hero of the Year

  • Foundry Machinery & Spares Limited
  • Intralox
  • Keltruck Limited

Start-up Business Hero of the Year – sponsored by Forresters patent and trademark attorneys

  • ADL Bespoke Security Systems Limited
  • Isabellas Homes
  • SBF Consultancy
  • TP Squared

Retail Resilience Hero of the Year – in association with our venue partner, the Black Country Living Museum

  • Compton Care
  • HugglePets Retail Store
  • Midcounties Co-operative

Business Hero / Young Business Hero of the Year – sponsored by machinery specialists, FMS

  • John Donovan, JJX Logistics
  • Adrian Hanrahan, Robinson Brothers
  • Bradley Moore, Wolverhampton Wanderers Foundatio

Outstanding Collaboration & Partnership – sponsored by Walsall College

  • Compton Care and NHS Royal Wolverhampton Trust
  • Health and Housing Working Together

Outstanding Key Worker of the Year

  • Darren Cook
  • Navjitpal Kaur

Adaptability & Innovation – University of Wolverhampton

  • Acorns Covid-19 Emergency Response Plan
  • Coinadrink Limited
  • Midlands Air Ambulance Charity - Rapid Response to the Pandemic
  • Saz's Ceramics & Crafts
  • SIPS Education
  • Wolverhampton Wanderers Foundation

Kindness in the Community – University of Wolverhampton

  • Beacon Centre for the Blind
  • Compton Care
  • HugglePets in the Community
  • Midcounties Co-operative
  • One 4 You Services
  • Steps to Work

Exceptional Employee or Team – University of Wolverhampton

  • Amy Whitter, Fit Mommas Ltd
  • Blackthorns
  • IPU Group - Fuel Cleaning Team
  • Lord Combustion Services Limited
  • Nant Ltd
  • Sarbjit Singh, Wolverhampton bus driver, National Express West Midlands

The finals event takes place from 3.45-5pm on 13 November and tickets are now available.

There are two tiers: a paid ticket at £30, which includes a unique drinks and nibbles gift package that is delivered directly to homes or offices. This ticket also includes a donation to Black Country Chamber President’s Charities; Teenage Cancer Trust and Parkinson’s UK.

Alternatively, the event can also be viewed on the free ticket. Registration is still required.



An exhibition has opened for passengers at London Euston explaining the fight of a pioneer for race equality who overturned a racist recruitment policy at the station in the 1960s


Asquith Xavier was a guard with British Rail and was denied a promotion based on the colour of his skin in 1966. Despite being the year after the 1965 Race Relations Act banning discrimination in public in Britain, the law did not cover workplaces.


With union backing, Asquith fought the policy in the courts, lobbied MPs and the government and on 15 July British Rail bowed to mounting pressure and scrapped its ‘whites only’ recruitment policy. His success is now the focus of an exhibition on Euston Station’s concourse which was opened by his daughter Maria.


Network Rail has also produced an educational leaflet in partnership with Mr Xavier’s family in the hope his determined fight for racial equality can be taught in schools today.

The learning resources have been sent to 1,150 primary and secondary schools in Network Rail’s North West and Central region, which spans from Euston to the West Midlands, North West and Cumbria.


Some of the first children to learn about Asquith’s life using the new materials were from Netley Primary School who met his family at the opening of the exhibition.


Asquith’s daughter Maria said: “My brothers, sisters and I see this exhibition as a great opportunity for our father’s fight for racial equality within the workplace to be recognised.


He faced racial threats to his life, whilst attending court and work and had to have police protection during this time.


“Our father’s actions, we believe, initiated changes made to the Racial Equality Act of 1968, paving the way for other unsung heroes within the workplace and the UK.”


Network Rail’s West Coast South route director, James Dean, said: “Asquith Xavier is a name many children today will never have heard of, but this exhibition and education leaflet aims to change that. I’m immensely proud that we have been able to work with Asquith’s family to tell their story, simply to be treated fairly in the workplace, to the next generation.


“His determination and courage need to be known far and wide because even though this happened 55 years ago, our society still has some way to go to ensure everyone is treated the same regardless of their ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or gender.”


Loraine Martins, director of diversity and inclusion for Network Rail, said: “It’s extremely poignant that this exhibition is here at Euston. This is where Asquith Xavier became the first black train guard by challenging a colour bar, which was British Rail policy at the time.  Asquith Xavier did this in the face of great adversity and threats to his life.


“Network Rail is fully committed to being a company where each individual is valued, respected and encouraged to reach their full potential. In keeping with his memory, we’re working hard to ensure our workforce better represents our customers and society as a whole. We will continue to make the best use of our people’s talent and capabilities to provide real opportunities for their professional development.”


The exhibition about Asquith Xavier’s achievements, part of Network Rail’s 2020 Black History Month programme of events, will be on display at Euston station for the next six months.


A link to download the education pack can be found at:

The latest research from estate agent comparison site,, has revealed that Man City tops the table where the amount spent in the transfer market is concerned when related to the average cost of buying in the city. took the total spend from each team in the Premier League and looked at how many homes it could purchase in their respective towns based on the current average house price.  

On average, Premier League teams have spent just over £62m in the transfer window. With the average house price in Premier League areas currently £299,318, that’s enough to have purchased 207 homes.

At £226.1m, Chelsea is the team to have flashed the most cash accounting for 18.2% of total spend across the league. However, with the current average house price in Hammersmith and Fulham sitting at £702,961, the club’s spend is enough to purchase 322 homes in the borough. Placing them seventh in the transfer property purchase rankings.

Manchester City tops the table. The club has spent £147m in this transfer window, the second-highest in the league with 11.8% of total spend. With a far more affordable average house price of £170,192 in Manchester, the club could have afforded a whopping 864 properties with the money spent on new signings.

Liverpool takes the second spot, with their transfer expenditure of £81.7m enough to have purchased 608 homes in the city at the current average price of £134,411.  

Wolves (528), Everton (484), Aston Villa (451) and Leeds (450) also spent enough to have bought a considerable number of properties in their local cities.  

Despite being home to the lowest average house price of the lot at £91,505, Burnley also spent the least in the current transfer window (£990k). As a result, they sit bottom of the table with their transfer expenditure enough to have purchased just 11 properties in the local area. 

Brighton and Hove (12) and Fulham (33) were also home to some of the lowest Premier League property transfer spends.  

Founder and CEO of, Colby Short, commented: “The cost of getting on the ladder and the money spent on modern-day footballers are both well documented, but when you add the two together, it makes for some depressing reading.

While many homebuyers are rushing to secure a few thousand pounds discount in stamp duty, Man City has just spent enough to buy nearly 900 homes in Manchester. 

The high cost of getting on the ladder today puts these figures into perspective in terms of the sheer amount spent on footballing talent. Even at the bottom end of the table, Burnley has spent enough to buy eleven homes in the area when many regular homebuyers would gladly settle for one.” 

Table shows the amount spent by each club in the transfer window, the average house price in the local area and the number of homes you could purchase for their transfer sum.


Total Transfer Expenditure


Average house price

Number of average houses

% of Prem League spend

Manchester City












Wolverhampton Wanderers












Aston Villa






Leeds United








Hammersmith and Fulham




Sheffield United






Leicester City






Newcastle United






Manchester United






West Bromwich Albion


















Tottenham Hotspur






Crystal Palace






West Ham United








Hammersmith and Fulham




Brighton & Hove Albion


Brighton and Hove

















Sky News


Land Registry HPI

Total transfer expenditure/average house price


Rapper Killer Mike has partnered with civil rights legend Andrew J. Young and entrepreneur Ryan Glove to launch the country's newest Black-owned bank and financial institution. Having already secured $3 million in seed funding from private investors, Greenwood Bank will be the first digital banking platform for Black and Latinx people and business owners.


Greenwood's initial products are savings and spending accounts that come with a stunningly designed black metal debit card for customers who sign up by the end of the year. Advanced features like Apple, Samsung, and Android pay, virtual debit cards, peer-to-peer transfers, mobile check deposits, and free ATM usage in over 30,000 locations are offered with no hidden fees. Customers who invite their friends to open accounts receive cash awards as a thank you from Greenwood. All deposits are FDIC insured by a partner bank.


Glover, who is also the founder of Bounce TV, said: "It's no secret that traditional banks have failed the Black and Latinx community.


"We needed to create a new financial platform that understands our history and our needs going forward, a banking platform built by us and for us, a platform that helps us build a stronger future for our communities. This is our time to take back control of our lives and our financial future. That is why we launched Greenwood, modern banking for the culture."


"Today, a dollar circulates for 20 days in the white community but only six hours in the Black community," said Michael 'Killer Mike' Render. "Moreover, a Black person is twice as likely as a white person to be denied a mortgage. This lack of fairness in the financial system is why we created Greenwood."

Ambassador Young said: "The work that we did in the civil rights movement wasn't just about being able to sit at the counter. It was also about being able to own the restaurant"

"We have the skills, talent and energy to compete anywhere in the world, but to grow the economy, it has to be based on the spirit of the universe and not the greed of the universe. Killer Mike, Ryan and I are launching Greenwood to continue this work of empowering Black and Brown people to have economic opportunity."

The Greenwood name pays homage to the prosperous "Black Wall Street," part of the Greenwood District of Tulsa, Oklahoma, during the early 20th Century -- a centre of African American enterprise, entertainment, skills, wealth and investment capital.

The opening was a true hybrid event featuring live-stream feeds from individuals who were being interviewed on Zoom by Corin Crane, Black Country Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive, who was live in a broadcasting studio. 


The speakers comprised a mix of live and recorded interviews, and featured: Andy Street CBE, West Midlands mayor; Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chamber of Commerce; April Pearson Myatt, finance director at Top Tubes; Cllr Patrick Harley and Kevin O’Keefe, chief executive, both from Dudley Council; Jon Kiteley, area director of Balfour Beatty; Anita Bhalla OBE, chair of West Midlands Leadership Commission and Calum Nisbet, the new commercial director at the Black Country Business Festival.


Interviews were beamed onto digital screens on ‘the sofa’ as though the guests were physically in the studio with Corin, and the entire event appeared as a complete production with a 'TV show' feel. Anyone unable to see the event live show can catch the recording on the Business Festival website.


This is the third Black Country Business Festival – an annual event that aims to bring the business community together to incite learning, sharing, networking and business growth.

Postponed from its original May dates due to the Coronavirus, the festival will be running for the next fortnight, with nearly 100 different business events taking place. Most are digital with the festival being adapted with the added facility for event organisers to host their events online.


Corin said, “Like all things COVID19-related, the Festival has, in the main, successfully moved to being fully ‘hybrid’ in format. There are a handful of in-person and hybrid events in the programme but the majority are digital. There are nearly 100 free business events in total which really demonstrates the breadth, diversity, innovation and strength of the region.


“We have been bowled over by the engagement levels so far - never has an initiative been more critical to those of the Black Country and beyond, providing the opportunity to collectively come together during these testing and challenging times, showcasing what is has to offer and present its united economic strength. By doing so, BCBF aims to place the region’s activities front and centre of the UK’s business agenda to drive inward investment and economic growth, through coherent, united and consistent outward promotion of the region’s business activities; whilst not least providing support, guidance and knowledge sharing to those who make up our business community – businesses themselves.


“The Festival will place Black Country businesses at the heart of UK business agenda through its demonstration of the region’s innovation, culture and commerce, it’s truly now a national event, that happens in the Black Country.”


Anita Bhalla added, “I think this festival is great. It shows that we can bring thousands of people together [metaphorically speaking]. It shows the imagination in the region and the sheer talent that exists. What we now need to do on the back of the festival is to build on it and there is a great potential to do that. So well done to everyone that has got behind this initiative.”


Businesses across Wolverhampton are being reminded they must, by law, create and prominently display NHS Covid-19 app posters at their venues. The posters feature a QR code which customers and visitors can scan using the app to safely and securely 'check in' on arrival. Customers will receive an alert if they have recently visited a venue and potentially come into contact with someone with coronavirus.


Posters must be displayed by law by all restaurants and bars, cafes, pubs; amusement arcades; art fairs; betting and bingo halls; casinos; clubs providing team sporting activities; facilities for use by elite and professional sportspeople; heritage attractions; hotels and other guest accommodation; indoor sport and leisure centres; outdoor swimming pools and lidos; museums and galleries; music recording studios and public libraries.


Close contact services including barbers, beauticians, dress fitters, tailors and fashion designers, hairdressers, nail bars and salons, skin and body piercing services, sports and massage therapists and tattooists must also display posters in a prominent location so that visitors can check using the app. If customers don't have a smartphone or are unable to download the app, businesses should take contact details manually for Test and Trace purposes and have the right to refuse entry if these are not supplied.


Councillor Jasbir Jaspal, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing, said: "The more people who are able to use the app, the better it will work – helping us get ahead of the virus, preventing further deaths, lockdowns and disruption to the economy.


"I would encourage everyone with a smartphone to download the app – and ask businesses and community venues to ensure they are displaying their posters so that customers can check in when they arrive.


"It's great to see that so many of those venues which must, by law, display their posters are doing so, and I urge others to fulfil their legal obligation by doing the same."


The council last week launched the Covid Compliant scheme to recognise the vast majority of city businesses which are keeping customers and staff safe during the pandemic. Businesses which have passed an inspection by the council’s commercial regulation team are given green tick ‘Covid Compliant’ signage to display in their windows.


The Covid Compliant scheme aims to provide reassurance to the public, increase customer confidence and encourage people to support local businesses.


People with compatible smartphones are encouraged to download the NHS Covid-19 app, which also allows users to report symptoms, book a test and keep track of when any period of self-isolation is due to end, by visiting the AppStore or Google Play. For more information, please visit or


Symptoms of Covid-19 include a fever, a new, continuous cough and loss or change to a person’s sense of taste and smell. People with symptoms, no matter how mild, should immediately self-isolate and book a test by visiting or calling 119.


Anyone who tests positive for Covid-19 will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace and will be asked to share information about people that have been close contacts recently.


The latest research by the world's leading high-net-worth mortgage broker, Enness Global, has revealed the cost of buying at the top-end of the market across each Commonwealth nation and how it differs both globally and with or without the Queen as head of state.

Enness analysed available house price data across 54 Commonwealth nations and found that on average, a high-end home will set you back £1.587m.  

Commonwealth nations located in Asia commanded the highest high-end price tag with an average of £2.358m, followed by Europe (£2.255m) and the Pacific nations (£2.058m).

16 remaining realms within the Commonwealth still recognise the Queen as their head of state, although this could soon be 15 with Barbados stating its intent to become a republic next year. 

However, the nation may want to think twice from a property point of view. The average high-end house price in nations with the Queen still at the helm is currently £2.086m; 49% higher than those without (£1.402m).

That said, Singapore ranks top of the Commonwealth house price table despite the Queen not heading the state. The average cost of a high-end home is currently £11,657,759, by far the highest of all Commonwealth nations.

The Queen remains head of state for the following five most prestigious Commonwealth property markets though. Australia (£3.348m) is home to the next highest house price for a prime Commonwealth property, followed by the UK (£3.208m), New Zealand (£2.896m), Canada (£2.630m) and Antigua and Barbuda (£2.318m).

South Africa, Malta, Guyana and the Maldives also rank within the top 10 for the highest property values for a prime property.

Group CEO of Enness Global Mortgages, Islay Robinson, commented: “Regardless of your views on the British monarchy, there’s no denying that the Commonwealth as a whole brings huge benefit to its member nations in terms of free trade and economic development, amongst other things.

As a result, these nations remain very attractive to other Commonwealth buyers looking to invest outside of their native county, and this is reflected in the robust price of bricks and mortar across these member states.

Of course, this isn’t to say that you can’t secure a prime Commonwealth property for a relative bargain. Still, many of the Asian, European, Pacific and Caribbean hubs will set you back at least a few million pounds for an impressive prime property.”

Prime property prices across each Commonwealth region

Commonwealth Region

Average price per square metre

Average price of a prime property*










Caribbean and Americas







Global Property Guide

*Prime property price based on cost per square metre for a property of 743 square metres

Average price of prime property across all Commonwealth regions and those with and without the Queen as Head of State

Commonwealth Regions

Average price per square metre

All Commonwealth Regions


Commonwealth regions with Queen as Head of State


Commonwealth regions without Queen as Head of State


Difference between those with and without Queen as Head of State


Top 20 Commonwealth nations ranked by highest house price for a prime property.

Commonwealth Nation


Average price per square metre

Average price of a prime property*

Queen as head of state











United Kingdom





New Zealand






Caribbean and Americas




Antigua and Barbuda

Caribbean and Americas




South Africa











Caribbean and Americas










Caribbean and Americas




Solomon Islands






Caribbean and Americas




Sri Lanka

























United Republic of Tanzania














The latest research from lettings and estate agent, Benham and Reeves, has revealed the huge number of homebuyers that have already benefited from the current stamp duty saving and the money they’ve saved. Benham and Reeves analysed sold price records across England from the Land Registry between the launch of the stamp duty holiday on 8th July and August 31st (latest available data). The research shows that there have been some 20,238 transactions since the holiday was launched with a sold value of £6.7bn.  


As many as 85% of these transactions have fallen below the £500,000 price threshold and paid no stamp duty as a result.The resulting saving for homebuyers at all price thresholds of the market has been considerable. In regular market conditions, £189m would have been paid in stamp duty. With the holiday in place, this has fallen to £80.8m, a total of saving of £108,126,686 in just two months.


Based on the current average saving, the total saved come March could be an enormous £524.9m over the 267 day holiday.Southampton, Plymouth, Sheffield, Newcastle and Nottingham have been amongst some of the major cities to see the biggest benefit for homebuyers. 98% of all transactions in these cities since the stamp duty holiday was implemented have been at £500,000 or below; with no stamp duty paid as a result. In fact, the other more affordable major cities have seen between 84% and 97% of transactions pay no stamp duty. Oxford and Cambridge have seen 59% and 52% of transactions pay no stamp duty.


London is home to the lowest number of stamp duty exempt transitions as a percentage of all transactions at 48%. However, the capital has seen homebuyers save the most by far.


Since the stamp duty holiday started, London homebuyers have saved nearly £25.2m alone.Wandsworth is the London borough with the biggest saving to date, with homeowners saving £1.7m in stamp duty. Bromley (£1.5m), Croydon (£1.2m), Barnet (£1.1m) and Richmond (£1m) have also seen the stamp duty saving exceed £1m. In terms of the most stamp duty-free property purchases, Barking and Dagenham ranks top with 100% of transactions falling within the holiday threshold. Newham (83%) and Bexley (75%) have also seen a considerable amount of transactions complete without stamp duty owed.


Director of Benham and Reeves, Marc von Grundherr, said: “Given the fact that the holiday has only been in place for a few short months, the money saved by homebuyers as a result is quite astounding.


“Of course, it has caused demand to go through the roof and so you could argue that in ‘regular’ market conditions the saving wouldn’t be quite as considerable.However, it has helped the housing market bounce back from pandemic uncertainty at an alarming rate, helping to avoid a property price crash, while benefiting thousands of homebuyers in the process.It will be interesting to see the final scores on the doors once the holiday ends but at this rate, the money saved is going to be huge. 


“You could argue that the tax should be abolished completely as it’s nothing more than an archaic money grab from the Government, to the detriment of those who are already stretching to afford the most expensive purchase in life. Based on these figures, you wouldn’t be the only one and it does highlight just how much is paid to the Government via stamp duty tax.” 

 A string of businesses and young professionals from across Solihull have been shortlisted in Solihull Chamber of Commerce’s 2020 annual awards.The shortlisted firms are vying to win one of eight sector awards at the online ceremony, taking place from 7pm on 15 October.


Headline sponsors for the awards include Solihull College and University Centre, Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council and Gymshark.One of the sector award winners will also be named Solihull Chamber Business of the Year, sponsored by 1TcA.


Esteemed business leaders judged this year’s awards, including newly appointed Greater Birmingham Commonwealth Chamber president Joel Blake, former Sutton Coldfield Chamber of Commerce president, Katie Hale, founder of Prescient Business Consulting, David Thomson and employment law and HR solicitor, Neelam Afzal.


The judging panel was chaired by Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce’s chief financial officer Helen Bates.


She said: “We’ve had yet another bumper year of superb award applications from across Solihull.“Our judges had a tough time judging, as everyone was deserving of an accolade.


“However consistent winners shone through in every single category, including the overall Solihull Chamber Business of the Year.”


Those shortlisted include:


Large Business of the Year (Sponsored by Prescient Business Consulting)
Evac + Chair
MAN Commercial Protection
Sydney Mitchell


Small Business of the Year (Sponsored by Few Marquees)
Digital Innovators
Plum Personnel
Wadsworths Solicitors


Start-up Business of the Year (Sponsored by Gymshark)
Home Dine
HR Dept Solihull
Magma Legal Services
The Business System People
The Dietologist


Charity of the Year (Sponsored by Claridge Place)
Adoption Focus
Birmingham & Solihull Women's Aid
St Basils


Contribution to the Community (Sponsored by TOA Taxis)
Eric Lyons
Phoebus Software
Solihull Hospital Charity


Business Person of the Year (Sponsored by Rational FX)
Brad and Spencer Parkes from Specsavers Solihull
Kim Hulse from K Hulse Consulting
Meric Bekin from Bistro Viola


Young Achiever of the Year (Sponsored by Evac + Chair)
Hannah Elsy from Hannah Elsy Productions
Michael Rutherford from ALM Translations


Apprentice of the Year (Sponsored by Performance Through People)
Fran Leonard from Arup
Alexandra Sheldon from Phoebus Software
Chloe Osborne from XOServe
Christopher Kennedy from Digital Innovators
Hannah Brown from XOServe


The business community is in a state of shock, confusion and despair following a week of government announcements that leave as many questions as answers, according to Frank McKenna, the boss of private sector lobby group Downtown in Business.


The business community is in a state of shock, confusion and despair following a week of government announcements that leave as many questions as answers, according to Frank McKenna, the boss of private sector lobby group Downtown in Business.


Welcoming some of the measures Rishi Sunak announced in his ‘winter economy plan’, Mr. McKenna says that the Prime Minister’s further restrictions this week leave businesses feeling like they have been hung out to dry.


“If the hospitality sector is responsible for a 4.6% increase in infection rates, why is it taking 90% of the pain in terms of the new restrictions that Boris Johnson has introduced? If it is pubs and clubs where individuals are most likely to come into close contact, why adopt a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach and impose the same guidelines on restaurants and hotels? And having encouraged workers back into the office three short weeks ago, with companies investing millions in creating Covid-secure office space, why is he now telling us to work from home – hence sending our city and town centres into further crisis?


“Against this backdrop, it has obviously been difficult for the Chancellor to deliver a comprehensive business support package that can give us confidence that most jobs will be protected.


“Although his revised ‘furlough’ scheme will help some sectors, many will not be able to take advantage of the initiative because it does little to encourage retention or recruitment.


“A much simpler move would have been to cut employer National Insurance contributions for recruiting new staff or retaining them. We would have also liked the Chancellor to amend his Kickstart programme away from having to recruit at least 30 new starters, so that SMEs can take on just a few more young people.


“If you are an events business, you literally have no business, so this new wage subsidy is of little use. Many hospitality venues are now on the precipice and are telling me that they will either go to weekend opening only or close their doors completely.


“The failure to address the significant challenges experienced by the aviation industry – not least because of the Government’s ‘hokey-cokey’ approach to international travel – and the cultural, sports and arts sectors, is also hugely disappointing.


“I appreciate the Chancellor must feel like he is operating with one hand tied behind his back, given his boss’s flip-flopping, but the reality is the ‘winter economy plan’ is bleak and last orders will be called on many businesses and millions of people’s jobs.”


Mr. McKenna concluded: “It is not too late for the Government to change course. They need to review their latest guidelines, be more flexible with closing times in the hospitality sector and stop its ‘work from home’ mantra, which not only kills cities, but creates a divide between blue and white collar workers.”


With nearly 100 different events in the programme – all run by local businesses and organisations - the 2020 Black Country Business Festival is now just around the corner with an exciting fortnight of business events.

Many of the events are digital, making it easy for people to join more – and they are all free to attend, whether in-person, digital or hybrid (where there are limited delegates and the event is simultaneously live-streamed).Tickets must be booked in advance through the website and this can be done right up until the day before the event.


Events include everything from recruitment and up-skilling staff; dealing with long term illness, diversity and mental health in the workplace; green energy and carbon reduction; to funding for culture and arts projects; the future of manufacturing and many useful professional services, digital marketing, branding and PR events. The Festival was initiated by the Black Country Chamber of Commerce three years ago.


Chief executive, Corin Crane, said, “There are some fantastic events in such a diverse range of different subjects, in this year’s programme. I am overwhelmed by the response from our businesses - not only in terms of the sheer number of events, but also how so many are effortlessly embracing the digital way of working that we’re now becoming accustomed to.


“I am truly looking forward to the Festival - and our entire team here at the Chamber will be attending as many events as possible to support the brilliant Black Country businesses that are involved.”


Gecko Programmes, a Black Country training company that is one of the Business Festival supporters, is running three different events in the Festival. Managing Director, Patrick Cross said, “Being a solid Wolverhampton-based business, we are delighted to be supporting the Black Country Business Festival.


“This fantastic two weeks of business events provides us with multiple opportunities to show how we might be able to help Black Country SMEs and self-employed businesses deal with changes in their organisation, processes or systems or with their staff and personal development.”


Gecko’s events along with the rest of the programme are listed on the Business Festival website, along with more information.


The BCBF relies on sponsorship from organisations in the Black Country. As well as the Chamber and Dudley Business First, other 2020 Partners include: University of Wolverhampton, Talbots Law, the Black Country Growth Hub and LEP. Sponsors are: Wolverhampton Racecourse, Thomas Dudley, Casino36 and M6toll. The Festival is also supported by Gecko Programmes, Sandwell Council and Walsall Council with media partners, Elonex, Bauer Media, Greatest Hits Radio, Metro and app partner, Infonote. The Festival is managed by Associate Events.


The Black Country Business Festival kicks off on Monday October 5.


Ministers and senior officials have called on the international community to reform the financial system and the ways it offers support to small states in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Representatives of Commonwealth member countries met in the margins of the United Nations General Assembly to discuss the urgent need for improved access to financial resources and debt relief to secure small states’ economic resilience and maintain progress on their sustainable development goals (SDGs) and Nationally Determined Commitments (NDC) for tackling climate change. 


The virtual event, co-hosted by the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), saw small countries call for a concerted effort towards a reassessment of the criteria for debt relief, especially given the vulnerabilities of many states exposed by the pandemic.


The IMF estimates that due to the far reaching economic and social impacts of COVID-19 the real output of small states could fall by 3.1 per cent with GDP potentially declining by about 8.6 per cent, twice that expected in larger countries.


Debt to GDP ratios in some Caribbean states are already past 100 per cent while Commonwealth small states debt ratios are expected to rise from 57.4 per cent to 70.6 per cent, surpassing the IMF's 60 per cent benchmark. 


For many small states who rely on tourism, the outlook is dire. With an estimated contraction in tourism of about 20-30 per cent, revenues are at stake and close to 70 million jobs could be lost.


Coronavirus has further weakened small states’ ability to respond to natural disasters and climate change. On average, Caribbean countries suffer yearly losses due to storms equivalent to 17 per cent of their GDP. The IMF estimates disasters cost small states about two per cent of GDP, more than four times that of larger countries.


The pandemic has also exposed how some small states as countries without special access to concessional resources fall into a middle-income trap and struggle to make their case for international assistance.  These countries are not eligible for the G20’s debt service suspension initiative (DSSI) and do not qualify for other forms of relief including that provided through the World Bank International Development Association and OECD countries official development assistance.


Speaking at the meeting, Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said:“Given the wide ranging impact of COVID-19 we need a new set of criteria for the financial support we offer to vulnerable small states and we must urgently reassess the methods we use to classify countries for official support.


“Many small states are facing an existential threat with the impact of the pandemic coming with huge economic ramifications alongside the ongoing and devastating effects of climate change. If we are to be able to meet the very real and urgent needs of these small states we must redefine economic vulnerability and as regional and multilateral institutions, we must agree on the appropriate definitions and measurement of economic vulnerability.


“This is not a crisis we can ignore or wish away and a failure to fully tackle these issues will put economies, livelihoods and communities at real risk. We must act and act now during these times of crisis.”


The Commonwealth Secretariat and AOSIS have called on the UN General Assembly to:


  • Encourage G20 and G7 members to widen access to Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) as well as to consider outright debt relief for highly vulnerable and indebted small states.  Additionally, to consider all forms of innovative financing – for example, debt for development swaps to improve small states access to affordable financing; to fight the effects of COVID-19; and to help them attain economic resilience.
  • Consider systematic debt restructuring options to improve solvency conditions for small states in the medium to long term. 
  • Motivate increased partnership between multilateral and regional institutions, particularly towards an agreement on the definition and measurement of economic vulnerability, and the consideration of the metric as a criterion in international concessional financial instruments. 
  • Recognise work on the development of multidimensional and dynamic vulnerability indices being done by the Caribbean Development Bank and Commonwealth Secretariat.

Yes, you read that correctly. The time wasted in a single year due to property transactions falling through equates to 14m days for the 225,000 UK home sellers impacted as a result.


This is according to homebuying platform, Yes Homebuyers, who also found that homesellers are out of pocket £607.5m a year due to property transactions falling through.

According to the Advisory, it takes an average of nine weeks or 63 days between the point of listing your home for sale and accepting an offer. Unfortunately in the 11 weeks it then takes for a sale to complete, there’s nothing stopping a sale from falling through due to a number of reasons such as mortgage issues, gazumping, issues with a survey or a chain breaking, to name but a few.  


At this stage, home sellers have already incurred a number of costs including legal and conveyancing fees, survey costs, legal search costs and more, with the average cost of a fall through costing £2,700 according to the Homeowners Alliance.


Latest figures show that while over a million transactions completed last year, 225,000 additional sales fall through before reaching the finish line. 


Based on the average cost of £2,700 per fall through for these 225,000 sales, it’s costing home sellers £607,500,000 a year.  


Not only this but with the 63 days between listing and accepting an offer equating to little more than wasted time, the 225,000 home sellers impacted are potentially losing a huge 14,175,000 days a year collectively, due to sales failing to complete. When you consider many fall throughs don’t happen immediately after accepting an offer, the time wasted is likely to be even greater. 


Matthew Cooper, Founder & Managing Director ofYes Homebuyers, commented:  “While we can arguably boast one of the most attractive property markets in the world, the lack of certainty that plagues the actual process of transacting is unacceptable, to say the least.


Mortgage issues, chains collapsing, gazumping, survey problems and conveyancing delays are all rife in the home selling process. Not only do fall throughs cost home sellers a considerable amount of money, but they also waste a huge amount of time each and every year. Not to mention the additional stress they bring to a process that is already extremely stressful, to begin with.


A large degree of the sellers that come to us, do so due to a sale falling through as they simply want a concrete timeline in which they can transact and move on with their lives. Home buying platforms are light years ahead in this respect, and although we purchase for a marginally lower price than you might achieve going down the traditional route, the speed and certainty we provide is far more appealing to many when selling their home. 

It’s quite remarkable that we are yet to address the failings of the current property selling process given our obsession with buying and selling homes and until changes are made, transactions will continue to fall through at the expense of the nation’s home sellers.” 


MoneyGram International, Inc., a global leader in crossborder P2P payments and money transfers, has announced the launch of a new international online money transfer platform in partnership with Tesco Bank. The platform allows MoneyGram and Tesco customers to set up their transactions online and then pay by cash or card at Tesco stores.

This new service allows customers to easily send money abroad, reduces the process time and eliminates the need to complete paperwork in-store. This is being introduced at a time when an increasing amount of money is being digitally transferred from the UK to overseas destinations. The launch of this new capability is an important milestone for the partnership between MoneyGram and Tesco Bank, which was formed over seven years ago.

The new service has now been introduced to 129 Tesco Express stores across the UK, adding to the existing 810 stores that currently offer the service. Full roll-out to around 1,500 Tesco Express stores is expected over the next 18 months.

“We are continually evolving our customer proposition through our leading digital capabilities and customer-centric solutions,” said Richard Meredith, Head of UK Key Partnership at MoneyGram.

“This solution is a key milestone in our ongoing collaboration with Tesco Bank in being able to offer a seamless, digitised experience for customers.”

Sigga Sigurdardottir, Chief Customer Officer at Tesco Bank added: “There are millions of people across the UK sending money abroad to help loved ones with everyday needs or in times of emergency.

“Our goal is to help Tesco shoppers manage their money a little better every day, and this enhancement to our partnership with MoneyGram lets customers send money overseas even more efficiently than before.”

For more information and to start sending money through the platform, visit

Businesses in the West Midlands are being urged to sign up for the second phase of a training programme designed to help build the capacity and capability of businesses who are seeking global growth opportunities. 


The Inclusive Commonwealth Legacy Programme (ICLP), which is fully-funded by Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP), supports SMEs from within diverse communities to accelerate their growth. 25 companies have already benefited from the scheme and a second cohort of businesses are set to begin the programme from October 2020.


One of the businesses to take part in the first instalment of the programme was Great Barr-based Green Sisters, founded by sisters Geeta and Reena Salhan. The business produces award-winning ‘free-from’ Indian food.  


Geeta Salhan, Green Sisters, said: “While helping us access advice and funding, the programme has also helped us develop our entire philosophy of our food being ‘free from compromise’, which means working with like-minded individuals and companies to take our products forward in the way we want to. 


"If you're passionate about growing your business and you're a small business owner I would encourage you to apply for the next cohort of the Inclusive Commonwealth Legacy Programme." 


The ICLP is an innovative partnership delivered in collaboration between the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP), Commonwealth Chamber of Commerce, Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games Organising Committee, CRÈME (Centre for Research for Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship) and the Legacy Centre of Excellence Birmingham.  


The programme provides six months of peer to peer learning and development, where business owners will complete a series of interactive modules of action-learning, training and support facilitated by leading industry experts, in an inclusive and supportive environment.


The sessions were originally delivered face to face; however they have been adapted to be delivered online whilst social distancing measures are in place.  


An additional benefit for businesses involved is a fully-funded bilateral trade membership to the Commonwealth Chamber of Commerce, which offers additional support through events, training and opportunities to export to commonwealth countries. 

Joel Blake OBE, award-winning businessman and ICLP Lead said: “The first phase of the ICLP Programme has seen some real success stories and has provided businesses in a variety of different sectors and from all parts of Greater Birmingham with free access to business experts to help them accelerate their global growth potential.


“The first cohort of businesses not only benefitted from picking up new skills to help them expand and adapt their models for future growth, but from sharing their experience with fellow business owners. A real sense of camaraderie has been developed within the cohort, with many collaborating with and supporting each other throughout Covid-19, whether it be providing their services, sharing premises or experience to help where possible. 


“The word has spread about the ICLP programme and diverse businesses from Leeds to Hampshire joined our online workshops but only those in the GBSLEP region can have access to funded help. 

“This is an immensely challenging time for SMEs, and this programme has shown how a truly inclusive approach with positive action can add tremendous value for our businesses, here in the region and abroad. For those who could benefit, we would urge them to sign up as soon as possible to ensure they don’t miss out.” 


The final deadline for applications is 5pm on Friday 30th September 2020.  



New research from E.ON has revealed that almost nine in ten (89%) prospective homeowners have become more interested in finding homes with sustainable solutions such as solar panels and efficient boilers over having a garden (80%), en-suite bathroom (50%) and a walk in wardrobe (27%).


Following the introduction of temporary stamp duty relief earlier this year, over three quarters (78%) of those surveyed also said they’d be willing to use these savings to invest in sustainable solutions in their new home. More than a third (38%) said solar panels would be the feature they’d be most willing to invest their money in. Of those surveyed, almost half (49%) of prospective buyers say that spending more time at home during the past few months has led them to consider buying a home that’s more sustainable. The main reasons are wanting to lower energy bills (65%), being more conscious of the environment that they live in (52%) and wanting to reduce their impact on the planet (50%).


Two thirds (66%) claim their current home has few sustainable solutions (i.e. solar panels or intelligent heating) but say this is something they’d definitely consider when moving home (62%), as the majority (87%) say it’s important their new home is sustainable.  With lockdown playing a big part in prospective homeowners considering sustainable updates at home, more than three quarters (77%) of those questioned admitted they’re more likely to buy a property that has sustainable solutions over one that didn’t.


Broadcaster & Architectural Designer Charlie Luxton comments: "The research from E.ON is encouraging because it highlights how we’re prioritising sustainable solutions in and around the home.


“People are naturally becoming more aware and conscious of their impact on the environment. They've spent more time at home than ever before and have inevitably become more aware of how they’re using energy and of sustainable changes they can make.


“The key tip I would give to anyone looking to make their home more sustainable is to first take a look at the basics such as correctly insulating your home and upgrading to energy efficient appliances, as these changes can be easily implemented. However, if you’re wanting to see a more instantaneous effect whilst exploring the steps above, consider the likes of installing solar PV panels to your home and combining them with battery storage. This is a fantastic way to provide sustainable low-cost energy for your home, something which E.ON’s research has highlighted ranks highly on Britain’s agenda.”


Scott Somerville, Head of Brand & Marketing at E.ON UK, said: “At E.ON we’re proud to be leading the energy revolution by providing all our customers’ homes with 100% renewables-backed electricity3 and a range of sustainable home solutions. By installing solar panels or energy efficient boilers, we’re helping households lower their carbon footprints as well as their energy bills.


“We believe in a smart, personalised and sustainable energy future for our customers which is why we continue to offer innovative solutions that help homeowners become more sustainable and take control of their energy.”


The research also highlighted a shift in opinion since lockdown:


  • Before lockdown more than one in ten (11%) would never have considered making their home more sustainable.
  • But now, more than two thirds (38%) of Brits admit they’re considering making their home more sustainable since lockdown.
  • Interestingly, a third, (33%) also said they’re more interested in home solutions such as solar panels than they were six months ago.
  • These findings are further supported by new research4 showing that having solar panels can increase the value of homes across the country by £30,000 on average.


When asked which features they’d look for to keep energy bills low in their new home, over half of prospective homebuyers (52%) said a new boiler, followed by nearly half (47%) selecting solar panels and 37% saying intelligent heating.


To demonstrate how sustainable home solutions can be implemented while also being aesthetically pleasing, a new image highlighting the simple ways to make your home more sustainable has been revealed by E.ON.