Colors: Purple Color



The latest research by estate agent, Barrows and Forrester, predicts that the average UK homebuyer could see the initial cost of a mortgage deposit increase by more than £12,000 over the next 25 years as the average house price could hit £362,350. 


Barrows and Forrester analysed historic house price data over the last quarter of a century and the rate of house price growth. Barrows and Forrester than used an ETS forecasting model including interpolation, accounting for seasonality, and based on the conservative lower level of the 95% confidence interval, to predict what the property market of the future could look like for home buyers and sellers. The research shows that should the market continue to see property values climb at the same rate, the average UK house price could hit £362,350 by 2045. This 51% increase from today’s current average of £239,196 would also mean that the average homebuyer placing a 10% deposit mortgage would be paying a huge £36,235; £12,315 more than the initial cost required today.  


Based on Barrows and Forrester’s forecasted growth figures, property prices in London could not only exceed the half a million mark, but they would reach a staggering £789,531 by 2045. As a result, the capital’s home buyers would be looking at a 10% deposit cost of £78,953; A £30,000 increase on today.


Based on historic growth trends, the South East could also see the average house price break the half a million market, reaching a potential £524,726. Such growth would require home buyers to pay an additional £19,258 for a deposit on top of the current £33,215 already required.


The South West and East of England could also see the average property price climb by £151,255 and £167,135 respectively, while the East and West Midlands could also see prices climb by more than £100,000. As a result, homebuyers in these regions would also see a 10% mortgage deposit requirement increase by five figures. Even house prices in the North East could climb by as much as £70,041 to an average of £201,742, requiring the average home buyer to place a 10% mortgage deposit in excess of £20,000.  


Managing Director of Barrows and Forrester, James Forrester, commented: “The UK housing market has returned with a bang and house prices are once again starting to climb across much of the nation. This is a trend that we’ve seen maintained for much of the last twenty-five years and while there have been some economical corrections, the bricks and mortar market has not only recovered but has continued to appreciate beyond any previous levels seen.


“While we’ve pulled out our crystal ball of property price predictions there’s no real way of knowing what the future holds and what will happen to house prices. However, had you predicted today’s property values back in the late 90s you would have struggled to find someone to believe you and so who knows where the ceiling will be where current price growth is concerned. 


“Of course, the real aim of this research is to act as a warning shot to a government that has consistently neglected its responsibility to deliver affordable housing year after year. Despite promising to address the UK housing crisis on multiple occasions, the level of new homes being delivered is abysmal.


“This failure to increase supply is the driving reason behind the spiralling issue of affordability for many homebuyers and those that consistently recite promises of addressing this issue to win over voters should hang their heads in shame.  


“We hope that they might listen to this prediction of future prices and refocus their attention on the delivery of affordable housing stock for the masses in order to prevent it.


“Unfortunately, based on their previous track record we have more chance of winning the lottery and the future homebuyer may well need to in order to buy. So let’s hope we’re not looking at such steep levels of price growth come 2045.” 

Did you know that by law there are some types of plumbing work which must be notified to your local water company in advance?


Many owners and managers of buildings including public buildings such as schools, hospitals and care homes, are not aware of their legal duties to protect public health when it comes to plumbing.


To help out, WaterSafe, the plumber approval body supported by the UK water suppliers, has produced a short film to make it easier for everyone to understand what is required in England and Wales.


Local water companies review plans for plumbing and can help ensure the plumbing work complies with the Water Fittings Regulations, which are designed to keep the UK’s drinking water supplies fresh, safe and free from contamination.


The need to notify plumbing work at least 10 days in advance of work starting applies to both domestic properties and non-household buildings such as offices, hospitals, schools, care homes and leisure centres.


Julie Spinks, Director of WaterSafe said: “Notifying your local water company is free to do and an essential part of the planning process for plumbing work.


“By notifying you’re also benefitting from a free consultation and building a relationship with your local water company. This in turn provides peace-of-mind that your plans comply with the strict regulations required to install pipes and fittings to supply drinking water.”


On the other hand, failure to notify can result in delays, extra costs to put poor plumbing right and, at worst, contamination of water supplies, a threat to public health and a court prosecution.


WaterSafe’s film clarifies the types of plumbing work that must be notified and gained approval for, before getting started. These are:


  • Building a house or other property/structure
  • Extending or altering the water system on any non-household building
  • A reduced pressure zone (RPZ) valve assembly or similar
  • A water treatment unit which produces wastewater
  • A bidet with an upward spray or flexible hose
  • A bath which holds more than 230 litres of water
  • A pump or booster delivering more than 12 litres of water per minute connected directly or indirectly to a supply pipe
  • A reverse osmosis unit (for purifying water)
  • Any water system outside a building which is either less than 750mm or more than 1,350mm below ground
  • A garden watering system (unless operated by hand)
  • Installing a swimming pool or pond over 10,000 litres
  • Changing the use of a building or installing systems such as rainwater harvesting
  • Any drinking water fountain.


WaterSafe advises employing an approved plumber from its UK register, which is backed by local water companies and the drinking water regulator.


Julie Spinks added: “Plumbers on the WaterSafe register are audited by your local water supplier and also trusted to undertake some of the tasks listed in our film without prior notification – so it makes sense to make WaterSafe your first port of call to avoid delays to your project.”


WaterSafe plumbers can also issue a work-completed certificate to state their work complies with the water regulations, which offers customers a legal defence if something is later found to be wrong.


Watch the film at WaterSafe’s YouTube channel and for more information on the notification process visit



Cllr John Cotton, Cabinet Member for Social Inclusion, Community Safety & Equalities, on how the council, already leading the charge on tackling inequalities affecting Birmingham’s diverse population, is turning the spotlight on itself as an employer

“Next week (10 November) I will present what can only be described as a ‘difficult read’ to my Cabinet colleagues – a report which clearly shows some of our Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic staff are paid less or are less likely to be appointed over white applicants. 

“Does that sound fair to you? The gap between opportunity, recruitment and retention that council staff from the city’s Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities have faced for years.

“As one of Birmingham’s major employers, we know we can - and must - do better. However, I don’t think we’re alone in this – if other organisations turn the spotlight on themselves, they are likely to find similar unsettling truths. Indeed, some organisations are already contacting us for advice on this.

“As the largest local authority in Europe and home to a diverse population of over one million people - we have to be big enough to admit that we have a problem and we need to take rapid action to do something about it. Bluntly, we must lead by example if others are to follow.

“That is why Birmingham City Council is one of the first local authorities to carry out a Workforce Race Equity Review which reveals that as an organisation we don’t reflect the demographics of our city with 67% of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic staff being in operational or front-facing services, and we don’t recruit sufficient Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic staff at supervisory and management levels. There is also a need to review roles where promotion, recruitment and career pathways are concerned

“Stark facts require a radical answer. So, we have set ourselves an ambitious aim to ensure the council’s workforce truly represents Birmingham and to eliminate the pay gap identified in this report.

“A comprehensive action and implementation plan has been drawn up to help us address those systemic inequalities in our workforce and make the changes we need to make to put things right.

“Work has already begun in some key areas, such as recruitment and selection, culture change and rebuilding staff trust. It requires us all – politicians and officers to step up and play our part in delivering change.

“That’s why the Leader of the Council, Ian Ward, and all of my Cabinet colleagues are committed to this – together with the interim Chief Executive Chris Naylor and the council’s Leadership Team.

“In September, I outlined the council’s proposals on how we are aiming to tackle the inequalities that people face in communities and neighbourhoods across our city. This report is the vital next step in this work.

“I know this won’t be easy, but that must not stop us doubling down on our efforts to see change happen across the city. And that change must start with getting our own house in order.

“Our work will not stop there to ensure inequalities are no longer a fact of life in 21st century Birmingham.

“As this report makes clear, we have much to do to ensure we offer a truly level playing-field to our staff and those who wish to join the council’s workforce.

“I’m determined that our great city seizes this opportunity to make the changes that our citizens and communities need and deserve, so we must – and will – lead from the front.”

  • To read the Cabinet report, review and action plan in full, click here


With many still working from home in light of recent events, Interior Style Advisor at, Rebecca Snowden, offers her top tips on how to create the most productive home office space. 

  1. Keep it green 

Research shows that greenery is key when it comes to concentration, boosting mood and creating a calmer working environment. In fact, The American Psychological Association found that workers in spaces with plants showed 15% higher productivity than those without1, so it’s definitely a good idea to incorporate plants and greenery into your home office. 


The best plants to incorporate into your home office space are:

  • Peace Lily – they don’t need much light and help remove toxins from the air 
  • Devils Ivy – these can adapt easily to a variety of conditions 
  • Chinese Evergreen – offers visual variety and requires little maintenance 


  1. Let the light in 

Poor lighting can make you feel tired, strain your eyes and give you a headache, all of which can take away focus and motivation. A study also found a direct positive correlation between daylight and productivity, finding that natural light improves alertness2


This means that a well-lit room is crucial for a good home office space, so we’d advise setting up your desk near a window and staying away from harsh, electric lights. If this isn’t possible, daylight or SAD lamps that simulate natural light would also help.  


  1. Use bright colours 

The colour of your room can drastically affect your mood and wellbeing. In fact, colour psychologists have confirmed that the colour of a room affects your behaviour, mood and concentration – so choosing the perfect shade for your home office is very important. 


Both blue and green have been said to encourage productivity, making these hues a popular choice for offices. Yellow has been shown to increase mood, positivity and happiness, making it a perfect hue for home working, especially among the current uncertainty.  


  • Choose blue for wakefulness, clarity, productivity 
  • Choose green for calm, reassurance, relaxation 
  • Choose yellow for happiness, positivity, energy 

  1. Experiment with scents 

Need an extra pick me up? Then try experimenting with some different scents in your home office. Many studies have shown that odours impact our mood, creativity and problem-solving skills3, and one Japanese study found that diffusing lemon oil through an office increased worker’s performance by 54%4


Be careful not to create an overpowering smell though and avoid artificial perfumes. We’d advise sticking with natural scents like lavender and essential oils instead, such as:

  • Pine – for alertness 
  • Cinnamon – for focus 
  • Lavender – to relax 
  • Peppermint – to lift your mood 
  • Citrus (any) – for wakefulness 


  1. Keep it cool 

Research has shown that productivity can dramatically suffer if the temperature of your working environment isn’t right for you. 


According to one review from the OSTI, the ideal temperature is between 21 and 25 degrees Celsius, with concentration levels dropping by 2% for every degree over 255. To avoid a dip in concentration, make sure temperature levels stay constant. 


Bringing in a breeze, whether that’s via an open window or a small desk fan, can freshen up your workspace while reducing temperatures, helping to keep you comfortable and productive while working from home.  


Commenting on the research, Rebecca continues: “Working from home can be a difficult time for some and a great experience for others. Creating a productive environment that strikes a balance between comfy and clutter-free can be difficult, which is why we've created this set of home office layouts, to inspire people to make their home office as productive and enjoyable as possible in these trying times.”

Five pioneering UK technology, networking and safety & security providers have come together to form a new company with ambitious growth plans, having secured a £30m plus forward order book since the Covid-19 emergency began.

North Shields and Birmingham-based 2020 Vision Systems, Glasgow-based Boston Networks, Wales-based Pinacl and Pinacl GDA, and London-based PEL Services have united to rebrand as North.

The five companies had been brought together via a series of acquisitions and mergers - as part of the specialist investment fund Aliter Capital’s strategy to build a modern and progressive network infrastructure, smart buildings, Internet of Things (IoT) and safety and security business, delivering innovative and specialist services to its clients.

While businesses in other sectors have struggled throughout lockdown, the expertise of North’s constituent parts in providing integrated technology and networking provision has been in big demand to help companies adapt to the new environment.

In recent months North’s constituent parts have won a string of new business wins totalling over £30m in a diverse range of industries right across the UK as organisations start to prepare for the post-Covid world.

Throughout this period, North has strengthened its team through new strategic appointments and will be recruiting further to increase its 250 headcount. Plans are in place to exceed £100m turnover in the next three years. 

Among recent project wins are:


  • A four-year contract with Hammersmith & Fulham Council worth £4m+, with North appointed to relocate the Council’s safety & security command and control facility, while future proofing its CCTV and infrastructure estate made up of over 1900 cameras.
  • Several Government and other public sector projects totalling £18m, which are confidential under NDAs.

The creation of North gives birth to a collaborative business which offers a unique breadth and depth of expertise across the Internet of Things (IoT), networking and connectivity, and safety and security.

North is running the £6m IoT Scotland network, part funded by the Scottish Government, supporting businesses across the country with innovative projects via hundreds of LPWAN (Long Range) wireless gateways situated throughout the country.

An early target of the new company will be to engage with other UK local and regional authorities aiming to roll out similar IoT infrastructures UK-wide.

Due to the strength that each of the businesses have brought in forming North, and their respective loyal customer base, there are very few companies in the sector with such a broad and complementary range of expertise. North’s complete independence also means it is free to select the right technologies for its customers.


North’s Group Executive Chairman Rob Bardwell, former Chief Executive of Pinacl, said:

“This remarkable year has seen a shift in the way we all live and work, with working from home now a reality for many now and into the future.


“Technology and network solutions have never been more pertinent for companies and we know they are now high up on the board agenda of every organisation.”


“While most sectors have experienced a heavy burden from Covid restrictions, the tech industry is well placed for a steady stream of business and we will be the gold star option.”


North’s Group Executive Director Scott McEwan, former Chief Executive of Boston Networks, said: “Throughout the pandemic all of our constituent companies have bucked the trend by securing major contract wins which have added to our growth trajectory and it’s a very exciting time for North to be born.”


“In recent years we’ve gone from strength to strength, and through bringing each of the group’s companies together we have a unique offering and expertise within the business to tackle the challenges of our customers across the UK and globally.”


“Covid-19 has put network infrastructure and the safety and security of people, buildings and assets at the top of the agenda for both private sector companies and the public sector as they require robust and secure systems at the heart of their organisations during the pandemic and in the future.”




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.