Colors: Purple Color

With the final deadline to apply for the 2016 Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) less than a fortnight away, the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) is urging farmers to apply as soon as possible before midnight on 10 June. Farmers still to apply for BPS this year incur a 1% penalty for every working day it is received after the initial 16 May deadline. For those looking to apply for new entitlements from the national reserve, the penalty rate is 3%.

Premier Inn is searching for five straight-talking youngsters to take on the role of Junior Hotel Inspector this summer. Known for asking endless questions and voicing refreshingly honest opinions, children across the country are being encouraged to apply for the title of Junior Hotel Inspector and join the Premier Inn review team.

A new survey of 2,765 members of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers has found 56% support the UK staying in the European Union (EU), compared with 27% who say they want the UK to leave and 17% who are undecided. This compares with results from a similar survey in 2015 which found that 72% supported the UK staying in the EU, while 24% who said they wanted the UK to leave.

With a Government decision on airport expansion imminent, CEO of Birmingham Airport Paul Kehoe has today declared support for Gatwick Airport’s expansion plan. In a major intervention in the debate, Mr Kehoe said that a new Gatwick runway, when compared to the alternative Heathrow option, would lead to “greater competition and choice across the UK’s long-haul airports, allowing Birmingham Airport to continue to grow and fire the Midlands Engine.”

Business leaders in Greater Birmingham  haev challenged criticism of the high speed rail link between London and Birmingham by transport experts, largely made up of academics. They claimed that only one of the advantages from HS2 would be increased capacity but they challenged assertions that it would regenerate the North and climate change impacts.

Bi-lateral trade opportunities which have been developed in Jamaica by a West Midlands public-private sector alliance between the Birmingham Commonwealth Association (BCA)  and UK Trade & Investment, could provide the springboard for further success in other Commonwealth countries. That’s the belief of the BCA-led ,UKTI-supported mission which has returned home after taking part in Jamaica Expo 2016, hosted in Kingston by the Jamaica Exporters’ Association, the Jamaica Manufacturers’ Association in partnership with the Jamaica Promotions Corporation.

Professional biscuit tester Paul Courtney has travelled the world and tasted more than 1,000 different types in his bid to fill the nation's biscuit tins with the very best biccies. Paul, 52, eats an average of ten biscuits a day at the United Biscuits Technical Centre in High Wycombe, Berkshire, and has worked for McVitie's for 18 years – that's 65,000 biscuits tasted during his career at the biscuit makers.

Birmingham has won £2.48m funding from the government to promote green forms of transport, it was announced. The funding for Birmingham City Council is part of £20.6m that is being given out nationally for 23 sustainable travel initiatives across England that boost local economies by supporting people’s ambitions - offering cheap, clean and healthy travel options to access jobs and education opportunities.

Responding to the news that the latest Quarterly International Trade Outlook (QITO) shows that the number of UK firms reporting an increase in export orders and confidence rose at the start of 2016, following a drop in growth at the end of 2015. Black Country Chamber President, Adrian Wright, said: “The report’s Trade Confidence Index, measuring the volume of trade documentation issued by accredited Chambers of Commerce, rose by 1.4% in Q1 2016, compared with the previous quarter, to stand at an index of 116.04 in Q1 2016. However, in annual terms there was a decline of 4.4% on Q1 2015.

Records have been set in 2015 for inbound visits with strong growth from Britain’s major inbound markets including the US and Europe and double digit growth from newer markets China and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show stellar growth from China with visits up 46 per cent on 2014 to 270,000, and spend up 18% to £586 million, moving China into the UK’s top 10 most valuable inbound markets. 

The European Union ‘is not a perfect institution but no alternatives offer the same advantages on trade and job creation,” Minister for Europe David Lidington told a key Birmingham business event. The Minister put forward the case for continuing EU membership at a special business round table organised by the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce at Birmingham City University.

West Midlands businesses still have chance to sign up for the world’s biggest business festival next month. The biennial International Festival for Business 2016 (IFB2016) takes place over three weeks from 13 June to 1 July at Exhibition Centre Liverpool, when tens of thousands of ambitious companies will take up the chance of meeting buyers, investors, suppliers and technology partners.

The first UK branch of The Burger Priest will officially open in Wolverhampton at 11am on Friday – with its entire 25-strong workforce recruited from the city. The Victoria Street burger restaurant, opposite Beatties, teamed up with Jobcentre Plus and the Adult Education Service to source its staff. Around 80 per cent of its workers were previously unemployed - and City of Wolverhampton Council will be providing ongoing future skills support to staff.

The LawWorks Not-For-Profits Programme is expanding to provide free legal advice and support to more small organisations who give invaluable support to communities across England and Wales.  Last year over 140 not-for-profit organisations’ cases were placed with volunteer lawyers through LawWorks.The pro bono charity is keen to make more charities, community groups and social enterprises aware of the free legal help they make available.

Over half of smaller business owners (55 per cent) say their company’s growth is being held back by the amount of time they have to dedicate to business administration, according to new research from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).  The findings show that a small business owner spends over 33 hours every month on internal business administration – that represents almost a quarter of an individual’s working hours.