Colors: Purple Color

A host of community causes have already received a funding boost from Haringey Council’s new ward budget scheme, just six months after it launched. Each of the borough’s wards have been allocated £10,000 to spend on neighbourhood projects under the programme, which launched in July – with local people putting forward ideas on what it should fund.

Figures from the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) today reveal that construction employment in the West Midlands is set to rise by 10,200 in the next five years, with an estimated total of 215,000 jobs predicted in the region by 2020. CITB’s Construction Skills Network (CSN) report forecasts that employment is set to rise at an annual average rate of 1% between 2016 and 2020, with the labouring trade seeing the largest expansion at a rate of 3.7%, followed by bricklayers (3.2%), steel erectors (3.1%) and civil engineers (3%).

Business students at Walsall College had an insight into the inner workings of global banking, with an industry presentation delivered by the Swedish bank, Handelsbanken. The branch manager at Handelsbanken’s recently opened Walsall office, Stephen Breen, along with his colleague Joanna Warburton, from the Regional Personnel department, visited the college’s business hub on Thursday 21st January and gave an inspiring talk to a class of students.

Following the recent announcement that the UK Government is to clamp down on drink and drug drivers, alcohol and drug safety experts are urging companies to be more vigilant when it comes to their alcohol and drug testing policies. Drugs and alcohol cost British businesses in excess of £6 billion per year in lost productivity and in 2014 alone alcohol accounted for 5,650 accidents and 8,320 casualties on UK roads.

The organisation that helps businesses to export to China has appointed a new adviser in the West Midlands. James Westwood, a 34-year-old Birmingham entrepreneur who set up three businesses in Shanghai over 10 years, joins the China-Britain Business Council (CBBC) as China business adviser for the West Midlands region. Birmingham born and bred, James headed for Shanghai at the age of 23 to work and learn the language and culture.

Councils across the country are to receive a £5m cash boost to tackle rogue landlords in their area, Housing Minister Brandon Lewis announced today. Forty eight councils will share the funding so they can take on the irresponsible landlords that force tenants to live in squalid and dangerous properties, making their lives a misery. The cash will also allow councils to root out more ‘beds in sheds’. Since 2011 nearly 40,000 inspections have taken place in properties with over 3,000 landlords facing further enforcement action or prosecution.

Average pay (median) in the West Midlands is still worth £1,981 less in real terms than it was in 2008 – a shortfall of £38 a week – according to new analysis published by the TUC. The figures confirm that, despite some strengthening of real wages over 2014 to 2015, workers in the region still have a long way to go to restore all the earnings they lost following the longest squeeze on wages since records began in the 1850s.

The Black Country Chamber of Commerce are delighted to announce that they have appointed Keith Bryan as the new Chief Executive. After qualifying as an accountant whilst in the engineering industry, Keith joined the Tarmac Group and rose ‘through the ranks’ to eventually be Managing Director of the £350 million turnover building materials business and a member of the Tarmac Group Executive Committee.

Exploratory plans for a West Midlands sovereign wealth fund and ‘Brummie bonds’ to pay for new homes in Birmingham have been welcomed by business leaders. Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce says the proposals by new Birmingham City Council leader John Clancy to invest the public sector pension pot in new houses and infrastructure could tap into a ‘potentially great untapped asset.’

Birmingham City Council’s efforts to become a better employer for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) people have been recognised with another improved ranking in the latest Stonewall Top 100 Employers list. The council is 28th in the 2016 table - a leap of 31 places from last year’s 59th and an improvement of 63 places from 2014. In the council’s submission to Stonewall, the leading LGBT charity, a number of initiatives and projects supported by the local authority were outlined.

Leading law firm Irwin Mitchell are taking part in a project aimed at helping clinicians in Bangladesh learn how to identify, treat and rehabilitate those who have suffered a brain injury. Irwin Mitchell’s specialists in Birmingham are working in conjunction with neuroscientist, Dr Dave Quinn, and Professor Graham Powell, a Chartered Psychologist, to support the Nasirullah Foundation.

Birmingham’s oldest Taxi firm, TOA Taxis, has kick-started a fresh new year with the appointment of a new Secretary and plans to make updates to their cab technology. New Secretary, Mohammed Imran Akram, recently took on the role after twelve years of service as a black cab driver and five years as a TOA driver. Mohammed’s new position involves taking on new drivers, organising contracts with local businesses, marketing and day to day management of the office itself.

West Midlands lawyers are being asked to help promote awareness of new competition law compliance materials to their business clients. Over 130 law firms headquartered in the West Midlands will be contacted by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), and encouraged to share the CMA’s easy-to-use competition law information with their small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) clients.

West Midlands MEP Daniel Dalton today launched his report aimed at tackling non-tariff barriers within the EU at a public hearing in the European Parliament. The draft report highlights areas where small businesses trying to trade in another member state still face unfair discrimination and barriers to entry that favour existing market players. It was welcomed by small business associations, including the FSB, as a positive step forward in helping SMEs to trade on a more level playing field.

Small businesses that work with Birmingham City Council and other organisations have been recognised for the efforts they make to operate in an ethical and socially responsible way. A total of 37 organisations were awarded the Birmingham Business Charter for Social Responsibility during a ceremony on January 7. Of those given the honour, 20 were SMEs (Small and medium-sized enterprises) – and received praise from senior city councillors for the positive example they are setting for businesses large and small.