Colors: Purple Color

A bumper Exporting is GREAT Week has resulted in more businesses from the West Midlands region signalling their intention to explore export opportunities. Figures reveal that 194 companies from across the area attended seven events over the Exporting is GREAT Week (April 18-22). Of these, 71 sought support from UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) for the first time – up almost a third from last year when Export Week in May 2015 attracted 131 companies from the area, which comprises the West Midlands, Worcestershire, Warwickshire, Staffordshire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Shropshire.

Brexit would be difficult for the UK but not “apocalyptic” and  Boris Johnson could become a Prime Minster grappling with an economy with a “significantly weakened” pound, a key Birmingham business event was told. And the UK’s renegotiating process could drag on for a decade amid a huge period of uncertainty, a special Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce think-tank addressed by top legal and financial experts heard.

The West Midlands is the UK’s most euro-sceptic region, according to a major new survey published by British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) on the EU referendum. According to the survey, if the EU referendum was held tomorrow, 45.2 per cent of West Midlands businesses would vote to stay in the EU, whilst almost as many (44.8 per cent) would vote to leave. A number of respondents, 9.7 per cent, were undecided.

The Black Country Chamber of Commerce held its EU Referendum debate at the Molineux, Wolverhampton, chaired by President Adrian Wright, the debate featured Johnnie Arkwright and Anthony Coombs from the Vote Leave: Take Control campaign and Wolverhampton MPs Pat McFadden and Emma Reynolds speaking on behalf of the Stronger In campaign, together with independent economist Paul Forrest from the Midlands Economic Forum.

Despite a productivity crisis in the UK, more than a third (39%) of employees in the Midlands are spending more time on tea breaks than on any form of work-based training, new research from the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) has found. The survey of both employees and managers working in finance/accountancy-related roles found one in seven (16%) staff in the Midlands have never had any form of work-related finance training.

Wolverhampton residents have picked up jobs with the city council’s Public Realm Services thanks to a fast track training programme for the unemployed. The unique course was coordinated by City of Wolverhampton Council’s Economic Inclusion Service in partnership with Wolverhampton Adult Education Services, Public Realm Services, YOO Recruitment, and Low Hill & Park Village Employment & Enterprise Group.

The average council in the West Midlands will need to pay a staggering £28 million a year to the government to fund their flagship Right to Buy extension, new research by Shelter has revealed. The policy, now being put through parliament as part of the government’s Housing and Planning Bill, would force local authorities to sell off a proportion of their council houses on the open market once they become vacant. 

Virgin Media Business #VOOM 2016 is offering a £1 million (€1.2 million) prize fund so entrepreneurs from the UK and Ireland can turn their visions into reality.  And, in association with LinkedIn, they’re searching for twelve Professional Advisors to help for a few days in June, to judge the country’s most exciting entrepreneurs. If you have the skills these entrepreneurs need, you could also have the opportunity to provide coaching and mentorship before they pitch directly to Richard Branson.

Economic growth across the UK fell in the last three months – but Greater Birmingham manufacturers remain upbeat over their future prospects for driving the Midlands Engine forwards. New national ONS figures show that GDP growth for the first quarter of 2016 slowed to 0.4 per cent from 0.6 per cent in the last quarter of 2015, with services, manufacturing, total production and construction all showing slight declines.

Birmingham City Council leader John Clancy has ruled out the introduction of any form of congestion parking in the city. He spoke out after Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce (GBCC) said they were opposed to any move to impose a parking levy that would cost employers thousands of pounds a year. The move followed reports that council officials were examining a scheme in Nottingham where every business employing more than 11 people has to pay £375 a year for each parking slot it has.

Birmingham’s historic Open Market is undergoing a £1m refurbishment, giving the site a fresher look for shoppers and traders. Work on brightening the stalls, laying new tarmac floors and landscaping works is being carried out while the market is closed.  However it will be business as usual for stallholders and shoppers Tuesdays to Saturdays. A ‘living wall’ will also be installed around the compactor area, to keep traders’ packaging and waste hidden from public view.

City of Wolverhampton Council has been praised for its work in helping ex-service personnel make the transition from service accommodation to social housing. The Government has provided statutory guidance outlining what is expected of local authorities in terms of prioritising former service personnel in housing allocations.

The City of Wolverhampton Council is marking the Queen's official 90th birthday by inviting local residents who are celebrating the same milestone in 2016 to a tea party with the Mayor. It will take place in the Mayoral Suite at the Civic Centre from noon on Saturday 11 June, with guests enjoying an afternoon tea fit for the Queen with a selection of sandwiches, cakes and drinks.