Colors: Purple Color

Retired homeowners have seen their property wealth grow by £9.24 billion since the start of the year as house prices continue to climb earning the average pensioner more than £500 a month, new analysis* from leading over-55s financial specialist shows. Pensioners who own their homes outright have earned an average of £2,096 tax-free each from their houses since the end of January taking their property wealth to a new record high.

Responding to the suggestion in a Department for Transport consultation -  on the replacement of the West Coast Main Line franchise - to cut the number of inter-city trains at stations like Wolverhampton, Birmingham International, Sandwell and Dudley and Coventry, Colin Leighfield, Chair of the Black Country Chamber of Commerce Transport Group said: “We agree with our colleagues at the West Midlands Integrated Transport Authority: the Department for Transport does not understand how important these services are in linking the key economic areas of the region together."

People heading out in their car to enjoy a picnic at a local beauty spot during National Picnic Week (which runs from 11th – 19th June) should make sure they lock valuable items away and out of sight of opportunist thieves warns insurer NFU Mutual. After a spate of thefts from cars parked at beauty spots across the UK, many regional police forces have issued warnings to motorists and NFU Mutual has revealed that its own claims data showed that thefts from cars rose by 16% between 2014 and 2015.

A new way of bringing businesses together is to be launched in the Black Country. Pathway2Grow is launching a new approach to networking in the Black Country and is looking for partners to work on the project that has already been successfully run in Birmingham, London and Worcestershire. It combines regular meetings with online social media including Facebook, whatsapp and LinkedIn.

Council chiefs have welcomed the launch of a new film designed to help prevent young people from being seduced by extremism and radicalisation. Created by Tettenhall-based Dialogue Media thanks to funding from the Home Office and the Safer Wolverhampton Partnership, Turning Point seeks to tackle racism and promote tolerance. It depicts a 16-year-old who starts speaking to members of a right wing organisation online. He then plans to attend a meeting of like-minded individuals.

The Business Growth Foundation (BGF) has published the results of its recently commissioned YouGov research, which surveyed more than 1,000 UK SMEs and their views on international trade. The findings reveal profound concerns amongst SMEs about the potential impacts of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

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.