Life after lockdown - SPECIAL EDITION - HGF
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Welcome 03 intro This edition was meant to face of extraordinary pressures. examine the measures laid The grim statistics worsened by out in the Spring Budget by a the day. Workers and businesses chancellor who had only just across the land have been left in a found himself in the job. state of limbo, weighed down with The Budget was big, meaningful the uncertainty of what life would news at the time with very real bring. On the face of it, the picture consequences for businesses. It could barely be bleaker. seems like a lifetime ago now, but But delve below the surface it was only in March. and little glimmers of light could The storm clouds in the form be found in an otherwise dark and By HENRY of the virus were gathering, frightening world. CARPENTER however, and in the space of only Stories of selflessness and Aluminium casting & CNC machining Plastic injection moulding a few days, as the enormity of the contributions to the cause have Editor COLLABORATING TOWARDS Contract electronics manufacturing Electrical & electronic assembly Industrial design Pressings, welding & assembly pandemic’s effects began to sink in, the country – the world – went reverberated against a welcome silence of greed, egotism and into collective shock. And with petty politics. Businesses large ELECTRIFICATION Forging High volume precision stamping PCB manufacture Fluid Power Tube manipulation Engineering supplies it, the business world went into paralysis. The hospitality industry was and small, as well as individuals, have been playing their part. A sense of resilience, of hope, the first casualty, as we were of we’re-all-in-it-together solidarity instructed to avoid visiting bars, has come to the fore. If you want pubs and restaurants, and they to read positive words from some Editor were ordered to shut down. The of the region’s industry leaders, HENRY CARPENTER lockdown was real, and suddenly turn to our report on COVID-19 email@example.com tumbleweed was blowing through fallout. the world of business and We were also – and indeed are ONE SOLUTION, TEN Editorial director commerce. The chancellor was – running a special supplement MANUFACTURING DISCIPLINES CARL JONES back on our television screens on life sciences in the region, as A single-source solution for helping firstname.lastname@example.org pledging a £330 billion fiscal well as shining a light on some stimulus to keep the nation at of the West Midlands’ many and industry industry move move towards towards electrification. electrification. Design and layout work, if not actually working. varied success stories. That we MICHELLE DALTON Those workers went home – have been able to print at all is CONTACT US ABOUT Y0UR NEXT PROJECT. Business development signing up to Zoom, House Party down to the backing of some key manager/head of advertising and the rest – by the millions, supporters for which they have our MIKE MOLONEY while keeping one eye on the immense thanks. email@example.com news, as the NHS staff and other We can do this, has been the front-line workers battled tirelessly battle cry. Yes, of course we can. General enquiries to try to control the situation in the And we will. firstname.lastname@example.org man-group.co.uk /mangroupuk /companies/mangroupuk ONLINE Birmingham Business is published by Midlands Magazines Ltd. Reproduction of this magazine in whole or in part is birminghambiz.co.uk prohibited without written permission of the editor. The publishers have taken all reasonable care to ensure that the @brumbiz information in this magazine is accurate at time of going to press. Midlands Magazines accepts no responsibility for the Control & Automation BRANDAUER consequences of error or for any loss or damage suffered by Complete manufacturing solutions Electronics Solutions facebook.com/brumbiz users of any of the information and material contained in this publication. The views expressed by our columnists are not necessarily those held by the publisher, or editor. Birmingham-business Printed in the UK by The Magazine Printing Company Cast www.magprint.co.uk
26 Accountancy, Tax & Business 05 Advice for Aspirational 23 27 55 contents Business Owners ON THE COVER 06 COVID-19 How is the business LIFE SCIENCES SPECIAL | 30-45 SOCIALS 27 LoveBrum Some of the key figures All the fun from the sector responding in from this highly complex Big Quiz fundraiser these unprecedented world explain why the times? 63 Hedge House West Midlands deserves Champagne its reputation as a reception to mark national powerhouse in the launch of this Helping you make better the life sciences sector PLUS: We examine why luxury property it pays for employers to decisions and increase look after the mental COLUMNIST wellbeing of their staff the speed and certainty 32 Graham Silk Reports on the FEATURES region’s state of your progress. 18 Power Minerals of health The company which 47 Kim Leary has found the value Three ways your of waste brand can power 23 Yen Yau through the crisis Meet the director 48 Jon Griffin helping people Looks back at the into the film-making Chinese influence industry on Birmingham’s 55 HausBots business community Learn all about the FD Excellence Accountancy Firm of the Year invention which may just be the next big Tel: 0121 456 1613 thing to come out Email: email@example.com of Digbeth @HainesWattsWM hwca.com
06 Coronavirus: 07 the fallout health sciences health & lifeCOVID-19 COVID-19 & life sciences Little can be predicted with any sort of certainty on what lies ahead for business after the pandemic. The effects of coronavirus and the subsequent lockdown will continue to be felt right across the commercial spectrum for months, years and probably decades. We ask expert voices from some of the key sectors in the region to offer their thoughts on what the crisis might mean for their particular industries, not just in the short term but looking further ahead to the future as well.
“I don’t think that there is yet a ‘new normal’, but I might dare to suggest that the shock of the sudden disruption might see us return to a more pre-2008 economic model of local production.” 08 By David Kidney Chief executive of By Mark Smith Executive 09 UK Public Health director of business COVID-19 outlook COVID-19 outlook Register and chair of the West Midlands engagement Health Technologies at Aston Cluster University These are sombre times. With self products and services = drawing on for our economy to be restored. In As I write this, Aston University is attitudes towards enterprise. We there is an inherent lack of resilience. isolation, a broken economy and our assets to identify solutions and health technologies, my aim is to complying with the Government’s are already adapting to a shifting This is especially apparent families losing loved ones to an how to deploy them set up a Cluster Organisation that guidelines and remains open for economy with the state taking a more when events cause countries to invisible enemy, the future looks Immunisation and works with businesses to help them business. We have swiftly managed significant role in society. Although deny trade and travel across their bleak. But together, we will get vaccination, providing protection be more innovative, more productive – like many other businesses – to the temporary changes may be borders. Europe, one of the most through this and then we can start against infection = develop products and more competitive. use technology to allow our support challenging to undo, they will not be advanced global JIT markets, will work on a better future. and services that are fit for purpose Health is so much more that of students and organisations to impossible, and the reality is going to need to learn the lessons from the The world is changing because Capacity, organisations like the hospitals and GP surgeries, more continue, drawing on the massive be that the Government will seek to pandemic very quickly to ensure that of this global pandemic, COVID-19 NHS need to be able to flex to meet than doctors and nurses. It is more dedication of our in-house ICT team. restart the private sector economy as it is much better prepared for future (coronavirus). We are rapidly demand = create innovation in both than the NHS. For example, at the Reaction from our clients has been quickly as possible. turbulence when it occurs. Already re-thinking the systems we live supply and demand Public Health Register, I regulate the very positive, and it is pleasing to see They will do this by encouraging my colleagues, such as Professor Ed by – economy, education, health, Technology, the digital tools UK public health workforce. Public how the Birmingham business world people to start and grow businesses, Sweeney at the Aston Logistics and technology, transport. When this for all sectors and all communities health workers work alongside has rallied to support the current creating a favourable taxation Supply Chain Institute, are looking at crisis is over, some things will return = sharing expertise and knowledge colleagues in national and local ‘business as usual’ ethos. environment supporting the rapid how those patterns will shift and how to how they were before, but many across the partnership to nurture government, NHS and communities Although universities can and are growth of productive output. Sectors to advise businesses. are changed forever. innovation and deliver growth to keep us safe and beat the virus. assisting with vital work to counteract will re-grow at different speeds, The final change will be to how I have been asked to set up a Enterprise, industries and They are brave, they are strategic the pandemic, their primary role is to and aside from ICT services which and where we work, and the skills West Midlands Health Technologies service providers capable of and, of necessity, they communicate ensure a flow of qualified people that will continue to surge, the personal that we use while in work. The Cluster. In our region we have the meeting our region’s needs = make clear and consistent health will be so important to the recovery is service economy may be the COVID-19 experience taught us all science, the enterprise and the West Midlands a great place to do messages in their communities. maintained. fastest to grow. This is because the that we do need alternative places precision engineering to make a business Pre-crisis the ‘prevention is better One immediate challenge is to experience of digitisation during the to work. It also reminded us that we success of it. I am impressed that the Skills, attracting talent both than cure’ message was possibly ensure that the degrees awarded lockdown will open pathways to new could continue to work productively automotive industry is helping make within and to our region = West not heeded as much as it should this summer are fair and reflective of consumer markets from an expanded if we have the ICT – and digital skills ventilators for the NHS. I am proud of Midlands a great place to train, have been. It will be different now. I the talent of those coming through demographic. required – to access and operate the universities helping with research work and live foresee public health will be a crucial the system, giving employers In my university, the Aston Centre the correct tools. We may, therefore, and testing. Transport, a critical part of our component of our preparations the confidence to recruit 2020 for Growth – under under the see a shift to more telecommuting As we see with the massive infrastructure as we are now seeing = for future readiness. Public health graduates. leadership of Professor Mark Hart – and use of home or local touch-down response to the call for NHS 5G underpinning a transformation of can benefit just as much from the We also know that we will need has already anticipated this shift by offices, as the work-life benefits of volunteers and #clapforcarers, services and connectivity work I am doing to set up the West to offer extra support to the young making support materials available remote working stay with us. support for health and social care We are in this together. The Midlands Health Technologies people coming into our institutions to now to help people having to pivot As remote working skills become services is higher than ever. A better collaboration in our society now is Cluster. help them adjust to the needs of the existing businesses as well as assist more important, people will invest in future demands greater investment in something I want to tap into for how The West Midlands is a great place new economic landscape. those looking to create a new future their personal digital development, the resilience and the capacity of our I envisage the Health Technologies to live and work. We are creative and Finally, the university needs to be for themselves through enterprise. bringing a resurgence of attendance NHS and other public services. Cluster will work. COVID-19 has we are inventive. We are home to a steadying influence in turbulent For those businesses looking to shift at West Midlands FE colleges and A better future will be one where impacted on every sector of our West world-class businesses, universities times, supporting growth potential from product to service provision, dedicated private training providers. we keep today’s fighting spirit and Midlands economy. Businesses need and talent. I want to help our region by applying our research expertise Aston’s Advanced Service Group In closing, perhaps the big hope turn it towards fighting the climate support to make it through the worst, thrive in a way that is fair and to the practical problems our private is already working on a range I have is that the positive outcome crisis and reducing poverty. We and afterwards they must thrive balanced. and third-sector colleagues will face. of services to help support their from the pandemic will be in the also have existing known threats to I don’t think that there is yet a transition. attitude of the population at large, tackle, such as meeting the needs ‘new normal’, but I might dare to The second significant change will that positive behaviours seen in the of an ageing population and beating suggest that the shock of the sudden be to the shape of international trade. crisis are sustained, and that we diseases related to lifestyle like disruption might see us return to a It is unlikely that we will return to the build a more collaborative, cohesive obesity and diabetes. “Pre-crisis the ‘prevention is better than more pre-2008 economic model of global supply chain economy which society that is better able to ride out To be ready to meet these cure’ message was possibly not heeded local production. There is no doubt characterised the last two decades, future storms. challenges, we need: that the world will recover after perhaps much to the joy of the Surveillance, identifying as much as it should have been. It will be the pandemic, but to expect past climate change lobby who have seen dangers early = identifying market behaviour to return would be wrong. the impact that COVID-19 has had on opportunities different now.” I would like to suggest that the pollution. While we can all appreciate Testing, on a scale that meets business community will be changed the efficiencies that just-in-time the challenge = quantifying the need positively in three key ways. practices provide, the pandemic has Research, from invention to The first significant change is in proven that alongside these benefits,
“We know that the move to defer VAT “This is not the first global pandemic payments was popular amongst our nor, unfortunately, will it be the last. members in the West Midlands, but Just as with previous outbreaks, whether a rebate on last quarter’s returns COVID-19 is proving a catalyst for to help businesses with cashflow issues transforming how our economy will be available, remains unclear.” functions.” 10 The coronavirus crisis continues to paralyse the country as we come to terms with the impact it is having on health, the economy and our way By Dr Sophie Dale-Black The current COVID-19 outbreak underlines the importance of our industrial base in maintaining our national prosperity and wellbeing, By Charlotte Horobin 11 of life. putting paid to the oft-repeated Midlands & East Regional COVID-19 outlook COVID-19 outlook People are rightly concerned director misconception that Britain no longer England director, about their own wellbeing and their at ICAEW, makes anything. Through ingenuity Make UK, The loved ones too, and are following Midlands and innovation, UK manufacturers Manufacturers’ government advice to stay at home. have been at the forefront of Organisation This has had a knock-on effect the national effort to tackle the on companies of all sizes, and concerned about being able to pay We know that the move to defer outbreak. while ensuring their goods can still education system to equip existing businesses in the West Midlands are salaries before the funding becomes VAT payments was popular amongst Automotive makers have switched get to the customers who need them. employees and a new generation no exception. available. our members in the West Midlands, to building ventilators for our NHS, Though we are very much now in the with the skills and abilities they At ICAEW, we recognise The implications for the West but whether a rebate on last quarter’s clothing and textile companies have eye of the storm, when we emerge need to thrive in the fourth industrial coronavirus is not just a global health Midlands professional and returns to help businesses with re-purposed to make medical gowns from this tragedy, policymakers must revolution; to increase UK exports emergency, but an economic one financial services sector are also cashflow issues will be available, and facemasks, and food and drink look to the future, to the new world and drive our global trade; to drive too. Our members are already telling worrying. These multi-disciplinary remains unclear. factories are making hand sanitisers of work that is emerging built on new forward a comprehensive industrial us that the effects of the nationwide businesses may be reliant on While businesses and staff were and ensuring our household supplies digital technologies. strategy that delivers the levelling-up lockdown are hitting businesses hard, short-term contracts and can have being handed these generous continue. For every medical mask our cities and regions desperately and we are continuing to monitor the one function thriving while another support packages, it initially Manufacturing is operating at manufactured or item of food on need; to create the right tax and situation closely. struggles, though the high demand appeared that the self-employed the cutting edge of science and supermarket shelves stand a line regulatory conditions for industry to For example, there are serious for insolvency practitioners and would be overlooked. Fortunately, technology: whether by using the of companies each producing grow; and to invest in innovation so concerns from members about employment specialists may help this was not to be the case. latest 3D printing techniques to vital components which enable that together we can help ensure that the manufacturing sector in the mitigate the impact on other parts of The income support scheme produce critical components for that finished product to be made Britain remains the best place in the West Midlands. It has experienced the firm. announced was game-changing, medical equipment or working at available. world to do business. severe turbulence recently after There’s no doubt some businesses and “among the most generous and speed to produce the medicines and These supply chain companies This is not the first global pandemic coronavirus fears took hold and will have to make tough decisions in comprehensive packages to support vaccine we urgently need. have adapted their ways of working nor, unfortunately, will it be the last. infringed on supply chains. While the weeks and months to come. those who are self-employed in the Developments in industry – to encompass the Government’s Just as with previous outbreaks, the overall impact is not yet known, We are pleased to see the world” according to Rishi Sunak. from robotics to 3D printing, social distancing measures, keeping COVID-19 is proving a catalyst for manufacturers are calling on the Government already announce While we recognise the nanotechnology, biotechnology, their employees protected by transforming how our economy Government to step in and mitigate schemes to help businesses in this complexities involved in setting it up, materials science and energy storage adapting their production processes functions. the damage. unprecedented time. However, waiting until June for the grants to – are all enabling innovative new to enable those products to be The adaptability, innovation, Cashflow is another issue keeping members have told us they would arrive will be a big concern for many. products and also creating new manufactured and available. and resilience demonstrated by business leaders up at night. The like to see greater clarity on which The immediate future is uncertain, business practices. Manufacturers are already working businesses across the country Chancellor’s furlough scheme was businesses are eligible, how to claim but we will continue to provide As countries around the world in partnership with government on this month shows that with the unprecedented and a good start and whether job shares are covered, support to businesses across the have gone into lockdown, firms have the national COVID-19 response and right policies and practices, UK in the battle to keep the economy and we are working to provide detail West Midlands, and I wish them all begun to explore new ways to keep they stand ready to continue working manufacturing can be at the heart of moving, but businesses will be where we can. luck. their workers safe from infection, with government: to improve our the next industrial revolution. At the time of writing, the business By Paul if the crisis may change some of our to help others adapt to practices Moving’. There has been plenty of world is still coming to terms with Faulkner practices forever. such as remote working and appetite from businesses to do just changes in the way it operates Chief executive, Resilience has been a fulcrum of video conferencing, events and that, with many embracing different to help reduce the spread of Greater the Greater Birmingham business conferences have been delivered ways of communication such as COVID-19. Birmingham community over the past few years online, and others have rallied to our daily #GBChamberChat virtual The impact of this virus, of course, Chambers of and we’ve seen that in abundance in support the NHS. networking hour. has been far more widespread than Commerce the last few weeks. Throughout the COVID-19 Undoubtedly, though, the pace of employees being told to work from We’ve seen some of our disruption, the Chamber has change and progress our region was home. member businesses reaching out adopted a mantra of ‘Keep Business enjoying a few months ago has been Events, trade shows and other coronavirus several weeks before it It has been an extremely tough interrupted by COVID-19. gatherings have been cancelled all had fully taken hold in the UK. period for businesses, who have had Right now, it is difficult to gaze too over the world, while retailers, bars, Even back then when business to manage both the fiscal impact of far into the future. When this crisis restaurants and theatres are closing, was still operating under relatively the pandemic and the physical and “We’ve seen some of our member is over, many areas of business life and manufacturers have ground to normal circumstances, firms reported that they were feeling the impact of mental wellbeing of their staff. But businesses reaching out to help others will no doubt have changed beyond a halt. The impact on West Midlands while COVID-19 has kept people recognition. businesses has been stark. cancellations and supplier disruption. indoors, there is still business to be adapt to practices such as remote working However, I’m confident we will Greater Birmingham Chambers That seems light years away now as done. of Commerce began surveying face-to-face business has since been It has forced most of us to re-asses and video conferencing . . . and others have pick up that pace again – and that resilience I talked about earlier will local businesses on the impact of put on hold altogether. the way we work and one wonders rallied to support the NHS.” come to the fore once more.
Entering 2020, the property industry was awash with predictions for the year ahead with some common themes: Boris Johnson’s victory By Robbie STEPHEN DREW, professional services managing partner at Turner in the December election and the subsequent departure from the Real estate Smith & Williamson’s Birmingham office, offers advice on European Union had provided some specialist at Mills & Reeve how to protect your business in these extraordinary times certainty, and it was hoped that this would lead to more investment; retail would continue to struggle as the high street sought to reinvent itself, and the industrial and logistics quarterly to help tenants manage The relief packages made available landscapes would continue to cashflow, payment holidays or to businesses have offered some perform well, driven by increasing suspension, and even waiver in some hope for the high street. This may e-commerce. cases. also lead to the sought-after review No one predicted a global On deal volumes, existing of how business rates are charged 12 pandemic that would require those in the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors to close their doors, forcing their staff to work from home and transactions are still being completed, but we expect a marked reduction in appetite for new deals over the coming months. We have seen that in to create a more level playing field between businesses with a high street presence and those trading solely online. 13 grind construction sites to a halt. the context of new office space. Longer term, the need for decent COVID-19 outlook COVID-19 business protection Aside from certain operations After the restrictions are lifted, high- tech and reliable connectivity has spanning supermarkets, medical street vacancies are likely to increase, become even more apparent as equipment and e-commerce – which yet wider real estate impacts might the nation works from home, so have seen increased demand for be less severe as the movement of technology is likely to be embraced their products or services – the short people and business activity return even more across real estate. term will see substantial disruption to ‘normal’ levels. Occupiers are Birmingham’s tech sector is well and uncertainty for most corporate however likely to have less capital placed to meet these changing occupiers. available, either having spent the war requirements. Emergency legislation in the chest or having accrued more debt. Health and the health economy Coronavirus Act 2020 prevents If banks are unwilling or unable are also likely to have greater focus. leases being forfeited for (at least) the to lend, there could also be a The importance of providing the NHS next three months for non-payment credit crunch, with the prospect of with sufficient resources will be fresh of rent, reducing risk of eviction in the higher interest rates looking likely if in the mind of the nation, and will short term. Yet, that does not stop the quantitative easing measures have an no doubt be a key political issue for rent from falling due and could simply inflationary effect. years to come, creating opportunities postpone the unavoidable for many These factors could put the brakes for companies within the health occupiers, leading to risk of eviction on investment in new projects or economy. after the moratorium expires. initiatives such as an office move or a The pandemic may also create a Landlords are also in an unenviable new production line, which could put greater reluctance to rely on global position. Many will have their own downward pressure on deal volume, supply chains, perhaps placing more debt covenants and will depend on demand and commercial property emphasis on local supply chains, regular payments of rent, with some values. even more so for the West Midlands taking hard stances with their tenants While there are challenges, there if the Government follows through on and threatening court proceedings or will be plenty of opportunities, commitments to ‘levelling up’ regions insolvency. particularly in the West Midlands. HS2 outside London. We are however seeing many and the 2022 Commonwealth Games While it is too early to predict what landlords accept rent concessions will create tangible opportunities the future will bring for real estate, it of varying degrees, often offering for growth, raising the profile of and is clear there are not only challenges monthly payments instead of driving investment in the region. ahead, but opportunities too. Like thousands of other like-minded business owners, I’m convinced Cash is king By Stacey we can get through this. We’re Barnfield thinking differently, coming up with new business ideas and battling Founder of on, determined to enjoy more Edwin Ellis Creative Media prosperous times. We take pride in being a small part of a healthy West Midlands The speed at which coronavirus and wellbeing of their employees. creative sector with hundreds of has struck at the heart of the global There is a saying: “Revenue is small agencies, freelancers and independents thinking creatively sector and hundreds of writers, economy has been overwhelming. vanity, profit is sanity, but cash is king”. self-employed consultants creating and collaborating with others to consultants and photographers With a public health crisis and an Put another way, businesses don’t stories, photography, videography, offer home deliveries, gift vouchers, across the West Midlands. It could invisible enemy, businesses all over fail because of a lack of short-term film making, illustrations, digital future event bookings and a host of mean survival or closure in the the UK are waking up to a daily dose profitability, they fail because they run marketing services and PR. ideas to survive this difficult period. coming months, and any national of unwelcome change and uncertainty. out of cash. During the coronavirus outbreak Now, using the same mindset, or international agencies could still Stephen Drew, In some cases, businesses will be The good news is that our much emphasis has been placed on perhaps Birmingham’s big be used for long-term marketing Professional Services faced with an almost total loss of Government is fully aware and the difficulties faced by independent businesses – those household support. Managing Partner demand, while for others demand will alert to this challenge. A series of hospitality venues and what we names we celebrate relocating to Now, more than ever, businesses Birmingham, Smith & soar. unprecedented measures have can do to support them. These are the city – could think about using need to communicate with staff, Williamson LLP In these extraordinary times, it’s already been announced and these fantastic places adding vibrancy and small businesses to help bolster customers, clients and stakeholders important to remember that normality will be amended and fine-tuned as personality to our towns and cities, their marketing, PR and creative through words, pictures and clever will return. While nobody can predict we go along. One way or another, and a huge number of people rely on content. content. the timetable, the focus for all of our there is a multitude of ways in which them for their livelihoods. Locally commissioned work could The creative skills are there, ready entrepreneurs and business owners businesses can both create and It is great to see so many have a huge impact on the creative and waiting to get involved. must be to protect their businesses conserve additional cash, and we are and, wherever possible, the livelihoods setting out some suggestions here.
Other Government support Grants rateable value between £15,000 and HMRC until the end of the 2020/21 tax Small businesses may be eligible £51,000. Any enquiries on eligibility year. This deferral is automatic and no for cash grants. The Government for, or the provision of, the reliefs and application is required. has proposed a 12-month business grants should be directed towards the Income tax deferral for all self- rates holiday for all retail, hospitality relevant local authority. employed and leisure businesses in England. VAT deferral for all businesses All self-employed taxpayers can now All businesses in receipt of small All businesses are now able to defer defer their self-assessment payments business rate relief or rural rate their VAT payments for three months. due on July 31, 2020 until January relief can claim small business grant This deferral will apply to VAT due for 31, 2021. No application is required funding of £10,000, rising to £25,000 the period from 20th March 2020 until and no penalties or interest will be for retail, hospitality and leisure 30th June 2020 and any accumulated charged in the deferral period. businesses with property with a deferral will not need to be paid to 14 Review your business plan, identify short-term goals If you are experiencing a lack of (or even increased) Reforecast likely sales and cashflows for both the short and medium terms Be realistic about the likely impact on future sales and Alternative funding opportunities Asset-based lending options can 15 demand which could lead to future cashflow challenges, costs, and work with your finance team or external also be a useful source of short-term long-term ambitions may need to be set aside to protect advisers to reforecast your short to medium-term cash COVID-19 business protection COVID-19 business protection financing. It is possible to borrow your business in the short term. Consider your business flows. Talk to your suppliers, fine tune your buying, against invoices issued but not paid, plan and decide which elements need to be changed, examine your day-to-day costs. Remember that falling for example. Businesses can also accelerated or curtailed. Do this now! Make sure that sales may reduce your working capital requirement (eg borrow against equipment and other every member of your team is focusing on your key debtors, stocks) and generate additional cash. Given the assets. priorities, making every moment count. fast-moving situation, make this a weekly activity. Perhaps the cheapest way to borrow may be against your main Review banking arrangements Review capital commitments residence. This can have some tax and covenants If you have recently committed to acquiring new assets planning advantages. Your bank is an essential trading partner, so you will for your business – cars, computers, machinery etc – can need to keep it on side. Highlight any challenges or you put these on hold to conserve cash? Remember HMRC time to pay the likely need for support as early as possible. Be that cash always takes precedence over short-term Small businesses can make professional, plan ahead for meetings, and ensure profitability. arrangements to defer payment that any presentations or proposals are clearly set out, of their VAT or PAYE. HMRC has a detailed, accurate and realistic. Know what is due and dedicated phoneline for coronavirus- when, maintain regular communications and be mindful related challenges to help businesses and respectful of any covenants. Finally, remember that unable to pay their taxes on time banking relationships are built on trust. (corporation tax, income tax, PAYE, VAT) with options to defer or delay payment. The number to call is 0800 024 1222. Assuming that HMRC Government SSP support Directors’ responsibilities ACCESS TO GOVERNMENT-BACKED FUNDING accept your application, this can be for businesses with less The Government has announced a hugely valuable and fast route to conserving your cash. than 250 employees flexible insolvency rules to prevent In addition to the above, if you businesses unable to meet debts Business interruption loans think you may be due a tax refund The Government will cover up to two due to the impact of coronavirus from weeks’ statutory sick pay per eligible being forced to file for bankruptcy. The Government has recently the lenders, who will be comforted will kick in where businesses have or tax credits, it will be worth getting employee who has been off work launched the Coronavirus Business by the Government’s 80% guarantee a sound borrowing proposal but your various returns in quickly to However, if it looks as if you can’t because of COVID-19. This relief is continue, or you know or ought Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS). but still wary of the risks they will insufficient security. begin the refund process. available to employers with fewer than Loans of up to £5 million are available be assuming on the remaining 20%. For further information visit www. to conclude that your business 250 employees. A rebate scheme is to UK-based businesses in eligible Finally, the Government has agreed british-business-bank.co.uk and Accessing funding from being developed. can’t survive, remember your sectors, provided that their turnover is to cover the first 12 months of interest view the detailed pages on the pension schemes responsibilities and take advice. Sharing the burden may open up no more than £45 million. payments. Coronavirus Business Interruption In certain cases, businesses can Reducing employee costs unexpected avenues to help you This support is only for ‘viable’ This is a great scheme for those Loan Scheme to find accredited businesses and is at the discretion of that need it and can gain access, and lenders. borrow from their pension scheme, For many businesses this will be a last protect your business. but this is subject to strict rules. Loans resort and will come with some legal Want to know more? With the must be for investment growth only, implications. Tread carefully. Consider high levels of uncertainty caused by Job Retention Scheme rather than being used to prop up part-time working, sabbaticals or job this crisis affecting individuals and a business in difficulties. They are sharing as well as lay-offs, but make business, Smith & Williamson has The Government’s plans to protect The funding for this will be (those who would have been laid limited to five years or less and must sure you consult with a lawyer first launched a dedicated coronavirus jobs have led to the introduction unlimited and all UK businesses, off but for the introduction of this not be more than 50% of the assets of so you don’t incur even bigger bills hub – a single platform for all related of the Coronavirus Job Retention small or large, charitable or non- scheme) as ‘furloughed workers’ the pension scheme. further down the line. information and resources. Scheme. profit, are eligible for the scheme. and notify them of this change. This allows employers to claim The scheme covers part-time Employment law will continue back 80% of the salary of employees employees, employees on flexible/ to apply, so legal advice and/or who are temporarily ‘furloughed’. zero-hour contracts and agency negotiation may be required. Please visit the hub at www.smithandwilliamson.com/covid-19-hub and email Broadly, this means that the employer workers. It also covers employees Once agreed, employers will need firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any queries. will ask affected employees to cease who were made redundant after to submit information to HMRC about Government and Tax legislation, sourced from HMRC and gov.uk, is that prevailing at the time, is subject to change without notice and their duties for a temporary period, February 28 of this year but are the relevant employees and their depends on individual circumstances. Clients should always seek appropriate tax advice from their financial adviser before making as there is no work, but retain them then rehired. Only workers who earnings through a new online portal financial decisions. as employees. The amount that can are paid through PAYE can qualify; which is expected to be set up by the Smith & Williamson LLP Regulated by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales for a range of be claimed per employee is 80% of other workers may need to rely on end of April 2020. investment business activities. their salary, capped at £2,500 per the separate scheme for the self- HMRC are working urgently to A member of Nexia International. month, plus employer’s NICs and employed. set up their systems, which are not Disclaimer: By necessity, this briefing can only provide a short overview and it is essential to seek professional advice before applying minimum auto-enrolment employer In order to claim, employers will currently able to facilitate payments the contents of this article. No responsibility can be taken for any loss arising from action taken or refrained from on the basis of this pension contributions on that sum. need to designate affected workers to employers. publication. Details correct at time of writing.
MULTIMEDIA IA By ANDY STREET Mayor of West Midlands Combined Authority Facing the biggest 17 Tired of out of date technology and hard to use handsets? Upgrade Upgrade toto aa phone phone system system peacetime challenge column that's that's individual individual to to your your business, business, for for little little Coronavirus is the gravest public who run small limited companies provided me with clear messages on or or no no extra extra cost. cost. health threat our nation has faced in and pay themselves mainly through the virus’s economic impact, which generations. dividends. This is one of a number I fed directly to ministers, while also Anything your smartphone can do, NT Multimedia There can be no doubt that the of issues I am raising with the providing feedback for policy makers can bring to your desk phone. Whether you want second city’s business community Chancellor, which I am confident will on the measures they have already is facing its biggest peacetime be addressed, as the Government announced. to check your emails, access documents, manage challenge. In the space of a few has shown that it is willing to be I have also been struck by the your calls or download your favourite apps, the weeks the economic landscape here flexible in trying to help all kinds of determination I have seen within and across the world has changed businesses. the business sector, which gives me possibilities possibilities are are infinite. infinite. dramatically, with businesses told Policy makers are having to move confidence that Birmingham will not to close their doors and most of the quickly and often without perfect only endure this, but bounce back population in lockdown. Chancellor information to hand. Economists afterwards. Rishi Sunak correctly described are now working to model what the I believe the strong economy we what we are facing as an “economic ongoing economic effects of the have built in the West Midlands will emergency”. virus may be. survive if cash is delivered to where it While the decision to close so It is clear that this will be the is needed. As we entered this crisis, many businesses was a difficult one, sharpest economic downturn we the West Midlands had reached it was unquestionably the right thing have ever experienced. However, record employment levels, with 75% SO MUCH MORE THAN to do given the advice provided by our leading scientists and medics. while that downturn could be deep, it is also expected to be relatively of people in jobs. This is a robust economy. I have confidence that the A BUSINESS PHONE... The financial measures announced short, unlike the financial crisis innovation and expertise that exists by the Government represent an of 2008 where the shortfall was in our business sector can provide unprecedented package of support prolonged. So, if the plan is to bridge the flexibility to see out the crisis. for the business world. what may be a deep but hopefully And, above all, I know that I know that across many business short dip, then current policy moves Brummies have the resilience and sectors, there will have been a huge are right. fortitude to overcome this challenge. sense of relief when the Chancellor The challenge now is to deliver From World War Two to the horrors announced the Government financial support quickly to of the pub bombings and the mass RE-CALL CONNECT would cover 80% of the wages of businesses. To enable this, we have lay-offs of de-industrialisation, the employees who are sent home, along also seen an unparalleled level people of Birmingham have shown with the deferment of VAT bills. Huge of direct communication between they will always overcome adversity. FREE HD VIDEO COMMUNICATE INSTANT NEVER LOSE CHECK YOUR effort is being put into new loans the Government and industry. We This crisis has, in many ways, CALLS AT THE TOUCH ACCESS TO CALL TRACK OF CALLS EMAILS and business rate holidays being have seen ministers reach out to shown us at our best. Whether that’s OF A BUTTON RECORDING delivered very quickly, in particular industrialists to build the ventilators through the hundreds of thousands to help larger businesses make their needed to treat those worst affected, of volunteers who have signed up cash payments to small suppliers. or for tradesmen to build emergency to help the NHS or the people who The £9 billion bailout for the self hospitals. stood on their doorsteps offering employed, announced more recently, Then there is the West Midlands a symbolic round of applause for will also have brought some peace Regional Economic Contingency carers of all types. The UK has united of mind to so many in our business Group, which unites business, in a way seldom seen in peacetime. community. community leaders and politicians As I write, the businesses and Some questions still remain – such to feed opinion directly to the tradespeople of the West Midlands as concerns over support for people Government. This forum has are being set a new challenge to help us overcome coronavirus – a MANAGE YOUR CONNECT DOWNLOAD CONTROL PERSONALISE Dunkirk moment for our times. DIARY BLUETOOTH & APPS HOME & OFFICE YOUR DEVICE Government is reaching for help in WIFI DEVICES ENVIRONMENTS “I have been struck by the building, equipping and staffing the vast Nightingale emergency hospital determination I have seen within that is being created at the NEC, the business sector, which gives ready to supply the extra beds that could be needed when the outbreak GET IN TOUCH TODAY FOR YOUR E: email@example.com me confidence that Birmingham hits its peak. FREE TELECOMS CONSULTATION T: 01952 221 312 Andboost boostyour yourbottom bottomline linewith with will not only endure this, but I know that Birmingham and the West Midlands are ready to meet this NT NTMultimedia. Multimedia. www.networktelecom.co.uk bounce back afterwards.” challenge.
Main picture: PML finds a sustainable use for the by-products of coal-fired power generation Below: The ash PML supplies meets the exacting standards needed for use in different kinds of cement and concrete products and undergoes rigorous testing before use stations to the construction and The Birmingham business community manufacturing sectors. is incredibly strong and diverse, and The ash, a by-product from the we’re proud to call the second city coal-burning process, is one of our home. modern life’s secret ingredients. “It’s always been a hotbed of “Ash is everywhere,” explains PML’s innovation and, as an ideas-led managing director Nigel Waldron. company that bridges so many “It goes into cement products, different sectors, it’s the perfect place 18 profile breeze blocks, flyovers, motorways, into concrete piles and is even pumped underground for building stabilisation. for us to be.” Considering its links to fossil fuel power, perhaps the most surprising aspect of PML’s work is 19 profile “People don’t realise how much the company’s green credentials, it is used in their own houses. It’s in with its supply network providing an your concrete steps, foundations, environmentally friendly use for the paving slabs, roof tiles, mortar, grout by-products from coal-burning power and bricks. When you drill a hole in stations. your wall at home, that grey stuff that Manufacturers and infrastructure comes out . . . chances are it was projects using ash can boast much once power station ash.” better ‘green’ credentials because When PML was founded by they are re-using secondary minerals Waldron and partner Peter Brannan instead of cutting up the countryside in 2003, it was an ambitious two- to mine virgin aggregates. What’s man start-up with two desks and more, cement made using ash as an two telephones. The fledgling ingredient also eats up less power firm’s mission was simple – to find and resources in its manufacturing sustainable uses for the mountains of process, reducing its carbon ash left over by power generation at footprint. the UK’s coal-burning power stations. PML’s distribution network, through Today, it is a national market leader, partnerships with power stations employing 14 people across three like Drax, has helped British industry sites, working to direct millions of avoid releasing millions of tonnes tonnes of ash by-product from power of CO2 into the atmosphere – a stations for re-use in manufacturing remarkable feat given the coal-fired and many of the key infrastructure origins of the ash itself. projects that are reshaping our “We are proud of the part we play country. in providing a sustainable use for The firm went global in 2010 ash and are the UK’s number one when it was bought out by German independent supplier,” says Waldron. energy company STEAG, marking the “When I first started, power The value of waste Earlier this year saw a major creation of an international network. While PML’s sales and distribution team are based at Drax, it remains a resolutely Brummie firm. Waldron is a familiar face on the city’s business stations were actually paying companies to take the ash away, but now it has completely turned around. Our mission has been to create a supply chain that always delivers scene, was the founding president ash where it is needed, when it is landmark in how the UK’s power is of the Sutton Coldfield Chamber needed, to the right quality. generated. of Commerce and now serves as “I’ve always believed that in In February, the huge Drax Power its chairman. The firm supports business you’ve got to be true to station in Yorkshire announced that Coal-burning power stations are soon to it would stop burning coal by next local charities including Ronald McDonald House and sponsors your word and never let a customer down. That’s our ethos – we will become defunct in the UK so does this spell year as it completes its switch to next-generation sustainable power the annual #Brumfeeds foodbank campaign. Even the company’s logo always go above and beyond, even if it costs us.” the end of a Sutton Coldfield company which generation. By far the UK’s biggest power proudly sports the claret and blue of The ash PML supplies meets the Waldron’s beloved Aston Villa. exacting standards needed for use has carved a niche for itself harvesting their station, Drax provides a significant Accolades at the Birmingham Post in different kinds of cement and portion of the nation’s electricity, and Business Awards – for Excellence concrete products and undergoes ash by-product and exporting it around the has ambitions to become carbon in Industry and Manufacturer of the rigorous testing before use. Drive negative by 2030. But while Drax’s world? Far from it, its bosses say, it has just energy output helps power some of Year – have given wider recognition for the sheer breadth of PML’s work across the UK and you’ll find yourself unwittingly surrounded by it in the created another opportunity. the second city’s business sector, it also provides another lesser-known in the region. “We are a national company in built environment. “Our products have been used as CHRIS AUSTIN reports product – and it’s a Birmingham firm that ensures its delivery across the terms of our partnerships at power station sites, and an international structural fill for bridge abutments and slip road embankments for the globe. company when you consider our huge A50 project in Staffordshire,” From its HQ in Sutton Coldfield, German connections and import- says sales and technical director Ivan Power Minerals Ltd – or PML – exports network,” says Waldron, who Skidmore. oversees a vast supply chain grew up in Sutton Coldfield. “Our ash products are in delivering fly ash from power “However, Birmingham is our base. the concrete structures of the
A14 improvement scheme in will see the launch of significant 20 profile Cambridgeshire and were used to stabilise the ground where the M8 has been widened in Scotland. “Millions of tonnes of our ash have manufacturing operation that represents major expansion. Over the last four years, PML has invested heavily in applying its 21 profile also been used to stabilise old mines expertise to the by-products of new beneath the Black Country.” forms of power generation. Its Biolite So, as the UK switches away from division takes the by-products of coal power, what does the future modern biomass power generation hold for PML? processes to create pioneering “There is no question that coal- agriculture products such as fired power generation is coming to fertilisers. an end – that is a reality – and we This ground-breaking process have been preparing for it for years,” turns what was a hazardous waste explains Waldron. into a low-carbon product that helps “The fact is that after so many both the UK agriculture sector and years of power generation using coal, the environment, by removing the there are huge stockpiles of ash left need for farmers to import expensive that will allow us to keep supplying fertilisers from abroad. Despite fossil fuels being phased out in favour of more “We are excited by the prospects industry for decades to come. So, sustainable material, the UK has vast stockpiles of ash for our new fertiliser product in order to deliver quality ash to our left over from years of coal-fired energy creation because it represents the natural customers, we are now extracting from those stockpiles and looking to evolution of what we do,” says access and process more.” the reliability of the UK’s ash supply Quality Ash Association – to have Station in Staffordshire prior to millions of tonnes for potential export Waldron. “While we are continuing The best example of this can be chain,” Skidmore says. these areas reclassified as Strategic its closure, utilising an ultra-sonic to western Europe, where such to access ash to supply industry, it’s seen at Fiddlers Ferry, the north west “Our strategy since has been to Pozzolanic Reserves. separation process to remove quality legacy stockpiles are less accessible. important that as the power sector power station which announced its create a robust and reliable supply “This would allow urban mining cementicious particles from old ash. Investment, research and changes, we change too – and this is closure last year. While generation chain by investing in our own of the stockpiled ash which, with This process, along with other development of this type is key to a great example of finding a use for may have halted at the site, PML infrastructure, importing from our the cutting-edge technology we technologies, is likely to be a game the success of PML and its future next-generation power generation continues to market ash from historic international network, developing are developing, could see the UK changer for the industry, creating operations. by-products.” deposits, extracting and shipping the ways of tapping into the significant become a world leader in exporting a long-term sustainable supply of As the power sector moves away With a new era of infrastructure millions of tonnes of ash left there. legacy stockpiles we have in the UK, quality ash products around the low-carbon material for making from coal, PML’s technicians are now construction now expected, he PML, working together with SSE who and investing in research on future globe.” environmentally friendly cement and looking for ways to recycle and reuse predicts there will be more demand own the site, currently excavate over solutions. There are a wide variety of concrete. This would not only create the by-products of the sustainable than ever for ash, both nationally and 350,000 tonnes of ash from Fiddlers “The UK has a huge stockpile of processes called ‘beneficiation’ jobs nationally – by giving new fuels that are replacing it. across the Midlands. Ferry per year. ash trapped in landfill sites and we technologies. PML trialled and life to legacy stockpiles across the Now the firm stands on the cusp of Infrastructure projects such as sea “Four years ago, a decline in the have been lobbying government commercially operated one of these country – but would also remove the a new era. After years of preparation, wall defences, London’s Crossrail, coal-fired energy sector affected – through bodies such as the UK technologies at Rugeley Power UK’s reliance on imports and provide research and investment, this year the M6 Toll and HS2 all rely on power station ash as a vital ingredient. “Once we have fully understood the economic impact of coronavirus, we’re expecting the previously announced infrastructure projects to roll out,” he adds. “HS2, major road building and a new era of NHS construction will all require the products that we provide, and we’ll be working to ensure that there is a continuous, reliable flow of ash to underpin manufacturing and construction. “Coal-powered energy may be coming to an end, but it is our mission to ensure that its most beneficial legacy – millions of tonnes of valuable ash – is accessible for sustainable manufacturing and construction projects of the future.” As the Birmingham of tomorrow takes shape, it seems it will still Sales and technical The PML team picks up the award for Excellence in Manufacturing at last Managing director Nigel Waldron at work at contain plenty of PML’s secret director Ivan Skidmore year’s Birmingham Post Business Awards PML’s HQ in Sutton Coldfield ingredient.
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