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Category : Cheshire Finance

Manchester based Property Group Brunswick has reported a 42% rise in pre-tax profits for the year up to September 2013.

Their Chief Executive Chris Oglesby said that this has been mainly down to a surge in city centre office lettings in Manchester and Birmingham in particular. Over 500,000 sq ft was let during 2013 alone.

“Refinancing around £600m of debt, secured by property valuations right at the bottom of the cycle, has been a significant achievement that enables us to focus on the future. Whilst this recession has been tough, our major regional cities emerge stronger from it and I am more optimistic about their future than I have been at any other time.

“We are very well positioned to capitalise on the strength of these markets; as well as the major projects we have planned, we will continue to strengthen our strategic partnerships and look to develop new relationships, ensuring that after a few years of reduced development activity 2014 will be our busiest year ever.”

Projects are now underway to refurbish properties on Deansgate as well as Manchester Science Park and Manchester Business School.

VPhase relaunch

Category : Cheshire Finance, Energy Costs

The Cheshire base company VPhase that went into administration last year is planning a comeback. After reaching an agreement with creditors through a company voluntary agreement (CVA), VPhase are able to pay creditors whilst looking for new investment opportunities.

The main products from the Cheshire company claimed to reduce and regulate power consumption and shave up to 10% off bills. However the Governments Green Deal and Energy Companies Obligation (ECO) put pressure on sales as it reduced demand for the product.

The company has raised £150,000 from Henderson Global Investors and has two new non-executive chairmen Clive Carver and Colin Hutchinson.

Amec agreed new deal

Category : Cheshire Finance

Knutsford based Amec has provisionally agreed to buy Swiss engineering firm Foster Wheeler. The engineering group with offices in Knutsford, Warrington and Northwich said that Foster Wheeler share holders would each receive $16 cash and approximately 0.9 Amec shares.

If the deal goes through, Foster Wheeler will hold shares equating to 23% of Amec.

Warrington Council funding for New Housing

Category : Cheshire Finance

Warrington Borough Council are providing £90m to Cheshire Housing Associations in order to support 1,400 social and affordable home builds over the next five years.

The move includes partnerships between Chester-based Muir Group Housing, Arena Housing Association and Warrington Housing Association.

The Council Leader Terry O’Neill has said;

“This loan will help drive regeneration. It will stimulate house building and create jobs. It will bring much-needed affordable properties within reach of hundreds of families. It will help close the gap by bringing regeneration to some of our most deprived areas. And as a related benefit it will bring in much-needed income, which will help us to protect essential council services.

“Warrington Borough Council has been one of the first local authorities to do this, but other councils are gradually starting to do the same. This is good news because there’s currently a shortage of long-term finance due to the banking crisis, and as a result the UK is building about 100,000 new homes a year fewer than we actually need.

“It’s also good news for the local and regional economy in general, because every £1 spent on house building leads to £4 being spent in the wider economy.”

Transferable Tax Allowance

Category : Finance

From April 2015, it will be possible for non-tax payers in a marriage or civil partnership to transfer £1000 of their tax-free allowance to their basic rate tax paying partner.

In his Autumn statement, the Chancellor remarked that this was just the start of things to come with more tax savings proposed for the next couple of years.

This tax break for married couples has been a long time coming, with Government promising change back in 2010. But the move was opposed by the Lib Dems meaning that Mr Cameron and his party had to gain support from elsewhere.

Shadow Financial Secretary Chris Bryant argued that the movement would not persuade people to get married. Opposition to the legislation also argues that higher rate tax payers should not be excluded.

SME Accountancy Fees

Category : SME Accountancy Fees

Business Secretary Vince Cable announced this time last year that more than 100,000 UK businesses could make huge savings on accountancy fees under ‘reduced auditing and reporting requirements’.

Companies will be able to make their own commercial decisions about whether they have a statutory audit under these new plans;

The Business Secretary stated;

Reporting requirements have become increasingly demanding and costly over the years. We listened to business, who made a strong case for reform, and I am delighted that we are now taking this opportunity to make audit more flexible and targeted. Tackling these problems will help save UK companies £millions every year and free them up to expand and grow their business, which ultimately benefits the entire British economy.

SME’s will in theory be able to claim exemption from auditing if they meet two out of three criteria relating to turnover, number of employees and balance sheet totals. This will mean than an estimated 36,000 businesses can opt not to have an audit.

Could this apply to your business? Call us to find out.

Chamber Funding for Training

Category : Funding for Training

The European Social Fund Skills Support for the Workplace has a programme to help your business to find funding for team training.

If you have fewer than 250 employees you can apply for funding for training for staff aged 19 and over.

To be eligible for funding you must meet the following criteria;

• Employ less than 250 staff
• Beneficiaries must be aged 19 and over
• No more than 49 members of staff for higher level 4 training
• Companies from Cheshire and Warrington are eligible only.

In partnership with West Cheshire College, Warrington Collegiate, South Cheshire College, Mantra Learning, Babington Business College and Total people, the funding is enabling Cheshire business to target technical advancement for staff members in IT, customer services, literacy and numeracy.

To find out more call Rosie Foster on 01244 656 300 or email mailto:ourskills@west-cheshire.ac.uk

Council Finance Seal of Approval

Category : Cheshire East Council

Cheshire East Council has reportedly been given the seal of approval over its financial management after an auditors report. The Cheshire auditors were ‘satisfied in all significant respects the council put in place proper arrangements to secure economy efficiency and effectiveness in its use of resources’.

Cllr Peter Reynolds, cabinet member for finance from Cheshire East Council said;

This is a very positive report on the healthy state of the council’s management of its finances during a tough economic climate and big changes in how we are managing and delivering services. We take seriously the issues raised by the auditors about some internal processes. However, these have not affected the overall value for money we provide for our residents.

The average household in Cheshire East has been saved over £200 a year thanks to the freeze on council tax bills. Priority has been given to improving Cheshire roads, investing in waste management and improving community areas.

Energy Costs Lower Competitiveness

Category : Energy Costs

Energy Costs in the UK have always centered around three main lynchpins;

1. Climate Change
2. Securing Supply
3. Affordability

At different times each item becomes the bigger concern. For example, in 2008, it was all about climate change and preventing global warming. But in 2013, the cost for consumers seems to be dominating the headlines with Ed Milliband promising to freeze energy prices if Labour comes to power.

This bold statement has caused waves in the energy industry with experts warning of blackouts. And whilst all of this is happening, over in the US, gas prices are at a 10-year low. We are now being warned that chemical companies will move to where the energy is cheaper, so the UK is in danger of alienating its energy industry. They can no longer compete with their US counterparts whilst the UK focuses on green energy rather than manufacturing.

Roger Reynolds of BNP Paribas says;

There’s been a tangible shift in Europe. The balance has now moved away from reducing emissions at any cost to the question of affordability.

Consumers are now becoming more and more aware of the fact that they are having to foot the bill for green energy and soon, the UK will have to make the choice. The cost of renewable energy placed on our bills is expected to rise dramatically this year. Energy companies are already starting to announce their increases before Christmas, and it looks like things are not going to improve any time soon.

Start Up Business Boom!

Category : Start-Up Businesses

More than 380,000 start-up businesses were launched in the past 12 months alone in the UK. Overall the number of British companies reached new levels this year at 4.8m.

There are numerous reasons for this growth in start-up industries, and the government has helped this trend through tax breaks for investors. It is also easier for people to gain British Citizenship as a company Director.

The Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) has been the envy of many neighboring countries, and entrepreneurship in the UK is now at an all-time high.

6% of the business owners in the UK are responsible for nearly 50% of the new jobs in the UK according to the National Foundation for Innovation (NESTA).

Casper Craven, an accountant who founded Trovus in 2008, is one such success story;

People these days, he adds, feel far more certain of making an impact through being an entrepreneur than by working in a large company.

This is not to say that the growth in entrepreneurship is all a result of positive changes in British society.

Many individuals who have been made redundant or who have taken on second jobs to subsidise income, are branching out and starting businesses where they otherwise may not have had the motivation Unemployment rates have been shown to be consistent with the number of start-up businesses over the years.

So whilst it may be a positive development for the UK, it is bred out of an uncertain financial climate.