Edwin Huxley - Wednesday 23.12.15, 07:34am
Brake, the road safety charity, has expressed disappointment with the Department for Transport’s newly-published ‘Road Safety Statement’ (replacing its previous Road Safety Strategy). Despite calls by Brake and across the road safety sector for stronger leadership from government on preventing devastating road death and injuries following a recent increase in casualties, the Statement fails to include casualty reduction targets or a ‘vision zero’, which would make clear that the ultimate goal is to reduce deaths to zero. International evidence indicates that targets help to spur progress in road safety , and increasing governments and authorities (including Sweden, Scotland and London) are adopting vision zero approaches.
According to the DfT’s Reported Road Casualties in Great Britain Annual Report for 2014 the number of people killed on our roads rose by 4% last year to 1,775, while those seriously injured rose by 5% to 22,807 people. Overall casualties rose by 6%, interrupting what was a steady downward trend since 1997. As national provider of support to bereaved and seriously injured road crash victims (through a helpline and support packs part-funded by the Ministry of Justice), Brake is acutely aware of the terrible suffering caused by every casualty.
Alice Bailey, campaigns officer at Brake, says: “We know from our work supporting devastated road crash victims that every death and injury sends out shockwaves of pain and suffering. We also know from international research and experience that there is far more the government could and should do, to prevent these casualties and enable everyone to get around safely and sustainably. There is some important recognition in this Statement of what good practice in road safety looks like, and the fact that road safety is an issue central to public health and sustainability – and that by improving road safety we can make economic gains too. Yet we’re disappointed that the government has failed to include casualty reduction targets, an ambitious vision, or more decisive action on issues like young driver safety, pedestrian safety or drink driving, all of which remain desperately important.”
Brake welcomes some aspects of the Road Safety Statement, including the government’s recognition of the importance of a ‘safe systems’ approach. However, Brake believes the government could go much further in implementing evidenced policy to ensure senseless tragedies on our roads fall again, and everyone can get around safely, sustainably and healthily:
Walking and cycling – Brake welcomes the recognition that road safety is a public health and sustainability issue as well as being about casualty prevention, and the inclusion of protecting vulnerable road users as a priority. However Brake believes the government should do far more to ensure nationwide roll-out of traffic-free cycle paths, area-wide 20mph limits, and other measures to make roads more pedestrian and cyclist friendly. See Brake’s recent response to the government’s Walking and Cycling Investment Strategy and GO 20 campaign.
Mobile phones – Brake supports proposals for tougher penalties (four points and a £150 fine) for using mobile phones at the wheel of a car, but believes this does not go far enough, especially as many first time offenders will be offered educational courses instead. Brake recommends increasing fines to £1,000, to provide a stronger deterrent, and for hands free phones to be included under the ban, in line with research showing the dangers . See Brake’s Drive Smart campaign.
Young and novice drivers – Government plans to make improvements to driver learning and testing are not unwelcome, but research shows the introduction of a new system of Graduated Driver Licensing – long recommended by Brake and recognised as best practice globally – would be highly effective in reducing crashes among young and new drivers. It’s estimated it could prevent 400 deaths and serious injuries each year if implemented in the UK . See Brake’s campaign.
Drink and drug driving – Brake backs the provision of funding to support effective enforcement of the new drug driving law, but is concerned by the ongoing lack of action by Westminster to crack down on drink driving, which remains one of the biggest killers on our roads. Brake advocates a zero-tolerance drink drive limit to make clear it should be ‘none for the road’. See Brake’s not a drop, not a drag campaign.
Edwin Huxley - Thursday 29.10.15, 17:02pm
Property agency Walton Robinson has a long track record of employing apprentices in its fourteen year history and their two new recruits have been brought on board to help expand the administration and marketing departments.
Walton Robinson, who has a respected reputation for delivering first class service in sales, lettings and buy-to-let investments, teamed up with apprenticeship provider 3aaa Aspire Achieve Advance to find the perfect new additions to the company.
Seventeen year old Anna Smith is completing an apprenticeship in Digital Marketing at Walton Robinson. Anna said;
“I have always been interested in marketing and social media and since I started working at WR I am confident I want to pursue this as a career. I chose WR because it is an independent company. I like that I can take on more responsibility in the marketing team and have the chance to learn more than I would with a larger company.”
Chloe Nellist, also seventeen, is working at WR whilst completing her apprenticeship in Business Administration. Chloe said;
“I didn’t enjoy college, I prefer a work place environment. I think an apprenticeship will develop my skills and knowledge a lot more than college did or could”.
The Walton Robinson workforce has greatly expanded over recent years and the timing is perfect as the company are set to move into newly refurbished offices in the Grade II listed Bruce Building on Percy Street this month, with plenty of room to continue the growth.
Already well established as a student and professional letting agent and with many years of experience in handling buy to let sales, Walton Robinson are investing into the residential sales side of the business and expanding their range of services.
Nicola Bishop, who started her career with Walton Robinson as an apprentice in the administration department in 2010, has progressed through the company to the role of office manager and helps to recruit new apprentices to the business. Nicola said
“Walton Robinson have helped me achieve apprenticeships in business administration and customer service. As well as working towards a qualification in management I am currently helping several members of our team to complete their own apprenticeships. It’s a great opportunity for Anna and Chloe to earn money while learning and developing practical workplace skills in their chosen career.”
Alan Green, Academy Manager at 3aaa Aspire Achieve Advance, said;
“Apprenticeships rely heavily on committed employers such as Walton Robinson as they are the backbone of apprenticeships and our Joint Success. Partnerships with employers such as Walton Robinson provide life changing opportunities for young people in the North East and across England. Chloe and Anna are typical of the dedicated candidates we attract to our programmes without their dedication and hard work these opportunities would not be possible.
“Nicola is living proof that apprenticeships are a real alternative to other routes such as university, she has progressed and is highly successful as office Manager. The candidates and employer are a credit to the North east business community and should be congratulated on their dedication and commitment to apprenticeships.”
For more information about the Newcastle based letting agents, visit: http://www.waltonrobinson.com
Derek Smalls - Thursday 08.10.15, 07:02am
Commenting on Tesco’s decision to move to standard payment terms across its supply chain, John Allan, National Chairman for the Federation of Small Businesses, said:
“We are pleased to see Tesco has listened to our arguments, and made improvements to its payment practices towards its smaller suppliers. The new standardised and clearly defined payment terms should provide a far more reasonable payment framework for small firms. It will allow them to have more confidence when doing business, giving them the ability to plan ahead more effectively.
“Recent FSB research shows that late payment has resulted in a third of its members (32%) paying its own suppliers late with three in 10 saying it has affected their ability to grow. We hope today’s announcement will go some way to easing the pressure on the supply chain and that other big companies will make similar changes to their payment terms.”
Derek Smalls - Monday 05.10.15, 09:07am
National Living Wage of £7.20 an hour will impact small businesses
Following the announcement of a new National Living Wage for the over 25s, a survey of employers has found significant numbers of small businesses concerned about the impact the new wage rate will have on their businesses. Many are planning to slow job creation, raise prices or postpone or cancel planned investments to compensate for the higher statutory rate.
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) research found well over a third (38%) of small employers expect the new National Living Wage of £7.20 an hour to negatively impact their business when it comes into force in April 2016. When asked to consider the projected rise in the National Living Wage to at least £9 an hour by 2020, over half (54%) said it will have a negative impact. Just six percent of businesses thought the policy would have a positive impact on their business when it is implemented next April.
Businesses in the wholesale and retail sector, and those working in accommodation and food services, are most likely to say the National Living Wage will have a negative impact. In addition, businesses in Yorkshire, the West Midlands, Wales and the South West are among the most likely to cite a negative impact.
Today the FSB has also published its latest Cost of Employment Index. The Cost of Employment Index is a comprehensive model of wage and non-wage costs for small businesses across a range of sectors. The model estimates that for a small retail business with six full time staff aged 25 or over and earning the current adult minimum wage, the National Living Wage will cost an extra £5,900 a year from April 2016.
Annual labour costs for this business stand at approximately £127,700. Even after claiming the higher Employment Allowance (which is set to rise to £3,000 next year), these costs are set to rise to £133,600 in April 2016 due to the National Living Wage. In other words, the £3,000 of potential savings to employers from lower national insurance contributions will reduce the £8,900 higher wage costs incurred in this case, but will still require this employer to find nearly £6,000 to cover the additional costs. This takes place just six months after employers have already increased wages due to the increase in the minimum wage on 1st October 2015.
Derek Smalls - Saturday 12.09.15, 10:03am
An innovative IT project between two North East companies – Technology Services Group (TSG) and Home Group – has prompted a fact finding visit from the Australian office of Nintex, the global standard in workflow automation, who created the workflow and forms technology on which the project is based.
IT specialists TSG configured a system for housing provider Home Group’s customer services centre to deal with in-bound calls from its 120,000 customers efficiently. To enable immediate use the system was initially deployed as a cloud based solution on Microsoft Office 365 before being migrated across to Microsoft SharePoint to fit in line with Home Group’s preferred on-premise IT strategy.
The assembled system is integrated with advanced workflow and forms developed on the Nintex platform. These will help Home Group gain and interact with all of the necessary information required to act appropriately on each call and effectively service every customer.
“Home Group is using Nintex workflows and forms with SharePoint to increase the productivity of its Customer Service Team and better serve its customer base,” said Nintex’s VP of Partner Strategy & Programs Josh Waldo. “The Home Group team is also using Nintex forms as a step-by-step discussion guide when speaking to customers which is a great new use case for the technology.”
The creative use of Nintex workflows and forms prompted recognition for both Home Group and TSG. Home Group were recently crowned “Team of the Year” at the National Contact Centre awards while TSG have been nominated for the “Solution Innovation Award” at Nintex’s 2015 Annual Partner Awards.
Donna Middleton, Home Group’s Director of Customer Experience said: “The knowledge management solution is proving hugely beneficial saving Home Group a lot of money and time in training up the call handlers. Our ability to get an issue resolved first time has improved massively which in turn reduces the costs of having to revisit properties.
“Previously if a plumbing related problem came through the solution offered to the customer could have been different depending on the level of experience of the call operator. The new solution now empowers our call centre staff with the confidence they can deal with any call that comes in regardless of their level experience or what the problem is.”
The possibility of empowering customers is also being explored by making the forms available on Home Group’s website so they can self-serve with any issues to reach a solution.