How Technology is Helping Unmute International Languages for Business Meetings

Oddmund Braaten, CEO at Interprefy

“You’re on mute” has to be one of the most popular (or unpopular) phrases of the past couple of years.

With everyone having to get to grips with the new standard of communication, the likes of Zoom, Teams, and Slack have been the saviours of enterprise comms over this period. But for global businesses, there’s a long-standing issue to do with communication that has so far remained unresolved.

Despite a mass of different communication tools, language barriers are preventing business meetings from reaching their full potential. Staff huddles are isolated depending on the host’s mother tongue, and a lack of support is stopping them from properly connecting, interacting, and engaging with colleagues outside of their geographical border.

We have the ability to communicate with people across the globe at the touch of a button, so why are we so bad at it?

Language barriers preventing growth

As businesses expand, international growth eventually reaches a tipping point. Success takes an international team capable of understanding and speaking the language in each specific region.

The problem of language is one that continues to hold a lot of businesses back. A lack of communication can lead to misunderstandings, low morale, and poor company culture, but it can even lead to more serious consequences. An Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) study estimated that language barriers contributed to 25 percent of job-related accidents.

Another example where live translation from conference interpreters is needed is during virtual town hall meetings, where company-wide updates are shared between leadership teams and staff. These have become immensely popular recently, but important messages can often go misunderstood or missed completely by non-native speakers.

Language barriers can also be a stumbling block for when businesses host international client meetings. Localised support and cultural understanding is vital in building trust and a working relationship, but you can’t create this if you haven’t got the staff or mechanisms to support it.

The problem of communication is stopping them from growing exponentially, but there is a simple solution that’s right under their noses.

How can businesses remove language barriers?

The typical solution from businesses is to communicate solely in English, yet less than one in five (19%) actually speak the language fluently. The issues of miscommunication, a lack of engagement, and isolation remain.

The other option might be to hire interpreters where relevant for each meeting. But it can quickly become complicated and costly trying to accommodate international staff, clients, and partners on a daily basis.

However, there are tools widely available that can support simultaneous translations for any business setting – the most exciting of which has been the advancement of machine translation technology.

For example, often used alongside live interpreters, the combination of voice recognition software and machine translations is now capable of being used as a standalone solution. The technology can quickly connect international teams involved in smaller, more intimate business meetings or when human interpreters simply aren’t available or viable.

Where a human touch might be more relevant, such as for large-scale events and town hall meetings, remote simultaneous interpretation (RSI) is a popular option. Here, interpreters can provide language support from the comfort of their homes, meaning businesses save costs on travel, accomodation, and logistical support while also reducing their carbon footprint and providing real-time interpretation in the language of the attendees choice.

Employee development is also key, and there’s a lot that staff can learn from their colleagues from across the world. In-person and virtual training sessions are therefore a good opportunity to provide interpretation technology to help facilitate better understanding and clearer conversations. You could even take this one step further by using interpretation technology to provide your own workshops on learning different languages and cultures.

Bringing an international flavour to business meetings

Reducing language barriers for meetings means businesses can effectively accommodate diverse teams from across the world, inviting new ways of thinking and problem-solving. But it can also widen the cultural understanding from everyone within the organisation while helping improve cross-border communication, engagement, and morale.

Being able to break down language barriers and communicate with each other is an important factor for international growth. Only when we can communicate in the same language can we start to understand what’s outside of our horizon, build trust, and come closer together.

Whether face-to-face or at the other end of a computer screen, businesses that can remove communication barriers stand to gain a significant competitive advantage.

Poland is the Emerging Tech Hub of Europe, Says STX Next

Maciej Dziergwa, CEO at STX Next explains why Poland is the perfect place for a tech company to thrive

In recent years, Poland has surfaced as a leading location for technology investment, start-ups and entrepreneurial talent in Europe. This is according to Maciej Dziergwa, CEO of Europe’s largest Python software development company, STX Next. Dziergwa firmly believes that Poland’s recent economic growth, wealth of software development talent and appeal to venture capital firms cement its place as a promising European tech hub, and is full of optimism for its future.

The economic growth in Poland has seen the country spearhead a series of technological innovations and advancements. Poland’s IT industry constitutes about 8% of GDP, employing over 430,000 people. Poland is the largest economy in central and eastern Europe with 30% share of total GDP and 25% of the population.

Dziergwa said: “Poland’s status as central and eastern Europe’s technological beating heart has been well-recognised by those inside the industry for some time. As of 2022, market leaders such as Google, Samsung, Facebook, Amazon and Intel have set up shop here, alongside more than 500 other R&D facilities.

“For new founders and established players, young developers and team leaders, Poland is a hotbed of opportunity. The technology market is thriving, and the country is ready to play its part in growing the global tech economy” says Dziergwa.

The country’s collective IT expenditure grew by nearly 17% in 2021, totalling more than $20 billion. Below, Dziergwa outlines the factors that he believes are behind Poland’s rise as a major tech hub in Europe.

Poland is educating the next generation of developers

Poland is the preferred study destination of more than 57,000 international students at more than 500 universities. Nine of these feature in the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) world university rankings. According to the National Science Foundation, Polish people also have a strong educational background in IT-related disciplines: 43% of people in Poland aged 25-34 have a bachelor’s degree or higher in technology or software development.

Dziergwa: “First and foremost, Poland’s proximity to the rest of Europe is a crucial factor for its success. Travelling toPoland takes less than three hours no matter where you are in Europe. It is perhaps for this reason that we sit on such a wealth of tech talent, with a seemingly never-ending stream of developers entering the industry.

“Much of the world is navigating its way through a tech talent shortage, something that luckily hasn’t had as strong an effect in Poland. As such, Poland is an attractive location for tech giants with a host of new developers ready to innovate, armed with some of the most advanced technical skills in the world.”

A venture capital hotbed

In the first three months of 2022, venture capitalists invested a total of €251 million in Polish businesses across 98 transactions. If investment were to carry on at the same trajectory, by the end of 2022 Polish start-ups could attract over €1bn for the first time in the country’s history.

Dziergwa: “Poland is home to one of the most start-up-friendly ecosystems across the globe, spurred by the remarkable increase in investment. We have the talent, the funding and all the other ingredients necessary for businesses to make a success of their pursuits here, as has been proven in the past.

“Many central European-born businesses retain a large proportion of their headcount in their home country even after flying the nest. Brands like Booksy, Allegro and Docplanner all started out in Poland and have since had huge impacts in other parts of the world.”

A burgeoning pool of experts to pick from

Dziergwa: “Poland has the largest pool of developers in central and eastern Europe, accounting for nearly 25% of the entire developer population in the region.”

According to a study conducted by HackerRank that put a series of challenges to over 1.5 million people around the world, Poland has the third best developers globally, behind only China and Russia. Around the country, Poland has seven major IT hubs employing over 85% of all IT professionals in the country. Despite the level of quality on offer, outsourcing software development in Poland is typically 30% cheaper than in the US, and 20-25% cheaper than in western Europe.

Dziergwa concluded: “When considering the recipe for a prosperous tech hub, Poland has the most important ingredient in abundance: people. Not only are there plenty, but they are highly skilled, motivated and industrious, and are supported by a healthy infrastructure and investment. Poland has all the attributes to be Europe’s tech engine room for years to come.”

New Programme Launch by IIM Ahmedabad & ENAC France Advanced Management Programme for Professionals in Aviation and Aeronautics

The 6-month programme offers joint certification, dual alumni status and 10-day campus immersions at IIMA and ENAC, France

Global content, faculty and cohort to help professionals scale new heights and prepare them for leadership roles

The Indian aviation and aeronautics sector has emerged from a challenging pandemic period and is flying high once again. The number of travellers is expected to double to 400 million in the coming years and the market size is anticipated to grow to US$ 4.33 billion by 2025.

To meet the needs of this rapidly expanding sector, premier B-School IIM Ahmedabad, in association with Ecole Nationale de l’Aviation Civile (ENAC) France, has launched a programme that aims to equip new-age management professionals with skills necessary to lead the sector through its next phase of development.

This 6-month programme is curated to offer a comprehensive understanding of the principles, practices and policies relevant to the aviation and aeronautics industry, including technical aspects as well as leadership and business management dimensions.

Participants from a wide range of aviation, aeronautics and allied industry sectors will learn airline and airport operations & management, multi-modal logistics, infrastructure development, public-private partnerships; mergers & acquisitions in aviation, ESG, sustainability, IT strategy & applications, and various other topics from distinguished IIMA faculty.

Further, this limited seat programme includes industry leading global exposure at the state-of-the-art campus at ENAC, Toulouse, France. Participants will learn about the emerging technical and operational aspects covering aviation and air transportation operations & management, big data applications and optimisation, maintenance and safety issues, drones and UTM, and air traffic management.

Commenting on the programme, Prof. Debjit Roy, IIM Ahmedabad, said, “The Indian aviation and aeronautics sector is growing, and so is the need for experts with techno-managerial skillsets. We are pleased to offer this programme to those who can steer the sector towards a more disruptive future. While the sector’s future may present many challenges, participants will have the chance to envision and reinvent how the sector should operate in line with the government’s objective of making India a worldwide aviation hub.”

Prof. Sandip Chakrabarti, IIM Ahmedabad, added that “The aviation and aeronautics sector in India has outstanding growth prospects. Our unique custom-designed programme is backed by strong academic research and deep insights from the industry. Our programme faculty have extensive global experience in business management as well as aviation technologies. We will focus on the changing dynamics of the sector and introduce to participants the latest global innovations in the field.”

The live interactive classes will be held online and can be accessed remotely every Saturday for 6 months on VCNow platform. Another highlight of the live online blended learning programme are the two short in-campus modules at IIM Ahmedabad and a five-day Campus at ENAC France. The latter will cover industrial visits for networking and business development. Participants who complete the programme successfully will receive joint certification and dual alumni status by IIMA and ENAC, France.

The eligibility criteria for the programme allow graduates/postgraduates in any discipline with 50% or more marks and a minimum of 5 years of work experience in the relevant sector. The last date to apply is October 31, 2022, and the course will commence on November 10, 2022.

To know more about the programme, click here or email: [email protected]

Revealed: The Most Common Credit Mistakes Brits are making

  • Many Brits are worried about how the cost-of-living crisis could impact their finances.
  • Searches for “how to improve your credit score” have risen by 160% in last 30 days alone.
  • Car finance experts at Zuto Car Finance have compiled six of the most common mistakes people make when it comes to getting credit.

Your credit score is one of the most important indicators of your financial health. So, with the cost-of-living crisis causing concern for many Brits, increasing numbers of people are looking at how they can develop good credit habits and build a good credit history. In fact, searches for “how to improve your credit score” have risen by 160% in the last 30 days alone.

As critical as that is, though, it is equally important to understand and avoid common credit mistakes that could stifle your progress and even damage your credit score in the long term.

Bad credit car finance experts at Zuto Car Finance have compiled a list of the most common credit mistakes Brits are making, from late payments to avoiding credit entirely. Having helped over 100,000 customers with a ‘poor’ credit score get approved for car finance in the last 12 months, and working closely with their large panel of lenders, Zuto know what it takes to avoid these common credit mistakes.

 

1. Making late payments

Making late payments can quickly and drastically affect your credit score. To avoid this happening, Zuto suggest setting up a monthly direct debit or a reminder on your phone to ensure you pay on time.

2. Maxing out your credit cards

Exceeding your credit limit can also hurt your credit score. One of the main factors in determining your credit score is your debt utilisation rate – how much you currently owe divided by your credit limit.

You should try to avoid carrying over a balance of more than 30% of your credit limit each month. For example, if your card has a £10,000 credit limit, the most you should charge in a month is £3,000. 1

3. Not shopping around

Another common credit mistake made by Brits is taking out credit without comparing the market to find the best interest rates possible. Even a small difference in interest rates can save you money in the long run.

4. Taking out unnecessary credit

In the current financial climate, taking out credit will be necessary for many people, but some Brits make the mistake of using their credit on discretionary purchases like holidays.

Doing this, though, could put a strain on your budget, making it more challenging to keep up with your monthly payments and negatively impacting your credit score. To avoid this, Zuto advises only using your credit when you really need it.

5. Avoiding credit entirely

Many Brits also make the mistake of thinking that not using credit at all shows how responsible they are with their finances. Zuto Car Finance explains how this can have the opposite effect as lenders rely on past payment history to dictate how reliable someone is to lend to. Thus, not having any credit history at all may mean that you become “credit invisible”, with lenders being unable to determine whether you are trustworthy or not. 

6. Not reading the terms and conditions

Every credit agreement has fine print which most Brits choose to ignore. But this is a huge mistake that could end up costing you. While the terms and conditions of your credit agreement might seem boring, you need to know the details of the promotional interest rates or the limits on the points you can earn.3

Lucy Sherliker, Head of Customer at Zuto, commented on the findings:

“The cost-of-living crisis is showing no signs of slowing down, so we want to highlight the most common mistakes when it comes to applying for credit to ensure that you have the best experience possible.”

“By ensuring that you do not make too many applications in a short space of time or avoid credit entirely, you will be able to avoid the possible impact that these will have on your credit score.”

If you’re one of the many Brits whose credit scores have been affected by these common credit mistakes, but are still looking for car finance, then Zuto can help. Find out how you can get a loan despite having bad credit here: https://www.zuto.com/bad-credit-car-finance/

Revealed: The Top 3 Healthiest Places to Live in the UK

There’s no denying that the United Kingdom is a beautiful country. From the stunning coastline to the rolling hills and picturesque villages – there’s plenty to admire. But what makes the UK even more special are the healthy lifestyles that many of its residents enjoy.

The UK is home to some of the world’s healthiest regions. The clean environments offered by these areas can relieve stress and boost your respiratory system.

So, where are they located?

Flogas – the off-grid gas experts, has identified the top 3 locations that offer the best environment in terms of wellbeing in the UK:

1. Milton Keynes

Awarded the right to call itself a city – Milton Keynes – the Buckinghamshire urban area is hands down the healthiest place to live.

Based on the World Air Quality Index data, Milton Keynes enjoys the lowest pollution rates across the UK. On a scale from 0 to 100, it scored a whopping 97.97, meaning that people lucky enough to call it their home have the luxury of taking rejuvenating deep breaths without fretting over something toxic going down their lungs.

That’s not it!

Milton Keynes far outdoes its fellow cities and towns regarding green spaces.

The Numbeo Quality of Life index reveals Milton Keynes has the highest satisfaction rate considering its greens and parks.

2. Brighton and Hove

The city of Brighton and Hove maintains its status as a popular destination for sunbathers and beach trotters. But, if you have the funds to relocate to an area that has the potential to do wonders for your mental and physical health, Brighton should be on the top of your “list”.

The city’s most significant advantage is that; it has pleasant, sunny weather across the year – with an unbelievable 1,670 hours of sunshine/year. Since sunlight triggers the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter responsible for uplifting your mood and helping you feel calmer, Brighton can prove no less than a heaven for those residing in the colder parts of the UK.

3. Swansea

The third place is won by Swansea – Wales’ second-largest urban area with a range of natural, green spaces for its residents. With a score of 98.13 out of 100, there is no surprise that Swansea’s people find themselves in a never-ending romance with their city’s parks and greenery. To top it off, UK regional stats indicate that the real-life Rivendell (hint: Lord of the rings); is one of the warmest locations in the UK, with an average temperature of 11.27˚C the year round.

 
To summarize

Whether you’re thinking of relocating or simply wondering about the healthiest towns and cities in the United Kingdom, there you have it, the three most beneficial places to live in the UK according to the latest research.

Innovative Light Set to Transform Falls Prevention and Detection

An innovative, AI-powered smart lamp which detects and prevents falls in older adults is now available in the UK & Ireland.

A lamp, designed by Nobi, a European provider of innovative technologies in elderly care, launches this week in the UK and Ireland. It is set to transform residential care settings’ ability to both prevent and detect falls which are the most significant cause of fatal injuries in the elderly.

The Nobi lamp offers a solution to a global problem. Around a third of people aged 65 and over, and around half of all people aged 80 and over, fall at least once a year1. Offering help as quickly as possible is crucial and can be a lifesaver.

If a resident falls, the intelligent lamp detects this immediately and speaks to the resident, asking if they are okay. In the event of no response or a call for help, the intelligent lamp is pre-programmed to send a message – to either caregivers or family members.

In the event of an emergency, the emergency services are notified with the lamp having the ability to open the door for them.

There is also the ability to send an image to show where in the room the fall has occurred. The Nobi lamp can be pre-programmed in line with the resident’s wishes. They can choose whether or not to share an image should a fall occur and can also opt for the image to be converted to an abstract figure to ensure privacy.

Nobi also aims to help prevent falls. When a resident sits upright in bed at night Nobi will shine soft light upwards to gently illuminate the room and if the person then stands up to go to the bathroom, for example, the smart lamp will illuminate the entire room.

In time, the AI technology built into the Nobi smart lamp will also be able to predict certain falls; preventing even more incidents. Changes in walking pace, length of stride and even the person’s posture when sitting will be detected and can be used to alert caregivers of a potential risk.

Speaking about the need for Nobi, co-founder and CEO of Nobi, Roeland Pelgrims said: “Falls are the most common cause of fatal injuries, and 50% of the elderly who lay on the floor for longer than one hour die within six months of the fall2. Quick help after a fall is crucial and equals saving quality years of life.

“Nobi’s ability to communicate immediately with care providers or family members provides peace of mind.”

The Nobi smart lamp has been carefully designed to feel familiar in every interior and as such is unobtrusive and is easily installed with no need for new cables – only a Wifi connection is required.

Nobi is set to play a pivotal role in the use of innovative technologies in care settings as the sector searches for solutions that fit seamlessly into the care environment. Pelgrims commented: “The population continues to age at a rapid pace. In fact, one-fifth of Europe’s population is currently over 65, and this will be one quarter by 2040.

“This ageing demographic is a tough challenge for all healthcare systems worldwide including the UK and Ireland which are already suffering from an acute shortage of healthcare personnel.”

Against this backdrop, Nobi aims to support care workers in residential care centres and assisted living facilities or hospitals so they can focus on their core task knowing that the lamp is watching over residents and patients and will alert them in case of a fall.

The lamp also takes repetitive administrative tasks off caregivers’ hands, freeing up time for duties that really make a difference.

For example, Nobi can be integrated with devices like smart scales and blood pressure monitors to automatically log health measurements and ensure this data is logged efficiently. Eventually it will help predict when things might go wrong so that preventative action can be taken.

Nobi’s ambitions don’t stop with residential settings; the company is set to develop the Nobi smart lamp further to offer an option for the elderly living independently in their own homes. A consumer market rollout is scheduled for 2023.

Nobi lamps are already in place in a number of settings in Europe and the company has started collaborations with large and small Belgian and international healthcare providers, including nursing homes, assisted living facilities, hospitals, community care and convalescent homes. 

UK distribution is being handled by Porters Care with the Irish market being handled by Medguard who have a demo room set up at their Ashbourne office in Co.Meath.

Speaking about Nobi, Porters Care managing director, David Knowles said: “I came across Nobi several years ago and watched the progress of the smart lamp with interest.

“After speaking to the team and experiencing how the system works, I had no hesitation with us becoming the UK Distributors. The potential is huge for the UK market, it’s a great product, it looks good, is easy to install and, importantly, it works out of the box!”

For more information in the UK, please contact David Knowles on 07393 537620 or visit https://porterscare.co.uk/. For Ireland contact Donal Doherty on 01 835 2411 or visit https://www.medguard.ie/

1  Falls: applying All Our Health – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
2 Research AAFP (American Academy of Family Physicians) Falls in the Elderly

How are Couriers Combatting Increased Fuel Costs?

With the cost of living on the rise, fuel stress has become an increasing concern for couriers and delivery drivers operating across Europe. The increased price of both petrol and diesel at the pump is greatly affecting the finances of courier companies and delivery services, as businesses struggle to absorb the rising fuel costs.

However, there are steps that delivery drivers can be taking to combat the increased price of petrol and diesel, helping that full tank to last just that bit longer.

In the article below, we will discuss how couriers can work to combat the increased fuel costs, helping you and your delivery company to save on petrol and your money.

Plan Around Anticipated Traffic

While a fairly simple suggestion, planning out your journey as to avoid times of heavy traffic and congestion can work wonders for helping you to cut down on your fuel consumption. Travelling at times of the day when traffic is minimal will allow you to avoid wasting your petrol or diesel by sitting around in stand-still traffic for sometimes even hours on end, meaning you will get the most out of the fuel that you are paying for.

While traffic jams and congestion cannot always be anticipated, such as in events of road accidents, planning out your journey with the information that you do have, such as typical rush hour times and pre-planned roadworks, can save you time and fuel.

With gas prices across Europe currently at a record high, planning out the most efficient route to take is a must for any and all same day courier service providers, helping you and your delivery company to beat the traffic, save on rising fuel prices, and deliver parcels to your customers quickly and on schedule.

Adopt a Smoother Driving Style

The way in which you are driving can have a huge impact upon your overall fuel consumption, particularly when it comes down to your braking and acceleration habits. There is no avoiding the need to adjust your speed whilst driving, helping you to get from point A to point B safely and efficiently, but adopting a smoother driving style can help you to save considerably on your fuel usage.

Breaking and accelerating are the two driving functions known to use up the most amount of petrol or diesel, but harsher acceleration or braking habits will see you facing an empty tank much sooner than necessary. By changing your driving style, you can help to greatly cut back on fuel waste, saving you a great deal on petrol costs in the long run.

Avoid Unnecessary Speeding

It is common knowledge that driving at higher speeds will lead to higher fuel consumption. While we are not suggesting that you drive at 20 MPH on the motorway, being mindful of your speed and working to avoid higher speeds when possible is a great way to save on fuel.

Overall, there are a number of ways in which your delivery drivers can work to combat the rising fuel costs across Europe while out on the road, helping your courier company to keep outgoing finances to a minimum and provide your customers with the best quality of service possible.

Aggreko Brings European Business Closer Together with Key Senior Appointment

Leading temporary power and temperature control company, Aggreko, has announced its new One Europe strategy with a view to better supporting companies decarbonise through the energy transition, as well as addressing more immediate concerns to reduce fuel usage and costs.

At the helm of the restructure is newly appointed Nicolas Protais, Managing Director Europe, previously Managing Director of Continental Europe of nine years.

As industry strives towards a low-carbon future, Aggreko is already helping many companies to adapt effectively. Nicolas brings a wealth of expertise from previous roles which enables acute understanding of the challenges customers across Europe are facing and how best to compete.

Over the coming months, Aggreko will be continuing to help grow demand for low-carbon power and energy solutions which are already helping companies to lower fuel usage, environmental impact and reduce energy costs. New technologies such as Aggreko’s Stage V generators, hybrids and load on demand solutions have already proved successful in the UK and will continue to be invested in across Europe.

According to Aggreko, this new structure is already enabling them to help customers future-proof against forthcoming challenges via cross-geographical leaning.

It is also seeing an increase in the uptake of decentralised energy solutions, where customers can generate their own, cleaner energy, with bespoke packages that can also provide more reliable power, as well as sending surplus energy back to the grid. As such, Energy as a Service (EaaS) contracts also appear to be becoming a more popular way of achieving this as it removes the barriers of high upfront capital investment.

Nicolas says: “I am excited to be leading this transformation in my new role as Managing Director for Europe, to build a low-carbon business over the coming decade. We have already come such a long way in the past few years, and our continued investment into innovations like Stage V generators, hybrids and commitment to a 100% switch to HVO are central to this.

“In order to create a ‘One Europe’ structure, I will leverage my international experience to ensure the merger of these successful two business units combine to be more than the sum of their parts. For me, partnership, communication, and collaboration are key to success, and these are qualities that are built into Aggreko. Our strength is in our people, and across Europe we have a deep pool of experience, relationships, and innovative solutions which I plan to leverage to the benefit our customers. With a shared vision and values, we are now better placed to share our technical capabilities without geographical barriers.”

For more information on Aggreko, visit: www.aggreko.com

Swiss Krono Accelerates Digitalization and Growth in Poland with Kyndryl

Swiss Krono increases performance after embracing a new enterprise resource planning system and migrating to SAP S/4HANA®

Kyndryl helps Swiss Krono rely on a strong, reliable and resilient IT infrastructure

Kyndryl (NYSE: KD), the world’s largest IT infrastructure services provider, announced that Swiss Krono, the Polish subsidiary of the world’s leading manufacturer of wood-based materials, has engaged Kyndryl in Poland in a five-year technology services agreement to standardize its IT infrastructure and migrate its core applications to SAP S/4HANA® in order to enable faster innovation and increased focus on new business opportunities.

Since 1966 the Swiss Krono Group, headquartered in Lucerne, Switzerland, has been growing its diversified businesses. This has led to an exponential increase in data and systems operating across 120 countries and branches. For many years, companies of the Swiss Krono Group have relied on enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions to boost operational efficiency. The speed of digitalization however – such as adopting new digital solutions while keeping up with traditional production – has led to numerous new applications and new server installations. Streamlining and integrating production processes has become essential and a top priority for company’s management.

To gain a unified view of operations, the group is currently working to implement next-generation business applications including SAP S/4HANA®. Key success factor for this transformation is the resilient, flexible, and secure IT infrastructure.

“With Kyndryl’s managed IT services we are about to implement an infrastructure that provides an ideal private cloud platform for our requirements. This allows us to flexibly combine existing systems with completely new workloads on a proven and reliable architecture in order to realize our vision for cross-company integration of business operations,” says Marek Ługowski, Head of IT-Infrastructure, Swiss Krono, Poland. “With Kyndryl’s services we are able to flexibly scale our SAP systems without complex adjustments to the configuration.”

As a result of this implementation, Swiss Krono’s can seamlessly connect all its plants across the world for consolidation of applications and IT infrastructure. Swiss Krono has gained tight integration of planning, manufacturing, and business processes, that enable new, future-ready business models that can fuel growth in furniture production.

“After standardizing SAP applications on Kyndryl’s managed IT infrastructure, Swiss Krono has improved and streamlined its business operations,” says Paweł Raczyński, Managing Director, Kyndryl Poland and Baltics.”We are providing a robust IT infrastructure that meets their current and future expansion plans and digital transformation needs while delivering a lower total cost of ownership and higher return on investments.”

Price More Important than Security for Smart Devices Say European Homeworkers, Putting Home and Business Cyber-Safety at Risk

  • 68% of European homeworkers don’t prioritise security in top three purchase factors
  • 75% of all European businesses take no steps to secure home internet connection or provide software protection for home devices, and over a quarter offer no protection at all, creating gaps for attackers 
  • With sales of smart domestic devices booming, unsecured home workers create lucrative entry points for exploitation by cybercriminals

BlackBerry Limited (NYSE: BB;TSX: BB) today published new European research exposing the cybersecurity risk created by cost-conscious homeworkers who prioritise security behind price, usability and ease of set up in their purchase of domestic smart devices. Less than a third (32%) of European home workers who own a smart devicei surveyed said security was a top three factor when choosing a smart device, compared to 50% who prioritised price. Over a quarter of businesses (28%) aren’t putting adequate security provisions in place to extend cyber protection as far as homes. This heightens the risk of cyberattacks for businesses and their employees, as hybrid and home working become the norm.

The survey of 4,000 home workers in the UK, FranceGermany, and the Netherlands revealed that over a quarter (28%) of people say that their employer has not done or communicated anything about protecting their home network or smart devices, or they don’t know if they are protected. Furthermore, 75% of Europeans say their employers have taken no steps to secure home internet connection or provide software protection for home devices. This failure to extend network security to home devices increases risk of the vulnerabilities created by hybrid and home working being successfully exploited. Particularly sobering findings for small and mid-sized businesses who face upwards of eleven cyberattacks per device, per day, according to BlackBerry research.

“An increase in unsecured smart devices in Europe is equally ideal for cyber attackers,” said Hans-Peter Bauer, Senior Vice President EMEA, BlackBerry Cybersecurity. “When consumers drop their guard to focus on price, and businesses don’t extend their security cover to compensate, cybercriminals will take advantage of any unsecured access point that could lead to lucrative personal and corporate data.”

Through even the most innocent of devices, bad actors can access home networks with connections to company devices – or company data on consumer devices – and seize the opportunity to steal data and intellectual property worth millions. It’s likely businesses will bear the brunt of cyberattacks caused by unsecured home devices, with knock-on effects to employees themselves. With device security far down the list for fraught buyers trying to cut costs, and employer protection of smart home devices being afforded to few, a huge opening is left for cybercriminals looking to take advantage of the boom in smart devices in the home. 

“A global hike in the cost of living, potential recession looming, escalating conflict and rising cyber-insurance premiums are creating perfect conditions for cyberattacks. Cybercrime increased during both the financial crisis of 2008-9 and the COVID-19 pandemic, and we expect to see a similar spike over the coming months,” continued Bauer. “These conditions compound the challenge of implementing effective hybrid and home working practices in homes that are getting smarter, but not necessarily more cybersecure. So, it is crucial that organisations remember the devices beyond their immediate reach when they are considering their cybersecurity protection and preparing for challenging economic times ahead.”

For more information on how BlackBerry’s comprehensive, prevention-first, AI-driven cybersecurity solutions can help your business prepare for, prevent, detect and respond to cyber threats, please visit BlackBerry.com/Cyber.

Monta Lands 30M EUR in Additional Financing to Accelerate the Buildout of EV Charging Infrastructure

Company will use the funding to open up new markets, create transparency within the electricity market, and digitalize the power grid infrastructure.

Monta, the only all-in-one EV charging management platform, today announced it has secured an additional EUR 30 million as part of a Series A+ round led by Energize Ventures, a leading global investment manager accelerating digital innovation for energy and sustainability, with participation from returning investors Creandum, Pale Blue Dot, byFounders, and Headline. The latest financing brings Monta’s total to EUR 50 million.

While 2021 European EV sales increased <https://www.iea.org/reports/global-ev-outlook-2022/trends-in-electric-light-duty-vehicles>  by more than 65% compared to 2020, the lack of EV charging infrastructure is still one of the biggest hurdles to mass adoption. Not only do nearly 3,000 new public charge points need to be built each week for Europe to reach its target of operating one million charge points by 2025, but the customer experience is often hampered by a highly fragmented ecosystem of charge point operators and owners.

Led by a team of seasoned entrepreneurs with experience managing large software development organizations, Monta is delivering an all-in-one EV charging platform that simplifies and streamlines deployment, use, and management of EV charging infrastructure. Via the Monta platform, charge point owners have full visibility into charge point use, pricing, access, and transactions. For EV drivers, Monta provides reservation, virtual queuing, and payment features under one platform as well as access to public charge points.

“We are aiming to fully digitalize the EV ecosystem to tackle all the immediate challenges within the industry and build toward a more transparent and flexible future. By partnering with hardware OEMs we can deliver new features straight out of the box, like our new feature that allows operators to set a percentage on top of the spot price in order to follow the market fluctuations and automatically offer a fair price for charging, ” says Casper Rasmussen, Monta CEO. “The investment from Energize and our returning investors is a strong vote of confidence in our vision, team, and software as the cornerstone of the mobility infrastructure of the future.”

Monta’s EV charging management platform is used by notable utility, aviation, and transportation industry companies such as Vestas, CPH Airport, and PostNord as well as wholesalers, who are leveraging Monta to upskill installers. Since the company’s latest financing in January 2022, Monta has secured strategic partnerships with hardware manufacturers to launch its Powered by Monta (PBM) program in multiple markets. Key partners include Garo, CTEK, and ABB which each boast a range of charge points in Europe as well as Zaptec, which recently launched Zaptec Park, a co-branded app for its users.

“The market penetration of electric vehicles is climbing sharply as economic, regulatory, and climate levers accelerate EV adoption – and deployment of charging infrastructure has to keep pace. We expect more than 1.6 million public chargers and 20 million private charging stations to be deployed in the U.S. and Europe by 2025,” said Juan Muldoon, Partner at Energize Ventures. “As the market for charge point hardware grows and commoditizes, Monta offers a software solution that enables a consistent, improved charging experience for players throughout the EV charging value chain – from installers to drivers. We’re thrilled to partner with the Monta team as they pave the way for a more scalable and sustainable EV infrastructure.”

Monta will leverage the additional investment to open up new markets including North America, while consolidating its position in Scandinavia, the UK, and Germany, all of which have legislation in place slated to ban new ICE vehicle sales by 2025, 2030, and 2035 respectively. To further support the needs of the EU and the US – which has set a goal for 50% of its car sales to be EVs by 2030 – Monta will ramp up its product innovations and develop critical features to help EV drivers and charge point owners seamlessly navigate the industry.

Looking further ahead, Monta seeks to expand its product development to include grid management services amid challenges as more EVs hit the roads. Ultimately, the company expects to facilitate the sale of excess power back to the grid (V2G), manage interoperability with other zero carbon technologies (V2H, V2X), aid in the creation of local energy markets, and empower end users with ownership over their energy consumption.

“The ability to take advantage of these new opportunities requires changes in information flows among grid devices as well as innovations in communication and coordination tools that increase the observability, predictability, and controllability of the grid. The societal impact and environmental potential of these technologies are massive. Monta is at the forefront of developing the systems needed to monitor and reward this flexibility to create an equitable energy solution for all EV drivers,” said Casper Rasmussen.

The deal is expected to close later this year, subject to regulatory approval.

Best Business Advice For Italian Dual Citizenship Aspirant

With the dual citizenship trend gathering pace, aspiring immigrants are keen to join the bandwagon. After all, nothing sounds more exciting than the freedom of living as a global citizen with double the rights and privileges. Italy is among the most-loved immigration destinations as it offers an excellent lifestyle and benefits to its citizens. Think beyond living an incredible life in the country because you can unlock lucrative business opportunities here. But knowing your facts gives you an advantage as an entrepreneur. As a start, you can get a consultation on Dual Italian Citizenship on mbersanilaw.com to choose the appropriate route. We also have some more valuable business advice for aspiring immigrants.

Pick the apt alternative

Before planning for your Italian business, you must chart a roadmap for immigration. The good thing is that you have multiple alternatives, but you may have a hard time deciding on the apt one. The eligibility criteria may sound simple, but there is plenty to learn when you dig deep. It is better to seek expert advice in this context. Here are the routes to consider-

Citizenship by descent for aspirants with ancestral roots in the countryCitizenship by marriage for people married to an Italian citizenCitizenship by naturalization for individuals with an extended residence (ten years) in the country

Explore local business opportunities

Once you obtain Italian dual citizenship, you are free to live and work in the country. Since the Italian markets are lucrative, almost every vertical offers alluring opportunities for entrepreneurs. Identify your target customers, check the competitive landscape, and go through the regulations to launch your startups. Also, go through the tax norms of the country. You can collaborate with local experts to guide you for a smooth start and ensure that your business is compliant.

Expand across the EU markets

Another valuable tip for business owners is to consider expansion opportunities across the EU markets. The dual citizenship status entitles you to visa-free travel to Schengen countries, and you can also work in these markets. It is an excellent opportunity to set up a global conglomerate, and you should not miss out on it. Explore the demand for your offering in overseas markets, collaborate with local partners, and set up your business for a global launch.

Create a multi-generational legacy

Italian dual citizenship passes on automatically to the next generations through the Jure Sanguinis rule. So your children, grandchildren, and the next in line will be citizens too. You can bequeath more than one of the best passports to them. Setting up a business in the country is like creating a multi-generational legacy for your loved ones. They can reap the rewards of your effort for the years to come and do their bit to take the company to the next level.

Setting up a business is the best thing you can do after obtaining Italian dual citizenship. You should definitely capitalize on the opportunity that the local markets offer. Think beyond to expand to the EU markets as well.

Fewer Than Half of UK Chains Across Numerous Categories Respond to Online Reviews

The results of a cross-category online brand reputation study of more than 500 UK retail businesses found only 44% respond to online reviews. Moreover, 38% do not have local branch pages, and less than half (42%) employ UTM performance marketing tracking.  

The study, conducted by digital performance marketing agency DAC Group, audited businesses across seven categories – automotive, fashion, finance, health & fitness, food & beverage, land & property and supermarkets. The study was designed to understand what reputation management strategies are in place across each segment.

“Two months ago, we established that nine in 10 UK businesses are challenged by managing brand reputation”, says Mike Fantis, VP Managing Partner of DAC Group. “By looking at best practice, we were then able to establish what this actually means in practical terms – and the reality is worse than expected.”  

Reviews

Of the seven categories audited, automotive is the best at responding to reviews with 84% of businesses doing so; on the other hand, not one supermarket brand does this and only 37% of financial services. 

Mike Fantis comments: “Marketers understand the value of reviews in influencing and attracting new customers. This is particularly the case for high ticket value items, so reputation is key for segments such as Automotive and Land and Property, both of which engage well with reviews. However, it is surprising this isn’t also the case in Finance, in which it’s generally the smaller local players that take the time to respond to reviews – notably, only one High Street bank does so.

“Google recently announced that responding to reviews is one way to improve the brands’ local ranking and visibility. Even if brands don’t care about what individual customers think, maybe they should think twice when it comes to the volume of website sessions and store footfall. The big picture is, of course, missed revenue.”

Local brand pages

67% of Food & Beverage chains do not have individual sites for local outlets, instead opting for i-Frame pop-ups from their main national or international site. While this is an easier option, it means those brands are not maximising their local relevance for local searches (i.e. ‘restaurants near me’). This impacts those businesses’ ability to reach customers at a local level. 

UTM tracking

Less than half of UK chains audited use URL tracking parameters, which means they lack visibility on website performance, and in particular, click and collect trends. Again, Automotive is the category employing UTM most effectively with 75% usage. By comparison, three quarters (77%) of Food & Beverage and 72% of Land & Property businesses don’t use UTM. Those categories  lose out on the data insights identifying exactly where searches are conducted and what marketing channels are most successful in driving engagement. 

Fantis concludes: “Other than in Automotive, we’re seeing missed opportunities across the board and this confirms what our previous study suggested – most UK chains are doing a poor job on online reputation management. 

“While other factors like brand recognition might trump reputation for certain segments, such as supermarkets and banks, it is all-important for smaller brands who need to use reputation as a differentiator to build trust and demonstrate expertise at a local level.”

What Sort of Visas Are Available for Finance and Banking Jobs in the UK?

The UK has more finance and banking vacancies in 2022 than ever before, with more and more jobs filled by overseas workers. In this article, we’ll look at the visas that are available for finance and banking jobs in the UK…

Great Britain has always been a popular destination for overseas workers due to the volume and variety of positions available. The rules regarding getting a work visa for the UK may have changed recently, but that has put few overseas workers off – particularly within the finance and banking industries.

Figures show that 19.5% of UK financial services staff are from abroad. In this article, we’ll explain what sort of visas are available for finance and banking jobs in the UK.

What are the Different Types of Visas Available in the UK?

Following the UK’s departure from the European Union in January 2020, new rules were put in place for those hoping to live and work in Great Britain. In order to relocate to the UK, overseas workers now need to match a certain set of criteria as well as, gaining a sponsorship and a visa. Below we’re going to be taking a look at some of the different visas available to those looking to work in the finance and banking sector as well as, reviewing some of the requirements.

The Skilled Worker Visa

Introduced in January 2021, the Skilled Workers Visa allows foreign nationals to live and work in the UK finance and banking sector if they have a confirmed job offer from a UK company or organisation. In order to be eligible for a Skilled Worker Visa, the following criteria must be fulfilled:

  • The offered job is eligible under the visa scheme
  • The UK employer has been approved by the Home Office
  • The offered job pays a minimum of £25,600 per annum or £10.10 per hour

The Skilled Worker Visa usually has a term of five years, after which the visa may, under some circumstances, be renewed for a further length of time. This kind of visa will generally only be available to those who have qualifications and experience of working within a particular sector.

The High Potential Visa

For those who are not eligible for the Skilled Worker Visa, perhaps due to a lack of working experience, the High Potential Visa may be an alternative option. This visa is available to people who have graduated from an eligible international university within the past five years and can demonstrate their potential to provide value to the UK workforce.

The High Potential Visa, which was introduced in May 2022, offers a short term (two years) gateway to the UK for overseas nationals, provided that their university is on the accredited list.  This type of visa could work well for economics, accounting and finance graduates.

Global Expansion Visa

This kind of visa is available for those who work for a banking or finance company overseas and are tasked with opening a new branch of the company in the UK. To be eligible for the Global Expansion Visa, candidates must:

The Global Expansion Visa runs for 12 months, and in some cases, an extension may be granted at the end of this term. Should you require an extension, it’s advisable to apply well before the end of the existing contract to avoid problems.

Senior or Specialist Worker Visa

This visa replaced the old intra company transfer visa back in April and offers senior managers and specialist employees the chance to undertake a temporary work assignment in the UK. The route is part of the new global business mobility visa. To be eligible for this type of visa candidates must:

  • Be an existing employee of a UK Home Office approved company
  • Have a detailed certificate of sponsorship from the employer
  • Possess a job included on the list of eligible occupations
  • Earn a salary of at least £42,000 per year

The senior or specialist worker visa does not lead to permanent residence in the UK and time spent on this visa does not count toward settlement for an indefinite leave to remain application.

However, if  a senior or specialist worker visa holder does want to apply for indefinite leave to remain in the UK then there is the opportunity to switch their visa options, such as the skilled worker visa.

 

Ready to Relocate to the UK?

When the trigger was pulled on Brexit, many foreign nationals feared that it spelled the end for opportunities to live and work in the UK. However, we’ve shown in this article that talented and skilled workers are still very much  in the UK.

This is particularly true within the banking and finance sectors which are currently crying out for qualified and experienced personnel. A combination of Brexit and the global COVID-19 pandemic has meant that there are more empty seats in these sectors than ever before – thus increasing the chances of success for overseas professionals wishing to experience life in the UK.

When considering a move to the UK, it’s important to first read all of the criteria for your chosen visa really carefully to make sure that you’re eligible to apply. It’s also crucial to leave plenty of time as the process can often take up to six months to complete.

Vilnius Recognized for Best FDI Strategy in Europe, Climbing Through Ranks in Other Categories as Well

Vilnius, the Capital of Lithuania, has placed second among the top Mid-Sized European Cities of the Future by the fDi Intelligence ranking. The city’s strategy to attract foreign investments was also recognized as the best in the category, reflecting the capital’s consistent efforts in fostering a business-conducive environment.

 

Vilnius has secured the second spot among the Mid-Sized European Cities of the Future category in the European Cities and Regions of the Future ranking by fDi Intelligence, a specialist division of the Financial Times. Additionally, the city’s strategy was named the best in the category for the first time, allowing the city to climb higher in other sub-categories compared to results from 2020, demonstrating consistent growth.

Vilnius was also listed in the top 10 for other sub-categories in this group, ranking third in Economic Potential as well as Human Capital and Lifestyle, in which the city was placed fifth last year. It also secured the sixth spot in Business Friendliness, while in 2020 the city was not included amongst the 10 best cities.

In the Small European Regions of the Future category, Vilnius was named fifth. The capital also earned the seventh spot in the Economic Potential sub-category, ninth in Human Capital and Lifestyle, tenth in Cost Effectiveness and the sixth spot in Business Friendliness as well.

The positions were decided after evaluating a number of the city’s foreign direct investment measures, like recent overseas investment attracted to Vilnius, various economic indicators and overall business development.

fDi Intelligence produces the European Cities and Regions of the Future rankings every two years in order to distinguish the best locations for business development and investment. Alongside the general ranking, the cities are also evaluated in six different sub-categories: FDI strategy, Economic Potential, Cost Effectiveness, Connectivity, Human Capital and Lifestyle, Business Friendliness. 

Quick response is key to success

The Mayor of Vilnius, Remigijus Šimašius, says that the high ranking is the result of diligent work and concentrated efforts to make the city more open to projects and ideas coming both from locals and foreigners, even in the midst of the pandemic.

“Despite the hurdles that came with the pandemic, Vilnius has remained focused on growth, innovative ideas, and solutions that will benefit both its residents as well as investors, scientists, and entrepreneurs. This is why we managed to come out of this peculiar situation stronger than ever, by being bold and fast to make the best of emerging possibilities—from welcoming talents from all over the world with the newly-opened International House Vilnius, to facilitating the rapid growth of our biotech sector, which almost doubled it’s revenues,” said Remigijus Šimašius, Mayor of Vilnius.

“We believe that flexibility, creativity, and quick response are key in order to overcome difficult circumstances and are confident in our ability to make sure that Vilnius continues to grow under any conditions that await in the future,”  Šimašius concluded.

Biotechnology and fintech named among growth sectors

In the ranking, experts evaluated various Vilnius projects from the past two years. Among those assessed was the Open Data portal to make information about the city more easily accessible, the One Giant Outdoor Café initiative, created during the pandemic to help restaurants stay in business, as well as International House Vilnius, a support center for people planning to relocate to the city.

The city listed biotechnology, ICT/fintech, and laser technology as their three main growth sectors with great potential for inward investment and post-pandemic economic recovery.

Vilnius has consistently gotten high evaluation for its projects—in 2021 it won third place at European Capital of Innovations (iCapital) awards. The initiatives the city named in the application for the awards include Intelligent Energy Lab, a platform dedicated to efficient energy use, The Intelligent City Lungs project, created to analyze air pollution, as well as Hack for Vilnius, an event to promote ideas for the city with a 19,000 euro reward—all were included in the application for the fDi ranking as well.

The award ceremony was held at the world’s biggest property event MIPIM on March 15-18 in Palais des Festivals, Cannes.

How EU Businesses Can Use Marketing to Attract a Global Customer Base

Marketing is all about communicating the value of a product or service.

Essentially, marketers need to connect with buyers by providing them with a reason why they should purchase their product rather than go elsewhere.

Marketing can be done in many different ways, from social media marketing to email marketing and everything in between. If you have a business in the EU, here is how you can use marketing to attract a global audience.

How to Promote Your Product or Service

The goal of any marketer is to successfully promote their business and make it more visible in order to ease the process of getting customers and clients.

No matter what kind of company you run, though, there are a few easy-to-implement marketing practices for any global business that can be used for success at any stage – regardless if you’re just starting out or if your business has been running for years.

Build an effective website

A website is the face of any business, so it’s important to invest the money and effort into building an effective one.

It is also a great way to get potential clients and customers interested in your product and services, especially if you have a blog or company forum on your site.

It should be noted that websites need to be in the user’s native language. If you are a German company but trade in Italy, for example, be sure to translate your website properly into Italian rather than just relying on Google Translate.

An effective website is nothing without a good SEO strategy, though. It’s worth giving a company like www.clickintelligence.co.uk a message to see what an expert SEO consultancy can do for you.

Leverage social media popularity

Social media marketing can be used in conjunction with other marketers’ strategies (useful for increasing traffic and visibility) as well as giving new information about products, services, or general happenings.

Social media is not something that can be used for “one-hit wonders,” though. It’s something that requires continued work and effort to maintain.

Use your existing website as well as Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms to welcome them into your greater community.

If your business is going global, be sure to check out the most popular social networks in other countries too. While the big four social networks are popular in most of the world, many countries in Europe and beyond have specific local social networking sites.

Build trust via reviews, testimonials, and endorsements

Trust is earned through action, and building trust takes time and effort. A product or service can either be loved or hated, no matter how good or useful it is.

The only way to get your product to sell is to get it in front of customers and make them see the value in what you are offering.

Create a long-term marketing strategy to build local customer loyalty

Marketing should not be an impulsive decision or short-term burst of activity but rather a long-term process that should build upon itself over time.

If you want lasting results, create a marketing plan that gets clients and customers invested not only in you and your business but also in each other.

This may mean working within the community and being visible across the EU where you are trading.

Your brand should be unique and appeal to a global audience but on a local level.

Phenom Study: First Benchmark of European 100 Uncovers Opportunities to Meet Job Candidates’ High Expectations

Inaugural European Edition: State of Candidate Experience Report Provides Recommendations for Improvements

Phenom, the global leader in Talent Experience Management (TXM), released its first-ever State of Candidate Experience Report — European Edition. The comprehensive audit, which assessed the top 100 European companies on the Fortune Global 500 list in three key areas of the talent journey — attraction, engagement and conversion — revealed there is significant room to improve the experience with personalisation and automation.

Talent acquisition is now a business priority among the C-suite — especially across industries with high-volume hiring needs — such as healthcare, hospitality, manufacturing, retail and transportation. But instead of using personalisation and automation technology to effectively and efficiently scale hiring, the majority of European 100 companies are falling short.

The 2022 audit of European 100 career sites reveals:

  • Only 9% had an intuitive job search and application process
  • Only 10% sent applicants a satisfaction survey
  • Only 6% had a recruitment chatbot
  • 96% did not present job recommendations based on browsing history
  • 90% did not display recently viewed jobs
  • 68% lacked a job cart or favorites function to save jobs
  • 0% communicated application status beyond initial confirmation

How Companies Can Improve the Candidate Experience

Simplify search and apply.

Requiring three or more clicks to apply for a job is a major roadblock for candidates. The longer it takes for a candidate to find and apply to a relevant job, the greater the chance they will abandon the process and look elsewhere. One recommendation is for companies to equip their career sites with the ability to provide relevant suggested jobs based on a candidate’s keywords, skills, experience and location.

Create hyper-personalisation. Candidates are used to superior tailored experiences in their consumer lives. If finding a job that matches what they want is difficult, they are quick to move on. Dynamic personalisation is one way companies can automatically match a candidate’s preferences, experience, skills and location with best-fit job openings — and surface content for candidates as they move through their own unique end-to-end talent journey across multiple channels.

Automate communication. Job seekers want to know where they stand in the screening and interview scheduling process. Failure to communicate status details jeopardises employer brand and acceptance rates. Using conversational AI chatbots, SMS and email campaigns are a few ways companies can automate individualised communications to keep job seekers engaged while differentiating their brand.

“Hiring, developing and retaining talent isn’t just an HR priority — it is a business priority. Companies must differentiate themselves by the experiences they provide to their candidates and their employees to sustain,” said Mahe Bayireddi, CEO and co-founder of Phenom. “This benchmark report of the European 100 provides industry-specific insights and actionable recommendations for using automation and personalisation to earn and keep top talent.”

How Automation Helps Talent Experiences
Automation enables a quick, efficient hiring process that serves up best-fit jobs to candidates — and best-fit candidates to recruiters — while optimising omnichannel communications that nurture talent communities. Not only do job seekers appreciate a streamlined, personalised experience, but with efficiency at the core, recruiters and hiring managers benefit from decreased time to fill and better long-term fits.

Employees are no exception. The same hyper-personalised candidate experience should extend to internal talent, who may be looking to move within their current company. By making relevant open roles and development opportunities visible, actionable and attainable, companies stand a better chance at retaining them. AI-powered talent marketplaces automate the process for an employee experience that unifies all key stakeholders: internal candidates, recruiters and hiring managers.

With this report, companies can learn how to make changes — large or small — to enhance the candidate experience and provide a measurable, positive impact on their businesses.

Download the full 2022 State of the Candidate European Edition report and rankings here. Also recently published, the sixth annual report auditing the Fortune 500 is available for download here. Organisations can request their own complimentary career site audit here.

To request a demo of Phenom TXM visit phenom.com.

GoHenry Expands into Europe with Acquisition of French FinTech Pixpay

GoHenry, the prepaid debit card and financial education app for kids aged 6-18, has acquired French FinTech Pixpay in a deal that will see the financial education pioneer expand into Europe for the first time.

Ten years after it launched in the UK creating a new category in financial services, this new deal will enable GoHenry to rapidly expand its two million plus UK and US member base and accelerate growth across Europe as the company seeks to deliver on its mission to make every kid smart with money.

Having more than doubled its revenue during the pandemic to $42M in 2021, the acquisition follows a successful $40 million fund raise in 2020 to accelerate its leadership position in the UK and expansion into the US. Investors include French entrepreneurial growth equity investment fund Revaia, US growth-equity fund Edison Partners, Citi Ventures, and Muse Capital.

In just two years, Pixpay has established itself as the leader in teen banking in France and Spain, with nearly 200,000 members. Its opening in Spain in November 2021, less than two years after its commercial launch in France, embodies its ambition to become a key player in Europe. Pixpay has plans to expand into Italy and Germany later this year. To support its launch, Pixpay has raised more than €11M since April 2019 from the investment fund Global Founders Capital and BPIFrance via its Digital Venture division. 

Alex Zivoder, CEO at GoHenry, comments: “Ten years ago we saw an opportunity to give young people access to the digital economy. Since then we’ve looked to transform financial education for kids, teens and their parents through our groundbreaking financial education app and debit card to help children across the world gain confidence with money and finances. 

“Pixpay is the most developed player in Europe and we’re excited to combine our expertise in financial education to accelerate not only GoHenry’s growth but to accelerate the financial fitness of even more kids and teens globally. This deal marks a significant chapter for the future of financial education.” 

Benoit Grassin, CEO at Pixpay, says: “We are delighted to be joining the GoHenry Group as we prepare to accelerate Pixpay’s expansion across Europe. GoHenry’s experience and heritage will only serve to strengthen the already strong proposition offered by Pixpay. We look forward to building a strong, long-term relationship with GoHenry and we are excited about what the future holds.”

GoHenry and Pixpay will continue to operate under their own brands with no change in leadership, headquarters or headcount. The acquisition will instead allow both companies to accelerate their growth by executing synergies in knowledge and resource that will free up funds to reinvest in the financial education of kids and teens.

As part of its commitment to financial education, GoHenry recently launched its first Junior ISA, introduced in-app gamified money lessons, Money Missions, and continued to champion the importance of financial literacy through its membership of The Centre for Financial Capability. Alongside accountancy firm Wilson Wright, the company also commissioned CBI Economics analysis in March this year calling on the UK Government to work with industry to prioritise financial education from a young age.

How to Know if Management Buyout is Right for You?

Knowing when and how to sell can be a difficult decision, especially in volatile times for businesses. There are many ways to sell a business, each of which have their own advantages and disadvantages. It may be that your own management team present you with a bid for a buy out – a sale opportunity that could hold unique benefits for both you and your team. But how can you know if such a buy out is right for you?

How a Management Buy Out Work

In essence, a management buy out describes the acquisition of a business through the purchase of its assets, or of a controlling majority of its shares, by a collective formed from the business’s existing management team. The team in question would pool their resources, and collectively form a singular purchasing entity to attain control of the business from its prior owner.

In the vast majority of scenarios, the team in question will assume direct control, using their unique expertise and experience to continue the business in the wake of its prior owner.

Advantages of a Management Buy Out

The advantages for the acquisition team are well-documented, as they can improve their personal financial positions while preserving the business’ operation according to their experience. For the seller, though, there are also key measurable benefits.

For one, sellers with a particular attachment to their business – or a vested interest in the form of minority share-holding – can rest assured that their business will remain functionally intact, in the safe hands of a team that understands its needs.

Confidentiality is maintained, where a public sale would require the release of private information and company processes that could benefit competitors. Sellers can also guarantee a relatively quick sale, depending on the speed at which financing is granted.

Funding

Speaking of funding, one of the downsides to management buy outs relates to the methods by which a buy out team acquires the capital necessary to complete the purchase. There are multiple routes a team can take to facilitate a purchase. They may rely on asset-backed financing, using personal assets as collateral to guarantee a loan.

Alternatively, they may seek investment from an external party in the form of an angel investor; this is a preferable outcome for both parties, as funding is provided immediately, and largely free of condition – guaranteeing a quick sale.

The Right Option for You?

Ultimately, whether a management buy out is the right decision for you and your business is a decision only you, as business owner, can make. The benefits of a management buy out might not appeal to you, especially where there is no personal attachment to the business or industry; public tender may also invite offers above market value. But if you are in search of a quick sale and known quantity in your buyer, a management buy out may be for you. There are other options such as an employee ownership trust, or the standard company buyout.

0800 Numbers for Businesses Outside of the UK

Guidance on 0800 Numbers for Businesses Outside of the UK.

If you run a business that is outside of the UK but would like to have a presence in Britain that British consumers and businesses will recognise, then investing in an 0800 telephone number makes a great deal of sense. In the past, 0800 numbers – toll-free or freephone numbers in the UK – used to have to be supplied by a registered network operator. This meant that the service would piggyback on a standard telephone line with a fixed connection somewhere in the country. However, with virtual telephony services, 0800 numbers can be supplied in a way that means that they can redirect calls to any phone number you like. This includes overseas numbers, VoIP services and even mobile phones.

Consequently, it is now possible for companies in Germany, Japan, the United States and South Africa, for example, to publish a telephone number that UK callers will feel at home with. Even better, they are more likely to call it than a standard, geographical number that connects to a UK telephone exchange because nearly everyone in the country understands that an 0800 call won’t cost them anything. As such, they are popular throughout the British Isles as both customer service and sales hotlines.

All you need to make a success of an 0800 number – even if you are based outside of the UK – is to publish it in places where British consumers and businesses will see it. This might mean on your social media or it could be as simple as putting it on your corporate website. Of course, adding an 0800 number to business cards, promotional literature and sales leaflets that will be distributed in the UK is also a good idea. Most firms find they get more inbound calls when they use an 0800 number as their point of contact compared to a standard British landline.

According to one of the main British suppliers of 0800 numbers, Cleartone Communications, when people in the UK dial a freephone business number, they won’t even realise that their call is being redirected overseas. As such, you can have calls to the service forward to any country you like without there being a delay or a noticeable alteration in the way the call connects. So long as calls are answered by someone who can speak English well, there is no reason for callers to even know they are connected to an office outside of the UK. Indeed, you can even have calls to your 0800 number answered automatically and for a recorded greeting to be made before the call goes on to be transferred for an even more professional service.

Please note that overseas businesses that have an office in the UK can have calls to their 0800 number directed there instead of their head office. What’s more, there is a great deal of flexibility on offer. For example, if it is a national holiday in the UK and your London office, for example, isn’t open, then you can have inbound calls sent to one of your overseas offices for a while before resuming normal operations at a later date. As such, investing in an 0800 number is a good idea if you want to build up your commercial presence in the UK.

Why does a Business need an SEO Strategy to be Successful?

Search engine optimisation, more commonly referred to as SEO, is a digital marketing strategy that provides businesses with a long-term and cost-effective advertising solution, helps to improve their visibility online and within the organic search results. It is often said that behind every successful company is a great SEO campaign, but with the different elements that go into building a strong SEO strategy often taking a longer time to yield distinguishable results, many business owners may find themselves wondering whether SEO is worth the investment.

SEO is a long-term marketing plan, meaning some business won’t start to see the real benefits of their efforts until around 4-6 months down the line. This is because it can take some time before the search engines will start to pick up on the changes being made to your website, allowing them to re-evaluate and then rank your website accordingly. While this delay is slowly seeing progress, meaning business owners will begin to see increase to their web traffic and overall performance as a result from their SEO campaigns much sooner than in previous years, many entrepreneurs may still question whether a search engine optimisation campaign is worth their time and effort.

In short, SEO is crucial for any company that wants to succeed within the organic search results, helping to boost their online visibility, increase traffic, and drive overall sales.
In the article below, we will discuss why an SEO strategy is vital for success, helping your business to thrive.

Stay Ahead of the Competition

SEO is a great way for businesses to improve their online visibility, boosting their organic ranking position within the search results and bettering the chances that their brand be seen by their target audience. A strong SEO campaign will help you to dominate the competition, meaning your business is the first thing that users will see when searching for the products and services that you rank for. Ranking highly for your chosen search terms is a great way to stay ahead of your competitors – potential customers will be much more likely to choose your brand if it’s the one that they’re seeing first!

Increase your Organic Traffic

Websites that are seen to rank at the top of the organic search results are much more likely to experience increased levels of interaction from their customer base, with the website ranking in the number one position for any given search term receiving 33% of all clicks for that query. Therefore, it’s important to rank highly amongst your competitors, helping your business website to see a significant boost in online traffic.

A successful SEO strategy is detrimental to improving your site’s ranking position within the organic search results, increasing your traffic flow and online visibility as a result.

Overall, a great SEO campaign is vital to the online success of your business, allowing you to drive sales and boost your traffic, as well as stay two steps ahead of your competitors. SEO is highly important for your online success, and while it may take time before you start to see the results of your efforts, it is a digital marketing strategy that is well worth the investment.

If you’re unsure of where to start when building a search engine optimisation strategy for your website, there are a number of excellent online SEO course options on the market, helping to provide you with all of the information that you need to succeed.

EU Business News Announce the Winners of the 2022 Benelux Enterprise Awards

UNITED KINGDOM, 2022 – EU Business News Magazine have announced the winners of this year’s instalment of the Benelux Awards.

The last two years have been defined by new beginnings and getting back on track, with companies now excelling despite recovering from the considerable impact of the pandemic. With the business landscape back and thriving, companies are capitalising by making up for lost time. New product launches, entering new markets, new marketing, and recruitment drives – regardless of the method, Benelux businesses are setting themselves up for future success.

With all this in mind, we have endeavoured to celebrate those who in 2022 have returned to a growth mindset and are taking business to a whole new level. Awards Coordinator, Gabrielle Ellis took a moment to comment on the success of the winners: “Congratulations to all of our well-deserving award winners who work tirelessly to make the Benelux region the powerhouse it is. I would like to wish you all the very best of luck for the future.”

EU Business News prides itself on the validity of its awards and winners. As such, every one of our winners can be certain that their success is deserved. We carefully evaluate everything from a business’, or individual’s, performance over the past 12 months to ensure that only the most deserving parties walk away with one of our prestigious awards.

To learn more about our award winners and to gain insight into the working practices of the “best of the best”, please visit the EU Business News website (http://business-news.eu) where you can access the winners supplement.

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS

About EU Business News

The EU is a vital and exciting region filled with businesses and individuals creating unique innovations, supporting their customers around the world and, ultimately, driving change. As such, EU Business News aims to provide an absorbing overview of this exciting region and the businesses and individuals operating within it.

Much more than just a magazine, alongside our online publication EU Business News also boasts an informative newsletter, a regularly updated website and a series of awards programmes showcasing the excellence of businesses and the individuals behind them from across this vibrant region.

As subscription to EU Business News is free there is absolutely no reason not to sign up to receive this informative and fascinating resource.

How Will the UK Accommodate Growing Inner-City Populations?

The population within the UK has rapidly increased over the last two decades. To put it into perspective, between 2000 and 2020, the population had increased from 58,886,100 to 67,081,200. Based on these figures, they suggest that the population size could potentially numbers of around 69,207,197 by 2030.

The population of cities is also increasing. The number of people in the City of London, for example, has risen by 58.3 per cent between 2014 to 2019. To accommodate for the growing number of inner-city dwellers, professionals must continue to think of innovative building and construction solutions.

Nifty Lift, a leading supplier of cherry pickers, considers whether brownfield remediation is the answer to growing population sizes.

What is brownfield remediation?

First and foremost, professionals in the construction industry need to decide where to build new housing and accommodation units. Greenfield land, for example, presents a blank canvas for professionals to expand the size of metropolitan areas. On the other hand, brownfield land utilises previously developed lands and breathes life back into crowded cities.

The Countryside Charity, an organisation campaigning for the preservation of greenfield land, argues that brownfield remediation is the most suitable option for developing cityscapes. This is because it regenerates and recycles unused land across the nation. It also reduces urban sprawling and ensures our countryside is safeguarded for future generations.

Brownfield remediation also reduces costs for construction industry. This is because the foundations, drainage, and electrical wiring may have already been established. It can also be easier to receive planning permissions on brownfield land. There are certain challenges, however, that construction managers must take into consideration before wheeling in aerial work platforms. These are dependent on whether the area is contaminated or if buildings need to be demolished before construction can begin.

Can brownfield remediation address the housing crisis?

The nation is full of unused land. Birmingham, for example, has 958 brownfield sites that can be utilised, amounting to a possible 37,326 housing projects. Using these spaces could help solve the housing crisis, which Marie Chadwick, a policy leader at the National Housing Federation, argues is “exceptionally bad”. To address this issue, the government has introduced the Brownfield Land Release Fund (BLRF). The fund amounts to £75m and offers £25m to local councils that want to develop housing on derelict or abandoned land. This has the effect of encouraging the remediation of brownfield land in cities.

Can brownfield remediation help community and professional projects?

Brownfield remediation may also be beneficial for community projects, such as community housing. In recent years, storage containers have become a solution for these issues as they can be fitted with electricity and present a more affordable option than standard bricklaying.

Homelessness continues to be a social concern. Despite the average number of people sleeping on the streets declining within the past four years, the demographic is still 38 per cent higher than it was in 2010 when 1,110 people lived without a home. In an effort to tackle this issue, Embassy is creating community accommodation of 40 modular homes out of shipping containers. Embassy Village will be based near Bridgewater Canal in Manchester, developing inner cityscapes while remediating a brownfield site and offering a solution to homelessness.

On the other hand, brownfield remediation can address professional projects, including an increasing need for office spaces. In London, for example, strenuous lockdowns throughout the COVID-19 pandemic halted 50 per cent of both newbuilt and ongoing construction projects. This has forced professionals to think of innovative alternatives to traditional office spaces, such as storage container offices.

Companies in Cardiff are also coming up with imaginative solutions to dwindling office spaces. Meanwhile House, for example, is a three-storey complex offers spaces for professionals within the city, as well as including communal bathrooms and a coffee shop. This concept is ready to be adopted by city councils as storage containers can be placed on the abundance of brownfield land across the nation.

To summarise

Brownfield remediation may be the answer towards inner-city development. Not only can this help preserve the Great British countryside, but this also helps breathe life into previously unused land. It may also help the housing and office crises in cities around the nation. Can you think of any land that can be repurposed as brownfield sites?

How Technology will Improve the Legal Industry

While the legal sector has traditionally been less open to change than some other industries in the UK, recent years have seen a marked increase in investment in legal tech. Tech has been an instrumental tool in many industries in the last two decades, and this trend can easily be seen when comparing the growth of the likes of Amazon compared to high street shops. In the legal sector, investment is already having a transformative effect on the way that law firms do business, but how is technology likely to improve the industry?

Many law firms are now embracing technology and using it as a collaborative tool.

The increased investment in tech has enabled legal innovation, broadening the scope of services offered and allowing for cross-sector collaboration. While the use of tech can speed up many tasks (with AI providing quicker and more reliable data processing, for example), it also fosters diversity in the workplace – law offices today encompass many more competencies and roles than they did previously, from process designers and data analysts to project managers. We have even seen innovation hubs in universities designed to prepare students for the newly ‘digitized’ legal sector.

Legal clients have higher digital expectations in modern society

While the use of new technologies like Blockchain can provide extra security in terms of data and payment processing, the growing use of technology also enables law firms to meet the increasing expectations of their clients and become more ‘customer-centric’ in general. Businesses can use tech to improve the experience for their clients, whether it be 24/7 portal access for case and file monitoring, progress notifications or direct messaging with solicitors. This is all increasing the value that law firms can offer their clients while still being able to operate at manageable costs. If other industries are anything to go by, this factor may well prove to be pivotal for the long-term viability of many legal firms should they shun technology adoption.

Technology will improve case management and free up more time for over endeavours

There is no doubt that the use of AI and intuitive tech can dramatically speed up time-consuming legal processes, increasing workflow and efficiency. This is especially true when it comes to digital case management systems, which eliminate the requirement for antiquated paper filing systems. This enables lawyers to spend less time sifting through/organising caseloads and more time getting results for their clients – as we move further into new tech investment, it seems as though speed and organisation are likely to improve.

The use of technology will help when making data-driven decisions

Perhaps the most important change in the sector that has been attributed to technology is the leveraging of big data. Legal firms can now analyse vast quantities of data in order to help them make key decisions, improve the experience of their clients, increase speed and efficiency, keep up with competitors in the market and even devise data-driven strategies for the future.

Stop At Source! The Benefits Of Early Dust Collection For The Grain Industry

There are multiple advantages to investing in dust control equipment for agribusiness companies working in the grain industry, particularly given the scarcity of current supplies.

With worldwide food production falling and prices spiralling because of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict, drought, rising energy and transport costs, fertilizer shortages and COVID-19, attention on the industry is at its sharpest in years. With global production of wheat, rice and other grains likely to drop by 16 million tons this year – the first decline in four years – many in Europe’s food industry are looking again at the infrastructure they have, to examine whether there are improvements to be made. And when it comes to the grain industry there is one obvious area where efficiencies can often be gained – dust collection.

The infrastructure for moving grain from one point to another includes small country elevators, larger elevators, large grain terminals, trucks, trains, barges, and ocean-going shipping vessels. And every time grain is moved from one of these points to another, dust is generated. This dust must be collected and, most importantly, retained within the overall process to be returned directly back into the product stream. This is an essential part of the processing operation, that ensures waste is kept to an absolute minimum.

One innovative approach to dust management is to collect and manage dust at the point of generation – at the source. Capturing and controlling dust at its source provides several benefits including:

Reduction or Elimination of waste streams.

When captured dust is retained within the process generating it, it stays as part of the revenue producing product stream. Instead of turning a portion of the product into a pile of wasted dust, it remains as part of the product stream that has economic value.

 

Reduction or Elimination of waste stream equipment.

When dusts produced in a process are separated from the original process stream, they require independent material handling equipment and process equipment. Keeping the dust within the product stream minimizes the cost and maintenance of additional material handling equipment.

Minimizing the amount of duct runs.

It takes a tremendous amount of energy to move dust-laden air through long duct runs. Installing point-of-use dust collectors closer to the dust-generating process minimizes or eliminates unnecessary ducts, which saves energy.

Reduced duct maintenance.

Minimizing duct runs reduces maintenance costs, eliminates wasted air from leaks in the duct system and eliminates costly lining of ducts.

Easier installation.

Less ducting also equates to a simpler and easier installation for dust collection equipment. Smaller, lighter collectors mean less support infrastructure in grain handling facilities where collectors are often not placed on the ground.

Improved uptime and reliability for the system as a whole.

With centralized dust collection, when a dust collection system requires servicing the entire dust handling system, and often the entire grain handling facility, must be shut down to resolve the problem. With a series of point-of-use collectors, when an individual leg of the process is taken offline for maintenance, the rest of the system continues to operate. This provides a level of redundancy to the system, leading to improved uptimes for the facility. Other potential benefits of point-of-use collectors include:

  • Minimizing impact on uptime due to servicing – minimize downtime to allow more flexibility in servicing scheduling (20 minute cycle vs. 4-8 hours); design characteristics that simplify and speed servicing actions.
  • Localized systems minimize the impact on total operations when a single component has issues.
  • Localized systems improve energy utilization, allowing operations to use energy only when needed to manage dust in each area. This approach eliminates wasted energy used to pull air from areas not handling dust.
  • Technologies that extend filter life to reduce service frequency.

Supporting a point-of-use innovative dust control solution requires a dust filtration product with a very small footprint, but with robust performance to handle moderate to large air volumes. Traditional bag houses and cartridge collectors are generally either too large for point of use installation, or when sized to fit, are unable to handle the necessary air volumes.

Newer products on the market, such as the Donaldson®Torit® PowerCore® CP-Series dust collector, work very well as a point-of-use source collector. As a small, light, easy to maintain collector capable of handling the required air volume, this product offers distinct advantages over the more typical bag house technologies, which have been in use for over 40 years.

Products like this offer the ability to collect materials at the source, and allow dust control with a more manageable investment in energy costs. Point-of-use collectors reduce air volume for dust control; reduce horsepower investment, and minimize operational energy costs. With its smaller size and low profile, the Torit PowerCore CP collector can be installed at multiple locations in new facilities as source collectors, and can squeeze into tight spaces in existing facilities (due to its smaller size) to solve nuisance dust problems.

Learn more about Donaldson dust collection offerings at the Donaldson website.

iwoca SME Expert Index: Recession Risk Sparks Concern In SMEs As Demand For Finance Rises

  • More than three-quarters (77%) of brokers say their small business clients are concerned about the possibility of a recession.
  • In light of these recession anxieties, demand for loans – and larger ones – has risen sharply as small businesses look to shield growing economic uncertainty.
  • SMEs’ reasons for applying for finance also suggest increasing economic concern, with a rise in the number of brokers reporting ‘managing day-to-day cash flow’ as the most common loan purpose (37%).
  • However, growth remains the top driver for financing (40%) – an encouraging sign that small businesses will remain resilient to what could be ahead.

Small business owners are concerned about the possibility of a recession, according to iwoca’s latest quarterly SME Expert Index.

With both the cost of living and of doing business climbing, over three quarters of brokers surveyed (77%) say their small business clients are worried about the possibility of a recession. By contrast, fewer than 7% of brokers reported their SME clients as ‘unconcerned’.

iwoca’s Q2 2022 SME Expert Index is based on insight from UK brokers who collectively submitted over 1350 applications for unsecured finance on behalf of their SME clients in June.

Demand for finance increases as small business owners contend with rising inflation.

As small businesses face mounting economic uncertainty, their demand for finance has risen sharply. Almost half of brokers (46%) submitted more loan applications for small business financing in the last month compared to the one previous – a continuation of an upwards trend since the end of last year, with 28% citing the same in Q4 2021, and 34% reporting increased loan demand in Q1 2022.

In addition, the latest SME Expert Index saw 0% of brokers reporting significantly fewer applications.

The survey also reveals that small businesses are looking for larger loans in light of the turbulent economic forecast. Over one in eight brokers (13%) identified £200,000+ loans as most sought after for small businesses, the highest proportion since the Index was first released. Looking back at this trend, demand for loans valued above £200,000 has steadily increased since iwoca’s first Index in Q1 2021 when only 4% of brokers reported these larger loans as the most commonly requested.

To meet this growing appetite for high value loans in the small business sector, iwoca recently announced that it is more than doubling the maximum size of its core lending product, Flexi-Loan, allowing small business owners to access business loans up to £500,000, up from a previous lending cap of £200,000.

Managing cash flow a key priority amidst the economic storm.

This heightened demand for financing, and larger amounts of it, suggests small businesses are gearing up for financial strain: in particular, cash flow issues. Over a third of brokers (37%) reported managing day-to-day cash flow as the most common loan purpose for small businesses. This represents an increase of 6 percentage points since last quarter.

Nonetheless, as in Q1 2022, brokers report ‘growing the business’ as the most common reason for small business owners to apply for finance, although it’s down by 3 percentage points since Q1. So, whilst managing day-to-day cash flow is becoming more important, small businesses are continuing to seek loans to finance broader growth ambitions.

Steven Scoufarides, Head of Broker Channel at iwoca , said: “The current economic outlook for small businesses is precarious – we are seeing signs of an increasing number of SMEs searching for finance solutions to manage their cash flow and brace for the potential of a recession. But, as they’ve proven time and time again, small businesses are resilient and will shield themselves against this economic threat in every way they can; encouragingly, it looks like most are still seeking finance to grow their businesses, rather than to holster it up. At iwoca, we’re working hard to adapt to small businesses’ needs, which is why we’re now offering  the higher-value loans up to £500,000.”

Leanne Barry, Broker at LB Finance Solutions Ltd, added: “We have definitely been receiving more applications from smaller businesses over the last 2 months since the Recovery loan scheme came to an end. This is mainly from businesses that either did not manage to source any government backed funding, or indeed have already used any funding they received for cash flow and are now needing further funding to stay afloat.” 

 

SME Expert Index

This SME Expert Index from iwoca provides a snapshot on what’s driving small business owners to borrow, the trends seen in the types and value of finance being accessed, and how these patterns change over time. iwoca publishes this index every quarter to capture the experience of brokers working with small businesses.

iwoca is reaching 2.3 million businesses across the UK and Germany through its embedded lending technology, which allows businesses to access loans through a range of platforms such as accountancy software apps and digital neo-banks. In June 2020 the lender launched iwocaPay – an online buy now pay later invoice checkout to help small businesses get paid. Most recently iwoca launched a Revenue Based Loan, where businesses can spend on growth and repay at their own pace, based on their revenue. The company also offers free mental health support for all small businesses in the UK, in partnership with online therapy platform Spill.

How the pandemic could affect the healthcare systems of European countries: the British example

The coronavirus pandemic was a traumatic event on a global scale, having caused incalculable damage to national economies and services. The effect of the pandemic is still being felt keenly today, in the EU and around the world. A recent report (State of Health in the EU – Companion Report 2021) revealed that almost all European countries have had an important mortality impact.

Like any other healthcare system, the NHS (the British health care system), was naturally at the frontline of the pandemic, shouldering the burden of increased cases and casualties. The after-effects of this burden are impacting the service and its users to this day – but in what ways? How private healthcare could become the norm in Europe ?

Longer Waiting Times

The coronavirus pandemic naturally taxed hospitals across the country, as wards continued to fill – in some cases, beyond capacity – with Covid patients. The knock-on effect was catastrophic for access to healthcare, which has been felt most keenly by the public in terms of waiting times.

Accident and emergency waiting time increases have been well-reported, but the more profound impact of coronavirus prevalence on the NHS can be seen in waiting times for ‘elective’ operations – meaning non-emergency interventions that improve quality of life such as hip replacement surgery.

According to recent figures provided by the BMA, the number of people on the waiting list for elective care has skyrocketed to 6.5 million over the course of the pandemic, with some facing a wait of over a year to receive treatment.

Demand for Private Care Higher

The growth in wait times across the board has inspired a sympathetic increase in demand for private care. Many are choosing to shoulder the cost of private healthcare to alleviate their condition or symptoms. However, while those who have suffered a personal injury are potentially able to recoup costs through compensation claims, many do not have the requisite funds to afford such care.

Private healthcare is a tender subject for the UK, with support for the NHS remaining high amongst the adult population in spite of growing issues with patient-side healthcare. Even the Government has committed to using private healthcare entities to lighten the load on the NHS, but face an uphill battle when it comes to offering administrative support.

Staffing Issues

That uphill battle comes as a result of waning staff numbers. Persistent shortages and unequal geographic distribution of health workers/services have impacted several European countries. In the UK, over a decade of underfunding, capped off by a once-in-a-lifetime national medical event, has made the NHS a stressful working environment for newer members of staff, seeing many abandon the career path altogether. Those that remain, or those graduating from medical schools, are generally choosing private healthcare.

For all the negative press about the state of the health care systems around the world and problems with frontline care, there are positives to take away. The nations are more united behind their healthcare workers than ever before, and internal measures are showing a stronger commitment to looking after staff mental health.

Finally, significant changes in how health healthcare services are delivered have been triggered by the pandemic. In turn, this led to digital innovation in healthcare delivery and public health. In the long term, digital health technologies could be beneficial to boosting public health measures in the EU and across the world.

4 Key Business Benefits of Fleet Insurance

In a world of rising inflation and shrinking profits, it is more critical than ever that small and big businesses find the tools and means to reduce costs and boost efficiency. Fleet insurance is one such tool that can make some areas of your business much more efficient to oversee while cutting down costs significantly. Fleet insurance can be purchased if you use more than one vehicle for your business. Fleet insurance can be used by a business in any sector as long as they own or lease at least two vehicles. Here’s a closer look at four key benefits of fleet insurance for your business.

Greater Discount

Fleet insurance can save money for your business from the get-go by making available quantity-based discounts on your vehicles – it is cheaper than insuring each individual vehicle separately. Thus, the greater the number of vehicles operated under your business, the more the discount on your insurance costs. You can further save money by hunting for the best insurance deal for your specific needs from a price comparison website such as Quotezone.co.uk. The UK’s leading price comparison platform, Quotezone offers a one-stop-shop for finding the best fleet insurance via their free price comparison tool. You can thus compare the various fleet insurance offers and pick the one that best suits both your needs and your budget.

More Efficient Admin

Keeping all your vehicles under a single policy is also a good way of simplifying some of your admin tasks. In case of big or small accidents, it’ll be easier for you to contact your insurance provider for help. Similarly, renewals and changes are also far easier when it’s all under one policy. A uniform fleet policy thus involves lesser documentation, lesser follow-up, and much more efficient admin.

Greater Safety

In the scenario of an accident, time can be of the essence. To help your employees and the business with replacement vehicle expenses and other costs, you’ll need your insurance to come through quickly and smoothly without a ton of hassle. Easier access to funds can translate into greater safety and security for your employees and you in the event of an unfortunate accident. A fleet insurance policy can thus help your employees, business, and you when you need it most.

Better Protection from Driver Turnover

A business can sometimes go through periods of high employee turnover. In such a scenario, having fleet insurance is even handier since you don’t have to keep trying to work out the policy for every driver leaving or any new driver joining the team. As long as you recruit drivers that meet the conditions of your insurance policy (such as a prior driving track record), you’ll be able to extend the policy to them without having to keep changing your insurance policy.

Fleet insurance can make it much less expensive to operate your business vehicles while reducing the admin hassle. Fleet insurance is thus an important part of the risk and future-proofing your vehicles and your business.

EU Business News Announces the Winners of the 2022 European Travel Awards

United Kingdom, 2022 – EU Business News Magazine proudly announces the winners of the brand new 2022 European Travel Awards programme.

This programme is crafted to acknowledge and celebrate leading, revolutionary pioneers in the travel, tourism, and leisure industry sweeping across Europe. Guiding and strengthening these industries, after a tumultuous 12 months, these businesses have reinforced and rekindled our love for travel. They have carried themselves with pride, expression, and vigour with their innovative and dedicated work, and we are here to applaud their devotion.

Catering to adventurous audiences, these businesses have acted as a buttress for the travel, tourism, and leisure industries throughout the pandemic – thus, allowing the industries to flourish once more. People are now wishing to go on their new ventures to places they already love and destinations they are yet to explore. This inspiring awards programme offers a deeper look into the businesses that have changed the way we experience travel, tourism, and leisure for the foreseeable future, so that we can capture our own slice of excitement.

As a brand, Eu Business News takes tremendous delight in awarding businesses and professionals that have altered this ever-developing realm – from relaxation to wanderlust, these entities have made a name for themselves. These awards go to show that their committed work goes a long way.

Our Awards Coordinator, Laura O’Carroll, has commented on the success of this programme:

“Hosting the new European Travel Awards programme has been a pleasure. It has been a significantly valuable experience and it is with honour that I congratulate all the winners of the 2022 European Travel Awards. I wish them all the best for their future plans and further success!”

To find out more about these trail-blazers and learn about what has led them to becoming who they are today, please visit https://www.eubusinessnews.com/awards/european-travel-awards/ to access our winners supplement.

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS

About EU Business News Magazine, a publication under AI Global Media

EU Business News magazine is a widely read magazine with audiences of around 78,000 C-suite executives and leading decision makers in EU countries – as well as countries that have free trade agreements with the EU, including Canada. EU Business News is a crucial tool that offers readers the opportunity to keep up to date with the latest developments in the EU markets – as well as offering insight into businesses that are altering our perception of them.

About AI Global Media

Since 2010 AI Global Media has been committed to creating engaging B2B content that informs our readers and allows them to market their business to a global audience. We create content for and about firms across a range of industries.

Today, we have 14 unique brands, each of which serves a specific industry or region. Each brand covers the latest news in its sector and publishes a digital magazine and newsletter which is read by a global audience. Our flagship brand, Acquisition International, distributes a monthly digital magazine to a global circulation of 108,000, who are treated to a range of features and news pieces on the latest developments in the global corporate market.

Revealed – the Healthiest Cities to Live in the UK!

If you love the tranquillity and allure of the countryside and the fun of the city, you’re not alone. There’s certainly something to be said about the fresh air, privacy and expansive greenery of living in a rural area, but cities tend to offer easier access to a wider range of amenities and better transport links.

However, it needn’t be a trade-off. The health and wellness gurus at Made4 Vitamins have analysed which of the UK’s 25 largest cities will allow you to live the healthiest lifestyle, considering factors such as air quality, walkability, access to green spaces, sunshine, life expectancy and more. If you’re looking for the charm of the countryside with the hustle and bustle of the city, then don’t miss out – now, you can have both.

Air Quality – Edinburgh

Air quality can have a huge impact on your health and wellbeing – fresh air has been associated with a healthy digestive system, improved blood pressure and heart rate and more, whilst polluted air can result in various cardiovascular and respiratory diseases and cancers.

As such, the World Health Organisation has established guidelines for acceptable air pollution levels, based on the concentrate of PM2.5, fine particulate matter of 2.5 micrometres or less in diameter, in the air.

Of the top 25 most-populous cities in the UK, Bradford ranks worst for air quality according to IQ Air, with their 2021 air quality exceeding the WHO guideline by 2-3 times. The second-worst UK city by air quality was Brighton, followed by London, Bristol, and Belfast.

Meanwhile, Edinburgh offered the best air quality of the top-25 cities, followed by Glasgow, Leicester, and Birmingham.

Green Spaces – Edinburgh

Green spaces add a charm and freshness to any city, breaking up the monotony of skyscrapers and tower blocks. Not only that, but they create a safe space for community and exercise, for kids to play and to meet friends in.

According to Natwest’s Green Cities report, Edinburgh is the number one city in the UK in terms of green space. The city offers a massive 233.3m2 of green space for each person living there, beating out second-placed Sheffield who boast 155m2 of green space per head. Public-access parks and green spaces constitute a whopping 49.2% of the city, meaning that there are plenty of great options when it comes to getting a bit of fresh air.

Sheffield also ranked well when it came to other metrics such as green energy production, residents’ energy consumption and the percentage of car owners with ULEZ vehicles, and topped the NatWest study’s list of Greenest Cities. At the other end of the list was Wolverhampton, where there was just 25m2 of green space to each person, and high numbers of people commuting by car.

Walkability – Edinburgh

If a city is lacking proper infrastructure for pedestrians, you’re much more likely to get into unhealthy habits, such as driving or taking public transport everywhere. Luckily, that problem is much more common in the US, where cities fail to provide proper pedestrian areas or walking routes.

Edinburgh topped the list of UK cities for walkability too, no doubt helped in part by the sheer number of green spaces on show throughout the city. A survey by Living Streets quizzed residents on how they felt about their city’s walkable access to shops and parks, the quality of pavements and streets, and whether they felt safe walking there.

Again, Edinburgh ranked highest for walkability, followed by Sheffield, with London in third place. 82% of respondents found Edinburgh’s streets to be of good quality, with 67% of respondents finding it easy to reach a park on foot and 65% finding it easy to get to the shops on foot.

Sunlight – Plymouth

Though the UK’s sunniest city, Chichester, falls outside the top-25 population ranking, two of the UK’s most populous cities make the top 10 – Plymouth and Bristol. Plymouth was ranked the UK’s second-sunniest city in the country in a 2018 survey, having enjoyed 1730.1 yearly hours of sunshine. Meanwhile, Bristol took eighth position on the list with 1627 yearly hours of sunshine.

Ensuring you get enough sunlight can be crucial for your health – a failure to receive enough sunlight can result in an insufficiency or even deficiency of vitamin D. A 2021 study backed this up, with areas in the north of England most likely to suffer from insufficient vitamin D. Scotland was the most likely area for this to happen, though residents in London were also likely to have lower vitamin D levels.

Life Expectancy – Westminster 

When it comes to judging cities or even regions on their life expectancy, it can be a little trickier to gauge due to disparities that exist in each city. For example, there are significant fluctuations within London when comparing areas such as Kensington and Newham. The highest life expectancy in the country, according to data from 2017-19, is from the London borough of Westminster, where men tended to live to around 85, and women to 87.

Overall, however, data highlights the fact that places in the south of the UK tend to have higher life expectancies than places in the north. Though these figures vary across London, the capital city as a whole boasted approximate life expectancies of 81 for men and 85 for women according to figures from 2017-2019.

Meanwhile, Newcastle and the surrounding areas had the lowest life expectancies in England. Many other cities north of the Watford Gap had a noticeably lower life expectancy than London, including Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds, where life expectancy tended to be around 78 for men and 82 for women. These numbers were lower still in Scotland, where life expectancy was 77 for men and 81 for women.

Though the life expectancy is lower in Scotland, Edinburgh remains a similar level to Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds, and boasts significantly better walkability, access to green spaces, and better air quality – it therefore tops our list of the healthiest places to live in the UK.

Dr Bhasha Mukherjee, Medical Lead at Made4 Vitamins, commented: ‘it’s crucial that wherever we live grants us the ability to live a healthy lifestyle, whether that’s in terms of air quality or being able to exercise safely. Edinburgh’s amazing pedestrian infrastructure and expansive green spaces make living healthily a breeze, and that’s why it tops our list!’

Why Communication In The Workplace Is Essential And How To Improve It

Solid communication is commonly emphasised in business. Improving communication skills is something both employers and employees are encouraged to do. Implementing and developing ways to improve communication skills is easier said than done. Poor communication within a business can and has proven to be a costly issue for numerous companies.

Understandably, business leaders want to implement strategies that will help them to improve communication within their company’s workplace. These are some reasons why communication is essential in the workplace and how a company can improve it.

Team Is On The Same Page
Working with customers daily requires a company to have strong communication. Employees in direct contact with customers are the face of the company. They need to ensure that their levels of communication with the customer are strong. This means they must respond promptly, be clear and direct about the company’s services and processes and be friendly. If the customer is in contact with other team members, everyone on the team must know everything they need about this customer. This helps to maintain a smooth process and avoid any delays in the service. The customer will feel they are being treated well, which helps reduce any issues they experience with the company.

To achieve this, the team must have a solid process. The initial point of contact should share all the information, requirements, queries and concerns regarding the customer with the rest of the team. These updates should be shared if there are any changes along the way. Employers should look at their current process of working with a client. See if the current way the team takes notes about a customer can be improved. Improving the communication so that the team is on the same page will positively impact customers. They will more likely have a positive experience with the company, encouraging them to recommend the business’s services.

Productivity Levels Can Improve
High productivity levels are great for business. They can reflect a hard-working team dedicated to achieving the company’s set goals. Communicating to employees what their role is, their responsibilities and what targets they need to be achieving is something all employers should do. It means that employees have a better understanding of their roles and can also complete their duties to a higher standard.

Team members should also communicate with one another tips on how to save time whilst working. Sharing knowledge, such as converting a JPG to a PDF or shortcuts on a keyboard, can greatly benefit team members. It provides them with new tools that will enable them to complete their work more efficiently. The improved efficiency in how the team operates will be noticeable in their productivity levels.

Improvement In Collaboration
Working from home has become countless companies’ most popular form of working. Many modern-day companies do not require employees to be in the same room or country. Many employees heavily favour this way of working. They enjoy the flexibility that working from home allows them to have. However, for a company, it does bring numerous challenges, including communication. Investing in technologies that allow for easier communication amongst the team. Important information can easily be shared, and updates on a customer’s progress can be communicated to all relevant parties. It helps to minimise the chances of essential details being missed.

In addition to this, strong communication amongst the team also allows for opportunities for collaboration. If business leaders have any ideas regarding their company’s future, ask some employees to share their thoughts and opinions. The expansion business leaders want to plan for the company will inevitably impact them. Asking them to share their feedback can give employers a fresh perspective on their idea. Employees know the company’s current process because they use these processes daily. They know what customers want as they are often in regular contact. When asking for their opinions, they will likely use their knowledge and experience to determine how successful the plan could be. This advice could help business leaders make better-informed decisions about the company’s future. They achieved this by communicating clearly with their employees and asking for feedback.

In Summary
Implementing and developing strategies to improve communication in the workplace can be worthwhile for the company. Some advantages that come with good communication amongst employees include greater job satisfaction. If employees are happy in their position, they are more likely to stay with the company. In turn, this allows the company to boast a high retention rate amongst its employees.

It is possible to improve communication in the workplace. It will likely take time before results are noticeable. However, it is essential to be patient and trust the process. Keeping some of these tips in mind will probably see companies reaping the rewards before they know it.

Best Indian Restaurant 2022 – Denmark

Sønderborg might not seem like somewhere you’d find authentic Indian cuisine, but Curry Leaves has ensured that those looking for such delicacies are well satisfied. Their delightful dishes have tantalised tastebuds for years and been justly recognised in EU Business News’ Scandinavian Business Awards 2022. We take a closer look to uncover precisely what the secrets are behind their enviable success.

Finding a taste of India in Southern Denmark doesn’t quite sound right, but people have come from around the world to sample the delights that Curry Leaves offers its customers. The team’s traditional homecooked meals, nestled in the heart of one of Denmark’s finest towns, have been a hit with residents and tourists alike. When it comes to finding tasty and delicious food, with great service to boot, there really is no better option.

Since first opening their doors, the Curry Leaves team have aimed to make Indian food applicable for fine dining over a casual evening. As a country, India boasts enormous range in what is on offer and the team try every day to showcase this variety to their guests. Making everything themselves and using traditional family recipes to provide an authentic experience is at the heart of the experience offered by the team. Guests are guided through a scintillating smorgasbord of delectable dishes, each more tempting than the last.

To some, being based in Denmark might seem an odd choice, but the team have taken the opportunity of being a new, vibrant, and fresh approach to really bring about exciting change. In this part of Scandinavia, Indian food is still new, and so the priority is to ensure that guests understand the vastness and the depth of Indian cuisine. No matter if they enjoy spicy food, or would prefer something with a little less kick, guests can find the ideal path forward.

As a relatively new experience for many, being based in Scandinavia has proven to be the right choice for the Curry Leaves team. People are generally very open to exploring the background of new cultures that they have no experience of. Some customers had never tried Indian food before they had come to Curry Leaves. Now they are much loved and easily recognised regulars. It’s a credit to the team’s tireless efforts to welcome people into a world which is not entirely like their own.

In many ways, Curry Leaves is more than just a business to this talented team. It’s a passion for food which they are sharing with others. This attitude is key to the mindset behind the team, allowing them to really connect with the unique demands of each customer who walks through their doors. It’s this element which sets Curry Leaves apart, allowing the team to provide an exemplary experience in every respect.

The team offers two different services, each tailored to suit the needs of different markets. Firstly, there is a delectable buffet, bringing together a variety of different dishes from a mild and creamy Butter Chicken to the spicy flavours of the world-renowned Vindaloo. The second option is a personalised a la carte experience where the Curry Leaves make the dish of your choosing, carefully adapting the recipe to suit your wishes for spice and taste.

The breadth of flavours available in India mean that the team has had to work hard to ensure that every region is represented, and every meal is as authentic as it possibly can be. Recently, the team has considered broadening their horizons by narrowing their focus. Events are already being planned to present guests with meals and cultural offerings that are specific to regions of India, or unique styles of food. Having such a range of options on offer can create a culturally messy menu, but these evenings of focus provide the chance for guests to really dig into what sets each region apart.

Whilst Curry Leaves has been open, the team have seen an extraordinary transition in people’s eating habits. Now, more than ever, people are seeking out vegan and vegetarian cuisine, and that happens to be an area where Curry Leaves excels. The various recipes and dishes produced by the team match their non-vegetarian dishes, with more and more options joining the menu by the day. Both a la carte and self-service buffet reflect this changing trend. The team actually offer a vegan night every two months wherein their self-service buffet is vegan.

As a restaurant, it’s little wonder that the COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on the way in which the business was run. With people unable to come through the doors, takeaway orders became incredibly popular. The community of Sønderborg made the effort to ensure that the local eateries and cafés throughout the region were kept busy throughout the pandemic, and this is something for which the team at Curry Leaves will remain thankful for. It’s a testament to their skill and their position within the community that so many turned to them when they needed food that would offer comfort and warmth.

This warmth flows through the entire business, with the team brought together almost like a family. Respect at all levels is crucial and has built a work ethic which is incredibly hard working. This is an environment where it’s not enough purely to do the job – it’s one where success comes from having fun throughout. As such, when looking for new staff members, the aim is to find open and smiling people, who like to meet new people and enjoy working with food. By building a family within the business, Curry Leaves presents a family atmosphere to all who come to taste true delight.

The future is bright for the team, with a market that has reacted warmly to the incredible meals on offer. At the moment, ideas for sharing the delicacies created by the Curry Leaves team abound, with new restaurants opening, or even cooking classes. This would allow guests to learn how to make stunning Indian food all for themselves from a selection of chefs renowned for their cooking.

Nothing tastes as good as authentic cooking, designed to be enjoyed and savoured in good company. That’s precisely what is on offer from the team at Curry Leaves. Their sterling efforts have ensured they’re a standout in the Danish restaurant scene. Having delighted thousands upon thousands of diners, they are always looking to improve. We can’t wait to see what stunning ideas they’ll have to tantalise tastebuds in the coming months!

For business enquiries, contact the Curry Leaves team via email at [email protected] or visit their website at www.curryleaves.dk.

EU Business News Announce the Winners of the 2022 Scandinavian Business Awards

United Kingdom, 2022 – EU Business News Magazine have announced the winners of this year’s instalment of the Scandinavian Business Awards.

Whether it is by entering new markets, or capitalising on new technology, 2022 has so far been a year of new beginnings and catalysts for business across the Scandinavian region. Beyond the events of the last couple of years, Scandinavian businesses have long been defined by innovation, and a dedication to excellence that seems utterly unique to the region.

On the eve of the announcement, Awards Coordinator Katherine Benton took a moment to comment on the success of the winners. “Congratulations to all of those recognised in this programme. Scandinavian businesses have long enjoyed a reputation for client centricity and expertise that distinguishes them from their international peers. As such, the Scandinavian Business Awards have been one of the pillars of EU Business News Magazine’s since its launch last year. It’s been a delight to helm this year’s programme – I hope you all have a fantastic rest of the year ahead”.

EU Business News prides itself on the validity of its awards and winners. As such, every one of our winners can be certain that their success is deserved. We carefully evaluate everything from a business’s, or individual’s, performance over the past 12-months to ensure that only the most deserving parties walk away with one of our prestigious awards.

To learn more about our award winners and to gain insight into the working practices of the “best of the best”, please visit the EU Business News website (https://www.eubusinessnews.com/) where you can access the winners supplement.

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS

About EU Business News, published by AI Global Media

The EU is a vital and exciting region filled with businesses and individuals creating unique innovations, supporting their customers around the world and, ultimately, driving change. As such, EU Business News aims to provide an absorbing overview of this exciting region and the businesses and individuals operating within it.

Much more than just a magazine, alongside our online publication EU Business News also boasts an informative newsletter, a regularly updated website and a series of awards programmes showcasing the excellence of businesses and the individuals behind them from across this vibrant region.

As subscription to EU Business News is free there is absolutely no reason not to sign up to receive this informative and fascinating resource.

About AI Global Media

Since 2010 AI Global Media has been committed to creating engaging B2B content that informs our readers and allows them to market their business to a global audience. We create content for and about firms across a range of industries.

Today, we have 14 unique brands, each of which serves a specific industry or region. Each brand covers the latest news in its sector and publishes a digital magazine and newsletter which is read by a global audience. Our flagship brand, Acquisition International, distributes a monthly digital magazine to a global circulation of 108,000, who are treated to a range of features and news pieces on the latest developments in the global corporate market.

The Difference Between EU And UK Dentistry

Dentistry is an incredibly exciting field. For recently graduated dentists moving from the European Union to the United Kingdom, the excitement of the field is coupled with the excitement of working in a novel environment. However, there are significant differences between the European Union and the United Kingdom that dentists should be aware of.

 

You Need to Sort Out Your Paperwork

Graduating in dentistry from the European Union does not entitle you to practice in the United Kingdom. You have to apply to the General Dental Council (GDC). Dental students in the United Kingdom are helped by their universities, but as an EU graduate, you have to go through the process yourself. It is a very arduous process, and you have to stay on top of it throughout the ordeal.

A case worker will be assigned to you once your application has been accepted and you have been given a GDC number. This will likely be between eight and 12 weeks after your application.

 

Your GDC application requirements are:

  •   Two references. Your professor is a good place to start. It has to be someone who is willing to vouch for you and make themselves available for you.
  •   Translations of your degree into English by a GDC certified translator. The translation must be accompanied by the appropriate stamp.
  •   A certified color copy of your passport. A notary, or attorney can certify your passport for you.
  •   If your course was in English, you will need proof of this.
  •   You will also need to have a criminal record check done from the country you got your diploma in. This usually takes a few weeks.
  •   You will also need a passport-sized photo, with its authenticity vouched for by someone at your university, with their name, signature and date when they signed.
  •   You will also need to get a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check, apply for a National Health Service (NHS) performer number, and get an occupational health test.

 

Look for a Job

You need to start looking for a job as soon as possible. You should, ideally, start as soon as you get your GDC number. Dr. Hal Arnold suggests that you tap into your existing network for possible jobs, attend seminars, webinars, and speak to other EU graduates who have made the shift to the United Kingdom.

You may work for the NHS, or work in the private sector, but either way, you need to find a job where you will have a mentor guiding you through your first year as a practicing dentist. This mentor can guide you through diagnostics, treatment plans, and other vital elements of dental work.

You should also think about enrolling in programs to build your skills. For instance, the General Practice Foundation Programme trains dentists, evaluating them every month to see how they are evolving. You will be able to meet other dentists, improve on diagnostics and development of treatment plans, and learn how to be a better overall dentist. You need to maintain a state of constant improvement.

5 Steps to Win More Jobs As a Contractor

As a property maintenance contractor, there is rarely a time when your work isn’t in high demand. There are always homes and commercial properties that need repair, renovation, maintenance, and/or construction work. According to research, the U.S. construction industry will grow by 8.8% in 2022. This forecasted growth is great for business and means more opportunities are likely to arise in the coming year. 

However, as the industry becomes more competitive, it can be challenging to win bids and get projects. If you’re looking for ways to give your contracting business an edge, consider these five techniques:

1. Leverage technology

In order to compete with the best, you have to conduct your business like the best. Leveraging technology is one way to ensure this is possible, enabling you amongst other things to bid for jobs quicker than anyone else. Companies like Jobber offer complete business management tech solutions tailored to your niche and specific to your needs.

Here are a few advantages of using this smart software:

  • You can offer 24/7 appointment scheduling 
  • Customer communication updates with the use of SMS texts and appointment reminders
  • Estimates and quotes can be sent on-site
  • Invoicing and payment tracking and reminders

The invoicing process often gets overlooked but this is arguably one of the most important things to get right as this determines the speed at which your invoices get paid and you maintain a healthy cash flow.  The ability to use a fully customizable invoice template can make a big difference in enhancing your administrative efficiency. Personalized invoices can be quickly generated and sent the moment a job has been completed, the standardized nature of which naturally means best practice is adhered to. 

2. Offer value-added services

Look for ways you can differentiate yourself from your competitors. Customers are always looking for contractors that can offer them something extra. The word “value-added” means offering something to your clients that other businesses don’t or can’t provide. This little difference can do wonders for your company and significantly impact whether you win a job or not. An example of a value-added service could be anything from a free consultation or discount on a future project.  

Have a think about what might work best for you and not necessarily cost you a lot of money or time but be appealing to your customers. Before deciding on what to offer, ensure it’s something that your target market wants and needs.

3. Create a solid portfolio

Your portfolio is one of the first things clients will look at when considering your contracting business. This will act as a resume of your previous projects and give potential customers an idea of what you’re capable of. If you don’t have one, start by creating a simple website that’ll showcase your expertise. It can be a valuable marketing tool that’ll help you attract prospects, improve online visibility, and grow your business. So, ensure it showcases your company in the best light possible.

4. Be prepared for the bidding process

The bidding process can be a make or break for your contracting business. It’s where you’ll create proposals that outline the cost and scope of your project. To win more jobs, you have to be strategic in your approach and ensure that your bid is airtight.

5. Participate in community events

You can increase brand awareness and be top of mind when prospects need your services by getting involved in community events. It’s no secret that prospects are more likely to do business with someone they know, like, and trust. This tactic will allow you to interact with the attendees, build rapport, and show them that you’re invested in the community.

Takeaway

There you have it—five steps to help you win more jobs as a contractor. If you want to succeed in this competitive industry, you have to be proactive in your approach. Follow the guidelines outlined here, and you’ll be one step closer to achieving your business goals.

How Can You Expand Your Business Internationally?

Business growth is a fundamental aim, but one often trammelled by specific logistical or demographic barriers. International expansion is one way to circumvent these barriers and an exciting way to take a business into a new era. But international expansion is a difficult process; how should you approach it?

Due Diligence

Before you begin to draft a formal expansion plan, you will need to carry out research and analysis on the specific locations into which you intend to expand. This is a multifarious process, and one which should give you a clear picture of the market in your target territories – and the space your business could occupy, if any. Your research should include two vital forms of analysis: SWOT analysis and gap analysis.

SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats, and provides a robust framework through which to examine the market in your intended areas of expansion. This analysis is often best outsourced, especially where knowledge of local markets and competition is minimal; if finances are tight, a business cash advance can help you unlock funds for research which will be recouped following expansion.

Gap analysis, meanwhile, is an internal process that examines the internal structure of your business, and its readiness for expansion. Gap analysis can help you identify weak links in the chain, and better brace your business for the growth it is about to experience. It can also help you with future pivots to better suit the needs of local demographics.

Planning

With the preliminary research conducted and complete, the next step is to craft a comprehensive expansion plan. There are various factors you will need to contend with and needs that will need to be met in order to guarantee the smoothest possible expansion.

There are logistical issues to solve, including business regulations in your target territory and the hiring or emigration of staff. There are funding implications for specific needs, and scheduling to plan for the production or delivery of local supplies. Assigning a ‘beachhead team’ to overseeing the expansion and managing the creation of an international branch can ensure results and accountability.

Organisational Processes

In the formation of localised branches, it is important to pay close attention to building a team effectively. On top of differences in legislation and regulation, there will be cultural differences with which to contend. These cultural differences could alter your business’ hiring approach or render any roles you are tendering uncompetitive against local businesses.

Expansion Partners

Expansion can be especially difficult to manage alone, even with a beachhead team of trusted managers to oversee the logistics. External advice will already have been useful in the research stage, but collaboration with another business partner or industry leader can assist with navigating the expansion process itself. This can materialise through assistance in understanding the market, or through lobbying local government to assist your expansion into their jurisdiction.

Business Tax

Lastly, as a business owner within the European Union (EU), you must be concerned with the rules on company tax of the country you plan to operate in. This also includes knowing how to register for business tax and prepare a business tax return. Specific rules can apply if you have your main country operating within one country and smaller parts or subsidiaries of the business in others – it is important to know how to deal with and reduce tax issues, such as double taxation and cross-border profit distributions between the businesses.

What are the Key Steps in the Litigation Process?

Court cases are thankfully a rare event in day-to-day life but can be nothing short of necessary when other forms of recourse fail – whether due to civil cases in the form of personal injury and medical negligence, or commercial claims in relation to copyright infringement or other business disputes.

Civil claims are easily accessible to claimants, allowing the opportunity for fair judgement and recourse to be meted out. However, navigating the court process should only be attempted with the assistance of experienced litigation lawyers, who can help you through the process and ensure the best possible resolution. What are the key steps involved in arriving at such a resolution?

Before Proceedings

In the event that one wishes to make a claim against an individual or organisation, some pre-action proceedings must take place. To start, a ‘letter before claim’ must be sent from the claimant’s solicitors to the defendant, outlining the basis of the claim in question and any particulars involved in the drawing-together of the claim.

This letter is also legally required to explore the possibility of alternative dispute resolution, or ADR – enabling a potential defendant to agree to an alternative means of settlement before claim action is commenced.

These pre-action proceeds are often the resolution to any dispute, and often the better scenario through which to conclude proceedings; civil cases can become expensive and emotionally draining if they culminate in a trial unless pre-trial resolution can save both parties a significant degree of money, stress, and potential publicity.

Commencement of Claim

If the defendant refutes the accusations levied in the letter before the claim, or declines to respond within the window given, the claimant will then file a letter of claim with the court, initiating the legal process properly. This letter of claim formalises the case laid out in the letter before action and outlines the reparations sought.

Once the letter of claim is served by the courts to the defendant, the defendant’s legal team then submit a statement of their own as defence, forming the basis of the case and its particulars.

Exchange of Documents and Evidence

With the claim formally underway, both the claimant’s and defendant’s legal teams are required to share the documents and evidence with which they are building their respective cases.

The timescale for this evidence gathering and announcement process depends on the track that the court has chosen to place the case – small claims, fast track, or multi-track. In the case of fast-track cases, which concern claims with a value between £10,000 and £25,000, the timescale is 30 weeks for direction and trial.

Trial

If no pre-trial settlement has been agreed between the claimant and defendant, the court will arrange a date and time for trial. Civil claims trials will see evidence explained and witness testimony taken on both sides before a judgement is made one way or the other. The losing party will be liable for the legal costs of the winning party – and, in the event of the claimant winning, the defendant will be liable for the cost agreed in the judgement.

Cross-Border Litigation

For those within the European Union, there are laws in place that are specially designed to help businesses and individuals with cross-border litigation. Those with claims up to the amount of €2000 typically use the Small Claims Procedure, or the European Payment Order if it is unlikely that the defendant will contest the amount owed – the latter is also useful for those seeking information in their native language. Taking legal action against someone or a business within a different member state can seem like an intimidating ordeal, but this should not deter from the fact the defendant must face legal action – understand your rights and look for guidance where needed.

What Does the Future of Transport Connectivity Look Like?

In 2022, we are living in a connected world. We communicate through robust virtual channels, conduct work remotely, and receive healthcare at a distance, all due to advancements in technology and the transition to the Internet of Everything.

That intelligent connection between data, processes, and people is at the core of our mobility and is bound to shape the future of transport. Connectivity can improve the customer experience, optimise transportation, and create new opportunities for economic growth.

Today, we explore the trends and innovations that will revolutionise the future of transport connectivity and provide a seamless door-to-door experience.

Connected vehicles

Connected vehicles aren’t a new technological innovation. From 2017 to 2022, the estimated stock of connected cars in the UK was expected to increase from 4.86 million to 16.65 million, which is a 242% increase.

What characterises connected vehicles is their connection to an external network, such as a phone, Bluetooth, GPS, or an internal SIM, and, most commonly, the internet – usually through an internal SIM card. That allows you to be connected with your car at all times and communicate with it when you’re not in it, usually through an app on your smartphone. This allows you to perform a number of functions, such as connecting to your car’s radio, using in-car assistants such as Amazon Alexa, receiving traffic updates, and even starting your car remotely.

But with advancements in technology, the future of connected vehicles is looking brighter than ever. With a 5G-enabled connection, vehicles will become an integrated, fully connected hub. Vehicle-to-vehicle (V-2-V) connected technology also enables communication between vehicles, so they can share vital journey information, such as road conditions, traffic, and speed limits.

5G-connected vehicles offer a host of benefits, including an enhanced consumer experience, improved road safety, maximised fuel economy, and reduced emissions.

Connected vehicles technology is also helping advance public transport. Through fleet management, detailed operational information for both bus and rail can optimise performance and operations, improve traffic, and offer more sustainable mobility.

Real-time data collection

According to the UK’s Future of Transport programme, real-time data collection and analysis is “driving the development of new modes of travel and new ways to do business”. It is also an integral part of improved transport connectivity, shows UK Transport Vision 2050, which is an in-depth study mapping out the future of the UK transport system.

Real-time data can benefit the public sector and transport industry overall, as well as travellers and maintenance. For example, it can improve road-usage planning, which can help with emissions reductions, cost savings.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning can also play a major role in achieving advanced traffic management. As a prime example of connectivity, traffic signals can be adjusted based on real-time traffic data. This data can then be sent to vehicles in traffic, enabling interconnected data sharing and feeding into public transport platforms. That way, cities can manage their mobility ecosystem more efficiently.

Not only that, but machine learning and real-time data collection can aid planning simulations by creating digital twins. Real-time digital counterparts of physical objects can significantly improve traffic management systems.

Advanced rail connectivity

Based on the UK Transport Vision 2050, the UK has mapped out a pathway to improving transport connectivity, and rail connectivity plans are looking promising.

By 2025, the European Train Control System (ETCS) level 2 is expected to commence, and by 2049, 95% of networks should be connected to the system. ETCS is the main signalling and train control component of the European Rail Traffic Management System. Its purpose is to calculate a safe minimum speed for each train. ETCS level 2 is a radio-based system that monitors signalling and moving authorities in the cab.

Not only that but by 2030 all trains are also expected to have Wi-Fi connectivity and fully developed trackside infrastructure, which will take rail connectivity even further.

Technology is changing the world at the speed of light, and we’re witnessing the evolution of connectivity. Bolstered by real-time data collection, robust transport infrastructure, and advanced transport management systems, the future of transport connectivity is beyond bright.

4 Factors That Impact Employee Health and Ways to Handle Them

4 Factors That Impact Employee Health and Ways to Handle Them

It’s in your best interest to maintain your employee’s health in the workplace. What they do out of those hours is up to them, but if they are in pain or finding their mood greatly affected by coming into work, you will see their productivity go down, costing you money.

There’s a lot that employees think they can’t complain about for fear of getting in the bad books with their boss, so it’s important to ask if they are uncomfortable or have any concerns about safety in order to do something about it. Take a look at our suggestions for a starting point.

Ergonomics

The biggest complaint about working in an office is the trouble that sitting at a desk for eight hours a day inflicts on your body. For example, Emma, hit the news in 2019. A life size model that showcased all the health issues to be expected from working in an office in the future, she had varicose veins, bloodshot eyes, weight problems, and a hunch.

This is why a lot of offices have been looking into different seating options for employees, which is why you’ve heard of everything from yoga balls to bean bags and even standing replacing desk chairs. Ergonomic chairs are becoming more and more common, making them more affordable.

But chairs aren’t the only problem. Thanks to better nutrition, believe it or not, we as a species are getting taller, but our desks aren’t. Our arms are always resting an inch or two too low, which you can feel on your upper back, and our legs are cramped under desks that we hit our knees off. Luckily, adjustable desks are also becoming more affordable, with them flying off of IKEA shelves.

Physical health and safety

If you are running a business that requires your staff to handle various materials to make your products, you will have to make sure your health and safety requirements are met.

This differs from industry to industry and depends on what you’re selling. You have to take into account the health and safety of your customers using your products but also the health and safety of your staff making the products. Manufacturing compliance issues covers everything from the correct work gear and tools to making sure you have a COSHH risk assessment done.

It is the responsibility of the employer to create and continually implement and review a robust risk assessment to ensure that no harm comes to your employees.

Work/life balance

There’s no doubt that since lockdown started, team managers all over the western world have been dealing with the fallout of opening up offices again. Some people practically hugged their team managers, glad to get away from the house, but a lot of people found they actually liked working from home – to the surprise of no one but higher ups.

Getting back into the idea of a 9-5 with no escape has been a bitter pill to swallow, making productivity worsen, childcare harder and mental health to decline.

It is possible for team mangers to have their cake and eat it too if you’re not willing to go as far as to permanently introduce working from home as an option. There is the concept of flexible working hours to explore. Theoretically, staff can come in on the hours they want, on alternate days, their desk taken up by someone who isn’t working from home the next day. You cut down on equipment and your staff enjoy more freedom on when they work and as long as they are working, everything should run smoothly.

Mental health

However, there are a lot of other ways that mental health can be affected by the workplace. One thing comes down to layout. The cubicle layout of the office has been touted for making sure productivity is at its highest, but it has gained a reputation for being isolating and even oppressive. There are plenty of other options, including hybrid options that allow your staff to work wherever they fancy today, be that the sofa or the desk. But the cluster option is the best for mental health and productivity. Staff members can share ideas and learn from the people around them, as well as allowing for an environment that doesn’t restrict the occasional natter about celeb gossip at lunch.

Plants are also a good way to keep your employees’ mental health at its best. There are a lot of offices bringing plants into their offices, knowing full well the healing benefits of being in nature. Not only will they keep your employees happy, but they will boost productivity by oxygenating the room. You just have to hope someone in the office has a green finger.

Of course, keeping mental health a priority isn’t just about the state of the office space. It’s important that you have policies and support in place to help out any of your staff members should they report to you a problem with your mental health. In fact, it’s important to foster an environment that encourages the sharing of your mental health state in the first place.

Plastic Packaging Tax: Will the Economic Incentive Help Encourage Businesses to Prioritise the Environment?

Plastic packaging tax is a form of environmental taxation that came into effect this year, on 1 April 2022. To examine whether plastic packaging tax will prove successful in creating a demand for more sustainable products, professionals should consider the implications of previous taxations, such as the sugar tax.

In 2018, the government introduced a levy on soft drinks that contained more than 5g of sugar per 100ml. This resulted in the sugar content of soft drinks reducing significantly. In fact, according to a study by the University of Cambridge, households consumed drinks with 10 per cent less sugar in the first year that this came into effect.

This suggests that the plastic packaging tax will prove to be just as successful, encouraging manufacturers and importers to reduce the amount of non-recyclable materials used. Here is a closer examination of the taxation and which companies it is likely to affect.

What is the purpose of plastic packaging tax?

The UK plastic packaging tax charges companies that manufacture or import packaging that is made out of less than 30 per cent recycled plastic. The standard taxation is £200 per tonne of plastic packaging.

This applies to all manner of plastic packaging, whether it is used by companies or consumers. Plastic packaging used in the supply chain, such as bubble wrap and packaging peanuts, is equal to consumer single-use plastics, from disposable utensils to coffee cups made of plastic.

The taxation will reduce the number of plastic products made from pure virgin material from entering landfill. It will also reduce how much is being used for waste-to-energy incineration and encourage businesses to create sustainable solutions, such as designing innovative cosmetic containers and recyclable food packaging.

The goal of plastic packaging tax: to prevent a valuable resource ending up in landfills

Plastic packaging tax will incentivise a number of people within the packaging industry. First and foremost, manufacturers and importers of plastic packaging exceeding 10 tonnes per year may face charges.

In addition to manufacturers and importers, the taxation can also affect businesses that buy plastic packaging. To avoid any unnecessary charges, packaging buyers and new product managers should keep a record of their purchasing history and consider buying from companies that favour recycled plastics.

This has the possibility of creating a demand for more plastics made from recyclable materials within the industry.

Judit Guerra-Falcon, product sustainability and compliance manager at Waddington Europe, a leading producer of rigid plastic packaging, with product brands including Eco Blend 100 and Eco Blend Pura ranges, has commented:

“The goal of the UK Plastic Packaging tax is to provide an economic incentive for business to use more recycled plastics in the manufacturing of packaging. As a result, collection levels of plastic waste will increase. This may help to prevent this valuable material resource ending up in landfills or being incinerated.”

In fact, the taxation is estimated to increase the demand for sustainable plastic packaging by 40 per cent, saving as much as 200,000 tonnes of carbon in 2022 to 2023.

The implications of the plastic packaging tax remain inconclusive, although governmental bodies will continue to monitor the use of plastic packaging in the coming months. However, the demand for sustainable plastic products is obvious, meaning that corporations and packaging buyers have the opportunity to prioritise the environment.

6 Common Link Building Mistakes to Avoid

If you are a new website owner in the UK, you might be looking for marketing strategies and techniques like link building to rank better. With over 1.5 billion websites on the internet today, you want to make sure your website stands out.

Link building can help you secure a higher rank on search engine results, improve customer loyalty, and get traffic from your social media channels. This marketing technique might be a key to promoting your website, but many are making numerous mistakes when applying it.

Read on to learn which mistakes are stopping your website from ranking better.

  1. Getting links from unreliable SEO services

Hiring SEO agencies to provide links is an excellent strategy to improve your website ranking. However, choosing the wrong agency will waste your money and time, or worse, it can negatively affect your rank in search engine results.

So, make sure to choose SEO services that provide excellent results. Experienced companies like ocere.com offer effective link building that can improve your rating. They provide good quality links of authority and relevant sites to increase traffic to your website.

2. Building links to low-quality content

Another common mistake when link building is backlinking authority sites to a thin, low-quality article. You should not only focus on finding authority and relevant sites in link building. Remember that you also need to focus on creating content worthy of those backlinks.

For instance, if your website is intended for the nearly 400 million internet users in European countries, create informative, clear, actionable, and helpful content for them. Creating high-quality content is the initial step to getting backlinks.

3. Repetitively linking to the same web page

A landing page can help drive more traffic to your site. But don’t limit your creativity.

In link building, your goal is to improve the search engine’s EAT or expertise, authority, and trust. So, try mixing things up. It might be helpful to link out informative blog entries, author biographies, and underutilised sites. For example, link out to a blog in your website that tackles the best places in European countries to live in to related content.

4. Building irrelevant links

Never build backlinks to a web page with content far from your site. This link building mistake can negatively affect your website’s search engine ranking. For instance, if you have a website based on cryptocurrency mining, don’t build a backlink to a health and beauty site. Otherwise, users will return to the previous site or exit the page.

So, make sure you are creating backlinks to sites with the same niche as you. Relevance is vital to get traffic to your website.

5. Ignoring no-follow links

No-follow links are links that do not pass PageRank. They are links with a rel=”nofollow” HTML tag, making search engines ignore them. But when link building, it is a mistake to leave them out of your strategy. Applying no-follow links to your website can improve your rating by adding diversity to your website links.

6. Utilising the same outreach email that you found online

It would be embarrassing if people find out you’re using the same template other link builders and bloggers are using. Sending an email outreach with a template you just copied online strips you of credibility. People are more likely to be your customer if you provide them with a more personalised experience.

Takeaway

In link building, creating unnatural, irrelevant, and low-quality backlinks is only a waste of time. What’s worse is that they can get your site penalised. Now that you’re aware of the common link building mistakes, reassess your strategies for improvement.

The Laws You Break Whilst Driving – Revealed!

How well do you know the Highway Code? Chances are, the answer is not as well as you think! Though you might be as confident as anyone behind the wheel, there are plenty of little-known motoring laws that people around the UK break without knowing every day. You might have gotten away scot-free up to this point, but that doesn’t mean that you’ve stuck to every aspect of motoring law!

Though some aspects of motoring law may seem like common sense, other, lesser-known aspects of the law can be confusing, particularly when it comes to smoking, eating, and drinking behind the wheel – can you or can’t you? With that thought in mind, the vehicle experts at Anglo Scottish Asset Finance have highlighted some common areas where UK drivers may be likely to slip up.

Key Points

  • Contrary to common belief, eating or drinking behind the wheel is not illegal. However, if you’re deemed to not be in proper control of the car, you could receive a £100 fine and three penalty points.
  • Splashing a pedestrian with rainwater could net you a fine of up to £5,000 if you’re adjudged to be driving without proper consideration for others.
  • You could receive a fine of up to £1,000 in court if you’re caught paying with your phone whilst the car engine is running and handbrake is off.
  • You could receive a minimum of 10 points on your licence and a fine if you’re caught sleeping in your car whilst drunk.
  • Flashing your headlights to give way could result in a minimum fine of £30.

Eating and Drinking at the Wheel

The actual act of eating or drinking whilst driving is not strictly illegal. However, if you’re distracted behind the wheel, and are spotted by officers enjoying a bite to eat, you could still be breaking the law. If they deem that you aren’t in proper control of the car, you could be on the receiving end of an on-the-spot fine of £100, and three penalty points.

Turning on a Light in the Car

At some point or another during your childhood, chances are, you’ve turned on a light in the car, only to be swiftly shouted at by the driver for ‘blinding them’ or preventing them from being able to see the road clearly. Despite this, there’s no law against driving with interior lights on. If the light is adjudged to be distracting for you or even other drivers, however, you may be charged with careless driving.

Splashing a Pedestrian with Rainwater

Ever driven through a deep puddle and drenched a pedestrian? Sometimes, avoiding a puddle might be impossible. However, if you’re deemed to have driven ‘without reasonable consideration for other persons,’ you could be in hot water yourself. In that event, you could face a fine of £100 up to an eye-watering £5,000.

Phone Usage Whilst Driving

Everyone should know this offence – driving whilst using your mobile phone could net you a £200 fine and six penalty points on your licence. If you’re a new driver, you’ll lose your licence. The law stipulates that, in order to use any unmounted handheld device behind the wheel, you must be parked with the engine switched off.

This means that you could be in trouble if you use your phone to pay for a meal at the drive-thru. Any driver caught using their phone whilst driving could then receive a further fine of up to £1,000 in court, so you could end up with a VERY expensive Big Mac if you’re not careful!

Smoking in the Car

Smoking in a car on your own, or in a car full of adults, is not illegal. However, if there are any under-18s in the car with you, smoking is not permitted and has been illegal since 2015. Offenders could be punished with a £50 fine and five points on their licence – even if it’s one of your passengers who is smoking with a child in the car. 

Driving in Incorrect Footwear

Did you know that certain types of footwear are prohibited behind the wheel? Though it’s not against the law, Rule 97 of the Highway Code states that ‘the footwear and clothing you wear whilst driving must not prevent you from using the controls in the correct manner.’ This means any footwear without a closed back or strap could earn you a £100 fine, as they could slide off your feet or get stuck under the brake pedal – so no flip-flops!

Improper Use of the Hard Shoulder

When you’re stuck in standstill traffic on the motorway, the hard shoulder could look like a great way to get around. However, since March 2018, this has been a finable offence. With fixed charges of £100 and three penalty points to be dished out for hard shoulder users, don’t get caught out!

Sleeping in the Car Whilst Drunk

You’ve had a few too many and – correctly – decide that driving would be far too dangerous. Probably best to sleep in the car and drive home in the morning when you’ve sobered up, right? Wrong. The law states that whoever is in charge of a vehicle should not be inebriated, and police have often classed sleeping owners as being ‘in charge.’ You could therefore receive 10 points on your licence and a substantial fine.

Driving With Headphones On

Driving with headphones on is not illegal – there’s no specific law that says you aren’t allowed to do so. However, it’s certainly unadvisable – your ears are key to identifying the position of pedestrians and other cars on the road, so you should always use the stereo rather than headphones where possible.

Using a Sat-Nav

Though using a sat-nav whilst driving is legal, there are a number of rules and regulations in place to prevent dangerous usage. Your sat-nav must be in a fixed position on your windscreen or dashboard – if you’re using it whilst unfixed, you could receive up to six penalty points and a £200 fine.

Flashing Your Lights to Give Way

You see it daily on the road – a driver flashing their lights to allow another driver through, or to allow a pedestrian to cross the road. However, you aren’t legally allowed to do this – you could encourage someone to make a manoeuvre when it isn’t safe. Using your headlamps in this way could carry a minimum fine of £30.

So, how many of these infractions were you aware of? And how many have you managed to avoid doing so far? It’s always worth giving your knowledge of the road a refresh from time to time, in order to ensure that you are driving as safely as possible for yourself and the other drivers on the road!

Allan Hetherington, Head of Prestige Car Finance at Anglo Scottish Asset Finance, comments: ‘Motoring law can be complicated, and oftentimes drivers are unaware of new changes to the law, which is constantly updating in response to new technology and more. We strive to ensure all of our clients are up-to-date with their knowledge of motoring law and the Highway Code, so the roads are as safe as possible for everyone!’

Post Office Strikes – ParcelHero’s Top Ten Hacks to Avoid Getting Caught Out in the Future

Last Monday saw up to 114 main Crown Post Offices (those usually found on High Streets) closed or facing disruption due to a strike. Around half didn’t open at all, which meant shoppers planning to use the service to pay their vehicle tax, obtain an international driving permit, send a MoneyGram or simply mail a parcel, were left stranded. Up to 1,500 members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) were striking over pay.

On Thursday 14th of July, it was the turn of the smaller sub-Post Offices to experience disruption, as Post Office (PO) supply chain and admin workers also went on strike. This impacted 11,500 PO counters across the UK. 

Fortunately, the parcel price comparison expert ParcelHero says that shoppers now have far more choice about accessing services that Post Offices previously had a monopoly on.

ParcelHero’s Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks M.I.L.T., says: ‘We are all sympathetic to the difficulties of workers struggling to pay rising household bills. However, some Post Office (PO) services are time critical, and customers need to be aware of alternatives to avoid being caught out by the current wave of strikes, or any that may take place in the future. We’ve drawn up a list of our top ten hacks to escape the worst impact of the closure or reduction of services in Post Offices.

1. International driving permits

The country you are visiting on holiday this year may require an international driving permit, which are only available at Post Offices. However, most European countries, including Sweden, Switzerland and Greece, no longer require this permit. Others, such as France and Germany, only require one if you still only have a paper driving licence. Our advice is to apply online for a photo ID driving licence to avoid the repeated hassle of buying international permits. For certain other countries, such as the USA, you must have a driving permit, so plan well ahead.

2. Travel insurance

Also with holidays in mind, some people use POs to book their travel insurance for single trips or annual coverage. However, there are alternatives. Try using one of the many comparison sites, which compare many of the best available insurance policies, just like ParcelHero compares courier services.

3. MoneyGrams

Most POs enable you to send money to over 200 countries worldwide using the MoneyGram service. However, if your local PO service isn’t available, don’t panic. There’s now a MoneyGram App on Apple store and Google Play, while MoneyGram services are also available at stores including Tesco, if you still prefer to send money in person.

                                

4. DBS checks

Applying for a job that involves handling finances or meeting people who might be vulnerable in some way? You might be asked for a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. These can be done at your local PO but, these days, you can cut the hassle and apply for a basic DBS check online.

5. Document Certification

POs can certify documents such as your passport and driving licence, should you need to prove who you are but don’t want to send originals. However, the Government lists a wide range of other certifiers such as a bank or building society official, councillor, minister of religion, dentist, chartered accountant, solicitor or notary, teacher or lecturer.

6. Driving licence renewals

Moved house or need to renew a 10-year driving licence? Some drivers still like to use the PO to do this. However, you can also do this directly by post if your PO is unavailable. Easier still, renew online.

7. Passport renewal

Still with holidays in mind, you can use POs to renew existing passports. However, don’t panic if your local PO is closed or doesn’t offer this service. You can also renew your passport online, and most photo shops and booths now give you a digital code with your passport pics, making online applications even easier.

8. Vehicle tax payment

You can still pay your vehicle tax at many local PO counters but there are several easy alternatives.  Call 0300 123 4321 for DVLA’s 24-hour automated phoneline, or simply use its online service.

9. Postal Order

You may think Postal Orders went out of fashion with Billy Bunter, but they are still available from POs. You can still use them to send money to family and friends or even pay for items on eBay. However, these are confusingly old-fashioned. It may be simpler to send a cheque or, better still, use a 21st century alternative such as PayPal, which allows anyone with an email address to securely, conveniently and cost-effectively send and receive payments online.

10. Sending a parcel

Some people still like to send a parcel the old-fashioned way, by queuing at a PO counter. The good news is that there’s an alternative. If you book a parcel through ParcelHero, the courier will come straight to your door to pick up your package for national or international delivery.

9 In 10 Look for Second Jobs Amidst Financial Concerns

Nine in ten UK employees have, or would be interested in a second job, as the COVID-19 pandemic and cost of living crisis sees workers keen to increase incomes and turn hobbies into enterprises.

The data, from Benenden Health’s ‘Workforce of the Future’ report, found that almost one in three employees in the UK currently have a second occupation (29%), with half of these taking up their additional role during the pandemic.

As individuals consider the impact of the increased cost of living, and re-evaluate what they want to get out of their careers, more than a third (36%) revealed that they are interested in taking on a second job purely for the additional income and a further quarter (23%) said they would like to do so by turning a hobby into a personal enterprise.

These findings come against a backdrop of growing concerns around the nation’s financial wellbeing, with this revealed to be the second most important health or wellbeing concern for households in the next 5-10 years – behind mental wellbeing – with a third (31%) of respondents revealing financial wellbeing to be the most significant challenge that they face.

With the survey of 2,000 UK employees revealing that more than half of workers have changed their feelings towards work as a result of the pandemic (55%) and that only a fifth of workers don’t have plans to leave their current job, Benenden Health is encouraging businesses to consider their approach to recruiting and retaining talent, with a focus on the mental and financial wellbeing support they are able to offer.

Naomi Thompson, Head of OD at Benenden Health, said: “With employees re-evaluating their lives and careers during the COVID-19 pandemic and now facing a cost of living crisis, the employment landscape is shifting dramatically.

“At times of crisis and uncertainty, businesses can make a big difference to their employees by providing assurances, security and support, especially around mental and financial wellbeing – yet our research shows that more than a third of firms have not changed anything as a result of the pandemic, despite the changing dynamics at play.

“With employees feeling more powerful about where they work and what they do, employers need to ensure that they are doing everything they can to help their team through these ongoing challenges, with a particular focus on providing financial wellbeing support and reducing the stigma associated with talking about money.

“Whether people are taking up second jobs to explore hobbies they’re passionate about or simply to top up their take-home pay, it’s vital that businesses consider this when looking at their recruitment and retention plans.”

Benenden Health is a mutual organisation offering high quality, private healthcare at the same affordable cost for everyone. This includes access to information services such as a Mental Health helpline, where members can discuss any wellbeing issues caused by financial worries.

For more information about Benenden Health and to view its ‘Workforce of the Future’ report, go to https://www.benenden.co.uk.

What Is ERP, and How Can ERP Tools Benefit Your Business?

Times are tough for businesses at the moment, as economic uncertainty is further fed by the growth of key operating costs, and public concerns for the onset of another recession. As such, smaller and newer businesses are facing bigger challenges than ever before.
But while external factors cannot necessarily be helped, addressing internal inefficiency and stimulating departmental effectiveness can help businesses weather the oncoming storm. One vital piece of the puzzle in this regard is ERP – but what is it, and how can it help?

What is ERP
ERP stands for Enterprise Resource Planning, and broadly refers to a suite of tools and software that can help a business manage its internal processes. There are numerous departments and disciplines that keep a business ticking over, including finance and accounting to business development, project management, procurement and supply and internal HR to name but a few.

All of these disparate elements are managed by independent teams, overseen by executive management. But each department can only work effectively with relevant information and co-operation from other teams. As a basic example, the accounting department can only provide an accurate report on cashflow if they receive a comprehensive list of expenses from procurement, as well as necessary information about credit agreements with longer-term clients. This is where ERP tools come in.

Why Use ERP Tools?
Administrating the co-operation and collaboration of different departments can prove difficult, and even inefficient. Bottlenecks can easily become apparent, whether due to human errors or short-staffing. Where multiple departments require the same information, different drafts can enter into circulation and cause confusion.
An ERP system is a dedicated, centralised ‘control room’ for the flow of information and the administration of core business logistics. Putting an ERP system in place provides a number of key benefits to a business, not in the least when it comes to the improvement of inter-department collaboration.

The Benefits of Adopting ERP Software
The specific benefits of introducing ERP software as an internal business strategy are manifold. The biggest measurable impact is the financial one, as bottlenecks to collaboration are removed and business processes streamlined. Cloud collaboration and the instant accessibility of information and reporting reduces the man-hours spent collecting information and enables teams to work more efficiently.

This increased efficiency has a knock-on effect on overall productivity, with teams finding it easier and less time-consuming to work together and develop projects. For executive management, ERP ensures the most accurate possible representation of data – and a clearer picture of the business’ health and progress as a result.

In all, ERP presents an elegant solution to the management of disparate business needs and ensures the best possible reporting when it comes to monitoring project development and progress. The process of installing ERP software is also a powerful opportunity for upskilling staff, ensuring longevity on all counts.

Summer Road Trip: How to Tow with a Campervan

As we enter the summer months, many will be getting ready to enjoy a road trip in their beloved campervan to enjoy the many sights the UK has to offer. But if you’re a growing family or your summer hobbies are screaming for more space, then towing with a campervan might just be the answer! From campervan insurance to weight restrictions, there are things to be aware of before you hit the road, so read on to find out.

Why Tow with a Campervan?

Whether it’s extra storage space or sleeping areas you need, towing with a campervan provides the perfect solution for your road trip needs, as cabin space may be lacking in some smaller campervans. For instance, if you have items like a pram or surfing gear, towing with a campervan may provide that little extra storage space for equipment.

Or, maybe you’re in need of extra sleeping berths for family and friends to join you on those long summer nights, which towing a caravan could prove to be incredibly useful for. If you are looking to tow a caravan, you no longer need to worry about bringing the car too, as your camper may be able to tow it for you!

Things to Be Aware of

Whilst towing might provide the answer to your needs, there are some things you need to consider before you set off on the road…

Weight Restrictions

You will need to carry out some calculations to understand the appropriate towing weight for your camper. A modern VW transporter can tow upwards of 2,000 kilos, but this depends on the vehicle type that you will be towing.

The Gross Train Weight (GTW) of your original vehicle will affect what you can tow. The owner’s manual will be your guide for this and may also include towing restrictions for your vehicle too. It is recommended that you should tow no more than 75% of the Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM) when the two parts are in tandem. While you can tow up to 100%, this is not advised as it may cause problems with braking functions, driver safety and even manoeuvrability. You don’t want to get stuck down any tight country lanes!

So, before you set off on your road trip, ensure you’ve checked that what you’re towing is not only legal, but safe for your vehicle.

Licence Regulations

Another consideration for you is whether your licence covers you for what you’re towing.

From the 16th of December 2021, if you passed your driving test after the 1st of January 1997, you are allowed to tow trailers up to 3,500kg MAM. There is no need to contact the DVLA either, and when you do get a renewed licence, the category BE will be automatically added. And if you did get your licence before the 1st of January 1997, you can drive a vehicle and trailer with an MAM of 8,250kg.

Whilst it is more than likely that your licence does comply with towing, it is always best to check, as you don’t want to be caught short.

Insurance Policies

Last but certainly not least on your pre-holiday checklist is to make sure that your insurance policy covers you.

Campervan insurance policies are often tailored and specific, so it may be the case that you will not automatically be covered for towing. You may even need to take out a specialist campervan policy or speak with your chosen insurer to make sure that you’re allowed to tow onto the back of your camper. Your insurer may impose weight restrictions or restrict the type of vehicle that you are allowed to tow, so it is best to find this out in advance!

You also need to check your breakdown cover, ensuring that you’re fully covered for rescue for both of your vehicles. You don’t want to get stuck on the side of the road when you could be enjoying the sun from a beach somewhere…

Now you can go ahead and enjoy your summer road trip, equipped with everything you need to know about towing a campervan. If you’re looking for even more information on how to tow with your campervan, then check out the Just Kampers Insurance blog.

What to expect when partnering with an Amazon marketing agency

Partnering with a specialist Amazon marketing agency can bring many benefits to e-commerce businesses advertising products on Amazon.

From helping to manage and optimise their campaign, to increasing product and brand visibility and driving sales, Amazon specialists can use their expertise to create a more efficient campaign and a better ROI. Here are just some of the ways a specialist agency can help.

What services does an Amazon marketing agency provide?

Amazon advertising agencies provide a wide range of services, offering e-commerce companies expert help and advice on everything from campaign setup to optimisation and management. These services include:

–    Store creation

–    Brand registry

–    Account management

–    Content creation

–    Strategy

–    Sponsored advertising

Is partnering with an Amazon marketing agency the right move for your business?

The Amazon online marketplace is a vast and diverse platform, giving e-commerce businesses across any industry the opportunity to market their products and get their brand in front of a wider customer base.

With so many options to choose from, getting it right is essential to the success of a campaign. So, whether you’re considering setting up your first Amazon campaign but are unsure of what to do or have been on the marketplace for a while but don’t have enough time to manage your account properly, employing the assistance of an Amazon marketing agency will give you with the help you need.

How do you find the Amazon agency best suited to your requirements?

There are a number of factors to consider when choosing an Amazon marketing agency to work alongside your ecommerce company.

It’s important you find an agency that can offer the quality service you need at a cost that suits your budget. And you need an agency with in-depth knowledge of Amazon’s guidelines to deliver a great strategy that will boost sales and keep your business ahead of your competitors. So, finding an agency with a proven track record and platform expertise is essential.

Budget and services

Different advertising agencies will offer their services for different costs, which isn’t helpful when you’re trying to compare like for like. How do you determine which agency will be the best fit for your business?

Don’t be tempted to employ the cheapest agency without first doing your homework. Just because an agency can accommodate your budget does not mean they are the ones best suited to the job. Look at their experience, the variety of services they offer and how they propose to manage your account. Will you have a dedicated team at your disposal for example?

Track record

One of the best ways to assess the capabilities of an Amazon marketing agency is to look at their track record for other clients. Case studies are a great way to gauge the kind of results you can expect to achieve for your campaigns if you partner with the agency, giving you a clearer idea of what you will see from your investment.

If an agency is unable or unwilling to show case studies of their previous campaigns, it’s a sign you should continue your search. Any agency worth its salt should be able to share examples of campaign results without breaking client confidentiality.

To conclude, ecommerce businesses looking to partner with an expert Amazon marketing agency for assistance on their campaigns can expect to gain access to a vast expanse of knowledge and services. This will allow for your business to optimise its product listings, boosting sales and leading to better brand visibility on the Amazon marketplace.

The future of payments: Will open banking become the dominant method?

The payment industry is dynamic and ever-changing. Because of this, the ways that people pay today won’t necessarily be the methods of tomorrow. But how exactly will we make payments in the future?

Of course, that’s a difficult question to answer with certainty. Yet, thanks to research commissioned by open banking specialists EML Payments Limited, we have a better idea than ever.

750 payment decision makers participated in a survey that asked them questions regarding payment methods. 25% of respondents predicted that open banking will be the dominant payment method within the next 5 years.

So, what exactly is open banking? And what other payment methods could become widespread in the future? We’ll explore these questions below.

What is open banking?

Open banking allows consumers to access their banking account data through third-party financial service providers.

Open banking offers many benefits to consumers. To name a few, reduced fraud risk, consolidated reporting and improved access to financial products and services.

35% of the survey respondents said that open banking payments have seen an uptake in the last two years, indicating a growing appreciation of the benefits that paying in this way offers.

It’s not just the UK that has seen a rise in open banking platforms either, with EML Payments announcing their expansion further into Europe with new countries including, Austria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Romania, Slovenia and Sweden. These countries now mean that EML Payments now reaches 28 countries and 2,250 banks across Europe. Another indication that open banking could be a popular payment source for businesses across Europe and the world.

Despite this, almost half of respondents said that they haven’t yet fully realised the potential of open banking within their organisation and the same proportion stated that their customers were distrustful of this new payment method at first.

Which other payment methods could become popular?

Open banking isn’t the only payment method that has risen in popularity over the last couple of years. Almost two-fifths of respondents reported that digital wallets have risen in popularity.

Sometimes also referred to as an “e-wallet”, digital wallets are systems that store users’ payment details and passwords, making it simple and easy for people to make purchases both online and in person. In many cases, digital wallets are linked to mobile payment systems that allow users to make payments using their smartphones.

Transactions made using “Buy Now, Pay Later” (BNPL) have also risen in popularity according to the survey. This form of short-term financing allows consumers to break down a single purchase into smaller amounts spread across a period of time, usually in months.

This finding is corroborated by research conducted by Citizens Advice, in which they found that roughly a tenth of Brits relied on BNPL to buy gifts for Christmas 2021.

So, which payment method will be most dominant in the next 5 years? It’s hard to say for sure. But we can safely say that the future’s payments will be significantly different than they are now, offering consumers more options than ever in how they purchase goods and services.

Tips for Exporting Automotive Goods From the UK to Europe

Tips for Exporting Automotive Goods From the UK to Europe

Whether your firm makes sub-assemblies for car manufacturers or produces accessories for the motor industry, the fact is that selling goods into European markets has become harder for many British entrepreneurs in the sector. This is partly due to the trade restrictions that came into force when the UK departed from the EU’s customs union, of course. However, that’s not the only factor. Some customers in the EU simply assumed that British firms wouldn’t be able to keep up and that their orders would be delayed so they sought alternatives elsewhere even when trading could have quite easily continued.

However, the changing exchange rate between the Euro and the pound has led some Eurozone customers to start placing more orders in the UK automotive goods sector. So, how can British firms seize the opportunity this affords them? Read on to find out.

Ship Door-to-Door Directly

If production lines are stalled because key components are not available to engineers, it costs automotive firms a great deal. Therefore, it is worth spending a bit more when sending goods to European customers and ordering couriers to drive directly from your warehouse or production facility to their goods-in area. This will often involve hiring the services of a skilled freight forwarding firm unless you already have your own logistics department to handle international consignments.

Get Customs Clearances Right

According to one of the leading customs clearance agencies in the UK, Barrington Freight, most problems arise in the automotive sector when suppliers haven’t made the right declarations on their paperwork. This can delay goods in the UK even before they cross the English Channel, causing unnecessary frustration in European supply chains. Even when British exporters have satisfied HMRC with their documents, further delays can always occur when goods arrive in the EU. Turn to customs clearance experts who can ensure both sets of declarations are carried out correctly.

Provide a Responsive Service

When a European customer places an order for automotive goods, they won’t just be looking at price, generally speaking. If they’re buying from an overseas trading entity in the UK, then they are also testing out whether or not the supplier can be trusted to get their shipment to them reliably. The fact is that as soon as an order is placed, you need to be arranging for its transit to your customer. Look for service providers with a national network of drivers and couriers who can begin shipping palletised goods throughout Europe within hours of receiving your call.

Track Order Progress

Finally, it is imperative that high-value items – like most automotive goods – are insured and traceable as they make their way to your client. Many of the firms in the car-making regions of eastern France and western Germany will expect updates about the progress of their orders. The same goes for companies in Spain, the Czech Republic and even further afield, too. Therefore, you should expect to be able to provide order progress updates at any time.

What Visas Are Available for EU Citizens Looking to Work in the UK?

In this article, we explore the different options available for EU citizens looking to work and reside in the UK…

The UK has always been a popular place to live and work for EU citizens, and it used to be that all an EU resident would need to do is pack their suitcase and jump on a plane. Since 2020, however, things have got a little more complicated for those looking to relocate to Great Britain.

Following the UK’s exit from the European Union in January 2020, those looking to work here have to tick a few boxes in terms of requirements. Furthermore, in this article, we’ll run through the ways in which EU residents can work in the UK, including spouse visas and graduate visas.

Keep reading to find out the different types of visas…

 

Right to Work in the UK

Permission to work and live in the UK is granted on a points-based system and, anybody looking to apply will first need to make sure that they meet a specific set of criteria. As well as, undergoing a number of checks including a criminal record check. A person may be able to live and work in the United Kingdom by applying for a visa and, in this section, we’ll take you through the different visas available:

A Spouse Visa

Also known as a Family Visa, this is a form of permission which may be granted if your spouse (husband, wife or civil partner) has already settled in the UK. In this instance, ‘settled’ means that he or she has a settled status, meaning an indefinite leave to remain or evidence of permanent residence.  In order to be eligible for this kind of visa, the UK based spouse must either be a British or Irish citizen or, have been living in the United Kingdom continuously prior to the 1st of January 2021. 

For this kind of visa, both partners must be over the age of 18 and be planning to live together in the UK. While it is possible to apply for this kind of visa, success is not always guaranteed. A spouse visa may be refused on human rights grounds, for example, if the person applying has a criminal record and is considered to be a danger to UK citizens.  If a spouse visa is disapproved, a good immigration solicitor may be able to help the applicant to appeal the decision.

If a decision is approved, the applicant will need to pay an Immigration Health Surcharge of £470 per year – with the first year’s payment due on application. This surcharge is made to cover the person’s healthcare on the NHS while in the UK.

A Skilled Worker Visa

If an EU citizen has skills and experience which are desirable in the UK and, they have a firm job offer from a Home-Office licensed sponsor (a company or business), they may be eligible for a Skilled Worker Visa. In most cases, the employment must pay a salary of £26,500 per year or more and, be able to speak English at a B1 intermediate level (as laid out on the Common European Framework of Reference for languages).  Such jobs may include engineering, IT and senior medical positions. 

EU citizens may also be eligible for a Health and Care Visa as long as they meet the requirements for the Skilled Worker route. With this kind of visa, applicants must have skills and experience in the health sector and have a job offer from an organisation such as the National Health Service (NHS). This kind of visa can be obtained on a fast-track, and, in many cases, these workers will not have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge.

A Student Visa

The UK is known for its high standards of education and, as such, many EU residents are keen to study here. In some cases, EU citizens may be eligible for a Student Visa (aged 17 or above) or a Child Student Visa (aged between 4 and 17). In order to be eligible for student visas, the applicant must have a verified offer of a place at a college or institution which is Home-Office licensed. As well as being able to read, write, speak and understand English and, be able to show evidence that they have enough money to support themselves while living and studying in the UK.

A Graduate Visa

If an EU citizen has studied  for and successfully completed a degree at a minimum of undergraduate level in the UK, he or she may be able to gain a Graduate Visa. This  can give them the right to stay and work in the United Kingdom for up to two years (or up to three years for doctoral students) once their studies have been successfully finished.

 

Work Opportunities in the UK

Whether the application is to work within the bright lights of London or take up agricultural research position in the countryside, the UK offers many great opportunities for EU citizens. Since Brexit, there’s no doubt that moving to the UK and working here is a little more complicated but, this is certainly possible for those who have skills to offer UK businesses or, they have a husband, wife or civil partner who already lives here.

 

For the best chance of success, applicants should always read the requirements carefully and make sure that all their ducks are in a row in terms of documentation as this will save a lot of time and hassle in the long run.

British Buyers Discouraged from EU Housing Market Despite Cooling

The UK’s housing market has been soaring for the last two years, with house prices skyrocketing because of a lack of supply, tax breaks, and low interest rates. A similar story has also been seen across the EU, with house prices going up by 9.4 per cent from Q4 2020 to Q4 2021, while in the UK, a record 10.4 per cent in annual house price growth was seen at the end of last year.

Now, halfway through 2022, the rampant house price increases seen across Europe look to be simmering down, if not cooling entirely. For avid homebuyers in the UK, seeing prices at home and abroad settle would usually commence a wave of buying in the likes of Spain and France, but some recent revelations might just mean that they keep their cash in the UK.

Housing market begins to slow down in the UK

As noted above, the UK market has been on a relentless surge over the last couple of years, but the number of buyers still playing looks to be falling. It’s been found by Fortune that the number of mortgages being requested is gradually falling. With the rise in interest rates only just really beginning, it seems unlikely that a complete cooling will happen for a while, with much higher rates predicted for the coming months.

While perhaps not as ravenous as over the last several months, sellers and buyers alike will probably still be seeking good deals and new properties. Easily accessible online tools in the industry are working to keep everything rolling, too, with Trussle offering a free Mortgage in Principle (MIP) to anyone who uses their broker and mortgage comparison platform.

An MIP shows the prospective buyer an accurate reflection of how much they can borrow quickly. This helps to get them on the market quicker, shows real estate agents that they’re serious, and offers a good idea of the affordability of buying a house. With rates only looking likely to rise in the near future, people are looking to secure houses and mortgages sooner rather than later, but soon enough, the momentum will halt.

Brits less likely to look to the EU now

Generations of British people would make a habit of not just holidaying in Europe but eventually buying property, living, working, and even retiring in the EU. Now, as prices start to fall on the continent by about five to ten per cent, according to reports cited by Business Times, it would seem to be an ideal window for Brits to get involved, but times have certainly changed.

In 2021, it was noted that many British owners of EU properties were selling up due to the 90-day rule, and now British Expats have been revoked of the status of being a “citizen of the Union.” The EU Court of Justice, as was foreseeable, has revoked the ability to vote or stand in elections. Furthermore, incomers require a visa to work, either a non-lucrative visa – which forbids participation in economic activity – or a costly golden visa.

None of it comes as a surprise, nor is it wrong of the EU to begin to enforce such restrictions, but it does make buying a house in the EU more arduous for Brits. On top of this, there’s a lot more paperwork, bureaucracy, and many more expenses to get through – which is already bad in the UK, let alone as a Brit seeking to buy abroad.

While housing markets have seen a lot of activity of late, those in the EU and, soon, the UK look to be cooling off, with the window of opportunity for British buyers looking east requiring a lot more work than it used to.

Why Study an International Business Management Degree Instead of a Standard Business Course?

You’re studying business at A-Level, and you know that you want to go on to study for a business degree at university. But, with so many options available to you just in the field of business and business management, how do you know which to choose?

You might have heard of international business management degrees, but what does that really mean? And is it really that different to a standard business management degree?

Here, we cover the additional benefits of an international business management degree and why this is a great option for aspiring entrepreneurs.

Understanding business in a global context

An international business management degree will give you an in-depth understanding of businesses against the backdrop of the global context. But what does this mean?

Businesses are facing an increasingly complex environment and events across the globe can have an impact on their operations. A core challenge for businesses that operate globally is navigating these evolving trends, which present both opportunities and risks. Environmental and social concerns from all corners of the world can affect business operations and the ability to evolve in the face of these trends is essential.

Even local businesses are facing increased pressure from global competitors. Monolithic companies, including Amazon, are taking a share of their market and offering services that are difficult to compete with. On the flip side, international businesses must adapt to local conditions to be able to operate successfully in different countries and regions.

Understanding how businesses adapt to shifting trends around the world will truly set you apart when it comes to your career because you’ll be able to apply a wider knowledge set to your business.

Understand how and why global businesses work

Many of the most successful businesses in the world have a global presence. It might seem like global operations are the only way to truly be successful, but that isn’t always the case. Certain sectors dominate globally; seven of the top ten businesses globally are technology companies, while telecoms, financial, energy, and industrial sectors follow behind.

Expanding overseas comes with a huge range of challenges, including language barriers, operating in multiple currencies, and the costs of new office or store locations. The local culture and economic climate have an enormous impact on business operations. Brands that excel in their native countries have had to build unique business models to succeed on an international stage.

An international business management degree will give you a thorough understanding of how global businesses create bespoke business models to adapt to both local contexts and universal trends and processes.

Get ahead of the competition

Learning about business management on an international scale will help set you apart from others when you graduate and begin your career. You’ll develop a keen awareness of the major components of business operation and success, including the importance of accounting, finance, and marketing, before applying your knowledge to a global context.

As well as this, you’ll gain a key competitive advantage in the job market. You’ll not only study some of the most successful businesses in the world, but you’ll get the opportunity to work with them too. If working with a globally established business wasn’t enough, you’ll also get the chance to study and work abroad as part of many international business management degrees. What better way to understand how global circumstances reflect in local business practices than to see and study it first-hand?

Business degrees have long been amongst the most popular to study in the UK. They can also be one of the highest-earning degrees you can take depending on the path you choose. These degrees equip students with the knowledge and skills to succeed in many areas of a business and can open the door to careers in marketing, HR, and management. Understanding the practice of business in a global context will really make you stand out when it comes to your career, so why not consider an international business management degree?

Strategic Partnership Set to Accelerate Transition to Electric Vehicles in the Workplace

Durham-based, Anglo Scottish Asset Finance, is partnering with Diode, an electric vehicle (EV) suitability assessment software platform, to help break down the barriers to EV adoption and drive forward electrification in the workplace.

The partnership has been spearheaded by Charlotte Enright, business development manager and sustainability lead at Anglo Scottish Asset Finance.

Following discussions with Diode, which was established in 2020 in response to the climate change emergency and is a recipient of Innovate UK and Department for Transport grant funding, the two companies are partnering to provide a full circle service for businesses looking to invest in EVs.

Diode, an innovative web-based software platform that provides an all-in-one solution to help businesses, employees and consumers assess their electric vehicle suitability, generate a tailored charge point roll-out plan and purchase charge points through an automated tender process, identified that initial investment for many businesses would require finance and, as such, the relationship between the two companies was agreed.

The partnership coincides with the recent publication of the government’s UK Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Strategy. Included, was a £1.6 billion commitment towards achieving a tenfold increase in charge points by 2030, which will accelerate the government’s aim to end the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030 and ensure all new cars and vans are zero-emission by 2035.

With the average driver needing to charge for approximately seven hours per week at a standard 7kW charge point, installing charge points at workplaces will be a critical component if the target is to be achieved.

Established in 2007 and with headquarters in Chester-le-Street, County Durham, Anglo Scottish is an independent business finance broker, providing a range of financial services across the UK including asset finance, business loans and vendor and dealer finance, as well as personal vehicle solutions and vehicle sourcing.

Dan Eyre, co-founder and COO, Diode, said: “At current petrol and electricity prices, the cost per mile for electric vehicles is about half that of an equivalent petrol vehicle.

“The high upfront costs of the vehicles and charge points can put businesses and drivers off making the switch and is why finance options are so important, because it means our customers can start taking advantage of low-cost electric driving from day one.

“More than 90% of the drivers that complete our Electric Vehicle Readiness Assessment are in the position to make the switch. For some businesses, they may choose to make a full transition then and there, whilst others may wish to go at a slower pace. Diode can help companies that fit in to both of these groups and with Anglo Scottish as our finance partner, customers will quickly reap the benefits, both in terms of cost savings and accelerating their transition to electric vehicles.”

Charlotte Enright, sustainability lead, Anglo Scottish Asset Finance, said: “Recent figures published by The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders highlighted a huge increase in sales of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles in 2021. In fact, more new battery electric vehicles were registered than over the previous five years combined. Interestingly, there were 190,727 battery electric vehicles and 114,554 plug-in hybrids, meaning 18.5% of all new cars registered in 2021 could be plugged in.

“As part of the UK’s transition to electric vehicles, Diode has identified the need for a streamlined, simple, data driven platform that requires very little in terms of time investment. Results are quick and the benefits for businesses that work with the platform are huge.

“Once employees have completed their assessments, and businesses have generated their roll-out plans, those seeking finance are directed to Anglo Scottish, where we will find the best possible finance deals for electric vehicles and charging stations, via our vast panel of lenders.

David Foster, managing director, Anglo Scottish Asset Finance, said: “As we continue to strengthen our sustainable finance offering, with the aim of becoming the leading provider in the UK, we need look no further than the current investment taking place within electrification.

“For many, the journey towards making workplace operations sustainable will be on-going and Anglo Scottish aims to make this transition as smooth as possible, both for existing and new customers.”

What Should Your Business Provide to Improve Worker Safety?

Health and safety are key concerns for businesses, whether they are growing or established. In the EU alone, there were 3048 fatal accidents in the workplace in 2019, with a large proportion of these being within the construction sector. Every country within the EU must ensure that their national laws protect the rights dictated by EU employment laws. As an emerging small business, you may find yourself struggling to understand exactly what is expected of you in terms of workplace health and safety. What follows are some vital provisions you should make for your employees, along with the legal and logistical reasoning for their provision.

Health and Safety Policy

First and foremost, you need to draft a robust and comprehensive health and safety policy. There are certain legal requirements you must fulfil as a business, some of which we will touch upon later, but building an effective health and safety policy is one of them. It does not need to be formally drafted in text format if your business has fewer than five employees, but there must be evidence of a policy for you to be legally compliant.

Health and safety policies can help you navigate more specific requirements, directly address risks in your workplace and reassure employees that their safety is in good hands. One core aspect of your policy is risk assessment, wherein you establish the key risks inherent to certain tasks and areas, before drafting safe solutions to mitigating risk.

Workwear and PPE

Another of your legal responsibilities as a business is to provide appropriate personal protective equipment, or PPE, to your staff with reference to the risks they may face in your workplace. PPE can range in scope, from the simple provision of face masks to kitting them out with protective workwear.

Different items of PPE can be purchased together from suppliers, making the act of providing protective equipment a simple one. Just be sure that the items you purchase are fit for purpose, and of a high enough quality to withstand regular treatment where appropriate. You should also ensure you have adequate safe storage for your PPE, to keep it in safe condition for as long as possible.

Training

Employee training is a crucial arm of any robust health and safety policy. Instituting a regular training schedule ensures that all employees are on the same page regarding basic company procedures, as well as safe working techniques – whether lifting heavy objects or reporting hazards to the company’s designated ‘competent person’ or Health and Safety Officer.

Training also applies to the proper use of your provided PPE, mentioned above. You are legally required to provide adequate training in the use of PPE, to ensure it is used correctly and that injury risks are lessened.

Facilities

Lastly, businesses must provide adequate facilities to their staff, in the form of toilets, rest areas, changing rooms if necessary and running water for drinking. Employers within the EU also need to closely monitor the time and attendance of employees in order to comply with mandatory regulations.

Workers are all legally entitled to a twenty-minute uninterrupted break during shifts longer than six hours in length; further to that, they are entitled to more regular breaks on a health and safety basis if their work is ‘monotonous’, i.e.: repetitive work with machinery. Employees must also be allowed at least 11 consecutive hours between shifts and must not exceed the limit of 48 hours worked per week.

Allocated rest areas ensure that workers can make the most of their break and return to their tasks refreshed and hydrated.

Private Car Ownership is on the Decline – is Leasing Taking Over?

In 2021, London won the unenviable reputation of being the most congested city in the world. As things stand drivers populating the roads of our capital can expect to waste 148 hours at the wheel on average due to blocked-up traffic jams. Not only does this consume motorists’ precious time, but long vehicle queues don’t do the environment any favours either. Mindful of the negative effects of traffic pollution, ministers have plans to decrease these figures in the (not so) long run.

In the meantime, more and more people are opting for different ways to get around. Motorists are starting to realise, in fact, that they do not need to own a car to comfortably move from A to B. Leasing vehicles, for instance, is one of the most prominent alternatives, offering drivers an array of general and eco-friendly benefits.

Here, we delve into the rising popularity of hiring your own car or van, while outlining what actions are being taken to shrink the number of private vehicles.

Tackling private car ownership

Rates of car ownership in London are significantly lower than in the rest of the UK. In the capital, each household owns an average of 0.74 cars. Meanwhile, households in the South East and South West regions of the country possess 1.41 and 1.39 vehicles respectively. Still, Londoners – as well as drivers in large cities across Britain – are being incentivised to limit their car journeys or refrain from buying new vehicles altogether.

The implementation of Ultra Low Emission Zones (ULEZ) is contributing to the mission. First launched in London in April 2019, and now extended to populous centres in the UK, ULEZ are areas within cities where residents are required to abide by certain emission standards. Only electric and hybrid vehicles, as well as ones that satisfy Euro 5 (petrol) and Euro 6 (diesel) standards, are allowed to circulate in these zones for free.

If drivers want to journey through ULEZ with a car that fails to meet these requirements, they have to pay a daily charge of £12.50. For regular commuters, this can soon become a hefty expense. A solution would be to buy an electric car, but there is no hiding that this would be a costly purchase. Leasing an EV, instead, would allow drivers to circulate inside city centres in a sustainable and affordable way without breaking the bank. Hence, it is fair to say that it is an effective green measure to discourage people from purchasing and relying on their own private cars.

Additionally, London mayor Sadiq Khan has unveiled plans to introduce smart road pricing. This means that, from 2024, motorists across the whole of London may be charged every time they jump behind the wheel of their own vehicle. The aim is to minimise carbon emissions and enhance air quality, spurring residents to travel from A to B in more sustainable ways. In this respect, more than one-third of car journeys in London could be walked in less than 25 minutes, and two-thirds could be cycled in under 20 minutes.

What’s more, ministers hope to favour lower private car ownership figures by pushing for more public transport all over the country. The government has set aside £5bn to fund and level up local transport connections across the UK, which can play a significant role in helping Britain achieve its net-zero target by 2050. By investing in efficient public transportation while also supporting ride-sharing platforms and e-scooter services, there is a good chance that pollution levels will gradually drop.

Leasing: an alternative solution

But for those who like the freedom and comfort of driving a vehicle, what is the best and most popular option? Car and van leasing represents a great way for drivers to get around city roads in a more strategic and sustainable fashion.

Leasing benefits do not end here. How can it aid workers and commuters with their day-to-day travels?

One of the main advantages of leasing a vehicle is that you have the opportunity to choose the model that best suits your needs. Do you require a spacious van? Do you care about the well-being of our environment? Electric vehicles can be a pricey investment if you decide to buy one from the outset. Instead, leasing an EV is an affordable alternative that allows you to hit the streets without having to splash out a considerable amount of money.

Another factor that makes car and van leasing an appealing option is that you do not have to commit to a specific vehicle for years and years. Has a greener, more sustainable vehicle made its debut on the market? You can hand back your ‘old’ model and get behind the wheel of a more appropriate alternative. Hence, leasing offers motorists the opportunity to stay on top of attractive updates.

Likewise, if you have reached a stage in which you do not require a vehicle to cater for your business or personal commutes, you do not have to keep a dormant automobile on your driveway. Return the car or van keys, reduce the number of vehicles on the street, and start travelling by bike, by foot, or on public transport.

With specific measures in place, as well as sustainable plans in the pipeline, the future of private car ownership doesn’t seem too bright. In fact, additional commuting fees and increased funding for public transport are favouring more eco-friendly ways of roaming around the roads of British towns and cities.

For those who require a vehicle to carry out their daily duties, however, car and van leasing is becoming a handy, popular solution. From shorter commitments to more affordable and sustainable options, leasing is an appealing alternative that ticks all the right boxes.

Do You Advertise on LinkedIn? Here Are 5 Best Practices for B2B SaaS Businesses

B2B SaaS business can achieve their goals through LinkedIn. For example, the goal could be capturing more leads or promoting the brand. Fortunately, using LinkedIn for advertising is easy to understand and convenient. You also get to do more work with less stress.

Understanding the LinkedIn ads platform is relatively straightforward. Nevertheless, you still must follow best practices to reach your goal. In this article, you will learn the best practices for achieving results with LinkedIn ads.

1. Set Up A Free Company Page

Laying a solid foundation for your company on LinkedIn is essential for your company’s success. Because it is the first step in your campaign, it is best to create a company page before starting your LinkedIn advertising campaign. Creating a free company page on LinkedIn establishes your brand presence. In addition, having a company page is handy for specific ad formats.

2. Create Engaging Content

Even before creating LinkedIn ads, understanding LinkedIn ad formats and determining the best for your campaign goals is essential. LinkedIn has three different ad forms: Sponsored Content, Sponsored InMail, and Text Ads.

LinkedIn is useful for gaining industry and interest-relevant insights. It is advisable to put yourself in your audience’s shoes to understand the best ad format that catches attention. Furthermore, ensure your language is appealing to the audience, and your copy should be clear and compelling, directing leads to take action.

3. Target Specific Audiences

LinkedIn ads perform better when you link them to specific target audiences. For example, because of the uniqueness of the LinkedIn ads platform, you can target audiences based on their profession. Consequently, you only spend to place ads in front of the strongest prospects.

Furthermore, LinkedIn has different filters for targeting an audience. These filters include job title, industry, job seniority, and company name. You can also target audiences with filters like degrees, skills, and years of experience.

Although LinkedIn provides several targeting options, it is compulsory always to use the location field. This field may be broad or specific. When targeting your audience, it is best to filter them using two or more fields. However, you have to be careful. Using too many target fields or hypertargeting is hurtful to your initial campaign.

Apart from LinkedIn ads, other ways you can reach your target audience on LinkedIn include using website retargeting to reengage your website visitors and contact targeting to nurture prospects. You can follow a LinkedIn retargeting guide and use company targeting to run your account-based marketing campaigns.

Also, LinkedIn is ending the serving of sponsored posts to targeted members in the European Union. By using LinkedIn Campaign Manager, it is no longer possible to send private messages directly to LinkedIn mailboxes if your target includes members of the EU.

4. Test Your Ads

LinkedIn advertising aims to give an audience the content they crave. The best way to do that is to create 2 to 4 ad variations for each campaign. You can create variations by testing different calls to action and ad copy. These small changes hugely impact your ad success, helping you see the most appealing content to your audience.

When you receive clicks on your LinkedIn ads, you will see more of the best-performing ad. Afterwards, you can pause the less-performing ads. Fortunately, you don’t have to discard the ads; you can tweak them to make them more appealing.

5. Set A Competitive Bid

The final best practice discussed in this article is regarding budgets and bidding. And, there is no specific formula for success with bidding. You have to test and take your time to learn what works for your business. Nevertheless, there are some best practices you can follow for LinkedIn ads.

The first step is to set the SMART goals for your LinkedIn ads. First, you must determine your goals and then set and measure a corresponding budget.

After setting the budget, it is best to develop a long-term strategy. Although LinkedIn recommends setting a budget of $100/day minimum and $5000 in total, this cost is a bit high, especially for most SaaS startups. Therefore, setting a budget of $200/week is ideal.

If the goal of your campaign is to be competitive, then you have to set a bid on the high end of LinkedIn’s suggested bid range. The bid range is an estimate of the current advertisers’ bids. Fortunately, LinkedIn discounts your click or impression bid such that you only pay the minimum amount necessary to outbid the next advertiser.

It is important to note that your ad has a lower chance of beating the competition if your bid is not within the suggested bid range.

EU Proposal Against Crypto Privacy Fails In Vote

EU Proposal Against Crypto Privacy Fails In Vote: Can Crypto Users Breathe Freely Now?

A Crypto Victory and Defeat in March 2022

The European Parliament voted in mid-March 2022 to reject the amendment to the Markets in Crypto-Assets legislation that would ban cryptocurrencies and crypto transactions that use the Proof of Work (PoW) consensus algorithm. For crypto enthusiasts, the joy and relief brought by that victory was short-lived. At the end of March 2022, a European committee voted to strip crypto wallets, custodial and non-custodial, of their privacy. Furthermore, since MICA has 126 provisions related to cryptocurrency and crypto transactions, it is likely that the fight to keep the crypto sphere in alignment with Satoshi Nakamoto’s dream of democratic wealth creation has only just begun.

Failed Vote to Ban Tokens Using the Proof of Work Consensus Algorithm

The ban on PoW-based cryptocurrencies and crypto transactions would have effectively banned the legacy tokens, Bitcoin and Ether, in Europe. Bitcoin cannot switch to the less energy-intensive Proof of Stake (PoS) consensus algorithm, which is used by some of the most environmentally friendly cryptocurrencies. On the other hand, Ethereum is in the process of switching to the less energy intensive PoS consensus, but some parts of its operations must remain powered by PoW. Therefore, Bitcoin, Ether, and their associated blockchains would have been unable to operate in the European Union and interact with any other crypto technologies approved for operation in the EU.

PoW-Based Crypto Activities Are Environmentally UnsustainableBeing environmentally unfriendly and unsustainable are the most oft-cited arguments used to justify banning PoW-based crypto technology. Critics argue that the energy-guzzling PoW process has a significant negative impact on the environment, uses more energy than many small nations, and is environmentally unsustainable. The crypto world has responded by developing renewable energy sources to power its crypto mining. In addition, it has begun to repurpose the energy (i.e., heat) generated during the mining process in ways beneficial for society (e.g., using the generated heat to heat/warm small greenhouses for farmers). Yet, crypto firms are still assailed by critics who fear that the renewable energy being created to power crypto operations will be preferentially provided to crypto operations instead of used for public consumption. In short, it is clear that any solutions put forth by crypto firms will not be enough to satisfy critics who want to regulate or have some say in how the crypto firms operate.

Stripping Privacy from Crypto Wallets

Voting to strip crypto wallets of their privacy was pushed for three major reasons. The first was that it has been argued that cryptocurrency and the blockchain are being used to conduct illegal transactions and fund terrorism. Secondly, blockchains are not in compliance with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) laws. The third is that crypto transactions do not comply with the Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) financial regulations that govern wire transactions. Let’s examine more closely the reasons for unmasking anonymous crypto transactions.

Straw Man Arguments: Illegal Transactions, Funding Terrorism, AML, and KYCIt cannot be denied that some people and businesses are using cryptocurrency and blockchain technology to conduct illegal activities/transactions and possibly fund terrorism. The industry argues that, at most, it amounts to 0.5% of all crypto transactions. Politicians and the financial sector, however, argue that it’s likely much more than that. The biggest weakness in the position of those who want crypto wallets stripped of privacy is that they have no evidence to support their position. Their argument, namely that after crypto wallet owners and their financial transactions are made available for examination they will have the evidence to support their position, is pure conjecture. Forcing blockchains and centralized crypto exchanges (CEXs) to identify and verify the owners of the wallets that perform transactions on their blockchain (many of whom engage in high-frequency trading using copy trading bots) and report all of their transactions only strips the wallet owners of their privacy, a valued aspect of crypto transactions, and invites the government into their private financial affairs. 

Still, crypto firms have found at least one way for parties in a transaction to perform KYC and AML procedures without involving the government. This solution is not considered acceptable because there is no government oversight of it and outside agencies cannot amass data on them and study it. Arguably, it is as reliable as the government investigating itself. If that is acceptable, why would blockchains and transacting parties policing their transactions not be acceptable? At the other end of the spectrum are a handful of crypto exchanges without KYC.

Blockchains Fail to Comply with GDPR
The remaining argument that blockchain technology does not comply with GDPR, while correct, overlooks the fact that the GDPR was written for Web 2.0. It is inappropriate to try and force Web 3.0 to be in compliance with legislation created to govern Web 2.0 technology. There are vast differences between Web 2.0 and 3.0. As usual, the laws governing the technology lag behind its development because lawmakers have to understand the problems a technology creates (or may create) before they pass legislation on it. There are ways to bring blockchain and Web 3.0 tech into compliance with most of the GDPR articles, but not all of them (e.g., the right to be forgotten, erasure and rectification of information). Why? Blockchains are considered secure and trustworthy because they have immutable records that are strung together in a ‘chain’ that makes it almost impossible to alter the records after they have been created and recorded on the blockchain. The EU’s proposal that the blockchain permit various wallet owners to alter the blockchain’s records that have information pertaining to their blockchain activities undermines the blockchain itself and renders it as reliable as accounting records maintained on a computer. Though, apart from the GDPR, the EU is quite friendly to blockchain technology in general

Government’s Want to Tax and Regulate the Crypto Sphere

Based on the crypto-related legislation being introduced by the EU, USA, and India, it is clear that crypto enthusiasts cannot breathe a sigh of relief, relax, or take their current situation in the crypto world for granted. Given the work being done to unmask crypto transactions, crypto wallet owners, and amass data on crypto transactions, it is more likely that this is the beginning of government taxation of and interference in the crypto world.

Research Finds London Dominates in R&D Tax Credit Claim Value

Newly released HMRC figures show London-based companies once again securing a major share of R&D (research and development) tax relief with over £2.3bn paid out in 2019-20. Other strong performing areas include the West Midlands, Cambridgeshire, Oxfordshire, and Surrey where businesses collectively secured almost £1.3bn in tax relief for innovation-focused investment. Other regions securing significant R&D rebates include Greater Manchester, Hertfordshire and Hampshire. (see FIGURE 1 below).

Businesses in Mid Ulster, however, have claimed the top spot in R&D tax claims intensity in the UK according to this year’s UK Innovation Intensity League Table, published by innovation funding specialists ABGI-UK. It shows the leading 20 unitary authority areas (see FIGURE 2 below) which are ranked on the percentage of local businesses making a successful claim for R&D tax relief.

Mid Ulster (which was 3rd two years ago) tops the table with a total of 400 successful claims made by local SMEs and large businesses, representing 6.1% of all enterprises within its unitary authority area. Cambridgeshire placed second in this year’s table (up from 4th) with 5% of its businesses securing a successful claim. Nottingham placed 3rd in the table (up from 7th two years ago) with 4.8%.

Commenting on the rankings, Scott Henderson, Chief Executive at ABGI-UK said: “As our Innovation League Table shows, there many parts of the UK where companies are heavily investing in research and development activities. As our top three areas of Mid Ulster, Cambridgeshire and Nottingham demonstrate, there is a lot of innovation going on outside the M25 corridor.

“Companies within key sectors including manufacturing, engineering and IT/software are mainly behind this strong regional placement in our league table. By securing R&D tax relief for their innovation investment, a significant proportion of companies are benefitting by enhancing competitiveness. More of this investment activity will be critical in kick-starting the UK economy as we emerge from the recent public health crisis.”

 

See the tables:

FIGURE 1

Top 20 UK areas in total amount of R&D tax relief claimed 2019-20 (£m)*

1

Inner London

1,980

11

Northamptonshire

 120

2

West Midlands

 375

12

Essex

 120

3

Cambridgeshire

 365

13

Warwickshire

 110

4

Outer London

 340

14

Kent

 100

5

Oxfordshire

 280

15

City of Edinburgh

 90

6

Surrey

 275

16

West Sussex

 85

7

Greater Manchester

 245

17

Tyne and Wear

 80

8

Hertfordshire

 220

18

Merseyside

 70

9

Hampshire

 195

19

Reading

 65

10

West Yorkshire

 150

20

Lancashire

 60

*Figures in £ millions, rounded to nearest £5m

 

FIGURE 2

The UK R&D Claim Intensity league table

Top 20 unitary authority areas by ‘R&D Claim Intensity’ – the number of claims in relation to overall number of businesses in the area for 2019/20**

1

Mid Ulster

6.1%

11

City of Edinburgh

4.3%

2

Cambridgeshire

5.0%

12

Tyne and Wear

4.2%

3

Nottingham

4.8%

13

Herefordshire

4.2%

4

Aberdeen City

4.7%

14

Warwickshire

4.1%

5

Halton

4.7%

15

Bridgend

4.1%

6

Belfast

4.6%

16

Kingston upon Hull

4.0%

7

Flintshire

4.6%

17

Inner London

3.9%

8

Wrexham

4.6%

18

Oxfordshire

3.9%

9

Blackburn with Darwen

4.5%

19

Cardiff

3.7%

10

Lisburn and Castlereagh

4.4%

20

Staffordshire

3.7%

** Figures are based on the most recent (2019-20) R&D tax relief claim statistics produced by HMRC in relation to the number of enterprises in each UK unitary authority area, based on UK Government statistics: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/corporate-tax-research-and-development-tax-credit

Numbers of claims made are rounded to the nearest £5m, in line with HMRC statistics.

About ABGI

ABGI UK is part of the ABGI Group, sharing a heritage going back over 30 years. ABGI Group secures over £1bn in tax credits and grant funding every year for many of the world’s best-known brands including Hermes, one of the UK’s largest parcel delivery firms, automotive giant Fiat and global digital industrial company General Electric.

Operating throughout the entire value chain of innovation, ABGI Group is dedicated to helping clients accelerate innovation and business expansion around the world from our regional headquarters in the United Kingdom, France, Brazil, Canada, and the United States.

Established in the UK 15 years ago, with offices in London, Cambridge, Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle, Belfast and Edinburgh, ABGI UK is an innovation funding specialist, combining an international perspective with local experience and expertise for the benefit of UK-based clients.

Emotion Drives B2C Sales, Logic Drives B2B Sales: How To Approach The Two Differently

There are some key differences between B2C and B2B sales. The main is the buyer – consumers are viewed as individuals, whereas B2B buyers are part of an entire company network. The target demographic for B2C sales can vary dramatically, whereas 73% of buyers involved in the decision-making process for B2B sales are millennials. Despite the differences, 85% of B2B buyers state they want an experience similar to the one they have as a consumer themselves.

With that in mind, how can B2B and B2C brands approach sales differently to suit the target audience? Let’s explore.

The B2B Sales Approach

The B2B sales approach targets logic-based buying habits. Buyers are making purchasing decisions based on the needs of the company and what logically makes sense, rather than the emotion of being drawn to a particular product. B2B sales have higher order values, longer sales cycles, and more people involved in that sales cycle.

Still, despite this, the statistics show that buyers are looking for a more B2C-like sales experience. Gartner attributes this to the growing expectation of self-serve options. 44% of millennials involved in the decision-making process would prefer no contact with sales reps at all. Without the contact between sales reps and buyers, how can B2B brands foster a fruitful working relationship? Revert to B2C sales and marketing strategies that nurture a buyer relationship without being invasive, like incentive programs.

The B2B loyalty platform from Incentivesmart is the perfect example of an incentive programme that creates a long-lasting working relationship without the need for communication – much like the loyalty reward programmes that work so well within the B2C industry.

Sellers should also find ways to make the long sales cycle less arduous for buyers by providing them with the information they need throughout the buying cycle. 77% of buyers thought their last decision-making process was complex and that B2B brands that provide them with the information they need to complete sales will make buyers 2.3 times more likely to spend more – according to Gartner.

The B2C Sales Approach

The B2C sales approach is very personalised and focuses on the masses rather than the individual needs. Personalised ads that guide consumers towards the end sale are a big focus in the B2C industry – and one that the likes of artificial intelligence are making easy to achieve.

B2C is also a hands-off sales approach. Despite personalised ads, consumers rarely contact companies before purchasing a product, whereas most B2B buyers will need to communicate with a brand before making the final purchasing decision.

Then there’s the emotional side of B2C sales that’s completely different to B2B – that’s not to say there isn’t a degree of emotion involved in B2B sales. The Harvard Business Review studied emotion-driven sales and found that 95% of sales start with emotions. The issue is that there’s no set formula for connecting with consumers emotionally, but here are some ways to achieve it:

  • Create emotive stories for consumers to connect to.
  • Create trust and meaningful relationships – reward programmes are great for this.
  • Personalise each individual experience where possible.
  • Identify the emotional triggers of the target audience.

 

How The Two Different Industries Are Merging Sales Expectations

The two industries may target very different demographics, but those two demographics are intertwining more than ever. Because 73% of buyers involved in the decision-making process of B2B sales are millennials, there’s a shift in the way they expect to interact with brands that look very much like a B2C way of operating.

McKinsey & Company released an article titled The New Growth Equation that highlighted how B2B sales are going digital, much like B2C. Two-thirds of buyers in 2021 opted for a self-service, totally digital sales approach. The result benefits the buyer and the business – companies involved in the McKinsey survey were also unanimous that their new digital sales model is better than the pre-pandemic sales model.

That’s not the only way the two industries are merging – B2B buyers and sellers are now embracing the omnichannel experience as the B2C companies and consumers have done for years. In 2016, B2B brands would utilise five different sales channels compared to the ten channels they now use.

The two industries might operate differently, but their sales experience is slowly blending into one. That’s primarily linked to the digitisation of the B2B industry and the buyers involved in purchasing decisions. The is a more streamlined sales cycle for the B2B industry, solving issues that once plagued the B2B supply chain.

Japanese Yen: Why Is It a Safe Haven Currency?

Japanese Yen: Why Is It a Safe Haven Currency?

The dashboard of the global economy is flashing red. Inflation is skyrocketing, causing consumers to cut back. Stocks are dropping across practically all indices. And avidly watched recessionary signals like US Treasury yields are showing similar, ominous signs to 2007.

In troubling economic times, investors flock to so-called ‘safe havens’ to protect their capital from falling stocks and avoid the reduction in purchasing power that would likely occur if they left it as cash. Traditionally, the US Dollar has been the safe haven of choice for investors and forex traders, but with the dollar weakening, there could be another currency that pips it to the post: the Japanese Yen.

Why is the dollar weakening? What does it mean for the economy? And why is the Yen being looked on as a safe haven?

Why is the dollar weakening?

There are a few reasons behind the dollar’s downward trajectory compared to other major currencies.

First is the loosening of monetary policy by the US Federal Reserve due to the poor state of the economy. Next, US-based investments are no longer as lucrative as they once were due to a mix of falling economic fortunes and high prices. And capital inflows into the country have gone down too during the pandemic, particularly sales of property to foreign people.

What does the weakening US dollar mean for the world economy?

With the dollar worth less, there have been several global economic effects to bear in mind. The first of these has been to reduce import prices for countries that have experienced a strengthening of their currencies – boosting economic activity as a result. Policymakers in the US have welcomed the weakening too, since it boosts the competitiveness of the US industry across the world, as well as makes investing in the country more attractive – from property to stocks.

Having a strong currency and being a safe haven, however, means more economic power in international economic decision-making, currency creation, and financial outsourcing. Arguably these less-concrete benefits are much more worthwhile than a short-term boost to exports or foreign direct investment.

Why is the Yen being seen as a safe haven replacement?

According to Goldman Sachs bank, the Japanese yen shows “significant value” as a hedge against a US recession. The main reason for this is that the currency is currently very cheap compared to the currencies of other major developed economies such as the Euro and Pound Sterling.

Add to that the traditionally dovish Bank of Japan and its high likelihood of supporting the Yen with fiscal measures, and the Yen looks like a sound bet compared to other currencies which will likely come under pressure from interest rate hikes. Inflation is also currently much lower in Japan than in other nations too, meaning Japan is currently exposed to far fewer risks than European and Anglophone economies.

Time will tell whether investors adopt the Yen as a safe haven in masse. What’s for certain though is that the current global economy will see significant shifts in the foreseeable future.

Almost 9 in 10 UK Adults Don’t Know What the Circular Economy is

  • Almost 90% of UK adults – the equivalent of 47 million people – say they don’t know what the circular economy is 
  • Of the 13% who know what it is, only 38% have given or received an item through the circular economy in the past year
  • The poll of 2,070 people was carried out by YouGov and commissioned by sustainability platform YoungPlanet 

A new survey of over 2,000 people has revealed that 87% of UK adults are unaware of what the circular economy is, showing a lack of understanding around one of the most important consumer behaviours that can help reduce carbon emissions.

 

The majority of UK adults are yet to discover what the Circular Economy is

The circular economy is the practice of sharing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing or recycling existing products, helping to prevent them from going into landfill and reducing the carbon impact of producing new goods. Experts predict that circular economy strategies that reduce our use of resources can cut global greenhouse gas emissions by 39%. But this survey, led by YouGov on behalf of sustainability platform YoungPlanet, showed that the vast majority (87%) of UK adults haven’t heard of the concept or don’t know what it means, highlighting a crucial understanding gap around the term:

  • 68% said they had never heard of the circular economy before
  • 19% of respondents said they had heard of the circular economy but don’t know what it is
  • Only 13% had both heard of the circular economy and know what it is 

These statistics highlight an urgent need to increase awareness around what the term means and the impact the circular economy can have in helping UK families reduce their carbon footprint, redirect waste from landfill, and save money. 

The results come as a recent report warned that the environmental impact of landfill will stop the UK from reaching its target of becoming net-zero by 2050.

 

UK adults who know about the circular economy but aren’t using it

Amongst the small percentage of adults from the UK (13%) who had heard of the circular economy and knew what it is, only 38% had given or received something through it in the last year. 49% confirmed that, despite understanding what the circular economy is, they hadn’t participated in it in the past 12 months.

This is in part due to people being unsure how to give or receive items through the circular economy. Over half of UK adults – 52% – said they were not aware of how they could engage with the circular economy, even if they wanted to, despite charity shops, sites like Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree, and a range of apps being available to help people swap or pass on items rather than add them to landfill.

 

Understanding of climate benefits is high

The survey results do offer one, more positive sign. When provided with an explanation of what the circular economy is, 73% of UK adults said that they believe the practice would have a positive impact on climate change. Only 1% believed it would lead to a negative impact.

This underscores the need to improve education and awareness of how we source new items and get rid of unwanted ones, and what the circular economy means in practice.

 

Regional breakdown: Scotland comes out on top, but Wales lags behind

When the data is broken down by region, Scotland came out on top for being the most circular-aware, with 23% of respondents stating that they know what the circular economy is. Northern Ireland came in second with 20%, followed by London at 16%.

By contrast, the lowest-scoring regions for understanding what the circular economy is were the North East of England, where only 7% of respondents confirmed they knew about it, and Yorkshire and the Humber, with 9%.

Nationally, Wales fared the worst, with 70% of respondents claiming to “never have heard of the circular economy”. This was closely followed by England (69%) Northern Ireland (64%) and Scotland (59%) respectively.

 

Jason Ash, co-founder of YoungPlanet, who commissioned the survey, comments:

“These results highlight the urgent need for all of us to participate meaningfully in the circular economy. It’s all about moving to a simpler, more sustainable model of giving items no longer of use to us, to others, instead of sending goods directly or indirectly to landfill.

“There’s clearly a huge acknowledgement that this would be good for the planet, as evidenced in the survey results. We now need to break up with our unsustainable habits, amplify awareness of what the circular economy is and how people can quite simply engage with it whilst saving money in order to enable and inspire some meaningful action.” 

 

YoungPlanet is a circular economy app for families. It makes it simple for families to pass on good quality items they no longer need, or to source new things. All with the objective of preventing items from going into landfill.

In an effort to highlight just how simple and powerful the circular economy can be, YoungPlanet has launched the CirculaTED campaign. The campaign will see volunteers help pass a teddy bear around Britain to showcase the ease with which pre-loved items can move from family to family. Along the way, he plans to stop at welcoming homes and major landmarks to record his adventures, all trackable via social media, @YoungPlanetApp.

Advice for Managing International Tax for Multiple Assets

Advice for Managing International Tax for Multiple
Assets

While the fantasy of being a high net-worth individual with multiple assets located across the globe may seem alluring, it can be incredibly complex and challenging to manage these successfully.

This is borne out by the challenges facing Russian oligarch
Roman Abramovich, whose
assets in the UK
(including Chelsea Football Club) were frozen as part of
the government’s sanctions on Russia.

But how can you successfully manage international assets while minimising tax payment lawfully? Let’s find out!

#1. Structure Your Financial Affairs Using Legal Expertise

Before you attempt anything else, we’d recommend liaising with a legal tax expert to ensure that your financial affairs are structured in a compliant and efficient manner.

This way, you can legally mitigate and minimise tax inefficiencies, while capitalising on local and international loopholes (we’ll touch more on a couple of these below) to help those of you with assets dotted across the globe.

This may take time depending on the range of value of your assets, but it’s crucial if you’re to minimise your annual tax burden without falling foul of the necessary laws.

#2. Consider Paying Tax on a Remittance Basis

If you live in the UK but don’t intend to live there permanently and hold a broad range of international assets, you may be able to pay tax strictly on a remittance basis.

In laymen\’s terms, this means that you won’t have to pay tax on your income and returns sourced from overseas, as long as they’re not remitted into the UK.

Interestingly, this was a focus of media attention recently, after it was revealed that Rishi Sunak’s wife had such a tax arrangement after the Chancellor had announced a significant hike in National Insurance for everyone.

Of course, the subsequent media pressure forced Sunak’s partner to subsequently pay full UK tax on her overseas income, but this remains a viable option for other high net-worth individuals with a lower profile!

#3. Claim Main Residence Relief for Foreign Holiday Homes

There also remains nothing in the UK’s body of tax legislation that says an overseas holiday home cannot be listed as a Brit’s main residence for Capital Gains Tax purposes.

In fact, a holiday home can be treated as your main residence by making an election that this effect (usually within two years of you buying the property).

Of course, the property will need to be owned directly by you, while following this process formally will ensure that you’re exempt from some (or maybe all) of any capital gains tax imposed in the UK.

Just remember that you’re only allowed to claim one main residence, while if you’re married, you can only list one between you. So, this should only be considered if you’re not intending to sell your UK home any time soon (or hope to avoid getting divorced in the near term!). 

Mercedes-Benz Remains Europe’s Most Valuable Brand Despite Tough Time For European Manufacturers, While Service Brand Grows Quickly

  • MOST VALUABLE: Mercedes-Benz holds on to 1st place, Deutsche Telekom retains second and Shell grows to becomes third most valuable in Europe
  • STRONGEST: Ferrari remains strongest European brand with AAA+ brand rating, EY jumps up to second place
  • FASTEST GROWING: Alstom is Europe’s fastest growing brand with almost tripling of value, British Gas and Sixt more than double in brand value this year

Mercedes-Benz remains most valuable European brand

Mercedes-Benz (brand value up 6% to €52.4 billion) remains the most valuable European brand despite only moderate growth in a tough year for automotive brands. Amid challenging market conditions due to the pandemic and an industrywide semiconductor shortage, the brand prioritized electromobility and has seen great results from it. The German automobile giant confirmed that their electric vehicles sales saw a 90% increase this year.

Every year, leading brand valuation consultancy Brand Finance puts 5,000 of the biggest brands to the test, and publishes around 100 reports, ranking brands across all sectors and countries. Europe’s top 500 most valuable and strongest brands are included in the annual Brand Finance Europe 500 2022 ranking.

This year, Mercedes-Benz launched the sixth generation of the C-class series with a new interior design and is planning to implement autonomous driving features. At the same time, an industry-wide trend to make a transition to electric vehicles and a sustainable approach to production and distribution is on the rise.

A key development to strengthen the Mercedes-Benz brand is the rebrand of Daimler AG to Mercedes-Benz Group AG. The focus of the rebrand is to enhance passenger cars and vans in the luxury segment. The strategic move to rebrand was to fulfil the brand’s objective to focus on financial and mobility services by offering insurance and rental subscriptions and digital fleet management systems.

Other German brands did not fare so well in the ranking this year, with Volkswagen (brand value down 12% to €35.4 billion), BMW (brand value down 5% to €32.7 billion), Porsche (brand value down 1% to €29.1 billion) and Audi (brand value down 18% to €11.9 billion) all seeing losses in brand value. With lockdowns, network contractions in production and the ongoing semiconductor shortage, the industry faces many challenges. Apart from sector wide disruptions, the German automakers who were reliant on diesel-powered vehicles have had to deal with regulatory challenges and the transition to electric mobility and electric production methods, resulting in rolling back on production to meet industry trends.

Deutsche Telekom is Europe’s second most valuable brand, up 44% in value since the start of the pandemic

Deutsche Telekom (brand value up 19% to €51.9 billion) has grown quickly in value to retain its position as the second-most valuable European brand, and to become the second-most valuable telecoms brand in the world. Deutsche Telekom is moving to consolidate its brands globally by introducing a new logo which has the potential to unify its “T” branding across both its T Mobile and Deutsche Telekom divisions internationally. Initially, the letter “T” will dominate digital channels and sponsorships, with the eventual deployment of “T” collateral into physical buildings and retail outlets.

Since 2020, Deutsche Telekom’s brand value has gone up by 44% in total. Successful business performance and high customer growth, especially in the United States, are the main contributors to this significant increase. In addition, the Group again scored points through sustained investments in network quality, digital technologies, and customer service.

David Haigh, Chairman & CEO of Brand Finance, commented:

“The unification of Deutsche Telekom’s branding internationally offers an opportunity to strengthen the brand amongst different consumer groups. This will allow the T brand to spread across various jurisdictions and benefit from globalized efficiencies – especially as it transitions from a challenger-brand in the US to become an established market leader as it is in Germany and some other European jurisdictions.”

Shell is Europe’s third most valuable brand, valued at €43.1 billion

Shell (brand value up 20% to €43.1 billion) has grown its brand value strongly this year, jumping from 4th place to become the 3rd most valuable European brand (and most valuable brand from the United Kingdom). Shell’s value is growing despite the challenges of COVID, the conflict in Ukraine, and perceptions of corporate sustainability practices in the oil and gas sector increasingly affecting consumer choice.

Shell has placed a large emphasis on their energy transition strategy, and it seems to be making a positive contribution to the strength of their brand. Shell aim to become a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050, in step with society’s progress towards the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change. Shell’s efforts to develop new clean energy technologies, including electric vehicle charging, are likely to have a positive impact on the strength of their brand in future.

David Haigh, Chairman and CEO of Brand Finance, commented:

“The energy transformation is both the greatest challenge and the greatest opportunity facing Shell. Shell will be challenged to transform in coming years to simultaneously navigate the recovery from Covid, the conflict in Ukraine, and broader concerns about environmental sustainability in the future.”

STRENGTH: Ferrari remains strongest European brand with AAA+ brand rating, EY jumps up to second place

In addition to calculating brand value, Brand Finance also determines the relative strength of brands through a balanced scorecard of metrics evaluating marketing investment, stakeholder equity, and business performance. Compliant with ISO 20671, Brand Finance’s assessment of stakeholder equity incorporates original market research data from over 100,000 respondents in more than 35 countries and across nearly 30 sectors.

Ferrari (brand value down 12% to €6.9 billion) is the strongest brand in Europe, and the strongest automobile brand in the world with a Brand Strength Index (BSI) score of 90.9 out of 100 and a corresponding AAA+ rating.

2021 was Ferrari’s best-ever year in terms of sales, with the company paying bonuses to all employees as a result, and the projected growth for 2022 remains high. The automotive brand’s historic pursuit of controlled growth has helped to preserve its exclusivity within its sector, however, last year Ferrari expanded its target market to a younger demographic by launching a new high-end fashion line. The aim of creating a brand that can cater to Italian luxury lifestyle in the high-end category will help expand and strengthen its brand portfolio into new avenues, whilst enhancing brand awareness amongst the younger generation.

EY (brand value up 16% to €20.0 billion) is Europe’s second-strongest brand with a Brand Strength Index (BSI) score of 89.5 out of 100 and a corresponding brand rating of AAA+. The brand strength of EY is boosted by their client focus, with research showing improvements to their already strong customer consideration and satisfaction.

GROWTH: Alstom is Europe’s fastest-growing brand as brand value almost triples, British Gas is second with 157% increase, Sixt third with 118% value growth

Alstom (brand value up 170% to €1.0 billion) is Europe’s fastest-growing brand this year, with the French engineering brand completing the acquisition of Bombardier Transportation this year. The combined brand now has extensive, and complementary, reach globally, with Bombadier’s key customers in northern Europe and North America complementing the customers of Alstom. As a result, the combined brand now has the world’s largest installed base of rail vehicles worldwide, from light-rail and monorail vehicles through to high-speed trains.

British Gas (brand value up 157% to €1.1 billion) is Europe’s second fastest-growing brand this year. Much of the value increase is derived from the addition of over 500,000 new residential energy customers via M&A activity. The switch is likely to affect the way those customers perceive British Gas and may impact future brand strength performance.

Sixt (brand value up 118% to €1.2 billion) is Europe’s third fastest-growing brand, and the world’s fastest-growing car rental brand this year. This year’s increase is the continuation of an impressive growth trend for SIXT, which has seen its brand value more than triple in value over the past five years. The brand has built a strong international growth strategy, expanding rapidly in the United States and entering new markets, such as Australia.

David Haigh, CEO & Chairman of Brand Finance, commented:

“SIXT’s brand value has recorded incredible growth over the past 5 years. Its strategy of international expansion, coupled with fostering strategic partnerships across the automobile, technology, and hospitality sectors, as well as the introduction of new subscription models, is paying clear dividends.”

How to Make Sure Your eCommerce Site is Ready for Google to Remove Third-Party Cookies

If you own, manage or work on an eCommerce site, there’s a high chance you’re already aware of Google’s impending removal of third-party cookies in its Chrome browser, the clear market leader. The search engine giant had initially planned to cut third-party cookies in 2021, before delaying the move to 2023 to allow for further consideration with regulators and digital advertisers.

These pieces of code planted in user browsers have allowed advertisers to track website visits and target personalised ads for a long time now. The decision to remove them was taken to improve user privacy, with many people feeling that too much tracking was taking place for too little benefit. However, some analysts have claimed the move to be part of Google’s plan to strengthen their advantage over competitors such as Apple’s Safari and Mozilla’s Firefox by creating a new ecosystem for digital advertisers.

Regardless of which camp you’re in, the implications for eCommerce stores can’t be ignored. You’ll need to rethink how you drive customer engagement and acquisition, while adapting to changing expectations around data privacy. Starting early, however, could give you a competitive advantage, especially while others lack clarity on what a cookie-less world looks like.

Below, we look at the different ways eCommerce websites can get ahead of the game and prepare for success once this new era dawns.

How to get your eCommerce store ready for the cookie cull

Grow your first-party database

With less third-party data to rely on, it’s time to start building out your first-party database so you still have strong customer insights to work with.

You’ll need to offer compelling rewards that give users a reason to part with their personal information. Potential data generation tactics include competitions, newsletters and members-only benefits.

On a related note, you’ll need to get your first-party data in shape to use it efficiently and effectively. If your data is a little all over the place, now’s the time to make sure it’s clean, accessible and up to date.

Enhance relationships with existing customers

With customer acquisition getting harder, retention should be at the forefront of your mind. Delivering a better user experience is a key driver in securing returning customers. With the help of a specialist agency, developing your eCommerce strategy to bring customer experience to the forefront will help you see your customer base grow.

Speaking directly to them via email or even text is one way to bring everyone closer together. Making existing customers feel valued can directly boost your acquisition through reviews and referrals too.

Create engaging loyalty programmes

We touched on members-only benefits above, and creating engaging reasons for customers to give up their data is a smart way to boost loyalty.

A good online loyalty programme should be multi-faceted, and potential perks to consider range from exclusive discounts to early product access, referral benefits and members-only events.

Don’t neglect the offline world

There’s little doubting that the world has gone digital, but your customers are still living in the offline world too. If they’re appropriate to your products or values, in-person events and experiences are a great way to connect with your audience in 3D.

Event ideas should suit your business and could range from product showcases to workshops and partnerships with other like-minded businesses.

Eliminating third-party cookies poses challenges, no doubt. But building better experiences like those discussed above, now, can give you even smarter insights once the world of cookies crumbles.

Cost-of-Living Crisis Prompting Second-Hand Shopping to Surge

New insights from eBay Ads UK show that rising living costs and climate-consciousness are driving changes in shopping behaviours, creating new opportunities for retailers in the circular economy

As the rising cost-of-living crisis sees energy bills, fuel and food prices continue to climb, more UK consumers are turning to second-hand shopping and upcycling in order to make ends meet – as well as minimise their environmental impact.

That’s according to new research from eBay Ads, which finds that 30% of consumers are having to make more considered purchases in order to get better value for money, and a fifth (19%) are buying more second-hand items in order to save money. One area of fashion driven by online is the resale market, with 25% of UK consumers buying second-hand fashion in 2021.

As consumers increasingly look to get thrifty and responsible with their shopping habits, retailers should be mindful of the evolving demands of customers and showcase their understanding of shopping priorities. 

Coming around to the circular economy 

The research, which surveyed 1,000 UK respondents, found that consumers’ interest in buying second hand is part of a wider growth of the circular economy. Indeed, a quarter (25%) of consumers say that they try to upcycle or repair their current belongings before buying anything new, and one in five (20%) report that they frequently buy second-hand, upcycled or refurbished items.

This is supported by insights from eBay Ads UK, which finds that interest in second-hand items was rising fast at the beginning of this year. In January 2022 searches for ‘upcycled’ rose 40% on ebay.co.uk compared to the month before, and searches for ‘second hand’ and ‘repair kit’ rose 24% and 21% respectively in the same timeframe.

And this trend has been rising consistently year-on-year. For example, searches for ‘pre-owned’ were up 19% in January 2021 compared to January 2020 and increased a further 38% in January 2022.

Sustainability is a selling point for shoppers 

The increasing importance of sustainability to consumers is also contributing to the rise in second-hand shopping and upcycling. The research finds that almost a fifth (19%) of those surveyed say shopping as sustainably as possible is really important to them. In addition, more than one in five (22%) report that they are conscious of discarding and sending items to landfill when they could be repaired, recycled or sold on – and 19% said that they try to avoid fast fashion brands or brands that they consider to be unethical. 

Meanwhile, insights from eBay Ads UK demonstrate that shoppers are actively searching for more environmentally friendly products on the platform – for example searches for the term ‘biodegradable’ rose 59% in January 2022 compared to the previous month on ebay.co.uk.

For retailers looking to improve their sustainability practices, and market to a growing cohort of climate-conscious consumers, it’s clear that packaging, location and recyclability of the product are the three top priorities to take into account. Consumers reported the top factors they consider when trying to limit their environmental impact as:

  • Sustainable packaging (37%)
  • Shopping locally (30%)
  • The recyclability of a product (30%) 
  • Product lifespan (24%)
  • A product’s sustainable credentials (24%)

Elisabeth Rommel, Global GM at eBay Ads, commented: “Between the rising cost-of-living and a growing desire to make more sustainable purchases, UK consumers are increasingly thinking about how they can be savvy with their shopping. With upcycling, buying second-hand, and more sustainably sourced products all rising on shoppers’ agendas, retailers in turn need to be adapting to these evolving preferences in order to engage their customers and contribute to the circular economy. Whether it be offering a repair service, starting a second-hand shop, or making packing and materials more sustainable – retailers must tap into what really matters to consumers today, and communicate sustainability credentials clearly in their marketing and product information.” 

Citizenship by Investment – Best Countries to Obtain a Second Passport

More people are now considering citizenship by Investment to obtain a second passport. Many countries are also opening their borders to integrate investors into their societies which, in turn, boost their economies. While this is not a new concept, it is gaining a lot of popularity today. 

A second passport is a great way for people to consider securing the future of their families and businesses, especially considering the wave of trying times many countries have had in recent times.

What is Citizenship by Investment?

Citizenship by Investment is a kind of citizenship privilege inferred from an individual after investing a certain amount of money in the country’s local economy, which includes acquiring real estate, job creation, and starting businesses. This approach to receiving a second passport will help you bypass rigorous language tests and also offer the benefits of traveling to more visa-free states.

Having a second passport is like having a plan B for life. Moving to certain countries may help to improve your life and allow you to tap into a new market. So, if you are experiencing tough times in your native country, you can simply migrate to your second country for better opportunities.

Being a dual citizen also offers you wider options for traveling, investing, business activities, and possibly better tax rates. However, in your consideration, carefully choose the place that better helps you to achieve your long-term goals. Many think that only financially buoyant individuals are entitled to a second passport; however, it is not the case. As long as you can meet up with the requirement for obtaining a second passport in a particular state, you’ll get it.

Several countries are offering second passports to people who are willing and can meet up the requirements, however, these are the top on the list:

1. Malta

Malta is one of the best countries offering citizenship by investment programs. It is one of Europe’s most innovative states, is largely an English-speaking country, and is situated in southern Europe. As a new citizen of Malta, you’ll enjoy absolute freedom of movement around the Schengen Area and the whole European Union with either visa-on-arrival or visa-free to 184 countries around the globe.

The process of applying for a passport requires that the applicant is physically available within the country for a minimum period of 12 months.

The applicant must also be able to make a minimum donation of 650,000 Euros to a government national development fund, invest 150,000 Euros in government-approved bonds or stocks, and either acquire real estate for at least 350,000 Euros or commit to a five-year rental lease with at least 16,000 Euros of rent annually.

2. Dominica

Dominica citizenship by investment is another affordable option to consider in the Caribbean region. Even though Dominican citizenship is not popularly considered, it still offers some considerable benefits such as visa-free access to 122 countries of the world including Russia, the Schengen Area, and the UK.

As an investor, you can either choose to invest as a donator or invest in real estate. To donate as a single applicant, you’ll be required to pay $109,600 to the Dominican Economic Diversification Fund (EDF). For the real estate option, Dominican requests just $200,000. Extra fees make it $233,500 for a single applicant while a family of 4 requires $247,500.

3. Nevis And St Kitts 

Nevis and St. Kitts’s second passport program is the oldest, dating back to 1984. They are also known as the “platinum citizenship program” in the region. With it, you’ll be offered visa-free status to 131 countries which include Russia, the EU, and the UK.

To invest via real estate, you’ll be required to purchase at least $200,000 in government-approved real estate. For a single applicant, it totals $242,800 while for a family of 4 is $287,900. For donation, it goes for as low as $150,000 for an applicant with extra charges making the total fee $157,850 for an applicant and $207,700 for a family of 4.

You can also fast-track the process for approval in less than two months with a valid reason. However, some claim that the real estate program is not likely to yield returns on investment, implying that going for donation is a preferred option for many.

4. Grenada

Acquiring a Grenada passport by investment takes just three months. It has two major options which include making donations or investing in government-approved properties.

For donation, a minimum of $150,000 is expected to be paid into Grenada’s National Transformation Fund. For a family of 4, the donation required is $200,000. The investment part requires an investment of $220,000 as a co-owner in a local real estate project for five years. 

During the period of application, an applicant does not have to pay a personal visit to the state. And the applicant is allowed to include parents, spouse, grandparents, and also siblings in the application.

With a Grenada passport, you can get visa-on-arrival or visa-free access to 143 destinations on the planet. These destinations include Hong Kong, Russia, the U.K., Singapore, Europe’s Schengen Area, and China.

Get Your Second Passport Today

Citizenship by investment is a shorter and more convenient approach to having a second passport. Unlike the other conventional routes, this approach is substantially quicker. Instead of the usual 5 to 10 years waiting process to finally receive second citizenship, the investment route will reduce it to just a few months.

Challenges of Doing Business in Europe

In recent years, trade across the English Channel has gotten a little bit more complicated. There has been the Brexit transition to worry about, as well as all of the problems posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Despite this, Europe is a vast market that’s well worth tapping into, especially if your business has the potential to be spread across the continent. Let’s take a look at some of the challenges you’ll need to contend with in order to do business in Europe – and overseas in general.

Hurdling political barriers
There can be no doubt that Brexit has produced a sizeable shift in the regulatory environment. If you’re trading overseas, then the chances are that you’ll need to have made a few adjustments to stay on the right side of the rules.

While Brexit might not have created customs tariffs on goods flowing from Britain to Europe, it does mean that you’ll have to present documentation to customs. There have also been changes to the way that VAT is calculated and accounted for, which businesses will need to be aware of.

In Northern Ireland, the situation is slightly more complicated. The country remains part of the customs union when it comes to goods, which is what has helped keep the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic open.

It’s worth bearing in mind that the situation might change, with the government having announced its intention to dispense with the Northern Ireland Protocol and to allow businesses to ignore EU standards for goods being sold in Northern Ireland.

Currency Fluctuations
Exchange rates have a tendency to be volatile over time. For a business, trade-in euros will be vulnerable to fluctuations. If the pound becomes devalued relative to the euro, you might find that your goods become more competitive.

Keeping an eye on the rate when you’re calculating costs in the long-term can be difficult – but it’s worth doing if you want to get your pricing right.

Logistics
Shipping goods from one side of the British Isles to the other can be difficult. But shipping goods across Europe can be even trickier, especially if you’re trading with countries that aren’t part of the customs union. Many of these difficulties can be overcome with the help of the right software and transport technology.

You might find that you have trouble shipping not only goods but personnel. If you need management to make a trip to a foreign territory to supervise a new product launch, for example, you might find that it’s worth the time to arrange your own transport. If you’ve got access to your own air transport, for example, then you won’t be vulnerable to unreliable commercial airliners. Fortunately, you’ll find private jets for hire from reputable firms.

Echoes Throughout Europe – The Impact of Brexit on Germany

When the UK voted to leave the European Union in 2016, it saw economic repercussions almost instantly. As the results from around the UK flooded in, the value of the pound suffered its biggest single-day slump in 31 years. This meant it was down over 7% against the Euro.

The result of the referendum has greatly impacted the relationship between the UK and countries within the European Union. One of the countries that has seen the greatest change in their UK relationship is Germany.

In this article, we’ll explore how Brexit has affected Germany.

Trade

One of the biggest hits Germany has taken as a result of Brexit has been the change in trading. Prior to the Brexit vote, the trading relationship between Germany and the UK was very strong. In 2015, German exports into the UK were operating at over €89 billion in 2015 but fell under €79 billion in 2019.

Imports of products and goods from the UK also suffered thanks to the additional costs and rules of EU-UK trading. Destatis, Germany’s statistical office, reported that imports dropped to €32 billion in 2021. This is an overall drop of 8.5% from the previous year and saw the UK lose its status as one of the top five largest trade partners for Germany. The London School of Economics has predicted that trade with EU countries could decrease by around a third over the next 10 years.

Germany responded to this change in trading relationships with the UK by looking to trading partners within the EU and further afield. There was a rise of 16.8% in exports from Germany to other EU countries and a 20.8% increase in exports to China. Overall, there was a wave of goods imports into Germany that resulted in a 17.1% rise to €1.2 trillion in 2021. Turning to neighbouring countries for things like car parts and stainless steel enclosures helped to maintain their aerospace industry.

Tourism & education

When the Brexit plan was initiated on 31st January 2020, the UK surrendered its involvement in the freedom of movement within the EU. This means that UK citizens travelling into Germany don’t require a visa so long as their stay isn’t longer than 90 days, and within that time, they don’t have access to economic activity such as getting a job. This could discourage British citizens from taking opportunities to work and live in Germany and vice versa.

With the events of the last few years and the changes to travel for British citizens, the tourist arrivals in Germany have taken a huge hit. Between 2019 and 2022, the intake of tourists into the country has decreased by well over half. The impact of COVID can obviously be seen in these results but the uncertainty surrounding travel as a result of Brexit can’t be understated.

One group this has a particular impact on is young people. Having the option for free movement and the opportunity to work and live in a different country and immerse yourself in the local culture helps in finding yourself. This was made even more difficult when the UK then made the decision to withdraw from the Erasmus+ scheme. This offered grants to help fund international studying for those who wouldn’t be able to afford it otherwise.

The economics of Brexit

Britain’s exit from the European Union has a huge economic impact on the remaining countries. An analysis by the European Commission in 2021 estimated that as a result of this event, Germany could be set to lose €35 billion.

While part of the EU, the UK was the second-largest contributor to the EU’s budget. In the last full year as part of it, the UK contributed a gross of around £18.9 billion to the EU before being rebated £4.5 billion. As a result, the expectation falls on the remaining countries to pick up the pieces, and that task falls to Germany as the next largest contributor, with a reported €28 billion given to the budget in 2020. Combining Brexit with the impact of other world events from the past few years has seen the German government act.

The council of economic advisers brought their forecast for economic growth for 2022 from 4.6% down to 1.8%. This is to account for the increase in natural gas and oil prices, as well as the already delayed supply chains struggling further. However, they do expect the country’s GDP to see an increase of 3.6% in 2023.

The overall effects of Brexit didn’t just echo throughout the UK. The stark impact it had on countries throughout the EU can’t be understated, particularly in Germany. Trade and travel have taken a huge hit from the change, losing a lot of revenue from these streams. With the UK leaving the EU, a lot of responsibility in terms of the Union’s budget has fallen to Germany as the next largest contributor. Combining an increase in responsibilities budget-wise alongside maintaining the country’s individual economy has meant a reduction in their expected growth. However, with neighbouring European countries and China upping their trading with Germany, we’ve seen an impressive turnover which leaves us positive and hopeful for a prosperous future.

What are the challenges facing the automotive industry?

There\’s no denying that the automotive industry is a vital part of the global and European economies. In the UK alone, it contributes more than £15 billion to the economy and turns over nearly £79 billion annually, making it one of our largest sectors.

However, in recent years, we\’ve seen our reliance on the industry come to the fore. From pandemics to hard borders, climate change to supply chains, we\’ll look at the challenges facing the automotive industry in the UK, Europe and around the world.

Supply chain disruptions

It takes around 15,000 to 25,000 individual parts to create a vehicle. And every single part must come together at the right time. With over 32.7 million cars on UK roads, each one has required meticulous planning, organisation, production engineering, and manufacturing to bring together.

Post-Brexit, we\’ve seen a number of large car plants shutting down around the UK. This has meant that a large part of the production process has moved overseas. Whilst this has caused thousands of people to lose their livelihoods, it would have only caused a temporary disruption had it not been for the pandemic.

The closing of businesses and travel around the globe has had a huge knock-on impact on the automotive industry and has highlighted the fragility of the process. Whilst the sector has seen some recovery, the problem of tight supply is even more evident and car production and sales are forecast to take longer to recover to pre-pandemic levels.

Upskilling EV technicians

In recent years there\’s been a real drive towards electric cars. And whilst it\’s great that the automotive industry is looking for ways to be more green, traditional mechanics will be in less demand. As EV road share continues to grow, mechanics will have to swap their traditional socket sets for electrical diagnosis equipment.

It\’s not just the training and upskilling of engineers that are causing issues, but the EV components themselves. Most troubling is the powertrain batteries that are struggling to keep up with the demands of modern life.

Other key components for electric vehicles are more expensive to produce, which is driving up the cost of both production and point of sale, which when we\’re facing a global recession is a definite challenge for the sector.

Changing societal trends

The other major challenge the industry face is society itself. Whilst the average car journey in the UK is only 8 miles, many people are seeking alternatives to their everyday car use.

In the next decade, we could see car ownership decline and instead see the rise of people hiring cars when they need to make long car journeys. With more people working from home and shunning the daily commute, and ordering their weekly shop online, the need for regular access to a car is in decline.

Business benefits of hiring international candidates

Typical goals of recruitment include attracting valuable candidates, filling positions, generating company growth and sourcing fresh ideas. Any recruitment professional or business owner will tell you those tasks aren’t always easy, especially if you’re limiting your options. So why not consider international candidates?

Sure, recruiting people from outside the UK has become more complicated since Brexit, and there are other barriers such as language, time difference and travel. International workers may also need extra help settling in, from help with the paperwork to sourcing serviced apartments in London to help them while they search for more permanent accommodation. But they offer a whole host of business benefits too.

Below, discover four of the key advantages of hiring internationally.

The talent pool is wider

Let’s start with the obvious one: looking globally widens your pool of potential recruits. You’ll have a far greater number of candidates to choose from than if you focused on recruitment in your local region, city or town.

This point is especially beneficial if you’re affected by high levels of competition or, worse still, a skills shortage. The UK is seriously lacking HGV drivers, nurses, programmers and many other professions, but you could find the skills your business needs abroad.

They introduce new ways of thinking

Another crucial perk to consider is the ability of international candidates to usher in new perspectives and ideas. While hiring like-minded people might help your team bond, hiring people from diverse backgrounds will allow your team to grow and thrive.

Again, this point rings especially true if you’re operating in a competitive market and need to stay one step ahead. But it’s also invaluable if you work with a diverse clientele who might relate to different cultures and perspectives.

You can open up networking opportunities

Extending job adverts to international candidates could also help your business venture into new markets. The right candidates will have a strong understanding of business trends and etiquette in their home countries, and this kind of information could prove invaluable when shaping your future plans.

Strong international recruits will often bring a wealth of local contacts with them too, and having this means of introduction could open up opportunities that wouldn’t otherwise be available. This could be the difference between your overseas expansion succeeding or failing.

You’ll bolster your reputation

Finally, companies who hire across borders and backgrounds are typically seen in a more positive public light than those who don’t. Showing that you’re willing to hire candidates from all backgrounds and treat them fairly will help you appeal to other potential employees who could help your business grow.

You could also generate more positive stories in the press too. Hiring internationally often goes hand in hand with healthy corporate culture and responsible social practices, so it’s a logical step if you’re pushing in this direction.

So, it’s clear that recruiting internationally as well as domestically is a progressive strategy that you should be considering. Could international candidates help take your business to the next level?

Why Smart Cities Are Set to Play a Role in the UK’s Sustainable Future

In recent years, as the world’s attention has turned to sustainability, the concept of a smart city has positioned itself as a very plausible, fitting solution. As Forbes journalist Francois Laborie wrote in 2021: “technology enables the development of new products and services that use less energy, chemicals and water, and reduce waste from operations.”

Smart cities can successfully negate at least some of the issues associated with rapid urbanisation.

According to UNEP, by 2050, two-thirds of the world’s population will be living in cities, compared to 54 per cent now. The urban population growing by almost 2.4 billion translates into a need for considerable expansion of urban environments or the creation of new ones.

How to Make A City Great, a McKinsey report from 2013, notes how cities are likely to experience “challenges related to growth, performance, competitiveness, and residents’ livelihood” as a result of the major urban area explosion.

For the environment, urban sprawl creates a myriad issues that include poor waste management, a scarcity of resource, increase air pollution, and heightened congestion.

As defined by TWI Global, a smart city is one that “uses information and communication technology to improve operational efficiency, share information with the public and provide a better quality of government and citizen welfare.” However, this is just one of hundreds of definitions which exist online.

What defines a smart city?

There are a number of ways in which a smart city is measured:

  • By the infrastructure based around technology
  • By the environmental initiatives
  • By the effectiveness of public transport
  • By the progressiveness of planning
  • Whether people are able to live in the city and use its resources

According to population matters.org, “as an island nation with limited land area and natural resources, the United Kingdom is under tremendous population pressure. The UK has one of the highest population densities of all the European nations, with an average 281 people per km2, therefore harnessing the powers of smart cities would be particularly beneficial to the UK.

Smart city projects can create tangible benefits when it comes to “productivity, job creation, improvement of safety, improved access to public services and, of course, the environment.”

Glasgow’s Future City project, which commenced in 2013, reported an impressive return of £144 million on an initial investment of £24 million some four years later, highlighting the economic benefits associated with smart cities. Glasgow is joined by a host of other cities across the UK that are investing in smart projects including Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Hull, Manchester, London, and Peterborough.

But, what have smart cities got to do with the UK’s sustainability goals?

Well, the UK Government is currently working towards the Net Zero Strategy: Build Back Greener and has already committed more than £12 billion of domestic green investment since March 2020 and has doubled the International Climate Finance Commitment to £11.6 billion to 2025.

The UK was the first major global economy to legislate to reach net zero emissions by 2050. Furthermore, the strategy for net zero entails a ten-point plan which points to the following:

  • Working with the grain of consumer choice
  • Ensuring the biggest polluters pay the most
  • Ensuring the most vulnerable remain protected
  • Working with business to continually deliver deep cost reductions in low carbon tech

So, when you consider aligning with the consumer, protecting the most vulnerable, and working to find more cost-effective solutions for the future, the UK government’s green plan is very much inextricably linked with that of the concept of a smart city.

What a smart city can offer

The capabilities of smart cities are immense. Obviously, they can lend themselves to more efficient waste management, by using tools such as smart bins which provide real-time updates to collection services, helping prevent overflowing and unnecessary pickups, or, like the BigBelly Solution in the Co. Dublin town of Dun Laoghaire, helping to managed waste associated with unpredictable weather. Of course, these are very modest examples, but they are ways in which smart city technology can improve the urban environment.

Smart cities go way beyond. In Toronto, embedded sensors at Google’s Quayside Site help city managers monitor traffic flows, noise levels, air quality, energy usage, and travel patterns right across the city. Ultimately, these sensors give the city managers a full view of what is happening, in real time, throughout their city, allowing them to take appropriate actions to limit the impact on the environment.

In Norway, meanwhile, the emphasis has been placed on smart lighting. Oslo, the capital, and renowned global centre for sustainability and innovation, fitted 10,000 streetlights with sensors that adjust brightness according to necessity – the goal within the city is to reduce electricity consumption by 70%.

The considerable population growth currently being experienced by the UK coupled with the government’s commitment to net zero means that smart cities could well be a big part of the solution. They bring reduced CO2, improved energy and water management, optimised transportation, and better security – surely they have to be considered the most appropriate solution? Add on to these the fact that investing in and developing smart cities will create so much in the way of jobs and business growth opportunities through public sector contracts and smart cities become even more attractive.

Written for EU Business News

EU & UK GDPR: 5 Things You Must Know About Email Consent

Email users are known to send an average of 122 emails at work every day, and the quantity is likely to grow. Your inbox contains a wealth of personal data like names, email addresses, attachments, and conversations. Thus, you can be trapped in the strict new data protection requirements of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Any organization, company, or even charity handling the private records of EU residents or citizens is concerned with the GDPR. This consists of agencies that no longer function inside the European Union but provide goods and services. 

Those who don’t observe the policies can receive a penalty of €20 million or four percent of world revenue, among other fines. Therefore, companies need to be careful when they send mass emails.

This article will cover five factors that you should know regarding email consent.

1. Consent From Positive Opt-In, Not From Pre-Ticked Boxed

Under GDPR, email consent is only validated if consumers willingly confirm their consent through ticking an opt-in box. A pre-checked box that uses customer inactivity to presume consent is invalid under GDPR.

2. Separate Consent Request From Other Terms And Conditions

Clients must give email consent freely — it gives people a choice to truly decide if they want to subscribe to a website’s marketing messages. For example: if it’s mandatory to subscribe to a newsletter and it is mandatory to access a whitepaper, the consent isn’t freely given.

For an email consent to be valid for GDPR, it must be implicated separately. Incorporating consent with terms and conditions, any services, or privacy notices isn’t right.

3. Provide An Easy Process And Guide On How To Withdraw Consent

The consent request should be prominent, concise, easy to understand, and separate from other information such as terms of use. Most email regulations in major countries, including CASL in Canada and CANSPAM in the United States, necessitate brands to allow subscribers to opt-out of receiving emails.

The promotional emails you send should include the unsubscribe option. If you’re already complying with present European, Canadian, or US email laws, then you might not need to change this  GDPR compliance requirement. Moreover, this is an excellent opportunity to review your existing opt-out method and make sure you follow deregistration best practices:

  • Don’t charge fees
  • Don’t ask for any other info beyond their email address
  • Don’t necessitate logins for subscribers
  • Don’t request any subscriber to click more pages than one to submit requests

 

4. Collect Consented Evidence — Who, When, and How

According to Article 7 of the GDPR, consent is the appropriate legal basis for data processing only if it is freely given, concrete, informed and reflects the data subject’s will. It should be free from pressures or influences that could affect choices.

The data subject should also be able to revoke consent without suffering any consequences. In addition, individual permission must be obtained for personal data processing. The GDPR also needs to allow data managers to exhibit that data subjects agreed to a processing operation based on the data subject’s consent.

  • Who and when they consented
  • What were they told at the time of consent
  • How were they consent (e.g., through Facebook form, newsletter, or at checkout)
  • Have they withdrawn consent? If yes, then when

 

5. Revise Your Consent Practices And Current Opt-Ins

Holding a comprehensive agreement is generally essential for data protection compliance but is explicitly required under the GDPR. These records must include, among other things, how to identify the user, proof of consent, a history of consent, and if legal documents are made available to the user when permission is given.

If your current subscribers have consented according to GDPR laws, and you have recorded those instances, you are in the clear. However, if your present records do not comply with GDPR requirements,  you will need to audit your current email list and implement a re-permission program.

Final Thoughts

For email marketing in the EU, one must comply with data protection laws set by GDPR. This includes sending repetitive campaigns to get the explicit consent of EU subscribers, notifying recipients about how customer data is processed, and adding unsubscribe links to marketing emails.

By implementing the above best practices, you will not have any problems implementing GDPR-compliant email marketing in the future.

Keep Your Eyes on the Road: How the New Mobile Phone Law Will Reduce Car Accidents

Driving arouses contrasting emotions. Some people find jumping at the wheel on a regular basis quite tedious and petulant. Others, instead, enjoy the freedom of whizzing through empty carriageways and steering nimbly from one street to the next. However, it is fair to say that a vehicle handled improperly can turn into a dangerous weapon. Sometimes, it only takes a slight lack of concentration to cause serious damage.

Phones, in this respect, are a prominent source of distraction. We use them all the time during the day, and the temptation to check messages and notifications while driving is also very high. In fact, one third of British motorists have identified other drivers’ use of mobile phones as a top concern.    

On 25th March, the UK government introduced tougher rules when it comes to using mobile phones while driving. This also means that, from now on, drivers caught with a cell phone in their hand will face stricter penalties. But what does this new law entail? And, more importantly, will it help reduce road accidents and injuries?

New legislation on using phones while driving

The government has issued new road laws to deter drivers from using their phones while at the wheel. Looking at the stats, it was a much-needed step.

The RAC Report on Motoring 2020 found that roughly 11m Brits (29% of all UK drivers) make or receive calls occasionally when in control of a vehicle. What’s more, an impressive 42% of British motorists confessed that they regularly hand-hold phone calls while their car is stationary and with the engine turned on.   

Until the end of March 2022, in theory, the second scenario would not have been viewed as an issue. As the new rules enter into force though, not only is it illegal to phone or text while driving but motorists are not allowed to use their mobiles under (almost) any circumstance.

Actions such as taking photos, filming videos, and scrolling through music playlists, for instance, are no longer permitted. Unlocking the device, checking the time, illuminating the screen, and using recording features are also prohibited by the law too. If caught, the guilty motorist will have to pay a minimum fine of £200.

Penalty fees, however, could reach £1,000 for car and motorcycle drivers, and a pricey £2,500 for bus and lorry drivers. As well as hefty tickets, any motorist breaking the law could also face a six-point deduction from their driving licence. Not to mention a further three penalty points if, at the time of the offence, they have a limited view of the road and traffic ahead or are not in full control of the vehicle. Offenders who have only passed their driving test within the last two years risk losing their licence altogether.

It is important to underline that these penalties apply in many different circumstances. Whether you are queuing in traffic or are stopped at a red traffic light, you must still keep your phone in your pocket. Are you supervising a learner driver? You are not exempt from the new regulations either and should therefore not be scrolling through your phone.

This said, there is one exception, and it refers to drivers making contactless payments with their phones while stationary. This covers places such as a road toll or a restaurant drive-through and only applies when payments are being carried out with a card reader. Of course, you are also allowed to use your phone in situations of emergency and to contact 999.

How the new law keeps our roads safe

The legislation’s main aim is to guarantee safer driving conditions for all British motorists. Using your phone while behind the wheel is a hazard, and can lead to a serious whiplash injury or a fatal accident.

Dialling a number or typing a quick text may not take long, but even the shortest distraction can have long-lasting consequences. Sending or reading a phone message can take your eyes off the road for about five seconds. In the words of the National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA), at 55 mph, that would be like cruising the length of a football pitch blindfolded.

What’s more, holding a mobile phone while driving has been found to triple the odds of near-crashes or vehicle accidents. Just talking on the phone can increase the chance of incidents by 30%. This is down to the fact that whoever you are speaking to may not be aware of the road situation and cannot lower their tone to allow you to concentrate in trickier situations. Hence, taking action to reduce the use of mobile phones while in control of a vehicle can truly preserve drivers’ and passengers’ safety.

To help motorists keep off their phones when driving, there are apps that serve to discourage people from checking their notifications. An app called ‘LifeSaver’ adopts GPS monitoring and a rewards system to keep drivers focused on the streets. By blocking the device while in the driving seat, and alerting contacts that you are at the wheel, it ensures that you get from A to B in a safe manner.   

With stricter road laws and severe penalties, the UK government is paving the way towards safer streets. Why text or phone while on the road? It is a danger that is simply not worth the risk.

Is Nostalgic Escapism Driving Consumer Trends?

Consumer trends are constantly evolving, and popular products or services can change in the blink of an eye. Nostalgic escapism, for example, has surged in popularity in recent years, dominating all corners of business and culture.

To understand why nostalgic escapism is trending, business owners can lend knowledge from recent scientific studies. In Psychology of Popular Media, experts explored the relationship between nostalgia and well-being during the pandemic. It concludes that people consume nostalgic media (including music, movies, television, books, and video games) to escape the turbulence of COVID-19.

Nostalgia allows customers to take a break from the present. Here, we will explore how this is influencing consumer behaviours, and how your business can utilise this trend.

Nostalgic fashion

Nostalgic escapism is centre stage in fashion. The nostalgia pendulum, a theory explored by Patrick Metzger, argues that cultural trends operate on a 30-year cycle as the consumers of yesterday have become the creators of today. This explains why current style trends are reminiscent of pre-millenium fashion.

Characteristically ‘90s trends are dominating popular fashion. Everything from corsets to slip dresses are making a comeback, and the slouched suit is taking the fashion industry by storm once more. So much so, there has been a 55% surge in searches for ‘wide-leg suiting trousers’ on Lyst, and tailored two-pieces featured in the Stella McCartney spring/summer 2022 collection.

Nostalgic fashion has also influenced television shows, such as Euphoria (2019-Present). The series has seen widespread popularity, and one episode alone attracted 13.1 million viewers across HBO and HBO Max. The nostalgic aesthetics of this show has sparked a number of trends, including a revival of soft punk and denim two pieces.

Retro retail

In addition to fashion favourites, nostalgic escapism is influencing the popularity of retro retailers. In recent weeks, searches for vintage store displays have risen from 32 per week on December 26th to 72 per week on April 17th. This retro revival can include something as whimsical as neon signs. In fact, searches for this décor staple have increased from 53 per week on December 26th to 65 per week on April 17th.

These vintage trends are a great way for business owners to think creatively about their stores. If you’re eager to experiment with decorations, consider taking inspiration from as far back as the mid-20th century. The ‘50s aesthetic can successfully attract customers to your business, whether you own a corner shop or an ice cream store.

This retro revival can go beyond the rules of the nostalgic pendulum. Consumers may be influenced by the unfamiliar, otherwise thought of as anemoia, reminiscent of a period before their lifetime. This type of nostalgia can be just as influential as a yearning for a personal past.

Classic food and drink

Nostalgic escapism goes beyond fashion and retail. In recent years, a number of classic food and drink staples have made a comeback. Sweet treats from childhood are fun to say the least, whether it’s vending machines that give you a selection of gumballs for 20p a pop or commercial slush machines that mixed nostalgic flavours of blue raspberry and strawberry together.

The global commercial slush market, for example, is forecast to be worth $391.3 million by 2026. These drinks are a timeless staple that fit into the nostalgic escapism trend perfectly. Retro confectionery is also rising in popularity. During the pandemic, online sweets sales surged by 64 per cent. This included classic treats – from Haribo to BonBonVille and even penny sweets – and was a great way to escape the turmoil and uncertainty of lockdown.

Indeed, nostalgic escapism is driving consumer trends. To capitalise on this, ensure your business is able to provide customers with the products they desire. A corner shop owner, for example, can produce an impressive ROI on a commercial slush machine. On the other hand, an entrepreneur in the fashion industry may utilise nostalgia to deliver trending garments. Do you think this trend is worth its salt?

It’s All Downhill from Here: Why Is Driving So Expensive?

Nothing beats the sensation of driving through empty roads as the car radio plays your favourite tune. It is a simple pleasure but it’s one of the greatest in life. You feel free, happy, and serene.

But when you glance down at your fuel gauge and notice that the indicator keeps moving – slowly but surely – towards the left, your carefree mood may begin to fade. Not to mention the sudden appearance of flashing symbols that suggest something inside the engine is not quite right. Not only is it a worry and a nuisance, but it is a hefty and costly inconvenience too.

We’ve seen a general increase in prices and vehicles have certainly not been spared. But why is driving becoming so expensive? What are people doing to limit costs? We take a look at some of the reasons for which driving is turning into a pricey activity, while also highlighting why joining a car club in this day and age brings an array of benefits.

The rising expenses of driving

Car ownership comes with its expenses. It’s always handy to have a vehicle ready to chauffeur you wherever you want and whenever you wish, but there can be some significant hidden costs. Specifically, in more recent times, drivers are having to spend a bit more than they used to. Why?

  • Increased fuel prices – This is an inescapable expense. After a certain number of miles, you will have to stop at a petrol station, put your hand to your wallet, and refuel your vehicle. About two months ago, this practice became costlier than ever before.

On 24th October, the average daily price for a litre of petrol reached 142.94p, exceeding the negative all-time record of 142.48p (16th April 2012). With this figure, a litre costs 28p more than it would have a year ago. It goes without saying that, if you need to fill up your tank, your bill will be significantly higher than in previous years.

  • Introduction of LEZ – As we become increasingly aware of pressing environmental issues, actions are now being taken to tackle the problem. This includes the introduction of low-emission zones (LEZ), especially in big cities such as London.

While it is a sensible decision to decrease air pollution, accessing LEZs can be expensive for drivers. Indeed, vehicles that do not meet certain emissions standards run into hefty fees. Greener and electric cars can enter LEZs free of charge; however, not many drivers have them and, ultimately, they are pricier to buy.

  • Costly repairs – Unfortunately, setbacks are always round the corner. During the pandemic, it is likely that your vehicle has been resting in its parking space for longer than it is used to. So, it may not have been checked in a while.

When the time comes to take it to the garage, you may discover that some serious maintenance work is required. Not only will you be left without a car for a few days, but your bank account will take a hit.

Cheaper options

As costs continue to soar, drivers are striving to find alternative options to help them save some of their hard-earned money. What can you do to safeguard your finances? Here are a few simple tips:

  • Keep hold of your vehicle – One immediate way to cut on your expenses is to keep your vehicle for longer. Why get rid of it when it can still take you places? Indeed, not only does the cost of new cars increase exponentially every year, but vehicles tend to depreciate rather quickly too.
  • Opt for smaller cars – If you do find yourself in need of a new car, consider purchasing a smaller model. From a cheaper price tag to a more favourable gasoline mileage, smaller vehicles are cheaper to drive. Moreover, their insurance and maintenance costs are more affordable too.
  • Use public transport – Why not hop on a bus or a train to reach your destination? With passenger information apps, you will be able to monitor departure and arrival times and plan your journey accordingly. Furthermore, you will be reducing your travel carbon footprint, playing your part in saving the planet.

 

An efficient solution

There is no denying that being at the wheel can be both fun and relaxing. But do you really need to own a car in order to enjoy your driving? The reality is that car sharing is one of the best solutions to save on vehicle expenses and benefit from the freedom of moving around whenever it suits you.

Co-Wheels, an expert in community car sharing and vehicle hiring, suggests that utilising this service offers a series of brilliant advantages to drivers. “It has a really positive impact on the planet. If more people shared cars, the number of vehicles on the streets would decrease – which means, in turn, less traffic and cleaner city air. By signing up to a car club, you can book your slot for a car and collect it as soon as you are ready to hit the road!”

Additionally, car sharing helps you keep your expenses at bay. In the event of mishaps along the way, including flat tyres and dead batteries, it will be up to the car sharing company to cover the vehicle’s maintenance costs. What is more, you won’t have to worry about pricey pit-stops at the petrol station – there will already be fuel in your tank when you jump into the driving seat.

Finally, car sharing provides you with the opportunity to select the vehicle you want. Are you looking for a van? Would you like to drive an electric car and steer confidently through low-emission zones? You can always pick and choose the vehicle that best suits your journey at a reasonable price.

It is fair to say that driving is more expensive now than ever before. From rising fuel costs to hefty repairs, drivers are facing pricey bills that are affecting the enjoyment of their car travels. Is it not the right time to make the most of car sharing services? Save money, protect the planet, and… keep driving!

LinkedIn for Sales: 3 Strategies You Should Try to Boost Your Marketing Efforts

LinkedIn was initially designed as a social media platform where professionals can network and find employment opportunities. However, almost two decades later, it has morphed into a global marketing tool with endless networking opportunities for businesses and individuals.

Now, many European businesses may feel a bit discouraged by the fact that a huge chunk of LinkedIn’s traffic comes from the US (around 31%). However, LinkedIn has around 160 million users in Europe (out of a total of 800 million members worldwide) and the UK is its second traffic source in terms of volume (around 6%).


Source: Statista, Regional distribution of desktop traffic to LinkedIn.com as of June 2021, by country

This data shows that businesses in Europe and the UK can also use LinkedIn as a marketing tool, as long as they design an effective strategy.

Moving forward, we’ll mention some of the most successful and common LinkedIn marketing strategies that yield results:

1. B2B Lead Generation

Did you know that the average LinkedIn user is actively looking for professional-oriented content and business opportunities? This means that, unlike Instagram or Facebook where users rarely go for business, LinkedIn is the perfect online place for finding interested professionals.

This gives B2B marketers a huge advantage as they know a big part of the audience is actually looking for something, not just scrolling for entertainment. Now, all you have to do is identify the ones that work for your type of products and/or services and get in touch.

That’s easier said than done and without a clear strategy in mind, it’s rather easy to get lost in the sea of users. Luckily, nowadays you can use automation to do the scouting and initial contacts with minimal effort on your part.

Quick tip: Use Salesflow as a tool for hot lead generation on LinkedIn and work with the data for increasing sales or brand awareness.

2. Check Your Company Page (Presentation Matters)

You can’t go up to LinkedIn users and ask for a chat or meeting without a proper company page that represents your brand and clearly states your interests as a business. Well, you can, but it will not go well.

Just like with any other social media platform, your business needs a professionally-designed LinkedIn page. In fact, it is even more important on LinkedIn, where you network with other businesses and ask for their collaboration.

Here are some of the must-have elements of a well-designed LinkedIn page:

Information about your products and/or services, so everyone can understand your object of activity; Info on location, headquarters, online activity (website and other social media channels), employees, and so on; Visual identifiers such as logo, brand image, colours, and more; A clever description that conveys important details about your offer and interests; Other details you consider prospective business partners and customers should know.

Quick tip: Your company page sits at the base of your brand representation on LinkedIn, so it should be the very first strategy you implement.

3. Content Optimization & Strategy

Yes, SEO is everywhere! However, this time, it’s an optimization designed for LinkedIn and anyone looking for specific keywords on the network.

Starting with your company page and ending with any article or post you make, everything should be built around keywords, search intent, and relevance for the reader. Also, the same old rules apply to content structure and design when it comes to ease of reading.

Even on LinkedIn, people are scanning pages and articles for useful information before they decide to read or get in contact.

Plus, it’s important to have a well-designed content strategy that keeps the audience engaged. This usually means uploading relevant and useful content that piques the interest of readers and catches Google’s attention during content indexing.

Quick tip: A solid LinkedIn content strategy will help your Company Page go up in search results.

Wrap Up

Whether you use it for lead generation or just networking, LinkedIn is a powerful platform that should not be ignored. Also, there is a lot to learn from competitors and successful marketing strategies so make sure you pay attention to all the relevant trends.

In today’s day and age, a business will struggle to survive without a reliable and up to date online presence on social media channels. That’s because most of the target audiences use these channels for connection and entertainment, which is a fantastic opportunity for anyone willing to follow the trend.

How BrightEYE Helps Businesses See the Way to Material Handling Efficiency

VisionNav Robotic’s BrightEYE system is helping to bring efficiency and significant safety gains at sites where driverless forklifts are deployed. But what is BrightEYE and how does it work? Here are 10 frequently asked questions about this revolutionary intralogistics technology.

In simple terms, what is the BrightEYE System and how does it work?

The BrightEYE system is a new camera recognition technology that facilitates the safe and efficient movement of driverless forklifts or AGVs around a store by identifying a driverless forklift truck’s precise location within a warehouse, distribution centre or factory building. It also recognizes goods, pallets, pedestrians, other forklifts, building infrastructure and any stationery or moving objects that might represent a potential hazard on the AGV’s route and, by feeding information back to a central control system, ensures collisions or other accidents are avoided.

What benefits does it bring to a warehouse or distribution centre environment?

BrightEYE improves material handling efficiency and greatly reduces risks in the intralogistics process to deliver a safer and more productive warehousing environment.

Is it easy to install?

Exceptionally easy! The hardware is very straightforward to introduce and the software is installed with one simple click!

Is it compatible with existing WMS technology

Yes. The BrightEYE system is compatible with all existing popular warehouse management system technologies and is very simply adapted to fit in with any WMS that it isn’t immediately compatible with.

Can it work in dark or dimly lit facilities or outside in a yard?

The system recognizes when it is entering a poorly lit environment or a part of the warehouse that is, perhaps, a little gloomy, and immediately switches to infra-red (night vision) mode. When BrightEYE’s infra-red setting has been activated, the system can perform with 100 per cent efficiency in total darkness. But also, if deployed in an outdoor setting, bright sunlight has no impact on the system’s efficiency and recognition functionality.

Can you give one or two examples of companies that are using BrightEYE technology?

BrightEYE has been widely used by logistics and manufacturing companies working across a broad range of sectors, including e-commerce, food, pharmaceuticals and the automotive industry to help with diverse intralogistics tasks.

For example, a leading organisation operating in the petrochemical space is enjoying improved truck loading efficiency thanks to BrightEYE. At the client’s site driverless forklifts fitted with clamp attachments block stack unpalletised loads of wire coil in multiple layers in the company’s goods-out marshaling area before orders are transferred to waiting flat-bed lorries by two AGV forklifts that deposit loads from either side of the flat-bed trailer.

Meanwhile, a food manufacture is using BrightEYE to bring efficiency gains to its raw material and packaging products storage processes. BrightEYE identifies incoming orders and delivers each pallet load to the designated location within the bulk store racking system.

For companies that are considering adopting driverless trucks, is it essential to install BrightEYE?

It is not essential to install BrightEYE but, because the system brings so many productivity and safety benefits to sites where driverless forklifts operate, it is certainly advisable.

How useful is BrightEYE as a safety feature in the warehouse? For example, does the system alert a forklift if there is a pedestrian near by?

BrightEYE calculates the position of lift trucks as well as human traffic and other potential obstructions in real time and issues a safety warning if, for example, workers and trucks get too close to each other. If the system identifies heightened risk from some form of obstruction, be it warehouse workers or a pallet load, the truck will be brought to a controlled halt and will only resume operation once the hazard has been removed.

Is BrightEYE a low cost investment?

The overall cost of the system will, of course, vary depending on the size of the site, the number of driverless trucks in operation and so on, but at installations throughout the world BrightEYE has demonstrated that it is a highly cost-effective solution that gives a rapid return on investment.

What are the BrightEYE system’s key USPs (unique selling points)?

BrightEYE works in tandem with state-of-the-art driverless forklift technology to deliver an intelligent and efficient warehousing environment. It’s ability to identify stock in the goods-in or goods-out marshaling areas combined with its safety features, makes BrightEYE a valuable addition at any site where driverless forklifts and AGVs are deployed.

Europe’s Future in Blockchain Technology

Blockchain technology was first described by the research scientists Stuart Haber and W. Scott Stornetta in 1991. But it wasn’t until 2008 that it started to get some real relevance.

A scientist or a group of scientists behind the alias name Satoshi Nakamoto have created the blockchain technology as we know it today. Its primal purpose was to enable Bitcoin users to perform direct digital transactions without the need for any validation from a third party, such as a bank.

Today, blockchain is on its way to becoming the most widely used record-keeping system in the world. It is certainly a hot topic these days, but what is blockchain technology?

It is a system that stores chunks of data in blocks. Once one block reaches its storage capacity, it links to the previously filled block, thus forming a chain of data. 

Simply put, a blockchain is a distributed ledger for secure transactions without a third party involved. This data storage system is practically unhackable.

We can differentiate three main types of blockchains:

  • Public – mostly used for cryptocurrency and peer-to-peer transactions.
  • Private – used for supply-chain management and data storage tasks. Private blockchains have a limited range and controlled features.
  • Hybrid – authorization blockchain that can enable only certain participants in the network and decide on their access level.

Assisted by the top blockchain development companies, more and more businesses in Europe and worldwide are interested in integrating blockchain technologies into their systems and enjoy the benefits of enhanced security, greater transparency, instant traceability, increased efficiency, and automation.

The EU is looking to become the leader in blockchain technology innovations, so much so that they have developed the European Commission’s blockchain strategy, which we will now discuss in detail. 

Golden standards

The European Commission created a blockchain strategy that aims to follow these five golden standards:

    • Sustainability – making a blockchain technology that runs on renewable energy resources.
    • Secure data – making a blockchain technology that supports and is compatible with privacy regulations.
    • Digital identity – making blockchain technology compatible with e-signature regulations and with a decentralized and self-governing identity framework.
  • Cybersecurity – making blockchain technology to be hacker-proof.
  • Interoperability – making blockchain technologies interoperable with themselves and the outside world’s legacy systems.

Aspects of the European Commission’s blockchain strategy

The European Commission’s blockchain strategy includes:

  • Creating a pan-European public services blockchain – The European public sector is building its own blockchain infrastructure that aims to include interoperability with private sector platforms.
  • Legal certainty promotion – The commission is developing legal frameworks for digital assets and smart contacts. These frameworks should protect the users and ensure legal certainty for all businesses involved.
  • More funding for blockchain research and innovations – The EU offers grants and supporting investments for startups and projects targeting Artificial Intelligence (AI) and blockchain research and innovations.
  • Encouraging blockchain skills development – The Digital Europe Programme formed a €580 million budget for educating skilled digital experts to make sure there is enough personnel to meet future demands.
  • Interaction with the community – The Commission interacts with the community through The International Association of Trusted Blockchain Applications (INATBA), The European Blockchain Observatory, and the Forum.
  • Supporting blockchain for sustainability, interoperability, and standards.

Blockchain has a great potential for changing the future of transaction-based industries and other industry sectors. Even though it was primarily created for secure bitcoin transactions, it has found many uses in different industries. 

Here is what a blockchain deployment through industries in Europe looks like:

  • 25.76 % – Tech, IT, Telecommunication;
  • 19% – Government services;
  • 14.90% – Financial Services, FinTech, KYC, AML;
  • 8.83% – Education;
  • 7.58% – Supply chain, Transportation, Industrial manufacturing;
  • 6.07% – Media, Entertainment, Publishing;
  • 5.56% – Non-profit or Social Impact;
  • 4.30% –  Energy, Environment, Utilities;
  • 2.53% – Health care.

No European country enforced any hostile rules and regulations against blockchain and cryptocurrencies. Some countries have more advanced blockchain ecosystems than others. 

Cyprus, Malta, and Switzerland were the quickest to implement the blockchain technology and institute strategic regulatory frameworks. 

While France and Germany have prepared advanced regulatory frameworks for wider blockchain usage but are yet to implement comprehensive applications.

Conclusion

The EU believes that intergovernmental support, together with private investments, can create a strong foundation for fast blockchain technology adoption across Europe over the next decade.

They aim to extend the reach of blockchain technology beyond financial-based usage and start to use its transformative efficiencies in other important sectors too.

Blockchain technology is of strategic importance to the European Union and is most likely to play a leading role in reinforcing technological supremacy.

Best Digital Experiences CEO 2022: Hans Elstner

rooom is a global start-up with multiple locations in Germany and the US, founded in 2016 by company CEO, Hans Elstner. rooom offers an all-in-one platform for creating, managing and publishing interactive 2D, 3D, AR and VR experiences, and it works across all desktop and mobile devices. In light of Hans’ success within the German CEO Excellence Awards 2022, we got in touch with him to learn more about his career and how rooom came about.

rooom is a digital experience platform designed to meet the marketing and visualisation needs of different industries through a comprehensive product portfolio. It allows companies to create their own part of the metaverse that is just emerging, making it accessible and achievable for B2B customers from any industry.

The metaverse is a very important topic for rooom. Its boundless possibilities leave room for vision. The fact is that the metaverse or Web 3.0 will merge the boundaries of the physical world with those of the digital world. rooom can offer all business customers the opportunity to create their own enterprise metaverse that can be placed in an area together with providers of similar content. E-commerce providers, for example, could place their virtual territories in a virtual department store. Industrial customers can become part of an industry-specific metaverse where, for example, everything to do with optics can be discovered. And a smart learning metaverse could be located within a digital campus.

The digital innovator in rooom founder and CEO, Hans Elstner was brought to life at the age of 13 when he received his first PC. Instead of just playing computer games, he started programming games himself and learned to love the limitless possibilities of the digital world. At the age of 15, he began to support various companies with IT solutions, and a little later, became self-employed in this field.

A few years later, Hans decided to deepen his knowledge and skills in industrial engineering, e-commerce and programming and studied Internet Business Engineering. In 2005, he founded an agency for digital transformation. With a steadily growing team, Hans advised and supported companies on various digitalisation issues. During this time, he was able to gain a lot of valuable experience in the field of digitisation.

Next in Hans’ career was his founding of rooom – he tells us how it came into existence. “The essential business idea of rooom came to me in 2012. Even while developing my first small games, I dreamt that 3D technologies would one day be available to everyone in a simple and low-threshold way. The idea grew to create something completely new – an easy-to-use platform for 3D and mixed reality. I started looking for supporters and put the idea into action. More and more people joined our mission to “democratise 3D”. In 2018, the platform was launched.”

Since then, Hans has been able to gain a lot of experience, saying, “One of my learnings is that it is worth approaching competitors, exchanging ideas and building a network. To be successful, you should see competitors as partners, not business rivals. You should also constantly put your own ideas up for review. I gathered as many other opinions as possible right at the beginning to optimise my concept and ideas.”

A challenge in the beginning was raising capital and finding investors, however participating in start-up competitions and presenting inventive pitches opened new doors.

And in recent years, rooom has grown enormously, thanks to its ability to understand and exceed its customers’ needs, and the mass digitisation triggered by the pandemic. The company seeks to work with the customer to lead them to success, not to just push its product onto them – its mantra being “We don’t let customers fail!”

But growth also brings some challenges, like creating flexible workspaces and coordinating employees on an international level. Hans said, “What helped me was to stay flexible – changing the point of view towards my own ideas and getting involved in changes. Growth means flexibility! With this attitude, we didn’t let the pandemic slow us down and we were able to respond to the new challenges with new ideas and solutions.”

Companies are indeed catching up in terms of virtual showrooms, product visualisation and configurators in e-commerce as a result of the digitisation drive – and rooom is clearly benefiting from this trend. The company is also focusing on the creation of 3D models based on photos, working on digitisation options using 3D scanning. Such solutions are very interesting for the furniture industry, for example.

Ultimately, Hans loves his job because it is so diversified. He said, “It’s technical, nerdy and creative, with a side of marketing – all at the same time. I am amazed that our software is used by so many people, and we are playing such a significant role in the market.”

He continued, “What I have learned during the journey with rooom is that it’s not about creating the fanciest slides and explaining all the details of my plans. Anyone who wants to invest in a start-up or wants to break new ground has to believe in the team behind the idea. With this in mind, we started to present not only the idea of rooom as a company, but also as a brand with its very own personality. An investment in a start-up is always an investment in a person or a team you believe in.”

For business enquires, contact Hans Elstner at room via email at [email protected] or via their website at www.rooom.com.

Faster Fashion Fulfilment

Challenged by poor labour availability, how will fashion fulfilment cope with a return of footfall to the high street and growing omni-channel sales? Darcy de Thierry, Managing Director of Ferag UK, believes advanced pouch sorter technology holds the answer.

Successful fashion retailing is all about maximising margin, growing sales volume and getting faster throughput. But for the last two years, omni-channel businesses have, by necessity, had to rely on their ecommerce channels for survival. The strain on fulfilment centres has been enormous, particularly as ‘single’ and ‘few’ item picking and packing operations are traditionally highly labour intensive activities – and labour has become a scarce and costly resource, leading to concerns over performance during critical peak periods.

Now that consumers are returning to the high street, how can businesses re-balance their fulfilment operations to cope with growth and higher throughput across all channels, and at the same time contain costs to maximise margins?

In addition to the challenges of finding labour, the National Living Wage is set to rise from £8.91 to £9.50 per hour in April 2022, coinciding with a hike in National Insurance of 1.25p in the pound for both employers and employees.

With operational costs rising and fewer people available to carry out manual picking operations, many retail fashion businesses are turning to the use of automation to boost the productivity of their labour force. Automation applied to the right processes can free up people for tasks that require human ingenuity, judgement and manual dexterity – tasks such as packing and inspecting returns.

Advanced technology

An innovative technology helping to transform operational performance in the fulfilment centre, freeing-up human resources for value-adding activities, is the pouch sorter. Overhead pouch sortation systems offer a flexible and highly scalable, conveying, sorting and dynamic buffering solution appropriate for both fulfilling ecommerce orders and assembling store friendly sequenced replenishment. One pouch system is capable of sorting and processing many thousands of orders an hour, with each pouch able to carry both hanging garments and flat items, such as shoes and flat pack goods, enabling fast order fulfilment from a single pool of inventory.

Creating a single pool of inventory from which store replenishment and ecommerce orders are served offers significant financial and operational benefits. Efficiencies in accessing available stock, greater flexibility in allocating stock to maximise sales and faster processing times for preparing orders, are just some of the key advantages.

In particular, pouch technology lends itself to ecommerce operations, allowing for greater wave picking efficiency, with late order cut-offs of around 10pm for a promise of delivery to the customer first-thing the next day. The speed and reliability of Skyfall, Ferag’s ultra-fast automated pouch sorter solution, enables the retailer to gain greater operational efficiencies by accumulating orders in advance of a final pick-wave at 10pm. With processing speeds of up to 25,000 units per hour orders can be picked, sorted, packed and dispatched within the shortest time window, giving fashion brands the keen competitive edge of a late cut-off with an early next day delivery.

For consumers fast, reliable fulfilment and delivery is often a decisive factor when purchasing a fashion item and a positive experience is likely to result in repeat sales and recommendations on social media. However, a late delivery of a party dress has the potential to cause great distress and may lead to negative reviews, with the loss of future sales, so a reliable fulfilment process is essential. Of course, pick accuracy is important too, as a mispicked item is likely to be disappointing for the customer, as well as costly to the business. However, automation enables exceptionally high pick accuracy.

Store friendly sequencing

As stated earlier, the same high-speed Skyfall pouch sorter system used for fulfilling ecommerce orders can also be deployed to create store friendly sequenced consignments for high-street shops – pulling from the same, pooled inventory. The benefit of sequencing product for a particular store’s layout is that the shop assistant assigned to replenishing shelves and rails is able to perform the task quickly and efficiently, freeing them to spend more time with customers – potentially, to secure more sales.

An obvious advantage of a high-speed pouch solution, such as Ferag’s Skyfall, is that it uses available overhead space – the third dimension of the building – keeping floor areas free for pedestrians and other processes. What’s more, pouch systems are a highly cost-effective alternative to other forms of goods-to-person automation, like multi-shuttle and mini-load solutions, that can cost up to 30% more. Then there is the core benefit that the Skyfall overhead pouch system undertakes high-speed sorting, conveying and buffering processes too, which with Ferag’s modular conveyor technology allows for tremendous flexibility and scalability. And as the pouch has the ability to carry flat items, such as shoes, and flat pack goods along with hanging items, there is no need to have a separate cross-belt sorter for flat items, with all the issues associated with bringing flat and hanging items together.

Leaders in fashion

A number of leading fashion brands are taking advantage of pouch sorter technology to increase capacity and boost performance of their fulfilment operations. Ferag has recently installed a flexible high-speed Skyfall system at a new distribution centre for children’s fashion company, Mayoral Group, in Malaga, Spain. The extensive overhead pouch solution is one of the largest to date, with a mix of hanging pouches and garment hangers totalling more than 58,000 Skyfall hangers, and a throughput of up to 12,000 units per hour. The system features fully automatic unloading of pouches, including flat goods.

Ferag has developed an advanced automated induction process where pouches automatically open at an induction station, the operator scans a product, passes it down a chute and it drops into the awaiting pouch. The process is fast and efficient.

Similarly, Ferag has also introduced auto-unloading technology with three levels of performance depending upon product characteristics and gentle handling requirements. Contingent on the items, between 1500 and 2200 orders per hour can be automatically unloaded from pouches at packing stations. Driving performance, the rate at which orders are presented at the packing station can determine the pace of packing.

Interestingly, when comparing traditional goods-to-person operations, where you may have six to twelve open orders at the packing station, with a pouch system there can be a hundred or more open orders, simply by keeping them in a dynamic buffer near to the packing station. Items can quickly be called from the buffer as required, providing greater flexibility and speed.

Faster returns

When it comes to the fast processing of returns, overhead dynamic buffers can offer a cutting-edge solution to removing the time, cost and effort of placing returned items back into stock. Manually sorting and placing items back into stock is a very time consuming and costly process, but now it can be avoided. For high-demand fashion products, keeping returned items in a buffer close to the packing area enables a quick and efficient re-despatch of the item. In fact, some retailers anticipate and predict levels of returns, allowing them to re-sell items even before they are returned to the warehouse. Such techniques help boost sales and increase margins.

Of course, reliability is absolutely critical for any automated system. Failure to perform at peak or during critical promotional periods can result in unfulfilled SLAs and dissatisfied customers, which in turn may damage both sales and, importantly, brand. Businesses looking to invest in overhead pouch sortation systems should look very carefully at the quality of the engineering, materials and components used. Only ultra-low friction components should be considered and plastic chains should be avoided. Good design and sound engineering bring long-lasting rewards.

Ferag’s Swiss-engineered pouch sorter technology was originally developed for some of the most testing of handling applications, the international print industry, where super-fast overhead conveyors are required to offer ultra-reliable performance on daily newspaper production runs in the millions. The same materials, technology and design expertise has been successfully applied by Ferag within the intralogistics sector, bringing reliable, high-performance conveying at speeds of up to 25,000 units per hour to fashion businesses the world over.

7 Statistics That Show Why Your Brand Should Seriously Consider Video Marketing

If video isn’t a huge part of your marketing strategy in 2022, your brand has a first-class ticket to failure. Yes, we’re cutting straight to the chase. What used to be a nice-to-have is now a must-have, with millions of businesses seeing its value and incorporating this feature into their marketing to increase their chances of success. If you’re not doing it, we can almost guarantee that your competitors are…

In fact, a whopping 60% of businesses use video as a marketing tool. Intrigued? Well, stick around, because we’ve got 7 more statistics that show why your brand should seriously consider video marketing.

78% of people watch online videos every week

A video is a form of entertainment that can be found on websites, apps, social media platforms, and more, so it’s no wonder why a staggering 78% of people watch them online – every single week. These people are more than likely your prospective clients or customers, so why not put your business in front of them in the form of a video?

54% of people want to see more video content from marketers

This particular statistic proves that the demand for video is there! Over half of your prospective clients and customers actually want to see more video content from you, so why would you deny them that?

Video marketers get 66% more qualified leads per year

This statistic shouldn’t even need elaboration… The core purpose of marketing is to generate strong leads which you can then turn into sales. Brands that are utilising videos get 66% more qualified leads per year. Do you want 66% more qualified leads per year?

73% of marketers say webinars are the best way to generate quality leads

Don’t underestimate the power of a webinar! Presentations, workshops, or lectures that are held via online video are very desirable; the target audience doesn’t need to leave the comfort of their own home – or spend money travelling – to find out what you’ve got to say. If done correctly, driving customer engagement with webinars is a breeze, and your brand could be one of the 73% who insist it’s the best way to generate quality leads.

Video posts on social media get 48% more views

If you’re already using social media to your business’s advantage, now is the time to up your game and start posting videos. Why? Because video posts on social media get 48% more views! We know you’ve got some fantastic things to say, so start saying them in a way that people engage with.

80% of marketers create videos that are 3 minutes or less

Are you worried that incorporating video into your marketing strategy will take up too much time? Don’t worry, nobody is asking you to create a feature-length movie! In fact, the majority of marketers create videos that are only 3 minutes or less – and they’re the ones who experience the most success.

Emails with videos in them improve the click-through-rate by 300%

If you’re sick and tired of your e-shots consistently flunking, we have the solution for you… By embracing the power of videos in your email marketing, you could see your CTR improve by a colossal 300%!

Green Pearls of Wisdom From the World’s Most Sustainable Countries

There is simply no hiding that our planet is under great pressure. From rising sea levels to increasingly warmer temperatures across the globe, climate change is having a serious impact on the well-being of our environment.

In this respect, governments around the world are taking action to limit damages to our surroundings. The UK, for instance, has already begun its race towards a legally binding net zero target, which must be reached by 2050. To start with, and to stay on track, Britain has to halve its emissions by 2030.

While the UK’s efforts are already bearing fruit, as we top the global charts in marine-protected areas and clean drinking water, there are also many other countries paving the way in the field of sustainability. Specifically, according to World Atlas, Denmark, Luxembourg, and Switzerland are currently the world’s environmental leaders. With reduced traffic and air pollution, as well as careful recycling and waste management, they are playing a substantial role in safeguarding our planet.

But it’s not all down to the governments. As businesses, we have a duty of care towards our surroundings too. What can your company do to actively emulate eco-friendly countries? What strategies can you implement to help Britain meet its ambitious targets?

Create a green culture

As a business owner, you should always aim to lead by example. Sharing your ambitions and desire to favour an environmentally conscious workplace can set the tone for your whole team.

In Scandinavia, where sustainability goals are often on top of people’s agendas, companies tend to be very collectivist. This means that managers extend their own green mindset to their business culture and encourage their employees to follow similar eco-friendly practices. These can be simple steps such as switching off lights in unoccupied rooms, cutting down on unnecessary printing, and reducing avoidable food waste.

Therefore, not only is it important to have staff that can perform their jobs to a satisfying standard, it is vital that a team holds the same green ideals as you. Following the example of Japanese multinational Sony, you may want to consider offering your workers some volunteering opportunities too. From protecting the planet to helping disadvantaged people, you will be promoting valuable activities to benefit the environment and vulnerable groups.

Compensate for your emissions

Carbon offsetting is one of the most efficient strategies for companies to minimise their carbon footprint. By compensating for your business’ emissions, you can actively balance out the impact you are having on the planet.

Sometimes, using energy is simply inescapable. Whether it is heating the office, downloading crucial documents, or charging electronic devices, there will be inevitable situations in which you will be releasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Carbon offsetting, in this sense, can help even things out.

In fact, funding green projects elsewhere can reduce the impact of emissions in the workplace. From supporting renewable energy programmes in poorer countries to financing forest preservation, there are numerous ways to make up for your own ‘pollution’. Google parent company Alphabet, for example, has managed to wipe off its lifetime carbon footprint by buying high-quality carbon offsets.

Embrace innovation

Another tool in favour of sustainability is the increasing development of technology. Green countries across the world are relying more and more on technological innovation to tackle climate-change issues. Not only can it give you an edge over competitors, but technology can truly help your business shrink its wasteful and damaging practices.

Innovative software and equipment may be challenging to grasp at first. But it is also fair to say that its advantages outweigh any kind of drawback. To stay in line with companies from leading environmental countries, you should ensure that your own business is introducing technology as a staple of its policy.

Encourage biking schemes

As mentioned, Denmark stands on the podium of the world’s most sustainable countries. Its capital city, Copenhagen, is also one of the planet’s greenest cities. From vending-style machines that reward recycling contributions to electric buses and roads devoted to bicycles, the Little Mermaid’s birthplace is taking all the right steps.

As a business, why not take inspiration from Copenhagen’s promotion of bike routes and schemes? Instead of hopping in your car to drive to work, you could pedal from your home to the office. Public transport or – if you live close enough – a morning stroll are excellent options too. Again, as an owner or manager, you can act as a model and encourage your employees to cycle or walk as well.

By doing so, you will be actively reducing the number of cars on the street, decreasing road congestion, pollution, and both you and your staff’s carbon footprint.

As countries across the globe, including the UK, strive to nullify their carbon emissions in the coming decades, businesses can have their say in sustainability efforts too. Taking a leaf out of green nations’ books, ultimately, can aid your surroundings and limit your company’s impact on the environment.

How Brexit Has Impacted the Public Sector

31st January 2020 ‒ when the UK officially left the EU, though the transition period did not end until 31 December of that year ‒ seems like a lifetime ago. Since then, Britain has negotiated the COVID-19 pandemic, numerous lockdowns, company closures, tax increases – need we go on?

For businesses, this period of just over two years has, undoubtedly, been one of the toughest in modern history, largely due to uncertainty caused by all these events. That said, when we cast our minds back to that January, and the four years which preceded it, from the summer day in 2016 when the UK announced that it would exit the EU, uncertainty was very much the overriding theme of those years too.

For many of us, the EU was all we had known. The UK joined the European Union almost 50 years ago, becoming an official member state on 1st January 1973.

With this in mind, it should come as no surprise that a large percentage of the population would see departure from the EU as daunting, if not terrifying. For individual citizens, yes, for businesses, of course, but there was another corner of the nation which didn’t receive that much attention, in terms of how much Brexit would impact them ‒ the public sector.

Obviously, now that our departure from the EU is more than two years old, we’re in a better position to analyse the effects felt by public sector organisations and, similarly, public procurement. In this article, we take a look at the public sector bodies that have been hit hardest by Brexit.

A background

A study carried out in March 2018 by Dr. Gordon Marnoch, Reader in Public Policy at the University of Ulster, detailed how Brexit would impact public services in a number of different ways. Of course, there would be the resourcing effects associated with the economic consequences of Brexit. There would be a breakdown of longstanding institutional and legal links between the UK and the EU. And, similarly, there would be the issues associated with the employment of EU 27 citizens.

While it’s safe to say that almost every public sector body in the United Kingdom has been impacted by Brexit in some way, some have certainly witnessed more upheaval than others.

Healthcare

Did you know that in March 2018 5.5 per cent of all NHS staff were from the EU? In adult social care, meanwhile, 16 per cent of the workforce is non-British with 7 per cent coming from EEA countries.

Since Brexit was announced in June 2016, the number of workers arriving from EEA countries has been gradually declining, mainly due to concerns over job security and future prospects. This is a worrying figure when considered alongside the fact that in March 2018, 6 per cent of jobs within the NHS actually remained vacant.

That said, however, in order to limit the impacts felt by the healthcare sector in the aftermath of Brexit, the UK government introduced a points-based system that operates for “the majority of health care workers”. The system is a fast-track visa which exempts health care workers from the EEA immigration rules.

The government introduced these additional regulations for two main reasons:

  • The NHS wouldn’t be able to function without the international workforce
  • The government recognises that international recruitment is key to increasing NHS staff headcount – it has committed to recruiting an additional 12,000 nurses from overseas by 2024/25.

The issues, however, aren’t solved entirely by the relaxation of visa requirements – mainly thanks to the fact the rules do not cover social care, leaving a particularly large void in terms of staffing in this area. According to the Social Policy Blog, “the social care workforce gap produced by Brexit has been estimated to range from 350,000 people in the most favourable scenario, to 1.1 million people in the worst-case scenario by 2037.”

Furthermore, the new points-based immigration system introduced back in January 2021 means that new migrants have to prove skills in the English language alongside having a job offer lined up in a skilled profession with a minimum salary of £25,600. Despite the salary threshold dropping to £20,480 for ‘jobs in the shortage occupation list’, care workers are not considered a shortage occupation and with an average annual salary of £19,000, fall considerably short of the £25,600 that would ensure that overseas workers would qualify to work in the UK.

Jonathon Holmes, Policy Adviser at the Kings Fund, wrote: “The advice given by the Migration Advisory Committee and accepted by Government, is that workforce shortages in social care are driven by market forces, such as rates of pay, and would not be resolved by increased international recruitment.”

Within the healthcare sector, it has been quite difficult to determine the true impact of Brexit and whether or not it has been severe as initially expected, mainly thanks to the fact “the restrictions of movement necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic have halted and undermined efforts to increase international recruitment to the NHS.”

Defra

Trade tariffs and regulatory reforms were two aspects of Brexit which were considered to be particularly problematic due to the fact that most government departments had relied heavily on processes that for years have been defined and managed by the EU. HMRC, the Home Office, and Defra were all detailed as organisations which would feel the impacts.

The impact is also being felt heavily by the civil servants who’ve worked implementing EU procedures as part of their role for the vast majority of their professional government careers and quite literally know no different.

2.5 million commercial vehicles pass through the port at Dover each year. Every single one of these vehicles must log its complete inventory with Defra, a procedure that was previously managed on a EU established platform.

French officials warned that a delay of just two minutes at the French border could lead to tailbacks at ports on either side of the Channel, causing major disruption.

Defra, despite being one of the smallest government departments, has been tasked with one of the most almightily large Brexit checklists. The numbers certainly make for interesting reading:

  • 12,000 EU laws relate to Defra
  • The EU affected 80% of tasks carried out by Defra
  • 60% of food and drink produced in the UK is exported to Europe
  • 90% of British beef and lamb is exported alongside 70% of pork

While it may have been hard to determine whether or not the healthcare sector has been hard-hit by Brexit, the impact of Brexit on areas of life associated with Defra is certainly a lot more obvious – and has raised numerous eyebrows in recent times. Reported 20-mile lorry queues into Dover obviously got people talking about the frictionless nature of Britain’s exit from the EU.

While the Port of Dover suggested that the queues were “intermittent” and regularly occur due to the nature of the roads leading up to the port, there is no denying that problems arise more regularly. Highways England reported that in January 2022 alone, Dover’s Traffic Management System – Operational Travel Access Protocol – was used 18 times compared to three times in January 2019 and seven times in January 2020.

In January 2020, paperwork required for taking goods to the EU could be completed within a 60-day period of export, whereas now this must be completed by the time the lorry boards the ferry. Checks, on average, according to the Port of Dover take around five to six minutes per vehicle though hauliers have reported that some take up to fifteen minutes – worrying numbers when you consider the aforementioned comment by French officials. While the delays can be put down to new operating systems and inevitable teething problems, the fact that four new major sets of checks and requirements are set to be introduced on the 1st July, 1st September, and 1st November this year begs the question whether the journey beyond Brexit will continue to be a rather bumpy one!

Here, we’ve only taken a look at two areas of the public sector but, as we’ve previously noted, the entirety of the public sector will be feeling the effects of Brexit in one way or another.

Written for EU Business News

The Return of UK Music Festivals: The Positive Economic Impact on Local Economies

Music festivals help mark the beginning of spring and summer. They allow us to retreat from society, entering a world teeming with melodies and (hopefully) sunshine. In other words, whether you’re searching for a family retreat or a weekend away with friends, music festivals are escapism at its finest.

These events are also highly beneficial for the economy. In 2019, music festivals in the UK amassed a staggering £1.76 billion in Gross Value Added (GVA) to the economy. Unfortunately, many festivals throughout the nation were cancelled due to COVID-19 in 2020. Now, as we enter the warmer months of 2022, we hope to see a continuation of the contributions in 2021.

Money made within festivals can have a positive impact on local economies, whether this is from through sales of food and drinks from local vendors, donations made in wellness tents and employment of people from the local community.

Together, with the help of Peter Campbell of Snowshock, a UK fizzy slush machines business, we explore the economic contribution of four UK music festivals.

Highest Point Festival (Lancaster, England)

Highest Point Festival – a music festival tucked away in the heart of Lancaster – is a relatively new festival. The first event took place in 2018 and featured some notable artists, such as the Manchester Camerata Orchestra and Peter Hook from New Order.

Fast forward to 2021, and Highest Point is estimated to have hosted 35,000 guests, welcoming performances from Clean Bandit and Rudimental. The festival contributed an estimated £4.68 million to the Lancashire economy. This amounts to £4.26 return of investment for every £1 spent.

Behind the scenes, Highest Point provided jobs to 280 people. This included local workers from in and around Lancaster. We’re excited to see what September 2022 has in store for Lancashire’s largest open-air festival. Will you be buying a ticket?

Victorious Festival (Portsmouth, England)

On the other end of the country, Victorious Festival continues to thrive. In 2012, the first event attracted 35,000 people, with headliners such as the Lightning Seeds and Mark Morris. The number of attendees then jumped to 100,000 in the next year alone.

Victorious Festival 2021 welcomed 161,612 attendees, and excited crowds gathered to see performances by international headliners Royal Blood. The festival had an economic impact of £15,525,675, a 25% increase in contributions since 2019.

We can only imagine the impact of Victorious Festival 2022, a decade after the music destination began. Indeed, this is an encouraging sign for up-and-coming festivals around the nation, such as Highest Point.

TRNSMT (Glasgow, Scotland)

In 2021, Scotland enforced tougher restrictions than England. This led to the cancellations of multiple music festivals. TRNSMT, however, was given the green light to go ahead. The festival allowed up to 50,000 guests each day, providing a negative lateral flow test was provided.

TRNSMT 2021, which welcomed trailblazing headliners Paulo Nutini and Sam Fender, was predicted to contribute £20 million to the Scottish economy. This will have provided countless jobs to locals in Glasgow. Do you think we will see the return of Scottish festivals in 2022?

Green Man (Brecon Beacons, Wales)

Green Man, a music festival like no other, is nestled in between soaring valleys in the Brecon Beacons. Can you think of anything more beautiful? The line-up in 2021 was nothing short of exciting, with performances by Caribou and Kokoroko on the Mountain Stage.

The economic impact of Green Man is impressive. It provided the Welsh economy with £15 million. In addition to this, the return on investment is also impressive. For every £10 spent towards the festival, £17 is funnelled back into the economy.

Indeed, plans for Green Man 2022 seem to be just as promising. The previous event employed 5,000 people, and this will no doubt continue to benefit the Welsh community this summer.

The economic impact of UK music festivals cannot be denied. Their value, however, goes beyond financial gain. They provide respite for music lovers across the nation, whether the sun deigns to shine or not. We can’t wait for the music season to begin this spring and summer. Will you be attending any of these festivals?

EU Business News Announce the Winners of the 2022 Irish Enterprise Awards

United Kingdom, 2022 – EU Business News Magazine has announced the winners of the 2022 Irish Enterprise Awards.

Now in its fifth year of showcasing commendable Irish business, this awards programme has continued to highlight and recognise those that are thriving across the entirety of Ireland.

With COVID-19 overshadowing much of our world, we can see a light at the end of the tunnel – especially with regards to the corporate world. Many businesses have taken everything in their stride and many have established themselves during such a difficult time. These Irish enterprises and businesses have stood their ground and created great outcomes for themselves alongside desirable outcomes for all clients. From small stages to large steps, these achievements have not gone unnoticed. Especially during these uncertain times, every success deserves recognition and the 2022 Irish Enterprise Awards is proud to present these triumphant businesses, their values, and their accomplishments.

Talking of the winners recognised as part of this programme, Awards Coordinator Katherine Benton commented: “A huge congratulations to all the winners of the Irish Enterprise Awards. We are extremely happy and delighted to display the finest from across the entirety of Ireland. Have a fantastic rest of 2022 ahead.”

To learn more about our award winners and to gain insight into the working practices of the “finest”, please visit EU Business News at https://www.eubusinessnews.com/awards/irish-enterprise-awards/, where you can access the winners supplement.

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS

About EU Business News

The EU is a vital and exciting region filled with businesses and individuals creating unique innovations, supporting their customers around the world and, ultimately, driving change. As such, EU Business News (https://www.eubusinessnews.com/) aims to provide an absorbing overview of this exciting region and the businesses and individuals operating within it.

Much more than just a magazine, our online publication EU Business News also boasts an informative newsletter, a regularly updated website and a series of awards programmes showcasing the excellence of businesses and the individuals behind them from across this vibrant region.

About AI Global Media

Since 2010 AI Global Media (https://www.aiglobalmedialtd.com/) has been committed to creating engaging B2B content that informs our readers and allows them to market their business to a global audience. We create content for and about firms across a range of industries.

Today, we have 12 unique brands, each of which serves a specific industry or region. Each brand covers the latest news in its sector and publishes a digital magazine and newsletter which is read by a global audience. Our flagship brand, Acquisition International, distributes a monthly digital magazine to a global circulation of 108,000, who are treated to a range of features and news pieces on the latest developments in the global corporate market.

5 Signs Your Team isn’t Communicating Effectively and How to Fix it

With more companies than ever before taking the remote working route, it’s increasingly important that teams are able to properly communicate with each other. Without effective communication, businesses are likely to face a lot of unnecessary challenges.

Keep reading for five signs your team isn’t communicating effectively, and what you can do to remedy it.

1. A lack of communication

The first sign that your team isn’t communicating effectively is that there’s little or no communication, to begin with. Whether your team is working remotely or in person, strong communication is vital amongst team members.

Setting up a communication platform, such as a Microsoft Teams phone system, to allow teams to contact each other with ease will help to keep your team up to date with things going on in the office, and encourage them to effectively communicate with each other.

2. Too much communication

You know the saying, ‘you can never have too much of a good thing’? Well, that’s not strictly true in this case. Just like a lack of communication isn’t good for your team, neither is too much. If one individual continually overwhelms the team with messages or emails, it’s fairly obvious that there’d been ineffective communication somewhere along the line.

The first step in fixing this issue is to work out the root of it. Does this person need more information and clarification, or are they just looking to make more contact with the team members? Once you’ve worked out what the issue is exactly, you can then try to solve it.

3. Late work or missed deadlines

If your team repeatedly doesn’t meet its targets it’s likely that there has been some miscommunication amongst members of the team.

One way you can help the team to communicate more effectively is to reward them for their completion of small tasks which will motivate them to continue collaborating on the work and complete it on time.

4. Too many meetings

Often, people think that constant meetings give the illusion of teamwork and productivity. But, in reality, this isn’t always the case. If your team schedules multiple meetings a week, and nothing seems to be achieved in these meetings, it’s clear that your team isn’t working together to achieve a common goal.

Encourage your team to send emails instead of arranging meetings where possible, because, let’s face it, some meetings can become a huge waste of time.

5. There’s a lack of structure

If there is no structure during the workday or during meetings, it could be because your team isn’t communicating effectively. In order to ensure productivity, your team needs to be organized and follow some kind of structure to keep them on track.

To help your team all be on the same page, send out an agenda or an organizational structure at the beginning of the day or week to help your team to feel more prepared.

So, there you have it. Five signs your team isn’t communicating effectively and what you can do to fix it. Hopefully, you’re now able to recognize the signs of ineffective communication and know how you can help get the team back together.

What European Businesses Can Do to Combat Inflation

Inflation in Europe is at its highest level in 13 years. According to the European Central Bank (ECB), inflation in February was 5.1%. The ECB’s worst-case scenario suggests that inflation could hit 7.1% by the end of the year, as the region struggles with the consequences of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Although there have been hopes that inflation would taper down in the second half of the year, the ECP’s worst-case scenario suggests that this may not be the case. Responding to the challenge of inflation will be critical for the survival and success of businesses this year and in the years ahead.

Why is Inflation Such a Problem?

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has made it clear that it will not intervene militarily in the conflict in Ukraine. Instead, the Western allies have committed to a series of sanctions on Russia. The sanctions are not without downsides, especially for Europe. Russia is a significant energy partner. Germany is particularly reliant on Russia, importing 55% of its gas from Russia in 2021. The region’s energy dependence on Russia means that sanctions will hurt Europeans even as they hurt Russia. The consequence is higher energy prices. The region has tried to diversify away from Russia, but there are no easy or quick fixes.

 

What’s the Worst That Could Happen?

According to the ECB’s worst-case scenario, the Western allies will impose tighter sanctions on Russia, which will disrupt global value chains, push energy prices higher thanks to supplying reductions, cause a sharp repricing of financial markets and lead to other second-order effects.

The ECB believes that growth would fall to 2.3%, compared to 3.7% in the ECB’s base case in which inflation for the year would be 5.1%. However, the ECB believes that the brunt of the effects of the conflict will occur in 2022 and that the conflict will come to some kind of resolution. However, there are possible adverse scenarios that would arise.

 

What Businesses Are Vulnerable During Inflation?

In every economic scenario, there are winners and losers. Inflation is much more pronounced for businesses that carry a lot of inventories and supplies. Broadly, autos, financial services firms, retail, and manufacturing firms are the most likely to suffer the harshest effects of inflation. This is because the value of inventories falls during periods of inflation, and for financial services firms, loans, and other investments lose value.

 

What Businesses Do Well During Inflation?

According to Warren Buffett, the businesses that do best during periods of inflation are those that do not require significant capital expenditure.

Other industries that do well are energy, healthcare, utilities, real estate, and essential consumer goods.

What Can Businesses Do to Protect Themselves During Inflation?

The guiding principle during inflation is to reduce your costs and make your supply chains more robust.

Analyze your profit margins to see what segments are performing well and which are not. Focus on cost reduction and think about killing lines that are declining.

Broadly, you want to reduce your overheads and key expenses. Your business needs to be lighter. At Creative Cabinets, there is a focus on doing more with less. Efficiency is everything. This is the era of the lean business.

If your business does not rely on in-person meetings to create valuable synergies, you should consider, if you have not already done so, becoming a fully or largely remote business, to save on costs. Alternatively, your business can relocate to a cheaper location.

Find cheaper suppliers. Costs will go up, you need to assume that they will go up for at least 2 years and that means getting your supply down to the cheapest possible price. This is especially important if you carry a lot of inventory.

Finally, assess your supply chain to see if there are any vulnerabilities and to find ways to make it more robust. Expect supply chain disruption so you can prepare for it.

The European Healthcare Sector Is Rich in Job Opportunities

The global health crisis has exposed the imbalances and shortages that the European healthcare sector faces. As we build a post-pandemic world, Europe needs more medical professionals than at any time in its history. It needs medical professionals who will be doctors and nurses, and researchers and medical consultants. This problem is not unique to Europe. The whole world is in serious shortage of medical professionals. The biggest driver of demand is the aging population in Europe and the advanced economies.

How Many Jobs WIll Be Created?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there will be 40 million health sector jobs created by 2030!

Are Those Enough Jobs?

WHO’s report shows that even with a 40 million increase in the number of health sector jobs by 2030, there will still be a shortage of 18 million jobs.

In Europe, WHO expects shortages to persist despite the number of doctors and nurses rising by around 10% in the last decade.

Where is Demand Greatest? 

There are large disparities in the supply of doctors and nurses between countries within Europe. Some countries have 5 times more doctors than others. 

Most doctors in Europe are specialists. Over the last decade, the ratio of specialists to general practitioners (GP) has been 1 to 3.2. Primary health care needs to be bolstered by increasing the number of GPs.

The average age of doctors is increasing, with a third of doctors over 55 years of age, a 6%

Rise in the last 7 years. The continent needs more medical graduates.

In a continent with an aging population, nurses play a vital role in geriatric care. Nevertheless, there are countries with 9 times fewer nurses than others.

The ratio of nurses to doctors varies greatly in Europe, because there are no guidelines for optimizing the healthcare work force’s composition. In Georgia and Greece, for instance, there is a nurse for every doctor, but in Finland and Ireland, there are 4 to 5 nurses for every doctor.

Although the continent has 7.3 million nurses and midwives, this falls short of what the continent needs.

Oral care, due to its link to overall health, and its importance as a standalone category, has driven greater demand for the best dentists. Demand for dentists over the last two years has led to some dental practices being booked months in advance and many people going without oral care.

Why is Demand High?

The rate at which the population is aging is faster than the growth in the number of medical professionals. In the WHO European region, it takes 12 years of education to enter an educational program to become a nurse or midwife. However, the number of nurses who have the academic background to take on advanced practice roles has not grown as fast as demand. This is likely to be the case over the next decade. Furthermore, requirements are not standardized, limiting mobility: in Italy, it takes just three years of university education to become a nurse, whereas in Germany, it requires three years of vocational training and thereafter, three years of a bachelor’s degree.

Another reason for the shortage is that medical professionals choose to migrate from poorer countries within the European Union to wealthier ones, in search of better wages. For example, a young doctor in Finland, which has a shortage of doctors, can make €2,000 to €3,000 per month, which is four to five times what that doctor could make in Estonia. The result is that poorer countries are experiencing greater shortages. Richer countries still face shortages because the rise in the number of doctors cannot match the rate at which the continent is aging.

Your Guide to Charging Your E-Bike on The Go

Electric bikes are becoming more and more popular in the UK, and people are eager to learn the ins and outs of operating one. It’s ideal for a family ride in the park, a pleasant commute to work, or a journey off the beaten track.

But one problem that cyclists often face with e-bikes is charging them. Not having enough ‘juice’ to continue the journey is a pain, so you need to prepare in advance.

Here is how to charge your electric bike on the go and make the most of your waiting time.

What’s the average time it takes to charge an e-bike?

Electric bike batteries are not the typical AA batteries that can easily be replaced. Rather, electric bikes use lithium-ion batteries, which have a huge capacity and are very efficient in terms of power consumption, operating through a combination of battery power and manual pedalling.

Generally, it takes about six hours to fully charge an e-bike battery. Nevertheless, this may vary depending on several factors, including the size of the battery, how much charge it has, the recharge rate of the battery, and the age of the battery pack.

To optimise your battery life, make sure you take good care of it. The battery is the most important part of your e-bike and isn’t cheap to replace. Don’t overcharge it, charge it regularly from bottom to top, and store it in warmer conditions.

In terms of the cost, charging an electric bike is extremely cheap. For example, a 10-amp battery in an area where electricity costs £0.09 per Kilowatt-hour will cost about £0.0015 per mile.

Ways to charge an e-bike

The last thing you want to happen to you on the road is to be left without ‘juice’. This can completely ruin your day, whether you’re commuting to work or enjoying a pre-planned bike touring journey. Luckily, there are a number of ways you can charge your electric bike while on the road.

The easiest and most common way to charge an e-bike is by bringing along a charger and plugging it into a standard wall outlet at a permitted spot. Cafes, restaurants, bike shops, libraries, and picnic pavilions in parks are all ideal for that. It’s best to plan one or more stops in advance before you set off.

Alternatively, you can charge your e-bike at purposefully built e-bike charging stations, through solar-panel charging, or by using a car.

The best cycling cafes in the UK to charge e-bikes

Whether you’re out and about in the city or are enjoying a peaceful bike ride in a beautiful park featuring woodland trails with stunning views, planning a stop to charge your e-bike is a must. While doing so, you don’t want the waiting time to feel like a waste. Hence, it’s best to choose a nice café where you can enjoy an indulgent brew in the meantime.

Cycling UK has ranked the best cycling cafes in the UK in their 2020 Cyclist Café of the Year awards. The ranking includes places where you can charge your e-bike but also feel part of the biking community, so definitely consider adding these stops to your map.

The headliner for England is Look Mum No Hands!, in London, which is one of the UK’s first cycling cafés. In Northern Ireland, visit Picnic Delicatessen in Killyleagh, where warm and delicious food welcomes you after riding for miles. Velocity Café and Bicycle Shop is Scotland’s pride, located in Inverness, and has been a winner for the second time due to its welcoming cycling hub and amazing food. In Wales, plan2ride Bicycle Café is the perfect stop in Tongwynlais, Cardiff, along the scenic off-road route, where you can charge your e-bike in the company of delicious cakes and also take a hot shower to wash off the mud while waiting.

One café has won a lifetime achievement – Capheaton Tea Room in Capheaton Village, Northumberland. The family-run café has been operating for over 25 years and has turned into a beloved community for cyclists.

Ellie Patterson, tea room manager, commented: “We first opened as a way to raise funds to maintain our village hall and for many years our tea room was a perfect stop to replenish while on a ride, but now we are very proud to have become a “destination” with a thriving community of cyclists covering all abilities. No matter what, we try to be open, ready to serve any cyclist who has battled the hills and Northumbrian weather!”

Now that you know about all the different ways to charge your electric bike while on the go, you can carefully plan your route and stops to have an awesome day on your bike!

EU Business News Announces the Winners of the 2022 German CEO Excellence Awards

United Kingdom, 2022 – EU Business News Magazine have announced the winners of the 2022 German CEO Excellence Awards.

EU Business News has introduced the German CEO Excellence Awards in order to award and celebrate those corporate leaders who have led their corporations and businesses to new heights of success and growth. The last two years have been difficult to navigate large businesses through and that has therefore changed the way leaders prioritise for their businesses.

The aim of the German CEO Excellence Awards programme is to recognise the determination and perseverance of the Chief Executive Officers that operate throughout Germany across a wide range of industries. The awards programme is designed to acknowledge those who have made a significant amount of progress within their industry.

In its debut year, this year, this programme has seen an overwhelming response and our Awards Coordinator, Victoria Cotton has commented on this: “The response to this programme has been incredible and I would like to offer my heartiest congratulations to all of the hardworking winners. All of the winners are well-deserving recipients of this award, and I would like to wish them the best of luck for their future endeavours!” 

EU Business News prides itself on the validity of its awards and winners. As such, very one of our winners can be certain that their success is deserved. We carefully evaluate everything from a business’s, or individual’s, performance over the past 12-months to ensure that only the most deserving parties walk away with one of our prestigious awards.

To learn more about our award winners and to gain insight into the working practices of the “best of the best”, please visit the EU Business News website (https://www.eubusinessnews.com/awards/german-ceo-excellence-awards/) where you can access the winners supplement.

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS

About EU Business News

The EU is a vital and exciting region filled with businesses and individuals creating unique innovations, supporting their customers around the world and, ultimately, driving change. As such, EU Business News (https://www.eubusinessnews.com/) aims to provide an absorbing overview of this exciting region and the businesses and individuals operating within it.

Much more than just a magazine, alongside our online publication EU Business News also boasts an informative newsletter, a regularly updated website and a series of awards programmes showcasing the excellence of businesses and the individuals behind them from across this vibrant region.

As subscription to EU Business News is free there is absolutely no reason not to sign up to receive this informative and fascinating resource.

About AI Global Media

Since 2010 AI Global Media (https://www.aiglobalmedialtd.com/) has been committed to creating engaging B2B content that informs our readers and allows them to market their business to a global audience. We create content for and about firms across a range of industries.

Today, we have 12 unique brands, each of which serves a specific industry or region. Each brand covers the latest news in its sector and publishes a digital magazine and newsletter which is read by a global audience. Our flagship brand, Acquisition International, distributes a monthly digital magazine to a global circulation of 108,000, who are treated to a range of features and news pieces on the latest developments in the global corporate market.

Alongside this, we have a luxury-lifestyle magazine, LUXlife, which appeals to a range of high-net-worth individuals, offering them insight into the latest products, experiences, and innovations to ensure they can live the high-life to its fullest.

Watch Out for These Scams Ahead of Council Tax Rebate Rollout Next Month

Millions of households across the UK are set to benefit from a £150 council tax rebate in the government’s bid to help struggling families with the cost of living crisis.

The rebate is being paid to all households in England that fall into council tax bands A – D, with similar schemes also being offered in Scotland and Wales.

Those who pay their council tax via direct debit will receive the rebate automatically sometime in April, but those who don’t will need to wait for their council to contact them and then apply for the rebate. Exact details for this have not yet been issued.

In this article, personal finance expert, Holly Andrews, Managing Director at KIS Finance, outlines what scams we are expecting to see ahead of the council tax rebate roll-out next month.

Why are we expecting to see scams relating to the council tax rebate?

Scammers are notorious for taking advantage of any scheme, company, or organisation that affects a large number of people. This is because the more people that will genuinely be impacted by something, the more people they have to target.

This council tax rebate scheme will affect millions of households across the country, so for scammers, this is an absolutely ideal situation for them to take advantage of.

Tax rebates are already one the most widely used scam tactics, so we have every reason to believe that scammers will soon be ready to roll out their new wave of scams in time for April.

How are scammers likely to target people?

Based on what we have seen in the past, scammers are mostly like to make contact with people via:

  • Email
  • Texts
  • Phone calls

In this situation, they may also send letters out to households in an attempt to appear more legitimate.

What to look out for

Based on the most commonly used scam tactics that we have seen, these approaches are what we are expecting to see over the next couple of weeks.

Asking you to apply online

Anyone who meets the criteria for the rebate and pays their council tax via direct debit will receive the money automatically – you do not need to do anything.
However, as the cost of living shows no signs of easing, many will be eager to get the money so may be swayed into thinking they can get the payment faster if they apply for it – scammers will take full advantage of this.

It’s likely that we’ll see fake websites start to pop up which have been designed to look like an application process on a genuine government website.

However, these websites will have actually been created and designed to capture the information that you enter. They will ask for your personal information and bank details so they can ‘make the payment’ but this is a ploy to steal your details and money.

According to the Department for Communities and Levelling Up, those who are not paying by direct debit will be contacted by their council and invited to make a claim. Exact details on this have not yet been confirmed.

Asking for you to make a small payment first

In some cases, scammers may pose as your council and claim that you need to make a small payment to them so they can authorise your bank details before the rebate is paid. They will most likely claim that you will receive a refund of the payment you made with the council tax rebate.

But again, this will be another ploy to steal money from you and to get your bank details so they can steal even more at a later date.

In advance payment scams, which sometimes applies to loan applications, you may be asked for the payment to be made in vouchers or gift cards. This is a tell-tale sign that you’re dealing with a scammer.

Asking you to set up a repayment method

The council tax rebate is a one-off payment that does not need to be repaid, however, scammers will likely try to take advantage of those who don’t fully understand how the rebate will work.

Scammers may try to convince homeowners that the rebate is a lump sum that then needs to be repaid in small, manageable, monthly repayments.

They will either use this tactic to simply get your bank details and disappear, or they may ask you to set up a standing order and pay the money back over the course of a year or so.

Households outside of qualifying tax bands

Some households that don’t fall into the qualifying tax bands have been receiving letters that say you may be able to claim the £150 rebate if you can prove that you’re struggling to pay your utility bills.

The letter states that you need to complete an online application form and upload some additional information so they can determine whether you are eligible for the rebate.

They will ask for you most recent bank statement, a utility bill dated no later than January 2022 showing the level of your arrears, and your council tax bill for 2022/23.

While this is an entirely genuine application process for households outside of council tax bands A – D, scammers who get hold of this information may start to copy these letters in order to obtain people’s personal details.

 

Important takeaways

  1. The £150 council tax rebate is only for households in council tax bands A – D, unless you can prove to your council that you are struggling with your utility bills and are in a certain level of arrears. If you receive an email, text, or phone call that says you’re eligible for the rebate but your property is outside of these bands, then this is likely to be a scam. You can find your council tax band by going to www.gov.uk/council-tax-bands and simply entering your postcode.
  2. If you pay via direct debit, the payment will be made automatically in April. You do not need to do anything and you will not be able to get the payment faster by applying online. Do not respond to emails or letters that claim you can get the payment faster if you know that you are already eligible for the rebate.
  3. You will not be expected to make a payment to your council to confirm your bank details before receiving the rebate. If you pay by direct debit then your council already has your bank details.
  4. The government have confirmed that this one-off payment DOES NOT have to be paid back. Do not respond to requests for you to pay it back in monthly instalments.
  5. Know who your local authority is – this can be found on the same council tax bands section of the gov.uk website. Contact from anyone other than your local authority on the subject of a rebate should be ignored.
  6. If someone claims to be the government and is contacting you about your rebate, then this is a scam. The rebate will come from your local council, not from the government directly.

Home Sweet Home: 5 Innovative Ways to Combat the Housing Crisis

There is no hiding that many people dream about owning a home one day. Buying a place in which to settle down and make precious memories is arguably a significant milestone in one’s life. Alternatively, you may already have your own house but would like to upgrade your abode as you start a family. Whatever your plans are, you may have noticed that securing a property has become rather challenging.

Indeed, with the ongoing housing crisis, potential homebuyers are struggling to find somewhere to live. There are too few houses under construction to meet demand and there is a lack of affordable housing available across the country. As such, buyers are left with very few options.

Conscious of the shortage of family homes in every city, developers are seeking innovative methods to tackle Britain’s housing crisis. With that in mind, this article lists five different approaches that could help remedy the current housing situation.

Compact homes

The housing crisis is a big issue, but it could have a ‘small’ solution. In fact, developers are proposing an increasing number of compact flats to suit would-be homeowners.

Cheaper than most properties on the market, these factory-built apartments are designed for compact living. They generally feature an open plan kitchen-living room, alongside a separate bathroom and bedroom. These homes have everything a traditional house requires, but with all the rooms slotted into a neat, contained space.

Not only that, but they tend to be of better quality as they are constructed in factory-controlled conditions. What is more, they are built completely finished and ‘ready to go’. This way, you will not cause a nuisance to your neighbours with expensive refurbishing work.

Commuter villages

Modular commuter villages are an excellent way to combat and mitigate the housing crisis inside Britain’s big cities. Indeed, they allow homebuyers to remain close to the city centre, while paying a lower price tag and staying away from the metropolis’ hustle and bustle.

In this regard, developers plan to build a number of connected eco-friendly villages. These sites favour energy-sharing to benefit both the lodgers and the environment. Keep on the lookout for homes for sale in Lanarkshire or on the outskirts of Edinburgh. Peripheral commuter villages offer a sustainable, affordable, and strategically-positioned option for all different budgets.

Promote and improve renting

We are often fobbed off with the idea that renting equates to spending cash fruitlessly. It can feel as though you are constantly putting money into a home that is not your own. However, with a substantial shortage of available properties, renting may in truth represent a great solution for the current crisis.

In fact, you will always have a roof over your head with the added flexibility of not having to stick with the same house for several years. When the opportunity arises for you to buy the home of your dreams, you will be able to do so without too much hassle.

Furthermore, it also means that you are not even constrained to a single city. If your career suddenly takes you elsewhere, or if you just fancy a change of scenery, you are free to leave your existing nest and fly to the next one.

To promote the benefits of renting, there are plans to provide more security for renters. Renting regulations will be improved to ensure that landlords cannot kick tenants out or push the rent up out of the blue. This will make renting a more appealing option for home searchers.

Affordable retirement housing

Providing pensioners with quality yet affordable accommodation could represent an unexpected solution for combatting the housing crisis.

In fact, with the development of reasonably priced senior housing, there is the possibility to free up a large number of local family homes. This could encourage over-70s to move into a house that better suits their lifestyle. Meanwhile, their under-occupied homes could become the perfect fit for younger families, which typically require more living space.

Up in the sky or on water

By taking advantage of rooftops, there is scope to build upwards rather than outwards. It is fair to say that this could provide potential homebuyers with thousands of new properties. In big cities especially, it is a solution that can also keep the issue of continuous overcrowding at bay.

Planners are also contemplating building neighbourhoods on old docks and stretches of water. By constructing a walkway that connects one house to the other, people will be able to live in a floating village. These alternative locations may aid in effectively tackling the current housing crisis.      

With a national shortage of affordable or available properties, prospective homeowners are having a hard time finding suitable accommodation. As the UK struggles, planners are coming up with new ideas that intend to restrain the unprecedented housing crisis. What do you think – can the proposals listed in this article help alleviate the problem?

How Should a Business Communicate In Times of War

With the war in Ukraine continuing, Lithuanian communications expert provides guidelines for a wartime communications strategy, emphasizing accuracy, empathy, and adaptability as key concepts.

As Russia’s aggressive attack on Ukraine persists, the past week has made it more apparent than ever what profound impact informational warfare has in shaping public opinion on the invasion and pressuring entrepreneurs and companies to act.

Many businesses have made their position clear and temporarily ceased operations in Russia to demonstrate their disapproval of the invasion of Ukraine. As a result, they have had to consider the public’s perception of their position while maintaining efficient work processes — variables that are not usually looked at in times of peace.

Raminta Lilaitė-Sbalbi is a co-founder of the Lithuanian PR agency Blue Oceans PR. The agency operates both locally and internationally with clients from varying industries — including tourism, fintech, lifestyle, healthcare, govtech, to name a few — and has thus accumulated communication experience in many markets.

An expert with over 10 years of experience within the industry, Ms. Lilaitė-Sbalbi says that businesses have to navigate a problematic informational landscape during the invasion.

“The attack on Ukraine is as close to us as ever, not only in terms of location but also because modern technology makes it possible to see and feel the war as if we were at its epicenter. The role of communication is therefore becoming more and more critical, as it has to respond both to the desire to know the truth and to the emotions and feelings that come with that knowledge, which in the case of a war are by no means the easiest,“ she emphasized.

Bearing that in mind, Ms. Lilaitė-Sbalbi offers several key insights for businesses and entrepreneurs regarding wartime communication strategy.

Adaptation. It is time to forget the communication strategies and actions that have been planned so far. Businesses should review them in the light of today’s events and adapt or update them completely.

“These days, the most important thing is to express the company’s position and support by any means possible. Silence in circumstances of war can be perceived as acceptance of the situation, which is why it is essential to react quickly and adapt communication to the ever-changing conditions,” noted Ms. Lilaitė-Sbalbi.

Crisis vs Opportunity. “The pandemic has already taught many people that they can all help in various ways during a crisis, and the current events are no exception. Now is a good time for entrepreneurs to mobilize their creative energy and think about how they can contribute to helping Ukraine through visual and verbal communication,” urged the expert.

Businesses have taken an active role in supporting Ukraine through a number of initiatives. For instance, several Lithuanian creative agencies teamed up to launch a platform that unites illustrators, designers, and photographers worldwide, titled Creatives for Ukraine; AirBnB all around the world has started waving host and guest fees on Ukraine bookings and collaborating with neighboring European countries to provide long-term housing.

Also, online retailer ASOS has started donating clothing and other necessities en masse to those in need —  these are just some of the examples of how every company or organization can find unique and effective solutions within the framework of its work. By effectively communicating their goals, actions, and position on the invasion, businesses can provide better assistance to those in need and provide justification to their clients.

Clarity and Accuracy. The flow of information is overwhelming at the moment, so businesses are recommended to prioritize accuracy and clarity when communicating.

The communications expert explains, “companies should leave no room for interpretation, as much of the communication online is consumed and judged quickly, meaning there is a greater risk of misunderstanding. Therefore, businesses should choose appropriate and precise words and statements that are well thought out.”

Helpful examples of such sensitive but clear and concrete communication can be humanitarian and other aid organizations —  the Lithuanian Red Cross or the various chapters, such as ones in Germany or Austria, of Malteser International.

These organizations avoid the use of very long texts, exclamation marks, and capital letters, therefore filling their communication with positive statements, and addressing and clearly naming emotions and feelings (e.g. “most of us are feeling anxious, sad and uncertain at the moment.”)

Simultaneously, they use the public communication platforms to name the facts, emphasize togetherness, and create a connection with their audiences.

Empathy. Most people are now more sensitive to the information they receive. If a business is the target of negative or angry words in public, it is vital to not take them personally or get involved in conflicts.

“Businesses should keep a calm and respectful tone of communication, recognize that everyone is exposed to complex circumstances, and deal with them in their own way. Public anger and frustration are just one expression of this anxiety, which companies should not exacerbate,” stated Ms. Lilaitė-Sbalbi.

Focus on internal communication. “People are the true heart and soul of any business. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine inevitably affects employees working even in remotest countries, therefore putting a strain on their productivity,  interactions with each other, and clients,” the communications expert noted.

“Therefore, entrepreneurs should pay attention to communication within the company or organization, making it clear that employees can contact a responsible person if they want to talk about what is happening. They should take time for reflection within the team, discuss challenges and address them together,” she continued.

Consistent communication about sales. Just as it is important not to remain indifferent to the current situation, it is also essential to carry on as usual but to do so with consideration and empathy. Now is not the time to actively communicate about deals and sales.

“Yet, talking about a business’s products and services while expressing support for Ukraine is one way to strike the right balance in communication. It is also worth considering donating part of the profits to Ukraine,” advised Ms. Lilaitė-Sbalbi.

How to reach international audiences. According to the expert, to form a strategy with a wide reach, businesses should communicate about the invasion using expert knowledge, experience, and best practices particular to their industry.  By being mindful of which market they are looking to reach, entrepreneurs may find that insights from their locality may fill current gaps in the assistance provided by others.

“It is also important to keep up with the news concerning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as certain developments in the war may present opportunities for your company to provide assistance and support the initiatives of others,” she continued.

On the other hand, businesses can use direct contact with foreign partners to talk about the scale of the tragedy in Ukraine, call for concrete assistance, and share insights from different perspectives. Walless, a legal firm based in the Baltic states, has done so by issuing an appeal to all Russian partners about the actual situation in Ukraine. The firm shares templates for the appeal on its website.

Whatever their size, businesses can make a difference. They might contribute a portion of their income to one of the numerous organizations that support Ukraine, or they could utilize their audience to spread messages condemning Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. It is also crucial to be aware of any information they encounter and double-check it for accuracy before sharing it with the public.

Women Get Things Done: The Rapid Rise of Female Tradespeople

There is no hiding that, until not too long ago, a faulty sink or a toilet that wouldn’t flush would have led to three certain steps: assess the situation, phone a plumber, and welcome an experienced man with wrenches and hydraulic probes.

Hands-on trades have historically been dominated by male workers. However, as the years go by, this once-unsurmountable gender gap is slowly narrowing and softening. With an increasing demand for skilled workers in the industry and an array of attractive advantages, more women than ever before are considering a plunge in the field of manual trades.

Here, we take a look at the rise in popularity of hands-on roles filled by women over the years, delineating both the benefits of physical professions and the future of female tradespeople.  

Changing perceptions

As mentioned, physical and hands-on jobs in the past were often reserved for male workers. But this doesn’t mean that women have never had a say in the industry – it’s just that they would be more unlikely to see them on a construction site or with a spanner in their hand.

Over the centuries, there have been several ladies who have played a notable role in the skilled trades field. Back in 500 BC, in China, Lady Yun innovated the processes of woodworking, helping her husband develop chalk lines and furniture design principles that persist to this very day. In the 1800s, Tabitha Babbitt patented a cutting, circular blade that was the predecessor of today’s electrical saw. Whereas Emily Roebling, in the late 19th century, supervised the construction and completion of the world-famous Brooklyn Bridge.

It is fair to say that, in recent times, we are finally witnessing a rise in the number of women in hands-on professions. In fact, the number of women taking on construction and engineering apprenticeships in the UK has skyrocketed by 366% in the last five years. From 2009 to 2019, the estimated number of women working as builders, plumbers, and electricians jumped from 15,000 to 33,000.  

In line with the increase of tradeswomen in the industry, people’s perception of having a female builder knocking at their door has changed significantly. According to a 2019 poll conducted by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), 38% of London homeowners would feel more positive about hiring a tradeswoman than a male builder. The reasons for this enlightening outcome are numerous. Respondents said they believed that female tradespeople can be more respectful of their home, more trustworthy, more careful to detail, and possibly friendlier, customers are happy to rely on female builders to complete skilful tasks in their house.

That said, builders are not yet the most popular trade jobs for women to have. As of 2021, 33% of females in the British skilled trade industry were painters or decorators, followed closely by plumbers and heating-related fixers (28.38%). Interestingly, when a separate survey asked which trade women would be most interested in learning, the most frequent answer was an electrician.

Appealing benefits of hands-on jobs

Apart from acquiring a new set of useful skills, hands-on roles have a wide range of benefits. With the current skills shortage in the UK, the demand for tradespeople is incredibly high. This is an excellent opportunity for anyone who is in search of a career path to clinch a profession that can guarantee both certainty and a secure income.

One of the beauties of trade roles, which make them particularly appealing to women, is the possibility to have a better work-life balance. In fact, it has been found that 80% of female tradespeople in Britain are their own boss, and employ on average a couple of helpers. This allows women to have more flexibility to juggle their work and family commitments by planning and delegating tasks according to their schedules.

What’s more, tradespeople can enjoy great payslips. There is even a good chance that skilled tradespeople, from electricians to scaffolders, can receive a higher salary than university graduates. Not to mention the opportunity for significant career progression, which is an aspect that will drive and motivate a truly ambitious woman.

The future of tradeswomen

The future seems bright for women hoping to enter the world of hands-on jobs, and female interest in the sector is growing exponentially. Once a predominantly male academic route, engineering courses are now seeing a rise in female students. In fact, 10% of engineering students are now female.

With women’s increasing desire for physical roles and manual jobs, it is no surprise that there has also been a rise in aspiring tradeswomen looking for appropriate vehicles. In fact, for all van quotes last year, one in ten were females. Van leasing, in this respect, could offer budding traders a great opportunity to start their career with the right vehicle and at a reasonable cost.

Jonathan Beadle, Commercial Manager at Van Ninja, says that “it is great to see more and more women dedicating themselves to skilled trades.

“It is an extremely rewarding career,” he adds, “and one that opens the doors to a large range of exciting opportunities.

“Whether you are aiming to become an experienced plumber, electrician, or builder, leasing a van grants you the possibility to pick a small, big, or medium-sized van that will safely store your tools and drive you to your next mission.”

Ultimately, as the demand for trade continues to grow at a fast rate, women are finally embracing the opportunity to have a go at hands-on jobs. As things stand, there is a wide pay gap difference between men and women in the trade industry. With an increasing number of tradeswomen in the sector, the next step is to achieve equal salaries.

How many skilful tradeswomen will be knocking at the door in the near future? We hope as many as possible!

How to improve the Online Visibility of your Business Website

Visibility is a vital aspect of online business success. It can help your potential customers to find your business, subsequently helping you to showcase the products and services that you have to offer. Having a great company website may be enough to set things in motion, but it is important that you take the right steps in order to successfully appear within Google’s organic search results. Without proper input, your site may struggle to gain online visibility, leaving your customers unable to find your business!

In the below article, In Front Digital, who provide SEO services in Birmingham, will discuss the ways in which you can improve the online visibility of your business website, helping you to successfully reach your customer base.

Make the most of your SEO Keywords

Optimising your website’s on-page content to include relevant keywords that you wish to target is a great way to ensure that potential customers are able to find your site, as well as the products and services that you have to offer. Including these high-quality terms in your landing page content will help Google to associate your website with the keywords that you are targeting. This will help to guarantee that when users query the search engines for phrases similar to your keywords in the future, your business website appears within the organic results.

While your keywords alone are not enough to secure ranking on the very first page of the search results, they are a highly important and effective aspect of any successful SEO strategy, so should not be overlooked!

Optimise Meta Titles and Descriptions

Alongside your on-page content, it is important that your website meta tags are properly optimised, allowing you to get the most from the SEO keywords that you are targeting within your campaign. Your meta title and description are often the first that your potential customers will see of your business within the search results, so it’s vital to make a great first impression!

Your meta tags should offer a clear indication as to the products and services that you are able to offer, as well as what users can expect when navigating toward your company website. This will help the search engines to gain a better understanding of your webpage’s purpose, helping to better determine where and how your site is ranked within these results.
Optimising your meta descriptions can also result in a rise in relevant traffic being directed to your site, reducing bounce rates and increasing your chances of visitors completing a purchase.

Form Quality Backlinks

Gaining backlinks to your company website from relevant and highly authoritative sources is a great way to improve your ranking position within the organic search results. By placing quality links back to your website, Google will be able to better categorise your site within the search results, improving your reach and online visibility.
Link building can be a lengthy and time-consuming task, but is a highly cost-effective way to yield great results for your website. If you find yourself struggling to dedicate enough time to your link building campaign, hiring the help of a quality, expert SEO agency with a proven track record of results will provide quality results to improve your business’ online performance and improve its authority.

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The European Union Tries to Wean itself Off From Russian Energy Supplies

The European Union has responded to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by imposing sanctions on Russia, and in the case of the United States and the United Kingdom, announcing an embargo on Russian oil exports, and in the case of the European Union, reducing imports of Russian oil. Oligarchs close to the Kremlin have been placed on sanctions lists and their assets frozen. Russia has been removed from the Swift payment system and the central bank prevented from using its foreign reserves to stabilise the economy. As a piece in EuroNews.green points out, the European Union (EU) has not done enough to move away from Russian oil and gas.

The EU is heavily reliant on Russian oil & gas imports. It gets 45% of its natural gas and 25% of its oil from Russia. Sanctions against Russia have not extended to oil & gas because the EU does not have a viable way to meet its energy demands without Russian imports. 

The EU is reported to be considering a plan to reduce Russian gas imports by 80% within a year. Meanwhile, a global energy group has proposed a plan that would reduce dependence on Russian gas by a third within a year, although this would still leave Russia a significant supplier.

As energy prices skyrocket, balancing the need to combat Russia and deny it revenue is being balanced against the need to not inflict pain on the EU itself by spurring inflation. The United States imports a meagre amount of oil and gas from Russia, much like the United Kingdom. We can afford to sit on our leather recliners made in the USA without fear because the United States has avoided becoming beholden to Russia’s energy sector.

The transition to a green economy just has not happened as quickly as the bloc said it would. Again, money is the issue: governments may have agreed to fund a transition, but they have baulked at actually doing so, and in face of rising inflation, they may not be willing to impose extra costs on their citizens.

The biggest action taken within Europe was the suspension of the certification of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, but this still leaves open the possibility that certification will go ahead. In many ways, this move was largely symbolic: Russia had not earned any revenue from the project and so it will not suffer from the project not going ahead.

With oil touching $140 per barrel, its highest price in 14 years, and a reduction in gas supplies, Europe finds itself at a crossroads. Short-term, the bloc can survive without Russian gas, but in the long-term, the region’s energy security has never been more fragile. The region has to accelerate its shift to renewable energy in order to fight climate change and secure its energy independence.

The EU is unlikely to dramatically reduce its dependence on Russian energy imports within a year. The plan requires a level of coordination and sustained investment that the region has not shown for a long time. The prospect of inflation is likely to distract Europe’s leaders from the important business of fighting climate change and assuring energy independence.