New regulations for international exporters from July 2016

Posted by Joanne Jones

Commodities Director, Warrant Group

  • T: 0151 955 0627
Tue 26th, Jan

In 1914 the first version of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea known as SOLAS, was created. Responding directly to the sinking of the Titanic, it featured regulations for the safety of merchant ships.

Regarded as the most important international treatise of its kind for the shipping sector, new regulations under SOLAS come into force on July 1st 2016 which legally require shippers to accurately submit the verified gross weight of a seaboard container.

With some container weights being incorrectly declared in recent years, the new data is expected to help ships accurately plan weight distribution to avoid overloading and, in worst case scenarios, vessels capsizing or running aground.

There been widespread concern however among exporters, freight forwarders and the logistics sector that the new requirements will cause considerable disruption to supply chains as well as additional costs.

The practicalities of meeting the new regulations can be managed in two ways.

For exporters of general bulk cargoes such as scrap metal and un-bagged grain which already have weighing procedures in place, existing documentation and audit trails should be sufficient to meet the new requirements.

Alternatively, for shippers which have audited procedures in place such as ISO, AEO, MCA or an ERP system, the requirements are a little more complicated and less familiar. The weight of the goods, the weight of the packing material as well as the tare weight of the container will need to be recorded separately and submitted.

Liability for meeting the new regulations will lie with the shipper named on the Bill of Lading documentation which could be the exporter or even the forwarder.

Some sections of the logistics sector have suggested that a five per cent tolerance over the accuracy of the submitted data would be acceptable however if all containers were loaded using the maximum tolerance, it could compromise safety.

Adapting existing working practises and using electronic data transfer would certainly help companies manage the new regulations which may prove not as difficult to implement as first anticipated.

Interested in becoming an International Strategic Partner? Email membership@liverpoolchamber.org.uk for more info.

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Posted by Phil Bird

Managing Director - PC Support Group

Tue 26th, Jan

At The PC Support Group we were pleased to win Network Computing Awards “Service Provider of the Year 2015” title.  Let’s tell you why – but first, let’s explain a little about us. There’s a point to this, so please bear with us…

• We specialise in “corporate quality” IT support to SMB’s throughout the Northwest.

• Our unique structure combines advanced support technology with local, friendly, professional delivery. A flexible, high quality service at an affordable price. Our unwavering focus is to remove our client’s concerns about their computers and anything that communicates with, runs on, or connects to them.

• We monitor and manage all our clients’ computers simultaneously and proactively prevent problems before they occur – saving time and money.

• We don’t patronise our clients, orconfuse them with technical jargon. Our staff understand people and business, not just technology, providing superb support and a level of service that’s the envy of the industry.

• The PC Support Group is a member of the Apple Consultants Network – with qualified engineers providing Apple Mac support/assistance with other Apple devices. The sheer scope, scale and quality of our offer makes us different, and makes us the best.

That’s aLONG marketing message! Too much for Twitter’s meagre word count and our target market wants something they have TIME to read! That’s where awards come in and why it’s been fantastic to win something every year.

“Award-Winning IT Support” encapsulates what we do and that we’re excellent at it.

We’ve won many awardsby passing scrutiny by a judging panel but those won by vote are also useful.  Writing to contacts, telling them we’ve been nominated and requesting their vote is away to remind people who we are and that we’re good enough for a nomination! Word is circulated via social media too!

Awards evenings ensure plenty ‘tweetable’ material– especially winning! The photo of us collecting atrophy that says people believe in our excellence enough to vote in droves!

Then it’s time to write again, thankingcontacts for voting, to put news out via social media, press releases, the chamber. The winner’s logo is fixed on our website, e-mails and literature.

We chose for our Social Media headers a photo of our team holding aloft all the accolades we’ve worked so hard for – from Excellence in Customer Service to being listed in the Top 100 Managed Service Providers in the world.  They say a picture paints a thousand words!

Nothing says you’re superb at what you do as quickly and easily as an award and we’re grateful to everyone who ever nominated, or judged us ‘outstanding’ over the years.

Get YOUR entries in for 2016.

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Posted by Mark Willison

Director at Reddbridge Media Limited

Mon 25th, Jan

Global philanthropist and Microsoft founder Bill Gates joined Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne in Liverpool today, to jointly announce a £3bn drive to rid the World of Malaria, with the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine at the heart of the plan.

The plan will aim to see malaria deaths reduce by 90% by 2030, on a path to malaria free world. The Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine was the World’s first institution dedicated to research and teaching in the field, with a research order book today of over £210 million, making it a natural and essential partner.

Bill and Melinda Gates have ploughed money into the World famous institution before, investing over £30m into its groundbreaking research back in 2010.

The latest initiative will see the UK team up with their foundation in ploughing £3bn into research and ideas to eradicate Malaria, with £140m being invested this year from the foundation.

Highlighting Liverpool’s track record at this morning’s launch, Bill hailed the plan “taking the best of science, which Liverpool is an example of, we can get malaria deaths to zero.”

Founded over 115 years ago, the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine is also set to undergo an expansion via a £25m laboratory development that will enable innovative research into antibiotic resistance, meaning that Liverpool is both now at the heart of global fights against Malaria and the growing threat of antibiotic resistance, cementing the city’s Worldwide reputation for leading science.

Today’s announcement shows Liverpool as a powerful Northern Powerhouse contributor of global significance, where local industry and institutions can make a real and lasting impact.

Read more news from Reddbridge Media

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Posted by Paul Thompson

Owner of Paul Thompson's Consultancy

Wed 13th, Jan

In a world of advanced technology, competitive marketing strategies and customer monitoring, using data effectively has never been more important for business growth.

Whilst the goal of any Data Manager should be to produce good quality information or research data, you don’t need to be an expert to ensure your data is of the highest order.

Read my top tips to help get you well on your way to better data management.

  1. The most important element of data management is to record the receiving of data capture forms and tracking its progress. Spreadsheets are a great way to do this as they are user friendly and have a number of functions.
  2. Ensure all new staff complete system training so that new staff do not make errors when processing data.
  3. Monitor errors and the reason as to why errors are occurring. Make sure the errors are resolved.
  4. Ensure productivity testing is carried out on an annual basis to avoid system inefficiency.
  5. Ensure there is a tested contingency plan in place.
  6. Create a culture of data quality owner ship so that Data Clerks and Data Managers take responsibility for the quality of the data.
  7. Ideally, all data quality audits should be carried out externally and not by the same person to avoid unrepresentative data.

For all your data management solutions, visit Paul Thompson’s Consultancy website at www.ptc-consultancy-itspecialist.co.uk

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Going into 2016 this is a vital question for every business.

Posted by Ben Pinnington

Director at Polaris Media Management Ltd

Fri 08th, Jan

The starting point is that every company brand communicates messaging whether you mean to or not. If your company brand is not reinforced by clear marketing, the messaging you give out can be bland and weak leading the market to not truly understand you.

 Some points to consider:

* How is your company currently known by the market?

* What is the perception of your reputation and quality?

* Is your company perceived to have momentum - is it seen to be growing in popularity?

* Does the market understand all the services you offer?

* Does the market appreciate your unique selling points?

* What forms of marketing reach your target customers and positively raise your brand profile? ie: publicity, e-newsletters, social media, networking, trade fairs, advertising, presentations, client referrals.

 Polaris’ advice:

  • think hard about your unique selling points. Review them, test them and work out which grab people. What genuinely makes you different and gives you a competitive edge. Build your brand by repeating these in marketing consistently.
  • ensure your brand reflects the personality of the business. What matters to you? Quality, customer service, investing in your workforce, caring about your community? Whatever it is make sure your marketing reflects this.
  • use every marketing tool available to promote your brand messaging. You have to tell the marketplace you exist. You have to stand out. Do not fade into the crowd of dull, quiet mediocrity. You are passionate about what you do. So reach out to the market place and communicate that passion. Publicity remains one of the most effective ways of raising your brand to a mass audience.

CASE STUDY: CAMMELL LAIRDAbove pictured: Cammell Laird built the flight decks for the new QUEEEN ELIZABETH CLASS aircraft carriers reflecting its world-class facilities and workforce.

  • Polaris client Cammell Laird is a strong example of a company that knows exactly what its brand is about. Under clear leadership the Cammell Laird of today consistently promotes the standard of its work, its investment in apprentices, its multitude of charity works and the calibre of facilities. Importantly it clearly explains to the marketplace what it does now. This is critical as the company has a mighty history of ship building, dating back the 1830s, which can lead to misconceptions. The fact is Cammell Laird is fundamentally different now to what it was in the past. Today the company is diversifying, it no longer solely builds ships. It still excels in ship repair, refit, conversion and ship building. However, Cammell Laird can also offer its world class workforce, facilities, supply chain and unique geographical position to build modules for the civil nuclear sector as well as support the building and servicing of offshore windfarms.Cammell Laird uses a wide range of marketing to promote its brand including publicity, trade fairs, newsletters, presentations, social media and event sponsorship.

         So what does 2016 hold for your world-class brand?

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Posted by Carl Chapman

Head of Workplace Health - Barnett Waddingham

Thu 07th, Jan

In the fifth week of this blog series, Carl Chapman discusses the six pillars of employee wellbeing - an ethos that derives from the idea that employee performance is linked to six key areas of wellbeing in the workplace. Week five: protection.

What do I mean when I say protection in connection with employee wellbeing? I am not referring to some employer-based mafia-type protection, nor am I referring to being followed around by two heavy set 7ft men in dark suits and sunglasses. In fact, what I am referring to is the protection needs of the employee in relation to their lifestyle and their family, should their circumstances change for the worse.

We are all acutely aware of the need to provide protection for ourselves, we all do it. We take out car insurance to protect ourselves in the event of an accident (and because it's compulsory), we protect our homes with content and building insurance and we even protect our pets (how it costs over £500 to have some gravel removed from a dog's stomach is beyond me). We all have the same need and desire to protect our families and our lifestyle in the event of ill health, death and long-term disability, and on the whole it is our employers that provide that protection for us.

In our wellbeing survey I scored six out of ten for protection, which at face value appears to be a fairly low score. The reasons for this will hopefully become apparent further into this blog.

The difficulty with protection is that every individual employee will have their own protection needs and on the whole employees are provided with blanket protection or - at worse - no protection at all. Most employers will provide their employees with death in service cover, a minority will provide long term disability insurance and some will provide health-related cover such as private medical insurance.

“The difficulty with protection is that every individual employee will have their own protection needs.”

I myself have a family, I have a six month old and my wife has given up work to bring up our son. In the event of my demise I would need to ensure my wife has enough money to survive and bring up our son without financial worry - obviously losing me would be heart-breaking enough without having to worry about paying the bills and putting food on the table. My employer provides me with four times my salary as a standard, and we have the ability to flex that cover up or down to suit our individual needs. Before the birth of my son we had decided to flex that down as we didn’t need the cover, subsequently we have decided to flex that up, albeit restricted by the rules of the scheme (my main reason for scoring lower on protection).

With regard to long-term disability I have cover that provides 65% of my salary in the event of my inability to work in the long term. I personally think that long-term disability cover is the most valuable protection benefit you can have. I think people naively believe that the state will provide when it comes to long-term disability, but in truth the state will provide very little - around £500 per month. That amount isn’t sufficient to pay half of mortgages let alone bills, food, car repayments and so on. Debilitating conditions can happen to any of us and the vast majority of people need extra long-term disability cover should they suffer from such condition. In truth, the majority don’t have it.

I believe that death in service cover and long-term disability cover should be as compulsory as pension provision. We care so much about protecting our future that we neglect to protect the here and now.

Some of you will have picked up on my exclusion of private medical insurance as a protection benefit. In reality, if you have something seriously wrong with you then the NHS will provide. Medical insurance is either at my sceptical worst a ‘nice to have’ or at my embracing best a very good tool to return employees to health quicker - benefiting both employer and employee.

How do we make our employees feel more protected? Firstly, we need to provide them with cover. In my opinion we need to ensure that all of our employees have death in service and long-term disability cover. At the very least we need to provide this as an option for employees to purchase at their own cost. We need to provide flexibility around death in service cover and never for long-term disability (other than increasing cover).

Finally...

...we need to educate. I think that we forget that the Average Joe on the street doesn’t have a clue what long-term disability insurance does, they have no idea how much the state will provide them as cover, and at worst most have no idea what protection their employer has in place on their behalf.

My advice therefore is simple: provide cover, or at the very least choice of cover at the employees' cost, provide flexibility where appropriate and tell your employees what the reality is and help them select the right cover for them. If we don’t do this I am afraid that the list of horrendous stories of people in extreme poverty following the death of a loved one or the inability to work following illness will continue to grow.

To read the rest of blogs in this series or for more information regarding employee wellbeing

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Posted by Laura Nicholson

Social Media Executive at IBMS

  • T: 0151 720 1723
Tue 05th, Jan

Social Media is definitely set to take over and many would argue it already has. Everyone, old and young, has an idea of what it is, if not how it’s used. Everything can be done via social media, from selling your house, ordering your dinner, to finding a job (not forgetting to mention knowing what a person looks like, how old they are, where they were born and where they went on holiday in summer 2011 before you have even met them). Therefore, we have recognised an ever-growing importance for the use of Social Media for business within our company.

As a recruitment agency, IBMS are constantly on the lookout for new and exciting talents, as well as potential clients with whom to form strong partnerships, and what better way to find it than social media?

We challenge you today to name someone, anyone, that isn’t making some sort of use of Social Media, whether it be for personal, business or both, whether you are stalking your mates new boyfriend, wishing a distant relative a ‘Happy Birthday’ or counting the ‘likes’ on your brand new business page, it is used in day to day life.

IBMS are keen to engage with as many people as possible, and have recognised social media as a great way to do this. In return, we like the way social media offers the opportunity for people to choose how to engage with us, in a way that best suits them. We believe that the online world is an essential tool for business growth – gone are the days of sending an email and in its place are Facebook Messages, statuses, hashtags, Twitter’s Direct Messages, LinkedIn Endorsements, alas the options to connect and communicate are never ending. With all of this at our fingertips, there is no doubt that social media is increasing our accessibility.

In a recruitment business, things are constantly on the move – social media is not only a great way to connect with clients and candidates alike, it is also a chance for us to keep everyone updated in the goings on of our business, aka the big, bad career world. In his interesting article appropriately titled ‘The Top 10 Benefits of Social Media Marketing’ – Jayson Demers says that now around 92% of marketers are now claiming social media as avidly important for their business. He also says that social media is key for brand recognition and we couldn’t agree with him more – we believe we’re a great brand and we want to be recognised.

The beauty of social media is its versatility, it can be used in so many different ways and for so many different things, yet all with the potential to grow into something huge, no matter how small – ever heard of the phrase; ‘it all started with a simple re-tweet?...No, us neither. But you will. Soon. 

BMS Recruitment was established in 2014 after the directors identified a need for a flexible, progressive recruitment agency capable of wide provision. Speak to them today

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The key to a successful outcome is making your customers take notice.

Posted by Jenny Esau

Managing Director of Credit Management Group UK

Tue 22nd, Dec

Letters should be incorporated into structured collections strategy

You will most likely have different collection strategies for each client depending on their risk level. By having a set strategy in place, and sticking to it, you will continue to remind a customer about a payment due, but also create a system in which your client will expect a letter or a phone-call at a particular time, and may therefore be more inclined to make payment automatically.

Make your letters clear

Be very clear as to what the letter is regarding from the outset, this will catch your customers’ attention and therefore your letter will not be placed in a pile, never to be seen again.

Be firm (when appropriate)

The tone of your letters should become firmer as the letter cycle continues as well as clearly outlining consequences of late payment. Your first letter should state the amount owed, your second should have the amount plus a warning that you will add interest if no payment is received, and the third should be a final demand that clearly states you will be taking court action if they don’t bring their account up to date.

Don’t tell your customer to ignore the letter

A classic mistake is to say to your clients ‘please ignore this letter if you have already made payment’. You want your client to ring or email you even if they have paid, this way any issues can be rectified and if you haven’t received a remit, this is a perfect time to ask for one.

Send copies by email also

By sending letters through the post and by email you will ensure that your client has received your letter. Attach a read receipt to your email and therefore you will have proof of receipt of the letter should you need to provide it as evidence at a later date.

Our collections strategy bundle will provide expert advice, guidance and templates to incorporate into your business’ collection strategy.

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Posted by Elaine Richardson

Solicitor at Morecrofts LLP

Mon 21st, Dec

An urgent investigation has been launched by the Ministry of Justice after a glitch was discovered in an online divorce form.

The divorce form in the headlines is part of a process that divorcing couples may complete to give full details of their financial circumstances to the other spouse and to the court.  It is called a Form E.  

The only version of the Form E with a software error is the online form produced by using the website of the Ministry of Justice.

The problem will mostly affect people who represent themselves because family solicitors use different software to produce their forms.  Family solicitors believe that only a small number of cases will be affected, although the Ministry of Justice has not ruled out the possibility of “thousands” of cases being involved.  

To put it into context, just over 130,000 couples a year divorce in England and Wales.  It is thought that only around half of them seek a court order to finalise the financial settlement of their assets.  Most couples who get a financial order do so by agreement rather than asking a judge to decide.  Figures recently released by the MOJ show that only 8% of contested cases do not settle and go to a fully contested final hearing.

The glitch is that although the form is completed with all the figures, the auto calculation function ignores the liabilities and debts.  The resulting figures produced are therefore wrong because the bottom line figure is a calculation of the assets only and the debts are not subtracted.  Potentially this can over-inflate the value of a spouse’s assets for the purposes of negotiation and court proceedings.

The remedy is to return to court or to renegotiate the agreement based on the correct figures.  Resolution solicitors can help give you the best advice and if you go to our website on www.resolution.org.uk you will be able to find an experienced family solicitor near to you.  

Specialist family solicitors would make their own detailed calculations of the value of a client’s assets and not simply rely on this one online version of the Form E produced by the Ministry of Justice.  The form is just one part of an investigative process which has to be updated during the course of the case, which can last 12 to 18 months.

I would therefore be very surprised if any discrepancies are not picked up by the checks and balances in the financial remedy procedures.

Speak to an experienced family solicitor if you think that you have been affected.

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Chamber of Commerce respond to new rail announcements

Posted by Paul Cherpeau

Chief Executive

Wed 09th, Dec

The awarding of the Northern and Transpennine rail franchises to Arriva Trains Ltd and First Group has been greeted by much fanfare by the Department for Transport as the stimulus for the tangible delivery of Northern Powerhouse.

Amid all the talk about the rhetoric of the Chancellor’s pet project, the tangible delivery of infrastructure through improved transport connectivity is a fundamental one, without which the Powerhouse would remain merely a catchy tagline without the necessary substance.

Today’s announcements offers hope that Liverpool’s need for improved transport connectivity is being taken seriously. Throughout the stakeholder engagement process, which involved dialogue between the Chamber and all of the bidding companies for both franchises, the message was clear – more and better please.

The focus upon customer experience was paramount and it is notable that free wi-fi, comfort and passenger amenities are front and central in the DfT announcement. Increased capacity between Liverpool and Manchester is of paramount importance – it is not acceptable for business travellers to be piled high into pacer vehicles that were barely fit for the 20th century, let alone in 2015.

Good improvements have already been initiated by those in Northern Rail and TPE. The new franchise announcements pave the way for the operators to position rail as a genuinely aspirational form of travel for business and leisure passengers. It is no longer enough to simply make the trains run on time.

The bigger picture concerns the prospects for high speed connectivity for our city region via Northern Powerhouse Rail (or HS3 as it has been popularly reported).  Connecting Liverpool to the high speed rail network would be a game-changer that must be pursued rigorously with a clear business case that demonstrates the value of our city region to the Northern Powerhouse and the wider UK.

Other elements of the announcement to be considered are the connections to other areas in the city region. The lack of mention for Southport in the announcements, particularly concerning the quality and capacity of services to Manchester, is a concern. Developing North Sefton as ‘The Golf Coast’ is dependent upon better transport links and a vastly improved service to and from Manchester for Southport is crucial to the strategy for inbound and outbound passenger mobility.

Finally, it is great news that a direct service between Liverpool and Glasgow is set to be introduced in 2018. The historical links between both cities are indisputable and today’s geographical and demographical similarities merely reinforce the bond. Creating a more formal partnership between both cities would represent a positive move and the establishment of the direct rail link could be a great catalyst for such a move. 

The future of rail travel for the next decade has today been outlined. It must spark a rail revolution to genuinely fulfil its potential for Liverpool and our city region.

Share your views with us by emailing policy@liverpoolchamber.org.uk

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