Our Chairman Neil Ashbridge takes a critical look at the latest government announcements impacting on future trade and exports.

Posted by Neil Ashbridge

Fri 31st, Aug

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) have long been calling for clarity for business in a post Brexit world. The BCC has just published its latest Quarterly International Trade Outlook which indicated that despite a strong performance in many cases, economic and political factors remain the key concerns. The volatility around sterling as well as the escalating labour shortage are both highlighted by the survey of over 2,600 exporters. Addressing these issues must be a priority for the government.

The first tranche of technical notices aimed at giving businesses and consumers advice on the implications of a 'no deal' exit from the European Union, has also been published to mixed reviews. As supporters on both sides of the Brexit argument become increasingly entrenched and the Treasury is once again being accused of promoting “project fear”, away from the media, businesses are quietly trying to assess what this all means for them. A no-deal Brexit is likely to be disruptive to a large proportion of the 46,000 businesses in the Liverpool city region so any clarity is to be welcomed. However if the Government realistically expects business to be ready for all eventualities on Friday 29 March, then much more specific and practical advice is needed sooner rather than later.   

The BCC has particularly welcomed the plans for VAT, which businesses feared could cause a cash-flow 'time bomb' after the UK's exit from the EU, and on which they have been campaigning. However concerns remain around cross-border trade and customs, where changes are set to impact businesses from day one in the event of a 'no deal' outcome as well as banking and financial services, where changes could have a significant impact on non-financial firms trading across borders.

Export Strategy

The Government’s recently published Export Strategy strikes a much more positive note. It sets a new national challenge to raise UK exports as a share of GDP from 30% to 35% through encouraging, inspiring and supporting more businesses to export.

International trade is at the core of the mission of Chambers of Commerce all across the UK.

Every year, Chambers directly support more than 30,000 businesses exporting goods and services overseas, working with other private sector organisations, and with the agencies and departments of HM Government.  

We particularly welcome the increased focus on the practicalities of exporting, including the role of our existing exporters to enable them to inspire other businesses and facilitate peer-to-peer learning. The strategy highlights the importance of improved communication with businesses to provide information, advice and practical assistance on exporting as well as signposting for SMEs to support access to new markets and private sector support.

The Chamber’s recently established International Trade Club is an excellent example of how this can work in practice. This Trade Club is exclusively for exporters and importers of goods and services, companies seeking international partners, shipping and logistics companies who are looking to actively expand their network of contacts, share the views on international trade and exchange practical advice. The first event is on Friday 5 October and you can find out more details here.

Our aim is to provide companies with the right kind of knowledge to prepare for different trading outcomes, working with specialists to provide insight and advice. Future events include Preparing for trade in a post BREXIT world on 28 September (details here) and looking at business opportunities in the USA (10 October) and South America (10 September).

BCC Quarterly Economic Survey (Q3)

Finally, a reminder that the QES for Q3 is now open. As the largest and most representative independent business survey of its kind in the UK I would encourage you all to take a few minutes to complete the survey.

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Dave Drury, Mott MacDonald’s Director of Transport Planning for the North of England and Scotland

Posted by Liverpool and Sefton Chambers of Commerce

Thu 30th, Aug

Introduce yourself – name, where do you sit in the business, and what does the business do?

I’m Dave Drury and I’m Mott MacDonald’s director of transport planning for the North of England and Scotland. I’m responsible for a team of over 100 multi-talented individuals who are delivering projects for many public and private sector clients. Any plan to develop or redevelop land or buildings to regenerate areas and boost economic growth requires effective and sustainable transport strategies. Mott MacDonald has a successful track record in this area and continues to help clients get government funding by putting forward evidence-based business case support.

What changes would you like to see to improve or develop your sector?

For me, the sector needs to fully embrace the equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) agenda. At Mott MacDonald, we have several initiatives to support EDI, specifically when it comes to gender equality. EDI is part of our everyday life, both at home as well as work. We can experience and learn through the diversity of family and friends and this applies in the workplace too. If we all bring our uniqueness to the table, we know we can come up with better solutions. This is critical in a business like ours which solves problems as a way of life. 

What does a typical working day look like?

It is quite exciting as every day can be different depending on where I am in the country. While I’m based in Liverpool, I spend a lot of time visiting colleagues in different offices and also meet regularly with clients in various regions. This enables us to really get to grips with what our clients’ needs are and what they are looking to achieve. It also allows us to understand what their clients’ needs are and what they expect. We’re then able to offer our insights and experience to support their ambitions. Despite these challenging economic times, there are still many opportunities to implement sweeping changes that benefit and improve the quality of life. As a people person, I really enjoy this side of my role as it all about working closely with clients to implement a vision of what their city or region could look like.

What advice would you give your teenage self?

Listen to your parents. When I think back to when I was younger and my dad was offering words of wisdom, I often didn’t listen as I wanted to find out for myself. Now I have four boys of my own I realise that I should have listened more.

The same could be said about working life. Our team in Liverpool has grown rapidly over the last two years and we have a lot of young enthusiastic and vibrant apprentices and graduates working on our team. There is a great deal of knowledge and experience in our company that they can draw on to help them develop in their careers. Equally though, there is plenty of insight and fresh thinking they can offer that our more experienced team members could learn from. This is why diversity is so important.

Where would we find you on your day off?

Watching my sons play football or rugby, or simply spending quality time at home with the family.

What is the best advice you have been given in your career?

Speak to someone the way you would like to be spoken to. It doesn’t matter where you are in life or career in terms of level or hierarchy, you should always speak to someone the way you want to be spoken to.

This is also the view at Mott MacDonald, where we have a collegiate and collaborative culture, which gives prominence to equality and diversity and we take proactive steps to create an inclusive workplace that includes the way we work with each other. The company is very open and approachable, from those at the very top of the company downwards. This may be because we’re employee owned, so our Group board is comprised with colleagues we’ve worked alongside for many years or throughout our careers.

Why choose Liverpool City Region?

I’ve lived in the city region all my life and I am passionate about Liverpool and the surrounding area. I was born and bred on the Wirral and started my career with Wirral Borough Council before moving to Liverpool City Council. I worked in the public sector for over 17 years and have spent the past 11 years in the private sector. Moving from the public to private sector helped me to understand the commercial and business aspect of the job.

The potential Liverpool City Region offers also excites me. We’re keen to be at the forefront of the strategic development that is planned for the area, not just for us as a company but also so our staff can be part of these vitally important projects.

 

Mott MacDonald are one of the sponsors of this years Smarter Travel Live Event in Liverpool on the 16th and 17th October. Find out more and book here.

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We all know that computers often slow down over time, but why is this and what can you do about it?

Posted by The PC Support Group

Wed 29th, Aug

1. Remove unwanted software and stop programs running automatically on start-up

When your new shiny computer first arrives there is usually nothing on it except for the operating system (usually Windows) and consequently it boots up in seconds and runs faster than Usain Bolt.

What you may not realise is that a lot of software you load will automatically add at least some element to the start-up routine of the computer so as soon as you boot the computer up the software starts running. After a while there will be quite a few of these programs vying for attention on start-up and/or continuing to run background services whilst you go about your work, all slowing your computer down.

So, check what these are (or get your IT support company to) and remove anything unwanted or unnecessary.

2. Keep your disk tidy

Files and programs are written to your hard disk in the most efficient way to read them back, which usually means the information is stored together. However, over time your disk becomes full and so the data often gets written in different areas making it slow to read back. This is known as disk fragmentation. Luckily a disk defragmentation program can move these all around and put them back in an efficient structure again.

Disk fragmentation is typically not an issue on modern Windows operating systems as they perform background disk defragmentation during idle time. However, if the disk is very full, defragmentation may never actually finish so you should make sure you have plenty of free disk space and perform a manual defrag every so often (when you’re not using the computer) to ensure it has run properly.

3. Upgrade your memory

Programs and their data are typically only partially loaded into memory, with the remainder staying in temporary ("swap") space on the hard disk. The relevant part of the program or data then gets loaded into memory (Random Access Memory – RAM) as it’s required. Not only is this process slow but as your disk get filled up (see 2 above) it gets even slower.

The more RAM you have the less likely your computer will need to swap data from disk space so consider upgrading the size of your RAM; it could make a huge difference for very little investment.

4. Upgrade your hard drive

Given how your computer uses its hard disk drive (see point 3 above), a slow drive means a slow computer so consider replacing your standard hard drive (that has lots of moving parts and spins like an old-fashioned record) with a new Solid State Drive (SSD). SSD’s have no moving parts and so are incredibly fast and don’t wear out like traditional hard drives. They are more expensive than standard hard drives but if you save 30 minutes every day you could make the difference back in efficiency in weeks or even days!

5.Is your anti-virus checker efficient and up-to-date?

Some anti-virus software can be very intensive and use quite a bit of your computing power. Unfortunately, some users, in an attempt to speed up the computer, remove their antivirus and then get infected with malware. Some malware is stealthy and if you don't have antivirus installed you may not notice it except as a general slowdown, thus having the exact opposite affect the user wanted.

Check with your IT support provider that you have efficient anti-virus software and that it is configured correctly to give you maximum protection without slowing your computer down. Never remove anti-virus software!

 

Finally, do remember that computers do actually wear out and become obsolete as the technology around them moves on. Any hardware that is over 3 years old is unlikely to perform at its best.

For example, as the average computer gets faster, and web technology advances, browsers and sites become correspondingly more complex and therefore, on the same hardware, slower. Your computer may not be able to run the latest and most efficient versions of software due to incompatibility issues or your graphics card may not be able to handle the wonderful enhanced graphics now used by browsers and software.

If you’ve tried all of the above and your computer is still slow then perhaps it’s time to move on a buy a new one.

If you would like any help or advice about using a fully managed IT support provider, The PC Support Group would love to hear from you. Call us on 0330 088 6116 or contact us on info@pcsupportgroup.com or visit the website on www.pcsupportgroup.com

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Join us at this year’s Annual Dinner and Awards

Posted by Paul Cherpeau

Chief Executive

Fri 24th, Aug

I am delighted to announce that tickets for the Chamber’s Annual Dinner 2018 are now available. Once again the magnificent Rum Warehouse will provide a stunning backdrop to what I know will be another entertaining and successful evening. We are also particularly pleased that SP Energy Networks will be our main sponsor, and that we will welcome Mike Moran MBE, CEO of Proton Partners International, as our keynote speaker, providing a fascinating insight on his career journey so far.

Celebrating excellence in business is the theme of our Annual Dinner Awards this year and over the next few weeks we will be looking at each of the award categories and revisiting last year's winners.

The theme of responsible business will run through all of the award categories, building on the success of last year and also acknowledging the growing awareness of the importance, and the benefits, of being a responsible business. We will be presenting six awards this year and you can find out more information here.

It is particularly timely given the Government recently launched its first Civil Society Strategy in 15 years setting out its vision to empower and invest in society. The strategy highlights the increasingly important role that businesses continue to play in building a fairer society, recognising that a strong business environment and prosperous local communities go hand in hand. It is easy to be cynical about the intentions behind the strategy and the resources available to deliver tangible outcomes, but there are some positives too - not least the recognition of the pivotal partnership role that business plays. It is also encouraging to see so many different government departments involved in the strategy, acknowledging the fact that responsible business impacts on all aspects of our lives.

The real positive is the extent to which business itself is driving forward this agenda. Too often the media focusses on the negative examples of poor employer practices which sadly still exist, but we know that there is an increasing number of local businesses who are mainstreaming responsible business, whatever the size or sector, putting social and environmental responsibility at the heart of what they do. They recognise that it is key to long-term, sustainable growth as well as how they manage risk and retain consumer and investor trust in their brand and business plan.

The strategy also highlights new business models including “purposeful business” which recognises that in supporting employees, communities and the environment a business can actually create shareholder value.

The success of any strategy however can only be judged on what it delivers. The government has pledged its support for responsible business, with an update on its approach in 2019. This year it will establish a responsible business Leadership Group which will lead the debate about the role of business in society as well as building on the work of the Inclusive Economy Partnership. In the meantime, we think actions speak louder than words and we look forward to identifying opportunities to work with local partners, including our Responsible Business Forum, to support delivery of these objectives and highlight business activities at a local level which are already having an impact.

Help us to showcase the very best of responsible business practice in our city region as we celebrate excellence in business at this year’s Annual Dinner Awards.

For more information on the awards and how to enter go to http://www.liverpoolchamber.org.uk/services/annual-dinner-awards-2018.aspx or email awards@liverpoolchamber.org.uk

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Neil Bradley, Partner Manager at Growth Partners Plc

Posted by Liverpool and Sefton Chambers of Commerce

Wed 15th, Aug

Introduce yourself – name, where do you sit in the business, and what does the business do?

Neil Bradley – Partner Manager at Growth Partners Plc. We are an employee benefits and engagement company that develops businesses from the inside. We work closely with businesses to provide a bespoke suite of services ranging from strategic HR and employment law advice to payroll and pensions services alongside emotional wellbeing, fitness & nutritional and online GP services to ensure their employees are healthier, happier and more productive. This is all delivered through our innovative GrowthPro portal.

What changes would you like to see to improve or develop your sector?

There’s been a lot of publicity recently about the gig economy and workers rights with a number of high profile court cases going in favour of the employee. Whilst everyone recognises the convenience of using such services, its important that the employees of these types of companies are treated fairly and are able to access benefits and services just like any other employee would.

What does a typical working day look like?

Slightly cliched but no two days are the same, especially as we are going through such sustained period of growth currently. Days at the moment are taken up with meeting new clients and partners, assisting the on-boarding team, working with the events team on the next conference and attending exhibitions. Our Head office is in Leicester, so currently a lot of my time at the moment is looking for office space in Liverpool for our new Northwest base.

What advice would you give your teenage self?

Do what makes you happy! Everyone gives you advice at that age but that’s based on their own life experiences, not yours.

Where would we find you on your day off?

With 3 week old identical twin girls then the concept of a day off is not something I can relate to at the moment!

What is the best advice you have been given in your career?

Two things really - You only get so far in your comfort zone, if you want to further then you have to step outside that comfort zone at some point. Secondly, to be a success you have to be able to relate to people. The more people can relate to you and build a mutual trust with you, the further you will get.

Who is your role model in business?

I could say someone famous or inspirational, its really anyone who goes out and works hard to try to achieve their dreams and goals

Why choose Liverpool City Region?

I would turn that around and ask why wouldn’t you choose Liverpool? The fastest growing regional economy, most filmed city in the UK outside London, more listed buildings and public parks than any other UK city bar London. The list of stats goes on and on but at the end of the day, Liverpool is the place to be. I’ve been lucky enough to travel all over the world for the last 20 odd years in my career and its always coming back to Liverpool that puts the biggest smile on my face.

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Gordon Millar, Artistic Director and CEO of Unity Theatre

Posted by Liverpool and Sefton Chambers of Commerce

Fri 10th, Aug

Introduce yourself – name, where do you sit in the business, and what does the business do?

I’m Gordon Millar, the Artistic Director and CEO of Unity Theatre. We are a performing arts organisation in Liverpool. We are home to live performances that ambitiously interrogate society and humanity. We want the public to know and rely upon the Unity to curiously explore shifts in society that have an impact upon those living in the city region.  The work we present is contemporary, bold and innovative. It often crosses the boundaries of conventional art forms and is known for being engaging and entertaining.  

What changes would you like to see to improve or develop your sector?

The performing arts is such a varied sector. However, one thing that almost everyone agrees upon is the necessity to diversify the voices that are represented on stage. At the Unity we are at the forefront of making sure that you see yourself on stage, regardless of background.

What does a typical working day look like?

The role is so varied that there are no typical days. The job focuses on both the business and artistic requirements of the organisation. One moment I can have my head in a spreadsheet and fifteen minutes later watching a dress rehearsal of an upcoming production.

What advice would you give your teenage self?.

Don’t be afraid of your experience. Live in the now. Nothing on the outside determines what you are on the inside.

Where would we find you on your day off?

Like work, no one day off is ever the same. However, currently I love walking in nearby North Wales with my wife and dog.

What is the best advice you have been given in your career?

Treat every day as if it were the first day in post.

Who is your role model in business?

I don’t have any role models. However, I do believe it is vital to keep learning from a variety of people.

Why choose Liverpool City Region?

I initially fell in love with Liverpool as a child, following the great football team of the 80s. I then studied here in the 90s before settling here ten years ago. The city is abundantly rich in character.

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BCC Quarterly Economic Survey - Looking behind the headlines

Posted by Neil Ashbridge

Mon 06th, Aug

This was the headline for the recently published British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) for Q2 2018. The overall results seemed positive on one hand with modest improvement in activity for the quarter, but seemingly less so on the other, with UK growth remaining sluggish.

This mixed picture was also reflected in the latest Bank of England’s Agents’ Summary of Business Conditions and the three-month data to May from the Office for National Statistics. Both highlighted the positive impact of the warm weather (and events like the Royal Wedding) which had helped to boost retail sales while growth in consumer services had slowed, notably in travel and tourism. Business services turnover had grown at a solid pace.  Overall industrial output contracted according to the official data though the Agents’ summary reported growth in domestic manufacturing output had edged up, with growth in export output easing slightly but remaining firm.

The Monetary Policy Committees decision to increase Bank Rate by 0.25% on 2 August came as no surprise.  The MPC acknowledges that the annual rate of growth in UK GDP remains modest by historical standards while there is a very limited degree of slack in the economy.  Unemployment was low and expected to fall a little further which was likely to feed through into domestic inflation over the next few years.  

Whilst overall the official data and surveys reflect a more positive picture than some might imagine from recent news headlines around Brexit and “trade war” rhetoric, there are key issues which need to be resolved to maintain even modest levels of optimism by business which the government must urgently address.

For example, the biggest concern for businesses continues to be the difficulties they face when trying to access skills, with the percentage of firms reporting problems rising again. This is one of the key issues on which the BCC is lobbying central government, focussing on the ongoing problems for employers with the apprenticeship and training schemes. In addition the need for clarity on immigration policy to allow UK businesses to cover vacancies is becoming even more pressing.

The response of local businesses to the BCC survey provides us with a more detailed picture on how much this is reflected geographically. 

The information provided by businesses in Liverpool and Sefton was broadly in line with the national results but highlighted a level of cautious optimism in some areas. In my view this is not only a testament to the resilience of the local economy but also a reflection of the willingness to create and respond to opportunities for economic growth, particularly amongst small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) who contributed over 87% of the responses to the Liverpool and Sefton survey.

In line with the national picture however, there was an increase in those reporting the recruitment of suitably skilled staff as a barrier to meeting their business objectives over the next 2 years (up from 39% to 47%). Despite this, current recruitment trends vary between the manufacturing sector where employers reporting difficulties continued to decline (36%) and the services sector where those reporting problems rose slightly (from 72% to 76%).

The changing attitudes of businesses in the region were also reflected in the fact that the number citing a lack of government grants towards investment as a barrier, dropped from 24% to 14%, reflecting perhaps a new pragmatism towards public sector funding.

As we approach Brexit deadlines, it will be interesting to see whether business confidence remains consistent and I would urge you all to complete the next QES (Q3) which will be available from 27 August. The BCC survey really does provide you with an opportunity to have your voice heard by government and rate setters.

If you would like more information on the results of the Liverpool and Sefton QES results please email policy@liverpoolchamber.org.uk

The results of the BCC survey can be found here

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Lorna Young, Marketing Manager, Bike & Go

Posted by Liverpool and Sefton Chambers of Commerce

Fri 03rd, Aug

What does a typical working day look like?

My role is to look after the marketing for Bike & Go which can be found at 71 sites across the UK. The geographical spread stretches from Inverness in Scotland to Liverpool Street Station in London, so there’s always a lot to do.

A typical day would see me checking emails on the train so that I can hit the ground running as soon as I arrive at the office. We see the cycling season as running between April and September, so we tend to do a lot of forward planning between October and March, looking at the best ways to raise awareness of Bike & Go among the general public, both through traditional PR and marketing, events, social media, and by reminding those who have subscribed to the scheme of the many benefits of using the bikes. As you can imagine the role keeps me busy for the rest of the year delivering everything we have planned.

I also liaise with businesses to find out whether our corporate offerings would work for them, work with third partners on marketing activities, and regularly visit the stations where the bikes are located to ensure there is plenty of visible signage on show to let people know that the bikes are there.

What advice would you give your teenage self?

I would say that things have a way of falling into place. Decide what you want, go for it, and believe that you will get there; just sometimes not by the route you had expected.

Where would we find you on your day off?

With my two sons, playing at the beach, acting as goalkeeper in the garden. . . and taking them on plenty of bike rides - of course!

What is the best advice you have been given in your career?

When I was concerned about a work situation once, a former employer reassured me by saying, ‘the sun will come up tomorrow’, and that  advice that has always stuck with me. No matter what goes wrong, or what goes right in your working day, the sun will set, and the sun will rise . . . and life will go on.

Who is your role model in business?

I am very lucky in that I have lots of amazing role models including my dad, my husband, friends and former colleagues. Rather than choosing just one person as my role model, I’d look towards anyone who is focused on what they want to achieve and adaptable enough to change with the circumstances.

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Risk-aversion the determining factor in city's bid failure; asset acquisition the key for our future competitiveness

Posted by Paul Cherpeau

Chief Executive

Fri 27th, Jul

The news of Liverpool’s unsuccessful bid to attract Channel 4 to the city was understandably disappointing to all. Yet the announced shortlist of Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham demonstrates the somewhat risk-averse decision making at play with C4 and is perhaps indicative of the level at which we as Liverpool should currently aspire.

Our business community is comparatively small against that of Manchester and Birmingham and we do not have geography on our side. Yet the strides taken in the past fifteen years should not be obscured or dismissed on account of the loss of ‘big ticket; items such as C4 and the Commonwealth Games.

I equate the city’s progress to Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool; upon arrival a decent but underperforming team weighed down by history and performance expectations to one assembled piece by piece with each individual asset acquired adding greater quality to create a genuinely competitive outfit. Just as Klopp’s Liverpool was not quite ready to compete consistently at the top level three years ago, so our city region is on the upward trajectory where the acquisition and accumulation of individual assets will create the collective team capable of genuinely challenging for (and we hope winning!) the big ones.

The Mayor’s statement about transport links being a primary inhibitor to the bid was criticised in the social media noise, yet there are undoubtedly lessons to be learnt from our collective efforts to attract concerts, events, airlines and businesses to the region. The links to domestic and international destinations by road, rail, sea and air are an impediment against those conurbations comprising the geographical spine of the country. We shouldn’t ignore this priority improvement.

Similarly we know the improvements required in digital infrastructure and talent pool to enhance our proposition. We must not waiver in our determination to improve.

The risk-aversion of C4 – like that of the Commonwealth Games committee – was a greater impediment than that of the transport links. The review of the bid will demonstrate some tremendous successes and examples of collaboration which must be built upon. The prevailing view amongst us all is “It’s their loss.”

The result must be seen as a bump in the road, not as a sign of an inward investment apocalypse. The attraction of Taylor Wessing, BDO and continuing strength of Investec, Rathbones, Tilneys and others indicates that the environment is gathering strength. The exciting developments at Paddington Village and the wider knowledge quarter are part of this asset acquisition programme that will enhance Liverpool’s competitiveness on an incremental basis.

Other opportunities will become available in due course. Continuing to incrementally improve our asset base will ensure the next time the big ticket item becomes available and we’re in the running, we’re a favourite and not the underdog.

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Handing data protection responsibilities to an existing employee...

Posted by Nexus Protect

Wed 04th, Jul

Faced with the challenge of appointing a Data Protection Officer (DPO), many businesses' first thought is to look internally, handling data protection responsibilities to an existing employee. Yet doing so could do more harm than good to their GDPR compliance.

For some businesses, hiring a Data Protection Officer is a necessity, an essential part of the process of meeting the legal requirements laid down in the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (UK Data Bill 2018).

For others, it's simply a worthwhile addition to the team, a means of implementing GDPR-recommended best practice and proving to customers, stakeholders, and employees alike that they're taking data protection seriously.

Either way, the journey towards naming an official DPO can often prove to serve up just as many challenges as it looks to solve.

How do you find someone who knows your business and your data well enough to carry out the job effectively?

How you find someone who combines that first-hand knowledge of your enterprise with a deep understands of GDPR and other data protection regulation?

More importantly, how do you find someone who has all the necessary knowledge and data protection know-how yet won't prove to stretch your already limited resources.

For some businesses, the immediate answer seems obvious:

After all, who better to trust the management of your GDPR compliance at the highest level than someone already firmly established in your organisation?

That's before we mention the fact that adding DPO responsibilities to the workload of an existing employee can prove significantly more cost-effective than going through the whole hiring process to bring in someone from outside the business.

Yet as easy as it seems on the surface, appointing an internal DPO isn't always so straightforward.

At NexusProtect, we work with businesses throughout the UK to help them manage DPO responsibilities in a way that proves both cost-efficient and effective in ensuring a holistic approach to GDPR right across the board.

Here, we explain why appointing a Data Protection Officer from within your organisation may prove more difficult than you might think.

First though, let's go back to basics:

 

What is a Data Protection Officer? Does my business really need one?

 

 In a nutshell, a Data Protection Officer is an officially named person responsible for overseeing the GDPR compliance of the organisation appointing them. If you hire a DPO, they'll be the person who supports the data lead / controller who responds to Data Subject Access Requests, who ensures that all your compliance measures are sufficient and effective and -in a worst-case scenario- who reports a data breach to the relevant governing body. In this case, that would be the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO).

Hiring a DPO isn't compulsory for every business or organisation. Article 37 of the GDPR state that your organisation will only be required to legally appoint a DPO if:

You're a public authority (except for courts acting in a judicial capacity)

Your core activities require "large-scale, regular and systematic monitoring of individuals

Your core activities consist of “large-scale processing of special data categories of data or data relating to criminal convictions and offences.

That being said, the Article 29 Data Protection Working Party does recommend hiring a DPO as a means of ensuring best practice.

The DPO must:

Be free to carry out their duties independently, with no influence from management or trustees
Carry out those duties at board level, reporting only to the highest level of seniority within the organisation
Be able to carry out their DPO duties without carrying out existing operational duties which serve as a clear conflict of interest.

It's at this point when we start to see clear problems with appointing an internal DPO.

Avoiding a conflict of interest

When it comes to the responsibilities of a Data Protection Officer, a conflict of interest is likely to arise in any one of two situations:

1: When the DPO's other responsibilities involve defining the purposes and means of processing the very same personal data that they are responsible for governing the protection of.

2: When the DPO's other responsibilities involve putting the interests of the business before the protection of personal data.

For example, you couldn't appoint your existing marketing manager as DPO as they are typically responsible for determining what data is processed and why and using that data first and foremost to help the business increase sales. 
Likewise, since your IT Manager, Chief Technology Officer (CTO), and IT Security Manager are also unlikely candidates for the position since their existing roles are likely to be concerned -at least at some level- with managing data security measures.

Again, this serves as a conflict of interest since the DPO is responsible for determining whether those same measures are up to scratch in terms of ensuring frictionless compliance with GDP the Information Commissioner's Office says:

"Controllers are liable for their compliance with the GDPR and must only appoint processors who can provide ‘sufficient guarantees’ that the requirements of the GDPR will be met and the rights of data subjects protected."

One of these 'sufficient guarantees' made by the processor is that -where necessary- they have appointed a DPO. This also applies to any sub-processors that are hired to carry out the processing work.

As a controller, you should be confident that an appropriate person has been appointed to the role of DPO and that any processors (and their sub-processors) are meeting GDPR requirements, as their failure to do could still result in fines for your organisation.

So far, we've considered the dangers in appointing an existing member of your workforce to the role of Data Protection Officer, all of which has likely left you with one very important question you need answering:

If hiring internally is going to create more problems than it solves, then what's the alternative?

The answer is simple, and is presented to you in GDPR Article 37(6)

"The data protection officer may be a staff member of the controller or processor or fulfil the tasks on the basis of a service contract."

In other words, there's no need to risk a potential conflict of interest by hiring an existing employee when you can outsource the work of a DPO to a third-party.

Not only does this negate all the potential pitfalls of an internal appointment, but it also ensures that the person carrying out DPO services on your behalf can make the most of their position outside the company to remain fully impartial and independent, a key requirement of the GDPR requirements.

At NexusProtect, we offer a comprehensive GDPR and DPO service, to companies throughout the UK, combining years of experience in helping organisations to meet data protection requirements with expertise into the most effective, affordable, and practical methods of ensuring frictionless GDPR compliance.

The result is that our clients not only ensure they meet all the necessary GDPR requirements but that they do so in a way that provides a long-term, tangible benefit to their day-to-day operation.

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