Thursday, 27 September 2012

New National Minimum Wage (NMW) rates will come into force on 1 October 2012 |

National Minimum Wage rates changes

New National Minimum Wage (NMW) rates will come into force on 1 October 2012

The National Minimum Wage (NMW) is a minimum amount per hour that most workers in the UK are entitled to be paid. The rate depends on age and whether the worker is an apprentice.

The new rates will come into force on 1 October 2012, as follows:

£6.19 per hour for workers aged 21 and over - a rise of 11 pence
£4.98 per hour for 18 to 20 year olds - no change
£3.68 per hour for workers above school leaving age but under 18 - no change
£2.65 per hour for apprentices - a rise of 5 pence

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Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Northern Ireland's empty shops 'should be a wake-up call'

Research published this week revealing that Northern Ireland has the worst shop vacancy rate in the UK shows that action is needed to reverse the decline in town centres, according to experts.
The research from property consultancy Lisney found almost a quarter of Belfast's shops are empty with the percentage of empty shops in NI approaching double the UK average.
Lisney's state of the property sector report has found Northern Ireland's current shop vacancy rate is 19 per cent. This is compared with 14.4 per cent in 2011. The current UK average is 11.4 per cent. Read more:

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Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Bristol Pound - Our City. Our Money


On Wednesday 19th September Bristol celebrated the launch of Bristol’s own currency with an evening of local festivities. The first Bristol Pounds were spent at a unique Bristol Pound night market in the Old City.

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Tuesday, 18 September 2012

InterTradeIreland "Upping your Game" Meet the Buyer

InterTradeIreland with its partner organisations are holding a series of Meet the Buyer events.  The Upping your Game Meet the Buyer events will provide SMEs with an overview of the all-island public procurement market and the opportunities available.
Next Event: Cookstown, 27th September 2012, Glenavon Hotel.

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Tuesday, 4 September 2012


The Department for Employment and Learning (DEL) has been working with Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) and People 1st in offering WorldHost Customer Service training.  DEL have set aside a pot of funding and are now offering the training programme for £20 per person for those involved in hospitality, the normal price is £210.

WorldHost was first developed in Canada to train 40,000 volunteers and front-line tourism staff for the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010. Since then, over one million customer-facing staff globally have been trained on WorldHost customer service programmes. The programme is delivered over 2 days – with each participant receiving a World Host and Edexcel Certificate in Customer Service. 

Employers Support Programme

The Department for Employment and Learning has allocated substantial funding over the next 3 years for the Employer Support Programme to support FE College engagement with employers in a variety of sectors, including Creative and Digital Media.
The Creative and Digital media sector includes any SMEs or micro-businesses involved in:
Film, Television, Video production or post-production 
Website development or management 
Mobile phones 
Computer Gaming 
Music Production 
Graphic Design and Publishing 
Marketing and Advertising 
Digital Archiving
Within Northern Ireland, significant capacity exists for companies to enter into new markets with goods and services designed and manufactured locally. It is the case, however, that many companies find significant difficulties with the design, development, manufacture, testing and marketing of new products and services. 

The FE sector in Northern Ireland has the potential to strategically and tactically support small business in addressing these barriers to exploiting innovation.
The College Employer Support Programme has 3 main objectives:
To provide practical support to small business in priority sectors to enhance their capacity to develop new commercial products and processes; 
To stimulate innovation, R&D, creativity and entrepreneurial activity in small business; and 
To improve the FE sector capacity and expertise to deliver skills support to companies through establishing a coordinated, expert service delivery team.
The programme's aim is to meet these objectives by bringing industry and the FE sector together through a range of support services to SMEs. 
These services are available free to business in the first year of the project and include:
research and development (R&D) project support to assist SME's to develop new products and services, especially those incorporating new technologies or business practices; 
industry mentoring to SME's to provide specialist knowledge in technology, business management or international marketing; 
seminars or workshops helping with new developments in the Creative and Digital Media sector; 
development of micro-clusters by grouping of companies, which can collaborate in their services or product ranges to take advantage of international opportunities; 
knowledge enhancement engagements, with FE staff working on site in industry to deliver research and development services; 
industry projects, which allow students to work directly with companies, with support/ mentoring from College staff.
So, any SMEs or micro-businesses involved in the Creative and Digital Media sector who would like to discuss participation in the Programme can contact

Tony Talbot 
to talk about their needs and the best way we can help meet those needs.

The Employer Support Programme is financed by the Department of Employment and Learning (DEL) through its Further Education Sector Employer Support Programme.

Resource Efficiency Scheme

Energy and Waste

It makes good business sense to get the most out of your resources and reduce or eliminate waste. Invest NI offers advice, consultancy and financial support to help you do this.

Applicants with water, materials, waste and energy costs  of more than £30k per annum can access free audit and technical consultancy support through Invest NI's Sustainable Development team to help them identify suitable projects.

What areas are advised on?  
  • tailored advice and training on resource efficiency issues.
  • workshops on energy and waste issues.
  • advice and information, signposting to online advice to help businesses implement resource efficiency savings.

For eligible companies, Invest NI can:
  • arrange for an energy survey of businesses or an audit of water and materials consumption to identify areas for cost reduction.
  • arrange for consultancy support to help you implement resource efficiency projects.

What financial support do we offer?

Interest free loans are available from £3,000 up to £400,000 for four years. The size of the loan depends on how much energy will be saved or the amount of carbon savings that can be achieved.


The total budget allocation for the Scheme over the period 2012-2015 is £1.65 million (£550K in each of the financial years 2012/13, 2013/14 and 2014/15). 

Aim of Grant Funding
The aim of this funding is to encourage businesses to install equipment that will result in water or material efficiencies beyond regulatory requirements through provision of a capital grant of up to £49,999.  For reasons of financial control grants will only be available to those businesses Invest NI currently supports and monitors – and businesses considering an application will be expected to have discussed potential projects with their Client Executive before an application is submitted.
Invest NI plans to assist projects that in total will generate water and materials savings of more than £880k per annum in each of the 3 years of the scheme.  

Examples of projects that will be considered include:
  • Equipment to recover value from waste and effluent streams
  • Equipment to recover materials that would otherwise be vented to the atmosphere or discharged to land or waterways
  • Equipment that improves the efficiency of raw material consumption through improved processing or equipment that enables re-use of waste materials in-house