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Date: 15/01/2016

Happy New Year! I hope you all had a relaxing Christmas break and are looking forward to a successful 2016.

The Chamber is certainly springing into the New Year, in particular preparing for the next Expo at the Three Counties Showground on Thursday 3 March. The theme of the event should appeal to all – Food and Drink! So if you are a food and drink producer, specialise in something tasty that you would like over 800 of the two Counties’ business people to sample, please get in touch for a free stand in our “marketplace”. We also have in excess of 120 usual stands available for general business trading, and we encourage early booking from past and new customers.

84% of clients reported achieving new business contacts at the last Expo, with 38% of businesses reporting direct sales as a result of the Expo and 71% of businesses predicting future sales.

For all those who like to plan ahead, we have also just confirmed our date and venue for the next Awards evening. In support of our local sport, leisure and tourism sector, this year’s Awards will be at the new Worcester Indoor Arena on Thursday 9 June – SAVE THE DATE now and be sure to come along to the two Counties largest, celebratory event and be inspired by the great success of businesses in our area.

Alongside rewarding excellence in our two counties, the Chamber’s role in supporting business through change is particularly important to us. In 2016, over 500,000 employers will need to start their workplace pension duties. If you employee at least 1 person, you will have some obligations. The Pension Regulator website is a great place to start finding out what you need to do and advice is to start planning 12 months before your duties start, so I would urge you to make your first port of call.

The Chamber recently hosted a discussion on Auto Enrolment (AE) in association with the British Chambers of Commerce and Aviva, and my next step top tips following this event are:

1. Review your existing pension – does the business have one? Does it meet the AE scheme requirements? Do you need to set a new pension scheme up?

2. Review your payroll processes – is this in house or outsourced? If in house, is the payroll software adaptable for AE for a computerised solution? Or will you process AE requirements manually? How much will each of these options cost? If the payroll is outsourced, have you considered the additional cost to processing your payroll?

3. Employee communications – who will communicate this information to employees? HR? Payroll? Or other?

4. Compliance – who will ensure that all legalities are covered?

Understanding the legal requirements of AE, alongside asking yourself or your business the above questions will certainly put you firmly on the planning road for these changes. I’m sure you will successfully navigate your way through the processes but if you should need further support or information, the Chamber is running another FREE event on Thursday the 28th January.

I hope you have found this interesting and information, with best wishes.


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Sharon Smith

Chief Executive

Sharon began her career working in the manufacturing sector in her hometown of Hereford, before moving to work for Business Link and the Chamber in both Herefordshire and Worcestershire.  Sharon's background is primarily finance and corporate service management, including HR & IT.  At the Chamber she is responsible for the management of all commercial contracts and business performance management.  In 2009 Sharon gained an MBA from the University of Worcester and was appointed the Chamber Deputy CEO in early 2014.

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