UK government reveals £100 million support package for small businesses affected by collapse of Carillion

The UK government has revealed the details of a further package of support for the businesses and workers affected by Carillion’s liquidation.

Through delivery partners that include all the major high street lenders, the British Business Bank will provide support to make available up to £100 million of lending to small businesses who may not have the security otherwise needed for conventional bank lending using its Enterprise Finance Guarantee programme.

This will be of benefit to small businesses, including the chain of subcontractors to Carillion, who may not have sufficient assets as security to access conventional loans. These guarantees can be used to support overdraft borrowing and refinancing of existing debt.

The UK’s leading banks have also furthered their commitment to provide support to those affected with UK Finance confirming additional support for personal banking customers concerned about overdraft, mortgage or credit card repayments, as well as further financial support for small businesses to provide short-term relief to help keep them afloat.

Business Secretary Greg Clark said:

We want to signal very clearly to small and medium sized businesses who were owed money by Carillion that they will be supported to continue trading.

The banks have responded to my request by agreeing to support businesses and individuals affected. This further guarantee will help those businesses who may not be able to provide the usual security for a loan.

I will continue to work closely with business organisations, trade unions and banks to actively support those affected by Carillion’s insolvency.

British Business Bank CEO Keith Morgan said:

The Enterprise Finance Guarantee (EFG) is an important option for smaller businesses who need access to finance, but may not be able to meet a provider’s normal security requirements. To help in these exceptional circumstances, we have designed additional flexibility into EFG that could be particularly suitable for firms in the Carillion supply chain. We would encourage lenders to work with their customers to use these new flexibilities to meet their needs.

UK Finance Managing Director, Commercial Finance Stephen Pegge said:

UK banks are working with government to support customers and businesses who have been impacted by the Carillion liquidation. The enhancement of the Enterprise Finance Guarantee by the British Business Bank will help those facing temporary cash flow issues to access the finance they need to support their businesses through this period.

This package is in addition to the more than £200 million already announced by Lloyds Banking Group, HSBC and RBS.

2018 a critical year for tech in education sector, according to hosting company UKFast

2018 is a ‘critical year’ for delivering a technology revolution across the UK’s education sector, according to a panel of experts gathered to examine emerging tech trends at an event at hosting firm UKFast.

While augmented reality, healthcare tech, machine learning and developments in cybersecurity all received airtime, it was tech education that stole the limelight, with experts calling for a further acceleration in efforts to deliver work-ready digital skills and to meet the gender imbalance across digital and tech careers.

The panel included Paul Lee, Global Head of Research for TMT at Deloitte; Amanda Newman, former IT Manager at Shell and now Founder of The Career Mum; Kelly White, Managing Director of Red Cow Media and Gill Escolme, Technical Project Manager at UKFast Public Sector.

Amanda Newman said: “The kids are ready for the technology but a lot of it comes down to budgets. Coding in many schools is not available as an A-Level because they can’t get coders to come in and teach. If we are able to overcome these hurdles so that kids are work-ready and prepared for business then it would be a huge boost.”

In order for the UK to fully realise its economic potential it must take steps to deliver a larger workforce with the skills required for the digital age. With just 18% of UK technical roles currently occupied by women, the gender gap is seen as a key area of focus for unlocking untapped digital talent.

Gill Escolme of UKFast said: “We go into schools and run code clubs for seven to eleven year olds and at that stage there are equal numbers of girls and boys excited about coding. But we see that when they get to secondary school there is still a stigma surrounding tech which sees 12- and 13-year-old girls move away from coding.

“Girls don’t always have positive role models to aspire to be like in that environment, so we’re trying to connect them to as many amazing women in tech as we possibly can. It’s a critical moment for the skills gap and we’re never going to make the progress we need to make if we don’t address the gender imbalance.

“We need to look closer at why technology careers are currently less appealing to young women. Our next step is to gather more data and start to tailor the subject to new people.”

Paul Lee of Deloitte added: “A college we work with in London, Ada College of Education for sixth formers, has a purely tech-based curriculum. We’re trying to deliver a balanced gender split for the school at the moment and, although we’re making steps in the right direction, it’s currently male. The objective is to close that gender balance and to get them ready so that they can go into technology companies.”

The shortage of women in tech roles is just one factor in the skills gap overall. Experts argue that greater use of technology in education could be part of the solution.

Gill Escolme said: “We’re seeing a real drive towards cloud computing environments in education. We see schools and trusts who want to start knowledge sharing and embracing all the technologies that are available to them, before they start to fall behind in this area.”

UKFast has developed educational partnerships as part of its mission to promote innovation and reach out to a new generation of digital superstars. Working with 50 schools and colleges, including a partnership with Manchester High School for Girls, the firm reaches 57,000 young people in Greater Manchester. UKFast’s team of full-time teachers run masterclasses, workshops and code clubs and deliver an award-winning technical apprenticeship scheme.

British app developer, Life Ninja, launches a ‘personal trainer in your pocket’ for smartphone devices

Life Ninja, the British app developer behind the popular Quit Sugar application, has announced the launch of HIIT Revolution, a new app for Android and iOS devices that promises to bring all the benefits of a high-intensity interval training class to the user’s own home, hotel room or office.

Sports scientists, athletes and health-conscious consumers have long known the benefits of high-intensity interval training. In fact, a scientific research paper published in the journal Metabolism more than two decades ago (‘Impact of exercise intensity on body fatness and skeletal muscle metabolism’, which was published in 1994) demonstrated that this type of interval training can help reduce both visceral and subcutaneous fat up to nine times more effectively than endurance training.

More recently, a research paper published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism in 2012 revealed that just two minutes of high-intensity interval training creates a similar level of excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) as 30 minutes of continuous endurance exercise (EPOC is a major factor in how much fat a person’s body burns after a workout).

With the launch of HIIT Revolution fitness fanatics and health-conscious consumers can now carry a dedicated interval training coach everywhere they go – a virtual “personal trainer in your pocket”.

The HIIT Revolution app brings the motivation and energy of a high-intensity interval training class into the privacy of the user’s home, office, hotel room or outside space, enabling users to enjoy the benefits of a personal training experience wherever they happen to be.

The app incorporates all the standard features you would expect from a traditional HIIT workout, including timed sessions and next exercise prompts. HIIT Revolution also offers an extensive library of streamable instruction videos, in addition to animated workout sequences, tailored workouts that can be shared with other users, a standalone HIIT Timer, and workout challenges  to help gamify a user’s workouts.

HIIT Revolution is free to download from the App Store and Google Play, and contains a number of free features. Subscriptions enabling users to access the full suite of HIIT Revolution features start from £4.99 per month.

FSB launches its own startup to address small business insurance concerns

The Federation of Small Businesses has launched its own insurance startup in order to better address the insurance needs of small businesses in the UK.

The FCA-regulated broker startup, Ruskin Square, trading as ‘FSB Insurance Service’ is a joint venture between FSB and Markel Capital Holdings, an associated company of Abbey Legal Group which runs the FSB Legal Helpline.

Today’s trading environment sees smaller firms diversifying to grow and lead the way as digital disruptors. Businesses are also facing new, rapidly developing threats including cyber-crime, terrorism and the ever increasing risk of flooding in some areas. In the meantime, the insurance market is becoming more competitive at the SME end of the scale.

In response, FSB has established its own insurance broker tasked with taking the time to provide its members with advice, as well as good value, quality products.

The business will be run by long term FSB member and experienced insurance broker, David Perry. David currently also sits on the British Insurance Brokers Association’s (BIBA) ‘Insurance Brokers Standards Committee’ and ‘Small Brokers Advisory Board’.

Dave Stallon, FSB’s commercial and operations director, said:

“Increased and new kinds of threats facing small businesses – including flooding, cyber crime, terrorism and global supply chains – call for new types of insurance, yet many small businesses often struggle to get cover at all, or, if they do, are often either underinsured or don’t have the appropriate level of cover. As an example, FSB research suggests up to 75,000 smaller businesses at risk of flooding could currently struggle to find affordable flood insurance.

“Our members are small businesses and whilst some will have common challenges and needs, they are also diverse. FSB is uniquely placed in understanding the insurance challenges facing the small business sector as a whole and how to lessen these, as well as the more bespoke needs of individual members.

“As our insurance service is built by FSB, run by FSB and owned by FSB, it has different motivations and values. Our prime ambition is to support a thriving small business sector in the UK by giving our members timely and quality advice, as well as sourcing the most competitive premiums and the best tailored insurance packages.”

The combined annual turnover of SMEs in 2017 was £1.9 trillion, 51 per cent of all private sector turnover in the UK.

David Perry, Ruskin Square’s managing director, said:

“Recent research shared by BIBA indicates that 86 per cent of SMEs want to see more bespoke insurance solutions and 71 per cent feel the Insurance Industry uses too much jargon. FSB Insurance Service will be working hard to address those issues. Our key themes are Advice, Quality and Value.”