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UK airports have made “significant improvements” in providing assistance for passengers with mobility problems, the industry regulator has said.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said that for the first time, no airports had been given a “poor” rating.

Manchester, which was the only airport to receive “a poor” rating last year, was moved out of the lowest category.

However, it was told to take immediate action to reverse a recent decline in performance.

The CAA said that in April, when Manchester switched to a new provider of special assistance, “the transition did not go as well as planned”.

“We have told senior management we expect immediate and effective action to be taken to reverse this recent decline in performance,” the CAA said in its report.

In response, Manchester Airport said: “We acknowledge that there is further to go and we are investing significant additional resources to improve services for passengers in this area, regardless of their accessibility or other requirements.”

In March, a woman with chronic fatigue syndrome accused Manchester Airport of treating her like “cargo” and “cattle” following a long-haul flight.

Jessica Stafford, 29, booked a special assistance service as she needed help to move through the airport.

But she found the experience “distressing” and “humiliating” after being asked to walk to collect her own wheelchair.

She said she was told understaffing was to blame.

The report from the CAA is its fourth annual assessment of mobility assistance.

It found that a record 3.7 million passengers were assisted at 31 airports between 1 April 2018 and 31 March this year.

The CAA rated the service of 14 airports as “very good”, and 16 as “good”. Only Manchester was classified as “needs improvement”.

“These results show significant improvements to the experience many disabled passengers faced before our reporting began,” said Paul Smith, consumers and markets director at the CAA.

“While it is good to see the general improvements, airports will need to continue to work hard to improve,” it added.

Article courtesy of BBC News.

UK gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 0.3% in the three months to May 2019 following the fall seen in April.

Both the services and production sectors grew by 0.3% in the three months to May 2019, contributing positively to headline GDP growth. However, construction growth was flat over the same period, with zero contribution.

The main contributors to services growth in May 2019 were retail trade, and information and communication. Despite these industries performing well in recent periods, there has been a notable slowdown in services growth since July 2018.

Production grew by 1.4% in May 2019, following a fall of 2.9% in April 2019. Within production, manufacturing grew by 1.4%. This was driven largely by a pick-up in the manufacture of transport equipment, following several car firms shutting down production around the originally intended departure date from the European Union. Despite this rebound, the levels of output in this industry are below those seen in the months prior to April 2019. Elsewhere, mining and quarrying grew by 0.4% following a sharp fall in April 2019.

Article courtesy of LLB.

Six weeks since launching their Innovative Finance ISA (IFISA), Growth Street has seen one million pounds deposited into its tax-free account, and it’s not even ISA season.

Growth Street’s 179 ISA investors have enthusiastically taken up the offer of an annual return of 5.8%, payable at the end of the one-year fixed term. They had the option of either investing between £10 and £20,000 of this year’s ISA allowance, or transferring in as much as they like from any of their existing ISA accounts.

The company’s new ISA offering sees investors lend to support the same portfolio of businesses as those invested in their classic account.

Greg Carter, CEO of Growth Street said, “Hitting the million-pound ISA mark so quickly is not only a great success story for Growth Street, but for the IFISA itself.

“To do it outside the scramble of ISA season, and at a time when peer-to-peer lending has had a tough time in the press, this milestone reflects the market’s appetite for innovative investment options.

“We are transforming the business overdraft to support Britain’s SME community, but we only do this after robustly assessing the risk to the investors on our platform. By combining experienced underwriters and our unique credit decisioning tool, which is powered by the data from accounting software and Open Banking – we are able to act as responsible custodians of our investors’ money.”

Simply, the UK’s fastest growing asset finance provider, today announced that it has received a £60m warehouse facility from Citi.

This deal will allow Simply to provide more funding to small and medium-sized business across the country, enabling them in turn to employ staff, serve their customers and pump oxygen into the foundations of the economy

Set up in 2017 in response to the need for disruption in the asset finance sector, Simply now employs over 85 people and has funded more than 2000 customers. Backed by the investor Cabot Square Capital, it helps businesses across a variety of sectors – manufacturing, construction, transport and waste – to purchase equipment, free up working capital and invest in growth.

Mike Randall, CEO of Simply, said: “In the two years since Simply was founded, we’re proud to have achieved a huge amount – the most important part of which is supporting thousands of bright and ambitious businesses.  We want to empower small and medium-sized organisations to realise their potential and this warehouse facility from Citi is crucial in terms of providing us with the means to do so into the future. We look forward to working with one of the largest global financial institutions over the coming years.”

Richard McDougall, Partner at Cabot Square Capital, said: “Simply continues to go from strength to strength and the fact that it is able to secure funding from an institution such as Citi shows that it is a serious player in the asset finance arena.  We are delighted for the team – particularly as Simply is making great strides in forcing the market to sit up and think differently.”

Chinese and Indian ethnic group workers have higher average earnings than their white British counterparts, the first official figures on the issue show.

But the data on the ethnicity pay gap, showed all other ethnic groups have lower wages than white British workers.

The Office for National Statistics said employees in the Bangladeshi ethnic group have the largest pay gap, earning 20% less than white British employees.

On average, ethnic minorities earn 3.8% less than white ethnic groups.

The categories are the official ones used by ONS.

In 2018, employees from the Chinese ethnic group earned 30.9% more than white British employees.

Hugh Stickland, senior ONS analyst, said: “Overall, employees from certain ethnic groups such as Indian and Chinese, have higher average earnings than their white British counterparts.

“However, all other ethnic groups have average wages lower than for white British employees, with employees from the Bangladeshi ethnic group having the largest pay gap.

“However, once characteristics such as education and occupation are taken into account, the pay gap between white British and most other ethnic groups becomes narrower, though significant differences still remain.”

The data – based on median gross hourly earnings between 2012 and 2018 – shows that the Chinese ethnicity group is the highest paid, receiving £15.75 an hour in 2018.

That group is followed by the Indian ethic group – which earns £13.47 an hour – and mixed/multiple ethnicity group, with a £12.33 hourly pay rate.

The median pay of the white British group was £12.03. The Bangladeshi group had the lowest median hourly pay of £9.60 with the second-lowest paid group being of Pakistani origin at £10 an hour.

“The harsh reality is that even today race still plays a real role in determining pay,” said Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC.

“Ministers must take bold action to confront inequality and racism in the labour market. The obvious first step is to introduce mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting without delay,” she said.


Discount supermarket chain Lidl has announced they are to open 12 new stores creating 500 jobs in Scotland where there is already 98 stores.

By November the supermarket hopes to have a new regional distribution centre at Eurocentral, North Lanarkshire.

Ross Millar, Lidl’s regional director for Scotland said, “Since opening our very first store in Scotland 25 years ago, we’ve opened our doors to towns and cities across the country, employing more than 2,200 people.

“We’re incredibly excited by our ambitious growth plans, and in particular the opening of our 100th store next year, which reinforces our commitment to creating new jobs and providing communities with quality produce at prices that are affordable for everyone.”

Original article here.

New research into the ambitions of Britain’s smallest firms has uncovered a perennially optimistic community of entrepreneurs, undeterred by the current political upheaval.

The Small Business Barometer, a biennial snapshot undertaken by small business support network Enterprise Nation, found growth expectations were impressive, and only slightly lower than the last poll in 2017.

The research, which surveys 500+ small company founders and self-employed individuals, found 72 per cent still said they expected their business to grow, compared to 77 per cent in 2017.

But there was an acceptance that working for yourself can be a lonely game. An interesting 50 per cent admitted to feeling lonely some of the time and another third (29 per cent) said they felt lonely often.

When you drill down into the detail, loneliness was at broadly the same level for those that worked full-time from home (46 per cent) and those that mixed it up with working in co-working spaces (47 per cent), or had their own office (52 per cent).

Emma Jones, founder of Enterprise Nation, said: “Yet again, we see the resilience of the UK’s entrepreneurs, and despite the political turmoil it seems they are just getting on with what they are good at – business.

“But with more than three-quarters working solo and self-funding their business, it’s clear entrepreneurship doesn’t come without its mental challenges.”

Stress comes in peaks and troughs.  And while almost half (49 per cent) of full-time workers say they feel stressed often, this actually falls when it comes to those running a side hustle (32 per cent).

Emma added: “It seems running a side hustle might actually be good for your mental health, or at least detract from work issues, while giving an outlet to creativity.”

A third (33 per cent) said they relied on family and friends for advice and support, another third (30 per cent) said they were a member of a business membership organisation and a fifth (19 per cent) said they had a mentor.  But a quarter admitted they had no one to turn to for advice.

The majority of the firms polled said they were the business’ only full-time employee (62 per cent) and 71 per cent said they used their own website to sell their product or service.

Exporting is healthy, with a third (29 per cent) saying they exported to the EU and beyond, with a slightly higher 39 per cent expecting to export over the next six months.


Full article here.

Click here to view the Agents’ Summary of Business Conditions Q2 2019. This is a summary of economic reports compiled by Agents during May 2019. It generally compares activity and prices over the past three months with a year ago. The information in this piblication references the Agents’ new aggregated scores as announced in March 2019. It also includes a summary of information gathered by the Bank’s Decision Maker Panel survey and a survey on preparations for EU withdrawal.

Growth Street, which is reinventing the business overdraft, has hit a big milestones in June. It has now matched over £500m worth of investor funds on its platform since launch in 2014.

This milestone was hit at a time when Growth Street looks to diversify their investor offering. It recently announced Aman Mehra joining its ranks from Market Invoice to lead their efforts to attract institutional investors. This appointment followed Growth Street’s launch of an Innovative Finance ISA (IFISA) in May and its drive to vary individuals investors with businesses who may want to invest their surplus cash on the platform.

Greg Carter, CEO of Growth Street said,“Matching over £500m worth of loans to support British businesses achieve their plans for growth – is something the whole team should be proud of. But we aren’t stopping here. We have some ambitious goals for 2019 and beyond as we look to support more growing businesses whilst also developing our investor propositions.”

Article from London Loves Business.

The women have all been recognised in celebration of the amazing work they have done to inspire other women to cycle as the national cycling charity officially launches its Women’s Festival of Cycling. Amongst the 100 ladies listed this year are Paralympian Dame Sarah Storey, TV presenter, Angellica Bell (pictured with Fatima) and triple Olympic medallist, Victoria Pendleton.

It’s estimated that only a million women in the UK cycle regularly, just 3% of the population, with many more bike journeys made by men than women. The Women’s Festival of Cycling aims to address that imbalance by inspiring more women to get in the saddle.

Fatima has been working hard developing the borough’s cycling programme which has seen registrations for its free courses and rides soar over the past 3 years. Back in 2016/17 there were just under 100 adults attending, but under Fatima’s watch and funding by Transport for London, participants have jumped to 1,686 over the past year. Encouragingly, over 80% the participants are women and from ethnic minority backgrounds, with a huge age range from 16 – 82. LBH is doing everything it can to create an environment for inclusive cycling. The borough is now looking to invest in adapted bikes and setting up weekly drop in sessions in September in support of this strategy.

Fatima said:

“I love the freedom cycling gives me and the healthier, cleaner option it represents when travelling around London. Cycling keeps me fit and removes all my stress to have a more positive, fun outlook on life.”

Councillor Hanif Khan, Cabinet Member for Transport at Hounslow Council said:

“We are delighted that Fatima has received this well-deserved recognition for her hard work. Fatima really threw herself into her role coordinating the cycle programme for the council and in the process discovered a true passion for cycling herself. Fatima’s enthusiasm has been infectious and she really inspires others to enjoy cycling as much as she does.

“Hounslow Council is lending its full support to cycling and other modes of sustainable travel. If we are to improve air quality across London, we must reduce car journeys and what better way to get out and about, especially at this time of year than by bike?”

Article from London Borough of Hounslow.