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The Cumbria Chamber of Commerce Podcast

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How to break into nuclear

Renewed efforts are underway to help more small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Cumbrian win work in the nuclear sector. Almost 50 businesses attended an ‘SME awareness day’ in Workington last week to showcase the opportunities available in the sector. In this podcast, Eva Foran of Cumbria Business Growth Hub, Steve Dixon of Morgan Sindall, and Mark Turner, representing the Supply Chain Sustainability School, examine how SMEs can break into this potentially lucrative...


Why Cumbria LEP has to change

Local Enterprise Partnerships – LEPs for short – were the Coalition Government’s ‘big idea’ to drive economic growth in the regions. But Cumbria LEP has come under fire for poor performance. In this podcast its new chairman, Lord Inglewood, sets out his vision. He explains more about the LEP’s role, and looks at the challenges and opportunities for Cumbria arising from Brexit, the Borderlands Growth Deal, and a shrinking working-age population. Cumbria LEP is drawing up a Local...


How to avoid a World Cup own goal

The World Cup is in full swing and Wimbledon fortnight begins on Monday. Major sporting events like these can cause a headache for employers as staff request time off to watch or, worse still, pretend to be ill and take a sickie. In this podcast Tom Scaife, a partner and employment specialist with the commercial law firm Baines Wilson, looks at how employers should deal with these issues and how to avoid related discrimination claims.


Protect your business against fraud

Research commissioned by Barclays Bank reveals that almost half of SMEs have been targeted by fraudsters, and one-in-four of these has fallen victim. Where businesses are caught out, the average cost is £35,000. To mark Scams Awareness Month, Will Hayhurst of Cumbria Trading Standards looks at what businesses can do to protect themselves against the fraudsters.


Why Penrith needs a Masterplan

Eden Council will unveil its Penrith Vision Masterplan this summer. It will set out how the town will develop through to 2050 including plans for new homes, schools, open space, a new business park and a relief road linking the A66 east of Penrith with M6 junction 41. In this podcast, Eden Council’s Leader Kevin Beaty explains why the Masterplan is necessary if Penrith is to continue to grow and prosper.


Are you ready for Making Tax Digital?

The Government has decided that all businesses – including buy-to-let landlords – will have to use computer software for their accounts, sending quarterly updates online to HM Revenue Making Tax Digital is being phased in, starting with VAT next April. In this podcast, Claire Phillips and Simon Kirkbride, of accountant Dodd & Co, look at the new system and what businesses should do to be prepared.


How to recover aged debts

It’s getting harder for businesses to recover overdue debts, according to research from the invoice financing firm Liberis. A survey carried out in March found that small UK businesses are owed £14.9bn in late payments, up from £13.9bn only six months ago. A quarter are owed more than £20,000 and half say that aged debts have hindered investment in their business. They spend, on average, £5,000 a year in time trying to recover these funds. In this podcast Rob Winder, head of the debt and...


Why we need the Morecambe Bay crossing

We’re increasingly optimistic that the tidal energy scheme incorporating road crossings of Morecambe Bay and the Duddon is viable. Things have moved on apace since Chamber Insight first reported on the £10bn project last year. Rob Johnston, Chief Executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, said: “We’ve asked Transport for North to consider including the scheme in its strategic plan because we think the economic benefits could be enormous. “It would slash journey times to Furness and...


Is it time to reopen the railway to Keswick?

The railway from Penrith to Keswick closed in 1972 but rail engineer Cedric Martindale is campaigning to reopen the 18-mile link. He has formed CKP Railways to take the project forward, sold bonds to raise £400,000 and produced a business case. In this podcast, he outlines the benefits that reinstating the line would bring and looks at the obstacles that must be overcome. Find out more about the project here.


How to win public sector contracts

Despite the austerity cuts of recent years, the public sector is still a major player in Cumbria. We have seven local authorities, the Lake District National Park, a major Defra presence, the University of Cumbria and the NHS. That’s a big potential market. In this podcast Kevin Thistlethwaite, an adviser with Cumbria Business Growth Hub, explains how SMEs can bid for contracts with local authorities, government departments and other public sector organisations.


What future for Cumbria in the digital age?

Speaking at a recent Chamber event, the Lancaster University academic Andrew Atherton speculated that Cumbria will benefit as the high cost of operating in London prompts businesses to move out of the capital. He explores the theme further in this podcast and considers what more Cumbria can do to attract inward investment, where future growth will come from and how we can encourage the businesses we have to scale up. Andrew Atherton is Professor of Enterprise and Deputy Vice-Chancellor...


Helping your business to recruit staff

Around half of businesses in Cumbria that try to recruit staff struggle to do so. With the unemployment benefit claimant count rate as low as 0.7% in parts of the county, and thousands of workers due to retire over the next 10 years, it’s a problem that is expected to get worse. In this podcast Shane Byrne, Partnership Manager at JobCentre Plus in Cumbria, explains how they can help employers to recruit staff, and how the new Universal Credit is making it easier for claimants to get back...


The VAT threshold explained

The UK’s £85,000 VAT threshold is the highest in the EU and the OECD. It has been frozen until 2020 when, in all likelihood, it will be reduced. Ministers believe that having a high threshold discourages small businesses from growing and fuels the black economy. Are they right? In this podcast Pauline Jackson, a tax partner at chartered accountant Saint & Co, examines the arguments for and against cutting the registration threshold and looks at other VAT measures the Government might...


Why South Lakeland is Cumbria’s economic powerhouse

South Lakeland is the fastest-growing economy in Cumbria and North Lancashire and has the lowest unemployment rate in the North West. In this podcast Councillor Graham Vincent, the Economy and Assets Portfolio Holder at South Lakeland District Council, looks at why its economy is so successful and examines the challenges that success brings. He also explains the thinking behind the council’s revamped business website – – and discusses the impact of Brexit,...


Where next for tourism in Cumbria?

This is English Tourism Week (March 17-25), which aims to celebrate the industry and raise its profile. In this podcast, Nigel Wilkinson looks at the challenges and opportunities for the sector, which is worth £2.72bn a year to Cumbria. Nigel is Managing Director of Windermere Lake Cruises, one of the top 10 paid-for visitor attractions in England, and is a director of Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership where he leads on tourism issues.


What the Spring Statement means for Cumbria

Chancellor Philip Hammond delivered his first Spring Statement on Tuesday. He was upbeat about the economy, predicting stronger growth, falling government borrowing and falling inflation. In this podcast, Chamber Chief Executive Rob Johnston looks beyond the spin to assess the impact of the Chancellor’s statement in Cumbria. And he examines Donald Trump’s proposed steel and aluminium tariffs, which could provoke a damaging trade war.


Clear for take off at Carlisle Airport

The last scheduled passenger flight from Carlisle Lake District Airport was in 1993. Twenty-five years later they are about to resume. In this podcast, Kate Willard of Stobart Group outlines plans to begin daily services to London Southend, Belfast and Dublin from June 4, and looks at the prospects for new routes. Click here to register for updates about Carlisle Airport. Click here to find out how to subscribe to Chamber podcasts.


Is your business ready for GDPR?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force on May 25, replacing the Data Protection Act. All businesses that handle personal data must comply – those that fail to do so face potentially crippling fines of up to four times’ annual turnover. In this podcast Tom Scaife, a partner in the commercial and corporate law firm Baines Wilson, explains the responsibilities and obligations that businesses have, and what they should do to stay compliant.


How food firms can supply the big players

Malcolm Laidlaw, of ML3 Technical Services, is an expert in food safety and labelling. In this podcast, he discusses the quality systems and accreditations that food and drink businesses need to supply national regional players such as Booths and industry giants such as Tesco and McDonald’s.


Have you made a will yet?

Most of us realise that it’s sensible and prudent to make a will, yet only three-in-10 people have made one by the time they die. In this podcast, Rachael Stephenson, a senior associate at Burnetts Solicitors who heads the firm’s wills, probate and trusts team, explains why it is particularly important for business owners to have a will and sets out what might happen to your assets if you don’t have one.