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New National Secretary for ASC


Paul Taylor has assumed the role of National Secretary of The Association of Speakers Clubs (ASC), which exists to help people become better speakers, presenters and leaders. It was created in 1972 through a split from the US based organisation – Toastmasters International, and is a national non-profit association of clubs throughout Great Britain. The clubs are organised into 8 Districts sub-divided into Areas. The ruling body, the General Council, consists of delegates from each ASC Club, Area and District, and the National Executive Committee (NEC) is the Association’s administrative body. It consists of the National President, Secretary, Treasurer, Development Officer and Education Director together with other appointive officers along with the District President of each District.


ACS has called on Ofgem to ensure that local shops and other small businesses are included in proposals to limit back-billing of electricity and gas.


Currently, suppliers have signed up to voluntary agreements to only back-bill domestic consumers for a maximum of 12 months. Ofgem is looking at whether to introduce licence obligations for suppliers, due to the regulator stating that: “we are not confident that the principle is being applied consistently across the market and are concerned that not all suppliers have appropriate back billing arrangements in place.”


In an open letter from October 2012, Ofgem stated that: “our analysis of the information from our request does not suggest that any particular supplier or set of suppliers is disproportionately impacted by moving to a limit of one year.”

ACS has been campaigning for several years to reduce the back-billing limit for small businesses to one year, in line with that of domestic consumers, and has worked with Ofgem, the All Party Parliamentary Small Shops Group and 10 Downing Street to stop excessive back-bills being issued to small businesses. However, the current non-domestic back-billing limits still range from anything up to five years depending on the supplier.


ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “For a retailer, an unexpected back-bill worth thousands of pounds can be a threat to their business. Many energy suppliers have taken positive steps to reduce the impact of back-bills by limiting them to 12 months, as is the case in the domestic sector. However, a number of energy companies still refuse to change their policies and this is simply unacceptable. We believe that local shops and other small businesses should be protected by the same standards of conduct that govern supplier interaction with domestic consumers, and that Ofgem should act swiftly to introduce a licence condition to limit back-billing to a maximum of 12 months.”

The full submission is available here.

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Over half of small businesses with EU workers are worried about accessing people with the right skills (59%), or growing their business (54%) post-Brexit, according to new research from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

FSB’s latest report, ‘A skilful exit: What small firms want from Brexit’, shows one fifth (21%) of small employers currently have EU staff. Nearly three quarters (72%) of these small firms recruited all of their EU workers when they were already living in the UK. And the vast majority of small firms (95%) have no experience using the UK’s points-based immigration system to recruit non-EU workers.


The research highlights the need for small firms to have continued access to labour and skills from the EU post-Brexit. It finds that small businesses with EU workers mainly employ mid-skilled staff (47%), such as care and construction workers, mechanics and office managers.


FSB calls on the UK Government to guarantee, as soon as possible, the right to remain for EU citizens in the workforce. It also finds small firms, on average, want a transition period of more than three years after the UK exits the EU to meet their jobs needs.

Janet Jones, FSB Wales Policy Unit Chair, said: “There is real concern among small firms with EU staff that they will lose access to the skills and labour their business needs to survive and grow. EU workers are a vital part of our economy, helping to plug chronic skills gaps across a wide range of sectors, and filling jobs in an already tight labour market. Small employers need to be able to hire the right person, for the right job at the right time.

“Securing the right to remain for EU workers in the UK must be a priority. It’s also crucial small firms are given time after the UK leaves the EU to prepare for the new immigration arrangements. There can’t be a sudden cliff edge preventing small firms from accessing the workers they need. This means having sensible transitional arrangements first, followed by the phased implementation of a new immigration system.

“Our research also shows that a significant number of small firms will rely on investing in training and skills to resolve recruitment barriers, particularly those with mid-skill requirements. Getting the Welsh Government’s apprenticeship programme right for SMEs will therefore be essential if Wales’ smaller businesses are to attract and train talent locally.”


Peter James, Managing Director of Cintec International, said: “Cintec International Ltd is owned by me and I have stand-alone companies in Canada, America, a branch office in India and a partnership in Australia, together with numerous agents throughout the world representing the company. I have a number of very excellent employees from Europe but do not believe that they want to return home after Brexit and there should be provision for them to stay in the UK after the event.”

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The Association of Festival Organisers launches AFO Conference 2017


The Association of Festival Organisers (AFO) has invited anyone working in the festival and events industry, either as a professional or volunteer, to join them for the 31st AFO Conference on 10-12 November 2017 at Ettington Chase Conference Centre, Stratford-upon-Avon.


Steve Heap, General Secretary of AFO says “We are excited to launch AFO Conference 2017.  We have some great speakers and sessions in the pipeline.  Delegates can expect regular Conference highlights such as the popular round table discussions and the famous Colin Irwin Interview, whose past interviewees have included Andy Kershaw, Tom Robinson, Oysterband’s John Jones and Ian Telfer amongst others.  This year’s interview promises to be just as insightful and entertaining.  Keep an eye on our website for details.”


The Conference agenda will also include hot topics, key note speakers and more intimate breakout sessions.

AFO Conference is open to all.  Steve says, “Whether you have been in the festival and event business for years or are just starting out, AFO Conference is an invaluable opportunity to share ideas, support each other and learn something new.”

Bob Rushton from Derby Live summed up the inclusive feel to AFO Conference “Brain buzzing from AFO Conference.  Some great sessions, chats, music, links and all round sense of “all being in it together”!”


Since its formation in 1986, when a small group of like-minded festival organisers got together to chat and share ideas, AFO Conference has grown into a key date in the festival and events calendar, now attracting over 250 delegates.

Chris Johnson, of Shambala Festival and Kambe Events says “AFO Conference has real integrity as an industry meeting and gathering”.


From Friday evening to late lunch on Sunday, the session rooms and stages will be buzzing with headline speakers, presentations, discussions, ‘how to do that’ sessions, panel debates and that all important time for networking. The Trade & Agent Market is in the heart of the networking space offering agents and suppliers the perfect opportunity to advertise their wares and generate new business.  Two Showcase concerts will feature the best up and coming artists on the festival scene, a chance for festival programmers to snap up these great acts and include them in their 2018 festival bill.

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IMPRESS, which claims to be the first truly independent press regulator in the UK, and is recognised by Royal Charter, has launched a new standards code.


The IMPRESS Standards Code is a modern Code that aims to assist journalists by promoting and supporting their work. It also aims to protect the public from invasive journalistic practices and unethical news reporting. The Code is practical and responsive to emerging challenges in the digital era including issues like verifying the authenticity of sources and information and using content from social media. Areas covered include ACCURACY, ATTRIBUTION & PLAGIARISM, PRIVACY, and TRANSPARENCY. There is also guidance on the subjects of CHILDREN, DISCRIMINATION, HARASSMENT and sources. This latter requires publishers to take every step to preserve the identity of sources who have communicated their wish to remain anonymous. This means that publishers must have a system – for example, a secure database – to ensure that the identity of confidential sources is protected.


The IMPRESS Code and guidance notes can be downloaded at:

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Creative Industries Federation Launch General Election Manifesto


The Creative Industries Federation, the national membership organisation that brings together all of the UK’s arts, creative industries and cultural education, has launched its election manifesto. 


According to the Creative Industries Federation it is key to driving growth in a post-Brexit Britain. The fastest growing part of the UK’s economy, the sector contributes £87bn in GVA.


It returns four times the GVA of the automotive industry, six times as much as life sciences and nearly 10 times that of aerospace. Between 2011 and 2015, it created three times more jobs than the economy as a whole. The UK is the third-largest exporter of cultural goods and services in the world – just behind China and the US. However, as other countries are now prioritising the sector, we cannot take our global pre-eminence for granted.


With much of this growth, innovation and job creation emerging beyond London and the South East, the creative industries are also critical to delivering social and economic regeneration in places that need it the most. Few other sectors can deliver so much and at this scale.


With the right vision, leadership and policies in place, the creative industries can help secure an economy and society that works for all. But if government fails to deliver, this vision is at risk.


We have identified 10 priority recommendations that will enable the creative industries, arts and cultural education – and therefore the nation – to thrive:


  1. Ensure that the creative industries and arts are a priority sector in Brexit negotiations. Federation members were overwhelmingly in favour of remaining in the EU for very practical reasons. The sector will be particularly vulnerable if we do not get right all the key issues in negotiations, among them movement of talent and intellectual property (IP).


  1. Prioritise the creative industries in a new visa system. Our visa system was built for an industrial landscape that no longer exists. We need a 21st century model that recognises the needs of fast-growing, world-leading and highly innovative sectors, including science, tech and the creative industries.


  1. Double the number of creative companies that export by the end of the next Parliament. Trade strategies are currently geared toward larger enterprises, whereas the creative industries are primarily made up of small and micro businesses. The sector accounted for 9% of total exports of services from the UK in 2014, valued at £20bn – an underestimate. With the right support, exports could be far higher, offering economic stability to a post-Brexit Britain.


  1. Introduce creative enterprise zones. The success of the creative industries can and must be harnessed to deliver growth and regeneration across the UK. Government should extend the roll-out of enterprise zones to cover the creative industries. Areas that axe or severely reduce arts funding would be ineligible.


  1. Establish a creative industries ‘business booster’ network. Freelancers, microbusinesses and SMEs – the backbone of the creative industries – often struggle to access finance and support around intellectual property and exports at the early, often risky stage of development. A national centre, based outside London and with a regional network, to provide advice on these issues is needed to ensure the creative industries continue to grow apace.


  1. Set up a creative skills commission. The creative industries face significant skills shortages because we have failed to prepare young people in education and training. The commission would report within six months on practical measures to defuse the skills time bomb and better equip the next generation for 21st century life.


  1. Launch a creative careers campaign. Careers guidance must be transformed. Government should lead on a creative careers campaign to correct inadequate information about potential careers in the creative industries and open up access to those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Better, inspirational advice would go some way towards solving the skills crisis in the creative industries and in others that rely heavily on creative skills, such as manufacturing.


  1. Limit ‘outstanding’ to schools that warrant it. Creative employment is resistant to automation, and adapting to the future jobs landscape will demand creative skills. Securing a workforce fit for the 21st century begins at school. A school must teach at least one creative subject, in lesson time, in order to be eligible for an ‘outstanding’ rating by Ofsted.


  1. Maintain and inflation-proof existing national and local investment in culture and the arts. Modest public investment in the arts not only supports our world-beating public institutions but provides cross-fertilisation for the commercial sector in talent and ideas.


  1. Maintain and increase the growth of the creative industries. Over the past five years, the sector has grown by 34% – the fastest growing part of the UK’s economy. Government should commit to maintaining and increasing this pace of growth by 2022 for the sake not only of the sector, but of the wider economy too. This could take the GVA of the sector to an impressive £120bn.

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NfP Technology Projects – Why do they Succeed or Fail? – Research Study

Hart Square’s 2016 research study gathered answers from industry professionals of all levels and areas of expertise, providing us with valuable insights from over 200 CRM projects on the types of systems people buy, how much they paid for them and crucially, what ‘behaviors’ lead to success or failure. We then combined these results with our knowledge of the supplier marketplace to create a detailed report, which is both engaging and relevant to any NfP organisation considering a CRM or website project. Access last year’s report below.

Read CRM Projects: Why do they succeed or fail?

In response to the demand for this research, we are now expanding our areas of research to focus on the success and failure of all digital projects within the NfP sector.

As before, we are gathering anonymous survey results from the sector and will release these, along with our expert analysis, in an accessible, compelling format. If you would like to be part of this research and receive a free hard copy of the report for your interest, please submit your email to us by 15 June 2017 and we will be in touch.

Take Part in 2017’s Research Study

Read more about Hart Square, see our informative articles or attend one of our events, by visiting our website here.