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ACS (the Association of Convenience Stores) has raised concerns about the complexity of proposals to track the progress of legitimate tobacco products through the supply chain.  

New draft regulations from the EU Commission would require UK retailers and wholesalers to register and pay to receive unique ‘identifier codes’ in order to sell tobacco products.

Despite the directive referencing that only the ‘last economic operator before the retailer’ would be affected, the regulations require retailers to register to buy tobacco products and to track each purchase of tobacco from a wholesaler.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “It is important that we tackle the illicit tobacco market throughout the supply chain but these regulations would place a significant cost and time burden on retailers, requiring them to register and pay for identifier codes for both their overall business and each individual store, and produce them each time they purchase tobacco.  We will be working with the UK Government and EU commission to amend the regulations.”

The EU Commission consultation runs until 2 October for all stakeholders to provide feedback and ACS will be responding to the consultation.  EU member states, including the UK Government, will have opportunities to amend and block the regulations.


ACS has welcomed Local Government Minister Marcus Jones’ intervention to speed up the process of rebilling businesses that are waiting for rate relief.

In a Commons statement, he said: “The Government has been consistently clear that it expects local authorities to make rapid progress in helping business by implementing these relief schemes. 

“Overall, however, despite various examples of good practice, the pace of providing relief to ratepayers has not been acceptable. I have written today to those authorities that have not fully implemented all three schemes asking them to rebill businesses that are set to benefit from relief as soon as possible.” 

Mr Jones added that he will be publishing a list of authorities that have rebilled businesses who have been affected by each of the three relief schemes next month.

The schemes include a £300m fund for local authorities to give to hard-pressed businesses facing higher bills and funds that limit annual increases to £600 for those losing either small business or rural rate relief.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Business rates are one of the biggest fixed costs for thousands of local shops and other small businesses, with one in three convenience stores forced to deal with an increase in their rates bills as a result of the revaluation. We welcome the Minister’s intervention on this issue, and hope that it can be resolved swiftly so that businesses can receive the relief that they’re entitled to.”

The Government had previously set a deadline of September this year to have new bills with business that had been affected. 

The full written statement from Marcus Jones MP is available here:


Confidence in small business in Wales falters but small businesses continue to drive Wales’ economy forwards.

A new report from FSB Wales shows that small business confidence has dropped from a three year high of +31 in Q2 to +22 in Q3, however, the Welsh Business Index shows that Wales is still significantly outperforming the rest of the UK, which saw the index fall from +15 last quarter to +1.1 in Q3.

The index shows that small business confidence is still higher than it was a year ago. The UK Small Business Index stands above the -2.9 level seen in Q3 2016, but has fallen over the past two quarters.

Janet Jones, FSB Wales Policy Unit Chair, said:

“This new SBI report shows that small business confidence has wavered in Wales, although confidence in Wales is still higher than that in the rest of the UK.

“Despite faltering business confidence, 19.7% of business reported that they had increased their employee headcount in the third quarter of 2017. This serves as an important reminder that Wales is built on a small business economy, and that any plans from the Welsh Government to develop the national economy must be aimed at improving circumstances for small businesses.”

Over the third quarter a net balance of 52% of small businesses in Wales reported export growth – much higher than the 19.5% reported by small businesses across the UK. Growth is largely driven by strength in key export markets such as the EU. The EU accounts for over two thirds of Welsh exports, compared to just less than half of the UK’s exports. In the year to March 2017, the value of exports to the EU from Wales increased by 13%, whilst exports to countries outside the EU increased by 10%.

Janet Jones commented: “Small businesses in Wales are exporting more than ever before, and it is important that the UK and Welsh Governments are supporting this growing trend. We recently called for Welsh Government to develop a Trade and Investment Strategy and a key part of that would be supporting small businesses who seek to trade abroad.”


Meet the Experts and Make Valuable Connections at Our Events in October

Win 2 free tickets for Techsmart NFP on November 28th at County Hall valued at over £200


Our calendar of events offers a variety of formats to learn and are all designed to provide:

Real-life client case studies from your peers;

practical help, expertise and take-aways;

opportunity to make valuable connections;

technology experts sharing their insights and years of experience.

“Making CRM and web projects work in the NFP sector”

Afternoon event, including networking over wine and beer

Wednesday, October 11, 4:00-6:30pm

Location: The fantastic Montcalm at The Brewery, 52 Chiswell St, London EC1Y 4SA

View full programme and register

“Finding the right digital solution for educating, accrediting and regulatory bodies”

Intimate roundtable discussion over hot breakfast

Thursday, October 19, 8:30-10:30am

Location: Mary Ward House, 5-7 Tavistock Place, London, Kings Cross WC1H 9SN

View full programme and register here

“How to choose the right partner and system while avoiding the pitfalls?”

Morning event over hot breakfast

Tuesday, October 24, 8:30–10:30am

Location: Hush Mayfair, Lancashire Court, 8 Brook St, London W1S 1EY

View full programme and register  

Click here to see our full calendar of events


And don’t forget, at each event, we will be giving away two free tickets worth over £200 for our TechSmart NFP event on November 28th at County Hall – the perfect place to research the marketplace and make new contacts.

Hart Square are independent consultants, with in-depth knowledge of the non-profit sector and the technology marketplace.

We hope you can join us,

Glenda Parker


In a response to the current economic environment – and as reported in edition 245 of ASSOCIATION NEWS – the National Association of Jewellers has announced a partnership with Made in Britain. The organisation claims to represent more than 1000 UK makers across 40 product sectors with one universal manufacturer’s marque. The affiliate agreement will give NAJ members the opportunity to use the Made in Britain marque at a preferential rate in 2018.

Members manufacturing in the UK who sign up to scheme will benefit from publicity on both the NAJ and the Made in Britain websites and the right to use a proposed optional mark on the jewellery itself. An initial outline terms of licence was signed at International Jewellery London on Monday 4th of September, and manufacturers, designers and retailers can now register their interest.

Hallmarking is one of the oldest pieces of consumer protection legislation in the UK, and is designed to provide consumers with a clear indication of the quality of gold and other precious metal items.

Until 1998, a Hallmark consisted of four compulsory marks.  Since 1998 a date letter has become optional but the other three symbols remain compulsory, and indicate: who made the article; its guaranteed standard of fineness; and the year and Assay Office, at which the article was tested and marked.

The NAJ’s plan is to introduce a ‘Made in Britain mark’ for jewellery manufactured in the UK in the hope that a country of origin mark on British-made goods will help boost sales.  The clothing sector has long realised the cache of promoting its British made products – particularly in the luxury sector – and NAJ hopes that British named jewellery will carry similar kudos in overseas markets.

Hallmarking in the UK is performed by four government approved assay offices. Whilst some have made positive noises in support of the initiative, a concern would be that there would be a confusion with Hallmarking. Uncertainty also hangs over the precise definition of what qualifies as ‘British’, and how the use of the mark would be policed overseas.


There has never been a more challenging time to be an association Board member.  There always were challenges. But with the increased availability of affordable technology; increased member expectations; more onerous and additional legislation and regulation; and the drive for better governance and accountability, the pace of change has exceeded what most us could ever have imagined even 10 years ago.

Therefore, with exponentially Increasing expectations of members, increased burdens in areas such as external reporting requirements, and increased risk of legal actions, Board members need to be clearer about their obligations and responsibilities in the face of the potential for prosecution. They also have skills and knowledge gaps, especially in fast moving ICT areas.

Quite simply, board members don’t have the time, relevant experience or capacity to assimilate all the appropriate background material.   Lots of help is available to identify these areas of risk and how to navigate them, but most of it is poorly targeted, expensive and some not necessarily relevant to Board members of associations.

So, IofAM have teamed up with an expert lawyer, and devised a bespoke training course for association Boards and Directors. The course goes back to basics, explaining the vital elements of good governance and then unpacks the complex legislative and regulatory framework association Boards and Directors must comply with. This is supported by a take-away delegate pack including the presentation – and additional information on specific subject areas.

Core subjects include: Corporate Structures and the Role of the Board, Committees and their Chairs; Board meetings: Structure, Agenda, Minutes, Conduct; Directors’ Duties and Responsibilities and Persons with Significant Control; The role and duty of the Company Secretary; Conflicts of Interest and Collective Decision Making; and, Constitution and Memorandum and Articles of Association and Regulation.

Additional topics which may be touched upon include: Basics of Good Governance, communication methods including e-communication; Delegation of Powers by Officers to Board members in between meetings; Board agility: flexing roles and the role of staff members in supporting the Board; and, Learning to take a strategic view: what are Directors there to deliver: linking operational activities back to strategic objectives.

More detailed training on these topics will be provided in future sessions.

Rachel Gwynne provides specialist corporate and governance advice and support to Registered Providers, charities and not-for-profit organisations. She has a particular focus on large projects including corporate and group restructuring, governance reviews, collaborations, joint ventures, stock transfers and charitable conversions.

Rachel also has significant experience in advising on governance issues, regulatory matters and charity law requirements and provides strategic and operational support to Boards and Executive Teams.

Date: Wednesday 18th October 2017

Venue: Shakespeare Martineau, 60 Gracechurch St, London EC3V 0HR

Time:  2.00 pm – 4.45 pm.  Registration from 1.30 pm

Register here

Or Contact: or  to register or for further information.


Associations call for urgent measures to minimise airport disruption in Europe.

The European Regions Airline Association1 (ERA) and other leading industry associations are expressing significant concern regarding delays at airports related to the enhanced border control since Regulation EU458/2017 entered into force.

Together, the associations urge member states to take the necessary measures to minimise the adverse impact on EU citizens and connectivity at EU hub airports. Between April 2017 and June 2017, and after Regulation EU458/2017 entered into force, the number of delayed flights due to border control issues increased by 97 per cent compared to 2016. Furthermore, in June 2017, the contribution to the average delay time per delayed flight due to border control issues increased by 30 per cent2 compared to 2016. With the new requirements imposed on border authorities, it is essential that adequate human resources are allocated and processes implemented by member states to minimise the impact. ERA, together with other industry associations IATA, AIRE, A4E and ACI, are calling for member states to urgently adopt the following measures:

In accordance with Article 15 of the Schengen Border Code, all member states should deploy the necessary number of border officers and consider further deployment of automated border control gates, including at secondary airports where non-Schengen traffic is significant.

Member states such as Spain and France which are collecting Advance Passenger Information (API) should make use of the provisions set out in Article 8 paragraph 2e which were specifically added to allow for more efficient checks. The advance verification on the basis of API data could also speed up controls for EU passengers on inbound flights.

More information:Click here.


UK Finance: Contactless Changing the Way We Pay

Contactless spending in the first half of 2017 was £23.23 billion, compared to £9.27 billion in the first half of 2016. So, to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the UK’s launch of contactless technology, UK Finance published the latest usage figures on Monday, 4 September.

The first contactless cards in the UK were launched in September 2007, increasing by 26% in 2016, with 111 million contactless cards in issue as of June 2017. Contactless usage is expected to increase four-fold by 2026. During the first half of this year the amount spent using contactless technology (£23.23 billion) almost matched the amount spent in 2016 (£25 billion).

The most popular places for using contactless cards are supermarkets, off-licences and other food and drink retailers, accounting for 45% of contactless spending. Restaurants, fast food establishments, pubs and coffee shops were also popular with consumers paying with contactless. New uses for contactless include donation points to be used by charities and ongoing rollouts of contactless ticketing on public transport across the country.

Richard Koch, Head of Cards at UK Finance, said:

“Contactless has revolutionised the way consumers pay, and is increasingly being used instead of cash for transactions under £30.

“With a generation of customers now used to the convenience of paying with contactless we are confident that the places you can use it will continue to grow, with usage predicted to increase four-fold in the next 10 years.”

Shashi Verma, Chief Technology Officer at Transport for London, said:

 “Contactless payments have completely transformed how people pay for travel in London.  We’ve now seen more than one billion journeys made using contactless payment cards and on average two million journeys are made every day. Transport has led the way on contactless and become the catalyst for the use of this new payment method. The benefits to customers have been immeasurable and many world cities are now looking to adopt similar payment systems on their transport network.”

Download the report here

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has warned the new Government not to overlook the domestic agenda as it starts the negotiations over withdrawing from the EU. 

FSB National Chairman Mike Cherry said: “Brexit is clearly the most urgent focus for the new Government but it will only be successful if the Government fully backs small businesses, the backbone of the economy, whose ambitions will need to be harnessed to make use of any new trade deals.

“UK negotiators must have their interests in mind, including easy access to the single market and the ability to hire workers with the skills they need.”

The organisation also warned the Government not to revisit plans to raise National Insurance on the self-employed. 

“Many self-employed strivers were frightened during the recent election by the threat of a tax grab on them in the form of higher National Insurance Contributions,” said Mr Cherry. “I call on the new minority Government to rule that out once and for, to reassure entrepreneurs seeking to help our economy grow that they will not have extra obstacles thrown in their way.”

He also called for reform of the outdated business rates system and the need to tackle the poor treatment of many small firms by big business customers: “We look forward to working constructively with the new Government on all of these issues.”



NCC Education is an awarding organisation and provider of British education, claiming to offer a complete education solution to a global network of fifty Accredited Partner Centres in more than 50 countries.

Originally a division of the National Computing Centre – first established as a government IT initiative in 1966 – it initially offered IT qualifications. Gradually expanding its higher education portfolio to include Business, English Language, and Foundation level qualifications. In 1997, they incorporated as an awarding organisation of British qualifications recognised by universities, professional bodies and employers worldwide.

ProTech, on the other hand, has been delivering specialist CRM software and change management services to the Not for Profit (NFP) sector for more than 20 years. Its Pro-9 CRM software operates in a Microsoft environment and delivers easily configurable specialist NFP modules with CRM, workflow, process automation and reporting capability at their core: Membership & Subscriptions, Learning & Education/Professional Qualifications, CPD, Event Management, Annual Appeal, Fundraising, Marketing & Campaigns and Sales Ledger.

NCC Education and ProTech have now teamed up, with the latter’s digital platform, ProWeb, and its specialist CRM software Pro9, providing a secure, integrated web and CRM solution hosted in ProTech’s ProCloud. In choosing the ProTech solution NCC Education hopes to significantly improve its levels of customer service, reduce its operating costs, and support its strategy of giving  its customers, employee users, and learners, a web based communications channel.

“Our current Awarding Body Management System, developed around ten years ago, is now constrained by physical and technological limitations,” said Emma Dawkins, Director of Qualifications and Academic Delivery for NCC Education.

“As our Awarding Body Management System is now out dated it does not integrate fully or in some areas at all, with other systems we deploy. This has resulted in our inability to take advantage of modern technology and its application in innovative teaching delivery and assessment activity which are at the core of an awarding organisation.” 

NCC Education will move away from its existing ‘on premise’ system to a cloud-based Awarding Body Management System, thereby removing the need to manage, support, and host infrastructure. This was one of the key criteria in the selection of ProTech and its integrated web and CRM solution hosted in ProCloud, a secure, always available, fully serviced Cloud infrastructure.

This digital platform should ensure that NCC Education’s system will be scalable, flexible and adaptable to meet its current and future business requirements, and provide integration with other major systems it uses. A new Centre Portal for NCC Education is envisaged, that will initially provide an online interface for its Accredited Partner Centres.   This will allow them to perform additional online activities including: registering students, and their specific qualification journeys; scheduling exams, conducting online exam assessments, and receive qualification results; and monitoring and tracking students’ progress. 

ProTech’s cloud-based solution will compliment NCC Education’s existing Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), ensuring that it offers learner-led and customised features in line with and exceeding those of other VLE’s currently on the market.

Business benefits to be delivered will include: user accounts fully integrated with NCC Education’s main student and Centre Portal database; automated workflow; and integrated document management across the organisation. Importantly, NCC Education’s financial processes and data will now be integrated with its accounting system. Integrated web and CRM is a key element of NCC Education’s overall business strategy. The objective being support of operational management and delivery of NCC Education’s core teaching and assessments business.

For more info visit: