Business rate announcement


The chancellor’s announcement yesterday at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester to allow councils to retain Business Rates was stunning.

It could have a massive impact on businesses throughout England.

The CBI has yet to issue a comment, but the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) was quick to make a statement:

“The surprise announcement to allow councils to retain Business Rates presents a huge opportunity for local authorities and business to work together to boost local growth, develop a fairer tax system and create the jobs of the future.

We also know there will be challenges to get the new system right. We want to ensure businesses don’t get short-changed. It is essential the new Rates structure works for all our 5.2m small firms.”

The FSB is right to be concerned about challenges and concerns for small – and not so small – businesses. The impact at the local level cannot be underestimated.

The chancellor has promised to:

• Abolish entirely the uniform business rate – the single national tax imposed on every council.

• Give cities with elected mayors, such as London, Manchester and Sheffield, extra powers to add a premium to rates to pay for new infrastructure projects.

What impact could a change in business rates have on your organisation?

Business rates are a huge driver of change, and most businesses are small. Here’s some data we recently presented for a client project in Milton Keynes.

There are 11,530 businesses in MK:

  • – 10 with 1,000+ staff
  • – 15 with 500 – 999
  • – 40 with 250 – 499
  • – 165 with 100 – 249
  • – 260 with 50 – 99
  • – 715 with 20 – 49
  • – 875 with 10 – 19
  • – 1,445 with 5 – 9
  • – 7,995 with 0 – 4

Small businesses are vital for many reasons, and where they chose to locate and trade from has a huge impact on the local economy and community. Don’t underestimate how important your organisation is to your local area.

Make your voice heard

Now is the time to lobby your councillors and MP to ensure your needs and concerns are understood. With the right approach this lobbying can also be a powerful PR tool and can be good for sales and staff morale, as well as helping to future-proof your business.

If you would like help with any external communications activities for your business, I hope you will get in touch.  6.10.15


How to handle a crisis and get a good buzz for your brand

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B&Q in Larkfield, Kent had to close its garden centre over the weekend, as a large swarm of bees settled on a hanging basket.

Closing the garden centre on a sunny Saturday in August must have hit revenue hard but B&Q turned it to their advantage with this lovely feel-good feature in the Daily Mirror, 23.8.15.

So using this great exemplar from B&Q here are five tips for good crisis communication or how a few timely, truthful, well-crafted sentences can make a difference:

1 Acknowledge the truth of the situation, in a straightforward way:

“The loss of custom is the least of our worries….”

2 Show that you have the care and safety of individuals in mind, especially the little people (in this case, honey bees):

“The loss of custom is the least of our worries, we’ll make it up over time, our customers safety and rescuing the bees is more important to us”.

3 Acknowledge and thank individuals involved:

“The guys did a fantastic job, we had to close our garden centre and haven’t reopened for the rest of the day.”

4. Use a third party spokesperson for added perspective and a sense of balance:

Keith Underdown, chairman of the areas Beekeepers’ Association, believes they followed the queen bee after soaring temperatures forced them to relocate. “It’s probable they made a strong colony earlier in the year and that a number of them followed the new queen.”

5. Provide a specific action which people can take if they feel moved by the situation:

“We will be happy to offer discounts of flowers to customers affected by the disruption.”

A final point is to provide as many pictures as you can so that, if possible, you can be in control of the images of your service or the situation being described.

Facebook knows what you did last summer

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With thanks to  for this great image which says so much about the way we use and enjoy Facebook.

Holly, our intern and recent graduate in Psychology from Warwick University takes a look at what Facebook knows about you…

You may have recently read about Facebook’s controversial study on emotion which involved manipulating the content of nearly 700,00 users’ newsfeeds to include either more positive or more negative posts. US privacy pressure group, Epic, filed an official complaint demanding that the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigate Facebook’s actions. In some ways, it was the last straw for many of us who already feel an invasion of privacy from these social media giants.

Most of us are aware of the potential pitfalls when using social media; a lack of privacy, questions over content ownership, possible damage to your career…the list is endless. It gets confusing when we happily use these networks only to later discover the true extent to which some corporations collect and store our personal data.

Research from Skandia reveals only 7 per cent of Britons read the terms and conditions of a service before registering. Comforting to know I’m not the only one but shocking nonetheless! Some may argue that this lack of attention to detail should automatically waiver our right to privacy but will this jolt you into pledging to read through hundreds of conditions?

Facebook may also have contradicted themselves: for years, users have asked for a ‘dislike’ button and for years Facebook has refused. They argue that “Facebook tends to focus on positive social interactions and ways to express positive sentiment.” Surely the nature of this study falls short of their previous positivity?

Having studied Psychology at university, I’ve had all the basic Psychological ethical issues drilled into me. All participants should give informed consent for their data to be collected and analysed. Although this may bias results, a lack of it goes against all ethical standards of Psychological practice. There are also growing fears that the data collected could be used for other unethical activities such as voter manipulation during political campaigns.

Perhaps we’ll never discover just how much Facebook knows about us. Will this study stop the 1.28 billion users that currently the site almost everyday? I don’t think so. I think our love for sharing, liking and communicating is sure to triumph any feelings of betrayal.

Inevitably, the furore over this topic will peter out into murmurs of disagreement and disgust. And where exactly will all this occur? Why, on Facebook of course.


To read more on this subject, and understand just what this snapshot of metrics from Buzzfeed means-  its data they collect about you! – check out this blog post