Business News

Government must ease burden on firms – Chamber

Waseem Zaffar: Only a quarter of vehicles entering the council’s Clean Air Zone will be charged

Councillor’s Clean Air Zone promise

Just a quarter of vehicles will be charged to enter Birmingham’s Clean Air Zone (CAZ), a city councillor has claimed. Cllr Waseem Zaffar, cabinet member for transport and the environment at Birmingham City Council, made the claim to businesses during a Chamber question and answer session, with the zone just three months away from being introduced. Cllr Zaffar urged businesses to

‘take advantage’ of the multitude of financial incentives and exemptions on offer. He said: “We’re really encouraging

everybody to take advantage of the financial incentives and exemptions and also encouraging people to check whether their vehicles are actually compliant or not. “Three quarters of vehicles that

go through the Clean Air Zone area are compliant and those individuals will not be impacted by the Clean Air Zone. It is a quarter of the vehicles which are currently non- compliant and a lot of those will benefit from the financial incentives. “So it will give them some help

towards improving their journey to cleaner, greener journeys and there are also the exemptions. I’d really encourage everyone to take advantage of the offers that we have got available.” Cllr Zaffar also encouraged firms

to consider creating ‘workplace travel plans’, to encourage staff to consider greener modes of transport. He said: “Travel plans work with

businesses to ensure that their customers, their employees, their partners, and visitors to their premises are taking advantage of more sustainable and cleaner journeys. “Travel plans can work with

employees to see if more of them can walk and cycle, or use public transport to their place of work. “ Help is at hand to support businesses who want to put a travel plan together, via a national initiative called ‘Modeshift STARS’. The initiative, and examples of

businesses already signed up for the scheme, are explained in a new Chamber briefing paper.

10 CHAMBERLINKApril 2021

Business leaders have said that a rise in unemployment across the West Midlands underlines the need for the Government to ease cash pressures on firms. According to the Office for National Statistics, unemployment in the region increased by 0.6 per cent from the previous quarter. The employment rate also fell by 1.1 per cent to

73.9 per cent, while the inactivity rate increased by 0.6 per cent. However, the West Midlands did buck a national

trend by recording the highest increase in workforce jobs – up by 26,000 – between September and December 2020.

‘The results further reinforce the detrimental impact that Covid- 19 continues to have on the national labour market’

Raj Kandola, head of policy at Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, commented that more must be done to ease cash pressures on businesses, in order to avoid more potential job losses. He said: “While it was a relief to see that the

Chancellor heeded the calls that we made in our Back Our Businesses report to extend the furlough scheme in the short term, the results further reinforce the detrimental impact that Covid-19 continues to have on the national labour market. “It was a similar picture closer to home as we saw

a rise in unemployment and a decline in employment levels across the West Midlands. “However, it was pleasing to see the region buck

the national trend and post the largest increase in workforce jobs across the country – a positive development which was also reflected in the data from our latest Quarterly Business Report. “The Budget also included a number of welcome

measures which were aimed at offsetting any further redundancies and retaining staff. “Nevertheless it’s clear that the Government need

to do more to ease the cash pressures that firms across the country right now if we are to avert an even greater jobs crisis - for example, removing the requirement to pay national insurance and pension contributions on furloughed staff for closed businesses would be a step in the right direction.”

To read the Chamber’s Quarterly Business Report in full, visit

Mondelez snaps up nutrition brand

Cadbury owner Mondelez International has acquired a majority stake in fast-growing Solihull performance nutrition brand Grenade. Grenade was founded by Alan

and Juliet Barratt in 2010 and has enjoyed rapid growth in the performance nutrition sector, with its Carb Killa® protein bar becoming a best-seller. Grenade chief executive Alan

Barratt (pictured), who retains a minority equity interest in the company, said: “When Jules and I founded Grenade from our spare bedroom with a budget of $700, we dreamt of building an iconic brand available globally. “This partnership with Mondelez

International gives us access to enormous resource and capability to help make those aspirations a reality and I couldn’t be more excited about our future growth and continued innovation.” Grenade will continue to be

operated separately and led from its headquarters in Hampton-in- Arden. Barratt and the senior leadership

team will also remain in place. Dirk Van de Put, chairman and

chief executive of Mondelez International added: “Grenade’s great-tasting, on-trend products are a great platform for Mondelez

International in the UK market and beyond. This is another exciting opportunity to deliver on our

strategy to be a global leader in broader snacking, including in the important area of well-being.”

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