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Challenger banks set for £835m RBS payout

1 Aug

Seen on

Challenger banks set for £835m RBS payout to tempt new business banking customers

The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) is to set aside £350m to facilitate the switching of customer accounts to eligible challenger banks, after the government confirmed funded measures to boost competition in Britain’s business banking marketplace.

The Incentivised Switching Scheme will see £275m of funding handed to market challengers to promote their offering to small business customers, with a further £75m from RBS made available directly to customers to cover switching costs.

Some 15 challenger banks will be financed by the scheme to encourage small business customers to move their accounts from RBS.

Money will be distributed to bolster the capabilities of such lenders, and the government has targeted 120,000 small business owners for the scheme – some three per cent of all SME banking customers.

In a statement, Stephen Barclay MP, the Treasury’s economic secretary, said: “The announcement will help boost competition in the business banking market and marks another significant milestone in resolving a major legacy issue at RBS.”

An agreed directive between the UK government and European Commission, the Incentivised Switching Scheme forms part of a wider package designed to improve conditions and competitiveness in the UK business banking market.

As part of the bundle, a £425m Capability & Innovation Fund will be administered by an independent body to finance wider investment and development in the business banking marketplace, with 15 grants available to challenger banks and other financial services.

The deal was drawn up following the failure of the standalone Williams and Glyn bank, meant to lift 250,000 SME customers out of RBS accounts. An original scheme was drafted in February 2017, and the official announcement has seen an extra £75m to finance to business banking propositions of rival banks.

If uptake on the Incentivised Switching Scheme doesn’t meet the expected level, RBS has agreed to pay a further public contribution, capped at £50m.

Commenting on the announcement, RBS CEO Ross McEwan said the lender welcomed the decision made by the Treasury and European Commission to make the business banking marketplace more competitive.

“We await a formal decision on this proposal which would allow us to resolve our final State Aid divestment obligation,” he added.

Small firms need simplified assistance to ease job creation

16 Aug

Small firms need simplified assistance to ease job creation

by Trevor Sturgess Business editor, The KM Group

Small firms need more Government help to create jobs.

That was the reaction from Roger House, chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses in Kent and Medway, to the 930 dip in the number of people claiming Job Seekers Allowance across the county last month. It fell to 30,939 in July.

National figures also showed a rise of 301,000 in the number of people in employment compared to last year. But Mr House said the unemployment rate of 7.8% – 2.51 million – in the three months to June remained stubbornly high, and figures for young people (973,000) and the long-term unemployed remained a concern.

He said: “The Bank of England’s decision to link monetary policy to the unemployment rate shows just how serious this concern is. We know that small firms create the lion’s share of new jobs, with FSB research finding that 78% of transitions for non-participants into the private sector come through small firms or by starting their own business.

“Simplifying assistance to small businesses would make it easier for more firms to take people on and Government could do this by consolidating the myriad number of support schemes currently in place to help small firms.”

The national claimant count fell by 29,200 to 1.44 million, the lowest since February 2009.

Stephen Gifford, director of economics at the CBI, the employers’ organisation, said: “While it’s encouraging that fewer people are claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance, it’s simply too soon for recent promising GDP figures to start filtering through to the job market in any material way.”

The figures are the first since Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, linked a possible future rise in the base rate – now at an historic low of 0.5% – to the unemployment rate, setting a target of 7%. The number of people out of work in the three months to June fell by 4,000 to 2.51 million but left a rate of 7.8%, a long way from governor’s target which could be at least three years away.

Between March 2012 and March 2013, the number of people employed in the public sector fell by 308,000, leaving a total of 5.7 million. The number of people employed in the private sector increased by 740,000 (24.06 million).

David Kern, chief economist at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said: “Despite some concerns, such as higher youth and long-term unemployment, the overall picture is one of a slowly improving labour market. The level of inactivity has fallen and people are starting to return to the workforce. But firms are now under increased pressure to create jobs – otherwise those returning will find themselves unemployed.

“At a time when the government’s austerity plan remains in force and the public sector is shrinking, we are pleased to see the private sector is determined and able to create jobs. But it needs more support to sustain this, through increasing the flow of credit to viable businesses, a continued focus on keeping inflation low, and to reverse the large fall in investment in the UK that we have seen in recent years.”

Claimant count figures on July 11: Kent and Medway, 30,939 (down 930); Medway, 5,969 (down 216); Rest of Kent, 24,970 (down 714); Ashford, 1,760 (down 41); Canterbury, 2,053 (down 82); Dartford, 1,592 (down 31); Dover, 2,214 (down 79); Gravesham, 2,204 (down 104); Maidstone, 2,137 (down 81); Sevenoaks, 982 (down 48); Shepway, 2,366 (down 107); Swale, 2,993 (down 21); Thanet, 4,521 (down 57); Tonbridge and Malling, 1,302 (down 42); Tunbridge Wells, 846 (down 21).


18 Oct

Free has no value

Too many of us have fallen into the habit of giving our product or service away for free thinking and hoping that this would be an effective technique for attracting new customers. If used correctly, then maybe it could work, occasionally.

For many, free doesn’t work because they do not understand how to use this rather complex technique as a way of attracting paying customers.
Instead, many are left with a feeling of despondency and a shattered confidence. If we can’t win a customer by giving it away, how on earth are we going to win a customer when we ask them to pay?

Free has no value to you or to them. If they don’t think your product is worth buying then having it for free will do nothing for them, or you. Many times when we give something away free, we give all that we have and don’t hold anything back, so what’s there to pay for? The truth is, much of the time, this says more about the lack of confidence you have in your product, as well as your inability to understand well enough the problem that your product can solve – that’s called selling.

If you want a sales technique to try over the coming weeks that jumps straight to the point, simply ask for the business.

Can we go ahead with your order?
When would you like delivery?
Which option suits you best?

Very quickly you will know from their response whether they are a serious potential customer, or if they need more information from you to help them buy, or if you just need to negotiate a little more.

We cannot rebuild an economy on products & services being free. What we can do is understand what our product can do for someone, the problems it solves and the type of customers it can solve it for.

Write a list of the features your product or service has and next to it how it can solve a problem – and then, who for. Don’t try and sell to everyone – you can’t, pick out some market sectors that you know, like, understand and whose language you can talk and start with those.

And remember – Free has no value for you or for me.

Reproduced from an email from Antonio Falco, blog


25 Sep

If you are thinking about starting a business or growing the one you have, come and see us at the Kent 2020 show Detling Showground on 24th October.

We will have details of all our product and we be glad to discuss how we can help you grow your business.

Look forward to seeing you there!



17 Sep


•10,000 students to be reached by start-up message in 40 colleges and universities
•Ability to apply for a StartUp Loans on board and all attendees to receive a free StartUp Loans Kit
•GEM report sees increase in young people setting up businesses

StartUp Britain is set to hit the road for a month-long bus tour designed to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs.

The national enterprise campaign’s double-decker bus will visit 40 universities and further education colleges across the UK, carrying a team of business experts, mentors, authors and entrepreneurs to get face-to-face with the increasing number of young people hoping to set up a business.

It will also deliver information and application details to the 10,000 young people it hopes to come into contact with, about the £82m StartUp Loans scheme for people aged 18 to 24, announced earlier this year. There will be an opportunity to apply for the loan on board the bus and everyone will receive a free StartUp Loans Kit with a guide on how to start a business and over £200 of StartUp offers.

StartUp Britain co-founder Emma Jones said: “We are seeing more and more young people setting up businesses. Research has shown eight out of ten young people think about setting up a business these days as a career path, or a way to turn a hobby into a money-spinning idea.

“These young people represent the future of business and our economic prosperity – that’s why it’s so important to offer them support by delivering the message that they can set up a business, there is support out there for them – and that we’ll be with them every step of the way, cheering loudly!”

Lord Young, the Prime Minister’s Enterprise Adviser said: “Many young people have the drive and ambition to create a business, yet don’t know how to put this into action. The StartUp Britain bus tour will do much to connect many of them to the support they need as well as help them sign up for a StartUp Loan. In doing so, it will help to transform the enterprise potential of a new generation.”

A recent report into entrepreneurs in the UK revealed a significant rise in the number of young people aged 18 to 29 engaged in early stage entrepreneurial activity. The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) report showed that in 2010, 5.3% of young people aged 18 to 29 were in early stage entrepreneurial activity. That figure rose to 7.8% last year – an increase of a third in twelve months.

Emma Jones added: “If we can keep up the pace of start-up growth, it will be a significant contribution to UK PLC moving forward. This generation has been disproportionately affected by the down turn, with more than a million people aged 18 to 24 facing unemployment.

“The StartUp Loans offer finance coupled with expert mentoring, critical if we’re going to get these young fledgling businesses off the ground. We hope our teams of entrepreneurs and mentors will be able to instil passion and confidence to these young people who need to hear this message right now. Young people are wired for enterprise with a global mind set to embrace technology and take their business to the world.”

The tour, which kicks off at Youth Enterprise Live on October 12, will start its college tour at Lewisham College and visit two colleges a day, including Oxford College, Keele University, University of Reading, the University of Suffolk, Telford College of Arts & Technology, Middlesbrough College, Glasgow Caledonian University and the Cardiff & Vale College, finishing the four-week tour at Queen Victoria Square in Hull.

The tour is sponsored by .CO Internet, the company behind the fast-growing .CO domain and the Gazelle Colleges Group, a network of 19 colleges committed to fostering entrepreneurialism in the Further Education sector .

Juan Diego Calle, founder & CEO of .CO said: “We’re excited to be a sponsor of the Startup Britain bus tour and to help inspire the next generation of great entrepreneurs in the UK to build their dreams online.”

Fintan Donohue, CEO of Gazelle and CEO of North Hertfordshire College said: “The Gazelle Colleges Group is delighted to have partnered with StartUp Britain for this autumn’s bus tour. Gazelle believes that it is vital to foster a new generation of social and commercial entrepreneurs who can bring innovation to existing business and create their own employment with confidence and ambition, and FE colleges play an integral role in achieving this goal. The StartUp Britain bus tour will be visiting 18 Gazelle Colleges across the country and the entrepreneurs and business experts boarding the bus will offer our students valuable advice and inspire this entrepreneurial mind set.”

The start-up campaign is backed by top firms, including Dell, Intel, Intuit, AXA, PayPal and Magento Go, who will all be on board the bus.

Mark Little, UK Managing Director of Intuit, said: “We need more young people to think about setting up a business and what better way of supporting and encouraging them than by providing advice on how they can best manage their finances from the word go?

“Not only will this tour give vital help to start-ups and small businesses up and down the country, but it will spur them on to give the UK an economic boost.”

Go to to find out more and view the 40 colleges the tour will be visiting as well as register interest.

About StartUp Britain
The StartUp Britain campaign is backed by Government but operates as a fully private sector supported venture. It was founded by eight individuals and business owners and is sponsored by AXA, Dell, Intel, Intuit, PayPal and Magento Go. Its role is to inspire, accelerate and celebrate entrepreneurship.


11 Sep

Osborne’s next headache: rising unemployment

Unemployment is set to rise to 2.7m in 2013. As the economy has sunk deeper into recession, the Conservatives have pointed to falling unemployment as proof that their strategy isn’t failing on every count. But what few have noticed is that almost every forecaster expects joblessness to rise over the next year.

SO – IS STARTING YOUR OWN BUSINESS THE SOLUTION? Talk to us about the possibilities.

Source: New Statesman


3 Sep

At the beginning of this year, the European Commission published its figures showing that a staggering 85% of all new employment is created by SMEs. It is widely acknowledged that SMEs are in fact the backbone of the European economy, as only less than 1% of all EU businesses are larger companies.

However, it is not often advertised that 92% of all EU businesses are actually micro-companies, with less than 10 employees. Does this mean we should shift our focus to Europe’s smallest employers more? How important are micro-companies in the battle against unemployment and how can we maximize their potential to become the EU’s favorite employer? What role is there for the ever-developing online tools? Are we slowly becoming micro-multinationals?


29 May

Have you locked your keys in the car?

Does your car have remote keyless entry? This may come in handy someday.
Good reason to own a cell phone:
If you lock your keys in the car and the spare keys are at home, call
someone at home on their mobile phone from your cell phone.

Hold your cell phone about a foot from
your car door and have the person at your home press the unlock
button, holding it near the mobile phone on their end.
Your car will unlock. Saves someone from having to drive
your keys to you. Distance is no object. You could be thousands of miles away,
and if you can reach someone who has the other ‘remote’ for your car, you can
unlock the doors (or the trunk).


18 Apr

New Director of The Centre, Roger Gabriel, just having left Kent County Council will be representing The Centre at the 2020 show Detling showground Kent on 19th April and CEO Roger House will be at the Destination Basingstoke business show as an inspirational speaker on the same day.

Roger Gabriel has a background encompassing education, hotel ownership and as part of the Kent Economic Board management team. We are delighted to have him with us as one of our latest members drawn from the public sector who include Robert Hardy last with Kent County Council and John Parsonage last with the SE Regional Development Agency as Director for Education and Skills, now in private enterprise.

Watch this blog as we feature our entrepreneur team and their activities.


17 Apr

Monday 14th May:

Entrepreneurs and Finance: 8:30 AM to 1:00 PM REGISTRATION OPENING SOON

(ICAEW, Chartered Accountants’ Hall, Moorgate Place, London, EC2R 6EA)

The morning’s event will be delivered by The Supper Club – A group of the country’s most innovative, fast growth entrepreneurs who share knowledge, experience and contacts in the spirit of give and take. The session will feature a panel of successful entrepreneurs talking about their challenges and experiences of sourcing finance and sharing finance tools they have used throughout their careers.


Finance Tools for Small Businesses with ICAEW and UK200Group: 12:00 PM to 15:00 PM BOOK MY SEAT


rtered Accountants’ Hall, Moorgate Place, London, EC2R 6EA)

Whether we like it or not the financial health of business is the rock on which it will thrive or perish. Good planning and management is crucial to both sustaining and growing your business. This interactive session covers different aspects of this, looking at:

  • Corporate finance structures that are relevant to the small business start up and growth scenarios, and
  • Taxes, which if managed carefully and efficiently can make available further funding to develop your business.


Access to Finance: Crowdfunding Platforms & Venture Capital Firms: 08:45 AM to 12:30 PM BOOK MY SEAT

(Burson Marsteller, Central St Giles, 1 St Giles High St, London, WC2H 8AG)

Two exciting sessions for early stage companies to attend and hear about ‘Access to Finance’. The day will cover both:

1)    Non-Traditional Early Stage access to finance through a panel that explores the different types and models for crowdfunding platforms

Panelists include:

  • Jeff Lynn, Co-Founder and CEO of Seedrs
  • Luke Lang, Co-Founder of Crowdcube
  • Amanda Boyle, Founder & CEO of Bloom VC
  • Paul Higgins, StartUp Networks Program at Grow VC
  • Simon Dixon, Co-Founder of

2)     Traditional Early Stage access to finance through a panel conversation with a number of leading Venture Capital firms

Panelists include:

  • Joe Steer, The BVCA Director of Research
  • Alliott Cole, Principal in the ventures division of Octopus
  • Daniel Waterhouse, General Partner of Wellington Partners
  • David J Bagley, Chairman of Venture Hothouse Limited


Financial Fitness seminar with Intuit & How to accept payments in minutes and help your business grow with PayPal:12:00 PM to 15:00 PM BOOK MY SEAT

(Burson Marsteller, Central St Giles, 1 St Giles High St, London, WC2H 8AG)

Financial Fitness Seminar: Understand the finance heartbeat of your business and you will maximise its potential. We promise not to scare you with financial jargon but will equip you with practical advice and guidance on how to become financially agile and set up for long term success.

How to accept payments in minutes and help your business grow: Beverley Bergin, the Senior Business Development Manager at PayPal will be delivering this session.

Wednesday 16th May:

Access to Finance: Corporate Venturing & Business Incubators: 1.30 PM to 17:00 PM BOOK MY SEAT

(Burson Marsteller, Central St Giles, 1 St Giles High St, London, WC2H 8AG)

The 1st panel session will introduce companies to another source of finance for great business ideas in support through investment from Corporations that have an interest in investing in certain technologies or business ideas that may compliment their strategic goals. We will also have a University Venturing representative present to showcase Universities as another attractive venue for finance and support while trying to get businesses off the ground and growing. This panel will be chaired by James Mawson from Global Corporate Venturing.

Panelists include:

  • Luke Johnson, Associate in the Virgin Group’s Investment Team
  • John Telling, Group Corporate Affairs Director at MITIE Millions
  • Timothy Barnes, Executive Director of UCL Advances
  • Jan Harley, Investment Director at Unilever Venturing

The 2nd panel session will serve as a platform for attendees to learn about the support through funding and other value added services that can be provided by incubators and seed competitions. We will also look to discuss the role of accelerators in the entrepreneurial ecosystem and provide participants with the ability to interact and understand the advantages of going down this route. This panel will be chaired by John Spindler from Capital Enterprise.

Panelists include:

  • Ian Merricks, Managing Partner at White Horse Capital
  • Thomas Jones, Board Member and Invester of Seedcamp
  • Jon Bradford, Co-Founder of Springboard
  • Alex Perry, creator of the Burson-Marsteller Brand Academy

Thursday 17th May:

Exporting for Growth: 13:00 PM to 16:00 PM BOOK MY SEAT

(Hub Westminster, London, SW1Y 4TE)

This panel will be addressing the large opportunity that exports may present for UK companies. The UK India Business Council together with experts and entrepreneurs will look to share insights and experiences with attendees.

Panelists include:

  • Neal Gandhi, CEO of Quickstart Global
  • Anil Stocker, Co-Founder of Market Invoice
  • Omleen Ajimal, Head of Taylor Wessing India Group

Friday 18th May:

Tools for Optimising Working Capital: 08:45 AM to 10:30 AM BOOK MY SEAT

(Hub Westminster, London, SW1Y 4TE)

This panel will be addressing the opportunity for startups and growth companies to leverage next generation tools to help optimise their working capital positions. With the emergence of an online invoice sale market, the ability to tap the crowd through debt instruments to raise capital and next generation collections solutions, there is a lot that can help lower costs and as such add value to startups and growth companies.

Panelists include:

  • Samir Desai, Co-Founder and CEO of Funding Circle
  • Anil Stocker, Co-Founder of Market Invoice
  • Samantha Heard, Marketing Director of ComparetheDCA
  • Rupert Lee-Browne, Chief Executive Officer of Caxton FX
  • Christoph Rieche, Co-Founder of iwoca


Microfinance and Entrepreneurship: 10:00 AM to 12:45 PM BOOK MY SEAT

(Hub Westminster, London, SW1Y 4TE)

This panel session will explore the various organisations that have been providing micro loans to those looking to start or supporting a fledgling business to grow. Panelists include representatives from the Princes Trust, Enterprise Nation and Shell Livewire.

Panelists include:

  • Emma Jones, Co-Founder of StartUp Britain and Founder of Enterprise Nation
  • Ginny Lunn, Head of Policy and Strategy at The Prince’s Trust
  • Stu Anderson, Project Director at Shell LiveWIRE