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Members' Articles

RecruitAbility Sponsoring HBO 10K

by Lucy Gilmour from Recruitability

06th February 2013

Post Type: New Member Article

 

RecruitAbility are delighted to announce that we are one of the sponsors of the Hatfield Broad Oak 10K race being held in May 2013.  This historic, yearly event is growing year on year and as a local business we are very excited to be involved.



If you're interested in running, entries are now being taken and more information can be found on the official website at http://www.hbo-10k.org.uk/
The 10k road race is open to all runners who are 15 years or older on the day of the race.  
Younger runners & their friends / family are invited to enter the 1 mile Fun Run after the main race – no registration is necessary and the Fun Run is free of charge .  
The HBO 10k is held on the same day as the Flower Festival in the beautiful 15th Century Church which adds interest for the whole family and many entrants make it a family day out.  Fresh food, drinks, displays and attractions for all the family can be found here and there is very much a festival feel to the whole day.


The race is organised by the local school PTA with all proceeds going to the village school and other village charities and organisations.  In 2012 they helped groups ranging from the Cubs and Brownies & sports clubs for children, to the WI and a Christmas dinner for the over 60’s.
RecruitAbility join other sponsors such as Broad Oak Sausage Co, Wright & Co, HardSoft Computers, Allen House and both The Cock Inn and Dukes Head are also sponsors this year.  Wendy and Lucy, Directors of RecruitAbility, are proud to be associated with all of these companies and wish all the runners the best of luck.



We will blog about the race nearer the time and of course, write about the race itself.
So far, none of the RecruitAbility staff have entered but there's still time!


From the studio to the shelf - A beginners guide to packaging

by Noel Greenwood from GWD

06th February 2013

Post Type: Education Item

The dust has now truly settled following the festive season and the January and February doldrums are upon us.  As we trudge through the cold and wet experiencing that unique comedown that only comes with the conclusion of Christmas, we could be forgiven for feeling a little bit sorry for ourselves. 

But let’s not get too bleak, picture this scenario: having had one of those days where it feels like you don’t see any daylight, you get home from the office and something catches your eye.  There is a box of chocolates in the kitchen cupboard, left over from the festoons of them in the house during the Christmas period.   Suddenly your mood lifts and you experience a lift.  You know that those chocolates have the power to make your evening that little bit better.  Resplendent in a glorious gift box tied with a red ribbon, they scream luxury and they shriek satisfaction.  All of a sudden the world doesn’t seem quite so bad anymore.

Of course, all sorts of scientific research has shown that chocolate contains certain things which are able to make you feel good.  But it’s not just that.  It’s this gift box.  This box, full of sartorial elegance gives you this warm feeling.  The ribbon reminds you of that great day you had on the 25th when you gave and received presents, conversation and laughter.  The box is luxurious, and gives you a feeling of being pampered.  It appears to be very sturdy and well designed.  The way that a product is packaged can have a massive effect on the way the product is perceived.  Would those fine Belgian chocolates be held in such high regard if they were presented to you in a carrier bag as opposed to this fine packaging?  Of course not.  For those of us who like to see how things are made, who like to experience the processes that go into creating things, I thought we would just briefly consider some of the things that contribute towards that moment; that buoyancy of emotion that comes with opening a fresh box of chocolates.

Let’s start at source.  At GWD, it all begins with a need.  GWD provides packaging for a myriad of products.  Sometimes the customer has a clear idea of what they want; at other times they are completely clueless.  If they have no clear idea of what sort of packaging they require then we are happy to provide guidance and suggestions for them, but if they have a good idea of what they want, this somewhat simplifies the process.

Let’s focus on the instances when the customer has got a rough idea what they require.  A customer will send through a brief detailing a description of the box and what it needs to be able to contain, as well as the relevant size and measurements.  These measurements go straight onto the design program KASEMAKE and a drawing of the layout of the box is constructed.

The computer program KASEMAKE - This is where the idea becomes reality

This layout will be transported onto board and then cut and following this our designer Darren will make a sample version of the required box which will then be couriered to the customer for their scrutiny and subsequent approval.

A sample box, ready to be made up and delivered.
Once the box is approved, a quote is provided, indicating how much the box will cost to produce en masse.  Following this, cutting tools will be produced for use with our machinery and the box will go into production.
The machine used to cut out the sample box

So that’s a whistle stop tour of just some of the processes that are necessary to go through in order to create a gift box.  The amount of work that goes into creating a stunning gift box goes somewhat under the radar, but quite often it can be the box that sells the product.  The customer doesn’t see the product, the customer sees the box, and therefore the packaging can be the difference between gaining and losing a sale.  When we think about it like this, it’s no wonder that GWD goes through such stringent processes in order to provide packaging that is going to aid the success of your business.  When we sit there with our box of chocolates we often don’t think of how they came to be nestling in our laps contributing to that warm feeling inside us.   But boxes and packaging are fundamental pieces of the jigsaw puzzle and knowing how fundamental an impact the packaging can have is imperative to the success of any packaged product you care to sell.

About the Author

————————

Noel Greenwood is the Managing Director of GWD Ltd, the designers and manufacturers of presentation and promotional packaging.  You can reach him on (01279) 416093 or at the company’s website: www.gwd.ltd.uk


Do you play background music at work ?

by Steven Godfrey from Auditel

02nd February 2013

Post Type: Education Item

If your company, charity or school plays background music for employees, customers or pupils you may require two separate licences.

Copyright law requires the permission of the copyright owner before any ‘public performance’ of pre-recorded music.  The term ‘public performance’ is not clearly defined, but generally taken to mean non-domestic use.  The fact that an event is free to attend does not grant exemption.  A ‘performance’ might be via cd, cassette, vinyl, radio, tv, mobile phone, video or telephone “hold” music.

Copyright owners include composers, performers and music companies.  Obtaining prior consent obviously poses significant logistical problems, hence the existence of two intermediaries to simplify this process – the PPL and the PRS.  The PPL represents record companies/performers and the PRS represents composers/publishers.

These bodies effectively grant qualified permission in return for an annual licence fee, apportioning revenues amongst the copyright owners.  Workplaces or public places where pre-recorded music is audible are likely to require both licences.  Employees who use personal, portable music devices to listen via headphones do not require a licence provided the output is not shared.  In addition, licences are usually not required for hospitals, health centres, chapels of rest, wedding ceremonies, churches and curriculum-related use in educational establishments.  Non-curriculum use in schools and universities (such as fetes and end-of-term parties) might require a licence1.  Non-music copyright issues within schools can also be unexpectedly complex – using an overhead projector to display hymns or copying hymn lyrics to a computer might require a separate licence if the composer is still alive (or deceased less than 70 years).  So too might the recording of tv or radio programmes.  General guidance concerning copyright issues in schools can be found here.

Performing Rights Society (PRS)

Background music in the workplace is chargeable for multiples of 25 employees -canteens and recreational areas attract a higher rate.  Licences should be obtained prior to the provision of music – retrospective licences are subject to a 50% surcharge.

Telephone hold music using copyrighted output also requires a licence, charged against the number of incoming lines.  Again, retrospective licences are surcharged.

Bespoke tariffs are available for every business type from bingo halls to cruise liners.

Phonographic Performance Ltd (PPL)

Annual licenses vary in cost depending on premises size and occupation.  Cases where the music is not merely for background listening but central to the event (discos, nightclubs etc) are defined as ‘Specially Featured Entertainment’ (SFE) events and subject to a substantially higher tariff.

 VPL, a sister company, licence the public performance of music videos.  Rates vary according to the size and number of screens.

Royalty-free music is available, where either the copyright holders are not registered with the PRS and/or PPL, or where permission for repeat usage is included at the time of purchase.  This is often used for generic telephone ‘hold’ music.

Television

If an employer provides equipment for staff to watch or record live tv, the work premises must possess a tv licence.  If an employee brings a device into the workplace to watch or record live tv this activity will be covered by the employee’s home tv licence – provided the device is not plugged into the workplace mains supply.  If it is, the employer might become liable.

For schools, one tv licence will usually suffice irrespective of multiple buildings provided that the school premises are located within the same town.  Student and staff accommodation will require separate individual licences.

Watching “catch-up” services such as BBC iPlayer does not require a tv licence, however any publicly-viewable tv would likely require PRS and PPL licences in addition to a tv licence.

 

 1 PRS fees for the educational sector are administered by CFEM.


What are Smart Meters ?

by Steven Godfrey from Auditel

27th January 2013

Post Type: Education Item

Conventional utility meters are stand-alone units which measure cumulative consumption, sometimes for separate time periods (‘Economy 7’).  They must be read physically.  ‘Smart Meters’ have the ability to record second-by-second consumption and send that data to a wireless home display so that consumers can monitor their usage (this facility is already available via products such as the Owl).

More importantly, a Smart Meter can transmit consumption data via a SIM card or the internet, and receive data or instructions via the same method.  This will enable utility companies to monitor consumption on a minute-by-minute basis, and potentially vary tariffs with equal rapidity.  Each Smart Meter will have the facility to be remotely switched between credit and pre-payment modes, or even remotely disconnected.  This will give energy companies far greater leverage over their customers.

The term ‘Smart Meter’ is a catch-all term for a modern meter which can transmit data.  The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) prefers to use the term ‘ADM’ (Advanced Domestic Meter).  This is because, once specifications are agreed, the term ‘Smart Meter’ will have legal meaning as a meter compliant with a precisely defined technical specification.  As yet no universal specification has been agreed amongst meter manufacturers / energy suppliers.  In Sept 2012 the EU approved the most recent draft of technical specifications, named ‘SMETS’ (Smart Metering Equipment Technical Specification) without enforcing conformity.  In short – there is currently no guarantee that an ADM supplied by one energy company will maintain its ‘Smart’ functionality when switching suppliers.  Whereas the UK’s Smart Metering Programme seeks to enforce interoperability, a November 2012 OFGEM decision fell short of imposing this as an obligation.  Instead it imposed the requirement that energy companies forewarn potential new customers of any loss of Smart functionality before switching suppliers.

When will I get one – must I have one ?

In July 2009 the EU set a target that 80% of households must have a Smart Meter by 2020 (they have been compulsory in Sweden since 2009).  Some UK utilities are already supplying ADMs for all installations.  The UK has 53 million electricity and gas meters across 30 million locations, and large scale replacements with Smart Meters are due to begin in 2014 and be completed by 2019.  The government requires that Smart Meters are available by end 2019 even in rural areas, but currently no legal obligation will be imposed on householders to accept one.  The Public Accounts Committee has described the challenges posed by this implementation as “huge”.  Government projections assume a 97% uptake, which currently seems unlikely – a recent government consultation discovered that 50% of UK inhabitants have never heard of Smart Meters, so a Central Delivery Body is being created to orchestrate the roll-out.

Where will the savings come from ?

Estimates anticipate the roll-out will cost £11.5 billion but deliver benefits of £18.6 billion.  It is unclear where the £7bln “savings” will be realised – or by whom.  The new meters will be paid for by consumers via energy bills.  The energy companies will make significant cost reductions by removing the need for meter-reading operatives, and have far better information with which to run their businesses.  Incidences of non-payment will dramatically reduce.

Renewable energy from sources such as wind and sunlight are unpredictable.  This, coupled with variable demand, make balancing the two an onerous task.  More accurate data from Smart Meters will allow energy companies better control of generation.  The greatest opportunities will occur not from electrical engineering – but social engineering.  The ability to send datasets to each Smart Meter to amend tariffs on a minute-by-minute basis will influence consumer behaviour.  Where possible, customers will adjust their energy usage away from expensive peak times, partially balancing demand and supply.

Additional information from: House of Commons Library Note SN/SC/6179 Author: Dr Patsy Richards


Patents become more valuable than ever

by Steven Godfrey from Auditel

21st January 2013

Post Type: Education Item

In March 2012 the government published the Finance Bill 2012 which included incentives for companies to hold, exploit or conduct development work towards patents.  These provisions are called The Patent Box and can normally be claimed in addition to R&D tax credits.

The Patent Box is essentially a reduction in Corporation Tax to 10% applicable to the worldwide profits derived from patented items or processes.  These concessions are being phased in between April 1st 2013 (60% relief) and April 1st 2017.

UK and European patents are potentially eligible, as are those of certain EEA states.

An eligible Patent Box claim might result from:

a)    Sales of patented products – the qualifying company is required to have undertaken ‘qualifying development’ of the item or process.

b)    Sales of spare parts.

c)    Sales where the patented product is a component in a larger discrete unit.  For example, if the patented item were an automotive spark plug, it is theoretically possible for Patent Box relief to apply to profits derived from sales of the whole engine.

d)    Sales of licensed products – provided that the licence is exclusive.

e)    The use of a patented process or tool.

f)     Ownership of a portfolio of patents provided that the patents are ‘actively managed’.  No precise definition of ‘active management’ is available.

g)    Notional royalties derived from the use of a patented process in the supply of an unpatented service or product.

Conventional patents are drafted as broadly as possible to offer maximum protection against infringement.  Such a patent requires extensive research by the Patent Office and third-party challenges can delay the process by years.  A Patent Box patent application is driven by different motives with infringement protection often a subsidiary issue.  The application’s scope can be reduced to the minimum required to secure the grant of a patent, simplifying and expediting the process.  In future, companies might seek a fast-track patent before public disclosure of a new product or process to avoid prejudicing a subsequent patent application and the resultant tax concessions.

 

The above is not intended as legal or tax advice and specific guidance should be sought from HMRC and appropriate professional advisors.