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Issue Date:-20 January 2009

CMI calls for training tax credits to tackle recession

THE Chartered Management Institute is calling on Government to tackle the recession by offering tax relief to businesses who provide training opportunities for staff. The CMI’s call is based on data, showing employers in the North West want greater support from Government, with many looking for opportunities to develop skills amongst their existing employees.

Ruth Spellman, the Institute’s chief executive, says:- ‘We are calling for tax breaks for businesses investing in their staff and are developing our proposals with key partners. Put simply, employers should be encouraged to develop staff because a depleted organisation with fewer skills to call on is less likely to survive the recession. It isn’t a question of baling out business or massaging unemployment figures, but creating a strategy for survival that reduces redundancy rates over the long-term.”

Spellman’s comments come in the wake of a poll conducted by the CMI to ask how business leaders across the North West plan to manage the economic downturn. Key findings suggest that employers are heavily reliant on Government to make bold decisions:-

- 75% in the North West want even more financial support from Government to help develop employee skills

- 57% say flexible working regulations must be applied across the whole workforce

- 45% in the North West have called for a reduction in business taxes

Offering Gordon Brown some good news, the results show that only 10% in the North West believe ‘Government can do little to affect the downturn’. Many respondents also suggest that Downing Street should push through measures aimed at motivating staff to perform. For example, just 21% in the region think that the proposed right for employees to request time of for training should be held back.

Spellman adds:- “Developing skills and motivating staff to perform comes at a cost, but a recession is about making sensible cut-backs, not wholesale budget reductions that will leave organisations floundering in the future. Government and employers need to think about how they will manage immediately and when we eventually turn a corner, meaning there is a case for guidance through better regulation. After all, if they think the cost of competence is expensive, they should consider the cost of incompetence.”

The survey also shows that employers accept some responsibility for tackling the recession, with many respondents focusing on reducing pay outs so that funds are available to ease cash-flow:-

► 22% in the North West are considering reducing dividends for stakeholders and 28 per cent are looking at implementing ‘pay freezes’ over the next 12 months

► 16% in the region will restructure their debts and 25% are considering mergers as a route to survival

► encouragingly, 57% in the North West have already implemented product innovation programmes and 37% claim they have diversified into new markets.

Responding to the findings of the survey, the Chartered Management Institute has launched a micro-site with free-to-download resources for individuals and employers. Online at, however, the tools and advice available are designed to tackle the issues created by the recession.


DESPITE the recession biting the economy, customers are happier on the whole with the financial services they receive, according to a major UK survey by The Institute of Customer Service (ICS), who are a professional body for customer service whose primary purpose is to lead customer service performance and professionalism.  

If you beleave the results from the online survey taken in late 2008 and cross referenced with UKCSI fingers collected every six months since 2007.... then customer satisfaction is improving within the banking and insurance sectors.  The ICS think that:- "the economic downturn may be an important contributory factor.  Both sectors remain in the top half of the table in the latest research from the Institute of Customer Service (ICS).  The banking sector saw a satisfaction rise – proving that customers will rate service as they see it, rather than reflecting recent media coverage."

With consumers seeking value-for-money products and services, financial companies are making greater efforts to impress their customers, keep them happy and prevent them slipping into the clutches of competitors. 

The UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI) online poll of 24,000 people asked how well companies and organisations performed in key areas such as complaint handling, professionalism, quality and competence and friendliness of staff. 

Finance (insurers) remains a high ranking sector with a score of 75 out of 100. Finance (banks) comes just a few steps behind on 74, improving on the score of 73 in the previous survey in July 2008.  The top insurer is Saga on 85, followed by Tesco Personal Finance and Churchill on 79, with last year’s top performer, Zurich on 77 alongside AA, Esure, Direct Line and AXA.  With scope for further service improvement within the league table of the top organisations in the sector is Admiral on 72, which is a four-point improvement from 68 in the last survey. The Post Office fared slightly better on 74.

The top bank is first direct, which maintains its stronghold in first place despite a fall from 85 in the last index to 81. Next were RBS (76), Nationwide (76), Alliance & Leicester (75) and Bank of Scotland, Lloyds TSB and HSBC (all 74).  The most commendable turnaround for the banks in the previous survey in July 2008 was Barclays, who leapt from a score of 63 to 73. They have maintained the same score of 73 this time, but due to improvements by other banks this relegates them to last place of the sector’s highest achievers.

ICS executive director Robert Crawford says he is pleased insurers and banks have improved once again and maintained the high positions they hold in the index.  “The financial pressures and media reaction to the economic downturn will surely have put pressure on financial institutions to look after their customers better than ever.

This rise in customer satisfaction shows that companies are getting serious about service – as they must be – and are taking steps to improve.

But it's vital that companies realise it's more important than ever now to maintain loyalty and handle complaints efficiently. The financial sector has managed to keep up their service levels but there is still room for improvement.”

The all sector average increased by 1 point to 72 with 7 of the top sectors meeting this mark, including both finance sectors. In the ‘league table’ of sectors ‘services’ is overtaken by retail (non-food) at the top. 3rd place is retail (food), with finance (insurers) and automotive joint 4th and then finance (banks).

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