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Liverpool City Region's small businesses to get future proofing advice at The Good Business Festival

SMALL businesses across the Liverpool City Region will have the opportunity to get the expert advice and practical tools they need to make a positive impact on their employees, local communities and the planet, as part of The Good Business Festival. The Good Small Business Programme, which will take place in the The Good Business Festival (TGBF) Hub venues across the 3 day event, running from:- 22 March, until 24 March 2022. These events aves been created specifically for local SMEs, offering a mixture of networking sessions via:- 'business clinics' and '1 to 1' sessions.

Among the partners offering advice and support all 4 4 Region Universities, are the:- University of Liverpool, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool Hope University and Edge Hill University, as well as local Chambers of Commerce and The Women's Organisation. Additional insight will come from Be Ethical Training, Gather (Form), Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority (MRWA) Circular Economy Club, Luma Creations and Baltic Creative, while PoWEr Up Mentoring from the PoWEr Collective will be on hand, too. Also as part of the Programme, purpose driven networking group Firestarters will hold practical workshops, covering a range of hot topics around:- "Powering Communities,", "Green Revolution"¯ and "Cultural Inclusion," with attendees having the chance to gain insight and learn from a number of partners, including:- Local Authorities, Universities and Chambers of Commerce.

The Good Business team work closely with companies to help audit and assess their responsible business practices, before setting out recommendations for positive change. The Good Small Business Programme at the TGBF Festival Hub, is a partnership between The Good Business Festival and Growth Platform, Liverpool City Region Growth Company, follows a pilot scheme in 2021, involving 8 companies from the Liverpool City Region. Building on the success of the pilot, the Good Small Business Programme 2022 has developed its in person programme of sessions, taking place across 3 Hubs:- 'Oh Me,' 'Oh My Crypt Hall' and 'Dock Leaf.'

Online baby care brand Joy and Joe Baby has significantly improved its environmental footprint since taking part. Owned and managed by husband and wife team Bisi and Mayo Osundeko, the company based in St Helens, manufactures woven baby wraps. Mayo commented:- "The programme helped us to take a step back, review our practices and make many small changes which will make a big difference. The team really got under the skin of the company, analysed our processes and how we did business and provided us with clear advice and a roadmap on how to become more sustainable. What was great was that it wasn't off the shelf advice either, it was specifically tailored to our own business needs. It was all about working smarter, reducing waste and even saving money. 1 of the main things we took away was how to reduce our carbon footprint. For example, we used to package our baby carriers in plastic to send on to customers, but we have now taken steps to stop this. We are proud that 80% of our products are now packaged in recyclable boxes. Following the programme we also completely overhauled our recycling process at the warehouse, which has made a big difference to reduce our waste. I would strongly advice other businesses to take a look at how they can get involved. At the end of the day, it has the potential to save you money, as well as help your business become more environmentally friendly, and it's completely free."¯

Commissioned by Liverpool City Region Mayor Steve Rotheram, The Good Business Festival will be held in venues across Liverpool City Centre, tackling issues such as the climate crisis and helping businesses of all sizes to future-proof themselves. And The Good Small Business Programme is local SMEs' chance to get involved and be part of the movement.

Claire McColgan MBE, Director at Culture Liverpool, said:- "Our Region's rich and diverse SME community can play a vital role in tackling issues such as sustainability, climate change and ethical business behaviour "and many companies are keen to do so as soon as possible. What we're doing with the Good Small Business Programme is providing expert thinking on important issues and translating it into relevant, practical and inspirational knowledge for local SMEs. We hope this will not only help to 'shake the world,' but will enable Regional SMEs to thrive in an ever changing consumer climate. We're urging as many SMEs as possible to sign up and take advantage of this rare opportunity to gain knowledge, evolve and make a difference."¯

Mark Basnett, MD of Growth Platform Liverpool City Region Growth Company, welcomed the news, saying:- "The development of the pilot last year with The Good Business Festival was 1 of the ways in which we were looking to help our small and medium-sized businesses in Liverpool City Region better understand what it takes to be a 'good business' and to put these good practices in their own organisation. I'm really pleased that the success of this pilot now means we can further develop this initiative to be able to offer more of our businesses access to a programme of events and useful resources that can help them to grow and create good jobs; which, in turn, will help build a stronger, better, more inclusive and resilient local economy that works for everyone."¯

The Good Business Festival takes place from:- 22 March to 24 March 2022. Staged across a host of Liverpool City Region venues, the festival will see major brands and inspiring leaders from business, media, music and academia lead presentations, panel discussions, workshops and knowledge sessions showcasing how businesses of every size and sector have prospered by being purpose led. Events are being curated by The Good Business Festival and run in collaboration with national and local partners, and are free to attend. For more information about The Good Small Business Programme and to register for a free ticket to attend any of the Business Support sessions and clinics at the TGBF Festival Hub, visit:- TheGoodBusinessFestival.Com.

CLA calls for overhaul of a 'broken planning system'

THE Country Land and Business Association (CLA), representing 28,000 rural businesses and landowners in England and Wales, has called on the Government to overhaul its approach to housing in rural communities. The approach laid out in the CLA's latest report will help tackle the housing crisis in Villages, where homes are becoming increasingly unaffordable to local people. The CLA's report highlights the transformative economic and social benefits small scale developments could bring to rural communities. Government needs to develop an approach that allows for a small number of homes to be built in a large number of Villages. This will support local employment and strengthen the social fabric of these areas by ensuring pubs, shops and Schools can stay open. However, this style of organic, incremental growth will only be possible if supported by a more accommodating planning framework.

Under the current system, large scale developments which negatively alter the nature of local communities are favoured over more modest proposals. The call comes after Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove opted not to proceed with planned reforms to the planning system, leaving the Government short of its house building targets. After 4 Housing Secretaries in as many years, it is time the Government took house building more seriously. The report shows that in 2020 over 260,000 people in rural areas were on a housing waiting list. If the rural planning system was reformed to allow for small scale developments, the Government could see this figure significantly reduced. The rigid planning system means house building cannot keep up with population demand, further draining the countryside of its young people and workforce. Even after the Pandemic-fuelled surge of interest in rural homes, this lag in house building is seeing the rural economy continue to fall behind.

The paper sets out 5 clear changes to the planning system. These include:-

1 - Smaller number of houses in a larger number of Villages:- "return to a National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) promoting organic, incremental growth in settlements with fewer than 3,000 residents."

2 - Reform Local Authority sustainability assessments:- "change assessments to ensure they are more reflective of the services that could be supported if development were enabled, and give more w 8 to digital connectivity."

3 - Mandatory housing needs assessments across all rural settlements:- "Undertake housing need assessments for settlements that have not previously been allocated housing, in addition to those that already have, to ensure need is properly identified and met."

4 - Extension of permitted development rights:- "allow permitted development on rural exception sites to provide much needed affordable rental housing options for the benefit of local communities."

5 - Inheritance tax exemptions:- "extend conditional IHT exemptions to affordable rented housing for the period in which homes remain let as such."

Mark Tufnell, President of the CLA, commented:- "Fundamental flaws in today's planning system are letting rural communities down. For too long, its unnecessary red tape has held back the initiation of projects, stifling investment, innovation and entrepreneurship in the countryside. We are disappointed to see the Government U-turn on previous promises to simplify the planning framework. The housing crisis has not gone away, and this marks yet another missed opportunity to bring prosperity to rural areas. If the Government is serious about meeting its housebuilding targets this must change. For rural areas to thrive, there needs to be an adequate, available, and diverse supply of homes, which includes different tenure types of varying sizes. Without it, we prevent young families from continuing to live in their community, key workers from being based near their places of work, and the elderly from downsizing. Viable solutions are available. We call on the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government to lis 10 to the changing needs of rural communities and deliver on his 'levelling up' promises. We must make meaningful changes to our planning system "beginning with making policy changes to allow a greater number of small scale developments across our Villages. Only the Government has the necessary policy levers at its fingertips to action this, and reverse decades of settlements being held in aspic."¯


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