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Regular news and updates from the Chamber, our members, local Councils and other relevant business news will be posted regularly here. 

Don't forget, as a member one of your many benefits is being able to submit your press releases and news for inclusion here as well as on either the members or business news emails and social media. Please submit to 

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  • 11 April 2024 11:08 AM | Anonymous

    Flexible AI Upskilling Fund Pilot - Expression of Interest

    The Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) recently announced a £7.4 million pilot scheme to subsidise the cost of AI skills training for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Professional Business Services (PBS) sector. £6.4 million of grant funding is available. 

    Through this pilot programme, eligible business can apply for funding for up to 50% of the cost of AI skills training. This refers to training which supports employees to develop their technical skills and/or understanding of AI to be able to develop, deploy, or use AI in their role.

    This pilot scheme is funded through the £37.5 million Labour Market Evaluations and Pilots fund, announced by the Chancellor at Spring Budget 2023 to continue to build the evidence base on the effectiveness of policies to improve labour market outcomes. Departments could bid for funding to carry out a variety of projects to either better understand the impact of recently implemented interventions on labour market outcomes, or to trial new and innovative policies.

    Objectives of the fund

    The flexible AI upskilling fund pilot aims to increase AI adoption and productivity by incentivising greater employer-led investment in skills and training. Evidence shows that a lack of AI skills in businesses is hindering AI adoption, in part due to low investment in AI upskilling in UK businesses, particularly in smaller companies[footnote 1].   


    £6.4 million of grant funding is available in the financial year 2024-2025. Funding will be allocated through a competitive application exercise to be run in May 2024. Depending on demand, a second competitive application exercise may be run later in the year. 

    Funding is for the procurement of AI skills training only, and not for the cost of: 

    • Purchasing AI technologies
    • Business advice or consulting
    • Recruitment activity
    • Salaries, including work placement or internship salaries
    • Capital expenditure[footnote 2]

    Grant funding will be provided to successful applicants for use only in the financial year 1 April 2024 – 31 March 2025. All funding allocated through this competition must be spent by 31 March 2025 and in accordance with the terms and conditions set out in the grant funding letter and scheme guidance. Please note, Cabinet Office (CO) Government Grants Managed Service (GGMS) will be the Delivery Partner for the scheme’s administration.

    This scheme is being independently evaluated in accordance with best practice. The evaluation of the scheme may continue beyond 31 March 2025. 

    Please note that we are likely to award funding to successful applications via lottery. This is provided that applications otherwise meet eligibility criteria and achieve a minimum pass mark on their grant application. This is especially likely in the case that the fund is over-subscribed. This does not apply to applications that are not eligible or do not achieve a minimum pass mark on their grant application.

    Eligibility criteria

    To be eligible to apply, a business must: 

    • Be registered and operate in the UK
    • Employ between 1-249 employees in the UK
    • Be defined as an SME per the SME Action Plan[footnote 3]
    • Have been operating for at least 1 year
    • Be able to match-fund 50% of the cost of the training
    • Operate in the Professional and Business Services sector (PBS) as defined by the following Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes:

    Table 1: Eligible SIC codes

    SIC Division and Description
    M – Professional, scientific and technical activities 69 - Legal activities/accounting, bookkeeping and audit

    70 - Activities of head offices, management consultancy

    71 - Architectural and engineering activities, technical testing and analysis

    72 - Scientific research and development

    73 - Advertising and market research

    74 - Other professional, scientific and technical activities
    N – Administrative and support service activities 77 - Rental and leasing activities

    78 - Employment activities

    82 - Office administration and other business support activities

    Register for the pre-launch information Q&A on the 16th April through Eventbrite here 

    Submit an Expression of Interest here

  • 02 April 2024 12:01 PM | Anonymous

    Award Winning Advice from Emerald Finance!

    We are delighted to have won our category at the Equity Release Awards 2024, held at the Hilton Bankside in London on Thursday 25th January.

    These highly prestigious awards recognise companies and individuals across the Equity Release market throughout the UK.

    Our directors Matt Sutton and Matt Piper were in attendance to receive the award for Best Adviser with fewer than 5 advisers.

    We are extremely proud to receive this honour as the awards are testament to the outstanding Equity Release service we provide to our clients nationwide.

    A big thank you to all our clients and colleagues who voted for us and have supported us on our journey.

    Our two directors, Matt Sutton and Matt Piper, collecting the prestigious Equity Release Award for Best Adviser with less than 5 advisers.

    We are also extremely pleased to announce that we have made the shortlist for the 2024 Mortgage Strategy Awards in the Best Broker for Equity Release category.  The awards will be held on Wednesday 22nd May at the JW Marriott Grosvenor House so watch this space for more information!

  • 02 April 2024 11:11 AM | Anonymous

    Be part of Durrington High's Career Week!

    Durrington Careers Week is set to take place w/c 10th June. If you’re an employer we want you to meet the talent of the future and if you’re an education centre we want you to meet your future students. In both cases you have an opportunity to inspire young people by sharing what you do and the amazing directions it could take them. It’s always an exciting week!

    The three activities we have available this year are…

    Lunchtime stands 

    Your business or the sector you are representing will be assigned a table in our main mall which you can set-up to showcase what you do. You can arrive from 1:00pm and you should be out by 2:15pm. The students will be with you for around 30-35 minutes. School staff will be present throughout.

    Classroom spotlights 

    You choose which curriculum areas you would like to visit - It can bean area that your sector  targets or a broader lesson that you value. Alternatively you canleave the choice to us. We will take you into classrooms for you to give a 5 minute talk about who you are, the sector you represent and what your area could offer them. This will be followed by a 5 minute opportunity for a Q&A. You will be accompanied as you go round and interactivity is welcomed.

    Focussed talks  This is an area we will explore. Potentially a chance for you to meet with a larger targeted audience in our brand new auditorium. We would love to put together a few employers or colleges to run a Healthcare or Engineering based session for example. No commitment yet but if there is interest we will do it.

    A word on interactivity - For the stands and classroom visits we encourage interactive activities. Past years have featured competitions, giveaways, quizzes, robots, small animals, dancing, demonstrations, VR, cocktail making, dress up and more, but of course you being there and connecting with the students is the most important thing. Even bringing some props or items from your industry can be a real conversation starter. We encourage businesses to take part on multiple days so that students don’t miss out but of course if only one day is possible that is still amazing.

    Timings - Monday 10th - Friday 14th June 2024

    Lunchtime stands - 1:35pm for 30 minutes Monday -Thursday
    Lunchtime stands - 1:25pm for 30 minutes Friday
    Classroom spotlights - Throughout the day with a focus before and after lunchtimes
    Focussed talks - To be discussed on an individual basis

    Our students are looking forward to meeting you. Thank you for your interest in supporting
    our school and in inspiring our students.

    Booking your place
    Please book your place by using this google form. It’s very quick and presents all the
    options for you. It should take no more than 3 minutes. All you need to do then is add it to
    your diary and we will get in touch with you later to discuss details.

    If you need to you can also call Jane Davis directly to book your place. You can reach Jane
    on 01903 705 635 or email I can also be contacted on 01903 705 605
    and at  - Toby Henry (Careers Lead)

  • 21 March 2024 12:40 PM | Anonymous

    Ickle Pickles Children's Charity when you do your food shop!

    From April until the end of June 2024, please help to support the work of Ickle Pickles children's charity by shopping at any of the 10 Tesco's stores across our region and putting one of their blue tokens into the Ickle Pickles box.

    The project with the highest number of votes are in with a chance of winning £1500 (first place), £1,000 (second place) or £500 (third place)  through Tesco's Stronger Starts campaign.   All money raised will go towards the Special Care Baby Unit at Worthing Hospital.

  • 21 March 2024 12:18 PM | Anonymous

    Carpenter Box accountants get digging!

    Members of staff at Carpenter Box from across their six offices swapped spreadsheets for spades to plant trees throughout Sussex to mark the firm’s 100 years in business.

    The accountancy practice celebrated its centenary last year, raising a total of £82,000 for local charities and voluntary groups. The celebrations also included tree planting at St Catherine’s Hospice in Pease Pottage, Manhood Wildlife and Heritage Group in Chichester, and Field Place in Worthing.

    In Pease Pottage, a team of staff from the Gatwick office worked to plant a selection of bee-friendly trees, to grow into beautiful displays where patients and families can have a calm and restful space.

    In Chichester, the team planted over 30 trees in a newly created hedge on farmland, to enhance the space. The trees will be maintained by the local farm to ensure their enduring legacy.

    In Worthing, the Carpenter Box team worked alongside members of Adur & Worthing Councils and South Downs Leisure to plant whitebeam trees to help green the environment.

    Marketing & Communications Director, Kira McKinney, was one of the team members lending a hand in Worthing, commenting: “It was a wonderful way to conclude our centenary activities. We look forward to seeing the trees become established over the coming years for the benefit of the local residents across the Sussex region.”

  • 20 March 2024 10:16 AM | Anonymous

    Conquer the UK Three Peaks - Hike for Homelessness


    Turning Tides is partnering with Global Adventure Challenges, the challenge event company dedicated to creating life-changing challenge events for people who wish to raise funds for charity. Take on the Three Peaks Challenge and join us as we climb the highest mountains in the UK – Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike, and Snowdon!

    You’ll need a good level of fitness and be dedicated to fundraising. The money you raise will help support someone experiencing homelessness, giving them the opportunity to start their own journey, one that will change their lives forever.

    Places start from £95 with options for self funding and full fundraising. To secure your place a non-refundable deposit of £95 is required and we’ll be in touch to arrange this. 80% of your fundraising target is required 6 weeks before the event but don’t worry, will give you everything you need to get started and be on hand every step of the way to help you with your fundraising.

    What’s included –

    • Pick up from Glasgow, travel in between mountains and drop off in Chester. (All travel between mountains is in private buses).
    • Meals – dinner in Fort William Day 1, breakfast at accommodation at Fort William Day 2, lunch in Llanberis Day 3
    • Complimentary energy bars, fruit, tea and coffee (and drinking water) at the foot of each mountain.
    • Global Adventure Challenges Event Crew and mountain guides, with you every step of the way.
    • Global Adventure Challenges medical kit for the group.
    • Challenge Medal.

    What’s not included –

    • Travel insurance
    • Cost of travel to Glasgow
    • Cost of Travel home from Chester
    • Tips and gratuities
    • Alcoholic drinks
    • Personal trekking kit (trekking boots, poles, etc)
    • *Please note that for bespoke challenges, inclusions and exclusions may differ*

    Did you know that for every person you see rough sleeping, there are at least another 20 hidden homeless? And those numbers are on the rise. Want to do something about this and love hiking?

    If that’s you simply register interest or send Sophie an email on or call 07842 443584 to hear more.

    Please ensure you have read and agreed to our terms and conditions before booking your place.

  • 14 March 2024 12:38 PM | Anonymous

    Join Andy's Angels in Random Hairdo Day!

    Fancy planning a fun day in the office and raise money for a local charity at the same time?

    Andy's Angels invites you to join in their brand new Fundraising Campaign for 2024.

    All we invite you to do is:

    • Choose a day between 22nd and 28th April 2024
    • Email to order your fundraising pack
    • Invite your colleagues or team to come into work/school or to the office with the most Random Hairdo they can come up with (using our event poster supplied in our Fundraising Pack) in exchange for a donation to Andy's Angels.
    • Take photos of your fun day and share on your social media tagging Andy's Angels and we'll share on our socials as well.

    Contact Andy's Angels, arrange a very welcome visit to our Grief Play Café (last Sunday of the month in Worthing) to present your donation or arrange us to collect your Fundraising collection.

    How can individuals donate during the campaign?

    Either individuals can pay by PayPal or cash collected on the day or businesses/organisations can collect the money then transfer by Bacs. There is also a QR code on the Fundraising Pack envelope as well.

    We can't wait to see the photos

  • 14 March 2024 11:44 AM | Anonymous

    George Square Financial Management in Conjunction With Albemarle Street Partners.

    Financial Market Commentary

    Global equities reach new heights.

    Global stock markets hit record highs in February, as European, Japanese and US equity markets rallied. The revival in risk appetite is being fuelled by a trifecta of improving company earnings, easing inflation, and growing confidence that any recession will be shallow rather than severe. 

    While those sectors most vulnerable to the ebb and flow of the economy may yet face headwinds, the broad-based recovery in equity markets is a welcome development for investors.

    Tech titans lead the charge

    The rapid growth of the AI-powered internet has become an arms race, with NVIDIA emerging as the world leader. The Silicon Valley company has seen its revenues quadruple in just two years, while profits have surged eightfold. The entrenched giants of the digital world – Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Apple, and Meta – are all racing to bolster their AI capabilities, with NVIDIA and a select group of other firms emerging as the key beneficiaries of this spending spree. Investors have taken notice, with disciplined exposure to US equities providing a conduit to participate in this paradigm shift.

    Central banks poised to pivot

    The question is no longer if central banks will begin to loosen monetary policy, but when. While the precise timing of rate cuts will depend on incoming economic data and is likely to be gradual at first, policymakers around the world are positioning to ease financial conditions in 2024. 

    China, Europe, and the UK, all facing economic fragility, may have the greatest impetus to act. Emerging markets appear best positioned to commence rate cutting cycles in the near term, with announcements anticipated in the coming months. Markets now expect the Federal Reserve to begin trimming rates by mid-year, with 3-4 cuts pencilled in for 2024.

    Portfolios continue to move in the right direction

    Portfolios were up again in February, marking a strong start to the year.  Returns have improved in recent months, and we anticipate continued progress in 2024.  

    Investment grade corporate bonds rallied sharply at the end of 2023 and offer limited additional yield relative to government bonds. High yield bonds offer a greater opportunity for investors although they tend to be more volatile. The asset class could benefit if a shallow US recession comes to pass. As always, we remain mindful of incoming economic data and are prepared to act if the data warrants a shift in allocations.

    © 2023 George Square Financial Management Ltd. All Rights Reserved. The content of this material is a marketing communication, and not independent investment research. As such, the legal and regulatory requirements in relation to independent investment research do not apply to this material and it is not subject to any prohibition on dealing ahead of its dissemination. The material is for general information purposes only (whether or not it states any opinions). It does not consider your personal circumstances or objectives. Nothing in this material is (or should be considered to be) legal, financial, investment or other advice on which reliance should be placed. No opinion given in the material constitutes a recommendation by Albemarle Street Partners or George Square Financial Management Ltd that any particular investment, security, transaction, or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person. Although the information set out in this marketing communication is obtained from sources believed to be reliable, Albemarle Street Partners or George Square Financial Management Ltd. makes no guarantee as to its accuracy or completeness. Neither Albemarle Street Partners or George Square Financial Management Ltd. shall be responsible for any loss that you may incur, either directly or indirectly, arising from any investment based on any information contained herein. Albemarle Street Partners is a trading name of Atlantic House Fund Management LLP (AHI). Issued by AHI who is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered Office: 135 Bishopsgate, 8th Floor, London, EC2M 3TP. George Square Financial Management Ltd. is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority

  • 12 March 2024 10:48 AM | Anonymous

    Nick celebrates remarkable success in accountancy exams

    Nick Downton, Audit Senior at Sussex and South East accountancy firm Carpenter Box, is celebrating a remarkable achievement in his accountancy career, recently passing all 15 ICAEW ACA exams at the first attempt.

    Nick, from Crawley, joined Carpenter Box in 2019 after gaining a degree from Sussex University in Maths and Economics. His numerical and analytical skills made accountancy a natural career choice and he is now a key member of the Assurance & Advisory Group at the firm’s Crawley office. In this role, he undertakes audits for medium-sized companies across a variety of business sectors, as well as managing a number of trainees.

    Nick commented: “Following university, I was keen to join a medium-sized accountancy firm with a good reputation, and in Carpenter Box I found a practice able to provide me with a brilliant opportunity to gain experience across a number of departments.”

    Nick is now planning to complete his ACA training file over the next three months, which will enable him to fulfil his goal of becoming a fully qualified chartered accountant.

    Carpenter Box Managing Partner, Alan Edwards, commented: “Nick should be very proud of his impressive exam results. They not only demonstrate a high degree of commitment to his chosen profession, but also show other young people considering their career options what can be achieved with determination and the support of an employer such as Carpenter Box.”

    For current sixth form and college students interested in following in Nick’s footsteps, Carpenter Box is holding a Trainee Scheme Open Evening on Tuesday 27th February between 5.30pm and 7.30pm at their offices in Crescent Road, Worthing.

    At the event, some of the Carpenter Box partners, qualified staff and current trainees will explain the different pathways on offer to help new recruits become an accountant, tax specialist or business adviser.

    For further information and to register for a free place, go to

  • 12 March 2024 10:46 AM | Anonymous

    George Square Financial Management in Conjunction with Albemarle Street Partners Budget 2024 Commentary

    Jeremy Hunt’s Pre-Election Budget: Modest changes designed to re-build a reputation of economic credibility.

    Chancellor Jeremy Hunt had a mandate in this budget to recover the Conservatives’ position in the polls. Only the week before his party fell to just 20% in an IPSOS Mori poll, the lowest ever seen.

    His response was a classic Conservative approach from a chancellor who believes in his heart that low taxes are the best election winning strategy.

    The centrepiece of the announcements was a plan to cut employees’ national insurance by 2p; backed the following day by the strong suggestion that the Conservatives’ election manifesto will promise to abolish the remaining 8% rate altogether.

    A key goal here is to encourage people back to work, particularly because some 900,000 vacancies exist for jobs in the UK which is holding back the economy. Marginal changes to tax can, if targeted well, result in significant changes to people’s willingness to work if they tilt the numbers in their favour.

    This bet, though, comes with an unfortunate backdrop. Overall, the independent Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR) was clear that the tax burden is still growing to the highest ever level. This is principally because the tax bands which dictate whether individuals pay basic or higher levels of income tax have been frozen for years ahead. As time goes by, this bites hard into household incomes in a period of inflation but was viewed as essential to bring down the national debt burden following the loss of confidence in the UK bond market that occurred after the Liz Truss premiership.

    In contrast to Truss’s brief period of leadership, this budget was strenuously sensible. It was designed in close collaboration with the OBR (who Kwarteng famously chose to ignore). The level of co-ordination here is unusual and is designed to show the financial markets that the failures of that time are behind us.

    By working closely with the OBR Hunt was able to persuade them to endorse his belief that some tax cuts actually save the government money because they encourage people to create economic growth. Economists call this phenomenon the ‘Laffer’ curve. Hunt’s joke that both the Treasury and the OBR had discovered their ‘inner Laffer curve’ is probably not a catchphrase that will work on the side of an election bus, but he was proud of it nonetheless. It is genuinely very unusual for the OBR to accept this argument and represents a considerable political accomplishment for him. It remains to be seen, of course, whether his core belief - that it is tax cuts which the British people crave - will prove correct, or whether at a time of very high waiting lists for public services the Labour focus will appeal more.

    The economics

    The budget comes accompanied by updated forecasts for the UK economy and there was little good news here. The economy is predicted to grow at 0.8% this year, rising to 1.9% in 2025. This is lacklustre at best. Accompanied by this there was acknowledgement that Britain’s bounce back from the pandemic has been weak, only getting back to where we started next year. At the heart of the problem here is productivity; the growth in the amount of output per person has not been seen at anywhere near the rates that governments target.

    The proposals Child benefit

    Aside from the flagship national insurance cut, the biggest surprise in this budget was raising the threshold at which parents lose child benefit from £50,000 to £60,000. He is also consulting on plans to better support single parents who, if they fall just above the cap in earnings, can be disadvantaged against two parent families who could earn £49,999 each and still keep the benefit. This has long been understood by all political parties as an obvious unfairness, but has proved administratively complex to change. Hunt may have gambled that the problem will be technically harder to solve than is possible on a quick timeframe, but that signalling his intent does enough to win votes.

    Non-Dom tax

    The concept of non-dom tax status, where people live in the United Kingdom but technically ‘domicile’ themselves overseas, has been tricky for the Conservatives for many years. However, it became more so when it was discovered that the then chancellor Rishi Sunak’s own wife was non-dom whilst living in the flat above Downing Street. The argument has always gone that getting some tax from the very wealthy rather than none is better for the economy and that scrapping the regime would not actually raise any money. Whether this is true or not, it has widely been understood as unfair and all major parties now agree on abolishing the 200-year old system for one based upon residence alone. Those moving to the UK will, under the new proposals, enjoy a four-year period of not paying tax on non-UK income but from year five will be subject to the same tax regime as everyone else.

    British ISAs

    The chancellor has announced a new option to add a further £5,000 into an ISA if that money is invested in UK shares. This offers a clear benefit to investors but does of course pose some broader questions: How has the UK stock market moved from being the envy of the world 10 years ago to a position where ordinary retail investors must be coaxed into owning the shares through tax breaks?

    The answer of course is that London is now proving a far less attractive location for listing new companies during the period that it has sought to find its feet after Brexit. The government is searching for ways to rejuvenate the market by making it easier to list big global companies in London. In the meantime, though, smaller and medium-sized companies need all the help they can get to secure the capital to grow in the United Kingdom and the index of medium-sized UK companies, which is likely to experience the biggest boost from the policy, rose 1.4% on the news.

    Property tax

    The chancellor has removed the favourable tax regime for those who let out fully furnished holiday lets. This is in the hope that rural communities, particularly in holiday hotspots like Cornwall, will see more renting options come on the market for longer periods of time for local residents. Politically, this is a key issue in constituencies in the South West in which the Conservatives are locked in tight battles. The overall capital gains tax rate for residential property owners was however cut from 28% to 24%.

    What was not in the budget?

    The Conservatives’ right-wing faction has long argued that abolishing inheritance tax could be the key to electoral success. Jacob Rees-Mogg famously suggested canning transport spending in the North of England to fund it. Hunt however has not made this decision, concluding perhaps that it would alienate as many people as it would please. More moderate Conservative voices may argue, though, that even if it is not abolished, the threshold at which people pay inheritance tax of £325,000, which has not grown for 15 years, could have been moved.

    Final word

    This was a modest budget designed to demonstrate fiscal credibility and position the Conservatives as a low-tax party despite the obvious challenge that the overall tax burden is still rising. Whilst this is certainly the last budget before the general election, it is possible that there will be another ‘fiscal event’ in the form of an Autumn statement. If the Conservatives do plan to call an election at the end of this year, then they may well be hoping that they have a least one or two rabbits left in their hat for that stage. The likely direction of this has been signalled in the form of the possible abolition of national insurance, but only time will tell what actually happens.

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